Page images
PDF
EPUB

Bender.

poffeffion of the Greek colonies. This river joins J.C. 1709.

A Heg.1121. the Boristhenes some miles lower, and falls along i with it into the Black Sea. .. On the other side of the Bogh, towards the Charles at south, stands the little town of Oczacow, a frontier of the Turkish empire. The inhabitants, seeing a body of soldiers coming towards them, refused to carry them over to Oczacow, without an order from Mehemet bashaw, governor of the town. The king sent an express to this governor, demanding a passage ; but the Turk, not knowing what to do, in a country where one false ftep often costs a man his life, durft not venture to take any thing upon himself, without having first obtained permission of the seraskier of the province, who resided at Bender in Beffarabia. Whilft they were waiting for this permiffion, the Russians, who had made the king's army prisoners, had passed the Boristhenes, and were approaching to take the monarch himself. At last, the bashaw of Oczacow sent word to the king, that he would furnish him with one small bark, to transport him. self and two or three of his retinue. In this excremity the Swedes took by force what they could not obtain by gentle means : some of them went to the further side in a skiff, seized on some boats, and brought them to the hither side of the river. This saved them; for the masters of the Turkish barks, fearing they should lose such a favorable occasion of getting a good freight, came in crowds to offer their service. At that very instant

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

J.C. 1709. arrived the favorable answer of the seraskier of Heg.1121.

Bender'; and the king had the mortification to fee five hundred of his men seized by the enemy. whose insulting bravadoes he even heard. The bashaw of Oczacow, by means of an interpreter, asked his pardon for the delays which had occafioned the capture of these five hundred men, and humbly intreated him not to complain of it to the grand seignior. Charles promised him that he would not; but at the same time gave him a severe reprimand, as if he had been speaking to one of his own subjects. The seraskjer of the province sent forthwith an aga to compliment the king, and to offer him a magnificent tent, with provisions, baggage, waggons, and all the conveniencies, officers, and attendants, necessary to conduct him to Bender in a splendid manner; for it is the custom of the Turks, not only to defray the expences of ambassadors to the place of their residence, but likewise to supply, with great liberality, the necessities of those princes who take refuge among them during the time of their stay,

The king of Sweden wrote to Achmet III. as soon as he arrived in his territories. The letter is dated the 13th of July 1709. Several copies of it were spread abroad, all of which are now looked upon as fpurious; but of all those I have feen, there is not one but what sufficiently marks the natural haughtiness of the author, and is more fuitable to his courage than his situation. The sultan did not return an answer till towards the end

of

121.

of September. The pride of the Ottoman Porte J.C. 1709. made Charles XII. sensible what a mighty diffe- bar rence there was between a Turkish emperor, and a king of part of Scandanavia, a vanquished and fugitive Christian. For the rest, all these letters, which kings very rarely write themselves, are but vain formalities, which neither serve to discover the characters of sovereigns, nor the state of their affairs.

Though Charles XII. was in reality no better Intrigues than a prisoner honorably treated in Turkey, he feraglio. yet conceived the design of arming the Ottoman empire against his enemies. He flattered himself that he should be able to reduce Poland, and fubdue Russia. He had an envoy at Constantinople ; but the person that served him most ef. fectually in his vast projects was count Poniatowski, who went to Constantinople without a commission, and soon made himself necessary to the king, agreeable to the Porte, and at last dangerous even to the grand viziers.*

One of those who seconded his designs with the greatest activity was the physician Fonseca, a Portuguese Jew, settled at Constantinople, a man of knowledge and address, well qualified for the management of business, and perhaps the only philosopher of his nation. His profession procured him a free access to the Ottoman Porte, and often gained him the confidence of the viziers.

. I knew

* It was from this nobleman I received, not only the remarks that have been printed, and which the chaplain Norberg has made use of, but likewise feveral manuscripts concerning this history. Voltaire.

Heg.112

J.C. 1709. I knew him very well at Paris, and he confirmed to

me all the particulars I am going to relate. Count Poniatowski has informed me, both by letters and personally, that he had the address to convey letters to the valid sultaness, the mother of the reigning emperor, who had formerly been ill used by her son, but now began to recover her influence in the seraglio. A Jewess, who was often admitted to this princess, was unceasingly relating to her the exploits of the king of Sweden, and charmed her ear by these recitals. The sultaness, moved by that secret inclination with which most women feel themselves inspired in favor of extraordinary men, even without having seen them, openly espoused this prince's cause in the seraglio. She called him by no other name than that of her lion. And when will you, (would she sometimes fay to the fultan her son,) when will you assist my lion to devour the czar? She even dispensed with the rules of the feraglio so far, as to write several letters with her own hand to count Poniatowski, in whose hands they still are at the time of my writing this history. *

Meanwhile

* The valid sultaness wrote likewise twice to the king of Sweden. The following is a translation of her letters, such as it has been found in the king of France's repository of foreign affairs, in the hand writing of Mr. Brue, first druggerman to the French embassy.

" My most powerful and magnificent son, whom I love more than my foul, after having greeted you and inquired after your noble health, which I with good and perfect, if you ask after mine, it is likewise in a good state. You know that I am strongly prepossessed in your favor. The letter which you sent has been reanitted to my most happy emperor. He is informed of

all

[ocr errors]

U

Meanwhile the king was honorably conducted I.C. 1709. to Bender through the desert which was formerly called the wilderness of the Getæ. The Turks took care that nothing should be wanting on the road to render the journey agreeable. A great many Poles, Swedes, and Cossacks, who had efcaped from the Muscovites, came by different ways to increase his train on the road. By the time he reached Bender, he had eighteen hundred men, who were all maintained and lodged, both they and their horses, at the expence of the grand seignior.

• The king chose to encamp near Bender, rather than lodge in the town. The seraskier Jussuf bashaw caused a magnificent tent to be erected for VOL. IV.

R

him,

all the outrages that have been done you, and the derviche bis mother is working for you night and day. My most happy emperor has replied in these terms: If it please God, I will see that be obtain bis defires, even beyond bis expectations. It is very certain that in a little time be will overcome all his enemies. So don't listen to nor believe what your enemies may say. My soul, the eyes of my head, don't be chagrined. The derviche has received the deposite which you have intrusted to her care ; it has given her great pleasure. In a little time you shall begin your journey. As my most powerful emperor does not let any one know his secrets, take care not to divulge your's, Sarai is incomparable; she has done every thing in her power.”

The orker letter from the valid sultaness to the king of Sweden. "My most powerful, most happy, and mot honorable fon the king of Sweden, after having offered prayers as pearls and greetings to your ma· jesty, you know, that, by the permission of God, I have charged myself

with your affairs, and they will be settled to your wishes, as my most formidable and invincible emperor is well acquainted with all the wrongs that have been done you. The letters that have been written are fallen into his hands. Don't be under any uneasiness, nor listen to what your enemies say. Thus far the principal ones have been overcome, and those that remain will meet their deserts one after another. In ten days or a fort'night

you

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »