Page images
PDF
EPUB

VII.
MAGDEBURG BEFORE THE SIEGE.
Short time ago, and as he passes through

Thronged thoroughfares, full warehouses, rich shops,

The booted traveller reins his steed, and stops
To gaze on all they show. Here, two by two,
On high days, all the trades, in doublets new,

Each with its badge, marched by, while belfry-tops

Shook with their chimes. Here, reared on massive props, Pillared and arched, to just proportion true, Bulwark of freedom! rose the stately halls

Of audience, council-chambers, courts of law, Where native genius, taught by her own light,

Grouped her creations. On those smouldering walls The old cathedral struck the mind with awe

There Luther's Column marked a century's flight.

VIII.

THE SAME AFTER.
What see you now? Great God! the very stones

Are smeared with gore; the dead are all you meet,

Save dogs that lap the puddle of the street, Warm human blood! and mumble human bones! Anon, come on the ear the feeble groans

Of some poor lingering wretch! The eye to greet

Promiscuously are scattered-heads, arms, feet,
And forms of death that Nature's voice disowns !
O'erhead, a cloud of pestilence and smoke

Almost excludes the light; the putrid air
Sickens the sense; the flames reduce their prey

To ashes ; but those ashes cannot soak The blood of thirty thousand butchered there

« Butchered to make a Roman holiday !"

IX.

THE BATTLE OF LEIPZIG. 'Tis sunrise in September. Hark! the boom

Of the League's cannon. « On! my own true Swedes

And if your valour such incentive needs, Think of the wolves that wrought the bloody doom Of Magdeburg." High waves the eagle plume

Of Sweden's king, amid the rush of steeds

Flashes his sword. On! valiant hearts! he leads
Who knows the way to glory. To a room-

It was a grave digger's, where cross and bones
Most ominously hung_a wounded man
Was borne upon a litter; far and wide

'Tis rout and ruin ; mixed with a few groans, He faltered forth, “I've felt as if God's ban

Was on my soul to-day"__thus Tilly died !!

X. RICHELIEU DISCLOSES HIS THOUGHTS TO FATHER JOSEPH. “By our Lady, Father Joseph, 'tis not well

This Swedish bravo should make havoc thus

Of half our creed_he'll show his teeth at us Ere long. What if our heretics rebel ?

A thing has happened; how their fight would swell

His rank and file. When minus becomes plus

'Tis time to change relations, and discuss
New measures and new men. If we would fell
This oak, we'll work with the invisible strokes

Of policy: supply Bavaria's king
Through Spanish channels ; mould the coming shock

Or Wallenstein's fury; with a raven's croaks
Appal the Saxon. Thou the leading-string

Of all, meek pilgrim, in thy friar's frock!"

XI.

THE EMPEROR SOLICITS WALLENSTEIN TO RESUME THE COMMAND.
Courier on courier from the Danube's bank

To Zsnain there's nought but hurrying to and fro.

Proud man! these courtiers wait on you, and go
Back to the Emperor scouted : he hath drank
Humiliation to the dregs, and sank

To be his subject's subject. “ There will flow

From private life, at least, no second blow
To crush me to the earth. Return, and thank
The Emperor in my name. It is his way,

In danger's hour to fawn upon the man
He knows can save him ; when the storm blows by,

Dismissal and contempt the debt repay-
Thus was I treated. 'Tis my present plan

For a better recompense to live and die."

XII.

WALLENSTEIN MARCHES TO BLOCKADE NUREMBURG.

On, Wallenstein-roll on the deafening din

Of war wide-wasting; for thy cannon's wheel

Snatch from the plough its team, their scanty meal
From trembling peasants. If Bavaria win
Thy tardy aid, her master has a sin*

Still unatoned for; and he soon shall feel

What private bate, making the common weal
Its pretext, can inflict. Meantime, within
The walls of Nuremburg the King secures

His faithful Swedes; the citizen, with joy,
Cries, “God save good Gustavus ! our last loaf

We'll share with him.” Outside, the foe endures
Like famine. Who starves longest will destroy

The other; but such warfare soon tires both.

XIII.

BOTH ARMIES BREAK OFF.

On, on! ye rival hosts--all Europe's eyes

Expect the issue. Here two chiefs are met

That never knew defeat-both equal yet,
But still how different. One_brave, good, and wise :

* The King of Bavaria was a principal agent in constraining the Emperor to dismiss Wallenstein from his first command.

The other, who can paint—what wing can rise

High as his thoughts—what plummet bottom get

In that dark soul?-a midnight black as jet,
Flared up with lightning. On! a sumless prize
Is cast between you : both the foremost men

Of the age ye live in—both ordained to live
For ever. One may teach what steady light

That man receives, who works by sword or pen,
From the Word of God; the other, too, might give

A warning, if weak man could read aright.

XIV.

BATTLE OF LUTZEN-VIEW IN THE BEGINNING.

The high road parts both armies. Wallenstein,

'Ere dawn, had planted it with musqueteers

And cannon. The fog 's thick, but, as it clears,
A hymn well chanted, a sweet native strain,
The Swedes pour forth- then charge, opposed in vain

By trench and fire: regiment to regiment cheers,

« Brave Upland, Smaland, Finland, cross the spears Of these skirmishers with your bayonets.” Ha! again The enemy reels- the cannon 's taken. Lightnings flash

From Wallenstein's eye-himself 's already there.
“ Ho! Tersky-Illo, charge with trampling steeds

Their flank. All cowards infamy shall lash
Upon the recreant backs they turn-who'll spare

His life, or doubt the event, where Wallenstein leads ?"

XV.

SAME, AT A MORE ADVANCED PERIOD.

“Sire, the left wing is driven across the road,

The batteries are retaken." This ill news

O'ertakes the King on the right, as he pursues
The flying Croats. No alarm he showed
A few quick sentences on Horn bestowed :

" Regiment of Steinbock, it is thou I choose

For escort. See! our brothers yonder lose
Some ground. Away, my charger, thou 'rt bestrode
By one must prove thy mettle." In a trice

He's at the post of danger; with a cheer
Rallies the broken-all resources tries.

“Yon 's no mean trooper_let thy aim be nice,"
Says a gefreyter* to a musqueteer.

“The King 's struck !" through the ranks, soul-harrowing, flies.

XVI.

DEATH OF GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS.

“ Brother, we'll take a circuit to the right,

This bleeding arm I wish not to be seen

The sight disheartens.” He thus called had been
An Imperialist : deserted on some slight,

* A gefreyter with the Imperialists held a rank similar to that of a corporal in our ariny,

And changed religions-changed again, to plight

Twice-broken faith to other colours--seen

So often false, what he this day did mean
Is a vexed question ; but suspicion's blight
Cleaves to Saxe-Lauenburg. As on they passed

At a quick gallop, Lauenburg behind,
The King fell, shot. His charger backward flew

To the Swedes, revealing what their fears forecast;
They broke their ranks, by no command confined,

And round his corpse a murderous conflict grew.

XVII.

CONCLUSION OF THE BATTLE. 5. Who cares for life when Sweden's sun is set ?

Our glory is departed: we live now

Only for vengeance !” Thus the Swedes avow Despair and desperation. With cheeks wet With tears they charge. How could such charge be met

By serfs and hirelings? But behold! the brow

Of Wallenstein brightens. Pappenheim's troopers bow O'er outstretched necks, o'er clattering hoofs that threat The ear, ere seen. But seel as on they come,

A hedge of pikes starts up. They cannot shake That serried mass, to all impressions numb

As adamant, that to no odds will yield: All's carnage-quarter neither give nor take.

At length night falls, and both, defiant, quit the field.

XVIII.

MOURNING AT WEISSENFELLS.

Enough for rage-enough's for vengeance done :

Grief now must claim its own. Around a bier

Grim warriors weep o'er all their hearts hold dearWeep o'er that form their swords from outrage won, 'Mid heaps of slain. All now beneath the sun

Indifferent to them. But soon draws near

Another mourner, to which these appear
But passing shadows. Speaking not, that none,
In turn, vain words might offer: wrapt in weeds,

Pale, but revealing such a depth of love
As earth hath now no object left to fill,

Eleonora, for the last time, feeds That grief an angel soon will sooth above,

On what lies there pale, silent, cold, and still !

XIX.

PAPPENHEIM.
On Pappenheim's forehead Nature's band had drawn

Two sanguine strokes. A soldier from his choice,

War was his element his eye, his voice, And those two sanguine strokes, marked out from its dawn A mind congenial to those scenes where yawn

Flames and convulsions. Oft did he rejoice

To lead the hope forlorn, the first to hoise His flag upon the ramparts. Though to fawn

On princes he disdained, in faith firm-set,

He deemed Heaven served by all the blood he spill'd.
From Spain the order of the Golden Fleece

Had almost reached him, when his death-blow met
Him first at Lutzen. “Since the Swede is killed,

The Catholic's foe,” he gasped, “ I die in peace !"

XX.

OXENSTIERN.
Alas! that spirit is no more that swayed

All counsels, bent all wills, and awed all minds.

One hangs aloof, or one a leader finds
That serves mere personal ends. To be obeyed
By princes, who sit down beneath the shade

Of a great fame and will that bends and binds

All others to itself, amid mankind's
Events, has not been oftentimes displayed.
Such was the lot of great Gustavus--such

Of few besides by moral strength made strong.
Another great example we discern

In a poor noble-poor, though charged with much.
This man, in peace and war prime mover long,

Was Sweden's Chancellor, Oxenstiern.

XXI.

DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN.
Night falls in Egra: in its castle hall

The few friends left to that still towering man,

Great, though so fallen ! marked out for death, outran
In revel their few sands. He, far from all,
No voices hears, save one-the still, the small,

That whispers, “ Thou'rt a traitor.” He would scan

The heavens, and soon with Seni* he began
From this remorseful spirit to disenthral
His thoughts, when th' old man croaked—“The Fates that spin

Your destiny turn pale: a cloud appears
On your natal star," "My friend, 'twill soon be sped.”

Another hour! and crash! the door falls in.
Rush on the breast he shows two halberdiers !

'Twas thus from him his soul indignant fled !

XXII.
BERNARD, DUKE OF SAXE WEIMAR.
“ Courage, Father Joseph, Breysach will be ours-

Saxe Weimar is no more.” “Your Eminence,"

Replied the Capuchin softly, “ may dispense
With Protestant allies now." Amid the flowers
That memory strews before our vacant hours,

None raise the feelings to a livelier sense

Of valour never backward in defence
Of injured right-of love that owns no powers
Save ihe heart's dictates—than thy stirring tale,

O Bernard, early-lost and long-deplored!
The Cardinal urged him to a marriage suit-

“My niece is worth a duchy.” “All would fail,”
Said he, “ though lord of nothing but my sword,

To reconcile me to your stolen fruit."

Seni was the name of the astrologer to whose skill in the "occult science" Wallenstein so much trusted.

« PreviousContinue »