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ed up to the Swedish fortifications, the Tartars being already waiting for them, and the cannon began to play. The little camp was instantly forced, and the whole three hundred Swedes made prisoners.

Charles, who was then on horseback, between the camp and his house, took refuge in the latter, attended by a few general officers and domestics. With these, he fired from the windows upon the Turks and Tartars; killed about two hundred of them, and bravely maintained his post, till the house was all in flames, and one half of the room fell in. In this extremity, a centinel, named Rosen, had the presence of mind to observe, that the chancery house, which was only about fifty yards distant, had a stone roof, and was proof against fire; that they ought to sally forth, take possession of that house, and defend themselves to the last extremity. "There is a true Swede!" cried Charles, rushing out like a madman, at the head of a few desperadoes. The Turks at first recoiled, from respect to the person of the king; but suddenly recollecting their orders, they surrounded the Swedes, and Charles was made prisoner, together with all his attendants. Being in boots, as usual, he entangled himself with his spurs, and fell. A number of janazaries sprung upon him. He threw his sword up into the air, to save himself the mortification of surrendering it; and some of the janizaries taking hold of his legs, and others of his arms, he was carried in that manner to the bashaw's quarters13.

The bashaw gave Charles his own apartment, and ordered him to be served as a king, but not without taking the precaution to plant a guard of janizaries at the chamber. door. Next day he was conducted toward Adrianople, as a prisoner, in a chariot covered with scarlet. On his way he was informed by the baron Fabricius, ambassador from the duke of Holstein, that he was not the only Christian monarch that was a prisoner in the hands of the Turks; that his friend

13. Voltaire, ubi sup.

Stanislaus

Stanislaus, having come to share his fortunes, had been ta ken into custody, and was only a few miles distant, under a guard of soldiers, who were conducting him to Bender. "Run to him, my dear Fabricius!" cried Charles-" desire him never to make peace with Augustus, and assure him that our affairs will soon take a more flattering turn." Fabricius hastened to execute his commission, attended by a janizary; having first obtained leave from the bashaw, who in person commanded the guard.

So entirely was the king of Sweden wedded to his own opinions, that although abandoned by all the world, stript of great part of his dominions, a fugitive among the Turks, whose liberality he had abused, and now led captive, without knowing whither he was to be carried, he still reckoned on the favours of fortune, and hoped the Ottoman court would send him home at the head of an hundred thousand men! This idea continued to occupy him during the whole time of his confinement. He was at first committed to the castle of Demirtash, in the neighbourhood of Adria nople; but afterward allowed to reside at Demotica, a little town about six leagues distant from that city, and near the famous river Hebrus, now called Merizza. There he renewed his intrigues; and a French adventurer, counterfeiting madness, had the boldness to present, in his name, a memorial to the grand seignior. In that memorial the imaginary wrongs of Charles were set forth in the strongest terms, and the ministers of the porte accused of extorting from the sultan, an order, in direct violation of the laws of nations, as well as of the hospitality of a mussulman-an order in itself ut terly unworthy of a great emperor, to attack, with twenty thousand men, a sovereign who had none but his domestics to defend him, and who relied upon the sacred word of the sublime Achmet.

In consequence of this intrigue, as was supposed, a sudden change took place in the seraglio. The mufti was de. posed; the khan of Tartary, who depends upon the grand seignior, was banished to Rhodes, and the bashaw of Ben

der

der confined in one of the islands of the Archipelago. One vizier was disgraced, and another strangled. But these changes in the ministry of the porte produced none in the condition of the king of Sweden, who still remained a prisoner at Demotica; and, lest the Turks should not pay him the respect due to his royal person, or oblige him to condescend to any thing beneath his dignity, he resolved to keep his bed, during his captivity, under pretence of sickThis resolution he kept for ten months14.

ness.

While the naturally active and indefatigable Charles, who held in contempt all effeminate indulgences, and had set even the elements themselves at defiance, was wasting, from caprice, his time and his constitution in bed, or harrassing his mind with fruitless intrigues, the northern princes, who had formerly trembled at his name, and whom he might still, by a different conduct, have made tremble, were dismembering his dominions. General Steenbock, who had distinguished himself by driving the Danes out of Schonen, and defeating their best troops with an inferior number of Swedish militia, defended Pomerania, Bremen, and all his master's possessions, in Germany, as long as possible. But he could not prevent the combined army of Danes and Saxons, from besieging Stade; a place of great strength and importance, situated on the banks of the Elbe, in the duchy of Bremen. The town was bombarded and reduced to ashes, and the garrison obliged to surrender, before Steenbock could come to their assistance.

The Swedish general, however, with twelve thousand men, pursued the enemy, though twice his number, and overtook them at a place called Gadesbush, in the duchy of Mecklenburg, in December, 1712. He was separated from them, when he first came in sight, by a morass. The Danes and Saxons, who did not decline the combat, were so posted as to have this morass in front, and a wood in the rear. They had the advantage of numbers and situation; yet

14. Hist. Char. XII. liv. vii.

VOL. IV.

30

Steenbock

Steenbock, notwithstanding these adverse circumstances, passed the morass at the head of his troops, and began one of the most furious and bloody battles that ever happened between the rival nations of the north. After a desperate conflict of three hours, the Danes and Saxons were totally routed, and driven off the field with great slaughter.

But Steenbock stained the honour of his victory, by burning the flourishing, though defenceless town of Altena, belonging to the king of Denmark. In consequence of that severity, many thousands of the inhabitants perished of hunger and cold. All Germany exclaimed against so shocking an insult on humanity; and the ministers of Poland and Denmark wrote to the Swedish general, reproaching him with an act of cruelty committed without necessity, and which could not fail to awaken the vengeance of heaven and earth against him. The enlightened but unfeeling Goth replied, that he never should have exercised such rigour, had it not been with a view to teach the enemies of Sweden to respect the laws of nations, and not to make war, for the future, like barbarians. They had not only, he observed, laid waste the beautiful province of Pomerania, but sold near an hundred thousand of its inhabitants to the Turks; and the torches which had laid Altena in ashes, he affirmed, were no more than a just retaliation for the red hot bullets, which had wrapt in flames the more valuable city of Stade15.

Had the king of Sweden appeared in Pomerania, while his subjects carried on the war with such implacable resentment, and even with success, against their numerous enemies, he might perhaps have retrieved his ruinous fortune. His troops, though so widely separated from his person, were still animated by his spirit. But the absence of a prince is always prejudicial to his affairs, and more especially prevents his generals from making a proper use of their victories. Steenbock lost, almost instantly, the fruits of his valour and conduct; which, at a happier crisis, would have

15. Id. Ibid.

been

been permanent conquests. Though victorious, he could not prevent the junction of the Russians, Danes, and Saxons, who obliged him to seek an asylum for himself and his gallant army in Toningen, a fortress in the duchy of Holstein. That duchy was then subjected to the most cruel ravages

of

any part of the north. The young duke of Holstein, nephew of Charles XII. and presumptive heir to the crown of Sweden, was the natural enemy of the king of Denmark, who had endeavoured to strip his father of his dominions, and to crush himself in the very cradle. The bishop of Lubeck, one of his father's brothers, and administrator of the dominions of this unfortunate ward, now beheld himself in very critical situation. His own territories were already exhausted by continual contributions; the Swedish army claimed his protection; and the forces of Russia, Denmark, and Saxony, threatened the duchy of Holstein with immediate desolation. But that danger was seemingly removed by the address of the famous baron de Goertz, who wholly governed the bishop, and was the most artful and enterpriz ing man of his time; endowed with a genius amazingly penetrating, and fruitful in every resource.

Goertz had a private conference with general Steenbock, at which he promised to deliver up to him the fortress of Toningen, without exposing the bishop-administrator, his master, to any inconveniency: and he gave, at the same time, the strongest assurances to the king of Denmark, that he would defend the place to the utmost. The governor accordingly refused to open the gates; but the Swedes were admitted partly within the walls, and partly under the cannon of the town, in consequence of a pretended order from the young duke, who was yet a minor. This indulgence, however, procured by so much ingenious deceit, proved of little use to the brave Steenbock, who was soon obliged to surrender himself prisoner of war, together with his whole army16.

16. Hist. of the Russian Emp. part ii. chap. iv.

The

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