Several days were employed by the sultan in the preparations of the assault, and a respite was granted by his favourite science of astrology, which had fixed on the twenty-ninth of May as the fortunate and fatal hour. On the evening of the twenty-seventh, he issued his final orders, assembled in his presence the military chiefs, and dispersed his heralds through the camp to proclaim the duty and the motives of the perilous enterprise. Fear is the first principle of a despotic government, and his menaces were expressed in the Oriental style that the fugitives and deserters, had they the wings of a bird, should not escape from his inexorable justice. In this holy warfare, the Moslems were exhorted to purify their minds with prayer, their bodies with seven ablutions, and to abstain from food till the close of the ensuing day. A crowd of dervishes visited the tents to instil the desire of martyrdom and the assurance of spending an immortal youth amidst the rivers and gardens of paradise, and in the embraces of the black-eyed virgins. Yet Mahomet principally trusted to the efficacy of temporal and visible rewards. A double pay was promised to the victorious troops; “The city and the buildings,” said Mahomet, “are mine, but I resign to your valour the captives and the spoil, the treasures of gold and beauty: be rich and be happy. Many are the provinces of my empire: The intrepid soldier who first ascends the walls of Constantinople shall be rewarded with the government of the fairest and most wealthy, and my gratitude shall accumulate his honours and fortunes above the measure of his own hopes.” Such various and potent motives diffused among the Turks a general ardour, regardless of life and impatient for action: the camp re-echoed with the Moslem shouts of “God is Good: there is but one God, and Mahomet is the Apostle of God.”
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