as they advanced toward the enemy. The King had given orders to march straight on Lützen. “He animated his men to the fight,” says Richelieu, “with words that he had at command, while Wallenstein, by his mere presence and the sternness of his silence, seemed to let his men understand that, as he had been wont to do, he would reward them or chastise them, according as they did well or ill on that great day.” 2 It was 10 A.M., and the fog had just lifted; six batteries of cannon and two large ditches defended the imperialists; the artillery from the ramparts of Lützen played upon the King's army; the balls came whizzing about him. Bernard of Saxe-Weimar was the first to attack, pushing forward on Lützen, which was soon taken. Gustavus Adolphus marched on to the enemy's intrenchments; for an instant the Swedish infantry seemed to waver; the King seized a pike and flung himself amid the ranks. “After crossing so many rivers, scaling so many walls, and storming so many places, if you have not courage enough to defend yourselves, at least turn your heads to see me die!” he shouted to the soldiers. They rallied: the King remounted his horse, bearing along with him a regiment of Swalandaise cavalry. “You will behave like good fellows, all of you,” he said to them, as he dashed over the two ditches, carrying, as he went, two batteries of the enemy's cannon. “He took off his hat and rendered thanks to God for the victory He was giving him.” 3 Two regiments of imperial cuirassiers rode up to meet him ; the King charged them at the head of his Swedes; he was in the thickest of the fight; his horse received a ball through the neck; Gustavus had his arm broken : the bone came through the sleeve of his coat; he wanted to have it attended to, and begged the Duke of SaxeAltenburg to assist him in leaving the battle-field; at that very moment Falkenberg, lieutenant-colonel in the imperial army, galloped his horse on to the King and shot him, point-blank, in the back with a pistol. The King fell from his horse, and Falkenberg took to flight, pursued by one of the King's squires, who killed him. Gustavus Adolphus was left alone with a German page, who tried to raise him; the King could no longer speak; three Austrian cuirassiers surrounded him, asking the page the name of the wounded man; the youngster would not say, and fell, riddled with wounds, on his master's body; the Austrians sent one more pistol-shot into the dying man's temple, and stripped him of his clothes, leaving him only his shirt. The mêlée recommenced, and successive charges of cavalry passed over the hero's corpse. There were counted nine open wounds and thirteen scars on his body when it was recovered toward the evening. One of the King's officers, who had been unable to 4 quit the fight in time to suecor him, went and announced his fall to Duke Bernard of Saxe-Weimar. To him a retreat was suggested, but, “we mustn't think of that,” said he, “but of death or victory.” A lieutenant-colonel of a cavalry regiment made some difficulty about resuming the attack; the Duke passed his sword through his body, and, putting himself at the head of the troops, led them back upon the enemy’s intrenchments, which he carried and lost three times. At last he succeeded in turning the cannon upon the enemy, and “that gave the turn to the victory, which, nevertheless, was disputed till night.” “It was one of the most horrible ever heard of,” says Cardinal Richelieu ; “six thousand dead or dying were left on the field of battle, where Duke Bernard encamped till morning !” When day came, he led the troops off to Weisenfeld. 5 The army knew nothing yet of the King's death. The Duke of Saxe-Weimar had the body brought to the front. “I will no longer conceal from you,” he said, “the misfortune that has befallen us; in the name of the glory that you have won in following this great prince, help me to exact vengeance for it, and to let all the world see that he commanded soldiers who rendered him invincible, and, even after his death, the terror of his enemies.” A shout arose from the host, “We will follow you whither you will, even-to the end of the earth!” 6 “Those who look for spots on the sun, and find something reprehensible even in virtue itself, blame this King,” says Cardinal Richelieu, “for having died like a trooper; but they do not reflect that all conqueror-princes are obliged to do not only the duty of captain, but of simple soldier, and to be the first in perii, in order to lead thereto the soldier who would not run the risk without them. It was the case with Caesar and with Alexander, and the Swede died so much the more gloriously than either the one or the other, in that it is more becoming the condition of a great captain and a conqueror to die sword in hand, making a tomb for his body of his enemies on the field of battle, than to be hated of his own and poniarded by the hands of his nearest and dearest, or to die of poison, or of drowning in a wine-butt.” 7 Just like Napoleon in Egypt and Italy, Gustavus Adolphus had performed the prelude, by numerous wars against his neighbors, to the grand enterprise which was to render his name illustrious. Wanquished in his struggle with Denmark, in 1613, he had carried war into Muscovy, conquered towns and provinces, and as early as 1617 he had effected the removal of the Russians from the shores of the Baltic. The Poles made a pretense of setting their own King, Sigismund, upon the throne of Sweden; and for eighteen years Gustavus Adolphus had bravely defended his rights, and protected and extended his kingdom up to the truce of Altenmarket, concluded in 1629 through the intervention of Richelieu, who had need of the young King of Sweden in order to oppose the Emperor Ferdinand and the dangerous power of the house of Austria. Summoned to Germany by the Prot-8 estant princes, who were being oppressed and despoiled, and assured of assistance and subsidies from the King of France, Gustavus Adolphus had, no doubt, ideas of a glorious destiny, which have been flippantly taxed with egotistical ambition. Perhaps, in the noble joy of victory, when he “was marching on without fighting,” seeing provinces submit, one after another, without his being hardly at the pains to draw his sword, might he have sometimes dreamed of a Protestant empire and the imperial crown upon his head; but, assuredly, such was not the aim of his enterprise and of his life. “I must in the end make a sacrifice of myself,” he had said, on bidding farewell to the estates of Sweden; and it was to the cause of Protestantism in Europe that he made this sacrifice. Sincerely religious in heart, Gustavus Adolphus was not ignorant that his principal political strength was in the hands of the Protestant princes; and he put at their service the incomparable splendor of his military genius. In two years the power of the house of Austria, a work 9 of so many efforts and so many years, was shaken to its very foundations. The evangelical union of Protestant princes was re-forming in Germany, and treating, as equal with equal, with the Emperor; Ferdinand was trembling in Vienna, and the Spaniards, uneasy even in Italy, were collecting their forces to make head against the irresistible conqueror, when the battle-field of Lützen saw the fall, at thirty-eight years of age, of the “hero of the North,

the bulwark of Protestantism,” as he was called by his contemporaries, astounded at his greatness. God sometimes thus cuts off his noblest champions in order to make men see that He is master, and He alone accomplishes his great designs; but, to them whom He deigns thus to employ, He accords the glory of leaving their imprint upon the times they have gone through and the events to which they have contributed.

[ocr errors][merged small]

This sketch of the character of Hannibal is a fine specimen of historical description, and is characterized by Dr. Arnold's scrupulous regard for truth. Ilannibal, the great Carthaginian commander, was the most formidable enemy of Rome, and was, perhaps, the ablest general of antiquity.

1 If the characters of men be estimated according to the steadiness with which they have followed the true principle of action, we can not assign a high place to Hannibal. But, if patriotism were indeed the greatest of virtues, and a resolute devotion to the interests of his country were all the duty that a public man can be expected to fulfill, he would then deserve the most lavish praise. Nothing can be more unjust than the ridicule with which Juvenal has treated his motives, as if he had been actuated merely by a romantic desire of glory. On the contrary, his whole conduct displays the loftiest genius and the boldest spirit of enterprise, happily subdued and directed by a cool judgment to the furtherance of the honor and interests of his country; and his sacrifice

« ElőzőTovább »