Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

BOOK none of the Turkish monarchs had married, because, when XI.

he was vanquished and taken prisoner by Tamerlane, his

wife had been abused with barbarous insolence by the Tar1553.

tars. That no similar calamity might again subject the Ottoman family to the same disgrace, the Sultans admitted none to their beds but slaves, whose dishonour could not bring any such stain upon their house.

This young

But the more uncommon the step was, the more it convinced Roxalana of the unbounded influence which she had acquired over the Sultan's heart ; and emboldened her to prosecute with greater hope of success, the scheme that she had formed in order to destroy Mustapha. Prince having been intrusted by his father, according to the practice of the Sultans in that age, with the government of several different provinces, was at that time invested with the administration in Diarbequir, the ancient Mesopotamia, which Solyman had wrested from the Persians, and added to his empire. In all these different commands, Mustapha had conducted himself with such cautious prudence as could give no offence to his father, though, at the same time, he governed with so much moderation as well as justice, and displayed such valour and generosity, as rendered him equally the favourite of the people and the darling of the soldiery.

THERE was no room to lay any folly or vice to his charge, that could impair the high opinion which his father entertained of him. Roxalana's malevolence was more refined; she turned his virtues against him, and made use of these as engines for his destruction. She often mentioned, in Solyman's presence, the splendid qualities of his son ; she celebrated his courage, his liberality, his popular arts, with malicious and exaggerated praise. As soon as she perceived that the Sultan heard these encomiums, which were often repeated, with uneasiness; that suspicion of his son began to mingle itself with his former esteem ; and that by degrees he came to view him with jealousy and fear ; she introduced, as by accident, some discourse concerning the rebellion of his father Selim against Bajazet his grandfather : she took notice of the bravery of the veteran troops under

1553.

Mustapha's command, and of the neighbourhood of Diar. BOOK

XI. bequir to the territories of the Persian Sophi, Solyman's mortal enemy. By these arts, whatever remained of paternal tenderness was gradually extinguished, and such passions were kindled in the breast of the Sultan, as gave all Roxalana's malignant suggestions the colour not only of probability but of truth. His suspicions and fear of Mustapha settled into deep-rooted hatred. He appointed spies to observe and report all his words and actions; he watched and stood on his guard against him as his most dangerous enemy.

ܪ

HAVING thus alienated the Sultan's heart from Mustapha, Roxalana ventured upon another step. She entreated Solyman to allow her own sons the liberty of appearing at court, hoping that by gaining access to their father, they might, by their good qualities and dutiful deportment, insinuate themselves into that place in his affections which Mustapha had formerly held ; and, though what she demanded was contrary to the practice of the Ottoman family in that age, the uxorious monarch granted her request. To all these female intrigues Rustan added an artifice still more subtle, which completed the Sultan's delusion, and heightened his jealousy and fear. He wrote to the Bashaws of the provinces adjacent to Diarbequir, instructing them to send him regular intelligence of Mustapha's proceedings in his government, and to each of them he gave a private hint, flowing in appearance from his zeal for their interest, that nothing would be more acceptable to the Sultan than to receive favourable accounts of a son whom he destined to sustain the glory of the Ottoman name. The Bashaws, ignorant of his fraudulent intention, and eager to pay court to their sovereign at such an easy price, filled their letters with studied but fatal panegyrics of Mustapha, representing him as a Prince worthy to succeed such an illustrious father, and as endowed with talents which might enable him to emulate, perhaps to equal, his fame. These letters were industriously shown to Solyman, at the seasons when it was known that they would make the deepest impression. Every expression in recommendation of his son wounded him to the heart; he suspected his principal officers of being ready to favour the most

XI.

BO O K desperate attempts of a Prince whom they were so fond of

praising; and fancying that he saw them already assaulting his throne with rebellious arms, he determined, while it was yet in his power, to anticipate the blow, and to secure his own safety by his son's death.

1553.

For this purpose, though under pretence of renewing the war against Persia, he ordered Rustan to march towards Diarbequir at the head of a numerous army, and to rid him of a son whose life he deemed inconsistent with his own safety. But that crafty minister did not choose to be loaded with the odium of having executed this cruel order. As soon as he arrived in Syria he wrote to Solyman, that the danger was so imminent as called for his immediate presence ; that the camp was full of Mustapha's emissaries ; that many of the soldiers were corrupted; that the affections of all leaned towards him; that he had discovered a negociation which had been carried on with the Sophi of Persia in order to marry Mustapha with one of his daughters; that he already felt his own talents as well as authority to be inadequate to the exigencies of such an arduous conjuncture ; that the Sultan alone had sagacity to discern what resolution should be taken in those circumstances, and power to carry that resolution into execution.

This charge of courting the friendship of the Sophi, Roxalana and Rustan had reserved as the last and most envenomed of all their calumnies. It operated with the violence which they expected from Solyman's inveterate abhorrence of the Persians, and threw him into the wildest transports of rage. He set out instantly for Syria, and hastened thither with all the precipitation and impatience of fear and revenge. As soon as he joined his army near Aleppo, and had concerted measures with Rustan, he sent a Chiaus, or messenger of the court, to his son, requiring him to repair immediately to his presence. Mustapha, though no stranger to his step-mother's machinations, or to Rustan's malice, or to his father's violent temper, yet relying on his own innocence, and hoping to discredit the accusations of his enemies by the promptitude of his obedience, followed the messenger without delay to Aleppo. The moment he BO O K

XI. arrived in the camp, he was introduced into the Sultan's tent. As he entered it, he observed nothing that could 1553. give him any alarm; no additional crowd of attendants, no body of armed guards, but the same order and silence which always reign in the Sultan's apartments. In a few minutes, however, several mutes appeared, at the sight of whom Mustapha, knowing what was his doom, cried with a loud voice, “ Lo, my death!” and attempted to fly. The mutes rushed forward to seize him; he resisted and struggled, demanding with the utmost earnestness to see the Sultan; and despair, together with the hope of finding protection from the soldiers, if he could escape out of the tent, animated him with such extraordinary strength, that, for some time, he baffled all the efforts of the executioners. Solyman was within hearing of his son's cries, as well as of the noise which the struggle occasioned. Impatient of this delay of his revenge, and struck with terror at the thoughts of Mustapha's escaping, he drew aside the curtain which divided the tent, and thrusting in his head, darted a fierce look towards the mutes, and, with wild and threatening gestures, seemed to condemn their sloth and timidity. At sight of his father's furious and unrelenting countenance, Mustapha's strength failed, and his courage forsook him; the mutes fastened the bow-string about his neck, and in a moment put an end to his life.

The dead body was exposed before the Sultan's tent. The soldiers gathered around it, and contemplating that mournful object with astonishment, and sorrow, and indignation, were ready, if a leader had not been wanting, to have broke out into the wildest excesses of

rage.

After giving vent to the first expressions of their grief, they retired each man to his tent, and shutting themselves up, bewailed in secret the cruel fate of their favourite ; nor was there one of them who tasted food, or even water, during the remainder of that day. Next morning the same solitude and silence reigned in the camp ; and Solyman, being afraid that some dreadful storm would follow this sullen calm, in order to appease the

[blocks in formation]

BO O K enraged soldiers, deprived Rustan of the seals, ordered him XI.

to leave the camp, and raised Achmet, a gallant officer much 1553.

beloved in the army, to the dignity of Visier. This change, however, was made in concert with Rustan himself ; that crafty minister suggesting it as the only expedient which could save himself or his master. But within a few months, when the resentment of the soldiers began to subside, and the name of Mustapha to be forgotten, Achmet was strangled by the Sultan's command, and Rustan reinstated in the office of Visier. Together with his former power, he reassumed the plan for exterminating the race of Mustapha which he had concerted with Roxalana ; and as they were afraid that an only son whom Mustapha had left, might grow up to avenge his death, they redoubled their activity, and by employing the same arts against him which they had practised against his father, they inspired Solyman with the same fears, and prevailed on him to issue orders for putting to death that young innocent Prince. These orders were executed with barbarous zeal, by an eunuch, who was dispatched to Burso, the place where the Prince resided; and no rival was left to dispute the Ottoman throne with the sons of Roxalana ?

Charles

Such tragical scenes, productive of so deep distress, selprojects a

dom occur but in the history of the great monarchies of the marriage between East, where the warmth of the climate seems to give every his son and Mary of emotion of the heart its greatest force, and the absolute England. power of sovereigns accustoms and enables them to gratify

all their passions without control. While this interesting transaction in the court of Solyman engaged his whole attention, Charles was pursuing, with the utmost ardour, a new scheme for aggrandizing his family. About this time, Edward the Sixth of England, after a short reign, in which he displayed such virtues as filled his subjects with sanguine hopes of being happy under his government, and made them bear with patience all that they suffered from the weakness,

t Augerii Gislenii Busbequii Legatio Turcicæ Epistolæ iv. Franc. 1615 p. 37. Thuan. lib. 12. p. 432. Mem, de Ribier, ii. 457. Mauroceni Histor. Veneta, lib. vii. p. 60.

« VorigeDoorgaan »