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bear that another should execute and perform what you yourself can not
execute and perform. I saw plainly yesterday the look of hatred and ill
will which you darted at me, across the Elector's table, while the great
drinking match that I had proposed was going on. It was right plain to be
seen how much vexed you were, that there was anything in which Conrad von
Burgsdorf could excel the wise, the learned, and the most worshipful Count
Adam von Schwarzenberg."

"Well! you really suppose that I could be envious and jealous?" cried the
count, laughing. "No, most worthy colonel, with my whole heart I yield you
the palm for being the first and most rapid drinker at the electoral
court, and for emptying a quart cup of wine at one draught."

"And it is no trifling art, you must know, Sir Count," said Burgsdorf,
with an important air. "Think not that it is a mere pleasure - no, it is a
task too, and at times a difficult one."

"We did not observe it as such yesterday, Colonel von Burgsdorf," retorted
the count. "You proved yourself yesterday a truly intrepid hero in
drinking at the electoral table. For it is in fact an heroic deed to quaff
eighteen quarts of wine in one hour, as you did yesterday."

"Well," said Burgsdorf, flattered, "we had a drinking-match, and the
Elector had offered a fine prize to the best drinker. I had long desired
to obtain possession of the pretty and flourishing little village Danzien,
and, behold! this was the very prize the Elector had offered; so I was
obliged to do what I could, and have to thank God that I came off victor.
I drank all the other gentlemen under the table, and was alone left
standing, with my eighteen quarts of wine aboard." [10]

"Now," said the Stadtholder, smiling, "I think you did not leave me under
the table, for I kept erect in spite of you, Colonel Burgsdorf. I hope
also to keep my position yet longer, and never to be thrust under the
table by you."

He looked full in the colonel's bloated and wine-flushed face with a cold,
proud glance, and smiled when he saw how Burgsdorf's brow darkened and his
eyes flashed with fierce hatred.

"You will remain standing, Sir Stadtholder, so long as God and the Elector
please," said Burgsdorf slowly. "Many an one falls, and under the table,
too, although he may not be drunk with wine, but with pride and ambition,
avarice and rapacity."

"Enough, Burgsdorf, enough," replied the count haughtily. "I did not
summon you here to hold with you a controversy about words, for well do I
know that you are as mighty in words as in drinking. I have had you
summoned that you might receive your orders, and do and perform whatever
the Stadtholder in the Mark commands and enjoins upon you, in the names of
the Emperor's Majesty and his Electoral Grace. General von Klitzing, I
have nominated you commander in chief of all the fortifications, as you,
Colonels von Kracht, von Rochow, and von Burgsdorf, commandants of Berlin,
Spandow, and Küstrin. You may perceive from this that a new era has
dawned, and that we have great things to expect from the future. Gentlemen,
the time for waiting and delay is past. The Elector has concluded a treaty
with the Emperor, by which the Emperor declares that the dukedom of
Pomerania is the natural heritage of the Elector of Brandenburg, and
invests him with it. It is true that at present the Swedes occupy
Pomerania, and will not evacuate. But to that very end we must labor, to
force the presumptuous Swedes to do this; and thereto the Elector has
pledged himself to raise an army of five-and-twenty thousand men. To
superintend these levies is the affair of the colonels and staff officers,
therefore also your affair."

"The only question is, where is the money to come from to effect such
levies," said General Klitzing.

"Yes, that is the question," exclaimed the three colonels impatiently.

"And the answer runs: The Emperor's Majesty has assigned money for that
purpose. The Emperor's Majesty has granted the Elector a release from the
payment of two hundred Roman-months which the Elector owed him, and with
these two hundred Roman-months, which amount to three hundred and
sixty-five thousand florins, troops are to be levied. But besides this,
the Emperor expressly adds sixty thousand dollars, to be employed in
enlisting soldiers; and the money will be paid out to those leaders and
colonels who have recruited such and such a number of soldiers. For each
soldier they get eight rixdollars."

"I shall recruit!" shouted Burgsdorf. "I shall go as commandant to
Küstrin, and enlist a regiment besides!"

"It is a matter of course that we all recruit," said General von Klitzing,
"for such is the command and desire of the Elector, and him as our
commander in chief we are bound to obey."

"By no means, general!" cried the count hastily. "Your commander in chief
is the Emperor of Germany. The soldiers whom you shall enlist will of
course be subject to the command of the Elector, but they must take an
oath of allegiance to the Emperor and the empire, which runs thus, that
they will be obedient to the Emperor, and in his stead to the Elector of
Brandenburg, in order that the dukedom of Pomerania be recovered to the
Elector, its natural sovereign.[11] According to the compact between the
Emperor and the Elector, the official oath of military governors must also
conform to this formula, and the commandants of fortresses be taken into
the service of the Emperor and the empire. First and foremost is the
obedience and fealty they owe to the Emperor."

"I do not understand that; it does not penetrate through my thick skull!"
cried Burgsdorf impatiently. "How will it be if the Emperor's commands go
counter to those of the Elector? If the Emperor orders us to do _this_,
and the Elector _that_?"

"That will never happen," replied the count gravely.

"The Elector is much too loyal and faithful a vassal of the Emperor not to
coincide always with the latter's gracious purposes and desires. I have
now told you all that it is needful for you to know, have given you your
commissions and announced your several ranks, and it only remains to
administer to you the prescribed oath. In view of my absolute power as
Stadtholder in the Mark, and as head of the electoral council of war, I
will now receive your oath of fidelity to the Emperor and the Elector, and
you must engage and swear to fulfill constantly and faithfully your duties
to Emperor, empire, and Elector."

And just as the count dictated, without delay or contradiction, the four
lords repeated the formula of the oath, and swore obedience, good faith,
and service, first to the Emperor and the empire, and then to the Elector
of Brandenburg. Thereupon the count dismissed them, exhorting them to
repair instantly to their fortresses, and there to begin enlisting
soldiers for the army of the Elector.

The count's countenance cleared up and assumed a triumphant expression
when the four officers had left his cabinet, and he was now once more
alone.

"I shall now be rid of that quarrelsome and dangerous man, Burgsdorf," he
said complacently, as he sank apparently exhausted into an easy chair. "I
have rendered him harmless and shoved him aside without his being really
conscious of it. He does not suspect that we advanced and promoted the
others only to remove him, Burgsdorf, to a distance, without exciting
remark or scandal, and in order to be freed from his scurrilous tongue and
insolent presence. I am truly glad and content that we have succeeded in
this, and at the same time have taken these unreflecting and short-sighted
gentlemen into service and allegiance to the Emperor and the empire." With
a hurried "Who is there?" the count interrupted himself, starting from his
seat. "Who dares to enter here unannounced?"

"I dare," said an earnest voice, and a tall, slender gentleman, wholly
enveloped in a heavy traveling coat, his head covered with a great fur
cap, strode through the apartment toward the count.

"Count Lesle, lord high chamberlain to the Emperor!" exclaimed the
Stadtholder in surprise. "Is it you? Are you direct from Regensburg?"

"Yes, Count Schwarzenberg, I have come here direct from Regensburg, to
depart again without delay. My traveling carriage stands without before
your door, and I shall presently enter it, and journey hence again. You
will on that account excuse my want of ceremony, but as the Emperor
Ferdinand permits me to enter his apartments at any time, I thought that
the Stadtholder of the Mark would not be less affable. Moreover, I could
not send in my name, for no one besides yourself is to know of my being
here, and I wish to travel _incognito_. Will you, then, pardon me, Count
Schwarzenberg, and am I excused?"

"I am the one to sue for forgiveness, on account of my impatience, and I
do so most cordially. And now I entreat you, count, first of all, make
yourself comfortable. Permit me to assist you in laying aside your
cumbrous traveling habit, and accept some ease and refreshment."

With officious zeal he busied himself in aiding his visitor to emerge from
his wrappings, and soon Count Lesle stood before the Stadtholder of the
Mark in the beautiful, unique Spanish garb, such as was worn at the
imperial court.

"How glorious you look in those magnificent velvet robes!" cried Count
Schwarzenberg, with a sigh, "and how much your Spanish costume makes me
long for the sumptuous life of the imperial court! Ah! my dear count, here
among us you find hardly a trace of this costly, splendid living, and an
imperial valet or house servant has more pleasure and enjoyment than an
Electoral Stadtholder in the Mark."

"Yet it is a fine and sonorous title," said Count Lesle, smiling, while he
stretched himself out comfortably in the great armchair which Count
Schwarzenberg had rolled forward for him, "and it is also a great and
influential office. The Emperor's Majesty knows very well what a mighty
and potent man the Stadtholder in the Mark is, and that Count
Schwarzenberg is really Elector of Brandenburg."

"His Imperial Majesty knows, too, that I have never yet ceased to be the
faithful and devoted servant of the Emperor," cried Schwarzenberg, at the
same time drawing a simple chair to the side of the count's fauteuil, and
seating himself upon it. "His Imperial Majesty knows, I hope, that first
and above all other things I place my duty to the Emperor, and that I have
no higher aim than to subserve the interests of his Imperial Majesty."

"Yes, the Emperor, our most gracious Sovereign, knows that," said Count
Lesle feelingly. "He does not for a moment doubt the fidelity and
attachment of the Stadtholder in the Mark, who has always been mindful
that the Elector is only the Emperor's vassal, and the Emperor the real
lord of the whole German Empire."

"And to maintain this relation intact, yes, that is what I have made the
greatest task of my life," cried Schwarzenberg, with animation. "It is a
task, in truth, not easy to be accomplished, for the Emperor's supreme
Government has many enemies here at the electoral court, and very many
there are here who maintain that Brandenburg should free herself entirely
from imperial vassalage, and that the Elector should be sole lord within
his own domains. But now, dearest lord high chamberlain and count, tell me
wherefore you have come here so unexpectedly, and what news do you bring
from Regensburg?"

"Very serious and very subtle news I bring with me, count," replied Count
Lesle, "and of such a tender, delicate nature that we could not willingly
entrust it to paper, even in cipher, but could only transmit it from my
lips to your ear, and thence to the locked-up recesses of your breast.
Therefore I have come to you, and need hardly say that not a breath of our
conversation is to escape, and that nobody must know of my having been
here. The question is about the Electoral Prince of Brandenburg - that
young man who has already tarried more than three years in the
Netherlands, and is imbibing there the hated poison of insubordination and
passion for freedom. It is high time that the Electoral Prince were
recalled."

"Recalled!" cried Count Schwarzenberg, starting up amazed. "But, Count
Lesle, you do not know the Electoral Prince. You do not know the danger
that would accrue now if this restless, ambitious, and fiery young man
were to return home. My enemies and the secret opponents of the Emperor
here desire nothing more ardently than just this very thing, and the
Rochows and Schönungs and all the reformers have already brought matters
to such a pass that the Elector himself presses most urgently for his
son's return home, and has even peremptorily required it of him. It is a
plot of all the Swedish wellwishers, all the anti-imperialists of this
court, believe me. They wish to place the Electoral Prince at their head,
and hope by this means to bring it about that the weak and vacillating
Elector shall secede from the Emperor and ally himself with the Swedes.
They teased and goaded the Elector, until he even sent his Chamberlain von
Schlieben to The Hague in order to fetch the Prince, and the latter has
but to-day returned from his vain expedition."

"From his vain expedition, do you say? The Electoral Prince remains at The
Hague, then, despite the strict commands, the pressing messages of his
father? You see by that what fruit his stay at The Hague has already
produced, and that the poison which he has imbibed there is even now at
work. The Electoral Prince seems to be thoughtful and studious. And so
much the more dangerous is it to leave him any longer at The Hague, where
all are ill disposed toward the Spaniards, where is to be found the real
hearthstone of the great European opposition to the house of Hapsburg,
where the Prince of Orange is his instructor in the art of war, and can
educate him to be a skillful and dangerous warrior and an enemy of the
Emperor."

"All that is very true!" said Schwarzenberg gloomily. "But for all that he
is less to be dreaded there than here, where he would cross all our plans
and bring to nothing all our schemes. The Electoral Prince is a dangerous
opponent, believe me. There is something bewitching in his character, and
he would be in a position either to carry the Elector along with him in
his career or to induce George William to follow his father's example, and
resign the government in favor of his son, the Electoral Prince Frederick
William. And do you know, Count Lesle, what would be the first act of
Frederick William's reign? To depose me, to take all power out of my
hands, and to institute a new course of policy for the house of
Brandenburg!"

"Only get him here first, count, and then it is your affair to guard
against this extreme. Take example from what happened on one occasion in
Spain, where also rioters and innovators thronged around the heir to the
throne, by his abettance to overturn existing institutions and hurl the
King from his throne. My God! You know the story of King Philip and his
son Carlos. Hardly fifty years have elapsed since then. Profit by this
example, and learn from this story that if the son is dangerous, you have
only to render him suspected by his father, and he becomes innocuous. If
the son is the enemy of his father, then the father must also be made the
enemy of his son, that in this way an equilibrium be preserved. You are
much too great a statesman and too acute a diplomatist not to know how to
act in this matter. But the urgency of the case is pressing. You must have
him under your own eyes, under your own guardianship."

"It is true," said Schwarzenberg thoughtfully, "he imbibes deadly poison
there, and is quite too enthusiastic in his admiration of the Protestant
leader, the Prince of Orange. His letters to his parents overflow with
enthusiasm for the Orange general, whom he calls his master and teacher
in the art of war, and lavishes upon him extravagant praise."

"And they are giving themselves trouble enough to link the young Prince
yet more closely to the house of Orange, and the enemies of Spain and
Hapsburg," said Count Lesle emphatically. "The Emperor has obtained exact
accounts as to the practices going on at The Hague, whereby the Electoral
Prince may be brought into the land of Cleves and united by marriage with
the Palatinate house, whereby he may be brought equally under the
influence of the sovereign States and the Prince of Orange, and estranged
from the Holy Roman Empire.[12]

"He is to marry a princess of the Palatinate!" exclaimed the Stadtholder.
"Ah! now I understand why the Electress, despite her tender love for her
only son, constantly endeavors to keep him away, and to prolong his stay
at The Hague. I always thought until now that it was on my account. I
thought that the Electress believed me to have evil and malign intentions
with regard to the Electoral Prince, and for that reason alone was opposed
to her son's return. But now I see into it; she is for this Palatinate
marriage, she wishes by that means to bind her son more closely to her own
house and its interests, to alienate him further from the Emperor and the
Holy Roman Empire. It is the daughter of the banished Bohemian King, the
Princess Ludovicka Hollandine, who is to be the tie to unite him to Orange
and the Palatinate. All this becomes suddenly clear to me, and I can not
imagine how I could have been so blind and so innocent as not to have
divined and penetrated into this earlier. The Electoral Prince does,
indeed, in each of his letters make mention of the little household over
which the banished Bohemian Queen, the Electress of the Palatinate,
presides at Doornward, not far from The Hague."

"She has now removed her residence farther, to The Hague itself," said
Count Lesle dryly; "without doubt, because winter approaches, and it will
be more comfortable for the Electoral Prince not to find it necessary to
travel that long way to Doornward to see his dearly beloved one. She must
be quite a pretty girl, the Princess Ludovicka Hollandine, and, moreover,
of very tender complexion, and not at all disposed to play the prude with
the young, handsome Electoral Prince, who seems particularly to please
her."

"And the Electress is particularly partial to her sister-in-law, the
Electress of the Palatinate," said Schwarzenberg thoughtfully. "Tears
always come into her eyes whenever she speaks of her, and calls to mind
her brother's unhappy fate.[13] It would, indeed, be for the advantage of
her house if the daughter of her banished brother should again exalt the
honor of her family, and find in Brandenburg amends for the lost
Palatinate. For when women take it into their heads to meddle with
politics, then are their hearts always interested; and even in politics,
match making is their especial delight. Yes, yes, Count Lesle, I see into
it now; you are right. The Electoral Prince is to wed the Palatinate
Princess, and the Electress favors this match."

"But the Emperor would be displeased at it in the highest degree," cried
Count Lesle. "It is therefore impossible that this alliance take place.
You must do everything to prevent the Elector from granting his consent,
and however many are for it, and blow upon one horn, yet the Elector must
strike no note in harmony with this Palatinate marriage."[14]

"No, the Elector will not and shall not," replied the count decidedly. "It
is for me to prevent him, and - You are indeed right. There is nothing left
to be done but to summon the Electoral Prince from The Hague."

"It would be pleasant to the Emperor if the Electoral Prince came to his
court," remarked Count Lesle; "it would be a token of confidence, and make
an impression throughout the Holy Roman Empire upon friend and foe."

"Alas! the most important requisite of all is wanting - we want money,"
sighed Count Schwarzenberg, shrugging his shoulders.

"Well, that shall furnish no ground for objection, Sir Stadtholder. The
Emperor commissioned me expressly to announce to you that his Imperial
Majesty would gladly hold himself ready to furnish some assistance, yes,
if needful, all the money required for the expenses of this journey.[15]
And the Emperor would not be niggardly with his supplies of money for
traveling, but give such sums that the Electoral Prince need not come
merely to his Majesty at Vienna, but also make a little excursion to
Innsprück. For at Innsprück the Archduke Leopold now holds his court, and
the Electoral Prince could not fail to enjoy himself there, for the court
at Innsprück is brilliantly gay, and the archduke's youthful daughter,
Clara Isabella, is peculiarly fond of pleasure, and is a beautiful and
attractive young lady."

With a sudden movement of the head Count Schwarzenberg turned toward
Lesle. "You do not mean it?" he asked hesitatingly.

Count Lesle nodded. "It is much to be desired," he said, smiling.

"But I fear it is impossible!" cried Schwarzenberg. "Every one here will
be opposed to it; no one in favor of it. It is simply not to be thought
of, and impossible that the Electoral Prince should marry a Catholic."

"It only seems probable, and to effect it, it is only necessary to go to
work in the right way," said Count Lesle quietly. "You see by yourself how
the inconceivable can still become matter of reality. Would it not have
been supposed impossible that at this court, where there are none but
heretics, where Reformers and Lutherans contend for precedence, that a
Catholic and an imperialist could have become prime minister and
confidential adviser to the Elector? And yet so it is, and for twenty
years past the Catholic Count Schwarzenberg has been the favorite and I
may say the controller of the Elector of Brandenburg. And why should not
the Catholic minister and Stadtholder be able to negotiate a Catholic
alliance? You underrate your power, count, and are by far too modest."

"Say rather I know the ground on which I tread, Count Lesle. Believe me,
it is slippery and marshy soil, and a single incautious step may cause me
to sink."

"Then guard against an incautious step, but advance boldly forward in the
interests of his Imperial Majesty, and be assured that Ferdinand will
prove himself to be a grateful and a gracious lord. And now, count, you
know all that I came to communicate to you, and it is time for me to set
out again."

"Will you set forth again so soon, Count Lesle, before you have done me
the honor of taking a little breakfast and drinking a glass of wine with
me?"

"Thank you, count, thank you most cordially. You know well, however, that
the master's business is before all things else. My imperial master awaits
me at Regensburg, and I shall then have the honor of being permitted to
accompany him to Vienna. His Imperial Majesty is a strict and punctilious
lord, and has calculated to the very day and hour when I may again reach
the imperial palace. For our interview here he allowed me one hour; and,
lo! the cock of your great wall clock had just stepped out and crowed
eleven as I entered your room, and is already here, crowing twelve as loud
as he can. It is therefore time for me to depart. I have briefly made you
acquainted with the Emperor's intentions and desires, and your wise and
fertile brain will know how to enlarge and construe. Farewell, Sir
Stadtholder in the Mark, farewell, and may every blessing attend you!"

Count Lesle had risen and drawn his fur cap once more far over his brow.
Schwarzenberg assisted him to don his ample and heavy wrappings, and then
escorted him to the door.

"Permit me at least to conduct you to your carriage, Count Lesle," he said.

"Impossible, count; that would excite remark among your people, and give
rise to conjectures on all sides. I gave myself out on entering as one of
your officials from Sonnenburg, and your dignity does not suffer you to
act toward your officials as toward an equal. Farewell, then!"

Count Lesle stepped out briskly, and hurriedly closed the palace door.
Schwarzenberg stood listening to the retreating footsteps of the imperial
legate until they died away in the long corridor. Then he slowly turned
away and sank with a sigh into the armchair which Count Lesle had recently
occupied.

"Strange tidings those," he muttered to himself. "I must now then adopt a
wholly different line of action - must derange and newly model all my
plans. What I would altogether avoid I must now do - must recall the
Electoral Prince; must yield to him the precedence at court, both in rank
and position; must - " All at once he started up and shrank, as if a sudden
flash of lightning had interrupted his train of thought. "If it must be,"



Online LibraryL. MühlbachThe Youth of the Great Elector → online text (page 5 of 40)