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The Life and Adventures of Baron Trenck, Volume 2

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Blessed shade of a beloved sister!  The sacrifice of my adverse and dreadful fate!  Thee could I never avenge!  Thee could the blood of Weingarten never appease!  No asylum, however sacred, should have secured him, had he not sought that last of asylums for human wickedness and human woes—the grave!  To thee do I dedicate these few pages, a tribute of thankfulness; and, if future rewards there are, may the brightest of these rewards be thine.  For us, and not for ours, may rewards be expected from monarchs who, in apathy, have beheld our mortal sufferings.  Rest, noble soul, murdered though thou wert by the enemies of thy brother.  Again my blood boils, again my tears roll down my cheeks, when I remember thee, thy sufferings in my cause, and thy untimely end!  I knew it not; I sought to thank thee; I found thee in the grave; I would have made retribution to thy children, but unjust, iron-hearted princes had deprived me of the power.  Can the virtuous heart conceive affliction more cruel?  My own ills I would have endured with magnanimity; but thine are wrongs I have neither the power to forget nor heal.

Enough of this.—

The worthy Emperor, Francis I., shed tears when I afterwards had the honour of relating to him in person my past miseries; I beheld them flow, and gratitude threw me at his feet.  His emotion was so great that he tore himself away.  I left the palace with all the enthusiasm of soul which such a scene must inspire.

He probably would have done more than pitied me, but his death soon followed.  I relate this incident to convince posterity that Francis I. possessed a heart worthy an emperor, worthy a man.  In the knowledge I have had of monarchs he stands alone.  Frederic and Theresa both died without doing me justice; I am now too old, too proud, have too much apathy, to expect it from their successors.  Petition I will not, knowing my rights; and justice from courts of law, however evident my claims, were in these courts vain indeed to expect.  Lawyers and advocates I know but too well, and an army to support my rights I have not.

What heart that can feel but will pardon me these digressions!  At the exact and simple recital of facts like these, the whole man must be roused, and the philosopher himself shudder.

Once more:—I heard nothing of what had happened for some days; at length, however, it was the honest Gelfhardt’s turn to mount guard; but the ports being doubled, and two additional grenadiers placed before my door, explanation was exceedingly difficult.  He, however, in spite of precaution, found means to inform me of what had happened to his two unfortunate comrades.

The King came to a review at Magdeburg, when he visited Star-Fort, and commanded a new cell to be immediately made, prescribing himself the kind of irons by which I was to be secured.  The honest Gelfhardt heard the officer say this cell was meant for me, and gave me notice of it, but assured me it could not be ready in less than a month.  I therefore determined, as soon as possible, to complete my breach in the wall, and escape without the aid of any one.  The thing was possible; for I had twisted the hair of my mattress into a rope, which I meant to tie to a cannon, and descend the rampart, after which I might endeavour to swim across the Elbe, gain the Saxon frontiers, and thus safely escape....