HISTORICAL SKETCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE. XI
their services freely to any one who paid them. These bold men were induced to join
themselves to the forces of Alexius; and, by stratagem, they entered the town. They
gained the co-operation of a Greek, whose house communicated with the wall by a
subterranean passage. Through this, Alexius was introduced with some of his volunteers;
but he had scarcely passed the golden gate, when the peril of the enterprise struck him,
and his heart failed him. He was pushed on, however, by his bolder companions, and at
length emerged from the dark passage into the Greek house in the heart of the city.
From hence they suddenly issued, and, though few in number, soon filled the streets
with terror and dismay, from the suddenness of their attack, and the unknown extent of
the danger. But every one was predisposed to join the enterprise. They looked upon
the Latin conquest with irrepressible and increasing horror, and the streets were soon
filled with shouts for Michael. Baldwin, utterly unapprehensive and unprepared, was
suddenly roused from his sleep: he made no attempt to preserve his usurped power.
He escaped to Italy, where he lived a private life for thirteen years, an object more of
contempt than pity, vainly soliciting aid to recover a kingdom which he had neither right
to keep, nor courage to defend.
The Greeks were thus restored to their capital, after their Latin allies had held an
unrighteous possession of it for fifty-seven years. As the ravages of their hands were irreparable and permanent records of their oppression, so the memory of them was indelible.
It caused that irreconcilable animosity between the eastern and western people of the
same faith, which has widened, to an unapproachable distance, the separation of the two
churches, so that it is likely nothing within the probability of human events will ever
diminish it. To such an extent had it reached, and so deeply did it rankle in the minds
of the Greeks, that, two centuries after, when they were about to be overwhelmed by the
resistless power of the Turks, they had rather trust to the tender mercies of the followers
of Mohammed, than seek a perilous aid from their fellow-christians. To this day the
memory of these events is recent in the minds of the people of Constantinople, and it
has generated a lasting hostility to the Latin church, which seems only to increase and
strengthen with revolving years.
Immediately after the restitution of the city to the Greeks, a new feature was added
to it: another western people were received into it, not as allies with arms in their
hands, but as something still more useful—merchants, to cultivate the arts of peace, and
enrich the Eastern empire by their opulence and activity. These were the Genoese.
This enterprising little state had already penetrated to the remotest extremity of the
Black Sea, and the commodities brought from thence were particularly valuable to
the Greeks. The Oriental church prescribes a vast number of fasts, in the observance
of which it is very rigorous. The Genoese had established an extensive fishery at
Caffa, in the Crimea; and sturgeon, strelitz, and other fish brought down by the current
of the Tanais, and fed in the flat and slimy bottom of the Palus Maeotis, were of the
utmost value to the strict disciplinarians of the Eastern church. To vend this necessary
commodity, and always to keep a supply for the demands of the Greek capital, they
were allowed to establish a commercial mart in its vicinity.