The Youth of the Great Elector
Part 1 out of 10
Produced by Charles Aldarondo, Valerine Blas and PG Distributed
THE YOUTH OF THE GREAT ELECTOR
An Historical Romance
AUTHOR OF JOSEPH II. AND HIS COURT, FREDERICK THE GREAT AND HIS COURT,
LOUISA OF PRUSSIA AND HER TIMES, HENRY VIII. AND HIS COURT, ETC.
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN
BY MARY STUART SMITH
I. GEORGE WILLIAM, THE ELECTOR
II. EVIL TIDINGS
III. COUNT ADAM VON SCHWARZENBERG
IV. SOLDIERS AND DIPLOMATISTS
V. THE ELECTOR AND HIS FAVORITE
I. THE DOUBLE RENDEZVOUS
II. THE ELECTORAL PRINCE
III. THE WARNING
IV. AN IDYL
V. MEDIA NOCTE
VI. THE HARDEST VICTORY
I. NEW PLANS
II. COUNT JOHN ADOLPHUS VON SCHWARZENBERG
III. THE HOME-COMING
IV. THE DONATION
VII. THE OFFER
VIII. THE BANQUET
IX. LOVE'S SACRIFICE
X. THE WHITE LADY
XI. THE PURSUIT
XII. THE DEPARTURE
I. THE YOUTHFUL SOVEREIGN
II. PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
III. DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS
IV. CONFIRMED IN POWER
V. THE CATASTROPHE
VII. THE SEALING OF THE DOCUMENTS
VIII. THE FLIGHT
IX. THE LETTER
X. A SECRET AUDIENCE
XI. MEETING AND PARTING
XII. THE INVESTITURE AT WARSAW
Portrait of George William, Elector of Brandenburg
The Jewess in her Bridal Dress
Robbery of Peasants
Portrait of Wladislaus IV, King of Poland
[Illustration: George William, Elector of Brandenburg.
From an engraving by H. Jacopsen]
THE YOUTH OF THE GREAT ELECTOR.
THE HEIR TO THE THRONE.
I.--GEORGE WILLIAM, THE ELECTOR.
With hasty strides George William, the Elector, paced to and fro the
length of his cabinet. His features wore a dark, agitated expression, his
blue eyes flashed with indignation and wrath; his hands were folded behind
his back, as if he would shut out from sight the paper they held with so
firm a grasp, and which he had crumpled within his fist, until it bore
greater resemblance to a ball than a letter. Yet he _must_ look at it once
more--that unfortunate epistle, which had stirred within him such a
tempest of fury; he _must_ withdraw his hands from his back, and again
unfold the paper, for nothing else would satisfy his rage.
"Would that I could thus crush between my hands the insolent, seditious
authors of this letter!" he murmured, as with a sigh he smoothed the paper
and read it over. "I see it plainly," he said then to himself; "with right
unworthy motive, these lords of the duchy of Cleves intend to vex and
mortify me. To ask me to give them the Electoral Prince for their
stadtholder, to fix his residence among them! That were a fine story
forsooth, to send our son away, that he, too, may perchance rebel against
us. It is an abominable thing, which I shall never suffer, and I shall
forwith give them my mind on the subject."
He stepped up to the great table of carved oak-wood, took from it a silver
whistle, and gave a loud shrill call.
"Are the deputies from the duchy of Cleves already in the antechamber?" he
asked of the servant who appeared.
"Yes, your Electoral Highness, they are there."
"Let them come in! Be quick!"
The lackey stepped back, threw open the folding doors, beckoned into the
entrance hall, and with loud voice announced: "The lords of the duchy of
Cleves to wait upon his Electoral Highness."
Four gentlemen entered, attired in gorgeous, richly embroidered uniforms.
They bowed low and most respectfully before the Elector.
George William did not acknowledge this reverential greeting by the
slightest inclination of his head, but looked with contracted brow and
threatening eyes at the envoys, who had now again lifted up their heads,
and met with tranquillity and composure the wrathful glances of the lord
of the land, while they seemed to await his permission to penetrate
farther into the apartment, and to approach him.
But this permission the Elector did not accord them. He left them standing
like humble dependents near the door, and went toward them with long,
"You are the lords from Cleves, who have come to present me this memorial
in behalf of the estates?" asked George William in a harsh voice.
"Gracious Elector," answered one of the gentlemen, "we were sent hither,
in the name of the states of the duchy of Cleves, to present to you in
person their wishes and requests. But since your Electoral Highness would
not have the kindness to grant us an audience, but referred us to your
minister, his excellency Count Schwarzenberg, we have preferred to intrude
upon your Electoral Highness with a written document, in order that your
highness might be made acquainted with the desires and petitions of the
duchy of Cleves by means of our own writing, rather than by the mouth of
his excellency your minister."
"It pleases you, gentlemen, to impugn the character of my minister, Count
Schwarzenberg?" asked the Elector. "You would insinuate that he might
represent things differently from what they actually are? I give you to
know, though, that Schwarzenberg is a servant singularly true and devoted
to his Elector, and that I have much more reason to trust him than the
estates of the duchy of Cleves, who have dared to make known to me through
you their strange requests. I have had you summoned now in order to have
confirmed by you orally what is stated in this paper, for it seems to me
nothing less than sheer impossibility that the estates should venture to
propose to their liege lord what you have proposed. Repeat to me,
therefore, by word of mouth the demands of the states of Cleves, then I
will return you my answer. Which of you is spokesman?"
"I, Baron van Velsen, your Electoral Highness."
"A Dutch name, as it seems to me."
"My family came originally from Holland, but settled in the duchy of
Cleves fifty years ago."
"Speak then, Baron van Velsen. I am ready to hear you."
"Your Electoral Highness, the states of the duchy of Cleves send us to
seek succor from you their liege lord in this time of their necessity and
distress. On all sides we are oppressed by soldiers, and perpetually in
danger of being seized and consumed by one or other of the contending
potentates, princes, and lords. In the Netherlands the contest is still
going on between the States and the Spaniards, and daily threatens to
involve us in the calamities and perils of war, and equally alarming to us
is the neighborhood of the Imperial and Swedish troops. Oppressed by all,
downtrodden by all, there is only one assured means of deliverance. It is
this, that your highness nominate the Electoral Prince stadtholder of the
duchy of Cleves, and permit him to take up his residence among the trusty
people of Cleves."
"Just tell me, you wise and prudent deputies from Cleves, what advantage
can accrue to you from the stadtholdership of the Electoral Prince?" asked
the Elector hastily. "And how far would that go in furnishing redress for
"So far as this, your highness, that our stadtholder would shield and
protect us against the encroachments of inimical powers, and by his openly
expressed neutrality secure us against the claims of all parties. The
salvation of the duchy depends wholly and solely upon our having a neutral
chief resident among us, and we beseech and implore your Electoral
Highness to grant us such an one in the Electoral Prince, and to send his
lordship your son to the duchy armed with plenipotentiary powers. It is
for the second time that the states of Cleves appeal with this earnest,
humble entreaty to the heart of their liege lord, and most urgently we beg
that this time we may have a hearing."
"Are you done, or have you anything further to say?" asked the Elector
"Your highness, only this have we to say besides, that the Prince of
Orange has promised to support our petition to your Electoral Highness,
and that he also is of opinion that the welfare of Cleves depends upon her
possessing a ruler, resident in the land and neutral."
"The Prince of Orange has only written to me that the states of Cleves
were of this mind, and had besought him to introduce it to my favorable
notice," exclaimed the Elector warmly. "Since you are now through with
your repeated suit, and have nothing more to say, I will give you my
answer without delay. But you might have known beforehand--you might have
been sure that if a sovereign has once made his subjects acquainted with
his wishes and opinions, he can not be influenced and made to swerve in
purpose by renewed application, but that he holds to what he has once
determined upon. And so I tell you now for the second time, that I can not
grant their petition to the states of Cleves. In the first place, because
I will not have the Electoral Prince longer separated from me, since he
has already been absent from here three years, and in these troublous
times we wish to have our son near us. In the second place, the presence
of the Electoral Prince in Cleves might not have the wished-for result. It
is rather to be feared that those in opposition to the Emperor's majesty
and the empire will not accommodate themselves to the strict treaty of
peace, nor forbear making aggression upon the Electoral Prince's lands,
and pay so little regard to the person and presence of the Prince that his
safety perhaps might be imperiled. But, in the third place," continued
the Elector with raised voice--"but, in the third place, I can not grant
your request because such repeated demands almost force us to the
conclusion that you are weary and disgusted with our rule, and therefore
would seek to make of our son a sovereign lord, thus inciting the son to
offer opposition to his own father."
"Your Electoral Highness," cried the Lord van Velsen, "I swear that it
never crossed our minds, we--"
"Silence! I gave you no leave to speak!" thundered the Elector. "This is
now our final decision. We have taken it in ill part that you have
reiterated your request, and have even approached the Electoral Prince
himself on the subject, as if the son durst decide anything or act,
without reference to his father and lord, since he is bound to be an
obedient subject, as all the rest of you. Communicate this to the states
of the duchy of Cleves, and herewith you are dismissed."
And, without one gracious salutation or further token of dismissal, the
Elector turned on his heel, and slowly traversed the spacious apartment,
leaning upon his staff. The lords looked after him with dark, resentful
glances; then, seeing that he had indeed spoken his last word, they slunk
away softly, but with bitter hatred in their hearts.
The Elector heard the door close behind them, and again turned round.
"I have paid them off," he said, drawing a deep breath, "I have told them
what I agreed with Schwarzenberg to say. I hope, too, that his Imperial
Majesty will hear of this, and recognize in it my purpose to adhere firmly
to the terms of the treaty of peace concluded at Prague and to his
Imperial Majesty. The Swedes and the Protestant party once renounced, I am
the Emperor's friend, and so will abide. Amen!"
Again the door opened, and the old lackey announced: "The deputation from
the townsmen of the cities of Berlin and Cologne request an audience with
your Electoral Grace."
The Elector gave the order for them to enter, while he let himself sink
into a high-backed, leather-covered armchair, for his gouty foot pained
The deputation of citizens had meanwhile entered, and lightly, on tiptoe,
these men, with pale faces and sad countenances, passed through the
apartment toward the armchair of the Elector, who sat with his back to
them. Quite a strange, dismal appearance they presented, in their long
black gowns and broad white collars plaited around the neck. They would
have been taken, not for burgers of the two first cities of the land, but
for gravediggers and undertakers, who had come here in the discharge of
their melancholy offices.
When George William heard the approaching steps of the burgers, he gave
his chair a sudden push, so that it turned upon its strong rollers, and
thus gave to the men the benefit of his Electorial countenance.
Forthwith the burgers sank upon their knees, and imploringly stretched out
their hands toward the Prince.
"Wherefore have you come and what will you have of me?" inquired the
Elector in a severe voice.
"Your Electoral Highness, we have been informed by the magistrate that
your grace was angry with the corporations of Berlin and Cologne because
we ventured, in our anxiety and distress, to have recourse to our own
liege lord, and to implore in a petition his support and protection."
"How could you dare to do such a thing? Did you not know that the Count
von Schwarzenberg had been appointed by me stadtholder within the Mark,
and that to him alone you should have gone with your complaints and
"But we knew, besides, that our despair had reached its height, and that
we longed for the protection and presence of our own Sovereign, as weak,
delicate children long for the sight of a strong, tender parent. Therefore
have the united corporations of the cities of Berlin and Cologne
determined to send a memorial in writing to your Electoral Highness, to
conjure our liege lord not to deal with us as step-children, since we are
children of one and the same father, and inferior to the Prussians neither
in love nor obedience, but only more visited by misfortune and the
calamities of war. But on this account we implored our hereditary
Sovereign most graciously to turn his eye upon us, and to come to our aid,
since we stood in such great need of his help and his protecting arm.
This, Electoral Highness and most gracious lord, this is our sole crime.
We longed after the presence of our Sovereign, in his own most sacred
person, and told him so."
"But in what way have you presumed to speak?" cried the Elector with
vehemence. "Not as in reverence and duty bound, but as if you would
reproach us! What a rude expression is this when you say, in your
petition, that you hope we shall no longer leave the Markgraviates as
sheep without shepherd, just as if we would hand you over without
protection to the free will and power of the enemy? Most probably those
honorable citizens, the tailors and shoemakers, drew up this famous
writing, but they would have done better to take into their counsel their
priest, or at least a schoolmaster, because he could have enlightened them
as to the proper style of address for obedient, submissive citizens to
assume in writing to their Sovereign. I have always been an indulgent
ruler, who continually cared for your best interests. If matters do not go
so well with you, it is your own fault, because you would never carry out
my intentions, which I made you acquainted with and urged upon you long
years ago. For have we not perpetually, ever since God exalted us to the
Electoral dignity and invested us with the reins of government, caused to
be represented to you and to all the states in the land how highly
necessary it was to establish another form of government? Who has it been
but yourselves who hindered, obstructed, and opposed it? Now, however,
when things go not so smoothly, you lament over it, and demand from me
assistance, when in former times your pride always consisted in being
wholly independent of us, through your free-city constitutions! Now, then,
see what is the result, when a city will be wholly independent of its
liege lord and persists in its obstinacy."
"Your Electoral Highness, it has never entered the minds of our citizens
to oppose themselves obstinately to the most gracious of sovereigns,"
protested the spokesman of the burger deputation, "On the contrary, we
have always been found ready to obey the behests of your Electoral grace."
"That is not true! That is a lie!" cried the Elector vehemently. "Often
have you declined to obey my commands in small as well as great things. I
remember yet very well how, when three years ago I came in the summertime
from Prussia to Berlin, I was perfectly shocked at the filth and stench in
the streets of Cologne and Berlin, where before every house, besides
pigstyes, there were heaped high piles of trash and manure. But when I
ordered the high council of both cities to have the streets cleansed, they
had the hardihood to answer me thus: 'The citizens have no time now to
clean the streets, since they are busy with agricultural work.' And
quite recently, when I merely applied to these two capitals for their
yearly quota of fifteen thousand dollars, in order to increase my
bodyguard from three hundred to six hundred men during these perilous
times of warfare, did you not refuse to grant this subsidy to your
"Your Electoral Highness, that was the result of the extremest affliction
and necessity, because we were really in no condition to pay the money.
For whence shall we procure it if poverty, want, and affliction are the
only things that yet belong to us? Just on that very account, to bring
this matter to the hearing of your Electoral Highness, have we been
deputed as delegates by the corporations of Berlin and Cologne to wait
upon your Electoral Grace, that we might represent our distresses to our
Sovereign, and entreat him to forgive us if we are forced to decline
contributions of money, for we are unable to raise them. Since this
fierce, horrible war has raged in Germany between the Imperialists and
Swedes, between the Catholics and Protestants, the cities of Berlin and
Cologne have suffered pitiably, and have been levied upon and plundered,
sometimes by the Swedes and sometimes by the Imperialists. Before the
peace of Prague the Imperialists visited us quite often with cruel
robberies and levies, but since the peace of Prague, it has been yet
worse, and what we have suffered and endured these past two years is
enough to melt a stone, how much more the heart of a pitiful Sovereign.
Last year first came the Swedish colonel Haderslof into our town, and
levied upon us for sixteen thousand dollars; and hardly had he left when
Field-Marshal Wrangel came and demanded twenty thousand dollars besides.
Since, however, we were not in a position to pay that sum, he contented
himself with a thousand dollars in money, but we had to furnish him in
addition with fifteen thousand yards of cloth, three thousand pairs of
socks, and as many pairs of shoes, and besides that he had all the cattle
driven out of the city. And yet again, a few weeks ago came the Swedish
colonel Haderslof, and demanded of us a contribution of eleven thousand
dollars. It was impossible, however. We could pay no more, since we had no
more gold, and were obliged to receive it almost as a favor that he
promised in the compact to accept silver in payment in lieu of gold, and
to estimate a half ounce of gilded silver at twelve groschen and a half
ounce of white silver at nine groschen. We could do nothing but submit,
and each householder and citizen bore all the silverware he possessed to
the guildhall, where the Swede had ordered the contributions to be
collected. And now, most gracious lord and Elector, now that we are poor
and wretched, comes the stadtholder in the Mark, the Lord Count von
Schwarzenberg, and requires of the cities of Berlin and Cologne the
payment of their annual tax for purposes of defense."
"And you are bound by duty and obligation so to do," exclaimed the Elector
quickly. "On the committee day of the year 1626 it was decided that the
city of Berlin should annually pay a stipend for defense of eight thousand
five hundred dollars, that therewith might be maintained her garrison and
the fortress of Berlin. Therefore you are bound and under obligation to
pay this assessment at present, for it strikes me forcibly that you were
never in greater need of a garrison than just now."
"But may it please your Electoral Highness, our garrison is of no manner
of use to us. It is much too inconsiderable to afford protection against
the enemy, and is rather hurtful, insomuch as the soldiers readily fall
into quarrels and brawls with our enemies, in which, however, they always
come off losers, only embittering still more the hatred of our foes.
Therefore, when we have anticipated the approach of the enemy, we have
always besieged the commandant of our garrison with entreaties and
representations, until he has consented, in order to save us from
increased misfortunes, to retire with his garrison from the city, and to
march out to Spandow or Brandenburg until the enemy again had taken their
departure. Your Electoral Grace sees therefore that the garrison is of
no use at all to us, and yet we must pay a tax for defense."
"Yes, must and shall pay it, for your case is not so bad as you would have
us believe. Meantime you have refused to defray the expenses of enlarging
my bodyguard; report has reached Koenigsberg of the proceedings at Berlin
and Cologne, and truly wonderful and horrible tidings have been imparted
to me by my chancellor, Pruckmann. I know all. I am acquainted with all
your doings and actions, and I must say that my heart, yearning as it does
over my subjects, has been grieved to learn the abominable godlessness and
wickedness of the citizens of my towns of Berlin and Cologne. It is true
that you have had to suffer many of the trials and calamities incident to
war, but not in the least have you been improved by them or led to
repentance. In spite of the necessities of war, you have not forsaken your
pride and haughtiness; the women dress themselves extravagantly, and it is
really abominable, shameful, and disgusting to behold them in the new
French attire, which they call 'la Fontange,' and which leaves the person
uncovered almost as far as the waist. They bedizen themselves with finery
and flaunt through the streets in velvets and satins. And the men
encourage them in it, join in their amusements, and waste their lives in
banquetings and feastings. Such disgraceful lives as men must have passed
in Sodom and Gomorrah! And although you know the enemy may come again at
any moment and levy their contributions upon you, yet you take it not in
the least to heart, but continue to lead a merry, luxurious life, have
balls and drinking bouts, spend a wild, heathenish life in eating,
drinking, gambling, and other wantonness, deck yourselves out like
peacocks, and those who have the least, and carry all their possessions
upon their bodies, act worst of all."
"It is desperation, your Electoral Highness, which makes the people of
Berlin so mad and wild. Well they know that they can call nothing their
own. Why should they save when the Swede comes to-day or to-morrow, and
takes from them their last possession? Therefore they prefer to squander
upon themselves in desperate merriment, rather than economize and go along
sorrowfully, to find that they have only saved for the enemy, who laughs
at their misery."
"Now, if you take it so, you might give to me also what I desire and
demand, and I would have the citizens of Berlin and Cologne to know
through you that I am not minded to abate in the least my requisitions for
the payment of the expenses of my bodyguard, and the tax for the
maintenance of my Electoral court. You must and shall pay, and in any case
it must be preferable, to your desperation, to give your last thing to
your Elector and Sovereign, rather than have it stolen and extorted from
you by the Swedes. So, there you have my decision, and be off with it and
convey it to the citizens of Berlin and Cologne. Attempt not to say
anything more now, for I will hear nothing more. You are dismissed, go
"Your Electoral Highness," the spokesman ventured to begin, "I--"
But the Elector would not allow him to proceed. He took up his silver
whistle, and with its shrill call overpowered the sound of the burger's
words. The door of the outer chamber opened immediately, and the lackey
appeared upon the threshold; on the outside, beside the door, were to be
seen two of the Electoral lifeguardsmen, standing with shouldered weapons.
"The burger deputation is dismissed," cried the Elector shortly. "Have the
doors opened, and let them go out."
The delegates from the oppressed cities ventured not to make opposition;
sighing and with heads bowed low they strode through the room. Arrived at
the door, they turned once more and bowed deeply before his Electoral
Grace. But George William saw it not, for with an adroit jerk he had again
turned his armchair toward his writing table. Meanwhile, although he
affected to read the document which he took from the table, his attention
was in fact wholly concentrated upon the departing burgers. He listened
with a satisfied air as they slowly moved away, and, when the door of the
antechamber closed behind them, with a deep-drawn breath deposited the
document upon the table.
"They will pay, I am certain they will pay," he said, a triumphant
expression flitting across his troubled, peevish countenance. "I have
properly frightened them and put them in wholesome dread, so that they
will not dare to oppose us longer. Yes, they will pay and thus extricate
us from the dilemma in which we find ourselves at present. Ah! what a
hard, fearful thing is life, and how little does it fulfill the hopes with
which I looked forward to it in the years of my youth! My blessed father
was such a fortunate ruler! With him everything was successful. He lived
in peace and concord with Emperor and empire, was beloved by his people,
and had great prospects for the future, being heir to precious
possessions. And when I thus beheld him in the glory and fullness of his
power, I thought to myself that it was a glorious destiny to be an
Elector, and that a clear sky always shone above the head of a Prince. Yet
all at once clouds chased across and darkened this sky, for in Bohemia was
kindled the war which soon split Germany into two hostile parties. My
blessed father took sides with his brother-in-law, the new King of
Bohemia. But then came the battle of the White Mountain, which cost my
poor uncle, the King of Bohemia, Frederick of the Palatinate, his land and
crown, and drove him forth into misfortune and misery. And the triumphant
Emperor threatened all who should succor the conquered sovereign with
proscription and the ban of the empire, and whoever should rescue him must
cry _pater peccavi_, and penitentially confess to the Emperor and empire.
My blessed father did so, but henceforth he might no longer sit upon the
throne, which could only remain his through the condescension of the
Emperor. He preferred to live independently in solitude and retirement,
devoting himself to the meditations and practices of the reformed
doctrines, whose confession he adopted, together with his whole family. So
he resigned the government, and gave it to me. Alas! it was a sad
heritage, and little enough had I to rule, for misfortune, war, and the
Emperor ruled me and my land, so that I soon had my fill of it, and--"
"May we come in?" asked a pleasant voice behind the Elector, interrupting
him in his melancholy reminiscences.
"Yes, Lady Electress," he replied, painfully rising from his
armchair--"yes, come in and be heartily welcome to your spouse."
The Electress Charlotte Elizabeth closed the little side door which led
from her private apartments, and with a friendly nod of the head and
tender glances approached her husband, who advanced slowly to meet her.
"Elizabeth," he said, thoughtfully shaking his head, "I see from your
countenance that you have something special to say to me. Your brown eyes
shine to-day unusually bright and clear, and on your lips rests a happy,
tender smile, such as, alas! I no longer observe often in my wife."
"Gladly would I have smiled and looked cheerful, George, but have lacked
the opportunity. You know well that we have seldom seen a blue sky above
us; it has been always over-cast by gloomy clouds. But I beg of you, my
lord and husband, to resume your seat, for I see, alas! that your foot is
paining you sadly. The fatigues of travel have injured it, and it would
indeed be wise if you would at last determine to resort to active
remedies, and to that end allow a couple of the learned Frankfort doctors
to be sent for."
With an expression almost of alarm the Elector looked upon his wife, who
had seated herself on a stool beside him, and soothingly and tenderly laid
her hand upon his cheek.
"You have something on your mind, Elizabeth, something surely," he said,
"and it is nothing which can give me pleasure, else you would not use so
much circumlocution; but speak it out frankly."
"How?" asked the Electress, "must I have some special object in view, when
I smile upon you, and fondle you a little? Know you not that my soul is
full of tenderness toward you, and that my heart is ever speaking to you,
even when the lips utter not aloud what the heart is whispering within?"
"Elizabeth!" cried the Elector, "now I _know_ it; you have received
tidings from our son, and vexatious tidings! Yes, yes, that is it! I know
those tender looks and beaming eyes; it is not my wife that I recognize in
them: it is the mother of our Electoral Prince, Frederick William."
"Ah! what an acute observer you are, George, and how well you understand
how to read my countenance! Well, now, you shall have it in all candor. I
have news from our dear Electoral Prince."
"He notifies us, I trust, that he has followed our instructions strictly
and to the letter, and is now on his way home?" asked the Elector, gazing
upon his wife with anxious, inquiring glances.
But Elizabeth avoided his look.
"What!" cried George William angrily, "you do not answer me! You can not,
therefore, respond to my questions with a joyful Yes! Can it be possible,
then, that the Electoral Prince has disregarded my commands, that--"
"Do not allow yourself to be so excited, George," interrupted the
Electress. "First hear his motives and excuses before you grow angry with
"From all those motives and excuses I shall only gather that he will not
come," cried the Elector.
"Say rather that he can not come," returned Elizabeth, while she gently
forced back her husband, who in his excitement and impatience had made an
effort to rise. "Yes, I have letters from The Hague, my dear husband,
letters from both our uncle, the Prince of Orange, and my mother, and I
dare affirm that these letters have given me heartfelt joy, inasmuch as my
uncle the Stadtholder, as well as my mother, write of our dear son that he
is an accomplished Prince, in whom one may reasonably rejoice, and whom we
may be proud to call our son. You know, George, that during these three
years of his sojourn in Holland, we have ever had good and complimentary
accounts of him. His tutor, von Kalkhun, has often reported to us with
what diligence our son applied himself to his studies at Leyden, and that
he had become quite a learned Prince, in whom even the professors
themselves took peculiar delight. Then when he had finished his course of
studies at Leyden and went to Arnheim, where he met with the Princes
William of Orange and Maurice of Nassau, they could not sufficiently laud
the handsome appearance, lofty spirit, and noble heart of our young
"Truly," muttered the Elector, "one could infer from your discourse that
you are the mother of this highly praised lad. It is an old experience
that mothers always find something remarkable in their sons, and if they
were to be believed, then would the son of every mother be no ordinary
specimen of mankind, but a phoenix among all other men."
"But, my well-beloved Elector, I have nevertheless told nothing but the
truth. Our son has been very successful in his studies these last three
years in Holland, and has become a very learned and accomplished young
man, who is well skilled in Latin and Greek, besides speaking German,
French, and Italian in a masterly way. But most especially has he
cultivated himself in a knowledge of the science of war, and the Princes
of Orange and Nassau certify that he will assuredly become hereafter a
great general and warrior, so learnedly and wisely does he even now
discourse upon the subject."
"Why do you say all this, Elizabeth?" asked the Elector. "Why do you
praise our son, but that you are conscious that he is deserving of
censure, and has sinned grievously against us in not having so hastened
his return home as to be here now instead of his letters? But that he has
already set out on the journey home I can not for a moment doubt, and
bitterly should he experience my fatherly wrath if it were not so. Just
tell me in short, concise words, when does my son, the Electoral Prince,
"My dear lord and husband," said the Electress with reluctance and visible
embarrassment, "would it not be best for you to speak on this subject with
the chamberlain, Balthazar von Schlieben--"
"What!" cried the Elector, springing from his seat--"what! Is Schlieben
here again--Schlieben, whom we sent to The Hague in order that he might
conduct our son hither? He has come back without the Electoral Prince?"
"Yes, my husband, he has come back," replied the Electress, winding her
arms tenderly around her husband's neck. "I entreat you most earnestly not
to be angry before you have heard the reasons why the Electoral Prince
does not come. I entreat you to admit Balthazar von Schlieben, and have an
account rendered to you by him."
"Yes!" exclaimed the Elector, vehemently--"yes, I will see him. He shall
render me an account. Where is he? They must send for him directly; he
must be summoned to me immediately!"
"It is not necessary, George; he stands without there in the little
passage leading to my apartments. I shall cause him to enter immediately.
You must promise me first, though, my beloved husband, that you will
listen to him without reproaches and anger, and that you will say nothing
in his presence against the only son given us by Heaven."
"I shall make no promises that I can not keep," cried the Elector warmly.
"I will speak with Schlieben. He must come in. Ho! Chamberlain Balthazar
von Schlieben, come in, I charge you to come in."
The little arras door opened and disclosed to view a slender, tall young
man, in gold-laced blue uniform, with red facings.
"At the command of your Electoral Grace," he said, making a reverential
"Come hither, Schlieben," cried George William, "close up to me, that I
may see if you are actually he who dares to return here without the one
after whom I sent him. So! Look me straight in the face, and tell me why I
sent you to Holland three months ago, and what was your errand there?"
"Your Electoral Highness, I was sent by your grace to Holland, in order
that I might conduct hither his Highness the Electoral Prince."
"Well, then, where is the Electoral Prince?"
"Your Electoral Highness, he is at present still at The Hague, and most
urgently and most submissively he beseeches your Electoral Highness
through me that he may be permitted to remain there at least for the
"He is yet at The Hague!" cried the Elector. "He ventures thus to brave
me--to oppose himself to my strict injunctions? Or have you not handed him
my letter, Schlieben? Or have you not repeated to him all that I said and
urged you by word of mouth to convey to him? Did you not inform him that I
ordered him, under penalty of my princely and fatherly displeasure, to set
out and journey hither in the speediest manner possible?"
"Your Electoral Highness, I carried out exactly every command given me by
your highness, and the Electoral Prince surely would not have delayed an
instant gratifying the demands of his revered father, if many concurring
circumstances had not made it impossible for him. The Electoral Prince has
himself more narrowly pointed out and explained these in this letter,
which he has charged me to deliver to your highness."
And with a deep inclination the chamberlain extended a large sealed packet
to his Sovereign.
George William took it with angry impatience, and so curious was he to
read the contents of the packet that he hastily tore off the cover, the
sooner to arrive at its purport. A closely written sheet of fine paper was
within the cover, and the Elector unfolded it with eager hands. But after
looking at this a long while, he shook his head passionately, and the
flush of anger on his countenance grew yet darker.
"What sort of new-fashioned, disrespectful handwriting is this?" growled
George William. "This is not at all as if it had been written by a
prince's son, but by a scholar who had carefully sought to crowd as many
lines as possible into one page in order to save paper. A prince should
never renounce or be unmindful of his own dignity. But it is unbecoming,
indeed, and unworthy of a prince to write such a fine hand, as if he were
a scholar or a writing master. I can not read these small intricate
characters. Read the letter to me, Electress, in short, share it with me
from the first."
The Electress took the sheet held out to her, and read it over with
hurried glances. "The Electoral Prince uses the most humble, submissive
words," she said, finally. "It is just the letter of an obedient and
respectful son, who is all anxiety to obey the commands of his father, and
who is deeply grieved that he must nevertheless go contrary to them."
"Must?" cried George William. "Be pleased to tell me why he must."
"Only hear, my lord and husband, what the Prince writes about it," said
the Electress, and with loud voice she read:
"'There are various circumstances which compel me to prolong my stay in
this country. In the first place, Admiral Tromp is here, and he is very
useful in aiding me to arrive at a more perfect knowledge of nautical
affairs, as, also, the condescension and kindness of my uncle, the Prince
of Orange, that great general, affords me a glorious opportunity of
perfecting myself in the science of war. And I think that, the more I
learn and study here, the more capable will I become of serving hereafter
under your highness. But, apart from these things, it would be exceedingly
difficult at this season of the year and under the present conditions, to
make the long journey from The Hague to Prussia; most probably it would
consume a half year, and the expenses would be enormous, while next summer
I might easily accomplish the journey in two months. The voyage by sea
would be next to impossible during this present winter on account of the
violent storms, which might occasion tedious delays. Moreover, I dread the
privateers of Dunkirk, against which the Dutch convoy could hardly protect
me. But yet more formidable seems the journey by land in the existing
state of the times. In Westphalia the Hessians and Swedes rove about,
rendering the roads unsafe. Even should I take my way over the flats,
along the strand, yet the Swedish and Hessian troops could easily catch up
with me, and overpower the escort promised me for safe-conduct by the
counts of East Friesland and Oldenburg and the Bishop of Bremen. Or should
I bend my course through Upper Germany and Franconia, there, again, other
hindrances present themselves, for throughout all these provinces reigns
the greatest wretchedness--men even devouring one another for hunger. On
that account my uncle, the Prince Stadtholder himself, has opposed my
undertaking the journey, considering it too dangerous. A deputation from
the duchy of Cleves has also come and begged me to postpone my departure,
since they had petitioned your grace anew to leave me in the duchy of
Cleves as their stadtholder. And if all this were not so, there is yet
another reason which must prevent my departure from here. But this I dare
not commit to writing, for a letter may be so easily lost, and to read
such a thing would furnish our enemies an occasion of rejoicing and
triumph. Therefore I have told all to young Balthazar von Schlieben, and
he will in my name faithfully and most reverentially communicate to you,
your Electoral Highness and my most gracious father, the true and
principal cause which prevents my setting forth from Holland.'"
"Well, speak then!" cried the Elector impatiently. "Speak, Schlieben--what
"Will not my lord and husband first hear the Electoral Prince's letter to
the end?" asked the Electress. "Here follow some cordial, affectionate
words, and assurances of the most filial respect and most submissive
"Can I value them, yes, can I value any of them all?" answered George
William passionately. "When we will prove nothing by deeds, then we make
speeches, and when we are disobedient in act, then we asseverate with
words of love and reverence. Speak, then, Balthazar von Schlieben, since
you have been thus commissioned by the Electoral Prince. What is this most
weighty of reasons which forbids the departure of the Electoral Prince
"Your Electoral Highness, it is debt, it is the total want of money."
The Elector started up as if an adder had stung him. "Debts!" he cried in
thundering voice. "Want of money! Will this litany never, never cease?
What a wild, extravagant life the Electoral Prince must lead to be for
ever and ever wanting money, and no sooner are his debts paid than he
contracts new ones!"
"Husband," said the Electress soothingly, "it does not reflect upon the
life our son leads that he is out of money, but proves that he has not
received a sufficiently ample allowance. Just reflect that three years
ago, when he undertook this journey to Holland, you did not give him a red
cent, and that I had to give him from my little savings three thousand
dollars that he might be able to travel at all. A considerable portion
of this must have been expended during the tedious journey, with his
"If any one were to listen to you, Electress, he would really suppose that
the Electoral Prince had lived upon those three thousand dollars lent him
by you from that time up to the present. You forget, however, that,
already in the year 1636, therefore the very next year after the Electoral
Prince set out upon his journey, the states at the diet of Koenigsberg
voted the large sum of seven thousand dollars to the Electoral Prince for
the prosecution of his studies, over which they made a great outcry even
then, since the owner of each rood of land must be taxed five groschen to
pay for these acquirements, bringing down, no doubt, many a curse upon his
Latin and Greek. From these two sources alone, then, he has had ten
thousand dollars to disburse in three years, which for so young a
gentleman would surely seem sufficient. Besides, just half a year ago, on
his repeated application to me for money, I sent him again one thousand
dollars, insomuch as he felt himself compelled to purchase a stately
"That was the time, husband, when our son went from Leyden to Arnheim, to
reside there for a long while. There, of course, he was obliged to have a
small household about him, in order to maintain the dignity of his father
and his house, for there, too, dwelt the Princes of Orange and Nassau, and
our son, the Electoral Prince of Brandenburg, in order not to be surpassed
by them, must, like them, hold his court."
"And unfortunately living is very expensive in Holland," remarked the
Chamberlain von Schlieben. "Your Electoral Grace had sent one thousand
dollars to the Electoral Prince for the purchase of an equipage, but this
sum was by no means adequate. The coach alone cost seven hundred dollars."
"Seven hundred dollars!" cried the Elector, amazed. "How can one pay so
much money for a mere wooden box?"
"If it please your highness, the coaches in Holland are not by any means
wooden boxes, merely painted, varnished, and gilded a little within and
without, having hard leather-covered seats. The Electoral Prince's coach
is hung within and without in red velvet and satin, for this custom and
usage require of a princely personage in Holland; besides, a set of four
horses must be bought, and each of these cost one hundred and forty
dollars. Your Electoral Highness sees clearly, therefore, that one
thousand dollars could not suffice to cover the expense, for coach and
horses alone cost more than that, and now must be added the liveries and
harness, besides the wages of coachman, footmen, and lackeys."
"Yes, I see plainly that my dear son leads a stately, extravagant life,"
cried the Elector. "I see well that it is high time for him to come away
from there, and learn that an Elector of Brandenburg must adapt himself to
his means, and, instead of riding in a coach drawn by four horses, must
drive in a miserable rattle-trap pulled by two paltry beasts. It is
therefore full time that the Electoral Prince were withdrawn from the
scenes of his pomp and pride, and were taught again to live simply and
sparingly. He must and shall return home! Finally, I am sick and tired of
this eternal negotiating, this writing to and fro, and it really is high
time that this should have an end. For a year already I have been in
treaty with the young gentleman concerning his return home, and last of
all dispatched my chamberlain to enjoin it upon him as my most decided and
express will that the Prince come home, and start forthwith. But he has an
obstinate disposition, and sends the Chamberlain von Schlieben back, and
tranquilly remain there, where he is so well pleased, living as he does in
pomp and luxury, while I have hardly enough money to live along scantily
and with the strictest economy."
"But only consider, my dear husband," said the Electress persuasively--"only
consider that it is not from high-mindedness or disobedience that the
Electoral Prince tarries in Holland. Indeed, he can not get away while he
has no money, and on that very account most urgently appeals to the
kindest of all fathers, through the Chamberlain von Schlieben,
reverentially begging and beseeching him to extricate him from his
difficulties by sending him money enough to pay his debts, and to enable
him to travel as becomes his rank."
"Money, and always money!" cried the Elector, almost in a tone of despair.
"O God! what a tormented, unhappy man I am! Every one has something to
crave of me, and no one anything to give me! When I demand of the states,
provinces, cities, citizens, and peasants funds to defray my expenses,
then from all sides I hear: 'We have no money; we are so reduced that we
can pay no taxes.' And still all these states, provinces, cities,
citizens, and peasants demand of me money and support, succor and alms,
although they know that I have nothing, for they give me nothing. Money!
money! That word has been my tormentor and enemy ever since I began to
rule; sleeping and waking that word has pursued me. From all officers,
from all subalterns I have heard it, as often as they came near me, and
now comes my dear son, too, afflicting and harassing his poor, unfortunate
father with this dreaded word. But I shall not suffer him to employ this
hated word in his own behalf and turn it against me for his own advantage.
I shall not allow him to remain longer at The Hague under pretext that he
lacks money to bring him home. He shall have money, yes, he shall have it.
I shall see to procuring it. It must be done."
"My dear lord and husband," besought the Electress, "I entreat you not to
be so much excited, for it might injure you."
"And I entreat you to leave me now, Lady Electress," said George William
impatiently. "It is useless to exhort one to tranquillity and composure,
who has so much reason to be roused and provoked. But this fine son of
ours shall pay for the vexation and torture that he has prepared for me.
He may reckon upon my setting it down to his account, and not allowing
myself to be cheated by empty speeches and by fine actions in word alone.
You are dismissed, Sir Chamberlain von Schlieben! Badly enough have you
fulfilled my commission, and you may be sure that never again shall you
be selected as our messenger and legate!"
"Permit me, my husband, to put in a good word for poor Schlieben!" cried
the Electress. "He had no power to bring the Electoral Prince away by
force, just as the Electoral Prince himself has no power to leave of his
own free will. The whole difficulty consists in our son's having no money."
"Yes, and right welcome is it to him, this time," said the Elector with a
bitter laugh. "As he has no money, he continually contracts more and more
debts, thereby rendering the payment more difficult, and the longer the
delay the longer can the Prince remain in Holland, leading a merry life
there. But I shall make an end of it, an end! Schwarzenberg shall come,
and he must and will procure me the means. Excuse me, Lady Electress, I
have business--pressing business."
"I withdraw, my lord and husband," said Elizabeth, bowing ceremonially,
and, turning to the Chamberlain von Schlieben, who was just sliding toward
the door with pale, disturbed countenance, she continued: "Sir Chamberlain,
follow me! You must tell me more about my dear Electoral Prince and all my
dear relatives, whom you have seen and spoken with at The Hague."
The countenance of the chamberlain lighted up, and with a grateful glance
he followed the Electress through the side door into her own apartments.
The Elector was alone. His head sank upon his breast, and he stood deeply
absorbed in thought. But after a pause he slowly raised his head, and his
sorrowful glance fell directly upon the portrait of his father, John
Sigismund, whose sad, pale face was turned toward him, with its dark,
"Poor father!" murmured the Elector with a heavy sigh, "I understand quite
well and easily conceive why you voluntarily laid down your power and
retired from the government before death had sent his summons. An Elector
of Brandenburg has by no means a comfortable, pleasant life of it; and a
sorely oppressive inheritance have I received from you, so that I, too,
might despair, and do as you have done. I, too, might rid myself of the
hard task of seeming to be an Elector and reigning sovereign, while I am
naught but a poor, much-tormented man, who has more titles than lands,
more debts than money, and whose nation consists not of obedient subjects
but of obstinate brawlers, a mob of would-be politicians and starved-out
people. No! no!" he cried, interrupting himself, "no! I shall not give my
son so much joy. I shall not do him the pleasure of yielding up the power
to him, and being thrown aside myself like a squeezed lemon. No, Elector
I shall remain, and my lordly son shall submit to the paternal will, and
return home. Schwarzenberg must provide me with the means. He is the very
man for this--he understands it!"
The Elector reached out again for his silver whistle and sounded a shrill
call. Immediately one of the outer doors was opened, admitting a lackey.
The Elector had already opened his mouth, to issue his commands, when he
suddenly grew dumb and looked at the lackey with a still more clouded brow.
"Fellow," he said angrily, "how dare you appear in this presence with such
a dress? With your short bearskin jacket and patched hose, you present
such a pitiably mean appearance that I am actually ashamed to behold you."
"Pardon, your Electoral Grace," stammered the servant with downcast air,
"I can not help it, and I am woefully ashamed myself that I must dare to
come thus before my most gracious lord the Elector. A heavy misfortune has
happened to my livery coat. I left it hanging on a nail, and tore a
fearfully large three-cornered rent in it, on which the court tailor says
he will have to stitch a whole day, and even then it may not be
presentable after all. The livery coat, therefore, is at the tailor's,
which is the reason why I must appear in my jacket."
"You should have put on another coat," cried the Elector, impatiently,
"for it is contrary to respect that you should enter in such shabby style."
"Another coat?" asked the lackey, with an expression of the highest
astonishment. "Pardon, your Electoral Highness, I have only that one coat!"
"What!" exclaimed the Elector. "Only _one_ coat! Did I not order that new
livery coats should be made for you lackeys before our removal from
"It was done, your Electoral Grace, we received our new livery coats
before we left Koenigsberg."
"Well, then, where are the old ones?"
"Your Electoral Grace, the master of the wardrobe sold the old ones to the
Jews at Koenigsberg, who paid him a good sum of money for them, for the old
livery coats were trimmed with genuine gold lace, but the new ones are
cheaper, for it is only gilt or--"
"Hold your tongue and begone!" cried the Elector. "If you have no coat,
then from to-day I dispense with your services, and Jocelyn shall take
"Forgive me, your Electoral Highness, but Jocelyn is in confinement. The
master of the wardrobe had him put in the guardhouse three days ago."
"Wherefore then--what has Jocelyn done that the master of the wardrobe
should have him put into prison?"
"He was obstinate, your highness. The paymaster has not distributed to us
our wages for two months, so that none of us has a groschen in his pocket.
When we reached Berlin, three days ago, Jocelyn found his old mother
miserably sick and well-nigh starved, for the Imperialists have thoroughly
pillaged Berlin, and robbed the old woman of her last possession. She had
nothing to eat, and still less could she afford to send for a doctor and
buy medicines. So, in his desperation, Jocelyn went to the paymaster and
begged of him his month's wages, but was told that he could have nothing
now, because the journey from Prussia here had cost so much money that all
the coffers were empty; but that in the course of eight days the paymaster
might be in funds again, and that then we should all have what was due us.
But, on account of his old mother, Jocelyn could not wait, and so in
desperation went off and sold his new livery coat to an old-clothes man,
and carried the money to his mother. And for that reason, your Electoral
Grace, poor Jocelyn now sits in the guardhouse."
The Elector had turned away, and gazed from the window down into the
pleasure garden, the branches of whose green trees nearly touched the
windows of the apartment. He could no longer meet the glance of the lackey
Conrad; he would not have him witness his mortification and the painful
twitchings of his mouth. But after a while he turned again to old Conrad,
who had crept softly toward the door, not venturing to go out without
permission from his master.
"You see well, old man," said the Elector confidentially, "that our
affairs are not in so prosperous a condition as formerly when you entered
my service, and were the body servant of the merry, cheerful young
Electoral Prince. Now that Electoral Prince has become a very sad,
serious, and poverty-stricken Elector, who has lived through much
affliction, and must content himself, despite his glorious title, with
being a poor tormented man, and therefore also a peevish man. I was once
otherwise; that you know. But debts make the wildest tame and the most
joyous fretful, as you see in me, old Conrad. But now listen!"
He stepped to his writing table and drew forth a long purse with meshes of
green silk and gold. Carefully counting, he shook some money out of the
purse into his hand and then handed it to Conrad.
"Conrad, there are twelve dollars. Do you know the Jew to whom Jocelyn
sold his livery coat?"
"Yes, I know him, your highness."
"Then go, Conrad, and buy back the coat. How much did the Jew pay for it?"
"Six dollars, your Electoral Highness."
"Return him five dollars for it, and tell him that the dollar subtracted
is by way of punishment for his having dared to purchase the coat of one
of the servants belonging to the electoral household, for he must know
that it is not the lackey's but electoral property. But if the Jew
ventures to grumble, then say to him that I shall have him watched and his
false dealings inquired into. When you have obtained the coat, carry it to
the master of the wardrobe, and tell him to release Jocelyn from the
guardhouse and permit him to wear his coat again. Say to him that it is my
command. And now go and attend to this matter for me."
"Forgive me, your Electoral Grace, but I know not yet what to do with the
rest of the money. When I shall have redeemed Jocelyn's coat with five
dollars, there will yet remain seven dollars besides, and I beg of your
highness to point out what disposition I must make of them."
"What wages do the lackeys receive by the month?"
"One rixdollar and four groschen, your highness!"
"That makes four dollars and sixteen groschen owing to you and Jocelyn,
since the paymaster is in your debt for two months' wages. There will
still be a remainder of two dollars and eight groschen, which you must
give to Jocelyn to take to his old mother, not, however, as if it came
from me, but as his own gift."
"Ah! your Electoral Highness, what a kind, gracious master you are!" cried
Conrad, with tears in his eyes. "Only extend this one act of goodness and
condescension: permit your old Conrad to kiss your hand and thank you for
the favor your highness has shown to Jocelyn and myself, and be not
offended at your old servant for asking such a thing, since it is only out
of love and hearty respect."
"I know it, Conrad, I know it," said the Elector, reaching out his hand to
the old man, and permitting him to press it to his lips. "I know your
good, faithful heart, which has never swerved from its duty these twenty
years that you have been in my service. Go now, old man, and do as I have
bidden you. But hear! No one need know that I have paid you and Jocelyn
your month's wages, for then they would all come to be paid by me; and the
paymaster was quite right--our coffers are empty, and we must take account
of everything until they are filled again. Keep silent, then, both of you.
I shall tell the paymaster myself that I have just meddled a little in his
"But now, hear one thing more, Conrad. Go straightway across into Broad
Street, to the house of his excellency the Stadtholder in the Mark, Count
von Schwarzenberg. We request his excellency to take the trouble to come
immediately to us. Say from me that we have weighty business to transact
with him that admits of no delay. Therefore, we entreat his excellency to
come hither forthwith."
"Pardon, your highness," said Conrad, anxiously and confusedly; "my
dresscoat is still at the court tailor's. Must I go across in my jacket?
At the Stadtholder's everything is so fearfully fine and stately. The
lackeys, too, put on such airs that an electoral lackey can not stand up
to them at all; they are, besides, haughty, supercilious fellows, who
think themselves very grand, and fancy they are something quite uncommon,
and almost more than one of us, who are court lackeys to your highness.
Would it not make the fellows rejoice to see me in this jacket and--"
"Never mind; go across in your jacket," said the Elector, laughing.
"Remember always that you are the servant of the master, and those spruce
fellows but the lackeys of the servant, although I must say that the
servant is a much richer, more magnificent man than his master. Run and
bring the Stadtholder to me!"
III.--COUNT ADAM VON SCHWARZENBERG.
"I thank you, Master Gabriel Nietzel, I thank you with my whole heart, for
you have indeed prepared me a great pleasure," cried Count Adam von
Schwarzenberg, at the same time nodding pleasantly to the young man who
stood beside him. Then he was lost again in contemplation of the picture
before which they both stood, and which was mounted upon an easel in one
of the deep bay windows of the lofty apartment.
"I well knew that my most gracious lord would take pleasure in this
glorious work of art," said Master Gabriel Nietzel, smiling, "and
therefore have I spared neither expense, toil, nor danger in bringing to
your excellency this noble painting of the great Italian master."
"And I am astonished that you have succeeded, master," exclaimed the
count, changing his position before the picture, in order to examine it in
a new light, from a different point of view.
"Most gracious sir, if I had had in the box which I guarded so closely
hams or other edibles, instead of this picture, or even articles of
clothing or munitions of war, then surely I should have failed in bringing
it here from Italy, considering all the bands of soldiers and robbers who
fly through the German empire now, like a swarm of bees, and like locusts
leave in their train, wherever they alight, want and wretchedness."
"Yes, yes," cried Count Schwarzenberg, with a short, peculiar laugh,
"right ill things look throughout this holy German empire; poverty, war,
and pestilence are the locusts of which you speak, and--But why do you
remind me of these unpleasant things? Let me enjoy one quarter of an
hour's refreshment and joy. Let me forget care for just a little while,
and feast my eyes upon the sight of this glorious woman!"
"It is a Venus," said Master Gabriel with diffidence, "the so-called Venus
with the Mirror. Master Titian has twice painted this design, only that in
one picture two Cupids appear, while the other shows only one Love."
"Very naturally," laughed the count. "When the great Titian painted the
first picture one Love only existed, while at the second representation a
second Love had arrived for the beautiful woman, to her own ineffable
delight and that of her beloved Master Titiano Vecellio."
"Pardon, your excellency," remarked Master Gabriel, "indeed the painting
represents a Venus."
"There you are now, poor child of man," cried Schwarzenberg, laughing
aloud, "so properly reserved and so affectedly modest! A mere woman in her
primitive beauty would wound your sense of propriety, and you would not
venture to look at her, but a goddess has permission to appear without
earthly clothing, and you dare, casting reserve aside, to lift your eyes
to her glorious form. And besides, in your humility and modesty, you think
that a woman of such godlike shape may not be found upon earth, therefore
you exalt her to the gods, and therefore you call her a Venus, who is only
the most voluptuous, beautiful, and charming of women."
With upraised finger Master Gabriel pointed toward the naked little boys
who, exquisitely fair, stood behind Venus and held her mirror for her.
"That is an angel, as your grace sees, for he has wings upon his
shoulders," he said, timidly.
But Count Adam von Schwarzenberg hastily took the master's finger and
directed it to another part of the picture.
"It is a woman," he cried, laughing, "for she has flung a covering around
her hips, and you can never make me believe that Venus upon Olympus wore
velvet edged with ermine. But let us quit this strife! A beautiful woman
is always a goddess, and he who would not acknowledge that would be a real
heathen and barbarian. I will therefore comply with your wish, and entitle
this wondrous woman a Venus. And I keep her, your Venus. Name the price,
master, and you shall immediately receive your pay."
"I paid two thousand ducats for the painting in Cremona, where I had the
good luck to discover it, on my return from Rome," replied Master Gabriel
Nietzel, with anxious countenance and timid manner, as if he dreaded an
explosion of wrath on the part of the count, who was everywhere recognized
and decried as avaricious and greedy of gain. "Add to that two hundred
ducats to cover my bare outlay for the packing and freight. The rest,
which concerns my trouble and need, and the perils I endured when we, that
is to say, Venus and I, were seized by bands of soldiers and ransomed--all
this can not be calculated, and in humility I leave it to your grace to
compensate me as you may see fit."
"Two thousand ducats for the picture, two hundred for expenses incurred! A
tolerably high price, indeed, for a little piece of painted canvas!" cried
the count, with a smile. "For that amount a whole regiment of Brandenburg
soldiers might be armed and equipped, to aid the Elector in conquering his
dukedom of Pomerania. But what is that dirty, down-trodden, commonplace
Pomerania in comparison with this heavenly woman, or, if you prefer, this
earthly Venus. Go, Master Gabriel, go directly to my treasurer, and get
him to count out to you three thousand ducats. Eight hundred ducats for
your toil and danger. Are you content, master?"
"Your excellence, you pay like the greatest of lords and emperors!" cried
the painter, with joy-beaming countenance. "You make me forever your
debtor, and so long as I live I shall be ready to serve you."
"Now, if you mean that in earnest, Gabriel, an opportunity presents itself
at this very time."
"Try me, your excellency, give me a commission, however difficult, and my
most gracious lord shall be forced to admit that I have executed it most
faithfully and valiantly."
"Now listen, then, master! I herewith constitute you my agent; I take you
into my pay and service. Were I a reigning prince, then I should say, I
make you my court painter; but being only the little Count Schwarzenberg,
"Stadtholder in the Mark," interrupted Gabriel, with ready glibness of
tongue, "Grand Master of the Order of St. John, first counselor and
minister of the Elector of Brandenburg, president of the electoral counsel
of state, lord and owner of many lands and estates, count of the empire,
"Silence, silence! enough of that!" exclaimed the count, waving him off.
"It is with me, as with the Elector. We both have manifold titles, but
they bring us in little enough, and no money appertains to them. You have
sketched me graphically, master; be quiet now, and listen to me again in
silence. I therefore take you into my pay and service, and give you from
this day forward an annuity of five hundred dollars, which will be
delivered to you quarterly. Hush, hush! do not speak! I read a question in
your eyes and features, and I will forthwith supply the answer. Your
question runs, What have I to do for this annuity? And the answer is,
travel about in the world as a free man to hunt up pictures, and when they
are worth it, to purchase them for me. But above all things, to tell no
one that you are in my service, but to keep this as a secret between us
two. Pictures you must buy for me; that is all you have to do, master. But
sometimes you must allow me to dictate to you--where to journey in quest
of my pictures. For example, now: You have been in Italy, prosecuting your
studies there, and have opportunely brought home to me, thence, a Venus,
because I desired you to make a few purchases for me. You have seen how
delighted I was with the beautiful picture, but, on the whole, I have
taken a greater fancy to landscapes and representations of comedy, and the
Flemish painters are the ones I peculiarly admire. There are the Teniers,
father and son, who have painted the most charming and amusing country
scenes and comic pieces, and there is another young man, Wouvermann by
name, who is said, although youthful in years, to possess great talents,
and to understand not merely how to paint splendid clowns, but battle
scenes as well. Now, I should like of all things to possess a couple of
pictures by each of these three painters, and since the Teniers lived at
Amsterdam and The Hague, and Wouvermann now resides at The Hague, I wish
you to go to The Hague and make a few purchases there for me. But, mark
well, without saying that you come there in my employ, or that you have a
contract with me. I should much prefer your assuming the appearance of
belonging to my enemies, and sounding in unison with them the trumpet of
"Your excellency, how could I venture it, and how can you require of my
grateful heart, that it so belie itself, and allow my lips to speak other
than words of gratitude and reverence?"
"I empower you so to do, Master Gabriel Nietzel, yes, I require it of you,
that you carry such words upon your lips, especially if you are in the
presence of the Electoral Prince Frederick William."
"The Electoral Prince?" asked the painter in astonishment. "Your
excellency will send me to the Electoral Prince at The Hague?"
"On the contrary, you shall act before him as if you hated me, and
belonged to the party of my opponents. But you must by all means reach the
Electoral Prince, must seek to remain in his neighborhood, and to gain his
confidence. You are a lively fellow, and have studied life at its
fountains in Italy. The Electoral Prince loves gay company, and you may
impart to him a little of your knowledge of life, and teach him that youth
must enjoy without scruple or reserve. Be his _maitre de plaisir_, Master
Gabriel; lead him into the temple of art, and teach him that each fair
woman is a Venus, a goddess, and therefore deserving of his worship. You
are a clever painter, and also, as I have heard from Rome, know well how
to sip of life's sweets; and these are two fine talents, which you must
convert into money. For this purpose I send you to Holland. You are to buy
pictures for me and to help the Electoral Prince to while away the hours
and enjoy life. I shall rejoice if you succeed, and it would be agreeable
to me for you to transmit to me exact accounts, every week, of your
efforts, and of the life you lead there with the Electoral Prince. You
can write, Master Gabriel Nietzel?"
"Yes, I can write; but--"
"Well, what signifies that _but_, and wherefore do you look all at once so
gloomy and so cross? Peradventure my commission does not please you?"
"No, your excellency, it does not please me, and I can not undertake it!"
cried Master Gabriel, indignantly. "You send me to The Hague, not as a
painter, but--let me call the thing by its right name--but as a spy, and,
what is yet more, as the corrupter of the Electoral Prince!"
"And that pleases not your virtue and your honesty?" asked the count,
shrugging his shoulders. "Well, good then, dear master! Stick to it! Let
all that we have said to one another be unsaid. Remain an honorable,
independent hero of virtue, paint pictures, and see to it that you sell
them, and if you do not succeed, then be contented to paint signboards
for merchants and their walls for burghers, and console yourself with
this, that you have refused a higher career from principles of virtue and
magnanimity. Take your Venus, Master Champion of Virtue; I had not
commissioned the purchase, and she is too dear for me. We are released
from our mutual obligations, and have nothing more to do with one another.
"Will not your excellency keep the picture?" asked Nietzel, shocked, great
drops of agony standing upon his pale brow. "Will not your excellency
indemnify me for all my labors and expenses, and shall I go from you
"With the proud consciousness of your virtue," said the count, completing
his sentence for him. "Yes, that you shall, Master Gabriel. You shall bear
in mind that Count von Schwarzenberg would have taken you into his
service, and that you declined it, thereby exciting his wrath a little,
which, as I have been told, has seldom turned to the advantage of those
who have roused it, but always to their injury. However, you care nothing
for that; you defy the wrath of the Stadtholder in the Mark, you--"
"No farther, please, your excellency, no farther!" cried out Gabriel, pale
as death. "Forgive my excitement and my struggles. I pray you to forget my
improper words, and accept me for your humble and obedient servant. You
must do me the favor to keep the Venus of Master Titiano Vecellio, for she
is my only possession, and I have given away my whole property in her
"Speak more clearly, master!" cried the count. "You mean to say I must
keep your copy of the Venus, and pay for it as if it were an original one,
for on that you base all your hopes."
"Your excellency!" stammered Master Gabriel in terror, "you do not
"That this painting here is a copy, which you executed, and afterward hung
up a couple of days in the chimney, to give it the appearance of a picture
an hundred years old? Yes, my good man, I do indeed suppose so, and
willingly grant you my testimony to the effect that you have very
faithfully copied Titian, and expended much toil and trouble upon it."
"Most gracious count, I swear to you, that I have been slandered--that--"
"Swear no oath," said the count earnestly and severely. "You did not buy
this picture at Cremona, but copied it in the palace Grimani at Venice,
and worked upon it three whole months. You see I am well informed, and
have my friends everywhere who furnish me with intelligence, and regard it
as an honor to be my--spies, as you would say."
"Mercy, gracious lord, mercy!" cried Nietzel, bursting into tears, and
sinking upon his knees before the proud, lofty form of the count. "Pardon
for my crime, for my presumption! I was in such great want and distress
that I knew not how else to help myself, and I swear to you that my copy
is so faithful and exact that it can not he distinguished from its
"Well, no matter; we shall hang it up as an original, and allow it to be
inspected by the connoisseurs of the electorate," said the count,
laughing. "I keep your Titiano Vecellio, Master Nietzel, and consequently
pay you three thousand ducats for this excellent original. That you may
see how much in earnest I am I will immediately give you an order upon my
treasurer, and you may forthwith receive that sum."
He approached his writing table, rapidly dashed off a few words upon a
strip of paper, and then handed it to the painter. "There, take it, Master
Gabriel Nietzel, and collect your money."
The painter gave him a long, astonished gaze. "You forgive me, your
excellency," he said; "you accept my high estimate, although you know that
I have cheated you and that this is only a copy?"
"What difference does that make? The picture is beautiful, and it gives me
pleasure to look at it, and that is the only thing, after all, that I can
require of a painting."
Master Nietzel hastily seized the count's hand, and pressed it to his
lips. "Most gracious sir," he cried, "you have purchased my Venus with
your money, my heart with your magnanimity! Henceforth I am yours, body
and soul, and it is just, as if--"
"As if you had leagued yourself with the devil, is it not?" laughed the
"No, as if I had no longer any other will than yours--that is what I
wished to say, most gracious lord. Only command me, say what I must do,
and it shall be done."
"You go, then, to Holland, and purchase pictures there for me, and study
the Flemish painters?"
"I will go to Holland, your excellency."
"You will seek to gain access to the Electoral Prince, to acquire
influence over him, and to cheer him up a little?"
"I shall do as your grace directs."
"You will send me weekly a written statement of all that you see and hear
"I shall send you a written statement," replied Gabriel, with downcast
eyes and a hardly suppressed sigh.
The count saw it and smiled contemptuously. "You will write these reports
to me in ciphers, which I shall acquaint you with, and swear to me that
you will give the key to these ciphers to no human being?"
"I swear it, your excellency."
"Now, since you are so docile and obedient, my dear Master Gabriel, I
shall raise your salary. I had promised you an annuity of five hundred
dollars--I shall now make it six hundred dollars. Hush! no word of thanks;
I can imagine them all or read them in your countenance, and that
satisfies me. Only one thing remains to be decided. From whom will you
receive letters of recommendation to the Electoral Prince?"
"Your excellency, I believe the Electress will have the kindness to
furnish me with a letter of recommendation to her son. Her most gracious
highness is very favorably inclined toward me because I painted from
memory a miniature of the Electoral Prince, and presented it to her. Since
then she has been very condescending to me, and never refuses me
admittance to her presence, and I may as well acknowledge to your
excellency that a few days ago the Electress hinted at the probability of
a position being offered me as electoral court painter."
The count laughed aloud. "I congratulate you, master, and especially upon
the salary which will be attached to the office. Only do not be puffed up
and reject the little I have offered you, which you can always draw in
secret, even when you have become electoral court painter. It is well for
affairs to stand thus just at this juncture, for it will be easy for the
electoral court painter to gain access to the Electoral Prince, and to be
received into the number of his household. Repair to the Electress
forthwith, tell her that you wish to travel to Holland in order to
prosecute your artistic studies there, and come to me early to-morrow
morning and acquaint me with the result of your audience. Farewell, Master
Gabriel; go first to my treasurer and then to the Electress. No, no, say
nothing more; no protestations, no word of thanks. I know you--that is
With proud, courtly mien he nodded to the painter in token of dismissal,
waved his hand toward the door, and then seated himself in the window
niche beside the Venus, turning his back to the room.
Abashed and humiliated, Gabriel slunk away, and not until the sound of the
closing door gave warning of his departure did the count turn around. His
gaze was fixed upon the Venus, who in her wanton beauty met his looks with
dark, flashing eyes.
"You have cost me much, fair signora," he said, shrugging his shoulders.
"Three thousand ducats for a copy! Who knows whether Titiano Vecellio was
paid more for his original in his own time? Ah! you poor, beautiful woman,
how dismal and cheerless it will seem to you in the cold north, and how
much you will miss the golden light of your sunny Italian home here in
this dirty northern Mark! We two must console one another, and try to
forget that we do not live in your own fair Italy, but here, here, where
there is more rain than sunshine, and where in place of music we often
hear nothing but the grunting of swine and the bleating of sheep!"
And, as if in confirmation of his words, just then was heard from the
street a loud tumult, a confused discord of grunts and squeals. The count
turned from the Italian beauty, and looked out into the street, or,
rather, the great square fronting his palace. The rain, which had
streamed down incessantly for a few days past, had drenched the unpaved
ground, and here and there, where the soil was impermeable to moisture,
had formed puddles and pools. These, the sheep and hogs, which were
ensconced in stalls before the houses, had chosen for their pleasure
ground, and whole herds of them had come to bathe in these puddles before
Count Schwarzenberg's palace and in the neighborhood of the cathedral. A
few merry, naughty boys, attracted by their squealing and bleating,
likewise ventured into the black sea of the cathedral square, but, finding
that they forthwith sank in the same, they had called for help, shouting,
screaming, and laughing, thereby attracting still other boys and idlers,
who now with prudent caution stood on certain less saturated spots, and
with shrieks of mockery and laughter watched the vain efforts of the
sunken boys, who were striving to work themselves out of the morass. Such
was the melancholy picture that presented itself to Count Adam von
Schwarzenberg, and he gazed upon it with sad and gloomy looks.
"And this is the residence of the Stadtholder in the Mark!" he sighed--"the
outlook of von Schwarzenberg, count of the empire! Oh! it shall be
otherwise! Out of this pigstye Berlin, I will construct a neat and
handsome residence for myself, from this miserable house a splendid palace
shall spring forth, and all the arts and sciences shall find their patron
in the lord commanding in the Mark, when he is no longer merely called
He looked anxiously behind him, as if he dreaded being overheard by some
one. "Hush!" he murmured then, "be still! There are thoughts and plans
which may never find expression in words, but, like Minerva from the brain
of Jupiter, must come forth ready for action, spear in hand. Creep back
into my heart, and never let it be perceived that you are there, until the
right hour shall come, the hour--"
He was silent, and again glanced searchingly around. Then, taking the
silver whistle from his writing table, he let ring forth a shrill, loud
call. A lackey in rich livery, its original material totally hidden
beneath a mass of golden trappings and silver lace, appeared in the
"Who is in the antechamber?" asked the count, casting a long, last glance
upon the Venus, and then covering her again with the green stuff that hung
at the corner of the frame.
"Most gracious excellency, both entrance halls are crammed quite full of
men of every rank and calling, for this is the hour for public audience."
"Are many uniforms present?"
"If you please, your excellency, very many. Besides General von Klitzing
and Colonel Conrad von Burgsdorf, the Colonels von Rochow and von Kracht
"These four gentlemen must be admitted to me," ordered the count. "The
other people had better go, for I have no time to-day to grant audiences.
Well, why do you stand there loitering? Why do you not go?"
"Most gracious sir," entreated the lackey, "there are so many
distinguished gentlemen there, who have already come so often in vain, and
to whom I have promised an audience to-day, in accordance with your
excellency's express command."
"Who, for example?"
"For example, your excellency, the councilors of the cities of Berlin and
Cologne, then the states of the duchy of Cleves, and--"
"Enough, enough! I see well that these lords have paid you to put me in
mind of them, and I shall therefore have the complaisance to do honor to
"Alas! most gracious lord, I swear to your grace, that nobody has paid me,
"Silence! I know you all!" cried the count contemptuously. "I know that
every audience day brings as much money to you lackeys as it prepares
discomfort and weariness for me. Pocket your money quietly, honest
Balthazar; you are no worse than all the rest of the servant brood and
therefore I despise you no more than the rest. Go, conduct hither the
military gentlemen named through the corridor, and meanwhile I shall take
a walk through the audience chamber and you collect your pay."
The gold-bedizened lackey left the cabinet with reverential and submissive
air. But outside, he remained standing before the closed door, and boldly
lifting up his head, with wholly altered face, hurled a look of hatred and
defiance at the door.
"No worse than all the rest of the servant brood!" he muttered, raising
his fist in a threatening manner--"no worse than yourself, you should have
said, proud lord. You receive bribes as well as we, take money wherever
you can get it, lend upon pledges, and practice usury like any Jew! Ah! we
know you, haughty count, the whole Mark of Brandenburg knows and detests
you, and it is a sin and shame that we must bow down before the Catholic
alien, the foreigner, the imperialist, the priest-ridden slave, and it is
a dreadful misfortune that the Elector himself bows down before him, and
acts as if Schwarzenberg were lord here, and he a mere servant. Well," he
comforted himself, letting his fist drop, "I can not alter it, and father
says what we can not alter we had better submit to, and profit by a
little, if we can. I will now guide these gentlemen bullies to the count's
Count Adam von Schwarzenberg had meanwhile opened the door to his little
private antechamber, and caused to enter his officiating equery and
chamberlain, von Lehndorf, as also his two pages in waiting.
"Lehndorf," he said, "what think you? Would it be possible to arrange a
small hunting party for to-day?"
"Most gracious sir," returned the chamberlain joyfully, "the weather seems
just made for that. A clear, bright October day, and the does and stags in
the park deserve that a couple of dozen of them should be shot down, for
they have grown so bold that they hardly show any longer their wonted fear
of man. Would your excellency believe that yesterday four does, under the
guidance of a powerful buck, were pleased to issue forth from the park
behind the castle and promenade a little in the worshipful towns of Berlin
and Cologne? Such a screaming as there was of the street boys, who pursued
the beasts, such a grunting of hogs, into whose styes the does sprang
without respect, and such a running of honorable city women, who were
struck with fear of being maltreated by the horned animals, who were
nevertheless not their husbands, and such a yelping of noble butcher dogs,
which probably took the does for calves gone mad! I swear, your
excellency, it was divine sport."
"You are a blustering fellow yourself," laughed the count, "and 'Who loves
to dance, ne'er lacks the chance.' If you are thus minded, we shall have a
little hunt to-day, and take it upon yourself to invite for us a few
worthy and suitable gentlemen who have fine horses and dogs."
"And will not your grace to-day, in this beautiful weather, grant these
gentlemen the pleasure of seeing the two new greyhounds run? They have
been here eight days already, and might as well display a little of their
skill for the heavy sum of money they have cost."
"Yes, that is true--a heavy sum of money they cost indeed," said the
count. "My son writes me that he paid eight thousand dollars for these two
"But they are worth it, your excellency," cried the chamberlain, quite
enthusiastically. "They are two wonderful animals, who have not their
match in the wide world. I am quite in love with them, and if I had wife
or ladylove, would gladly give her for these two greyhounds."
"Yes, yes, many an one would relish making payments in this fashion,"
laughed the count. "It is easier to give a wife away than eight thousand
dollars, and again she is easier to obtain than such a superior greyhound.
Hurry now, Lehndorf, and arrange the hunt for me. Let the servants put on
their new red hunting suits and my huntsman also his new livery, that the
curious Berlin people may have something to gape at. Away with you,
Lehndorf! You, pages, take the baskets, now I am off for the audience
Both pages, in suits of gold-embroidered velvet, rushed into the little
antechamber, and quickly returned, each one bearing a pretty, shallow
basket in his hand. Behind them came the chamberlain, who threw across the
count's shoulders his ermine-lined velvet mantle, and put into his hand
his plumed hat, trimmed with gold lace, and his embroidered gloves. The
count hastily placed the tall, pointed hat with its nodding plumes upon
his dark, curly hair, in which showed here and there a few silver streaks,
and grasped the long gloves firmly in his right hand, sparkling with
"Open the doors!" he said authoritatively, and the chamberlain flew before
him, and tore open both halves of the folding doors. The two halberdiers,
who stood near the door on the other side, raised their halberds, and
proclaimed with thundering voices, "His excellency and grace, count of the
empire and Stadtholder in the Mark!"
Through the two long apartments, on both sides of which was ranged a dense
crowd of people of all sorts--men and women, venerable magistrates in
solemn robes of office, and soldiers in their uniforms, poorly clad
citizens and fine-dressed gentlemen, bold-looking young ladies and
respectable matrons in white garbs of widowhood--through both these long
apartments flew, as it were, one sigh, one joyful breath of relief and
surprise, and all faces, the sad and bright, the eyes reddened by wine and
night watches, as well as those sparkling with avarice and passion, all
turned toward the lofty, full form of the Stadtholder, who, so proud and
so brilliant, so august and self-conscious, stood upon the threshold of
the door. He gave no salutation; not in the least did he incline his head,
but with one sharp look let his large, gray eyes glide up and down on both
sides; and this look sufficed to cause all heads to sink in reverence, to
bow the proud and humble necks, so deeply, so reverentially, that high and
low, old and young, poor and rich were now all one and the same--the
petitioners of the electoral minister, the almighty Stadtholder in the
He now strode forward, followed by the two pages with their empty baskets.
But these baskets were soon filled, for at each step forward a hand was
stretched out to the count, handing him a written petition, and the count
took it smilingly, and with distinguished indifference cast it into one of
the proffered baskets. But before those who had come without written
requests, and entreated a gracious personal hearing, the Stadtholder
paused, and they began hurriedly, and with embarrassment, because they
feared being heard by their neighbors, to state their wishes. It seldom
happened, however, that the count allowed them to speak to the end,
interrupting them in the midst of their speech with a hasty, "Commit it to
writing! commit it to writing!" and striding on with the same lofty
bearing, the same proud, imperturbable equanimity. Only when he neared the
spot where stood the delegates of the citizens of Berlin and Cologne a
cloud overshadowed his brow, and a flash of anger shot from his eyes.
He stopped before the burgers, and looked at them with an expression of
cold, scornful repose.
"What do you want of me?" he asked.
"Help in our need, most gracious excellency," began the spokesman, "pity
for our misfortunes! We can not pay the new war tax, we--"
"Ah! just see," the count interrupted him mockingly; "now you come to me,
to sue for my favor. Your visit, then, to his Electoral Grace, has been in
vain. The Elector has not granted the shameless petition of the
citizenship; he has not encroached upon the rights of the Stadtholder
appointed by himself to rule here in his stead. You have thought to
circumvent me, and hardly has the lord of the land come hither before you
must gain favors from himself. Well, see what favors you have obtained!
Hardly an hour ago you walked with quick, proud steps into the castle of
his Electoral Grace, and now you stand with humble, sad countenances in
the antechamber of the Stadtholder in the Mark! What will you have here,
and what have those to do with the Stadtholder who can converse with the
"Pardon, your excellency, as faithful and humble children of the country,
we turned first to our father and lord--"
"Now stick to that!" interrupted the count warmly, "and desire not to
obtain from me what the fatherly heart of your beloved liege lord has
denied you. Go, and never again appear in these parts! And you, too, my
lords, deputies from the duchy of Cleves," continued the count, striding
forward toward the deputies--"you, too, might reasonably have spared
yourselves the trouble of appearing here. Who has enjoyed the honor of
being received by his Electoral Highness need have no necessity for
antechambering at the house of his minister and Stadtholder, for all
favors and all honors flow from the almighty and exalted person of the
Elector himself, and what he has done is good, and what he has said stands
fast and is the law. Therefore, also, whoever has obtained dismissal from
his Electoral Grace need no more turn to me, for the sun has shone upon
him, and like myself he stands in the shade."
With these ambiguous words the Stadtholder moved forward, leaving the
deputies covered with shame and swelling with indignation, while his
countenance had speedily brightened. With more friendly gestures he now
accepted the written petitions, and even listened patiently and
condescendingly to those who had only come with oral supplications;
promised them redress for their difficulties, exhorted them with loud
voice to place confidence in their Stadtholder, appointed by the Elector,
and to be assured that whoever turned to him would not sue and plead in
vain, if his cause were just, fair, and practicable.
When the count had finished his circuit and stood again at his cabinet
door, the baskets were piled high with written petitions, and the count,
pointing to these with outstretched right hand, on whose fingers sparkled
many a costly jewel, asseverated with loud voice that he would himself
open, read, and examine all these writings, and do whatever was in his
power. Then, with a short, gracious nod of dismissal, he retired into his
cabinet, followed by the two pages with their baskets.
IV.--SOLDIERS AND DIPLOMATISTS.
Awaiting Count von Schwarzenberg in his cabinet were the four officers
whom the lackey had conducted there in obedience to his instructions. They
grew dumb in the midst of their conversation when the count entered, and
stood up, saluting him in stiff and military style. Count Schwarzenberg
nodded to them in a friendly manner, and an obliging smile played about
his thin and finely cut lips.
"Put the baskets on my writing table and go out," he commanded the pages,
and then turned toward the gentlemen, who still stood there with soldierly
"Welcome, my lord general, and you, sirs colonels," he said in playful,
jocular tone. "Truly, it is a pleasure to see one's self surrounded by
such valiant soldiers. If my gracious master the Elector had as many such
splendid soldiers as he has leaders, he would be helped indeed, and not
find it necessary to battle with the Swedes for his dukedom of Pomerania,
for then would the Swedes soon run off conquered."
"Just imagine, your excellency," cried Colonel Conrad von Burgsdorf, while
he stroked his long, gray mustache with his broad fat hand--"just imagine
what respect the Swedes would have for such a regiment composed of
Klitzings, Rochows, and Krachts."
"You forget yourself, Sir Colonel," said Count Schwarzenberg, in a
friendly, insinuating tone; "you forget to say that Conrad von Burgsdorf
alone is a whole regiment in himself."
"Perhaps that is the reason why I have in fact nothing behind me," cried
Colonel von Burgsdorf, with a loud, coarse laugh. "Yes, yes, now I know
why I have so few soldiers behind me; the others all concentrate in me,
and it is merely a pity and shame that they can not come forth from me to
make front against the cursed Swedes."
"They will come forth now, depend upon it; they will come forth," said
the count, with a pleasant smile. "My lords, I have had you summoned to
confer with you about important and significant tidings. In the first
place, we shall consider what relates to yourselves, and is therefore of
greatest interest to you. General von Klitzing, henceforth you shall have
no cause to complain of having a title but no employment. For from this
very day you shall have employment, since his Electoral Grace designs
forthwith to have regiments equipped and brought into the field."
"Hurrah! now for it!" shouted Burgsdorf, waving his right arm.
"I shout hurrah, too, with your excellency's permission," said General
von Klitzing joyfully. "It has been three months since your excellency did
me the favor to recall me here from the Saxon service in order to assume
the command of the Brandenburg troops, and I have been in despair ever
since, for it has been just like acting a comedy, where they fight with
pasteboard swords and tin soldiers."
"That was the fault of the states and cities, who would not grant the
Elector taxes for the equipment of regiments," returned the count, with
emphasis. "Besides, ever since the peace of Prague the Elector has been
pledged to neutrality. And if you can take part neither for nor against,
can fight neither for friend nor foe, then it is better to have no
soldiers, and no swords that can not be unsheathed. But now all will be
different, and therefore the Elector nominates you, General von Klitzing,
commandant general of all the Brandenburg fortresses, their garrisons, and
all the electoral forces collectively."
"That is indeed an important and honorable appointment," cried the
general, "and I shall esteem myself happy if I can now succeed in bringing
the electoral forces into action."
"That must be done the first thing, general, yes, indeed, that must be
done," cried Burgsdorf, laughing. "Alack! up to this time we have had no
soldiers, for the couple of wretched fellows in each of the forts and the
Elector's bodyguard could hardly be accounted such, and made but a poor
"Upon you, gentlemen, upon you it will henceforth devolve to create an
army," said Schwarzenberg solemnly. "Colonel von Kracht, in virtue of my
office as Stadtholder in the Mark, I this day pronounce you commandant of
the fortresses of Berlin and Cologne; with the same fullness of power, I
appoint you, Colonel von Rochow, commandant of Spandow; and lastly you,
Colonel von Burgsdorf, I constitute commandant of the Fortress Kuestrin."
"I should have been better pleased if you had made me commandant of
Berlin," growled Conrad von Burgsdorf. "They lead such a dull, wearisome
life at Fortress Kuestrin, and I wish that Kracht and I could change places
with one another. He knows the people of Kuestrin well, and understands how
to get along with them, for the late commandant of Kuestrin was his father.
Let us exchange with one another, von Kracht--here is my hand, give me
yours! You are commandant of Kuestrin and I of Berlin!"
"Slowly, colonel," replied Baron von Kracht; "we must yield to order and
authority, and submit ourselves to whatever the Stadtholder in the Mark
has found good to arrange for us."
"Well said, Sir Commandant of Berlin!" cried Schwarzenberg. "I was silent,
because I wished to hear your answer. It follows, therefore, Colonel von
Burgsdorf, that you go as commandant to Fortress Kuestrin."
"I know very well that you send me away to remove me as far as possible
from your residence Berlin," growled Burgsdorf. "You can not bear to see
that the Elector is attached to me, and calls me his friend. You can not
bear that another should execute and perform what you yourself can not
execute and perform. I saw plainly yesterday the look of hatred and ill
will which you darted at me, across the Elector's table, while the great
drinking match that I had proposed was going on. It was right plain to be
seen how much vexed you were, that there was anything in which Conrad von
Burgsdorf could excel the wise, the learned, and the most worshipful Count
Adam von Schwarzenberg."
"Well! you really suppose that I could be envious and jealous?" cried the
count, laughing. "No, most worthy colonel, with my whole heart I yield you
the palm for being the first and most rapid drinker at the electoral
court, and for emptying a quart cup of wine at one draught."
"And it is no trifling art, you must know, Sir Count," said Burgsdorf,
with an important air. "Think not that it is a mere pleasure--no, it is a
task too, and at times a difficult one."
"We did not observe it as such yesterday, Colonel von Burgsdorf," retorted
the count. "You proved yourself yesterday a truly intrepid hero in
drinking at the electoral table. For it is in fact an heroic deed to quaff
eighteen quarts of wine in one hour, as you did yesterday."
"Well," said Burgsdorf, flattered, "we had a drinking-match, and the
Elector had offered a fine prize to the best drinker. I had long desired
to obtain possession of the pretty and flourishing little village Danzien,
and, behold! this was the very prize the Elector had offered; so I was
obliged to do what I could, and have to thank God that I came off victor.
I drank all the other gentlemen under the table, and was alone left
standing, with my eighteen quarts of wine aboard." 
"Now," said the Stadtholder, smiling, "I think you did not leave me under
the table, for I kept erect in spite of you, Colonel Burgsdorf. I hope
also to keep my position yet longer, and never to be thrust under the
table by you."
He looked full in the colonel's bloated and wine-flushed face with a cold,
proud glance, and smiled when he saw how Burgsdorf's brow darkened and his
eyes flashed with fierce hatred.
"You will remain standing, Sir Stadtholder, so long as God and the Elector
please," said Burgsdorf slowly. "Many an one falls, and under the table,
too, although he may not be drunk with wine, but with pride and ambition,
avarice and rapacity."
"Enough, Burgsdorf, enough," replied the count haughtily. "I did not
summon you here to hold with you a controversy about words, for well do I
know that you are as mighty in words as in drinking. I have had you
summoned that you might receive your orders, and do and perform whatever
the Stadtholder in the Mark commands and enjoins upon you, in the names of
the Emperor's Majesty and his Electoral Grace. General von Klitzing, I
have nominated you commander in chief of all the fortifications, as you,
Colonels von Kracht, von Rochow, and von Burgsdorf, commandants of Berlin,
Spandow, and Kuestrin. You may perceive from this that a new era has
dawned, and that we have great things to expect from the future. Gentlemen,
the time for waiting and delay is past. The Elector has concluded a treaty
with the Emperor, by which the Emperor declares that the dukedom of
Pomerania is the natural heritage of the Elector of Brandenburg, and
invests him with it. It is true that at present the Swedes occupy
Pomerania, and will not evacuate. But to that very end we must labor, to
force the presumptuous Swedes to do this; and thereto the Elector has
pledged himself to raise an army of five-and-twenty thousand men. To
superintend these levies is the affair of the colonels and staff officers,
therefore also your affair."
"The only question is, where is the money to come from to effect such
levies," said General Klitzing.
"Yes, that is the question," exclaimed the three colonels impatiently.
"And the answer runs: The Emperor's Majesty has assigned money for that
purpose. The Emperor's Majesty has granted the Elector a release from the
payment of two hundred Roman-months which the Elector owed him, and with
these two hundred Roman-months, which amount to three hundred and
sixty-five thousand florins, troops are to be levied. But besides this,
the Emperor expressly adds sixty thousand dollars, to be employed in
enlisting soldiers; and the money will be paid out to those leaders and
colonels who have recruited such and such a number of soldiers. For each
soldier they get eight rixdollars."
"I shall recruit!" shouted Burgsdorf. "I shall go as commandant to
Kuestrin, and enlist a regiment besides!"
"It is a matter of course that we all recruit," said General von Klitzing,
"for such is the command and desire of the Elector, and him as our
commander in chief we are bound to obey."
"By no means, general!" cried the count hastily. "Your commander in chief
is the Emperor of Germany. The soldiers whom you shall enlist will of
course be subject to the command of the Elector, but they must take an
oath of allegiance to the Emperor and the empire, which runs thus, that
they will be obedient to the Emperor, and in his stead to the Elector of
Brandenburg, in order that the dukedom of Pomerania be recovered to the
Elector, its natural sovereign. According to the compact between the
Emperor and the Elector, the official oath of military governors must also
conform to this formula, and the commandants of fortresses be taken into
the service of the Emperor and the empire. First and foremost is the
obedience and fealty they owe to the Emperor."
"I do not understand that; it does not penetrate through my thick skull!"
cried Burgsdorf impatiently. "How will it be if the Emperor's commands go
counter to those of the Elector? If the Emperor orders us to do _this_,
and the Elector _that_?"
"That will never happen," replied the count gravely.
"The Elector is much too loyal and faithful a vassal of the Emperor not to
coincide always with the latter's gracious purposes and desires. I have
now told you all that it is needful for you to know, have given you your
commissions and announced your several ranks, and it only remains to
administer to you the prescribed oath. In view of my absolute power as
Stadtholder in the Mark, and as head of the electoral council of war, I
will now receive your oath of fidelity to the Emperor and the Elector, and
you must engage and swear to fulfill constantly and faithfully your duties
to Emperor, empire, and Elector."
And just as the count dictated, without delay or contradiction, the four
lords repeated the formula of the oath, and swore obedience, good faith,
and service, first to the Emperor and the empire, and then to the Elector
of Brandenburg. Thereupon the count dismissed them, exhorting them to
repair instantly to their fortresses, and there to begin enlisting
soldiers for the army of the Elector.
The count's countenance cleared up and assumed a triumphant expression
when the four officers had left his cabinet, and he was now once more
"I shall now be rid of that quarrelsome and dangerous man, Burgsdorf," he
said complacently, as he sank apparently exhausted into an easy chair. "I
have rendered him harmless and shoved him aside without his being really
conscious of it. He does not suspect that we advanced and promoted the
others only to remove him, Burgsdorf, to a distance, without exciting
remark or scandal, and in order to be freed from his scurrilous tongue and
insolent presence. I am truly glad and content that we have succeeded in
this, and at the same time have taken these unreflecting and short-sighted
gentlemen into service and allegiance to the Emperor and the empire." With
a hurried "Who is there?" the count interrupted himself, starting from his
seat. "Who dares to enter here unannounced?"
"I dare," said an earnest voice, and a tall, slender gentleman, wholly
enveloped in a heavy traveling coat, his head covered with a great fur
cap, strode through the apartment toward the count.
"Count Lesle, lord high chamberlain to the Emperor!" exclaimed the
Stadtholder in surprise. "Is it you? Are you direct from Regensburg?"
"Yes, Count Schwarzenberg, I have come here direct from Regensburg, to
depart again without delay. My traveling carriage stands without before
your door, and I shall presently enter it, and journey hence again. You
will on that account excuse my want of ceremony, but as the Emperor
Ferdinand permits me to enter his apartments at any time, I thought that
the Stadtholder of the Mark would not be less affable. Moreover, I could
not send in my name, for no one besides yourself is to know of my being
here, and I wish to travel _incognito_. Will you, then, pardon me, Count
Schwarzenberg, and am I excused?"
"I am the one to sue for forgiveness, on account of my impatience, and I
do so most cordially. And now I entreat you, count, first of all, make
yourself comfortable. Permit me to assist you in laying aside your
cumbrous traveling habit, and accept some ease and refreshment."
With officious zeal he busied himself in aiding his visitor to emerge from
his wrappings, and soon Count Lesle stood before the Stadtholder of the
Mark in the beautiful, unique Spanish garb, such as was worn at the
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