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into the castle of St Angelo. But the intrepid old man, clapping on a light head-piece, without staying to put on his cuirass, advanced resolutely with his half-pike in his hand to meet the Infidels, when he, and the knights who were with him, gave them such a furious onset, that they could not stand it; and seeing the inhabitants running in crowds to the grand-master's assistance, they began to retire, but still making a terrible fire from their small arms all the time. Mendossa, who commanded at that post, seeing the grand-master standing by him, and fearing lest some ball should take him off, begged him on his knees to retire, representing to him that the safety of the island, the lives, the liberty and honour of the women and maidens, depended on his preservation, and that, if they should lose him, all would be lost. But the grand-master pointing to the Turkish standards, which were still hoisted and waving in the wind, told him, that he must first see the trophies of the Infidels demolished. Upon which all the knights who were about him rushed forwards imme. diately, when a new combat ensued, in which the bravest men fell on both sides : at last the standards were torn down, and the Infidels forced to retire in disorder, covered with blood and wounds. The grand-master made no question but that their leaders would soon bring them on to the same attack, and therefore ordered quarters to be got ready for him there; the knights did not fail to represent to him that he had made choice of a place which lay exposed to the enemy's artillery; but as he was sensible of the importance of that post, and how necessary his presence was to defend it, nothing could prevail upon him to remove from it. So, after thanking the knights for the testimonies they gave him of their affection, “Will it be possible for me,” says he to them, “at the age of seventy-one, to end my life more gloriously than in fighting with my brethren and my friends for the service of God, and the defence of our holy religion ?"
The Turks returned to the breach in high hopes of victory. What gave rooin to these hopes was a machine, being a kind of carcasse, but much larger, made in the shape of a long barrel, covered over with iron hoops, and filled with gunpowder, chains, nails, bullets, and all kinds of iron instruments. The engineer, after having fastened a match of a proper length to it, found means to throw it upon the ravelin, where it fell among the knights, who defended it. But they, noways daunted at this smoking machine, caught it up before it took fire, and threw it back upon the enemy, who were crowding to mount the breach : it burst a moment after, and, tearing everything to pieces that came in its way, sent heads, legs, and arms up into the air. The Turks, in a fright, immediately dispersed themselves, some fled as far as their trenches; when the Christian soldiers, animated with this dismal spectacle, and in order to make their advantage of the terror their enemies were in, fell in among them sword in hand, made a terrible havoc, and forced the rest to retire.
The Turkish soldiers beginning to despond after so many bloody storms attempted in vain, the Basha found it necessary to allow them an interval of two or three days' rest. But on the 20th, a letter was thrown into the great town, which they took up, and carried, sealed as it was, to the grand-master, who found nothing in it but this one word, “ Thursday.” He was not at a loss to understand the meaning of it, and that he was to expect a fresh assault upon that day. He accordingly prepared for it, with his usual skill, courage, and resolution. And in order to prevent any surprise, and to sound the disposition of his men, he caused a false alarm to be given on Tuesday the 21st. Everybody ran readily to his post, and by this trial the grand-master had abundant reason to be pleased with the vigilance of the officers, as well as with the alacrity of the soldiers. He only observed that, by the daily loss they had sustained of a good number of knights, some of them were wanted in certain posts, in order to head and animate the soldiers.
This report reaching the infirmary, all the wounded knights who were able to stand upon their legs bravely sallied out, and like those of St Elmo, chose rather to face death and meet it in the breach, than wait for its coming in their beds. The grand-master, admiring their generous spirit, distributed them into the several places where they were most wanted ; and, finding himself sustained by warriors, who seemed to have something in them more than human, he waited with impatience for the return of the enemy.
But he had not long to wait; for pursuant to the notice which had been given him, they presented themselves on the 23d at both attacks: the Basha led on his troops in person to storm Fort St Michael.
The siege was continued with great fury. The Turks fell on a device from which they expected much. They framed a novel wooden machine as an engine of slaughter. This tower, like the old machines made use of in sieges before the invention of cannons, had several storeys. The highest, which over-looked the place, was filled with musketeers, who poured in their shot upon all who durst shew their heads: and to secure this last storey from being annoyed by the batteries of the castle, the Infidels had no sooner fired a volley, but they, by certain wheels within the machine, and probably by the weight of the counterpoise and the help of pulleys, let down the top of the tower, which was then sheltered by the wall of the place, and rested against it. The Turks, by the help of this machine, killed abundance of men at first; but a Maltese carpenter, Andrew Cassar by name, a man who was very skilful in his business, after having examined the structure of the tower, caused a loophole to be made in the wall, directly opposite to this wooden castle, where he placed a culverin loaded with chain-shot, and the moment the Turks were hoisting up their machine, he fired his cannon upon it, which took it in the middle, and shattered it to pieces, so that the soldiers, who were in the highest storey, either broke their necks with the fall, or were bruised to death under its ruins.*
The Turks made a last effort to retrieve the losses they had sustained, and to carry, by a bold stroke, the works of the Christian knights, but in vain. Succours arrived, and the Infidels in shame and sorrow raised the siege.
* L'Abbé Vertot.
In the earliest ages, very simple means were adopted to preserve the remembrance of any important event. We find trees were planted, heaps of stones, altars or pillars, as we read in sacred history, were erected, and even games and festivals ordered, to keep up the recollection of important facts. When, however, the art of writing was invented, various materials began to be used by men for the purpose of transmitting to posterity the discoveries and deeds of their ancestors. Thus, for instance, the most ancient remains of writing which have been handed down to us are upon hard substances, such as bricks, stones, and medals. Both the Greeks and Romans, at a very early period, used plain woodeu boards, or boards covered with wax. Then came the use of leaves of palm, olive, poplar, and other trees, and, in some countries, they are used even to this day. A record of this old custom is to be found in the word leaf, which we continue to apply to sheets of paper sewed up in the form of a book. Books written on palm leaves are still to be seen in the library of the British Museum.
Parchment, or the skins of beasts dressed and prepared in such a manner as to render them fit for writing upon, were employed at a very early period—at least 500 years before the Christian era. Those who are so fortunate as to be owners of the house they live in, know that parchment is still used for title-deeds, which most who possess them know to be very expensive documents.