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'favours of another sort; for as I was extremely good'natured and generous, so I had daily opportunities of * satisfying those passions. Besides my own princely 'allowance, which was very bountiful, and with which I 'did many liberal and good actions, I recommended 'numberless persons of merit in distress to the king's 'notice, most of whom were provided for.
'Indeed, had I sufficiently known my blest situation 'at this time, I should have grieved at nothing more than 'the death of Alphonso, by which the burden of govern'ment devolved upon me: but so blindly fond is 'ambition, and such charms doth it fancy in the power, 'and pomp, and splendour of a crown, that though I 'vehemently loved that king, and had the greatest 'obligations to him, the thoughts of succeeding him 'obliterated my regret at his loss, and the wish for my 'approaching coronation dried my eyes at his funeral.
'But my fondness for the name of king, did not make 'me forgetful of those over whom I was to reign. I 'considered them in the light in which a tender father 'regards his children, as persons whose well-being God 'had entrusted to my care; and again, in that in which 'a prudent lord respects his tenant, as those on whose 'wealth and grandeur he is to build his own. Both 'these considerations inspired me with the greatest care 'for their welfare, and their good was my first and 'ultimate concern.
'The usurper Muregas had impiously obliged himself 'and his successors to pay to the Moors every year an 'infamous tribute of a hundred young virgins: from this 'cruel and scandalous imposition I resolved to relieve my 'country. Accordingly, when their emperor Abderames 'the Second had the audaciousness to make this demand 'of me, instead of complying with it, I ordered his 'ambassadors to be driven away with all imaginable ignominy, and would have condemned them to death, could I have done it without a manifest violation of the law of nations. 'I now raised an immense army. At the levying of which I made a speech from my throne, acquainting mv subjects with the necessity, and the reasons of the war in which I was going to engage: which I convinced them I had undertaken for their ease and safety, and not for satisfying any wanton ambition, or revenging any private pique of my own. They all declared unanimously that they would venture their lives, and every thing dear to them, in my defence, and in the support of the honour of my crown. Accordingly, my levies were instantly complete, sufficient numbers being only left to till the land; churchmen, even bishops themselves, enlisting themselves under my banners. 'The armies met at Alvelda, where we were discomfited with immense loss, and nothing but the lucky intervention of the night could have saved our whole army.
'I retreated to the summit of a hill, where I abandoned myself to the highest agonies of grief, not so much for the danger in which I then saw my crown, as for the loss of those miserable wretches who had exposed their lives at my command. I could not then avoid this reflection; That if the deaths of these people in a war, undertaken absolutely for their protection, could give me such concern; what horror must I have felt, if, like princes greedy of dominion, I had sacrificed such numbers to my own pride, vanity, and ridiculous lust of power.
'After having vented my sorrows for some time in this manner I began to consider by what means I might possibly endeavour to retrieve this misfortune; when, reflecting on the great number of priests I had in my army, and on the prodigious force of superstition, a thought luckily suggested itself to me to counterfeit that St. James had appeared to me in a vision, and had promised me the victory. While I was ruminating on this the bishop of Najara came opportunely to me. As I did not intend to communicate the secret to him I took another method, and, instead of answering any thing the bishop said to me, I pretended to talk to St. James, as if he had been really present; till at length, after having spoke those things which I thought sufficient, and thanked the saint aloud for his promise of the victory, I turned about to the bishop, and embracing him with a pleased countenance, protested I did not know he was present; and then, informing him of this supposed vision, I asked him if he had not himself seen the saint? He answered me he had; and afterwards proceeded to assure me that this appearance of St. James was entirely owing to his prayers; for that he was his tutelar saint. He added, he had a vision of him a few hours before, when he promised him a victory over the infidels, and acquainted him at the same time of the vacancy of the see of Toledo. Now, this news being really true, though it had happened so lately, that I had not heard of it (nor, indeed, was it well possible I should, considering the great distance of the way), when I was afterwards acquainted with it, a little staggered me, though far from being superstitious; till being informed that the bishop had lost three horses on a late expedition, I was satisfied.
'The next morning, the bishop, at my desire, mounted the rostrum, and trumpeted forth this vision so effectually, which he said he had that evening twice seen with his own eyes, that a spirit began to be infused through the whole army, which rendered them superior to almost any force: the bishop insisted that the least doubt of
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success was giving the lie to the saint, and a damnahle sin, and he took upon him in his name to promise them victory.
'The army being drawn out, I soon experienced the effect of enthusiasm, for having contrived another0 stratagem to strengthen what the bishop had said, the soldiers fought more like furies than men. My stratagem was this: I had about me a dexterous fellow, who had been formerly a pimp in my amours. Him I dressed up in a strange antic dress, with a pair of white colours in his right hand, a red cross in his left, and, having disguised him so that no one could know him, I placed him on a white horse, and ordered him to ride to the head of the army, and cry out, Follow St. James! These words were reiterated by all the troops, who attacked the enemy with such intrepidity, that, notwithstanding our inferiority of numbers, we soon obtained a complete victory.
'The bishop was come up by the time that the enemy was routed, and acquainting us that he had met St. James by the way, and that he had informed him of what had passed, he added, that he had express orders from the saint to receive a considerable sum for his use, and that a certain tax on corn and wine should be settled on his church for ever; and lastly, that a horseman's pay should be allowed for the future to the saint himself, of which he and his successors were appointed receivers. The army received these demands with such acclamations that I was obliged to comply with them, as I could by no means discover the imposition, nor do I believe I should have gained any credit if I had.
'I had now done with the saint, but the bishop had 'not; for about a week afterwards lights were seen in a wood near were the battle was fought; and, in a short time afterwards, they discovered his tomb at the same place. Upon this, the bishop made me a visit, and forced me to go thither, build a church to him, and largely endow it. In a word, the good man so plagued me with miracle after miracle that I was forced to make interest with the pope to convey him to Toledo, to get rid of him.
* This silly story is told as a solemn truth (i.e. that St. James really appeared in the manner this fellow is described) by Mariana, 1. 7. § 78.
'But to proceed to other matters.—There was an inferior officer, who had behaved very bravely in the battle against the Moors, and had received several wounds, who solicited me for preferment; which I was about to confer on him, when one of my ministers came to me in a fright, and told me, that he had promised the post I designed for this man to the son of Count Alderedo; and that the count, who was a powerful person, would be greatly disobliged at the refusal, as he had sent for his son from school to take possession of it. I was obliged to agree with my minister's reasons, and at the same time recommended the wounded soldier to be preferred by him, which he faithfully promised he would; but I met the poor wretch since in Elysium, who informed me he was afterwards starved to death.
'None, who hath not been himself a prince, nor any prince, till his death, can conceive the impositions daily put on them by their favourites and ministers; so that princes are often blamed for the faults of others. The Count of Saldagne had been long confined in prison, when his son D. Bernard del Carpio, who had performed the greatest actions against the Moors, entreated me, as a reward for his service, to grant him his father's liberty. The old man's punishment had been so tedious, and the services of the young one so singularly eminent, that I was very inclinable to grant the request; but my ministers strongly opposed it. They told me, My glory