The Life and Adventures of Baron Trenck - Volume 1
Baron Trenck

Part 1 out of 3

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There were two cousins Von der Trenck, who were barons descended
from an ancient house in East Prussia, and were adventurous
soldiers, to whom, as to the adventurous, there were adventures that
lost nothing in the telling, for they were told by the authors' most
admiring friends--themselves. Franz, the elder, was born in 1711,
the son of an Austrian general; and Frederick, whose adventures are
here told, was the son of a Prussian major-general. Franz, at the
age of seventeen, fought duels, and cut off the head of a man who
refused to lend him money. He stood six feet three inches in his
shoes, knocked down his commanding officer, was put under arrest,
offered to pay for his release by bringing in three Turks' heads
within an hour, was released on that condition, and actually brought
in four Turks' heads. When afterwards cashiered, he settled on his
estates in Croatia, and drilled a thousand of his tenantry to act as
"Pandours" against the banditti. In 1740, he served with his
Pandours under Maria Theresa, and behaved himself as one of the more
brutal sort of banditti. He offered to capture Frederick of
Prussia, and did capture his tent. Many more of his adventures are
vaingloriously recounted by himself in the Memoires du Baron Franz
de Trenck, published at Paris in 1787. This Trenck took poison when
imprisoned at Gratz, and died in October, 1747, at the age of

His cousin Frederick is the Trenck who here tells a story of himself
that abounds in lively illustration of the days of Frederick the
Great. He professes that Frederick the King owed him a grudge,
because Frederick the Trenck had, when eighteen years old,
fascinated the Princess Amalie at a ball. But as Frederick the
Greater was in correspondence with his cousin Franz at the time when
that redoubtable personage was planning the seizure of Frederick the
Great, there may have been better ground for the Trenck's arrest
than he allows us to imagine. Mr. Carlyle shows that Frederick von
der Trenck had been three months in prison, and was still in prison,
at the time of the battle of the Sohr, in which he professes to have
been engaged. Frederick von der Trenck, after his release from
imprisonment in 1763, married a burgomaster's daughter, and went
into business as a wine merchant. Then he became adventurous again.
His adventures, published in German in 1786-7, and in his own French
version in 1788, formed one of the most popular books of its time.
Seven plays were founded on them, and ladies in Paris wore their
bonnets a la Trenck. But the French finally guillotined the author,
when within a year of threescore and ten, on the 26th of July, 1794.
He had gone to Paris in 1792, and joined there in the strife of
parties. At the guillotine he struggled with the executioner.




I was born at Konigsberg in Prussia, February 16, 1726, of one of
the most ancient families of the country. My father, who was lord
of Great Scharlach, Schakulack, and Meichen, and major-general of
cavalry, died in 1740, after receiving eighteen wounds in the
Prussian service. My mother was daughter of the president of the
high court at Konigsberg. After my father's death she married Count
Lostange, lieutenant-colonel in the Kiow regiment of cuirassiers,
with whom she went and resided at Breslau. I had two brothers and a
sister; my youngest brother was taken by my mother into Silesia; the
other was a cornet in this last-named regiment of Kiow; and my
sister was married to the only son of the aged General Valdow.

My ancestors are famous in the Chronicles of the North, among the
ancient Teutonic knights, who conquered Courland, Prussia, and

By temperament I was choleric, and addicted to pleasure and
dissipation; my tutors found this last defect most difficult to
overcome; happily, they were aided by a love of knowledge inherent
in me, an emulative spirit, and a thirst for fame, which disposition
it was my father's care to cherish. A too great consciousness of
innate worth gave me a too great degree of pride, but the endeavours
of my instructor to inspire humility were not all lost; and habitual
reading, well-timed praise, and the pleasures flowing from science,
made the labours of study at length my recreation.

My memory became remarkable; I am well read in the Scriptures, the
classics, and ancient history; was acquainted with geography; could
draw; learnt fencing, riding, and other necessary exercises.

My religion was Lutheran; but morality was taught me by my father,
and by the worthy man to whose care he committed the forming of my
heart, whose memory I shall ever hold in veneration. While a boy, I
was enterprising in all the tricks of boys, and exercised my wit in
crafty excuses; the warmth of my passions gave a satiric, biting
cast to my writings, whence it has been imagined, by those who knew
but little of me, I was a dangerous man; though, I am conscious,
this was a false judgment.

A soldier himself, my father would have all his sons the same; thus,
when we quarrelled, we terminated our disputes with wooden sabres,
and, brandishing these, contested by blows for victory, while our
father sat laughing, pleased at our valour and address. This
practice, and the praises he bestowed, encouraged a disposition
which ought to have been counteracted.

Accustomed to obtain the prize, and be the hero of scholastic
contentions, I acquired the bad habit of disputation, and of
imagining myself a sage when little more than a boy. I became
stubborn in argument.; hasty to correct others, instead of patiently
attentive: and, by presumption, continually liable to incite
enmity. Gentle to my inferiors, but impatient of contradiction, and
proud of resisting power, I may hence date, the origin of all my

How might a man, imbued with the heroic principles of liberty, hope
for advancement and happiness, under the despotic and iron
Government of Frederic? I was taught neither to know nor to avoid,
but to despise the whip of slavery. Had I learnt hypocrisy, craft,
and meanness, I had long since become field-marshal, had been in
possession of my Hungarian estates, and had not passed the best
years of my life in the dungeons of Magdeburg. I was addicted to no
vice: I laboured in the cause of science, honour, and virtue; kept
no vicious company; was never in the whole of my life intoxicated;
was no gamester, no consumer of time in idleness nor brutal
pleasures; but devoted many hundred laborious nights to studies that
might make me useful to my country; yet was I punished with a
severity too cruel even for the most worthless, or most villanous.

I mean, in my narrative, to make candour and veracity my guides, and
not to conceal my failings; I wish my work may remain a moral lesson
to the world. Yet it is an innate satisfaction that I am conscious
of never having acted with dishonour, even to the last act of this
distressful tragedy.

I shall say little of the first years of my life, except that my
father took especial care of my education, and sent me, at the age
of thirteen, to the University of Konigsberg, where, under the
tuition of Kowalewsky, my progress was rapid. There were fourteen
other noblemen in the same house, and under the same master.

In the year following, 1740, I quarrelled with one young Wallenrodt,
a fellow-student, much stronger than myself, and who, despising my
weakness, thought proper to give me a blow. I demanded
satisfaction. He came not to the appointed place, but treated my
demand with contempt; and I, forgetting all further respect,
procured a second, and attacked him in open day. We fought, and I
had the fortune to wound him twice; the first time in the arm, the
second in the hand.

This affair incited inquiry:- Doctor Kowalewsky, our tutor, laid
complaints before the University, and I was condemned to three
hours' confinement; but my grandfather and guardian, President
Derschau, was so pleased with my courage, that he took me from this
house and placed me under Professor Christiani.

Here I first began to enjoy full liberty, and from this worthy man I
learnt all I know of experimental philosophy and science. He loved
me as his own son, and continued instructing me till midnight.
Under his auspices, in 1742, I maintained, with great success, two
public theses, although I was then but sixteen; an effort and an
honour till then unknown.

Three days after my last public exordium, a contemptible fellow
sought a quarrel with me, and obliged me to draw in my own defence,
whom, on this occasion, I wounded in the groin.

This success inflated my valour, and from that time I began to
assume the air and appearance of a Hector.

Scarcely had a fortnight elapsed before I had another with a
lieutenant of the garrison, whom I had insulted, who received two
wounds in the contest.

I ought to remark, that at this time, the University of Konigsberg
was still highly privileged. To send a challenge was held
honourable; and this was not only permitted, but would have been
difficult to prevent, considering the great number of proud, hot-
headed, and turbulent nobility from Livonia, Courland, Sweden,
Denmark, and Poland, who came thither to study, and of whom there
were more than five hundred. This brought the University into
disrepute, and endeavours have been made to remedy the abuse. Men
have acquired a greater extent of true knowledge, and have begun to
perceive that a University ought to be a place of instruction, and
not a field of battle; and that blood cannot be honourably shed,
except in defence of life or country.

In November, 1742, the King sent his adjutant-general, Baron Lottum,
who was related to my mother, to Konigsberg, with whom I dined at my
grandfather's. He conversed much with me, and, after putting
various questions, purposely, to discover what my talents and
inclinations were, he demanded, as if in joke, whether I had any
inclination to go with him to Berlin, and serve my country, as my
ancestors had ever done: adding that, in the army, I should find
much better opportunities of sending challenges than at the
University. Inflamed with the desire of distinguishing myself, I
listened with rapture to the proposition, and in a few days we
departed for Potzdam.

On the morrow after my arrival, I was presented to the King, as
indeed I had before been in the year 1740, with the character of
being, then, one of the most hopeful youths of the University. My
reception was most flattering; the justness of my replies to the
questions he asked, my height, figure, and confidence, pleased him;
and I soon obtained permission to enter as a cadet in his body
guards, with a promise of quick preferment.

The body guards formed, at this time, a model and school for the
Prussian cavalry; they consisted of one single squadron of men
selected from the whole army, and their uniform was the most
splendid in all Europe. Two thousand rix-dollars were necessary to
equip an officer: the cuirass was wholly plated with silver; and
the horse, furniture, and accoutrements alone cost four hundred rix-

This squadron only contained six officers and a hundred and forty-
four men; but there were always fifty or sixty supernumeraries, and
as many horses, for the King incorporated all the most handsome men
he found in the guards. The officers were the best taught of any
the army contained; the King himself was their tutor, and he
afterwards sent them to instruct the cavalry in the manoeuvres they
had learnt. Their rise was rapid if they behaved well; but they
were broken for the least fault, and punished by being sent to
garrison regiments. It was likewise necessary they should be
tolerably rich, as well as possess such talents as might be
successfully employed, both at court and in the army.

There are no soldiers in the world who undergo so much as this body
guard; and during the time I was in the service of Frederic, I often
had not eight hours' sleep in eight days. Exercise began at four in
the morning, and experiments were made of all the alterations the
King meant to introduce in his cavalry. Ditches of three, four,
five, six feet, and still wider, were leaped, till that someone
broke his neck; hedges, in like manner, were freed, and the horses
ran careers, meeting each other full speed in a kind of lists of
more than half a league in length. We had often, in these our
exercises, several men and horses killed or wounded.

It happened more frequently than otherwise that the same experiments
were repeated after dinner with fresh horses; and it was not
uncommon, at Potzdam, to hear the alarm sounded twice in a night.
The horses stood in the King's stables; and whoever had not dressed,
armed himself, saddled his horse, mounted, and appeared before the
palace in eight minutes, was put under arrest for fourteen days.

Scarcely were the eyes closed before the trumpet again sounded, to
accustom youth to vigilance. I lost, in one year, three horses,
which had either broken their legs, in leaping ditches, or died of

I cannot give a stronger picture of this service than by saying that
the body guard lost more men and horses in one year's peace than
they did, during the following year, in two battles.

We had, at this time, three stations; our service, in the winter,
was at Berlin, where we attended the opera, and all public
festivals: in the spring we were exercised at Charlottenberg; and
at Potzdam, or wherever the King went, during the summer. The six
officers of the guard dined with the King, and, on gala days, with
the Queen. It may be presumed there was not at that time on earth a
better school to form an officer and a man of the world than was the
court of Berlin.

I had scarcely been six weeks a cadet before the King took me aside,
one day, after the parade, and having examined me near half an hour,
on various subjects, commanded me to come and speak to him on the

His intention was to find whether the accounts that had been given
him of my memory had not been exaggerated; and that he might be
convinced, he first gave me the names of fifty soldiers to learn by
rote, which I did in five minutes. He next repeated the subjects of
two letters, which I immediately composed in French and Latin; the
one I wrote, the other I dictated. He afterwards ordered me to
trace, with promptitude, a landscape from nature, which I executed
with equal success; and he then gave me a cornet's commission in his
body guards.

Each mark of bounty from the monarch increased an ardour already
great, inspired me with gratitude, and the first of my wishes was to
devote my whole life to the service of my King and country. He
spoke to me as a Sovereign should speak, like a father, like one who
knew well how to estimate the gifts bestowed on me by nature; and
perceiving, or rather feeling, how much he might expect from me,
became at once my instructor and my friend.

Thus did I remain a cadet only six weeks, and few Prussians can
vaunt, under the reign of Frederic, of equal good fortune.

The King not only presented me with a commission, but equipped me
splendidly for the service. Thus did I suddenly find myself a
courtier, and an officer in the finest, bravest, and best
disciplined corps in Europe. My good fortune seemed unlimited,
when, in the month of August, 1743, the King selected me to go and
instruct the Silesian cavalry in the new manoeuvres: an honour
never before granted to a youth of eighteen.

I have already said we were garrisoned at Berlin during winter,
where the officers' table was at court: and, as my reputation had
preceded me, no person whatever could be better received there, or
live more pleasantly.

Frederic commanded me to visit the literati, whom he had invited to
his court: Maupertuis, Jordan, La Mettrie, and Pollnitz, were all
my acquaintance. My days were employed in the duties of an officer,
and my nights in acquiring knowledge. Pollnitz was my guide, and
the friend of my heart. My happiness was well worthy of being
envied. In 1743, I was five feet eleven inches in height, and
Nature had endowed me with every requisite to please. I lived, as I
vainly imagined, without inciting enmity or malice, and my mind was
wholly occupied by the desire of earning well-founded fame.

I had hitherto remained ignorant of love, and had been terrified
from illicit commerce by beholding the dreadful objects of the
hospital at Potzdam. During the winter of 1743, the nuptials of his
Majesty's sister were celebrated, who was married to the King of
Sweden, where she is at present Queen Dowager, mother of the
reigning Gustavus. I, as officer of my corps, had the honour to
mount guard and escort her as far as Stettin. Here first did my
heart feel a passion of which, in the course of my history, I shall
have frequent occasion to speak. The object of my love was one whom
I can only remember at present with reverence; and, as I write not
romance, but facts, I shall here briefly say, ours were mutually the
first-fruits of affection, and that to this hour I regret no
misfortune, no misery, with which, from a stock so noble, my destiny
was overshadowed.

Amid the tumult inseparable to occasions like these, on which it was
my duty to maintain order, a thief had the address to steal my
watch, and cut away part of the gold fringe which hung from the
waistcoat of my uniform, and afterwards to escape unperceived. This
accident brought on me the raillery of my comrades; and the lady
alluded to thence took occasion to console me, by saying it should
be her care that I should be no loser. Her words were accompanied
by a look I could not misunderstand, and a few days after I thought
myself the happiest of mortals. The name, however, of this high-
born lady is a secret, which must descend with me to the grave; and,
though my silence concerning this incident heaves a void in my life,
and indeed throws obscurity over a part of it, which might else be
clear, I would much rather incur this reproach than become
ungrateful towards my best friend and benefactress. To her
conversation, to her prudence, to the power by which she fixed my
affections wholly on herself, am I indebted for the improvement and
polishing of my bodily and mental qualities. She never despised,
betrayed, or abandoned me, even in the deepest of my distress; and
my children alone, on my death-bed, shall be taught the name of her
to whom they owe the preservation of their father, and consequently
their own existence.

I lived at this time perfectly happy at Berlin, and highly esteemed.
The King took every opportunity to testify his approbation; my
mistress supplied me with more money than I could expend; and I was
presently the best equipped, and made the greatest figure, of any
officer in the whole corps. The style in which I lived was
remarked, for I had only received from my father's heritage the
estate of Great Scharlach; the rent of which was eight hundred
dollars a year, which was far from sufficient to supply my then
expenses. My amour, in the meantime, remained a secret from my best
and most intimate friends. Twice was my absence from Potzdam and
Charlottenberg discovered, and I was put under arrest; but the King
seemed satisfied with the excuse I made, under the pretext of having
been hunting, and smiled as he granted my pardon.

Never did the days of youth glide away with more apparent success
and pleasure than during these my first years at Berlin. This good
fortune was, alas, of short duration. Many are the incidents I
might relate, but which I shall omit. My other adventures are
sufficiently numerous, without mingling such as may any way seem
foreign to the subject. In this gloomy history of my life, I wish
to paint myself such as I am; and, by the recital of my sufferings,
afford a memorable example to the world, and interest the heart of
sensibility. I would also show how my fatal destiny has deprived my
children of an immense fortune; and, though I want a hundred
thousand men to enforce and ensure my rights, I will leave
demonstration to my heirs that they are incontestable.


In the beginning of September, 1744, war again broke out between the
Houses of Austria and Prussia. We marched with all speed towards
Prague, traversing Saxony without opposition. I will not relate in
this place what the great Frederic said to us, with evident emotion,
when surrounded by all his officers, on the morning of our departure
from Potzdam.

Should any one be desirous of writing the lives of him and his
opponent, Maria Theresa, without flattery and without fear, let him
apply to me, and I will relate anecdotes most surprising on this
subject, unknown to all but myself, and which never must appear
under my own name.

All monarchs going to war have reason on their side; and the
churches of both parties resound with prayers, and appeals to Divine
Justice, for the success of their arms. Frederic, on this occasion,
had recourse to them with regret, of which I was a witness.

If I am not mistaken, the King's army came before Prague on the 14th
of September, and that of General Schwerin, which had passed through
Silesia, arrived the next day on the other side of the Moldau. In
this position we were obliged to wait some days for pontoons,
without which we could not establish a communication between the two

The height called Zischka, which overlooks the city, being guarded
only by a few Croats, was instantly seized, without opposition, by
some grenadiers, and the batteries, erected at the foot of that
mountain, being ready on the fifth day, played with such success on
the old town with bombs and red-hot balls that it was set on fire.
The King made every effort to take the city before Prince Charles
could bring his army from the Rhine to its relief.

General Harsh thought proper to capitulate, after a siege of twelve
days, during which not more than five hundred men of the garrison,
at the utmost, were killed and wounded, though eighteen thousand men
were made prisoners.

Thus far we had met with no impediment. The Imperial army, however,
under the command of Prince Charles of Lorraine, having quitted the
banks of the Rhine, was advancing to save Bohemia.

During this campaign we saw the enemy only at a distance; but the
Austrian light troops being thrice as numerous as ours, prevented us
from all foraging. Winter was approaching, dearth and hunger made
Frederic determine to retreat, without the least hope from the
countries in our rear, which we had entirely laid waste as we had
advanced. The severity of the season, in the month of November,
rendered the soldiers excessively impatient of their hardships; and,
accustomed to conquer, the Prussians were ashamed of and repined at
retreat: the enemy's light troops facilitated desertion, and we
lost, in a few weeks, above thirty thousand men. The pandours of my
kinsman, the Austrian Trenck, were incessantly at our heels, gave us
frequent alarms, did us great injury, and, by their alertness, we
never could make any impression upon them with our cannon. Trenck
at length passed the Elbe, and went and burnt and destroyed our
magazines at Pardubitz: it was therefore resolved wholly to
evacuate Bohemia.

The King hoped to have brought Prince Charles to the battle between
Benneschan and Kannupitz, but in vain: the Saxons, during the
night, had entered a battery of three-and-twenty cannon on a mound
which separated two ponds: this was the precise road by which the
King meant to make the attack.

Thus were we obliged to abandon Bohemia. The dearth, both for man
and horse, began to grow extreme. The weather was bad; the roads
and ruts were deep; marches were continual, and alarms and attacks
from the enemy's light troops became incessant. The discontent all
these inspired was universal, and this occasioned the great loss of
the army.

Under such circumstances, had Prince Charles continued to harass us,
by persuading us into Silesia, had he made a winter campaign,
instead of remaining indolently at ease in Bohemia, we certainly
should not have vanquished him, the year following, at Strigau; but
he only followed at a distance, as far as the Bohemian frontiers.
This gave Frederic time to recover, and the more effectually because
the Austrians had the imprudence to permit the return of deserters.

This was a repetition of what had happened to Charles XII. when he
suffered his Russian prisoners to return home, who afterwards so
effectually punished his contempt of them at the battle of Pultawa.

Prague was obliged to be abandoned, with considerable loss; and
Trenck seized on Tabor, Budweis, and Frauenberg, where he took
prisoners the regiments of Walrabe Kreutz.

No one would have been better able to give a faithful history of
this campaign than myself, had I room in this place, and had I at
that time been more attentive to things of moment; since I not only
performed the office of adjutant to the King, when he went to
reconnoitre, or choose a place of encampment, but it was, moreover,
my duty to provide forage for the headquarters. The King having
only permitted me to take six volunteers from the body guard, to
execute this latter duty, I was obliged to add to them horse
chasseurs, and hussars, with whom I was continually in motion. I
was peculiarly fortunate on two occasions, by happening to come
after the enemy when they had left loaded waggons and forage

I seldom passed the night in my tent during this campaign, and my
indefatigable activity obtained the favour and entire confidence of
Frederic. Nothing so much contributed to inspire me with emulation
as the public praises I received, and my enthusiasm wished to
perform wonders. The campaign, however, but ill supplied me with
opportunities to display my youthful ardour.

At length no one durst leave the camp, notwithstanding the extremity
of the dearth, because of the innumerable clouds of pandours and
hussars that hovered everywhere around.

No sooner were we arrived in Silesia, than the King's body guard
were sent to Berlin, there to remain in winter quarters.

I should not here have mentioned the Bohemian war, but that, while
writing time history of my life, I ought not to omit accidents by
which my future destiny was influenced.

One day, while at Bennaschen, I was commanded out, with a detachment
of thirty hussars and twenty chasseurs, on a foraging party. I had
posted my hussars in a convent, and gone myself, with the chasseurs,
to a mansion-house, to seize the carts necessary for the conveyance
of the hay and straw from a neighbouring farm. An Austrian
lieutenant of hussars, concealed with thirty-six horsemen in a wood,
having remarked the weakness of my escort, taking advantage of the
moment when my people were all employed in loading the carts, first
seized our sentinel, and then fell suddenly upon them, and took them
all prisoners in the very farm-yard. At this moment I was seated at
my ease, beside the lady of the mansion-house, and was a spectator
of the whole transaction through the window.

I was ashamed of and in despair at my negligence. The kind lady
wished to hide me when the firing was heard in the farm-yard. By
good fortune, the hussars, whom I had stationed in the convent, had
learnt from a peasant that there was an Austrian detachment in the
wood: they had seen us at a distance enter the farmyard, hastily
marched to our aid, and we had not been taken more than two minutes
before they arrived. I cannot express the pleasure with which I put
myself at their head. Some of the enemy's party escaped through a
back door, but we made two-and-twenty prisoners, with a lieutenant
of the regiment of Kalnockichen. They had two men killed, and one
wounded; and two also of my chasseurs were hewn down by the sabre,
in the hay-loft, where they were at work.

We continued our forage with more caution after this accident: the
horses we had taken served, in part, to draw the carts; and, after
raising a contribution of one hundred and fifty ducats on the
convent, which I distributed among the soldiers to engage them to
silence, we returned to the army, from which we were distant about
two leagues.

We heard firing as we marched, and the foragers on all sides were
skirmishing with the enemy. A lieutenant and forty horse joined me;
yet, with this reinforcement, I durst not return to the camp,
because I learned we were in danger from more than eight hundred
pandours and hussars, who were in the plain. I therefore determined
to take a long, winding, but secret route, and had the good fortune
to come safe to quarters with my prisoners and five-and-twenty
loaded carts. The King was at dinner when I entered his tent.
Having been absent all night, it was imagined I had been taken, that
accident having happened the same day to many others.

The instant I entered, the King demanded if I returned singly. "No,
please your Majesty," answered I; "I have brought five-and-twenty
loads of forage, and two-and-twenty prisoners, with their officer
and horses."

The King then commanded me to sit down, and turning himself towards
the English ambassador, who was near him, said, laying his hand on
my shoulder, "C'est un Matador de ma jeunesse."

A reconnoitring party was, at the same moment, in waiting before his
tent: he consequently asked me few questions, and to those he did
ask, I replied trembling. In a few minutes he rose from the table,
gave a glance at the prisoners, hung the Order of Merit round my
neck, commanded me to go and take repose, and set off with his

It is easy to conceive the embarrassment of my situation; my
unpardonable negligence deserved that I should have been broken,
instead of which I was rewarded; an instance, this, of the great
influence of chance on the affairs of the world. How many generals
have gained victories by their very errors, which have been
afterwards attributed to their genius! It is evident the sergeant of
hussars, who retook me and my men by bringing up his party, was much
better entitled than myself to the recompense I received. On many
occasions have I since met with disgrace and punishment when I
deserved reward. My inquietude lest the truth should be discovered,
was extreme, especially recollecting how many people were in the
secret: and my apprehensions were incessant.

As I did not want money, I gave the sergeants twenty ducats each,
and the soldiers one, in order to insure their silence, which, being
a favourite with them, they readily promised. I, however, was
determined to declare the truth the very first opportunity, and this
happened a few days after.

We were on our march, and I, as cornet, was at the head of my
company, when the King, advancing, beckoned me to come to him, and
bade me tell him exactly how the affair I had so lately been engaged
in happened.

The question at first made me mistrust I was betrayed, but remarking
the King had a mildness in his manner, I presently recovered myself,
and related the exact truth. I saw the astonishment of his
countenance, but I at the same time saw he was pleased with my
sincerity. He spoke to me for half an hour, not as a King, but as a
father, praised my candour, and ended with the following words,
which, while life remains, I shall never forget: "Confide in the
advice I give you; depend wholly upon me, and I will make you a
man." Whoever can feel, may imagine how infinitely my gratitude
towards the King was increased, by this his great goodness; from
that moment I had no other desire than to live and die for his

I soon perceived the confidence the King had in me after this
explanation, of which I received very frequent marks, the following
winter, at Berlin. He permitted me to be present at his
conversations with the literati of his court, and my state was truly

I received this same winter more than five hundred ducats as
presents. So much happiness could not but excite jealousy, and this
began to be manifest on every side. I had too little disguise for a
courtier, and my heart was much too open and frank.

Before I proceed, I will here relate an incident which happened
during the last campaign, and which will, no doubt, be read in the
history of Frederic.

On the rout while retreating through Bohemia, the King came to
Kollin, with his horse-guards, the cavalry piquets of the head-
quarters, and the second and third battalions of guards. We had
only four field pieces, and our squadron was stationed in one of the
suburbs. Our advance posts, towards evening, were driven back into
the town, and the hussars entered pell-mell: the enemy's light
troops swarmed over the country, and my commanding officer sent me
immediately to receive the King's orders. After much search, I
found him at the top of a steeple, with a telescope in his hand.
Never did I see him so disturbed or undecided as on this occasion.
Orders were immediately given that we should retreat through the
city, into the opposite suburb, where we were to halt, but not

We had not been here long before a most heavy rain fell, and the
night became exceedingly dark. My cousin Trenck made his approach
about nine in the evening, with his pandour and janissary music, and
set fire to several houses. They found we were in the suburb, and
began to fire upon us from the city windows. The tumult became
extreme: the city was too full for us to re-enter: the gate was
shut, and they fired from above at us with our field-pieces. Trenck
had let in the waters upon us, and we were up to the girths by
midnight, and almost in despair. We lost seven men, and my horse
was wounded in the neck.

The King, and all of us, had certainly been made prisoners had my
cousin, as he has since told me, been able to continue the assault
he had begun: but a cannon ball having wounded him in the foot, he
was carried off, and the pandours retired. The corps of Nassau
arrived next day to our aid; we quitted Kollin, and during the march
the King said to me, "Your cousin had nearly played us a malicious
prank last night, but the deserters say he is killed." He then
asked what our relationship was, and there our conversation ended.


It was about the middle of December when we came to Berlin, where I
was received with open arms. I became less cautious than formerly,
and, perhaps, more narrowly observed. A lieutenant of the foot
guards, who was a public Ganymede, and against whom I had that
natural antipathy and abhorrence I have for all such wretches,
having indulged himself in some very impertinent jokes on the secret
of my amour, I bestowed on him the epithet he deserved: we drew our
swords, and he was wounded. On the Sunday following I presented
myself to pay my respects to his Majesty on the parade, who said to
me as he passed, "The storm and the thunder shall rend your heart;
beware!" {1} He added nothing more.

Some little time after I was a few minutes too late on the parade;
the King remarked it, and sent me, under arrest, to the foot-guard
at Potzdam. When I had been here a fortnight, Colonel Wartensleben
came, and advised me to petition for pardon. I was then too much a
novice in the modes of the court to follow his counsel, nor did I
even remark the person who gave it me was himself a most subtle
courtier. I complained bitterly that I had so long been deprived of
liberty, for a fault which was usually punished by three, or, at
most, six days' arrest. Here accordingly I remained.

Eight days after, the King being come to Potzdam, I was sent by
General Bourke to Berlin, to carry some letters, but without having
seen the King. On my return I presented myself to him on the
parade; and as our squadron was garrisoned at Berlin, I asked, "Does
it please your Majesty that I should go and join my corps?" "Whence
came you?" answered he. "From Berlin." "And where were you before
you went to Berlin?" "Under arrest." "Then under arrest you must

I did not recover my liberty till three days before our departure
for Silesia, towards which we marched, with the utmost speed, in the
beginning of May, to commence our second campaign.

Here I must recount an event which happened that winter, which
became the source of all my misfortunes, and to which I must entreat
my readers will pay the utmost attention; since this error, if
innocence can be error, was the cause that the most faithful and the
best of subjects became bewildered in scenes of wretchedness, and
was the victim of misery, from his nineteenth to the sixtieth year
of his age. I dare presume that this true narrative, supported by
testimonies the most authentic, will fully vindicate my present
honour and my future memory.

Francis, Baron of Trenck, was the son of my father's brother,
consequently my cousin german. I shall speak, hereafter, of the
singular events of his life. Being a commander of pandours in the
Austrian service, and grievously wounded at Bavaria, in the year
1743, he wrote to my mother, informing her he intended me, her
eldest son, for his universal legatee. This letter, to which I
returned no answer, was sent to me at Potzdam. I was so satisfied
with my situation, and had such numerous reasons so to be,
considering the kindness with which the King treated me, that I
would not have exchanged my good fortune for all the treasures of
the Great Mogul.

On the 12th of February, 1744, being at Berlin, I was in company
with Captain Jaschinsky, commander of the body guard, the captain of
which ranks as colonel in the army, together with Lieutenant
Studnitz, and Cornet Wagnitz. The latter was my field comrade, and
is at present commander-general of the cavalry of Hesse Cassel. The
Austrian Trenck became the subject of conversation, and Jaschinsky
asked if I were his kinsman. I answered, yes, and immediately
mentioned his having made me his universal heir. "And what answer
have you returned?" said Jaschinsky.--"None at all."

The whole company then observed that, in a case like the present, I
was much to blame not to answer; that the least I could do would be
to thank him for his good wishes, and entreat a continuance of them.
Jaschinsky further added, "Desire him to send you some of his fine
Hungarian horses for your own use, and give me the letter; I will
convey it to him, by means of Mr. Bossart, legation counsellor of
the Saxon embassy; but on condition that you will give me one of the
horses. This correspondence is a family, and not a state affair; I
will make myself responsible for the consequences."

I immediately took my commander's advice, and began to write; and
had those who suspected me thought proper to make the least inquiry
into these circumstances, the four witnesses who read what I wrote
could have attested my innocence, and rendered it indubitable. I
gave my letter open to Jaschinsky, who sealed and sent it himself.

I must omit none of the incidents concerning this letter, it being
the sole cause of all my sufferings. I shall therefore here relate
an event which was the first occasion of the unjust suspicions
entertained against me.

One of my grooms, with two led horses, was, among many others, taken
by the pandours of Trenck. When I returned to the camp, I was to
accompany the King on a reconnoitring party. My horse was too
tired, and I had no other: I informed him of my embarrassment, and
his Majesty immediately made me a present of a fine English courser.

Some days after, I was exceedingly astonished to see my groom
return, with my two horses, and a pandour trumpeter, who brought me
a letter, containing nearly the following words:-

"The Austrian Trenck is not at war with the Prussian Trenck, but, on
the contrary, is happy to have recovered his horses from his
hussars, and to return them to whom they first belonged," &c.

I went the same day to pay my respects to the King, who, receiving
me with great coldness, said, "Since your cousin has returned your
own horses, you have no more need of mine."

There were too many who envied me to suppose these words would
escape repetition. The return of the horses seems infinitely to
have increased that suspicion Frederic entertained against me, and
therefore became one of the principal causes of my misfortunes: it
is for this reason that I dwell upon this and suchlike small
incidents, they being necessary for my own justification, and, were
it possible, for that of the King. My innocence is, indeed, at
present universally acknowledged by the court, the army, and the
whole nation; who all mention the injustice I suffered with pity,
and the fortitude with which it was endured with surprise.

We marched for Silesia, to enter on our second campaign: which, to
the Prussians, was as bloody and murderous as it was glorious.

The King's head-quarters were fixed at the convent of Kamentz, where
we rested fourteen days, and the army remained in cantonments.
Prince Charles, instead of following us into Bohemia, had the
imprudence to occupy the plain of Strigau, and we already concluded
his army was beaten. Whoever is well acquainted with tactics, and
the Prussian manoeuvres, will easily judge, without the aid of
calculation or witchcraft, whether a well or ill-disciplined army,
in an open plain, ought to be victorious.

The army hastily left its cantonments, and in twenty-four hours was
in order of battle; and on the 14th of June, eighteen thousand
bodies lay stretched on the plain of Strigau. The allied armies of
Austria and Saxony were totally defeated.

The body guard was on the right; and previous to the attack, the
King said to our squadron, "Prove today, my children, that you are
my body guard, and give no Saxon quarter."

We made three attacks on the cavalry, and two on the infantry.
Nothing could withstand a squadron like this, which for men, horses,
courage, and experience, was assuredly the first in the world. Our
corps alone took seven standards and five pairs of colours, and in
less than an hour the affair was over.

I received a pistol shot in my right hand, my horse was desperately
wounded, and I was obliged to change him on the third charge. The
day after the battle all the officers were rewarded with the Order
of Merit. For my own part, I remained four weeks among the wounded,
at Schweidnitz, where there were sixteen thousand men under the
torture of the army surgeons, many of whom had not their wounds
dressed till the third day.

I was near three months before I recovered the use of my hand: I
nevertheless rejoined my corps, continued to perform my duty, and as
usual accompanied the King when he went to reconnoitre. For some
time past he had placed confidence in me, and his kindness towards
me continually increased, which raised my gratitude even to

I also performed the service of adjutant during this campaign, a
circumstantial account of which no person is better enabled to write
than myself, I having been present at all that passed. I was the
scholar of the greatest master the art of war ever knew, and who
believed me worthy to receive his instructions; but the volume I am
writing would be insufficient to contain all that personally relates
to myself.

I must here mention an adventure that happened at this time, and
which will show the art of the great Frederic in forming youth for
his service, and devotedly attaching them to his person.

I was exceedingly fond of hunting, in which, notwithstanding it was
severely forbidden, I indulged myself. I one day returned, laden
with pheasants; but judge my astonishment and fears when I saw the
army had decamped, and that it was with difficulty that I could
overtake the rear-guard.

In this my distress, I applied to an officer of hussars, who
instantly lent me his horse, by the aid of which I rejoined my
corps, which always marched as the vanguard. Mounting my own horse,
I tremblingly rode to the head of my division, which it was my duty
to precede. The King, however, had remarked my absence, or rather
had been reminded of it by my superior officer, who, for some time
past, had become my enemy.

Just as the army halted to encamp, the King rode towards me, and
made a signal for me to approach, and, seeing my fears in my
countenance, said, "What, are you just returned from hunting?"
"Yes, your Majesty. I hope--" Here interrupting me, he added,
"Well, well, for this time, I shall take no further notice,
remembering Potzdam; but, however, let me find you more attentive to
your duty."

So ended this affair, for which I deserved to have been broken. I
must remind my readers that the King meant by the words remembering
Potzdam, he remembered I had been punished too severely the winter
before, and that my present pardon was intended as a compensation.

This was indeed to think and act greatly; this was indeed the true
art of forming great men: an art much more effectual than that of
ferocious generals, who threaten subalterns with imprisonment and
chains on every slight occasion; and, while indulging all the
rigours of military law, make no distinction of minds or of men.
Frederic, on the contrary, sometimes pardoned the failings of
genius, while mechanic souls he mechanically punished, according to
the very letter of the laws of war.

I shall further remark, the King took no more notice of my late
fault, except that sometimes, when I had the honour to dine with
him, he would ridicule people who were too often at the chase, or
who were so choleric that they took occasion to quarrel for the
least trifle.

The campaign passed in different manoeuvres, marches, and
countermarches. Our corps was the most fatigued, as being encamped
round the King's tent, the station of which was central, and as
likewise having the care of the vanguard; we were therefore obliged
to begin our march two hours sooner than the remainder of the army,
that we might be in our place. We also accompanied the King
whenever he went to reconnoitre, traced the lines of encampment, led
the horse to water, inspected the head-quarters, and regulated the
march and encampment, according to the King's orders; the
performance of all which robbed us of much rest, we being but six
officers to execute so many different functions.

Still further, we often executed the office of couriers, to bear the
royal commands to detachments. The King was particularly careful
that the officers of his guards, whom he intended should become
excellent in the art of tactics, should not be idle in his school.
It was necessary to do much in order that much might be learnt.
Labour, vigilance, activity, the love of glory and the love of his
country, animated all his generals; into whom, it may be said, he
infused his spirit.

In this school I gained instruction, and here already was I selected
as one designed to instruct others; yet, in my fortieth year, a
great general at Vienna told me, "My dear Trenck, our discipline
would be too difficult for you to learn; for which, indeed, you are
too far advanced in life." Agreeable to this wise decision was I
made an Austrian invalid, and an invalid have always remained; a
judgment like this would have been laughed at, most certainly, at

If I mistake not, the famous battle of Soor, or Sorau, was fought on
the 14th day of September. The King had sent so many detachments
into Saxony, Bohemia, and Silesia, that the main army did not
consist of more than twenty-five thousand men. Neglecting advice,
and obstinate in judging his enemy by numbers, and not according to
the excellence of discipline, and other accidents, Prince Charles,
blind to the real strength of the Prussian armies, had enclosed this
small number of Pomeranian and Brandenburg regiments, with more than
eighty-six thousand men, intending to take them all prisoners.

It will soon be seen from my narrative with what kind of secrecy his
plan was laid and executed.

The King came into my tent about midnight; as he also did into that
of all the officers, to awaken them; his orders were, "Secretly to
saddle, leave the baggage in the rear, and that the men should stand
ready to mount at the word of command."

Lieutenant Studnitz and myself attended the King, who went in
person, and gave directions through the whole army; meantime, break
of day was expected with anxiety.

Opposite the defile through which the enemy was to march to the
attack eight field-pieces were concealed behind a hill. The King
must necessarily have been informed of the whole plan of the
Austrian general, for he had called in the advanced posts from the
heights, that he might lull him into security, and make him imagine
we should be surprised in the midst of sleep.

Scarcely did break of day appear before the Austrian artillery,
situated upon the heights, began to play upon our camp, and their
cavalry to march through the defile to the attack.

As suddenly were we in battle array; for in less than ten minutes we
ourselves began the attack, notwithstanding the smallness of our
number, the whole army only containing five regiments of cavalry.
We fell with such fury upon the enemy (who at this time were wholly
employed in forming their men at the mouth of the defile, and that
slowly, little expecting so sudden and violent a charge), that we
drove them back into the defile, where they pressed upon each other
in crowds; the King himself stood ready to unmask his eight field-
pieces, and a dreadful and bloody slaughter ensued in this narrow
place; from which the enemy had not the power to retreat. This
single incident gained the battle, and deceived all time hopes of
Prince Charles.

Nadasti, Trenck, and the light troops, sent to attack our rear, were
employed in pillaging the camp. The ferocious Croats met no
opposition, while this their error made our victory more secure. It
deserves to be noticed that, when advice was brought to the King
that the enemy had fallen upon and were plundering the camp, his
answer was, "So much the better; they have found themselves
employment, and will be no impediment to our main design."

Our victory was complete, but all our baggage was lost; the
headquarters, utterly undefended, were totally stripped; and Trenck
had, for his part of the booty, the King's tent and his service of

I have mentioned this circumstance here, because that, in the year
1740, my cousin Trenck, having fallen into the power of his enemies,
who had instituted a legal, process against him, was accused, by
some villanous wretches, of having surprised the King in bed at the
battle of Sorau, and of having afterwards released him for a bribe.

What was still worse, they hired a common woman, a native of Brunn,
who pretended she was the daughter of Marshal Schwerin, to give in
evidence that she herself was with the King when Trenck entered his
tent, whom he immediately made prisoner, and as immediately

To this part of the prosecution I myself, an eye-witness, can
answer: the thing was false and impossible. He was informed of the
intended attack. I accompanied the watchful King from midnight till
four in the morning, which time he employed in riding through the
camp, and making the necessary preparations to receive the enemy;
and the action began at five. Trenck could not take the King in
bed, for the battle was almost gained when he and his pandours
entered the camp and plundered the head-quarters.

As for the tale of Miss Schwerin, it is only fit to be told by
schoolboys, or examined by the Inquisition, and was very unworthy of
making part of a legal prosecution against an innocent man at

This incident, however, is so remarkable that I shall give in this
work a farther account of my kinsman, and what was called his
criminal process, at reading which the world will be astonished. My
own history is so connected with his that this is necessary, and the
more so because there are many ignorant or wicked people at Vienna,
who believe, or affirm, Trenck had actually taken the King of
Prussia prisoner.

Never yet was there a traitor of the name of Trenck; and I hope to
prove, in the clearest manner, the Austrian Trenck as faithfully
served the Empress-Queen as the Prussian Trenck did Frederic, his
King. Maria Theresa, speaking to me of him some time after his
death, and the snares that had been laid for him, said, "Your
kinsman has made a better end than will be the fate of his accusers
and judges."

Of this more hereafter: I approach that epoch when my misfortunes
began, and when the sufferings of martyrdom attended me from youth
onward till my hairs grew grey.


A few days after the battle of Sorau, the usual camp postman brought
me a letter from my cousin Trenck, the colonel of pandours,
antedated at Effek four months, of which the following is a copy:-

"Your letter, of the 12th of February, from Berlin, informs me you
desire to have some Hungarian horses. On these you would come and
attack me and my pandours. I saw with pleasure, during the last
campaign, that the Prussian Trenck was a good soldier; and that I
might give you some proofs of my attachment, I then returned the
horses which my men had taken. If, however, you wish to have
Hungarian horses, you must take mine in like manner from me in the
field of battle: or, should you so think fit, come and join one who
will receive you with open arms, like his friend and son, and who
will procure you every advantage you can desire," &c.

At first I was terrified at reading this letter, yet could not help
smiling. Cornet Wagenitz, now general in chief of the Hesse Cassel
forces, and Lieutenant Grotthausen, both now alive, and then
present, were my camp comrades. I gave them the letter to read, and
they laughed at its contents. It was determined to show it to our
superior officer, Jaschinsky, on a promise of secrecy, and it was
accordingly shown him within an hour after it was received.

The reader will be so kind as to recollect that, as I have before
said, it was this Colonel Jaschinsky who on the 12th of February,
the same year, at Berlin, prevailed on me to write to the Austrian
Trenck, my cousin; that he received the letter open, and undertook
to send it according to its address; also that, in this letter, I in
jest had asked him to send me some Hungarian horses, and, should
they come, had promised one to Jaschinsky. He read the letter with
an air of some surprise; we laughed, and, it being whispered through
the army that, in consequence of our late victory, detached corps
would be sent into Hungary, Jaschinsky said, "We shall now go and
take Hungarian horses for ourselves." Here the conversation ended,
and I, little suspecting future consequences, returned to my tent.

I must here remark the following observations:-

1st. I had not observed the date of the letter brought by the
postman, which, as I have said, was antedated four months: this,
however, the colonel did not fail to remark.

2ndly. The probability is that this was a net, spread for me by
this false and wicked man. The return of my horses, during the
preceding campaign, had been the subject of much conversation. It
is possible he had the King's orders to watch me; but more probably
he only prevailed on me to write that he might entrap me by a
fictitious answer. Certain it is, my cousin Trenck, at Vienna,
affirmed to his death he never received any letter from me,
consequently never could send any answer. I must therefore conclude
this letter was forged.

Jaschinsky was at this time one of the King's favourites; his spy
over the army; a tale-bearer; an inventor of wicked lies and
calumnies. Some years after the event of which I am now speaking,
the King was obliged to break and banish him the country.

He was then also the paramour of the beauteous Madame Brossart, wife
of the Saxon resident at Berlin, and there can be little doubt but
that this false letter was, by her means, conveyed to some Saxon or
Austrian post-office, and thence, according to its address, sent to
me. He had daily opportunities of infusing suspicions into the
King's mind concerning me; and, unknown to me, of pursuing his
diabolical plan.

I must likewise add he was four hundred ducats indebted to me. At
that time I had always a plentiful supply of money. This booty
became his own when I, unexamined, was arrested, and thrown into
prison. In like manner he seized on the greatest part of my camp

Further, we had quarrelled during our first campaign, because he had
beaten one of my servants; we even were proceeding to fight with
pistols, had not Colonel Winterfield interfered, and amicably ended
our quarrel. The Lithuanian is, by nature, obstinate and
revengeful; and, from that day, I have reason to believe he sought
my destruction.

God only knows what were the means he took to excite the King's
suspicious; for it is incredible that Frederic, considering his
WELL-KNOWN PROFESSIONS of public justice, should treat me in the
manner he did, without a hearing, without examination, and without a
court-martial. This to me has ever remained a mystery, which the
King alone was able to explain; he afterwards was convinced I was
innocent: but my sufferings had been too cruel, and the miseries he
had inflicted too horrible, for me ever to hope for compensation.

In an affair of this nature, which will soon he known to all Europe,
as it long has been in Prussia, the weakest is always guilty. I
have been made a terrible example to this our age, how true that
maxim is in despotic States.

A man of my rank, having once unjustly suffered, and not having the
power of making his sufferings known, must ever be highly rewarded
or still more unjustly punished. My name and injuries will ever
stain the annals of Frederic THE GREAT; even those who read this
book will perhaps suppose that I, from political motives of hope or
fear, have sometimes concealed truth by endeavouring to palliate his

It must ever remain incomprehensible that a monarch so clear-
sighted, himself the daily witness of my demeanour, one well
acquainted with mankind, and conscious I wanted neither money,
honour, nor hope of future preferment; I say it is incomprehensible
that he should really suppose me guilty. I take God to witness, and
all those who knew me in prosperity and misfortune, I never
harboured a thought of betraying my country. How was it possible to
suspect me? I was neither madman nor idiot. In my eighteenth year
I was a cornet of the body guard, adjutant to the King, and
possessed his favour and confidence in the highest degree. His
presents to me, in one year, amounted to fifteen hundred dollars. I
kept seven horses, four men in livery; I was valued, distinguished,
and beloved by the mistress of my soul. My relations held high
offices, both civil and military; I was even fanatically devoted to
my King and country, and had nothing to wish.

That I should become thus wretched, in consequence of this
unfortunate letter, is equally wonderful: it came by the public
post. Had there been any criminal correspondence, my kinsman
certainly would not have chosen this mode of conveyance; since, it
is well known, all such letters are opened; nor could I act more
openly. My colonel read the letter I wrote; and also that which I
received, immediately after it was brought.

The day after the receipt of this letter I was, as I have before
said, unheard, unaccused, unjudged, conducted like a criminal from
the army, by fifty hussars, and imprisoned in the fortress of Glatz.
I was allowed to take three horses, and my servants, but my whole
equipage was left behind, which I never saw more, and which became
the booty of Jaschinsky. My commission was given to Cornet
Schatzel, and I cashiered without knowing why. There were no legal
inquiries made: all was done by the King's command.

Unhappy people! where power is superior to law, and where the
innocent and the virtuous meet punishment instead of reward.
Unhappy land! where the omnipotent "SUCH IS OUR WILL" supersedes all
legal sentence, and robs the subject of property, life, and honour.

I once more repeat I was brought to the citadel of Glatz; I was not,
however, thrown into a dungeon, but imprisoned in a chamber of the
officer of the guard; was allowed my servants to wait on me, and
permitted to walk on the ramparts.

I did not want money, and there was only a detachment from the
garrison regiment in the citadel of Glatz, the officers of which
were all poor. I soon had both friends and freedom, and the rich
prisoner every day kept open table.

He only who had known me in this the ardour of my youth, who had
witnessed how high I aspired, and the fortune that attended me at
Berlin, can imagine what my feelings were at finding myself thus
suddenly cast from my high hopes.

I wrote submissively to the King, requesting to be tried by a court-
martial, and not desiring any favour should I be found guilty. This
haughty tone, in a youth, was displeasing, and I received no answer,
which threw me into despair, and induced me to use every possible
means to obtain my liberty.

My first care was to establish, by the intervention of an officer, a
certain correspondence with the object of my heart. She answered,
she was far from supposing I had ever entertained the least thought
treacherous to my country; that she knew, too well, I was perfectly
incapable, of dissimulation. She blamed the precipitate anger and
unjust suspicions of the King; promised me speedy aid, and sent me a
thousand ducats.

Had I, at this critical moment, possessed a prudent and intelligent
friend, who could have calmed my impatience, nothing perhaps might
have been more easy than to have obtained pardon from the King, by
proving my innocence; or, it may be, than to have induced him to
punish my enemies.

But the officers who then were at Glatz fed the flame of discontent.
They supposed the money I so freely distributed came all from
Hungary, furnished by the pandour chest; and advised me not to
suffer my freedom to depend upon the will of the King, but to enjoy
it in his despite.

It was not more easy to give this advice than to persuade a man to
take it, who, till then, had never encountered anything but good
fortune, and who consequently supported the reverse with impatience.
I was not yet, however, determined; because I could not yet resolve
to abandon my country, and especially Berlin.

Five months soon passed away in prison: peace was concluded; the
King was returned to his capital; my commission in the guards was
bestowed on another, when Lieutenant Piaschky, of the regiment of
Fouquet, and Ensign Reitz, who often mounted guard over me, proposed
that they and I should escape together. I yielded; our plan was
fixed, and every preparatory step taken.

At that time there was another prisoner at Glatz, whose name was
Manget, by birth a Swiss, and captain of cavalry in the Natzmerschen
hussars; he had been broken, and condemned by a court-martial to ten
years' imprisonment, with an allowance of only four rix-dollars per

Having done this man kindness, I was resolved to rescue him from
bondage, at the same time that I obtained freedom for myself. I
communicated my design, and made the proposal, which was accepted by
him, and measures were taken; yet were we betrayed by this vile man,
who thus purchased pardon and liberty.

Piaschky, who had been informed that Reitz was arrested, saved
himself by deserting. I denied the fact in presence of Manget, with
whom I was confronted, and bribed the Auditor with a hundred ducats.
By this means Reitz only suffered a year's imprisonment, and the
loss of his commission. I was afterwards closely confined in a
chamber, for having endeavoured to corrupt the King's officers, and
was guarded with greater caution.

Here I will interrupt my narrative, for a moment, to relate an
adventure which happened between me and this Captain Manget, three
years after he had thus betrayed me--that is to say, in 1749, at

I there met him by chance, and it is not difficult to imagine what
was the salutation he received. I caned him; he took this ill, and
challenged me to fight with pistols. Captain Heucking, of the
Polish guards, was my second. We both fired together; I shot him
through the neck at the first shot, and he fell dead on the field.

He alone, of all my enemies, ever died by my own hand; and he well
merited his end, for his cowardly treachery towards the two brave
fellows of whom I have spoken; and still more so with respect to
myself, who had been his benefactor. I own, I have never reproached
myself for this duel, by which I sent a rascal out of the world.

I return to my tale. My destiny at Glatz was now become more
untoward and severe. The King's suspicions were increased, as
likewise was his anger, by this my late attempt to escape.

Left to myself, I considered my situation in the worst point of
view, and determined either on flight or death. The length and
closeness of my confinement became insupportable to my impatient

I had always had the garrison on my side, nor was it possible to
prevent my making friends among them. They knew I had money, and,
in a poor garrison regiment, the officers of which are all
dissatisfied, having most of them been drafted from other corps, and
sent thither as a punishment, there was nothing that might not be

My scheme was as follows:- My window looked towards the city, and
was ninety feet from the ground in the tower of the citadel, out of
which I could not get, without having found a place of refuge in the

This an officer undertook to procure me, and prevailed on an honest
soap-boiler to grant me a hiding place. I then notched my pen-
knife, and sawed through three iron bars; but this mode was too
tedious, it being necessary to file away eight bars from my window,
before I could pass through; another officer therefore procured me a
file, which I was obliged to use with caution, lest I should be
overheard by the sentinels.

Having ended this labour, I cut my leather portmanteau into thongs,
sewed them end to end, added the sheets of my bed, and descended
safely from this astonishing height.

It rained, the night was dark, and all seemed fortunate, but I had
to wade through moats full of mud, before I could enter the city, a
circumstance I had never once considered. I sank up to the knees,
and after long struggling, and incredible efforts to extricate
myself, I was obliged to call the sentinel, and desire him to go and
tell the governor, Trenck was stuck fast in the moat.

My misfortune was the greater on this occasion, because that General
Fouquet was then governor of Glatz. He was one of the cruellest of
men. He had been wounded by my father in a duel; and the Austrian
Trenck had taken his baggage in 1744, and had also laid the country
of Glatz under contribution. He was, therefore, an enemy to the
very name of Trenck; nor did he lose any opportunity of giving
proofs of his enmity, and especially on the present occasion, when
he left me standing in the mire till noon, the sport of the
soldiers. I was then drawn out, half dead, only again to be
imprisoned, and shut up the whole day, without water to wash me. No
one can imagine how I looked, exhausted and dirty, my long hair
having fallen into the mud, with which, by my struggling, it was

I remained in this condition till the next day, when two fellow-
prisoners were sent to assist and clean me.

My imprisonment now became more intolerable. I had still eighty
louis-d'ors in my purse, which had not been taken from me at my
removal into another dungeon, and these afterwards did me good

The passions soon all assailed me at once, and impetuous, boiling,
youthful blood overpowered reason; hope disappeared; I thought
myself the most unfortunate of men, and my King an irreconcileable
judge, more wrathful and more fortified in suspicion by my own
rashness. My nights were sleepless, my days miserable; my soul was
tortured by the desire of fame; a consciousness of innocence was a
continued stimulus inciting me to end my misfortunes. Youth,
inexperienced in woe and disastrous fate, beholds every evil
magnified, and desponds on every new disappointment, more especially
after having failed in attempting freedom. Education had taught me
to despise death, and these opinions had been confirmed by my friend
La Mettrie, author of the famous work, "L'Homme Machine," or "Man a

I read much during my confinement at Glatz, where books were allowed
me; time was therefore less tedious; but when the love of liberty
awoke, when fame and affection called me to Berlin, and my baulked
hopes painted the wretchedness of my situation; when I remembered
that my loved country, judging by appearances, could not but
pronounce me a traitor; then was I hourly impelled to rush on the
naked bayonets of my guards, by whom, to me, the road of freedom was

Big with such-like thoughts, eight days had not elapsed since my
last fruitless attempt to escape, when an event happened which would
appear incredible, were I, the principal actor in the scene, not
alive to attest its truth, and might not all Glatz and the Prussian
garrison be produced as eye and ear witnesses. This incident will
prove that adventurous, and even rash, daring will render the most
improbable undertakings possible, and that desperate attempts may
often make a general more fortunate and famous than the wisest and
best concerted plans.

Major Doo {2} came to visit me, accompanied by an officer of the
guard, and an adjutant. After examining every corner of my chamber,
he addressed me, taxing me with a second crime in endeavouring to
obtain my liberty; adding this must certainly increase the anger of
the King.

My blood boiled at the word crime; he talked of patience; I asked
him how long the King had condemned me to imprisonment; he answered,
a traitor to his country, who has correspondence with the enemy,
cannot be condemned for a certain time, but must depend for grace
and pardon on the King.

At that instant I snatched his sword from his side, on which my eyes
had some time been fixed, sprang out of the door, tumbled the
sentinel from the top to the bottom of the stairs, passed the men
who happened to be drawn up before the prison door to relieve the
guard, attacked them sword in hand, threw them suddenly into
surprise by the manner in which I laid about me, wounded four of
them, made way through the rest, sprang over the breastwork of the
ramparts, and, with my sword drawn in my hand, immediately leaped
this astonishing height without receiving the least injury. I
leaped the second wall with equal safety and good fortune. None of
their pieces were loaded; no one durst leap after me, and in order
to pursue, they must go round through the town and gate of the
citadel; so that I had the start full half an hour.

A sentinel, however, in a narrow passage, endeavoured to oppose my
flight, but I parried his fixed bayonet, and wounded him in the
face. A second sentinel, meantime, ran from the outworks, to seize
me behind, and I, to avoid him, made a spring at the palisadoes;
there I was unluckily caught by the foot, and received a bayonet
wound in the upper lip; thus entangled, they beat me with the butt-
end of their muskets, and dragged me back to prison, while I
struggled and defended myself like a man grown desperate.

Certain it is, had I more carefully jumped the palisadoes, and
despatched the sentinel who opposed me, I might have escaped, and
gained the mountains. Thus might I have fled to Bohemia, after
having, at noonday, broken from the fortress of Glatz, sprung past
all its sentinels, over all its walls, and passed with impunity, in
despite of the guard, who were under arms, ready to oppose me. I
should not, having a sword, have feared any single opponent, and was
able to contend with the swiftest runners.

That good fortune which had so far attended me forsook me at the
palisadoes, where hope was at an end. The severities of
imprisonment were increased; two sentinels and an under officer were
locked in with me, and were themselves guarded by sentinels without;
I was beaten and wounded by the butt-ends of their muskets, my right
foot was sprained, I spat blood, and my wounds were not cured in
less than a month.


I was now first informed that the King had only condemned me to a
year's imprisonment, in order to learn whether his suspicions were
well founded. My mother had petitioned for me, and was answered,
"Your son must remain a year imprisoned, as a punishment for his
rash correspondence."

Of this I was ignorant, and it was reported in Glatz that my
imprisonment was for life. I had only three weeks longer to repine
for the loss of liberty, when I made this rash attempt. What must
the King think? Was he not obliged to act with this severity? How
could prudence excuse my impatience, thus to risk a confiscation,
when I was certain of receiving freedom, justification, and honour,
in three weeks? But, such was my adverse fate, circumstances all
tended to injure and persecute me, till at length I gave reason to
suppose I was a traitor, notwithstanding the purity of my

Once more, then, was I in a dungeon, and no sooner was I there than
I formed new projects of flight. I first gained the intimacy of my
guards. I had money, and this, with the compassion I had inspired,
might effect anything among discontented Prussian soldiers. Soon
had I gained thirty-two men, who were ready to execute, on the first
signal, whatever I should command. Two or three excepted, they were
unacquainted with each other; they consequently could not all be
betrayed at a time: had chosen the sub-officer Nicholai to head

The garrison consisted only of one hundred and twenty men from the
garrison regiment, the rest being dispersed in the county of Glatz,
and four officers, their commanders, three of whom were in my
interest. Everything was prepared; swords and pistols were
concealed in the oven which was in my prison. We intended to give
liberty to all the prisoners, and retire with drums beating into

Unfortunately, an Austrian deserter, to whom Nicholai had imparted
our design, went and discovered our conspiracy. The governor
instantly sent his adjutant to the citadel, with orders that the
officer on guard should arrest Nicholai, and, with his men, take
possession of the casement.

Nicholai was on the guard, and the lieutenant was my friend, and
being in the secret, gave the signal that all was discovered.
Nicholai only knew all the conspirators, several of whom that day
were on guard. He instantly formed his resolution, leaped into the
casement, crying, "Comrades, to arms, we are betrayed!" All
followed to the guard-house, where they seized on the cartridges,
the officer having only eight men, and threatening to fire on
whoever should offer resistance, came to deliver me from prison; but
the iron door was too strong, and the time too short for that to be
demolished. Nicholai, calling to me, bid me aid them, but in vain:
and perceiving nothing more could be done for me, this brave man,
heading nineteen others, marched to the gate of the citadel, where
there was a sub-officer and ten soldiers, obliged these to accompany
him, and thus arrived safely at Braunau, in Bohemia; for, before the
news was spread through the city, and men were collected for the
pursuit, they were nearly half-way on their journey.

Two years after I met with this extraordinary man at Ofenbourg,
where hue was a writer: he entered immediately into my service, and
became my friend, but died some months after of a burning fever, at
my quarters in Hungary, at which I was deeply grieved, for his
memory will be ever dear to me.

Now was I exposed to all the storms of ill-fortune: a prosecution
was entered against me as a conspirator, who wanted to corrupt the
officers and soldiers of the King. They commanded me to name the
remaining conspirators; but to these questions I made no answer,
except by steadfastly declaring I was an innocent prisoner, an
officer unjustly broken; unjustly, because I had never been brought
to trial; that consequently I was released from all my engagements;
nor could it be thought extraordinary that I should avail myself of
that law of nature which gives every man a right to defend his
honour defamed, and seek by every possible means to regain his
liberty: that such had been my sole purpose in every enterprise I
had formed, and such should still continue to be, for I was
determined to persist, till I should either be crowned with success,
or lose my life in the attempt.

Things thus remained: every precaution was taken except that I was
not put in irons; it being a law in Prussia that no gentleman or
officer can be loaded with chains, unless he has first for some
crime been delivered over to the executioner; and certainly this had
not been my case.

The soldiers were withdrawn from my chamber; but the greatest ill
was I had expended all my money, and my kind mistress, at Berlin,
with whom I had always corresponded, and which my persecutors could
not prevent, at last wrote -

"My tears flow with yours; the evil is without remedy--I dare no
more--escape if you can. My fidelity will ever be the same, when it
shall be possible for me to serve you.--Adieu, unhappy friend: you
merit a better fate."

This letter was a thunderbolt:- my comfort, however, still was that
the officers were not suspected, and that it was their duty to visit
my chamber several times a day, and examine what passed: from which
circumstance I felt my hopes somewhat revive. Hence an adventure
happened which is almost unexampled in tales of knight-errantry.

A lieutenant, whose name was Bach, a Dane by nation, mounted guard
every fourth day, and was the terror of the whole garrison; for,
being a perfect master of arms, he was incessantly involved in
quarrels, and generally left his marks behind him. He had served in
two regiments, neither of which would associate with him for this
reason, and he had been sent to the garrison regiment at Glatz as

Bach one day, sitting beside me, related how, the evening before, he
had wounded a lieutenant, of the name of Schell, in the arm. I
replied, laughing, "Had I my liberty, I believe you would find some
trouble in wounding me, for I have some skill in the sword." The
blood instantly flew in his face; we split off a kind of pair of
foils from an old door, which had served me as a table, and at the
first lunge I hit him on the breast.

His rage became ungovernable, and he left the prison. What was my
astonishment when, a moment after, I saw him return with two
soldiers' swords, which he had concealed under his coat.--"Now,
then, boaster, prove," said he, giving me one of them, "what thou
art able to do." I endeavoured to pacify him, by representing the
danger, but ineffectually. He attacked me with the utmost fury, and
I wounded him in the arm.

Throwing his sword down, he fell upon my neck, kissed me, and wept.
At length, after some convulsive emotions of pleasure, he said,
"Friend, thou art my master; and thou must, thou shalt, by my aid,
obtain thy liberty, as certainly as my name is Bach." We bound up
his arm as well as we could. He left me, and secretly went to a
surgeon, to have it properly dressed, and at night returned.

He now remarked, that it was humanly impossible I should escape,
unless the officer on guard should desert with me;--that he wished
nothing more ardently than to sacrifice his life in my behalf, but
that he could not resolve so far to forget his honour and duty to
desert, himself, while on guard: he notwithstanding gave me his
word of honour he would find me such a person in a few days; and
that, in the meantime, he would prepare everything for my flight.

He returned the same evening, bringing with him Lieutenant Schell,
and as he entered said, "Here is your man." Schell embraced me,
gave his word of honour, and thus was the affair settled, and as it
proved, my liberty ascertained.

We soon began to deliberate on the means necessary to obtain our
purpose. Schell was just come from garrison at Habelchwert to the
citadel of Glatz, and in two days was to mount guard over me, till
when our attempt was suspended. I have before said, I received no
more supplies from my beloved mistress, and my purse at that time
only contained some six pistoles. It was therefore resolved that
Bach should go to Schweidnitz, and obtain money of a sure friend of
mine in that city.

Here must I inform the reader that at this period the officers and I
all understood each other, Captain Roder alone excepted, who was
exact, rigid, and gave trouble on all occasions.

Major Quaadt was my kinsman, by my mother's side, a good, friendly
man, and ardently desirous I should escape, seeing my calamities
were so much increased. The four lieutenants who successively
mounted guard over me were Bach, Schroeder, Lunitz, and Schell. The
first was the grand projector, and made all preparations; Schell was
to desert with me; and Schroeder and Lunitz three days after were to

No one ought to be surprised that officers of garrison regiments
should be so ready to desert. They are, in general, either men of
violent passions, quarrelsome, overwhelmed with debts, or unfit for
service. They are usually sent to the garrison as a punishment, and
are called the refuse of the army. Dissatisfied with their
situation, their pay much reduced, and despised by the troops, such
men, expecting advantage, may be brought to engage in the most
desperate undertaking. None of them can hope for their discharge,
and they live in the utmost poverty. They all hoped by my means to
better their fortune, I always having had money enough; and, with
money, nothing is more easy than to find friends, in places where
each individual is desirous of escaping from slavery.

The talents of Schell were of a superior order; he spoke and wrote
six languages, and was well acquainted with all the fine arts. He
had served in the regiment of Fouquet, had been injured by his
colonel, who was a Pomeranian; and Fouquet, who was no friend to
well-informed officers, had sent him to a garrison regiment. He had
twice demanded his dismissal, but the King sent him to this species
of imprisonment; he then determined to avenge himself by deserting,
and was ready to aid me in recovering my freedom, that he might, by
that means, spite Fouquet.

I shall speak more hereafter of this extraordinary man, that I must
not in this place interrupt my story. We determined everything
should be prepared against the first time Schell mounted guard, and
that our project should be executed on our next. Thus, as he
mounted guard every four days, the eighth was to be that of our

The governor meantime had been informed how familiar I was become
with the officers, at which taking offence, he sent orders that my
door should no more be opened, but that I should receive my food
through a small window that had been made for the purpose. The care
of the prison was committed to the major, and he was forbidden to
eat with me, under pain of being broken.

His precautions were ineffectual; the officers procured a false key,
and remained with me half the day and night.

Captain Damnitz was imprisoned in an apartment by the side of mine.
This man had deserted from the Prussian service, with the money
belonging to his company, to Austria, where he obtained a commission
in his cousin's regiment, who having prevailed on him to serve as a
spy, during the campaign of 1744, he was taken in the Prussian
territories, known, and condemned to be hanged.

Some Swedish volunteers, who were then in the army, interested
themselves in his behalf, and his sentence was changed to perpetual
imprisonment, with a sentence of infamy.

This wretch, who two years after, by the aid of his protectors, not
only obtained his liberty but a lieutenant-colonel's commission, was
the secret spy of the major over the prisoners; and he remarked
that, notwithstanding the express prohibition laid on the officers,
they still passed the greater part of their time in my company.

The 24th of December came, and Schell mounted guard. He entered my
prison immediately, where he continued a long time, and we made our
arrangements for flight when he next should mount guard.

Lieutenant Schroeder that day dined with the governor, and heard
orders given to the adjutant that Schell should be taken from the
guard, and put under arrest.

Schroeder, who was in the secret, had no doubt but that we were
betrayed, not knowing that the spy Damnitz had informed the governor
that Schell was then in my chamber.

Schroeder, full of terror, came running to the citadel, and said to
Schell, "Save thyself, friend; all is discovered, and thou wilt
instantly be put under arrest."

Schell might easily have provided for his own safety, by flying
singly, Schroeder having prepared horses, on one of which he himself
offered to accompany him into Bohemia. How did this worthy man, in
a moment so dangerous, act toward his friend?

Running suddenly into my prison, he drew a corporal's sabre from
under his coat, and said, "Friend, we are betrayed; follow me, only
do not suffer me to fall alive into the hands of my enemies."

I would have spoken: but interrupting me, and taking me by the
hand, he added, "Follow me; we have not a moment to lose." I
therefore slipped on my coat and boots, without having time to take
the little money I had left; and, as we went out of the prison,
Schell said to the sentinel, "I am taking the prisoner into the
officer's apartment; stand where you are."

Into this room we really went, but passed out at the other door.
The design of Schell was to go under the arsenal, which was not far
off, to gain the covered way, leap the palisadoes, and afterwards
escape after the best manner we might.

We had scarcely gone a hundred paces before we met the adjutant and
Major Quaadt.

Schell started back, sprang upon the rampart, and leaped from the
wall, which was there not very high. I followed, and alighted
unhurt, except having grazed my shoulder. My poor friend was not so
fortunate; having put out his ankle. He immediately drew his sword,
presented it to me, and begged me to despatch him, and fly. He was
a small, weak man: but, far from complying with his request, I took
him in my arms, threw him over the palisadoes, afterwards got him on
my back, and began to run, without very well knowing which way I


It may not be unnecessary to remark those fortunate circumstances
that favoured our enterprise.

The sun had just set as we took to flight; the hoar frost fell. No
one would run the risk that we had done, by making so dangerous a
leap. We heard a terrible noise behind us. Everybody knew us; but
before they could go round the citadel, and through the town, in
order to pursue us, we had got a full half league.

The alarm guns were fired before we were a hundred paces distant; at
which my friend was very much terrified, knowing that in such cases
it was generally impossible to escape from Glatz, unless the
fugitives had got the start full two hours before the alarm guns
were heard; the passes being immediately all stopped by the peasants
and hussars, who are exceedingly vigilant. No sooner is a prisoner
missed than the gunner runs from the guard-house, and fires the
cannon on the three sides of the fortress, which are kept loaded day
and night for that purpose.

We were not five hundred paces from the walls, when all before us
and behind us were in motion. It was daylight when we leaped, yet
was our attempt as fortunate as it was wonderful: this I attributed
to my presence of mind, and the reputation I had already acquired,
which made it thought a service of danger for two or three men to
attack me.

It was besides imagined we were well provided with arms for our
defence; and it was little suspected that Schell had only his sword,
and I an old corporal's sabre.

Among the officers commanded to pursue us was Lieutenant Bart, my
intimate friend. Captain Zerbst, of the regiment of Fouquet, who
had always testified the kindness of a brother towards me, met us on
the Bohemian frontiers, and called to me, "Make to time left,
brother, and you will see some lone houses, which are on the
Bohemian confines: the hussars have ridden straight forward." He
then passed on as if he had not seen us.

We had nothing to fear from the officers; for the intimacy between
the Prussian officers was at that time so great, and the word of
honour so sacred, that during my rigorous detention at Glatz I had
been once six-and-thirty hours hunting at Neurode, at the seat of
Baron Stillfriede; Lunitz had taken my place in the prison, which
the major knew when he came to make his visit. Hence may be
conjectured how great was the confidence in which the word of the
unfortunate Trenck was held at Glatz, since they did not fear
letting him leave his dungeon, and hunt on the very confines of
Bohemia. This, too, shows the governor was deceived, in despite of
his watchfulness and order, and that a man of honour, with money,
and a good head and heart, will never want friends.

These my memoirs will be the picture of what the national character
then was; and will prove that, with officers who lived like
brothers, and held their words so sacred, the great Frederick well
might vanquish his enemies.

Arbitrary power has now introduced the whip of slavery, and mechanic
subordination has eradicated those noble and rational incitements to
concord and honour. Instead of which, mistrust and slavish fear
having arisen, the enthusiastic spirit of the Brandenburg warrior
declines, and into this error have most of the other European States

Scarcely had I borne my friend three hundred paces before I set him
down, and I looked round me, but darkness came on so fast that I
could see neither town nor citadel; consequently, we ourselves could
not be seen.

My presence of mind did not forsake me: death or freedom was my
determination. "Where are we, Schell?" said I to my friend. "Where
does Bohemia lie? on which side is the river Neiss?" The worthy man
could make no answer: his mind was all confusion, and he despaired
of our escape: he still, however, entreated I would not let him be
taken alive, and affirmed my labour was all in vain.

After having promised, by all that was sacred, I would save him from
an infamous death, if no other means were left, and thus raised his
spirits, he looked round, and knew, by some trees, we were not far
from the city gates. I asked him, "Where is the Neiss?" He pointed
sideways--"All Glatz has seen us fly towards the Bohemian mountains;
it is impossible we should avoid the hussars, the passes being all
guarded, and we beset with enemies." So saying, I took him on my
shoulders, and carried him to the Neiss; here we distinctly heard
the alarm sounded in the villages, and the peasants, who likewise
were to form the line of desertion, were everywhere in motion, and
spreading the alarm. As it may not be known to all my readers in
what manner they proceed on these occasions in Prussia, I will here
give a short account of it.

Officers are daily named on the parade whose duty it is to follow
fugitives as soon as the alarm-guns are fired.

The peasants in the villages, likewise, are daily appointed to rim
to the guard of certain posts. The officers immediately fly to
these posts to see that the peasants do their duty, and prevent the
prisoner's escape. Thus does it seldom happen that a soldier can
effect his escape unless he be, at the very least, an hour on the
road before the alarm-guns are fired.

I now return to my story.

I came to the Neiss, which was a little frozen, entered it with my
friend, and carried him as long as I could wade, and when I could
not feel the bottom, which did not continue for more than a space of
eighteen feet, he clung round me, and thus we got safely to the
other shore.

My father taught all his sons to swim, for which I have often had to
thank him; since by means of this art, which is easily learnt in
childhood, I had on various occasions preserved my life, and was
more bold in danger. Princes who wish to make their subjects
soldiers, should have them educated so as to fear neither fire nor
water. How great would be the advantage of being able to cross a
river with whole battalions, when it is necessary to attack or
retreat before the enemy, and when time will not permit to prepare

The reader will easily suppose swimming in the midst of December,
and remaining afterwards eighteen hours in the open air, was a
severe hardship. About seven o'clock the hoar-fog was succeeded by
frost and moonlight. The carrying of my friend kept me warm, it is
true, but I began to be tired, while he suffered everything that
frost, the pain of a dislocated foot (which I in vain endeavoured to
reset), and the danger of death from a thousand hands, could

We were somewhat more tranquil, however, having reached the opposite
shore of the Neiss, since nobody would pursue us on the road to
Silesia. I followed the course of the river for half an hour, and
having once passed the first villages that formed the line of
desertion, with which Schell was perfectly acquainted, we in a lucky
moment found a fisherman's boat moored to the shore; into this we
leaped, crossed the river again, and soon gained the mountains.

Here being come, we sat ourselves down awhile on the snow; hope
revived in our hearts, and we held council concerning how it was
best to act. I cut a stick to assist Schell in hopping forward as
well as he could when I was tired of carrying him; and thus we
continued our route, the difficulties of which were increased by the
mountain snows.

Thus passed the night; during which, up to the middle in snow, we
made but little way. There were no paths to be traced in the
mountains, and they were in many places impassable. Day at length
appeared: we thought ourselves near the frontiers, which are twenty
English miles from Glatz, when we suddenly, to our great terror,
heard the city clock strike.

Overwhelmed, as we were, by hunger, cold, fatigue, and pain, it was
impossible we should hold out through the day. After some
consideration, and another half-hour's labour, we came to a village
at the foot of the mountain, on the side of which, about three
hundred paces from us, we perceived two separate houses, which
inspired us with a stratagem that was successful.

We lost our hats in leaping the ramparts; but Schell had preserved
his scarf and gorget, which would give him authority among the

I then cut my finger, rubbed the blood over my face, my shirt, and
my coat, and bound up my head, to give myself the appearance of a
man dangerously wounded.

In this condition I carried Schell to the end of the wood not far
from these houses; here he tied my hands behind my back, but so that
I could easily disengage them in ease of need: and hobbled after
me, by aid of his staff, calling for help.

Two old peasants appeared, and Schell commanded them to run to the
village, and tell a magistrate to come immediately with a cart. "I
have seized this knave," added he, "who has killed my horse, and in
the struggle I have put out my ankle; however, I have wounded and
bound him; fly quickly, bring a cart, lest he should die before he
is hanged."

As for me, I suffered myself to be led, as if half-dead, into the
house. A peasant was despatched to the village. An old woman and a
pretty girl seemed to take great pity on me, and gave me some bread
and milk: but how great was our astonishment when the aged peasant
called Schell by his name, and told him he well knew we were
deserters, having the night before been at a neighbouring alehouse
where the officer in pursuit of us came, named and described us, and
related the whole history of our flight. The peasant knew Schell,
because his son served in his company, and had often spoken of him
when he was quartered at Habelschwert.

Presence of mind and resolution were all that were now left. I
instantly ran to the stable, while Schell detained the peasant in
the chamber. He, however, was a worthy man, and directed him to the
road toward Bohemia. We were still about some seven miles from
Glatz, having lost ourselves among the mountains, where we had
wandered many miles. The daughter followed me: I found three
horses in the stable, but no bridles. I conjured her, in the most
passionate manner, to assist me: she was affected, seemed half
willing to follow me, and gave me two bridles. I led the horses to
the door, called Schell, and helped him, with his lame leg, on
horseback. The old peasant then began to weep, and beg I would not
take his horses; but he luckily wanted courage, and perhaps the will
to impede us; for with nothing more than a dung-fork, in our then
feeble condition, he might have stopped us long enough to have
called in assistance from the village.

And now behold us on horseback, without hats or saddles; Schell with
his uniform scarf and gorget, and I in my red regimental coat.
Still we were in danger of seeing all our hopes vanish, for my horse
would not stir from the stable; however, at last, good horseman-
like, I made him move: Schell led the way, and we had scarcely gone
a hundred paces, before we perceived the peasants coming in crowds
from the village.

As kind fortune would have it, the people were all at church, it
being a festival: the peasants Schell had sent were obliged to call
aid out of church. It was but nine in the morning; and had the
peasants been at home, we had been lost past redemption.

We were obliged to take the road to Wunshelburg, and pass through
the town where Schell had been quartered a month before, and in
which he was known by everybody. Our dress, without hats or
saddles, sufficiently proclaimed we were deserters: our horses,
however, continued to go tolerably well, and we had the good luck to
get through the town, although there was a garrison of one hundred
and eighty infantry, and twelve horse, purposely to arrest
deserters. Schell knew the road to Brummem, where we arrived at
eleven o'clock, after having met, as I before mentioned, Captain

He who has been in the same situation only can imagine, though he
never can describe, all the joy we felt. An innocent man,
languishing in a dungeon, who by his own endeavours, has broken his
chains, and regained his liberty, in despite of all the arbitrary
power of princes, who vainly would oppose him, conceives in moments
like these such an abhorrence of despotism, that I could not well
comprehend how I ever could resolve to live under governments where
wealth, content, honour, liberty, and life all depend upon a
master's will, and who, were his intentions the most pure, could not
be able, singly, to do justice to a whole nation.

Never did I, during life, feel pleasure more exquisite than at this
moment. My friend for me had risked a shameful death, and now,
after having carried him at least twelve hours on my shoulders, I
had saved both him and myself. We certainly should not have
suffered any man to bring us, alive, back to Glatz. Yet this was
but the first act of the tragedy of which I was doomed the hero, and
the mournful incidents of which all arose out of, and depended on,
each other.


Could I have read the book of fate, and have seen the forty years'
fearful afflictions that were to follow, I certainly should not have
rejoiced at this my escape from Glatz. One year's patience might
have appeased the irritated monarch, and, taking a retrospect of all
that has passed, I now find it would have been a fortunate
circumstance, had the good and faithful Schell and I never met,
since he also fell into a train of misfortunes, which I shall
hereafter relate, and from which he could never extricate himself,
but by death. The sufferings which I have since undergone will be
read with astonishment.

It is my consolation that both the laws of honour and nature justify
the action. I may serve as an example of the fortitude with which
danger ought to be encountered, and show monarchs that in Germany,
as well as in Rome, there are men who refuse to crouch beneath the
yoke of despotism, and that philosophy and resolution are stronger
than even those lords of slaves, with all their threats, whips,
tortures, and instruments of death.

In Prussia, where my sufferings might have made me supposed the
worst of traitors, is my innocence universally acknowledged; and
instead of contempt, there have I gained the love of the whole
nation, which is the best compensation for all the ills I have
suffered, and for having persevered in the virtuous principles
taught me in my youth, persecuted as I have been by envy and
malicious power. I have not time further to moralise; the numerous
incidents of my life would otherwise swell this volume to too great
an extent.

Thus in freedom at Braunau, on the Bohemian frontiers, I sent the
two horses, with the corporal's sword, back to General Fouquet, at
Glatz. The letter accompanying them was so pleasing to him that all
the sentinels before my prison door, as well as the guard under
arms, and all those we passed, were obliged to run the gauntlet,
although the very day before he had himself declared my escape was
now rendered impossible. He, however, was deceived; and thus do the
mean revenge themselves on the miserable, and the tyrant on the

And now for the first time did I quit my country, and fly like
Joseph from the pit into which his false brethren had cast him; and
in this the present moment of joy for my escape, the loss even of
friends and country appeared to me the excess of good fortune.

The estates which had been purchased by the blood of my forefathers
were confiscated; and thus was a youth, of one of the noblest
families in the land, whose heart was all zeal for the service of
his King and country, and who was among those most capable to render
them service, banished by his unjust and misled King, and treated
like the worst of miscreants, malefactors, and traitors.

I wrote to the King, and sent him a true state of my case; sent
indubitable proofs of my innocence, and supplicated justice, but
received no answer.

In this the monarch may be justified, at least in my apprehension.


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