Youth of the Great Elector - George Upton

In a Garden House at Berlin

Gustavus Adolphus shortly appeared again with his army before Berlin and trained his cannon upon it, whereupon its citizens became panic-stricken. The King well knew that there was a strong party opposed to him, and he decided to see what effect a menacing attitude would have upon them. The Electoress and her mother, the widowed Princess of the Palatinate, betook themselves to the King's camp and arranged for an interview between the King and the Elector. At the place of their meeting, near the Stralauer Gate, a Berlin alderman owned a fruit garden, in which he had erected a handsome summer house. At the appointed hour the Elector appeared in his coach, accompanied by Pruckmann and Burgsdorf. His face showed that the sufferings of his people had made a deep impression upon him. He dismounted and went to the summer house, where he was notified that the King was near by. Standing at the door he saw his royal brother-in-law upon his steed, accompanied by 103) ?> a brilliant array of officers, approaching the summer house. The Elector advanced to meet him, Pruckmann and Burgsdorf following. The princes greeted each other by word, hand shake, and kiss, but the greeting was not characterized by warmth of feeling on either side. How could it have been otherwise?

"Dear brother-in-law," began the King in a loud voice, "I come in the name of our holy religion, to which we belong, to invite you to join with me against our common hereditary enemy. Once there was a union of German princes. Where is it now? Three times I have offered you my hand. Wavering courage, discord, fear of the world's opinions have prevented the making of a common agreement against the Emperor and the Catholic League. Now I have come here at my own risk, and trusting in God have raised my banners for the protection of the oppressed followers of our faith."

The Elector replied: "My dear brother-in-law, how well I know that our beloved Church is sorely beset! Twelve long years I have borne this sorrow which has wellnigh overcome my soul, and the burden only grows heavier. This war is wasting Germany like a dreadful disease. But you know as well as I that religion is not the only exciting cause of it."

"We must sever conflicting interests as once the Gordian knot was cut. There is no other way, and we must strike the blow now while our sinews are still strong. If we hesitate longer, all Protestant countries will share the fate of Bohemia and the Palatinate."

"Is that the only possible way? The Emperor has yielded somewhat. Wallenstein has been dismissed."

"Yes," said the King, "one person may fall, but does the spirit which calls men fall with him? The smoking ruins of Magdeburg answer the question. In the place of Wallenstein, Tilly was there. And may not Wallenstein be summoned again? May he not any day emerge from his hiding-place? Where he will be needed is as clear as the day. Stralsund is the key of the Baltic. That is why so much blood was shed to win it. Ferdinand's plans are clear. The promulgation of the Restitutions Edict for the north of Germany has been delayed, but when the delay is ended, then it will be time for the northern empire to draw the sword. Has not Wallenstein already shown his enmity to Sweden? For years he sent troops to my enemies, the Poles, and when I called him to account for it he gave me the insulting answer that he was not in want of those he spared. May they not put forth fresh and redoubled exertions to secure Stralsund? I know well enough there are persons who will say now and in the future, What business has Sweden to meddle with the war in Germany?' Thus fools and ill-wishers will talk. There is a war against the Protestant Church, and if it be destroyed in Germany it will be destroyed in Sweden. Shall I suffer the last hope of German Protestants to disappear before I move? No. I clearly see what would happen if I, as a Protestant prince, should act as you have done,—tremble and hesitate; now assume an earnest manner as if I were about to draw the sword, and then, submissively smiling, acknowledge my vassalage. Tell me, my brother-in-law, what have your vacillating politics toward Austria during the last twelve years done for you? Could the hardest war have caused the loss of more men and money than has already occurred?"

"I fear, yes. An openly declared war against the Emperor might cost me as much as it has cost the Duke of Mecklenburg against whom the ban has been pronounced."

"Yes, an unjust, unrighteous act. But the ban is now an empty shell, for I have restored this right to the Duke."

"That is very good," replied the Elector. "But can you guarantee that that ends the matter? You are a brave warrior. You have proved it in Poland and in many places in Germany. And yet the history of all times and people shows that the personal courage and ability of a leader do not always decide a contest. There are many things which upset all human calculations. Shall I now place my own and my country's welfare upon the hazard of a die held in the hand of a man very dear to me, and yet mortal?"

The King's face reddened as he said: "Is that your last word, brother-in-law?"

"By no means, my brother. Do not be angry with me," replied the Elector. Seizing the King's hand, he continued: "Would you look into the very depths of my soul? Come with me."

Both princes went into the garden house, where they remained for an hour. When they came out they came hand in hand. When they first met they coolly shook hands. At parting they embraced each other affectionately. The King rode back to camp and the Elector to the city.

What did one of them say to the other at this meeting?

"I cannot blame my brother-in-law for hesitating hitherto to grant my wishes," said Gustavus Adolphus. They are dangerous things which I ask."

And the Elector said at the castle: "Who can withstand that magnificent man? We have shown each other our inmost emotions. He is actuated by the feelings of injured honor, the safety of his empire, and above all else by his devotion to our faith. He is travelling a dangerous road. May God be his helper."

Upon the afternoon of the same day Gustavus Adolphus entered Berlin with his army. In the evening a treaty was made between the Electorate of Brandenburg and Sweden. Spandau was given over anew to the Swedes, the opening of Custrin was promised in case of retreat, and thirty thousand thalers monthly was guaranteed for the support of the Swedish army.