The monarch, wishing as far as possible to save the city from destruction, and to avoid the effusion of blood, directed a German engineer to sink a mine under an important portion of the walls. The miners proceeded until they could hear the footsteps of the Kezanians over their heads. Eleven tons of powder were placed in the vault. On the 5th of September the match was applied. The explosion was awful. Large portions of the wall, towers, buildings, rocks, the mutilated bodies of men, were thrown hundreds of feet into the air and fell upon the city, crushing the dwellings and the inhabitants. The besieged were seized with mortal terror, not knowing to what to attribute so dire a calamity. The Russians, who were prepared for the explosion, waving their swords, with loud outcries rushed in at the breach. But the Kezanians, soon recovering from their consternation, with their breasts and their artillery presented a new rampart, and beat back the foe. Thus, day after day, the horrible carnage continued. Within the city and without the city, death held high carnival. There were famine and pestilence and misery in all imaginable forms within the walls. In the camp of the besiegers, there were mutilation, and death’s agonies and despair. Army after army of Tartars came to the help of the besieged, but they were mown down mercilessly by Russian sabers, and trampled beneath Russian hoofs.
Ivan, morning and evening, with his generals, entered the church to implore the blessing of God upon his enterprise. In no other way could he rescue Russia from the invasion of these barbarians, than by thus appealing to the energies of the sword. In the contemplation of such a tragedy, the mind struggles in bewilderment, and can only say, “Be still and know that I am God.”
THE REIGN OF IVAN IV.—CONTINUED.
From 1552 to 1557.
Siege of Kezan.—Artifices of War.—The Explosion of Mines.—The Final Assault.—Complete Subjugation of Kezan.—Gratitude and Liberality of the Tzar.—Return To Moscow.—Joy of the inhabitants.—Birth of An Heir To the Crown.—Insurrection in Kezan.—The Insurrection Quelled.—Conquest of Astrachan.—The English Expedition in Search of a North-East Passage to India.—The Establishment at Archangel.—Commercial Relations Between France and Russia.—Russian Embassy to England.—Extension of Commerce.
The Russians had now been a month before the walls of Kezan. Ten thousand of the defenders had already been slain. The autumnal sun was rapidly declining, and the storms of winter were approaching. Secretly they now constructed, a mile and a half from the camp, an immense tower upon wheels, and rising higher than the walls of the city. Upon the platform of this tower they placed sixteen cannon, of the largest caliber, which were worked by the most skillful gunners. In the night this terrible machine was rolled up to the walls, and with the first dawn of the morning opened its fire upon the dwellings and the streets. The carnage was at first horrible, but the besieged at length took refuge in subterranean walks and covered ways, where they indomitably continued the conflict. The artillery, placed upon the walls of Kezan, were speedily dismounted by the batteries on the tower.