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- Waverley Volume XII - 1/140 -









Tales of my Landlord.


The European with the Asian shore-- Sophia's cupola with golden gleam The cypress groves--Olympus high and hoar-- The twelve isles, and the more than I could dream, Far less describe, present the very view That charm'd the charming Mary Montagu. DON JUAN.


Sir Walter Scott transmitted from Naples, in February, 1832, an Introduction for CASTLE DANGEROUS; but if he ever wrote one for a second Edition of ROBERT OF PARIS, it has not been discovered among his papers. Some notes, chiefly extracts from the books which he had been observed to consult while _dictating_ this novel, are now appended to its pages; and in addition to what the author had given in the shape of historical information respecting the principal real persons introduced, the reader is here presented with what may probably amuse him, the passage of the Alexiad, in which Anna Comnena describes the incident which originally, no doubt, determined Sir Walter's choice of a hero.

May, A.D. 1097.--"As for the multitude of those who advanced towards THE GREAT CITY, let it be enough to say that they were as the stars in the heaven, or as the sand upon the sea-shore. They were, in the words of Homer, _as many as the leaves and flowers of spring_. But for the names of the leaders, though they are present in my memory, I will not relate them. The numbers of these would alone deter me, even if my language furnished the means of expressing their barbarous sounds; and for what purpose should I afflict my readers with a long enumeration of the names of those, whose visible presence gave so much horror to all that beheld them?

"As soon, therefore, as they approached the Great City, they occupied the station appointed for them by the Emperor, near to the monastery of Cosmidius. But this multitude were not, like the Hellenic one of old, to be restrained and governed by the loud voices of nine heralds; they required the constant superintendence of chosen and valiant soldiers, to keep them from violating the commands of the Emperor.

"He, meantime, laboured to obtain from the other leaders that acknowledgment of his supreme authority, which had already been drawn from Godfrey [Greek: Gontophre] himself. But, notwithstanding the willingness of some to accede to this proposal, and their assistance in working on the minds of their associates, the Emperor's endeavours had little success, as the majority were looking for the arrival of Bohemund [Greek: Baimontos], in whom they placed their chief confidence, and resorted to every art with the view of gaining time. The Emperor, whom it was not easy to deceive, penetrated their motives; and by granting to one powerful person demands which had been supposed out of all bounds of expectation, and by resorting to a variety of other devices, he at length prevailed, and won general assent to the following of the example of Godfrey, who also was sent for in person to assist in this business.

"All, therefore, being assembled, and Godfrey among them, the oath was taken; but when all was finished, a certain Noble among these Counts had the audacity to seat himself on the throne of the Emperor. [Greek: Tolmaesas tis apo panton ton komaeton eugenaes eis ton skimpoda ton Basileos ekathisen.] The Emperor restrained himself and said nothing, for he was well acquainted of old with the nature of the Latins.

"But the Count Baldwin [Greek: Baldoninos] stepping forth, and seizing him by the hand, dragged him thence, and with many reproaches said, 'It becomes thee not to do such things here, especially after having taken the oath of fealty. [Greek: douleian haeposchomeno]. It is not the custom of the Roman Emperors to permit any of their inferiors to sit beside them, not even of such as are born subjects of their empire; and it is necessary to respect the customs of the country.' But he, answering nothing to Baldwin, stared yet more fixedly upon the Emperor, and muttered to himself something in his own dialect, which, being interpreted, was to this effect--'Behold, what rustic fellow [Greek: choritaes] is this, to be seated alone while such leaders stand around him!' The movement of his lips did not escape the Emperor, who called to him one that understood the Latin dialect, and enquired what words the man had spoken. When he heard them, the Emperor said nothing to the other Latins, but kept the thing to himself. When, however, the business was all over, he called near to him by himself that swelling and shameless Latin [Greek: hypsaelophrona ekeinon kai anaidae], and asked of him, who he was, of what lineage, and from what region he had come. 'I am a Frank,' said he, 'of pure blood, of the Nobles. One thing I know, that where three roads meet in the place from which I came, there is an ancient church, in which whosoever has the desire to measure himself against another in single combat, prays God to help him therein, and afterwards abides the coming of one willing to encounter him. At that spot long time did I remain, but the man bold enough to stand against me I found not.' Hearing these words the Emperor said, 'If hitherto thou hast sought battles in vain, the time is at hand which will furnish thee with abundance of them. And I advise thee to place thyself neither before the phalanx, nor in its rear, but to stand fast in the midst of thy fellow-soldiers; for of old time I am well acquainted with the warfare of the Turks.' With such advice he dismissed not only this man, but the rest of those who were about to depart on that expedition."--_Alexiad_, Book x. pp. 237, 238.

Ducange, as is mentioned in the novel, identifies the church, thus described by the crusader, with that of _Our Lady of Soissons_, of which a French poet of the days of Louis VII. says--

Veiller y vont encore li Pelerin Cil qui bataille veulent fere et fournir. DUCANGE _in Alexiad_, p. 86.

The Princess Anna Comnena, it may be proper to observe, was born on the first of December, A.D. 1083, and was consequently in her fifteenth year when the chiefs of the first crusade made their appearance in her father's court. Even then, however, it is not improbable that she might have been the wife of Nicephorus Bryennius, whom, many years after his death, she speaks of in her history as [Greek: ton emon Kaisara], and in other terms equally affectionate. The bitterness with which she uniformly mentions Bohemund, Count of Tarentum, afterwards Prince of Antioch, has, however, been ascribed to a disappointment in love; and on one remarkable occasion, the Princess certainly expressed great contempt of her husband. I am aware of no other authorities for the liberties taken with this lady's conjugal character in the novel.

Her husband, Nicephorus Bryennius, was the grandson of the person of that name, who figures in history as the rival, in a contest for the imperial throne, of Nicephorus Botoniates. He was, on his marriage with Anna Comnena, invested with the rank of _Panhypersebastos_, or _Omnium Augustissimus_; but Alexius deeply offended him, by afterwards recognising the superior and simpler dignity of a _Sebastos_. His eminent qualities, both in peace and war, are acknowledged by Gibbon: and he has left us four books of Memoirs, detailing the early part of his father-in-law's history, and valuable as being the work of an eye-witness of the most important events which he describes. Anna Comnena appears to have considered it her duty to take up the task which her husband had not lived to complete; and hence the Alexiad--certainly, with all its defects, the first historical work that has as yet proceeded from a female pen.

"The life of the Emperor Alexius," (says Gibbon,) "has been delineated by the pen of a favourite daughter, who was inspired by tender regard for his person, and a laudable zeal to perpetuate his virtues. Conscious of the just suspicion of her readers, the Princess repeatedly protests, that, besides her personal knowledge, she had searched the discourses and writings of the most respectable veterans; and that after an interval of thirty years, forgotten by, and forgetful of the world, her mournful solitude was inaccessible to hope and fear: that truth, the naked perfect truth, was more dear than the memory of her parent. Yet instead of the simplicity of style and narrative which wins our belief, an elaborate affectation of rhetoric and science betrays in every page the vanity of a female author. The genuine character of Alexius is lost in a vague constellation of virtues; and the perpetual strain of panegyric and apology awakens our jealousy, to question the veracity of the historian, and the merit of her hero. We cannot, however, refuse her judicious and important remark, that the disorders of the times were the misfortune and the glory of Alexius; and that every calamity which can afflict a declining empire was accumulated on his reign by the justice of Heaven and the vices of his predecessors. In the east, the victorious Turks had spread, from Persia to the Hellespont, the reign of the Koran and the Crescent; the west was invaded by the adventurous valour of the Normans; and, in the moments of peace, the Danube poured forth new swarms, who had gained in the science of war what they had lost in the ferociousness of their manners. The sea was not less hostile than the land; and, while the frontiers were assaulted by an open enemy, the palace was distracted with secret conspiracy and treason.

"On a sudden, the banner of the Cross was displayed by the Latins; Europe was precipitated on Asia; and Constantinople had almost been swept away by this impetuous deluge. In the tempest Alexius steered the Imperial vessel with dexterity and courage. At the head of his armies, he was bold in action, skilful in stratagem, patient of fatigue, ready to improve his advantages, and rising from his defeats with inexhaustible vigour. The discipline of the camp was reversed, and a new generation of men and soldiers was created by the precepts and example of their leader. In his intercourse with the Latins, Alexius was patient and artful; his discerning eye pervaded the new system of an unknown world.

Waverley Volume XII - 1/140

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