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Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta Family By Elizabeth Rundle Charles Characters: 9733

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04

Thekla's Story.

Wittemberg, 23d January, 1548.

Dr. Luther has left Wittemberg to-day for Eisleben, his birth-place, to settle a dispute between the Counts of Mansfeld concerning certain rights of church patronage.

He left in good spirits, intending to return in a few days. His three sons, John, Martin, and Paul, went with him. Mistress Luther is anxious and depressed about his departure, but we trust without especial cause, although he has often of late been weak and suffering.

The dullness and silence which to me always seem to settle down on Wittemberg in his absence are increased now doubtless by this wintry weather, and the rains and storms which have been swelling the rivers to floods. He is, indeed, the true father and king of our little world; and when he is with us all Germany and the world seem nearer us through his wide-seeing mind and his heart that thrills to every touch of want or sorrow throughout the world.


Mistress Luther has told me to-day that Dr. Luther said before he left he could "lie down on his death-bed with joy if he could first see his dear Lords of Mansfeld reconciled." She says also that he has just concluded the Commentary on Genesis, on which he has been working these ten years, with these words-

"I am weak and can do no more. Pray God he may grant me a peaceful and happy death."

She thinks his mind has been dwelling of late more than usual, even with him, on death, and fears he feels some inward premonition or presentiment of a speedy departure.

So long he has spoken of death as a thing to be desired! Yet it always makes our hearts ache to hear him do so. Of the Advent, as the end of all evil and the beginning of the Kingdom, we can well bear to hear him speak, but not of that which if the end of all evil to him, would seem like the beginning of all sorrows to us.

Now, however, Mistress Luther is somewhat comforted by his letters, which are more cheerful than those she received during his absence last year, when he counselled her to sell all their Wittemberg property, and take refuge in her estate at Z?llsdorf, that he might know her safe out of Wittemberg-that "haunt of selfishness and luxury"-before he died.

His first letter since leaving Wittemberg this time is addressed-

"To my kind and dear K?the Lutherin, at Wittemberg, grace and peace in the Lord.

"Dear K?the,-To-day at half-past eight o'clock we reached Halle, but have not yet arrived at Eisleben; for a great anabaptist encountered us with water-floods and great blocks of ice, which covered the land, and threatened to baptize us all again. Neither could we return, on account of the Mulda. Therefore we remain tranquilly here at Halle, between the two streams. Not that we thirst for water to drink, but console ourselves with good Torgau beer and Rhine wine, in case the Saala should break out into a rage again. For we and our servants, and the ferrymen, would not tempt God by venturing on the water; for the devil is furious against us, and dwells in the water-floods; and it is better to escape him than to complain of him, nor is it necessary that we should become the jest of the pope and his hosts. I could not have believed that the Saala could have made such a brewing, bursting over the causeway and all. Now no more; but pray for us and be pious. I hold, hadst thou been here, thou hadst counselled us to do precisely what we have done. So for once we should have taken thy advice. Herewith I commend you to God. Amen. At Halle, on the day of the Conversion of St. Paul.

"Martinus Luther."

Four other letters she has received, one dated on the 2d of February, addressed-

"To my heartily beloved consort Katherin Lutherin, the Z?llsdorfian doctoress, proprietress of the Saümarkt, and whatever else she may be, grace and peace in Christ; and my old poor (and, as know, powerless) love to thee!

"Dear K?the,-I became very weak on the road to Eisleben, for my sins; although, wert thou here, thou wouldst have said it was for the sins of the Jews. For near Eisleben we passed through a village where many Jews reside, and it is true, as I came through it, a cold wind came through my Baret (doctor's hat), and my head, as if it would turn my brain to ice.

"Thy sons left Mansfeld yesterday, because Hans von Jene so humbly entreated them to accompany him. I know not what they do. If it were cold, they might help me freeze here. Since, however, it is warm again, they may do or suffer anything else they like. Herewith I commend you and all the house to God, and greet all our friends. Vigilia purificationis."

And again-


"To the deeply learned lady Katherin, my gracious consort at Wittemberg, grace and peace.

"Dear K?the,-We sit here and suffer ourselves to be tortured, and would gladly be away; but that cannot be, I think, for a w

eek. Thou mayest say to Master Philip that he may correct his exposition; for he has not yet rightly understood why the Lord called riches thorns. Here is the school in which to learn that" (i. e., the Mansfeld controversies about property). "But it dawns on me that in the Holy Scriptures thorns are always menaced with fire; therefore I have all the more patience, hoping, with God's help, to bring some good out of it all. It seems to me the devil laughs at us; but God laughs him to scorn! Amen. Pray for us. The messenger hastes. On St. Dorothea's day. M. L. (thy old lover)."

Dr. Luther seems to be enjoying himself in his own simple hearty way, at his old home. Nobles and burghers give him the most friendly welcome.

The third letter Mistress Luther has received is full of playful tender answers to her anxieties about him.

"To my dear consort Katherin Lutherin, doctoress and selftormentor at Wittemberg, my gracious lady, grace and peace in the Lord.

"Read thou, dear K?the, the Gospel of John, and the smaller Catechism, and then thou wilt say at once, 'All that in the book is said of me.' For thou must needs take the cares of thy God upon thee, as if He were not almighty, and could not create ten Doctor Martins, if the one old Doctor Martin were drowned in the Saala. Leave me in peace with thy cares I have a better guardian than thou and all the angels. It is He who lay in the manger, and was fondled on a maiden's breast; but who sitteth also now on the right hand of God the Almighty Father. Therefore be at peace."

And again-

"To the saintly anxious lady, Katherin Lutherin, Doctorin Zulsdorferin at Wittemberg, my gracious dear wife, grace and peace in Christ.

"Most saintly lady Doctoress,-We thank your ladyship kindly for your great anxiety and care for us which prevented your sleeping; for since the time that you had this care for us, a fire nearly consumed us in our inn, close by my chamber door; and yesterday (doubtless by the power of your care), a stone almost fell on our head, and crushed us as in a mouse-trap. For in our private chamber during more than two days, lime and mortar crashed above us, until we sent for work-men, who only touched the stone with two fingers, when it fell, as large as a large pillow two hand-breadths wide. For all this we should have to thank your anxiety; had not the dear holy angels been guarding us also! I begin to be anxious that if your anxieties do not cease, at last the earth may swallow us up, and all the elements pursue us. Dost thou indeed teach the Catechism and the creed? Do thou then pray and leave God to care, as it is promised. 'Cast they burden on the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.'

"We would now gladly be free and journey homewards, if God willed it so. Amen. Amen. Amen. On Scholastica's Day. The willing servant of your holiness,

"Martin Luther."

February 17th.

Good news for us all at Wittemberg! Mistress Luther has received a letter from the doctor, dated the 14th February, announcing his speedy return:-

"To my kind dear wife Katharin Lutherin von Bora, at Wittemberg.

"Grace and peace in the Lord, dear K?the! We hope this week to come home again, if God will. God has shown us great grace; for the lords have arranged all through their referees, except two or three articles-one of which is that Count Gebhard and Count Albrecht should again become brothers, which I undertake to-day, and will invite them to be my guests, that they may speak to each other, for hitherto they have been dumb, and have embittered one another with severe letters.

"The young men are all in the best spirits, make excursions with fools' bells on sledges-the young ladies also-and amuse themselves together; and among them also Count Gebhard's son. So we must understand God is exauditor precum.

"I send to thee some game which the Countess Albrecht has presented to me. She rejoices with all her heart at the peace. Thy sons are still at Mansfeld. Jacob Luther will take good care of them. We have food and drink here like noblemen, and we are waited on well-too well, indeed-so that we might forget you at Wittemberg. I have no ailments.

"This thou canst show to Master Philip, to Doctor Pomer, and to Doctor Creuzer. The report has reached this place that Doctor Martin has been snatched away (i. e., by the devil), as they say at Magdeburg and at Leipzig. Such fictions these countrymen compose, who see as far as their noses. Some say the emperor is thirty miles from this, at Soest, in Westphalia; some that the Frenchman is captive, and also the Landgrave. But let us sing and say, we will wait what God the Lord will do.-Eisleben, on the Sunday Valentini. M. Luther, D."

So the work of peace-making is done, and Dr. Luther is to return to us this week-long, we trust, to enjoy among us the peace-maker's beatitude.

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