Page images


to be shot upon the roof, and against the doors T.C.1713.

Heg. 1125. and windows. In a moment the house was in Grand Aames. The roof all on fire was ready to tumble upon the Swedes. The king, with great calmness, gave orders to extinguish the fire. Finding a small barrel full of liquor, he took it up, and, with the aslistance of two Swedes, threw it upon the place where the fire was most violent. At last he recollected that the barrel was full of brandy; but the hurry, inseparable from such a scene of confusion, hindered him from thinking of it in time. The fire now raged with double fury. The king's apartment was reduced to ashes. The great hall where the Swedes were was filled with a terrible sinoke, mixed with vortices of Aame, that darted in at the doors of the neighbouring apartments. One half of the roof sunk within the house, the other fell on the outside, cracking amidst the flames.

In this extremity, a sentinel called Walberg ventured to cry, that they must surrender. “ What a strange fellow is this,” says the king, “ to imagine that it is not more glorious to be " burnt than taken prisoner !” Another sentinel named Roffen, had the presence of mind to observe, that the chancery house, which was not above fifty paces distant, had a stone roof, and was proof against fire; that they ought to sally forth, take possession of that house, and then defend themselves to the last extremity. " There is a " true Swede for you !" cries the king, and emVOL. IV. Bb 2



take him

THE OTTOMANS. 1.C.1713. bracing the sentinel, he made him a colonel on

the spot. “Come on, my friends,” says he, “ take as much powder and ball with you as you « can, and let us take possession of the chancery,

« sword in hand.” The Turks «The Turks, who all the while surrounded the won't kill ho

house, were struck with fear and admiration, to him, and noui

m see the Swedes continue in it, notwithstanding it prisoner.

was all in flames; but their astonishment was greatly increased when they saw the doors open, ed, and the king and his followers rushing out upon them like so many madmen. Charles and his principal officers were armed with sword and pistol. Every man fired two pistols at once the moment the doors were opened ; and in the twinkling of an eye, throwing away their pistols, and drawing their swords, they made the Turks recoil above fifty paces. But in a moment after, this little troop was surrounded. The king, who was booted, as usual, entangled himself with his spurs, and fell. Twenty-one janissaries at once sprang upon him. He threw up his sword into the air, to save himself the mortification of sure rendering it. The Turks carried him to che bafhaw's quarters, fome taking hold of his arms, and others of his legs.

"No sooner did the king see himself in their hands, than the violence of his temper, and the fury which such a long and desperate fight must have naturally inspired, gave place at once to a mild and gentle behaviour: not one word of imm


patience dropped from his lips: not one angry 1.C.1713 look was to be seen in his face. He eyed the janissaries with a smiling countenance, and they carried him off, crying Alle, with a mixture of respect and indignation. His officers were taken at the same time and stripped by the Turks and Tartars. It was on the 12th of February, 1713, that this strange event happened; an event that produced very remarkable consequences.*

The bashaw of Bender, with great gravity, waited for Charles in his tent, attended by one Marco, an interpreter. He received his majesty in a most respectful manner, and entreated him to repose himself on a sofa; but the king, who did not so much as take notice of the Turk's civilities, continued standing.

“ Blessed be the Almighty,” says the bashaw, " that thy majesty is alive: I am extremely sorry " that thy majesty obliged me to execute the " orders of his highness.” The king, who was only vexed that his three hundred soldiers should


* Mr. Norberg, who was not present at this action, has, in this particular part of his bistory, only copied the account of Mr. Voltaire; but he has mangled it: he has suppresled some interesting circumstances, and has not been able to justify the temerity of Charles XII. All that he has been able to advance againit Mr. Voltaire, with regard to the affair of Bender, is reduceable to the adventure of Frederick, valet de chambre to the kirig of Sweden, who, according to fome, was burnt in the king's house, and, accorda ing to others, was cut in two by the Tartars. La Mottraye alleges likewise, that the king of Sweden did not use these words: “ We will fight pro aris et focis.” But Mr. Fabricius, who was present, affirms, that the king did pronounce these words; that La Mottraye was not near enough to hear them; and that if he had, he was not capable of comprehending their meaning, as he did not underlt and a word of Latin. VOLTAIRE.

J.C.1713. have suffered themselves to be taken in their inHeg.1125.

trenchments, said to the bashaw : “Ah! had " they defended themselves as they ought, our e camp would not have been forced in ten days.” “ Alas!” says the Turk, “ that so much cou“ rage should be so ill employed !” He ordered the king to be conducted back to Bender on a horse richly caparisoned. All the Swedes were either killed or taken prisoners. All his equipage, his goods, his papers, and most necessary utensits, were either plundered or burnt. One might have seen in the public roads the Swedish officers, almost naked, and chained together in pairs, following the Tartars or janissaries on foot. The chancellor and the general officers did not meet with a milder fate: they were the slaves of the soldiers to whose share they had fallen. .

- Ishmael bashaw, having conducted Charles XII. to his seraglio at Bender, gave him his own apartment, and ordered him to be served like a king; but not without taking the precaution to plant a guard of janissaries at the chamber door. A bed was prepared for him; but he threw him . self down upon a sofa, booted as he was, and fell fast asleep. An officer, that stood near him in . waiting, covered his head with a cap; but the king, upon awaking from his first neep, threw it off; and the Turk was surprised to see a sovereign prince sleeping in his boots, and bareheaded. Next morning, Ishmael introduced Fabricius into the king's chamber, Fabricius


found his majesty with his clothes torn; his J.C.1713.

Heg.1125 boots, his hands, and his whole body, covered with dust and blood, and his eye-brows burnt ; but-still maintaining, in this terrible condition, a placid, chearful look. He fell upon his knees before him, without being able to utter a word; but soon recovering from his surprise, by the free and easy manner in which the king addressed hiin, he resumed his wonted familiarity with him, and they began to talk of the battle of Bender with great humour and pleasantry. “It is re« ported,” says Fabricius, “that your majesty “ killed twenty janissaries with your own hand.” « Well, well,” replies the king, “ a story, you “ know, never loses in the telling.” During this conversation, the bashaw presented to the king his favorite Grothusen and colonel Ribbins, whom he had had the generosity to redeem at his own expence. Fabricius undertook to ransom the other prisoners. Jeffreys, the English envoy, joined his endeavours with those of Fabricius, in order to procure the money necessary for this purpose. A Frenchman, who had come to Bender out of mere curiosity, and who has written a shore account of these transactions, gave all that he had ; and these strangers, allisted by the interest, and even by the money of the bashaw, redeemed, not only the officers, but likewise their clothes, from the hands of the Turks and Tartars.

"Next day the king was conducted as a prisoner, in a chariot covered with scarlet, towards


[ocr errors]


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »