The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Youth of the Great Elector, by L. Mühlbach
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Title: The Youth of the Great Elector
Author: L. Mühlbach
Release Date: August 29, 2004 [EBook #13295]
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THE YOUTH OF THE GREAT ELECTOR
An Historical Romance
AUTHOR OF JOSEPH II. AND HIS COURT, FREDERICK THE GREAT AND HIS COURT, LOUISA OF PRUSSIA AND HER TIMES, HENRY VIII. AND HIS COURT, ETC.
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN BY MARY STUART SMITH
I. GEORGE WILLIAM, THE ELECTOR II. EVIL TIDINGS III. COUNT ADAM VON SCHWARZENBERG IV. SOLDIERS AND DIPLOMATISTS V. THE ELECTOR AND HIS FAVORITE VI. REVELATIONS
I. THE DOUBLE RENDEZVOUS II. THE ELECTORAL PRINCE III. THE WARNING IV. AN IDYL V. MEDIA NOCTE VI. THE HARDEST VICTORY
I. NEW PLANS II. COUNT JOHN ADOLPHUS VON SCHWARZENBERG III. THE HOME-COMING IV. THE DONATION V. BRUTUS VI. REBECCA VII. THE OFFER VIII. THE BANQUET IX. LOVE'S SACRIFICE X. THE WHITE LADY XI. THE PURSUIT XII. THE DEPARTURE
I. THE YOUTHFUL SOVEREIGN II. PLANS FOR THE FUTURE III. DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS IV. CONFIRMED IN POWER V. THE CATASTROPHE VI. REVENGE VII. THE SEALING OF THE DOCUMENTS VIII. THE FLIGHT IX. THE LETTER X. A SECRET AUDIENCE XI. MEETING AND PARTING XII. THE INVESTITURE AT WARSAW
Portrait of George William, Elector of Brandenburg
The Jewess in her Bridal Dress
Robbery of Peasants
Portrait of Wladislaus IV, King of Poland
[Illustration: George William, Elector of Brandenburg.
From an engraving by H. Jacopsen]
THE YOUTH OF THE GREAT ELECTOR.
THE HEIR TO THE THRONE.
I.—GEORGE WILLIAM, THE ELECTOR.
With hasty strides George William, the Elector, paced to and fro the length of his cabinet. His features wore a dark, agitated expression, his blue eyes flashed with indignation and wrath; his hands were folded behind his back, as if he would shut out from sight the paper they held with so firm a grasp, and which he had crumpled within his fist, until it bore greater resemblance to a ball than a letter. Yet he must look at it once more—that unfortunate epistle, which had stirred within him such a tempest of fury; he must withdraw his hands from his back, and again unfold the paper, for nothing else would satisfy his rage.
"Would that I could thus crush between my hands the insolent, seditious authors of this letter!" he murmured, as with a sigh he smoothed the paper and read it over. "I see it plainly," he said then to himself; "with right unworthy motive, these lords of the duchy of Cleves intend to vex and mortify me. To ask me to give them the Electoral Prince for their stadtholder, to fix his residence among them! That were a fine story forsooth, to send our son away, that he, too, may perchance rebel against us. It is an abominable thing, which I shall never suffer, and I shall forwith give them my mind on the subject."
He stepped up to the great table of carved oak-wood, took from it a silver whistle, and gave a loud shrill call.
"Are the deputies from the duchy of Cleves already in the antechamber?" he asked of the servant who appeared.
"Yes, your Electoral Highness, they are there."
"Let them come in! Be quick!"
The lackey stepped back, threw open the folding doors, beckoned into the entrance hall, and with loud voice announced: "The lords of the duchy of Cleves to wait upon his Electoral Highness."
Four gentlemen entered, attired in gorgeous, richly embroidered uniforms.
They bowed low and most respectfully before the Elector.
George William did not acknowledge this reverential greeting by the slightest inclination of his head, but looked with contracted brow and threatening eyes at the envoys, who had now again lifted up their heads, and met with tranquillity and composure the wrathful glances of the lord of the land, while they seemed to await his permission to penetrate farther into the apartment, and to approach him.
But this permission the Elector did not accord them. He left them standing like humble dependents near the door, and went toward them with long, menacing strides.
"You are the lords from Cleves, who have come to present me this memorial in behalf of the estates?" asked George William in a harsh voice.
"Gracious Elector," answered one of the gentlemen, "we were sent hither, in the name of the states of the duchy of Cleves, to present to you in person their wishes and requests. But since your Electoral Highness would not have the kindness to grant us an audience, but referred us to your minister, his excellency Count Schwarzenberg, we have preferred to intrude upon your Electoral Highness with a written document, in order that your highness might be made acquainted with the desires and petitions of the duchy of Cleves by means of our own writing, rather than by the mouth of his excellency your minister."
"It pleases you, gentlemen, to impugn the character of my minister, Count Schwarzenberg?" asked the Elector. "You would insinuate that he might represent things differently from what they actually are? I give you to know, though, that Schwarzenberg is a servant singularly true and devoted to his Elector, and that I have much more reason to trust him than the estates of the duchy of Cleves, who have dared to make known to me through you their strange requests. I have had you summoned now in order to have confirmed by you orally what is stated in this paper, for it seems to me nothing less than sheer impossibility that the estates should venture to propose to their liege lord what you have proposed. Repeat to me, therefore, by word of mouth the demands of the states of Cleves, then I will return you my answer. Which of you is spokesman?"
"I, Baron van Velsen, your Electoral Highness."
"A Dutch name, as it seems to me."
"My family came originally from Holland, but settled in the duchy of
Cleves fifty years ago."
"Speak then, Baron van Velsen. I am ready to hear you."
"Your Electoral Highness, the states of the duchy of Cleves send us to seek succor from you their liege lord in this time of their necessity and distress. On all sides we are oppressed by soldiers, and perpetually in danger of being seized and consumed by one or other of the contending potentates, princes, and lords. In the Netherlands the contest is still going on between the