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Solyman The Magnificent At Guntz
by [?]

Solyman the Magnificent, Sultan of Turkey, had collected an army of dimensions as magnificent as his name, and was on his march to overwhelm Austria and perhaps subject all western Europe to his arms. A few years before he had swept Hungary with his hordes, taken and plundered its cities of Buda and Pesth, and made the whole region his own. Belgrade, which had been so valiantly defended against his predecessor, had fallen into his infidel hands. The gateways of western Europe were his; he had but to open them and march through; doubtless there had come to him glorious dreams of extending the empire of the crescent to the western seas. And yet the proud and powerful sultan was to be checked in his course by an obstacle seemingly as insignificant as if the sting of a hornet should stop the career of an elephant. The story is a remarkable one, and deserves to be better known.

Vast was the army which Solyman raised. He had been years in gathering men and equipments. Great work lay before him, and he needed great means for its accomplishment. It is said that three hundred thousand men marched under his banners. So large was the force, so great the quantity of its baggage and artillery, that its progress was necessarily a slow one, and sixty days elapsed during its march from Constantinople to Belgrade.

Here was time for Ferdinand of Austria to bring together forces for the defence of his dominions against the leviathan which was slowly moving upon them. He made efforts, but they were not of the energetic sort which the crisis demanded, and had the Turkish army been less unwieldly and more rapid, Vienna might have fallen almost undefended into Solyman’s hands. Fortunately, large bodies move slowly, and the sultan met with an obstacle that gave the requisite time for preparation.

On to Belgrade swept the grand army, with its multitude of standards and all the pomp and glory of its vast array. The slowness with which it came was due solely to its size, not in any sense to lack of energy in the warlike sultan. An anecdote is extant which shows his manner of dealing with difficulties. He had sent forward an engineer with orders to build a bridge over the river Drave, to be constructed at a certain point, and be ready at a certain time. The engineer went, surveyed the rapid stream, and sent back answer to the sultan that it was impossible to construct a bridge at that point.

But Solyman’s was one of those magnificent souls that do not recognize the impossible. He sent the messenger back to the engineer, in his hand a linen cord, on his lips this message:

“Your master, the sultan, commands you, without consideration of the difficulties, to complete the bridge over the Drave. If it be not ready for him on his arrival, he will have you strangled with this cord.”

The bridge was built. Solyman had learned the art of overcoming the impossible. He was soon to have a lesson in the art of overcoming the difficult.

Belgrade was in due time reached. Here the sultan embarked his artillery and heavy baggage on the Danube, three thousand vessels being employed for that purpose. They were sent down the stream, under sufficient escort, towards the Austrian capital, while the main army, lightened of much of its load, prepared to march more expeditiously than heretofore through Hungary towards its goal.

Ferdinand of Austria, alarmed at the threatening approach of the Turks, had sent rich presents and proposals of peace to Solyman at Belgrade; but those had the sole effect of increasing his pride and making him more confidant of victory. He sent an insulting order to the ambassadors to follow his encampment and await his pleasure, and paid no further heed to their pacific mission.