Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

sword. To this summons Hassan returned a bold and haughty answer; but with such a slender force, he must soon have been forced to yield to the imperial troops, superior even to those which had defeated Barbarossa at the head of sixty thousand men. The dowan, or senate of the Algerines, began therefore to consult about the most proper means of obtaining an honourable capitulation; but in the midst of their deliberations, a frantic prophet rushed into the assembly, exhorting them to defend them-selves without dismay, and foretelling that before the end of the moon the Spaniards should be completely destroyed. The prediction seemed to have been inspired by heaven, for it was scarcely uttered, when the clouds began to gather, and the sky assumed a troubled and threatening aspect. A tremendous storm of wind, rain, and hail, arose from the north; violent earthquakes agitated the ground; and deep and dismal darkness involved both the land and the sea. The soldiers, who had brought nothing ashore but their arms, remained during the night exposed to all the fury of the tempest, without shelter or covering of any kind. Their camp was overflowed by torrents which poured from the neighbouring hills, and at every step they sunk to the ancles in mud; while to prevent their being driven over by the impetuosity of the wind, they were obliged to fix their spears in the ground, and to support themselves by taking hold of them. In this distressing situation Hassan did not allow them to remain unmolested. Sallying out about the break of day with fresh and vigorous troops, who had been screened from the storm, he fell on a body of Italians stationed near the city, who dispirited and henunbed with cold, fled at his first approach. The troops who oc cupied the post behind them attempted to resist; but their matches were extinguished, their powder wetted, and having scarce strength sufficient to handle their other arms, they were soon overpowered with great slaughter.

It was not till the whole imperial army, with Charles himself at their head, advanced to oppose bim, that Hassan thought proper to withdraw, preserving the greatest order in his retreat.

“ The return of daylight presented to Charles a still more dreadful and affecting scene. The hurricane still raged with unabated violence; and the ships, on which the safety and subsistence of the army depended, were driven from their anchors; some dashing against each other and sinking amidst the waves, and many forced ashore, and beaten in pieces against the rocks. On that fatal day fifteen ships of war and one hundred and fifty transports were lost; eight thousand men were drowned, and those who escaped the fury of the sea, were massacred as they reached the land by the relentless Arabs. Charles stood on the shore contemplating in silent anguish this awful event, which blasted at once all his hopes of success, and lamenting the fate of those unhappy men to whom he could afford no relief. The storm at length began to subside, and hopes were entertained, that as many ships might still escape as would be sufficient to afford subsistence to the army, and transport it back to Europe. But the approach of night again involved the sea in darkness and horror; and as the officers on board the surviving ships could not convey any intelligence to their companions on shore, they remained during the night in all the anguish of suspence. Their distress and perplexity was not much alleviated by the intelligence which Doris sent to them next morning; that having weathered out the storm, he found it necessary to remove with his sbattered vessels to Metafuz, to which as the sky appeared still lowering and tempestuous, he advised Charles to march with all speed, as the troops might there embark with greater ease. Metafuz was at least three days march from the imperial camp; and the soldiers, destitute of provisions, worn out with fatigue, and dispi

rited by hardships, were in no condition for encountering new toils. But their situation afforded no time for deliberation. They instantly began their march, placing the wounded, the sick, and the feeble, in the centre, while such as appeared more vigorous were stationed in the front and rear. So much were they exhausted by their late sufferings, that many of them could scarcely sustain the weight of their arms; some sunk under the toil of marching through deep and almost impassable roads; numbers perished through famine; others were drowned in attempting to cross the brooks swoln by the late excessive rains; and many were killed by the enemy, who harassed and annoyed them both night and day during the greater part of their retreat. Nor did their calamities end here; for scarcely had they re-embarked when another storm arose, which scattered the fleet, and obliged them separately to make towards such ports in Spain or Italy as they could first reach. The emperor himself, after escaping many dangers, was obliged to take refuge in the bar. bour of Bujeyah, where he was detained several weeks : at length, when the weather became lest tempestuous, he set sail again for Spain, where he arrived in a condition very different from that in which he had returned from his former expedition to Barbary.”

When Mahamed was bashaw of Algiers “an adventurous Spaniard, named John Gascon, formed a scheme for burning the whole navy by night, while the pirates lay defenceless, and in their first sleep. His scheme was approved of by Philip II. who furnished him with proper vessels and fireworks for its execution. He sailed for Algiers in the beginning of October, when most of the ships were moored in the harbour; and having observed their manner of riding, he advanced unperceived to the Mole-gate, and dispersed his men with their combustibles. These, however, were so ill mixed, that all their art could not make them take fire; the bustle and confusion

which this circumstance occasioned, alarmed the guard on the adjacent bastion, and the whole garrison was instantly in commotion. Gascon perceiving his danger, sailed away with the utmost haste; but he was quickly overtaken, and brought prisoner to Mahamed, who caused a high gibbet to be erected on the spot where the Spaniards had landed, from which Gascon was suspended on a hook by the feet. He had not hung long, when Mahamed, moved by the intercession of his corsairs, ordered him to be taken down; but the Moors, offended by this lenity, hinted that it was boasted in Spain that the Algerines durst not touch a hair of Gascon's head, on which the unhappy Spaniard was hoisted by a pulley above the execution wall, and thrown down upon the chinhun or hook, which caused his instant death."

The following is a sketch of their history as connected with Europe, from the time they became formidable by their piracies, till the late expedition against them.

“ While the Algerines were proceeding with their internal arrangements, the famous Doria, with a body of Spaniards under his command, made another attempt upon their capital, which as usual was rendered unsuccessful by adverse winds. To guard against these repeated descents, they applied themselves with such vigour to the improvement of their navy, that in the year 1616, they possessed forty sail of ships, between two hundred and four, hundred tons. These were divided into two squadrons, one of eighteen 'sail stationed off the port of Malaga, and the other at the Cape of Santa Maria, be. tween Lisbon and Seville, where they attacked all christian ships without distinction, and rendered themselves formidable to all the maritime powers of Europe.

“ The outrages of these lawless pirates were first resented by the French, who (A. D. 1617) sent M. Beaulieu against them with a fleet of fifty sail. Beaulieu dispersed their fleet, took two of their ships, while the adıniral,

with desperate resolution, sunk his own vessel and crew rather than fall into the enemy's hands.

“ Three years after, a squadron of English men-of-war was sent into the Mediterranean, under the command of Sir Robert Mansel; but after an unsuccessful attempt to set fire to the shipping in the barbour of Algiers, the squadron returned without doing any material damage, and the Algerines became so insolent, that they openly defied all the powers of Europe except the Dutch. In the year 1625, they sent a proposal to the Prince of Orange, that if he would fit out twenty ships of war to be employed against the Spaniards, they would join them with sixty. The Dutch, however, unwilling to be connected with such infamous allies, rejected their proposal.

“ Next year the Cologlis seized upon the citadel of Algiers, and had well nigh made themselves masters of the state ; but the Turks and renegadoes at length defeated them with great slaughter. Of those who survived many were butchered in cold blood, and their heads thrown in heaps upon the city wall without the eastern gate. About two years after this event, the state of Algiers underwent a memorable change, which enabled it soon to shake off the Ottoman yoke, and become an independent government under its own Deys. The cause of this revolution was a truce of twenty-five years, which the Sultan Amurah IV. had concluded with the Emperor Ferdinand II. This truce was universally reprobated by the corsairs of Barbary, whose piracies it tended to check; and by none more than the Algerines, rendered opulent and haughty by their depredations against the Christians. They resolved therefore to declare themselves an independent state, wholly unconcerned in any treaty into which the Porte might enter with any Christian power. No sooner was this resolution formed than they began to make prizes of several ships belonging to nations then at peace with the Ottoman Porte, some of which they pur

« ForrigeFortsæt »