Page:Notes and Queries - Series 7 - Volume 9.djvu/50

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

42 NOTES AND QUERIES. [7 lh S. IX. JAN. 18, '90.

Purchas, Eysnaburge and a place in its neighbourhood is named Knousbruck by Smith and Konbrucke by Purchas. A river is said to have divided the Turks, and after the conclusion of the siege and retreat of the enemy Kisell is said to have been received with much honour at Kerment (i.e., Körmend). With the exception of Knousbruck, which I have not been able to identify,[1] all the places named are in the county of Vas; but it is a far cry from Ober-Limbach to Eisenburg, the two places being some thirtyfive English miles apart, and as the dummy "musketteers" were placed in the plain of Hysnaburg, and must therefore have been masked by several groups of mountains lying between the two places, it is difficult to understand how they could have influenced the course of the attack, to say nothing of the range at which their sham muskets were called upon to do execution.

The only point of interest in this chapter of which the historian will take notice is that, whether the signalling with torchlights described by Smith actually took place or not, to him is certainly due the honour of having invented, or at least first published in print, a code of signalling many years before that the invention of which is variedly ascribed to Admiral Penn or James II. when Duke of York.

The next chapter (chap, v.) treats of the siege of Alba Regalis (or Stuhlweisenburg in German) by the Imperial troops under the Duke of Mercoeur, during which another invention of Capt. Smith was to play an important part, viz., his "fiery dragons," made out of " round-bellied earthenware pots " filled with gunpowder and musket balls and covered with a mixture of pitch, brimstone, turpentine, &c. A full recipe is given of the way in which they were prepared. Though ordinary bombs were known since 1433, when Malatesta, Prince of Rimini, is credited to have invented them, this combination of bombs and stinkpots was, we may presume, entirely new, and we need not be astonished, therefore, at the constemation they produced among both Turks and Christians, according to Smith; though I have consuited several contemporary accounts of the siege and not one of them mentions a word about the " fiery dragons." The name of the commander o the besiegers' artillery is given by Smith as "Sulch, by Purchas as "Suits." The "copyist" as we see, is nearer the truth and " more scrupulously careful" than our eye-witness. It is before this Count von Sultz, well known in history, that Capt. Smith, as he informs us, carried out on a former occasion his first experiments with the " fiery dragons "at Komarom, the virgin fortress on the Danube, since become famous through its heroic defence by General Klapka, during the War of ndependence in 1848-9.

The history of the siege of Alba Regalis, its main incidents, such, e. g., as Count Russworm'stratagem of surprising and capturing one of the uburbs, named Sziget,[2] at night by wading with hi roops through a muddy lake which until then was onsidered impassable, are well known. Palfrey was very much struck with the occurrence of this word "Segeth" in Smith's account of the siege, and xclaims, "Here is a strong indication that the narrator [i. e., Smith] was an eye- witness, ignorant of the Hungarian language." It is difficult to see he force of this argument. The word occurs in vnolles on p. 1135 (third edition), and was, no doubt, copied with the rest of the story. Alba Regalis we know from history, fell on Sept. 17, 1601. The events which followed its fall are related by Smith in the next chapter (chap, vi.)Authenticated history relates that the new Grand Vizier Hassan Djemidji, having arrived too late:o prevent the fall of " the right arm of Buda," as the Turks called Alba Regalis, endeavoured to reconquer it for the Sultan; but before he could attempt a siege he had to wage a battle under it*=s walls with the Duke of Mercoeur's army. He was oadly beaten on the plain of Sárrét (? Capt. Smith's "Girke"), the Pasha of Buda and the Kiaya Mohammed, besides several other high officers, being among the slain. He thereupon withdrew bis troops and hastened to the relief of Kanizsa, which was at that time besieged by the Archduke Ferdinand. The Duke of Mercoeur, on the other hand, sent Russworm to the assistance of the Imperials. Thus far Capt. Smith is borne out by established facts. He gives us the additional information that he had a horse killed under him and was himself wounded; and further that the "Earl of Meldritch," under whom he served, was sent to assist " Busca "[3] against Prince Sigismund of Transylvania.

In the following chapter (chap, vii.), "the unhappie Siege of Caniza" isvery briefly touched upon. The opening statement, so far as it relates to the unhappy issue of the siege, is perfectly true. We are told that "the worthy Lord Rosworme had not a worse journey to the miserable Siege of Caniza (where by the extremitie of an extraordinary continuing tempest of haile, wind, frost and snow the Christians were forced to leave their Tents and Artillery, and what they had ) than the noble Earle of Meldritch had to Transilvania." The Archduke Ferdinand, as already mentioned, had laid siege to Kanizsa on Sept. 1, 1601, with an army of 30,000 men. The defender of the fortress was the brave Hasan Teryaki (i. e., Hassan "the

  1. Probably the "Hohëprukh" shown on Mercator map.
  2. Palfrey is right; "Sziget" means an island in Hungarian. In the present instance it is also the name of the suburb.
  3. Purchas rightly names him Basta.