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Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 54, No. 334, August 1843 online

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contrived to pass and re-pass securely; but an epidemic disease, in
addition to the sword and the bombardment, was rapidly thinning their
numbers; and Callonitz, bishop of Neustadt, who, in his younger days,
had gained distinction against the Turks in Candia, now acquired a
holier fame by his pious care of the sick and wounded, who crowded the
hospitals and houses. The siege had been languidly carried on during the
greater part of August, but at the end of the month fresh symptoms of
activity were observed in the Ottoman lines; several mines were sprung
on the 27th and 28th, and the fire from the batteries was so warmly kept
up, that on the 29th the garrison, conjecturing that the anniversary of
the battle of Mohacz had been chosen for the general assault, stood to
their arms in anxious suspense. But the day passed over without any
alarm, and it was not till September 4, that, having blown up great part
of the right face of the court bastion by a powerful mine, 5000 of the
_élite_ of the janissaries sprang, sword in hand, with loud shouts and
the clangour of martial music, into the breach thus made, and forcing
their way, with the fanatic valour which had in their best days
characterized the sons of Hadji-Bektash, into the interior of the
bastion, planted their _bairahs_, or pennons, on the ruined ramparts.
Stahrenberg himself, with his officers and guards, was fortunately going
the rounds at the menaced point at the moment of the explosion and
assault, but the Osmanlis held firm the ground they had gained; and
Stahrenberg, seeing the enemy thus fairly established within the
defences, directed barriers to be constructed and trenches sunk at the
head of the streets nearest the breach, while thirty rockets, fired in
the night from the steeple of St Stephen's Domkirch, announced the
extremity of their distress to their approaching friends; and all eyes
were turned to the rocky heights of the Kahlenberg, which bounded the
prospect to the west, in hope of descrying the standards of the
Christian army.

It was at Tuln, six leagues above Vienna, that Sobieski received, the
day after this assault, a despatch from Stahrenberg, containing only the
words - "There is no time to be lost!" On the 6th the Poles passed the
river by the bridge of Tuln, and the king, amazed at the supineness of
the vizir in suffering this movement to be effected without molestation,
exclaimed, "Against such a general the victory is already gained!" - and
advanced as to an assured triumph. Though far inferior in numbers to the
Turks, who, after all their losses by the sword and desertion, still
mustered 120,000 effective men, when passed in review on the 8th by the
vizir, it was in truth a gallant army which Sobieski now saw united
under his command. The Imperialists, under the Duke of Lorraine, were
not more than 20,000; but the Saxons and Bavarians, led by their
respective electors, and the contingents of the lesser states of the
empire, with the fiery hussars and cuirassiers of Poland, formed an
aggregate of 65,000 men, more than half of whom were cavalry; while in
the ranks were found, besides the German chivalry who fought for their
fatherland, many noble volunteers, who had hastened from Spain and Italy
to share in the glories anticipated under the leadership of Sobieski.
Among these illustrious auxiliaries was a young hero, who had escaped
from France in defiance of the mandate of Louis XIV., to flesh his
maiden sword in view of the Polish king, and who at a later period,
under the well-known name of Prince Eugene, himself earned deathless
fame by his achievements against those redoubted enemies, whose first
great overthrow he was destined to witness.

On the evening of the 10th the two armies were separated only by the
ridge of the Kahlenberg, and the thick forests covering its sides; and a
still more urgent message arrived from the governor, who intimated that
he had little chance of repelling another assault. "On the same night,
however," (says the diary of a Dutch officer in the garrison,) "we saw
on the hills many fires, and rockets thrown up, as signals of our
approaching succours, which we joyfully answered in like manner ... and
next day the Turks were moving, and their cavalry riding about in
confusion, till about four P.M. we saw several of their regiments
drawing off towards the hills, and those in Leopoldstadt marching over
the bridge." The knowledge, indeed, that the terrible Sobieski was at
the head of the Christian army, had spread such a panic among the
Osmanli, that several thousands left the camp the same night; but
Kara-Mustapha, though urged by all his officers to march with his whole
force to meet the coming storm, contented himself with sending 10,000
men, under Kara-Ibrahim, pasha of Buda, to watch the Poles, while the
rest were kept in their lines before the city, which was cannonaded with
redoubled fury throughout the 11th and the night following. The summits
of the Kahlenberg glittered with the arms of the confederates, who
bivouacked there during the night, being unable to pitch their tents
from the violence of the wind, which Sobieski, in one of his letters to
his queen, (his "charmante et bien aimée Mariette,") says, was
attributed by the soldiers to the incantations of the vizir, "who is
known to be a great magician." From the top of the Leopoldsberg, the
king and the Duke of Lorraine reconnoitred the Turkish camp, which lay
in all its wide extent before them, from the opposite skirts of the
Wienerberg almost to the foot of the ridge on which they stood, with the
lofty pavilions and scarlet screens of the vizir's quarters conspicuous
in the midst, while the incessant roar of the artillery rose from the
midst of the smoke which enveloped the city.

At five in the morning of the 12th, the sound of musketry was heard from
the thickets and wooded ravines at the foot of the Kahlenberg, where the
Saxons were already engaged with the Turkish division under
Ibrahim-Pasha; and the king, having heard mass on the Leopoldsberg from
his chaplain Aviano, mounted his favourite sorrel charger, and, preceded
by his son James, whom he had just dubbed a knight in front of the army,
and by his esquire bearing his shield and banner, led the Poles, who
held the right of the allied line, down the slopes of the mountain. The
left wing, which lay nearest the river, was commanded by the Duke of
Lorraine, and the columns in the centre were under the orders of the two
electors, and the Dukes of Saxe-Lauenburg and Eisenach. By eight A.M.
the action had become warm along the skirts of the Kahlenberg - the
Turks, who were principally horse, dismounting to fight on foot behind
hastily-constructed abattis of trees and earth, as the nature of the
ground was unfavourable to cavalry, and keeping up a heavy fire on the
enemy while they were entangled in the ravines. The ardour of the
Christians, however, speedily overcame these obstacles; and by ten A.M.,
their van was debouching from the defiles into the plain with loud
shouts of battle; and the Turks, though from time to time receiving
reinforcements from the camp, were gradually obliged to give ground. The
vizir, meanwhile, remaining immovable in his tent, directed a fresh
cannonade to be directed against the city, under cover of which a
general assault was to be made; but the long files of camels laden with
the spoils of Austria, which were sent off in haste on the road to
Hungary, revealed his secret disquietude - and the troops in the
trenches, effectually disheartened by the delay and privations of the
siege, showed little inclination again to advance against the shattered
bastions. The towers and steeples of Vienna were thronged with anxious
spectators, who with throbbing hearts watched the advance of their
deliverers, who pressed on at all points, "making the Turks give way"
(says the diary above quoted) "whenever they came to a shock." The
villages of Nussdorff and Heiligenstadt on the Danube, where several
_odas_ of janissaries, with heavy cannon, were posted, checked for some
time the progress of the Austrians on the left; the Duc de Croye, a
gallant French volunteer, fell in leading the attack, but a body of
Polish cuirassiers were at last sent to their aid, who, levelling their
lances, and dashing with loud shouts against the flank of the Turkish
batteries, carried the position, and put the defenders to the sword. It
was not so much a battle, as a series of desperate but irregular
skirmishes scattered over wide extent of ground - the Turkish troops (who
were almost all cavalry, as most of the regulars and artillery were
still in the camp) gradually receding before the heavy advancing columns
of the Christians. By four P.M. they were driven so close to their
intrenchments, that Sobieski could descry the vizir, seated in a small
crimson tent, and tranquilly drinking coffee with his two sons. At this
moment, a torrent of the wild cavalry of the Tartars, headed by the khan
in person, poured forth from the Moslem lines, and thundered upon the
right of the Poles, only to recoil in disorder before the lances of
Iablonowski and the Lithuanians, who pushed in pursuit close to a deep
ravine, which covered the redoubts of the Turks. But the khan had
recognized in the mêlée the well-known figure of Sobieski, whose
personal presence had been as yet uncertain. "By Allah!" said he to the
vizir on his return from his unsuccessful charge, "the heavens have
fallen upon us; for the ill-omened _kral_ of the _Leh_ (Poles) of a
truth is with the infidels!"

The Turks were now every where driven within their lines, and the battle
appeared over for the day; but the Poles, with cries of triumph,
demanded to be led to the attack of the camp, and Sobieski exclaiming,
"Not unto us, O Lord, but to thy name be the praise!" directed the
assault. In a moment the Polish chivalry spurred up the steep side of
the ravine in the teeth of the Turkish artillery - a redoubt in the
centre of the lines was stormed through the gorge by Maligny,
brother-in-law of the king - the Pashas of Aleppo and Silistria, whose
prowess sustained the fainting courage of their troops, were slain in
the front of the battle - and, after a conflict of less than an hour, the
whole vast array of the Osmanlis, pierced through the centre by the
onset of the Polish lances, gave way in hopeless, irremediable
confusion, and, abandoning their camp, artillery, and baggage, fled in
wild confusion on the road to Hungary. By 6 P.M. the Polish King reached
the tent of the vizir; but Kara-Mustapha had not awaited the arrival of
the victor. In an agony of despair at the mighty ruin which he now saw
to be inevitable, he gave the barbarous order (which was but partially
executed) for the massacre of the women of his harem, to prevent
their falling into the hands of the enemy; and, seizing the
Sandjak-shereef,[H] mounted an Arabian camel of surpassing swiftness,
and accompanied, or perhaps preceded, the flight of his army. Such was
the panic haste of the rout, that, before sunset the next day, the whole
host swept past the walls of Raab, the garrison of which thus gained the
first tidings of the catastrophe - nor have the crimson banners of the
crescent been ever again seen on the soil of Germany.

From the desultory character of the action, in which little use was made
of artillery, and the headlong dismay in which the Turks at last took to
flight, not more than 10,000 of their number, according to the most
probable accounts, fell in the battle; of the allies, scarcely 3000 were
killed or wounded. Three hundred pieces of cannon of various calibres,
many of them taken in former wars by the Turks, and still bearing the
arms of Poland or the empire - a countless quantity of arms, ammunition,
and warlike implements of all kinds - were found in the abandoned
intrenchments; and the abundance of cattle, with the amply stored
magazines of provisions, afforded instant relief to the famine from
which the citizens had been for some time suffering.

Surrounded by a vast crowd, who hailed him with enthusiastic
acclamations as their deliverer, and thronged each other with a zeal
approaching adoration, to kiss his hand or his stirrup, Sobieski entered
Vienna through the breach on the morning of September 13, in company
with the Duke of Lorraine and the electoral Prince of Bavaria, and with
the horsetails found before the tent of the vizir borne in triumph
before him; and having met and saluted Stahrenberg, repaired with him to
a chapel in the church of the Augustin friars, to return thanks for the
victory. As he entered the church, a priest cried aloud in an ecstacy of
fervour - "There was a man sent from God whose name was John," and this
text, which in past ages had been applied to the Hungarian paladin, John
Hunyades, was again employed by the preachers throughout Europe, in
celebration of the new champion of Christendom, John Sobieski. Far
different to the entry of the Polish king was the return of the Emperor
Leopold to his rescued capital. He had quitted it as a fugitive, amid
the execrations of the people, who accused him of having drawn on them
the storm of invasion, without providing means to ward off the
destruction which threatened them; and having descended the Danube in a
boat, he re-entered the city on the 14th in the guise of a penitent,
proceeding on foot, with a taper in his hand, to the cathedral of St
Stephen, where he knelt before the high altar in acknowledgement of his
deliverance. But neither from his misfortunes, nor from his returning
prosperity, had Leopold learned the lesson of gratitude or humility. He
even attempted at first to evade an interview with Sobieski, on the
ground that an elective king had never been received on terms of
equality by an emperor of Germany: and, when this unworthy plea was
overruled by the honest indignation of the Duke of Lorraine, the meeting
of the two monarchs was formal and embarrassed: and Sobieski, disgusted
at the meanness and arrogance of the prince who owed to him the
preservation of his capital and throne, hastily cut short the
conference, by deputing to his chancellor Zaluski the task of showing to
Leopold the troops who had saved his empire; and departed on the 17th
with his noble colleague in arms, the Duke of Lorraine, to follow up
their triumphs by attacking the Turks in Hungary.

The battle of Vienna effectually broke the spell of the Ottoman military
ascendancy, which for near three centuries had held Europe in awe; - and
though the energies of the empire, and the efficacy of its institutions,
had long been gradually decaying, it was this great blow which first
revealed the secret of its impaired strength. The treaty of Zurawno with
Poland in 1676, had raised the Ottoman dominions to the highest point of
territorial extent which they ever attained. From the time of the
reunion of the empire, after the confusion following the defeat of
Bayezid I. by Timour, every reign had seen its boundaries enlarged by
successive acquisitions; and if we except the voluntary abandonment, in
1636, of the remote and unprofitable province of Yemen, the horsetails
had never receded from any territory on which they had been planted in
token of permanent occupation. Besides the vast territories which were
under the immediate rule of pashas sent from the Porte, and which the
land and capitation taxes (_ssalyaneh_ and _kharatch_,) the khan of the
Krim Tartars, the otaman of the Cossacks, the vassal princes of
Transylvania, Moldavia, and Wallachia, the hereditary chiefs of the
Circassian and Koordish tribes, and the rulers of the Barbary regencies,
were all "under the shadow of the imperial horsetails," and paid tribute
and allegiance to the sultan, who might boast, with no less justice than
did the monarchs of the Seljookian Turks of old, that a crowd of princes
arose from the dust of his footsteps. During the reign of Mohammed IV.,
the last relics of Venetian rule in the Levant had been extirpated by
the conquest of Candia; the frontiers in Hungary and Transylvania had
been strengthened by the acquisition of the important fortresses of
Grosswardein and Neuhausel, with the territory attached to them; while
Poland had been deprived of the province through which she had access to
the undefended points of the Ottoman frontier, and the Cossacks, from
restless and intractable enemies, had been converted into friends and
auxiliaries. In the domestic administration, also, the wisdom and
clemency of Ahmed-Kiuprili, supported by a corresponding disposition on
the part of the sultan, who was naturally averse to measures of
severity, had introduced a spirit of moderation and equity unknown in
the Ottoman annals. Such was the condition of the foreign relations and
internal government of the Turkish empire at the juncture immediately
preceding the death of Ahmed-Kiuprili, whose life closed (as mentioned
above) within a few days of the conclusion of the peace of Zurawno: - and
the coincidence of this highest point of territorial aggrandizement and
domestic prosperity, with the last days of the great minister who had so
principal a share in producing them, would almost justify the
superstitious belief, that the star of the Kiuprilis was in sooth the
protecting talisman of the Ottoman state, and inseparably connected with
its welfare and splendour.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote B: The Poles were sometimes called _Lechi_, from Lech, the
name of one of their ancient kings.]

[Footnote C: Von Hammer describes him, without quoting his authority, as
of lofty stature, and extremely fair complexion; but Rycaut's personal
acquaintance insures his correctness.]

[Footnote D: He subsequently became grand-vizir, and was killed at the
battle of Salankaman in 1691.]

[Footnote E: This name in western parlance would be Gabriel de Bethlen;
in Hungary, the Christian _follows_ the surname.]

[Footnote F: The anonymous biographer of Tekoeli, believed to be M.
Leclerc.]

[Footnote G: After the defeat of the Turks, Scherban Cantacuzene opened
a correspondence with the Emperor and the King of Poland, setting forth
his hereditary claim to the imperial crown of Constantinople in the
event of their expulsion from Europe! but his intrigues became known to
the Ottoman ministry, and he is supposed to have been taken off by
poison.]

[Footnote H: A _crimson_ banner was again sent to Rome as the
Sandjak-shereef, as the green one of Hussein had been after the victory
of Choczim.]




EXHIBITIONS


British art is in a transition state. Remembering many a year past our
Academy Exhibitions, and the general, the family resemblance the works
bore to each other, the little variety either in style or execution; and
of later years noticing the gradual change, the adoption of a new class
of subjects, and more varied styles; we are yet struck with the manifest
difference between the present and any other we ever remember to have
seen. There is, in fact, more originality. There are, indeed, mannerists
enough; and we mean not here to use the word in its reprehensive sense
but they stand more alone. There are far fewer imitators - some, of
course, there must be, but they are chiefly in those classes where
imitation is less easily avoided. Common-place subjects will ever be
treated in a common-place manner, and resemble each other. Few venture
now to follow even erratic genius in its wild vagaries. Turner has no
rivals in the "dissolving view" style. By those who look to one or two
favourite masters, who have hitherto given the character to our
exhibitions, perhaps some disappointment may be felt. Edwin Landseer has
but two pictures - Sir Augustus Calleott not one; and herein is a great
loss, speaking not with reference to his very late pictures, his English
landscape, or even his Italian views, but in vivid recollection of his
fascinating river views, with their busy boats, under illuminating
skies, such as, alas! he has ceased to paint.

With regard to landscape, we progress slowly. Yet we fancy we can
perceive indications there, that are of a better promise; although of
the higher class of landscape there is not one this year. The promise is
in the pencil of Creswick. He labours to unite great finish, too minute
finish, with breadth and boldness of effect. His is unquestionably a new
style; his subjects are all pleasing, bordering on the poetical; we only
question if his aim at minute finishing does not challenge a scrutiny
into the accuracy and infinite variety of the detail of nature, that few
pictures ought to require, and his certainly do not satisfy the demand.
For, after all, there is a great sameness, where there ought to be
variety, particularly in his foliage: it is safer, by a greater
generality, to leave much to the imagination. We do not, however, mean
to quarrel with this his peculiar style, nor to limit its power. There
is something yet not achieved.

Mr Maclise has likewise originated a new style, and if not altogether a
new class of subjects, one so richly, so luxuriantly treated as to be
fairly considered new. He has given to humour a gentle satire, and more
especially to works of creative fancy an historical importance; for
herein he is essentially different from all other painters of this
class, that none of his pieces, we might almost say none of his figures,
are, or pretend to be, real life. If it be said that they are
theatrical, we know not but that the term expresses their merit; for as
Sir Joshua has well observed, there must be in the theatrical a certain
ideal - which is, nevertheless, the higher representative of nature. Mr
Maclise has adopted the elaborate finish and lavish ornament, but with
so much breadth, and powerful execution, that the display scarcely
offends - and he generally seeks subjects that will bear it. As a fault
it was conspicuous in his Lady Macbeth: the strong emotions of that
banquet-scene are of too hurrying, too absorbent a nature, to admit
either the conspicuous multiplicity of parts, or the excess of ornament
which that work exhibited. It was the very perfection of the "Sleeping
Beauty," and singularly enough, begat a repose; for the mind was
fascinated into the notion of the long sleep, by the very leisure
required and taken to examine the all-quiescent detail.

May we not call the style of Mr Redgrave original? perhaps more so in
his execution than his subject. He has appropriated the elegant
familiar. Many are the painters we might name under whose hands the arts
are advancing; those we have named, however, appear to us to be more or
less the chief originators of new styles. Nor does it follow from this
that their pictures are always the best in any exhibition, though they
may be generally found so to be. If we are to congratulate the world of
art on the particular advancement of this year, we shall certainly limit
our praise to one picture, because it is the picture of the year; and it
is a wondrous improvement upon all our former historical attempts.
Whoever has visited the Exhibition will at once know that we allude to
Mr Poole's "Plague of London." There has not been so powerful a picture
painted in this country since the best days of Sir Joshua Reynolds. For
its power we compare it with the "Ugolino" of the President, and we do
so the more readily as both pictures are now publicly exhibited. Unlike
as they are, unquestionably, in many respects, and painted indeed on
opposite principles, regarding the mechanical methods and colour; yet
for power, for pathos, they come into competition. The subject chosen by
Mr Poole was one of much more difficulty, more complication: he has had,
therefore, much more to do, much more to overcome; and he has succeeded.
Both, possibly, to a certain extent, were imitators, yet both possessing
a genius that made the works their own creations. Sir Joshua saw
Rembrandt in every motion of his hand; and Mr Poole was not unconscious
of Nicolo Poussin in the design and execution of his "Plague." This is
not said to the disparagement of either painter; on the contrary, we
should augur ill of that man's genius who would be more ambitious to be
thought original in all things than of painting a good picture. Great
minds will be above this little ambition. Raffaelle borrowed without
scruple from those things that were done well before him, a whole
figure, and even a group; yet the result was ever a work that none could
ever suspect to be by any hand but Raffaelle's. In saying that Mr Poole
has seen Nicolo Poussin, we do not mean to insinuate more than that
fact: others may say more; and, depreciating a work of surprising power,
and that, too, coming from an artist who has hitherto exhibited nothing


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Online LibraryVariousBlackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 54, No. 334, August 1843 → online text (page 8 of 23)