The Youth of the Great Elector
Part 7 out of 10
Lady in her long, flowing robes! The soldier did not shriek, for horror
had frozen the scream upon his lips. He tore open the door, and rushed
into the corridor, and his deadly pale and terrorstricken face imparted
with greater rapidity than words to the two sentinels there the dreadful
tidings. All three ran down the corridor together to the front door, down
the steps, across the wide court, and into the guardroom.
"The White Lady! the White Lady!" they gasped.
"Where is she? Who has seen her?" inquired a form emerging from the rear
of the room and approaching them; and now, as the lamplight fell upon this
form, the soldiers recognized it very well--it was the Stadtholder in the
Mark himself who stood before them, and behind him they saw his
Chamberlain von Lehndorf and the police-master Brandt.
"Which of you has seen the White Lady?" asked Count Schwarzenberg once
"I, gracious sir," stammered one of the three with difficulty. "I was
stationed before the Electoral Prince's rooms, and I saw the White Lady
enter through the little door between the two presses."
"And whither went she?"
"That I did not see, your excellency, for--"
"For you ran away directly," concluded Count Schwarzenberg for him. "And
you two others! You stood in the great corridor; did you see the
"No, your excellency, we did not see her. She did not come through the
"You did not see her. Why did you run away then?"
"Your excellency, we ran away because--because--we do not know ourselves."
"Well, I know," cried the count, shrugging his shoulders. "You ran away
because you are cowards! Hush! No excuses now! We shall talk about it
early to-morrow morning. Stay here in the guardroom. I myself will go up
and see what folly has frightened you hares. Lehndorf and Brandt, both of
you stay here and await my return."
"But, most gracious sir," implored the chamberlain, "I beg your permission
to accompany you. Nobody can know--"
"Whether the White Lady may not stab and throttle me, would you say? No,
Lehndorf, I fear no woman's shape, be she clothed in white or black. I am
well armed, and methinks the White Lady will find her match in me. All of
you stay here; but if I should not return in an hour, then you may mount
the stairs and see whether the White Lady has borne me off through the
air.--Which of you," he said, turning to the soldiers--"which of you stood
guard before the princely apartments?"
"It was I, your excellency."
"Whence came the White Lady?"
"She came through the little door between the two presses in the
"It is well! You will all stay here. And, as I said, Lehndorf, if I return
not in an hour, then come."
He nodded kindly to the chamberlain and strode out of the room.
Meanwhile above, in the Electoral Prince's chamber, the White Lady had
been expected with glowing impatience. Dietrich had already stood for a
quarter of an hour at the antechamber door, waiting with palpitating heart
for her appearance. The Electoral Prince had with difficulty raised
himself up, and, supporting himself upon his elbows, had been listening
with uplifted head in the direction of the door ever since the midnight
hour had struck. And now the door opened and the White Lady glided in.
With gentle, undulating gait and veil thrown back she went to the Prince's
bed, and when she saw him sitting up a smile lighted up her pale face.
"You see, Electoral Prince Frederick William, I have not deceived you,"
she said; "you live, and you will now get perfectly well."
"Yes, I believe that I will get well," replied the Prince; "and I owe my
life to you."
"Never mind that," said she, slowly shaking her head. "I am not here for
your sake, but for my poor Gabriel's sake, to expiate his sin and to free
his soul from guilt. I dare not use many words. The fame of the White Lady
has spread through the whole city, and it may well be that they are on my
track to-night--that Count Schwarzenberg's suspicions have been aroused.
"He is a bad man, and I am afraid of him."
"And yet you have come here! Have not shunned danger in order to save me!"
"I have not shunned danger in order to go to my beloved and be able to
tell him--'Lift up your head and rejoice in the Lord; crime is taken away
from your head--you are no murderer, for the Electoral Prince lives.' One
thing I would like to add, and I beseech you to grant it to me. Say that
you will pardon Gabriel Nietzel."
"I pardon Gabriel Nietzel with my whole heart, and never shall he be
punished for what he has done to me! You have atoned for his crime, and
may God forgive him, as I do."
"I thank you, sir. And now take your second draught."
She took the little flask, poured the rest of its contents into a glass,
and handed it to the Prince.
"Drink and be glad of heart," she said, "for to-morrow, early in the
morning, you will awake a sound man. The angel of death has swept past
you; take good heed lest you fall a second time into his clutches. Flee
before him to the greatest possible distance. There, take, drink life and
health from this glass, and the Lord our God be with you in all your ways!"
"I thank you, and blessed be you too!" And the Electoral Prince took the
glass from her hand and drained it.
"It is finished," said Rebecca, heaving a deep sigh.
"Now I can return to my beloved and my child. Farewell!"
"Give me your hand, and let our farewell be that of friends," said
She reached forth her little white hand from beneath her veil, and he
cordially pressed it within his own. "You are a noble, high-minded woman,
and I shall ever remember you with gratitude and friendship. I owe you my
life; it is truly a great debt, and you would be magnanimous if you could
point out some way whereby the weight might be a little lessened. I
beseech you tell me some way in which I may prove my gratitude."
"I will do so, sir! Some day when you are Elector, and a reigning
Sovereign in your land, then have compassion upon those who are enslaved
and oppressed, then spare the Jews!"
She turned away, drew her veil over her head, and disappeared.
"My work is finished! My beloved is atoned for!" exulted her soul. As if
borne on wings of happiness and bliss, she soared through the antechamber
and stepped out into the vestibule.
All here was still and quiet, and she did not observe that the sentinel no
longer stood at the door. Her thoughts were withdrawn from the present,
her soul was far away with _him_--him whom she loved, for whom she had
risked her life.
Thus she sped through the great space and approached the door between the
two presses. All at once she started and shrank back, and the tall, manly
form standing before this door sprang forward, and with strong hand tore
her veil impatiently from her head.
For one moment they surveyed one another with flaming eyes.
She read her death sentence in his looks. But she would not die. No, she
would not die! She would see her beloved, her child once more! With a
sudden jerk she freed her arm from the hand that held her prisoner. She
knew not what to do, whither she could flee. She had only a vague
consciousness that to be alone with him meant death--that she would he
safe only outside the castle. Without, on the street, Schwarzenberg would
not venture to seize her, for he knew that she possessed his secret and
that she would accuse him. She flew across the vestibule, tore open the
door to the long corridor, and sprang down it like a hunted deer. But the
pursuer was behind her, close behind her! She heard his breath, he
stretched out his hands toward her--she felt his touch, and again she
burst loose and flew away!
At the end of the corridor is a small staircase which leads to the upper
stories. She knows the way--oh, she knows the way! Above it is another
long corridor, and if from the head of the stairs she turns to the right,
she will reach the great staircase. She will hurry down to the quarters of
the castellan and his wife; she will call--scream!
Oh, if she can only get so far!
She flies up the little steps, but she feels the pursuer close at her
heels. And just as she reaches the top step, his hand, like a lion's paw,
is laid upon her shoulder.
"Stand still, or I will strangle you!" he murmurs. "Stand still, and I
swear that I will not kill you!"
"No, no, I do not believe you!" she gasps, and with both hands she seizes
his and thrusts it back. Only on, on! She no longer knows whether she
turns to the right or left, she runs down the dimly lighted corridor, and
"O God! O God! there is no staircase!" She has missed the way--there is no
way out now! The dread enemy is behind her! She can no longer avoid him!
He will kill her, for she knows his secret! No escape!--no deliverance!
But at the end of the corridor she sees a door. If she can only succeed in
opening it, jumping into the room, shutting the door, and drawing the bolt!
"God help me! God be with me!" she calls out aloud and flies to the door,
bursts it open, rushes through, and--his weight presses against it; she
can not shut it, she can not draw the bolt. He is there with her in that
little room, which has no other outlet. No deliverer is near! She falls
upon her knees, and lifts up her arms to him imploringly. "Oh, sir! oh,
sir, pity! Do not kill me! I will be silent as the grave!"
"As the grave!" repeats he, with a savage smile.
He stoops down and something bright glitters in his hand! She sees it
quite clearly, for it is a bright summer night, and her eyes are inured to
"Almighty God, you would murder me! Mercy, sir, mercy!"
He has closed the door behind them, yet the shriek of her death agony has
penetrated the door and echoed down the corridor. Nobody hears it. All the
chambers in this upper story are bare and uninhabited, and for economy's
sake the corridors and staircases in this upper part of the castle are
unlighted. To-day, however, at nightfall, the Stadtholder had himself
brought word to castellan Culwin that every passage, landing, and
staircase in the whole castle should be lighted! And so it was, and even
in that remote upper story lamps are burning. How long and solitary this
corridor is! Not the slightest sound has broken the stillness since those
two sprang into that room.
But now! A fearful, piercing shriek! A death cry forces its way through
the door and in one long echo vibrates along the corridor. It sounds like
the wailing and moaning of invisible spirits. Then nothing more interrupts
the silence. Nothing more!
The door opens again, and Count Schwarzenberg steps into the corridor.
He is alone.
He locks the door and puts the key into his pocket. Then, with quiet, firm
tread, he goes down the corridor, down the little staircase, and finally,
with composed, haughty bearing, down the great staircase into the
"God be praised, your excellency, that you are here!" calls out Lehndorf,
hastening to meet him.
Count Schwarzenberg nods to him, and then turns to the soldiers, who stand
there silent and motionless.
"What fools you are!" he says, shrugging his shoulders. "To put you
soldiers to flight no cannon is required, but only a couple of white cats.
A white cat it was, which made cowards of you. I saw her bounding along
before me through the great corridor, and followed her to the upper story.
There she slipped into an open door, the last door in the upper story.
I jumped after her into the little apartment, but she must have found some
other way out, for I could find her nowhere again, and that is the only
wonder of the whole story, for the windows were closed. For the rest I
command you to let naught of this story transpire, for fear of giving rise
to idle tales."
The soldiers heard him in reverential silence, but the next morning it was
known throughout the castle and almost through the whole city that the
White Lady had made her appearance again, and that at last, when pursued,
she had vanished in the form of a white cat in one of the rooms in the
upper story of the castle. After that nobody ventured into the upper
story, and, as it was uninhabited, it was not necessary to station
When the Electoral Prince awoke the next morning after a long, refreshing
slumber, his first glance fell upon his faithful old valet, who stood at
the foot of his couch, his face actually beaming with joy.
"Why, Dietrich," said Frederick William, "you look so happy! What has
altered your old face so since yesterday?"
"The sight of you, most gracious sir, for your face has altered, too. Your
cheeks are no longer deadly pale, nor your features distorted. Your
highness looks quite like a well man now; somewhat pale, it is true; but
your lips are again red and your eyes bright. Ah, gracious sir, the dear
White Lady kept her word, she saved you!"
"God bless her!" said the Electoral Prince solemnly. "But hark! old man,
tell nobody that I have been saved. You must not use such dangerous words,
not even think them. There was no need to save me, for I have been exposed
to no peril. I have not been sick at all, but only overcome by wine, and,
to speak plainly, drunk--do you hear, old man? I have been drunk two whole
days: such is the account you must give of my attack."
"I shall do so, your highness, since you order it; but it is a sin and a
shame that I should slander my own dear young master, who is such a sober,
"Now, Dietrich," said the Electoral Prince, with a melancholy smile, "you
give me more praise than I deserve. I was not quite so sober in Holland."
"No, sir; in dear, blessed Holland, life was a different thing. It was
like heaven there, and when I looked at your grace I always felt as if I
saw before me Saint George himself, so bold, spirited, and happy you ever
"And so I felt, too," said the Prince softly to himself. "But all that is
past now. _All_! The costly intoxication of happiness is at an end, and I
am sobered. Yes, yes," he continued aloud, springing with energy from his
couch, "you are quite right, old Dietrich. Now help this sober, steady
Prince to dress himself, that he may wait upon the Elector and Electress
and announce his recovery to them."
After the Electoral Prince had made his toilet, he repaired to the
Electoral apartments to pay his respects. George William received his son
with sullen peevishness of manner, hardly deigning to bestow upon him more
than a single glance of indifference.
"Why, you still look pale and weak," he said coolly. "It is no great honor
for a Prince to be overcome by a couple of glasses of wine, and to succumb
as if he had been struck by a cannon ball."
"Most gracious sir," replied Frederick William, smiling, "I hope yet to be
able to prove to your highness that I can stand against the fire of cannon
balls better than Count Schwarzenberg's wine, and that I can go to meet a
battery of artillery more bravely than a battery of bottles."
"I hope it will not be in your power to prove any such thing, sir," cried
the Elector impatiently. "I want to hear nothing about war, and you must
banish all thoughts of war and heroic deeds from your mind, and become a
peaceful, law-abiding citizen. Your head has been turned in Holland, but
I rather expect to set it right again! We are going back to Prussia, and
you will accompany us. Go now to the Electress, and disturb me no longer
in my work."
Frederick William bowed in silence and repaired to his mother's
apartments. The Electress received him with open arms, and pressed him to
"I have you again, my son, I have you again," she cried with warmth. "A
merciful God has not been willing to deprive me of my only happiness; he
has preserved you to me. Oh, my son, I love you so much, and I feel,
moreover, that you love me, and that we shall understand each other, and
that all causes of disagreement will disappear so soon as that hateful,
dreaded man no longer stands between us--he, who is your enemy as well as
mine. We are going back to Prussia, and my heart is full of joy, hope, and
happiness. There I shall have you safe; there you are mine, and no
murderer or enemy there threatens my beloved only son!"
"But, most revered mother, there the worst, most dangerous enemy of all
"Who is he? What is his name?"
"Idleness, your highness. I shall be condemned there to an inactive,
useless existence. I shall have nothing to do but to live. O most gracious
mother! intercede for me with my father and Count Schwarzenberg, that I
may be appointed Stadtholder of Cleves, for there I would have something
to do, there I could be useful, and they wish for my presence there."
"You do not wish to stay with me, then?" asked his mother, in a tone of
mortification. "You already wish yourself away from me and your sisters?"
The Prince's countenance, which had been just aglow with enthusiasm,
having for the moment dropped its mask, now once more assumed its serious,
tranquil expression, and again the mask was drawn over its features.
"I by no means long to be away from you," he said quietly, "but I shall
delight in accompanying you to Prussia."
"That is what I call spoken like a good, obedient child," cried the
Electress, "and, Louise, I advise you to profit by such an example. Just
look at your sister, Frederick, only see what a sorrowful figure she
presents. She does not even come to welcome her brother, but sits there
quite disconsolate with tears in her eyes."
"No, dearest mother, I am not crying," replied the Princess gently. "I,
too, am right glad that we are to return to Prussia."
"That is not true, mamma," exclaimed Princess Hedwig Sophie; "she is not
glad at all. On the contrary, she cried and lamented all last night,
thinking that I was asleep and knew nothing about it. But I heard
everything. I know that she would rather stay here, and that she finds it
charming here all of a sudden, although she used to think it so dull. But
Louise has entirely changed these last four days, and since _he_ has been
here she finds tiresome old Berlin a splendid place, and--"
"But, Hedwig," interrupted her sister, whose cheeks were suffused with a
crimson flush, "what are you talking about, and how can you chatter such
"It is true, she talks nonsense," said the Electress severely; "yet I
should like to know what her words signify. Who is _he_ who has so
transformed tiresome Berlin in your sister's eyes?"
"Why, you do not know, mamma?" asked the mischievous child, smiling and
putting on a look of astonishment.
"You do not know who loves our Louise so ardently, so passionately? You do
not know the man for whose sake she would leave father and mother? You do
not know the only man whom the Princess Charlotte Louise loves?"
"_I_ do not know, but I command you to tell me!" said the Electress dryly.
"Well," said the Princess, smilingly surveying the group, "it is our dear,
only brother--it is Frederick William."
"You are a little blockhead!" exclaimed the Electress, shrugging her
shoulders and smiling.
"You are a dear little rogue," said Frederick William, tenderly embracing
his willful sister. She playfully broke away from him, dancing through the
hall, and challenging her brother to pursue and overtake her. Princess
Louise said not a word, but the blush upon her cheeks died away, and the
expression of horror and alarm vanished from her features.
Still Princess Hedwig Sophie kept up her frolic, and as often as the
Prince thought he had caught her she flew off again like a butterfly.
Finally, at the extreme end of the hall, he held her fast, and now,
laughingly and tenderly, she flung her arms about his neck, and whispered
softly: "Expect me this evening in your room at nine o'clock. I have
something important to tell you. Silence!"
Again she let him go, and continued to hop about, laughing merrily and
cheerfully as a child.
And in the evening, when the clock in the great corridor had just struck
the ninth hour, the Princess Hedwig Sophie slipped unperceived into the
room of her brother, who already held the door open for her and awaited
"Look, here you are, my princess of the fairies," said he, smiling. "What
is there now on hand, and what playful scheme are you revolving in your
But the countenance of the Princess exhibited no signs of playfulness. It
was pale, and her whole being seemed under the influence of violent
"Frederick," she said hurriedly, "I have a dreadful secret to confide to
you. Our sister Louise loves Count Adolphus Schwarzenberg."
"I thought as much," murmured the Prince.
"I have known it for a long while," continued the Princess, "but I took no
notice of it, hoping that absence and separation would make her forget
him. But since his return I have had no more hope. Last night, in her
distress, she betrayed all to me, and I must tell you something dreadful,
something shocking. You must reveal it to nobody--not another one must
know it. Do you promise me that?"
"I promise, Hedwig. But tell me what it is."
She bent over close to his ear and whispered:
"She has granted him a rendezvous."
"Impossible, sister, you are mistaken!"
"No, no, Frederick, I am not mistaken. I heard her myself when she told
him so. It was in Count Schwarzenberg's hothouse; I came behind her with
the ladies, and she thought I was paying no attention whatever to her and
all that she was saying to Count Adolphus. But I managed to watch her
constantly without attracting the attention of the ladies I was with. My
eyes and ears are very sharp, and I saw her press a note into his hand,
and heard her repeat to him the contents of the note, appointing an
interview with him this evening at ten o'clock. Old Trude is to wait for
him at the back side door of the castle next to the cathedral, and she is
to conduct him to her. You must not suffer it, Frederick William; that bad
Count Schwarzenberg shall not carry off my sister."
"No, that he shall not," said the Prince. "I thank you, sister, for coming
to me. We two shall save her--we two alone, and nobody shall know anything
about it. Even she herself must not find out that we know her secret. We
must be brisk and determined, though, for it is late, only wanting a half
hour of being ten o'clock. Who is old Trude?"
"Louise's chambermaid, who has been with her all her life, for Trude was
her nurse. She idolizes our sister, and would go through fire and water
for her sake. What Louise commands is law with her."
"Then we must prevent old Trude, by force or cunning, from going to the
door and admitting the count."
"By force, impossible, for that would make a noise; but by cunning. I have
it, Frederick, I have it! I will entice old Trude into my room and then
lock myself in with her, playing all sorts of tricks, and seeming to have
no object at all in view but amusement and teasing. I will take care of
"And I of Count Schwarzenberg. It is high time, sister! Make haste, lest
old Trude escape you. But hark! It will be necessary for you to speak to
the old woman, besides. You must threaten her with revealing the whole
affair to our father if she does not do as you command, and tell our
sister that she waited for the count a whole hour in vain."
"You are right, Frederick. That is still better. Louise must believe that
he did not come. To work!--to work!"
The Princess sprang away with the fleetness of a gazelle, and the Prince
was left alone.
"I wish I could go to meet him sword in hand," he muttered between his
clinched teeth. "I understand their game. They would have poisoned me and
carried off my sister, so that she would have been forced to marry him,
and then by means of the Emperor she would have been declared heiress of
the Electoral Mark of Brandenburg. Ah! I penetrate their designs, and they
shall not succeed. Their poison proved inefficacious, and so shall their
love! Now away to the door through which the fine gallant was to have
entered. He will find it locked, and I shall keep guard before it the
The Prince left his own apartments, and hurried down a private staircase
and through dark passages to the door designated. It was only on latch,
but a key was in the lock. Quickly he locked the door, and then stood
listening intently. It struck ten o'clock, and as the last stroke vibrated
in his ear a hand was laid upon the door latch outside, and a manly voice
whispered: "Trude, open! It is I. The one whom you expect! Open, quick!"
"Were it hell," murmured the Prince softly to himself, "yes, were it hell,
I would open the door. But there is no admittance to paradise for you.
Knock on, knock on! The gates of the Electoral mansion are not undone for
you. Knock on; the castle of the Elector of Brandenburg is locked against
you, and you must stand without, you Counts of Schwarzenberg, for you
shall not thrust me out of the palace of my fathers! I shall be Elector of
Brandenburg in spite of you, and then, Count Schwarzenberg, Stadtholder in
the Mark, then be on your guard! I shall remember, Count Adolphus
Schwarzenberg, that your finger rapped at this door, threatening to bring
shame and disgrace upon this house! And then, perhaps, I may open a door
for you, and allow you to enter, but it will not be for a lover's
rendezvous, and the door which admits you will not so easily grant you an
escape. Now I suffer and endure, but a time of reckoning will come!
Schwarzenbergs, beware of me!"
For a long while yet the Electoral Prince stood within the door, and for a
long while yet, at intervals, the knocking on the outside was repeated.
Then all was still. Frederick William returned to his own apartments.
Early next morning took place the departure of the Electoral family for
Prussia. It was to be wholly without formality, and consequently no one
had been notified. The Elector had only caused the two Counts
Schwarzenberg to be summoned after the carriages were ready, and when they
came in haste they found the Electoral family just on the point of
entering their several equipages.
"I meant to set out secretly," said George William, stretching out both
hands to the Stadtholder, "in order to spare myself the pain of bidding
you farewell, Adam. But now I find that my heart is stronger than my will,
and I must embrace you once more before I go!"
While the Elector embraced his favorite and received from him assurances
of perpetual fidelity, Count Adolphus Schwarzenberg approached the
Princess Charlotte Louise, who stood silent and apart in a window recess,
looking out upon the street with pallid countenance and eyes reddened by
"Louise," he whispered softly, "Louise, you--"
But before he could utter another word, Princess Hedwig stood beside him,
addressing him with amiable speech, and the Electoral Prince approached
his sister and offered her his arm to conduct her to the carriage. She
walked along, leaning on her brother's arm, without once lifting her eyes
from the ground, deeply humiliated by the thought that her lover had
caused her to wait for him in vain. A quarter of an hour later the two
clumsy vehicles containing the Electoral family rolled out of the castle
gate and struck into the road leading to Koenigsberg. The White Lady had
driven away the Elector George William, and he was nevermore to behold the
palace of his fathers.
The White Lady had saved Prince Frederick William, and as he now drove
through the gates of Berlin in that clumsy old coach he said to himself,
with joyful anticipation: "I shall see you again, Berlin! I shall see you
again, dear town of my fathers! I shall come back, and, please God, not
humbly and enslaved as I go away to-day, but as a Prince, who is lord
within his own domains, with God in his heart, a clear sky overhead, and
no Schwarzenbergs upon the horizon!"
Wearily and panting for breath the poor horses dragged the heavy carriage
through the sands of the Mark, but within sat the Electoral Prince--within
sat Caesar and his fortunes.
I.--THE YOUTHFUL SOVEREIGN.
The Elector George William had been gathered to his fathers. On the 1st of
December in the year 1640 he had at last closed his weary eyes, and bidden
farewell to a world which had brought him much grief and disquiet, little
joy and repose, much mortification and disappointment, never a single
triumph or solid satisfaction.
The Elector George William had been gathered to his fathers, and his son
Frederick William was Elector now. Two melancholy years of privation and
humiliation, resignation and oppression, had he passed at his father's
side, ever suspected by him, ever watched with jealous eyes, and forcibly
denied any participation in the administration of the government, ever
struggling with care, even for daily food, and forced to borrow at
usurious rates of interest to provide even a meager support for his little
household. It had been a severe school, but Frederick William had passed
through it with a brave spirit and cheerful determination. Across the dark
and gloomy present his clear eye had ever been directed to the future, and
hope had ever lingered at his side, holding him erect when overburdened by
care, consoling him when vexed and humiliated by his father's unjust
suspicions and ill will. Not unexpectedly had the Elector George William
died; full two months before his summons came, the two physicians in
ordinary, after holding a long consultation with the celebrated Koenigsberg
doctors, announced to the Electoral Prince that the Elector was drawing
near his end, and that his dropsy and insidious fever were slowly but
inevitably causing death.
The Electoral Prince had had time, therefore, to prepare for the momentous
hour which would call him from obscurity and inactivity--time to summon to
him those whom he wished to have at his side in the critical hour. Up to
the period of his father's death he had been an obedient, submissive son;
yet he had well known that as soon as George William closed his eyes he
would have to step into his place and be his successor. And he would be a
worthy successor! That he had vowed, clasping his father's cold hand. He
had told his mother so when, beside her husband's corpse, she had blessed
him in his new dignity, and besought his protection and love for herself
and her two daughters! Yes, he would be his father's worthy successor; he
would force the world to respect him. Such were his thoughts as, on the
day after his father's decease, he for the first time entered his cabinet,
and seated himself before the great writing table at which the Elector had
been wont to sit.
To the last day of his life George William had himself held the reins of
government, and, in the timid jealousy of his heart, angrily refused all
aid, all assistance. No one had dared to open and read the incoming
rescripts nor to attend to neglected business.
On the table lay whole piles of unopened letters and rescripts, whole
heaps of acts awaiting only the Electoral signature. Frederick William
laid his hand on these acts which he had now to sign, and his large,
deep-blue eyes were uplifted to Heaven.
"Lord!" he cried fervently--"Lord, make known to me the way in which I
These were the first words spoken by Frederick William on commencing his
reign, and on seating himself before his father's cabinet table, which was
now his own.
[Illustration: Robbery of peasants.]
He took up the first of the sealed documents and opened it. It was a
representation from the cities of Berlin and Cologne, whose magistrates
implored the Elector to furnish them some redress for their affliction and
want, and besought him, even now, to make peace with the Swedes, and to
command the Stadtholder in the Mark to institute a milder government in
the unhappy province. In heartrending words, they pictured the distresses
of both wretched cities, which had so far declined that they had now
hardly seven thousand inhabitants, while ten years ago they had numbered
more than twenty thousand. "But fire, pillage, and oppressions," so the
writing wound up, "have reduced us to the most extreme poverty. Many of
the inhabitants have made haste to end their wretched lives by means of
water, cord, or knife, and the rest are upon the point of forsaking their
homes, with their wives and children, preferring exile to remaining longer
in these cities, the abodes of pestilence and war. The Stadtholder in the
Mark, however, feels no pity for our sufferings, and just recently,
despite our entreaties, has had all the suburbs burned down, because the
Swedish general Stallhansch was on the march against us. We most urgently
entreat your highness to have compassion upon us in our low estate, and to
instruct the Stadtholder to slacken the severity of his rule and to spare
us in our grief." 
Sighing, Frederick William laid aside the melancholy writing, and took up
the next in order. It was a petition from the town of Prenzlow, not less
sad, not less moving than the first. The magistracy of Prenzlow likewise
prayed for compassion and redress of grievances, and painted in moving
words the misery of town and country. "Since," they wrote, "on account of
the unhappy war existing, the fields hereabout had been lying idle for
some years, such unheard-of scarcity had ensued that the people had not
only been driven to making use of unusual articles of diet, such as dogs,
cats, nay, even dead asses lying in the streets, but impelled by the
fierce pangs of hunger, in town as well as in the country, had fallen
upon, cooked, and devoured one another!" 
"Much to be pitied land, and much to be pitied Prince as well," sighed
Frederick William. "A heavy, an almost intolerable burden of government
has fallen upon my shoulders. God help me to sustain it worthily!" 
He stretched out his hand for a third paper, when the door opened and old
"Well, old man," asked the Elector, "what brings you here? And why is your
old face so merry to-day?"
"Because I have something pleasant to communicate to your highness. The
two gentlemen whom your honor has been expecting are here. Colonel von
"Leuchtmar?" joyfully inquired the Elector, and, upon Dietrich's assent,
he hurried himself toward the door. But after he had already stretched out
his hand to turn the knob, he paused and slowly resumed his place in the
middle of the room.
"Who is in the antechamber, besides?" he asked.
"Your highness, there are also without the gentlemen whom you summoned to
an audience, the Chamberlain von Schulenburg, Herr von Kroytz, Herr von
Kospoth, and the jeweler Dusnack."
"Those gentlemen may wait. Desire Herr von Kalkhun to come in."
Dietrich withdrew to the antechamber. The Elector's eyes were fastened
upon the door with an expression of joyful expectancy. When it opened, and
the tall, slender form of his friend and preceptor became visible, he
could restrain himself no longer, but, forgetting all ceremony, all
etiquette, hurried with outspread arms to meet Leuchtmar, and impetuously
clasped him to his breast.
"God be praised that I have you again!" he said, with a warm embrace.
"Once more I have found a father and a faithful friend. Welcome, you man
of loyal heart, with my whole soul I bid you welcome!"
"And you, most gracious sir," cried Leuchtmar, deeply moved, "may you ever
receive blessings and good gifts from on high, and always deserve them by
noble thoughts and deeds! Such shall be my prayer evening and morning, and
your highness shall verify my petition."
"Amen! God grant it!" said Frederick William solemnly. "And now, look at
me, my friend, and let me read in your features that you are the same as
"The same as of old, indeed!" smiled Leuchtmar. "These two years have made
an old man of me, and blanched my hair. I not merely longed after you, I
grieved for you, knowing, as I did, what your grace had to bear and
suffer. My heart was weighed down by grief and sorrow when I thought of
what my beloved young master was undergoing."
"It is true," said Frederick William. "I have gone through hard trials and
had many humiliations to endure. I have been treated as an adventurer and
alien, unworthy of being employed or consulted. I was forever subjected to
suspicion, and accused of coveting a throne before my time. If I asked
after my father's health, he supposed I did so because I longed for his
death; and if I made no inquiries, he accused me of indifference and want
of natural affection. Alas! Leuchtmar, in the despair of my soul I have
actually thought at times that the beggar on the street had an enviable
fate compared with that of the Electoral Prince of Brandenburg--and--But
hush! hush! I will no longer think of the past with bitterness and
chagrin. Reproach against my father shall never pass my lips. He rests
with God, and, as his soul has entered into everlasting rest, let us not
stir up the ashes of memory, but let peace be between father and son,
eternal peace! And now, my friend, be the past forgotten and blotted out,
with all its pains and wounds, and to the present and future only be our
thoughts dedicated. You are here; I have again my most trusted friend; and
in this the very first hour of our reunion I will confess something to
you, Leuchtmar, which you indeed have long since known, but which I in the
arrogance of youth have sometimes denied. I now feel that Socrates was a
wise man when he said, 'Our education begins with the first day of life,
nor is complete upon the last.' Fate has indeed placed me in a difficult
school, and I am conscious that I am far from possessing adequate
attainments, and that there is still much for me to study and digest.
Therefore, my friend, from you I demand aid, that I may study to some
purpose, and that I may at least take position in the world and among
posterity as a first-class scholar."
"Ah! most gracious sir," said Leuchtmar, smiling, "you are already more
than that, and have in these two years of trial passed your _examen
abiturientium_ with great distinction."
"And think you I am entered now as a student in the high school of
knowledge? Yes, Leuchtmar, such is indeed the case, and since it may well
be that at times I shall make false steps, and commit blunders through
inadvertence or misunderstanding, I demand of you to point out to me my
"But, your highness, I might myself be the one in error, and in my
short-sightedness attempt to teach one much better acquainted with the
subject than myself."
"In such case let us weigh and compare opinions, when, surely, we shall
discover the right. Only promise me this one thing, Leuchtmar, that on all
occasions you will speak the truth to me, according to the best of your
knowledge and perception--that you will not conceal it from me, even when
you may know that it will be irksome and disagreeable to me. Will you
promise me this, my friend?"
"I promise it. I promise, if your highness requests the expression of my
views and opinions, to give you the truth, according to the inmost
convictions of my heart."
"No, Leuchtmar, in important matters you must give me your opinion, even
when I have not asked for it."
"Well then, your highness, I promise that too."
"And on my side I promise always to listen patiently, and not to become
angry and excited, even when our opinions disagree and you utterly oppose
me. You smile and shake your head. Probably you think that I can not keep
"I do think so, your highness; yet I fear not, and shall courageously
weather the storm. I am already old and have witnessed the gathering of
many a tempest, have seen the clouds burst, and afterward seen the bright
blue sky and cheerful sunshine again. I shall not fear, even though the
thunder roar and growl, for the thunder has somewhat of the voice of God,
and there is something exalted and majestic in the lightning's flash.
Only, gracious sir, it must not strike, but content itself with harmless
shining. Will you most kindly promise me thus much, gracious sir?"
"Am I Jupiter, that I hold the lightning in my hand, and can direct its
"Yes, indeed, sir, Jupiter you are, in your native element, amid the flash
of lightnings and the roar of thunder."
The Elector smiled. "Tell me, Leuchtmar, am I really then of so fiery a
temperament and of so passionate a nature? Why do you not answer me? The
truth, Leuchtmar, the truth!"
"Well, the truth is that your highness is of quite a fiery temperament and
of a tolerably passionate nature. But you are not to blame for this, for
it was entailed upon you with your Hohenzollern blood. You are the worthy
descendant of your ancestor Albert Achilles; and be glad of this, sir, for
by sluggish blood and soft complexion great things have never been
"Then you expect me to accomplish great things?"
"Yes, your highness, such are indeed my expectations, and I glory in them!"
"We will talk of this hereafter, friend," said the Elector, gently shaking
his head. "But now let us forget what I have become since yesterday, and
consider that I have a heart, which is young still and full of love and
ardor, despite all it has suffered. Two months ago, when the doctors told
me that my dear father's case was hopeless, I dispatched secret messages
to two friends, and requested them to come here and tarry in the
neighborhood of Koenigsberg until I should have them summoned by a courier.
I was not willing to vex my father in the least degree during his
lifetime, and would not even see my friends in secret, but preferred to
wait patiently until I could do so openly. The two friends whom I sent
for to be near me were Burgsdorf and yourself, my Leuchtmar. But to you I
gave previously another commission. Have you executed it?"
"Yes, your highness, I have executed it."
"You have been to Holland? At The Hague and at Doornward?"
"I have been there, gracious sir!"
"You have been there," repeated Frederick William, drawing a deep breath.
"O Leuchtmar! you men in private life are happy because you are free. You
can go whither you will, and follow the dictates of your own hearts. But
we, poor slaves to our position, must accommodate ourselves to
circumstances, and patiently submit to the laws of necessity. How often
has it seemed to me as if my longings could not be repressed, as if I must
break all bonds and hasten to that free and happy land where the fairest
days of my life were passed. How often, in reflecting upon the past, has
it seemed as if a fire were kindled in my breast, mounting in clear flames
to my head to lay my reason in ashes. But I durst not allow this, and with
my own sighs extinguished the leaping flames, and, Leuchtmar, shall I
confess it? At this moment I am cowardly, and speak so much, because--yes,
because I lack the courage to ask one open question. But I will be bold
and courageous, I will conquer my poor, foolish heart. Tell me, then,
Leuchtmar, what I _must_ know! I sent you to Holland to obtain certain
information with regard to the evil reports which have been circulated
here. I gave no credit whatever to them, for I knew they were anxious that
I should contract a certain marriage, and would therefore crush the love I
was cherishing for another person. And yet this other lived within my
heart, and when I closed my eyes I saw her before me in all her beauty and
loveliness, and at night, when all the troubles of the day were over, and
I was alone in my chamber, she was near me, speaking to me and consoling
me with the sweet, kind words she whispered to my heart. Ah, you see,
Leuchtmar, I am but a very young man, and--courage, courage! out with the
question! Have you seen the Princess Ludovicka Hollandine?"
As Frederick William asked this question he walked to the window and
turned his back to the room. A pause ensued, then Leuchtmar replied, in
gentle, sorrowful tones, "No, gracious sir, I have not seen the Princess."
A shudder passed over the Prince's frame, but he did not turn around.
"Why did you not visit her? Why did you not see her, when I had
commissioned you to speak with the Princess herself?"
"Most noble sir, I could not speak with the Princess, for she was no
longer at The Hague."
"No longer in Holland?" asked the Elector, and his question sounded like a
cry of grief wrung from a tortured heart. "Where was she then? Where was
"Most noble sir, you have imposed upon me the duty of always telling you
the truth, but at this moment I feel it to be a difficult duty."
"Perform it, Leuchtmar, I require you to do so! Where was the Princess
Ludovicka, if she was no longer with her mother?"
"Your highness, the Princess Ludovicka Hollandine has voluntarily forsaken
her mother and her family, and at first they knew not whither she had
"And do they know now?"
"The Electress of the Palatinate had received her first letter from the
Princess the day before I waited upon her, and, as the Electress had ever
honored me with her confidence, she communicated to me the contents of
"What were they? Quick, tell them quickly, that my heart may not break
meanwhile. What was in the letter?"
"It said, most gracious sir, that of her own free will, and out of most
tender love for the chosen of her heart, she had forsaken her mother's
house because that Princess had refused her consent to her union with the
man--these were her own words--with the man whom she loved above all
others. It said, moreover, that the Princess had followed this man, the
Count d'Entragues, to France, and that for the present she had withdrawn
to a convent, preparatory to professing the Catholic religion and then
marrying Count d'Entragues."
The Elector uttered a hollow groan, and, putting both hands before his
face, as if he were ashamed of what he felt, sank upon a chair, and sat
long thus, breaking the silence with occasional sighs and groans.
Leuchtmar dared not interrupt this sacred silence even by a word, or to
offer comfort to the agonized heart of the young Prince by words of
consolation. He knew that strong heart must first vent its grief in order
to gain repose, and that only from within could spring up that consolation
which strengthens and sustains.
After a long pause, after a bitter inward conflict, Frederick William
allowed his hands to drop, revealing a face pale as death and lips whose
corners twitched convulsively.
"Leuchtmar," he said, "this is the baptism by which I am consecrated to my
new office. It is, indeed, a baptism of tears, and has torn my wounded
heart, I grant you. But such a baptism of tears was needed to wash from my
heart all that could derogate from the lofty calling to which alone my
whole being should be dedicated. No one on earth can accomplish anything
great who has not first received a baptism of grief and tears. By such
baptism the soul extricates itself from earthly wishes and selfish
desires, and he who would be a thorough man and accomplish great things
must be lord of himself, and have no wishes for himself, but to attain
glory and honor! And so I now shake the past from my soul as a torn and
tattered garment, and would despise myself if even a sensation of pain
were left behind. No, no, I am free! My heart is coffined, and I shall
close the lid and bid it an eternal farewell!"
"Your heart coffined, your highness!" said Leuchtmar gently. "You think so
now, but I tell you it will again rise from the dead, and beat with full
ardor and glow, for, God be thanked, the heart of man is a tenacious
thing, and dies not from one dagger-thrust. Its wounds can be healed, and
then it is so much the stronger because it knows what it can suffer and
"Enough now, my friend, enough!" cried Frederick William, shaking his head
so violently that his brown locks fluttered in wild disorder. "Thus I
shake off an unworthy love and all vain lamentations. Now, Leuchtmar, I am
the man, the Elector. A very young man, you will say, but one who has
stood the brunt of battle and fire, who in days has lived through years,
and consequently is old, for my twenty years count double. Baron von
Leuchtmar, I have much to discuss with you, and I summoned you here for
important consultations, but stay--a man is without whom I can keep
waiting no longer, for his time is valuable, and he who makes a workman
wait robs him of his capital. I beg you, Leuchtmar, to open the door and
call the jeweler Dusnack."
Leuchtmar hastened to obey this order. As he turned toward the door
Frederick William once more passed his hand rapidly over his face, and
for a moment pressed it to his eyes. As he drew it away he felt a drop
fall burning upon his hand, and it shone there like a bright diamond,
but--his eyes were now dry and glittered with the fire of resolution.
"Well, Master Dusnack," exclaimed Frederick William to the approaching
jeweler, "have you brought us, as directed, a few seal rings, from which
to make our selection?"
"Here they are, your Electoral Highness," replied the jeweler, holding out
a little box and handing it open to the Elector. Frederick William
examined with interest the bright and sparkling rings, which were in
separate compartments, and nodded kindly to the jeweler.
"You are a skillful workman, and your rings please me well," he said.
"These things are tastefully designed and prettily executed. You must have
very good workmen, and it pleases me that such things are made in our
country. For I suppose, of course, these beautiful rings emanate from your
"Most gracious sir, I would that it were so, and it is not my fault,
indeed, that it is otherwise. I have been long in foreign lands and
studied and worked in the first jewelry establishments of Paris. But I
find no apprentices here capable of executing such artistic and delicate
work, and can only have ordinary gold and silver ware made here, such as
forks, spoons, mourning rings, and articles of that kind; but for my finer
ornaments and such costly rings as these I must send to Paris and Lyons,
where the goldsmith's art flourishes, while it is frightfully depressed
here, both for the want of purchasers and artisans."
"Then we must see to it," said Frederick William, "that such times are
ushered in, that men shall feel free to purchase golden trinkets, and that
clever workers in gold be attracted here, in order that we may dispense
with foreign manufactures. As soon as the times become somewhat more
tranquil, we, too, will have need of goods of that sort, for not long
since all the jewels of our house were stolen. But I tell you, Master
Dusnack, we shall only buy such things as have been designed and executed
at home. Therefore exert yourself, and procure good workmen. For this time
I must needs content myself with foreign wares and select a seal ring. I
therefore take this one with the ruby, and you must engrave our country's
coat of arms upon it without delay."
"Your highness's orders shall be obeyed," replied the jeweler
respectfully. "Does your highness merely wish the coat of arms upon the
seal, or would you like a motto added?"
"Yes, master, a motto shall be added, to run thus, 'Lord, make known to me
the way in which I should go.' Will you write it down, master, that you
may not forget it?"
"Your Electoral Highness, it is not necessary, for you have impressed it
on my heart."
"Go then, master, and inscribe it for me right plainly on the stone."
The Elector turned to Baron Leuchtmar von Kalkhun as soon as the jeweler
had taken his departure, saying, "Now for you, friend, and our plans of
II.--PLANS FOE THE FUTURE.
"Yes, friend, I want to discuss government affairs with you," continued
the Elector, with a faint smile, sinking back in the armchair before the
writing table. "Sit down, Leuchtmar, quite close to me, for I shall now
disclose to you what no other mortal ear must hear; I shall reveal to you
my thoughts and plans. Man is, after all, but a weak and tender creature,
and it is a necessity with him to have some trusted soul on whom he can
rely for sympathy, and to whom he can tell all that moves his inner being.
To me, Leuchtmar, you are that trusted soul, and in this hour I will make
known to you the inmost recesses of my heart. You shall learn who I am,
what I think, and what are my aspirations, that you may always comprehend
and appreciate me, standing with ever-ready succor at my side. For I hope
you have no engagements elsewhere, and from this moment enter my service?"
"I have hitherto lived in quiet and retirement at Cologne on the Rhine,
waiting for the hour which should summon me to my gracious master's
presence, for you are the only Sovereign upon earth whom I would serve,
and to you belong my being, thoughts, and all that in me is of energy and
"I have counted on you, Leuchtmar, and well I knew that my reliance would
not be in vain. You must aid and sustain me, for I stand in urgent need of
wise friends, of diligent, faithful workers, in order to gain the goal
which I have placed before me in the future, and to execute the schemes
which I have planned. In the first place, Leuchtmar, do you know properly
who I am?"
"Yes, your highness," replied Leuchtmar, smiling. "I think I know right
well. You are the youthful hero, the Hercules to whom the gods have
committed the twelve difficult tasks, that he may prove himself a
demi-god, and who now begins his work with the zeal of courage and the
inspiration of faith."
"The comparison may be slightly applicable," said the Elector, "and as far
as the Augean stable is concerned. I, too, have my stable to cleanse; only
it belongs not to Augias, but to Schwarzenberg. Still, I will try to
purify it. But I must set about my undertaking with dexterous hands; of
that, however, let us speak hereafter. I shall first consider your
simile, drawn from the story of Hercules. Do you know, Leuchtmar, the
names of my twelve tasks, and their extent? I ask you once more, do you
know who I am, or, rather, what my name is? Look, there lies the document
which I am just on the point of sending to my good subjects, and by means
of which I shall notify them of my assumption of the reins of government.
Just read the heading, Leuchtmar."
Leuchtmar took the paper handed him and read: "'We, Frederick William,
Marquis of Brandenburg, Lord High Chancellor and Elector of the Holy Roman
Empire, Duke of Prussia, Julich, Cleves, Stettin, Pomerania, Cassuben, and
Vandalia, as also Duke of Silesia, Croatia, and Jaegerndorf, Burgrave of
Nuremberg, Prince of Rugen, Count of Markberg and Ravensberg, Baron of
"Enough!" cried the Elector. "You have now read the outlines of my
Herculean task, you now know who I am. A Prince of long titles, not one of
which has its foundation in truth and reality. And this is my Herculean
task, to make these titles real, and to give a good kernel to these empty
nut shells. Look, Leuchtmar, there is a map. Let us examine it and compare
it with my titles, for it is a map corresponding finely with these titles,
and on which all the counties and provinces pertaining to them are
designated. Marquis of Brandenburg, that is my first title, and you would
naturally suppose that this, at least, was veritable, for the Mark is the
oldest possession of our house, and my ancestor, the Burgrave Frederick
von Nuremberg, was invested with it by the Emperor. But what do I obtain
from the Mark? Friend and foe have quartered there, until they have
changed it into a desert; famine and pestilence hold sway there, and the
despairing inhabitants have left their fields untilled and wander about
shelterless and hungry. The only prosperous man there, possessed of power
and consideration, is the Stadtholder in the Mark, Count Adam von
Schwarzenberg. The Mark suffers and groans, but he is of glad heart, and
the distress of the people touches him not. What cares he for land or
people, save in so far as they conduce to the furtherance of his own ends,
and do you know what those ends are?"
"He is an Imperialist and a strict Catholic," said Leuchtmar, "and it must
be confessed that he would rather see the whole Mark go to destruction
than behold it Protestant and independent."
"Yes, he has let the Mark Brandenburg go to destruction!" cried the
Elector, with flashing eyes. "Catholic and Imperialist he would have it.
And I can not reach him, he knows very well that I must spare him, and
that _he_, the powerful, opposes _me_, the powerless. To him have the
commandants of the fortresses and the soldiers sworn allegiance; the
Emperor protects him, and would esteem it an act of rebellion against
imperial majesty itself if I were to depose Schwarzenberg from office. It
would be a departure from the course pursued by the Mark for twenty years
past, for, since Schwarzenberg has nourished as Stadtholder, the Emperor
has been the real lord of the Mark, and not an order nor rescript ever
issued from my father's cabinet to which the Emperor had not given his
consent, or of which he had not previous knowledge. I must therefore for
the present still suffer Schwarzenberg to be lord of the Mark, for I have
not power to defy the Emperor and call down upon myself his rage. The Lord
High Chancellor and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire must for the present
bow humbly to the Emperor, and submit in silence to the evils of his lot.
My duchy of Pomerania the Swedes have appropriated to themselves, and I
can not, as I should like, wrest it from them by force of arms, for I have
no weapons, no soldiers, no army; I must now try to come to an amicable
understanding with them, and, if possible, make peace with them. In Julich
and Cleves I am duke, too, as my title vouches, but to be so really I must
first rescue these countries from the Dutch, and then be able to defend
them against the cupidity of France. And my duchies of Silesia, Croatia,
and Jaegerndorf? The Emperor has taken possession of them as if they were
his own fiefs, and he will be little likely to restore them to the
powerless Elector of Brandenburg. Neither will the Saxons easily
relinquish to the weak Elector Magdeburg and Halberstadt, which counties
they hold enthralled. Alas! Leuchtmar, you see of all my vast possessions
I only retain the empty titles."
"But one country your highness has omitted in your enumeration, and there,
undoubtedly, you are undisputed Sovereign, no enemy having supplanted you
in this land. You are Duke of Prussia, and there, at least, ruler also!"
"Yes, I am Duke of Prussia--that is to say, if King Wladislaus of Poland
will condescend to invest me with this duchy, and allow me to go to
Warsaw, humbly to kneel to swear allegiance to him, and acknowledge myself
one of his vassals. Until he has done so, I am not the legalized ruler
even here in Prussia, and the King of Poland will already consider it as
an infringement upon his supremacy that I have not forthwith dismissed the
Prussian chamber of deputies, which held its sitting in my father's
lifetime, but allowed it to prolong its session. There, too, as at the
imperial court, I must give fair words, must show myself humble and
obedient, so as not to excite untimely enmity against myself, and rouse
the mighty against the weak. For what refuge would remain to me, or
where would I find support, if the Emperor of Germany and the King of
Poland should threaten me with their enmity?"
"I should think the Swedes would be delighted to have your highness for an
ally, to stand with them against the Emperor and the German Empire, and
the States-General, too, would gladly give you the right hand of
"Oh, yes, the Swedes would gladly accept me as their ally, provided that I
would voluntarily resign to them Pomerania and Ruegen, renouncing all claim
to these lands; and the States would gladly extend to me the right hand of
fellowship, only I must have first laid down in this hand the duchies of
Cleves and Julich as an offering of friendship! But such a thing would I
never do, and never shall I peaceably resign the smallest strip of land
that should be mine to purchase thereby repose for myself. Up to this time
I have enjoyed only the title to my lands, but it must and shall be now
the purpose of my whole life to substantiate these claims, and not merely
to conquer back what is my own, but, an' it please God, to enlarge my
territories and give to them unity and compactness. I am now a Prince only
by my armorial bearings, but I _will_ be a veritable Prince. I now wear
only the most delapidated semblance of a Prince's mantle, inflated by
hollow wind, but I shall change it into a purple mantle, such as no German
Prince would be ashamed of, which every one in the German Empire shall
respect, yea, even the Emperor himself."
"And you will gain your end," cried Leuchtmar, "yes, you will gain it. It
stands written on your lofty brow, it shines forth from your fiery eyes,
and is spoken by every feature of your noble, energetic face. You will
gain your end. From the confusion and chaos of the present times you will
emerge as a distinguished, mighty Prince; out of nothingness and disorder
you will construct a powerful state, and to your towering titles give a
firm basis of strength and truth!"
"Amen! God grant it!" said Frederick William, piously lifting his large
eyes to Heaven. "It seems now, indeed, as if it were an unattainable
goal," he continued, after a pause, "and to no one else would I confess
it, for I would only become the scorn and derision of my enemies."
"But the delight of your friends!" cried Leuchtmar, deeply moved, "the
invigorator and uplifter of your friends!" "Friends, say you? Where are my
friends? Look abroad throughout the whole German Empire, the whole of
Europe, and then tell me where my friends are. I have not even friends in
my next-door neighbors, not even in my nearest relations! Yes, were I rich
and influential, had I protection to give and benefits to dispense, then
would the Princes far and near gladly bethink themselves of the claims of
consanguinity, and overwhelm me with civilities and attentions. But I am
powerless, and they dread lest I should need their protection and their
influence; therefore are they forgetful of family ties! But they shall
find themselves mistaken in me, my dear relatives! They shall be forced
some day to acknowledge that the Elector of Brandenburg is self-sustaining,
and stands erect without the aid of foreign supports. You look
at me doubtfully, and perhaps think me a braggart, promising great
things which I may never be able to perform? It would seem so,
indeed, now, for where are the means for accomplishing such aims? Wretched
and in the process of dissolution is all about me, nowhere do I see
determined friends, efficient followers!"
"Oh, gracious sir, in that you go too far! You know yourself how much
Schwarzenberg is hated in all your territories, how ardently all patriots
long for his deposition from the government; for the league with the
Emperor is detestable to everybody, and fear of Catholic domination and
desire for the Swedish alliance prevail among all your subjects."
"Yes," cried the Elector, "adherents of Sweden there are in my dominions,
and Schwarzenberg has indeed opponents enough. But he has friends as well,
whom he has purchased with his good money and his protection. But tell me,
where is an Electoral party, one deserving the name by its unity and
determination, a party which looks not to the right or left, but straight
ahead in the direction that I shall take? The old friends of my house are
dispersed, hunted into banishment, exiled, or dead; on whom else could I
depend? All positions in the army and government, all offices has
Schwarzenberg filled with his own creatures; and should I venture to step,
in their way, and endeavor to effect their and his ruin, I might easily
come to ruin myself. In what direction, then, can I look for help?"
"To yourself, most noble sir, to your own mind and heart!" cried
Leuchtmar, with enthusiasm.
"It is as you say, I should be a fool were I to seek protection elsewhere.
Protection from the Emperor, the empire, Poland? Protection from comrades
in the faith or blood relations? My empire is within myself, and by God's
help the foundations shall be laid! 'Man forges his own fortunes.' That is
a good old proverb. Well, I will try to be a good smith. I have played
anvil long enough, and hard enough have been the blows dealt me by Count
Schwarzenberg. I shall now try being the fist that guides the hammer, and
I think I have a tolerably strong fist, that will be able so to wield the
hammer as to fashion for myself a worthy scepter."
"A great and noble task has God committed to your highness," said
Leuchtmar; "to you is it given to create your own state, and what you
shall be hereafter you will owe to your own powers."
"And to the assistance of true servants, tried friends and followers!"
cried the Elector, cordially extending his hand to his faithful counselor,
"although now I only know two men on whom I can rely--yourself and
Burgsdorf. But together we form no contemptible trio, and I am confident
that great results will follow our efforts, and, in order that you may see
what I am projecting, tarry here while I call in old Burgsdorf."
With alert step the Elector moved to the door and opened it. "Colonel von
Burgsdorf!" he cried, then turned, strode through the cabinet and seated
himself in the armchair before his father's writing table.
In the door of the entrance hall now appeared Colonel von Burgsdorf, his
broad, red face wearing an embarrassed expression. Standing still in the
doorway, he looked across at the Elector, who, his back half turned,
seemed to take no notice of his approach.
"No doubt," said Burgsdorf to himself, "he has had me summoned in order to
give me my discharge; he has not yet forgotten how desperate I was in the
year '38. It is over with you, Conrad, and you can go home, because, like
the old ass that you are, in sooth, you uttered aloud the pent-up agony of
But while he was talking thus to himself with deep resentment, his
countenance expressed nothing but devotion and anxiety; in humble,
soldierly attitude he stood in the door. The Elector had his eyes fixed
upon some papers lying on the table before him, and seemed absorbed in
their perusal. Leuchtmar at last ventured to accost him.
"Gracious sir," he said softly, "Colonel von Burgsdorf, whom you called,
has come in and is waiting for your orders."
"He is waiting!" cried the Elector. "Then I shall certainly have to ask
his pardon in the end, for well I know that Colonel Burgsdorf does not
"Without doubt," repeated Burgsdorf to himself, "he has summoned me merely
to give me my discharge."
"Colonel von Burgsdorf!" now cried the Elector, turning half toward him
with grave, severe countenance, "just tell me how strong was the regiment
which you enlisted for the Electoral army last year?"
"Most gracious sir, I enlisted two thousand four hundred men."
"That is to say," cried the Elector sternly, "you obtained the bounty
money for recruiting two thousand four hundred men; but I would be glad to
learn of you how many of those men actually existed."
"Your highness," stammered Burgsdorf in confusion, "I do not understand
what your grace means. If I obtained bounty money for two thousand four
hundred men, they certainly existed."
"So one would suppose, indeed," replied the Elector; "yet it can not have
been, for before me lies a letter from Count Schwarzenberg to my father,
and only hear what the Stadtholder in the Mark writes. Leuchtmar, come
here please and read."
Leuchtmar hastened forward, and, taking the paper which the Elector held
out to him, read: "'It is to be lamented that the officers contrive to
pocket so much press money and hardly produce one out of every six men
said to have been enlisted. Colonel von Kehrdorf received pay and rations
for twelve hundred men, and yet had not over eighty; General von
Klitzing's regiment ought to be two thousand strong, and in reality
numbers only six hundred; Colonel Conrad von Burgsdorf gives out that he
has two thousand four hundred recruits, and there are not quite six
hundred of them.'"
"That is a lie--a base lie!" cried Burgsdorf, whose face was purple with
passion. "The Stadtholder in the Mark has always been my enemy and
opponent, and if he maintains that I only enlisted six hundred men--"
"He maintains something quite untrue," interrupted the Elector; "but he
maintains no such thing. You interrupted Leuchtmar; let him read to the
end, and hear the conclusion." Leuchtmar read on: "'And if you pick
perhaps two hundred able-bodied men out of the six hundred, there remain
four hundred feeble, sickly fellows, who would fall down like dead flies
on the very first march.'"
"You see that Schwarzenberg does not maintain that you enlisted six
hundred able-bodied men."
"Your highness!" cried Burgsdorf, trembling with passion, "this I see,
that you have had me called here in order to dismiss me, to banish me
forever from your presence--and yet I have served you so faithfully, and
have always hoped that you would forgive me."
"Forgive?" asked the Elector. "Had I anything to forgive in you?"
"Most gracious sir, that time after your return from The Hague I let my
old heart carry me away; it was wholly wild and ungovernable and forgot
the deference due your grace."
"Ah, I remember now," said the Elector, gently nodding his head. "That
time when you wanted to make a revolution and required me to place myself
at your head. You wanted to make of the poor little Electoral Prince a
mighty rebel, and were even so kind as to promise that when with your help
he had crushed Schwarzenberg he should become his father's prime minister
and Stadtholder in the Mark."
"Your highness," cried Burgsdorf indignantly, "those were well-meant
schemes, and originated in the excess of our love for you."
"Only, if I had adopted them, my father would have easily subdued the
princely rebel with the Emperor's support. The Stadtholder in the Mark
would then have had the pleasure of seeing upon the scaffold the Prince
who had dared rebel against his own father, as befell Prince Carlos of
Spain, when he revolted against his father, King Philip. I thought a
little about that unhappy, misguided Prince, and profited by his example.
You probably did not think of him, Burgsdorf, and fell into a great rage.
I am glad you remember that day, for actually I had forgotten it."
"Most gracious sir, I would like to bite out my own tongue and swallow
it," screamed Burgsdorf, raving. "I am a genuine old ass, and you do well
to dismiss me forthwith; for I deserve nothing better, and am served quite
right. Just speak out at once, your highness. I am discharged, am I not?"
"Quietly, Burgsdorf!" commanded the Elector sternly. "I am no longer the
Electoral Prince at whom you can scold and bluster, as you did that time
in the palace of Berlin."
"You always go back to the old story," groaned Burgsdorf.
"And you," said Frederick William, "you are just as impatient as you were
then. You cried murder and death, because the Electoral Prince would not
do your will! I told you--I remember that very well now--I told you that I
would learn and wait. I begged you to do the same and wait also. But you,
you would not wait; you cried out that you had already waited twenty
years, and that now your patience was exhausted. You had no compassion on
the youth of eighteen years, who had just come out of a foreign land, and
hardly knew how to distinguish friend from foe because he was not
acquainted with the condition of things. And yet you were already old and
in your twenty years of waiting ought to have learned a little prudence!
But you had learned nothing at all and could not wait, and gave me up with
wild impatience because I would not be guilty of criminal disrespect
toward my father."
"Most gracious sir, you cut me to the quick! Each of your words is a
dagger aimed right at my heart. Let me go; let it bleed in solitude and
And old von Burgsdorf turned and went to the door.
"Stay there!" called out the Elector in commanding tone, arising from his
seat and standing proudly erect. Burgsdorf, who had just laid his hand
upon the door latch, let it glide down, and stood abashed and humble.
"You gave me up and forsook me that time in Berlin," continued Frederick
William, "scolded and upbraided me, merely because I wished to learn and
wait. That proves to me that you have never learned and never waited.
Learn now, Colonel Conrad von Burgsdorf. Withdraw into that window recess,
and wait until I speak to you again and tell you my decision with regard
to you." And once more the Elector opened the door of the antechamber and
called Chamberlain Werner von Schulenburg into his cabinet.
"Schulenburg," said the Elector to the advancing chamberlain, "you will
set out immediately. Go to Berlin and inform the Stadtholder in the Mark,
Count von Schwarzenberg, of my father's death. Announce to his excellency
that it is my urgent and pressing request, that he continue to burden
himself with the duties of the Stadtholdership."
An involuntary growl issued from the window where Burgsdorf was stationed.
The Elector took no notice of it, and proceeded: "Moreover, request the
Stadtholder in my name to write to me immediately, advising me what to do
with regard to the Regensburg Diet, because we can not now with the
required dispatch rightly apprehend and maturely consider the matter on
account of our great affliction."
A second growl issued from the window, and called a slight, passing smile
to Frederick William's face.
"Then," continued the Elector, "notify the Stadtholder that I shall he
glad to retain the present governors and garrisons of the forts; but that
it would please me if we could inflict some injury upon the enemy at one
place or the other; but, mindful of his hitherto glorious and successful
management, I feel that I need only direct his attention in a special
manner to the fortresses."
Old Burgsdorf's growl now became almost a shriek of pain. "It is unheard
of," he said, in quite an audible voice.
With a proud movement of the head the Elector turned to him. "Burgsdorf,"
he said, "you were to learn to wait; be silent, then, as becomes an humble
Again the Elector turned to the chamberlain. "That is all I have to say to
you, Schulenburg. I hope you have forgotten nothing, and that you will
punctiliously execute every command."
"I trust that your highness is convinced of my zeal and fidelity," replied
the chamberlain, bowing reverentially. "I shall punctiliously execute all
your orders, and have only to ask further when I am to set off?"
"Immediately," said the Elector, "and travel post haste. Farewell! But
hark! Schulenburg, you have obtained my official dispatches, now I shall
add a little private errand. When you have communicated all this to the
Stadtholder, exactly as directed, then converse a little with him in the
most friendly manner, and in the course of conversation, as if of your own
accord, sound Count Schwarzenberg as to his inclination to pay us a speedy
visit in Prussia, the better to consult with us concerning the onerous
duties of the administration. Then ask him casually, but in quite an
innocent manner, whom he would recommend meanwhile as his substitute.
And now, God speed you, Schulenburg, go and carry out all my orders to the
letter. As you pass out, send in to me the two gentlemen waiting in the
With a condescending nod of the head, he offered his hand to the
chamberlain, who pressed it fervently to his lips, and then left the
cabinet with hasty steps.
"And now for you, gentlemen," cried the Elector, advancing a few paces to
meet Herr von Kreytz and Herr von Kospoth, who were just entering the
cabinet. "I have an important commission to intrust to both of you. You
are both to proceed to Poland and announce my father's death to King
Wladislaus. That is your affair specially, John von Kospoth. You know how
to frame courteous speeches, and will inform the King that my father
(peace be to his ashes!) has not been a more submissive vassal than his
successor Frederick expects to be; you will tell him that the Dukes of
Prussia are very faithful and obedient servants to the King of Poland, and
know very well that they should be his Majesty's most humble vassals."
Again a passionate murmur proceeded from the window, and Burgsdorf's
flushed, angry countenance appeared between the silk curtains. The Elector
saw this by a furtive glance, and again something like a smile passed over
Turning to the second gentleman, he continued: "You, Wolfgang von Kreytz,
will present my most submissive and respectful greetings to the King of
Poland, and acquaint him with the fact that I take my predecessor's place
as duke in the dukedom of Prussia. Inform him that I recognize the King as
lord paramount, and humbly sue for investiture. Tell him that I have
hitherto forborne to perform the functions of ruler, and committed the
government to a board of regency, and am meanwhile striving with the
greatest diligence to acquire a knowledge of the rights and privileges of
the land. Pay, both of you, the most polite and friendly court to the King
and all his ministers. Asseverate everywhere that we know right well that
our succession in Prussia depends wholly upon the King's choice, and that
we would naturally desire to present ourselves in person and swear
allegiance to his Majesty. And after you have impressed all these
statements fully upon his mind, add that to our deepest regret we can not
come immediately, on account of the bad condition of our hereditary
estates and manifold business pertaining to the Roman Empire, which just
now prevent us from undertaking the journey. Then petition for a gracious
dispensation from personal attendance, and request his Majesty to grant a
written order for the feoffment. Should the King make known to you through
his counselors that he will not grant this written order, then desire a
private audience of the King, and represent to him that we have been
forced to assume the government, and deprecate his displeasure. Wait also
upon the most prominent ministers, and represent the same thing to them.
By your eloquence and zeal I hope that you will accomplish your purpose,
and bring me the investiture. To this end spare neither flattery nor fair
"Most gracious sir," asked John von Kospoth, with a meaning smile, "but
if, unfortunately, flattery and fair words prove of no avail, what must we
"You answer that question for me, Wolfgang von Kreytz," said the Elector.
"Most gracious sir," exclaimed the young baron spiritedly, "if all
entreaties and persuasions fail to move, I think it will be time to assert
your Electoral dignity, and to have recourse to a little threatening. We
should give the King of Poland to understand that you claim the succession
in Prussia by virtue of your own good right; that your father, the Elector
George William, undertook the government before the investiture, and that
you will defend your duchy of Prussia with all the means at your command,
and will never give it up."
"Very good," said a deep voice from behind the window curtain.
"Do you mean to speak so too, John von Kospoth?" asked the Elector.
"If flattery and persuasions bring forth no fruit," replied Kospoth, "it
would be a satisfaction to me, too, to threaten."
"A poor satisfaction!" cried the Elector, "unless we could forthwith
follow up our threat by action, and send out our regiments to declare war!
No, sirs, if you try in vain to bribe with fair words, then we must resort
to money! Money is also a weapon, and, if report speak truly, an effective
one among the Polish lords, their King himself respecting it. In
extremity, therefore, if you can not go forward at all, then have their
Majesties, the King as well as Queen, notified, by means of some trusty
person, that if we obtain the grant of the government on the spot, and
have no difficulty with regard to investiture, we shall pay to both their
Majesties, as a bonus, the sum of sixty thousand Polish florins, and
afterward wait upon the great chancellor, vice chancellor, and lord high
chancellor, salute these gentlemen from me, and promise each one of them
ten thousand Polish florins. Take care, though, to stipulate for some time
to be allowed us for the fulfillment of these promises, for where the
money is to come from is as yet a riddle to ourselves. Such is my
commission, gentlemen. Hasten to execute it."
"And now," exclaimed the Elector, when the two gentlemen had left the
cabinet, "now, Colonel von Burgsdorf, you have received your first lesson,
and have learned to wait a little. Come forward now; I have something to
say to you."
"And I, sir," called out Burgsdorf, as he rushed forth from the bay window
and threw himself on his knees before the Elector, "first of all, I have
something to say to you. Your highness, above all things I must beg your
pardon from the bottom of my heart, and confess to you the evil thoughts
that led me to suppose that the Elector at twenty years of age did not
understand government and was only a timid young gentleman. I see now that
you are far wiser and more prudent than the old fool Burgsdorf, and that
you have learned more in your twenty years than will ever penetrate my
thick skull. You are a great statesman, your highness; on my knees I
implore your pardon for having doubted you, and beseech you, reject me
not, sir! Forget the nonsense I gave utterance to that time at Berlin, and
take the old broadsword into your service. It desires nothing better than
to be worn out in your service, to fly out of its scabbard at your bidding
and slash away at the enemy."
"To slash away at the enemy!" repeated the Elector. "First of all, stand
up, old colonel. There," he continued, smiling, holding out his hand to
him, "I must help you a little, for your old limbs have grown stiff in my
father's service. And now, just tell me, old broadsword, what you think
of it. How will you attack the enemy for me now? Enemies enough we have,
indeed, but too few soldiers, I should think, to cope with them. Or think
you that we could soon set an army on foot? Would you go out to battle
with your regiment of two thousand six hundred men, and win back for me my
"I beg your highness not to speak of my two thousand six hundred men. You
know well that they have long since melted away, because there was no
money wherewith to pay them."
"Well then," said the Elector, "I will gratify you by forgetting that
splendid regiment, and by no longer reminding you of the things that were.
But this I tell you, Burgsdorf, under my administration everything must
correspond, and what is noted down on paper must really exist. And now we
shall see if you are acquainted with our military affairs."
"Alas! most noble sir," sighed Burgsdorf, "would that I did not know, for
it is a most sorrowful knowledge to an old soldier and in a most
distressing condition is the Brandenburg military department."
"Yes, indeed!" exclaimed the Elector. "The knights no longer take horse,
the citizens no longer care to defend their towns and gates, the States
refuse to pay subsidies for the support of the army, and our coffers are
exhausted. It is no wonder if there can be no talk of an army. How much
infantry and cavalry have we in all, Burgsdorf?"
"Most gracious sir," sighed the colonel, "in the Mark and Prussia together
we have not more than twenty companies of infantry, allowing a hundred and
twenty-five men to each."
"That would make two thousand five hundred men," said the Elector--"a
small nucleus for an army, truly; but something, nevertheless, provided
that these men are attached to me, and owe fealty to none besides myself."
"But that is just our misfortune," said Burgsdorf; "these men have sworn
allegiance not only to you, but to the Emperor's Majesty. They were
enlisted in the Emperor's name, and carry the imperial banner."
"Ah!" cried the Elector, "I see you know how it is, Conrad von Burgsdorf,
and understand the difficulties of the position in which we find
ourselves. Yes, the regiments of the Elector of Brandenburg have given
oath to the Emperor, and the Emperor's banners wave above our forts. All
my officers serve the Emperor first! Tell me, Burgsdorf, are you yourself
not in the Emperor's service? Have you not a regiment in the imperial
army, although you are governor of Kuestrin, and therefore under my
"That is so," replied Burgsdorf. "I could not refuse the imperial regiment
because it was such a lucrative post, and the governorship paid me hardly
anything. The emoluments for heading the imperial regiment were more in
one year than I would have gained in twenty years from my Brandenburg
post. Necessity drove me to it."
"I know that very well," said the Elector, "and I repeat that the past
shall be forgotten if you promise that in future you will be true and
loyal to myself alone."
"Your highness!" shouted Burgsdorf, "I will be faithful to you and your
government to the end of my life! I renounce empire and Emperor, and
henceforth the Elector of Brandenburg is my sole lord and general! Allow
me on the spot to give into your own hand my oath of office, and swear
to you eternal fidelity!"
"Here is my hand," said the Elector solemnly. "Swear upon this hand
hereafter to become the sword of Brandenburg, to serve me faithfully and
zealously, and to have no other Sovereign than myself!"
"In God's name I swear that I will have no other Sovereign, and serve
under no other Prince, than yourself alone, the Elector of Brandenburg!"
cried Burgsdorf, laying both his hands in that of the Elector and pressing
it fervently to his lips.
"And now, having sworn you into my service," said the Elector, in a
majestic tone, "now I commission you to return home to Kuestrin and to
administer the oath to all the officers and men there. But understand, to
me alone, not to the Emperor."
"To you alone, not to the Emperor!" cried Burgsdorf, with animation.
"And I further order you to receive no imperial garrison
into your fortress, for we have a right to exact this, since it
is clearly stipulated in the peace of Prague that each Prince
is at liberty to man his fortresses with his own people, which
clause gives validity to this assertion of right."
"Your Electoral Highness!" cried Burgsdorf, "that was spoken like a man!
Begin the good work in earnest, and command the Stadtholder without delay
to swear in the other governors of your remaining fortresses!"
"You are of opinion, then, that this is very necessary, and that these
gentlemen might refuse to swear allegiance to me alone?"
"Yes, sir, I am strongly of that opinion, and would venture to lay a wager
that Colonel von Rochow at Spandow, and Goldacker and Kracht in Berlin,
will not take oath to your Electoral Highness."
"Woe to them if they do it not!" cried the Elector, with flashing eyes. "I
shall prove to them that they must bow in obedience to me, and that I
recognize no other lord but myself within the limits of my own dominions.
Now go back to the Mark, Burgsdorf, and do as I have bidden you. You may
also, as would once have been so pleasant to you, go over right often to
Berlin. Attend well to all that is going on, for it may be that I shall
soon have occasion for you there. Be on your guard, therefore, colonel,
and be pretty circumspect in word and deed. Ponder upon the advice given
you by the little Electoral Prince once: 'Learn and wait.'"
"Sir, you give me another thrust!" cried Burgsdorf; "but it does me good,
and I am glad of it. Yes, I shall learn and wait, for I see plainly the
last night of the world has not come yet, and my dearest master will not
always have to act so on the defensive as now; when the right time comes,
he will strike and prove to all his enemies, even the mightiest of them,
that he is more powerful than they. Mark now, mark my words; Schwarzenberg
may look out!"
"But meanwhile let Burgsdorf look out! Farewell now, Burgsdorf, you have
received my orders. Execute them."
"Now," cried the Elector, after the colonel had left the room--"now, my
dear Leuchtmar, you know all my views and plans. But the most weighty,
important, and difficult task I have reserved for you."
"I think I know what your highness means," said Leuchtmar, smiling. "Your
precautionary measures have been taken in all directions; as early as
yesterday your envoys departed laden with most submissive messages of
respect for the Emperor. Only in one direction have you done nothing, and
that remains for me. I am to go to Sweden, am I not?"
The Elector nodded and smiled. "It is as you say--you are to go to Sweden.
A great danger threatens my country. The Swedes are on the frontiers, or
rather within my territories, for they hold possession of Pomerania, which
is mine. They are on the point of invading the Mark, Banner again
threatens my poor, exhausted lands, and it is said that he has already
issued orders for the demolishing of Berlin. Schwarzenberg for that very
reason had the suburbs of Berlin and Cologne burned down, thus laying the
city open to assault; from Saxony, also, the Swedish general Stallhansch
advances upon Brandenburg, and all is in a fair way to encircle the Mark
in the flames of war. But, as you know, I have no money and no soldiers,
no power and no lands. I can not conduct a war! My single purpose must now
be, in the first place, to withdraw my oppressed land and people from
these flames of war into lasting repose and a peaceful security, and then
to govern them well. I shall send you to Sweden, therefore, Leuchtmar,
to conclude for me a temporary armistice with the Swedes, and also to
negotiate the conditions of a peace. I must have peace at any price, for
on no terms can I carry on a war. Chancellor Oxenstiern is indeed a proud
and overbearing man, who will probably make hard conditions, but we must
accommodate ourselves to them, yield gracefully now, and defer our revenge
for a later day. Only if he demands Pomerania as the price of peace, you
may not yield; we will indeed be yielding, but not suffer ourselves to be
humbled. We can grant much, but not allow ourselves to be imposed upon in
everything. If Oxenstiern desires money and other material things, promise
them, but land and towns you may not give."
"Not a single title to land or town, your highness!" cried Leuchtmar, "for
you have said that you would substantiate your titles, and give kernels to
the empty shells; therefore the Swede shall not crack a single one of your
"Not a single one," repeated the Elector, while he smilingly extended his
hand to his friend. "And now, one thing more, Leuchtmar. Do you remember
the plan about which my great-uncle Gustavus Adolphus spoke to my mother,
when he was here on a visit?"
"Yes, indeed," returned Leuchtmar promptly, "I remember it, and think it
were time now to carry it into execution. There is one means of uniting
Sweden and Brandenburg in the bonds of peace, without reducing Brandenburg
to humiliation. Only follow the plan of the great Gustavus Adolphus; you
know he destined his daughter Christina for your wife."
"Yes," said the Elector, and a sudden pallor overspread his cheeks--"yes,
he meant his daughter to be my wife. Go, Leuchtmar, and woo her, but quite
secretly and quietly. As I have already told you, my heart is dead, young
Frederick William no longer desires anything for himself, but the young
Elector a great deal still, and it is the Elector who offers his hand to
Queen Christina for the good of his country. I believe the little, young
Queen interests herself somewhat in her cousin Frederick William, at least
so my aunt, the widowed Queen, assured me. I shall intrust to you a letter
for the young Queen, which you must try to slip into her own hand without
Oxenstiern knowing anything about it. Go now, dear Leuchtmar, and prepare
all things for your journey. Meanwhile I shall write the letter."
"In one hour, your highness, I shall be ready," said Leuchtmar,
withdrawing with a low bow.
The Elector thoughtfully followed him with his eyes. "In one hour he will
be ready," he said, "and he goes away to woo for me a woman's heart. Oh,
Love and Faith, must you, too, bow to the great laws which govern the
world? Must you, too, be laid as sacrifices upon the altar of country?
Hush, poor heart and murmur not! Sink down into the sea of forgetfulness,
ye days of the past! A new era dawns upon me. I stand before the gates of
a great future, and I write above these gates, 'I will be a mighty and
distinguished ruler!' That is my future."
IV.--CONFIRMED IN POWER.
With triumphant expression of countenance Count Adam von Schwarzenberg
walked to and fro in his cabinet. The Chamberlain Werner von Schulenburg
had just left him, and the glad tidings which he had brought from the
young Elector had banished all doubts, all cares from the Stadtholder's
"I did him injustice," he said cheerfully to himself. "Frederick William
was not my enemy, not my opponent! He was only the son of his father, and
he will now also walk in his father's ways. I therefore remain what I am,
remain Stadtholder, the lord of the Mark! And," he continued, more softly,
"I would have put this amiable Prince out of the way! Who knows whether it
would have been for my advantage if he had died and my son stepped into
his place! My son is of my blood--that is to say, he is ambitious and
thirsts after power and distinction. He would not have left the government
in my hands, if he could have wrested it from me, and perhaps I would not
have remained Stadtholder in the Mark had it been in his power to displace
The count had thrown himself into a fauteuil, and supported his head on
his hand. The triumphant expression had long since faded from his
features, which were mow grave and lined by care.
"It pleases me not," he murmured, after a long pause--"no, it pleases me
not at all that my son associates so constantly with Goldacker, Kracht,
and Rochow at Spandow. They are disorderly fellows, who recognize no law
or restraint, and find their sole pleasure in tumult and strife. It would
seem fine to them if they could embroil father and son, for they would
surely fish in the troubled waters, and draw out some advantage for
themselves, which is ever their only concern. They exert an evil influence
over my son, I know that, and it would be infinitely better for him to go
away from here and--Ha! a good thought! I shall immediately carry it out."
He started up and grasped the large gold bell, which had been recently
presented to him by the Emperor. The clear, sonorous tones called a smile
to the count's lips.
"Yes, yes," he said, "the old Elector is dead, and I ring the new times
in; yet the new era is but a repetition of the old, and the end remains
ever the same, although the means by which we attain it differ. I used to
whistle, now I ring, but the object remains identically the same--to
summon serviceable spirits to my side.
"They do not come, though," he continued after a long pause, in which he
had awaited in vain the appearance of a lackey. "No, these, my serviceable
spirits come not; they incline not to the new order of things, and prefer
clinging to the old."
He took the little golden whistle, lying on the table beside the bell,
and gave a loud, shrill call with it. Immediately the door opened and a
"Why have you kept me waiting?" asked the count imperiously. "Did you not
hear the bell?"
"Yes, your excellency," replied the lackey, with reverential mien, "I
heard ringing. It was the beadle, giving notice that two women were to be
put in the pillory on the fish market for committing twenty thefts between
"Stupid fool! It was I who rang!" cried the count. "Did I not yesterday
notify you through the majordomo that I should no longer call you with a
whistle, but with a bell?"
"It is true, your excellency, and I beg your pardon for forgetting it,"
replied the lackey humbly.
"Mark it for all time to come," commanded the count. "Go now and tell my
son, Count John Adolphus, that I wish to speak with him, and request him
to come to me."
The lackey bowed obsequiously and left the apartment. He paused behind the
closed door, and with defiant, angry countenance, shook his clinched fist.
"You will no longer call us by a whistle," he muttered wrathfully, "and
yet you whistle for your parrot and your dogs. But that is quite too good
for your servants and lackeys, and they must now listen for that sheep
bell. Tinkle and ring for us, will you, as if you were the beadle and we
good-for-nothing folks to be put in the pillory? Ah me! every day the rich
and high become more haughty, and the poor and lowly must every day put up
with more! We had hoped, indeed, that other times would come, and that the
young Elector would shove that old tyrant of a Stadtholder aside, and oust
him from his dignities and offices. But Count Adam von Schwarzenberg
retains his place, and the only change for us is that he rings for us
instead of whistling as of old. We must just submit, and when he rings
obey his orders as if he whistled."
With a deep sigh and melancholy air the lackey now walked off to execute
his lord's commands, and summon Count John Adolphus to his father. This
young gentleman made haste to obey the call.
"My son," cried the Stadtholder, himself opening his cabinet door, "I
recognized your step and came to meet you."
"You have something very urgent to say to me then, since you have so
anxiously expected me?" asked John Adolphus, pressing his father's hand to
"Yes, much that is urgent," replied the Stadtholder. "The young Elector's
envoy has arrived, and brought me a first missive from him."
"Good news?" asked his son hurriedly.
"Yes, good news. The Elector confirms me in all my offices and dignities.
I remain Stadtholder in the Mark, Director of the War Department--in
short, what I am, whence follows as a matter of course that the Elector
Frederick remains what his father was--my obedient servant. My son, the
power has not fallen from my hand, and your heritage remains."
"I assure you, my gracious father, I have but little desire to enter upon
this heritage of mine," cried young Count Adolphus, shrugging his
shoulders. "May I long remain what I am now, the son of the Stadtholder in
the Mark, the coadjutor of the Grand Master of the Order of St. John."
"I thank you, Adolphus, for this kind and friendly wish," said Count Adam,
giving his hand to his son. "It proves to me that you love your old
father, and that delights me. Truly, man is a wonderful creature, not
being able to live for himself alone, but always longing for some
sympathetic heart on which to lean. I have at last made the discovery that
I have a heart."
"And I," said Count Adolphus, laughing--"I have just discovered that I no
longer have a heart."
"Or rather, you are sick at heart, are you not?" inquired his father
quickly. "My son, you have avoided me of late--you have turned from me,
you no longer confide in me."
"I have nothing to confide, most revered sir," replied Count Adolphus,
smiling. "I lead a merry, harmless life, and care for nothing."
"For nothing?" repeated the count. "Not even for the Princess Charlotte
Count Adolphus slightly shuddered, and his cheeks paled a little, but he
carelessly shook his head, and continued to smile.
"My son," continued his father, "I ask you to-day, as I did two years ago,
on what terms are you with the Princess Charlotte Louise? During all this
time you have invariably eluded my efforts to converse on the subject. I
indulged you, for I know my prudent, cautious son, and waited for him to
give me his confidence voluntarily. Hitherto, however, I have but waited
in vain, so that I am compelled to take the initiative, and sue for your
confidence. Give it to me, Adolphus, tell me whether you love the Princess
"Wherefore?" asked Count Adolphus. "How would it profit you?"
"Me? Not at all, but perhaps it may profit you to tell me the truth. The
lofty hopes we once indulged in have come to naught, destiny has not
willed their fruition. We have been disappointed in our hope of seeing
George William's daughter become his heiress, and exalt her husband into
an Elector of Brandenburg. Frederick William is Elector, he has entered
upon his father's estates to their full extent. But the Princess Charlotte
Louise is still unmarried, and has remained so because she loves you and
is waiting for you."
"She has made me wait," cried the young count, with a sudden outburst of
passion. "She kept me standing and waiting two hours before a locked door,
and never, while I live, never, shall I forget the shame, the torture, and
degradation of those two hours of vain expectation. Oh, father, see what
power you have over me! I swore then that no human being should ever hear
of the insult put upon me by that haughty Prince's daughter, and yet I am
confessing it to you now. Pity me not, say nothing, nothing at all, for
each word but aggravates my pain and makes my heart swell with indignation
and grief. Oh, I loved her, trusted her, I dreamed of a proud and
brilliant future, which I should owe to her! And she played her part in
such masterly style, her countenance wearing a look of such innocence and
candor! O father! I loved her, and I, the experienced man of the world,
allowed myself to be deceived by that young girl, who knew nothing of the
world, and was yet such an accomplished hypocrite! Think not that I was a
mere idle coxcomb, arrogantly basing his expectations upon his wishes. No,
she deceived me, she disappointed me! You should have seen her at that
_fete_ which you gave to the Electoral Prince. How tenderly she leaned
upon my arm, as we walked through the greenhouse, with what glowing
cheeks, with what a blissful smile did she listen to my protestations of
love, with what amiable bashfulness did she respond to them! She even
anticipated my boldest hopes and desires, and when I ventured to ask for
a rendezvous, not only consented to it, but gave me a proof that she would
have granted it without waiting for me to seek one. There, in the
greenhouse, she pressed a little note into my hand, which stated clearly
and distinctly that she appointed ten o'clock of the following evening for
a rendezvous with me at the castle. And yet all was falsehood and
deceit--all only invented for the purpose of punishing the presumptuous
fool who had dared to lift his eyes to the proud Princess! Oh, how she
laughed perhaps, and mocked me with her sister, mother, and brother, while
I stood below before the locked door and waited, finally being obliged to
slink away, burying my rage and despair in my heart! I fancy her spying
from a neighboring window, watching me, and enjoying my confusion as I
stood there knocking at a bolted door, having at last to go off silent and
bowed down. It makes me furious to think of this, and yet continually the
idea haunts me, leaving me no rest, until the remembrance of these two
dreadful hours becomes absolute torture. O father! why have you wrenched
this secret from my heart?--why have you persuaded me to tell you, what I
have not even revealed to my father confessor?"
"I am glad, my son, that I have succeeded in opening this secret," said
the count quietly. "I say opening, for like a festering sore it has
rankled in your bosom, and believe me, Adolphus, since it has been opened,
you will experience relief and your heart will heal. It has befallen many
another man to be caught in the snares of a coquette, and to have a few
costly illusions dispelled. But consider, my son, each illusion lost is
an experience gained, and experience is cheaply bought with the dreams of
the heart. Experience, you know, brings knowledge of the world, and
knowledge of the world forms the diplomatist and statesman. You are
already, my son, no despicable statesman, and you will some day play a
great game, even though you are not the Electoral Princess's husband.
For the rest I can give you one comforting assurance, and relieve your
mind of an oppressive consciousness. In order to do this I have allowed
you to vent your rage, and listened with attentive ear to your passionate
complaints. My consolation is this: you have never loved the Princess
Charlotte Louise--that is to say, never loved her with your heart, but
only with your vanity and ambition. It was very flattering to you to be
loved by a Princess, and ambition whispered to you that through your wife
you might become reigning Elector, if the Electoral Prince were only put
out of the way by fate or some other obliging hand. There was surely some
prospect of this, and you know how exultingly we both looked forward to
such a future. But we made shipwreck of those plans, and now it is too
late to build them anew. However, let us not mourn over the past, but
forget it. This hour has witnessed your last lament over your dead past.
Its knell has been rung, let us both now doom it to oblivion. I have
retained one thing in my memory, however, and that is the note which the
incautious Princess gave you that evening in the greenhouse. Do you still
"Yes, I still possess it, and as often as I look at it my heart is like to
burst with indignation and wrath!"
"On the contrary, Adolphus, you ought to rejoice whenever you look at it,
for you can turn this little note into a formidable weapon against the
Electoral house. With this note you can some day force the young Elector
to make you my successor, confirm you in the rank of Grand Master of the
Knights of St. John, or even, if you still wish it, make you the husband
of his sister Charlotte Louise. Ah! my son, a note in which the Elector's
sister invites you to a rendezvous by night is worth more to you, indeed,
than if you could go out against your enemy with an army, for an army
might be vanquished, but in this _billet-doux_ of the Princess each stroke
of her hand becomes a soldier fighting with invincible armor."
"You are right, most gracious father," said Count Adolphus, with a
sinister expression of face. "The day may come when I shall march out
these soldiers against the faithless Princess and her whole house! I hate
her, I hate them all, and my whole heart longs for revenge, and--"
"Your excellency," said a chamberlain, approaching hastily--"your
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