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exigencies of the hour pressed him hard. Austria was pushing to the north, and had long contemplated with avidity the idea of establishing a naval force in the Baltic.
This neighborhood would not at all do for Sweden. But the principal motive lay, after all, in the zealous and martial temper of the king, who was the very exponent of the feeling of a conservative age, save that he had in him an unusual dash of liberality. So he responded to the feeble cry for succor which reached his ears from the gasping princes of the crushed Union; and on June 24, 1630, he landed on the northern coast of Germany, at the head of an army which for discipline, equipment, and bravery was then unmatched in the world. It had been the fond toil of his life to form this host, and now its drill and tactics made it seem, among the disorderly hordes of the Continent, almost what the Macedonian phalanx seemed among the unwieldly masses of Persia. Moreoter, his camp was like that strange one of Cromwell, wherein was neither swearing, drinking, nor gambling; but a host of fanatics assembled at the matin and the vesper hours to hear prayers and exhortations from the lips of fanatic preachers. At first his advent was disregarded by the haughty court at Vienną, rendered presumptuous by a long series of successes.
But these were gone with their cause; and by degrees this little cloud in the horizon, no bigger than a man's hand, spread over the face of the heavens, the black pall of the tempest. Count Tilly commanded the imperial forces. He was an able commander, of tried bravery, of long experience in strategy and high renown in tactics ; a stern, relentless, unyielding soldier of the hardest school. Ferdinand trusted in him implicitly, but he trusted in vain. At Leipzig the Imperial and Swedish armies first encountered. It was after the Swedes had been long in the country, for neither general had been very desirous to meet the other, and there had been a great deal of marching and manoeuvring. This mutual timidity was justified by the trial ; hither and thither the changeful tide of battle rolled; now the Swedes were routed and in flight; now they rallied, and the Imperialists in turn were broken. The contest was savage, stubborn, long and doubtful. At length it inclined in favor of the indomitable Swedes. Once decidei, the completeness of the victory was proportioned to the bloody and disastrous nature of the fight; and the Austrian army was so scattered and destroyed that scarcely two thousand men could be gathered together from the wreck on the following day.
In a second conflict, some months later, Tilly himself was mortally wounded. Matters thus rapidly came to a perilous crisis for the emperor. East" and west, north and south, the Swedes ranged uncontrolled, unopposed, through Germany; their compact host met with no barrier able to stay its resistless course. Already it was rumored abroad that Gustavus aimed to empty the imperial throne of an occupant who seemed unable to keep his seat thereon, and to fill it himself. The Austrian supremacy had apparently lived out its allotted term ; and its brilliant flame was dying feebly away in thin smoke. David had smitten Goliah, and the giant had reeled. Unless some Deus ex Machina would opportunely furnish his miraculous aid, Ferdinand seemed undone forever. And what God was there, save one ?' To Wallenstein even his foes now, perforce, turn for aid. Schiller says that he was engaged in subtle machinations to effect this result. When the hostile forces were marching upon Prague, and Wallenstein was at the time living in the city, the terrified authorities would fain have looked to him for guidance and command; but he gave them cold comfort, absolutely refused to grant any active assistance, and soon after, as the danger grew more imminent, he left the city, which was then of necessity surrendered. Schiller is indignant beyond measure at this conduct. He vehemently charges Wallenstein with betraying the general cause for the ignoble purpose of rendering his own services more imperatively necessary.
It may be that his statement is correct, that Wallenstein might have held the city had he chosen to make the effort; or it may be that the city was really untenable, and that Wallenstein was unwilling for many natural reasons to undertake a fruitless defence. This question we cannot now determine. If the former supposition be true, certainly Wallenstein displayed no great magnanimity; but equally certainly it was neither villany nor treachery in him, a private and disgraced citizen, to refuse to accept a command for which he had no commission. The worst that can be justly said is that his behavior was guarded and selfish ; ana that he was a consistently selfish man is undeniable. But he could now dispense with wire-pulling; art was not requisite to secure the inevitable offer, or more properly, the inevitable request, which Ferdinand now preferred, that he would assume the command-in-chief. He was indispensable. His foes at court fired one Parthian arrow, however, and it was
at first proposed to unite with him in equal authority the king of Hungary. The fiery duke, in a storm of wrath, swore that he would accept no divided command were God himself to be his coadjutor. Ferdinand was in no condition to parley; he retracted the offensive proposition, and suffered the duke to make his own terms. And the duke made them, hard and haughty enough; for which he bas Schiller's heartfelt malediction.
But why should he not have done so? surely under no bonds of gratitude to Ferdinand ; of the two, he had certainly not been
not been behindhand in benefits. Now he simply drove a bargain ; what he had to barter was worth a high price, and, like the books of the Sibyl, it rose in value with the delay to purchase. Moreover, he had learned by no vicarious experience what was the reward of a too successful general after his work was done. If his conduct was not poetically high-spirited, it was certainly sternly just. His first effort extended only to raising an army, which he agreed to do, and did, in three months. Then the humbled and suppliant emperor had again to beseech him to assume the command of it. He finally consented only upon condition that so long as he remained generalissimo he should be entirely absolute, independent of the emperor's orders, and free to dispose at his will of all the property which should be conquered and confiscated.
His conduct during the ensuing campaigns was an artful combination of good generalship and adroit selfishness. He pushed Gustavus with alarming skill, and punished his personal foe, Maximilian of Bavaria, with wily malice. Gustavus shut himself up in Nuremberg ; Wallenstein sat down outside to starve him out. Neither scoffs of foes nor entreaties of friends could move him. In vain Gustavus sought to bring on a battle; in vain the imperial troops grumbled at inaction. The inflexible one only said that "blood enough had been shed." And in the end the grim hero did starve out the Swedish king; though in the process he had so nearly starved himself that when the Swedish forces left the city they were allowed to drag out their weary retreat unmolested. But with two such generals and two such armies in the field the war was not destined to be finally settled by Fabian strategy, without a decisive trial of strength. A great battle was inevitable, and it was finally fought near Lutzen-an ever memorable name! The hosts met each other with that stern resolution which always characterizes
a contest between veteran troops who neither undervalue their adversary nor distrust their own commander. It was a hand-to-hand contest, ferocious beyond the wont of even those ferocious days. Generals and men were well matched. Gustavus seized a favorable moment to attack when Wallenstein was weakened by the departure of a heavy detachment under his general Pappenheim.
At first the Swedes carried all before them, the imperialists broke and fled.
Then was seen the personal power of Wallenstein -" Night must it be ere Friedland's star can beam !" Amid the flying ranks his voice, his presence, as if by magic, restored discipline, reformed the ranks,and rolled back again the surging tide of victorious Swedes over all the ground which they had gained. Again the balance quivered, doubtful. In this crisis of the conflict, Gustavus fell mortally wounded. Ordinarily such an event would have decided the victory at once; but, strange to say, the Swedes, instead of being discomfited, were only incited by a demoniacal rage to revenge the fall of their adored leader. Wallenstein's outnumbered troops were again giving ground; the imperial ammunition train caught fire, and with horrible uproar wagon after wagon exploded, and added to the panic. But a second time the fortune of the day was restored by the unexpected appearance and opportune onslaught of Pappenheim at the head of his cavalry. This leader had been overtaken on his route by news of the movement of Gustavus, and, appreciating the hazard caused by his absence, had made all haste to return. His advent checked the triumph of the Swedes ; but his men and horses, wearied by a long and rapid march, were unable to do more; and the battle ceased by reason of the utter exhaustion of both combatants. Each retired from the field, but Wallenstein retired the further and did not return; the Swedes, on the contrary, a day or two after, marched on to the ground and brought away their own and the imperial artillery. This fact certainly entitled them to claim a victory,and it seems further probable that the army of Wallenstein was much the more shattered of the two. But the death of Gustavus far outweighed this slight advantage. This monarch has ever deservedly been a universal favorite. Tolerant in an age of intolerance ; merciful in an age of ferocity ; generous in an age of selfishness, his virtues borrow extra brilliancy from contrast with the evil natures and dark passions with which they were surrounded. Weak men or
wicked men made
the sum of the leaders in war and in politics in those days. Even if we wash away the doubtful stain of treason from the fame of Wallenstein, he yet remains a man of no virtue : selfish and able, but neither magnanimous nor philanthropic; a fearful tyrant, but never a benefactor of mankind. Schiller loves Gustavus Adolphus as a poet loves his hero, and speaks of him with the most laudatory, fond, almost caressing epithets ; and it is with a feeling of sorrow, almost like the grief. felt for a personal friend, that he records his death. The paragraph in which he depicts the deep mourning that fell upon the whole Swedish court, is touching in the extreme, and might well, as Carlyle says, “draw 'iron tears' from the eyes of veterans,"
From this moment the mist which shrouds the plans of Wallenstein becomes inpenetrable; his actions become dubious, his aims inscrutable—from this moment he may have begun to deserve the name of traitor. Since his first assumption of the command, he had held it of the first importance to detach Saxony from the Swedish alliance. The Electorate of Saxony was very powerful, and her adherence was the backbone of the cause of Gustavus in Germany. If Gustavus and Wallenstein were equally matched, then the Elector John George was the deciding weight. Accordingly, Wallenstein resorted to every art to shake his steadfastness; the most tempting lures in the power of Ferdinand to offer were held out to him. He wavered, but would not be fairly enticed. Then violence was tried ; his provinces were made the seat of war and the theatre of fearful ravages ; and still he was given to understand that his defection was desired and would stay all this desolation. This course promised to be more effective. At the death of Gustavus, Wallenstein was still exerting all the manœuvres of his art to bring about this result.
Schiller will have it that he sought for himself an independent principality in Saxony, which would place in his vigorous grasp that useful balance which
trembled so indecisively in the feeble hand of John George. But the emperor was cognisant of the negotiations; and what are the grounds of Schiller's suspicions it is not easy to see, especially since, as usual, he deigns to furnish no authorities. But after the battle of Lutzen, Wallenstein's course is not clearly to be explained. Neither fidelity nor treason will give us an unbroken clue to the labyrinth of his policy. Perhaps he meditated treachery and was unable to resolve fully to commit himself thereto.