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addicted to star-gazing, he saw one night a flight of stars traverse the heavens and settle over Spain. This, with a vision of St. James, recalled him to a sense of his duty. The opening of the campaign was not very brilliant, for they besieged Pampeluna six months without being able to take it. At length, by the intercession of St. James, the walls fell down, and they entered without opposition. Ten thousand Saracens were thereupon converted, and the rest were hung. His success was now almost uninterrupted. He took sixty-six cities in succession. Only four offered him any serious opposition, and these he very speedily reduced by the simple operation of cursing them, on which they all four took fire, and continue burning to this day. The smoke and scent from those burning towns, one of which is Lucerne, is so poisonous that whoever breathes it dies in mortal agony. The narrator, afraid lest his statement should be doubted, here adds, “ If any man will not believe me he may go to Spain and see for himself.” After a succession of prodigies no less marvellous, they return to Pampeluna, and here they receive a visit from the ambassador of the sultan of Babylon. The purpose of his mission was very simple—it was to fight Charlemagne.
" He had twenty men's strength,
That pagan had:
His nose was a foot and more,
(He that saw it said.)
Charlemagne went out to reconnoitre his formidable foe, and after examining him limb by limb with minute attention, declined the challenge. Ogier the Dane, however, accepted it. Having armed himself with great care, he rushed like lightning upon his gigantic enemy, who received the fierce onslaught with perfect indifference, tucked the knight under one arm and his horse under the other, and quietly walked off the field with them to a neighbouring castle. Knight after knight accepted his defiance with the same result. At last, ten knights at once attacked the unbelieving monster, but all shared the same fate. At length, Roland, tired of seeing his brethren in arms thus carried away one after another, undertook the conflict. He armed himself with his famous sword, Durindal, and went forth on his perilous enterprise. The giant, recognising his adversary, put forth all his strength, pulled Roland from his horse, and was actually about to carry off the great champion of Christendom as he had done his comrades. But Roland contrived by a vigorous jerk to throw the giant down, and they fell upon the ground together. They fought for the remainder of the day on foot, Roland displaying his agility in avoiding the grasp of his enemy, and applying the edge of Durindal to all parts of his impenetrable hide,
but without producing the slightest effect, for his sword, though so well tempered as to cut the hardest marble, could not even scratch the skin of the huge Saracen. Next morning, the battle was renewed, Roland this time arming himself with a club. The fight continued till noon, when they began to throw stones at one another, but without any result for some hours, when the giant, wearied with his exertions, became immoderately sleepy, and requested a suspension of hostilities whilst he took a short nap. This was granted, and he immediately fell asleep and began to snore so loud as almost to deafen the whole army.
Roland, whose courtesy was equal to his valour, naturally concluding that the monster's sleep could not be very pleasant or easy, selected one of the pieces of rock which had been pitched at him, and put it under the sleeper's head for a pillow, when his repose at once became more tranquil. The giant on awaking inquired to whom he was indebted for this act of kindness. On learning that it was his antagonist, he proposed that they should endeavour to decide the combat by debating instead of fighting. To this Roland consented. But from words they soon came back again to blows. In the course of the discussion, the Saracen had let out the secret of his being vulnerable in one point. Of this Roland availed himself in the ensuing conflict, and before night closed Ferragus lay dead upon the field.
We assure our readers that this romance, which we have divested of many of its wilder
extravagances, affords a favourable specimen of the sort of literature which was the chief, almost the sole, intellectual provision made for the common people through the mediæval period, and which passed among them as authentic history. Grateful ought we to be for living in a period when literature of a healthy character is so cheap and accessible to all.
The energy and activity of the emperor continued unabated to the last. In his seventieth year, feeling the infirmities of age creeping on, and apprehending that death was not very distant, he held councils at Arles, Rheims, Mentz, Tours, and Châlons sur Saone, for the purpose of settling the succession to the throne. In the same year he compelled the Norsemen to renew the treaty which they had violated, severely punished the Moors of Africa and the Mediterranean islands, who had insulted his old age by ravaging the coasts of Italy and France; and, according to his annual custom, attended the grand hunt, from which he returned to Aix la Chapelle on the 1st of November, 813.
In the middle of January, 814, he was seized with fever on coming out of the bath. He tried his usual remedy of abstinence and violent exercise, but without effect. He grew rapidly worse. Pleurisy came on. On the seventh day, he received the eucharist from the hands of the chaplain, Hildebald. On the following day, the 28th of January, he made a feeble effort to raise his hands, and feeling that death was near, he decently composed his limbs,
closed his eyes, calmly said, “Lord Jesus, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” and breathed his last. He was in the seventy-second year of his age, had reigned forty-seven years over the Franks, forty-three over the Lombards, and fourteen as emperor of the west.
He was interred in the cathedral erected by him at Aix la Chapelle. In order to distinguish from ordinary mortals, even in death, the potent monarch who had so signalized himself by his achievements during life, he was buried sitting in a chair of state, composed of ivory and gold. The chair is still shown at Aix, in attestation of the legend. How vain is the attempt to arrest the equalizing power of death by funeral pomp! In the grave the rich and the poor meet together before the Lord, who is the maker of them all. The testimony of one of the least of Christ's little ones, who had received only a cup of cold water in his name, forms a more valuable distinction than the blazonry of heralds, or the wealth of nations lavished on the funeral pile. The prayer of every one for himself should be, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his." Then, though our earthly lot be as obscure as Charlemagne's was illustrious, we shall inherit a crown of glory, which fadeth not away, and compared with which the diadem of the hero of our work was
a paltry and insignificant bauble.
The righteousness to which this promise is annexed, however, must be more than that