There Would Be No More Deserters from St. Elmo

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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“No war is more cruel and bloody than siege warfare. . . .”

The truth of this statement was to be proved over and over again during the next few months. The Turks were now so enraged by the Christians that any instinct of chivalry which might once have animated their commanders had long since disappeared. Mustapha and Piali both felt equally at fault for the long delay in front of St. Elmo; this small and relatively unimportant fort should have fallen long ago. Dragut, resigned to a long-drawn-out affair by the initial bungling of the Sultan’s commanders, had now become as adamant as the admiral and the commander-in-chief that the siege of St. Elmo should never be abandoned.

On the night of June 14 a Turkish spokesman was sent out into the ditch between the ravelin and the fort to call out to the defenders that Mustapha promised a safe passage to any who wished to leave that night. By his beard, and by the tombs of his ancestors, the Turkish commander-in-chief had sworn that any who wished to retire might now leave the fortress unmolested. It is just conceivable that, had the offer been made a few days earlier, there were those among the younger Knights and the troops who would have accepted. But, by now, they had all resolved to die where they stood. Furthermore, although they knew they could not hold out much longer, their successes had been so great that their morale was high. Merely by looking down at the mounds of corpses that fringed their beleaguered garrison they could see what their defense was costing the Turks. Mustapha’s spokesman was forced to retire under a hail of arquebus shot. There would be no more deserters from St. Elmo.

Throughout the following day the increased bombardment showed that another attack was impending. From Mount Sciberras, from Tigne, and from the re-established heavy batteries on Gallows’ Point the fire never ceased. Deafened, stunned, and tired almost beyond caring, the defenders prepared for the inevitable assault. If the bombardment was intended to demoralize them, it did not succeed. It merely served to put them on their guard and to make them all the more ready for the attack when it came. The night of the fifteenth was also broken by minor raids. The enemy had clearly grown confident and was beginning to feel that the prize lay within his hands.

La Valette, listening and watching from across the water, must have felt that the end was near. St. Elmo had already held out beyond any reasonable expectation. It might be tomorrow, or it might be the day after, but it was inconceivable that the garrison could survive much longer.

The attack began at dawn, on Saturday, June 16. The island was still damp from the night air and the headland was scented with the sea when the flares ran like fuses along the ramparts of St. Elmo. The defenders had noticed the enemy troops massing. They had heard the high voices of the mullahs calling upon the faithful to die for paradise.

One of the saintly murderous brood
To carnage and the Koran given . . .

stood on the high ravelin and cried out that in the holy war between the true believer and Christian all who fell with their faces toward the enemy would inherit the perfect world promised by the Prophet. There in that paradise were wells of clear spring water. The date palms were shady in an eternal afternoon, and the juice of the grape (forbidden to the faithful in this mortal life) would refresh them. There divinely beautiful houris would welcome such warriors to their arms, and the climax of love would last a full ten thousand years.

Vowed and devoted to their other heaven, the Christians awaited them. They heard the dull booming of the tambours and the brassy call of trumpets. They looked seaward and saw that the whole Turkish fleet had crept up during the summer night and now lay like a ring around the point. At such a moment even the bravest felt fear stick dry as a crust in their throats.

Nearly 4,000 Turkish arquebusiers spread themselves in a great curve from the water on Maramuscetto, across the dip below Mount Sciberras, over toward Grand Harbor. They opened a devastating fire on the embrasures of the fort. Ladders, scaling irons, and improvised bridges made of masts and spars were dragged down into that ditch where the bodies of so many of the flower of the Sultan’s army were already black and bursting from summer heat. Piali’s fleet opened fire as the light spread over the water. The sun, rising behind the ships, cast the shadow of their hulls and sails across the sea. Within minutes of this naval bombardment, Mustapha’s gunners on Mount Sciberras opened up with their 60-, 80-, and 160-pound shot. North and south the batteries on Tigne and Gallows’ Point began their cross fire against St. Elmo.

Huddling against the walls, taking shelter behind improvised barricades, the defenders awaited the onslaught. They had fire hoops and incendiary grenades, boiling cauldrons and trumps, piled ready by the embrasures and behind the threatened breach of the southwest wall. Only two nights before, La Valette had managed to reinforce them with a convoy of these incendiary fireworks. He had also sent further supplies of wine and bread, for St. Elmo’s bakery had been destroyed and water was running short.

For this attack — the attack that Mustapha felt sure would deliver the fortress to him — the Janizaries were held back in reserve. In their place, and for the first assault wave, he sent in the Iayalars. They were a fanatical corps, without the Janizaries’ iron training as soldiers but with a complete disregard for life — their own or any other. Maddened by hashish, the Iayalars were a fervid sect of Moslems, deriving their blind courage from a blend of religion and hemp. Like the berserkers of the North, the Iayalars induced a deliberate frenzy which made them oblivious to everything but the lust to kill. They were “picked men, clothed with the skins of wild beasts, and having as head covering gilded steel helmets. The surface of their skin-tunics was enriched with varying designs and characters in silver. They were armed with the round shield and scimitar . . .”

In a frenzied wave, seeing only the line of the battlements before them and paradise beyond, the Iayalars came down for the assault. The pupils of their eyes were like needles, their salivaed lips held only one word: “Allah!”

On the lips of the Maltese was also the word “Alla,” for in their language the Chrisitan god was called the same. Behind the ramparts, and in the breach of the southwestern side, the Knights, the Spanish soldiers, and the Maltese waited.

“In many, nay, in most campaigns, personal feeling enters but little into the contest . . . At Malta the element of actual personal individual hatred was the mainspring by which the combatants on both sides were moved: each regarded the other as an infidel, the slaying of whom was the sacrifice most acceptable to the God they worshipped.” If the concept of a jihad, or holy war, had originated with the Moslems, it was something that the Christians had also adopted many centuries before. The horror, and the implacable nature of the wars of religion, was not only that the soldiers on each side believed heaven awaited them if they fell in battle, they also believed that they owed it to their adversaries to send them to hell.

Beaten back by the defenders’ fire, the Iayalars retired, leaving the ditch filled with bodies. They were followed by a horde of Dervishes. Mustapha was keeping back his crack troops until “the religious” had laid a gangway to St. Elmo with their corpses. At the last, he looked toward the Janizaries and gave the order for the pride of Islam to advance. It was two days since the lieutenant-aga, the general of their corps, had been killed by a cannon ball fired from St. Angelo. Now was the time for the “invincible ones” to redeem his death with Christian blood. Sons of Greeks, Bulgarians, Austrians, and Slavs, these converts to Islam swept forward and on up to the breached walls. Time and again though they charged, they too faltered and broke before the defenders’ fire.

The deadliest toll was taken by a small battery on the southern side of the fort. From this angle the gunners were able to enfilade the advancing enemy. Despite the Turkish shot directed against them, they maintained their murderous rate of fire all day. St. Angelo, too, aided the defenders. The gunners on the high cavalier of the fortress kept sweeping the ranks of the Moslems with a long traversing fire. The cannon blew great black holes in the white surge of the advancing enemy.

Throughout the action both Dragut and Mustapha Pasha stood in full view on the ravelin and supervised the attacks. Dragut was busy everywhere. With his own hands the old corsair laid the guns, advised the master gunners, and directed the bombardment. While Janizary or Iayalar attacked in one section, Dragut made sure that, in the area where there were no Moslem troops, the shot fell thick and fast. The minute and assault weakened and the troops withdrew, he shifted target and kept up an unrelenting bombardment against the weak positions. St. Elmo was like a rock lashed by a hurricane.

It was not until night fell that the attack was called off. It seemed incredible to Turk and Christian alike that so small a fort could have resisted so long. One hundred and fifty of the garrison were dead and many more wounded, but the Moslem casualties littered the whole ground in front of the scarred and tottering walls. A roll call made this same night showed that the Sultan’s forces had lost over 4,000 men in the past three weeks, nearly 1,000 of them in that one day’s attack.

The gallant De Medran was among the dead of St. Elmo. Pepe di Ruvo (the Knight who had calculated the number of shots fired against the fort during the siege) was also killed. De Miranda had been seriously wounded. If June 16 was a victory it was a Pyrrhic one. Small though the losses of the defenders were, they could not afford them. The time was not far distant when Dragut’s battery on Gallows’ Point would prevent any reinforcements reaching them. The moment that happened, all was lost.

For the first time since the beginning of the siege, La Valette refused to order any more men or Knights to reinforce St. Elmo. He called for volunteers. Thirty Knights and 300 soldiers and Maltese from Birgu came forward. They offered themselves for certain death.

— Ernle Bradford

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Juxtaposin’: Les Femmes Déformées

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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Naked Lady of the Week: Lovely Anne

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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The Ukrainian Lovely Anne was a popular internet model for a few years during the 2000s. Her boobs were impressive, no doubt, but so was her lemony prettiness; in some photos she looks a bit like Naomi Watts.

Lots of 13-year-old commentary here: here.

Nudity below. Enjoy the weekend.

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Naked Lady of the Week: Lily Rader

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

lr-cover

Something about Lily Rader makes me think of the late ’60s and early ’70s — of Twiggy and mod styling and the drawings of Margaret Keane. Why do you suppose that is? I don’t want to over-analyze it.

She’s exceedingly fair. Looking at her photos I couldn’t help wondering what it’s like to be a girl who is exceedingly fair. If the light isn’t just right, her skin reads as splotchy, so her photographers sometimes try to compensate by applying excessive makeup or even (presumably) tanning products. I like splotchiness just fine. But I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Lily frets over it.

She does hardcore in addition to the pin-up stuff. I bet she bruises easily.

Here she is on Twitter, where she advertises herself as “the most innocent looking freak you could ever meet.”

Nudity below. Have a great weekend.

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Reading du Jour: An Interview with Musa al-Gharbi

Paleo Retiree writes:

Excellent stuff from Columbia U. sociologist Musa al-Gharbi. Why were social scientists so baffled by Trump’s victory? Did people who voted for Trump have any rational reasons for doing so? What might be done about the left/lib bubble American social scientists inhabit?

Excerpt:

We were talking about Kanye West. Or just black conservatives in general. So there’s this idea that if you don’t tow the line, the progressive line for a lot of race issues, then you’ve “internalized racism.” This is an idea that actually goes back to Marx — he called it “false consciousness.”

But the problem with false consciousness, especially as a social-scientific concept, is that it isn’t falsifiable: You go up to someone and say “You have false consciousness because you believe this or endorse this,” and they go “I don’t have false consciousness: Here are the reasons I come down here, here are the reasons I believe this,” then you say “Aha! That’s just what someone with false consciousness would say.” So it’s not falsifiable. By Popper’s definition of science, this kind of thing is just not science.

And they do this with a lot of blacks, especially black conservatives. Someone might argue persuasively, “Here’s why I believe what I believe.” And how are they responded to? “You’ve just internalized racism. You’ve sold out to the man. You’ve lost your way.” I mean, I got kind of annoyed because Colbert did this thing on Kanye. And he was basically making the same kind of argument: Kanye’s black, he’s a rapper, he shouldn’t support Trump. To have a white person tell a black person how he should feel about something, on the basis of his race no less, is crazy. For a progressive, or someone who identifies as a liberal, to presume to be able to do that to a black person is even worse. But it’s not as uncommon as one might think.

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Remove the Veil, Annette

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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‘Do you know which is my room?’ said she to Annette, as they crossed the
hall.

‘Yes, I believe I do, ma’amselle; but this is such a strange rambling
place! I have been lost in it already: they call it the double chamber,
over the south rampart, and I went up this great stair-case to it. My
lady’s room is at the other end of the castle.’

Emily ascended the marble staircase, and came to the corridor, as they
passed through which, Annette resumed her chat–‘What a wild lonely
place this is, ma’am! I shall be quite frightened to live in it. How
often, and often have I wished myself in France again! I little thought,
when I came with my lady to see the world, that I should ever be shut up
in such a place as this, or I would never have left my own country!
This way, ma’amselle, down this turning. I can almost believe in giants
again, and such like, for this is just like one of their castles; and,
some night or other, I suppose I shall see fairies too, hopping about
in that great old hall, that looks more like a church, with its huge
pillars, than any thing else.’

‘Yes,’ said Emily, smiling, and glad to escape from more serious
thought, ‘if we come to the corridor, about midnight, and look down into
the hall, we shall certainly see it illuminated with a thousand lamps,
and the fairies tripping in gay circles to the sound of delicious music;
for it is in such places as this, you know, that they come to hold
their revels. But I am afraid, Annette, you will not be able to pay the
necessary penance for such a sight: and, if once they hear your voice,
the whole scene will vanish in an instant.’

‘O! if you will bear me company, ma’amselle, I will come to the
corridor, this very night, and I promise you I will hold my tongue; it
shall not be my fault if the show vanishes.–But do you think they will
come?’

‘I cannot promise that with certainty, but I will venture to say, it
will not be your fault if the enchantment should vanish.’

‘Well, ma’amselle, that is saying more than I expected of you: but I am
not so much afraid of fairies, as of ghosts, and they say there are a
plentiful many of them about the castle: now I should be frightened to
death, if I should chance to see any of them. But hush! ma’amselle, walk
softly! I have thought, several times, something passed by me.’

‘Ridiculous!’ said Emily, ‘you must not indulge such fancies.’

‘O ma’am! they are not fancies, for aught I know; Benedetto says these
dismal galleries and halls are fit for nothing but ghosts to live
in; and I verily believe, if I LIVE long in them I shall turn to one
myself!’

‘I hope,’ said Emily, ‘you will not suffer Signor Montoni to hear of
these weak fears; they would highly displease him.’

‘What, you know then, ma’amselle, all about it!’ rejoined Annette. ‘No,
no, I do know better than to do so; though, if the Signor can sleep
sound, nobody else in the castle has any right to lie awake, I am sure.’
Emily did not appear to notice this remark.

‘Down this passage, ma’amselle; this leads to a back stair-case. O! if I
see any thing, I shall be frightened out of my wits!’

‘That will scarcely be possible,’ said Emily smiling, as she followed
the winding of the passage, which opened into another gallery: and then
Annette, perceiving that she had missed her way, while she had been
so eloquently haranguing on ghosts and fairies, wandered about through
other passages and galleries, till, at length, frightened by their
intricacies and desolation, she called aloud for assistance: but they
were beyond the hearing of the servants, who were on the other side of
the castle, and Emily now opened the door of a chamber on the left.

‘O! do not go in there, ma’amselle,’ said Annette, ‘you will only lose
yourself further.’

‘Bring the light forward,’ said Emily, ‘we may possibly find our way
through these rooms.’

Annette stood at the door, in an attitude of hesitation, with the light
held up to shew the chamber, but the feeble rays spread through not half
of it. ‘Why do you hesitate?’ said Emily, ‘let me see whither this room
leads.’

Annette advanced reluctantly. It opened into a suite of spacious and
ancient apartments, some of which were hung with tapestry, and others
wainscoted with cedar and black larch-wood. What furniture there was,
seemed to be almost as old as the rooms, and retained an appearance
of grandeur, though covered with dust, and dropping to pieces with the
damps, and with age.

‘How cold these rooms are, ma’amselle!’ said Annette: ‘nobody has lived
in them for many, many years, they say. Do let us go.’

‘They may open upon the great stair-case, perhaps,’ said Emily, passing
on till she came to a chamber, hung with pictures, and took the light
to examine that of a soldier on horseback in a field of battle.–He was
darting his spear upon a man, who lay under the feet of the horse, and
who held up one hand in a supplicating attitude. The soldier,
whose beaver was up, regarded him with a look of vengeance, and the
countenance, with that expression, struck Emily as resembling Montoni.
She shuddered, and turned from it. Passing the light hastily over
several other pictures, she came to one concealed by a veil of black
silk. The singularity of the circumstance struck her, and she stopped
before it, wishing to remove the veil, and examine what could thus
carefully be concealed, but somewhat wanting courage. ‘Holy Virgin! what
can this mean?’ exclaimed Annette. ‘This is surely the picture they told
me of at Venice.’

‘What picture?’ said Emily. ‘Why a picture–a picture,’ replied Annette,
hesitatingly–‘but I never could make out exactly what it was about,
either.’

‘Remove the veil, Annette.’

‘What! I, ma’amselle!–I! not for the world!’ Emily, turning round, saw
Annette’s countenance grow pale. ‘And pray, what have you heard of
this picture, to terrify you so, my good girl?’ said she. ‘Nothing,
ma’amselle: I have heard nothing, only let us find our way out.’

‘Certainly: but I wish first to examine the picture; take the light,
Annette, while I lift the veil.’ Annette took the light, and immediately
walked away with it, disregarding Emily’s call to stay, who, not
choosing to be left alone in the dark chamber, at length followed her.
‘What is the reason of this, Annette?’ said Emily, when she overtook
her, ‘what have you heard concerning that picture, which makes you so
unwilling to stay when I bid you?’

‘I don’t know what is the reason, ma’amselle, replied Annette, ‘nor
any thing about the picture, only I have heard there is something very
dreadful belonging to it–and that it has been covered up in black EVER
SINCE–and that nobody has looked at it for a great many years–and it
somehow has to do with the owner of this castle before Signor Montoni
came to the possession of it–and’—

‘Well, Annette,’ said Emily, smiling, ‘I perceive it is as you say–that
you know nothing about the picture.’

‘No, nothing, indeed, ma’amselle, for they made me promise never to
tell:–but’–

‘Well,’ rejoined Emily, who observed that she was struggling between
her inclination to reveal a secret, and her apprehension for the
consequence, ‘I will enquire no further’—

‘No, pray, ma’am, do not.’

‘Lest you should tell all,’ interrupted Emily.

Annette blushed, and Emily smiled, and they passed on to the extremity
of this suite of apartments, and found themselves, after some further
perplexity, once more at the top of the marble stair-case, where Annette
left Emily, while she went to call one of the servants of the castle to
shew them to the chamber, for which they had been seeking.

While she was absent, Emily’s thoughts returned to the picture; an
unwillingness to tamper with the integrity of a servant, had checked her
enquiries on this subject, as well as concerning some alarming hints,
which Annette had dropped respecting Montoni; though her curiosity
was entirely awakened, and she had perceived, that her questions might
easily be answered. She was now, however, inclined to go back to the
apartment and examine the picture; but the loneliness of the hour and
of the place, with the melancholy silence that reigned around her,
conspired with a certain degree of awe, excited by the mystery attending
this picture, to prevent her. She determined, however, when day-light
should have re-animated her spirits, to go thither and remove the veil.
As she leaned from the corridor, over the stair-case, and her eyes
wandered round, she again observed, with wonder, the vast strength of
the walls, now somewhat decayed, and the pillars of solid marble, that
rose from the hall, and supported the roof.

— Ann Radcliffe

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Naked Lady of the Week: Mary Moody

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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Co-blogger Enzo Nakamura alerted me to Mary Moody. He claims she’s a member of some kind of underground cam-girl collective run out of Alaska. I have no idea if he’s pulling my leg, but an Alaskan collective of cam girls is such a great (and utterly Lynchian) detail that I’m just gonna roll with it. What’s there to do in Alaska aside from porn?

Mary has apparently gone mainstream and has recently displayed her cushy bod in outlets like Penthouse. But take my advice and seek out her cam work. She’s a firecracker.

Nudity below. Have a great weekend.

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