In writing the pages which follow this Preface, I have had to encounter the difficulty of compressing very extensive matter into an extremely limited space. As the subject was, in my eyes, a very interesting one, and every particular connected with it had often been food for thought and object of entertainment to myself, the task of curtailing was the more ungrateful: nor should I have undertaken it, had I not been convinced by my publisher that one volume would be as much as the public in general would be inclined to read. I wished to write upon Chivalry and the Crusades, because I fancied that in the hypotheses of many other authors I had discovered various errors and misstatements, which gave a false impression of both the institution and the enterprise; and I have endeavoured, in putting forth my own view of the subject, to advance no one point, however minute, which cannot be justified by indisputable authority. A favourite theory is too often, in historical writing like the bed of the ancient Greek; and facts are either stretched or lopped away to agree with it: but to ensure as much accuracy as possible, I have taken pains to mark in the margin of the pages the different writers on whose assertions my own statements are founded, with a corresponding figure, by which each particular may be referred to its authority. In regard to these authors themselves, it seems necessary here to give some information, that those persons who are inclined to inquire beyond the mere surface may know what credit is to be attached to each. On the first crusade we have a whole host of contemporary writers, many of whom were present at the events they describe. Besides these are several others, who, though they wrote at an after-period, took infinite pains to render their account as correct as possible. The authors I have principally cited for all the earlier facts of the Holy War are, William of Tyre, Albert of Aix, Fulcher of Chartres, Raimond of Agiles, Guibert of Nogent, Radulph of Ca‘n, and Robert, surnamed the Monk.
ÊThough the weather was hot and sultry, and the summer was at its height, yet the evening was gloomy, and low, angry clouds hung over the distant line of the sea, when, under the shelter of some low-browed cliffs upon the Irish coast, three persons stood together, two of whom were talking earnestly. About four or five miles from the shore, looking like a spectre upon the misty background of clouds, appeared a small brig with her canvas closely reefed, though there was little wind stirring, and nothing announced the approach of a gale, unless it were a long, heavy swell that heaved up the bosom of the ocean as if with a suppressed sob. The three persons we have mentioned were standing together close at the foot of the rocks; and, though there was nothing in their demeanour which would imply that they were seeking concealment by the points and angles of the cliff,Ñfor they spoke loud, and one of them laughed more than once with the short but jocund laugh of a heart whose careless gaiety no circumstances can repress,Ñyet the spot was well calculated to hide them from any eye, unless it were one gazing down from the cliffs above, or one looking towards the shore from the sea. The party of which we speak comprised two men not quite reached the middle age, and a fine, noble-looking boy of perhaps eight years old or a little more; but all the conversation was between the two elder, who bore a slight family likeness to each other. The one had a cloak thrown over his arm, and a blue handkerchief bound round his left hand. His dress in other respects was that of a military man of the period; a long-waisted, broad-tailed coat, with a good deal of gold lace and many large buttons upon it, enormous riding boots, and a heavy sword. He had no defensive armour on, indeed, though those were days when the soldierly cuirass was not yet done away with; and on his head he only wore an ordinary hat trimmed round with feathers.
George Payne Rainsford James was a British writer who produced a remarkable number of historical novels and romances over the course of his thirty-year career. The sweeping epic Richelieu unfolds amidst the cultural tumult and political shifts of seventeenth-century France.
It was a dark and stormy night,Ña very dark night indeed. No dog's mouth, whether terrier, mastiff, or Newfoundland, was ever so dark as that night. The hatches had been battened down, and every aperture but one, by which any of the great, curly-pated, leaping waves could jump into the vessel, had been closed. What vessel? the reader may perhaps inquire. Well, that being a piece of reasonable curiosity,Ñalthough I do wish, as a general thing, that readers would not be so impatient,ÑI will gratify it, and answer the inquirer's question; and, indeed, would have told him all about it in five minutes if he would but have given me time. What vessel? asks the reader. Why, a little, heavy-looking, fore-and-aft, one-masted ship, somewhat tubbish in form, which had battled with a not very favorable gale during a long stormy day, and had, as the sun went down, approached the coast of France, it might be somewhat too close for safety. The atmosphere in the cabin below was hot and oppressive. How indeed could it be otherwise, when not one breath of air, notwithstanding all the bullying and roaring of Boreas, had been able to get in during the whole day? But such being the case, and respiration in the little den being difficult, the only altogether terrestrial animalÑsailors are, of course, amphibiousÑwhich that vessel contained had forced his way up to the deck through the only narrow outlet which had been left open. The amphibia have always a considerable dislike and some degree of contempt for all land-animals, and the five sailors, with their skipper, who formed all the crew so small a craft required, would probably have driven below the intruder upon their labors, had they had time, leisure, or light to notice him at all. But for near two hours he stood at the stern on the weather side of the ship, holding on by the bulwarks, wet to the skin, with his hat blown off and probably swimming back toward Old England, and his hands numbed with cold and with hard grasping.
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