NAPOLEON AND BLUCHER
Part 5 out of 12
lightning. I dropped the book, looked up to the clouds and shouted
to them: 'What are you but wandering fools! Oh, take me with you!'
But the clouds did not reply to me; they passed on in silence, and
my sad eyes turned to the lake extended before me like a polished
mirror, and mingling with the blue mists of the horizon, and I said
to the murmuring waves, as I had said to the clouds: 'Take me with
you, wandering fools! I am suffocating in my captivity! I must leave
this small town; it is a prison--an open grave!' At this moment, the
oak above me shook its foliage; a wind drove the waves faster, until
they broke on the shore; and a sheet of paper, which some wanderer
might have lost, was blown toward me. I took it, and suddenly the
wind was silent as though it had accomplished its mission; the oak
stirred no more, the lake was tranquil, and even the clouds seemed
to pause and look on while I unfolded and read the paper."
"Oh, I imagine what it was!" exclaimed Hardenberg. "A love-letter
from one of your admirers, who knew that the beautiful nymph of the
lake had selected that spot for her sanctuary."
"Ah, you do not imagine very well, your excellency. It was no love-
letter, but a newspaper! It was a copy of your dear, venerable
Vossische Zeitung. [Footnote: The Vossische Zeitung, one of the
oldest Berlin newspapers, is still published.] I read it at first
very carelessly, but suddenly I noticed an article from Berlin,
which excited my liveliest attention. It alluded to the strange
cures performed by Doctor Binder, a magnetizer. It related that many
sufferers came to Berlin from distant cities to be cured by the
doctor, whose whole treatment consisted of laying his hands and
fixing his eyes on his patients. It dwelt especially upon the
adventures of a young woman whose strange disease had riveted the
attention of all Berlin, and who, in consequence of the doctor's
treatment, had become a clairvoyante. It said that the truly
wonderful sayings and predictions of the young woman were creating
the greatest sensation, and that even ministers and distinguished
functionaries were visiting Doctor Binder's 'Hall of Crises,' in
order to listen and put questions to the clairvoyante."
"Ah, that was little Henrietta Meyer, who died a few months ago,"
"Yes, she was so accommodating as to die and make room for me,"
exclaimed Frederica, smiling. "When I had read this article about
her, it seemed to me as though a veil dropped from my eyes, and I
were only now able to descry my future distinctly. I jumped up and
uttered a single loud cry that sped over the lake like a storm-bird,
and was repeated many times by the distant echo. Thereupon I ran
back to town, as if carried on the wings of the wind. The men on the
streets, who saw me running past, gazed wonderingly after me. Some
of them hailed and tried to speak to me, but I took no notice of
them, ran on, reached at last the humble dwelling of my parents, and
there I fell panting and senseless. They lifted me up, and carried
me to my bed. I lay on it motionless, and with dilated eyes. No one
knew my thoughts, or heard the voices whispering in my breast and
ominously laughing. I stared upward, and matured my plan of
operations. My poor father sat all night long at my bedside, weeping
and imploring me to look at him, and tell him only by a single word,
a single syllable, that I recognized him. My tongue remained silent,
but my eyes were able to glance at and greet the poor man. But why
tell you all the particulars of my wonderful disease? In short, all
my limbs were paralyzed, and even my mind seemed affected and
confused. I could eat and sleep, but I was unable to rise, and could
not utter a word. The physicians of our small town tried all the
remedies of their science to cure me. In vain! I remained dumb. Only
once, four weeks afterward, I recovered the power of speech. It was
in the night-time, and no one was with me but my poor father, who
passed nearly every night at my bedside, always hoping for a moment
when I might get better--when the spell would leave my tongue, and
the power of speech be restored. This moment had come now; I
intimated it to my father with my eyes, stared at him, and said in a
slow and solemn voice, 'Doctor Binder, at Berlin, is alone able to
"Ah," exclaimed Hardenberg, drawing a deep breath, "I give you
permission to laugh at me. I was just as foolish as your father was.
Up to this time I believed in the reality of your sickness, and felt
quite anxious and alarmed. The words you uttered during that night
quiet me again, and illuminate the gloom, like a welcome miner's
lamp in a deep shaft. I hope, however, that they did not exert the
same effect upon your father."
"No, your excellency, fortunately they did not, and the proof of it
is that I rode, a week afterward--in a comfortable carriage, and
accompanied by my father--to Berlin, to place myself under the
treatment of Doctor Binder."
"Did the doctor promise to cure you?"
"He gave me hopes at least that he would be able to do so, and,
after accepting three months' pay in advance, received me into his
house, and the cure commenced. I willingly submitted to his piercing
glances and to his laying-on of hands. I was so obliging as to fall
asleep, and scarcely three days elapsed when I began already to
become slightly clairvoyant. The doctor was himself surprised at the
rapid effect of his cure; he informed some of his distinguished
patrons of the presence of a new clairvoyante at his house, and
invited them to witness my next awakening. Among these patrons were
some influential courtiers, Prince Hatzfeld and Field-Marshal
Kalkreuth. I had been told that these gentlemen were the most
zealous adherents of the French alliance, and the most ardent
admirers of Napoleon. It was but natural, therefore, that when I
became clairvoyant on that day, in the presence of these gentlemen,
I was the enraptured prophetess of a golden future for Prussia,
provided we maintained the alliance with France. The two courtiers
were visibly surprised and delighted at my prophecies; and when the
doctor had left the room for a moment, I heard Prince Hatzfeld say
to Field-Marshal Kalkreuth, 'Ah, I wish Hardenberg were here, and
heard the predictions of this wonderful girl! He believes in
clairvoyance, and her words, therefore, would make a profound
impression upon him!' ' We must try to have him brought hither,'
said Field-Marshal Kalkreuth; 'we must try to influence the stubborn
fellow in this way.' "
"That was a very clever idea," said Hardenberg, smiling; "I almost
envy those gentlemen their very pretty intrigue. They then made
offers to you, did they not?"
"No, I made offers to them."
"Listen to me. When the gentlemen left, and I was again alone with
the doctor, I suddenly awoke from my trance; rising from my couch, I
stepped up to him, and made him a respectful obeisance. He looked at
me in dismay, and seemed paralyzed with stupefaction, for you know
all my limbs were palsied, and I could only move my tongue. 'My dear
doctor,' I said, very calmly, 'I hope I have proved to you now that
I am possessed of considerable talent as an actress, and that I am
as well versed in playing my part as you are in yours. Both of us
try to obtain fame and wealth, you as a magnetizer, I as a
clairvoyante, and we stand mutually in need of each other. You are
the stage-manager, and possessed of a theatre that suits me, and I
am the leading actress, without whom you would be unable to perform
your play in a satisfactory manner. Let us, therefore, come to an
understanding and make an agreement.' Eh bien, your excellency, we
did come to an understanding; we did make an agreement. With a view
to a better position that soon would be accessible to me, I remained
temporarily the first actress, and, thanks to my performances, I
attracted an audience as distinguished as it was munificent."
"Now I comprehend every thing. You must permit me, however, another
question. Are Prince Hatzfeld and Field-Marshal Kalkreuth aware that
you are nothing but an--actress?"
"By no means, your excellency. They are so kind as to take me for a
bona fide clairvoyante. The doctor told them that, by my spiritual
connection with him, I was compelled to say, think, and do whatever
he wanted and commanded me, and that, if he gave me my instructions
while I was awake, I had to act and speak in my clairvoyant state in
strict accordance with them. In this way it happened, your
excellency, that I was used as the fox-tail with which the
electrical machine is set in motion--to make an impression upon you,
and to cure you of your hostility to France. The doctor became the
confidant of these gentlemen, who desired to cure you. They
surrounded your excellency with spies, a minute diary was kept of
your movements, and this diary was brought early every morning to
the doctor, who read it to me, and we agreed then as to the manner
in which I should avail myself of the information."
"And dupe me!" exclaimed Hardenberg, laughing. "Fortunately, I did
not allow myself to be thus dealt with, but penetrated the handsome
little swindle at the outset; yet I made up my mind to continue
playing the farce for some time, because it afforded me an
opportunity to discover and foil the intentions, wishes, and schemes
of my adversaries. But tell me now, my pretty young lady, what would
have happened if I had not allowed you to perceive to-day that I was
aware of the whole trick?"
"In that case I myself would have disclosed the intrigue to your
excellency. Did I not send my young nurse twice to your house
yesterday, in order to pray you to come to me, if possible, last
night, because I had important news to communicate to you? Did I not
write to you that the doctor would not be at home during the whole
evening, and that I might, therefore, communicate an important
secret to you without being disturbed?"
"Unfortunately, I was not at home, and the supper at Marshal
Augereau's, which you used so skilfully during your pretended
trance, deprived me of an hour of important disclosures! But suppose
I had come, and met you alone; what would you have told me then?"
"Precisely what I tell you now. I would have fallen down before you
as I do now, and, clasping your knees in this manner, would have
said what I say now: 'Mercy, my lord and master, mercy! I can lie
and dissimulate no longer before your noble face; your eyes
embarrass me; your smile overwhelms me with shame; the farce is at
an end, and the truth commences. The truth, however, is that I adore
you; that I will no longer unite with your adversaries against you;
that I will serve you and none but you, and devote to you my whole
life and every pulsation of my heart!'" She attempted to conceal her
face, bathed in a flood of tears; but Hardenberg softly laid his
hands upon her cheeks, and, gently raising her head, gazed at her
long and smilingly.
"What talent!" he said; "in truth, I admire you! It was a charming
performance. True love and passion could express themselves no
better, or surpass your imitation."
She arose from her knees and looked at him with eyes flashing with
anger. "You do not believe me?" she asked, almost menacingly. "You
suspect me, although I have revealed my heart to you as sincerely as
I have ever revealed it to Heaven itself."
"Foolish girl, how can I believe you?" he asked. "Have you not gone
out into the world to plunge into adventures, and to seek your
fortune? Have you not dived into the sea to find pearls? Can you
wish me to play the agreeable part of your safety-rope--that is
"No, no!" she exclaimed, wildly stamping with her feet; "that is a
vile slander! Why should I choose precisely you for my safety-rope?-
-why reveal my soul to you? Do you not believe that those gentlemen
who are using me against you, who worship and admire me, would not
be ready to assist me? But I have rejected their homage and their
offers; I despise and abhor them all, for they are your enemies. I
hate France, I detest Napoleon, for you are opposed to the French
alliance, and you have been reviled by Napoleon; I am longing for an
alliance with Russia, for I know this to be your wish, and I have no
wishes but yours, no will but your will!"
"Ah!" exclaimed Hardenberg, laughing, "this is the strangest
political declaration of love which woman ever made to man!"
"Great Heaven! you are laughing!" she cried angrily. "You do not
believe me, then? How shall I be able to convince you?"
"I will show you a way to do so," said Hardenberg, suddenly growing
"Tell me, and I swear to you that I will try it!"
"Serve me in the same manner as you have hitherto served my enemies.
Become the prophetess of my policy, as you have been the prophetess
of the policy of my opponents. Permit me to become the prompter of
the clever clairvoyante, and play now as inimitably against my
adversaries as you have played for them."
Frederica Hahn burst into loud laughter. "In truth, that is a
splendid idea," she said, "a revenge which your excellency has
devised against the other gentlemen. Here is my hand. I swear to
serve and to be faithful to you as long as I live. Do you now
believe in the truth of my love?"
"Let me first see the actions inspired by this love," said
Hardenberg, smiling. "I will prove to you immediately that I confide
in your head, although I am not vain enough to believe in your
heart. Listen to me, then! It is my most ardent desire that the king
should leave Berlin, and be withdrawn from the influence of the
French. Prince Hatzfeld and old Field-Marshal Kalkreuth, however,
insist that he remain at Berlin, and thereby manifest the adhesion
of Prussia to the alliance with France. I suspect, nay, I might say,
I know, that the king is in danger, and that, as soon as he utters a
free and bold word, the French will use it as a pretext to seize his
person and imprison him, as they have done Charles and Ferdinand of
Spain. Caution, therefore, the sanguine and credulous gentlemen;
point out to them the dangers menacing the king here; tell them
that. it is the bounden duty of his majesty to save himself for his
people; shout with your inspired and enthusiastic voice: 'Go!
Destruction will overwhelm you at Berlin! Save the king! Convey him
"I will play my part so skilfully that even the boldest will be
filled with dismay," cried Frederica, with flaming eyes, "and that
dear old Field-Marshal Kalkreuth will implore the king on his knees
to leave Berlin, and go to Breslau. But, when I have played this
part for you--when you have attained your object, and I have given
you proofs of my fidelity and obedience--will you then believe that
I love you?"
"We shall see," he said, smiling. "I am, perhaps, not as wise as
Ulysses, and shall not fill my ears with wax, but listen to the song
of the siren, even at the risk of perishing in the whirlpool of
passion. Let us not impose upon ourselves any promises concerning
the destiny of our hearts; but your position in the world is an
entirely different question. As to this, I must make you promises,
and swear that I shall fulfil them. You promise that you will serve
me, enter into my plans, and support my policy?"
"Yes, your excellency, I swear to you that your opponents themselves
shall beseech the king to leave Berlin, and renounce France."
"Well, then, on the day the king arrives safely at Breslau, you will
receive from me a document securing you an annuity on which you will
be able to live independently here at Berlin."
"And is that all?" she asked, in a contemptuous tone. "You promise
me nothing but money to keep me from starvation?"
"No," said Hardenberg, smiling, "I promise you more than that. I
promise that little Frederica Hahn, the watchmaker's daughter, shall
be transformed into an aristocratic lady, and that I will procure
you a husband, who will give you so distinguished a name that the
daughter of the Marquise de Barbasson need not be ashamed of it. Are
you content with that, my beauty?"
"Would it be necessary for me to love and honor the husband whom
your excellency will give me?" asked Frederica, after a pause.
"Suppose I reply in the affirmative?" asked Hardenberg.
"Then I answer: I prefer remaining Frederica Hahn. for then I shall
at least have the right to sit at your feet and worship you, and no
troublesome husband will be able to prevent my doing so."
"Well, then, my charming little fool, I shall select for you a
husband who will, like a deus ex machina, appear only in order to
confer his name upon you at the altar, and who will then disappear
again. Do you consent to that?"
"Your excellency, that would be precisely such a husband as I would
like to have, and as my imagination has dreamed of--a husband sans
consequence--not a man, but a manikin!"
"I shall, however, see to it that this manikin, besides his name,
will lay at your feet another splendid wedding-gift, and a corbeille
de noce, which will he worthy of you. You accept my offers, then, my
"No, unless you add something to them."
"What is it, Frederica?"
"Your love, your confidence, your belief in my love!" she exclaimed,
sinking down at his feet.
"Ah," said Hardenberg, "let us not be so audacious as to attempt to
raise the veil that may perhaps conceal a magnificent future from
our eyes!" [Footnote: This scene is not fictitious, but based upon
the verbal statements and disclosures of the lady who played so
prominent a part in it.--L. M.]
THE TWO DIPLOMATISTS.
The royal family celebrated an important festival at Potsdam on the
20th of January. Crown-Prince Frederick William had been confirmed
at the palace church. In the presence of the whole royal family, of
all high officers and foreign ambassadors, the prince, who was now
seventeen years of age, had made his confession of faith and taken
an oath to the venerable and noble Counsellor Sack that he would
faithfully adhere to God's Word, and worship Him in times of weal
and woe. After the ceremonies at church were over, a gala-dinner was
to take place at court, and invitations had been issued not only to
the members of the royal family, but to the dignitaries and
functionaries, as well as the ambassadors, who had come over from
Berlin. This dinner, however, was suddenly postponed. The king was
said to have been unexpectedly taken ill. It was asserted that the
excitement which he had undergone at church had greatly affected his
nerves, bringing on a bleeding at the nose, which had already lasted
several hours, and which even the most energetic remedies were
unable to relieve.
The ambassadors repaired to the palace in order to ascertain more
about the health of the king, and the principal physician of his
majesty was able at least to assure them that his majesty's
condition was not by any means alarming or dangerous, but that the
king needed repose, and could not, according to his intention, go to
Berlin that day, but would remain at Potsdam, and, for a few days,
abstain entirely both from engaging in public affairs and receiving
visitors. This news did not seem to alarm any one more seriously
than the French ambassador, Count St. Marsan. He left the royal
palace in depressed spirits, and, entering his carriage, ordered the
driver in a hurried tone to return to Berlin as fast as possible.
Scarcely three hours elapsed when the carriage stopped in front of
the French legation, and the footman hastened to open the coach-
door. Count St. Marsan, however, did not rise from his feet, but
beckoned his valet de chambre to come to him. "Have no letters
arrived for me?" he asked.
"Yes, your excellency; this was brought to the legation a few
minutes since," said the valet, handing a small, neatly-folded
letter to the count.
St. Marsan opened the note hastily. It contained nothing but the
following words: "I have just returned from Potsdam. I am probably
an hour ahead of your excellency, for I had caused three relays to
be kept in readiness for me. As soon as your excellency has arrived,
I pray you to inform me of it, that I may hasten to you.--H."
"To the residence of Chancellor von Hardenberg!" said the count,
putting the letter into his breast-pocket, and leaning back on the
cushions. The carriage rolled away, and ten minutes afterward it
stopped in front of the residence of the chancellor of state. St.
Marsan alighted with youthful alacrity, and, keeping pace with the
footman who was to announce his arrival, hastened into the house and
ascended the staircase. At the first anteroom the chancellor met
him, greeting him with polite words and conducting him into his
cabinet. "You have anticipated me, your excellency," he said; "my
carriage was in readiness, and I only waited for a message from you
to repair immediately to your residence."
"It is, then, highly important news that your excellency will be
kind enough to communicate to me?" asked St. Marsan, uneasily.
"On the contrary, I hoped you would communicate important news to
me. I cannot conceal from you that we are all in great suspense and
excitement; and I suppose it is unnecessary for me to confess to so
skilful and experienced a diplomatist as your excellency, that the
king's illness and bleeding at the nose were mere fictions, and that
his majesty thereby wished only to avoid meeting you."
"Indeed, that was what I suspected," exclaimed St. Marsan; "for the
rest, every thing at Potsdam appeared to me very strange and
inexplicable; I confess, however, that I do not comprehend what has
aroused the king's indignation, and rendered my person so offensive
"What!" asked Hardenberg, with an air of astonishment. "Your
excellency does not comprehend it? It seems to me, however, that
this indignation is but too well-grounded. You know the fidelity and
perseverance with which Prussia has adhered to the French alliance;
that the king has withstood all promises of Russia, however alluring
their character, and has proved by word and deed that he intends to
remain faithful to his system, and never to dissolve the alliance
with France. And now, when my zeal, eloquence, and untiring
expositions of the utility of this alliance have succeeded in
rendering him deaf to all promises, and attaching his heart more
sincerely to France, you mortify and insult the king in so defiant a
manner! Ah, count, this is to postpone the attainment of my object
to a very distant period, and to take from me, perhaps forever, the
order I am longing for. For how can I keep my word?--how can I
obtain the king's consent to the betrothal of the crown prince with
a princess of the house of Napoleon, if France treats him with so
little deference and respect, and proves to him that she herself
does not regard the treaties which she has concluded with Prussia as
imposing any obligations upon her?"
"But your excellency drives me to despair," exclaimed Count St.
Marsan, "for I confess to you again that I do not comprehend what
act of ours would justify such grave reproaches."
"Well, permit me, then, to remind you of what has happened, and
request a kind explanation. Your excellency, I suppose, is aware
that the division of General Grenier, nineteen thousand strong, has
approached by forced marches from Italy and occupied Brandenburg?"
"Yes, I am aware of that," said St. Marsan, hesitatingly; "but these
troops will rest there but a few days, and continue their march."
"On the contrary," replied Hardenberg, "they are destined to remain
in Brandenburg. Their commanders declare emphatically that they will
be stationed in this province, and Brandenburg is already so full of
French soldiers that I do not see how quarters and sustenance are to
be provided for an additional corps of nineteen thousand men.
Besides, this augmentation of the French forces is contrary to the
express stipulations of the existing treaties, and it is, therefore,
but natural that this fact, which in itself would seem to point to a
hostile intention, should have excited the serious displeasure of
the king." "But the extraordinary circumstances in which the French
army has been placed ever since the disastrous campaign of Russia, I
believe ought to excuse extraordinary measures," said St. Marsan, in
his embarrassment. "His majesty the Emperor Napoleon, on learning
how offensive to the king is this increase in the number of troops
stationed in the province of Brandenburg, will assuredly hasten to
explain the necessity of the measure, and, however late it may be,
request his ally's consent to it."
"Ah," exclaimed Hardenberg, quickly, "you admit, then, that this
reinforcement in Brandenburg is intended to be permanent? But I have
not yet laid all my complaints before your excellency. I believe you
are aware that, according to the last convention between France and
Prussia, no French troops at all are to occupy Potsdam and its
environs, and that they are not to stay there even for a single
"Yes; I am aware of this stipulation, and believe it has hitherto
been carefully observed."
"Hitherto--that is to say, until to-day! But this fore-noon, at the
very hour we were at church witnessing the confirmation of the
prince, whom you wish to be as a new tie between France and Prussia,
this stipulation was violated in as incomprehensible as mortifying a
manner. Four thousand men of Grenier's division have marched this
morning from Brandenburg to Potsdam, and have tried forcibly--do you
understand me, your excellency?--forcibly to occupy this city. The
municipal authorities vainly endeavored to assure them that this was
entirely inadmissible, and it was only after a very stormy scene
that they succeeded in prevailing upon the troops to leave Potsdam,
and withdraw several miles from the city [Footnote: Beitzke's
"History of the War of Liberation," vol. i. p. 162.]. If no blood
was shed, it was not owing to the disposition of your troops, but to
the prudence and moderation of the Prussian authorities. Now, count;
you fully comprehend the exasperation of my master, the king; and I
hope you will give me the satisfactory explanation which he has
commissioned me to request."
"Your excellency," said St. Marsan, greatly surprised, "I really do
not comprehend why the king should be so irritated at this trifling
deviation from the stipulation of the treaties. You yourself said it
would be impossible to find quarters and sustenance for so large a
number of troops in the province of Brandenburg. This fact involved
the military commanders in difficulties, and explains why they at
last thought of sending a detachment to Potsdam, where there are so
much room and so many vacant barracks. We could not suppose that the
king would object to this, and that the sight of the brave French
soldiers would fill the ally of the Emperor of the French with
feelings of displeasure and indignation. But, you see, the troops
yielded to the will of the king, and left the city."
"But they remained near enough to be able to reoccupy it at the
"And does your excellency believe that the French authorities might
have occasion to call troops to their assistance?" asked Count St.
Marsan, casting a quick, searching glance at the chancellor.
But Hardenberg's countenance remained perfectly calm and unchanged;
only the faint glimmer of a smile was playing round his thin lips.
"I do not know," he said, "what motives might induce the French
authorities to call troops to their assistance, as they are not in a
hostile country, but in that of an ally, unless it were that they
look upon every free expression of the royal will as an unfriendly
demonstration, and interpret as an act of hostility, for instance,
the king's determination not to reside at Berlin, but at Potsdam,
or, according to his pleasure, in any other city of the kingdom."
"The king, then, intends to leave Potsdam and remove to another
city?" inquired St. Marsan, quickly.
"I do not say that exactly," replied Hardenberg, smiling and
hesitating: "but I should not be greatly surprised if, to avoid the
quarrels between the French and Prussian authorities, and not to
witness perhaps another violation of the treaties, and a repeated
attempt of the French commanders to occupy Potsdam, he should remove
to another city, where his majesty would be safe from such
"The king intends to leave Potsdam," said St. Marsan to himself. He
added aloud: "I do not know, however, of any city in the kingdom of
Prussia where, owing to the present cordial relations between
Prussia and France, there are no French authorities and French
troops.--Yes, it occurs to me that, according to the treaties
concluded last year, there are no French troops in the province of
Silesia, except on the military road from Glogau to Dresden, and
that they and their auxiliaries are expressly forbidden to pass
through Breslau. Breslau, then, would be a city where the king would
not run the risk of meeting French troops."
"You admit, then, that it is dangerous for the king to meet them? In
that case it would truly be a very justifiable and wise step for the
king to repair to Breslau."
"It is settled, then, that the king will go to Breslau?" asked St.
Marsan. "Your excellency intended to be so kind as to intimate this
"It is settled, then, that the king is in danger near the French
troops?" asked Hardenberg. "Your excellency intended to be so kind
as to intimate this to me? Ah, it seems to me we have been playing
hide and seek for half an hour, while both of us really ought to be
frank and sincere."
"Well, then, let us be," exclaimed St. Marsan. "I have likewise
reason to complain, and must demand explanations. What does it mean
that the Prussian government has suddenly dispatched orders to all
provincial authorities to recall the furloughed soldiers and proceed
to another draft; that artillery-horses are bought, and a vast
quantity of uniforms made?"
"It means simply, your excellency, that the King of Prussia expects
to be requested by his ally, the Emperor of the French, to furnish
him additional auxiliaries, and that he hastes to make the necessary
preparations, to be able to comply at the earliest moment. These
preparations, moreover, had to be made in so hasty a manner,
because, as soon as the Russians advance farther into the interior
of Prussia, of course both a conscription and the recall of the
furloughed soldiers would be impossible."
"But this is not all. The king yesterday authorized the minister of
finance to issue ten million dollars in treasury-notes, to be taken
at par. What is this enormous sum destined for, M. Chancellor? Why
does the king suddenly need so many millions?"
"You ask what the king needs so much money for? Sir, the clause
ordering these treasury-notes at par would be a sufficient reply to
your question. When a government is unable to procure funds in any
other way than by compelling its subjects to take its treasury-notes
at par, it proves that it has no credit to negotiate a loan--no
property which it might render available; it proves that not only
its treasury, but the resources of the country, are completely
exhausted, and that it has reached a point where it must either go
into hopeless bankruptcy or endeavor to maintain itself by
palliatives. Prussia has come to this. Let us not examine by whose
fault or by what accumulation of expenses and obligations, this
condition of affairs has been brought about; but the fact remains,
and, as the king is unwilling that the state should be declared
bankrupt, he resorts to a palliative, and issues ten million dollars
in treasury-notes. In this manner he obtains funds, is enabled to
relieve the distress of his subjects, and to procure horses and
uniforms for the new regiments to join the forces of his ally, the
Emperor Napoleon. Does not this account for the issue? Are you
satisfied with this explanation, count?"
"I am; for I have no doubt that your excellency is sincere."
"Have we not yet proved that we are sincere?" exclaimed Hardenberg,
in a tone of virtuous indignation. "Notwithstanding all allurements
and promises by which Russia is trying to gain us over to her side,
we are standing by France--and, please do not forget, at a time when
she is overwhelmed with calamities, we give her our soldiers, and,
the old ones having perished, recruit and equip new ones for her; we
make all possible sacrifices--nay, we even run the risk of making
the king lose the sympathies of his own subjects, who, you know, are
not very favorable to a continuation of this alliance! And still
France doubts the king's fidelity and my own heartfelt devotion! he
entertains such doubts at a moment when I declare it to be my chief
object to effect a marriage of the crown prince with an imperial
princess; and when I have already succeeded so far that I believe I
may almost positively promise that the king will give his consent."
"What!" exclaimed St. Marsan, surprised. "The king consents to such
"He will," said Hardenberg, smiling, "provided France make the first
overtures, secure him important advantages, and raise the kingdom to
a higher rank among the states of Europe." [Footnote: Beitzke, vol.
i., p. 159]
"Oh, the emperor, will grant Prussia all this," said St. Marsan,
joyously. "It is too important to his majesty, when a princess of
his family ascends the throne of Prussia, that he should not
willingly comply with all the wishes of his future brother, the King
"Then we are agreed," exclaimed Hardenberg, offering his hand to the
count, "and all misunderstandings have been satisfactorily
explained. Only confide in us--firmly believe that the system of the
king has undergone no alteration--that no overtures, direct or
indirect, have been made to Russia, and that he has rejected the
offers which she has made to him. The repudiation of General York's
course is a sufficient proof of all this. Only believe our
protestations, count, and entreat your emperor to dismiss the
distrust he still seems to feel, and which alienates the hearts of
the greatest emperor and the noblest king."
"I will inform his majesty of the very words your excellency has
addressed me, and I have no doubt that the emperor on reading them
will have the same gratification with which I have heard them.
Thanks, therefore, your excellency! And now I will not detain you
longer from enjoying your dinner. Both of us have returned from
Potsdam without dining, and it is but natural that we should make up
for it now. Therefore, farewell, your excellency!"
Hardenberg gave him his arm, and conducted him with kind and
friendly words into the anteroom.
"Does your excellency think," said St. Marsan, on taking leave,
"that I may venture to-morrow to go to Potsdam and personally
inquire about his majesty's health?"
"Your excellency had better wait two or three days," said
Hardenberg, after a moment's reflection. "By that time I shall have
succeeded in overcoming the king's displeasure, and if the French
troops in the mean time have made no further attempts to occupy
Potsdam, but, on the contrary, have withdrawn still farther from the
city, it will be easy for me to persuade the king that the whole
occurrence was a mere misunderstanding. Have patience, then, for
three days, my dear count!"
"Well, then, for three days. But then I shall see the king at
Potsdam, shall I not?"
"Ah," exclaimed Hardenberg, smiling, "how can I know where it will
please his majesty to be three days hence? The king is his own
master, and I should think at liberty to go hither and thither as he
pleases, provided he does not go to the Russian camp, and I would be
able to prevent that."
"It is certain," muttered Count St. Marsan, when he was alone in his
carriage, "it is certain that the king will no longer be at Potsdam
three days hence, but intends to remove secretly, and establish his
court at a greater distance. The moment, therefore, has come when we
must act energetically. The troops have come for this very purpose,
and the emperor's orders instruct us, in case the king should
manifest any inclination to renew his former alliance with Russia,
and to break with France, immediately to seize the king's person, in
order to deprive the Prussian nation, which is hostile to us, of its
leader and standard-bearer. Well, then, the orders of the emperor
must be carried into execution. We must try to have the king
arrested to-day. I shall immediately take the necessary steps, and
send couriers to Greiner's troops." The carriage stopped, and Count
St. Marsan, forgetful of his dinner, hastened into his cabinet, and
sent for his private secretaries. An hour afterward two couriers
left the French legation, and shortly after an elegant carriage
rolled from the gateway. Two footmen, who did not wear their
liveries, were seated on the high box; but no one was able to
perceive who sat inside, for the silken window-curtains had been
Chancellor von Hardenberg, after the French ambassador left him,
instead of going to the dining-room, returned to his cabinet. Like
Count St. Marsan, he seemed to have forgotten his dinner. With his
hands folded behind him, he was slowly pacing his room, and a proud
smile was beaming in his face. "I hope," he said to himself, "I have
succeeded in reassuring, and yet alarming the count. He believes in
me and in the sincerity of my sentiments, and hence in the fidelity
of Prussia to France, and this reassures him; but he understood very
well the hints I dropped about the possibility of the king leaving
Potsdam and going to Breslau, and this alarms him. He may, perhaps,
be hot-headed enough to allow himself to be carried away by his
uneasiness, and make an attempt to seize the king. If he should, I
have won my game, and shall succeed in withdrawing the king from his
reach by conveying him to Breslau. Well, fortunately, I have a
reliable agent at the count's house, and if any thing should happen,
he will take good care to let me know it immediately. I may,
therefore, tranquilly wait for further developments." At this moment
the door opened, and Conrad, the old valet de chambre, entered,
presenting a letter on a silver tray to the chancellor of state.
"From whom?" asked Hardenberg.
"From her!" whispered Conrad, anxiously. "Her nurse brought the
letter a few minutes ago, and she says it ought to be at once
delivered to your excellency."
"Very well," said Hardenberg, beckoning to Conrad to leave the room.
But Conrad did not go; he remained at the door, and cast imploring
glances on his master.
"Well," inquired Hardenberg, impatiently, "do you want to tell me
any thing else?"
"I do," said Conrad, timidly; "I just wished to tell you that her
excellency Madame von Hardenberg has condescended again this morning
to box my ears, because I refused to tell her whither his excellency
the chancellor went every evening."
"Poor Conrad!" said Hardenberg, smiling, "my wife will assuredly pat
your cheeks until they are insensible. There, take this little
He offered a gold-piece to Conrad, but the faithful servant refused
to accept it. "No, your excellency, I do not wish it, for I have as
much as I need, and I know that your excellency will take care of me
when I am too old and feeble to work. I only intended to take the
liberty to caution your excellency, so that you may be a little on
your guard. Madame von Hardenberg has told her lady's-maid that she
intends to follow the chancellor to-night, in order to find out
whither he goes, and that she then would go in the morning to the
lady and make such a fuss as to deter her from receiving your
excellency any more. The lady's-maid has confided this to me, und
ordered me to report it immediately, for you know that we all would
willingly die for you, and that even the female servants of her
excellency remain with her only because they love and adore you, and
because it is a great honor to belong to the household of a master
whom all Berlin loves and reveres."
"I thank you and the others for your attachment and fidelity," said
Hardenberg, nodding kindly to his old servant. "Tell my wife's maid
that I am especially obliged to her, and that I desire her to
continue serving me faithfully. For what you all have to suffer by
the displeasure of my wife, I shall take pains to indemnify you,
particularly if you mention as little as possible to outsiders any
thing about the state of affairs prevailing in my family, and the
sufferings we all have to undergo in consequence of it. Go, Conrad;
be reticent and vigilant! I shall profit by your advice, and my wife
will be none the wiser." He nodded once more to Conrad, and, when
the servant left the room, Hardenberg turned his eyes again toward
the little note which he still held unopened in his hand. He
unfolded it hastily and read. It contained only the following words:
"My predictions are producing a good effect. Dear Kockeritz is
greatly alarmed for the safety of his beloved king, and even old
Kalkreuth was startled by the terrible prophecies of the
clairvoyante. I am sure both of them will advise the king to shun
the danger, and transfer the seat of government to some other place.
Heaven grant that their words may be impressive, and that we may
attain our object--for you, the liberty of Prussia; for me, the
thraldom of my heart! For what else do I wish than to be your slave,
and to lie at your feet, to narrate to you the story of my love? For
you I wish to be an humble slave; for all others, Diavolezza
Frederica, the watchmaker's daughter--and when shall I become a
"It is true," said Hardenberg, smiling, and tearing the paper in
small pieces; "it is true, she is a diavolezza, but one of the most
amiable and charming sort, and perhaps ere long I shall,
notwithstanding her deviltry, consider her an angel, and believe her
charming comedy to be entirely true and sincere. But this is no time
for thinking of such things. The grave affairs of life require our
exclusive attention. Kockeritz, then, has been convinced, and even
Kalkreuth has been shaken in his stupid belief in the French! Well,
may we at length succeed in taking the fortress of this royal
heart!--Ah, some one raps again at the door! Come in! What, Conrad,
it is you again? Do you come to tell me that my wife has again boxed
"No," said Conrad, smiling. "This time I have to announce a French
soldier, who insists on seeing your excellency. He says he has found
a precious ornament which you have lost, and for which he would
himself get his reward."
"Well, let him come in; we shall see what he brings me," said
A few minutes afterward Conrad opened the door, and a French soldier
entered the room. "Now, let us see what you have found, my friend,"
said Hardenberg, "and what you bring back to me before I have missed
"Your excellency, it is a precious ornament," said the soldier; "but
I must give it to you in secret."
"Withdraw, Conrad," said Hardenberg, beckoning to the servant, who
had remained at the door, and was distrustfully and anxiously
watching every motion of the soldier.
Conrad obeyed, but he left the door ajar, and remained close to it,
ready to reenter the cabinet at the first word of his beloved
"Now we are alone. Speak!" said Hardenberg.
"Your excellency," whispered the soldier, advancing several steps,
"the valet de chambre of Count St. Marsan--that is to say, my
brother--has sent me to you. He dares not himself come, for the
house of your excellency is watched by spies, and he would instantly
be suspected, if he were seen entering it. I am to ask your
excellency whether you will give me twenty louis d'ors for a letter
from my brother which I am to deliver to yon."
"This letter, then, contains highly important information?"
"Yes, your excellency; my brother says he would let you have it at
so low a rate because he had so long been connected with you, and
because you had always treated him in a munificent manner."
"Does your brother require me to pay that sum before I have received
"He said he would leave that entirely to your excellency; only he
thinks it would be more advantageous to you to pay the money before
reading the letter."
"How so, more advantageous to me?"
"Because your excellency, after reading it, would doubtless, in your
joy at having received this singular and important information, pay
him a larger sum than he himself had asked."
"In that case I prefer to read the letter first," said Hardenberg,
smiling, "for I must not allow your brother's generosity to surpass
"Well, then, your excellency, here is the letter," said the soldier,
handing a small, folded paper to the chancellor of state.
Hardenberg took it, and, as if to prevent the soldier from seeing
the expression of his face while he was reading it, he stepped into
the window-niche and turned his back to him. The soldier, however,
fixed his lurking glances on the chancellor. He saw that a sudden
shock made the whole frame of the chancellor tremble, and a
triumphant smile overspread the countenance of the secret observer.
After a few minutes Hardenberg turned round again, and, carefully
folding up the paper, concealed it in his bosom. "My friend," he
said, "your brother was right. Twenty louis d'ors would be too low a
price for this letter. We must pay more for it." He stepped to his
desk, and, opening one of the drawers, took a roll from it and
counted down a number of gold-pieces on the table. "Here are thirty
louis d'ors," said Hardenberg, "and one for your trouble. See
whether I have counted correctly. Tell your brother to continue
serving me faithfully, and furnishing me with reliable reports. He
may always count on my gratitude!"
Scarcely had the soldier left the room, when Hardenberg drew the
paper from his bosom and glanced over it again. "At length!" he
exclaimed, joyously. "The decisive moment is at hand! Now I hope to
attain my object!" He rang the bell violently. "Have my carriage
brought to the front door in half an hour," he said to Conrad, as
soon as he entered the room. "But my own horses are tired. Send for
four post-horses. A courier is immediately to set out for Potsdam,
and see to it that relay horses be in readiness for me at Steglitz
It was six o'clock in the afternoon. The gloomy January day had
already yielded to a dark, cold night, enshrouding the city and
vicinity of Potsdam. The king was, as usual, to go to Sans-Souci
toward nightfall. There, far from the turmoil of the world, he liked
to spend his mornings and evenings, retiring from intrusive eyes
into the quiet of his simple domestic life. Like his august grand-
uncle, Frederick II., the king laid down his crown and the splendor
of his position at the gates of the small palace of Sans-Souci, and,
at this country-seat, consecrated by so many historical
recollections, he was not a king, but a man, a father, and a friend.
At Sans-Souci his children gathered around him every evening, and,
by their mirth and tender love, endeavored to dispel the clouds from
the careworn brow of their father; at Sans-Souci, Frederick William
received the small circle of his intimate friends--there old General
von Kockeritz, Field-Marshal Kalkreuth, Count Dohna, Chancellor von
Hardenberg, and the few who had remained faithful to him, were
allowed to approach without ceremonial or etiquette. Foreign guests
and court visitors, however, were never received at the country
palace; he saw them only in the city of Potsdam, where he transacted
government affairs. Thither the king repaired punctually at ten
o'clock every morning, where took place the meetings of the cabinet,
the consultations with the high functionaries, the audiences given
to the foreign ambassadors, and the official levees, and there the
king took his dinner in the midst of his family and the officers of
his court. But as soon as the clock struck seven he entered his
carriage without any attendants, and drove out to Sans-Souci. This
had been his invariable habit for many years; and when the
inhabitants of the street leading to his country-seat heard the roll
of a carriage at that hour, they said as positively as though they
heard the clock striking, "It is just seven, for the king is driving
The coachman, as was his habit, as soon as the clock struck six,
would harness two horses to the plain carriage which the king always
used, and generally drove up to the small side-gate a few minutes to
seven o'clock. Without giving any orders, or uttering a word, the
king would enter, and noisily closing the door, give thereby the
signal to start. The chime of the neighboring church had just
commenced playing the first part of the old hymn of "Ueb immer Treu
mid Redlichkeit," [Footnote: "Practise always truth and honesty."]
thus indicating that it was half-past six when the carriage appeared
at the side-gate. The wind was howling across the palace square and
through the colonnade in front of the neighboring park, hurling the
snow into the face of the driver, and lifting up the cape of his
cloak around his head, as if to protect him from the cold and stormy
night. Thomas, the king's coachman, had just removed with some
difficulty the large cape from his face, and rubbed the snow from
his eyes, when he heard the side-gate open. A dark figure emerged
from it and entered the carriage, and noisily closed the door.
Thomas had received his accustomed signal, and, although wondering
that the king had come fifteen minutes earlier than usual, he took
the reins, whipped the horses, and the carriage rolled away along
the route to Sans-Souci. The snow-storm drowned the roll of the
wheels, and rendered the vehicle almost invisible; besides, there
was no one to take particular notice of it, for only here and there
some closely-muffled person was to be seen on the street, too busy
with himself--too much engaged in holding fast his fluttering cloak
and protecting himself from the driving snow.
The square in front of the palace was deserted. The two sentinels
were walking up and down with slow, measured steps in front of the
main portal, now looking up to the brilliantly-lighted windows of
the royal sitting-room, and now contemplating the two dim lanterns
which stood on the iron railing, and whose light, struggling with
the storm, seemed about to be extinguished. The side-gate of the
palace remained dark and lonely, but only for a short time. From the
side of the market-place a carriage slowly approached, and stopped
in front of the palace, precisely on the same spot which the king's
carriage had previously occupied. The coachman sat as rigidly and
stiffly on the box as worthy Thomas, and the storm played with his
cloak, and threw the snow into his face, precisely in the same
manner. A patrol marched across the palace-square, and approached
the sentinels in front of the main portal; the usual words of
command were heard, the guard was relieved, and the sentinels
marched off, surrendering their places to their less fortunate
comrades. When they passed the side of the palace where the carriage
was to be seen, they said to each other: "Ah, we are off guard a few
minutes too early. It cannot be quite seven o'clock, for the king's
carriage is still waiting at the gate." The driver's laugh was
It was really not yet seven--the hour when the king usually left the
palace. He was still in his sitting-room, and his two old friends,
General von Kockeritz and Field-Marshal Kalkreuth, were with him. A
pause in their conversation set in, which seemed to have been of a
very grave character, for the faces of the two old gentlemen looked
serious and careworn, and the king was pacing the room slowly and
with a gloomy air.
"Kockeritz." he said, after a pause, standing in front of the old
general, who was his most intimate friend, and looking him full in
the face, "you are really in earnest, then? You believe in the
prophecies of the clairvoyante?"
"I confess, your majesty, that I cannot but believe them," said
Kockeritz, sighing. "Her words, her whole manner, all her gestures,
bear the stamp of truthfulness to such an extent, that I would deem
it a crime against nature to believe her to be an impostor; she has,
moreover, already predicted to me the most wonderful things, and in
her trance read my thoughts. She has looked, as it were, into the
depth of my soul, so that I cannot doubt longer that she really is a
"And you, field-marshal--do you, too, believe in her?" asked the
"I do, reluctantly, and in spite of myself, but I cannot help it,"
said the old field-marshal, shrugging his shoulders. "This girl
speaks so forcibly, with such eloquence and such fervor of
expression, that one is obliged to believe in her. Your majesty
knows that I have always sided with those who have deemed the
alliance of Prussia with France to be indispensable for the welfare
and salvation of the country, and that I entertain the highest
admiration for the genius, the character, and military talents of
the Emperor Napoleon; I have never concealed my conviction that
Prussia is lost if your majesty renounce Napoleon, and accept the
proffered hand of Russia. Still, this girl has filled me with
misgivings. She cried in so heart-rending a tone, with so impressive
an anxiety, 'Save the king-the king is in danger! Leave Berlin--
leave Potsdam!--save the king!' that I felt a shudder pervading my
limbs, and it seemed to me as though I saw already the hand which
was raised menacingly against the sacred head of your majesty. I
certainly do not believe that the Emperor Napoleon has any thing to
do with this danger; but some officious man in authority, some
adventurous general, might strike a blow on his own responsibility,
and in the belief that he would gain the favor of his emperor, and
anticipate his most secret wishes."
"And what do you believe?" asked the king, moodily. "Tell me,
Kockeritz, what sort of danger do you think is menacing me?"
"I do not know, your majesty," said Kockeritz, almost timidly, "but
I am sure there is danger, and I would beseech your majesty to
remove the seat of government to some place where you would be
safer, and where we would not be exposed to the attacks of prowling,
reckless detachments of soldiers, such as we saw here to our
profound regret but a few days since. Your majesty ought to go to
"Ah," exclaimed the king, vehemently, "Hardenberg has succeeded,
then, in gaining you over to his views? You are now suddenly of
opinion that I ought to remove to Breslau?"
"Your majesty, I swear to you that Chancellor von Hardenberg has not
even tried to gain me over to his views, and that he assuredly would
not have succeeded. I have no political motives whatever in
entreating your majesty now to go to Breslau, but am actuated
exclusively by my fears for your personal safety. These troops of
General Grenier have greatly alarmed me; their strange expedition to
Potsdam was calculated to give rise to the most serious misgivings,
and when I add to this the prophecies of the clairvoyante, a
profound concern for the safety of your majesty fills my heart, and
I feel like imploring you on my knees to leave Potsdam and to go to
"Let me join in the request of General Kockeritz, your majesty,"
said Field-Marshal Kalkreuth, sighing; "I, who on the battle-field
never knew fear, am afraid of a danger to which I am not even able
to give a name."
"And, owing to these vague presentiments, I am to take a step that
might endanger the peace of my country and the existence of my
crown!" exclaimed the king, with unusual vehemence, "For, do not
deceive yourself in regard to this point: if I go to Breslau,
Napoleon, who is perpetually distrusting me, and who is well aware
that my alliance with him is highly repugnant to my inclinations and
my personal wishes, would deem it equivalent to an open rupture, and
believe I had gone over to his enemy, the Emperor of Russia. But,
what is still worse, my country, my people, will also believe this
to be the case. Every one will suppose that, although I publicly
branded York's defection as a crime, and removed him from the
command-in-chief, I secretly connived at what ho did, and that my
journey to Breslau is but a continuation of York's plans. Every one
will believe that our policy has undergone a change, and that the
alliance with France is at an end. It was an eyesore to the people;
and if they now believe themselves to be delivered from it, the most
calamitous consequences might ensue. A rising against the French
will take place as soon as I merely seem to give the signal for it."
"Yes, that is true," exclaimed Kalkreuth; "your majesty is right; it
might, after all, be dangerous if you suddenly leave the city where
you have so long resided. It might be deemed equivalent to a rupture
with France, and we are, unfortunately, too weak to run so great a
risk. France is the natural ally of Prussia; that is what the great
Frederick said, and Napoleon is also of this opinion. By changing
your system of policy, your majesty would only endanger your
position and give the Emperor Napoleon grounds for treating you as
an enemy. To be sure, I know that there are fools who regard France
as prostrated, and utterly unable to rise again, but you will soon
see her with an army of three hundred thousand men, as brilliant as
"I am entirely of your opinion," said the king, thoughtfully, "the
resources of France seem inexhaustible, and--"
At this moment the door of the cabinet was softly opened, and Timm
the chamberlain made his appearance. "His excellency, Chancellor von
Hardenberg," he said, in a loud voice, and at the same moment
Hardenberg appeared on the threshold of the royal room.
"Pardon me, your majesty," he said, quickly approaching, "for
availing myself of the permission you have given me of entering your
cabinet without being ceremoniously announced; but pressing affairs
will excuse me."
"Has any thing occurred at Berlin?" asked the king, hastily.
"No, your majesty; Berlin is, at least for the present, perfectly
quiet," said Hardenberg, laying stress on every word. "But scenes of
the most intense excitement and an open insurrection might have
occurred at Berlin and at Potsdam if I had not fortunately arrived
here in time."
"What do you mean?" inquired the king.
"I mean," replied Hardenberg, slowly and solemnly, "I mean that your
majesty is at this very moment in danger of being seized and
abducted by the French."
The king gave a start, and his face colored for a moment; Kockeritz
and Kalkreuth exchanged glances of terror and dismay.
"You have also seen the clairvoyante, then?" asked the king, after a
pause, almost indignantly. "You too have allowed yourself to be
frightened by her vaticinations?"
"No, your majesty, I do not believe in them, but only in what is
true and real. Will your majesty condescend to listen to me for a
"Speak, M. Chancellor of State."
"I must confess that, imitating the example set us by the French, I
have my spies and agents at the legation of Count, St. Marsan, and
at the residence of Marshal Augereau, governor-general of the
province of Brandenburg, just as well as they have theirs at the
palace of your majesty, at my house, and everywhere else. I pay my
spies liberally, and hence they serve me faithfully. Well, three
hours since I received a message from my first and most reliable
spy, and this message seemed to me so important that I immediately
hastened hither in order to take the necessary steps, and, if
possible, ward off the blow aimed at your majesty."
"And what blow--what danger is it?"
"I have told your majesty already that you are in danger of being
carried off by the French. Will your majesty permit me to read to
you what my spy (who, as I stated already, is a very reliable man)
writes me about it?"
"Read!" exclaimed the king.
Hardenberg bowed, and, taking a paper from his memorandum-book, read
as follows: "'They intend to seize the king to-night. A courier has
been dispatched to the troops of Grenier's division, which, since
yesterday, is encamped at a short distance from Potsdam; he conveys
to the troops the order to march to the outskirts of the city, and
to wait there at a carefully designated point for the arrival of a
carriage. They are then to surround this carriage, and take it at a
full gallop along the road leading to Brandenburg. The king will be
in this carriage--seized in a very simple manner. It has been
ascertained that the king drives at seven o'clock every evening to
Sans-Souci, and the most minute details of what occurs on this
occasion have been reported. A man will, therefore, conceal himself
shortly after nightfall near the door by which the king leaves the
palace. He will approach the carriage a few minutes before seven,
enter it, and noisily close the door as the king is in the habit of
doing. The coachman will believe this to be the usual signal, and
start. As soon as he has reached the deserted avenue outside the
gate that leads to Sans-Souci, the man sitting in the carriage will
open the front window, throw a cape over the coachman's head, thus
blindfolding and preventing him from uttering any cries. At the same
time two agents, concealed behind the trees, will approach, stop the
horses, seize the coachman, draw him from the box, tie his hands and
feet, and then put him into the carriage. The horses are to be half
unhitched so that neither they nor the coachman will be able to stir
from the spot. In the mean time another carriage will occupy the
place of the former, and wait for the king at the side-gate of the
palace. As soon as his majesty has entered, it will start, take at
first the route of Sans-Souci, but outside of the gate will
immediately turn to the left, and drive for some time at a quick
trot along the narrow road near the garden. At some distance from
the city the chasseurs of Grenier's division will await it, and then
form its escort. The carriage is arranged in such a manner that it
cannot be opened on the inside. As soon as the king has entered it,
he will, therefore, be a prisoner.'"
"And you believe in the reliability of these statements?" asked the
king, when Hardenberg paused.
"I am satisfied of it, your majesty. The reports of my spy have
hitherto always proved correct and reliable. It would be impossible
for me to doubt his accuracy."
The king looked at his watch. "It is already a quarter past seven,"
he said. "Then it is not my carriage that is waiting for me at the
palace-gate, but another?"
"Yes, your majesty."
"The clairvoyante was right," muttered General Kockeritz.
"If I now enter the carriage, you believe, M. Chancellor, I would be
"That is what my spy reports, and I have additional evidence
confirming his statements. At least it is entirely correct that
Grenier's chasseurs are again in the immediate vicinity of Potsdam.
I confess to your majesty that, owing to this danger, I have already
taken the liberty, without obtaining your consent, to take most
urgent steps, and that I have conferred with the commanders of the
garrison of Potsdam for this purpose. These gentlemen, like myself,
felt the necessity of immediate action. Couriers and spies were sent
out by them in all directions, and have brought the news that the
four thousand men who, two days ago, made an attempt to occupy
Potsdam forcibly, are now again approaching the city in the utmost
haste. Already about fifty chasseurs are stationed behind the high
fence of the last garden on the road, alluded to in the letter of my
spy, and seem to wait there for the carriage. Your majesty will see
all my statements confirmed if you will be gracious enough to
receive the report of the officer who commanded the expedition, and
who has now accompanied me to the palace. The commanders of the
garrison found the proofs of the insidious intentions of the French
to be so startling that they are causing at this moment all their
troops to form in line, and are marching them as noiselessly as
possible to the neighboring park."
"Without having previously applied to me for orders?" asked the
"Your majesty, the pressing danger excuses this rashness. I have
engaged to solicit your majesty's consent to this measure."
"The troops shall be sent to their quarters," said the king,
energetically, after a moment's reflection.
"Great Heaven!" exclaimed General Kockeritz, anxiously, "what does
your majesty intend to do? Will you expose yourself to the danger
"Hush!" interrupted the king, sternly, seizing the bell and ringing.
The chamberlain entered. "The officer who is waiting in the anteroom
is to come in," ordered the king. A minute afterward the officer
appeared, and remained in a military attitude at the door.
"Did you reconnoitre to-night?" inquired the king.
"I did, your majesty. A part of Grenier's division is rapidly
approaching the city; fifty chasseurs are already on the garden road
behind the last board fence."
"Return to the general commanding," ordered the king. "The troops
are at once to leave the park and go back to their quarters. The
whole affair is to be kept a secret, and all eclat to be avoided.
The officer saluted, and turned toward the door, but on opening it
he looked back and cast an inquiring glance on the face of the
chancellor. Hardenberg nodded almost imperceptibly. The officer went
out and closed the door after him. [Footnote: When the king heard
that the troops had been marched to the park, he ordered them to be
dismissed to their quarters; but the apprehensions of the officers
were so great that they dared to obey the royal orders only
partially. They marched the troops from the park to another place,
where they kept them under arms during the whole night and a part of
the following day.]
"I do not wish this affair to be made public," said the king,
"otherwise I should have to renounce France immediately and
decidedly; but my circumstances forbid me to do so."
"But, your majesty, you are now exposing yourself to the danger of
falling into the hands of the French," exclaimed General Kockeritz,
anxiously. "If Grenier's troops enter Potsdam now, they would meet
with no resistance whatever, as your majesty has withdrawn our own
"The French troops will not enter Potsdam after seeing that their
plan has failed, and that I do not arrive in the coach at the place
where the chasseurs are waiting for me," said the king.
"Besides," exclaimed Field-Marshal Kalkreuth indignantly, "it
remains to be seen whether the whole intrigue is not a mere fiction.
The chancellor of state himself said that he paid his spies well.
Perhaps some enterprising fellow has got up this story for the sole
purpose of receiving a large reward. He could imagine that the king,
after being warned, would not drive out to Sans-Souci to-night, and
that the affair therefore would be buried in the darkness of this
"And does your excellency believe, too, that my spy caused four
thousand men to march upon Potsdam to second his intrigue?" asked
Hardenberg, smiling. "Do you believe that he is able to send
detachments of chasseurs whithersoever he pleases?"
"I cannot believe in this plan; it would be too audacious!"
exclaimed Field-Marshal Kalkreuth. "I ask a favor of your majesty.
If this report is correct, the carriage in which you are to be
abducted ought now to be at the palace-gate and await your majesty.
Please permit me to go down-stairs and enter it in your place. I
want to see whither they will take me."
"No," said the king--"no! I wish to avoid any thing like an open
rupture with France. The time for that has not come yet."
"Oh," whispered Hardenberg to himself, sadly and reproachfully,
"that time will never come! My hopes are blasted."
The king paced the room silently and musingly, with his hands folded
behind him. Field-Marshal Kalkreuth and General Kockeritz followed
every motion in anxious suspense. Hardenberg cast down his eyes, and
his features were expressive of profound grief.
"Gentlemen," said the king, "come with me! Let us go down to my
"Your majesty, I trust, does not intend to enter it?" exclaimed
Kockeritz, in dismay.
"Come with me!" said the king, almost smilingly. "Come!"
The firm, determined tone of his majesty admitted of no resistance.
The three left the cabinet with him in silence, crossed the anteroom
and the lighted corridor, until they arrived at the small staircase
leading to the side-gate of the palace. All was silent. Not a
footman met them on the way, and only a single sentinel stood at the
upper end of the passage. The king, who led the way, went quickly
down and across the small hall toward the door, which he opened with
a jerk. The storm swept into the hall and beat into the faces of the
gentlemen. It had already blown out the two lanterns in front of the
door, and an impenetrable darkness reigned outside.
"Hush, now!" whispered the king. "Step out softly and place
yourselves here at the wall. No one will see you. Wait now!" He
quickly stepped to the carriage, scarcely visible in the darkness,
and, groping for the knob of the coach door, opened it. A moment of
breathless suspense ensued for those who stood at the wall, and
tried to see what was to occur. The king slammed the door, and
jumped back toward the gate. At the same moment the coachman whipped
the horses and the carriage rapidly sped away.
"Now, let us reenter the palace," said the king, with perfect
composure. "It is a stormy night! Come!" He stepped back into the
hall, and the gentlemen followed. "Well," he said, smiling, and
standing still, "the coachman, in the firm belief that I am in the
carriage, will take the indicated route; the chasseurs will surround
the carriage and capture it. Let those who got up this miserable
intrigue convince themselves to their shame that it has miscarried.
They will not dare complain, and the whole affair will never be
"But suppose it should really have been your majesty's carriage?"
asked Kalkreuth. "The darkness was so great that it could not be
"But the darkness did not prevent me from feeling," said the king,
"and my hands served me this time instead of my eyes. I felt that it
was another carriage than mine. The door-knob was much larger. But
now I should like to have some news about my dear old coachman,
Thomas, and learn what has become of him."
"If your majesty will permit me, I will try to ascertain if the
carriage is still in the avenue outside the gate," said Kalkreuth,
"I intended to request you to do so, field-marshal," said the king.
"Your coach is in readiness, is it not?"
"It is, your majesty."
"Let the servants, then, have it brought up," said the king,
ascending the staircase. On arriving at the anteroom, he himself
ordered the lackey in waiting to have the carriage of the field-
marshal brought to the door.
"If your majesty will permit me," said General Kockeritz, "I will
accompany the field-marshal."
"I ask for the same favor," said the chancellor of state, quickly.
"Accompany the field-marshal, general," said the king, turning to
Kockeritz. "Take no servants with you, except Timm my chamberlain,
who may render assistance to my poor Thomas. My chamberlain is
reticent and faithful. Pray have your carriage stopped at the
entrance of the avenue, and proceed then on foot. If you find every
thing as stated in the spy's report, Timm will drive the carriage to
Sans-Souci, that my good old coachman may go to bed and recover from
his fright. You will tell him, however, that I wish him not to
breathe a word about his adventure. You, gentlemen, will thereupon
return and report to me. And you, M. Chancellor, will follow me into
THE COURIER'S RETURN.
On reaching his cabinet, the king slowly paced his room, seemingly
without noticing the presence of the chancellor. Hardenberg, who
waited in silent patience, withdrew softly into a window-niche, and
listened to the noise of the carriage rolling away at this moment.
"The spies the king has sent out are driving to the avenue," said
Hardenberg to himself. "They will, no doubt, find every thing as
stated in the report, and yet all will be in vain. He will not make
up his mind to enter a bold course, and while he is hesitating all
of us and Prussia will perish."
While he was thus absorbed in his sombre reflections, and sadly
gazing out into the dark night, he had not noticed that the king
stood still at the other end of the room, and, with his arms folded
on his breast, was casting searching glances on the chancellor of
state. Now he crossed the room with slow steps and erect head, and
stood in front of Hardenberg. "M. Chancellor," said Frederick
William, in an unusually mild and gentle tone, "you are sad and
discontented, are you not? You are almost despairing, and it seems
to you that the King of Prussia, whom the French have again so
deeply insulted and humiliated, and whom Napoleon is now threatening
even with seizure, should at length revolt against such treatment,
and submit no longer to it. It seems to you that, cut to the quick
by so many slights, insults, and perfidies, he ought to put an end
to his temporizing policy; to rise and exclaim, 'I will die rather
than bear this disgrace any longer! I will die rather than endure
those humiliations.' You are right; were I, like you, so fortunate
as to be nothing but a man who had to defend only his own honor and
existence, I would be allowed to risk every thing in order to win
every thing. But I am the king, and, moreover, the king of an
unfortunate state. I must forget my own wrongs, and remember only
that I have sacred duties to fulfil toward my people, and that, so
far as my own person is concerned, I am not yet allowed to possess
any other courage than that of resignation. I am not allowed to
stake the existence of my monarchy and the welfare of my people to
obtain personal satisfaction. Until I obtain the incontestable
certainty that such a course would be brought to a successful issue,
I must not throw down the gauntlet to France, for failure in this
case would be not only my ruin, but that of my whole people. I shall
wait, therefore, M. Chancellor, for an opportunity; but I believe
that this course requires on my part more constancy and courage than
if I, as you wish me to do, should now unreservedly forsake France
and render the decision of my fate dependent on the fortune of war.
It is my solemn conviction that I ought not to do this, but advance
only step by step, and with the utmost caution and deliberation,
for--Well, what is it?" asked the king, turning to the chamberlain,
who opened the door and entered the cabinet.
"Pardon me, your majesty, for disturbing you," said the chamberlain,
respectfully. "But the gentleman who has just entered the anteroom
assured me that he was the bearer of important news, which admitted
of no delay."
"And who is the gentleman?"
"Sire, it is Major Natzmer, whom your majesty sent recently as a
courier to Old Prussia."
"Natzmer?" exclaimed the king, joyously, "admit him at once!--Ah, M.
Chancellor, we shall hear now how affairs are looking in my province
of Prussia, and how my troops have received York's removal from his
"I hope Major Natzmer will bring your majesty good and joyful news,"
said Hardenberg, with perfect outward calmness, while his heart was
throbbing with impatience for Major Natzmer, who now entered; and,
while he saluted the king, Hardenberg fixed his eyes, with an
anxious expression, on the countenance of the new-comer. For a
moment their eyes met. There was an inquiry in those of Hardenberg;
Natzmer replied by a slight motion of his eyelids, and an almost
"In the first place, report to me briefly and succinctly," said the
king. "Reply to all my questions as pointedly and clearly as
possible. Afterward we will expatiate on the most important points.
Well, then, you saw Murat and Macdonald?"
"I did, your majesty. I met the King of Naples at Elbing, and had
the honor of delivering your majesty's letter to him. He received me
very kindly, and was delighted at being thus assured of your
friendly feelings toward France. Marshal Macdonald, to whose
headquarters I then repaired, was less kind and polite. He was still
exceedingly indignant at the course of General York, which he openly
stigmatized as traitorous; but he was pacified when I informed him
that I was the bearer of an order depriving York of his command, and
was about to convey it to the camp of the Russians and Prussians."
"He raised no obstacles, then, but allowed you to pass over without
hinderance to the Russian camp?"
"Yes, your majesty. While Macdonald continued his march, I rode to
the Russian pickets, and was conducted by an officer, detailed by
General Choplitz for this purpose, to the commander-in-chief, Prince
Wittgenstein, who had established his headquarters at Heilsberg."
"What business had you at Wittgenstein's headquarters?"
"I wanted, in accordance with your orders, to ask his permission to
pass through to General York; and, besides, I wished to ascertain
where the Emperor Alexander had established his headquarters, that I
might repair to them."
"Prince Wittgenstein, of course, gave you immediate permission to
pass through his camp, did he not?"
"No, your majesty; he refused my request."
"How so? What reasons could he adduce? Did you tell him what you
intended to do at York's headquarters?"
"Your majesty ordered me to tell every one what I was to do at
General York's headquarters, and what punishment you intended to
inflict upon him. I was therefore authorized and obliged to inform
General Wittgenstein of the object of my mission."
"And he dared to resist you?"
"He did, your majesty. He declared that he would not permit me by
any means to go to York, and that so long as he lived no one should
bring to the general a dispatch by which the most generous,
magnanimous, and valiant general of the Prussian army was to be
deprived of his command."
"Then he really prevented you from going to York?"
"Yes, your majesty; he told me I was his prisoner, and did not
permit me to leave him."
"So that, at this moment, General York has not, as I desire,
transferred his command to General Kleist?"
"Precisely, your majesty. General York is still in command."
"And he did not receive the order removing him from his position?"
"I was unable to deliver it, and your majesty required me to give it
to none but the general himself. I was, however, a prisoner at
General Wittgenstein's. He asked me whether I had received other
commissions; and when he heard that I was to deliver a letter to his
majesty the emperor, he immediately had a sleigh brought to the
door, detailed an officer to escort me, and we set out for the
"Let us speak of that hereafter," said the king, quickly. "Tell me
first whether you have heard further news about my corps. General
York, then, is still in command?"
"Yes, your majesty."
"But even though he has not received the dispatches, he must have
seen the news in the newspapers. For the Berlin journals contained a
copy of the order superseding him, and he must have noticed it."
"I was told by General Wittgenstein, on returning from the
headquarters of the Emperor of Russia, that York had been informed
by the newspapers of the severe punishment which your majesty
intended to inflict upon him, and that you disavowed him and the
course he had taken. Accordingly, he requested General Kleist to
take command of the troops. But Kleist refused to do so, alleging
that he had received no direct orders from your majesty, and that
the dispatches of your majesty, addressed to him personally, would
determine his course, and induce him to take command of the troops."
"General Kleist was right in making this declaration," said the
king. "So long as York had not received the dispatches, he remained
"He is still at the head of the army," exclaimed Natzmer, "for I
bring back the dispatches addressed to Generals York and Kleist. As
I was unable to deliver them, I return them to your majesty."
The king took the papers which the major presented to him,
contemplating them for a moment. He turned toward Hardenberg, and
saw that heart-felt joy was beaming from his face. "Are you glad
that my orders have not been carried into effect, M. Chancellor of
State?" asked the king.
"Yes, your majesty," said Hardenberg, in a voice tremulous with
emotion, "I am glad of it, for now it seems to me as if our night is
drawing to a close, and a new morning is about to dawn upon Prussia.
York took the first step for this purpose, and it will be necessary
for your majesty to pursue the same course. For, as York has not
been deprived of his command, the French will no longer believe that
you disavow the action of your brave general, and your people and
all Germany will take heart, for they will see that the era of
disgrace is past, and that a German king dares at length to resist
the French tyrant."
"Well, we shall see," said the king. "Now, Major Natzmer, tell me
about your mission to his majesty the Emperor Alexander. I told you
that it was a state secret. Did you keep it?"
"I did, your majesty."
"Well, tell me the result."
"Will your majesty permit me to withdraw?" said the chancellor,
approaching the door. "As you intrusted Major Natzmer with a secret
"Oh, no, your excellency, pray remain; I wish you to hear the
message I sent to the emperor, and what he replied to it.--Answer my
questions now, major. Did you carry out the commission I gave you?
Did you verbally lay before the emperor the message which I dared
not confide to pen and paper? Did you tell the emperor that I would
offer him a defensive and offensive alliance if Alexander would
engage to carry on the war against Napoleon to the best of his
power, and cross the Vistula and the Oder without delay? Did you
make this offer to Alexander in my name?"
"I did, your majesty."
The king glanced quickly at Hardenberg, and the surprised face of
his chancellor of state made him smile.
"And what did the emperor reply?" asked Frederick William, turning
again to the major.
"The emperor was overjoyed at the offer, and declared his readiness
to grant all which you would stipulate now and hereafter. The
Emperor Alexander imposed only a single condition."
"What was it?"
"He demanded that the fortress of Graudenz should be garrisoned by
Russian troops, and insisted most obstinately on this point."
"Did you not tell him that I had made up my mind in regard to this
point, and would renounce the proposed alliance if Graudenz, the
most remote fortress of my kingdom, should be garrisoned by other
than Prussian troops?"
"I stated this to the emperor."
"The emperor resolved to yield even this point, and to leave
Graudenz to the Prussian troops."
A sunbeam seemed to light up the grave, calm face of the king, and
the cloud that generally darkened his brow disappeared. "M.
Chancellor," he said, turning to Hardenberg with a mild and kind
smile, "are you now reconciled with your Fabius Cunctator? Will you
forgive me for having hesitated until Natzmer would bring me
"Oh, sire," exclaimed Hardenberg, "my soul bows in joyous
admiration, and your greatness and mildness make me blush."
At this moment the door opened, and Kockeritz and Kalkreuth entered
"Ah," exclaimed the king, meeting them, "my two generals whom I sent
out on a reconnoissance! Well, gentlemen, speak! Did you find my
"We did, your majesty," said Field-Marshal Kalkreuth, sighing. "The
report was but too true. A vile plot had been formed; we have the
proofs, for we really found the carriage of your majesty in the
avenue leading to Sans-Souci; the horses had been partially
"And my poor coachman?" asked the king. "Kockeritz, tell me what has
become of my faithful Thomas?"
"We found him exactly in the condition stated in the spy's report,"
said General Kockeritz, hastily. "He lay in the interior of the
carriage; his hands and feet firmly tied; his head covered with a
cape, which had been closely fastened round his neck to prevent him
from crying; it had, moreover, almost choked him when we arrived."
"But he has recovered from his fright?" asked the king, in a tone of
"Yes, your majesty," said Kockeritz, "and he would not permit Timm
to accompany him to Sans-Souci. He felt strong enough to return to
Potsdam, and arrived here at the same time as we did."
"I suppose you have ordered him to say nothing about the whole
"Yes, your majesty, and he swore he would not mention it."
"And now, gentlemen, give me your opinion. Field-Marshal Kalkreuth,
you have satisfied yourself now that the French really intended to
seize and abduct me to-night?"
"I have unfortunately satisfied myself that they made such an
attempt," said the field-marshal.
"And you, Kockeritz, believe so, too?"
"I do, your majesty; I am fully convinced that such an outrage was
"And you, M. Chancellor of State?"
"I was confident of the existence of this plot before coming hither,
and every thing has confirmed it; yes, such an outrage was surely
intended. The French meant to seize your sacred person."
"Will your majesty permit me also to reply to this question?" said
"What do you mean?" asked the king, surprised. "Have you not just
arrived? How can you pass an opinion on what occurred before your
"Your majesty, it is true I have just now come; but still I knew
what was to occur here, and what an infamous transaction was
planned," said Major Natzmer. "The Emperor Alexander gave me this
information; he had just received from a perfectly reliable source
the news that Marshal Augereau had been instructed to seize the
person of your majesty. The emperor was greatly alarmed, and told me
he would be unable to find any rest until he had heard that you were
safe, and had left Berlin and Potsdam. [Footnote: Droysen's "Life of
York," vol. ii., p. 120.] I myself set out at once in the greatest
consternation, and as I left the emperor on the 13th of January, I
would have arrived here much earlier if I had not heard at Landshut
that Murat had issued an order to all the authorities to have me
arrested and conveyed to the French headquarters, [Footnote: Ibid.]
This compelled me to take a roundabout course, and now I rejoice the
more heartily as I have arrived at the very time to caution your
majesty, in the name of the Emperor Alexander, against the insidious
designs of the French."
The king made no reply. He paced the room slowly and with his head
bent down; the four gentlemen stood in silence on both sides of the
cabinet. Suddenly standing in the middle of the room, with his
countenance full of determination, he said: "Gentlemen, I will tell
you a state secret. Will you pledge me your word of honor, all four
of you, that you will keep it?"
"We will!" they all shouted at the same moment.
"Listen to me, then," added the king. "I shall leave Potsdam and
repair to Breslau, whither the seat of government will be
temporarily transferred. All the necessary preparations must be made
from this hour with the utmost dispatch and prudence. To-morrow
night I shall set out with the crown prince; the rest of the royal
family will follow me on the next day. Troops will be stationed
along the route; the hussars forming my escort, and the lifeguards
following to Breslau. It is my duty to place myself beyond the reach
of insidious attacks, and to render it impossible for the French to
seize me. I will, therefore, go to Breslau!" While uttering these
words, the king glanced successively at the faces of the four
gentlemen. He saw that Field-Marshal Kalkreuth looked gloomy and
abstracted, and opposite him the chancellor of state, with burning
cheeks and radiant eyes.
"Well, Hardenberg," said the king, mildly, "have you nothing to say
"I am unable to say any thing," whispered Hardenberg, in a tremulous
voice, "but I do what I have not done for many years past--I weep
tears of joy! Our night is at an end; a new morning is dawning upon
Prussia, and the sun of a new era will shed his beams upon all of
The people were moving in dense crowds through Berlin. The long and
splendid street "Unter den Linden" was filled with a vast multitude,
whoso greeting cheers resembled the noise of the ocean's billows.
"The king has safely arrived at Breslau!" cried one of the men to
another, and immediately the enthusiastic cry of "Long live the
king!" burst from all those who heard it, and, like a jubilant echo,
the people along the whole street repeated, "Long live the king!"
"The king has reappointed General Scharnhorst quartermaster-general,
and General Blucher is with him at Breslau!" exclaimed a stentorian
voice. "Long live Scharnhorst! Long live Blucher!" shouted the
crowd. "Long live our heroes!" "Down with the French!" and thousands
answered in tones of intense hatred, "Down with the French!"
"They so long trampled us under foot!" cried another citizen. "Now,
let us pay them for it! Come, let us go to the French ambassador and
give him a few groans! We will no longer be silent!"
"Yes, we are determined to speak!" yelled the multitude, who hurried
toward the gate in front of which the residence of the ambassador
was situated. But suddenly they were stopped by a procession
approaching from the Brandenburg gate. It was headed by three men--
one of short and feeble frame, his face pale and emaciated, but lit
up by large flashing blue eyes; the second was tall and broad-
shouldered, his eye looking frank and bold, and his hair falling on
his shoulders like a lion's mane; the third was not tall, but of a
firmly-knit frame, and, with his proud head and intrepid air, looked
like the embodiment of chivalry. Behind them was a line of more than
two hundred youths, in light, simple attire, their cheeks glowing
with excitement or exercise, and their eyes flashing with
"Hurrah!" shouted the people. "Here are the Turners! Here is Father
Jahn with his Turners! Long live Jahn!"
The Turners, at a beck from "Father Jahn," had taken position across
the street, and thus, like a chain, prevented the citizens from
passing on. The three leaders stood in front, and gazed gravely upon
the approaching multitude.
"Clear the track!" cried the crowd. "We have business to attend to
on the square in front of the gate!"
"Believe me, it is as I said," whispered the smallest of the three
men to his neighbor. "It is a riot directed against the French
"Where are you going?" shouted the man with the lion's mane, pushing
back those at the head of the crowd with his herculean arms.
"We are going to the French ambassador, to sing him a new German
song, and accompany it with stones for his windows."
"And why do you wish to do so?" asked the tall man. "What do you
care for the Frenchman on this beautiful and joyous day? Men like
you have something else to do than to break the windows of the
French ambassador. There will be other battles before long. I hope
you have heard or read what great events have occurred; I hope you
know the message which the king has sent to us from Breslau?"
"No, we know nothing about them!" replied a few voices. "Yes, we
do," said others. "But we would like to hear the news again," cried
another. "Pray, repeat it to us, Father Jahn!"
"I am not very well able to do so; our gymnastic performances to-day
have exhausted me," replied Jahn. "I went out of the gate with my
pupils at an early hour in the morning. These two gentlemen came to
us and told us the news, and that is the reason why we have come
back. My friend will tell you what he told me, and he knows better
how to speak than I do, for he has an eloquent tongue. This is well
known to all of you, for who among you is not acquainted with
Frederick Schleiermacher, the great preacher?"
"Schleiermacher! Long live Schleiermacher! Let Schleiermacher repeat
to us what the king said! Let him tell us what is on the large
placards on the street corners. Hearing it read, we understand it
better than on reading it ourselves."
And many arms were stretched out toward the feeble little man who
stood by the side of Jahn, lifting him up and placing him gently on
the balcony fixed above the door of a neighboring house.
"That is a good pulpit," shouted the people; "Schleiermacher,
address us from it!"
The little man with bright eyes and a genial countenance gazed for a
moment in silence upon his auditors, who thronged around him in
suspense and curiosity. He then raised his arms, commanding silence.
The laughter, shouts, and yells, died away; all eyes were fixed upon
Schleiermacher, and the noise of the multitude seemed arrested as by
a magician's wand, as the voice of the preacher resounded through
the street clear and distinct. "You want me to read what has been
addressed to us all," he said, "the manifesto which Minister von
Hardenberg has issued to the people in the king's name. Listen,
then!" He took a large folded paper from his breast-pocket, and,
opening it, read as follows: "'The dangerous position in which the
state has been placed by recent events requires a rapid augmentation
of the troops now in arms, while our finances admit of no lavish
expenditures. In consideration of the patriotism and faithful
attachment to the king which have always animated the people of
Prussia, and manifested themselves most strikingly in times of
danger, there is but an opportunity required to give a definite
direction to these sentiments, and to the desire for activity which
distinguishes so many young men, that they may swell by their
accession to the army the ranks of the older defenders of the
country, whom they would emulate in nobly fulfilling the first of
all duties incumbent upon us. For this reason his majesty has
designed to order the organization of companies of volunteers, to be
embodied with the regiments of infantry and cavalry already in the
service, that an opportunity to enter the army in a manner suitable
to their education, and their position in life, may be given to all
those classes who, under the existing conscription laws, are exempt
from service, and are rich enough to pay for their own outfit and
horse, and that a prospect of distinguishing themselves may be held
out to men who, owing to their education and intellect, might
immediately do good service, and soon be appointed line and field
officers.' [Footnote: Hardenberg issued this manifesto at Breslau,
on the 3d of February; it was published at Berlin on the 5th.] It is
unnecessary for me to read the conclusion of the proclamation," said
Schleiermacher. "You know enough, for you know now that the king
calls his people; that he calls upon all the youths and men of his
kingdom to rally round him, and that he requests, and does not order
them to do so. The country is in danger; and not the king's order,
but your own voluntary action, is to make you soldiers of the
fatherland and put arms into your hands. Remember that your free
will is your most precious and sacred possession, and that he is
twice a hero whom it actuates, and is not forced into duty. No
greater honor can be conferred on you than that your country calls
you, trusts in your strong arm, and hopes in your free will to save
it from destruction. Take that into consideration, and decide then
whether you will stay at home or obey the call."
The two men who had been by his side at the head of the procession,
Jahn, the brave Turner, and the chivalrous La Motte Fouque, now
ascended the balcony.
"I do not care to stay at home when my country calls me to her aid!"
exclaimed M. de la Motte Fouque, in a loud, sonorous voice. "I
joyfully offer my services as a soldier. I have a wife and children,
but my country is to me more precious than they are, and I enroll
here my name as the first volunteer who responds to the call of his
king and country."
"And I enroll my name as the second volunteer!" exclaimed Jahn, the
Turners' father. "I swear here to my country that I will joyously
fight for it. Henceforth, my blood and life belong to the
fatherland.--And where are you, my boys, my Turners? Shall I march
out all alone, or will you accompany me?"
"We will go with you!" cried a hundred youthful voices, and their
enthusiastic shouts rent the sky. "We will march with you! We will
fight for the fatherland!" And the crowd, carried away by what they
saw and heard--the men with tearful eyes, the youths with flashing
glances--all shouted: "We will march with you! We will fight for the
fatherland!" Neighbor gave his hand to neighbor, and friend embraced
friend; those who had never before seen each other understood the
common feeling, and those who had never exchanged a word conversed
now like old acquaintances. One grand impulse seemed to move the
multitude--one patriotic feeling beamed from all eyes--one vow
burned in all hearts: to be faithful soldiers to their country. It
was no mere transitory enthusiasm, soon to disappear, and to be
succeeded by a corresponding reaction--it was no momentary ardor
kindled by the manifesto issued at Breslau, but the sacred fire of
patriotism burning in the heart of the whole people of Prussia, and
increased from day to day. Every one felt himself a soldier, and
would have considered it a disgrace to remain at home while others
marched to the war of liberation.
The pupils of the lyceums closed their books, and the teachers did
not prevent them; they only appeared in the school-rooms, to say to
the half-grown youths: "Farewell! The country has called us! Let us
march to the field! Those of you who have reached their seventeenth
year, and are willing to fight, follow us!" And, with shouts of
exultation, the older youths rallied round their teachers, while the
younger ones retired with tearful eyes, as if ashamed of their age.
What occurred in the lyceum was repeated in the offices, the courts,
the counting-houses of the bankers and merchants. No one would stay
at home, or refuse the country his arm and his strength. All selfish
calculations, all distinctions of rank had ceased. Princes and
counts were seen in the ranks of the volunteers by the side of the
humblest youths; and poor men, who had sold every thing they had to
buy arms and a uniform, did not think of their future, or what was
to become of them after their return from the war. The fatherland
had called them, and they voluntarily took up arms in its defence.
Death had lost its terrors, life had lost its value. With exulting
hearts, mothers saw their sons preparing for the struggle. The
affianced bride uncomplainingly clasped her departing lover for the
last time in her arms; without fear for the fate of his wife and
children, the husband and father embraced his dear ones, and his
wife did not attempt to dissuade him. She would have despised him if
he desired to remain, and loved his wife and his children more
devotedly than his country, calling to him in the hour of her peril.
Four days had not yet elapsed since the publication of the manifesto
of the king, when there stood on the Gendarmes market at Berlin one
hundred and fifty young volunteers, who, within a few days, had
fully armed and equipped themselves, either from their own means, or
with the assistance of friends, and who were now about to march to
Potsdam in order to set out with a company of ninety volunteers,
which had been recruited in that city for the king's headquarters at
Breslau. [Footnote: Nine thousand young men volunteered at Berlin in
the first three days after the manifesto was issued, and active
preparations were made to uniform and equip them at the earliest
moment.] All Berlin wished to participate in the farewell of this
first company of volunteers which were sent to its king. Every one
desired once more to shake hands with the courageous defenders of
the country--to shout a love-greeting, a last wish to them, and
bless the soldiers of the fatherland. The windows of the houses on
the Gendarmes market were therefore filled with ladies and children,
who greeted the departing volunteers with their handkerchiefs, with
wreaths and flowers; the church bells were ringing in their honor,
and the fathers of the city, the burgomasters, and other members of
the municipality, adorned with their golden chains, were assembled
on the market-place to conduct the young soldiers, in the name of
the city, to the gate, and behind them a dense multitude filled the
square. Those remaining looked gloomy, and envied their brethren,
because they were to take the field at so early a day; wishing thorn
joy, they shouted: "Prepare quarters for us; we shall soon follow
The church bells were ringing, and amid their solemn peals and the
deafening cheers of the many thousands who nodded to them in the
streets, and from the windows of the houses, the young soldiers left
the Gendarmes market, escorted by the members of the municipality.
They did not, however, march directly to the Potsdam gate. They
would not leave Berlin without receiving the blessing of the Church,
and this was to be given by the man who read to them the manifesto
four days before, and who had exhorted them to comply with the call
of their country. A committee, appointed by the young volunteers,
had therefore waited on Schleiermacher, and requested him to give
the blessing of the Church to their grave undertaking, and he gladly
granted their request. The procession marched to Trinity church.
There were waiting their mothers, sisters, and brides, greeting them
with loving glances, and beckoning them to occupy the reserved
places, embracing and praying hand in hand with them for the last
time. The organ poured forth its solemn concords, and from all lips
burst forth the anthem of "In allen meinen Thaten lass ich den
Hochsten rathen." [Footnote: "In all my deeds. I let the Highest
counsel."] The last notes of the music had not yet died away, when
the noble face of Schleiermacher appeared in the pulpit. His eyes
were beaming as never before; his voice was never so fervent and
powerful, nor had he ever spoken with such irresistible eloquence,
energy, and courage, as on that day. A profound silence reigned in
the vast building; every one listened eagerly to the inspiring words
of the prophet of a new and better era, and inwardly resolved to
remember the stirring exhortations which Schleiermacher now, in
concluding his sermon, addressed to the young men, that they may
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