Page images


stop the leaks only that they might be enabled to rifle her
of her valuable merchandize. This required twenty-four
hours at the least, and Smith tells us that the "silkes, vel-
vets, cloth of gold and tissue, pyastres, chicqueens and
sultanies which is gold," of which they despoiled her in
that of time,
66 was wonderful." Having crammed
their own vessel, they cast off the prize, leaving in her as
much good merchandize as would have "fraughted such
another Britaine." The Venetian was four or five hundred
tons in burthen, the Frenchman but two hundred. The
latter lost fifteen, the former twenty men in the engage-
ment—a sufficient proof of its severity. That Smith took
conspicuous part in the fight, with the hearty good will
and the stubborn courage of the Englishman, may be infer-
red from his share of the spoils, which amounted to "five
hundred chicqueens (sequins) and a little box," God-sent
him (that is, we suppose, the immediate spoil of his own
right hand) with as many more. The box was probably
one of jewels.

Smith, so far as mere pecuniary fortune was concerned, had every reason to be satisfied with this adventure. But he was not satisfied to pursue the career thus handsomely opening before his eyes. He prepares to leave La Roche, and, at his own request, with his sequins and his jewelry, is set on shore in Piedmont. He parts kindly with La Roche, whom he styles "this noble Britaine," and who seems to have treated him with an appreciating and just consideration. His next journey is for Leghorn; and, making the tour of Italy, he meets the friends with whom his first pilgrimage had been made, Lord Willoughby and his brother. He finds them under painful circumstances upon which he does not dilate: "Cruelly wounded in a desperate fray, yet to their exceeding great honour." Yet what had been their experience, compared with his,

from the moment of their first separation, when all of them were boys, to that of their present meeting? What a life of adventure had the nobleman of nature led in comparison with the easy fortunes which were theirs-the noblemen of society? What lessons had he learned of courage, and wisdom, and expedient, to serve him in a perilous career, and to secure him future eminence ?

Smith visits Rome, where it was "his chance to see Pope Clement the Eighth, with many cardinals, creepe up the holy stayres." From Rome he went to Naples, and other great places, "to satisfie his eye with faire cities, and the kingdome's nobilitie ;" and after a very ample tour, the description of which, as contained in his own narrative, is exceedingly bald and valueless, but in which we have reason to suppose that he was pretty well relieved of all his sequins, we find him suddenly awakened to a recollection of the original purpose for which he sailed from France—that of joining the armies of Rodolph of Germany, then waging war against the Turks, under the third Mahomet. From Venice he proceeded to Ragusa, on the Adriatic, where he lingered some time to see that barren, broken coast of Albania and Dalmatia ;" thence to Capo D' Istria, " travelling the maine of poor Slavonia," till he came to Gratz in Styria, the residence of Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, and afterwards Emperor of Germany. Here he met with an Englishman and an Irish Jesuit, by whom, having made them acquainted with his desires, he was presented to Lord Ebersbaught, Baron Kisell, the Earl of Meldritch, and other persons of distinction in the imperial army. He was soon successful in finding his way to the confidence of these noblemen; and attaching himself to the staff of the latter, who was a colonel of cavalry, proceeded with his regiment soon after to Vienna.


THE time at which Smith made his appearance as a volunteer in the armies of Rodolph was particularly favorable to the desires of one having so large an appetite for military achievements. A cruel war had long been raging between the Christian power of Germany and the Grand Seignior. The close of the career of Amurath the Third had been hastened and embittered by disaster. He entailed upon his successor, the third Mahomet, the necessity, or more properly the seeming policy, for continuing the same bloody warfare. The year 1601, at the close of which Smith made his appearance in this new field, had been distinguished by many terrible conflicts, the advantage remaining in some measure with the Turks. They had ravaged Hungary, and taken some of its best fortresses; and Ibrahim Bashaw, with an immense army, had laid siege to Canissia, a place of strength on the borders of Styria, nearly surrounded by deep marshes. The Christian forces undertaking the relief of this place were defeated with great slaughter, and Canissia was finally surrendered. Flushed with this success, the Turks pushed forward to other conquests, and, with a force of twenty thousand men, laid siege to Olympach. The defence of this town was assigned to Lord Ebersbaught, one of the officers of the imperial army, to whom our hero had been introduced at Gratz. In this new acquaintance he had found a willing listener to the narrative of his military career, and to certain suggestions, which might have been original with Smith, for the improvement of the art of war. Something of his views may have been gathered

from his reading, more perhaps from his experience, and a good deal from the activity of his mind, which could digest with equal independence the material derived from these twofold sources. Smith's brain seems to have been full to overflowing of strategic matter. He was at once the thinker and the worker: that rare combination of character, as we have said before, by which men of action are distinguished. He was always-to use his own phrase -" trying such conclusions as he projected to undertake.” Some of these conclusions, with which he succeeded in impressing Lord Ebersbaught, were, as we shall see hereafter, of considerable service in obtaining advantages over the enemy. That he so readily obtained the ear of this nobleman and others, must be ascribed to an address of peculiar felicity. The English friends who introduced him could scarcely do more for him than say that he had seen service, and had experienced many vicissitudes. As yet he could boast none of the distinction of having been a leader of men. He had served a valuable apprenticeship; it was now for the first time that he was to reap its fruits.

Ebersbaught, in addition to the evident qualifications of the youth, most probably saw that he was ingenuous, that he did not belong to the ordinary class of military adventurers. It was a real passion for glory, and not a thirst after spoil, that brought him at that doubtful juncture into Hungary. Certainly, as we have shown, no moment could have been more unpromising for the imperial forces than that in which our hero joined himself to the regiment of the Earl of Meldritch-the Imperialists, defeated in successive actions, their strong places overthrown, their country ravaged, the Turk growing daily more confident and strong, and Olympach, greatly shattered by the besiegers, cut off from all communication with its friends,

and nearly hopeless of succor from without. The forces appointed for its relief, under the Baron Kisell, a general of artillery, were inadequate to the task assigned them, and could give assistance in no other way than by occasionally annoying the besiegers, whenever opportunity offered for preventing them from obtaining supplies, or by cutting off a detachment. It was quite too feeble to attempt any more formidable enterprise against the main body of the besiegers. The regiment of Meldritch formed a part of this command of Kisell, and, as cavalry, was no doubt actively engaged in the business of this campaign, that being of a nature particularly to commend the use of horse. Of Smith's share in this business he tells us little, till we find him serving as a volunteer immediately about the person of the baron. That he had proved useful, and had succeeded in drawing attention to himself, may be inferred from this circumstance. He was about to prove himself more useful still. In the straitened condition of Olympach, Kisell was exceedingly anxious to attempt something in concert with the besieged; but how to effect this simultaneous operation was beyond his ingenuity. Communication with the town had been long since cut off. The Turks in vastly superior force lay between them, and closely watched as was the place, with an army of twenty thousand active and barbarous enemies, who were never known to spare, it was not possible to find a soldier sufficiently daring and reckless to hazard himself in the attempt to pass the cordon which their vigilance maintained. In this difficulty Smith came to the relief of his commander. He reminded him that among the numerous schemes of a military character, which he had communicated to Lord Ebersbaught, now in defence of Olympach, there was one of a telegraphic alphabet by which, with signal torches corresponding regularly with the let

« PreviousContinue »