L. Mühlbach.

Andreas Hofer online

. (page 40 of 43)
Online LibraryL. MühlbachAndreas Hofer → online text (page 40 of 43)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

and further victories! We are not going to fight from motives of
pride and arrogance, but only for the sake of our country - because
we want to remain Germans, and do not want to become French
subjects, and because we want to keep our God, our liberty, and our
constitution. Amen!"



War was now resumed at all points; but the forces brought from all
sides against the Tyrol were so immense that no hope remained to the
inhabitants but by deeds of glory to throw a last radiance around
their fall. The Tyrolese fought with desperate valor, but their
heroism was unavailing. The superior forces of the enemy were
everywhere victorious. The artillery of the Bavarians and French
thinned the ranks of the mountaineers from day to day; whole ranks
of the Tyrolese being mowed down by the balls of the enemy. They
fled panic-struck into the mountains. The victorious invaders
penetrated farther and farther into the interior of the country;
burning towns and villages marked the route which they followed, and
wails and lamentations rent the air wherever they made their

Before the middle of December all resistance had been overpowered.
The enemy stalked in a merciless manner over the gory, reeking,
groaning Tyrol, and pursued relentlessly all who had dared to rise
against him. He had promised oblivion and forgiveness in return for
peaceful submission; but as the Tyrolese had not submitted, but
continued the struggle, the enemy now threatened to revenge himself
and punish the vanquished.

A furious chase now commenced. Every one who had been seized with
arms in hand was shot; every one who concealed one of the pursued
patriots in his house was executed, and his house was burned down.

The leaders of the Tyrolese had fled into the mountains, but the
French generals promised large rewards for the heads of the most
influential patriots; and the soldiers traversed the country,
impelled by thirst for revenge and gain, spying everywhere for the
outlawed mountaineers, and ascending even to the snow-clad summits
of the mountains in order to obtain the large rewards. As yet,
however, they had not succeeded in seizing one of the pursued
chiefs. The French generals had vainly promised a reward of ten
thousand florins for the apprehension of Andreas Hofer, and rewards
of five thousand florins for the seizure of Joseph Spechbacher,
Anthony Wallner, and Joachim Haspinger. They had disappeared, and
the patrols and soldiers, who were hunting for them, had not yet
been able to discover the hiding-place of any of the four great
chiefs of the insurrection. The mountains, those natural fortresses
of the Tyrol, protected the outlawed commanders; and in the Alpine
huts, amidst the chamois and vultures, which alone saw and knew
their hiding-places, there were no traitors.

Retiring to his native valley, Andreas Hofer long eluded the search
of the victors. His place of concealment was a solitary Alpine hut,
four leagues distant from his home, in general inaccessible from the
snow which surrounded it. Love had accompanied Andreas to this
inhospitable spot. His wife and his son John were with him, and so
was Cajetan Doeninger, his faithful secretary. Love had accompanied
him to the Alpine hut of his friend Pfandler; love watched over him
in the valley below. Many peasants there were well aware of Hofer's
place of concealment, but no one betrayed him, no one was tempted by
the reward of ten thousand florins which Baraguay d'Hilliers, the
French general, offered for Hofer's apprehension. They often saw
Pfandler's servants, loaded with all sorts of provisions, wending
their way slowly and painfully up the snow-clad Alp; but they
averted their heads, as though they did not want to see anything,
and prayed God in a low tone to protect the messengers who conveyed
food to Hofer and his dear ones. The peasants in the valley forbore
carefully to speak among each other of what they knew; only they
treated Pfandler with reverential tenderness, shook hands with him
quietly, and whispered, "God bless you and him!" At times, on a
clear winter day, when thin smoke curled up suddenly from the Alp,
the peasants in the valley looked up sighingly and whispered
compassionately, "They have built a fire in their hut. The cold is
so severe. God bless them!" But whenever one whom they did not trust
stepped up to them, wondering at the smoke, and saying that somebody
was concealed up there, and had built a fire in order not to freeze
to death, the others laughed at him, and said there was no smoke at
all, but only snow blown up by the storm.

One day, however, a stranger arrived in the valley, and asked
whisperingly for Andreas Hofer, to whom, he said, he would bring
assistance and safety. At first no one replied to him; but he showed
them a paper, bearing the name and seal of the Archduke John, and
containing the following words, written by the prince himself: "Help
my messenger to find Andreas Hofer, and bring him assistance and

On reading this, the peasants distrusted him no longer. They glanced
furtively up to the Schneeberg, pointed to the two wanderers, loaded
with baskets, who were toiling up the mountain through the snow, and
whispered almost inaudibly, "Follow them!"

The messenger did so. He climbed after the two servants, and
ascended with them the inhospitable, dreary, and deserted heights.
At length he arrived in front of the Alpine hut; he knocked at the
door, and asked admittance in the name of God and the Archduke John.

The door opened immediately, and on the threshold appeared Hofer's
tall, bearded form, as erect and vigorous as it had been in the days
of his splendor, and his mild, honest eye greeted the new-comer.

"He who comes in the name of God and the Archduke John will not
deceive me," said Andreas, kindly. "Come in, therefore; for you must
have good intentions toward me, inasmuch as the severe cold did not
deter you from coming up to me."

"Indeed I have good intentions toward you," said the messenger. "Do
you not know me, then, Andy? I am Anthony Steeger, the Archduke
John's gunsmith."

"Oh, yes, now I know you!" exclaimed Andreas, joyfully. "I saw you
in Vienna at the time we were there to devise plans for the
deliverance of the Tyrol. Well, come in, Anthony Steeger; come in to
my wife, my son, and my secretary."

He conducted Anthony Steeger into the room, where the three greeted
him, and made room for him in front of the hearth, on which large
billets of wood were burning. Anthony Steeger looked around in this
wretched room, which contained nothing but a few rickety wooden
chairs, and a rough-hewn pine table, and the walls and windows of
which were protected from the cold by thick linings of hay and

"Yes, you may well look around in my palace," said Andreas,
smilingly; "it is not very gorgeous here, but the good God is with
us, and He will help us to get along."

"And the Archduke John will help you also," said Anthony Steeger.
"Listen to me, Andreas. The archduke sends me to you. He sends you
his greetings, and entreats you to come with your family to him and
stay with him all your life long, or, if you should not like to do
that, at least until you can live again safely in the Tyrol. The
archduke has already fitted up a house for you in a village which
belongs to him; you shall live there with your whole family as the
beloved and honored guests of the archduke. He implores you to
accept his invitation. I have with me every thing that is necessary
for your flight, Andy. The archduke has given me money, a passport
for you and your family, and safeguards issued by the French
generals. I am familiar with the roads and by-paths in this
vicinity, and will convey you safely through the mountains. The
archduke has thought of every thing and provided for every thing."

"It is very kind in the dear Archduke John not to have forgotten
me," said Andreas, deeply moved; "it is honest and faithful that he
should like to take care of me and reward my love. And it is very
kind in you, too, Anthony Steeger, to have acted in this spirit of
self-denial. You have come from a great distance to save us, and are
not afraid of venturing with us upon this most dangerous flight."

"And you accept my offer, Andy, and consent to accompany me, do you

"And what of them?" asked Andreas, casting a tender glance on his
wife and his son. "The route across the glaciers is impassable for a
woman and a child."

"First save yourself, my Andy," exclaimed Anna Gertrude; "save
yourself for us and the country. After you are gone and have arrived
at a place of safety, the enemy will hardly trouble us any more, and
I will follow you then with the children."

"You need not be anxious, so far as your wife and children are
concerned," said Doeninger. "I will not leave them, but bring them
to you."

"Pray do not hesitate, Andy," said Anthony Steeger, urgently. "The
archduke implores you not to grieve him by rejecting his offer, but
to relieve his conscience from the heavy debt which he has hitherto
been unable to discharge to the Tyrol. You shall escape for his sake
and for the good of the fatherland, and save your life for better
times, which will surely dawn upon the Tyrol. Do it, Andreas. Let us
go to work immediately. See, I have with me all that you need, and
wear two suits of clothes; one is destined for you, and you will put
it on. And here is the razor, with which we shall shave off your
beard; and when it is gone, and you have put on the new clothes, no
one will scent the Barbone in the man with a foreign dress and a
smooth chin. Come, now, Andy, and do not hesitate."

"I am to make quite another man of myself," said Andreas, shaking
his head, "merely to save my miserable life? I am to deny my dear
Passeyr? I am to shave off my beard, which I have worn so long in an
honorable manner, and by which everyone knows me throughout the
Tyrol? No, Anthony Steeger, I will never do that!"

"If you do not, Andreas, you are lost," said Anthony Steeger. "I am
afraid the French are already on your track. A peasant said he had
seen you up here the other day."

"Yes, it was Raffel. He came up here to look for his cow, and met me
here. But I gave him money not to betray my secret, and he promised
me solemnly that be would not."

"He must have violated his pledge already, Andy; for he told Donay,
the priest, about it, and the latter boasted publicly yesterday that
he was aware of Andreas Hofer's place of concealment."

"It is true, Donay is a bad and mean man," said Andreas Hofer,
musingly; "but I do not believe he will be so mean as to betray me,
whom he always called his best commander-in-chief and dearest

"He is mean enough to do it," murmured Doeninger. "The magnitude of
the price set on your head will induce him to betray his

"Andy," cried Anna Gertrude, bursting into tears, and clinging to
her husband, "save yourself! If you love me and the children, save
yourself; cut off your beard, put on the new suit of clothes, and
escape from your bloodthirsty enemies. Save yourself, for the sake
of your wife and your poor children!"

"I cannot," said Andreas, mournfully, embracing his wife tenderly;
"no, so help me God, I cannot leave my dear, unhappy country. I know
full well that I shall not avert any calamities from the Tyrol by
staying here, but I will at least share its misfortunes. I was
unable to save my native country; I will therefore suffer with it. A
good captain does not desert his shipwrecked vessel, but dies with
it; and thus I will not desert my country either, but die with it. I
will do all I can to save myself, but I will not leave the Tyrol; I
will not cut off my beard nor put on other clothes. I will not mask
and disguise myself, but will remain in adversity what I was in the
days of prosperity, Andreas Hofer, the Barbone. State that to the
dear archduke, Anthony Steeger, and tell him also that I am very
grateful to him for wishing to save me in his way, and that I hope
he will not be angry with me for being unable to accept his kind
offer, or for wishing to live and die with my country. If he wishes
to do any thing for me, let him go to the Emperor Francis, and tell
him I am well aware that he himself would never have forgotten us,
but that his bad ministers did it all, and betrayed the poor Tyrol
so perfidiously. Let him beseech the emperor to intercede vigorously
in behalf of the Tyrol and of myself, but not to separate me from
the Tyrol." [Footnote: "Gallery of Heroes: Andreas Hofer," p. 188.]

"Andreas," cried his wife, despairingly, "you are lost - I feel it
here in my heart - you are lost, if you do not flee with Steeger this
very night."

"And I feel it here in my heart that I must stay here, even though I
should be lost," said Andreas, firmly. "Well, you must weep no more,
Anna Gertrude; and you, Anthony Steeger, accept my cordial thanks
for your kind and generous intentions."

"Then you have made up your mind, Andy, not to go with me?"

"I have, Anthony. But if you will do me a great favor, take my wife
and my boy with you, for the enemy threatens them as well as me.
Take them with you, Anthony, convey them across the mountains, and
conduct them to the Archduke John."

"It is impossible," said Anthony Steeger, mournfully, "the roads are
so full of snow that they are utterly impassable for women and

"And you would advise me to leave them here?" asked Andreas, Hofer,
reproachfully. "I am to leave here my most precious treasures merely
to save my miserable life? No, my friend, I shall stay here with my
wife and child and Doeninger there. But you must go now and save
yourself; for, if the enemy should really come, it would be bad for
you to be found here."

"I will go, Andy, not to save myself, however, but to convey your
message speedily to the archduke, that he may save you in another
way by the emperor's intercession. In the valley I shall tell every
one that you are no longer in this Alpine hut, but have already
succeeded in escaping to Vienna, so that it will be unnecessary for
the enemy to pursue you any longer."

"Do so, Anthony Steeger; and if they believe you, I shall be glad of
it. But go now; I am anxious on your account, and think something
might happen to you here. Go, my dear friend."

He drew Steeger to the door, and, not permitting him to take a long
leave of the others, conducted him out of the hut, and then embraced
him tenderly. "Now listen to what I wish to tell you," he whispered,
in a low voice. "I must stay here to save my wife and my boy. The
two cannot flee now, as you yourself admitted to me. If I should
escape now, and leave them here, the enemy would spy out their place
of concealment and revenge himself upon them; he would torture and
kill them in his rage at not having captured me. But if I stay, and
the French should find me, I believe they would release my wife and
my son and do no harm to them; for then they would have got me, and
they are entirely innocent. Go, then, my dear friend; tell the
archduke all I have said to you, and greet him a thousand times from
his faithful Andy. Now farewell, and go with God's blessing!"

He nodded once more kindly to Anthony Steeger. and returned quickly
into the Alpine hut. He found his wife in tears; little John, her
son, was kneeling before her, with his head against his mother's
knees, and weeping also. Doeninger stood at the hearth and stared
into the fire.

Andreas Hofer went to him and laid his hand gently on his shoulder.
"Cajetan," he asked, mildly, "did I do right?"

"Yes, commander-in-chief, you did," said Doeninger, solemnly.

"I want to tell you something more, Cajetan," added Andreas. "What
Steeger said about Rafel and Donay may be true; the French may have
discovered my place of concealment, and may come up here. Hence,
dear Cajetan, you must leave me and escape, lest they should seize
you, too."

"A good servant leaves his master no more than a captain deserts his
shipwrecked vessel," said Doeninger, firmly. "You refuse to leave
your native country in its adversity because you love it. I refuse,
likewise, to leave you in the days of your adversity, because I love
you. I shall stay here."

Andreas Hofer encircled Doeninger with his arms and folded him
tenderly to his heart. "Stay with me, then, my Cajetan," he said,
affectionately. "God knows my heart would have grieved had you
consented to leave me. And now, Anna Gertrude, do not weep any
longer. Make haste, dear wife, pack up all your things, and let us
go early to bed. For early in the morning we will leave this hut. I
know another Alpine hut at no great distance from here; I believe we
will be able to get thither, and we will take with us as many things
as we can carry. Make haste, therefore, dear Anna Gertrude!"

Anna Gertrude dried her tears, and, flushed with new hope, packed up
their things in four small bundles, so that each might carry one
according to his strength.

Night came at last - the last night which they were to pass at this
hut. At the break of day they were to set out for their new place of

They went to bed at an early hour. Andreas Hofer had sent the two
servants down to Brandach, where they were to get some articles
necessary for the trip on the morrow. Hofer and his wife slept in
the room below. Cajetan Doeninger and little John Hofer lay in the
small hay-loft, to which a ladder led up from the room.

But Doeninger did not sleep. He thought all the while of Raffel, who
had come up there three days ago and seen Andreas; he thought of
Donay, the priest, to whom Raffel had betrayed Hofer's place of
concealment. He knew that Donay, who, up to the days of adversity,
had always professed to be Hofer's friend and an extreme partisan of
the insurrection, had suddenly, since the enemy had reoccupied the
Tyrol, changed his colors, become a preacher of peace and
submission, and an ardent adherent of the French, with whose
officers he held a great deal of intercourse. He knew Donay's
avaricious and treacherous character, and, therefore, he trembled
for Andreas Hofer's safety. He lay uneasy and full of anxiety on his
couch, listening all the while for suspicious sounds. But nothing
was heard but the storm howling and whistling about the hut, and the
regular respirations of the two sleepers in the room below.

Hour passed after hour; all remained silent, and Doeninger felt
somewhat relieved, for day would soon dawn, when the hour of flight
would be at hand. Doeninger dropped his head slowly on the hay to
sleep an hour and invigorate himself for to-morrow's trip. However,
no sooner had he done so than he gave a start, lifted up his head
again, and listened. He had heard a sound outside. The sound, as it
were, of many approaching footsteps which creaked on the frozen

Doeninger crept cautiously to the small hole in the roof and looked
out. The moon shed her pale light on the white snowfield around the
hut, and Doeninger could see and recognize everything. He saw a
detachment of soldiers coming up yonder. He saw them halt at a short
distance from the hut. He then saw two forms approaching the hut.
Now they stood still in front of it. The moon shone brightly into
the face of one of them; Doeninger recognized him at once; it was
Raffel, the betrayer. The other was a French officer. The latter
stood still at a distance of some steps from the hut, but Raffel
went close up to the door, applied his ear to it and listened.

"They are here," he then said to the officer in a low voice. The
officer immediately lifted up his arm and shouted "Forward!" The
soldiers advanced and surrounded the hut. All was lost!

Doeninger awakened the sleeping boy. "John," he said in a low voice,
"let us go down to father. The French have come."

The boy uttered a loud cry. "The French have come!" he exclaimed,
despairingly; "they want to arrest my father!"

"Come," said Doeninger, imperatively; and he took the boy in his
arms, and hastened with him down the ladder into the room below.

"Awake," he said, bending over Andreas Hofer; "the enemy has come."

Andreas started up and stared incredulously at Doeninger; but his
wife rose, uttering low lamentations, and dressed herself hurriedly.

"Let us flee," she murmured; "quick, quick, let us escape by the
back door."

"The hut is surrounded," said Doeninger, assisting Hofer in
dressing. "We can no longer flee."

"Is that true?" asked Andreas, calmly.

"It is, commander-in-chief."

"Well, then, as it pleases God," said Hofer, crossing himself; and,
traversing the room quickly, he opened the front door.

The soldiers stood four files deep, shouldering their muskets.
Andreas advanced fearlessly close up to the enemy.

"Is there one of you, gentlemen, who speaks German?" he asked, with
entire calmness.

"I do," said the officer, stepping rapidly forward.

Andreas greeted him with a proud nod of the head. "Well, then," he
said, "I am Andreas Hofer, late commander-in-chief of the Tyrolese.
I ask for quarter and good treatment."

"I cannot promise any thing to a rebel," replied the officer,

"But you have come to seize me, and none but me," continued Andreas,
in a gentle voice. "Well, then, here I am; do with me as you please.
But I ask you to have mercy upon my wife and my son, and this young
man, for they are entirely innocent." [Footnote: Andreas Hofer's own
words. See "Gallery of Heroes."]

The officer made no reply. He signed to his soldiers, and ordered
them to bind Andreas Hofer and the others in such a manner as to
render it utterly impossible for them to escape.

The soldiers rushed furiously upon the defenseless captives, tied
their hands on their backs, and wound the ropes round their necks,
so that they could drag them forward like oxen. And after binding
Andreas Hofer, so that they were no longer afraid of his strong
arms, they surrounded him with scornful laughter, tore handfuls of
hair from his beard, and said they would keep them "as souvenirs of
General Barbone." Blood streamed from his lacerated face, but the
cold froze it and transformed the gory beard into a blood red
icicle, which pricked the numerous wounds in his chin every moment,
and inflicted intense pain.

Andreas did not complain; he looked only at his wife, his son, and
his friend, who, bound like himself, scantily dressed and barefooted
like himself, were dragged down the mountain, which was covered with
snow and ice, into the plain below. His hands, into which the rope
was cutting all the while, were very sore; his bare feet swelled
from walking on the snow and were torn by the icicles. Still Andreas
did not complain; but on hearing the low wails of his son, on seeing
that every footstep of his wife, who was dragged along before him,
left a bloody spot in the snow, he burst into loud sobs, and two
tears rolled slowly down his cheeks into his beard, where they froze
in the blood.

The dreadful march was continued to Meran. French generals, staff-
officers, and soldiers awaited the tottering prisoners at the gate.
The soldiers greeted the captured "bandit chief Barbone" with loud
cheers and scornful laughter; and Andreas Hofer and the others
entered the city, preceded by a band which played a ringing march.
The French were overjoyed, but the citizens stood in front of their
houses, and, regardless of the presence of their cruel enemies,
greeted Andreas Hofer with tears and loud lamentations.

The journey was continued on the following day to Botzen; only the
prisoners, whose bleeding and lacerated feet refused to carry them
any longer, had been laid on a common farm-wagon, and some clothing
had been thrown over them.

At Botzen Andreas Hofer received cheering news. A noble German lady,
the wife of Baron de Giovanelli, had dared to implore the French
General Baraguay d'Hilliers to have mercy on Hofer's unfortunate and
innocent family; to save them, she had knelt down before the general
and besought him with heart-rending lamentations. Baraguay
d'Hilliers had been unable to withstand her supplications, and
consented to release those for whom she pleaded.

"The viceroy's orders," he said, "are only to the effect that the
Sandwirth Hofer be conveyed to Mantua. I yield to your prayers,
therefore, madame; his companions shall be released, and shall not
be molested again. His wife may return with her son to her home, and
carry on the inn as heretofore; but she must be cautious and not
expose herself to new dangers by imprudent words. The young man may

Online LibraryL. MühlbachAndreas Hofer → online text (page 40 of 43)