The Life and Adventures of Baron Trenck - Volume 2
Baron Trenck

Part 3 out of 3

prince beloved by his people will ever render a nation more happy
those he whose only wish is to inspire fear.

The pleasure I received at Berlin was great indeed. When I went to
court, the citizens crowded to see me, and when anyone among them
said, "That is Trenck," the rest would cry, "Welcome once more to
your country," while many would reach me their hands, with the tears
standing in their eyes. Frequent were the scenes I experienced of
this kind. No malefactor would have been so received. It was the
reward of innocence; this reward was bestowed throughout the
Prussian territories.

Oh world, ill-judging world, deceived by show! Dost thou not
blindly follow the opinion of the prince, be he severe, arbitrary,
or just? Thy censure and thy praise equally originate in common
report. In Magdeburg I lay, chained to the wall, ten years, sighing
in wretchedness, every calamity of hunger, cold, nakedness, and
contempt. And wherefore? Because the King, deceived by slanderers,
pronounced me worthy of punishment. Because a wise King mistook me,
and treated me with barbarity. Because a prudent King knew he had
done wrong, yet would not have it so supposed. So was his heart
turned to stone; nay, opposed by manly fortitude, was enraged to
cruelty. Most men were convinced I was an innocent sufferer; "Yet
did they all cry out the more, saying, let him be crucified!" My
relations were ashamed to hear my name. My sister was barbarously
treated because she assisted me in my misfortunes. No man durst
avow himself my friend, durst own I merited compassion; or, much
less, that the infallible King had erred. I was the most despised,
forlorn man on earth; and when thus put on the rack, had I there
expired, my epitaph would have been, "Here lies the traitor,

Frederic is dead, and the scene is changed; another monarch has
ascended the throne, and the grub has changed to a beautiful
butterfly! The witnesses to all I have asserted are still living,
loudly now proclaim the truth, and embrace me with heart-felt

Does the worth of a man depend upon his actions? his reward or
punishment upon his virtue? In arbitrary states, certainly not.
They depend on the breath of a king! Frederic was the most
penetrating prince of his age, but the most obstinate also. A vice
dreadful to those whom he selected as victims, who must be
sacrificed to the promoting of his arbitrary views.

How many perished, the sin offerings of Frederic's obstinate self-
will, whose orphan children now cry to God for vengeance! The dead,
alas! cannot plead. Trial began and ended with execution. The few
words--IT IS THE KING'S COMMAND--were words of horror to the poor
condemned wretch denied to plead his innocence! Yet what is the
Ukase (Imperial order) in Russia, Tel est notre bon plaisir (Such is
our pleasure) in France, or the Allergnadigste Hofresolution (The
all-gracious sentence of the court), pronounced with the sweet tone
of a Vienna matron? In what do these differ from the arbitrary
order of a military despot?

Every prayer of man should be consecrated to man's general good; for
him to obtain freedom and universal justice! Together should we cry
with one voice, and, if unable to shackle arbitrary power, still
should we endeavour to show how dangerous it is! The priests of
liberty should offer up their thanks to the monarch who declares
"the word of power" a nullity, and "the sentence" of justice

Who can name the court in Europe where Louis, Peter, or Frederic,
each and all surnamed The Great, have not been, and are not,
imitated as models of perfection?. Lettres-de-cachet, the knout,
and cabinet-orders, superseding all right, are become law!

No reasoning, says the corporal to the poor grenadier, whom he
canes!--No reasoning! exclaim judges; the court has decided.--No
reasoning, rash and pertinacious Trenck, will the prudent reader
echo. Throw thy pen in the fire, and expose not thyself to become
the martyr of a state inquisition.

My fate is, and must remain, critical and undecided. I have six-
and-thirty years been in the service of Austria, unrewarded, and
beholding the repeated and generous efforts I made effectually to
serve that state, unnoticed. The Emperor Joseph supposes me old,
that the fruit is wasted, and that the husk only remains. It is
also supposed I should not be satisfied with a little. To continue
to oppress him who has once been oppressed, and who possess
qualities that may make injustice manifest, is the policy of states.
My journey to Berlin has given the slanderer further opportunity of
painting me as a suspicious character: I smile at the ineffectual

I appeared in the Imperial uniform and belied such insinuations. To
this purpose it was written to court, in November, when I went into
Hungary, "The motions of Trenck ought to be observed in Hungary."
Ye poor malicious blood-suckers of the virtuous! Ye shall not be
able to hurt a hair of my head. Ye cannot injure the man who has
sixty years lived in honour. I will not, in my old age, bring upon
myself the reproach of inconstancy, treachery, or desire of revenge.
I will betray no political secrets: I wish not to injure those by
whom I have been injured.--Such acts I will never commit. I never
yet descended to the office of spy, nor will I die a rewarded

Yes, I appeared in Berlin among the upright and the just. Instead
of being its supposed enemy, I was declared an honour to my country.
I appeared in the Imperial uniform and fulfilled the duties of my
station: and now must the Prussian Trenck return to Austria, there
to perform a father's duty.

Yet more of what happened in Berlin.

Some days after I had been presented to the King, I entreated a
private audience, and on the 12th of February received the following

"In answer to your letter of the 8th of this month, I inform you
that, if you will come to me to-morrow, at five o'clock in the
afternoon, I shall have the pleasure to speak with you; meantime, I
pray God to take you into his holy keeping.


"Berlin, Feb. 12, 1787."

"P.S.--After signing the above, I find it more convenient to appoint
to-morrow, at nine in the morning, about which time you will come
into the apartment named the Marmor Kammer (marble chamber)."

The anxiety with which I expected this wished-for interview may well
be conceived. I found the Prussian Titus alone, and he continued in
conversation with me more than an hour.

How kind was the monarch! How great! How nobly did he console me
for the past! How entirely did his assurance of favour overpower my
whole soul! He had read the history of my life. When prince of
Prussia, he had been an eyewitness, in Magdeburg, of my martyrdom,
and my attempts to escape. His Majesty parted from me with tokens
of esteem and condescension.--My eyes bade adieu, but my heart
remained in the marble chamber, in company with a prince capable of
sensations so dignified; and my wishes for his welfare are eternal.

I have since travelled through the greater part of the Prussian
states. Where is the country in which the people are all satisfied?
Many complained of hard times, or industry unrewarded. My answer

"Friends, kneel with the rising sun, and thank the God of heaven
that you are Prussians. I have seen and known much of this world,
and I assure you, you are among the happiest people of Europe.
Causes of complaint everywhere exist; but you have a king, neither
obstinate, ambitious, covetous, nor cruel: his will is that his
people should have cause of content, and should he err by chance,
his heart is not to blame if the subject suffers."

Prussia is neither wanting in able nor learned men. The warmth of
patriots glows in their veins. Everything remains with equal
stability, as under the reign of Frederic; and should the thunder
burst, the ready conductors will render the shock ineffectual.

Hertzberg still labours in the cabinet, still thinks, writes, and
acts as he has done for years. The king is desirous that justice
shall be done to his subjects, and will punish, perhaps, with more
severity, whenever he finds himself deceived, than from the goodness
of his disposition, might be supposed. The treasury is full, the
army continues the same, and there is little reason to doubt but
that industry, population, and wealth will increase. None but the
vile and the wicked would leave the kingdom; while the oppressed and
best subjects of other states would fly from their native country,
certain of finding encouragement and security in Prussia.

The personal qualities of Fredric William merit description. He is
tall and handsome, his mien is majestic, and his accomplishments of
mind and body would procure him the love of men, were he not a king.
He is affable without deceit, friendly and kind in conversation, and
stately when stateliness is necessary. He is bountiful, but not
profuse; he knows that without economy the Prussian must sink. He
is not tormented by the spirit of conquest, he wishes harm to no
nation, yet he will certainly not suffer other nations to make
encroachments, nor will he be terrified by menaces.

The wise Frederic, when living, though himself learned, and a lover
of the sciences, never encouraged them in his kingdom. Germany,
under his reign, might have forgotten her language: he preferred
the literature of France. Konigsberg, once the seminary of the
North, contains, at present, few professors, or students; the former
are fallen into disrepute, and are ill paid; the latter repair to
Leipsic and Gottingen. We have every reason to suppose the present
monarch, though no studious man himself, will encourage the
academies of the literati, that men learned in jurisprudence and the
sciences may not be wanting: which want is the more to be
apprehended as the nobility must, without exception, serve in the
army, so that learning has but few adherents, and these are deprived
of the means of improvement.

Frederic William is also too much the friend of men to suffer them
to pine in prisons. He abhors the barbarity with which the soldiers
are beaten: his officers will not be fettered hand and foot;
slavish subordination will be banished, and the noble in heart will
be the noble of the land. May he, in his people, find perfect
content! May his people be ever worthy of such a prince! Long may
he reign, and may his ministers be ever enlightened and honourable

He sent for me a second time, conversed much with me, and confirmed
those ideas which my first interview had inspired.

On the 11th of March I presented my son at another audience, whom I
intended for the Prussian service. The King bestowed a commission
on him in the Posadowsky dragoons, at my request.

I saw him at the review at Velau, and his superior officers formed
great expectations from his zeal. Time will discover whether he who
is in the Austrian, or this in the Prussian service, will first
obtain the rewards due to their father. Should they both remain
unnoticed, I will bestow him on the Grand Turk, rather than on
European courts, whence equity to me and mine is banished.

To Austria I owe no thanks; all that could be taken from me was
taken. I was a captain before I entered those territories, and,
after six-and-thirty years' service, I find myself in the rank of
invalid major. The proof of all I have asserted, and of how little
I am indebted to this state is most incontestable, since the history
of my life is allowed by the royal censor to be publicly sold in

It is remarkable that one only of all the eight officers, with whom
I served, in the body guard, in 1745, is dead. Lieutenant-colonel
Count Blumenthal lives in Berlin; Pannewitz is commander of the
Knights of Malta: both gave me a friendly reception. Wagnitz is
lieutenant-general in the service of Hesse-Cassel; he was my tent
comrade, and was acquainted with all that happened. Kalkreuter and
Grethusen live on their estates, and Jaschinsky is now alive at
Konigsberg, but superannuated, and tortured by sickness, and
remorse. He, instead of punishment, has forty years enjoyed a
pension of a thousand rix-dollars. I have seen my lands
confiscated, of the income of which I have been forty-two years
deprived, and never yet received retribution.

Time must decide; the king is generous, and I have too much pride to
become a beggar. The name of Trenck shall be found in the history
of the acts of Frederic. A tyrant himself, he was the slave of his
passions; and even did not think an inquiry into my innocence worth
the trouble. To be ashamed of doing right, because he has done
wrong, or to persist in error, that fools, and fools only, can think
him infallible, is a dreadful principle in a ruler.

Since I have been at Berlin, and was received there with so many
testimonies of friendship, the newspapers of Germany have published
various articles concerning me, intending to contribute to my honour
or ease. They said my eldest daughter is appointed the governess of
the young Princess. This has been the joke of some witty
correspondent; for my eldest daughter is but fifteen, and stands in
need of a governess herself. Perhaps they may suppose me mean
enough to circulate falsehood.

I daily receive letters from all parts of Germany, wherein the
sensations of the feeling heart are evident. Among these letters
was one which I received from Bahrdt, Professor at Halle, dated
April 10, 1787 wherein he says, "Receive, noble German, the thanks
of one who, like you, has encountered difficulties; yet, far
inferior to those you have encountered. You, with gigantic
strength, have met a host of foes, and conquered. The pests of men
attacked me also. From town to town, from land to land, I was
pursued by priestcraft and persecution; yet I acquired fame. I fled
for refuge and repose to the states of Frederic, but found them not.
I have eight years laboured under affliction with perseverance, but
have found no reward. By industry have I made myself what I am; by
ministerial favour, never. Worn out and weak, the history of your
life, worthy sir, fell into my hands, and poured balsam into my
wounds. There I saw sufferings immeasurably greater; there, indeed,
beheld fortitude most worthy of admiration. Compared to you, of
what could I complain? Receive, noble German, my warmest thanks;
while I live they shall flow. And should you find a fortunate
moment, in the presence of your King, speak of me as one consigned
to poverty; as one whose talents are buried in oblivion. Say to
him--'Mighty King! stretch forth thy hand, and dry up his tears.' I
know the nobleness of your mind, and doubt not your good wishes."

To the Professor's letter I returned the following answer:-

"I was affected, sir, by your letter. I never yet was unmoved, when
the pen was obedient to the dictates of the heart. I feel for your
situation; and if my example can teach wisdom even to the wise, I
have cause to triumph. This is the sweetest of rewards. At Berlin
I have received much honour, but little more. Men are deaf to him
who confides only in his right. What have I gained? Shadowy fame
for myself, and the vapour of hope for my heirs!

"Truth and Trenck, my good friend, flourish not in courts. You
complain of priestcraft. He who would disturb their covetousness,
he who speaks against the false opinions they scatter, considers not
priests, and their aim, which is to dazzle the stupid and stupefy
the wise. Deprecate their wrath! avoid their poisoned shafts, or
they will infect tiny peace: will blast thy honour. And wherefore
should we incur this danger. To cure ignorance of error is
impossible. Let us then silently steal to our graves, and thus
small we escape the breath of envy. He who should enjoy all even
thought could grasp, should yet have but little. Having acquired
this knowledge, the passions of the soul are lulled to apathy. I
behold error, and I laugh; do thou, my friend, laugh also. If that
can comfort us, men will do our memory justice--when we are dead!
Fame plants her laurels over the grave, and there they flourish


"Schangulach, near Konigsberg,
April 30th, 1787."

"P.S--I have spoken, worthy Professor, the feelings of my heart, in
answer to your kind panegyric. You will but do me justice, when you
believe I think and act as I write with respect to my influence at
court, it is as insignificant at Berlin as at Vienna or at

Among the various letters I have received, as it may answer a good
purpose, I hope the reader will not think the insertion of the
following improper.

In a letter from an unknown correspondent, who desired me to speak
for this person at Berlin, eight others were enclosed. They came
from the above person in distress, to this correspondent: and I was
requested to let them appear in the Berlin Journal. I selected two
of them, and here present them to the world, as it can do me injury,
while they describe an unhappy victim of an extraordinary kind: and
may perhaps obtain him some relief.

Should this hope be verified, I am acquainted with him who wishes to
remain concealed, can introduce him to the knowledge of such as
might wish to interfere in his behalf. Should they not, the reader
will still find them well-written and affecting letters; such as may
inspire compassion. The following is the first of those I selected.


"Neuland, Feb 12th, 1787.

"I thought I had so satisfactorily answered you by my last, that you
would have left me in peaceful possession of my sorrows! but your
remarks, entreaties, and remonstrances, succeed each other with such
rapidity, that I am induced to renew the contest. Cowardice, I
believe, you are convinced, is not a native in my heart, and should
I now yield, you might suppose that age and the miseries I have
suffered, had weakened my powers of mind as well as body; and that I
ought to have been classed among the unhappy multitudes whose
sufferings have sunk them to despondency.

"Baron Trenck, that man of many woes, once so despised, but who now
is held in admiration, where he was before so much the object of
hatred; who now speaks so loudly in his own defence, where,
formerly, the man who had but whispered his name would have lived
suspected; Baron Trenck you propose as an example of salvation for
me. You are wrong. Have you considered how dissimilar our past
lives have been; how different, too, are our circumstances? Or,
omitting these, have you considered to whom you would have me

"In 1767, I became acquainted, in Vienna, with this sufferer of
fortitude, this agreeable companion. We are taught that a noble
aspect bespeaks a corresponding mind; this I believe him to possess.
But what expectations can I form from Baron Trenck?

"I will briefly answer the questions you have put. Baron Trenck was
a man born to inherit great estates; this and the fire of his youth,
fanned by flattering hopes from his famous kinsman, rendered him too
haughty to his King; and this alone was the origin of all his future
sufferings. I, on the contrary, though the son of a Silesian
nobleman of property, did not inherit so much as the pay of a common
soldier; the family having been robbed by the hand of power, after
being accused by wickedness under the mask of virtue. You know my
father's fate, the esteem in which he was held by the Empress
Theresa; and that a pretended miracle was the occasion of his fall.
Suddenly was he plunged from the height to which industry, talents,
and virtue had raised him, to the depth of poverty. At length, at
the beginning of the seven years' war, one of the King of Prussia's
subjects represented him to the Austrian court as a dangerous
correspondent of Marshal Schwerin's. Then at sixty years of age, my
father was seized at Jagerndorf, and imprisoned in the fortress of
Gratz, in Styria. He had an allowance just sufficient to keep him
alive in his dungeon; but, for the space of seven years, never
beheld the sun rise or set. I was a boy when this happened,
however, I was not heard. I only received some pecuniary relief
from the Empress, with permission to shed my blood in her defence.
In this situation we first vowed eternal friendship; but from this I
soon was snatched by my father's enemies. What the Empress had
bestowed, her ministers tore from me. I was seized at midnight, and
was brought, in company with two other officers, to the fortress of
Gratz. Here I remained immured six years. My true name was
concealed, and another given me.

"Peace being restored, Trenck, I, and my father were released; but
the mode of our release was very different. The first obtained his
freedom at the intercession of Theresa, she, too, afforded him a
provision. We, on the contrary, according to the amnesty,
stipulated in the treaty of peace, were led from our dungeons as
state prisoners, without inquiry concerning the verity or falsehood
of our crimes. Extreme poverty, wretchedness, and misery, were our
reward for the sufferings we had endured.

"Not only was my health destroyed, but my jawbone was lost, eaten
away by the scurvy. I laid before Frederic the Great the proofs of
the calamities I had undergone, and the dismal state to which I was
reduced, by his foe, and for his sake; entreated bread to preserve
me and my father from starving, but his ear was deaf to my prayer,
his heart insensible to my sighs.

"Providence, however, raised me up a saviour,--Count Gellhorn was
the man. After the taking of Breslau, he had been also sent a state
prisoner to Gratz. During his imprisonment, he had heard the report
of my sufferings and my innocence. No sooner did he learn I was
released, than he became my benefactor, my friend, and restored me
to the converse of men, to which I had so long been dead.

"I defer the continuance of my narrative to the next post. The
remembrance of past woes inflict new ones. I am eternally."


"February 24, 1787.

"Dear Friend,--After an interval of silence, remembering my promise,
I again continue my story.

"My personal sufferings have not been less than those of Trenck.
His, I am acquainted with only from the inaccurate relations I have
heard: my own I have felt. A colonel in the Prussian service,
whose name was Hallasch, was four years my companion; he was insane,
and believed himself the Christ that was to appear at the
millennium: he persecuted me with his reveries, which I was obliged
to listen to, and approve, or suffer violence from one stronger than

"The society of men or books, everything that could console or
amuse, were forbidden me; and I considered it as wonderful that I
did not myself grow mad, in the company of this madman. Four hard
winters I existed without feeling the feeble emanation of a winter
sun, much less the warmth of fire. The madman felt more pity than
my keeper, and lent me his cloak to cover my body, though the other
denied me a truss of straw, notwithstanding I had lost the use of my
hands and feet. The place where we were confined was called a
chamber; it rather resembled the temple of Cloacina. The noxious
damps and vapours so poisoned my blood that an unskilful surgeon,
who tortured me during nine months, with insult as a Prussian
traitor, and state criminal, I lost the greatest part of my jaw.

"Schottendorf was our governor and tyrant; a man who repaid the
friendship he found in the mansion of my fathers--with cruelty. He
was ripe for the sickle, and Time cut him off. Tormentini and Galer
were his successors in office, by them we were carefully watched,
but we were treated with commiseration. Their precautions rendered
imprisonment less wretched. Ever shall I hold their memory sacred.
Yet, benevolent as they were, their goodness was exceeded by that of
Rottensteiner, the head gaoler. He considered his prisoners as his
children; and he was their benefactor. Of this I had experience,
during two years after the release of Hallasch.

"Here I but cursorily describe misery, at which the monarch shall
shudder, if the blood of a tyrant flow not in his veins. Theresa
could not wish these things. But she was fallible, and not

"From the above narrative, you will perceive how opposite the
effects must be which the histories of Baron Trenck and of myself
must produce.

"Trenck left his dungeon shielded from contempt; the day of freedom
was the day of triumph. I, on the contrary, was exposed to every
calamity. The spirit of Trenck again raised itself. I have
laboured many a night that I might neither beg nor perish the
following day: working for judges who neither knew law nor had
powers of mind to behold the beauty of justice: settling accounts
that, item after item, did not prove that the lord they were
intended for, was an imbecile dupe.

"Trenck remembers his calamities, but the remembrance is
advantageous to himself and his family; while with me, the past did
but increase, did but agonise, the present and the future. He was
not like me, obliged to crouch in presence of those vulgar, those
incapable minds, that do but consider the bent back as the footstool
of pride. Every man is too busy to act in behalf of others; pity me
therefore, but advise me not to hope assistance, by petitioning
princes at second hand. I know your good wishes, and, for these, I
have nothing to return but barren thanks.--I am, &c"

The reasons why I published the foregoing letters are already
stated, and will appear satisfactory to the reader. Once more to
affairs that concern myself.

I met at Berlin many old friends of both sexes; among others, an
aged invalid came to see me, who was at Glatz, in 1746, when I cut
my way through the guard. He was one of the sentinels before my
door, whom I had thrown down the stairs.

The hour of quitting Berlin, and continuing my journey into Prussia,
towards Konigsberg, approached. On the eve of my departure, I had
the happiness of conversing with her Royal Highness the Princess
Amelia, sister of Frederic the Great. She protected me in my hour
of adversity; heaped benefits upon me, and contributed to gain my
deliverance. She received me as a friend, as an aged patriot; and
laid her commands upon me to write to my wife, and request that she
would come to Berlin, in the month of June, with her two eldest
daughters. I received her promise that the happiness of the latter
should be her care; nay, that she would remember my wife in her

At this moment, when about to depart, she asked me if I had money
sufficient for my journey: "Yes, madam," was my reply; "I want
nothing, ask nothing; but may you remember my children!"

The deep feeling with which I pronounced these words moved the
princess; she showed me how she comprehended my meaning, and said,
"Return, my friend, quickly: I shall be most happy to see you."

I left the room: a kind of indecision came over me. I was inclined
to remain longer at Berlin. Had I done so, my presence would have
been of great advantage to my children. Alas! under the guidance of
my evil genius, I began my journey. The purpose for which I came to
Berlin was frustrated: for after my departure, the Princess Amelia

Peace be to thy ashes, noble princess! Thy will was good, and be
that sufficient. I shall not want materials to write a commentary
on the history of Frederic, when, in company with thee, I shall
wander on the banks of Styx; there the events that happened on this
earth may be written without danger.

So proceed we with our story.


On the 22nd of March I pursued my journey to Konigsberg, but
remained two days at the court of the Margrave of Brandenburg, where
I was received with kindness. The Margrave had bestowed favours on
me, during my imprisonment at Magdeburg.

I departed thence through Soldin to Schildberg, here to visit my
relation Sidau, who had married the daughter of my sister, which
daughter my sister had by her first husband, Waldow, of whom I have
before spoken. I found my kinsman a worthy man, and one who made
the daughter of an unfortunate sister happy. I was received at his
house within open arms; and, for the first time after an interval of
two-and-forty years, beheld one of my own relations.

On my journey thither, I had the pleasure to meet with Lieutenant-
General Kowalsky: This gentleman was a lieutenant in the garrison
of Glatz, in 1745, and was a witness of my leap from the wall of the
rampart. He had read my history, some of the principal facts of
which he was acquainted with. Should anyone therefore doubt
concerning those incidents, I may refer to him, whose testimony
cannot be suspected.

From Schildberg I proceeded to Landsberg, on the Warta. Here I
found my brother-in-law, Colonel Pape, commander of the Gotz
dragoons, and the second husband of my deceased sister: and here I
passed a joyous day. Everybody congratulated me on my return into
my country.

I found relations in almost every garrison. Never did man receive
more marks of esteem throughout a kingdom. The knowledge of my
calamities procured me sweet consolation; and I were insensible
indeed, and ungrateful, did my heart remain unmoved on occasions
like these.

In Austria I never can expect a like reception; I am there mistaken,
and I feel little inclination to labour at removing mistakes so
rooted. Yet, even there am I by the general voice, approved. Yes,
I am admired, but not known; pitied but not supported; honoured, but
not rewarded.

When at Berlin, I discovered an error I had committed in the
commencement of my life. At the time I wrote I believed that the
postmaster-general of Berlin, Mr Derschau, was my mother's brother,
and the same person who, in 1742, was grand counsellor at Glogau,
and afterwards, president in East Friesland. I was deceived; the
Derschau who is my mother's brother is still living, and president
at Aurich in East Friesland. The postmaster was the son of the old
Derschau who died a general, and who was only distantly related to
my mother. Neither is the younger Derschau, who is the colonel of a
regiment at Burg, the brother of my mother, but only her first
cousin; one of their sisters married Lieut.-Colonel Ostau, whose
son, the President Ostau, now lives on his own estate, at Lablack in

I was likewise deceived in having suspected a lieutenant, named
Mollinie, in the narrative I gave of my flight from Glatz, of having
acted as a spy upon me at Braunau, and of having sent information to
General Fouquet. I am sorry. This honest man is still alive, a
captain in Brandenburg. He was affected at my suspicion, fully
justified himself, and here I publicly apologise. He then was, and
again is become my friend.

I have received a letter from one Lieutenant Brodowsky. This
gentleman is offended at finding his mother's name in my narrative,
and demands I should retract my words.

My readers will certainly allow the virtue of Madame Brodowsky, at
Elbing, is not impeached. Although I have said I had the fortune to
be beloved by her, I have nowhere intimated that I asked, or that
she granted, improper favours.

By the desire of a person of distinction, I shall insert an incident
which I omitted in a former part. This person was an eye-witness of
the incident I am about to relate, at Magdeburg, and reminded me of
the affair. It was my last attempt but one at flight.

The circumstances were these:-

As I found myself unable to get rid of more sand, after having again
cut through the planking, and mined the foundation, I made a hole
towards the ditch, in which three sentinels were stationed. This I
executed one night, it being easy, from the lightness of the sand,
to perform the work in two hours.

No sooner had I broken through, than I threw one of my slippers
beside the palisades, that it might be supposed I had lost it when
climbing over them. These palisades, twelve feet in length, were
situated in the front of the principal fosse, and my sentinels stood
within. There was no sentry-box at the place where I had broken

This done, I returned into my prison, made another hole under the
planking, where I could hide myself, and stopped up the passage
behind me, so that it was not probable I could be seen or found.

When daylight came, the sentinel saw the hole and gave the alarm,
the slipper was found, and it was concluded that Trenck had escaped
over the palisades, and was no longer in prison.

Immediately the sub-governor came from Magdeburg, the guns were
fired, the horse scoured the country, and the subterranean passages
were all visited: no tidings came; no discovery was made, and the
conclusion was I had escaped. That I should fly without the
knowledge of the sentinels, was deemed impossible; the officer, and
all the guard, were put under arrest, and everybody was surprised.

I, in the meantime, sat quiet in my hole, where I heard their
searches, and suppositions that I was gone.

My heart bounded with joy, and I held escape to be indubitable.
They would not place sentinels over the prison the following night,
and I should then really have left my place of concealment, and,
most probably have safely arrived in Saxony. My destiny, however,
robbed me of all hope at the very moment when I supposed the
greatest of my difficulties were conquered.

Everything seemed to happen as I could wish. The whole garrison
came, and visited the casemates, and all stood astonished at the
miracle they beheld. In this state things remained till four
o'clock in the afternoon. At length, an ensign of the militia came,
a boy of about fifteen or sixteen years of age, who had more wit
than any or all of them. He approached the hole, examined the
aperture next the fosse, thought it appeared small, tried to enter
it himself, found he could not, therefore concluded it was
impossible a man of my size could have passed through, and
accordingly called for a light.

This was an accident I had not foreseen. Half stifled in my hole, I
had opened the canal under the planking. No sooner had the youth
procured a light, than he perceived my shirt, examined nearer, felt
about, and laid hold of me by the arm. The fox was caught, and the
laugh was universal. My confusion may easily be imagined. They all
came round me, paid me their compliments, and finding nothing better
was to be done, I laughed in company with them, and, thus laughing
was led back with an aching heart to be sorrowfully enchained in my

I continued my journey, and arrived, on the fourth of April, at
Konigsberg, where my brother expected my arrival. We embraced as
brothers must, after the absence of two-and-forty years. Of all the
brothers and sisters I had left in this city, he only remained. He
lived a retired and peaceable life on his own estates. He had no
children living. I continued a fortnight within him and his wife.

Here, for the first time, I learned what had happened to my
relations, during their absence. The wrath of the Great Frederic
extended itself to all my family. My second brother was an ensign
in the regiment of cuirassiers at Kiow, in 1746, when I first
incurred disgrace from the King. Six years he served, fought at
three battles, but, because his name was Trenck, never was promoted.
Weary of expectation he quitted the army, married, and lived on his
estates at Meicken, where he died about three years ago, and left
two sons, who are an honour to the family of the Trencks.

Fame spoke him a person capable of rendering the state essential
service, as a military man; but he was my brother, and the King
would never suffer his name to be mentioned.

My youngest brother applied himself to the sciences; it was proposed
that he should receive some civil employment, as he was an
intelligent and well-informed man; but the King answered in the
margin of the petition,

"No Trenck is good for anything."

Thus have all my family suffered, because of my unjust condemnation.
My last-mentioned brother chose the life of a private man, and lived
at his ease, in independence, among the first people of the kingdom.
The hatred of the monarch extended itself to my sister, who had
married the son of General Waldow, and lived in widowhood, from the
year 1749, to her second marriage. The misfortunes of this woman,
in consequence of the treachery of Weingarten, and the aid she sent
to me in my prison at Magdeburg, I have before related. She was
possessed of the fine estate of Hammer, near Landsberg on the Warta.
The Russian army changed the whole face of the country, and laid it
desert. She fled to Custrin, where everything was destroyed during
the siege. The Prussian army also demolished the fine forests.

After the war, the King assisted all the ruined families of
Brandenburg; she alone obtained nothing, because she was my sister.
She petitioned the King, who repined she must seek for redress from
her dear brother. She died, in the flower of her age, a short time
after she had married her second husband, the present Colonel Pape:
her son, also, died last year. He was captain in the regiment of
the Gotz dragoons. Thus were all my brothers and sisters punished
because they were mine. Could it be believed that the great
Frederic would revenge himself on the children and the children's
children? Was it not sufficient that he should wreak his wrath on
my head alone? Why has the name of Trenck been hateful to him, to
the very hour of his death?

One Derschau, captain of horse, and brother of my mother, addressed
himself to the King, in 1753, alleging he was my nearest relation
and feudal heir, and petitioned that he would bestow on him my
confiscated estates of Great Sharlack. The King demanded that the
necessary proofs should be sent from the chamber at Konigsberg. He
was uninformed that I had two brothers living, that Great Sharlack
was an ancient family inheritance, and that it appertained to my
brothers, and not to Derschau. My brothers then announced
themselves as the successors to this fief, and the King bestowed on
them the estate of Great Sharlack conformable to the feudal laws.
That it might be properly divided, it was put up to auction, and
bought by the youngest of my brothers, who paid surplus to the
other, and to my sister. He likewise paid debts charged upon it,
according to the express orders of the court. The persons who
called themselves my creditors were impostors, for I had no
creditors; I was but nineteen when my estates were confiscated,
consequently was not of age. By what right therefore, could such
debts be demanded or paid? Let them explain this who can.

The same thing happened when an account was given in to the Fiscus
of the guardianship, although I acknowledge my guardians were men of
probity. One of them was eight years in possession, and when he
gave it up to my brothers he did not account with them for a single
shilling. At present, therefore, the affair stands thus:- Frederic
William has taken off the sentence of confiscation, and ordered me
to be put in possession of my estates, by a gracious rescript:
empowered by this I come and demand restitution; my brother answers,
"I have bought and paid for the estate, am the legal possessor, have
improved it so much that Great Sharlack, at present, is worth three
or four times the sum it was at the time of confiscation. Let the
Fiscus pay me its actual value, and then let them bestow it on whom
they please. If the reigning king gives what his predecessor sold
to me, I ought not thereby to be a loser."

This is a problem which the people of Berlin must resolve. My
brother has no children, and, without going to law, will bequeath
Great Sharlack to mine, when he shall happen to die. If he is
forced in effect to restore it without being reimbursed, the King
instead of granting a favour, has not done justice. I do not
request any restitution like this, since such restitution would be
made without asking it as a favour of the King. If his Majesty
takes off the confiscation because he is convinced it was originally
violent and unjust, then have I a right to demand the rents of two-
and-forty years. This I am to require from the Fiscus, not from my
brother. And should the Fiscus only restore me the price for which
it then sold, it would commit a manifest injustice, since all
estates in the province of Prussia have, since 1746, tripled and
quadrupled their value. If the estates descend only to my children
after my death, I receive neither right nor favour; for, in this
case, I obtain nothing for myself, and shall remain deprived of the
rents, which, as the estate is at present farmed by my brother
amount to four thousand rix-dollars per annum. This estate cannot
be taken from him legally, since he enjoys it by right of purchase

Such is the present state of the business. How the monarch shall
think proper to decide, will be seen hereafter. I have demanded of
the Fiscus that it shall make a fair valuation of Great Sharlack,
reimburse my brother, and restore it to me. My brother has other
estates. These he will dispose of by testament, according to his
good pleasure. Be these things as they may, the purpose of my
journey is accomplished.

Thou, great God, has preserved me amidst my trouble. The purest
gratitude penetrates my heart. Oh, that thou wouldst shield man
from arbitrary power, and banish despotism from the earth!

May this my narration be a lesson to the afflicted, afford hope to
the despairing, fortitude to the wavering, and humanise the hearts
of kings. Joyfully do I journey to the shores of death. My
conscience is void of reproach, posterity shall bless my memory, and
only the unfeeling, the wicked, the confessor of princes and the
pious impostor, shall vent their rage against my writings. My mind
is desirous of repose, and should this be denied me, still I will
not murmur. I now wish to steal gently towards that last asylum,
whither if I had gone in my youth, it must have been with colours
flying. Grant, Almighty God, that the prayer I this day make may be
heard, and that such may be the conclusion of my eventful life!


Francis Baron Trenck was born in 1714, in Calabria, a province of
Sicily. His father was then a governor and lieutenant-colonel
there, and died in 1743, at Leitschau, in Hungary, lord of the rich
manors of Prestowacz, Pleternitz, and Pakratz, in Sclavonia, and
other estates in Hungary. His christian name was John; he was my
father's brother, and born in Konigsberg in Prussia.

The name of his mother was Kettler; she was born in Courland.
Trenck was a gentleman of ancient family; and his grandfather, who
was mine also, was of Prussia. His father, who had served Austria
to the age of sixty-eight, a colonel, and bore those wounds to his
grave which attested his valour.

Francis Baron Trenck was his only son; he had attained the rank of
colonel during his father's life, and served with distinction in the
army of Maria Theresa. The history of his life, which he published
in 1747, when he was under confinement at Vienna, is so full of
minute circumstances, and so poorly written, that I shall make but
little use of it. Here I shall relate only what I have heard from
his enemies themselves, and what I have myself seen. His father, a
bold and daring soldier, idolised his only son, and wholly neglected
his education, so that the passions of this son were most unbridled.
Endowed with extraordinary talents, this ardent youth was early
allowed to indulge the impetuous fire of his constitution.
Moderation was utterly unknown to him, and good fortune most
remarkably favoured all his enterprises. These were numerous,
undertaken from no principle of virtue, nor actuated by any motives
of morality. The love of money, and the desire of fame, were the
passions of his soul. To his warlike inclination was added the
insensibility of a heart natively wicked: and he found himself an
actor, on the great scene of life, at a time when the earth was
drenched with human gore, and when the sword decided the fate of
nations: hence this chief of pandours, this scourge of the
unprotected, became an iron-hearted enemy, a ferocious foe of the
human race, a formidable enemy in private life, and a perfidious

Constitutionally sanguinary, addicted to pleasures, sensual, and
brave; he was unappeased when affronted, prompt to act, in the
moment of danger circumspect, and, when under the dominion of anger,
cruel even to fury; irreconcilable, artful, fertile in invention,
and ever intent on great projects. When youth and beauty inspired
love, he then became supple, insinuating, amiable, gentle,
respectful; yet, ever excited by pride, each conquest gave but new
desires of adding another slave over whom he might domineer; and,
whenever he encountered resistance, he then even ceased to be
avaricious. A prudent and intelligent woman, turning this part of
his character to advantage, might have formed this man to virtue,
probity, and the love of the human race: but, from his infancy, his
will had never suffered restraint, and he thought nothing
impossible. As a soldier, he was bold even to temerity; capable of
the most hazardous enterprise, and laughing at the danger he
provoked. His projects were the more elevated because the
acquirement of renown was the intent of all his actions. In council
he was dangerous; everything must be conceded to his views. To him
the means by which his end was to be obtained were indifferent.

The Croats at this time were undisciplined, prone to rapine,
thirsting for human blood, and only taught obedience by violence;
these had been the companions of his infancy: these he undertook to
subject, by servitude and fear, to military subordination, and from
banditti to make them soldiers.

With respect to his exterior, Nature had been prodigal of her
favours. His height was six feet three inches, and the symmetry of
his limbs was exact; his form was upright, his countenance
agreeable, yet masculine, and his strength almost incredible. He
could sever the head from the body of the largest ox with one stroke
of his sabre, and was so adroit at this Turkish practice, that he at
length could behead men in the manner boys do nettles. In the
latter years of his life, his aspect had become terrible; for,
during the Bavarian war, he had been scorched by the explosion of a
powder-barrel, and ever after his face remained scarred and
impregnated with black spots. In company he rendered himself
exceedingly agreeable, spoke seven languages fluently, was jocular,
possessed wit, and in serious conversation, understanding; had
learned music, sung with taste, and had a good voice, so that he
might have been well paid as an actor, had that been his fate. He
could even, when so disposed, become gentle and complaisant.

His look told the man of observation that he was cunning and
choleric; and his wrath was terrible. He was ever suspicious,
because he judged others by himself. Self-interest and avarice
constituted his ruling passion, and, whenever he had an opportunity
of increasing his wealth, he disregarded the duties of religion, the
ties of honour, and human pity. In the thirty-first year of his
age, when he was possessed of nearly two millions, he did not expend
a florin per day.

As he and his pandours always led the van, and as he thence had an
opportunity to ravage the enemy's country, at the head of troops
addicted to rapine, we must not wonder that Bavaria, Silesia, and
Alsatia were so plundered. He alone purchased the booty from his
troops at a low price, and this he sent by water to his own estates.
If any one of his officers had made a rich capture, Trenck instantly
became his enemy. He was sent on every dangerous expedition till he
fell, and the colonel became his universal heir, for Trenck
appropriated all he could to himself. He was reputed to be a man
most expert in military science, an excellent engineer, and to
possess an exact eye in estimating heights and distances. In all
enterprises he was first; inured to fatigue, his iron body could
support it without inconvenience. Nothing escaped his vigilance,
all was turned to account, and what valour could not accomplish,
cunning supplied. His pride suffered him not to incur an
obligation, and thus he was unthankful; his actions all centred in
self, and as he was remarkably fortunate in whatever he undertook,
he ascribed even that, which accident gave, to foresight and genius.

Yet was he ever, as an officer, a most useful and inestimable man to
the state. His respect for his sovereign, and his zeal in her
service, were unbounded; whenever her glory was at stake, he devoted
himself her victim. This I assert to be truth: I knew him well.
Of little consequence is it to me, whether the historians of Maria
Theresa have, or have not, misrepresented his talents and the fame
he deserved.

The life of Trenck I write for the following reasons. He had the
honour first to form, and command, regular troops, raised in
Sclavonia. The soldiers acquired glory under their leader, and
sustained the tottering power of Austria: they made libations of
their blood in its defence, as did Trenck, in various battles. He
served like a brave warrior, with zeal, loyalty, and effect. The
vile persecutions of his enemies at Vienna, with whom he refused to
share the plunder he had made, lost him honour, liberty, and not
only the personal property he had acquired, but likewise the family
patrimony in Hungary. He died like a malefactor, illegally
sentenced to imprisonment; and knaves have affirmed, and fools have
believed, and believe still, he took the King of Prussia prisoner,
and that he granted him freedom in consequence of a bribe. So have
the loyal Hungarians been led to suppose that an Hungarian had
really been a traitor.

By my writings, I wish to prove to this noble nation on the
contrary, that Trenck, for his loyalty deserved compassion, esteem,
and honour in his country. This I have already done in the former
part of my history. The dead Trenck can speak no more; but it is
the duty of the living ever to speak in defence of right.

Trenck wrote his own history while he was confined in the arsenal at
Vienna; and, in the last two sheets he openly related the manner in
which he had been treated by the council of war, of which Count
Loewenwalde, his greatest enemy, was president. The count, however,
found supporters too powerful, and these sheets were torn from the
book and publicly burnt at Vienna. Defence after this became
impossible: he groaned under the grip of his adversaries.

I have given a literal copy of these sheets in the first part of
this history; and I again repeat I am able to prove the truth of
what is there asserted, by the acts, proceedings, and judicial
registers which are in my possession. He was confined in the
Spielberg, because much was to be dreaded from an injured man, whom
they knew capable of the most desperate enterprises. He died
defenceless, the sacrifice of iniquity and unjust judges. He died,
and his honour remained unprotected. I am by duty his defender:
although he expired my personal enemy, the author of nearly all the
ills I have suffered. I came to the knowledge of his persecutors
too late for the unfortunate Trenck. And who are those who have
divided his spoils--who slew him that they might fatten themselves?
Your titles have been paid for from the coffers of Trenck! Yet
neither can your cabals, your wealthy protectors, your own riches,
nor your credit at court, deprive me of the right of vindicating his

I have boldly written, have openly shown, that Trenck was pillaged
by you; that he served the house of Austria as a worthy man, with
zeal; not in court-martials and committees of inquiry, but fighting
for his country, sharing the soldier's glory, falling the victim of
envy and power; falling by the hands of those who are unworthy of
judging merit. He take the King of Prussia! They might as well say
he took the Emperor of Morocco.

Yes, he is dead. But should any man dare affirm that the Hungarian
or the Prussian Trenck were capable of treason, that either of them
merited punishment for having betrayed their country, he will not
have long to seek before he will be informed that he has done us
both injustice. After this preface, I shall continue my narrative
on the plan I proposed. Trenck, the father, was a miser, yet a
well-meaning man. Trenck the son, was a youthful soldier, who stood
in need of money to indulge his pleasures. Many curious pranks he
played, when an ensign in I know not what regiment of foot. He went
to one of the collectors of his father's rents, and demanded money;
the collector refused to give him any, and Trenck clove his skull
with his sabre. A prosecution was entered against him, but, war
breaking out in 1756, between the Russians and the Turks, he raised
a squadron of hussars, and went with it into the Russian service,
contrary to the will of his father.

In this war he distinguished himself highly, and acquired the
protection of Field-marshal Munich. He was so successful as a
leader against the Tartars, that he became very famous in the army,
and at the end of the campaign, was appointed major.

It happened that flying parties of Turks approached his regiment
when on march, and Trenck seeing a favourable moment for attacking
them, went to Colonel Rumin, desiring the regiment might be led to
the charge, and that they might profit by so fair an opportunity.
The colonel answered, "I have no such orders." Trenck then demanded
permission to charge the Turks only with his own squadron; but this
was refused. He became furious, for he had never been acquainted
with contradiction or subordination, and cried aloud to the
soldiers, "If there be one brave man among you, let him follow me."
About two hundred stepped from the ranks; he put himself at their
head, routed the enemy, made a horrible carnage, and returned
intoxicated with joy, accompanied by prisoners, and loaded with
dissevered heads. Once more arrived in presence of the regiment, he
attacked the colonel, treated him like the rankest coward, called
him opprobrious names, without the other daring to make the least
resistance. The adventure, however, became known; Trenck was
arrested, and ordered to be tried. His judges condemned him to be
shot, and the day was appointed, but the evening before execution,
Field-marshal Munich passed near the tent in which he was confined,
Trenck saw him, came forward, and said, "Certainly your excellency
will not suffer a foreign cavalier to die an ignominious death
because he has chastised a cowardly Russian! If I must die, at
least give me permission to saddle my horse, and with my sabre in my
hand, let me fall surrounded by the enemy."

The Tartars happened to be at this time harassing the advanced
posts; the Field-marshal shrugged his shoulders, and was silent.
Trenck, not discouraged, added, "I will undertake to bring your
excellency three heads or lose my own. Will you, if I do, be
pleased to grant me my pardon?" The Field-marshal replied, "Yes."
The horse of Trenck was brought: he galloped to the enemy, and
returned within four heads knotted to the horse's mane, himself only
slightly wounded in the shoulder. Munich immediately appointed him
major in another regiment. Various and almost incredible were his
feats: among others, a Tartar ran him through the belly with his
lance: Trenck grasped the projecting end with his hands, exerted
his prodigious strength, broke the lance, set spurs to his horse,
and happily escaped. Of this wound, dreadful as it was, he was soon
cured. I myself have seen the two scars, and can affirm the fact; I
also learned this, and many others in 1746, from officers who had
served in the same army.

During this campaign he behaved with great honour, was wounded by an
arrow in the leg, and gained the affection of Field-marshal Munich,
but excited the envy of all the Russians. Towards the conclusion of
the war he had a new misfortune; his regiment was incommoded on all
sides by the enemy: he entreated his colonel, for leave to attack
them. The colonel was once more a Russian, and he was refused.
Trenck gave him a blow, and called aloud to the soldiers to follow
him. They however being Russians, remained motionless, and he was
put under arrest. The court-martial sentenced him to death, and all
hope of reprieve seemed over. The general would have granted his
pardon, but as he was himself a foreigner, he was fearful of
offending the Russians. The day of execution came, and he was led
to the place of death, Munich so contrived it that Field-marshal
Lowenthal should pass by, at this moment, in company within his
lady. Trenck profited by the opportunity, spoke boldly, and
prevailed. A reprieve was requested, and the sentence was changed
into banishment and labour in Siberia.

Trenck protested against this sentence. The Field-marshal wrote to
Petersburg, and an order came that he should be broken, and
conducted out of the Russian territories. This order was executed,
and he returned into Hungary to his father. At this period he
espoused the daughter of Field-marshal Baron Tillier, one of the
first families in Switzerland. The two brothers of his wife each
became lieutenant-general, one of whom died honourably during the
seven years' war. The other was made commander-general in Croatia,
where he is still living, and is at the head of a regiment of
infantry that bears his name. Trenck did not live long with his
lady. She was pregnant, and he took her to hunt with him in a
marsh: she returned ill, and died without leaving him an heir.

Having no opportunity to indulge his warlike inclination, because of
the general peace, he conceived the project of extirpating the
Sclavonian banditti.

Trenck, to execute this enterprise, employed his own pandours. The
contest now commenced and activity and courage were necessary to
ensure success in such a war. Trenck seemed born for this murderous
trade. Day and night he chased them like wild beasts, killing now
one, then another, and without distinction, treating them with the
utmost barbarity.

Two incidents will sufficiently paint the character of this
unaccountable man. He had impaled alive the father of a Harum-
Bashaw. One evening he was going on patrol, along the banks of a
brook, which separated two provinces. On the opposite shore was the
son of this impaled father, with his Croats. It was moonlight, and
the latter called aloud--"I heard thy voice, Trenck! Thou hast
impaled my father! If thou hast a heart in thy body, come hither
over the bridge, I will send away my followers; leave thy firearms,
come only with thy sabre, and we will then see who shall remain the
victor." The agreement was made--and the Harum-Bashaw sent away his
Croats, and laid down his musket. Trenck passed the wooden bridge,
both drew their sabres; but Trenck treacherously killed his
adversary with a pistol, that he had concealed, after which he
severed his head from his body, took it with him, and stuck it upon
a pole.

One day, when hunting, he heard music in a lone house which belonged
to one of his vassals. He was thirsty, entered, and found the
guests seated at table. He sat down and ate within them, not
knowing this was a rendezvous for the banditti. As he was seated
opposite the door, he saw two Harum-Bashaws enter. His musket stood
in a corner; he was struck with terror, but one of them addressed
him thus:- "Neither thee, nor thy vassals, Trenck, have we ever
injured, yet thou dost pursue us with cruelty. Eat thy fill. When
thou hast satisfied thy hunger, we will then, sabre in thy hand, see
who has most justice on his side, and whether thou art as courageous
as men speak thee."

Hereupon they sat down and began to eat and drink and make merry.
The situation of Trenck could not be very pleasant. He recollected
that besides these, there might be more of their companions,
without, ready to fall upon him; he, therefore, privately drew his
pistols, held them under the table while he cocked them, presented
each hand to the body of a Harum-Bashaw, fired them both at the same
instant, overset the table on the guests, and escaped from the
house. As he went he had time to seize on one of their muskets,
which was standing at the door. One of the Croats was left
weltering in his blood; the other disengaged himself from the table,
and ran after Trenck, who suffered him to approach, killed him
within his own gun, struck off his head and brought it home in
triumph. By this action the banditti were deprived of their two
most valorous chiefs.

War broke out about this time, in 1740, when all the Hungarians took
up arms in defence of their beloved queen. Trenck offered to raise
a free corps of pandours, and requested an amnesty for the banditti
who should join his troops. His request was granted, he published
the amnesty, and began to raise recruits; he therefore enrolled his
own vassals, formed a corps of 500 men, went in search of the
robbers, drove them into a strait between the Save and Sarsaws,
where they capitulated, and 300 of them enrolled themselves with his
pandours. Most of these men were six feet in height, determined,
and experienced soldiers. To indulge them on certain occasions in
their thirst of pillage were means which he successfully employed to
lead them where he pleased, and to render them victorious. By means
like these Trenck became at once the terror of the enemies of
Austria, and rendered signal services to his Empress.

In 1741, while he was exercising his regiment, a company fired upon
Trenck, and killed his horse, and his servant that stood by his
side. He ran to the company, counted one, two, three, and beheaded
the fourth. He was continuing this, when a Harum-Bashaw left the
ranks, drew his sword, and called aloud, "It is I who fired upon
thee, defend thyself." The soldiers stood motionless spectators.
Trenck attacked him and hewed him down. He was proceeding to
continue the execution of the fourth man, but the whole regiment
presented their arms. The revolt became general, and Trenck, still
holding his drawn sabre, ran amidst them, hacking about him on all
sides. The excess of his rage was terrific; the soldiers all called
"Hold!" each fell on their knees, and promised obedience. After
this he addressed them in language suitable to their character, and
from that time they became invincible soldiers whenever they were
headed by himself. Let the situation of Trenck be considered; he
was the chief of a band of robbers who supposed they were authorised
to take whatever they pleased in an enemy's country, a banditti that
had so often defied the gallows, and had never known military
subordination. Let such men be led to the field and opposed to
regular troops. That they are never actuated by honour is evident:
their leader is obliged to excite their avidity by the hope of
plunder to engage them in action; for if they perceive no personal
advantage, the interest of the sovereign is insufficient to make
them act.

Trenck had need of a particular species of officers. They must be
daring, yet cautious. They are partisans, and must be capable of
supporting fatigue, desirous of daily seeking the enemy, and
hazarding their lives. As he was himself never absent at the time
of action, he soon became acquainted with those whom he called old
women, and sent them from his regiment. These officers then
repaired to Vienna, vented their complaints, and were heard. His
avarice prevented him from making any division of his booty with
those gentlemen who constituted the military courts, thus neglecting
what was customary at Vienna: and in this originated the
prosecution to which he fell a victim. Scarcely had he entered
Austria with his troops before he found an opportunity of reaping
laurels. The French army was defeated at Lintz. Trenck pursued
them, treated his prisoners with barbarity; and, never granting
quarter in battle, the very appearance of his pandours inspired

Trenck was a great warrior, and knew how to profit by the slightest
advantage. From this time he became renowned, gained the confidence
of Prince Charles, and the esteem of the Field-marshal Count
Kevenhuller, who discovered the worth of the man. No partisan had
ever before obtained so much power as Trenck; he everywhere pursued
the enemy as far as Bavaria, carrying fire and sword wherever he
went. As it was known Trenck gave no quarter, the Bavarians and the
French flew at the sight of a red mantle. Pillage and murder
attended the pandours wherever they went, and their colonel bought
up all the booty they acquired. Chamb, in particular, was a scene
of a dreadful massacre. The city was set on fire and the people
perished in the flames; women and children who endeavoured to fly,
were obliged to pass over a bridge, where they were first stripped,
and afterwards thrown into the water. This action was one of the
accusations brought against Trenck when he was prosecuted, but he
alleged his justification.

The banks of the Iser to this day reverberate groans for the
barbarities of Trenck. Deckendorf and Filtzhofen felt all his fury.
In the first of these towns 600 French prisoners capitulated,
although his forces were four miles distant; but he formed a kind of
straw men, on which he put pandour caps and cloaks, and set them up
as sentinels; and the garrison, deceived by this stratagem, signed
the capitulation. The services he rendered the army during the
Bavarian war are well known in the history of Maria Theresa. The
good he has done has been passed over in silence, because he died
under misfortunes, and did not leave his historian a legacy. He was
informed that either at Deckendorf or Filtzhofen there was a barrel
containing 20,000 florins, concealed at the house of an apothecary.
Impelled by the desire of booty, Trenck hastened to the place, with
a candle in his hand, searching everywhere, and, in his hurry,
dropped a spark into a quantity of gunpowder, by the explosion of
which he was dreadfully scorched. They carried him off, but the
scars and the gunpowder with which his skin was blackened rendered
his countenance terrific.

The present Field-marshal Laudohn was at that time a lieutenant in
his regiment, and happened to be at the door when his colonel was
burnt. Scarcely was Trenck cured before his spies informed him that
Laudohn had plenty of money. Immediately he suspected that Laudohn
had found the barrel of florins, and from that moment he persecuted
him by all imaginable arts. Wherever there was danger he sent him,
at the head of 30 men, against 300, hoping to have him cut off, and
to make himself his heir. This was so often repeated that Laudohn
returned to Vienna, where, joining the crowd of the enemies of
Trenck, he became instrumental in his destruction. Yet it is
certain that, in the beginning, Trenck had shown a friendship for
Laudohn, had given him a commission, and that this great man
learned, under the command of Trenck, his military principles.
General Tillier was likewise formed in this nursery of soldiers,
where officers were taught activity, stratagem, and enterprise. And
who are more capable of commanding a Hungarian army than Tillier and
Laudohn? I, one day said to Trenck, when he was in Vienna,
embarrassed by his prosecution, and when he had published a
defamatory writing against all his accusers, excepting no man,--"You
have always told me that Laudohn was one of the most capable of your
officers, and that he is a worthy man. Wherefore then do you class
him among such wretches?" He replied, "What! would you have me
praise a man who labours, at the head of my enemies, to rob me of
honour, property, and life!" I have related this incident to prove
by the testimony of so honourable a man, that Trenck was a great
soldier, and a zealous patriot, and that he never took the King of
Prussia prisoner, as has been falsely affirmed, and as is still
believed by the multitude. Had such a thing happened, Laudohn must
have been present, and would have supported this charge.

Bavaria was plundered by Trenck; barges were loaded with gold,
silver, and effects, which he sent to his estates in Sclavonia;
Prince Charles and Count Kevenhuller countenanced his proceedings;
but when Field-marshal Neuperg was at the head of the army, he had
other principles. He was connected with Baron Tiebes, a counsellor
of the Hofkriegsrath who was the enemy of Trenck. Persecution was
at that time instituted against him, and Trenck was imprisoned; but
he defended himself so powerfully that in a month he was set at
liberty. Mentzel, meanwhile, had the command of the pandours; and
this man appropriated to himself the fame that Trenck had acquired
by the warriors he himself had formed. Mentzel never was the equal
of Trenck. Trenck now increased the number of his Croats to 4,000,
from whom, in 1743, a regiment of Hungarian regulars was formed, but
who still retained the name of pandours. It was a regiment of
infantry. Trenck also had 600 hussars and 150 chasseurs, whom he
equipped at his own expense. Yet, when this corps was reduced, all
was sold for the profit of the imperial treasury, without bringing a
shilling to account.

With a corps so numerous, he undertook great enterprises. The enemy
fled wherever he appeared. He led the van, raised contributions
which amounted to several millions, delivered unto the Empress, in
five years, 7,000 prisoners, French and Bavarian, and more than
3,000 Prussians. He never was defeated. He gained confidence among
his troops, and will remain in history the first man who rendered
the savage Croats efficient soldiers. This it was impossible to
perform among a bloodthirsty people without being guilty himself of
cruel acts. The necessity of the excesses he committed, when the
army was in want of forage, was so evident that he received
permission of Prince Charles, though for this he was afterwards
prosecuted; while the plunders of Brenklau, Mentzel, and the whole
army, were never once questioned. That Trenck advanced more than
100,000 florins to his regiment, I clearly proved, in 1750. This
proof came too late. He was dead. The evidence I brought
occasioned a quartermaster, Frederici, to be imprisoned. He
confessed the embezzlement of this money, yet found so many friends
among the enemies of Trenck that he refunded nothing, but was
released in the year 1754, when I was thrown into the dungeon of

My cousin, who had lived like a miser, did not, at his death, leave
half of the property he had inherited from his father, and which
legally descended to me; it was torn from me by violence.

In 1744 he obliged the French to retire beyond the Rhine, seized on
a fort near Phillipsburg, swam across the river with 70 pandours,
attacked the fortifications, slew the Marquis de Crevecoeur, with
his own hand manned the post, traversed the other arm of the Rhine,
surprised two Bavarian regiments of cavalry, and by this daring
manoeuvre, secured the passage of the Rhine to the whole army,
which, but for him, would not have been effected. Wherever he came,
he laid the country under contribution, and, at this moment of
triumph for the Austrian arms, opened himself a passage to enter the
territories of France. In September, 1744, war having broken out
between Austria and Prussia, the imperial army was obliged to
return, abandon Alsatia, and hasten to the succour of the Austrian
states. Trenck succeeded in covering its retreat. The history of
Maria Theresa declares the damages he did the enemy, during this
campaign. He gave proof of his capacity at Tabor and Budweis. With
300 men he attacked one of these towns, which was defended by the
two Prussian regiments of Walrabe and Kreutz. He found the water in
the moats was deeper than his spies had declared, and the scaling
ladders too short: most of those led to the attack were killed, or
drowned in the water, and the small number that crossed the moats
were made prisoners. The garrison of Tabor, of Budweis, and of the
castle of Frauenburg, were, nevertheless, induced to capitulate, and
yield themselves prisoners, although the main body under Trenck was
more than five miles distant. His corps did not come up till the
morrow, and it was ridiculous enough to see the pandours dressed in
the caps of the Prussian fusiliers and pioneers, which they wore
instead of their own, and which they afterwards continued to wear.

The campaign to him was glorious, and the enemy's want of light
troops gave free scope to his enterprises, highly to their
prejudice. He never returned without prisoners. He passed the Elbe
near Pardubitz, took the magazines, and was the cause of the great
dearth and desertion among the Prussians, and of that hasty retreat
to which they were forced. The King was at Cohn with his
headquarters, where I was with him, when Trenck attacked the town,
which he must have carried, had he not been wounded by a cannon-
ball, which shattered his foot. He was taken away, the attack did
not succeed, and his men, without him, remained but so many ciphers.

In 1745, he went to Vienna, where his entrance resembled a triumph.
The Empress received him with distinction. He appeared on crutches;
she, by her condescending speech, inflamed his zeal to extravagance.
Who would have supposed that the favourite of the people would that
year be abandoned to the power of his enemies; who had not rendered,
during their whole lives, so much essential service to the state as
Trenck had done in a single day? He returned to his estate, raised
eight hundred recruits that he might aid in the next campaign, and
gather new laurels. He rejoined the army. At the battle of Sorau
he fell upon the Prussian camp, and seized upon the tent of the
King, but he came too late to attack the rear, as had been
preconcerted. Frederic gave up his camp to be plundered, for the
Croats could not be drawn off to attack the army, and the King was
prepared to receive them, even if they should. In the meantime, the
imperial army was defeated.

Here was a field for the enemies of Trenck to incite the people
against him. They accused him of having made the King of Prussia a
prisoner in his tent; that he also pillaged the camp instead of
attacking the rear of the army. After having ended the campaign, he
returned to Vienna to defend himself. Here he found twenty-three
officers, whom he expelled his regiment, most of them for cowardice
or mean actions. They were ready to bear false testimony.
Counsellor Weber and Gen. Loewenwalde, had sworn his downfall, which
they effected. Trenck despised their attacks. While things
remained thus, they instructed one of the Empress's attendants to
profit by every opportunity to deprive him of her confidence. It
was affirmed, Trenck is an atheist! who never prayed to the holy
Virgin! The officers, whom he had broken, whispered it in coffee-
houses, that Trenck had taken and set free the King of Prussia!
This raised the cry among the fanatical mob of Vienna. Teased by
their complaints, and at the requisition of Trenck himself, the
Empress commanded that examination should be undertaken of these
accusations. Field-marshal Cordova was chosen to preside over this
inquiry. He spoke the truth, and drew up a statement of the case;
it was presented to the Court, and which I shall here insert.

"The complaints brought against him did not require a court-martial.
Trenck had broken some officers by his own authority; their demands
ought to be satisfied by the payment of 12,000 florins. The
remaining accusations were all the attempts of revenge and calumny,
and were insufficient to detain at Vienna, entangled in law-suits, a
man so necessary to the army. Moreover, it would be prudent not to
inquire into trifles, in consideration of his important services."

Trenck, dissatisfied by this sentence, and animated by avarice and
pride, refused to pay a single florin, and returned to Sclavonia.
His presence was necessary at Vienna, to obtain other advantages
against his enemies. They gave the Empress to understand, that
being a man excessively dangerous, whenever he supposed himself
injured, Trenck had spread pernicious views in Sclavonia, where all
men were dependent on him. He raised six hundred more men, with
whom he made a campaign in the Netherlands, and in October, 1746,
returned to Vienna. After the peace of Dresden, his regiment was
incorporated among the regulars, and served against France.

Scarcely had he arrived at Vienna, before an order came from the
Empress that he must remain under arrest in his chamber. Here he
rendered himself guilty by the most imprudent action of his whole
life. He ordered his carriage and horses, despising the imperial
mandate, went to the theatre, when the Empress was present. In one
of the boxes he saw Count Gossau, in company with a comrade of his
own, whom he had cashiered: these persons were among the foremost
of his accusers. Inflamed with the desire of revenge, he entered
the box, seized Count Gossau, and would have thrown him into the pit
in the presence of the Sovereign herself. Gossau drew his sword,
and tried to run him through, but the latter seizing it, wounded
himself in the hand. Everybody ran to save Gossau, who was unable
to defend himself. After this exploit, the colonel of the pandours
returned foaming home.

Such an action rendered it impossible for Maria Theresa to declare
herself the protectress of a man so rash. Sentinels were placed
over him, and his enemies profiting by his imprudence and passion,
he was ordered to be tried by a court-martial. General Loewenwalde
intrigued so successfully, that he procured himself to be named, by
the Hofkriegsrath, president of the court-martial, and to be charged
with the sequestration of the property of Trenck. In vain did the
latter protest against his judge. The very man, whom the year
before he had kicked out of the ante-chamber of Prince Charles,
received full power to denounce him guilty. Then was it that public
notice was given that all those who would prefer complaints against
Colonel Baron Trenck should receive a ducat per day while the
council continued to sit. They soon amounted to fifty-four, who, in
a space of four months, received 15,000 florins from the property of
Trenck. The judge himself purchased the depositions of false
witnesses; and Count Loewenwalde offered me one thousand ducats, if
I would betray the secrets of my cousin, and promised me I should be
put in possession of my confiscated estates in Prussia, and have a
company in a regiment.

That the indictment and the examinations of the witnesses were
falsified, has already been proved in the revision of the cause; but
as the indictment did not contain one article that could affect his
life, they invented the following stratagem. A courtesan, a
mistress of Baron Rippenda, who was a member of the court-martial,
was bribed, and made oath she was the daughter of Count Schwerin,
Field-marshal in the Prussian service, and that she was in bed with
the King of Prussia, when Trenck surprised the camp at Sorau, made
her and the King prisoners, and restored them their freedom. She
even ventured to name Baron Hilaire, aide-de-camp to Frederic, whom
she affirmed was then present. Hilaire, who afterwards married the
Baroness Tillier, and who consequently was brother-in-law to Trenck,
fortunately happened to be in Vienna. He was confronted with this
woman, and through her falsehoods, the gentleman was obliged to
remain in prison, where they offered him bribes, which be refused to
accept; and, to prevent his speaking, he continued in prison some
weeks, and was not released till this shameful proceeding was made

Count Loewenwalde invented another artifice; he drew up a false
indictment; and, that he might be prevented all means of
justification, he chose a day to put it in practice, when the
Emperor and Prince Charles were hunting at Holitzsch. Loewenwalde's
court-martial had already signed a sentence of death, and every
preparation for the erection of a scaffold was made. His intention
was then to go to the Empress and induce her to sign the sentence,
under a pretence that there was some imminent peril at hand, if a
man so dangerous to the state was not immediately put out of the
way, and that it would be necessary to execute the sentence of death
before the Emperor could return. He well knew the Emperor was
better acquainted with Trenck, and had ever been his protector.

Had this succeeded, Trenck would have died like a traitor; Miss
Schwerin would have espoused the aide-de-camp of Loewenwalde, with
fifty thousand florins, taken from the funds of Trenck, and his
property would have been divided between his judges and his
accusers. As it happened, however, the valet-de-chambre of Count
Loewenwalde, who was an honest man, and who had an intimacy with a
former mistress of Trenck, confided the whole secret to her. She
immediately flew to Colonel Baron Lopresti, who was the sincere
friend of my kinsman, and, being then powerful at Court, was his
deliverer. The Emperor and Prince Charles were informed of what was
in agitation, but they thought proper to keep it secret. The
hunting at Holitzsch took place on the appointed day. Count
Loewenwalde made his appearance before the Empress, and solicited
her to sign the sentence. She, however, had been pre-informed, the
Emperor having returned on the same day, and their abominable
project proved abortive. Miss Schwerin was imprisoned; Loewenwalde
was deprived of his power, as well as of the sequestration of the
effects of Trenck; a total revision of the proceedings of the court-
martial, and of the prosecution of my cousin, was ordered, which was
an event, that, till then, was unexampled at Vienna.

Trenck was freed from his fetters, removed to the arsenal, an
officer guarded him, and he had every convenience he could wish. He
was also permitted the use of a counsellor to defend his cause. I
obtained by the influence of the Emperor leave to visit him and to
aid him in all things. It was at this epoch that I arrived at
Vienna, and, at this very instant, when the revision of the
prosecution was commanded and determined on. Count Loewenwalde,
supposing me a needy, thoughtless youth, endeavoured to bribe me,
and prevail on me to betray my kinsman. Prince Charles of Lorraine
then desired me seriously to represent to Trenck that his avarice
had been the cause of all these troubles, for he hind refused to pay
the paltry sum of 12,000 florins, by which he might have silenced
all his accusers; but that, as at present, affairs had become so
serious, he ought himself to secure his judges for the revision of
the suit; to spare no money, and then he might be certain of every
protection the prince could afford.

The respectable Field-marshal Konigseck, governor of Vienna, was
appointed president; but, being an old man, he was unable to preside
at any one sitting of the court. Count S- was the vice-president, a
subtle, insatiable judge, who never thought he had money enough. I
took 3,000 ducats, which Baron Lopresti gave me, to this most worthy
counsellor. The two counsellors, Komerkansquy and Zetto, each
received 4,000 rix-dollars, with a promise of double the sum if
Trenck were acquitted; there was a formal contract drawn up, which a
certain noble lord secretly signed. Trenck was defended by the
advocate Gerhauer and by Berger. They began with the self-created
daughter of Marshal Schwerin; and, to conceal the iniquitous
proceedings of the late court-martial, it was thought proper that
she should appear insane, and return incoherent answers to the
questions put by the examiners. Trenck insisted that a more severe
inquiry should be instituted; but they affirmed that she had been
conducted out of the Austrian territories.

Trenck was accused of having ordered a certain pandour, named Paul
Diack, to suffer the bastinado of 1,000 blows, and that he had died
under the punishment. This was sworn to by two officers, now great
men in the army, who said they were eye-witnesses of the fact. When
the revision of the suit began, Trenck sent me into Sclavonia, where
I found the dead Paul Diack alive, and brought him to Vienna. He
was examined by the court, where it appeared that the two officers,
who had sworn they were present when he expired, and had seen him
buried, were at that time 160 miles from the regiment, and
recruiting in Sclavonia. Paul Diack had engaged in plots, and had
mutinied three times. Trenck had pardoned him, but afterwards
mutinying once more, with forty others, he was condemned to death.
At the place of execution he called to his colonel: "Father, if I
receive a thousand blows, will you pardon me?" Trenck replied in
the affirmative. He received the punishment, was taken to the
hospital, and cured.

I brought fourteen more witnesses from Sclavonia, who attested the
falsity of other articles of accusation which were not worthy of
attention. The cause wore a new aspect; and the wickedness of those
who were so desirous to have seen Trenck executed became apparent.

One of the chief articles in the prosecution, which for ever
deprived him of favour from his virtuous and apostolic mistress, and
for which alone he was condemned to the Spielberg, was, that he had
ravished the daughter of a miller in Silesia. This was made oath
of, and he was not entirely cleared of the charge in the revision,
because his accusers had excluded all means of justification. Two
years after his death, I discovered the truth of this affair.
Mainstein accused him of this crime that he might prevent his return
to the regiment; his motive was, because he, in conjunction with
Frederici, had appropriated to their own purposes 8,000 florins of
regimental money.

This miller's daughter was the mistress of Mainstein, before she had
been seen by Trenck. Maria Theresa, however, would never forgive
him; and, to satisfy the honour of this damsel, he was condemned to
pay 8,000 florins to her, and 15,000 to the chest of the invalids,
and to suffer perpetual imprisonment. Sixty-three civil suits had I
to defend, and all the appeals of his accusers to terminate after
his death. I gained them all and his accusers were condemned in
costs, also to refund the so much per day which had been paid them
by General Loewenwalde; but they were all poor, and I might seek the
money where I could. In justice, Loewenwalde ought to have
reimbursed me. The total of the sum they received was 15,000

Most of the other articles of accusation consisted in Trenck's
having beheaded some mutinous pandours, and broken his officers
without a court-martial; that he had bought of his soldiers, and
melted down the holy vessels of the church, chalices, and rosaries;
had bastinadoed some priests, had not heard mass every Sunday, and
had dragged malefactors from convents, in which they had taken
refuge. When the officers were no longer protected by Loewenwalde,
or Weber, they decamped, but did not cease to labour to gain their
purpose, which they attained by the aid of the Court-confessor.
This monk found means to render Maria Theresa insensible of pity
towards a man who had been so prodigal of his blood in her defence.
Loewenwalde knew how to profit by the opportunity. Gerhauer
discovered the secret proceedings; and Loewenwalde, now deeply
interested in the ruin of Trenck, went to the Empress, related the
manner in which the judges had been bribed, and threatened that
should he, through the protection of the Emperor and Prince Charles,
be declared innocent, he would publicly vindicate the honour of the

Had my cousin followed my advice and plan of flight he would not
have died in prison nor should I have lain in the dungeon of
Magdeburg. With respect to individuals whom he robbed, innocent men
whom he massacred, and many other worthy people whom he made
miserable; with respect to his father, aged eighty-four, and his
virtuous wife, whom he treated with barbarity; with respect to
myself, to the duties of consanguinity and of man, he merited
punishment, the pursuit of the avenging arm of justice, and to be
extirpated from all human society.


Thomas Carlyle's opinion of the author of this History is expressed
in the following passages from his History of Friedrich II. of
Prussia: "'Frederick Baron Trenck,' loud sounding phantasm, once
famous in the world, now gone to the nurseries as mythical, was of
this carnival (1742-3.) . . . A tall actuality in that time,
swaggering about in sumptuous Life Guard uniform in his mess-rooms
and assembly-rooms; much in love with himself, the fool! And I
rather think, in spite of his dog insinuations, neither Princess had
heard of him till twenty years hence, in a very different phasis of
his life! The empty, noisy, quasi-tragic fellow; sounds throughout
quasi-tragical, like an empty barrel; well-built, longing to be
filled."--Book xiv., ch. 3.

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