It was not the strength of these fortifications, however, power-
ful as they were, but the desperate resistance of the British and
those whom they animated, that beat back Napoleon from these
walls. " Yonder is the key of the East," said he to Murat, as
he sat down before Acre on the 18th of March, 1799.* When
nine murderous but vain assaults, sixty days' suspense, and the
ravages of the Plague, had " affoiblisse le moral du soldat" and
avenged the wholesale massacre of Jaffa, the French retired from
the siege, and entered Cairo under an arch of triumph!
But it is to the Crusades that Acre owes its chief interest. It
was to them, as to Napoleon, the " Key of the East." Its old
walls have echoed to the war-cry of the lion-hearted Richard,
and the chivalrous Saladin; and there are few of our ancient
English families whose ancestors were not to be found among the
Christian host under these beleaguered towers.
* Expeditions en Egypt st en Syrie. Par J. Miot, 2d editkn.