Sivut kuvina

silver ; their girdle studded with jewels; over all their furs were suspended chains of diamonds. One hand of each nobleman was without a glove; on it was the splendid ring on which the arms of his family were engraved-the mark, as in ancient Rome, of the equestrian order. A new proof of this intimate connection between the race, the customs, and the traditions of the northern tribes, and the founders of the Eternal City.

But nothing in this rivalry of magnificence could equal the splendour of their arms. Double poniards, double scimitars, set with brilliants; bucklers of costly workmanship, battle-axes enriched in silver, and glittering with emeralds and sapphires; bows and arrows richly gilt, which were borne at festivals, in remembrance of the ancient customs of the country, were to be seen on every side. The horses shared in this melange of barbarism and refinement; sometimes cased in iron, at others decorated with the richest colours, they bent under the weight of the sabres, the lances, and javelins by which the senatorial order marked their rank. The bishops were distinguished by their gray or green hats, and yellow or red pantaloons, magnificently embroidered with divers colours. Often they laid aside their pastoral habits, and signalised their address as young cavaliers, by the beauty of their arms, and the management of their horses. In that crowd of the equestrian order, there was no gentleman so bumble as not to try to rival this magnificence. Many carried, in furs and arms, their whole fortunes on their backs. Numbers had sold their votes to some of the candidates, for the vanity of appearing with some additional ornament before their fellowcitizens. And the people, whose dazzled eyes beheld all this magnificence, were almost without clothing; their long beards, naked legs, and filth, indicated, even more strongly than their pale visages and dejected air, all the miseries of servitude." - Vol. ii. 190–197.

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

The achievement which has immortalised the name of John Sobieski is the deliverance of Vienna in 1683. Of this glorious achievement M. Salvandy gives the following interesting account:

" After a siege of eight months, and open trenches for sixty days, Vienna was reduced to the last extremity. Famine, disease, and the sword, had cut off two-thirds of its garrison; and the inhabitants, depressed by incessant toil for the last six months, and sickened by long-deferred hope, were given up to despair. Many breaches were made in the walls; the massy bastions were crumbling in ruins, and intrenchments thrown up in haste in the streets formed the last resource of the German capital. Stahremborg, the governor, had announced the necessity of surrendering if not relieved in three days; and every night signals of distress from the summits of the steeples, announced the extremities to which they were reduced.

"One evening, the sentinel who was on the watch at the top of the steeple of St Stephen's, perceived a blazing flame on the summits of the Calemberg; soon after an army was seen preparing to descend the ridge. Every telescope was now turned in that direction, and from the brilliancy of their lances, and the splendour of their banners, it was easy to see that it was the Hussars of Poland, so redoubtable to the Osmanlis, who were approaching, The Turks were immediately to be seen dividing their vast host into two, one destined to oppose this new enemy, and one to continue the assaults on the besieged. At the sight of the terrible conflict which was approaching, the women and children flocked to the churches, while Stahremborg led forth all that remained of the men to the breaches.

“ The Duke of Lorraine set forth with a few horsemen to join the King of Poland, and learn the art of war, as he expressed it, under so great a master. The two illustrious commanders soon concerted a plan of operations, and VOL. III.


[ocr errors]

Sobieski encamped on the Danube, with all his forces united to the troops of the empire. It was with tears of joy that the sovereigns, generals, and the soldiers of the Imperialists, received the illustrious chief whom heaven had sent to their relief. Before his arrival discord reigned in their camp, but all now yielded obedience to the Polish hero.

“ The Duke of Lorraine had previously constructed at Tuln, six leagues below Vienna, a triple bridge, which Kara Mustapha, the Turkish commander, allowed to be formed without opposition. The German Electors nevertheless hesitated to cross the river ; the severity of the weather, long rains, and roads now almost impassable, augmented their alarms. But the King of Poland was a stranger alike to hesitation as fear : the state of Vienna would admit of no delay. The last despatch of Stahremborg was simply in these words: “There is no time to lose.' -- There is no reverse to fear,' exclaimed Sobieski; "the general who at the head of 300,000 men could allow that bridge to be constructed in his teeth, cannot fail to be defeated.'

“On the following day the liberators of Christendom passed in review before their allies. The Poles marched first; the spectators were astonished at the magnificence of their arms, the splendour of the dresses, and the beauty of the horses. The infantry was less brilliant; one regiment in particular, by its battered appearance, hurt the pride of the monarch— Look well at those brave men,' said he to the Imperialists, it is an invincible battalion, who have sworn never to renew their clothing, till they are arrayed in the spoils of the Turks. These words were repeated to the regiments; if they did not, says the annalist, clothe them, they encircled every man with a cuirass.

“The Christian army, when all assembled, amounted to 70,000 men, of whom only 30,000 were infantry. Of these the Poles were 18,000. The principal disquietude of the king was on account of the absence of the Cossacks, whom Mynzwicki had promised to bring up to his assistance. He well knew what admirable scouts they formed; the Tartars had always found in them their most formidable enemies.' Long experience in the Turkish wars had rendered them exceedingly skilful in this species of warfare ; no other force was equal to them in seizing prisoners and gaining intelligence. They were promised ten crowns for every man they brought in after this manner : they led their captives to the tent of their king, where they got their promised reward, and went away saying, “John, I have touched my money, God will repay you.' Bereaved of these faithful assistants, the king was compelled to expose his hussars in exploring the dangerous defiles in which the army was about to engage. The Imperialists, who could not comprehend his attachment to that undisciplined militia, were astonished to hear him incessantly exclaiming, “Oh, Mynzwicki! Oh, Mynzwicki!!”

A rocky chain, full of narrow and precipitous ravines, of woods and rocks, called the Calemberg in modern times, the Mons Etius of the Romans, separated the two armies: the cause of Christendom from that of Mahomet. It was necessary to scale that formidable barrier; for the mountains advanced with a rocky front into the middle of the Danube. Fortunately the negligence of the Turks had omitted to fortify these posts, where a few battalions might have arrested

the Polish army.

“Nothing could equal the confidence of the Turks but the disquietude of the Imperialists. Such was the terror impressed by the vast host of the Mussulmans, that at the first cry of ' Allah !' whole battalions took to flight. Many thousand peasants were incessantly engaged in levelling the roads

over the mountains, or cutting through the forest. The foot-soldiers dragged the artillery with their arms, and were compelled to abandon the heavier pieces. Chiefs and soldiers carried each his own provisions: the leaves of the oak formed the sole subsistence of the horses. Some scouts reached the summits of the ridge long before the remainder of the army, and from thence beheld the countless myriads of the Turkish tents extending to the walls of Vienna. Terrified at the sight, they returned in dismay, and a contagious panic began to spread through the army. The king had need, to reassure his troops, of all the security of his countenance, the gaiety of his discourse, and the remembrance of the multitudes of the Infidels whom he had dispersed in his life. The Janissaries of his guard, who surrounded him on the march, were so many living monuments of his victories, and every one was astonished that he ventured to attack the Mussulmans with such an escort. He offered to send them to the rear, or even to give them a safe conduct to the Turkish camp; but they all answered with tears in their eyes, that they would live and die with him. His heroism subjugated alike Infidels and Christians, chiefs and soldiers.

** At length, on Saturday, September 11th, the army encamped, at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, on the sterile and inhospitable summit of the Calemberg, and occupied the convent of Camaldoli and the old castle of Leopoldsburg. Far beneath extended the vast and uneven plain of Austria, its smoking capital, the gilded tents, and countless host of the besiegers; while at the foot of the ridge, where the mountains sink into the plain, the forests and ravines were occupied by the advanced guards, prepared to dispute the passage of the army."

There it was that they lighted the fires which spread joy and hope through every heart at Vienna.

"Trusting in their vast multitudes, the Turks pressed the assault of Vienna on the one side, while on the other they faced the liberating army. The Turkish vizier counted in his ranks four Christian princes and as many Tartar chiefs. All the nobles of Germany and Poland were on the other side: Sobieski was at once the Agamemnon and Achilles of that splendid host.

" The young Eugene of Savoy made his first essay in arms, by bringing to Sobieski the intelligence that the engagement was commenced between the advanced guards at the foot of the ridge. The Christians immediately descended the mountains in five columns like torrents, but marching in the finest order; the leading divisions halted at every hundred paces to give time to those behind, who were retarded by the difficulties of the descent, to join them. A rude parapet, bastily erected by the Turks to bar the five débouchés of the roads into the plain, was forced after a short combat. At every ravine, the Christians experienced fresh obstacles to surmount; the spahis dismounted to contest the rocky ascents, and, speedily regaining their horses when they were forced, fell back in haste to the next positions which were to be defended. But the Mussulmans, deficient in infantry, could not withstand the steady advance and solid masses of the Germans, and the Christians everywhere gained ground. Animated by the continued advance of their deliverers, the garrison of Vienna performed miracles on the breach; and Kara Mustapha, who long hesitated which battle he should join, resolved to meet the avenging squadrons of the Polish king.

" By two o'clock the ravines were cleared, and the allies drawn up in the plain. Sobieski ordered the Duke of Lorraine to halt, to give time for the Poles, who had been retarded by a circuitous march, to join the army. At eleven they appeared, and took their post on the right. The Imperial eagles saluted the squadrons of gilded cuirasses with cries of · Long live King Jolin Sobieski!' and the cry, repeated along the Christian line, startled the Mussulman force.

“Sobieski charged in the centre, and directed his attack against the scarlet tent of the Sultan, surrounded by his faithful squadrons; distinguished by his splendid plume, his bow, and quiver of gold, which hung on his shoulder-most of all by the enthusiasm which his presence everywhere excited. He advanced exclaiming, “Non nobis, Domine, sed tibi sit gloria !' The Tartars and the spahis filed when they heard the name of the Polish hero repeated from one end to the other of the Ottoman lines. “By Allah!' exclaimed Sultan Gieray, 'the King is with them!' At this moment the moon was eclipsed, and the Mahommedans beheld with dread the crescent waning in the heavens.

“At the same time the hussars of Prince Alexander, who formed the leading column, broke into a charge amidst the national cry, God defend Poland!' The remaining squadrons, led by all that was noblest and bravest in the country, resplendent in arms, buoyant in courage, followed at the gallop. They cleared, without drawing bridle, a ravine at which infantry might have paused, and charged furiously up the opposite bank. With such vehemence did they enter the enemy's ranks, that they fairly cut the army in two,-justifying thus the celebrated saying of that haughty nobility to one of their kings, that with their aid no reverse was irreparable; and that if the heaven itself were to fall, they would support it on the points of their lances.

“ The shock was so violent, that almost all the lances were splintered. The Pashas of Aleppo and of Silistria were slain on the spot ; four other pashas fell under the sabres of Jablonowski. At the same time Charles of Lorraine had routed the force of the principalities, and threatened the Ottoman camp. Kara Mustapha fell at once from the heights of confidence to the depths of despair. Can you not aid me?' said he to the Kara of the Crimea. “I know the King of Poland,' said he ; •and I tell you that, with such an enemy, we have no chance of safety but in flight.' Mustapha in vain strove to rally his troops ; all, seized with a sudden panic, fled, not daring to lift their eyes to heaven. The cause of Europe, of Christianity, of civilisation, had prevailed. The wave of the Mussulman power had retired, and retired never to return.

“At six in the evening, Sobieski entered the Turkish camp. He arrived first at the quarters of the vizier. At the entrance of that vast enclosure a slave met him, and presented him with the charger and golden bridle of Mustapha. He took the bridle, and ordered one of his followers to set out in haste for the Queen of Poland, and say that he who owned that bridle was vanquished; then planted bis standard in the midst of that armed caravansery of all the nations of the East, and ordered Charles of Lorraine to drive the besiegers from the trenches before Vienna. It was already done; the Janissaries had left their posts on the approach of night, and, after sixty days of open trenches, the imperial city was delivered.

“On the following morning the magnitude of the victory appeared. One hundred and twenty thousand tents were still standing, notwithstanding the attempts at their destruction by the Turks: the innumerable multitude of the Orientals had disappeared; but their spoils, their horses, their camels, their splendour loaded the ground. The King, at ten, approached Vienna. He passed through the breach, whereby, but for him, on that day the Turks would have found an entrance. At his approach, the streets were cleared of their ruins; and the people, issuing from their cellars and their tottering houses, gazed with enthusiasm on their deliverer. They followed him to the church of the Augustins, where, as the clergy had not arrived, the King himself chanted Te Deum. This service was soon after performed with still greater solemnity in the Cathedral of St Stephen; the King joined with bis face to the ground. It was there that the priest used the inspired words• There was a man sent from heaven, and bis name was John.'”— Vol. iii. 50, 101.

exertions : if you

During this memorable campaign, Sobieski, who through life was a tender and affectionate husband, wrote daily to his wife. At the age of fifty-four he had lost nothing of the tenderness and enthusiasm of his earlier years. In one of them he says—“I read all your letters, my dear and incomparable Maria, thrice over; once when I receive them, once when I retire to my tent and am alone with my love, once when I sit down to answer them. I beseech you, my beloved, do not rise so early ; no health can stand such


you will destroy my health, and, what is worse, injure your own, which is my sole consolation in this world.” When offered the throne of Poland, it was at first proposed that he should divorce his wife, and marry the widow of the late king, to reconcile the contending faction. "I am not yet a king,” said he, “and have contracted no obligations toward the nation. Let them resume their gift; I disdain the throne if it is to be purchased at such a price.”

It is superfluous, after these quotations, to say anything of the merits of M. Salvandy's work. It unites, in a rare degree, the qualities of philosophical thought with brilliant and vivid description; and is one of the numerous instances of the vast superiority of the modern French Historians to most of those of whom Great Britain, in the present age, can boast. If anything could reconcile us to the march of Revolution, it is the vast development of talent which has taken place in France since her political convulsions commenced, and the new field which their genius has opened up in historical disquisitions. On comparing the historians of the two countries since the Restoration, it seems as if they were teeming with the luxuriance of a virgin soil, while we are sinking under the sterility of exhausted cultivation. Steadily resisting, as we trust we shall ever do, the fatal march of French innovation, we shall yet never be found wanting in yielding due praise to the splendour of French talent; and in the turn which political speculation has recently taken among the most elevated minds in their active metropolis, we are not without hopes that the first rays of the dawn are to be discerned which is destined to compensate to mankind for the darkness and blood of the Revolution.

« EdellinenJatka »