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Hofer, musingly. "In the first place, I wish to see once more my
dear Cajetan Doeninger, who was separated from me and confined in
another cell; and then I wish to dictate a letter and my last will,
and would request that both be sent to my dear brother-in-law."

"These wishes shall be complied with; I promise it to you in the
name of General Bisson. Do you desire to prefer any additional
requests?"

"I wish further that a priest be sent to me, that he may receive my
confession, and grant me absolution; and finally, I should like to
see once more my dear countrymen, who are imprisoned in the
casemates here, and take leave of them in a few words."

"A confessor will be sent to you, but your last request can not be
complied with," was the reply. "An exciting and perhaps disorderly
scene would ensue, and such things must be avoided."

"Well, then," said Andreas, sighing, "send me my dear secretary, and
afterward the priest."

A few minutes after the officers had withdrawn, the door opened, and
Cajetan Doeninger came in. He burst into tears, rushed toward
Andreas Hofer, and folding him to his heart, exclaimed mournfully:
"Is it true, then, that they intend to kill you? Is it true that
they are going to assassinate the noblest and best man like a
criminal?"

"Hush, hush, Cajetan," said Andreas, gently, pressing Doeninger
tenderly to his heart; "do not scold, but submit as I do. I die
gladly, for it is better that I should sacrifice myself for my
native country than that others should die for my sake, or for the
fatherland." [Footnote: Hofer's own words - See "Gallery of Heroes:
Andreas Hofer," p. 195.]

"Oh, would that I could die for you!" sobbed Doeninger; "my life is
worthless without you. Is it possible that you must suffer now so
ignominious a punishment for all your noble deeds and aspirations?"

"God alone knows what is good," said Andreas, mildly, "and I have
doubtless committed many errors, for which I have to suffer now.
But, Cajetan, will you fulfil my last request?"

"Name it, and I will comply with it."

"Then weep no more, my dear friend, for your tears give me pain. Be,
as formerly, manful and firm."

"I will," said Doeninger; and he dried his tears and forced himself
to be calm and composed.

"And now, Cajetan, be my secretary for the last time," said Andreas,
gently. "I will dictate to you a letter to my brother-in-law Pohler,
at Neustadt. The jailer has already laid paper, pen, and ink on the
table. Sit down, therefore, and write."

Cajetan went to the table and seated himself. "I am ready,
commander-in-chief," he said; "dictate to me now."

Andreas walked up and down several times musingly; he then stood
still near the table; a wondrous expression of serene calmness and
peace beamed from his face, and he dictated in a clear, quiet voice
which did not once tremble with emotion.

"Dearest brother-in-law: It was God's will that I should exchange
here at Mantua my earthly life for a better one. But - God be praised
for his divine mercy! - it seems to me as little painful as if I were
to be led out for another purpose. God in His mercy will doubtless
be with me to the last moment, when I shall ascend to that eternal
dwelling-place where my soul will rejoice for evermore with all the
chosen spirit! and where I shall pray for all, and particularly for
those to whom I owe my intercession; above all, for you, too, and
your dear wife, on account of the book which you presented to me.
and of other kind acts. Let all my dear friends and acquaintances
pray for me too, and help me to rise from the devouring flames, when
I have to expiate my sins in purgatory. My beloved wife, Anna
Gertrude, is to have masses read for me at St. Martin's Zum
rosenfarbnen Blut. She shall have prayers read in both of the
parish-churches, and treat my friends at the lower inn to soup and
meat, and give every one half a bottle of wine. The money I had
about me will be distributed among the poor of this city; for the
rest, settle with my debtors and creditors as honestly as you can;
lest I should have to atone for it also. Farewell, all of you, for
this world, until we shall meet in heaven and praise God for
evermore. Dearest brother-in-law, repair to the Passeyr valley, and
inform the landlord of the lower inn of my instructions. He will
make all necessary dispositions. Let all the inhabitants of Passeyr,
and all my acquaintances remember me in their prayers. Dearest
brother-in-law, tell my wife, Anna Gertrude, not to grieve for me. I
shall pray to God for her and for all. Adieu, beautiful world! Dying
seems to me so easy that there are not even tears in my eyes."

"Written at nine o'clock; at ten I shall ascend to God with the aid
of all the saints."

"Your - ."

"Mantua, February 20, 1810."
[Footnote: "Gallery of heroes: Andreas Hofer," p. 197.]

"I will write the signature as I always did," said Andreas Hofer;
and, taking up the pen quickly, he wrote:

"Your Andreas Hofer, from Sand in Passeyr, whom you loved in this
life. I will set out on my last journey in the Lord's name."
[Footnote: "Gallery of Heroes."]

"I thank you, Cajetan, for rendering me this last service," said
Andreas, kindly. "And now, my dear friend, let us take leave of each
other. The confessor will be here soon, and then I must no longer
speak to any one but God."

Cajetan came to him with a tottering step, and leaned his head
silently on Hofer's shoulder. He did not speak, he wanted to be
firm, but he was unable to restrain the sobs and sighs which issued
from his breast.

"My dear Cajetan, why do you weep?" asked Hofer, pressing
Doeninger's head gently to his heart. "Did you weep when I went into
battle, where the enemy's bullets might have hit me at any second?
You did not weep then. Think, therefore, that I am going into battle
to-day too, and that it is better for me to be hit by the bullets
than suffer any longer in this manner."

At this moment the door opened, and the priest, Giovanni Giacomo
Manifesti, dressed in full vestments, came in. The guards who
followed him led away Doeninger, who obeyed them in silence, as if
stunned by his terrible grief. [Footnote: Cajetan Doeninger was
taken immediately after Hofer's execution, from his prison, and sent
to the Island of Corsica, as a private in a regiment of light
infantry. He succeeded, some time afterward, in escaping from
thence, and returning to his native country.]

Andreas Hofer remained alone with his confessor.

At eleven o'clock the doors of the prison were thrown open, and
Andreas Hofer was led out to execution. His face was serene, and in
his hands he held the small crucifix which he had always worn on his
breast. His confessor, Manifesti, walked by his side, and a
battalion of grenadiers followed him.

Andreas Hofer walked along the ramparts of the fortress with a firm
step. As he passed by the barracks of the Porta Molina, where the
Tyrolese prisoners were confined, they fell on their knees and wept
aloud. Andreas turned quickly to Manifesti the, priest. "Your
reverence," he said, "you will distribute among my poor countrymen
the five hundred florins, my last property, which I gave to you,
will you not?"

"I will, my son."

"And take my greetings to all," said Andreas Hofer, in a grave, loud
voice, "and tell them not to be disheartened, nor to think that all
is lost, and that we have fought and bled in vain. Better times will
dawn upon my beloved Tyrol, and one day it will be again a free
German country. Tell them to hope and believe in this prediction."

On the broad bastion, a little distance from the Porta Ceresa, the
grenadiers formed a square, open in the rear. Andreas Hofer entered
this open space with the priest, bowed kindly to all sides, and
prayed aloud with the priest.

"Now, farewell, dear reverend father," he then said, "and accept
this crucifix as a souvenir from me. I have worn it on my breast for
twenty years past, and it will remind you of Andreas Hofer. Inform
my wife that I suffered death joyously, and that I know we shall
meet again above. You promised me to do so, and you will redeem your
promise, reverend father, will you not?"

"Certainly I will, my beloved, pious son," said Manifesti; and with
tears in his eyes he embraced and blessed Andreas Hofer for the last
time. [Footnote: Manifesti redeemed his promise. He sent to the
Tyrol the following letter regarding Hofer's death:

MANTOVA, li 21, Febrajo, 1810. "Ieri poco primo del mezzo giorno e
stato fueillato il Signore Andreas Hofer, gia commandante del
Tirolo. Dalla commissione militare, che l'ha sententiato, fu
invitato ad assisterio, e sebbene fossi convalescente per una
maladia pocchi giorno avanti sofferta, ho volonteri assento
l'impegno, e con somma mia consolazione ed edificatione ho ammirato
un uomo, che e andato alla morte d'un eroe Christiano a l'ha
sostenuto di martire intrepido. Egli con tutta segretezza mi ha
consegnata una carta di somma importanza per l'orfona sua famiglia
incaricando mi dirigerla a V. Sig. Rio M. - Sono con perfetta stima,
"Di V. S. Rio M."
"Divotissimo,"
"GIOV. BATT. (AROIPRETE) MANIFESTI"

"MANTUA, Feb. 21, 1810. - Yesterday, a few minutes before twelve, Mr.
Andreas Hofer, late commander of the Tyrol, was shot here. The
military commission which tried him requested me to attend him, and
although I had recovered but a few days since from sickness, I
gladly complied with the request, and admired, to my consolation and
edification, a man who went to death as a Christian hero, and
suffered it as an intrepid martyr. Under the seal of profound
silence he intrusted to me a paper of the highest importance to his
family," &c. - See Hormayr's "Lebensbilder," vol. i. p. 224.]

The priest thereupon left the square, while twelve men and a
corporal stood forth with loaded muskets. The corporal offered Hofer
a white handkerchief to bandage his eyes.

"No," said Hofer. "I have often already faced death; it is a dear
friend of mine, and I want to see it, therefore, when it comes to
me."

"Kneel down, then," said the corporal.

"I shall not," replied Hofer, gravely and almost imperiously. "I am
used to stand upright before my Creator, and in that posture I will
deliver up my spirit to Him. But pray," he added in a milder voice,
"aim well. Come, corporal, I will give you yet a souvenir; it is my
whole remaining property. Look at this Zwanziger; I had it coined
when I was commander-in-chief of the Tyrol; and it reminds me now of
my beloved country, and it seems to me as though its snow-clad
mountains were looking down on me and greeting me. There, keep it as
a remembrancer, and aim well!"

The corporal stepped back and commanded in a voice tremulous with
emotion, "Fire!"

"Fire!" shouted Hofer. "Long live the Tyrol!"

Six shots rang out, but Andreas Hofer was not dead; he had sunk only
on one knee and leaned on his right hand.

Six shots crashed again. They struck him to the ground, but did not
yet kill him. He raised his bleeding head once more.

The corporal, filled with pity, stepped now close up to him, put his
musket to Hofer's forehead, and fired.

This thirteenth shot dispatched him at length!

The grenadiers raised the corpse and carried it on a black bier to
St. Michael's church, where it lay in state during the requiem, that
the people might convince themselves of the death of the beloved and
feared commander-in-chief of the Tyrol, Le General Sanvird, Andreas
Hofer, the Barbone, and of the final subjugation of the Tyrol.
[Footnote: Hofer's remains were buried in Manifesti's garden. A
simple slab on his grave bore the following inscription: "Qui giace
la apoglia del fu Andrea Hofer, detto il Generale Barbone,
commandants supremo delle milicie del Tirolo, fucillato in questa
forterezza nel giorno 20 Febrajo 1810, sepolto in questo luogo."
("Here rest the remains of the late Andreas Hofer, called General
Barbone, commander-in-chief of the Tyrolese militia, shot in this
for tress on the 20th of February, 1810, and buried in this place.")
Fourteen years afterward Hofer's remains were disinterred by three
Austrian officers, who had obtained Manifesti's consent, and
conveyed to Botzen. The Emperor Francis gave orders to transfer them
to Innspruck, where they were buried in the church of the
Franciscans by the side of the monument of the Archduke Ferdinand
and his beloved Philippina Welser. - See Hormayr's "Andreas Hofer,"
vol. ii., p. 539.]

This occurred on the 20th of February, 1810; and on the same day on
which Andreas Hofer was shot at Mantua, because he had loved his
country and his Emperor Francis too faithfully, almost at the very
hour of his death, the booming of artillery was to be heard on the
ramparts of Vienna.

It proclaimed to the Viennese the joyful news that the Archduchess
Maria Louisa, the emperor's daughter, was the affianced bride of the
Emperor Napoleon!





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