Imágenes de páginas

veyor of land. Shortly afterwards, however, when Joseph the Second ordered an expedition against the Turks, he entered the army under Laudun, and marched to Belgrade, after which he sustained his share in the siege of Mantua. After the capitulation of that city he deserted from the Austrian army, to avoid the consequences of a duel in which he had been involved. The punishment for such a crime, according to the rules of the Austrian military code, is death. He joined the French at Milan, and went by the name of Carlo Hassanda, but growing weary of the suspicion which attached to him as a spy, he poisoned the guards by administering to them opium in their drink, and escaped to a village in the south of Switzerland. Here, to avoid detection, he assumed the name of Joan Eugena Leitensdorfer, and having sent word to his family how he was situated, they sent him a remittance, with which he purchased watches and jewellery, and travelled as a pedlar through France and Spain. In this capacity he arrived at Toulon, where his terror and his necessities induced him to embark on board a vessel, which was bound for Egypt. After his arrival he wandered on to Cairo, where the French forces were then quartered, under the command of Menou, and to the agricultural and economical projects of the Institute he rendered considerable aid. In the mean time, our forces landed, and after the victory, which the life of Abercrombie dearly purchased, he conceived that things were likely to take a change, and deserted without scruple to the British army. The English officers encouraged him to open a coffee-house for their entertainment, and he soon collected a sum of money which his enterprizing spirit induced him to expend in the erection of a theatre, where the military amateurs used to perform. Here he married a Coptic woman. On the departure of the English he found it necessary to retire from Alexandria, and abandoning his wife, child, and property, he arrived, after an ordinary voyage, at Messina, in Sicily. At that place, being out of employment, and utterly destitute of resources, he entered as a novice in a monastery of Capuchin friars, and practiced their discipline, and enjoyed their bounty, until an opportunity offered of running away, of which with his usual alacrity, he availed himself and sailed for Smyrna. He soon reachad Constantinople, where he was reduced to the last extreinity of

want, having wandered about the city for three days and three nights without food or shelter. At length, meeting a Capuchin friar, he begged of him a pack of cards and a pistol, and with the aid of these he exhibited tricks which in some measure retrieved his desperate fortune. About this time Brune, who commanded the French army at Milan, when he inade his escape, arrived at Constantinople as the French ambassador; and fearing that he might be recognised by some of the diplomatic suite, he enlisted into the Turkish service. Two expeditions were then on foot; one against Passwan Oglou, in Bulgaria, the other against Elfi Bey, in Egypt. He joined the latter, and on the defeat of the Turkish detachment to which he belonged, saved his head by betaking himself to the desert, and courting protection from the Bedouin Arabs. After this unfortunate expedition he continued to make his way back to Constantinople, and endeavoured in vain to procure from the Russian minister a passport into Muscovy. His next attempt was to obtain re-admittance into the Turkish service, in which proving unsuccessful, he assumed the habit and character of a dervise. These are the functionaries of religion, and always combine with their sacredotal duties the offices of physician and conjurer. To be initiated into this order he made a formal renunciation of Christianity, denounced its followers, for the wrongs and injuries they had done him, professed the Mahometan faith in due form, and to show that he was in earnest, circumcised himself. This being accomplished, he then joined, under the new name of Murat Aga, a caravan for Trebisond, on the southern shore of the Black sea. On the way he practised his profession by giving directions to the sick, and selling, for considerable sums of money, small pieces of paper on which were written sentences from the Koran in Turkish, which he pretended to sanctify by applying to the naked shaven crown of his head. At Trebisond he was informed that the Bashaw was dangerously ill, and threatened with blindness; and he was called upon instantly to prescribe for this grand patient, which, however, he refused to do, unless he was admitted into his presence. To this sovereign presence he was accordingly conducted through files of armed soldiers and ranks of kneeling officers. Having arrived in the sick chamber, the Jervise displayed all the pomp and grandeur of his calling, by so

lemnly invoking God and the Prophet. He next proceeded to inquire under what disease the Bashaw laboured, and found that he was afflicted with a fever, accompanied with a violent inflammation of the eyes. Judging from the symptoms that it was likely he would recover both health and sight, he boldly declared it to be God's will that both these events should happen after the next new moon, provided certain intermediate remedies should be used. Then searching the pouch containing his medicines and apparatus, he produced a white powder, which he ordered to be blown into the Bashaw's eyes, and a wash of milk and water to be frequently applied afterwards. Sweating, by the assistance of warm drinks and blankets, was likewise recommended. He was well rewarded both by money and presents; and the next day departed with the caravan towards Persia, intending to be nine or ten days journey from Trebisond, before the new moon should appear, that he might be quite out of reach, in case the event should prove unfortunate. The caravan, being numerous and heavily laden, was overtaken by an organised and armed banditti, who pursued them for the purpose of plunder, and finding they must either fight or purchase terms, they preferred the latter. This affair being thus settled, he heard two of the marauders talking to each other concerning the grand dervise who had cured the Bashaw of Trebisond. He heard them say, that the recovery was confidently expected, as the more violent symptoms had abated, and the prospect became daily more encouraging. The event justified their observations, and on the return of the caravan the dervise was received with open arms at Trebisond, pronounced by the lips of the sovereign to be a great and good man, and once more loaded with donations. Here he remained until another caravan set out for Mecca, and he joined the body of pilgrims and traders in his hitherto auspicious character of a dervise. They arrived in due time in the region of Yemen; but the Wechabites had commenced their fanatical encroachments. · They had, in part, demolished the old religion of Mahomet, set up their new revelation in its stead, burned the body of the prophet, and sequestered much of the revenues of his shrine. The caravan did not choose to encounter the zeal and determination of these daring innovators, and according. ly it halted at a distance. But Murat availing himself, partly of

his sanctity as a priest, and partly of his personal adroitness, went over to their camp, and was well received. Having tarried as long as he pleased in Mecca, he went to a port near Jidda, a city on the Red sea, and thence crossing to the west side, he coasted along to Suez. In that place he entered as interpreter into the service of Lord Gordon, a Scottish traveller, and with him he travelled to Cairo, and thence to Nubia and Abyssinia. His last employment, previous to his leaving the service of that gentleman, was to decorate with flowers, fruit, leaves, branches, and chandeliers, the hall in which his employer, on his return, gave a splendid fete to the foreign residents and consuls then at Cairo. Thence, after an absence of six years, he returned to Alexandria, and on inquiring after his Coptic wife, was told that she was in concealment. A separation was readily agreed upon, and by mutual consent, she formed a connexion with a Copt, a man of her own sect. Returning once more to Cairo, he wholly relinquished the occupations of a dervise, and assumed the office and uniform of an engineer! Here he was engaged in planning military works, and in superintending their execution. While thus employed news was brought him that the American captain, Eaton, had arrived, and was in search of a confidential and intrepid agent, to convey a message to Hamet Cavamelli, the ex-bash aw of Tripoli, in Barbary. At an interview which took place between them, the captain first swore Murat to secresy on the Koran, and then communicated his project. Having agreed upon the conditions, Murat took the earliest opportunity of deserting the Turks, and penetrated through the desert to the Mameluke camp, where Cavamelli was, poor and dependent, but respected. It must be remembered that Egypt is divided into English and French parties; the Turks being attached to the French, and the Mamelukes to the English. With a single attendant and two dromedaries, he proceeded with the swiftness of the wind, feeding the animals on small balls composed of meal and eggs, and taking no other sleep than he could catch upon the back of the hard-trotting animal, to which he had himself tied. He reached the Mameluke camp in safety. The Sheik, in token of a welcome reception, gave him a few sequins, and refreshed him with coffee. In a short time he so arranged matters with the ex-Bashaw, that one night Cavamelli



went forth, as if on an ordinary expedition, with about one hundred and fifty followers, and instead of returning to his Mameluke encampment, sped his way over the trackless sands, and with that force reached the rendezvous of the enterprizing American. With all the forces they could jointly assemble, they traversed, with extreme toil and suffering, the deserts of Barca, for the purpose of making a diversion in favour of the squadron of armed ships which the United States of America had ordered against the city of Tripoli. After surmounting incredible hardships, they arrived at Derna, and gained an advantage over the troops of the reigning Bashaw in a skirmish. Immediately after this, a peace was concluded with the American consul, Mr. Lear; in consequence of which, orders were sent to the squadron of the United States, then on the coast, and to the co-operating land forces under Eaton, to discontinue hostilities. The Egyptian host were requested to embark in the ships of their allies. Part of them, thus stopped in their mid-career, did so; and the rest remained on shore, subject, now they were inferior in martial strength, to the cruelty and caprice of the baffled and exasperated despot. Leitensdorfer was one of the persons who went on board, and witnessed the mortification of the ex-bashaw, and the ravings of his lieutenant-general, at this unexpected order, so subversive of their plans, and so ruinous to their hopes. In this vessel he acted as a colonel, and proceeded with her by way of Malta to Syracuse.

From Syracuse he went to Albania, taking the route of Corfu to Salona, with the design of inquiring by letter what had become of a son by his first marriage, whom he had left behind in the Tyrol. Immediately, however, upon his landing among the Turks, he was seized as an apostate Mahometan and reduced to slavery. The miseries of his situation were in some degree relieved, from the circumstance of his having fortunately recovered several sick sailors during the voyage. In addition to this, he pleaded the necessity which he felt, when in the American army of Africa, of conforming to the dress and manners of that strange and peculiar people of the west, under a belief that necessity justified his deceit, and that to act as an American was not to feel as a Christian. By degrees, the rigours of his servitude were alleviated, and he

« AnteriorContinuar »