Page images

after receiving it. At their first encounter, their lances were ineffectually shivered, though the Turk was nearly unhorsed. They then discharged their pistols, by which Smith was slightly wounded and his antagonist severely in the left arm. Being thus rendered unable to manage his horse, he offered a faint resistance and was easily slain; and his horse and armor, by previous agreement, became the property of the vic


The siege was slowly protracted in the meanwhile, and Smith found but few opportunities for signalizing his valor. His high spirit, flushed with success, could not brook the rust of repose; and he obtained leave of his general to send a message into the town, that he should be happy to furnish the ladies with further entertainment, and to give to any Turkish knight the opportunity of redeeming the heads of his slain friends, and carry off his own besides, if he could win it. The challenge was accepted by a stout champion, to whom the Fates had given the unharmonious name of Bonny Mulgro. Having the privilege of choosing his own weapons, he avoided the lance, having had proof of Smith's dexterity in the use of it, and selected pistols, battleaxes, and swords. In the encounter, they discharged their pistols without effect, and then fought with their battle-axes. Smith seems to

have been inferior to his adversary in the use of this weapon, for he received so heavy a blow, that the axe dropped from his hands and he nearly fell from his horse; and the Turks, seeing his mishap from the walls, set up a loud shout, as if the victory were already won. But Smith quickly recovered himself, and by his skilful horsemanship not only escaped the heavy blows aimed at him by the ponderous battle-axe, but ran his foe through the body with his sword. The ladies of Regal were certainly well entertained by our adventurer, and they could not complain of disappointment when he was master of the feast.

For these brilliant exploits Smith was rewarded by suitable honors. He was conducted to his general's tent by a military procession, consisting of six thousand men, three led horses, and, before each, the head of one of the Turks he had slain, borne on a lance. The general received him with much honor, embraced him, and presented him with a horse superbly caparisoned, and a scimitar and belt worth three hundred ducats; and his colonel, Count Meldritch, made him major of his regiment.

The siege was prosecuted with renewed vigor; and the place was finally taken, and its brave garrison put to the sword, in retaliation of the same inhuman barbarity, which they had shown to the Christian garrison, from whom they took it. The 13


prince of Transylvania, hearing of the valor of Smith, gave him his picture set in gold and a pension of three hundred ducats per annum. He also bestowed upon him a patent of nobility and a coat of arms bearing three Turks' heads in a shield, with the motto "Vincere est vivere.” * This patent was afterwards admitted and recorded in the Heralds' College in England by Sir William Segar, Garter King at Arms.


His Captivity, Escape, and Return to England.

THE summer heaven of Smith's fortunes was soon to be overcast; and fate had trials in store for him, far exceeding any he had before known. Sigismund, the prince of Transylvania, found that he could no longer maintain a war against the Emperor and the Turks at the same time, the resources of his flourishing principality being utterly exhausted by his long-continued and unequal struggle. He accordingly acknowledged the Emperor's authority, gave up his station as an independent prince, and passed the remainder

* The date of this patent is December 3d, 1603, which was not until after Smith's return from his captivity.

of his days in the more obscure, but probably happier rank of a private nobleman in Prague, in the enjoyment of a munificent pension, which he had received in exchange for the uneasy splendor of a crown.

By this arrangement the armies of Sigismund were thrown out of employment, and transferred their allegiance to the Emperor. His generals were somewhat embarrassed by the presence of so many well disciplined and veteran troops, who were well known to be devotedly attached to their old master and not very fond of their new one; and they were anxious to keep them constantly employed, well knowing that idleness is the mother of mutiny. An opportunity soon occurred; for there was seldom peace in those days on the frontiers of Christendom and "Heathenesse."

The inhabitants of Wallachia, at that time a Turkish province, unable to endure the tyranny of their Waywode, or prince, revolted and applied to the Emperor for assistance, who gladly afforded it; and the Earl of Meldritch, accompanied by numerous officers, and Smith among the rest, and by an army of thirty thousand men, who had served under Sigismund, went to support the claims of the new Waywode, Lord Rodoll. The former one, whose name was Jeremy, had raised an army of forty thousand Tartars, Moldavians,

and Turks, to maintain his pretensions. A bloody battle was fought between them, in which the Turkish army was totally defeated with the loss of twenty-five thousand men, and Wallachia became subject to the Emperor.

The deposed Waywode collected together some troops, and assumed a dangerous attitude in the neighboring province of Moldavia; and the Earl of Meldritch was sent to reduce him. He was successful in several skirmishes, in one of which he was materially assisted by Smith's ingenuity in the construction of fire-works, a gift which seems to have been peculiar to him. Pressing on too eagerly and incautiously, he was decoyed into an ambuscade, in a mountainous pass near the town of Rottenton, and attacked by an army of forty thousand men. The Christians made a gallant and desperate resistance, but could avail nothing against such immense odds; and they were all slain or cut to pieces, except about thirteen hundred, who, with the Earl of Meldritch, escaped by swimming a river.

In this unhappy battle were slain many gallant noblemen and gentlemen, the flower of Sigismund's army and his most devoted friends, and, among the rest, nine Englishmen, whose names Smith affectionately preserves, who, for the sake of sustaining the cross and humbling the crescent, had exposed themselves to peril and death

« PreviousContinue »