Imágenes de páginas

soldiers,” answered the subaltern; Tilly in the battle of Leipzic. He is " and incredible as it may appear to at once a terrible warrior and a nobleyou, he knows personally almost every minded man. I could relate many Swede in his army, has conversed instances of his humanity and forbearwith most of them, and addressed ance." them even by name. The entire “ But why,” said I, “that expresSwedish force is as well equipped assion of sadness in his countenance ?" the men before you. On this point “ He has recently lost an excelthe munificent Gustavus differs wide- lent wife and two lovely children," ly from Corporal Skeleton, as he al- answered my companion, “by a contaways calls Tilly. The old Bavarian gious malady. He clasped their dead maintains that a polished musket and bodies in a long embrace, and sent a ragged soldier set off each other. them in a silver coffin to Sweden for The Swedish monarch studies the interment.-But you must not overhealth and comfort of his soldiers col- look the Chancellor Oxenstiern, the lectively, and indulges no preference tall and majestic figure approaching for the guards. Indeed he has often General Horn. Observe his fine open been heard to say that he trusted countenance, exactly what the Italians not in body-guards, but in the Provi- call a viso sciolto. He is no Cardinal dence of God.”

Richelieu-no Machiavel; and yet as During this discussion, the castle cunning as the devil. He is of a mild hall bad become gradually crowded and tranquil temperament, and affords with officers in Swedish and Saxon a noble proof that an honest man may uniforms. Suddenly the loud clash be a clever fellow. Observe bow corof spurs and voices ceased, and was dially he presses the hand of his sonsucceeded by a deep and respectful in law, and endeavors to console bim. silence. The losty folding-doors The wise of Gustavus Horn was his were thrown open, and with a beating favorite daughter, but his grief for her heart and aching eye-balls I awaited loss is not outwardly visible. The king, a first view of the mighty Gustavus. who is a man of quick feelings, could A tall man entered the hall, spare in not refrain from remarking this singubody but stout and muscular in limb. lar com posure on so trying an occaHis forehead was lofty and command- sion, and called him a cold-blooded ing, his eye-brows were prominent animal. But what think you was the and bushy, and his nose had the chancellor's reply? If my cold curve of a hawk's. Good feeling and blood did not occasionally damp your intelligence were finely blended in bis majesty's fire, the conflagration would physiognomy; but the powerful become inextinguishable.' Gustavus glance of his deep-set eyes was soften- did not hesitate a moment to acknowed and shaded by an expression of ledge the justice of the remark, nor settled melancholy. He saluted right does any man in Sweden better underand left with much urbanity, proceed- stand the value of Oxenstiern's cool ed to the upper end of the hall, and judgment and comprehensive understood with folded arms and abstracted standing. Had the chancellor's feelgaze, evidently unconscious of the ings been more acute and obvious, bis passing scene.

mind would have been proportionably “That is a personage of high rank,” deficient in that consummate power I observed ; “ but it cannot be the and self-balance wbich have enabled king. I have understood that Gusta- him to accomplish so much for his vus is robust in person, and has a full king and country.-Look at that iinand jovial countenance."

petuous young soldier, who is striding " That field-officer,” replied the rapidly up the hall-I mean the one subaltern, “is the king's right arm, whose locks are combed half over his the admirable Gustavus Horn, whose forehead, after the newest mode, indivision was immediately opposed to stead of being brushed upwards in the

lion- fashion, like the hair of Gustavus Auently as his native tongue, but is and the chancellor.”

ignorant of English.” " Hah!” I exclaimed, “ that is my My companion was here interruptown illustrious sovereign, Prince Ber- ed by the loud cheers of a numerous nard of Weimar. I have often met assemblage in the castle-yard. The him, when we were children, on the window being immediately behind us, stairs of Luther's tower near Eisenach, we had only to reverse our position to and he always honored me with a obtain a good view of the spacious friendly greeting. He has shot up enclosure, crowded with a dense mass into manly strength and beauty; and, of human beings. The pressure was if I read correctly his impatient ges- terrific, and yet no soldiers were emture and flashing eye, he is a man of ployed to clear the way for the apdaring and impetuous character.” proaching monarch and his retinue.

“Right !” answered the subaltern. The assembled people showed their “ He is young and inexperienced ; but sense of this forbearance, by uncoverthere are within him all the elements ing their heads, and giving way re

of another Gustavus. Observe how spectfully as he advanced. I now i eagerly he approaches General Horn, beheld a large man on horseback,

and how cordially he embraces him. plainly attired in a suit of grey cloth. The general has many claims upon He had a green feather in his hat, and the esteem of this headlong youth, was mounted on a large spotted white who has sometimes in the field dared horse, of singular beauty and magnito dispute the judgment and the orders ficent action. I required no promptof the veteran commander; but at ing to tell me that this was the Great length saw his errors, and redeemed Gustavus. them nobly, by proving himself sol- “Behold !” exclaimed my cicerone, dier enough to submit to his superior “how slowly he rides across the casin rank, and man enough to acknow-. tle-yard. He is afraid that his metledge in public his own rashness and tlesome courser may injure the inexperience.

thoughtless children perpetually cross“Who is that grave-looking field- ing his path ; and, being near-sighted, officer," I inquired, " who has just he shades his eyes with his hand.” entered, and is so cordially saluted by “The king is very plainly attired," every one ?

I remarked; “but a man so distin« Ah, my good and reverend sir !” guished by nature needs not the aid of exclaimed the old man, "you see dress. His features are finely mouldthere a striking proof of the great ad- ed and full of dominion ; but his pervantages of war over peace, and espe- son, although majestic and imposing, cially in the Swedish service. In is somewhat too corpulent.” peaceable times, the signal merits of “Not an ounce too much of him," that man would not have raised him replied somewhat abruptly the subalfrom obscurity. He is Colonel Stahl- tern. "He is not a heavier man than hantsch, a Finlander. In his youth the heroic Charlemagne, or Rolf the he was a footnuan, and now he is the Galloper, who founded the powerful equal in military rank, and the per- state of Normandy; and in activity of sonal friend of Duke Bernard. But body and mind he is at least their he is a highly-gifted man, and, amongst equal." other accomplishments, is well ac- Unwilling to irritate this partizan of quainted with the English language. Gustavus by pursuing the subject, I He gained this knowledge when in the remarked the uncommon beauty of the service of Sir Patrick Ruthven, and it king's horse. has enabled him to render some valu- “ A fine horse," he replied, “is the able aid to the king, who speaks Ger- hobby of Gustavus, and by the indulman, French, Italian, and Latin, as gence of this foible he has too often exposed to imminent peril a life on ther a surgical instrument than a weawhich hinges the fate of Protestant pon. “What does all this portend !” Europe. On all occasions, and even I eagerly inquired from my old comin important engagements, he persists panion, who had hitherto answered all in riding horses easily distinguishable my queries with singular intelligence, from all others. A few days before and in language far above his apparent the battle of Leipzic, a horse-dealer condition. Without, however, rebrought into the camp a noble char- moring his eager gaze from this singer, very peculiarly marked and color- gular spectacle below, he briefly aned. This fellow was a spy employed swered; “ those are two coffins, and by the base and cowardly Austrians, that man with the red cloak and who calculated that Gustavus would sword is the provost-marshal.” The ride this fine animal in the approaching coffins were placed in two corners of engagement, and become an easy the hall, the headsman retreated bemark for their bullets.”

hind the body-guards, the music ceas. “And who," I inquired, " is that ed, and Gustavus spoke to the followbroad-shouldered hero, with a clear, ing effect, with an impressive dignity dark complexion, accompanied by a of look, voice, and language, which no fine youth in the garb of a student ?” time will erase from my recollection.

" That man of bone and muscle," " My beloved soldiers and friends! he replied, “is the brave and chival- It is well known to you, that after rous Banner, a name admirably cha- mature deliberation with my faithful racteristic of the inan. He is truly a counsellors and field-officers, I have living standard, and, in the wildest tu- forbidden duels in my army, under mult of the battle, stands firm as a pain of death to the offending parties. castle-tower, rallies around him the My brave generals expressed their bewildered soldiers, and leads them on entire approval of this regulation, and again to combat and to victory. His recorded their unanimous opinion, that noble daring cannot, however, be un- there is no essential connexion beknown to you. How much I regret tween duelling and the true honor of that I cannot also show you those va- a soldier, and that a conscientious liant soldiers, Collenburg and Teufel. avoidance of single combat is perfectAlas! They fell on the field of Leip- ly consistent with heroic courage and

an elevated sense of honor. During these details, the king had “ The soldier must be animated by entered the hall, and taken a chair a just cause, or his courage is worthupon a raised platform at the upper less as the embroidery of his uniform ; end; his chancellor and staff-officers an ornament, but not a virtue. During standing on each side of him. Sud- the middle ages, the practice of dueldenly the lively and beautiful march, ling was perhaps expedient, to couawhich had greeted the entrance of terbalance the enormous evils which Gustavus, ceased ; the king nodded to grew out of a lawless state of society; the band, and the wind instruments and it must be allowed, that the rude began to play the solemn dead-march, and chivalrous habits of that savage usually performed when a condemned period, were redeemed by no small officer is going to execution. The portion of honorable and devotional large folding-doors again opened, and feeling. Let us then prefer the subtwo black coffins were brought in by stance to the shadow, and model oor soldiers, moving in slow time to the conduct by the better qualities of our saddening music, and followed by a ancestors, instead of copying their rotall and harsh-looking man, with un- mantic exaggerations and absurdities. covered head and vulgar features. The lawless days of chivalry are gone He wore a red cloak, which but par- by. They have been succeeded tially concealed a glittering blade of throughout Christian Europe by settled unusual breadth, and resembling ra- governments and institutions, which,

[ocr errors]
[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »