« PreviousContinue »
The dead, O Earth, are on thy face,
Each dons for this night's narrow space
The semblance of the frame he wore
That wept his long past sorrows o'er,
Lo! I heard a mighty singing,
Up the Jubilee of Sound!
CHANT OF THE MARTYRS OF TRUTH AND SCIENCE.
Hark, the music rises sweetly,
Up the coming days it swells,
Faith hath risen stronger, clearer,
Not in vain We Martyrs perished;
Truths our tears and blood bedewed,
Mysteries of the earth and ocean,
Secrets wrapped in light and sound,
Laws of sympathy and motion,
Chains affinities have bound,
These we dimly sought, while o'er us
Wingéd seeds! in faith and weeping
Nations share the harvest mirth!
WAS WALLENSTEIN GUILTY?
THE period of the Thirty Years was the most melancholy of all those chronicled in the pages of Germany's history, not alone through its external ruinous result, but also by its disastrous effect on the morals of the nation. In the foregone century, a deep and holy enthusiasm had seized on the noblest of the land, and aroused a glorious spirit of emulation for the amelioration of the condition of Church and State, and the foundation of permanent prosperity. Those solid principles, which kept selfishness at bay, merged into existence, and while the Reformer himself, by the simplicity of his life and his disinterestedness, afforded that rare ensample of virtue which may be traced through his whole career, many of his adherents signalised themselves by their devotion to the cause of the Reformation, and even by joyfully undergoing a martyr's death. No sign of such a spirit was manifest during the whole of the religious war, but the energies of man seemed solely concentrated on self, and the satisfaction of his unbounded covetousness. Many Protestant princes only saw, in the progressive amelioration of the Church, a prospect for their own aggrandisement, and the augmentation of their territory; they ravenously stretched forth their hands on every side to satiate their rapacity, by the confiscation of Church lands, and such an example was not calculated to moderate the selfishness and cupidity of the lower classes. When the religious war broke out, this feeling displayed itself in the Sept.-VOL. XCVI. NO. CCCLXXXI.
lukewarmness shown by many as to the interests of the common cause, and in the want of active co-operation, which eventually brought the work of reformation to the verge of destruction. Foreign nations mixed themselves up in the war: the system of maintaining Lanzknechts was carried to an immoderate extent, and an anarchical character impressed on the struggle. While the hope of plunder and booty alone caused the mercenaries to take up arms, many leaders continually stimulated their wild bands by the promise of robbery and good cheer. And even when this did not occur, still rich estates, out of the conquered territory, were hinted at as the rewards for action. Greed for money and rank among the Lanzknechts, for territorial aggrandisement and high dignities among their leaders, were, for the most part, the sole enticements to enrol themselves under one banner or the other. Every principle of morality had been so utterly subverted, that it was a frequent occurrence for a mercenary to fight against his own creed, although mentally avowing it. In Friedland's army there was a whole mass of Protestants, who served the duke or the emperor most zealously, and employed their utmost efforts to overthrow the Suedo-German party, and, consequently, the Reformation itself.
Albert of Wallenstein was not the man to raise himself above this universal corruption of the age; indeed, he was as much subjugated by the promptings of selfishness as the lowest mercenary in his army. It is true, he never degenerated to sordid covetousness, but was frequently (of course, for the furtherance of his own designs) remarkably liberal; but he recognised nothing beyond his own interest, which could impel him to action: fellow-feeling, love of his fatherland, the prosperity of his country, were to him words without meaning-virtues in which he placed no belief. He certainly struggled with and combated difficulties, privations, and dangers; but then it was only for his own advantage.
This the whole history of his life proved. Although he employed a large portion of his private fortune in the service of the emperor, still his riches ever grew with his years. We must not forget to add that, as is frequently the case, the more his fortune increased, the less was he satisfied. After his landed property had been enormously extended, he raised it to the value of several millions; and when he had been so far successful, he did not rest till he had secured a princely revenue. his ambition he displayed a like want of moderation. After he had been raised to the rank of count, he directed his wishes towards a princely mantle; and after being invested with this, he aspired, through the possession of the duchy of Mecklenburg, to the enjoyment of actual and independent sovereign authority. Through his mighty fortune accustomed to pomp; through his military position, to unbounded domination; through the homage paid him by crowned heads, to a rank equal to theirs; called by the emperor himself "uncle;" by the King of France, "cousin," he could not longer support the idea of being a subject; and the choice was left him between utter ruin, and taking his place by the side of the princes of the empire as an independent sovereign.
If, then, the accusation against Albert of Wallenstein is grounded on the fact of his aspiring to the Bohemian throne, his feelings and principles, behaviour and actions, and finally, his conduct during the whole course of his life, justify us in deeming him capable of entertaining such designs.
In Bohemia he had great estates and family connexions; there he carried out all his political schemes; in that country he ever preferred, at the decisive moment, to concentrate his whole army. Just before the attempted completion of the deed of which he was accused, he withdrew his forces into Bohemia, against the express wishes of the emperor. Grave circumstances, therefore, give weight to the probability which generally supports the charge.
As regards the immediate proofs, in the first place, it is shown by documentary evidence that Count Kinsky was in treaty with the court of France, for a considerable portion of the year 1633, touching the elevation of Friedland to the Bohemian throne. His defenders assert that
such schemes were carried on without the privity or assent of the duke. This palliation is primarily opposed by the serious fact that, coincidentally with these negotiations, Friedland himself suffered the suspicious remark to escape him in the Silesian camp, "That peace must be concluded, and the emperor compelled to restore the right of free election to the crown of Bohemia." Another still more serious circumstance may be added, that Friedland offered, through Marshal Arnim, to join the Swedes. When his defenders object that this was only done with a view to delude the enemy, in the first place, such an answer is utterly without proof, and the onus probandi is on them; and secondly, it is fully controverted by the letter addressed by Field-Marshal Holk to Bernhard of Saxe Weimar, quoted in Förster's "Wallenstein's vertraute Briefe."
However, supposing it to be the case that Kinsky, in all his negotiations with France, acted without the knowledge of the Duke of Friedland, assuredly the latter would have publicly declared himself irresponsible for all the steps taken by his brother-in-law, in his capacity as imperial general, immediately informed his master of all that had occurred, and have exerted himself to the utmost to stop Kinsky's equivocal machinations. But no, Friedland acted exactly in the opposite way. On several occasions he was officially informed of his relative's schemes, first, through the memorial of the Marquis de Feuquières, which the latter sent to Wallenstein immediately after his first interview with Kinsky, and again by the letter written to him by the King of France, manu propria, in which he terms him "cousin." In the face of all this, Wallenstein neither protested against Kinsky's negotiations with France, nor informed his court of them: his brother-in-law, on the contrary, remained in his perfect confidence, assisted him in the most weighty affairs, and even accompanied him when he at length set out to join the enemy. "This circumstance is decisive," as Mailäth justly says in his "History of the Austrian Empire." "Since Friedland listened to the proposals of France, without informing Ferdinand II. of them; since he knew that his brother-in-law was negotiating on his behalf with France, and since he, nevertheless, neither protested against them nor attempted in any way to thwart them; from these reasons, Albert of Wallenstein, Duke of Friedland, was guilty of treason towards the emperor."
All subsequent events only served to furnish further proof of the existence of this treachery. Wallenstein was no admirer of prompt action, but was wont to be above all measure scrupulous, and almost vacillating, that he might seize on the decisive moment. His superstitious belief in astrology, which ever required a favourable conjunction of the planets for
such a moment, went far to nourish this predisposition. Though determined on deserting the emperor, he hesitated for a length of time before carrying it into effect, in order to unite every circumstance in his favour. That he might not be prematurely detected, he concealed himself behind Count Kinsky in his negotiations with France, and reserved to himself the subterfuge, that the latter acted without his cognisance. After his return from the Silesian campaign in the autumn of 1633, his whole conduct seemed to pre-suppose a design for an eventual rupture with the emperor; for he gave up Bavaria to Bernhard of Saxe Weimar without a blow, turned a deaf ear to all Maximilian's entreaties for assistance, and disobeyed the emperor's most authoritative commands to him to aid the elector. Each day he advanced slowly to the consummation of the deed: the treaty with France was to have been ratified on the 1st of January, 1634, but still he employed Kinsky as a cloak. At length, the emperor received an official statement of the negotiations with France, and immediately Friedland's hesitation was changed for energetic action. Preparations were made to estrange the army from the emperor, through the memorial the colonels were pressed to sign at Pilsen; when this failed, an attempt was made to invest this proceeding with a halo of innocence, through a pretended protestation; he sought to concentrate his partisans, first at Prague, then at Pilsen, and to break the ground for the army's desertion to the enemy by his order that it should only obey him, Illo, and Terzka. After all this had been essayed in vain, Wallenstein set out for Eger with the reliquiæ of his once colossal army, in order to deliver this important fortress at least into the hands of the enemy, and by the help of the Swede commence recruiting a new body of forces. All these facts stand in such peculiar connexion, and are accompanied by such remarkable circumstances, that it is rendered evident that Wallenstein's intention was to complete the treaty with France at the commencement of the year 1634. We must enter a little further into details.
Friedland based his plans pre-eminently on the pecuniary embarrassments of the emperor, through which the latter would be rendered incapable of reimbursing the advances made by his general officers, and punctually paying his army. With calculating zeal he aroused in the commanders the fear of losing their money, and in all his speeches showed, in glowing colours, that not only the emperor would not be able to keep his promise, but that, however good his will might be, could not possibly fulfil it, as his finances were in such a dilapidated condition. On the other hand, he sought to show how watchful he had ever been of the interests of his soldiers, and how much he was still disposed to do if he remained at the head of the army. In order to accomplish this, Wallenstein required great pecuniary resources: the aid of France in the contemplated alliance was to consist of subsidies of money. Twelve days, then, prior to the attempt on the fidelity of the officers at Pilsen, Kinsky had tried to conclude the treaty with France. The union among the officers was, from its very tendency, in the highest degree improper, and evidently a preliminary attempt to withdraw the army from its obedience to the emperor. Though it is incapable of proof, still it is highly probable that foul play was at work to do away with the reservation contained in the memorial as to serving the emperor. So many rumours were in circulation about it, that it would be difficult to regard the whole affair as a