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- The Thirty Years War, Book II. - 10/17 -


thing depends on the retention of Stralsund. So long as this harbour is open to us, we shall both command the Baltic, and secure a retreat from Germany. But to protect this port, we must not remain in Sweden, but advance at once into Pomerania. Let us talk no more, then, of a defensive war, by which we should sacrifice our greatest advantages. Sweden must not be doomed to behold a hostile banner; if we are vanquished in Germany, it will be time enough to follow your plan."

Gustavus resolved to cross the Baltic and attack the Emperor. His preparations were made with the utmost expedition, and his precautionary measures were not less prudent than the resolution itself was bold and magnanimous. Before engaging in so distant a war, it was necessary to secure Sweden against its neighbours. At a personal interview with the King of Denmark at Markaroed, Gustavus assured himself of the friendship of that monarch; his frontier on the side of Moscow was well guarded; Poland might be held in check from Germany, if it betrayed any design of infringing the truce. Falkenberg, a Swedish ambassador, who visited the courts of Holland and Germany, obtained the most flattering promises from several Protestant princes, though none of them yet possessed courage or self-devotion enough to enter into a formal alliance with him. Lubeck and Hamburg engaged to advance him money, and to accept Swedish copper in return. Emissaries were also despatched to the Prince of Transylvania, to excite that implacable enemy of Austria to arms.

In the mean time, Swedish levies were made in Germany and the Netherlands, the regiments increased to their full complement, new ones raised, transports provided, a fleet fitted out, provisions, military stores, and money collected. Thirty ships of war were in a short time prepared, 15,000 men equipped, and 200 transports were ready to convey them across the Baltic. A greater force Gustavus Adolphus was unwilling to carry into Germany, and even the maintenance of this exceeded the revenues of his kingdom. But however small his army, it was admirable in all points of discipline, courage, and experience, and might serve as the nucleus of a more powerful armament, if it once gained the German frontier, and its first attempts were attended with success. Oxenstiern, at once general and chancellor, was posted with 10,000 men in Prussia, to protect that province against Poland. Some regular troops, and a considerable body of militia, which served as a nursery for the main body, remained in Sweden, as a defence against a sudden invasion by any treacherous neighbour.

These were the measures taken for the external defence of the kingdom. Its internal administration was provided for with equal care. The government was intrusted to the Council of State, and the finances to the Palatine John Casimir, the brother-in-law of the King, while his wife, tenderly as he was attached to her, was excluded from all share in the government, for which her limited talents incapacitated her. He set his house in order like a dying man. On the 20th May, 1630, when all his measures were arranged, and all was ready for his departure, the King appeared in the Diet at Stockholm, to bid the States a solemn farewell. Taking in his arms his daughter Christina, then only four years old, who, in the cradle, had been acknowledged as his successor, he presented her to the States as the future sovereign, exacted from them a renewal of the oath of allegiance to her, in case he should never more return; and then read the ordinances for the government of the kingdom during his absence, or the minority of his daughter. The whole assembly was dissolved in tears, and the King himself was some time before he could attain sufficient composure to deliver his farewell address to the States.

"Not lightly or wantonly," said he, "am I about to involve myself and you in this new and dangerous war; God is my witness that _I_ do not fight to gratify my own ambition. But the Emperor has wronged me most shamefully in the person of my ambassadors. He has supported my enemies, persecuted my friends and brethren, trampled my religion in the dust, and even stretched his revengeful arm against my crown. The oppressed states of Germany call loudly for aid, which, by God's help, we will give them.

"I am fully sensible of the dangers to which my life will be exposed. I have never yet shrunk from them, nor is it likely that I shall escape them all. Hitherto, Providence has wonderfully protected me, but I shall at last fall in defence of my country. I commend you to the protection of Heaven. Be just, be conscientious, act uprightly, and we shall meet again in eternity.

"To you, my Counsellors of State, I address myself first. May God enlighten you, and fill you with wisdom, to promote the welfare of my people. You, too, my brave nobles, I commend to the divine protection. Continue to prove yourselves the worthy successors of those Gothic heroes, whose bravery humbled to the dust the pride of ancient Rome. To you, ministers of religion, I recommend moderation and unity; be yourselves examples of the virtues which you preach, and abuse not your influence over the minds of my people. On you, deputies of the burgesses, and the peasantry, I entreat the blessing of heaven; may your industry be rewarded by a prosperous harvest; your stores plenteously filled, and may you be crowned abundantly with all the blessings of this life. For the prosperity of all my subjects, absent and present, I offer my warmest prayers to Heaven. I bid you all a sincere--it may be --an eternal farewell."

The embarkation of the troops took place at Elfsknaben, where the fleet lay at anchor. An immense concourse flocked thither to witness this magnificent spectacle. The hearts of the spectators were agitated by varied emotions, as they alternately considered the vastness of the enterprise, and the greatness of the leader. Among the superior officers who commanded in this army were Gustavus Horn, the Rhinegrave Otto Lewis, Henry Matthias, Count Thurn, Ottenberg, Baudissen, Banner, Teufel, Tott, Mutsenfahl, Falkenberg, Kniphausen, and other distinguished names. Detained by contrary winds, the fleet did not sail till June, and on the 24th of that month reached the Island of Rugen in Pomerania.

Gustavus Adolphus was the first who landed. In the presence of his suite, he knelt on the shore of Germany to return thanks to the Almighty for the safe arrival of his fleet and his army. He landed his troops on the Islands of Wollin and Usedom; upon his approach, the imperial garrisons abandoned their entrenchments and fled. He advanced rapidly on Stettin, to secure this important place before the appearance of the Imperialists. Bogislaus XIV., Duke of Pomerania, a feeble and superannuated prince, had been long tired out by the outrages committed by the latter within his territories; but too weak to resist, he had contented himself with murmurs. The appearance of his deliverer, instead of animating his courage, increased his fear and anxiety. Severely as his country had suffered from the Imperialists, the risk of incurring the Emperor's vengeance prevented him from declaring openly for the Swedes. Gustavus Adolphus, who was encamped under the walls of the town, summoned the city to receive a Swedish garrison. Bogislaus appeared in person in the camp of Gustavus, to deprecate this condition. "I come to you," said Gustavus, "not as an enemy but a friend. I wage no war against Pomerania, nor against the German empire, but against the enemies of both. In my hands this duchy shall be sacred; and it shall be restored to you at the conclusion of the campaign, by me, with more certainty, than by any other. Look to the traces of the imperial force within your territories, and to mine in Usedom; and decide whether you will have the Emperor or me as your friend. What have you to expect, if the Emperor should make himself master of your capital? Will he deal with you more leniently than I? Or is it your intention to stop my progress? The case is pressing: decide at once, and do not compel me to have recourse to more violent measures."

The alternative was a painful one. On the one side, the King of Sweden was before his gates with a formidable army; on the other, he saw the inevitable vengeance of the Emperor, and the fearful example of so many German princes, who were now wandering in misery, the victims of that revenge. The more immediate danger decided his resolution. The gates of Stettin were opened to the king; the Swedish troops entered; and the Austrians, who were advancing by rapid marches, anticipated. The capture of this place procured for the king a firm footing in Pomerania, the command of the Oder, and a magazine for his troops. To prevent a charge of treachery, Bogislaus was careful to excuse this step to the Emperor on the plea of necessity; but aware of Ferdinand's implacable disposition, he entered into a close alliance with his new protector. By this league with Pomerania, Gustavus secured a powerful friend in Germany, who covered his rear, and maintained his communication with Sweden.

As Ferdinand was already the aggressor in Prussia, Gustavus Adolphus thought himself absolved from the usual formalities, and commenced hostilities without any declaration of war. To the other European powers, he justified his conduct in a manifesto, in which he detailed the grounds which had led him to take up arms. Meanwhile he continued his progress in Pomerania, while he saw his army daily increasing. The troops which had fought under Mansfeld, Duke Christian of Brunswick, the King of Denmark, and Wallenstein, came in crowds, both officers and soldiers, to join his victorious standard.

At the Imperial court, the invasion of the king of Sweden at first excited far less attention than it merited. The pride of Austria, extravagantly elated by its unheard-of successes, looked down with contempt upon a prince, who, with a handful of men, came from an obscure corner of Europe, and who owed his past successes, as they imagined, entirely to the incapacity of a weak opponent. The depreciatory representation which Wallenstein had artfully given of the Swedish power, increased the Emperor's security; for what had he to fear from an enemy, whom his general undertook to drive with such ease from Germany? Even the rapid progress of Gustavus Adolphus in Pomerania, could not entirely dispel this prejudice, which the mockeries of the courtiers continued to feed. He was called in Vienna the Snow King, whom the cold of the north kept together, but who would infallibly melt as he advanced southward. Even the electors, assembled in Ratisbon, disregarded his representations; and, influenced by an abject complaisance to Ferdinand, refused him even the title of king. But while they mocked him in Ratisbon and Vienna, in Mecklenburg and Pomerania, one strong town after another fell into his hands.

Notwithstanding this contempt, the Emperor thought it proper to offer to adjust his differences with Sweden by negociation, and for that purpose sent plenipotentiaries to Denmark. But their instructions showed how little he was in earnest in these proposals, for he still continued to refuse to Gustavus the title of king. He hoped by this means to throw on the king of Sweden the odium of being the aggressor, and thereby to ensure the support of the States of the empire. The conference at Dantzic proved, as might be expected, fruitless, and the animosity of both parties was increased to its utmost by an intemperate correspondence.

An imperial general, Torquato Conti, who commanded in Pomerania, had, in the mean time, made a vain attempt to wrest Stettin from the Swedes. The Imperialists were driven out from one place after another; Damm, Stargard, Camin, and Wolgast, soon fell into the hands of Gustavus. To revenge himself upon the Duke of Pomerania, the imperial general permitted his troops, upon his retreat, to exercise every barbarity on the unfortunate inhabitants of Pomerania, who had already suffered but too severely from his avarice. On pretence of cutting off the resources of the Swedes, the whole country was laid waste and plundered; and often when the Imperialists were unable any longer to maintain a place, it was laid in ashes, in order to leave the enemy nothing but ruins. But these barbarities only served to place in a more favourable light the opposite conduct of the Swedes, and to win all hearts to their humane monarch.


The Thirty Years War, Book II. - 10/17

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