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Andreas Hofer: An Historical Novel By L. Mühlbach Characters: 22396

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

The guests of Anthony Steeger, the innkeeper of Lienz, had been greatly excited to-day; they had talked, debated, lamented, and sworn a great deal. In accordance with the request of Andreas Hofer, the most influential leaders of the Tyrolese had met there and drawn up, as Hofer proposed, a petition to the Emperor Francis, who was now in Hungary at one of the palaces belonging to the Prince of Lichtenstein. The disastrous tidings of the battle of Wagram had been followed a few days afterward by news fully as disheartening. The Archduke Charles had concluded an armistice with the Emperor Napoleon at Znaym, on the 12th of July, 1809. By this armistice hostilities were to be suspended till the 20th of August; but in the mean time the Austrians were to evacuate the Tyrol, Styria, and Carinthia entirely, and restore to the Bavarians and French the fortified cities which they had occupied.

These calamitous terms of the armistice had induced Andreas Hofer to summon some of his friends to Lienz, and draw up with them a petition to the emperor, in which they implored him with touching humility to have mercy upon them in their distress, and not to forsake his faithful Tyrol. They stated that they had been told that the Austrian troops, in accordance with the stipulations of the armistice, were to evacuate the Tyrol, but this did not confer upon the French and Bavarians the right of occupying the Tyrol. They besought the emperor to prevent this, and not to permit the enemy to occupy the country.

Such were the contents of the petition which Andreas Hofer and the other leaders of the Tyrolese had signed to-day at the inn of Anthony Steeger, at Lienz, and which Jacob Sieberer was to convey as the last cry of the despairing Tyrol to the headquarters of the emperor at Totis, while Eisenstecken was to deliver a copy of the petition to General Buol, commander-in-chief of the Austrian troops.

Night had now come; the friends and comrades had long since left Anthony Steeger's house, and Andreas Hofer alone remained with him to talk with his faithful friend about the disastrous change in their affairs, and the gloomy prospects of the future.

"I cannot believe that all is as they say," said Andreas Hofer, with a sigh. "The emperor promised us solemnly never to give up or forsake again his faithful Tyrol, and it would be high-treason to suppose that the emperor will not honestly redeem his pledges. No, no; I tell you, Anthony, the emperor and our dear Archduke John certainly do not intend to abandon us; only the Austrian generals are opposed to the continuance of the war, and long to get away from our mountains, because they are afraid of Bonaparte, and think he would punish them if they should stay here any longer and refuse to deliver the province to his tender mercies."

"I am likewise loth to believe that the Emperor Francis would forsake us," said Anthony Steeger, nodding his head approvingly. "For the emperor loves us, and will not allow us to fall into the hands of the infidel Bonaparte, who has just committed another outrage by arresting the Holy Father in Rome and dragging him away from his capital."

"Well, the Holy Father excommunicated him for this outrage," cried Andreas Hofer, with flashing eyes; "he called down the wrath of God and man on the head of the Anti-christ, and rendered it incumbent on every pious Christian to wage war against the criminal who laid his ruthless hands even upon the holy Church, and trampled under foot him whom the Almighty has anointed. Anthony Steeger, let me tell you, I will not allow the French to return to our country, and never will I permit the Austrians to evacuate the Tyrol."

"And how will you prevent them from so doing?" asked Anthony

Steeger, shrugging his shoulders.

"I said to-day how I and all of us are going to prevent it. We shall not suffer the Austrians to depart; we shall keep them here by prayers, stratagems, or force. I have given instructions to all the commanders to do so; I have given them written orders which they are to communicate to our other friends, and in which I command them not to permit the departure of the Austrians. I believe I am commander- in-chief as yet, and they will obey my bidding."

"If they can do it, Andy, they certainly will; but what if they cannot? What if the Austrians cannot be kept here by prayers or stratagem?"

"In that case we must resort to force," cried Hofer impetuously. "We must compel them to stay here; the whole Tyrol must rise as one man and with its strong arms keep the Austrians in the country. Yes, yes, Anthony, we must do it; it will be best for us all. It must look as though we detain the Austrians by force, and this will be most agreeable to the Emperor Francis; for what fault of his is it that the Tyrolese prevent him from carrying out what he promised to Bonaparte in the armistice? It is not his fault, then, if the Austrians stay here, and if we prevent them from leaving our mountains. We must detain them, we must. And I will write immediately to old Red-beard, Father Haspinger, Joseph Speckbacher, and Anthony Wallner. I will summon them to a conference with me, and we will concert measures for a renewed rising of the Tyrol. Give me pen and ink, Tony; I will write in the first place to old Red-beard, and your Joe shall take the letter this very night to his convent."

Anthony Steeger hastened to bring him what he wanted, and while Hofer scrawled the letter, his friend stood behind him, and followed with attentive eyes every word which Andreas finished with considerable difficulty.

Both were so much absorbed in the letter that they did not perceive that the door opened behind them, and that Baron von Hormayr, in a dusty travelling-dress, entered the room. For a moment he stood still at the door and cast a searching glance on the two men; he then advanced quickly toward Andreas Hofer, and, laying his hand on his shoulder, he said: "Well, Andy, what are you writing there?"

Andreas looked up, but the unexpected arrival of the baron did not seem to excite his surprise. "I am writing to old Red-beard," he said; "I am writing to him that he is to come to me immediately. And after finishing the letter to old Red-beard, I will write the same thing to Speckbacher and Anthony Wallner, Mr. Intendant of the Tyrol."

"Do not apply that title to me any longer, Andy," said Hormayr, with a slight frown. "I am no longer intendant of the Tyrol, for you know that we must leave the Tyrol and restore it to the French and Bavarians."

"I for one do not know it, Mr. Intendant of the Tyrol," cried Andreas, with an angry glance. "I know only that the Archduke John appointed you military intendant of the Tyrol, and that you took a solemn oath to aid us in becoming once more, and remaining, Austrians."

"I think, Andy, I have honestly redeemed my pledges," said Hormayr. "I assisted you everywhere to the best of my power, was always in your midst, encouraging, organizing, fighting, and mediating; and I think you will admit that I had likewise my little share in the deliverance of the Tyrol, and proved myself one of its good and faithful sons."

"Well, yes, it is true," murmured Hofer; "you did a great deal of good, and, above all things, you gained over to our side the Austrian generals, who would not have anything to do with us peasants, and refused to make common cause with us; for you possess a very eloquent tongue, and what can be accomplished by means of the tongue you do accomplish. But now, sir, the tongue will no longer suffice, and we must fight also with the sword."

"God forbid, Andy!" exclaimed Hormayr; "you know that the emperor has concluded an armistice with Bonaparte, and while it lasts we are not allowed to fight with the sword."

"The emperor has concluded an armistice? Well, then, let there be an armistice. But you will not confine yourself to an armistice-you intend to evacuate the Tyrol. That seems to me no fair armistice, and therefore I shall summon old Red-beard, and my other faithful friends, and concert with them measures to prevent you from concluding such an unfair armistice, and forsaking us."

"And Andy is right in doing so!" exclaimed Anthony Steeger. "We must not permit the Austrians to leave the province, and we are firmly resolved that we will not."

"You are fools, both of you," said Hormayr, shrugging his shoulders. "The Emperor Francis agreed positively that the Austrian troops should evacuate the Tyrol during the armistice; hence, the troops must leave, lest the emperor should break his word."

"But if they do, the emperor breaks the word he pledged to us," cried Anthony Steeger, vehemently.

"Anthony Steeger," said Hormayr, sternly, "I have come hither to have an interview with Andreas Hofer, to whom I wish to communicate something of great importance. Therefore, be so kind as to withdraw, and leave me alone with him."

"I believe Andy does not want to keep any thing secret from me, and I might, therefore, just as well stay here. Say, Andy, is it not so?"

"It is. Speak, Mr. Intendant; Tony may hear it all."

"No, Andy, I shall not speak unless I am alone with you; and what I have to say to you is highly important to the Tyrol. But no one but yourself must hear it."

"If that is the case, go out and leave me alone with the intendant," said Hofer, shaking hands with his friend.

Anthony Steeger cast an angry glance on Hormayr, and left the room. "I know very well why he wanted to get rid of me," he growled, as soon as he was out in the hall. "He intends to persuade Andreas Hofer to leave with the Austrians and abandon the Tyrol. He thinks when he is alone with Hofer, he will yield sooner because he is a weak and good-hearted man, who would like to comply with every one's wishes. He thinks if I were present I should tell Andy the truth, and not permit him to desert our cause, and set a bad example to the others. Well, I will keep a sharp lookout, and if the intendant really tries to take him away with him, I will endeavor to detain him forcibly."

When the door had closed after Anthony Steeger, Hormayr nodded kindly to Andreas Hofer and shook hands with him.

"Now we are alone, Andy," he said, "and will speak confidentially a word which no one is to hear save us two."

"But you should always bear in mind that God Almighty is present, and listens to us," said Hofer, lifting his eyes devoutly to heaven.

"We shall speak nothing that can offend the good God!" exclaimed Hormayr, laughing. "We shall speak of you, Andy, and the Tyrol. I wish to pray you, Andy, in the name of the Archduke John, who sent me to you, and who sent his kindest greetings with me, not to close your ears against good and well-meant advice."

"What did the archduke say? What does he want of me?" asked Andreas, quickly.

"He wishes Andreas Hofer, like himself, to submit to the emperor's orders quietly and patiently; he wishes Andreas Hofer to yield to stern necessity, and no longer sow the seeds of hatred and discord, but obey the will of his master with Christian humility and resignation. He wishes Andreas Hofer to set a good example to all the Tyr

olese, and undertake nothing in opposition to the stipulations of the armistice; and the Archduke John finally wishes his beloved Andreas Hofer to secure his life and liberty by leaving the Tyrol with the Austrian troops, and remaining for some time under the protection of the imperial army."

"Never, never will I do that!" cried Andreas, vehemently; "never will I leave my beloved country! I swore to the priest, and in my own heart, that, while I lived, I would be faithful to my God, my emperor, and my country, and that I would spill the last drop of blood for our liberty, our constitution, and our emperor; and never will I break my oath, never will I desert my flag like a faithless soldier!"

"But, Andy, you are not to desert it, but only convey it to a place of safety for a short time. Listen to me, Andy, and let me tell you all about it. You think all may be changed yet, and you may prevent the Austrians from leaving your mountains. But unfortunately it is already too late. Already the Austrian general-in-chief, Baron von Buol, has concentrated his scattered forces, and marched them to- night from Brixen to Schabs. There you can do nothing against him; his artillery and ammunition are safe there, and you cannot hinder him from marching with his troops this very day into Carinthia."

"But we can prevent General Schmidt from surrendering the fortress of Sachsenburg to General Rusca," cried Andreas, triumphantly.

"Do you think Commander Joseph Turk, in Upper Carinthia, surprised and occupied the fortress of Sachsenburg immediately, because you wrote to him to do so previous to Rusca's arrival? You look at me so wonderingly, you big child? See, here is your letter to Joseph Turk! Our men intercepted it; hence, Joseph Turk did not occupy the fortress, and General Rusca has arrived there already."

"It is my letter, indeed," sighed Andreas Hofer, staring at the paper which Hormayr had handed to him. "They did not allow it to reach Joseph Turk; they no longer respect what I say and do."

"They cannot, Andy, for your and their superior, the emperor, has ordered the soldiers to evacuate the Tyrol. It was surely most repugnant to the emperor to do so, and I know that the Archduke John shed tears of grief and rage on being obliged to instruct General Buol to evacuate the Tyrol. But he submitted to stern necessity, and you will do so too, Andy."

"What am I to do, then? What do you want of me?" asked Andreas, with tears in his eyes.

"The Archduke John wants you to preserve yourself for better times, Andy. He implores you to repair to a place of safety, not only for the sake of your wife and children, but also for that of your fatherland. Believe me, Andreas, a gloomy time is dawning upon the Tyrol. The enemy is approaching on all sides, and the French and Bavarians have already crossed the frontiers of the Tyrol in order to occupy it again."

"And all our blood has been shed in vain!" cried Hofer, bursting into tears. "All the faithful Tyrolese who have fallen in battle gave up their lives for nothing. We fought bravely; the good God helped us in battle; but men deserted us, and even the emperor, for whom we fought, will not redeem the pledges he gave us, nor help us in our sore distress."

"The emperor will never abandon his faithful Tyrolese," said Hormayr; "only you must be patient. He cannot do any thing now; he can not endanger his whole empire to serve the small province of the Tyrol. For the time being, further resistance is out of the question, but the emperor profits by the armistice to concentrate a new army; and when hostilities are resumed, he will first think of the Tyrol, and deliver it from the enemy."

"But until then the Tyrol itself ought to maintain its liberty!" exclaimed Andreas Hofer, with flashing eyes. "Listen to what I wish to say to you, Mr. Intendant, and what God Himself prompts me to tell you. I see full well that the emperor himself is unable to speak for the Tyrol, and cannot order his troops to remain in the country; I see full well that the emperor, sorely pressed as he is by Bonaparte, cannot do any thing for us. But until he is ready again, someone ought to be courageous enough to take his place and, as the emperor's lieutenant, defend the Tyrol against the enemy. You, Mr. Intendant, are the man to do it. You have often assured us that you were a brave and patriotic son of the Tyrol; prove now that you told us the truth. Instead of leaving the Tyrol at this hour of its greatest peril, and surrendering it to the enemy, place yourself at its head, protect it against the enemy, and preserve it to the emperor. [Footnote: "Gallery of Heroes: Andreas Hofer," p. 103.] Become Duke of Tyrol, take charge of the government and defence of the country. As provisional duke, call upon the faithful people to take up arms, and they will rise as one man and defend its frontiers against every enemy. Rule over the Tyrol in the emperor's place, until he himself is able again to do so and fold us again to his heart."

"What you say is nonsense, Andy," exclaimed Hormayr, shrugging his shoulders. "You want me to become provisional Duke of Tyrol? Why, the whole world would laugh at me, and the emperor would punish me as a rebel!"

"Well, then," cried Andreas Hofer, in a powerful voice, "if you will not do it, I will! I shall take charge of the government and call myself 'Andreas Hofer, Sandwirth of Passeyr and Duke of Tyrol,' as long as it pleases God!" [Footnote: Andreas Hofer's own words.-See Hormayr's "Andreas Hofer," vol. ii., p. 361.]

"No, you will not, Andy," said Hormayr, gravely; "you will be sensible, on the contrary, and not, from worldly pride, endanger your country, your friends, and yourself. Bear in mind, Andy, that you would be responsible for the blood that would be shed, if you should incite the people to rebellion, and that you would be the murderer of all those who should fall in the struggle provoked by you so recklessly and in open opposition to the orders of your emperor. Bow your head, Andy, and submit as we all do. Intrust your and our cause to God; as it is good and just, He will not forsake it, but render it victorious when it is time."

"I believe you," sighed Andreas; "but how can I keep quiet when, as you have often told me, I am God's instrument and destined by Him to deliver the dear Tyrol from the enemy? And what would my brave lieutenants say if their commander-in-chief, Andreas Hofer, were to leave the country in its sore distress, after he had taken an oath to defend it while he lived? Would they not point their fingers at me, and call me a traitor, a Judas Iscariot who sold his country for the sake of his own safety?"

"You are mistaken, Andy. You think your friends, the captains and other commanders, with whom you fought for the deliverance of the Tyrol, would despise you if you followed the Austrians now and saved your life? Now listen to me, my friend. Your best friends, the brave Tyrolese captains, in whom you repose the greatest confidence, will leave the Tyrol this very day of their own accord and accompany our Austrian troops to Carinthia."

"That is false, that is impossible!" cried Andreas, vehemently.

"Speckbacher will never do so."

"Yes, he will, Andy. I saw him this morning. Here resisted and fought as long as he could; but since the armistice compels him to lay down the sword, and since, moreover, the French and Bavarians are entering the country once more, he feels that it is better for him to save his life than be caught and hung here by the vindictive enemy. Hence, Speckbacher accepted the offer of the Austrian officers, and will accompany them."

"Joseph Speckbacher will leave the Tyrol?" murmured Andreas Hofer, mournfully.

"And he is not the only one, Andreas: Aschbacher, Puechler, Sieberer, and many other brave captains of the Tyrolese, will likewise leave with the Austrians. All have asked me to implore you to follow their example, and flee from the perils menacing you all. Oh, believe them, believe me, Andreas! If you stay here, the Bavarians will not rest until they have taken you prisoner-until their hated enemy, the formidable Barbone, has fallen into their hands. Dear Andy, think of your wife at home, the faithful Anna Gertrude, who prays for you morning and evening, and beseeches the Almighty to spare the life of her dear husband; think of your dear children, whose only protector and supporter you are; do not make your dear wife a widow, nor your sweet children orphans! Andreas Hofer, you cannot now be useful to the fatherland; save yourself, then, for your wife and children!"

"My good wife, my dear children!" sighed Andreas, profoundly moved; "it is true, they love me dearly, and would be very lonely on earth if their father should be taken from them!"

"Preserve their father to them, then, and preserve yourself also to the fatherland! Follow the example of your brave friends Speckbacher, Aschbacher, Sieberer, and all the others; accompany us, leave the Tyrol for a while, and when the time has come, return with them and fight once more for the deliverance of the country."

"Speckbacher will leave, and so will all the others," murmured Andreas to himself. "The Tyrol will fall again into the enemy's hands, and all has been in vain!"

He hung his head and heaved a deep sigh.

"Come, Andreas, be sensible; think of yourself and your family," said Hormayr, beseechingly. "I have come hither for the sole purpose of taking you with me; let me not have travelled in vain from Brixen to Lienz. Come, Andreas, come! My carriage is in readiness at the door; let us ride together to Matrey. Speckbacher, the other friends, and the Austrians are waiting for us there; we shall cross the Tyrolese frontier with them this very day, and you and all your friends will be safe. Therefore, do not hesitate any longer, but come!"

"I cannot make up my mind so suddenly," said Hofer, disengaging himself gently from the hand of Hormayr, who was trying to draw him up from his chair. "It is a grave, momentous step which you ask me to take, and before I can do so I must consult God and pray to him fervently. Therefore, pray leave me alone a little while, that I may speak to the good God and consult him and my conscience."

"Very well, Andy, I give you a quarter of an hour to make up your mind," exclaimed Hormayr, approaching the door.

"A quarter of an hour is not enough," said Andreas, shaking his head. "It is late at night, and night is the time for repose and prayer. Therefore, stay here, Mr. Intendant; sleep a few hours, and to-morrow morning, at sunrise, come to my chamber and awaken me. I will tell you then what God in heaven has told me to do."

"You pledge me your word, Andreas, that you will not leave during the present night?"

"I do. I shall stay here. And now good-night. My heart is profoundly moved, and I long for repose. This is my chamber; I begged Anthony Steeger to let me have it; he has fine rooms for aristocratic guests up-stairs, and he will give you one of them. Now good-night, sir!"

He bowed kindly to the baron, shook hands with him, and conducted him to the door.

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