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Palestine or the Holy Land by Michael Russell

Part 5 out of 6

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hardly obtain the most limited toleration from their Mohammedan masters,
sought an asylum among the states of Europe. In the Travels of Benjamin of
Tudela are to be found some incidental notices which leave no doubt as to
the fact that his countrymen, unable to bear the persecution directed
against them, had gradually abandoned the birthplace of their fathers.
Jerusalem, in the twelfth century, did not contain more than two hundred
descendants of Abraham, poor, depressed, and calumniated; while at
Tiberias, the seat of learning and of their sovereign patriarch, the
number did not exceed fifty,--the victims of suspicion and jealousy, not
less on the part of the Christians than of the Moslem, who had already
begun to contend with each other for the sepulchre of Christ.

It has often been observed, that pilgrimage to the holy places of
Palestine was from a very early period regarded as at once a wholesome
discipline and an acceptable reverence on the part of Christian
worshippers. The Arabian califs were, on various accounts, inclined to
favour the resort of Europeans to these shrines of their faith. They saw
in it a fruitful source of revenue; while, as the progeny of Abraham,
they were not disposed to take offence at the veneration lavished upon
the prophetic son of David, whose tomb the fortune of war had placed in
their hands. But the Seljukian Turks, those irreclaimable barbarians, who
had no sympathy with the believers in Christ, laid on them such burdens
and vexatious restraints as were altogether intolerable. The cries of the
unhappy pilgrims had long resounded throughout all Christendom; and the
indignation which was universally felt against the bigoted Mussulmans was
inflamed in no slight degree by the eloquence of Peter the Hermit, who
had witnessed in foreign lands the afflictions of his brethren. Yielding
to the impulse of the age, Pope Urban the Second convoked a general
council at Clermont, in Auvergne, to whom he addressed an oration well
fitted to confirm the enthusiasm which he found already kindled. He
encouraged them to attack the enemies of God, and in that holy warfare to
earn the reward of eternal life promised to all the faithful servants of
the Redeemer; suggesting, that as a mark of their profession as well as
of their Saviour's love, they should wear red crosses on their garments
when fighting the battles of Christianity.

The warlike spirit of the time was roused by every motive which can touch
the heart of man in a rude state of society,--the love of glory, religion,
revenge, and enterprise. Many of the most illustrious princes of the
Christian world took up the cross, and were followed by persons of both
sexes, and of all ages, classes, and professions. A vast army poured in
from every country, under the most distinguished leaders, of whom the
principal were, Godfrey, Duke of Brabant and Bouillon; Robert of France,
the brother of King Philip; and Robert, Duke of Normandy, the son of the
English monarch. Bohemond, too, the chief of the Normans of Apulia, and
Raymond, Count of Toulouse, led many renowned warriors to Syria.

The tumultuary bands who marched under the standard of the Hermit
suffered hardships altogether unknown to modern war. In passing through
the countries watered by the Danube, and the hilly countries which lie
between that river and the Mediterranean, more than half their number
fell victims to disease, famine, and the rage of the barbarians whose
lands they infested. But, in spite of these misfortunes, Bohemond, one of
the leaders, laid siege to Antioch in 1097; and on the 15th July, two
years after, the ancient and holy city of Jerusalem was taken by assault,
with a prodigious slaughter of the garrison. Ten thousand Mohammedans
were slain on the site of the Temple of Solomon; a greater number was
thrown from the tops of houses; and a fearful carnage was committed after
all resistance had ceased.

The siege had lasted two months with various success, and a considerable
loss of life on either aide; and hence arose the savage ferocity which
disgraced, on the part of the victors, the last scene of this miserable
tragedy. The assailants having endured much from drought, as well as from
the sword of the enemy, betook themselves to pious exercises in order to
avert the anger of Heaven. The soldiers, completely armed, made a holy
procession round the walls. The clergy, with naked feet, and bearing
images of the cross, led them in the sacred way. Cries of _Deus id
vult_,--God commands it,--rent the air; and the people marched to the
melody of hymns and psalms, and not to the sound of drums and trumpets. On
Mount Olivet and Mount Zion they prayed for assistance in the approaching
conflict. The Saracens mocked these expressions of religious feeling, by
throwing mud upon crucifixes which they raised for the purpose; but these
insults had only the effect of producing louder shouts of sacred joy from
the Christians. The next morning every thing was prepared for battle; and
there was no one who was not ready either to die for Christ, or restore
his city to liberty. The night was spent in watching an alarm by both
armies. At dawn of day the conflict began which was to determine the fate
of the great European expedition, and when noon arrived the issue was
still in suspense, or seemed rather to incline in favour of the
Mohammedans. The cause of the Western World appeared to totter on the
brink of destruction, and the most valiant among the crusaders allowed
themselves to fear that Heaven had deserted its own cause and people.[169]

At the moment when all was considered lost, a knight was seen on Mount
Olivet, waving his glittering shield as a sign to the soldiers that they
should rally and return to the charge. Godfrey and Eustace cried aloud to
the army, that St. George was come to their succour. The spirit of
enthusiasm instantly revived, fatigue and pain were no longer felt, the
princes led their columns to the breach, and even the women insisted upon
sharing the honours of the fight. In the space of an hour the barbacan was
broken down, and Godfrey's tower rested against the inner wall. Exchanging
the duties of a general for those of a soldier, the Duke of Lorraine
fought with his bow: "The Lord guided his hand, and all his arrows pierced
the enemy through and through." Near him were Eustace and Baldwin, "like
two lions beside another lion." At three o'clock, the hour when the
Saviour of the world was crucified, a soldier, named Letoldus of Tourney,
leaped upon the fortifications; his brother, Engelbert, followed, and
Godfrey was the third Christian who stood as a conqueror upon the ramparts
of Jerusalem. The glorious ensign of the Cross streamed from the walls,
and the whole city was soon at the mercy of the besiegers. The Mussulmans
fought for a while, then fled to their temples, and submitted their necks
to the sword. The victors, in a document which is still preserved,
boasted, that in the mosque of Omar, whither they pursued the fugitives,
they rode in the blood of Saracens up to the knees of their horses.

After the slaughter had terminated, and the soldiers had soothed their
minds by certain acts of devotion, the expediency of forming a regular
government became manifest to all parties. Godfrey, a hero whose name can
not be too highly honoured, was chosen by the unanimous suffrages of rival
warriors to be the first Christian king of Jerusalem. Bohemond, the son of
Robert Guiscard, reigned at Antioch; Baldwin, the brother of Godfrey, at
Edessa; and the Count of Toulouse, at Tripoli. The dominion of the
crusaders extended from the confines of Egypt to the Euphrates on the
east, and to the acclivities of Mount Taurus on the north; and several of
their principalities lasted nearly two hundred years.

Many attempts have been made to defend the policy and excuse the
enormities of the Christian warriors in their enterprise against the
Moslem occupants of the Holy Land. These two points ought to be more
carefully distinguished than they usually are, whether in the pages of
friends or enemies; for while the general expediency of a combination of
the Christian powers may be supported on good grounds, the cruelty of some
of their measures deserves the severest censure. It is remarked by Mr.
Mills, that the massacre of the Saracens on the capture of the holy city
did not proceed alone from the inflamed passions of victorious soldiers,
but from remorseless fanaticism. Benevolence to Turks, Jews, infidels, and
heretics made no part of Christian ethics in those rude times; and as the
Moslem in their consciences believed it was the will of Heaven that the
religion of their prophet should be propagated by the sword, so their
antagonists laboured under the mental delusion that they themselves were
the ministers of God's wrath on a disobedient and stiff-necked people. The
Latins, on the day after the victory, massacred three hundred men, to whom
Tancred and Gaston de Bearn had promised protection, and even given a
standard as a pledge of safety. But every engagement was broken, in
consequence of the resolution that no pity should be shown to the
Mohammedans,--an expedient which was justified by the opinion now
prevalent among the invaders, that in conjunction with the Saracens of
Egypt they might again reduce the city and recover all the ground they had
lost. It was for this reason that the inhabitants of Jerusalem, armed and
unarmed, were dragged forth into the public squares, and slain like
cattle. Women with children at the breast, boys, and even girls were
slaughtered indiscriminately, and in such numbers that the streets were
covered with dead bodies and mangled limbs. No heart melted into
compassion or expanded into benevolence. The stones of the city were
ordered to be washed, and the melancholy task was performed by some Moslem
slaves. The Count of Toulouse, whose avarice prevailed over his
superstition, was loudly condemned for accepting a ransom from a few of
the devoted prisoners, whom he sent in safety to Ascalon. So unrelenting,
in short, was the passion of revenge among the crusaders, that they set
fire to the synagogues of the Jews, many of whom perished in the

Such conduct merits the deepest execration that moralist or statesman may
be pleased to pour upon it. We are nevertheless convinced that, in the
peculiar circumstances of the Christian world when Peter the Hermit called
its chiefs to arms, a united war against the Mohammedan states of Syria
was dictated by the soundest political wisdom. The subjects of Omar had
already conquered an establishment in Sicily and Spain, and attempted the
subjugation of France. Their views were directed towards universal
dominion in the West, as well as in the East; they hoped to witness the
triumph of the crescent in Europe not less certainly than in Asia, and to
be able to impose a tribute on the worshippers of Christ, or compel them
to relinquish their creed on the remotest shores of the Atlantic. Those,
therefore, who perceive in the Crusades nothing but a mob of armed
pilgrims running to rescue a tomb in Palestine must take a very limited
view of history. The point in question was not merely the recovery of that
sacred building from the hands of infidels, but rather to decide which of
the two religions, the Christian or Mohammedan, should predominate in the
world; the one hostile to civilization, and only favourable to ignorance,
despotism, and slavery; the other friendly to improvement, learning, and
freedom in all ranks and conditions of society.

It is asserted by Chateaubriand, that whoever reads the address of Pope
Urban to the council of Clermont must be convinced that the leaders in
these military enterprises were not actuated by the petty views which have
been ascribed to them; but, on the contrary, that they aspired to save the
Western World from a new inundation of barbarians. The spirit of Islamism
is conquest and persecution; the gospel, on the contrary, inculcates only
toleration and peace. The Christians, moreover, had endured for several
centuries all the oppressions which the fanaticism of the Saracens
impelled them to exercise. They had merely endeavoured to interest
Charlemagne in their favour; for neither the conquest of Spain, the
invasion of France, the pillage of Greece and the Two Sicilies, nor the
entire subjugation of Africa, could for nearly six hundred years rouse the
Christians to arms. If at last the cries of numberless victims slaughtered
in the East, if the progress of the barbarians, who had already reached
the gates of Constantinople, awakened Christendom, and impelled it to rise
in its own defence, who can say that the cause of the Holy Wars was
unjust? Contemplate Greece, if you would know the fate of a people
subjected to the Mussulman yoke. Would those who at this day so loudly
exult in the progress of knowledge wish to live under a religion that
burned the Alexandrian library, which makes a merit of trampling mankind
under foot, and holding literature and the arts in sovereign contempt? The
Crusades, by weakening the Moslem hordes in the very centre of Asia,
prevented Europe from falling a prey to the Turks and Arabs; they did
more, they saved her from revolutions at home, with which she was
threatened; they suspended intestine wars by which she was ever and anon
desolated; and, finally, they opened an outlet to that excess of
population which sooner or later occasions the ruin of nations.[171]

The administration of Godfrey was gentle and prosperous. He gained a
decisive victory over the Vizier of Egypt, who had encamped on the plains
of Ascalon with the view of assisting his Syrian allies to recover
Jerusalem from the hands of the Christians. According to the spirit of the
age, he joined to the qualities of a brave soldier the profession of an
ardent faith and the utmost reverence for the authority of the church. He
refused a precious diadem offered to him by his companions in arms,
declaring that he would never wear a crown of gold in the city where the
Saviour of the world had worn a crown of thorns. In the same feeling he
was disposed to reject the title of king and to exercise his office under
the name of Defender and Baron of the Holy Sepulchre.

Upon the demise of this distinguished commander, which is supposed to have
taken place at Jaffa, the government devolved upon his brother Baldwin,
who sustained its glory and interests with a steady hand. About the year
1118, he was succeeded on his throne by his nephew, who bore the same
name, and who, although sometimes unfortunate, did not tarnish the honour
of his family. Melisandra, his eldest daughter, married Foulques of Anjou,
and conveyed the kingdom of Jerusalem into the hand of her husband, who
enjoyed it ten or twelve years, when he lost his life by a fall from a
horse. His son, Baldwin the Third, a youth of a rash temper and destitute
of experience, assumed the sceptre of Jerusalem, which he held twenty
years,--a period rendered remarkable by the events of the second Crusade,
and the rise of various orders of knighthood,--the Hospitallers, Templars,
and Cavaliers.

The news from Palestine, that certain reverses had been sustained by the
Christians, acted so powerfully on the pious spirit of St. Bernard and the
troubled conscience of Louis the Seventh, the king of France, as to
suggest a second confederation among the European princes for the security
of the Holy Land. This new apostle of a sacred war was, on many accounts,
greatly superior to Peter the Hermit. He was a man of noble birth;
possessed learning sufficient to rival the attainments of Abelard, his
contemporary; and could speak with a degree of eloquence to which no
orator of his age had the boldness to aspire. The French monarch, who had
assembled around him a powerful and most splendid army, was joined by the
Emperor of Germany, Conrade the Third, whose thousands equalled those of
his warlike brother, and whose zeal in the cause of Christendom was not
less active.

But the experience of their predecessors, fifty years before, was lost
upon these fearless soldiers of the Cross. Without suitable preparation,
they encountered the dangers of a long march through hostile countries and
sickly climates, the effects of which appeared in the rapid diminution of
their numbers, in mutual invectives, and in increasing despair. Not more
than a tenth part of the Germans reached the coast of Syria. The French,
who had suffered less than their allies, were sooner ready to take the
field against the Saracens; and after proving their arms in a few
unimportant skirmishes, they resolved to lay siege to Damascus in concert
with the battalions of Conrade. But the evil genius of intrigue defeated
their designs. After a fruitless display of force more than sufficient to
have reduced the place, the Christian chiefs withdrew from before the
ramparts of the Syrian capital, and fell back upon Jerusalem in sorrow and
shame. Conrade soon returned to Europe with the shattered remains of his
gallant host; and about a year afterward his example was imitated by the
French king and the greater number of his generals, who were disgusted
with the narrow policy on which the war had been conducted.

Baldwin the Third, dying without male issue, transmitted the precarious
throne of Jerusalem to his brother Amaury, or Almeric; who, after of a
reign of eleven years, was succeeded by his son, Baldwin the Fourth. The
young sovereign, being incapable of the duties of government, passed his
minority under the wise counsels of Raymond, Count of Tripoli, who
endeavoured to sustain the weight of kingly power in the midst of very
formidable enemies. The name of Noureddin was long terrible to the
Christians of Palestine, who had gradually lost their warlike virtues; but
they were now about to encounter a still more able, and much more
celebrated antagonist, in the person of Saladin, the hero of the Crescent,
and one of the most distinguished leaders of that very romantic age.

Baldwin had given his sister Sybilla, widow of William, surnamed
Longue-Epee, or the Long-sword, in marriage to Guy of Lusignan. The
grandees of the kingdom, dissatisfied with the choice, divided into
parties. The king, dying in 1184, left for his heir Baldwin the Fifth, the
son of Sybilla and William just mentioned, a child not more than eight
years of age, and who soon afterward sunk under a constitutional
distemper. His mother caused the crown to be conferred on her husband, the
ambitious Guy,--a measure which did not allay the jealousy of the nobles
who had opposed their union. An alarming dissension prevailed among the
barons, some of whom refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new
sovereign, and even offered the diadem to Humphrey de Thoron. But the
intrigues of Sybilla and the terror of Saladin prevented an open rupture,
while events of a more important nature were about to occupy the attention
of either party.

The sultan had received from several of the Christian warriors just ground
of offence, and failing to obtain redress from the feeble government of
Jerusalem, he took the field in order to chastise with his own hand the
more guilty of the aggressors. He encamped near the Lake of Tiberias,
where Guy, listening to counsellors who saw not the danger of placing the
fortunes of the kingdom on the issue of a single battle, resolved to
attack him. For a whole day the engagement was in suspense, and at night
the Latins retired to some rocks in the neighbourhood, hoping that they
might find a little water to quench their thirst. At the approach of dawn
the two armies stood for a while gazing upon each other, as if conscious
that the fate of the Moslem and the Christian worlds was in their hands.
But no sooner did the sun appear than the Crusaders raised their war-cry,
and the Turks sounded their trumpets and atabals,--a mutual challenge to
renew the sanguinary conflict. Thi bishops and clergy ran through the
ranks cheering the soldiers of the church. A fragment of the true cross,
intrusted to the knights of the Holy Sepulchre, was placed on a hillock,
around which the broken squadrons repeatedly rallied, and recovered
strength for the combat whereon the interests of their faith were
suspended. But the Crescent, supported by more numerous and stronger
hands, triumphed on the plain of Tiberias. The Christians were defeated
with great loss; the king, the Master of the Templars, and the Marquis of
Montferrat were taken prisoners, and the piece of holy wood, in which they
had put their trust, was snatched from the grasp of the Bishop of Acre.

This victory placed the greater part of Palestine in the power of
Saladin, who, upon the whole, used his success with moderation and
clemency. The fugitives from every quarter fled to Jerusalem, hoping to
escape in that asylum the swords and fetters of the Turks. One hundred
thousand persons are said to have been crowded within the walls; but so
few were the soldiers, and so feeble was the government of the queen,
that the holy city presented no serious obstacle to the progress of the
Moslem arms. Saladin declared his unwillingness to stain with human blood
a place which even the followers of the Prophet held in reverence, as
having been sanctified by the presence of many inspired individuals. He
therefore promised to the people, on condition that they would quietly
surrender the city, a supply of money, and lands in the most fertile
provinces of Syria.

This offer was rejected, as implying a sacrilegious contract to yield
into the hands of infidels the sacred spot where the Saviour of mankind
had died. He therefore swore that he would enter their streets sword in
hand, and retaliate upon them the dreadful carnage which the Franks had
committed in the days of Godfrey. Two weeks were spent in almost
incessant fighting, during which the advantage was generally on the side
of the assailants. Finding resistance vain, the besieged at length
appealed to the clemency of the conqueror. It was, stipulated that the
military and the nobles should be escorted to Tyre, and that the
inhabitants should become slaves, if not ransomed at certain rates fixed
by Saladin. Thus, to use the words of the historian, "after four days had
been consumed by the miserable inhabitants, in weeping over and embracing
the Holy Sepulchre and other sacred places, the Latins left the city and
passed through the enemy's camp. Children of all ages clung round their
mothers, and the strength of the fathers was used in bearing away some
little part of their household furniture. In solemn procession, the
clergy, the queen, and her retinue of ladies followed. Saladin advanced
to meet them, and his heart melted with compassion when he saw them
approach in the attitude of suppliants." The softened warrior uttered
some expressions of pity; and the women, encouraged by his tenderness,
declared, that by pronouncing one word he might remove their distress.
"Our fortunes and possessions," said they, "you may freely enjoy; but
restore to us our fathers, our husbands, and our brothers. With these
dear objects we cannot be entirely miserable. They will take care of us;
and that God whom we reverence, and who provides for the birds of the
air, will not forget our children." Saladin was a barbarian in nothing
but the name. With the most courteous generosity, he released all the
prisoners whom the women requested, and loaded them with presents. Nor
was this action, so worthy of a gentle and chivalrous knight, the
consequence of a merely transient feeling of humanity; for when he had
entered the city of Jerusalem, and heard of the tender care with which
the military friars of St. John treated their sick countrymen, he allowed
ten of their order to remain in the hospital till they could fully
complete their work of charity.[172]

The Mohammedans, being once more in possession of the holy walls, took
down the great cross from the Church of the Sepulchre, and soiled it with
the mire of the streets. They also melted the bells which had summoned the
Christians to devotion, and at the same time purified the Mosque of Omar
by a copious sprinkling of rose-water. Ascalon, Laodicea, Gabala, Sidon,
Nazareth, and Bethlehem opened their gates to the victorious Saladin, who,
indeed, found no town of consequence able to resist his arms except Tyre,
garrisoned by a body of excellent soldiers under the gallant Conrade. All
the inhabitants took arms, and even the women shot arrows from the walls,
or assisted in strengthening the fortifications. The Saracens cast immense
stones into the place, and attacked it with all the other means in their
power; but the spirit of freedom triumphed over the thirst of revenge, and
the conqueror of Tiberias was finally compelled to relinquish the siege.

The intelligence that Jerusalem had fallen under the dominion of the
unbelievers created in all parts of Europe a profound sensation of grief
and disappointment. The clergy, as on former occasions, preached to all
classes the duty and honour of assuming the Cross, and even of dying is
the service of the Redeemer, should the sacrifice of life be required at
their hands. But the enthusiasm of the eleventh century had now very
generally passed away. Every family had to lament the loss of kindred in
the field of battle or in the bonds of a hopeless captivity; and hence,
the inducements which had crowded the ranks of Godfrey and Conrade were
at this time listened to both in France and England with comparative

At length, however, about the year 1190, Philip Augustus, the French King,
the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa of Germany, and the celebrated Richard
Coeur de Lion succeeded in raising forces, with the view of wresting once
more the Holy Land from the thraldom of the Saracens. Philip received the
staff and scrip at St. Denys, and Richard at Tours. They joined their
armies at Vezelay, the gross amount of which was computed at one hundred
thousand, and marched to Lyons in company. There the royal commanders
separated; the former pursued the road to Genoa, the latter to
Marseilles,--the island of Sicily being named as the place of their nest

Among the other fruits of the victory of Tiberias reaped by the brave
Saladin was the possession of Acre, or Ptolemais, one of the moat valuable
ports on the coast of Syria. The Crusaders, aware that they could not
maintain their ground in the East without a constant communication with
Europe, resolved to recover this city at whatever expense of life or
treasure; and with this view they had invested it more than twenty-two
months before Richard could carry his reinforcements into Palestine. Upon
his arrival, an unhappy jealousy arose between him and the King of France,
which divided the Christians into two great parties; nor was it until each
had attempted with his separate force to ascend the ramparts of Ptolemais,
and had even been repulsed with great loss, that they consented to unite
their squadrons, and act in unison. A reconciliation being effected, it
was determined that the one should attack the walls, while the other
guarded the camp from the approaches of Saladin. But the town had already
suffered so dreadfully from the length of the siege, now extended to about
two years, that the garrison were disposed to sue for terms The sultan
endeavoured to infuse his own invincible spirit into the minds of his
people, and to revive for a moment their languid courage, by turning their
hopes to Egypt, whence succour was expected. As no aid appeared, the
citizens wrung from him permission to capitulate. They were accordingly
allowed to purchase their safety by consenting to deliver the city into
the hands of the two kings, together with five hundred Christian prisoners
who were confined in it. The true cross also was to be restored, with one
thousand such captives as might be selected by the allies; it being
covenanted, at the same time, that unless the Mussulmans within forty days
paid to Richard and Philip the sum of two hundred thousand pieces of gold,
the inhabitants of Acre should be at the mercy of the conquerors.

It was on the 12th of July, 1191, that Ptolemais was recovered by the
Europeans; and in the following month, Richard (for the King of France had
already turned his face homewards) gained an important victory over
Saladin at Azotus. The progress of Coeur de Lion being no longer disputed,
he quickly arrived at Jaffa. That city was now without fortifications; for
when the tide of conquest ebbed from the Moslem, their commander gave
orders to dismantle all the fortresses in Palestine. It was his policy to
keep the invaders constantly in the field, and to exhaust them by
incessant marching and sudden attacks. Some time was accordingly lost in
restoring the works of this ancient town,--a period which was employed by
the enemy in recruiting their ranks, and preparing to contest once more
the laurels gained by the conquerors of Azotus.

Richard, still full of confidence, declared to the Saracens that the only
way of averting his wrath was to surrender the kingdom of Jerusalem as it
existed in the reign of Baldwin the Fourth. Saladin did not reject this
proposal with the disdain which he felt, but made a modification of the
terms, by offering to yield all of Palestine that lay between the river
Jordan and the Mediterranean. The negotiation lasted some time without
farther concession on either side, when at length it became manifest that
the enemy were not in earnest, but merely sought to derive advantage from
the delay which they had the ingenuity to create. Hence the meditated
attack on Jerusalem was postponed, and dissension began to prevail in the
ranks of Plantagenet. The winter was passed amid privations of every
description, which, as they were partly owing to the negligence of the
king, gave rise to numerous desertions. The inactive season of the year
was occupied in rebuilding the walls of Ascalon,--a task in which the
proudest nobles and the most dignified clergy laboured like the meanest of
the people. On the return of spring both armies appeared in the field; but
as political disturbances in England demanded the presence of Richard, be
manifested for the first time a greater disposition to negotiate than to
fight. He made known to Saladin that he would be satisfied with the
possession of the holy city and of the true cross. But the latter replied,
that Jerusalem was as dear to the Moslem as to the Christian world; and,
moreover, that he would never be guilty of conniving at idolatry by
permitting the worship of a piece of wood. Thwarted by the religious
prejudices of his enemies, the English commander attempted a different
expedient. He proposed a consolidation of the Christian and Mohammedan
interests, the establishment of a government at Jerusalem, partly European
and partly Asiatic; and this scheme of policy was to be carried into
effect by the marriage of Saphadin, the brother of the sultan, with the
widow of William, King of Sicily. The Moslem princes would have acceded to
these terms; but the union was thought to be so scandalous to religion,
that the imans and priests raised a storm of clamour against it; and
Richard and Saladin, accordingly, though the most powerful and determined
men of their age, were compelled to submit to popular opinion.

In the month of May, therefore, Coeur de Lion began his march towards
Jerusalem, with the firm resolution of accomplishing the main object of
his armament. The generals and soldiers vowed that they would not leave
Palestine until they should have redeemed the Holy Sepulchre. Everything
wore the face of joy when this resolution was announced. Hymns and
thanksgivings gave utterance to the general exultation. Terror seized the
Mussulmans who were appointed to defend the sacred walls, and even Saladin
himself gave way to apprehension for their safety. The Crusaders arrive at
Bethlehem; and here the stout mind of Plantagenet began to vacillate. He
avowed his doubts as to the policy of a siege, as his force was not
adequate to such a measure, and also to the regular maintenance of his
communications with the coast, whence his supplies must be derived. He
submitted his difficulties to the barons of Syria, the Templars, and
Hospitallers, declaring his readiness to abide by their decision, whether
it should be to advance or to retreat. These officers received information
that the Turks had destroyed all the cisterns which were within two miles
of the city, and they felt that the intolerable heats of summer had begun;
for which reason, it was resolved that the attack on Jerusalem should be
deferred, and that the army, meantime, should proceed to some other

Saladin, aware of the hesitation which had chilled the wonted ardour of
his foe, resolved to profit by this turn of affairs, so little to be
expected under such a leader. He advanced by forced marches to Jaffa, with
the view of reducing it before Richard could send relief. Attacking it
with his usual vigour, he succeeded in breaking down one of the gates; and
such of the inhabitants as could not defend themselves in the great tower
or escape by sea were put to the sword. Already were the battering-rams
prepared to demolish that fortress, when the patriarch and some French and
English knights agreed to become the prisoners of the sultan, fixing, at
the same time, a heavy sum for the ransom of the citizens, if succour did
not arrive during the next day. Before the morning, however, the brave
Plantagenet reached Jaffa; and so furious was his onset, that the Turks
immediately deserted the town; while their army, which was encamped at a
little distance, no sooner saw the standard of Richard on the walls, than
they retreated some miles into the interior.

But the English chieftain, harassed by unfavourable tidings from home, and
perplexed by dissensions in his camp, became heartily desirous of peace.
Nor was Saladin less willing to grant repose to his country, now exhausted
by protracted wars. The two heroes exchanged expressions of mutual esteem;
but as Richard had often avowed his contempt for the vulgar obligation of
oaths, they only grasped each other's hands in token of fidelity. A truce
was agreed upon for three years and eight months; the fort of Ascalon was
dismantled; but Jaffa and Tyre, with the intervening territory, were
surrendered to the Europeans. It was provided, also, that the Christians
should be at liberty to perform their pilgrimages to Jerusalem, exempted
from the taxes which the Moslem princes were wont to impose.[173]

Towards the end of the year 1192, Richard the Lion-hearted withdrew from
the Holy Land on his way to England,--a journey beset with many perils
and adventures, which it is no part of our task to describe. We are told
that his valour struck such terror into his enemies, that long after his
death, when a horse trembled without any visible cause, the Saracens were
accustomed to say that he had seen the ghost of the English prince. In a
familiar conversation which Saladin held with the warlike Bishop of
Salisbury, he expressed his admiration of the bravery of his rival, but
added, that he thought "the skill of the general did not equal the valour
of the knight." The courteous prelate replied to this remark, the justice
of which, perhaps, he could not question, by assuring the sultan that
there were not two such warriors in the world as the English and the
Syrian monarchs. Without entering minutely into the comparison of two
characters which presented little in common, it must be acknowledged,
that the courage of Richard at the head of his gallant troops prevented
many of the evils which had been anticipated from the defeat at Tiberias.
Palestine did not, as was apprehended, become a Moslem colony. A portion
of the seacoast, too, was preserved for the Christians; while their great
enemy was so enfeebled by repeated discomfitures, that fresh hostilities
could be safely commenced whenever Europe should again find it expedient
to send into the East a renewed host of military adventurers. Richard,
besides, gained more honour in Syria than any of the German emperors or
French kings who had sought renown in foreign war; and although a rigid
wisdom might censure his conduct as unprofitable to his country, it must
be admitted that his actions were in unison with the spirit of the times
in which he lived, when valour was held more important than the
acquisition of wealth, and achievements in the field were esteemed more
highly than the most beneficial results of victory.

Saladin did not long survive the departure of his distinguished rival. He
died in the year 1193; leaving directions, that on the day of his funeral
a shroud should be borne on the point of a spear, and a herald proclaim in
a loud voice, "Saladin, the conqueror of Asia, out of all the fruits of
his victories, carries with him only this piece of linen." The soldiers of
this distinguished sultan rallied round his brother Saphadin, whom they
raised to the throne. Nor did the new monarch disappoint the expectations
that were entertained of his wisdom and valour; for by the exertions of
military skill, as well as by a sagacious policy, he strengthened the
government which was committed to his hands, and was found, at the
expiration of the truce, ready to meet the armies of the combined powers
of Christendom.

The fourth Crusade was called into existence by the active zeal of Pope
Celestine the Third, and of Henry the Sixth, the German emperor, who was
joined by many of the subordinate princes of Northern Europe. The term of
peace fixed by Richard and Saladin had indeed expired; but both Christians
and Moslem, exhausted by war and famine, were disposed to lengthen the
period of repose, and at all events to abstain from a renewal of their
sanguinary conflicts. Nevertheless, when the new champions of the Cross
arrived at Acre, all remonstrances against fresh aggression were
disregarded. Saphadin, who was informed of their hostile intentions,
anticipated them in the field, and before they could advance to Jaffa, he
had battered down the fortifications, and put thousands of the inhabitants
to the sword. A general action, it is true, took place soon afterward, in
which the strength and discipline of the Germans secured the victory; but,
when advancing to Jerusalem, the conquerors allowed themselves to be
turned aside in order to reduce the insignificant fortress of Thoron,
where they met with a repulse so serious as to defeat the main object of
the campaign. Factious contentions now disturbed the councils of the
Latins; vice and insubordination raged in the camp; and, to crown their
miseries, the Crusaders were informed that the Sultans of Egypt and Syria
were concentrating their troops with the view of attacking them. Alarmed
at this intelligence, the German princes deserted their posts in the
night, and fled to Tyre; the road to which was soon filled with soldiers
and baggage in indiscriminate confusion; the feeble relinquishing their
property, and the cowardly casting away their arms.

Another battle took place in the neighbourhood of Jaffa, which terminated,
as before, to the advantage of the Christians. But the death of the
Emperor Henry, the patron of the expedition, again disconcerted their
measures. Many returned to Europe to assist at the election of his
successor; while the residue of the army, thrown into a fatal confidence
by their late triumphs, were destroyed by a body of Turkish auxiliaries,
who surprised them during the revels in which they commemorated the
virtues and abstinence of St. Martin.

The crown of Palestine meantime, greatly shorn of its lustre, had devolved
upon Isabella, daughter of Baldwin and sister to Sybilla. Her third
husband, Henry, Count of Champagne, was acknowledged as king; and upon his
death she was advised to give her hand to Almeric of Lusignan, the brother
of Guy, who had formerly swayed the sceptre. This union being approved by
the clergy and barons, the marriage was celebrated at Acre, where Almeric
and Isabella were proclaimed the sovereigns of Cyprus and Jerusalem.

The repeated failure of the Christian armaments impressed upon the people
of Europe a belief, either that the real difficulties of the enterprise
had been concealed from them, or that the time fixed in the counsels of
Providence for the deliverance of the Holy Land had not yet arrived. In
such circumstances, it required the authority of the church and the power
of eloquence, seconded by the performance of numerous miracles, to rouse
the slumbering zeal of those who had money to give or arms to use in the
service of the Cross. Fulk, the preacher, who equalled Peter the Hermit in
the ardour of his address, and Bernard in oratorical talents, co-operated
with the pope, Innocent the Third, in convincing the several kingdoms
under his spiritual dominion of the necessity of a fifth combined effort,
in order to expel the infidels from the sacred inheritance.

The voice of religion was again listened to with pious obedience, and a
large force was mustered in France and the Low Countries. As, however, the
arms of the Christian chiefs on this occasion were not employed against
the Saracens, but against their own brethren of the Grecian empire, the
object of our work does not require that we should do more than follow
their steps to the shores of the Bosphorus. In April, 1204, Constantinople
fell into their hands, and was subjected to all the horrors and indignity
which usually punish the resistance of a strong city. The remains of the
fine arts, which the Eastern Church had preserved as consecrated memorials
of her triumph over paganism, were destroyed with peculiar industry by the
less polished Latins, who were pleased to view with contempt the superior
taste of their rivals. The establishment of the Crusaders in the capital
of the Lower Empire, where they elected a sovereign and formed an
administration, was the only result of the fifth expedition against the
Moslem. Their dominion lasted fifty-seven years, at the end of which
Manuel Paleologus, descendant of Lascaris, and son-in-law of the Emperor
Alexis, recovered the throne of the Cesars, and finally expelled the
usurpers from the city of Constantine.

The successes of the French, against the Greeks had, however, an indirect
influence in promoting the welfare of the Christians in Palestine. The
Mussulmans were alarmed, and Saphadin gladly concluded a truce for six
years. But the country was doomed to be soon deprived of the tranquillity
afforded by a cessation of arms. Almeric and his wife being dead, Mary,
the daughter of Isabella by Conrade of Tyre, was acknowledged Queen of
Jerusalem; while Hugh de Lusignan, son of Almeric by his first wife, was
proclaimed King of Cyprus. There was not at that time in Palestine any
powerful nobleman capable of governing the state; on which account the
civil and ecclesiastical potentates resolved that Philip Augustus of
France should be requested to provide a husband for Mary. The French
monarch fixed his eyes on John de Brienne who was esteemed among the
knights of Europe as equally wise in council and experienced in war.

The hopes inspired by this union raised the pretensions of the Christian
community so high, that they refused to prolong the truce which still
subsisted between them and the sultan. The latter, therefore, marched an
army to the neighbourhood of Tripoli, and threatened hostilities. The
young king took the field at the head of a respectable force and
displayed his valour in many a fierce encounter; and though he did not
succeed in concerning his foes, he saved his states from the utter
annihilation with which they were threatened. He foresaw, however, the
approaching ruin of the sacred cause; for he could not fail to observe
that, while the Saracens were constantly acquiring new advantages, the
Latin barons were embracing every opportunity of returning home. He
accordingly wrote to the pope, that the kingdom of Jerusalem consisted
only of two or three towns, and that its fate must already have been
determined but for the civil wars which had raged among the sons of

His holiness was not deaf to a remonstrance so just and important. In
a circular letter to the sovereigns of Europe, he reminded them that
the time was now come when a successful effort might be made to secure
possession of Palestine, and that, while those who should fight
faithfully for God would obtain a crown of glory, such as refused to
serve him would be punished everlastingly. He employed, among other
arguments, a consideration which has since been often urged by Protestant
writers against his own church; stating, that "the Mohammedan heresy, the
beast foretold by the Spirit, will not live for ever--its age is 666." He
concluded with the assurance, that Jesus Christ would condemn them for
gross ingratitude and infidelity, if they neglected to march to his
succour at a time when he was in danger of being driven from a kingdom he
had acquired by his own blood.

The preacher of the next Crusade was Robert de Courcon, a man inferior in
talents and rank to St. Bernard, but whose fanaticism was as fervent as
that of the Hermit and Fulk. He invited all to assume the Cross, and
enrolled in the sacred militia women, children, the old, the blind, the
lame, and even the distempered. The multitude of Crusaders, as might be
expected, was very great, and the voluntary offerings of money were
immense. A council was held in the church of the Lateran, in which the
Emperor of Constantinople, the Kings of France, England, Hungary,
Jerusalem, Arragon, and other countries, were represented. War against the
Saracens was unanimously declared to be the most sacred duty of the
Christian world. The usual privileges, dispensations, and indulgences were
granted to the pilgrims; and the pope, besides other expenses, contributed
thirty thousand pounds.

It was in the year 1216 that the sixth Crusade, consisting chiefly of
Hungarians and the soldiers of Lower Germany, landed at Acre. The sons of
Saphadin were now at the head of affairs in Syria, their father having
retired from the fatigues of royalty; and, although unprepared to oppose
so large a host with any prospect of success, they mustered what forces
they could collect and advanced to Naplosa, the modern Nablous. But the
insubordination of the invaders made victory more easy than was
anticipated. Destitute of provisions, they wandered over the country,
committing the greatest enormities, and suffering from time to time very
severe losses from the just indignation of the inhabitants. At length the
sovereign of Hungary, disgusted with the campaign, refused to remain any
longer in Palestine,--a defection which compelled the King of Jerusalem,
the Duke of Austria, and the Master of the Hospitallers to take up a
defensive position on the Plain of Cesarea. The knights of the other
military orders, the Templar and Teutonic, seized upon Mount Carmel, which
they fortified for the occasion. But their fears were relieved in the
spring of the following year by the arrival of a large body of new and
most zealous Crusaders from the upper parts of Germany. Nearly three
hundred vessels sailed from the Rhine, which, after having sustained more
than the usual casualties of a voyage in the North Sea, landed on the
shores of Syria those martial bands who had assembled in the neighbourhood
of the Elbe and the Weser.

For reasons which are not very clearly assigned, but having some
reference, it may be conjectured, to the exhausted state of the country,
the chiefs of the Crusade came to the resolution of withdrawing their
troops from Palestine, and of carrying the war into Egypt. Damietta, not
unjustly regarded as the key of that kingdom on the line of the coast, was
made the first object of attack; and so vigorous were the approaches of
the assailants, that the castle or fortress, which was supposed to command
the town, fell into their hands. Meantime a reinforcement from Europe
appeared at the mouth of the Nile. Italy sent forth her choicest soldiers,
headed by Pelagius and De Courcon, as legates of the pope. The Counts of
Nevers and La Marche, the Archbishop of Bourdeaux, the Bishops of Meaux,
Autun, and Paris, led the youth of France; while the English troops were
conducted by the Earls of Chester, Arundel, and Salisbury, men celebrated
for their heroism and experience in the field.

The tide of success flowed for some time so strongly in favour of the
Christians, that the Saracen leaders were desirous to conclude a peace
very advantageous to their invaders. When the loss of Damietta appeared
inevitable, the Sultan of Syria, Khamel, the son of Saphadin, apprehensive
that the Crusaders would immediately advance against Jerusalem, issued
orders to destroy the fortifications, to prevent its being held by them as
a place of defence. But in the negotiation which was opened between the
contending powers, the Mussulmans consented to rebuild the walls of the
sacred city, to return the portion of the true cross, and to liberate all
the prisoners in Syria and Egypt. Of the whole kingdom of Palestine, they
proposed to retain only the castles of Karac and Montereale, as necessary
for the safe passage of pilgrims and merchants in their intercourse with
Mecca. As an equivalent for these important concessions, they required
nothing more than the instant evacuation of Egypt, and a complete
relinquishment of the conquests which had been recently made in it by the
arms of the Crusaders.

The Christian chiefs, after a stormy discussion, determined to reject the
terms offered by the allied sultans, and to prosecute the siege of
Damietta. This devoted town, having been invested more than a year and a
half, was at length carried by assault; but so resolute and persevering
had been the defence, that of seventy thousand inhabitants, who were shut
up by the Crusaders, only three thousand remained to witness their

The Saracens, fatigued with the horrors of war, once more proposed a
treaty on terms similar to those which were offered before the fall of
Damietta. But the victors, whose wisdom in council was never equal to
their valour in the field of battle, again refused to conclude a peace.
The prevailing party recommended an immediate attack upon Grand Cairo;
anticipating the reduction of the whole of Egypt, and the final subjection
of all the Mahommedan states on the shores of the Mediterranean. This
vision of greatness, however, soon vanished before the real difficulties
of a campaign on the banks of the Nile. In a few months the leaders of the
expedition found themselves reduced to the necessity of soliciting
permission to return into Palestine; consenting to purchase safety by
giving up all the acquisitions they had made since the first day that they
opened their trenches before Damietta. The barons of Syria and the
military orders retired to Acre, where they held themselves in readiness
to sustain an attack from the indignant Moslems; the mass of the
volunteers and pilgrims soon afterward procuring the means of returning
into Europe.

Frederick the Second of Germany, who had engaged to lead a strong force
into Syria, was so long prevented by domestic cares from fulfilling his
promise, that he incurred the resentment of the pope, who actually
pronounced against him a sentence of excommunication.[174] The emperor, at
length, was induced to marry Violante, the daughter of John de Brienne,
and accept as her dowry the kingdom of Jerusalem. In the year 1228 he
arrived at Acre, with the view of making good his pretensions to the
sacred diadem,--an object which he finally attained, not less by the
connivance of the sultan than by the exertions of his military companions.
The son of Saphadin felt his throne rendered insecure by the ambition or
treachery of his own kindred, and was therefore much inclined to cultivate
an amicable feeling with so powerful a prince as the sovereign of Germany.
In pursuance of these views a treaty was signed, providing that for ten
years the Christians and Mussulmans were to live on a footing of
brotherhood; that Jerusalem, Jaffa, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and their
dependencies, were to be restored to the former; that the Holy Sepulchre
was likewise to be given up to them; and that the people of both religions
might offer up their devotions in that house of prayer, which the one
called the Temple of Solomon, and the other the Mosque of Omar. Thus the
address or good fortune of Frederick more effectually promoted the object
of the Holy Wars than the heroic phrensy of Richard Coeur de Lion; many of
the disasters consequent on the battle of Tiberias were wiped away; and
the hopes of Europe for a permanent settlement in Asia appeared to be

But the emperor had performed all these services while the stain of
excommunication was yet unremoved from his character. The fidelity of the
knights, accordingly, whose oaths had a reference to the supremacy of the
church, and the attachment of the clergy, could not be relied upon. Hence,
when he went to Jerusalem to be crowned, the patriarch would not discharge
his office; the places of worship were closed; and no religious duties
were observed in public during his stay. Frederick repaired to the Church
of the Holy Sepulchre, surrounded by his courtiers, and boldly taking the
crown from the altar, placed it on his own head. He then issued orders for
rebuilding the fortifications of his eastern capital; after which he
returned to Acre, whence he almost immediately set sail for Europe.[175]

The peace established between Frederick and the Saracen rulers was not
faithfully observed by the latter, some of whom did not consider
themselves as bound by its stipulations. The sufferings endured by the
Christians of Palestine accordingly called their brethren in Europe once
more to arms. A council, held under the auspices of the pope at Spoleto,
decreed that fresh levies should be sent into Asia so soon as the truce
with Khamel, the sultan of Damascus, should have expired. Many of the
English nobility, inflamed by the love of warlike fame, took the cross,
and prepared to follow the standard of the Earl of Chester, and of
Richard, earl of Cornwall, brother to King Henry the Third.

In this pious movement the lords of England were anticipated by those of
France, who, in the year 1239, landed in Syria, and prepared to measure
lances with the Moslems. News of these warlike proceedings having reached
the nephew of Saladin, he forthwith drove the Christians out of Jerusalem,
and demolished the Tower of David,--a monument which till that time had
been regarded as sacred by both parties. The combats which followed,
although fought with great bravery on the side of the invaders, terminated
generally in favour of the Saracens; and the French accordingly, after
losing a great number of their best warriors, were glad to have recourse
to terms of peace. The Templars entered into treaty with the Emir of
Karac, while the Hospitallers, actuated by jealousy or revenge, preferred
the friendship of the Sultan of Egypt.

The following year Richard, the earl of Cornwall, arrived with his levy,
hoping to find his allies in possession of all the towns which had been
ceded to the Emperor of Germany, and enjoying security in the exercise of
their religious rites. His surprise was therefore very great, when he
discovered that the principal leaders of the French had already fled from
the plains of Syria; that the knights of the two great orders had sought
refuge in negotiation; and, finally, that the conquests of the former
Crusaders were once more limited to a few fortresses and a strip of
territory on the coast. He marched in the first instance to Jaffa, with
the view of concentrating the scattered forces of Europe; but receiving
notice, as soon as he arrived, that the Sultan of Egypt, who was then at
war with his brother of Damascus, was desirous to cultivate friendly
relations, he lent a ready ear to the terms proposed. The Mussulman
consented to relinquish Jerusalem, Beritus, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Mount
Tabor, and a large portion of the Holy Land, provided the English earl
would withdraw his troops and preserve a strict neutrality.

The conditions being ratified by the Egyptian sovereign, the Earl of
Cornwall had the satisfaction to see the great object of the Crusaders
once more accomplished. Palestine again belonged to the Christians. The
Hospitallers opened their treasury to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
while the patriarch and clergy entered the holy city to reconsecrate the
churches. For two years the gospel was the only religion administered in
the sacred capital, and the faithful had begun to exult in the permanent
subjection of their rivals, when a new enemy arose, more formidable to
them than even the Saracens.

The victories of Zingis Khan had displaced several nations belonging to
the great Tartar family, and among others the Karismians, who continued
their retreat southward till they reached the confines of Egypt. The
sultan, who perhaps had repented the liberality of his terms to the
soldiers of Richard, advised the expatriated barbarians to take possession
of Palestine. He even sent one of his principal officers and a large body
of troops to serve as them guides; upon which, Barbacan, the Karismian
general, at the head of twenty thousand cavalry, advanced into the Holy
Land. The garrison of Jerusalem, being quite inadequate to its defence,
retired, and were followed by many of the inhabitants. The invaders
entered it without opposition, sparing neither life nor property, and
respecting nothing, whether sacred or profane. At length the Templars and
Hospitallers, forgetting their mutual animosities, united their bands to
rescue the country from the grasp of such savages. A battle took place,
which, after continuing two whole days, ended in the total defeat of the
Christians; the Grand Masters of St. John and of the Temple being among
the slain. Only thirty-three individuals of the latter order, and sixteen
of the former, with three Teutonic cavaliers, remained alive, and
succeeded in making their way to Acre, the last refuge of the vanquished
knights. The Karismians, with their Egyptian allies, after having razed
the fortifications of Ascalon and Tiberias, encamped on the seacoast, laid
waste the surrounding territory, and slew or carried into bondage every
Frank who fell into their hands. Nor was it till the year 1247 that the
Syrians and Mamlouks, insulted by this northern horde, attacked them near
Damascus, slew Barbacan their chief, and compelled the remainder to
retrace their steps to the borders of the Caspian Lake.

The intelligence did not fail to reach Europe that the members of the
Church in Palestine had been put to death or dispersed by the exiles of
Karism. Pope Innocent the Fourth suggested the expediency of another
Crusade, and even summoned all his faithful children to take arms. He
wrote to Henry the Third, king of England, urging him to press on his
subjects the necessity of punishing the Karismians. But the spirit of
crusading was more active in France than in any other country of the West
and it revived in all the vigour of its chivalrous piety in the reign of
Louis the Ninth. Agreeably to the superstition of the times, he had vowed,
while afflicted by a severe illness, that in case of recovery he would
travel to the Holy Land. The Cross was likewise taken by the three royal
brothers, the Counts of Artois, Poictiers, and Anjou, by the Duke of
Burgundy, the Countess of Flanders and her two sons, together with many
knights of high degree.

But it was not till 1249 that the soldiers of Louis were mustered, and his
ships prepared for sea; the former amounting to fifty thousand, while his
vessels of all descriptions exceeded eighteen hundred. They set sail for
Egypt; a storm separated the fleet; but the royal division, in which were
nearly three thousand knights and their men-at-arms, arrived in the
neighbourhood of Damietta. On the second day the king ordered the
disembarkation; he himself leaped into the water; his warriors followed
him to the shore; upon which the Saracens, panic-struck at their boldness
and determination, made but a slight show of defence, and fled into the
interior. Although Damietta was better prepared for a siege than at that
period when it defied the arms of the Crusaders during eighteen months,
yet the garrison were pleased to seek safety in the fleetness of their
horses. Louis fixed his residence in the city; a Christian government was
established; and the clergy, as they were wont on such occasions,
proceeded to purify the mosques.

Towards the close of the year, after being joined by a body of English
volunteers, the French monarch resolved to march to Cairo and attack the
sultan in the heart of his kingdom. But the floods of the Nile, and the
intersection of the country by numerous canals, occasioned a second time
the loss of a brave army. Famine and disease, too, aided the sword of the
enemy, till at length the victors of Damietta were compelled to sue for a
peace which they could no longer obtain. A retreat was ordered; but those
who attempted to escape by the river were taken prisoners, and the fate of
such as proceeded by land was equally disastrous. While they were occupied
in constructing a bridge over a canal, the Saracens entered the camp and
murdered the sick. The valiant king, though oppressed with the general
calamity of disease, sustained boldly the shock of the enemy, throwing
himself into the midst of them, resolved to perish rather than desert his
troops. One of his attendants succeeded at length in drawing him from the
presence of the foe, and conducted him to a village, where he sunk under
his wounds and fatigue into a state of utter insensibility. In this
miserable condition he was overtaken by the Moslems, who announced to him
that he was their captive. One of his brothers, the gallant Artois, had
already fallen in battle, but the two others, Anjou and Poictiers, with
all the nobility, fell into the hands of the enemy.

The sultan did not abuse his victory, nor seek to impose upon Louis terms
which a sovereign could not grant without forfeiting his honour. He agreed
to accept a sum equivalent to five hundred thousand livres for the
deliverance of the army, and the town of Damietta as a ransom for the
royal person. Peace was to continue ten years between the Mussulmans and
the Christians; while the Franks were to be restored to those privileges
in the kingdom of Jerusalem which they had enjoyed previous to the recent
invasion of the French. The repose which succeeded this treaty was
interrupted by the murder of the sultan, who fell a victim to the
jealousy, of the Mamlouks; but after a few acts of hostility too
insignificant to be recorded, the emirs renewed, with a few modifications,
the basis of the agreement on which the peace was established. Louis
himself made a narrow escape from the sanguinary intrigues of those
military slaves who had imbrued their hands in the blood of their own
master. They declared that, as they had committed a sin by destroying
their sultan, whom, by their law, they ought to have guarded as the apple
of their eye, their religion would be violated if they suffered a
Christian king to live. But the other chiefs, more honourable than the
Mamlouks, disdained to commit a crime under any such pretext; and the
French monarch, accordingly, was allowed to accompany the poor remains of
his army to the citadel of Acre.

It has been remarked that the expedition of St. Louis into Egypt resembles
in many respects the war carried on in that country thirty years before.
In both cases the Christian armies were encamped near the entrance of the
Ashmoun canal, beyond which they could not advance; and the surrender of
Damietta in each instance was the price of safety. The errors of the
Cardinal Pelagius seem not to have been recollected by the French king,
who, in fact, trod in his steps with a fatal blindness, and ended by
paying a still severer penalty.

A gleam of hope arose in the minds of the Crusaders from finding the
rulers of Egypt and of Syria engaged in a furious war. The Mamlouks even
condescended to solicit the cooperation of Louis, and agreed to purchase
it by remitting one-half of the ransom which still remained unpaid. They
further consented to deliver up Jerusalem itself, and also the youthful
captives taken on the banks of the Nile, whom they had compelled to
embrace the Mussulman faith. But before the Franks could appear in the
field, the interposition of the calif had restored peace to the contending
parties, both of whom immediately resumed their wonted dislike to the
European invaders.

The infidels, however, at this period did not pursue their schemes of
conquest with the vigour and ability which distinguished the movements of
Noureddin, and more especially of Saladin, his renowned successor. They
might have swept the feeble and exhausted Christians from the shores of
Palestine; but they merely ravaged the country round Acre, and then
proceeded to Sidon, in the strong castle of which Louis and his army had
taken refuge. The blood and property of the citizens satisfied the
barbarians, who departed without trying the valour of the soldiers who
occupied the garrison.

The death of Queen Blanche, the mother of the king, and regent during his
absence, afforded him a good apology for leaving the country, of which he
had long been tired. The patriarch and barons of the Holy Land offered him
their humble thanks for the honour he had bestowed upon their cause, and
for the benefits which he had conferred upon themselves individually.
Louis, sensible that he had gathered no laurels in Palestine, and that the
interests of the church were even in a more hopeless condition than when
he landed at Damietta, listened to their address with mingled emotions of
shame and regret, and forthwith prepared himself for his voyage

Thus terminated that expedition, of which, says a French author, the
commencement filled all Christian states with joy, and which, in the end,
plunged all the West into mourning. The king arrived at Vincennes on the
5th of September, 1254, accompanied by a crowd collected from all
quarters. The more they forgot his reverses, the more bitterly he called
to mind the fate of his brave companions, whom he had left in the mud of
Egypt or on the sands of Palestine; and the melancholy which he showed in
his countenance formed a striking contrast to the public congratulation on
the return of a beloved prince. His first care, says the historian, was to
go to St. Denys, to prostrate himself at the feet of the apostles of
France; the next day he made his entrance into the capital, preceded by
the clergy, the nobility, and the people. He still wore the cross upon his
shoulder; the sight of which, by recalling the motives of his long
absence, inspired the fear that he had not abandoned the enterprise of the

The misfortunes sustained in the field were greatly increased by the
dissensions which prevailed among the military orders after the departure
of Louis. The Templars and Hospitallers, especially, never forgot their
jealousies except when engaged in battle with the Mussulmans; for, in
every interval of peace, they mutually gratified their arrogance and
contempt by wrangling on points of precedency and professional reputation.
At length an appeal to arms was made, with the view of determining which
of these kindred associations should stand highest as soldiers in the
estimation of Europe. The Knights of St. John gained the victory; and so
bloody was the conflict that no quarter was granted, and hardly a single
Templar escaped alive.

But these unseemly disputes were soon drowned amid the shouts of a more
formidable warfare waged against Palestine by the Mamlouk sovereign of
Egypt, the sanguinary and bigoted Bibars. His troops demolished the
churches of Nazareth and Mount Tabor; after which they advanced to the
gates of Acre, inflicting the most horrid cruelties upon the unprotected
Christians. Sephouri and Azotus were taken by storm, or yielded upon
terms. At the reduction of the former, it was agreed that the knights and
garrison, amounting in all to six hundred men, should be conducted to the
nearest Christian town. But no sooner was the sultan put in possession of
the fortress than he violated the conditions of surrender, and left the
knights only a few hours to determine on the alternative of death or
conversion to Islamism. The prior and two Franciscan monks succeeded by
their exhortations in fixing the faith of the religious cavaliers; and
hence, at the time appointed for the declaration of their choice, they
unanimously avowed their resolution to die rather than incur the dishonour
of apostacy. The decree for the slaughter of the Templars was pronounced
and executed; while the three preachers of martyrdom, as if responsible
for the conduct of their countrymen, were flayed alive.

A large Christian state had been formed at Antioch, in alliance with the
kingdom of Jerusalem. Bibars, after reducing Jaffa and the castle of
Beaufort, marched his fierce soldiers against the capital of Syria, and
soon added it to the number of his conquests. Forty thousand believers is
Christ were on this occasion put to the sword, and not fewer than one
hundred thousand were led into captivity. The barbarian, indeed, avowed
the fell purpose of exterminating the whole Christian community in the
East, extending the terror of death or the ascendency of the Koran from
the Nile to the mountains of Armenia. But his progress was stopped by the
intelligence which reached him in Palestine, that the King of Cyprus had
resolved to interpose his arms in behalf of the Holy Land, and was about
to make a descent on the coast at the head of a large force collected from
various nations. Bibara returned to Cairo, fitted out a fleet for the
conquest of that island, and intended, during the absence of its
sovereign, to annex it permanently to the dominions of Egypt. But his
ships were lost in a tempest; his military character suffered from the
failure of the enterprise; his power was weakened; and he ceased to be any
longer the scourge and dread of the Christian world.

Before the atrocities of this Mamlouk chief were made known in Europe, the
people of the West had made preparations for the ninth Crusade. Louis was
not able to conceal from himself that his first expedition to the Holy
Land had brought more shame on France than benefit to the Christian cause.
Nay, he was not without fear, that his personal reputation was in some
degree tarnished by the fatal result of his attack on Egypt, so unwisely
and rashly conducted. The Pope favoured his inclination for a new attempt;
and accordingly, in a general meeting of the higher clergy and nobles,
held at Paris in 1268, the king exhorted his people to avenge the wrongs
which Christ had so long suffered at the hands of the unbelieving Moslems.

In England a similar spirit had long prevailed among the priesthood and
the great body of the commons; but Henry the Third, taught by experience
that the late Crusades had only weakened the friends and strengthened the
enemies of Christianity, refused to countenance this popular folly at the
time when Louis first assumed the cross. On the present occasion, however,
he permitted his son Edward, with the Earls of Warwick and Pembroke, to
receive the holy ensign, and to join the sovereign of France in his
renewed attempt to plant the emblem of his faith on the walls of

It was not till the spring of 1270 that St. Louis spread his sails the
second time for the Holy Land. The feelings of religious and military
ardour which animated the heart of this pious monarch were diffused
through the sixty thousand soldiers who followed his banners. He could
count, too, among his leaders, the descendants of those gallant chiefs,
the lords of Brittany, of Flanders, and Champagne, who in former
generations had distinguished themselves in fighting the battles of the
church. But notwithstanding such promising appearances, this proud
armament took the sea under an evil omen. The fleet was driven into
Sardinia; and there a great and unfortunate change was made in the plan of
operations. Instead of proceeding to Palestine, it was resolved that the
troops should be landed in the neighbourhood of Tunis, to assist the
Christians in extending their faith in opposition to the disciples of the
Koran. Success, indeed, crowned the first efforts of the invaders;
Carthage fell into their hands; and more splendid conquests seemed to
invite their progress into the heart of the Mohammedan nations of Northern
Africa. But a pestilential disease, the scourge of those burning shores,
soon spread its ravages among the ranks of the Christians. Louis, the
great stay of the Crusaders, was stricken with the fatal sickness, and
died, leaving his army, which had accomplished nothing, to prosecute the
war, or to return with sullied standards into their native country.[178]

Prince Edward, who condemned the vacillating conduct of his allies, had
already passed from Africa into Sicily, where he spent the following
winter. In the early part of the year 1271, he set sail for Acre, where he
landed at the head of only one thousand men; but so high was his
reputation among the Latins of Palestine, that he soon found his army
increased sevenfold, and eager to be employed in the redemption of the
sacred territory. He led them, in the first place against Nazareth, which
did not long resist the vigour of his attack; and, almost immediately
afterward, he surprised a large Turkish force, whom he cut in pieces The
Moslems imagined that another Coeur de Lion had been sent from England to
scourge them into discipline, or to shake the foundation of their power in
Syria. Edward was brave and skilful as a warrior, and owed his success not
less to his able dispositions than to his personal courage. But he was
cruel and lavish of human blood. The barbarities which disgraced the
triumphs of the first Crusade were repeated on a smaller scale at
Nazareth, where the prince put the whole garrison to death, and subjected
the inhabitants to unnecessary suffering.

The resentment of the governor of Jaffa is said to have pointed the dagger
which was aimed at the heart of the English prince by the hand of an
assassin. The wretch, as the bearer of letters, was admitted into the
chamber of Edward, who, not suspecting treachery, received several severe
wounds before he could dash the assailant to the floor and despatch him
with his sword. But as the weapon used by the Saracen had been steeped in
poison, the life of his intended victim was for some hours in imminent
danger. The chivalrous fiction of that romantic age has ascribed his
recovery to the kind offices of one of that sex whose generous affections
are seldom chilled by the calculations of selfishness. His wife, Eleanora,
is said to have sucked the poison from his wound, at the hazard of instant
death to herself,--a story which, having received the sanction of the
learned Camden, has not unfrequently been held as an indisputable fact.
The more authentic edition of the narrative attributes the restoration of
Edward's health to the usual means employed by surgical skill, aided by
the resources of a strong mind and a vigorous constitution.[179]

It soon became manifest that the valour and ability of Edward, unsupported
by an adequate force, could make no lasting impression upon the Moslem
power in Syria. Accordingly, after having spent fourteen months in Acre,
he listened to proposals for peace made by the Sultan of Egypt, who, being
engaged in war with the Saracens whom he had displaced, was eager to
terminate hostilities with the English. A suspension of arms, to continue
ten years, was formally signed by the two chiefs; whereupon the Mamlook
withdrew his troops from Palestine, and Edward embarked for his native

The loan and discomfiture which for more than a hundred years had
concluded every attempt to regain the Holy Land did not yet extirpate the
hope of final success in the hearts of the clergy and sovereigns of the
West. Gregory the Ninth, who himself had served in the Christian armies of
Syria, exerted all the means in his power to equip another expedition
against the enemies of the faith. The small republics of Italy, which
found a ready employment for their shipping in transporting troops to
Palestine, were the first to embrace the cause recommended by their
spiritual ruler. The King of France seemed to favour the enterprise, and
advanced money on the mortgage of certain estates within his dominions
belonging to the Templars; Charles of Anjou followed the example of his
royal relation; and Michael Paleologus, the Emperor of the East, announced
his willingness to take arms against the ambitious sultan, who already
threatened the independence of Greece. A council held at Lyons in 1274
sanctioned the obligations of a crusade, and imposed upon the church and
other estates such taxes as appeared sufficient to carry it to a
successful issue. But the death of the pope dissolved the coalition, and
all preparations for renewing the war were immediately laid aside,--never
to be resumed.

The Franks in Palestine, now left to their own resources, ought to have
cultivated peace, and more especially to have abstained from positive and
direct aggression. Their conduct, however, was not marked by such
abstinence or wisdom. On the contrary, by attacking certain Mohammedan
merchants, they provoked the anger of the sultan, who swore by God and the
Prophet that he would avenge the wrong. A war fatal to the Christian
interests was the immediate consequence. Their fortresses were rapidly
demolished; and at length, in the year 1289, the city of Tripoli, the
principal appanage of the kingdom of Jerusalem, was taken, its houses were
consumed by fire, its works dismantled, and its inhabitants massacred, or
sold into slavery.

Acre now remained the sole possession of the Latins, in the country where
their sovereignty had been acknowledged during the lapse of nearly two
centuries. A short peace granted to Henry the Second of Cyprus, the
nominal king of the Holy Land, postponed its fate, and the utter abolition
of Christian authority in Syria, a few years longer. Within its walls were
crowded the wretched remains of those principalities which had been won by
the valour of European soldiers. A reinforcement of unprincipled Italians
only added to the disorder which already prevailed in the town, and
increased the number of offences by which they were daily accumulating
upon their heads the vengeance of the fanatical Mamlouks, who longed for
an opportunity to attack them.

At length, in the month of April, 1291, a force which has been estimated
at more than 200,000 men, issued from Egypt, and encamped on the Plain of
Acre. Most of the inhabitants made their escape by sea from the horrors of
the impending siege; the defence of the place being intrusted to about
12,000 good soldiers, belonging chiefly to the several orders of religious
knighthood. The command was offered to the Grand Master of the Templars,
who, being prevailed upon to accept, discharged its duties with firmness
and military skill. But the Mamlouks were not inferior in valour, and
their numbers were irresistible. Prodigies of bravery were displayed on
both sides: the assailants threw themselves, with desperate resolution,
into the breach, from whence they were repeatedly driven back at the point
of the sword, or hurled headlong into the ditch. But the sultan was
prodigal of blood, and had vowed to humble the Nazarenes who dared to
dispute his authority. The walls, accordingly, after having been several
times lost and won, were at length finally occupied by the Tartars and
Mamlouks, who obeyed the sovereign of Egypt, and the crescent was at that
moment elevated to a place which it has continued to occupy during the
greater part of five centuries. Struck with terror, the few small towns
which till this period had been allotted to the Christians surrendered at
the first summons, and saw their inhabitants doomed either to death or to
a hopeless captivity. In one word, the Holy Land, which since the days of
Godfrey had cost to Christendom so much anxiety, blood, and treasure, was
now lost; the sacred walls of Jerusalem were abandoned to infidels; and
henceforth the disciple of Christ was doomed to purchase permission to
visit the interesting scenes consecrated by the events recorded in the

The titular crown of Palestine was worn for the last time by Hugh the
Great, the descendant of Hugh, king of Cyprus, and Alice, who was the
daughter of Mary and John de Brienne. At a later period, this empty honour
was claimed by the house of Sicily, in right of Charles, count of Anjou
and brother of Louis IX, who was thought to unite in his own person the
issue of the King of Cyprus and of the Princess Mary, the daughter of
Frederick, sovereign of Antioch. The knights of St. John of Jerusalem,
since denominated knights of Rhodes and Malta, and the Teutonic knights,
the conquerors of the north of Europe and founders of the kingdom of
Prussia, are now the only remains of those Crusaders who struck terror
into Africa and Asia, and seized the thrones of Jerusalem, Cyprus, and

Although no expedition from the Christian states reached the Holy Land
after the close of the thirteenth century, the fire which had so long
warmed the hearts of the Crusaders was not entirely extinguished in
several parts of Europe. Edward the First of England, for example, still
cherished the hope of opening the gates of Jerusalem, or of leaving his
bones in the sacred dust of Palestine. A similar feeling animated the
monarch of France; while the pope, who derived manifold advantages from
the prosecution of such wars, summoned councils, issued pastoral letters,
and employed preachers, as in the days that were past. But dissensions at
home during the first half of the fourteenth century, and the general
conviction of hopelessness which had seized the public mind respecting all
armaments against the Moslems, occasioned the failure of every attempt to
unite once more the powers of Chistendom in the common cause.

In the following century, the ascendency of the Turks, not only in the
East, but on the banks of the Danube and the northern shores of the
Mediterranean, compelled the people of Europe to act on the defensive. The
fall of the Grecian empire, too, rendered the intercourse with Syria at
once more difficult and dangerous. Egypt in like manner was shut against
the Christians, being subjected to the same yoke which pressed so heavily
on the western parts of Asia. Hence, during more than two centuries a
cloud hung over the affairs of Palestine, which we in vain attempt to
penetrate. Suffice it to remark, that it remained subject to the Mamlouk
sultans of Egypt till the year 1382, when they were dispossessed by a body
of Circassians, who invaded and overran the country. Upon the expulsion of
these barbarians, it acknowledged again the government of Cairo, under
which it continued until the period of the more formidable irruption of
the Mogul Tartars, led by the celebrated Tamerlane. At his death the Holy
Land was once more annexed to Egypt as a province; but in 1516, Selim the
Ninth, emperor of the Othman Turks, carried his victorious arms from the
Euphrates to the Libyan Desert, involving in one general conquest all the
intervening states. More than three hundred years have that people
exercised a dominion over the land of Judea, varied only by intervals of
rebellion on the part of governors who wished to assert their
independence, or by wars among the different pashas, who, in defiance of
the supreme authority, have from time to time quarrelled about its spoils.

From the period at which the Crusaders were expelled from Syria down to
the middle of the last century, we are chiefly indebted for our knowledge
of the Holy Land to the pilgrims whom religious motives induced to brave
all the perils and extortions to which Franks were exposed under the
Turkish government. The faith of the Christians survived their arms at
Jerusalem, and was found within the sacred walls long after every European
soldier had disappeared. The Jacobite, Armenian, and Abyssinian believers
were allowed to cling to those memorials of redemption which have at all
times given so great an interest to the localities of Palestine; and
occasionally a member of the Latin Church had the good fortune to enter
the gates of the city in disguise, and was permitted to offer up his
prayers at the side of the Holy Sepulchre. In 1432, when La Broquiere
undertook his pilgrimage into the East, there were only two French monks
in Jerusalem, who were held in the most cruel thraldom.

The increasing intercourse between the Turks at Constantinople and the
governments of Europe gradually produced a more tolerant spirit among the
former, and paved the way for a lasting accommodation in favour of the
Christians in Palestine. We find, accordingly, that in the year 1507, when
Baumgarten travelled in Syria, there was at Jerusalem a monastery of
Franciscans, who possessed influence sufficient to secure his personal
safety, and even to provide for his comfort under their own roof. At a
somewhat later period, the Moslem rulers began to consider the reception
of pilgrims as a regular source of revenue; selling their protection at a
high price, and even creating dangers in order to render that protection
indispensable. The Christians, meantime, rose by degrees from the state of
depression and contumely into which they were sunk by the conquerors of
the Grecian empire. They were allowed to nominate patriarchs for the due
administration of ecclesiastical affairs, and to practise all the rites of
their religion, provided they did not insult the established faith,--a
condition of things which, with such changes as have been occasioned by
foreign war or the temper of individual governors, has been perpetuated to
the present day.

As the civil history of Palestine for three centuries is nothing more than
a relation of the broils, the insurrections, the massacres, and changes of
dynasty which have periodically shaken the Turkish empire in Europe as
well as in Asia, we willingly pass over it, as we thereby only refrain
from a mere recapitulation of names and dates which could not have the
slightest interest for any class of readers. At the close of the
eighteenth century, however, its affairs assumed a new importance.
Napoleon Bonaparte, whose views of dominion were limited only by the
bounds of the civilized world, imagined that, by the conquest of Egypt and
Syria, he should open for himself a path into the remoter provinces of the
Asiatic continent, and perhaps establish his power on either bank of the

It was in the spring of 1799 that the French general, who had been
informed of certain preparations against him in the pashalic of Acre,
resolved to cross the desert which divides Egypt from Palestine at the
head of ten thousand chosen men. El Arish soon fell into his hands, the
garrison of which were permitted to retire on condition that they should
not serve again during the war. Gaza likewise yielded without much
opposition to the overwhelming force by which it was attacked. Jaffa set
the first example of a vigorous resistance; the slaughter was tremendous;
and Bonaparte, to intimidate other towns from showing a similar spirit,
gave it up to plunder and the other excesses of an enraged soldiery. A
more melancholy scene followed--the massacre of nearly four thousand
prisoners who had laid down their arms. Napoleon alleged, that these were
the very individuals who had given their parole at El Arish, and had
violated their faith by appearing against him in the fortress which had
just fallen. On this pretext he commanded them all to be put to death, and
thereby brought a stain upon his reputation which no casuistry on the part
of his admirers, and no considerations of expediency, military or
political, will ever succeed in removing.[180]

Acre, so frequently mentioned in the History of the Crusades, was again
doomed to receive a fatal celebrity from a most sanguinary and protracted
siege. Achmet Djezzar, the pasha of that division of Palestine which
stretches from the borders of Egypt to the Gulf of Sidon, had thrown
himself into this fortress with a considerable army, determined to defend
it to the last extremity. After failing in an attempt to bribe the
Mussulman chief, Bonaparte made preparations for the attack, with his
usual skill and activity; resolving to carry the place by assault before
the Turkish government could send certain supplies of food and ammunition,
which he knew were expected by the besieged. But his design was frustrated
by the presence of a British squadron under Sir Sidney Smith, who, in the
first instance, captured a convoy of guns and stores forwarded from Egypt,
and then employed them against him, by erecting batteries on shore.
Notwithstanding these inauspicious circumstances, Napoleon opened his
trenches on the 18th of March, in the firm conviction that the Turkish
garrison could not long resist the fury of his onset and the skill of his
engineers. "On that little town," said he, to one of his generals, as they
were standing together on an eminence which still bears the name of
Richard Coeur de Lion, "on that little town depends the fate of the East.
Behold the key of Constantinople or of India!"

At the end of ten days a breach was effected, by which the French made
their first attempt to reduce the towers of Acre. Their assault was
conducted with so much firmness and spirit, that for a moment the garrison
was overpowered, and the town seemed lost. The pasha, renowned for his
personal courage, threw himself into the thickest body of the combatants,
and at length, by strength of hand and the most heroic example, rallied
his troops and drove the enemy from the walls. The loss of the French was
great, and the disappointment of their leader extreme. Napoleon was deeply
mortified when he saw his finest regiments pursued to their lines by
English sailors and undisciplined Turks, who even proceeded to destroy
their intrenchments.

Bourrienne relates, that during the assault of the 8th of May more than
two hundred men penetrated into the city. Already the shout of victory was
raised; but the breach, taken in flank by the Turks, could not be entered
with sufficient promptitude, and the party was left without support. The
streets were barricaded; the very women were running about throwing dust
into the air, and exciting the inhabitants by cries and howling; all
contributed to render unavailing this short occupation by a handful of
men, who, finding themselves alone, regained the breach by a retrograde
movement; but not before many had fallen.

The want of proper means for forming a siege, and perhaps the contempt
which he entertained for barbarians, occasioned a great deficiency in the
works raised before Acre. Bonaparte was not ignorant of the disadvantages
under which his men laboured from the cause now assigned; and was
principally for this reason that he trusted more to the bayonet than to
the mortar or cannon. He repeated his assaults day after day, till the
ditch was filled with dead and wounded soldiers. His grenadiers at length
felt greater horror at walking over the bodies of their comrades than at
encountering the tremendous discharges of large and small shot to which
the latter had fallen victims.

On the 21st of May, after sixty days of ineffectual labor under a burning
sun, Napoleon ordered a last assault on the obstinate garrison of
Ptolemais, which had barred his path to the accomplishment of the most
splendid conquests. This attempt was not less fruitless than those which
had preceded it, and was attended with the loss of many brave warriors. A
fleet was at hand to reinforce Djezzar with men and arms; the French, on
the contrary, were perishing under the plague, which had already found its
way into their ranks, and were, besides, constantly threatened by swarms
of Arabs and Mamlouks, who had assembled in the neighbouring mountains.
His failure in this effort, accordingly, dictated the necessity of a
speedy retreat towards Egypt, where his affairs continued to enjoy some
degree of prosperity, and in the magazines of which he might still find
the means of restoring the health and vigour of his troops.

The siege of Acre, says the biographer of Bonaparte, cost nearly three
thousand men in killed, and of such as died of the plague and their
wounds. Had there been less precipitation in the attack, and had the
advances been conducted according to the rules of art, the town, says he,
could not have held out three days; and one assault such as that of the
8th of May would have sufficed. But he admits that it would have been
wiser in their situation, destitute as they were of heavy artillery and
provisions, while the place was plentifully supplied and in active
communication with the English and Ottoman fleets, not to have undertaken
the siege at all. In the bulletins, he adds, always so veracious, the lose
of the French is estimated at five hundred killed and a thousand wounded;
while that of the enemy is augmented to fifteen thousand. These documents
are doubtless curious pieces for history,--certainly not because they are
true. Bonaparte, however, attached the greatest importance to these
relations, which were always drawn up or corrected by himself.[181]

The reader may not be displeased to consider the motives which induced
Napoleon to persevere so long in the siege of Acre. "I see that this
paltry town has cost me many men, and occupies much time; but things have
gone too far not to risk a last effort. If we succeed, it is to be hoped
we shall find in that place the treasures of the pasha, and arms for three
hundred thousand men. I will raise and arm the whole of Syria, which is
already greatly exasperated by the cruelty of Djezzar, for whose fall you
have seen the people supplicate Heaven at every assault. I advance upon
Damascus and Aleppo; I recruit my army by marching into every country
where discontent prevails; I announce to the people the abolition of
slavery, and of the tyrannical government of the pashas; I arrive at
Constantinople with armed messes; I overturn the dominion of the
Mussulman; I found in the East a new and mighty empire which shall fix my
position with posterity; and perhaps I return to Paris by Adrianople or
Vienna, having annihilated the house of Austria."[182]

Whatever accuracy there may be in these reminiscences, there is no doubt
that Napoleon frequently remarked, in reference to Acre, "The fate of the
East is in that place." Nor was this observation made at random; for had
the French subdued Djezzar, and buried his army in the ruins of the
fortress, the whole of Palestine and Syria would have submitted to their
dominion. He expected, besides, a cordial reception from the Druses, those
warlike and semi-barbarous tribes who inhabit the valleys of Libanus, and
who, like all the other subjects of the Ottoman government, had felt the
pressure of the pasha's tyranny. His eyes were likewise turned towards the
Jews, who, in every commotion which affects Syria, are accustomed to look
for the indication of that happy change destined, in the eye of their
faith, to restore the kingdom to Israel in the latter days. It was not,
indeed, till a somewhat later period that he openly extended his
protection to the descendants of Abraham; but it is not improbable that
the notion had occurred to him during his Eastern campaigns of employing
them for the purpose of establishing an independent sovereignty in
Palestine, devoted to his ulterior views in the countries beyond the

During the siege of Acre, the several detachments of the French army
stationed in Galilee were attacked by a powerful Mussulman force, which
had assembled in the adjoining mountains. Junot, who was induced to risk
an engagement near Nazareth, would have been cut in pieces by the Mamlouk
cavalry, had not Bonaparte hastened to his assistance We have already
alluded to the masterly conduct of Kleber, who, at the head of a few
hundred men, kept the field a whole day against an overwhelming mass of
horsemen that attacked his party near Mount Tabor. On this occasion, too,
the speedy aid of Napoleon secured a victory, and scattered the enemy's
troops over the face of the desert. But he found, upon his return to the
trenches, that the same men whose columns dissipated like smoke before his
battalions on the plain were extremely formidable behind an armed wall,
and that all the skill of his engineers and the bravery of his veterans
were of no avail when opposed by the savage courage of Turks directed by
European officers and supported by English seamen.

The sufferings which the French endured in their retreat across the desert
were very great, and afforded constant exercise for the self-possession
and equanimity of their leader. "A fearful journey," says one of their
number, "was yet before us. Some of the wounded were carried in litters,
and the rest on camels and mules. A devouring thirst, the total want of
water, an excessive heat, a fatiguing march among scorching sand-hills,
demoralized the men; a most cruel selfishness, the most unfeeling
indifference, took place of every generous or humane sentiment. I have
seen thrown from the litters officers with amputated limbs, whose
conveyance had been ordered, and who had themselves given money as a
recompense for the fatigue. I have beheld abandoned among the wheatfields
soldiers who had lost their legs or arms, wounded men, and patients
supposed to be affected with the plague. Our march was lighted up by
torches kindled for the purpose of setting on fire towns, hamlets, and the
rich crops with which the earth was covered. The whole country was in
flames. It seemed as if we found a solace in this extent of mischief for
our own reverses and sufferings. We were surrounded only by the dying, by
plunderers, by incendiaries. Wretched beings at the point of death, thrown
by the wayside, continued to call with feeble voice, 'I have not the
plague, I am but wounded;' and, to convince those that passed, they might
be seen tearing open their real wounds, or inflicting new ones. Nobody
believed them. It was the interest of all not to believe. Comrades would
say, 'He is done for now; his march is over;' then pass on, look to
themselves, and feel satisfied. The sun, in all his splendour under that
beautiful sky, was obscured by the smoke of continual conflagration. We
had the sea on our right; on our left and behind us lay the desert which
we had made; before were the sufferings and privations that awaited

Since the departure of the French no event has occurred to give any
interest to the history of Palestine. The Mussulman instantly resumed his
power, which for a time he appeared determined to exercise with a strong
arm and with little forbearance towards the Franks, from the terror of
whose might he had just escaped. But the ascendency of Europe, as a great
assemblage of Christian states, checks the intolerance of the Turk, and
imposes upon him the obligations of a more liberal policy. Hence we may
confidently assert, that although the members of the Greek and Latin
churches in Syria are severely taxed, they are not persecuted. They are
compelled to pay heavily for the privilege of exercising the rights of
their worship, and of enjoying that freedom of conscience which is the
natural inheritance of every human being; but their property is held
sacred, and their personal security is not endangered, provided they have
the prudence to rest satisfied with a simple connivance or bare permission
in things relating to their faith.

The actual state of the Holy Land may be known with sufficient accuracy
from the topographical description which we have given in a former
chapter. With regard, again, to the civil government of the country, it
has been remarked that the pashas are so frequently changed, or so often
at war with each other, that the jurisdiction of the magistrates in cities
is so undefined, and the hereditary or assumed rights of the sheiks of
particular districts are so various, that it is extremely difficult to
discover any settled rule by which the administration is conducted. The
whole Turkish empire, indeed, has the appearance of being so precariously
balanced, that the slightest movement within or from without seems likely
to overturn it. Everywhere is absolute power seen stretched beyond the
limits of all apparent control, but finding, nevertheless, a counteracting
principle in that extreme degree of acuteness to which the instinct of
self-preservation is sharpened by the constant apprehension of injury.
Hence springs that conflict between force and fraud, not always visible,
but always operating, which characterizes society in all despotic

In the minute subdivision of power, which in all cases partakes of the
absolute nature of the supreme government, the traveller is often reminded
of patriarchal times, when there were found judges, and even kings,
exercising a separate dominion at the distance of a short journey from one
another. As an instance of this, we may mention, that on the road from
Jerusalem to Sannour, by way of Nablous, there are no fewer than three
governors of cities, all of whom claim the honours of independent
sovereigns; for, although they acknowledge a nominal superiority in the
Pasha of Damascus, they exclude his jurisdiction in all cases where he
does not enforce his authority at the head of his troops: The same
affectation of independence descends to the sheiks of villages, who, aware
of the precarious tenure by which their masters remain in office, are
disposed to treat their orders with contempt. Like them, too, they turn to
their personal advantage the power of imposition and extortion which
belongs to every one who is clothed with official rank in Syria. They sell
justice and protection; and in this market, as in all others, he who
offers the best price is certain to obtain the largest share of the

This chapter would not be complete were we to omit all allusion to the
Jews, the ancient inhabitants of Palestine. Their number, according to a
statement lately published in Germany, amounts to between three and four
millions, scattered over the face of the whole earth, but still
maintaining the same laws which their ancestors received from their
inspired legislator more than three thousand years ago. In Europe there
are nearly two millions, enjoying different privileges according to the
spirit of the several governments; in Asia, the estimate exceeds seven
hundred thousand; in Africa, more than half a million; and in America,
about ten thousand. It is supposed, however, on good grounds, that the
Jewish population on both sides of Mount Taurus is considerably greater
than is here given, and that their gross number does not fall much short
of five millions.[185]

In Palestine of late years they have greatly increased. It is said that
not fewer than ten thousand inhabit Saphet and Jerusalem, and that in
their worship they still sing those pathetic hymns which their manifold
tribulations have inspired; bewailing, amid the ruins of their ancient
capital, the fallen city and the desolate tribes. In Persia, one of them
addressed a Christian missionary in these affecting words:--"I have
travelled far; the Jews are everywhere princes in comparison with those in
the land of Iran. Heavy is our captivity, heavy is our burden, heavy is
our slavery; anxiously we wait for redemption."

History, says an eloquent writer, is the record of the past; it presumes
not to raise the mysterious veil which the Almighty has spread over the
future. The destinies of this wonderful people, as of all mankind, are in
the hands of the all-wise Ruler of the universe; his decrees will
certainly be accomplished; his truth, his goodness, and his wisdom will be
clearly vindicated. This, however, we may venture to assert, that true
religion will advance with the dissemination of sound and useful
knowledge. The more enlightened the Jew becomes, the more incredible will
it appear to him that the gracious Father of the whole human race intended
an exclusive faith, a creed confined to one family, to be permanent; and
the more evident also will it appear to him, that a religion which
embraces within the sphere of its benevolence all the kindreds and
languages of the earth is alone adapted to an improved and civilized

We presume not to expound the signs of the times, nor to see farther than
we are necessarily led by the course of events; but it is impossible not
to be struck with the aspect of that grandest of all moral phenomena which
is suspended upon the history and actual condition of the sons of Jacob.
At this moment they are nearly as numerous as when David swayed the
sceptre of the Twelve Tribes; their expectations are the same, their
longings are the same; and on whatever part of the earth's surface they
have their abode, their eyes and their faith are all pointed in the same
direction--to the land of their fathers and the holy city where they
worshipped. Though rejected by God and persecuted by man, they have not
once, during eighteen hundred long years, ceased to repose confidence in
the promises made by Jehovah to the founders of their nation; and although
the heart has often been sick and the spirit faint, they have never
relinquished the hope of that bright reversion in the latter days which is
once more to establish the Lord's house on the top of the mountains, and
to make Jerusalem the glory of the whole world.


_The Natural History of Palestine_.

Travellers too much neglect Natural History; Maundrell, Hasselquist,
Clarke. GEOLOGY--Syrian Chain; Libanus; Calcareous Rocks; Granite;
Trap; Volcanic Remains; Chalk; Marine Exuviae; Precious Stones.
METEOROLOGY--Climate of Palestine; Winds; Thunder; Clouds; Waterspouts;
Ignis Fatuus. ZOOLOGY--Scripture Animals; The Hart; The Roebuck;
Fallow-Deer; Wild Goat; Pygarg; Wild Ox; Chamois; Unicorn; Wild Ass; Wild
Goats of the Rock; Saphan, or Coney; Mouse; Porcupine; Jerboa; Mole; Bat.
BIRDS--Eagle; Ossifrage; Ospray; Vulture; Kite; Raven; Owl; Nighthawk;
Cuckoo; Hawk; Little Owl; Cormorant; Great Owl; Swan; Pelican; Gier Eagle;
Stork; Heron; Lapwing; Hoopoe. AMPHIBIA AND REPTILES--Serpents known to the
Hebrews; Ephe; Chephir; Acshub; Pethen; Tzeboa; Tzimmaon; Tzepho; Kippos;
Shephiphon; Shachal; Saraph, the Flying Serpent; Cockatrice Eggs; The
Scorpion; Sea-monsters, or Seals. FRUITS AND PLANTS--Vegetable Productions
of Palestine; The Fig-tree; Palm; Olive; Cedars of Libanus; Wild Grapes;
Balsam of Aaron; Thorn of Christ.

Every one who writes on the Holy Land has occasion to regret that
travellers in general have paid so little attention to its geological
structure and natural productions. Maundrell, it is true, was not
entirely destitute of physical science; but the few remarks which he
makes are extremely vague and unconnected, and, not being expressed in
the language of system, throw very little light on the researches of the
natural philosopher or the geologist. Hasselquist had more professional
learning, and has accordingly contributed more than any of his
predecessors to our acquaintance with Palestine, viewed in its relations
to the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral kingdoms. Still the reader
of his Voyages and Travels in the Levant cannot fail to perceive, that
some of the branches of natural knowledge, which are now cultivated with
the greatest care, were in his day very little improved; and more
especially, that they were deficient in accuracy of description and
distinctness of arrangement. Dr. Clarke's observations are perhaps more
scientific than those of the Swedish naturalist just named, and
particularly in the departments of mineralogy and geology to which he had
devoted a large share of his attention. But even in his works we look in
vain for a satisfactory treatise on the mountain-rocks of Palestine, on
the geognostic formation of that interesting part of Western Asia, or on
the fossil treasures which its strata are understood to envelop. We are
therefore reduced to the necessity of collecting from various authors,
belonging to different countries and successive ages, the scattered
notices which appear in their works, and of arranging them according to a
plan most likely to suit the comprehension of the common reader.


At first view it would appear that the ridges of Palestine are all a
ramification of Mount Taurus. But the proper Syrian chain begins on the
south of Antioch, at the huge peak of Casius, which shoots up to the
heavens its tapering summit, covered with thick forests. The same chain,
under various names, follows the direction of the eastern shore of the
Mediterranean, at no greater distance, generally speaking, than
twenty-four miles from its waters. Mount Libanus forms its most elevated
summit. At length it is divided into two branches, of which the one looks
westward to the sea, the other, which bounds the Plain of Damascus,
verges in the direction of the desert and the banks of the Euphrates.
Hermon, whose lofty top condenses the moisture of the atmosphere, and
gives rise to the dews so much celebrated in the Sacred Writings, stands
between Heliopolis and the capital of Syria. The latter ridge received
from the Greeks the denomination of Anti-Libanus,--a name unknown among
the natives, and which, being employed somewhat arbitrarily by historians
and topographers, has occasioned considerable obscurity in their

The hills in this part of Syria are composed of a calcareous rock having
a whitish colour, is extremely hard, and which rings in the ear when
smartly struck with a hammer. The same description applies to the masses
that surround Jerusalem, which on the one hand stretch to the River
Jordan, and on the other extend to the Plain of Acre and Jaffa. Like all
limestone strata, they present a great number of caverns, to which, as
places of retreat, frequent allusion is made in the books of Samuel and
of the Kings. There is one near Damascus, capable of containing four
thousand men; and it must have been in a similar recess that David and
his men encountered the ill-fated Saul when pursued by him on the hills
of the wild goats.

The mountains that skirt the Valley of the Dead Sea present granite and
those other rocks which, according to the system of Werner, characterize
the oldest or primitive formation. Mount Sinai is a member of the same
group, and exhibits mineral qualities of a similar nature, extending to a
certain distance on both sides of the Arabian Gulf. It is probable that
this region, at a remote epoch, was the theatre of immense volcanoes, the
effects of which may still be traced along the banks of the Lower Jordan,
and more especially in the lake itself. The warm baths at Tabaria show
that the same cause still exists, although much restricted in its
operation,--an inference which is amply confirmed by the lavas, the
bitumen, and pumice which continue to be thrown ashore by the waves of

Dr. Clarke remarks, that in the neighborhood of Cana there are several
basaltic appearances. The extremities of columns, prismatically formed,
penetrated the surface of the soil, so as to render the path very rough
and unpleasant. These marks of regular or of irregular crystallization
generally denote, according to his opinion, the vicinity of water lying
beneath their level. The traveller, having passed over a series of
successive plains, resembling in their gradation the order of a
staircase, observes, as he descends to the inferior stratum upon which
the water rests, that where rocks are disclosed the symptoms of
crystallization have taken place, and then the prismatic configuration is
commonly denoted basaltic. Such an appearance, therefore, in the approach
to the Lake of Tiberias is only a parallel to similar phenomena exhibited
by rocks near the Lakes of Locarno and Bolsenna in Italy, by those of the
Wenner Lake in Sweden, by the bed of the Rhine near Cologne in Germany,
by the Valley of Ronca in the territory of Verona, by the Pont de Bridon
in the state of Venice, and by numerous other examples in the same
country. A corresponding effect is produced on a small scale on the
southern declivity, of Arthur Seat, near Edinburgh, where the hill
overhangs the Lake of Duddingstone; and numerous other instances are
known to occur in the islands which lie between the coast of Ireland and
Norway, as well as Spain, Portugal, Arabia, and India.

When these crystals have obtained a certain regularity of structure, the
form is often hexagonal, or six-sided, resembling particular kinds of
spar, and the emerald. Patrin, during his travels in the deserts of
Oriental Tartary, discovered when breaking the Asiatic emerald, if fresh
taken from the matrix, not only the same alternate concave and convex
fractures which sometimes characterize the horizontal fissures of
basaltic pillars, but also the concentric layers which denote
concretionary formation: It is hardly possible to have a more striking
proof of coincidence, resulting from similarity of structure, in two
substances otherwise remarkably distinguished from each other. In this
state science remains at present, concerning an appearance in nature
which exhibits nothing more than the common process of crystallization
upon a larger scale than has usually excited attention. Suffice it to
remark, that such a phenomenon is very frequent in the vicinity of very
ancient lakes, in the bed of all considerable rivers, or by the borders
of the ocean.[187]

In a country where there are so many traces of volcanic action, the rocks
of the lower levels cannot fail to bear marks of their origin.
Hasselquist relates, that the Hill of Tiberias, out of which issues the
fountain whence the baths are supplied, consists of a black and brittle
sulphurous stone, which is only to be found in large masses in the
neighborhood, though it is commonly met with in rolled specimens on the
shores of the Dead Sea, and in other parts of the valley. The sediment
deposited by the water is also black, as thick as paste, smells strongly
of sulphur, and is covered with two skins or cuticles, of which the lower
is of a fine dark-green, and the uppermost of a light rusty colour. At
the mouth of the outlet, where the stream formed little cascades over the
stones, the first cuticle alone was found, and so much resembled a
conferva, that one might have taken it for a vegetable production; but
nearer the river, where the current became stagnant, both skins were
visible, the yellow on the surface, and under it the green.[188]

There are observed, in the same hollow, small portions of quartz
incrusted with an impure salt, and nodules of clay extremely compact.
Near the edge of the valley there lie scattered on the sand considerable
portions of flinty slate; and amid the common clay, which forms the basis
of the soil, are perpendicular layers of a lamellated brown argil,
assuming, as it were, the slaty structure. Dr. Clarke noticed among the
pebbles near the Lake of Tiberias pieces of a porous rock resembling the
substance called toadstone in England; its cavities were filled with
zeolite. Native gold was likewise found there, but the quantity was so
small as not to draw from the travellers a suitable degree of attention.

The Vale of the Asphaltites is further remarkable for a species of
limestone called the fetid, the smell of which, as its name imports, is
extremely offensive. It is still manufactured in the East into amulets,
and worn as a specific against the plague; and that a similar
superstition existed in regard to this stone in very early ages is
rendered manifest by the circumstance, that charms made of the same
substance were found in the subterranean chambers under the pyramids of
Sakhara in Upper Egypt. The cause of the fetid effluvia emitted from this
rock, when partially decomposed by means of friction, is now known to be
connected with the presence of sulphuretted hydrogen. All bituminous
limestone, however, does not possess this property. It is not uncommon in
the calcareous beds called in England black marble, but it is by no means
their characteristic. The fragments obtained in the valley of the Jordan
have this savour in a high degree; and it is admitted that the oriental
limestone is more highly impregnated with hydrosulphuret than any
hitherto found in Europe.[189]

According to Dr. Shaw, the upper strata of rocks on the hills along the
coast are composed of a soft chalky substance, including a great variety
of corals, shells, and other marine exuviae. Upon the Castravan
mountains, near Beirout, there is a singular bed, consisting likewise of
a whitish stone, but of the slate-kind, which unfolds in every flake of
it a great number and variety of fishes. These, for the most part, lie
exceedingly flat and compressed, like the fossil specimens of fern; yet
are, at the same time, so well preserved, that the smallest lineaments
and fibres of their fins, scales, and other specific properties of
structure are easily distinguished. Among these were some individuals of
the squilla tribe, which, though one of the tenderest of the crustaceous
family, had not suffered the least injury from pressure or friction. The
heights of Carmel, too, present similar phenomena. In the chalky beds
which surround its summit are gathered numerous hollow flints, lined in
the inside with a variety of sparry matter, and having some resemblance
to petrified fruit. These are commonly bestowed upon pilgrims, not only
as curiosities, but as antidotes against several distempers. Those which
bear a likeness to the olive, usually denominated "lapides Judaici," are
looked upon, when dissolved in the juice of lemons, as an approved
medicine for curing the stone and gravel,--a specific, we may presume;
which, after the fashion of many others, operates upon the body through
the power of the imagination.[190]

The miserable condition of ignorance and neglect into which every thing
connected with industry has fallen under the Turkish government, prevents
us from obtaining any information in regard to the mineral stores of that
country, "whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayst dig
brass." Volney indeed relates, that ores of the former metal abound, in
the mountains of Kesraoun and of the Druses, in other words, in the
extensive range of which Libanus is the principal member. Every summer
the inhabitants work those mines which are simply ochreous. There is a
vague report in the district, that there was anciently a vein of copper
near Aleppo, but it must have been long since abandoned. It was also
mentioned to the traveller, when among the Druses, that a mineral was
discovered which produced both lead and silver; though, as such a
discovery would have ruined the whole district by attracting the
attention of the Turks, they made haste to destroy every vestige of it. A
similar feeling prevails respecting precious stones,--the branch of
mineralogy which first gains the attention of a rude people. From the
geological character of the Syrian mountains, there is no doubt that
Palestine might boast of the topaz, the emerald, the chryso-beryl,
several varieties of rock-crystal, and also of the finer jaspers. The
Sacred Writings prove that the Jews were acquainted with a considerable
variety of ornamental stones, as may be seen in the description of the
mystical city in the book of Revelation, of which "the twelve gates were
twelve pearls." But the present inhabitants of Canaan, regardless of the
natural wealth with which the hills and the valleys abound, trust to
violence for the means of luxury, and to the most unprincipled extortion
and robbery for their accustomed revenue. From them, therefore, neither
knowledge nor elegance can ever be expected to receive any attention.


Under this head we include the usual properties of the atmosphere which
minister to health and vegetation, for it has been justly remarked that
Syria has three climates. The summits of Libanus, for instance, covered
with snow, diffuse a salubrious coolness in the interior; the flat
situations, on the contrary, especially those which stretch along the
line of the coast, are constantly subjected to heat, accompanied with
great humidity; while the adjoining plains of the desert are scorched by
the rays of a burning sun. The seasons and the productions, of course,
undergo a corresponding variation. In the mountains the months of spring
and summer very nearly coincide with those in the southern parts of
Europe; and the winter, which lasts from November till March, is sharp
and rigorous. No year passes without snow, which often covers the surface
of the ground to the depth of several feet during many weeks. The spring
and autumn are agreeable, and the summer by no means oppressive. But in
the plains, on the other hand, as soon as the sun has passed the equator,
a sudden transition takes place to an overpowering heat, which continues
till October. To compensate for this, however, the winter is so temperate
that orange-trees, dates, bananas, and other delicate fruits grow in the
open field. Hence, we need hardly observe that a journey of a few hours
carries the traveller through a succession of seasons, and allows him a
choice of climate, varying from the mild temperature of France to the
blood-heat of India, or the pinching cold of Russia.

The winds in Palestine, as in all countries which approach the tropics,
are periodical, and governed in no small degree by the course of the sun.
About the autumnal equinox, the north-west begins to blow with frequency
and strength. It renders the air dry, clear, and sharp; and it is
remarkable that on the seacoast it causes the headache, like the
north-east wind in Egypt. We may further observe, that it usually blows
three days successively, like the south and south-east at the other
equinox. It continues to prevail till November, that is, about fifty
days, when it is followed by the west and south-west, called by the Arabs
"the fathers of rain." In March arise the pernicious winds from the
southern quarter, with the same circumstances as in Egypt; but they
become feebler as we advance towards the north, and are much more
supportable in the mountains than in the low country. Their duration at
each return varies from twenty-four hours to three days. The easterly
winds, which come next in order, continue till June, when they are
commonly succeeded by an inconstant breeze from the north. At this season
the wind shifts through all the points every day, passing with the sun
from east to south, and from south to west, to return by the north and
recommence the same circuit. At this time, too, a local wind, called the
land-breeze, prevails along the coast during the night; it springs up
after sunset, lasts till the appearance of the solar orb in the morning,
and extends only a few leagues to sea.

Travellers have observed that thunder, in the lowlands of Palestine as
well as in Egypt, is more common during the winter than in summer; while
in the mountains, on the contrary, it is more frequent in the latter
season, and very seldom heard in the former. In both these countries it
happens oftenest in the rainy season, or about the time of the equinoxes,
especially the autumnal; and it is further remarkable that it never comes
from the land side, but always from the sea. These storms, too, generally
speaking, take place either in the evening or morning, and rarely in the
middle of the day. They are accompanied with violent showers of rain, and
sometimes of uncommonly large hail, which, soon covering the face of the
country with stagnant water, give rise to a copious evaporation.

The phenomenon alluded to by the prophet Elijah is still found to
diversify the aspect of the eastern sky. Volney remarks, that clouds are
sometimes seen to dissolve and disperse like smoke; while on other
occasions they form in an instant, and from a small speck increase to a
prodigious size. This is particularly observable at the summit of
Lebanon; and mariners have usually found that the appearance of a cloud
on this peak is an infallible presage of a westerly wind, one of the
"fathers of rain" in the climate of Judea.[191]

Waterspouts are not unfrequent along the shores of Syria, and more
especially in the neighbourhood of Mount Carmel. Those observed by Dr.
Shaw appeared to be so many cylinders of water falling down from the
clouds; though by the reflection it might be of these descending columns,
or from the actual dropping of the fluid contained in them, they would
sometimes, says he, appear at a distance to be sucked up from the sea.
The theory of waterspouts in the present day does in fact admit the
supposition here referred to; that the air, being rarefied by particular
causes, has its equilibrium restored by the elevation of the water, on
the same principle that mercury rises in the barometer, or the contents
of a well in a common pump. The opinions of the learned traveller on this
subject are extremely loose and unscientific, and are only valuable in
our times as marking a certain stage in the progress of meteorological

The same author has recorded a fact which we have not observed in the
pages of any other tourist. In travelling by night, in the beginning of
April, through the valleys of Mount Ephraim, he was attended for more
than an hour by an _ignis fatuus_ that displayed itself in a variety of
extraordinary appearances. It was sometimes globular, and sometimes
pointed like the flame of a candle; then it spread itself so as to
involve the whole company in its pale inoffensive light; after which it
contracted, and suddenly disappeared. But in less than a minute it would
begin again to exert itself as at other times, running along from one
place to another with great swiftness, like a train of gunpowder set on
fire; or else it would expand itself over more than two or three acres of
the adjacent mountains, discovering every shrub and tree that grew upon
them. The atmosphere from the beginning of the evening had been
remarkably thick and hazy; and the dew, as felt upon the bridles, was
unusually clammy and unctuous. In such weather similar luminous bodies
are observed skipping about the masts and yards of ships, and are called
by the mariners _corpusanse_, a corruption of the _cuerpo santo_, or
sacred body, of the Spaniards. The same were the Castor and Pollux of the
ancients. Some writers have attempted to account for these phenomena,
particularly for the _ignis fatuus_, by supposing it to be occasioned by
successive swarms of flying glowworms, or other insects of the same
nature. But, as Dr. Shaw observes, not to perceive or feel any of these
insects, even when the light which they produce spreads itself around us,
should induce us to explain both this appearance and the other on the
received principle that they are actually meteors, or a species of
natural phosphorus.[192]


In this article we shall confine our attention to such animals as are
mentioned in Holy Scripture; our object being restricted to an
elucidation of the natural history of Palestine as it presents itself to
the common reader, and not according to the arrangement which might be
required by the rules of science.

In the fourteenth chapter of Deuteronomy, where a distinction is made
between the clean and the unclean, or those which might be eaten and
those which were prohibited, we find in the former class the ox, the
sheep, the goat, the hart, the roebuck, the fallow-deer, the wild goat,
the pygarg, the wild ox, and the chamois. As to the domesticated animals,
which are common in all countries, we shall not waste time by exhibiting
any description. The next in order, or "hart," is also quite familiar;
but every scholar knows that the Hebrew term _ail_ is so vague in its
import, that it has been understood to signify a tree as well as a
quadruped. Thus the fine expression in the forty-ninth chapter of
Genesis, uttered by Jacob in reference to one of his children, "Naphtali
is a hind let loose; he giveth goodly words," has been translated by
Bochart, Houbigant, and others, in these terms:--"Naphtali is a spreading
tree, giving out beautiful branches." The meaning of the patriarch
unquestionably was, that the tribe about to descend from his son would be
active and powerful, enjoying at once unrestrained freedom and abundance
of food. It might be expressed thus:--Naphtali is a deer roaming at
liberty; he shooteth forth noble branches, or majestic antlers; his
residence shall be in a beautiful woodland country; and, as Moses also
predicted, "he shall be filled with the blessings of the Lord."

The _roebuck_, or tzebi of the Hebrews, is regarded by Dr. Shaw as the
gazelle, or antelope,--a beautiful creature, which is very common all
over Greece, Syria, the Holy Land, Egypt, and Barbary. It is known among
Greek naturalists by the name of _dorcas_, from an allusion to its fine
eyes, the brilliancy and liveliness of which have passed into a proverb
in all eastern countries. The damsel whose name was Tabitha, which is by
interpretation Dorcas, might be so called from this particular feature.
The antelope likewise is in great esteem among the orientals for food,
having a very sweet musky taste, which is highly agreeable to their
palates; and, therefore, the tzebi might well be received as one of the
dainties at Solomon's table.[193] If, then, says the author just quoted,
we lay all these circumstances together, they will appear to be much more

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