XXII. The Manifesto

The people were moving in dense crowds through Berlin. The long and splendid street "Unter den Linden" was filled with a vast multitude, whoso greeting cheers resembled the noise of the ocean's billows.

"The king has safely arrived at Breslau!" cried one of the men to another, and immediately the enthusiastic cry of "Long live the king!" burst from all those who heard it, and, like a jubilant echo, the people along the whole street repeated, "Long live the king!"

"The king has reappointed General Scharnhorst quartermaster-general, and General Blücher is with him at Breslau!" exclaimed a stentorian voice. "Long live Scharnhorst! Long live Blücher!" shouted the crowd. "Long live our heroes!" "Down with the French!" and thousands answered in tones of intense hatred, "Down with the French!"

"They so long trampled us under foot!" cried another citizen. "Now, let us pay them for it! Come, let us go to the French ambassador and give him a few groans! We will no longer be silent!"

"Yes, we are determined to speak!" yelled the multitude, who hurried toward the gate in front of which the residence of the ambassador was situated. But suddenly they were stopped by a procession approaching from the Brandenburg gate. It was headed by three men-- one of short and feeble frame, his face pale and emaciated, but lit up by large flashing blue eyes; the second was tall and broad- shouldered, his eye looking frank and bold, and his hair falling on his shoulders like a lion's mane; the third was not tall, but of a firmly-knit frame, and, with his proud head and intrepid air, looked like the embodiment of chivalry. Behind them was a line of more than two hundred youths, in light, simple attire, their cheeks glowing with excitement or exercise, and their eyes flashing with enthusiasm.

"Hurrah!" shouted the people. "Here are the Turners! Here is Father Jahn with his Turners! Long live Jahn!"

The Turners, at a beck from "Father Jahn," had taken position across the street, and thus, like a chain, prevented the citizens from passing on. The three leaders stood in front, and gazed gravely upon the approaching multitude.

"Clear the track!" cried the crowd. "We have business to attend to on the square in front of the gate!"

"Believe me, it is as I said," whispered the smallest of the three men to his neighbor. "It is a riot directed against the French ambassador!"

"Where are you going?" shouted the man with the lion's mane, pushing back those at the head of the crowd with his herculean arms.

"We are going to the French ambassador, to sing him a new German song, and accompany it with stones for his windows."

"And why do you wish to do so?" asked the tall man. "What do you care for the Frenchman on this beautiful and joyous day? Men like you have something else to do than to break the windows of the French ambassador. There will be other battles before long. I hope you have heard or read what great events have occurred; I hope you know the message which the king has sent to us from Breslau?"

"No, we know nothing about them!" replied a few voices. "Yes, we do," said others. "But we would like to hear the news again," cried another. "Pray, repeat it to us, Father Jahn!"

"I am not very well able to do so; our gymnastic performances to-day have exhausted me," replied Jahn. "I went out of the gate with my pupils at an early hour in the morning. These two gentlemen came to us and told us the news, and that is the reason why we have come back. My friend will tell you what he told me, and he knows better how to speak than I do, for he has an eloquent tongue. This is well known to all of you, for who among you is not acquainted with Frederick Schleiermacher, the great preacher?"

"Schleiermacher! Long live Schleiermacher! Let Schleiermacher repeat to us what the king said! Let him tell us what is on the large placards on the street corners. Hearing it read, we understand it better than on reading it ourselves."

And many arms were stretched out toward the feeble little man who stood by the side of Jahn, lifting him up and placing him gently on the balcony fixed above the door of a neighboring house.

"That is a good pulpit," shouted the people; "Schleiermacher, address us from it!"

The little man with bright eyes and a genial countenance gazed for a moment in silence upon his auditors, who thronged around him in suspense and curiosity. He then raised his arms, commanding silence. The laughter, shouts, and yells, died away; all eyes were fixed upon Schleiermacher, and the noise of the multitude seemed arrested as by a magician's wand, as the voice of the preacher resounded through the street clear and distinct. "You want me to read what has been addressed to us all," he said, "the manifesto which Minister von Hardenberg has issued to the people in the king's name. Listen, then!" He took a large folded paper from his breast-pocket, and, opening it, read as follows: "'The dangerous position in which the state has been placed by recent events requires a rapid augmentation of the troops now in arms, while our finances admit of no lavish expenditures. In consideration of the patriotism and faithful attachment to the king which have always animated the people of Prussia, and manifested themselves most strikingly in times of danger, there is but an opportunity required to give a definite direction to these sentiments, and to the desire for activity which distinguishes so many young men, that they may swell by their accession to the army the ranks of the older defenders of the country, whom they would emulate in nobly fulfilling the first of all duties incumbent upon us. For this reason his majesty has designed to order the organization of companies of volunteers, to be embodied with the regiments of infantry and cavalry already in the service, that an opportunity to enter the army in a manner suitable to their education, and their position in life, may be given to all those classes who, under the existing conscription laws, are exempt from service, and are rich enough to pay for their own outfit and horse, and that a prospect of distinguishing themselves may be held out to men who, owing to their education and intellect, might immediately do good service, and soon be appointed line and field officers.' [Footnote: Hardenberg issued this manifesto at Breslau, on the 3d of February; it was published at Berlin on the 5th.] It is unnecessary for me to read the conclusion of the proclamation," said Schleiermacher. "You know enough, for you know now that the king calls his people; that he calls upon all the youths and men of his kingdom to rally round him, and that he requests, and does not order them to do so. The country is in danger; and not the king's order, but your own voluntary action, is to make you soldiers of the fatherland and put arms into your hands. Remember that your free will is your most precious and sacred possession, and that he is twice a hero whom it actuates, and is not forced into duty. No greater honor can be conferred on you than that your country calls you, trusts in your strong arm, and hopes in your free will to save it from destruction. Take that into consideration, and decide then whether you will stay at home or obey the call."

The two men who had been by his side at the head of the procession, Jahn, the brave Turner, and the chivalrous La Motte Fouque, now ascended the balcony.

"I do not care to stay at home when my country calls me to her aid!" exclaimed M. de la Motte Fouque, in a loud, sonorous voice. "I joyfully offer my services as a soldier. I have a wife and children, but my country is to me more precious than they are, and I enroll here my name as the first volunteer who responds to the call of his king and country."

"And I enroll my name as the second volunteer!" exclaimed Jahn, the Turners' father. "I swear here to my country that I will joyously fight for it. Henceforth, my blood and life belong to the fatherland.--And where are you, my boys, my Turners? Shall I march out all alone, or will you accompany me?"

"We will go with you!" cried a hundred youthful voices, and their enthusiastic shouts rent the sky. "We will march with you! We will fight for the fatherland!" And the crowd, carried away by what they saw and heard--the men with tearful eyes, the youths with flashing glances--all shouted: "We will march with you! We will fight for the fatherland!" Neighbor gave his hand to neighbor, and friend embraced friend; those who had never before seen each other understood the common feeling, and those who had never exchanged a word conversed now like old acquaintances. One grand impulse seemed to move the multitude--one patriotic feeling beamed from all eyes--one vow burned in all hearts: to be faithful soldiers to their country. It was no mere transitory enthusiasm, soon to disappear, and to be succeeded by a corresponding reaction--it was no momentary ardor kindled by the manifesto issued at Breslau, but the sacred fire of patriotism burning in the heart of the whole people of Prussia, and increased from day to day. Every one felt himself a soldier, and would have considered it a disgrace to remain at home while others marched to the war of liberation.

The pupils of the lyceums closed their books, and the teachers did not prevent them; they only appeared in the school-rooms, to say to the half-grown youths: "Farewell! The country has called us! Let us march to the field! Those of you who have reached their seventeenth year, and are willing to fight, follow us!" And, with shouts of exultation, the older youths rallied round their teachers, while the younger ones retired with tearful eyes, as if ashamed of their age. What occurred in the lyceum was repeated in the offices, the courts, the counting-houses of the bankers and merchants. No one would stay at home, or refuse the country his arm and his strength. All selfish calculations, all distinctions of rank had ceased. Princes and counts were seen in the ranks of the volunteers by the side of the humblest youths; and poor men, who had sold every thing they had to buy arms and a uniform, did not think of their future, or what was to become of them after their return from the war. The fatherland had called them, and they voluntarily took up arms in its defence. Death had lost its terrors, life had lost its value. With exulting hearts, mothers saw their sons preparing for the struggle. The affianced bride uncomplainingly clasped her departing lover for the last time in her arms; without fear for the fate of his wife and children, the husband and father embraced his dear ones, and his wife did not attempt to dissuade him. She would have despised him if he desired to remain, and loved his wife and his children more devotedly than his country, calling to him in the hour of her peril.

Four days had not yet elapsed since the publication of the manifesto of the king, when there stood on the Gendarmes market at Berlin one hundred and fifty young volunteers, who, within a few days, had fully armed and equipped themselves, either from their own means, or with the assistance of friends, and who were now about to march to Potsdam in order to set out with a company of ninety volunteers, which had been recruited in that city for the king's headquarters at Breslau. [Footnote: Nine thousand young men volunteered at Berlin in the first three days after the manifesto was issued, and active preparations were made to uniform and equip them at the earliest moment.] All Berlin wished to participate in the farewell of this first company of volunteers which were sent to its king. Every one desired once more to shake hands with the courageous defenders of the country--to shout a love-greeting, a last wish to them, and bless the soldiers of the fatherland. The windows of the houses on the Gendarmes market were therefore filled with ladies and children, who greeted the departing volunteers with their handkerchiefs, with wreaths and flowers; the church bells were ringing in their honor, and the fathers of the city, the burgomasters, and other members of the municipality, adorned with their golden chains, were assembled on the market-place to conduct the young soldiers, in the name of the city, to the gate, and behind them a dense multitude filled the square. Those remaining looked gloomy, and envied their brethren, because they were to take the field at so early a day; wishing thorn joy, they shouted: "Prepare quarters for us; we shall soon follow you!"

The church bells were ringing, and amid their solemn peals and the deafening cheers of the many thousands who nodded to them in the streets, and from the windows of the houses, the young soldiers left the Gendarmes market, escorted by the members of the municipality. They did not, however, march directly to the Potsdam gate. They would not leave Berlin without receiving the blessing of the Church, and this was to be given by the man who read to them the manifesto four days before, and who had exhorted them to comply with the call of their country. A committee, appointed by the young volunteers, had therefore waited on Schleiermacher, and requested him to give the blessing of the Church to their grave undertaking, and he gladly granted their request. The procession marched to Trinity church. There were waiting their mothers, sisters, and brides, greeting them with loving glances, and beckoning them to occupy the reserved places, embracing and praying hand in hand with them for the last time. The organ poured forth its solemn concords, and from all lips burst forth the anthem of "In allen meinen Thaten lass ich den Hochsten rathen." [Footnote: "In all my deeds. I let the Highest counsel."] The last notes of the music had not yet died away, when the noble face of Schleiermacher appeared in the pulpit. His eyes were beaming as never before; his voice was never so fervent and powerful, nor had he ever spoken with such irresistible eloquence, energy, and courage, as on that day. A profound silence reigned in the vast building; every one listened eagerly to the inspiring words of the prophet of a new and better era, and inwardly resolved to remember the stirring exhortations which Schleiermacher now, in concluding his sermon, addressed to the young men, that they may remain pure and true in the service of so righteous a cause. The thoughts of the audience were with God; to Him their hearts had all turned. But now Schleiermacher's voice grew softer; his eyes, which had hitherto been raised toward heaven, looked upon the wives and mothers, who sat in long lines before him. "Rejoice in the Lord, ye mothers," he said, "blessed are you in having given birth to such sons! blessed your breasts that nourished such children! God gave them to you, and you give them to the fatherland! Rejoice in the Lord, for He will achieve great things through them! Rejoice, and do not weep!" But now they could restrain no longer their tears and sobs. The words addressed to them had touched their feelings. They felt their hearts' wounds, and wept aloud. An electric shock, as it were, pervaded the whole assembly; not an eye remained dry, not a heart was unmoved; even Schleiermacher's voice was tremulous when he uttered his "Amen!"

They departed from the church to the Potsdam gate, and along the road leading to Potsdam, continuing their march on the following day, after being joined by the company which La Motte Fouque had recruited in that city. The grief of their separation from their dear ones was forgotten as they hastened toward the future--a future of battles and victories.

"Now, no more tears, no more sighs! Let us sing a merry song!" said the young volunteers.

"Yes. Where is a poet who can sing us a song such as we need now?"

"Fouque is here; let him sing! Yes, Fouque is among us! We have elected him captain! He is a chivalrous soldier, and gained his spurs in 1794, during the war against the French. He deserves to be our captain!"

"But he deserves, too, to be our bard, for by his 'Undine' he has also won his laurels as a poet."

"Let us have a song, brave La Motte Fouque!" shouted all the volunteers. "There is Father Jahn, who will persuade him. Ask Fouque to sing us a war-song!"

Jahn galloped up to the poet, who was riding in thoughtful silence at the head of his company; it is true, he had heard the solicitations of the young men, but continued his way, smiling and muttering to himself. "Fouque," shouted Jahn, in his stentorian voice; "do you not hear the requests of our bold youths? Give some expression to the enthusiasm burning in their hearts. Let us have a song, then, my poet!"

"Well," replied Fouque, quickly raising his head, and smiling on his friend; "I have just composed a poem. Listen to me, my friends!" He turned his horse, and in a loud voice commanded the volunteers to halt.

"You wish me to sing. I will give you a song just as it has sprung up in my heart during the march, and I have also composed the air. When I have finished repeat it with me!" And he began to sing in a powerful voice:

"Frisch auf zum frohlichen Jagen, Es ist schon an der Zeit! Es fangt schon an zu tagen, Der Kampf ist nicht mehr weit!"

"Auf lasst die Faulen liegen, Gonnt ihnen ihre Ruh; Wir rucken mit Vergnugen Dem lieben Konig zu."

"Der Konig hat gesproehen: Wo sind meine Jager nun? Da sind wir aufgebrochen, Ein wackeres Werk zu thun."

"Wir woll'n ein Heil erbauen Fur all das deutsche Land, Im frohen Gottvertrauen Mit rustig starker Hand."

"Schlaft ruhig nun, Ihr Lieben! Am vaterlichen Heerd, Derweil mit Feindeshieben Wir ringen Keck bewehrt."

"O Wonne die zu schlutzen, Die uns das Liebste sind! Hei! Lasst Kanonen hlitzen. Ein frommer muth gewinnt!"

"Die mehrsten zieh'n einst wieder Zuruck in Siegerreih'n; Dann toen Jubellieder Dess' wird'ne Freude sein!"

"Wie gluh'n davon die Herzen So froh und stark und weich. Wer fallt, der kann's verschmerzen, Der hat das Himmelreich!"

[Footnote: La Motte Fouque composed this poem on the march from Potsdam to Breslau, whither he conducted the first companies of volunteers. It was the first song of liberty published in 1813:

Mount! mount! for sacred freedom fight! The battle soon must be. The night is past, and red the light Streams o'er the dewy lea.

Up! let the coward idlers sleep! Who envies them their rest? We march with joyful hearts to keep Our honored king's request.

To us he said: "My brave ones all!-- My chasseurs! where are they?" Responsive to his patriot call We hastened to obey.

We vowed to strike with mighty hand As it becomes the free-- A safeguard for our native land With Heaven's grace to be.

Sleep calmly, wives and children dear To God your sorrows tell. The hour, alas! of blood is near, But all your fears dispel.

Approved we hasten to the field; What though the strife begins! 'Tis joy our loved ones thus to shield, For pious courage wins.

Returning, all may not be found! But some, in glory's grave, Shall never hear the songs resound Of those they died to save.

Come, glowing heart! despise the pain Of death; for, evermore,. Shall he who falls, a kingdom gain On heaven's eternal shore!]

Dieses Kapitel ist Teil des Buches Napoleon and Blücher