Slike strani
PDF
ePub

fence is erected in the centre of that part of the city which fronts the sea. On the north head of the mole there is a semicircular battery of two tiers of forty-four guns, called the Lion's Battery, the fire of which bears on the north, on the east, and on the south. After this is another round one, of three tiers and of forty-eight cannons, in the middle of which there is built a tower or lighthouse ; and they call it the Lighthouse Battery. This is supported by another, a long one, still more strong, of three tiers, containing sixty-six guns, and called the Eastern Battery. This is flanked by four more of two tiers, one joined to the other, which mount sixty guns, directed towards the southeast and the south. On the south head of the mole there are two large sixty-eight pounders, twenty feet long. Almost opposite, there are on the city-side two small batteries of four guns each; but these are followed by a strong battery of twenty guns and a very ancient building situated upon two large arches. From this to the south wall of the city there are two batteries more ; and from that to a distance of about a mile and a half south there are several other batteries and a large castle. These are their defences on the seaside ; but the rest of the works round the walls of the city, the two castles situated upon the hills, were too far off for me to observe them well : they say that the whole of their fortifications mounted 1,500 guns.

It has been already remarked, that the interior of this barbaric metropolis does not correspond to the impression made upon the eye of a voyager who approaches it from the northeastern point of the compass. The foreigner whose observations have just been transcribed relates, that when the envoys from Lord Exmouth entered the gates, they “saw every thing contrary to its fine appearance outside.” The streets are very narrow, dirty, and dark, and were at that time full of rubbish. The buildings are all of stone, as well as the tops and floors of the houses, with very little wood. Every four or five tenements are bound together by arches; and they have but very small windows. This city, therefore, could never be burnt by rockets; shells are the surest means for its destruction. The following view, taken by an eminent French artist, will give a good idea of the general

"*

* Expedition to Algiers, p. 30, &c.

[graphic]

View of a Street in Algiers. appearance of the edifices in Algiers, and some notion of the manner in which the native architects construct their dwel!ings.

Before entering upon the topographical description necessary to illustrate the present state of the several provinces, we shall resume the history of Algiers at the date when it was placed under the dominion of the Turks by the younger Barbarossa. As soon as this renowned corsair was appointed to the command of the Ottoman fleet, the country which he had conquered by arms and deceit was committed to the superintendence of Hassan Aga, a renegade eunuchi, who, having passed through every station in the pirate's service, had gained such experience in war as well fitted him for an office which required a man of tried and daring courage Hassan, to show how much he deserved the dignity thus conferred upon him, carried on his wonted depredations against the Christian states with amazing activity, and even surpassed Redbeard himself in boldness and cruelty. The commerce of the Mediterranean was greatly interrupted by his cruisers, and such frequent alarms were given to the coast of Spain, that there was a necessity of erecting watchtowers at proper distances, and of keeping guards constantly on foot, in order to descry the approach of his squadrons, and to protect the inhabitants from their ravages. Of this the Emperor Charles V. had received repeated complaints from his subjects, who represented it as an enterprise suitable at once to his power and benevolence, to reduce Algiers, which, since the conquest of Tunis, was become the common receptacle of all freebooters. They urged upon him, not less from considerations of humanity than of political prudence, the duty of exterminating that lawless race, the implacable enemies of the Christian name.

A. D. 1541. Charles, who was at war with the sultan as well as the King of France, would have found ample employment for his troops on the banks of the Danube, as well as in the Low Countries, always menaced by his active enemy. But, in opposition to the judgment of some of his wisest counsellors, he resolved to chastise the barbarians on the African coast; and with this view had already given orders to prepare a fleet and a large body of land-forces. The season unfortunately was far advanced, on which account the Pope entreated, and Doria conjured him not to expose his whole armament to a destruction almost unavoidable on a wild shore during the violence of the autumnal gales. Adhering, however, to his plan with determined obstinacy, he embarked at Porto Venere on board the admiral's galley, and soon found that this experienced sailor had not judged wrong concerning the element with which he was so well acquainted. But as his courage was undaunted, and his temper often inflexible, the danger to which he was exposed had no other effect than to confirm him in his fatal resolution. The force, indeed, which he had collected, was such as might have inspired a prince less adventurous, and less confident in his own schemes, with the most sanguine hopes of success. It consisted of 20,000 foot and 2,000 horse, mostly veterans, together with 3,000 volunteers, the flower of the Spanish and Italian nobility, who were desirous of paying court i0 the em peror, by attending him in his favourite expedition, and eager to share in the glory which they believed was about to crown his arms.

Besides these, there had joined his standard a thousand soldiers sent by the Order of St. John, and led by a hundred of its most valiant knights.

Landing near Algiers without opposition, Charles immediately advanced towards the town. To oppose the invaders, Hassan had only 800 Turks and 5,000 Moors, partly natives of Africa, and partly refugees from Spain. When summoned to surrender, he, nevertheless, returned a fierce and haughty answer.

But with such a handful of troops, neither his desperate courage nor consummate skill in war could have long resisted forces superior to those which had formerly defeated Barbarossa at the head of 60,000 men, and reduced Tunis in spite of all his efforts to save it. The renegade, however, found in a physical event an auxiliary which more than counterbalanced the inequality of the contending armies ; while his antagonist saw himself exposed to a dreadful calamity, against which human prudence and exertion could avail nothing. On the second day after his debarkation, and befo he had time for any thing more than to disperse some Arabs who molested his soldiers on their march, the clouds were seen to gather, and the heavens assumed a threatening aspect. Towards evening rain began to fall, accompanied with a violent wind; and the rage of the tempest increasing during the night, the men, who had brought nothing ashore but their arms, remained exposed to all its fury, without tents or cover of any kind. The ground was soon so wet that they could not lie down on it; their camp, being in a low situation, was overflowed with water, and they sunk at every step to the ankles in mud; while the hurricane augmented to such a degree that, to prevent themselves from being blown down, they were obliged to thrust their spears into the earth, and lay hold of them as a support. Hassan was too vigilant an officer to allow so favourable an opportunity to escape for attacking his enemy to advantage. At the dawn of day he sallied out at the head of his warriors, who, having been screened from the storm under their own roofs, were fresh and vigorous; whereas a body of Italians, who were stationed nearest the city, dispirited and benumbed with cold, fled at the approach of his Turks. The troops at

the next post showed indeed greater courage ; but the rain had rendered their muskets useless, and having scarcely strength to handle their other arms, they were soon thrown into confusion. Almost the whole army, with the emperor himself in person, was obliged to advance before the barbarians could be repulsed ; who, after spreading such general consternation, and killing a considerable number of men, retired at last in good order.

But all the feeling of this disaster was soon obliterated by a more affecting spectacle. As the tempest continued with unabated violence, the full light of day showed the ships, on which alone their safety depended, driving from their anchors, dashing against one another, and many of them forced on the rocks, or sinking in the waters. In less than an hour, fifteen ships of war and 140 transports, with 8,000 men, perished before their eyes ; and such of the unhappy sailors as escaped the fury of the sea, were murdered by the Arabs as soon as they reached land. Charles stood in silent anguish and astonishment, witnessing this miserable scene, which at once blasted all his hopes of success, and buried in the waves the vast stores he had provided, as well for the subsistence of his troops as the conquest of the country. At length the approach of evening covered the face of the deep with darkness; and as it was impossible for the officers aboard the squadron to send any intelligence to their cornpanions who were ashore, these last passed the night in all the anguish of suspense and apprehension. Next morning, a boat despatched by Doria reached the land with information that, having survived the storm, to which, during fifty years of a seaman's life, he had never known any equal in fierceness and horror, he had found it necessary to bear away with his shattered vessels to Cape Matafuz. He advised the emperor, as the sky was still tempestuous, to march with all speed to that place, where the army could re-embark with greater ease.

This intelligence, though gratifying, did not fail to involve Charles in other cares.

The point named by the admiral was at least three days' march from his present position ; all his provisions were consumed; his men, worn out with fatigue, were hardly equal to such a movement, even in a friendly country; and being dispirited by a succession of hardships, they were in no condition to undergo new toils.

х

« PrejšnjaNaprej »