Imágenes de páginas
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]


A TALE OF THE “THIRTY YEARS' WAR." While Lower Saxony was oppressed and fervent prayers for divine assistand exhausted by the Austrian and ance were succeeded by the sublime Bavarian troops in the Thirty Years' hymns of Luther, while around the War, the circle of Upper Saxony had portrait of the immortal Reformer, been preserved for a considerable pe- large tapers were constantly burning, riod from military outrage by the cau- as before the altar of a saint. tious or timid policy of the Elector, One day, while the congregation John George. At length the advance was singing with fervent devotion the of the savage Tilly into his states, in fine hymn, beginning, “ The Lord is consequence of his refusal to recede a tower of strength,” the church door from the treaty of Leipzic ; and the was abruptly thrown open, and a dusty successive captures of Merseburgh, courier, in the Electoral uniform, rushNaumberg, and other places of ed into the middle aisle. Immediatestrength, compelled the Saxon princely the organ ceased—the singers were to relinquish his temporizing policy, mute, and every head was turned in and to embrace the proffered alliance anxious anticipation of some momenand protection of Gustavus Adolphus. tous intelligence. The stranger adThis unexpected accession of strength vanced rapidly to the altar, ascended determined the Swedish monarch to the steps, waved his hat thrice above abandon the defensive system he had his head, and exclaimed in tones of for some time pursued, and to advance loud and thrilling energy-" Rejoice, immediately upon Leipzic, which had my dear fellow Christians, rejoice! also opened its gates to the Catholic The brave Lutherans have conquered general. At this dreadful crisis, when the battle of Leipzic is fought and intelligence of the rapid advance of won-7000 Iinperialists lie dead on Tilly had spread consternation the field-Tilly has fled-and the throughout the Electorate, and the great Gustavus Adolphus and his dread of Austrian barbarity overba- army have returned thanks to God lanced the hope of deliverance by Almighty on their knees.". the Swedes, I had been officiating se - At this joyful and unexpected intelveral inonths as curate in the populous ligence every knee was hent, and evevillage of B. in Upper Saxony. The ry lip moved in thanksgiving; the atrocious cruelty of Tilly at Magde- pealing organ put forth all its volume, burg was still fresh in our recollection, and the assembled villagers concluded and the consternation of the villagers the hymn with streaming eyes and impelled them to seek relief froin in- grateful hearts. cessant and devout attendance at About three weeks after this happy church. The bells were tolled hourly, day, I was sitting alone in my humble

41 ATHENEUM, VOL. 1, 3d series.

apartment, and contemplating with a thrones of princes totter beneath them, grateful heart the improved condition the sons of nobles, and the minions of and prospects of the great Protesta nt kings and ministers, yield to the force cause, when a stranger entered the of events, and give place to men of room unannounced, and seated him talent and energy. At the present self opposite to me in silence. His time there are few field-officers in actall person was enveloped in a milita- tive service throughout Germany who ry cloak-his countenance was bronzed have not carried muskets in early with exposure to sun and storm, and life. This rule holds good even in his eyes and forehead were oversha- the Imperial and other Catholic states, dowed by a dragoon-helmet. I gazed which are preeminently aristocratic. for some tiine upon this mysterious Tilly and Wallenstein, although of nointruder ; but my earnest perusal of ble birth, are sprung from indigence; his features, although it roused some as are also Bucquoy and Dampier. remote reminiscences, led to no satis- Johann von Wert was a peasant; factory conclusion, until an arch General Beck, a shepherd; Stahlsinile, which curved his well-formed hantsch, a footman; and Field-Mar. lips, revealed my old friend and fellow shal Aldringer, a valet-de-chambre." student, Seifert. Joyous exclama- He now arose, threw open the wintions of Dear Charles! and Dear dow, and whistled. This signal was Albert! were followed by a cordial soon explained by the entrance of a embrace, and many eager inquiries tall blue-eyed and fair-haired Swede, concerning our respective pilgrimages who covered my deal table with a napsince our separation a few years be- kin of white damask, placed upon it a fore at the university of L. My sur- bottle of wine with two green glasses, prise at this unexpected meeting was and disappeared. Seifert filled two no little increased when my friend bumpers of costly Hochheimer, and threw aside his cloak. At the univer- exclaimed with glowing enthusiasm sity, he was distinguished by the clas- “Long live Gustavus Adolphus !” sic elegance of his tall and slender “ Since I have known this great and person, by fastidious refinement of admirable man, Albert,” he continued, mind and manners, by his temperance, “I have ceased to indulge my fancy diffidence and taciturnity in mixed so- by building models of superhuman exciety, and by his unceasing devotion cellence. My day-dreams are disto study. I now gazed upon a robust solved, and my understanding and afand military figure, whose light yellow fections are occupied by a splendid jacket and polished steel cuirass, an- reality. What has not the heroic nounced the Swedish officer of dra- Gustavus conceived and accomplished ! goons. His former diffidence of tone A better man, in every sense of the and manner had vanished for ever, and word, walks not the earth ; nor has was replaced by a loud voice, an air any soldier, of ancient or modern of military frankness, and an imposing times, made so many discoveries and self-possession, which however became improvements in military science. The him well, and developed advantage- Swedish regiments formerly comprised ously his powerful and well cultivated 3000 men, and were helpless and ununderstanding. I congratulated him wieldy as elephants. By reducing upon his improved appearance, and their numbers to 1200, he has enabled upon the rank he had attained in the them to perform the most complex service of the noble Gustavus.

manæuvres with facility, and to move “I need not explain to you,” he with the bounding energy of Arabian replied, with the air of a man who is coursers. Four surgeons of approved not ignorant of his own merits, " by what skill are attached to each regiment process I have become a captain of dra- Before the introduction of this humane goons. When the great drama of Eu- and politic improvement, the wounded ropean politics grows serious, and the were left groaning on the field of battle, a prey to the vulture and the wolf. to my enthusiastic friend, whose lanIn the Austrian army there is no pro- guage and deportment had experiencvision of this nature ; and Tilly him- ed a change as striking as the alteration self, when marked with a Protestant in his person. I could not discern in the sabre, was obliged to send to Halle for martial figure before me a vestige of a surgeon. The brigading of troops, the modest, taciturn, and temperate

-the firing en pelotons,—the dragoon youth I had formerly known. The service,—the short cannon, which car- fire of his eyes, and the stern comries farther than a long one,-the new pression of his lips, indicated a resopike,-and the cartridge-box, are but lute and decided character ; his lana portion of the inventions which we guage flowed like a torrent; and he owe to Gustavus Adolphus. Every had so entirely subdued his dislike to field-officer in the Swedish service is the bottle, that, in the ardor of his euloa worthy pupil of our heroic master, gium, he swallowed successive bumwho fights alike in summer and in pers, without observing that I had liwinter, and who has proved himself mited myself to a single glass. the best engineer of his time, by his After he had entered into some skill in the conduct of sieges, batte- farther details of his military career, ries and entrencbments. When he he rose to depart, and thus addressed drew bis sword in the Protestant me: “ My object in calling upon you, cause, and advanced like a hurricane Albert, was not merely to embrace an into Germany, the military fops of Vi- old friend, but to make his fortune. enna called him the Snow-King, and You are irrecoverably spoiled for a predicted that he and his troops would soldier; but a king, who pillows his melt in the summer heals. They lit- head upon the works of the immortal tle knew the formidable enemy they Grotius, can appreciate learning as had to encounter. But the more sa- well as valor. He loves the book of gacious Tilly shook his head when he Grotius on War and Peace, as much heard this favorite jest of the Vienna as Alexander the Great prized the Ilicircles, and was heard to say, that the ad of Homer; and has often declared snow-ball would probably roll up into that he would make this highly gifted an avalanche. He had sufficient man his prime minister, if he would knowledge of human nature to foresee accept the appointment. He has also a possibility, that the fresh and ardent a fine taste, or, I should rather say, religious zeal of the Swedish and Ger- an inipassioned feeling for poetry. man Protestants would eventually tri. After the surrender of Elbing, but umph over the worn-out fanaticism of before the definitive treaty was signthe Catholic soldiery. To return to ed, the King walked into the town unGustavus, I could utter volumes in observed, and purchased the Latin praise of his eloquence, and of the poems of Buchanan. You, Albert, talent displayed in his letters, trea- are a scholar and a poet, but, more ties, and manifestos. His character, than all, you are descended from the in short, exhibits a splendid combina- family of Luther. I have often bantion of intrepidity and self-possession; tered you for attaching importance to of temperance and industry; of affa- this accident of birth, but I now forebility, clemency, and candor. To see that it will greatly promote your crown all, he is a good husband and advancement in life. Gustavus is a father, a sound and fervent Christian; zealous Lutheran. He venerates the and inay I fall into the talons of old great Reformer as a second savior ; Tilly, or of the devil, who is the best and he will certainly bestow upon you of the two, if I would not shed my an houorable appointment when he blood for him as cheerfully as I now learns, that, in addition to more solid pour out a bumper of old Rhine-wine merits, you are a scion, although but to his health.

collaterally, of the stock of Luther. I listened with growing amazement And now, my Albert, vale, et me ama!

The moon will be down in an hour, quartered near the castle gate. Antiand I must to quarters. We are en- cipating a kind and hospitable recepcamped three leagues from hence, near tion from Seifert, I was no little surthe small town of R- The King prised by his altered look and manner. and his staff occupy the adjacent cas- He was sitting with folded arms, and tle. Visit me the day after to-mor- clouded aspect; and did not immedirow, and I will introduce you to his ately reply to my cordial address, nor Majesty."

even acknowledge my presence by With these words he embraced me, look or gesture. At length he coldly and summoned his dragoon. Two replied, noble chargers were brought to my “Good morning, Albert !- Excuse cottage door, and the active riders, my reception of you, but I thought vaulting into the saddles, bounded ra- our appointment had been for to-morpidly across the chuchyard path into rów." the high road. The night was still Suddenly the stern expression of and beautiful; the moon-beams shone his features relaxed into kindness brightly upon their nodding plumes and cordiality; he started from his and steel cuirasses ; and, as I gazed seat, seized my hand affectionately, upon their retreating figures, and lis- and exclaimed, with visible emotion,tened to the loud ring of their sabres “ It is well, however, that you and accoutrements, I fancied them have arrived to-day, for possibly you two knights of the olden time, sallying had not found me in existence toforth in quest of nocturnal adventure. morrow.”

On the morning of the day appoint- “Good God!" I ejaculated, “ wbat ed for my introduction to royalty, I calamity has befallen you, Seifert ! felt a natural impulse to adorn the Have you by any fault or misfortune outward man, and surveyed, with some lost the royal favor ?" trepidation, the contents of my scanty “ On the contrary," he replied, wardrobe. Alas! the best coat in my with a smile of singular meaning, “the possession displayed a surface more King has just granted me a signal and brown than black; and, while endea- unprecedented favor.” voring to improve it with a brush, I He then closed the door of his discovered more nebulous spots and apartment, and continued in a lower milky ways than ever met the gaze of tone : “Every human being, Albert, astronorner through his telescope. At has his weak side, and even a great the risk of giving dire offence to the king is but a man. The failing of our royal nostrils, I obliterated many of heroic Gustavus is that of inordinate dethese celestial systems with turpen- votion. He is the high-priest as well as tine, converted an old hat into a new the general of his army, and no superone by the aid of warm beer, took my annuated devotee can surpass him in walking-stick and bundle, and com- praying, weeping, and psalm-singing. menced my journey to the Swedish I give him full credit for zeal and sincamp.

cerity, for it is impossible that GustaAbout a quarter of a league from rus Adolphus can stoop to hypocrisy; the town I encountered groups of sol- but, amongst various unmilitary regudiers, seated at the entrances of tents lations which have sprung from this and cottages. They were men of religious enthusiasm, he has forbidden comely aspect, well clothed, and of duels under penalty of death.” peaceable deportment. To an officer Here I would have interrupted of some rank, who inquired my object him. in approaching the camp, I mentioned “Excuse me, Albert,” he continuthe invitation of Seifert. He treated ed, “I know all you would say on the me with the respect due to my sacred subject; I know that, as a clergyman, office, and in terins of courtesy and you must vindicate this absurdity of kindness told me, that my friend was Gustavus; but kings and curates are privileged men. The latter are not ther the bear shall give the coxcomb very tenacious of the point d'honneur; a mortal squeeze, or be compelled to and when a king is insulted, he wages dance to the coxcomb's fiddle.” combat on a large scale, and arrays With these words he left the apartnation against nation to avenge his ment, and shortly returned with a private quarrels. For instance, what Saxon subaltern of mature age and was the battle of Leipzic but a duel intelligent physiognomy. He told between Gustavus Adolphus and Fer- him to accompany me to the gallery of dinand III., or rather Maximilian of the castle-hall, and to procure for me Bavaria ? I must, however, do him a commodious seat. Thunderstruck the justice to acknowledge that he has at this intelligence, I left the quarters at length relaxed the severity of this of Seifert, and approached the castle regulation, and has permitted me to gate in silent consternation. My commeasure swords with Captain Bars- panion gave me a look full of humortrom ; but on condition that the duel ous meaning, and remarked, while he shall take place in the baronial hall of offered me a pinch of snuff, the castle, and in presence of the king "All this is, doubtless, above your and his staff-officers. The gallery comprehension, reverend sir! It is will be open to the public, and I will almost above mine, although I have procure you a good seat and an intel- lived above half a century, and have ligent companion, that you may have made some use of my opportunities. the pleasure of seeing me avail my- Perhaps, however, you, who have self of his Majesty's gracious permis- studied at the university, can explain sion to humble the pride and insolence to me why no man likes to be called of my opponent. You are a classical by his proper nanie. I have known man, Albert, and may readily suppose Captain Seifert for a twelvemonth-I that you are beholding a mortal combat have seen him in battle-and, God of gladiators, for the encounter will knows! he wields bis sabre as well as only terminate with the death of one or he does his tongue, which is no small both. In return for this gratification," praise, because he surpasses most men he added, with a careless smile, “ you in wit and knowledge; but I maintain, must pledge yourself to read the service nevertheless, that he is somewhat of a of the dead over my remains, should coxcomb. Captain Barstrom is also I fall, and to compose for me a Latin a man of distinguished bravery, and epitaph in flowing hexameters. And he had once the good fortune to save now, my beloved Albert, farewell. I the king's life, but in manner he is a must go and apparel, for it would be a wild beast; and why he should take ofbreach of etiquette to perform tragedy fence at the very characteristic appelbefore spectators of such exalted lation of a ' Swedish bear,' puzzles rank in any but full dress.”

me exceedingly." “ Strange being !" I here impa- I followed my conductor into the tiently exclaimed, “ you speak of a gallery, which was crowded with citideadly combat as you would of a pa- zens, who readily, however, made way geant ! Cease this unhallowed levity, for me and my escort, and we gained and tell me in plain language what is a position commanding a good view of the nature of this insult, which can the arena below. The royal guards, only be atoned for by the sacrifice of a fine body of men, in light blue coats human life?"

and steel cuirasses, lined both sides of « Last night at supper," he replied, the spacious hall, and their polished “ Barstrom called me a German cox- battle-axes flashed brightly from the comb, and I returned the compliment tops of their long black lances. by calling him a Swedish bear. A “ I suppose,” said I to my comdefiance to mortal combat immediate- panion, “ that these fine body-guards ly ensued; the king's consent was ob- are the King's favorite regiment ?" tained, and this day will prove whe- “ Gustavus is a father to all his

« AnteriorContinuar »