Page images
PDF
EPUB

he did little worthy of memory, concerning heroick enterprises, and military exploits; yet he had the fortune to keep correspondency with his bashaws and janisaries, and took a course, by enlarging their entertainment, and other several donatives, to enlarge their hearts and good liking towards him; so that he had very seldom mutinies, or innovation, becanse the visier of the army drew them still into the field in the summer, and the visier of the city afforded them their ancient liberty in the winter; but, at last, there was a rebellion by the Scrivano of Asia, whom some confound with the name of Bashaw of Aleppo, which was fortunately and wisely prevented; and, in the end of his reign, the controversies of the princes of Moldavia over-wrought the Polacks to commiserate the cause, and wrought a mischief, which was not ended without unspeakable trouble: For the distastings, beginning in Achmet's time, could never admit of réconciliation, until Achmet's son came in person, with terror and threatenings, into the fields of Bogdonia.

Well, Achmet dies, leaving two young sons behind him, Osman and another; yet some will presume to say, that, being not above thirtyfour years old, he had many children, and three hundred wives, or concubines; but, before he died, to make all sure, he resolves to strangle his brother Mustapha, and, according to custom, will leave no competitors in such an empire. For which purpose, a guard of Capagies attend at the iron gates of the Seraglio, and the Mutes are placed in a room accordingly. Now you must consider, that, though they have many ways to enlarge their cruelties, and dispatch offenders, yet none is so affrighting, as the presenting of these officers; for they never come along, without death in their company, and ghastliness in their looks. Sometimes an offender is carried from the Seraglio, by the officers of their tapinaco, such as we say, master of the ordnance, over the sea, and, in the midway, a great stone is tied about his neck, and he is cast into the bottom; and then, according to his greatness, a greater cannon is shot off, unless the Emperor send a countermand, before he be from the water. Sometimes an offender is beheaded ; sometimes thrown off a rock;. sometimes set upon by the Janisaries, and cut in pieces, as the aga or captain is limited; yet, in these cases, as the Emperor's fury is leniated, they many times escape; but, when the Mutes come in place, all are displaced, against whom their commission is enlarged. Thus is Mustapha to be dispatched, but see how the stronger arm. puts out the strong men; the same night, Achmet had a dream, or féarful vision, which some of the dervises would needs presume to rumour abroad in this manner: That he thought, as he was entering into the Seven Towers, the princely prison of his predecessors, his brother kneeled down before him, and cried out, Oh, when shall we leave this horrible custom of shedding innocent blood ? Look among all the heathens, and see how quickly they loathed and cast a way that crying sin of sacrificing of human flesh. But, instead of replying, he drew his scimiter to strike off his head, had not one, as he conceited, held it fast, that he could not strike; whereupon he demanded angerly, What art thou? I am the good genius of Mustapha, and will not suffer him to perish; therefore leave, and very shortly shall strange things happen in the Empire. Little thought the great Turk to have found a

greater greatness in his sleep; but such was the power of God, or, as the Turks conceited, the fortune of Mustapha, that his brother Achinet, contrary to all expectation, the next morning after his dre m, sent for him into the room of state, where he lay on a stately pallet, with all his viceroys and bashaws groveling on the ground, and the principal mufti kneeling before him, reading on a book. It should seem that glad tidings came first to the city, for he was taken out of the prison with great respect and observation; he was admitted to his galley with high ceremonies, and yet solemn countenançes; he was accompanied on the sea with thousands of boats, and ten-thousands of weeping eyes ; be landed at the Emperor's own caska, with great respect and modest stillness; he walked through the garden of cypress-trees, and, at last, came to an iron gate, where his own company left him, except two bashaws, who led him by the arms: The gate opens, and he must go through a guard of capagies; they bend to the ground, and yet look chearfully, until, at last, the prince spoke as chearfully to the bashaws, saying, What need all this quoil and ceremonies to a dying man, or tormenting of my soul, when I go to the execution of my body? In all extremities, there is a courtesy in dispatch, and, when a man must die, O let him die at once, and not be more tortured with the fear and circumstances, than with the thing itself: They durst not reply, but brought him into the room, where the Mutes stood, whose presence did no more appale him than the rest, but that he saw the cruelty confirmed, and their very sight was worse than an irreversible judgment; but, when he perceived no violent hands laid upon him, and that he must yet go further, he was the more astonished, and the more vexed, to endure such a procrastination.

At last, he came where the Emperor lay sick on his pallet, before whom his prostitution was as the ordinary slaves; but, contrary to all expectation, he bade him rise, and commanded certain Persian carpets to be spread, and rich cushions to be laid; on which, according to their manner, he sat cross-legged by him, and, when the Mufti had raised the Emperor up a little, with a faint voice he thus discovered an unlooked for loving heart:

Brother, said he, I am taught by story, and the story of Galba among the Romans, to chuse a successor for the commonwealth, and not an heir in my family. This made him look upon Piso, as worthy to be an Emperor, because he had experience of his virtues, and not upon his kindred, because he was unacquainted with their strength to bear so great a burden: I cannot compare our greatness with the Romans, but I am sure, we are too great for children or fools. I have fair issue of my own, but so weak arms cannot sway the scopter of the Ottoman family: and to leave them under tutelage, who is there worthy to advise such princes, or what account can slaves make of the government, when their own vices shall overflow their banks without restraint, and the envy of others look upon them rather with disobediencethan observation? Therefore, to avoid all tumultuous occasions, and to make thee believe, thou art the charge of our prophet Mahomet, instead of a death-like present itself, instead of a prison, this is thy palace: And, whereas thou camest in groveling, thou shalt go out triumphing; the decree of

heaven will have it so, and a voice from heaven commands it so; only this I must conclude, that, as I have remembered thee, thou wilt not forget me and mine: Let not custom overmaster virtue, nor the jea lousy in sovereignty be an enemy to thy pity; but let young Osman live, as I have determined, thou shalt not die; yea, the wonder is the greater, that of a captive I have made thee an Emperor, and, instead of the terrors of affliction, brought thee out to the ravishings of Majesty.

He had no sooner done, but he began to faint, and so read them all a lesson of mortality, by opening a book, wherein they saw death written in capital letters, and himself sinking past recovery; which made them recover new spirits, and presently bring his brother out into the Sophia, where the principal Mufti proclaimed Mustapha Emperor, intimating to the Janisaries the charge of Achmet, to the discharging their duties; and the pleasure of Mustapha to give them a largess, which, equalling the bounty of other princes, overswayed nicer exceptions, and so, with great acclamations, they ratified the election, and cried out, ‘Live and reign great Mustapha !' The next work, was the solemnity of Achmet's funeral, for whom a sumptuous monument and chapel were erected, not inferior to any of his ancestors : Then were commissioners appointed, to overlook the Seraglio, and sequester such women, as had been carnally known of Achmet, to their accustomed palaces, and accustomed manner of magnificence and expences. Presently followed the settling of the Bashaws in their authority, in their several provinces, and overlooking the city officers, with confirmation of such as were worthy. Last of all, his armies and navies were mustered ; not that he pretended any war, but because he would commit no solecism in government, or give the soldiers occassion to suspect, that he knew not how to maintain his greatness :, Thus is Mustapha Emperor; and they had two years trial of bis disposition, whereby they found him harmless, and rather subject to the epithets of quiet princes, than transcending oncomiums of great and stirring spirits.

But O the condition of man, and instability of terrestrial blessings ! Prince Mustapha was scarce warm in this throne of sovereignty, and setting forward in the race of imperiousness, before Scander and Mahomet Bashaw takes the young Osman out of the Seraglio, and presents him to the Janisaries, a comely, sweet, young youth, of nine or ten years old, demanding, withal, If such an heir of the Ottoman family were to be rejected without cause; or why they should bring an harmless prince, as they reputed Mustapha, into the danger of usurpation, and differing no further from a traytor, but that it was not imputed to him? As for Achmet's will, empires are not so translated ; and what could they tell, but private men, for their own ends, had wrought upon his weakness, making a diseased tongue speak that, which a healthful heart, and perfect sense, would not consent to? For it was not probable, that a father would disinherit his children for any brother in the world; besides, there was no trial or cause, either of insufficiency or disability, and, therefore, they could not believe it. Last of all, for any thing they saw, Mustapha himself was not stirring or strong enough, to play the steersman in such an high-built ship, considering the seas

were tempestuous, and many dangerous shores and rocks were to be , passed by

These speeches, to the turbulent Janisaries, were like fewel to fire, and the presence of the lovely youth made them amazed at their inconstancy; so that, by way of penitence, and satisfaction, they quickly altered the acclamation of, Live Mustapha, into the cries of, God save young Osman; and so, without further disputing, he was advanced into the throne, and brought into the Seraglio, when Mustapha least thought of the alteration. But now there is no remedy, he must needs be deposed, and sent prisoner once again into the Seven Towers; his friends more confounded to be so affronted, than amazed at the alteration; yet, suspecting the worst, they abandoned the palace, and, thinking it policy to shift for themselves, had the less honesty to neglect their emperor; but the truth is, they saw manifest signs of a rebellion, and the conspiracy was too great, and too strong, for them to resist, which made them give way to the violence, lest they should have been carried headlong to destruction.

Now doth Osman begin his Phaeton's flourish, and runneth the course of pleasures with his youth, spending four or five years in wantonness and jollity, while his Bashaws spent the time in covetousness, and ambitious over-ruling others; yet, not without careful overlooking the Janisaries, and provident preventing their discontents, and turbulent disposition; but all doth help, for they, over-accustomed to active employment, and living upon the spoil of foreign nations, as much as the emperor's entertainment, cried out to the wars and when answer was made, that the Persians had contracted a new league, and the Emperor of Germany's old covenants were not yet determined, or ended, they presently replied, The indignities which the Russians had offered to their neighbours, the Tartarians, were not to be endured : and they need go no further, than the piracics of the Black Sea, and the injuries of the Cossacks and Polonians : Nay, why should they not march to the expugnation of Leopolis, and the foraging of the countries of Moldavia and Bogdonia ; and so forward, to teach Poland a better lesson, than to displease the Ottoman family and mightiness?

The Bashaws knew there was no replying, nor, now the fire was kindled, no other quenching it, than letting it consume to cinders; whereupon, they presently answered, they weir glad that the soldiers were so memorable of the glory of the empire, and so ready to employ themselves for the dignity of the nation, and, therefore, they would not, by any means, hinder them, or the cause; but they should fiąd the emperor as careful to satisfy their demands, as they were willing to augment his greatness ; so that, if they would give way unto time for the preparing of all things fit for the army, and the sending for the Tartarians to accompany them in the journey, the Emperor should go in person into the field, and Poland soon find, what it was to exasperate such a majesty. Whereupois

, some will have it, that there were letters of defiance presently sent against Sigismond, and the war proclaimed, by sound of trumpet, to affright all Europe: In what manner the Turk proceeded, I will not now dispute ; sure I am, that the King of Poland made all

christian princes acquainted with the threatenings, and implored their assistance for the opposition: He sent unto the emperor to hearken to a peace, if it were possible, and correspandent with his honour, that he might spare his forces, rather against the general enemy of Christendom, than the particular revenges of one another: Oh! blessed be the feet of those that bring the glad tidings of peace, and happy is that prince ly disposition, that would avoid the effusion of christian blood : He sent unto his holiness, to remember the cause of the church, and the affrightings of religion, so that now was the time to assist him with men and

money; and, if ever Poland were reputed the bulwark of christianity, and to be maintained accordingly, it was, at this instant, to be looked upon with the eyes of pity and commiseration; for two-hundred thousand Turks and Tartars were in readiness to over-run the country, and devour the inhabitants: He sent into France, by way of intercession, to spare his hand from taking such fearful revenges on his own people, and to spare him but those men, which the wars must consume, and the wrath of a prince bring to destruction: He sent into England, with intimation of the terror, which so many barbarous nations and people, united, must needs afflict one country withal; and his well delivered discourse máde such impression upon his majesty's princely heart, that he had a present supply both of men and money: In a word, Whither did he not send to set forward the enterprise? And what did he not do, befitting the goodness of a king, and the greatness of a general, and heroick captain ? His army was soon ready, and his Cossacks prepared: By the end of July, he was incamped in the fields of Bogdonia, and, within eight days, intrenched with twenty pieces of ordnance mounted; but the Cossacks quartered by themselves, and, after their accustomed manner, lying between two rivers, were the more emboldened to make their daily excursions upon the Tartars; for, having.a bridge in the rear of their camp, with which the Turks were unacquainted, they quickly transported their men, and as quickly damnified their enemies.

When the Grand Seignior was acquainted with the forwardness of these Polonians, and understood they were already incamped, and expected his coming, he was too young to apprehend any fear, and not old enough to lay the blame of his retardance where it was; therefore they made the more haste, when he understood the occasion, and so, accord ing to former preparation, the establishment of divers governments, the ordering the provinces, the settling the great city, the mustering his gallies, the guarding of his castles, and the watching of the Black Sea: The Tartars united themselves to his army, and, both together, made a body of two-hundred thousand; which, with all magnificent preparation, he presented in the same fields, and within sight of the Polonians, where he pitched his imperial tent, and settled himself with unparalleled majesty; the high priests, and doctors of law, attended him; the two great Bashaws accompanied him, the throng of Janisaries waited upon him, and the fry of Tartars brought the carriages up a.pace:

When all things were settled, the Tartars, after their accustomed manner, with great clamours and outcries, and with as great multitudes, gave upon the Polonians, and thought to have made but one bat

« PreviousContinue »