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Of A History Of Events Which Have Not Happened
by [?]

Historians, for a particular purpose, have sometimes amused themselves with a detail of an event which did not happen. A history of this kind we find in the ninth book of Livy; and it forms a digression, where, with his delightful copiousness, he reasons on the probable consequences which would have ensued had Alexander the Great invaded Italy. Some Greek writers, to raise the Parthians to an equality with the Romans, had insinuated that the great name of this military monarch, who is said never to have lost a battle, would have intimidated the Romans, and would have checked their passion for universal dominion. The patriotic Livy, disdaining that the glory of his nation, which had never ceased from war for nearly eight hundred years, should be put in competition with the career of a young conqueror, which had scarcely lasted ten, enters into a parallel of “man with man, general with general, and victory with victory.” In the full charm of his imagination he brings Alexander down into Italy, he invests him with all his virtues, and “dusks their lustre” with all his defects. He arranges the Macedonian army, while he exultingly shows five Roman armies at that moment pursuing their conquests; and he cautiously counts the numerous allies who would have combined their forces; he even descends to compare the weapons and the modes of warfare of the Macedonians with those of the Romans. Livy, as if he had caught a momentary panic at the first success which had probably attended Alexander in his descent into Italy, brings forward the great commanders he would have had to encounter; he compares Alexander with each, and at length terminates his fears, and claims his triumph, by discovering that the Macedonians had but one Alexander, while the Romans had several. This beautiful digression in Livy is a model for the narrative of an event which never happened.

The Saracens from Asia had spread into Africa, and at length possessed themselves of Spain. Eude, a discontented Duke of Guienne in France, had been vanquished by Charles Martel, who derived that humble but glorious surname from the event we are now to record. Charles had left Eude the enjoyment of his dukedom, provided that he held it as a fief from the crown; but blind with ambition and avarice, Eude adopted a scheme which threw Christianity itself, as well as Europe, into a crisis of peril which has never since occurred. By marrying a daughter with a Mahometan emir, he rashly began an intercourse with the Ishmaelites, one of whose favourite projects was to plant a formidable colony of their faith in France. An army of four hundred thousand combatants, as the chroniclers of the time affirm, were seen descending into Guienne, possessing themselves in one day of his domains; and Eude soon discovered what sort of workmen he had called, to do that of which he himself was so incapable. Charles, with equal courage and prudence, beheld this heavy tempest bursting over his whole country; and to remove the first cause of this national evil, he reconciled the discontented Eude, and detached the duke from his fatal alliance. But the Saracens were fast advancing through Touraine, and had reached Tours by the river Loire: Abderam, the chief of the Saracens, anticipated a triumph in the multitude of his infantry, his cavalry, and his camels, exhibiting a military warfare unknown in France; he spread out his mighty army to surround the French, and to take them, as it were in a net. The appearance terrified, and the magnificence astonished. Charles, collecting his far inferior forces, assured them that they had no other France than the spot they covered. He had ordered that the city of Tours should be closed on every Frenchman, unless he entered it victorious; and he took care that every fugitive should be treated as an enemy by bodies of gens d’armes, whom he placed to watch at the wings of his army. The combat was furious. The astonished Mahometan beheld his battalions defeated as he urged them on singly to the French, who on that day had resolved to offer their lives as an immolation to their mother-country. Eude on that day, ardent to clear himself from the odium which he had incurred, with desperate valour, taking a wide compass, attacked his new allies in the rear. The camp of the Mahometan was forced: the shrieks of his women and children reached him from amidst the massacre; terrified he saw his multitude shaken. Charles, who beheld the light breaking through this dark cloud of men, exclaimed to his countrymen, “My friends, God has raised his banner, and the unbelievers perish!” The mass of the Saracens, though broken, could not fly; their own multitude pressed themselves together, and the Christian sword mowed down the Mahometans. Abderam was found dead in a vast heap, unwounded, stifled by his own multitude. Historians record that three hundred and sixty thousand Saracens perished on la journee de Tours; but their fears and their joy probably magnified their enemies. Thus Charles saved his own country, and, at that moment, all the rest of Europe, from this deluge of people, which had poured down from Asia and Africa. Every Christian people returned a solemn thanksgiving, and saluted their deliverer as “the Hammer” of France. But the Saracens were not conquered; Charles did not even venture on their pursuit; and a second invasion proved almost as terrifying; army still poured down on army, and it was long, and after many dubious results, that the Saracens were rooted out of France. Such is the history of one of the most important events which has passed; but that of an event which did not happen, would be the result of this famous conflict, had the Mahometan power triumphed! The Mahometan dominion had predominated through Europe! The imagination is startled when it discovers how much depended on this invasion, at a time when there existed no political state in Europe, no balance of power in one common tie of confederation! A single battle, and a single treason, had before made the Mahometans sovereigns of Spain. We see that the same events had nearly been repeated in France: and had the Crescent towered above the Cross, as every appearance promised to the Saracenic hosts, the least of our evils had now been, that we should have worn turbans, combed our beards instead of shaving them, have beheld a more magnificent architecture than the Grecian, while the public mind had been bounded by the arts and literature of the Moorish university of Cordova!