NAPOLEON AND BLUCHER
Part 7 out of 12
Korner looked down in confusion, and then raised his flaming eyes
with a strange expression. "Ah, madame," he exclaimed, "I divine
your stratagem; it is that of an angel, and, therefore, worthy of
"What stratagem do yon mean?" she asked, with a semblance of
"The angelic stratagem by which you comforted me in my grief,
without knowing its cause. When I rushed so impolitely into this
room, I told you that I was in despair. And you, instead of urging
me to tell you at once the cause of it, inquired for the great
affairs of my life, and whether my affliction came from my parents
or my affianced bride. You thereby wished to admonish me that these
momentous affairs and relations of my life, not having lost their
harmony, my grief was, perhaps, but a passing dissonance, and that
it really might not be worth while to give way to despair on account
of it. I am sure, madame, I have understood you: was not this the
object of your questions?"
Madame von Lutzow nodded gently. "You have understood me," she said.
"I think in all our grievances we should, before giving way to
vexation or despair, lay the great questions of life before us, and
inquire whether that which weighs us down touches them, whether it
strikes at our true happiness. Now, if this is not the case, we
should bear the grievance lightly, and not consider it a misfortune.
To feel greatly what is great, and to heed little what is little, is
the true wisdom of life."
"You are right, as you always are," said Theodore Korner,
reverentially bowing to the beautiful lady, "and let me penitently
confess, then, that I have this time heeded greatly what is little
and have considered what grieved me a great misfortune. But now that
I have confessed my guilt, the guardian angel of the volunteers must
have mercy upon me and come to my assistance. For something very
unpleasant has really befallen me, and no philosophy can dispute
"Well, confess what it is," exclaimed Madame von Lutzow, smiling.
"You know, madame, that our Legion of Vengeance is to be solemnly
consecrated at the village of Rochau, at the foot of the Zobtenberg,
on Sunday next?"
"Of course I do, and I shall accompany Lutzow and the volunteers in
order to witness the ceremony."
"At the village church we are all to appear for the first time in
our black uniforms, to receive the preacher's blessing, and to be
consecrated as soldiers of the fatherland. I myself have written a
poem, adapted to the air of an anthem, for this solemn occasion, and
all my comrades will sing it. After the sermon the volunteers in the
church will take the oath of war upon the swords of their officers.
I have been ardently yearning for this day, and now I shall probably
be unable to participate in its services, for--do not laugh, madame,
at my insignificant mishap--the tailor refuses to make me a uniform
by that time, and in citizen's clothes, as a fashionable dandy, I
really cannot appear among the brave men who will proudly walk about
in their litefkaes. The tailor says it is impossible for him to make
a uniform at so short a notice; he pretends to be overwhelmed with
work, and does not know where to find hands. Now you, the helping,
advising, and protecting genius of the volunteers, are my last
consolation and resort. If you send for the cruel tailor, and tell
him how important it is for me to participate in that ceremony, your
words will render possible what now he declares impossible.
Therefore, send for the tailor, madame; he fortunately lives close
by, in the court-yard, in the large rear building; order him to make
me a uniform, and he will have to do so, for who could withstand
"Well, I will try," said Madame von Lutzow, smiling. "I will see
whether my words are so impressive as to move a tailor's heart."
"And if he is unable to comply with your wishes because he lacks
assistants," said Leonora, hastily rising from her seat near the
door, and approaching Korner and Madame von Lutzow, "I offer myself
as an assistant, for I am a tailor."
"So am I," exclaimed Caroline, vividly. "I know, too, how to ply the
needle, and am ready to assist in sewing a comrade's uniform."
"Ah, the volunteers whom I have just enlisted, and whose pardon I
have to ask for having forgotten them," cried Madame Von Lutzow,
"We have rather to ask your pardon for staying here," said Leonora.
"But we are indebted to you and to the poet Theodore Korner for the
most soul-stirring sentiments, and it seems to me as though we have
received only now the true consecration for the future that lies
before ns. Now, that I know what great sacrifices one may joyously
make, I feel how incumbent it was upon me to make them too, and I
have no remorse at leaving my parents and my brothers--It is
certainly true, as the poet said: 'A great era requires great
hearts!' And therefore I will try, to the best of my power, to have
a great heart, that I may be worthy of our great era."
"A great and noble heart is beaming from your eyes, my friend," said
Theodore Korner, offering his hand to Leonora. "I greet you both as
dear comrades of mine, and beg you to treat me as one."
"Yes, we will do so," exclaimed Caroline, shaking hands with the
poet. "And we will prove it directly by going to that tailor and
offering to assist him in making the uniform of our esteemed
"Softly, my friend!" laughed Theodore Korner, "I have not yet risen
so high; I am no lieutenant."
"But you will be soon," said Caroline, ardently; "for one may easily
read in your face that you are born to command, and not to obey. We
volunteers are to elect our own officers. Well, then, I shall vote
for Theodore Korner." [Footnote: Theodore Korner was elected
lieutenant by his comrades on the 24th of April.]
"So shall I!" ejaculated Leonora.
"But while indulging in such dreams as to the future, we forgot the
grim tailor," said Theodore Korner, smiling. "Madame von Lutzow, I
beseech you, pity my distress, and send for him, that your eloquence
may soften his heart."
"But suppose he does not comply?" asked Madame von Lutzow. "It would
be wrong, too, to occupy his time while so busy. You say the man
"Scarcely fifty steps from here."
"Well, then, conduct me to him!" said Madame von Lutzow, "we will
pay a visit to him as Torquato Tasso once went to the Duke di
Ferrara. You, my two young friends, will please accompany us, that
we may present to him two willing assistants. Come!"
"Yes, madame, and may your eloquence prevail!" exclaimed Korner,
opening the door, and posting himself beside it in order to allow
the lady to pass out. Graceful and smiling, she hastened through the
gloomy room and approached the door, followed by the two volunteers
with their rosy faces and bright eyes. When about to cross the
threshold, she stood and gazed archly at Korner, "Stop," she said,
"I have to impose a condition. If we are to assist a poet, he must
in return pay us a poet's tribute. I shall not cross this threshold
before you recite one of your new war-songs."
"Yes, a song!" cried the two volunteers.
"Well, you are silent?" asked Madame von Lutzow, smiling. "Strike
the chords of your lyre, and let us hear a battle-hymn!"
"No, not a battle-hymn," said Theodore Korner; "that requires the
accompaniment of clashing arms and booming cannon. But to the fair
patroness of the Legion of Vengeance I will communicate, although it
is not completed, my hymn to the guardian angel of German liberty--
Queen Louisa!" Raising his dark-blue eyes to heaven, he recited the
following lines, addressed "to Queen Louisa:"
"Du Heilige I hor Deiner Kinder Flehen,
Es dringe machtig anf zo deinern Licht.
Kannst wieder freundlich auf uns niedersehen
Verklarter Engel! Ifinger weine nicht!
Benn Preussens Adler soll zum Kampfe wehen.
Es drangt Dein Volk sich jubelnd zu der Pflicht,
Und Jeder wahlt, und keinen siehst du leben,
Den freien Ted fur ein bezwung nes Leben."
"Wir lagen noch in feige Nacht gehettet;
Da rief nach Dir Deiu besseres Geschick,
An die unwurd'ge Zeit warst Du gekettet,
Zur Rache mahnte Dein gebroch'ner Blick.
So hast Du uns den deutschen Muth gerettet.
Jetzt sieh auf uns, sieh auf Dein Volk zuruck,
Wie alle Herzen treu und muthig brennen!
Nun woll uns auch die Deinen wieder nennen!"
"Und wie einst, alle Krafte zu beleben,
Ein Heil'genbild, fur den gerechten Krieg
Dem Heeresbanner schutzend zugegeben,
Als Oriflamme in die Lufte stieg:
So soil Dein Bild auf unsern Fabnen schweben,
Und soil uns leuchten durch die Nacht zum Sieg!
Louise sei der Schutzgeist deutscher Sache!
Louise sei das Losungswort zur Rache!"
O sainted one I now let thy children's prayer,
As incense, rise to realms of heavenly light;
Beholding us thou canst' with gladness hear,
And tears no more may dim thy vision bright:
For Prussia's standard in the battle near
Will nerve thy people to their ancient might.
Thy sons in crowded ranks await the strife,
Preferring a free death to slavery's life.
Enthralled in long and timid gloom we lay;
When Heaven recalled thee, and thy fetters broke
Which bound thee to thy times' unworthy sway,
Thy dying eyes of future vengeance spoke.
Thus didst thou save on that sad final day
The German honor, and our courage woke.
Behold us now, as we all fear resign,
With glowing hearts, and once more call us thine!
As erst to serried legions in the field,
A sacred symbol, as a golden flame,
Lit up the battle-standard, and revealed
For whom the victory's just though bloody claim:
So let us, 'neath thy bannered image, wield
A valiant sword--our "oriflamme" thy name--
The pledge of honor and the gathering cry,
To live for Prussia's glory, or to die!]
"Louisa shall be the guardian angel of the German cause and the
battle-cry of vengeance!" echoed the two volunteers.
Madame von Lutzow said nothing. She stood, with her white hands
clasped, as if in prayer, and her sweet face turned heavenward.
Tears were glittering in her eyes; and, giving her hand to the poet,
she said in a low voice: "You have paid us a tribute worthy of you.
Thanks! And now come!" She quickly crossed the threshold toward the
court-yard. Korner was by her side; Leonora and Caroline, the two
volunteers, followed her.
"The four windows on the ground-floor yonder are those of the
tailor's shop," said Korner.
Madame von Lutzow nodded, and walked across the wide court-yard
toward the house.
THE HEROIC TAILOR.
The tailor and his hands were very busy. All sorts of colored cloths
and pieces of uniforms were lying about. On the bench, in the middle
of the room, sat four workmen, hard at work. Not a word interrupted
the silence now desecrated by the noise of the opening door. He who
sat on a somewhat raised seat, and was just braiding a magnificent
scarlet hussar-jacket, hastily looked up. His hand, armed with his
needle, had just risen and remained suspended; his eyes, which he
had at first raised carelessly from his work, were fixed on the
door, which framed so unusual and attractive a picture--a young lady
of surpassing beauty, surrounded by three youthful soldiers, who
looked very fine and imposing, too, and whose looks were turned to
him with a kind and inquiring expression.
"You are M. Martin, the merchant tailor, are you not?" asked the
lady, greeting the tailor with a gentle nod.
"That is my name," said M. Martin, involuntarily rising from his
"Well, then, my dear sir," said the lady, advancing a few steps into
the shop, "I should like to say a word to you."
"Yes, I imagine what it is," exclaimed the tailor, who fixed his
eyes now upon Theodore Korner, and recognized his tormentor. "The
gentleman has been here twice already about a uniform for Sunday.
But I could not make it, if an angel descended from heaven to
"Well, I thank you for your compliment," said Madame von Lutzow,
smiling. "But tell me now, sir, why can you not accommodate him?"
"Because I have more work now than I am able to finish. I was rash
enough to accept so many orders, that I do not know how I shall be
able to fill them; and in the excitement and confusion prevalent in
the city it is impossible to get assistance at present."
"Well, if that is the only reason, we bring you fresh help. These
two young volunteers are ready to work under your supervision, and
finish the uniform of their comrade."
The tailor glanced toward the two young volunteers. "Lads, scarcely
sixteen years old!" he said, shrugging his shoulders; "it is
impossible that they can be experienced artists."
"But both affirm that they are tailors," said Madam von Lutzow, "and
skilled in their trade."
"Yes, sir, please give us a trial," begged Leonora.
"We are quick and skilful workmen," protested Caroline.
"Regular tailors?" asked M, Martin.
"Yes, regular tailors," replied Leonora.
"Very well. Finish this collar; the needle is still in it," said M.
Martin, handing the scarlet soldier-jacket to Leonora.
The young volunteer blushed, and said in a low voice: "To be sure;
sir. I must ask you to show me how to do it, for I have never yet
worked on men's clothes."
"A ladies' tailor?" exclaimed M. Martin, with an expression of
boundless contempt. "The other one, too?"
"Yes, I also am a ladies' tailor," said Caroline, smiling.
"And they are bold enough to offer their assistance to me!"
exclaimed M. Martin, shrugging his shoulders.
"It is only necessary for you to give them proper directions, sir,"
said Madame von Lutzow, entreatingly, "for as they know how to ply
the needle they will easily understand what to do."
"And if the uniform should not fit well, or be badly made, it will
be laid at my door, and M. Martin will be blamed for it. I assure
you I cannot take the job; I am short of workmen of the necessary
experience. No one wants to work now-adays--all heads are turned--
all young men are enlisting."
"No, sir," said the lady, "all heads are turned right again--to one
thing necessary at this time--to the service of the fatherland."
"Bah! my shop is my fatherland," said the tailor, contemptuously.
"That is not true," exclaimed Madame von Lutzow, "you do not and
cannot think so. For if you did, you would be no Prussian, no
German, and no one could love and respect you. During the period of
adversity and disgrace, your shop may have been a comfort to you;
but now that the sun of liberty is rising, all hearts must throb
joyously; all must go out and gaze upon the new world; the shop no
longer contains the work worthy of a freeman--it is to be found only
on the battle-field--deliverance of the country!"
"The lady is right!" exclaimed the tailor's three assistants, who
had hitherto looked up but stealthily from their work, but now cast
it aside with impetuosity. "Yes, the lady is right! It is a shame
for honest men to sit here in this room and ply the needle, while
our friends and brethren are drawing the sword and marching out to
the holy war of liberation. We must also participate in the great
"Oh, yes," cried the tailor, in grim despair, "now my last workmen
are coaxed away from me! You have taken the money I offered you when
you entered my service, and as honest men you must keep your word.
Resume your work! You know well that we are very busy."
The men commenced their work again with morose faces, whispering to
each other: "As soon as the week has expired, we shall leave the
shop and enlist."
"Well, madame, what do you wish?" exclaimed the tailor, furiously.
"You have come to give me a job, and at the same time you disparage
my business, and seduce my workmen to leave me. I shall soon have to
close my shop."
"But you will not do so, dear M. Martin, before having made a
uniform for this young man," said Madame von Lutzow, in an
entreating tone and with a sweet smile. "I have certainly not come
to disparage your honorable business, for what should we do without
the skilful tailor, who makes the uniforms of our soldiers and fits
them out, as it were, for the service of their country? Oh, I am
sure that you have worked at them with grand reflections, since this
labor is more agreeable to you than if you had to make the most
gorgeous suit for a chamberlain, and it gladdens you to think: 'I am
likewise working hard for the fatherland. I am in my own way a
soldier of the country; for I devote to it my skill and labor.'"
"That is true," said M. Martin, in confusion, "and that you may not
believe me to be a worse man than I really am, I must tell you that
I do not take pay for these jobs, but that I have offered to make
twelve uniforms for our soldiers free of charge. I have nothing else
to offer; hence, I give all I can!"
"And there is no nobler gift!" exclaimed Madame von Lutzow. "You are
a good man; pray give me your hand and let me thank you." She
offered her hand to the tailor, and he put his broad, cold hand
timidly into it.
"Oh, now I fear nothing," said Madame von Lutzow, joyfully; "as you
are so good a patriot, you will fulfil our prayer, and make a
uniform for this young man for next Sunday."
"But I have told you already that I cannot," replied M. Martin,
almost tearfully--"I cannot finish it."
"And I reply: Try, sir! I am sure you will finish it. For, take into
consideration, dear M. Martin, that your own reputation is at stake,
and that all the brave volunteers would execrate your name if it
should be your fault that their favorite and celebrated bard could
not attend the Sunday's ceremony."
"How so? What bard do you allude to, madame?"
"I allude to the great poet who stands before you--Theodore Korner."
"Ah, this is Theodore Korner!" exclaimed the tailor, "The poet who
wrote 'Toni,' the splendid comedy that I saw last winter at our
"The same, my dear sir," said Madame von Lutzow, while Korner nodded
to the tailor with a pleasant smile. "And he has written many other
beautiful plays, and magnificent songs to boot. This is the reason
why, though he is only twenty-one years old, he is famous throughout
Germany, and at Vienna occupied a brilliant position. He is
affianced to a dear, sweet young woman, whom he loves with all his
heart, and to whom he was to be married within a month; but suddenly
the battle-cry of freedom resounded throughout Germany, the King of
Prussia called upon the able-bodied young men to volunteer and
avenge the disgrace of Germany, and see what love of country can
accomplish! The young man casts aside every thing--he gives up all,
his fame, his betrothed, his position, and hastens with enthusiasm
to offer his arm and his services-to exchange his poetical fame and
his earthly happiness for victory or an honorable death on the
"Oh, that is really glorious," cried the men, striking with their
clinched right hands their knee, as though it were a recruiting-
"Yes, it is so," said M. Martin, thoughtfully, to himself.
"Madame," whispered the poet, smiling, "you make me blush by your
too kind praise."
"Is it my fault that a plain statement of the facts in the case is
such praise for you?" asked Madame von Lutzow. "For I have told you
the truth, M. Martin, and all happened precisely as I have stated
it. He has given up all to enlist. Vainly do his parents and his
loved one weep for him. He hears nothing--sees nothing--for his
country calls him, and he obeys. He does not desire happiness before
his country is free, and sweeter than the most blissful life seems
to him a glorious death for the fatherland. So he has come; the
volunteers greeted him with shouts of exultation, and they believe
now that Providence will cause their arms and their bravery to be
successful, since an inspired bard will take the field with them,
and endow them with redoubled ardor by his songs. But, before taking
the field, they wish to implore God's blessing at the altar, and on
Sunday next all those who are already uniformed and equipped are to
take the oath of war and be consecrated. Theodore Korner has written
for the occasion a pious hymn, which all the volunteers will sing,
and now how can you be so cruel as to prevent him from singing his
own hymn with them?"
"I?" cried the tailor, in dismay.
"Yes, you! For, if you do not accommodate him, he cannot be
M. Martin heaved a profound sigh, and cast a glance of despair
around his shop. "There are still three hussar-jackets to be
finished," he murmured. "If it were but a hussar-uniform that the
gentleman asks for! But he does not wish to join the hussars?"
"No, my friend. I enlist in the Legion of Vengeance, and become one
of Major von Lutzow's volunteer riflemen. It will, therefore, be
less troublesome to suit me."
"But that dress is not near as showy as the other," said the tailor,
morosely. "An entirely black uniform with red trimmings on the
sleeves looks sad, and--cruel."
"And that is as it ought to be, my dear sir. The black color
signifies our grief, the red signifies blood."
And suddenly he commenced to sing:
"Noch trauera wir im schwarzeu Racherkleide
Um den gestorbnen Muth,
Doch fragt man Euch, was dieses Roth bedeute;
Das deutet Frankenblut!"
"Mit Gott!--Einst geht hoch uber Feindesleichen
Der Stern des Friedens auf;
Dann pflanzen wir ein weisses Siegeszeichen
Am freien Rheinstrom auf."
By this black uniform we ever mourn
The public spirit dead!
And why is then this crimson facing worn?--
With Frenchmen's blood it's red.
When high above vast heaps of slaughtered foes,
The star of peace shall shine,
The banner white, which victory bestows,
Raise by our own free Rhine.]
"Then we shall raise a white symbol of our victory on the banks of
the free Rhine!" echoed the volunteers, and the tailor and his
"M. Martin!" cried Madame von Lutzow, laughing, "you have forgotten
yourself; you have joined in the chorus!"
"Yes, it is true," ho said, "I have sung these few words with them;
they make my heart swell, and--I do not know what has happened to
me--it seems to me the song and all you have said make another man
of me, and--"
"You will make the uniform for Theodore Korner?" asked Madame von
M. Martin was silent, and quickly raised his head and looked at his
assistants, who were gazing at him inquiringly.
"You have made up your minds, then?" he asked; "when the week is up,
and your jobs are finished, you intend to leave me, and volunteer?"
"Yes, we have come to that determination," replied the three,
unanimously, "and nothing shall prevent us from carrying it out,"
"Well, then, I must close my shop, and discontinue the tailoring
"But what do you intend to do, then, sir?" asked one of the
journeymen, in surprise.
"I intend to enlist!" replied M. Martin. "This beautiful lady and
the song have enchanted me. Hurrah! I also will enlist!"
"But my uniform?" asked Korner.
"Oh, you need not be concerned," exclaimed the tailor, in a proud
tone; "it shall be made! I will work all night, and not lay aside my
needle before it is done. Will you help me, journeymen?"
"Yes, sir, we will!"
"And you, too, volunteers? It is true, you are only ladies' tailors,
but you know at least how to line and pad a coat. Will you take the
"Yes, M. Martin, we will joyously do so," cried Leonora and
"Well, then, we can finish two uniforms by Sunday--one for the poet,
the other for myself!"
"My dear sir, I thank you from the bottom of my heart," said Madame
von Lutzow; and then, turning her radiant face to Korner, she asked,
"Are you now satisfied?"
"Ah, I knew well that no one could resist you, and that you are our
good angel," whispered the poet, pressing the hand of the lovely
lady to his lips.
"But listen, M. Korner," said the tailor; "if I am to work for you
so industriously, I must impose a condition, and you must promise to
"What is it?"
"It is that you shall not pay me for my labor."
"But, sir, it is impossible for me to--"
Madame von Lutzow laid her hand softly on his shoulder. "I am sure
you do not wish to offend this excellent man?" she whispered.
"It is impossible for me to take pay for a favor which I do to one
of my future comrades," said M. Martin. "I suppose that is what you
wanted to say, and you are right. But if you insist on indemnifying
me, there is another way for you to do so."
"Pray tell me."
"You sang two verses, which sounded so bold and fresh that they
touched my heart. Was that the whole song, or are there any more
"No, sir, they are the two last; three others precede them."
"Well, comrade," said M. Martin, gayly, "if you insist on my doing
my last tailoring job for you, then sing me the other three."
Korner glanced inquiringly at Madame Lutzow. "I do not know," he
said, hesitatingly, "if madame will permit it?"
Madame von Lutzow smiled. "I not only permit, but pray you to sing,"
she said. "Give us the whole song, and let us all join in the
refrain. Come, brave soldiers of the future! cast aside your work,
form in line, and sing with us the song of the Black Riflemen!"
The three journeymen jumped up, and posted themselves beside M.
Martin. The lady again withdrew to the door. On both sides stood the
two young volunteers, with their blooming faces, and between these
two groups stood the tall and noble form of the young poet, whose
fine face beamed with courage and energy, and on whose brow genius
had pressed the kiss of inspiration.
"Now, listen attentively!" said Theodore Korner, smiling. "My song
is easy to sing, for who is ignorant of the song of the Rhenish
wine? Let us sing it to that melody!"
And through the tailor's shop, hitherto so peaceful and silent,
resounded the song of the Black Riflemen:
"In's Feld, in's Feld, die Rachegeister mahnen,
Auf, deutsches Volk, zum Krieg!
In's Feld, in's Feld! Hoch flattern unsere Fahnen,
Sie fuhren uns zum Sieg!"
"Klein ist die Schaar, doch gross ist das Vertranen
Auf den gerechten Gott!
Wo seine Engel ihre Veste bauen,
Sind Hollenkunste Spott."
"Gebt kein Pardon! Konet Ihr das Schwert nicht heben,
So wurgt sie ohne Scheu!
Und hoeh verkauft den letzten Tropfen Leben,
Der Tod macht Alle freil"
To the field! the spirits of vengeance cry;
Rise, and your country save!
Uplift your eagle banners to the sky--
For victory they wave!
In number small, but great our confidence
In a just God's decree;
When His own angels build our sure defence,
Vain is hell's strategy.
No quarter give, but strike the fatal blow,
Dear let your life-blood be;
Ask not for mercy, and to none bestow,
For death makes all men free.
This whole scene is based on facts, for which I am indebted to
personal communications from the Countess Ahlefeldt. Theodore Korner
fell in the first year of the war of liberation, before the decisive
battle of Leipsic, on the 26th of August, 1813, in a skirmish which
the corps of Major von Lutzow had with the French near Gadebusch.
Only an hour prior to his death, while lying in ambush, he wrote his
immortal "Song of the Sword" in his note-book. The statement of Mr.
Alison, the historian, that he was killed in the battle of Dresden,
Leonora Prohaska fell in an engagement on the Gorde, the 16th of
September, 1813. A bullet pierced her breast. When she felt that she
was dying, she revealed to her comrades that she was a woman, and
that her name was Leonora Prohaska, and not Charles Renz.
Caroline Peters was more fortunate. She participated in the
campaigns of 1813 and 1814, was decorated with the order of the Iron
Cross on account of her bravery, and honorably discharged at the end
of the war. She was then married to the captain of an English vessel
whom she accompanied on his travels, and with whom she visited her
relatives at Stettin in 1844.--L. M.]
THE GENERAL-IN-CHIEF OF THE SILESIAN ARMY.
General Blucher was more morose and dejected than he had been for a
long time. From the day he heard of the king's arrival at Breslau,
and immediately left his farm of Kunzendorf to repair to that city,
a perpetual sunshine lit up his face, and a new spring bloomed in
his heart. But now the old clouds of Kunzendorf were again lowering
on his brow, and a frost seemed to have blighted all the blossoms of
He sat on the sofa, closely wrapped in his dressing-gown, drumming
with his hand a quickstep on the table in front of him, while he was
blowing clouds of smoke from his long pipe. Very gloomy thoughts
appeared to fill Blucher's soul, for his bushy eyebrows contracted,
the quickstep was more rapid, and the smoke arose in denser masses.
In the violence of his inward trouble, he grimly shook his head
without thinking of the fragile friend in his mouth. Its delicate
form struck against the corner of the table and broke into pieces.
"So," muttered Blucher to himself, "that was just wanting to my
afflictions. It is the second pipe broken to-day. Well, there will
be a day when Bonaparte shall pay me these pipes that he has already
cost me. That day must come, or there is no justice in Heaven.
Christian! O Christian!"
The door opened. Christian Hennemann appeared on the threshold,
awaiting the orders of the general.
"Another wounded pipe, Christian," said Blucher, pointing at the
pieces on the floor. "Pick them up, and see if there is not a short
pipe among them."
"No, your excellency," said Christian, approaching and carefully
picking up the pieces, "that is no wounded pipe, but a dead one.
Shall I fetch another to your excellency?"
He was about to turn away, but Blucher seized the lap of his hussar-
jacket. "Show me the broken pipe," he said, anxiously; "let me see
if it really will not do any more."
"Well, look at it, your excellency," said the pipe-master, in a
dignified tone, holding up the bowl with a very small part of the
tube. "It is impossible for you to use it again. If I should fill
the bowl with tobacco and light it, your excellency, it would
assuredly burn your nose."
"That is true," said Blucher, mournfully; "I believe you are right.
I might burn my nose, and that would be altogether unnecessary now.
I burn it here at Breslau every day."
"How did you do it?" asked Christian, in dismay. "Your excellency
has not yet smoked short pipes."
"Because I am myself like a short pipe," cried Blucher, with a grim
smile, "or because the miserable, sneaking vermin at court--well,
what does it concern you? Why do you stand and stare at me? Go,
Christian, and fetch me a new Pipe."
"What, a new pipe!" asked a voice by his side. "Why, Blucher, you
are still in your dressing-gown!"
It was his wife who had just entered the room by the side-door and
approached her husband without being noticed. She was in full
toilet, her head adorned with plumes, her delicate form wrapped in a
heavy dark satin dress, trimmed with costly silver lace. Her neck
and ears were ornamented with jewelry in which large diamonds shone;
in her hand, radiant with valuable rings, she held a huge fan,
inlaid with pearls and precious stones.
"Yes, Amelia, I am still in my dressing-gown," said Blucher,
gloomily gazing at his wife. "Why, you are splendidly dressed to-
day! What is it for?--and whither do you design to go?"
"Whither!" exclaimed the lady, in surprise. "But, husband, do you
forget, then, the festival to take place to-night?"
"Well, what is it?" asked Blucher, slowly drawing his long white
mustache through his fingers.
"Blucher, to-night the great ball takes place which the city of
Breslau gives at the city hall in honor of the Emperor of Russia,
when both their majesties will appear."
"Well, what does that concern me?"
"It concerns you a great deal, for you have solemnly promised the
burgomaster, who came personally to invite us, that you would attend
the ball to-night."
"And I shall not go to it after all, Amelia," cried Blucher,
striking with his hand on the table. "No, Amelia! I am no dancing-
bear to turn around at a ball, and to be led by the nose."
"But, Blucher, what has happened to you?" asked his wife,
wonderingly. "You were as merry and high-spirited as a young god of
spring; the violets laughed when they saw you pass by, and the snow-
drops rang their tiny bells in your honor, and now suddenly it is
winter again! Pray, tell me, what has happened to you?"
"Nothing at all has happened to me--that is just the misfortune,"
cried Blucher. "It is more than a month now since I have been
sitting here at Breslau, and nothing has happened. I am still what I
always was--an old pensioned general, who has no command, and
nothing to do but to retire to Kunzendorf and plant cabbage-heads,
while others in the field are cutting off French heads. And it will
be best for me to go back to Kunzendorf. I have nothing to do here;
no one cares for an old fellow like me. I have hoped on from day to
day, but all my hopes are gone now. Amelia, take off your tinsel,
and pack up our traps. The best thing we can do will be to start
this very evening and return to our miserable, accursed village!"
"Dear me! what a humor you are in!" exclaimed his wife, "Every thing
will be right in the end, my husband; you must not despair; things
are only taking their course a little more deliberately than my
firebrand wishes. But finally all will be precisely as you want it,
for without Blucher they are unable to accomplish any thing, and
will, therefore, at last resort to him."
"And I tell you they will try to get along without me," cried
Blucher; "I shall be a disgraced man, at whom the very chickens will
laugh, if he has to sneak back to Kunzendorf instead of taking the
field. Pack up. Amelia, wo shall leave this day!"
"But that is impossible, Blucher! It would look like a cowardly
flight, and your enemies would rejoice over it. No, you must go to
the ball to-night; you--"
"General Scharnhorst!" announced a footman at this moment, and there
appeared in the open door the general, dressed in his gala-uniform,
and his breast decked with orders.
"I am glad you have come, general," exclaimed Amelia, hastening to
him, and shaking hands with her friend. "Look at that stubborn old
man, who does not wish to go to the ball! Say yourself, general,
must he not go?"
"Certainly he must," said Scharnhorst, smiling, "and I come to beg
of you a seat in your carriage, and to let me have the honor of
appearing in the suite of General and Madame von Blucher. You had,
therefore, better dress at once, my dear general. It is high time.
Even their majesties have already set out."
Blucher gently shook his head, and slowly raised his eyes toward
Scharnhorst, who stood in front of him. "Scharnhorst," he said,
"every thing turns out wrong, and I wish myself dead rather than see
such a state of affairs."
"What do you mean, general?" inquired Scharnhorst. "What has
Blucher cast a piercing glance on him, and seemed to read in the
depths of his soul. "Is the matter settled?" he asked. "Pray, my
friend, tell me the truth without circumlocution. It is better for
me to know it at once than allow this incertitude longer to gnaw at
my heart. Scharnhorst, I implore you, tell me the truth! Has the
commander of the Silesian army been appointed?"
"No, general," said Scharnhorst, gravely.
"And you do not know whom they will appoint? The truth, my friend!"
"Well, then, the truth is, that I do not know it, and that their
majesties themselves do not know it, although every patriot thinks
they ought not to doubt which of the three gentlemen who stand on
the list should be appointed, for every heart echoes, 'General
Blucher is the man whom we need, and who will lead us to victory.'
The emperor and the king are still vacillating; precious time is
lost--Napoleon is organizing new armies, and strengthening himself
on all sides, while they are hesitating."
"Three, then, stand on the list," said Blucher. "I have two
competitors. Who are they, general?"
"One is Field-Marshal Kalkreuth."
Blucher started, and his eyes flashed with anger. "What!" he cried.
"That childish old man to command an army! He who is constantly
singing hymns of praise to Napoleon and his French--he who, only the
other day, showed again that he deemed a frown of Bonaparte more
terrible than the peril of a German patriot! He command an army to
vanquish Napoleon! I suppose you know what he has done? He betrayed
to the French ambassador, Count St. Marsan, who followed our king to
Breslau in order to watch him, that Minister von Stein, our noblest
friend, had secretly come for the purpose of negotiating with the
king in the name of the Emperor of Russia; that he was living in a
garret, and that conferences of the enemies of Napoleon were held
there every night." [Footnote: Pertz's "Life of Stein," vol. iii.,
"Yes, that is true," said Scharuhorst, "Field-Marshal Kalkreuth did
so, and it is no fault of his that Baron von Stein, with his
friends, one of whom I happen to be, was not secretly seized and
carried off by the French. Fortunately, dear Count St. Marsan did
not believe the field-marshal who betrayed his German countryman.
The French ambassador allowed himself to be deceived by the
stillness that reigned in the garret, which, according to the
statement Kalkreuth made to him, was inhabited by dangerous Minister
von Stein." [Footnote: Beitzke, vol. i., p. 170.]
"Well, and this man, the head of the French party, they wish to
appoint general-in-chief of the Silesian army," said Blucher,
mournfully. "Amelia, pack up our traps; let us return to
"But Field-Marshal Kalkreuth has not yet been appointed," Said
Scharnhorst, smiling; "I believe his two competitors have as good--
nay, better prospects than he has."
"It is true, I forgot the second competitor," grumbled Blucher. "Who
"It is Lieutenant-General Count Tauentzien, in whom the Emperor
Alexander takes a great deal of interest."
"Of course," said Blucher, sarcastically, "he is a count, and he has
such a polish, and courtly manners; he knows how to flatter the
sovereigns, and tell them only what is agreeable. But now, you
yourself must admit, Scharnhorst, that it is best for me to set out
immediately for Kunzendorf, and that I have no prospects--none
whatever! The two sovereigns, the king and emperor, alone will make
the appointment, will they not?"
"Of course, they alone!"
"Well, each of them has a candidate of his own. The emperor is in
favor of Count Tauentzien, and the king is for Field-Marshal
Kalkreuth. Who, then, is to think of and speak for me?"
"Your glory will speak for you, general," said Scharnhorst,
feelingly; "the love which every soldier feels for you will speak,
and you will speak for yourself by your noble appearance--your self-
reliant bearing, your energy and strength, which do not shrink from
truth. Come, let us get ready for the ball, and, my friend, do not
impose any restraint upon yourself there; give the reins to your
discontent; tell every one frankly and bluntly that you are
dissatisfied--that you ardently desire to be appointed general-in-
chief, and that you would consider it a great misfortune if another
man should be preferred to you."
"But, dear general," exclaimed Madame von Blucher, in dismay, "how
can you give Blucher such advice? You know how hot-headed and rash
he is! He will rave about so, that the king and the emperor
themselves will hear him."
"Well," said Scharnhorst, smiling, "it is sometimes very well that
there should be a man courageous enough to tell the kings and
emperors the truth, and prove to them that mankind do not always
fawn upon them with polite submissiveness."
"Scharnhorst is right," exclaimed Blucher, suddenly straightening
himself; "yes, I will go to the ball, and tell them there at least
what sort of men those are whom they wish to appoint, and what we
may expect from them. They shall not afterward excuse themselves by
saying that they were not forewarned, and that no one had called
their attention to Blucher. I will do it myself--yes, thunder and
lightning! I will remind them of Blucher, and they shall hear and
"Well," cried Madame von Blucher, "I beg permission to stay at home,
for Blucher will have a scene, at which I do not wish to be
"Oh, no, there will be no scene whatever," said Blucher. "I shall
make my obeisance to their majesties and then step aside, but of
course I am not to keep altogether still, and--well, you know my
motto, 'At them!' [Footnote: "Immer drauf:"] Well, then, 'at them!'
Let us go to the bail. You must accompany me, Amelia, there is no
help for it; for it may be necessary for you to bring me back to
reason. You know well that no one but you can do that."
"I am sure, madame, you will not abandon us at this critical hour?"
begged Scharnhorst. "You do not desire his guardian angel to leave
"Yes, I will go with you," she said, smiling, "if for no other
purpose than to restrain my fiery thunderer in proper time."
"Well, it may not be of any avail," said Blucher, dryly. "By Heaven!
I must unbosom myself a little to-day--I must tell them the truth,
which no one here at Breslau likes to hear.--Well, Amelia, do me the
favor to turn toward the window. I wish to take off my dressing-gown
and pat on my uniform coat--then I am dressed; only my coat is
wanting; it lies on the chair yonder; wait until I have put it on,
and then we shall ride to the ball. I will call John to assist me."
"Do not call any one," said Scharnhorst, "but permit me to assist
you. Here is the coat."
"And here I am," cried Blucher, throwing off the dressing-gown and
quickly plunging into the coat which Scharnhorst handed him.
"But now listen, general," said Scharnhorst, handing Blucher the
sword and belt. "As you arc so very amiable and kind, I will tell
you good news. Gneisenau will be here to-morrow."
"What? Is he no longer in England?" asked Blucher, joyously.
"No, he is in Germany, and, as he wrote to me, will arrive to-morrow
at the latest. He landed nearly a week ago from a Swedish ship at
Colberg, where he was received with enthusiasm. The whole city was
illuminated on the evening of his arrival, and the citizens marched
in procession to his lodgings. [Footnote: Beitzke, vol. i., p. 196.]
You see the old hatred and the old love are still alive in the
people; they have not forgotten their oppressors, nor their heroes
"Then Gneisenau has come, too," exclaimed Blucher; "he is the petrel
that heralds the storm. There will be war now, certainly; and if I
am not permitted to share in it, my heart will burst like an
overcharged gun. Gneisenau come! all men are coming, and Blucher is
to stay at home! Well, if they do not appoint me commanding general,
I will enlist as a private. For I must participate in the war that
is to put an end to Bonaparte's tyranny; and, if I cannot be first
dancer, I shall be one of the musicians.--Christian, have the
carriage brought to the door!"
THE BALL AT THE CITY HALL OF BRESLAU.
The large saloon of the city hall of Breslau presented an
exceedingly festive and brilliant spectacle. The walls were
tastefully decorated with festoons and flags, exhibiting alternately
the Russian and Prussian colors; between them were the Prussian
eagle and the double-headed Russian eagle in richly-gilt medallions,
surrounded by resplendent tapers. On the ceiling were suspended
three enormous chandeliers, each adorned with fifty large wax
candles, which shed a flood of light through the whole hall, and
reflected themselves a hundred times in their balls and pendants of
rock crystal. In the gallery, fixed on the upper half of one of the
walls of the hall, and splendidly decorated with garlands and
Prussian and Russian flags, sat a band of fifty musicians, who
caused soul-stirring greetings to roll down into the hall, where the
brilliant and numerous crowd of guests, whom the municipal
authorities had invited, were moving up and down; the ladies in the
most magnificent toilets, in the gorgeous splendor of diamonds and
other precious stones, of flowers and laces; the gentlemen in their
gold-embroidered uniforms, their breasts ornamented with orders; but
among them were seen also the dark figures of Lutzow's riflemen, the
plain coats of the citizens, and even some of the peasantry in their
becoming rural costumes. All classes were represented at this great
ball, which the municipal authorities of Breslau gave in honor of
the Emperor of Russia, for these representatives of all classes were
to offer to Alexander the homage of the Prussian people, and to
return thanks to the noble ally of the king for the assistance that
he intended to lend to Prussia.
The emperor and the king, therefore, were received with boundless
enthusiasm when they entered the hall arm in arm, each decorated not
with his own orders, but with those of his ally. Alexander had
acknowledged this flattering reception with the affability and the
smiling grace peculiar to him; Frederick William, with the gravity
and calmness that never left him. After the first presentations and
official addresses were over, Alexander requested the presiding
burgomaster to set aside the embarrassing ceremonial, and to allow
every one to yield without restraint to the enjoyment of the
festival. In order to give an example to the assembled guests, the
emperor suggested to the managers that dancing might begin, and,
offering his arm to the wife of the presiding burgomaster, he opened
the ball with the Polonaise. After the dance he moved about the hall
with the most amiable affability, always endeavoring by his kindness
and politeness to cause all to forget the gulf separating them from
the emperor. The king had, like him, participated in the opening of
the ball; but he retired, grave, silent, and cold as ever, into the
adjoining apartment which was destined for the private audience-room
of the two sovereigns, and which none wore permitted to enter but
those whom the footmen of the king and the emperor expressly
invited. As long as Alexander and Frederick William were in the
large hall, they only desired to be the guests of their kind hosts,
and affable and unassuming members of the party; no sooner, however,
had they crossed the threshold of their audience-room than they were
again the king and the emperor, whom no one was allowed to approach
without being requested. From this audience-room a door, veiled by
heavy velvet curtains, led into another apartment, where a small
table, covered with the choicest cold viands, and the most exquisite
and rare wines, had been set for the two sovereigns, and this small
apartment led to the large supper-room that was again connected by a
small room with the vast saloon. One of the long walls of this
supper-room was occupied with an enormous buffet, loaded with the
most select delicacies in colossal dishes of silver and porcelain,
and beside which were large crystal bowls, filled with smoking punch
or fragrant cardinal. In the remaining space was a number of small
round tables ready for supper, at which those might take seats who
desired to refresh themselves after the exhausting pleasures of the
Alexander and Frederick William had retired into the audience-room,
and sent for those persons whom they desired to distinguish
particularly tonight. There were Majors von Lutzow and Petersdorf,
who had been invited to the honor of an audience which had been
conferred even upon some of the volunteers, among them upon Baron la
Motte Fouque and Theodore Korner; and Alexander told them with
charming enthusiasm of his sympathy for the heroic Prussian nation,
and of his admiration of its glorious self-denial. He stated to
Major von Lutzow that, if he did not happen to be emperor, he would
not allow any one to prevent him from volunteering in his Legion of
Vengeance; and to Theodore Korner, in proof of the admiration he
felt for his poems, he recited the first verses of his patriotic
song, "Frisch auf, mein Volk, die Flammenzeichen rauchen."
Frederick William contented himself with addressing a kind word, a
brief salutation, to each of them, and then again moving toward the
portiere, looked at the motley crowd in the ball-room. Suddenly,
while the two sovereigns were standing side by side, engaged in a
familiar chat, and looking into the hall, an unusual commotion was
noticed. All rushed toward the entrance of the hall, through which
the two burgomasters had just stepped into the outer reception-room.
Undoubtedly some one was expected, and moreover one whom all the
guests were anxious to see and to welcome in the most enthusiastic
The large folding-doors opened, and between the two burgomasters
appeared the slender, firmly-knit form of General Blucher. Behind
him was General Scharnhorst, escorting Madame von Blucher. Blucher
advanced, with a winning smile on his fine, good-natured
countenance, greeting the assembled guests by pleasantly nodding to
the right and left. At first his polite salutations were returned in
silence, but gradually there arose murmurs and whispers--the eyes
which were fixed upon the hero's form grew more radiant, and soon
cheers resounded through the whole hall--deafening shouts of "Long
live Blucher!--Long live our hero, brave General Blucher!"
"A flourish!" shouted other voices to the musicians. The presiding
burgomaster nodded smilingly, and waved his white handkerchief. The
musicians made a loud flourish resound, and more deafening and
jubilant became the shouts of "Long live Blucher!--Long live our
hero!" Blucher bowed, confused and almost ashamed, and with so
charming an expression of surprise and joy that this called forth a
new outburst of tumultuous applause and enthusiasm.
The two sovereigns stood in the open door of the audience-room, and
witnessed this strange and unexpected scene, Alexander smiling and
apparently well pleased, Frederick William grave and with a slight
shadow on his brow.
"Ah, sir," said Alexander, in a low and quick voice, "it seems to me
the guests intend to make a little demonstration in honor of your
general, and to give us a gentle hint whom they would like to have
appointed general-in-chief of the Silesian army."
"Indeed, it seems so," said Frederick William, morosely, "but I do
not like such demonstrations, and they have no effect upon myself."
"But let us now greet the hero," exclaimed Alexander, smiling;
"people ought to see that we share the general sympathy." He quickly
stepped into the ballroom; the king followed him slowly and
"Welcome, my dear General Blucher," said Alexander, offering his
hand to the general, while the king saluted him merely with a nod.
The hum and noise which hitherto filled the hall like the roar of
the sea, immediately died away. Silence ensued; everyone stood still
as if riveted to his place; all eyes were turned in eager suspense
and with breathless curiosity toward the group that stood in the
middle of the hall; all tried to catch a word, a glance, in order to
draw therefrom their own conclusions. And, amid this general
silence, was heard the melodious voice of Alexander, who said again,
"Welcome, my dear General Blucher! I am really glad to greet you,
and to meet you again after so long an interval. I did not know,
indeed, that you were here in Breslau; otherwise I would have called
"That would have been very gracious, and in accordance with the
character of your majesty," said Blucher, loudly and firmly. "For
your majesty is known never to forget those who are worthy of being
remembered. All patriots have learned, with feelings of gratitude
and enthusiasm, that your majesty, directly after your arrival,
called upon that noble and intrepid German, Minister von Stein, who
was living solitary, sick, and deserted, in his garret, and who, up
to that time only a few faithful friends and a few cowardly enemies
had remembered." [Footnote: Minister von Stein had arrived sick at
Breslau, and lived, as stated above, in a small garret, which Major
von Lutzow had surrendered to him. Only his intimate friends visited
him there, and this was the reason why Count St. Marsan, whom Field-
Marshal Kalkreuth had informed of Stein's arrival at Breslau, did
not believe in the truth of this information. Baron von Stein,
however, received secretly many proofs of love and sympathy. The
king alone took no notice of him, and the members of the court, too,
were prohibited from entering into any relations with Stein. There
was a change for the better, however, as soon as the Emperor of
Russia arrived, and at once called upon Stein. Now all hastened to
visit him, and overwhelmed him with protestations of devotion, which
he rejected frequently with great asperity.]
These words, uttered in a loud and powerful voice, produced various
effects. The Emperor Alexander smiled and bowed his head quickly and
repeatedly; King Frederick William frowned slightly, and this
authorized the gentlemen of his suite, who stood behind him, Field-
Marshal Kalkreuth and General Knesebeck, to frown too, and cast
angry glances at Blucher. Madame von Blucher, who had modestly kept
somewhat in the background, turned very pale, and leaned tremblingly
upon the arm of General Scharnhorst, who smiled and whispered,
"Blucher is grand! He is a true fire-king among the will-o'-the-
wisps!" The two burgomasters and the host of courtiers smiled when
they glanced at the emperor, and looked grave and gloomy when they
turned their eyes to the clouded brow of the king. Blucher, however,
did not seem to notice the impression produced by his words, and
looked around as composedly as if he had made a mere courtier's
reply to the emperor's gracious salutation.
"I am happy to be one of Stein's friends," said Alexander, "but I do
not think it requires particular courage to profess friendship for a
magnanimous man whom all Germany reveres and admires."
"No, your majesty," said Blucher, calmly, "only a short time ago it
required a great deal of courage for a German to profess friendship
for Minister von Stein, for the Emperor Napoleon hates and fears
him, and for this reason three-fourths of the Germans hate and fear
him from humble respect for the Emperor of the French.--Is it not
so?" added Blucher, suddenly turning to Field-Marshal Kalkreuth, who
stood close behind the king. "is it not as I say? Do you not admit
that I am right, Field-Marshal Kalkreuth?"
This question, which was addressed to a by-stander, with utter
disregard of etiquette, caused the blood of the courtiers to freeze,
and made Field-Marshal Kalkreuth turn purple with anger. The Emperor
Alexander, however, burst into loud laughter, and, turning to the
king, he whispered to him in a hurried, low voice, "You are right,
sire, Blucher is a mad-cap, a genuine hussar, always ready to
charge!" The king nodded, and as Alexander laughed, he forced
himself also to smile a little. Field-Marshal Kalkreuth responded to
Blucher's question only by a quick, angry glance and a gentle bow.
"Well," said Alexander, turning again to Blucher, "I am satisfied,
however, that you did not belong to the three-fourths of the Germans
that hated and loved according to the wishes of the Emperor
"No, your majesty," exclaimed Blucher, "I have always belonged to
his most consistent and implacable enemies, though I really owe him
a great deal--nay, almost my life."
"How your life?" asked Alexander, in amazement. "Did the emperor
ever save you from peril?"
"Yes, your majesty," said Blucher, casting a quick and fiery glance
around the large circle of his audience, "the Emperor Napoleon did
save me from a danger menacing my life. For, ever since the
disastrous days of Tilsit, I was near dying of grief at the
misfortunes of Prussia; and when our noble and august Queen Louisa
died--our queen, who was so true and patriotic a German lady, and
whose heart had been broken by the calamities that had befallen
Prussia--I really thought a dagger had pierced my heart, and I would
have to bleed to death. But then I comforted myself by remembering
that Napoleon still lived, and that I ought to live, too, in order
to see the day when the tyrant would be brought to judgment, and I
felt strengthened by the conviction that God had destined me to be
the instrument by whom He wanted to destroy Napoleon, and that I was
intended to assist in delivering Germany and avenging Queen Louisa;
and this thought, sire, kept me alive, invigorating and
strengthening me; it rendered me again so young and ardent that I am
yearning for the fray like a war-horse that has heard the bugle-
A murmur of applause was heard, and only the feeling of awe inspired
by the presence of the two sovereigns seemed to restrain a
tumultuous outburst of general sympathy. Every one looked with proud
and joyful glances now at the aged general, whose noble face was
full of courage and determination, and again at the Emperor
Alexander, who seemed to contemplate the intrepid soldier with a
sort of amazement. A brief pause ensued, when the king approached
Madame von Blucher, standing by the side of Scharnhorst. "Good-
evening, madame," said the king, in a loud and somewhat harsh voice;
"please tell me how old General Blucher is."
"Your majesty," said Madame von Blucher, making a profound
obeisance, "according to his heart and strength, he is a youth;
according to his certificate of birth, he is seventy-one years old."
"So old!" said the king; "Blucher so aged a man! But, it is true,
his tongue is that of a stripling."
"Your majesty," said Blucher, quickly turning, "may it please the
good God and my king to give me an opportunity to refute my
certificate of birth, and to prove that I am a vigorous, courageous
lad, who knows how to use his sword as well as his tongue!"
"It is not sufficient, however, to know how to use the sword and the
tongue, but one must know, too, how to restrain both," said the
king, quickly turning and beckoning Field-Marshal Kalkreuth to his
side, with whom he commenced chatting.
The Emperor Alexander laid his hand hastily on Blucher's shoulder,
as if to soften and restrain the impending outburst of the general's
anger, and, looking with a kind smile into his flushed face, he
said: "restraint is not what suits you? Your motto is, 'Always
forward!' And you believe it is time that all Germany, myself, and
my army, should adopt this motto? Well, perhaps you are right, my
dear general. At all events, it will be seen soon who are right,
those who wish to procrastinate, or those who are in favor of
immediate and decisive action."
He nodded pleasantly to Blucher, and then called General Scharnhorst
to his side, turning, like the king, back to the audience-room. The
guests who had crowded in breathless silence into the middle of the
hall, dispersed again and returned to the adjoining rooms. Blucher
escorted his wife to the gallery occupied by ladies, and then
followed the burgomasters, who had solicited the honor of conducting
him to the supper-room.
Frederick William's brow was gloomy and clouded, and he was even
graver and more reticent than usual. He retired into the background
of the room, addressing only now and then a few quick words to
Field-Marshal Kalkreuth, who stood by his side. Alexander's
countenance was serene and pleasant, and a smile played round his
lips while he conversed eagerly with General Scharnhorst.
"You say, then, that Stein is of the same opinion?" asked Alexander,
thoughtfully. "He thinks, too, that General Blucher should be
"Yes, sire," said Scharnhorst, "this is the opinion of Minister von
Stein, and, I may add, the opinion of every Prussian who has the
happiness and greatness of the fatherland at heart. Sire, those who
are in favor of a timid and vacillating policy, who would like to
negotiate and compromise, who still believe in the possibility of a
reconciliation with France, who still think that the pen should
smoothen the rugged path before us, or unravel the knot of our
difficulties--those cowardly, grovelling hearts are the real enemies
of our cause, and more dangerous than Napoleon with all his armies.
For they are weighing down our courage, paralyzing our arms, and
stifling our enthusiasm. But for them the king, who, in his modesty,
is utterly unaware how fiery a soul, how great a heart he is
possessed of, would have long since concluded an alliance with your
majesty. But the king is unfortunately so modest that he distrusts
himself, and subordinates his own opinion to that of his old and, as
he believes, well-tried and faithful advisers. Now, these advisers
are to blame for all the misfortunes of Prussia; they inveigled us
into the alliance with France; they caused us to adhere to it, and
would even now like to force us back into it. They would stifle the
fire of patriotism because they are afraid lest it annihilate them
and destroy their unworthy efforts. For this reason Blucher, with
his heroic soul, is as much an eyesore to them as Stein, with his
plans of liberation and his energetic action for constitutional
reform. One wishes to create a new Prussia, the other a new state,
and both these ideas are utterly distasteful to some, for they cling
to the rotten old system, and new things fill them with terror."
Alexander listened to the words of Scharnhorst with the liveliest
attention, and looked down musingly.
"Listen, general!" he said, in a low and hurried voice, glancing
around the room as if to convince himself that no one could overhear
his words, "reply honestly and sincerely to the following question:
Is the King of Prussia sufficiently strong to cope with France for
any length of time?"
"No," said Scharnhorst, firmly. "The army the king could place in
the field would not be able to achieve a single victory over
Napoleon. But the Prussian nation is strong, and arming itself for a
struggle in which it will triumph, because no army can resist the
will of a united people, and because God is an ally of the nations
fighting for their liberty and their princes; but he who is
audacious enough to endeavor to stifle the flame of this national
enthusiasm, instead of bearing it aloft like an oriflamme in the van
of the great army of liberation, would render himself guilty of a
fearful sin. Prussia will conquer with her whole people, but she
will succumb if she relies only on her army."
"It is true," said Alexander, thoughtfully, "the Prussian nation has
manifested of late a wonderful enthusiasm, and has risen as one man.
It has risen for its king and its honor, and--do you not believe
that it will fight equally well for both, whether Tanentzien,
Kalkreuth, or Blucher, be its chieftain?"
"No, sire," said Scharnhorst, quickly; "I know that it will not. The
people, with their quick and unerring instinct, know those very well
in whom they may confide, and I request your majesty to take
graciously into consideration that it is this time the people that
must render Prussia victorious. It is true, the regiments of
volunteers that have already been organized would not disband, even
though Kalkreuth or Tanentzien should be appointed general-in-chief
of the Prussian or Silesian army, but the regiments that have not
yet been organized and equipped will hesitate and retire, unless
they know that a general will command them who has sworn unending
hatred to the Emperor Napoleon, and who will die a thousand times on
the battle-field rather than conclude peace and a new alliance with
him. Now, such a general is Blucher, the youth of seventy, a modern
knight 'without fear and without reproach.' If he stands at the head
of our army, the Prussian people will rally exultingly round the
standards, and the diminished regiments be replaced by new ones that
will rush into the field, because they know that there is at their
head a hero in whose breast there is room for only two sentiments--
love of country and hatred of the French; and who serves, without
fear, his God, his king, and his fatherland, impelled by this very
hatred and love, without any secondary motives--nay, perhaps, even
without personal ambition."
"If Blucher is really such a hero as you depict him," cried
Alexander, "it would be a crime not to place him at the head of the
Silesian army. Had you told the king all you have told me, he would
certainly not have hesitated a moment as to the general who should
be appointed commander-in-chief."
"Sire, I did tell him all that my heart and my head prompted me, and
to-day at noon I was still convinced that the king would appoint
General Blucher as soon as he should have satisfied himself that he
thereby would not act contrary to the will and wishes of your
majesty. But the little scene at the hall a few minutes ago has
unfortunately shaken my conviction, for the king seemed offended at
the rough and somewhat impetuous bearing of the hussar general."
"And this very bearing of the hussar general, as you call Blucher,
has impressed me very favorably, for he who relies so firmly on his
own strength must feel sure of victory. I like to see, towering
above the crowd of the fawning courtiers surrounding us, men who do
not bend their backs, nor sink into the dust, before our so-called
'divine rights,' but who stand erect, and fear no one, because they
are true to themselves."
"If that is the opinion of your majesty, then I am at liberty to
confess that I share it," said a voice behind him; and when the
emperor turned, he met the smiling gaze of the king, who had
approached during the conversation with Scharnhorst, and, as he did
not wish to interrupt it, listened to its conclusion without being
noticed by the two speakers.
"What!" asked Alexander, offering his hand to the king. "Your
majesty, then, is of my opinion--you like, too, the men who
sometimes allow us to see their brow instead of their reverentially-
bent back, and who tell us the truth instead of those eternal,
"Certainly, sire," said the king, gently bowing his head. "It is
true, the truth is sometimes a somewhat bitter medicine, but it
restores our health, while sweet flatteries spoil our taste and ruin
"And we must really have a healthy stomach to digest the hard fare
of these times!" exclaimed Alexander, smiling. "Scharnhorst thinks
that Blucher would be a good physician for our stomachs. That is
your opinion, general, is it not?"
"Sire, he is at least a physician who will not resort to
palliatives," said Scharnhorst, "but will immediately try to
eradicate the evil by a thorough operation."
"But I have been told that a great many patients have died in
consequence of operations, when they might have lived a long time if
they had borne their ills with patience and resignation," said the
king, growing again gloomy and thoughtful.
The emperor laid his hand on the shoulder of his royal friend. "But
who would prefer a life on the sick-bed to the quick and glorious
death of a hero on the field of honor?" he said, feelingly. "Not
you, my august friend, I know; and even better than to me it is
known to the angel who is hovering over you, and whose earthly eyes
were closed in grief. But," Alexander interrupted himself, "these
are thoughts that are unsuitable for a festival, and I beg your
majesty's pardon for having ventured to indulge in them."
"Still, they are the thoughts that always accompany and never leave
me, sire," said the king. "True, I have overcome my grief, but I
will never learn to forget. At the present time I am thinking of my
Louisa with redoubled longing. How her heart would have rejoiced
over the renewal of an alliance which she so fervently desired, and
how the noble spirit of the nation would have delighted and inspired
"The noble queen, I believe, was also a warm friend of General
Blucher, was she not?" asked the emperor, after a pause. "I believe
she belonged to those who expected a great deal from him, and
thought him a hero and a powerful enemy of Napoleon? Is it not so,
"Yes," said the king, thoughtfully, "the queen had a great regard
for Blucher, and considered him a brave and faithful patriot."
"And what did she think of Field-Marshal Kalkreuth?" asked
Alexander, with seeming carelessness. "Did he belong to those, too,
in whom the queen confided, and from whom she expected the salvation
of the fatherland?"
The king quickly looked up and met for a moment the searching gaze
which the emperor fixed on him. Frederick William smiled, and
inclined his head, as if he well understood the emperor's question.
"No," he said, "Queen Louisa rarely approved of the views of the
field-marshal, and although she felt high esteem for the general who
had already shown himself a brave man under the great Frederick, she
did not agree with the predilection he manifested for the Emperor
Napoleon and his invincible armies."
"A predilection," exclaimed Alexander, smiling, "which I believe the
field-marshal has not yet got rid of, notwithstanding the experience
which Napoleon gained on the battle-fields of Russia."
"On the same battle-fields on which your majesty gathered new
laurels," said the king, bowing slightly.
"And now there will spring up real laurel-woods for your majesty
here in Germany!" exclaimed the emperor. "The only question for us
now is, to find the right sort of gardener who knows how to
cultivate them. But, I repeat, our thoughts are not suitable to this
festival. Come, sire, permit me to offer you my arm as your
cavalier, and to conduct you to the buffet, for how exalted soever
our position may be, we must not forget that we are men, and that
our stomachs sometimes need food."
He offered his arm to the king, and conducted him to the small
supper-hall adjoining the audience-room. The gentlemen who were
present followed them, and the chamberlains hurried to the sideboard
to have supper served up to the two sovereigns.
Alexander took a seat by the king's side at the small table, loaded
with a heavy gold service, set for them alone near the door, which
was covered with a heavy portiere, and led into the large supper-
hall. The emperor and the king had just put upon their plates some
of the appetizing pate de foie gras which the master of ceremonies
himself had served up, and were proceeding like other mortals to
consume them with great relish. The cavaliers, improving the
opportune moment of silence, stood about the room and partook of the
viands taken from the sideboard. Suddenly this silence was
interrupted by a voice which was not uttered in the room itself, but
swept through it like the blast of a trumpet: "If this hesitation
and vacillation continue, all is lost; and it would then be better
for us to throw ourselves immediately at the feet of Bonaparte, and
crave quarter, than unnecessarily spill the precious blood of the
people, and at last submit. He who does not advance goes backward
without noticing it, and he who is not courageous enough to attack,
is vanquished even before his adversary has forced him to battle."
"Why," exclaimed Alexander, smiling, "these are sentences that
remind me of General Blucher."
"Your majesty is right, it is his voice," said the king; "he will
give vent to his indignation, and, perhaps, at our expense. Let us
not listen to him."
"On the contrary, I beg your majesty's kind permission to listen,"
said Alexander, pleasantly. "There is in the words of the general
something that is as refreshing as a pure wind dispelling unhealthy
vapors. Ah, hear him, sire; his tones are roaring like a hurricane."
In fact, the voice in the adjoining room had grown more violent, and
the Emperor Alexander was seated in such a manner that he could
distinctly hear every word uttered:
"What! you really believe it to be possible that they will appoint
Field-Marshal Kalkreuth general-in-chief, and intrust our young and
splendid army to him? Great Heaven! do they not know, then, that
Kalkreuth, however excellent a man and brave a soldier he may be, is
not fit to confront Napoleon? Is it not a matter of notoriety that
the field-marshal loves and admires Bonaparte, and that he considers
a rupture with France a great calamity for Prussia? How could he
ever win a battle who could never look straight forward at the
battle-field, but would squint sideways to see what faces Napoleon
would make, and whether he would not frown at the audacity of the
Prussians, who dare try to defeat the great Napoleon? We need a man
with a direct look--one who fixes both his eyes on the object. We do
not want any schielwippen! They may all go to the mischief, for one
never knows what they are about! I repeat, we need a man with a
"What is that? schielwippen?" inquired the emperor, smiling. "I
thought I had learned the German language pretty thoroughly from my
mother and my wife, both of whom have the honor of being natives of
Germany, but I have never heard this word from them. Pray, sire,
tell me what it means."
"I must confess that I do not understand it either," said the king,
shrugging his shoulders.
"General Scharnhorst!" cried the emperor. "Pray can you tell us what
"Sire," said Scharnhorst, laughing, "it is a slang term for a man
who squints. General Blucher likes to use the language of the
"Well, the Prussian people have recently used such grand and
magnificent language," said Alexander, "that we may say with heart-
felt conviction, 'Vox populi vox Dei!' and that it reflects great
credit on Blucher, if it is true that he speaks like the people.
But, hush! what does he say now?"
"The cowards have brought all our misfortunes upon us!" thundered
Blucher's powerful voice. "The hesitating men who always wish to
patch up and stop the holes, instead of tearing down the old ruin
and building a new house, are our curse, and have always involved
Prussia in untold calamities. When I think of them I would like to
have them here, to treat them as Jahn treated the other day one of
the Turners at Berlin. Do you know the story?"
"No," shouted several voices, "we unfortunately do not."
"Well, I will tell it to you. Jahn went with his pupils down the
Linden to the Brandenburg gate to perform the usual gymnastic
exercises on the drill-grounds outside the city. On the way he
happened to cast his eyes on the gate, where the Victoria formerly
stood, and which the French stole and carried off to Paris. Jahn,
like every honest man who looks at the gate, felt his heart swell
with anger. He turned to the boy who was marching by his side and
asked him, 'What stood formerly over the pillars of the gate'?'--
'The Victoria,' said the boy.--'Where is it now?' inquired Jahn.--
'It is in Paris, where the French carried it.' Jahn asked again,
'What do you think when looking up to the vacant place on the top of
the gate?'--'Well,' said the boy, with great composure, 'what should
I think? I think it is a pity that the Victoria is no longer there.'
And when he said so, Jahn lifted up his hand and slapped the boy's
face. 'You should think that we will fetch back the Victoria, you
monkey!' he shouted. That is the whole story, but I remember it
whenever I see these dear tame men who merely say, 'It is a pity
that we have been so unfortunate!' and whose hearts feel only a mild
regret instead of the most ardent revenge. And then my hand itches,
and I would like to lift it up, like Jahn, and slap their faces."
"Your Blucher is a splendid hussar," said Alexander, looking at the
king. "I believe it is dangerous to stand before him when his hand
"Yes, his hand has been itching from the days of Jena," exclaimed
the king, smiling. "He has been anxious to fight ever since. For
this reason I gave him the estate of Kunzendorf, and sent him
thither. I thought he would there quietly cure himself; but it seems
it was in vain; my expectations have been disappointed. I believe
his hand is incurable."
"Your majesty, therefore, had better yield to him, and allow him to
fight," said Alexander, almost entreatingly. "The opportunity is
excellent at the present time. If you place him at the head of the
Silesian army, he will no longer slap the faces of his friends and
neighbors on the right and left, but will rush forward and stretch
out his itching hand to deal the French terrible blows."
"I am only afraid he would be too rash in his wild hussar spirit,"
said the king, "and spoil every thing by trying to tear down all
"A man should be placed by his side who knows how to check his
boldness," exclaimed Alexander--"a man who does not stifle Blucher's
ardor, but gives it the true direction."
"But where shall we find such a one?"
"I believe your majesty may find him close by," said Alexander,
pointing to Scharnhorst, who was leaning against the portiere.
"Ah, sire," cried the king, almost merrily, "I believe yon are a
magician, and understand my most secret thoughts. Scharnhorst has a
great mind, and I owe him much. If he would take upon himself that
difficult and ungrateful part by the side of Blucher, I believe the
general's impetuosity would be less dangerous."
"Your majesty, please ask him whether he will or not," said
The king called Scharnhorst to his side. "You have influence over
General Blucher, have you not?" he asked, hastily.
"I may say, at least, your majesty, that General Blucher is
convinced of my love and devotion, and that he confides a little in
"Could you make up your mind to occupy a secondary position by his
side, and, if I should appoint Blucher general-in-chief of the
Silesian army, become his chief of staff?"
"Your majesty," exclaimed Scharnhorst, "I would deem it a great
honor to serve under the heroic old man, and I am certain that with
him I would enter upon a glorious career, particularly if your
majesty should grant me a request."
"What is it? Speak!"
"If your majesty should condescend to place General Gneisenau, who
will arrive to-morrow, as quartermaster-general."
The king nodded. "You have selected a noble companion," he said,
"It will be a splendid trefoil, it seems to me," cried the emperor.
"Blucher, Scharnhorst, and Gneisenau! They are three well-sounding
names! But listen, sire, Blucher is still thundering. There is a way
to calm this tempest."
"What is it?" asked the king, smiling.
"Your majesty ought to be so gracious as to send for General
Blucher, and tell him that you wish to confer upon him the command-
in-chief of the Silesian army."
"You advise me to do so, sire?" inquired the king. "Your majesty, in
counselling this, gives up no wish?"
"Yes, I do," said Alexander, smiling. "I should wish to see General
Tanentzien appointed commander-in-chief, just as your majesty
probably would prefer to bestow this position on Field-Marshal
Kalkreuth. Let us both, therefore, sacrifice our wishes to the great
object for which I now believe Blucher to be the proper instrument."
"So let it be, your majesty," exclaimed the king. "I will send for
Blucher." he beckoned to Scharnhorst to approach again. "Pray go and
fetch your friend, General Blucher," said the king, rising, like the
emperor, from the table.
"And I beg leave, while the general goes into the hall, to cast a
glance into the next room, to see what Blucher is doing," said the
emperor. "Now draw the portiere back, General Scharnhorst, and stand
there. In this way I am able to survey the whole hall."
Scharnhorst, in accordance with the emperor's order, opened the
portiere and stood in it; by his side, shaded by the curtain, stood
the emperor and the king. Both gazed into the supper-hall, which
presented a highly animated spectacle. At all the small tables sat
the guests in attractive groups, the ladies in their rich toilets,
the gentlemen in their brilliant uniforms. All were merry and
loquacious; the choice delicacies had put everyone in good spirits;
the fiery wine had loosened all tongues. Even the eyes of the ladies
were sparkling with a higher lustre, and a deeper crimson burned on
their cheeks. But all those merry faces turned frequently toward the
small table on one side of the hall near the portiere. There sat
General Blucher with his wife; several gentlemen were seated near
him. On the table stood one of the crystal bowls that had previously
adorned the handsome sideboard, and from this bowl, filled with an
amber-colored liquid, arose a delightful perfume. Blucher seemed to
inhale the fragrance with pleasure, for an expression of infinite
comfort beamed from his features, and whenever he emptied his glass
he seized the silver ladle that lay in the bowl, and then drew his
white mustache with a smile of gratification through his fingers,
while his eyes surveyed the whole company with a flashing glance.
Then a shadow passed across his brow. "We are highly elated to-day,
because we are at length to take up arms against our foe," he said;
"we are overjoyed because we are to take our revenge. And suppose
every thing should again turn out wrong; suppose the cowards and the
schielwippen should, after all, remain at the helm? Great Heaven!
the very idea maddens me! For I know them! I know that they will
ruin every thing. At the decisive moment they are vacillating, and,
in order to dishearten others, too, they exaggerate the strength of
the enemy a hundred-fold, and belittle our own resources in the same
proportion. Would that Heaven were to decree, 'Blucher shall command
the Prussians!' Good Lord, I pledge Thee my head that I would expel
Bonaparte with all his French from Germany, though I had but thirty
thousand soldiers behind me!" [Footnote: Blucher's words.--Vide
Varnhagen, "Life of Blucher," p. 136.]
"Now call him in, general," whispered Alexander. Scharnhorst stepped
into the hall. The king and the emperor left the supper-hall and
returned into the audience-room.
A few minutes afterward Blucher entered, followed by Scharnhorst,
who remained at the door, while Blucher advanced boldly toward the
"Your majesty was so gracious as to send for me," he said, bowing to
"Yes," said the king, gravely. "I wish to ask you whether you belong
to the vacillating cowards, or whether you are a whole man?"
"And I," exclaimed Alexander, pathetically--"I wish to request you
to confess whether you are also a schielwippe?"
Blucher looked at the two sovereigns with a gloomy, inquiring
glance. But suddenly his face brightened, and a smile played round
his lips. "Ah," he cried, "I understand! Your majesties have
overheard my prattle, and have sent for me to order me to be silent.
But I cannot, your majesties; I cannot! I must give vent to my
wrath, my vexation, and grief! I must be allowed to scold, for if I
did not I would be obliged to weep, and it would be a disgrace for
Blucher to act like an old woman! Let me scold, then, your
majesties; it relieves my heart a little, and my auger teaches me to
forget my grief."
"You grieve, then, general?" inquired Frederick William, smiling.
"Yes. my lord and king. I do grieve intensely. I should like to lay
my complaint before your majesty, and I will do so, too. I--"
"Hush!" interposed the king,--"hush, my firebrand of seventy-one
years! First reply to this question: would you like to be appointed
general-in-chief of the Silesian army?"
"Would I like to be appointed general-in-chief?" cried Blucher, his
eyes sparkling with joy. "Your majesty, that is just as though you
ask me whether I like to live any longer. For I tell your majesty I
will die at once rather than let any one else have that position."
"Well, then," said the king, in a grave and dignified tone, "I
appoint you general-in-chief of the Silesian army. Do you accept the
Blucher uttered a cry, and his face brightened as if lit up by a
sunbeam. "I accept it," he exclaimed, "and here I swear to your
majesty that I shall not lay down my command before Prussia is again
what she was prior to the battle of Jena, and that I shall not
sheathe my sword before we have driven Napoleon beyond the Rhine,
and have made him so humble that he will never again dare to cross
it. I swear to your majesty, upon my honor, that I will hurl
Bonaparte from his throne--that I will not rest before the crown has
fallen from his head! God has spared me that I may chastise
Napoleon; He has told me every night in my dreams, 'Do not despond,
do not lose heart! Keep up thy courage and thy confidence, for I
shall soon need thee! Thou shalt soon cut Napoleon down from his
power, and throw him into the dust whence he sprang.' And I have
answered, 'I am on hand, and wait only for the struggle to begin.'
Now I say to your majesty what I then said, 'I am on hand, and the
struggle is to begin!' I have sworn every day to chastise Bonaparte,
and while I live I shall thank your majesty for giving me an
opportunity. I am, then, general-in-chief of the Silesian army?"
"Yes, I appoint you, and his majesty the emperor approves my
selection," said the king. "All necessary directions, instructions,
and orders, you will receive to-morrow in writing. You will
immediately enter upon your office, and place yourself at the head
of the troops. Do you wish to prefer requests and impose
"Yes, your majesty, I must impose two conditions. In the first
place, General Scharnhorst must be my chief of staff, for Blucher is
only half a man when Scharnhorst is not with him. I have the arm, he
has the head; therefore we must be together."
"Your request is granted, and Scharnhorst has already accepted the
position," said the king, smiling.
"Secondly, I must impose the condition that I be allowed to leave
Breslau to-morrow with my Prussians, and advance toward Saxony."
"What! You intend to start at once?" cried Alexander and Frederick
William, in amazement.
"Yes, at once," said Blucher, with a joyful air. "The years of
waiting are past, and now comes the day of vengeance. Like a
thunderstorm we must burst upon the French. Before they expect us we
must expel what troops of theirs remain in Germany, dissolve the
Confederation of the Rhine, and by our bold exploits stir up all
Germany that she may rally round our flag, and form an enormous army
before Napoleon has concentrated his newly-organized forces. That is
our task, and, if it pleases God, we will fulfil it."
AFTER THE BATTLE OF BAUTZEN.
For two days the battle had been raging, and even now, in the
afternoon of the 22d of May, the struggle was undecided. Blucher,
who, with his Prussians, occupied the heights of Kreckwitz, near
Bautzen, still hoped to achieve a victory. For two days the
Prussians and Russians fought like lions along the extended line of
battle; they engaged the hostile legions with undaunted courage and
joyful enthusiasm, regardless of the scorching heat, hunger, thirst,
and exhaustion. During these days Blucher was constantly in the
midst of his troops. Where the shower of bullets was thickest, where
the danger was most imminent, his voice was heard inciting the
soldiers; where the enemy approached with his most formidable
columns, Blucher stood with his faithful companion Gneisenau at the
head of his Prussians, brandishing his sword, advancing with
exulting cheers upon the enemy, and causing him to retreat.
The heights of Kreckwitz had to be held till General Barclay de
Tolly, with his Russians, would arrive, and Generals York and
Kleist, with their Prussians, to cover Blucher's left flank, which
was threatened by Marshal Ney. The booming of cannon was incessant.
The Russians stood like a wall, and when the front ranks were swept
down, others took their places; the living stepped over the dying,
undaunted, and remembering only one thing--that they had to take
revenge for the lost battle of Lutzen. [Footnote: Fought May 2,
1813. The French call this battle that of Lutzen; the Germans
generally that of Gross-Gorschen. Both sides claimed a victory. But
the latest German historians, especially Beitzke, admit that the
Germans were defeated.]
"Boys," shouted Blucher to his soldiers, just as the balls of the
enemy struck down whole ranks, "boys, remember that we have resolved
to sabre the French. They have exhausted the soil of Germany, we
must fertilize it with French corpses. Remember Gross-Gorschen,
where they wounded our General Scharnhorst. We must chastise them
for that, and capture a few French generals. [Footnote: General
Scharnhorst was wounded at the battle of Gross-Gorschen by Blucher's
side. He believed his wound was not dangerous, but he left the
headquarters to be cured. He went at first to Altenburg, and then to
Prague, to attend the peace congress. His wound reopened, and he
died at Prague on the 20th of June, 1813.] We must get at least four
of their marshals in return for General Scharnhorst, for the fellows
are light, and four of them do not weigh as much as one Scharnhorst.
Now, tell me, shall we get those four French marshals?"
"Yes, Father Blucher, yes!" shouted the Prussians, jubilantly. "Long
live Father Blucher!"
"Only a little longer, and the day is ours!" cried Gneisenau, in a
ringing voice. "The legions of Marshal Ney are charging again, but
General Barclay, with his Russians, has occupied the Windmill-knoll,
near Gleime, and will repulse him as we shall Napoleon's columns.
The heights of Kreckwitz are the Thermopylae of the Prussians, and
we will fall to a man rather than surrender!"
"Yes, that we will do!" cried the officers, enthusiastically, and
the soldiers echoed their shouts.
At this moment a terrific cannonade resounded on the right wing of
the Prussian troops. "There are the French!" exclaimed Blucher.
"Boys, now bring in those marshals!" The cannon roared, the muskets
rattled, and, as though heaven desired to participate in this
struggle of the nations, the thunder rolled, and flashes of
lightning darted into the clouds of battle-smoke.
But who was galloping up suddenly on a charger covered with foam,
his hair fluttering in the breeze, and his face pale and terrified?
It was a Prussian colonel, and still he does not join in the
exultation of his countrymen. He approached Generals Blucher and
"Halloo! Lieutenant-Colonel von Muffling," shouted Blucher, "are you
back? Do you bring us greetings from Barclay de Tolly? Has he
finished the French? Well, we are just about to recommence our work
here--the last work for to-day."
"General," cried Muffling, anxiously, "the French will soon have
finished Barclay de Tolly, and defeated us! For he is unable to hold
out. He has only fifty thousand men, and Ney is attacking him with a
much larger force. Barclay sends me for reenforcements, and if we do
not strengthen his line, he cannot maintain himself on the Windmill-
knoll. In a quarter of an hour it will be in Ney's hands."
"No; in a quarter of an hour Ney will be in our hands," shouted
Blucher, confidently. "Ney is a marshal, and we must have him!
Boys," he cried, drawing himself up in his stirrups, and looking
back toward his troops--"boys, we must have Marshal Ney, must we
"Yes, Father Blucher, we must have Marshal Ney!"
Heaven responded with a loud clap of thunder, the earth was shaken
by the booming of the cannon, the air was rent by the cheers of the
living, and the groans and imprecations of the wounded and dying.
Blucher still stood with his Prussians on the heights of Krockwitz,
his face radiant with enthusiasm, his eye flashing with courage; but
a warning adviser stood by his side.
"General," whispered Muffling, "we are lost if we remain here
longer. We must retreat."
"Retreat!" cried Blucher, in an angry voice, and a clap of thunder
burst at that moment.
Muffling pointed silently down into the plain, and over to the
Windmill-knoll. "Look yonder! Napoleon is advancing directly upon
our front, the Windmill-knoll is evacuated, Barclay has gone, and
the Russians are routed!"
"But we still stand," cried Blucher, triumphantly, "and we shall
stand in spite of Napoleon and the devil! And, then, we are not
without support. The Russian artillery attached to our corps is
thundering against the enemy, and York and Kleist are covering our
"But, general, listen! The Russian artillery is firing less rapidly;
General Kleist is no longer able to cover our left wing, for the
sovereigns have sent him to Bairuth to cover Barclay's flank; and as
for York, he was unable to prevent the enemy from placing a battery
near Basantwitz. I saw it when I rode hither. We are, therefore, in
a triple cross-fire." And, as though the enemy intended to confirm
these warning words, the cannon flashed from three sides, and hurled
their balls into the ranks of the Prussians.
The flush of hoped-for victory paled in Blucher's face; Gneisenau
grew grave and gloomy. The staff came nearer to their chieftain, and
tried to read his thoughts in his eyes. The jubilant shouts of the
soldiers were hushed; heaven was still thundering, and in the
distance burning villages, like gigantic torches, lit up the
landscape, and shed a blood-red lustre over the gray sky. Blucher
looked around in silence; his lip quivered, his eyebrows contracted,
and large drops of cold perspiration stood on his forehead.
Gneisenau was by his side, gloomy and taciturn, like his chieftain.
Behind them halted the staff-officers, mournful as their leaders,
for now every one recognized the danger, and knew that, if they
remained at the "Thermopylae of Prussia," they would have to defend
themselves to the last man, or lay down their arms, because, as soon
as the enemy closed up the fourth side, escape would be impossible.
[Footnote: Muffling, "Aus meinem Lebem," p. 42]
On the other side of Blucher halted Colonel Muffling, who had
brought back such calamitous tidings from his reconnoissance. He
pointed silently to the French columns of Marshal Ney, that just
commenced climbing the heights, and then pulled out his watch. "We
have fifteen minutes left," he said, in a loud, solemn voice,
"fifteen minutes to extricate ourselves from the noose. Afterward we
shall be hemmed in. If we do not improve the time the cowards will
surrender, and the brave die fighting to the last, but unfortunately
without promoting in the least the welfare of the fatherland."
[Footnote: Muffling's words--Ibid., p. 43.]
Blucher did not reply, gazing down with a sombre eye on the enemy,
coming up in increasing masses. The cannon of the French, firing
from three sides, spoke a disheartening language. The Russian
batteries had ceased firing, for their ammunition was exhausted.
"Gneisenau," asked Blucher at last, in a hollow voice, and sighing,
as though a stone weighed down his breast, "Gneisenau, what do you
"I must admit that Lieutenant-Colonel von Muffling is right," sighed
Gneisenau. "Under the present circumstances all further bloodshed
will be useless, and it is our bounden duty to preserve our men for
a better opportunity. We must hasten to retreat." [Footnote:
Gneisenau's words.--Ibid., p. 43.] A single savage imprecation burst
from Blucher's lips, but only the nearest bystanders heard it, for
it was drowned by the roar of artillery and the thunder of heaven.
With a quick jerk he drew his cap over his forehead, so that his
eyes were shaded--those eyes which had flashed so defiantly, but
which were now dim, who could say whether from the rain that was
pouring down, or the smoke of battle, or from despairing tears? He
slowly turned toward the gentlemen of his staff. "We must descend,
therefore, from the heights," he said, in a harsh voice. "Forward!
March down the turnpike toward Weissenberg. Make the enemy at least
pay dearly for compelling us to retreat. Let the cavalry advance,
covering our retreat, and let not a single man or standard fall into
the hands of the French! Come, gentlemen, listen to what I have
still to say to you."
The quarter of an hour allowed by Muffling had not yet elapsed when
the Prussians commenced slowly descending the heights of Kreckwitz,
and marching down the turnpike toward Weissenberg. Blucher had
ridden from the position at a brisk trot, with Gneisenau and the
officers of his staff, and galloped a short distance along the level
valley-road; then halting suddenly, and, turning his horse, he
looked up to the heights, from which the Prussians were descending
in perfect order, but in gloomy silence. "This is the second time we
have been obliged to retreat," said Blucher, mournfully, "the second
time that Bonaparte is luckier than we are; the blockheads will now
say again that Bonaparte is invincible, and that they are fools who
resist him, God being on his side, and fortune never forsaking him.
But I say it is false; the good God is not on his side, but the
devil is, and fortune is only lulling him to sleep, to plunge him
the surer and deeper into the abyss. But it is true, nevertheless,
that this is the second battle we have lost, and the second time
that we are obstructed in our advance. But I swear here--and may
Heaven record my oath!--that this shall be the last time that I fall
back; that I will specially pay Bonaparte for my grief and anxiety
for the past month, and that I will bring him as much trouble as one
man can to another. What a fearful account Bonaparte has to settle
with me! how much he has to pay me! But, no matter; my sword is
sharp, and will surely erase one item of his indebtedness after
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