Page images

J.C. 1713. grand seignior. Whilft they were making this Heg.1125.5

proposal, the king read the letters which were brought from Constantinople, and which Fabricius, who could no longer attend him in person, had sent him privately by a janissary. These letters were from count Poniatowski, who could neither serve him at Bender nor Adrianople, hav, ing been detained at Constantinople by order of the Porte, ever since the time of his making the imprudent demand of a thousand purses. He told the king, that the sultan's orders to seize or massacre his royal person in case of resistance were but too true; that indeed the sultan was imposed upon by his ministers, but the more he was imposed upon, he would, for that very reason, be the more faithfully obeyed; that he must submit to the times, and yield to necessity ; that he took the liberty to advise him to try every expedient with the ministers by way of negotiations; not to be inflexible in a matter which required the gentlest management, and to expect from time and good policy a cure of that evil which, by rash and violent measures, would be only rendered incurable.

But neither the proposal of the old janissaries, nor Poniatowski's letters, could convince the king that it was consistent with his honor to yield. He rather chose to perish by the hands of the Turks than in any respect to be made a prisoner. He dismissed the janissaries withoui condescending to see them, and sent them word, that, if they


did not immediately depart, he would have their J.C. 1913. beards shaved for them: an affront, which, in the eastern countries, is considered as the most intolerable of all.

The old men, 'filled with the highest'indig. nation, returned home, crying out as they went ; " Ah, this head of iron, since he will perish, let « him perish,” They gave the bashaw an account of their proceedings, and informed their comrades at Bender of the strange reception they had met with ; upon which they all swore to obey the bashaw's orders without delay, and were as impatient to go to the assault, as they had been averse from it the day before.

The word of command was immediately He defends given. The Turks marched up to the forti- with his

o nd :.: c grooms fications : the Tartars were already waiting for againft ten them, and the cannon began to play. The janiffa- then. ries on the one side, and the Tartars on the other, instantly forced the little camp. Hardly had twenty Swedes time to draw their swords, when the whole three hundred were surrounded and taken prisoners without resistance. The king was then on horseback, between his house and his camp, with generals Hord, Dardoff, and Sparre; and seeing that all his soldiers had suffered themselves to be taken prisoners before his eyes, he said, with great composure, to these three officers: “ Come, let us go and defend the house; so we will fight,” adds he with a simile,“ pro aris et focis.Accordingly, accompanied by these




[ocr errors]

.C.1713three generals, he gallopped up to the house, in Heg.1125

which he had placed about forty servants as fentinels, and which he had fortified in the best manner he could.

The generals, accustomed as they were to the dauntless intrepidity of their master, could not help being surprised to see him resolve, in cold blood, and even with an air of pleasantry, to defend himself against ten pieces of cannon, and a whole army; nevertheless, they followed him, with some guards and servants, making in all about twenty persons.

When they came to the door, they found it beset by the janissaries. Besides, two hundred Turks and Tartars had already entered by a window, and made themselves masters of all the apartments, except a large hall where the king's servants had recired. Happily, this hall was near the door at which the king designed to enter with his little troop of twenty persons. He threw him. self off his horfe with pistol and sword in his hand, and his followers did the same. The janissaries fell upon him on all fides. They were animated with the promise which the bashaw had made of eight ducats of gold to every man who fould only touch his clothes in case they could cake! him. He wounded and killed all those who came near him. - A janissary, whom he had wounded, clapped his blunderbuss to his face, and had not the Turk's arm been joftled, owing to the crowd that moved backwards and forwards

Heg. 1125

[ocr errors]

like waves, the king would certainly have been 1.C.1713. killed. The ball grazed upon his nose, and carried off part of his ear, and then broke the arm of general Hord, whose constant fate it was to be wounded by his master's side. The king plunged his sword into the janissary's breast. At the fame time his servants, who were shut up in the great hall, opened the door to him. The king, with his little troop, sprang in like an arrow. They instantly shut the door, and barricaded it with whatever they could find. Thus was Charles XII. shut up in this hall with all his attendants, consisting of about sixty men, officers, guards, secretaries, valets de chambre, and fervants of every kind.

The janissaries and Tartars pillaged the rest of the house, and filled the apartments. “Come,” says the king, “ let us go and drive out these « barbarians ;” and putting himself at the head of his men, he, with his own hands, opened the door of the hall that led to his bed-chamber, rushed into the room, and fired upon the plunderers. The Turks, loaded with spoil, and terrified at the sudden appearance of the king, whom they had always been accustomed to respect, threw down their arms, leaped out at the window, or Aed to the cellars. The king, taking advantage of their confusion, and his own men being animated with the success of this attempt, pursued the Turks from chamber to charnber; killed or wounded those that had not made their escape; VOL, IV.




Heg. 1125.

J.C.1713. and in a quarter of an hour cleared the house of a the enemy.

In the heat of the fight, the king perceived two janissaries who lay concealed under his bed ; one of them he stabbed with his sword, the other asked pardon, by crying Amman. “I give thee “ thy life,” said the king to him, “on this con“ dition, that thou goeft and givest the. bashaw « a faithful account of what thou hast seen.” The Turk readily promised to do as he was bidden, and was allowed to leap out at the window like the rest.

The Swedes, having at last made themselves masters of the house, again fhut and barricaded the windows. They were in no want of arms. A ground room full of muskets and powder had escaped the tumultuary search of the janissaries. These they employed to good purpose. They fired through the windows almost close upon the Turks, of whom, in less than ten minutes, they killed two hundred. The cannon ftill played upon the house; but the stones being very soft, there were only some holes made in the walls, and nothing was demolished.

"The khan of the Tartars, and the bashaw, who were desirous of taking the king alive, being ashamed to lose so many men, and to employ a whole army against fixty persons, thought ic most adviseable to set fire to the house, in order to oblige the king to surrender. They ordered some arrows, twisted about with lighted matches,


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »