Read Chapter IX. - TRAITOR WARKOTSCH. of History Of Friedrich II. of Prussia (Vol. XX.) (Friedrich is not to be Overwhelmed: The Seven-Years War Gradually Ends-25th April‚ 1760-15th February‚ 1763.), free online book, by Thomas Carlyle, on

Friedrich’s Army was to have cantoned itself round Neisse, October 3d:  but on the instant of this fatal Schweidnitz news proceeded (3d-6th October) towards Strehlen instead, - Friedrich personally on the 5th; - and took quarters there and in the villages round.  General cantonment at Strehlen, in guard of Breslau and of Neisse both; Loudon, still immovable at Kunzendorf, attempting nothing on either of those places, and carefully declining the risk of a Battle, which would have been Friedrich’s game:  all this continued till the beginning of December, when both parties took Winter-quarters; [Tempelhof, .] cantoned themselves in the neighboring localities, - Czernichef, with his Russians, in Glatz Country; Friedrich in Breslau as headquarter; - and the Campaign had ended.  Ended in this part, without farther event of the least notability; - except the following only, which a poor man of the name of Kappel has recorded for us.  Of which, and the astounding Sequel to which, we must now say something.

Kappel is a Gentlemans Groom of those Strehlen parts; and shall, in his own words, bring us face to face with Friedrich in that neighborhood, directly after Schweidnitz was lost.  It is October 5th, day, or rather night of the day, of Friedrichs arrival thereabouts; most of his Army ahead of him, and the remainder all under way.  Friedrich and the rearward part of his Army are filing about, in that new Strehlen-ward movement of theirs, under cloud of night, in the intricate Hill-and-Dale Country; to post themselves to the best advantage for their double object, of covering Breslau and Neisse both; Kappel LOQUITUR; abridged by Kuster, whom we abridge: -

“MONDAY NIGHT, OCTOBER 5th, 1761, The King, with two or three attendants, still ahead of his Army, appeared at Schönbrunn, a Schloss and Village, five or six miles south from Strehlen; [THIS is the Warkotsch Schönbrunn; not the other near Schweidnitz, as Archenholtz believes:  see ARCHENHOLTZ, i, and the bit of myth he has gone into in consequence.] and did the owner, Baron von Warkotsch, an acquaintance of his, the honor of lodging there.  Before bedtime, - if indeed the King intended bed at all, meaning to be off in four hours hence, - Friedrich inquired of Warkotsch for ’a trusty man, well acquainted with the roads in this Country.’  Warkotsch mentioned Kappel, his own Groom; one who undoubtedly knew every road of the Country; and who had always behaved as a trusty fellow in the seven years he had been with him.  ’Let me see him,’ said the King.  Kappel was sent up, about midnight, King still dressed; sitting on a sofa, by the fire; Kappel’s look was satisfactory; Kappel knows several roads to Strehlen, in the darkest night.  ’It is the footpath which goes so-and-so that I want’ (for Friedrich knows this Country intimately:  readers remember his world-famous Camp of Strehlen, with all the diplomacies of Europe gathered there, through summer, in the train of Mollwitz).  ‘JA, IHRO MAJESTAT, I know it!’ ’Be ready, then, at 4.’

“Before the stroke of 4, Kappel was at the door, on Master’s best horse; the King’s Groom too, and led horse, a nimble little gray, were waiting.  As 4 struck, Friedrich came down, Warkotsch with him.  ’Unspeakable the honor you have done my poor house!’ Besides the King’s Groom, there were a Chamberlain, an Adjutant and two mounted Chasers (REITENDE JAGER), which latter had each a lighted lantern:  in all seven persons, including Kappel and the King.  ‘Go before us on foot with your lanterns,’ said the King.  Very dark it was.  And overnight the Army had arrived all about; some of them just coming in, on different roads and paths.  The King walked above two miles, and looked how the Regiments were, without speaking a word.  At last, as the cannons came up, and were still in full motion, the King said:  ’Sharp, sharp, BURSCHE; it will be MARCH directly.’  ‘March?  The Devil it will:  we are just coming into Camp!’ said a cannonier, not knowing it was the King.

“The King said nothing.  Walked on still a little while; then ordered, ‘Blow out the lanterns; to horseback now!’ and mounted, as we all did.  Me he bade keep five steps ahead, five and not more, that he might see me; for it was very dark.  Not far from the Lordship Casserey, where there is a Water-mill, the King asked me, ’Have n’t you missed the Bridge here?’ (a King that does not forget roads and topographies which may come to concern him!) - and bade us ride with the utmost silence, and make no jingle.  As day broke, we were in sight of Strehlen, near by the Farm of Treppendorf.  ‘And do you know where the Kallenberg lies?’ said the King:  ’It must be to left of the Town, near the Hills; bring us thither!’

“When we got on the Kallenberg, it was not quite day; and we had to halt for more light.  After some time the King said to his Groom, ’Give me my perspective!’ looked slowly all round for a good while, and then said, ’I see no Austrians!’ - (ground all at our choice, then; we know where to choose!) The King then asked me if I knew the road to” - in fact, to several places, which, in a Parish History of those parts, would be abundantly interesting; but must be entirely omitted here....  “The King called his Chamberlain; gave some sign, which meant ’Beer-money to Kappel!’ - and I got four eight-groschen pieces [three shillings odd; a rich reward in those days]; and was bid tell my Master, ’That the King thanked him for the good quarters, and assured him of his favor.’

“Riding back across country, Kappel, some four or five miles homeward, came upon the ‘whole Prussian Army,’ struggling forward in their various Columns.  Two Generals, - one of them Krusemark, King’s Adjutant [Colonel Krusemark, not General, as Kappel thinks, who came to know him some weeks after], - had him brought up:  to whom he gave account of himself, how he had been escorting the King, and where he had left his Majesty.  ’Behind Strehlen, say you?  Breslau road?  Devil knows whither we shall all have to go yet!’ observed Krusemark, and left Kappel free.” [Kuster, _ Lebens-Rettungen,_ p-76.]

In those weeks, Colberg Siege, Pitt’s Catastrophe and high things are impending, or completed, elsewhere:  but this is the one thing noticeable hereabouts.  In regard to Strehlen, and Friedrich’s history there, what we have to say turns all upon this Kappel and Warkotsch:  and, - after mentioning only that Friedrich’s lodging is not in Strehlen proper, but in Woiselwitz, a village or suburb almost half a mile off, and very negligently guarded, - we have to record an Adventure which then made a great deal of noise in the world.

Warkotsch is a rich lord; Schönbrunn only one of five or six different Estates which he has in those parts; though, not many years ago, being younger brother, he was a Captain in the Austrian service (Regiment BOTTA, if you are particular); and lay in Olmutz, - with very dull oulooks; not improved, I should judge, by the fact that Silesia and the Warkotsch connections were become Prussian since this junior entered the Austrian Army.  The junior had sown his wild oats, and was already getting gray in the beard, in that dull manner, when, about seven years ago, his Elder Brother, to whom Friedrich had always been kind, fell unwell; and, in the end of 1755, died:  whereupon the junior saw himself Heir; and entered on a new phase of things.  Quitted his Captaincy, quitted his allegiance; and was settled here peaceably under his new King in 1756, a little while before this War broke out.  And, at Schönbrunn, October 5th, 1761, has had his Majesty himself for guest.

Warkotsch was not long in riding over to Strehlen to pay his court, as in duty bound, for the honor of such a Visit; and from that time, Kappel, every day or two, had to attend him thither.  The King had always had a favor for Warkotsch’s late Brother, as an excellent Silesian Landlord and Manager, whose fine Domains were in an exemplary condition; as, under the new Warkotsch too, they have continued to be.  Always a gracious Majesty to this Warkotsch as well; who is an old soldier withal, and man of sense and ingenuity; acceptable to Friedrich, and growing more and more familiar among Friedrich’s circle of Officers now at Strehlen.

To Strehlen is Warkotsch’s favorite ride; in the solitary country, quite a charming adjunct to your usual dull errand out for air and exercise.  Kappel, too, remarks about this time that he (Kappel) gets once and again, and ever more frequently, a Letter to carry over to Siebenhuben, a Village three or four miles off; the Letter always to one Schmidt, who is Catholic Curate there; Letter under envelope, well sealed, - and consisting of two pieces, if you finger it judiciously.  And, what is curious, the Letter never has any address; Master merely orders, “Punctual; for Curatus Schmidt, you know!” What can this be? thinks Kappel.  Some secret, doubtless; perhaps some intrigue, which Madam must not know of, - ACH, HERR BARON; and at your age, - fifty, I am sure!” Kappel, a solid fellow, concerned for groom-business alone, punctually carries his Letters; takes charge of the Responses too, which never have any Address; and does not too much trouble himself with curiosities of an impertinent nature.

To these external phenomena I will at present only add this internal one:  That an old Brother Officer of Warkotsch’s, a Colonel Wallis, with Hussars, is now lying at Heinrichau, - say, 10 miles from Strehlen, and about 10 from Schönbrunn too, or a mile more if you take the Siebenhuben way; and that all these missives, through Curatus Schmidt, are for Wallis the Hussar Colonel, and must be a secret not from Madam alone!  How a Baron, hitherto of honor, could all at once become TURPISSIMUS, the Superlative of Scoundrels?  This is even the reason, - the prize is so superlative.

“MONDAY NIGHT, NOVEMBER 30th, 1761 [night bitter cold], Kappel finds himself sitting mounted, and holding Master’s horse, in Strehlen, more exactly in Woiselwitz, a suburb of Strehlen, near the King’s door, - Majesty’s travelling-coach drawn out there, symbol that Strehlen is ending, general departure towards Breslau now nigh.  Not to Kappel’s sorrow perhaps, waiting in the cold there.  Kappel waits, hour after hour; Master taking his ease with the King’s people, regardless of the horses and me, in this shivery weather; - and one must not walk about either, for disturbing the King’s sleep!  Not till midnight does Master emerge, and the freezing Kappel and quadrupeds get under way.  Under way, Master breaks out into singular talk about the King’s lodging:  Was ever anything so careless; nothing but two sentries in the King’s anteroom; thirteen all the soldiers that are in Woiselwitz; Strehlen not available in less than twenty minutes:  nothing but woods, haggly glens and hills, all on to Heinrichau:  How easy to snatch off his Majesty!  “UM GOTTES WILLEN, my Lord, don’t speak so:  think if a patrolling Prussian were to hear it, in the dark!” Pooh, pooh, answers the Herr Baron.

“At Schönbrunn, in the short hours, Kappel finds Frau Kappel in state of unappeasable curiosity:  ’What can it be?  Curatus Schmidt was here all afternoon; much in haste to see Master; had to go at last, - for the Church-service, this St. Andrew’s Eve.  And only think, though he sat with My Lady hours and hours, he left this Letter with ME:  “Give it to your Husband, for my Lord, the instant they come; and say I must have an Answer to-morrow morning at 7.”  Left it with me, not with My Lady; - My Lady not to know of it!’ ‘Tush, woman!’ But Frau Kappel has been, herself, unappeasably running about, ever since she got this Letter; has applied to two fellow-servants, one after the other, who can read writing, ‘Break it up, will you!’ But they would not.  Practical Kappel takes the Letter up to Master’s room; delivers it, with the Message.  ‘What, Curatus Schmidt!’ interrupts My Lady, who was sitting there:  ‘Herr Good-man, what is that?’ ‘That is a Letter to me,’ answers the Good-man:  ‘What have you to do with it?’ Upon which My Lady flounces out in a huff, and the Herr Baron sets about writing his Answer, whatever it may be.

“Kappel and Frau are gone to bed, Frau still eloquent upon the mystery of Curatus Schmidt, when his Lordship taps at their door; enters in the dark:  ’This is for the Curatus, at 7 o’clock to-morrow; I leave it on the table here:  be in time, like a good Kappel!’ Kappel promises his Unappeasable that he will actually open this Piece before delivery of it; upon which she appeases herself, and they both fall asleep.  Kappel is on foot betimes next morning.  Kappel quietly pockets his Letter; still more quietly, from a neighboring room, pockets his Master’s big Seal (PETSCHAFT), with a view to resealing:  he then steps out; giving his BURSCH [Apprentice or Under-Groom] order to be ready in so many minutes, ‘You and these two horses’ (specific for speed); and, in the interim, walks over, with Letter and PETSCHAFT, to the Reverend Herr Gerlach’s, for some preliminary business.  Kappel is Catholic; Warkotsch, Protestant; Herr Gerlach is Protestant preacher in the Village of Schönbrunn, - much hated by Warkotsch, whose standing order is:  ’Don’t go near that insolent fellow;’ but known by Kappel to be a just man, faithful in difficulties of the weak against the strong.  Gerlach, not yet out of bed, listens to the awful story:  reads the horrid missive; Warkotsch to Colonel Wallis:  ’You can seize the King, living or dead, this night!’ - hesitates about copying it (as Kappel wishes, for a good purpose]; but is encouraged by his Wife, and soon writes a Copy.  This Copy Kappel sticks into the old cover, seals as usual; and, with the Original safe in his own pocket, returns to the stables now.  His Bursch and he mount; after a little, he orders his Bursch:  ’Bursch, ride you to Siebenhuben and Curatus Schmidt, with this sealed Letter; YOU, and say nothing.  I was to have gone myself, but cannot; be speedy, be discreet!’ And the Bursch dashes off for Siebenhuben with the sealed Copy, for Schmidt, Warkotsch, Wallis and Company’s behoof; Kappel riding, at a still better pace, to Strehlen with the Original, for behoof of the King’s Majesty.

“At Strehlen, King’s Majesty not yet visible, Kappel has great difficulties in the anteroom among the sentry people.  But he persists, insists:  ‘Read my Letter, then!’ which they dare not do; which only Colonel Krusemark, the Adjutant, perhaps dare.  They take him to Krusemark.  Krusemark reads, all aghast; locks up Kappel; runs to the King; returns, muffles Kappel in soldier’s cloak and cap, and leads him in.  The King, looking into Kappel’s face, into Kappel’s clear story and the Warkotsch handwriting, needed only a few questions; and the fit orders, as to Warkotsch and Company, were soon given:  dangerous engineers now fallen harmless, blown up by their own petard.  One of the King’s first questions was:  ‘But how have I offended Warkotsch?’ Kappel does not know; Master is of strict wilful turn; - Master would grumble and growl sometimes about the peasant people, and how a nobleman has now no power over them, in comparison.  ‘Are you a Protestant?’ ’No, your Majesty, Catholic.’  ‘See, IHR HERREN,’ said the King to those about him; ’Warkotsch is a Protestant; his Curatus Schmidt is a Catholic; and this man is a Catholic:  there are villains and honest people in every creed!’

“At noon, that day, Warkotsch had sat down to dinner, comfortably in his dressing-gown, nobody but the good Baroness there; when Rittmeister Rabenau suddenly descended on the Schloss and dining-room with dragoons:  ‘In arrest, Herr Baron; I am sorry you must go with me to Brieg!’ Warkotsch, a strategic fellow, kept countenance to Wife and Rittmeister, in this sudden fall of the thunder-bolt:  ’Yes, Herr Rittmeister; it is that mass of Corn I was to furnish [showing him an actual order of that kind], and I am behind my time with it!  Nobody can help his luck.  Take a bit of dinner with us, anyway!’ Rittmeister refused; but the Baroness too pressed him; he at length sat down.  Warkotsch went ‘to dress;’ first of all, to give orders about his best horse; but was shocked to find that the dragoons were a hundred, and that every outgate was beset.  Returning half-dressed, with an air of baffled hospitality:  ’Herr Rittmeister, our Schloss must not be disgraced; here are your brave fellows waiting, and nothing of refreshment ready for them.  I have given order at the Tavern in the Village; send them down; there they shall drink better luck to me, and have a bit of bread and cheese.’  Stupid Rabenau again consents: - and in few minutes more, Warkotsch is in the Woods, galloping like Epsom, towards Wallis; and Rabenau can only arrest Madam (who knows nothing), and return in a baffled state.

“Schmidt too got away.  The party sent after Schmidt found him in the little Town of Nimptsch, half-way home again from his Wallis errand; comfortably dining with some innocent hospitable people there.  Schmidt could not conceal his confusion; but pleading piteously a necessity of nature, was with difficulty admitted to the - to the ABTRITT so called; and there, by some long pole or rake-handle, vanished wholly through a never-imagined aperture, and was no more heard of in the upper world.  The Prussian soldiery does not seem expert in thief-taking.

“Warkotsch came back about midnight that same Tuesday, 500 Wallis Hussars escorting him; and took away his ready moneys, near 5,000 pounds in gold, reports Frau Kappel, who witnessed the ghastly operation (Hussars in great terror, in haste, and unconscionably greedy as to sharing); - after which our next news of him, the last of any clear authenticity, is this Note to his poor Wife, which was read in the Law Procedures on him six months hence:  ’My Child (MEIN KIND), - The accursed thought I took up against my King has overwhelmed me in boundless misery.  From the top of the highest hill I cannot see the limits of it.  Farewell; I am in the farthest border of Turkey. - WARKOTSCH.’” [Kuster, Lebens-Rettungen, :  Kuster, p-188 (for the general Narrative); Tempelhof, , &c. &c.]

Schmidt and he, after patient trial, were both of them beheaded and quartered, - in pasteboard effigy, - in the Salt Ring (Great Square) of Breslau, May, 1762: - in pasteboard, Friedrich liked it better than the other way.  “MEINETWEGEN,” wrote he, sanctioning the execution, “For aught I care; the Portraits will likely be as worthless as the Originals.”  Rittmeister Rabenau had got off with a few days’ arrest, and the remark, “ER IST EIN DUMMER TEUFEL (You are a stupid devil)!” Warkotsch’s Estates, all and sundry, deducting the Baroness’s jointure, which was punctually paid her, were confiscated to the King, - and by him were made over to the Schools of Breslau and Glogau, which, I doubt not, enjoy them to this day.  Reverend Gerlach in Schönbrunn, Kappel and Kappel’s Bursch, were all attended to, and properly rewarded, though there are rumors to the contrary.  Hussar-Colonel Wallis got no public promotion, though it is not doubted the Head People had been well cognizant of his ingenious intentions.  Official Vienna, like mankind in general, shuddered to own him; the great Counts Wallis at Vienna published in the Newspapers, “Our House has no connection with that gentleman;” - and, in fact, he was of Irish breed, it seems, the name of him WallISCH (or Walsh), if one cared.  Warkotsch died at Raab (THIS side the farthest corner of Turkey), in 1769:  his poor Baroness had vanished from Silesia five years before, probably to join him.  He had some pension or aliment from the Austrian Court; small or not so small is a disputed point.

And this is, more minutely than need have been, in authentic form only too diffuse, the once world-famous Warkotsch Tragedy or Wellnigh-Tragic Melodrama; which is still interesting and a matter of study, of pathos and minute controversy, to the patriot and antiquary in Prussian Countries, though here we might have been briefer about it.  It would, indeed, have “finished the War at once;” and on terms delightful to Austria and its Generals near by.  But so would any unit of the million balls and bullets which have whistled round that same Royal Head, and have, every unit of them, missed like Warkotsch!  Particular Heads, royal and other, meant for use in the scheme of things, are not to be hit on any terms till the use is had.

Friedrich settled in Breslau for the Winter, December 9th.  From Colberg bad news meet him in Breslau; bad and ever worse:  Colberg, not Warkotsch, is the interesting matter there, for a fortnight coming, - till Colberg end, it also irremediable.  The Russian hope on Colberg is, long since, limited to that of famine.  We said the conveyance of Supplies, across such a Hundred Miles of wilderness, from Stettin thither, with Russians and the Winter gainsaying, was the difficulty.  Our short Note continues: -

“In fact, it is the impossibility:  trial after trial goes on, in a strenuous manner, but without success.  October 13th, Green Kleist tries; October 22d, Knobloch and even Platen try.  For the next two months there is trial on trial made (Hussar Kleist, Knobloch, Thadden, Platen), not without furious fencing, struggling; but with no success.  There are, in wait at the proper places, 15,000 Russians waylaying.  Winter comes early, and unusually severe:  such marchings, such endeavorings and endurances, - without success!  For darkness, cold, grim difficulty, fierce resistance to it, one reads few things like this of Colberg.  ’The snow lies ell-deep,’ says Archenholtz; ’snow-tempests, sleet, frost:  a country wasted and hungered out; wants fuel-wood; has not even salt.  The soldier’s bread is a block of ice; impracticable to human teeth till you thaw it, - which is only possible by night.’  The Russian ships disappear (17th October); November 2d, Butturlin, leaving reinforcements without stint, vanishes towards Poland.  The day before Butturlin went, there had been solemn summons upon Eugen, ’Surrender honorably, we once more bid you; never will we leave this ground, till Colberg is ours!’ ’Vain to propose it!’ answers Eugen, as before.  The Russians too are clearly in great misery of want; though with better roads open for them; and Romanzow’s obstinacy is extreme.

“Night of November 14th-15th, Eugen, his horse-fodder being entirely done, and Heyde’s magazines worn almost out, is obliged to glide mysteriously, circuitously from his Camp, and go to try the task himself.  The most difficult of marches, gloriously executed; which avails to deliver Eugen, and lightens the pressure on Heyde’s small store.  Eugen, in a way Tempelhof cannot enough admire, gets clear away.  Joins with Platen, collects Provision; tries to send Provision in, but without effect.  By the King’s order, is to try it himself in a collective form.  Had Heyde food, he would care little.

“Romanzow, who is now in Eugen’s old Camp, summons the Veteran; they say, it is ’for the twenty-fifth time,’ - not yet quite the last.  Heyde consults his people:  ‘KAMERADEN, what think you should I do?’ ’THUN SIE’S DURCHAUS NICHT, HERR OBRIST, Do not a whit of it, Herr Colonel:  we will defend ourselves as long as we have bread and powder.’ [Seyfarth, ii; Archenholtz, i.] It is grim frost; Heyde pours water on his walls.  Romanzow tries storm; the walls are glass; the garrison has powder, though on half rations as to bread:  storm is of no effect.  By the King’s order, Eugen tries again.  December 6th, starts; has again a march of the most consummate kind; December 12th, gets to the Russian intrenchment; storms a Russian redoubt, and fights inexpressibly; but it will not do.  Withdraws; leaves Colberg to its fate.  Next morning, Heyde gets his twenty-sixth summons; reflects on it two days; and then (December 16th), his biscuit done, decides to ’march out, with music playing, arms shouldered and the honors of war."’ [Tempelhof, -377; Archenholtz, i-307; especially the Seyfarth Beylagen above cited.] Adieu to the old Hero; who, we hope, will not stay long in Russian prison.

“What a Place of Arms for us!” thinks Romanzow; - “though, indeed, for Campaign 1762, at this late time of year, it will not so much avail us.”  No; - and for 1763, who knows if you will need it then!

Six weeks ago, Prince Henri and Daun had finished their Saxon Campaign in a much more harmless manner.  NOVEMBER 5th, Daun, after infinite rallying, marshalling, rearranging, and counselling with Loudon, who has sat so long quiescent on the Heights at Kunzendorf, ready to aid and reinforce, did at length (nothing of “rashness” chargeable on Daun) make “a general attack on Prince Henri’s outposts”, in the Meissen or Mulda-Elbe Country, “from Rosswein all across to Siebeneichen;” simultaneous attack, 15 miles wide, or I know not how wide, but done with vigor; and, after a stiff struggle in the small way, drove them all in; - in, all of them, more or less; - and then did nothing farther whatever.  Henri had to contract his quarters, and stand alertly on his guard:  but nothing came.  “Shall have to winter in straiter quarters, behind the Mulda, not astride of it as formerly; that is all.”  And so the Campaign in Saxony had ended, “without, in the whole course of it”, say the Books, “either party gaining any essential advantage over the other.” [Seyfarth, ii; Tempelhof, et seq. (ibid. p-280 for the Campaign at large, in all breadth of detail).]