Part 2 out of 3
chief governor, entered my prison, showed me my letter, and demanded
to know who had carried the letter, and who were to free me and
betray Magdeburg. Whether the letter was sent immediately to the
King or the governor I know not; it is sufficient that I was once
more betrayed at Vienna. The truth was, the administrators of my
effects had acted as if I were deceased, and did not choose to
refund two thousand ducats. They wished not I should obtain my
freedom, in a manner that would have obliged the government to have
rewarded me, and restore the effects they had embezzled and the
estates they had seized. What happened afterwards at Vienna, which
will be related in its place, will incontestably prove this surmise
to be well founded.
These bad men did not, it is true, die in the manner they ought, but
they are all dead, and I am still living, an honest, though poor
man: they did not die so. Be this read and remembered by their
luxurious heirs, who refuse to restore my children to their rights.
My consternation on the appearance of the Landgrave, with my letter
in his hand, may well be supposed; I had the presence of mind,
however, to deny my handwriting, and affect astonishment at so
crafty a trick. The Landgrave endeavoured to convict me, told me
what Lieutenant Kemnitz had repeated at Vienna concerning my
possessing myself of Magdeburg, and thereby showed me how fully I
had been betrayed. But as no such person existed as Lieutenant
Kemnitz, and as my friend had fortunately concealed his name, the
mystery remained impenetrable, especially as no one could conceive
how a prisoner, in my situation, could seduce or subdue the whole
garrison. The worthy prince left my prison, apparently satisfied
with my defence; his heart felt no satisfaction in the misfortunes
The next day a formal examination was taken, at which the sub-
governor Reichmann presided. I was accused as a traitor to my
country; but I obstinately denied my handwriting. Proofs or
witnesses there were none, and in answer to the principal charge, I
said, "I was no criminal, but a man calumniated, illegally
imprisoned, and loaded with irons; that the King, in the year 1746,
had cashiered me, and confiscated my parental inheritance; that
therefore the laws of nature enforced me to seek honour and bread in
a foreign service; and that, finding these in Austria, I became an
officer and a faithful subject of the Empress-Queen; that I had been
a second time unoffendingly imprisoned; that here I was treated as
the worst of malefactors, and my only resource was to seek my
liberty by such means as I could; were I therefore in this attempt
to destroy Magdeburg, and occasion the loss of a thousand lives, I
should still be guiltless. Had I been heard and legally sentenced,
previous to my imprisonment at Glatz, I should have been, and still
continued, a criminal; but not having been guilty of any small, much
less of any great crime, equal to my punishment, if such crime could
be, I was therefore not accountable for consequences; I owed neither
fidelity nor duty to the King of Prussia; for by the word of his
power he had deprived me of bread, honour, country, and freedom."
Here the examination ended, without further discovery; the officers,
however, falling under suspicion, were all removed, and thus I lost
my best friends; yet it was not long before I had gained two others,
which was no difficult matter, as I knew the national character, and
that none but poor men were made militia officers. Thus was the
governor's precaution fruitless, and almost everybody secretly
wished I might obtain my freedom.
I shall never forget the noble manner in which I was treated on this
occasion by the Landgrave. This I personally acknowledged, some
years afterwards, in the city of Cassel, when I heard many things
which confirmed all my surmises concerning Vienna. The Landgrave
received me with all grace, favour, and distinction. I revere his
memory, and seek to honour his name. He was the friend of
misfortune. When I not long afterwards fell ill, he sent me his own
physician, and meat from his table, nor would he suffer me, during
two months, to be wakened by the sentinels. He likewise removed the
dreadful collar from my neck; for which he was severely reprimanded
by the King, as he himself has since assured me.
I might fill a volume with incidents attending two other efforts to
escape, but I will not weary the reader's patience with too much
repetition. I shall merely give an abstract of both.
When I had once more gained the officers, I made a new attempt at
mining my way out. Not wanting for implements, my chains and the
flooring were soon cut through, and all was so carefully replaced
that I was under no fear of examination. I here found my concealed
money, pistols, and other necessaries, but till I had rid myself of
some hundredweight of sand, it was impossible to proceed. For this
purpose I made two different openings in the floor: out of the real
hole I threw a great quantity of sand into my prison; after which I
closed it with all possible care. I then worked at the second with
so much noise, that I was certain they must hear me without. About
midnight the doors began to thunder, and in they came, detecting me,
as I intended they should. None of them could conceive why I should
wish to break out under the door, where there was a triple guard to
pass. The sentinels remained, and in the morning prisoners were
sent to wheel away the sand. The hole was walled up and boarded,
and my fetters were renewed. They laughed at the ridiculousness of
my undertaking, but punished me by depriving me of my light and bed,
which, however, in a fortnight were both restored. Of the other
hole, out of which most of the earth had been thrown, no one was
aware. The major and lieutenant were too much my friends to remark
that they had removed thrice the quantity of sand the false opening
could contain. They supposed this strange attempt having failed, it
would be my last, and Bruckhausen grew negligent.
The governor and sub-governor both visited me after some weeks, but
far from imitating the brutality of Borck, the Landgrave spoke to me
with mildness, promised me his interest to regain my freedom, when
peace should be concluded; told me I had more friends than I
supposed, and assured me I had not been forgotten by the Court at
He promised me every alleviation, and I gave him my word I would no
more attempt to escape while he remained governor. My manner
enforced conviction and he ordered my neck-collar to be taken off,
my window to be unclosed, my doors to be left open two hours every
day, a stove to be put in my dungeon, finer linen for my shirts, and
paper to amuse myself by writing my thoughts. The sheets were to be
numbered when given, and then returned, by the town-major, that I
might not abuse this liberty.
Ink was not allowed me, I therefore pricked my fingers, suffered the
blood to trickle into a pot; by these means I procured a substitute
for ink, both to write and draw.
I now engraved my cups, and versified. I had opportunity to display
my abilities to awaken compassion. My emulation was increased by
knowing that my works were seen at Courts, that the Princess Amelia
and the Queen herself testified their satisfaction. I had subjects
to engrave from sent me; and the wretch whom the King intended to
bury alive, whose name no man was to mention, never was more famous
than while he vented his groans in his dungeon. My writings
produced their effect, and really regained my freedom. To my
cultivation of the sciences and presence of mind I am indebted for
all; these all the power of Frederic could not deprive me of. Yes!
This liberty I procured, though he answered all petitions in my
behalf--"He is a dangerous man: and so long as I live he shall
never see the light!" Yet have I seen it during his life: after
his death I have seen it without revenging myself, otherwise than by
proving my virtue to a monarch who oppressed because he knew me not,
because be would not recall the hasty sentence of anger, or own he
might be mistaken. He died convinced of my integrity, yet without
affording me retribution! Man is formed by misfortune; virtue is
active in adversity. It is indifferent to me that the companions of
my youth have their ears gratified, delighted with the titles of
General! Field-Marshal I have learned to live without such
additions; I am known in my works.
I returned to my dungeon. Here, after my last conference with the
Landgrave, I waited my fate with a mind more at ease than that of a
prince in a palace. The newspapers they brought me bespoke
approaching peace, on which my dependence was placed, and I passed
eighteen months calmly, and without further attempt to escape.
The father of the Landgrave died; and Magdeburg now lost its
governor. The worthy Reichmann, however, testified for me all
compassion and esteem; I had books, and my time was employed.
Imprisonment and chains to me were become habitual, and freedom in
About this time I wrote the poems, "The Macedonian Hero," "The Dream
Realised," and some fables. The best of my poems are now lost to
me. The mind's sensibility when the body is imprisoned is strongly
roused, nor can all the aids of the library equal this advantage.
Perhaps I may recover some in Berlin; if so, the world may learn
what my thoughts then were. When I was at liberty, I had none but
such as I remembered, and these I committed to writing. On my first
visit to the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel I received a volume of them
written in my own blood; but there were eight of these which I shall
The death of Elizabeth, the deposing of Peter III., and the
accession of Catherine II. produced peace. On the receipt of this
intelligence I tried to provide for all contingencies. The worthy
Captain K- had opened me a correspondence with Vienna: I was
assured of support; but was assured the administrators and those who
possessed my estates would throw every impediment in the way of
freedom. I tried to persuade another officer to aid my escape, but
I therefore opened my old hole, and my friends assisted me to
disembarrass myself of sand. My money melted away, but they
provided me with tools, gunpowder, and a good sword. I had remained
so long quiet that my flooring was not examined.
My intent was to wait the peace; and should I continue in chains,
then would I have my subterranean passage to the rampart ready for
escape. For my further security, an old lieutenant had purchased a
house in the suburbs, where I might lie concealed. Gummern, in
Saxony, is two miles from Magdeburg; here a friend, with two good
horses, was to wait a year, to ride on the glacis of Klosterbergen
on the first and fifteenth of each month, and at a given signal to
hasten to my assistance.
My passage had to be ready in case of emergency; I removed the upper
planking, broke up the two beds, cut the boards into chips, and
burnt them in my stove. By this I obtained so much additional room
as to proceed half way with my mine. Linen again was brought me,
sand-bags made, and thus I successfully proceeded to all but the
last operation. Everything was so well concealed that I had nothing
to fear from inspection, especially as the new come garrison could
not know what was the original length of the planks.
I must here relate a dreadful accident, which I cannot remember
without shuddering, and the terror of which has often haunted my
While mining under the rampart, as I was carrying out the sand-bag,
I struck my foot against a stone which fell down and closed up the
What was my horror to find myself buried alive! After a short
reflection, I began to work the sand away from the side, that I
might turn round. There were some feet of empty space, into which I
threw the sand as I worked it away; but the small quantity of air
soon made it so foul that I a thousand times wished myself dead, and
made several attempts to strangle myself. Thirst almost deprived me
of my senses, but as often as I put my mouth to the sand I inhaled
fresh air. My sufferings were incredible, and I imagine I passed
eight hours in this situation. My spirits fainted; again I
recovered and began to labour, but the earth was as high as my chin,
and I had no more space where I might throw the sand. I made a more
desperate effort, drew my body into a ball, and turned round; I now
faced the stone; there being an opening at the top, I respired
fresher air. I rooted away the sand under the stone, and let it
sink so that I might creep over; at length I once more arrived in my
The morning was advanced; I sat down so exhausted that I supposed it
was impossible I had strength to conceal my hole. After half an
hour's rest, my fortitude returned: again I went to work, and
scarcely had I ended before my visitors approached.
They found me pale: I complained of headache, and continued some
days affected by the fatigue I had sustained. After a time strength
returned; but perhaps of all my nights of horror this was the most
horrible. I repeatedly dreamt I was buried in the centre of the
earth; and now, though three and twenty years are elapsed, my sleep
is still haunted by this vision.
After this accident, when I worked in my cavity, I hung a knife
round my neck, that if I should be enclosed I might shorten my
miseries. Over the stone that had fallen several others hung
tottering, under which I was obliged to creep. Nothing, however,
could deter me from trying to obtain my liberty.
When my passage was ready, I wrote letters to my friends at Vienna,
and also a memorial to my Sovereign. When the militia left
Magdeburg and the regulars returned, I took leave of my friends who
had behaved so benevolently. Several weeks elapsed before they
departed and I learnt that General Reidt was appointed ambassador
from Vienna to Berlin.
I had seen the world; I knew this General was not averse to a bribe:
I wrote him a letter, conjuring him to act with ardour in my behalf.
I enclosed a draft for six thousand florins on my effects at Vienna,
and he received four thousand from one of my relations. I have to
thank these ten thousand florins for my freedom, which I obtained
nine months after. My vouchers show the six thousand florins were
paid in April, 1763, to the order of General Reidt. The other four
thousand I repaid, when at liberty, to my friend.
I received intelligence before the garrison departed that no
stipulation had been made on my behalf at the peace of Hubertsberg.
The Vienna plenipotentiaries, after the articles were signed,
mentioned my name to Hertzberg, with but few assurances of every
effort being made to move Frederic, a promise on which I could much
better rely than on my protectors at Vienna, who had left me in
misfortune. I determined to wait three months longer, and should I
still find myself neglected, to owe my escape to myself.
On the change of the garrison, the officers were more difficult to
gain than the former. The majors obeyed their orders; their help
was unnecessary; but still I sighed for my old friends. I had only
ammunition-bread again for food.
My time hung very heavy; everything was examined on the change of
the garrison. A stricter scrutiny might occur, and my projects be
discovered. This had nearly been effected, as I shall here relate.
I had so tamed a mouse that it would eat from my mouth; in this
small animal I discovered proofs of intelligence.
This mouse had nearly been my ruin. I had diverted myself with it
one night; it had been nibbling at my door and capering on a
trencher. The sentinels hearing our amusement, called the officers:
they heard also, and thought all was not right. At daybreak the
town-major, a smith, and mason entered; strict search was begun;
flooring, walls, chains, and my own person were all scrutinised, but
in vain. They asked what was the noise they had heard; I mentioned
the mouse, whistled, and it came and jumped upon my shoulder.
Orders were given I should be deprived of its society; I entreated
they would spare its life. The officer on guard gave me his word he
would present it to a lady, who would treat it with tenderness.
He took it away and turned it loose in the guardroom, but it was
tame to me alone, and sought a hiding place. It had fled to my
prison door, and, at the hour of visitation, ran into my dungeon,
testifying its joy by leaping between my legs. It is worthy of
remark that it had been taken away blindfold, that is to say,
wrapped in a handkerchief. The guard-room was a hundred paces from
All were desirous of obtaining this mouse, but the major carried it
off for his lady; she put it into a cage, where it pined, and in a
few days died.
The loss of this companion made me quite melancholy, yet, on the
last examination, I perceived it had so eaten the bread by which I
had concealed the crevices I had made in cutting the floor, that the
examiners must be blind not to discover them. I was convinced my
faithful little friend had fallen a necessary victim to its master's
safety. This accident determined me not to wait the three months.
I have related that horses were to be kept ready, on the first and
fifteenth, and I only suffered the first of August to pass, because
I would not injure Major Pfuhl, who had treated me with more
compassion than his comrades, and whose day of visitation it was.
On the fifteenth I determined to fly. This resolution formed, I
waited in expectation of the day, when a new and remarkable
succession of accidents happened.
An alarm of fire had obliged the major to repair to the town; he
committed the keys to the lieutenant. The latter, coming to visit
me, asked--"Dear Trenck, have you never, during seven years that you
have been under the guard of the militia, found a man like Schell?"
"Alas! sir," answered I, "such friends are rare; the will of many
has been good; each knew I could make his fortune, but none had
courage enough for so desperate an attempt! Money I have
distributed freely, but have received little help."
"How do you obtain money in this dungeon?" "From a correspondent at
Vienna, by whom I am still supplied." "If I can serve you, command
me: I will do it without asking any return." So saying, I took
fifty ducats from between the panels, and gave them to the
lieutenant. At first he refused, but at length accepted them with
fear. He left me, promised to return, pretended to shut the door,
and kept his word. He now said debt obliged him to desert; that
this had long been his determination, and that, desirous to assist
me at the same time if he could find the means, I had only to show
how this might be effected.
We continued two hours in conference: a plan was formed, approved,
and a certainty of success demonstrated; especially when I told him
I had two horses waiting. We vowed eternal friendship; I gave him
fifty ducats, and his debts, not amounting to more than two hundred
rix-dollars, which he never could have discharged out of his pay.
He was to prepare four keys to resemble those of my dungeon; the
latter were to be exchanged on the day of flight, being kept in the
guard-room while the major was with General Walrabe. He was to give
the grenadiers on guard leave of absence, or send them into the town
on various pretences. The sentinels he was to call from their duty,
and those placed over me were to be sent into my dungeon to take
away my bed; while encumbered with this, I was to spring out and
lock them in, after which we were to mount our horses, which were
kept ready, and ride to Gummern. Every thing was to be prepared
within a week, when he was to mount guard. We had scarcely formed
our project before the sentinels called the major was coming; he
accordingly barred the door, and the major passed to General
No man was happier than myself; my hopes of escape were triple; the
mediation at Berlin, the mine I had made, and my friend the
When most my mind ought to have been clear, I seemed to have lost my
understanding. I came to a resolution which will appear extravagant
and pitiable. I was stupid enough, mad enough, to form the design
of casting myself on the magnanimity of the Great Frederic! Should
this fail, I still thought my lieutenant a saviour.
Having heated my imagination with this scheme, I waited the
visitation with anxiety. The major entered, I bespoke him thus:
"I know, sir, the great Prince Ferdinand is again in Magdeburg.
Inform him that he may examine my prison, double the sentinels, and
give me his commands, stating what hour will please him I should
make my appearance on the glacis of Klosterbergen. If I prove
myself capable of this, I then hope for the protection of Prince
Ferdinand: and that he will relate my proceeding to the King, who
may he convinced of my innocence."
The major was astonished; the proposal he held to be ridiculous, and
the performance impossible. I persisted; he returned with the sub-
governor, Reichmann, the town-major, Riding, and the major of
inspection. The answer they delivered was, that the Prince promised
me his protection, the King's favour, and a release from my chains,
should I prove my assertion. I required they would appoint a time;
they ridiculed the thing as impossible, and said that it would be
sufficient could I prove the practicability of such a scheme; but
should I refuse, they would break up the flooring, and place
sentinels in my dungeon, adding, the governor would not admit of any
After promises of good faith, I disencumbered myself of my chains,
raised my flooring, gave them my implements, and two keys, my
friends had procured me, to the doors of the subterranean gallery.
This gallery I desired them to sound with their sword hilts, at the
place through which I was to break, which might be done in a few
minutes. I described the road I was to take through the gallery,
informed them that two of the doors had not been shut for six
months, and to the others they had the keys; adding, I had horses
waiting at the glacis, that would be now ready; the stables for
which were unknown to them. They went, examined, returned, put
questions, which I answered with precision. They left me with
seeming friendship, came back, told me the Prince was astonished at
what he had heard, that he wished me all happiness, and then took me
unfettered, to the guard-house. The major came in the evening,
treated us with a supper, assured me everything would happen to my
wishes, and that Prince Ferdinand had written to Berlin.
The guard was reinforced next day. The whole guard loaded with ball
before my eyes, the drawbridges were raised in open day, and
precautions were taken as if I intended to make attempts as
desperate as those I had made at Glatz.
I now saw workmen employed on my dungeon, and carts bringing quarry-
stones. The officers on guard behaved with kindness, kept a good
table, at which I ate; but two sentinels, and an under-officer,
never quitted the guard-room. Conversation was cautious, and this
continued five or six days; at length, it was the lieutenant's turn
to mount guard; he appeared to be as friendly as formerly, but
conference was difficult; he found an opportunity to express his
astonishment at my ill-timed discovery, told me the Prince knew
nothing of the affair, and that the report through the garrison was,
I had been surprised in making a new attempt.
My dungeon was completed in a week. The town-major re-conducted me
to it. My foot was chained to the wall with links twice as strong
as formerly; the remainder of my irons were never after added.
The dungeon was paved with flag-stones. That part of my money only
was saved which I had concealed in the panels of the door, and the
chimney of my stove; some thirty louis-d'ors, hidden about my
clothes, were taken from me.
While the smith was riveting my chains, I addressed the sub-
governor. "Is this the fulfilment of the pledge of the Prince?
Think not you deceive me, I am acquainted with the false reports
that have been spread; the truth will soon come to light, and the
unworthy be put to shame. Nay, I forewarn you that Trenck shall not
be much longer in your power; for were you to build your dungeon of
steel, it would be insufficient to contain me."
They smiled at me. Reichmann told me I might soon obtain my freedom
in a proper manner. My firm reliance on my friend, the lieutenant,
gave me a degree of confidence that amazed them all.
It is necessary to explain this affair. When I obtained my liberty,
I visited Prince Ferdinand. He informed me the majors had not made
a true report. Their story was, they had caught me at work, and,
had it not been for their diligence, I should have made my escape.
Prince Ferdinand heard the truth, and informed the King, who only
waited an opportunity to restore me to liberty.
Once more I was immured. I waited in hope for the day when my
deliverer was to mount guard. What again was my despair when I saw
another lieutenant! I buoyed myself up with the hope that accident
was the occasion of this; but I remained three weeks, and saw him no
more. I heard at length that he had left the corps of grenadiers,
and was no longer to mount guard at the Star Fort. He has my
forgiveness, and I applaud myself for never having said anything by
which he might be injured. He might have repented his promise, he
might have trusted another friend with the enterprise, and have been
himself betrayed; but, be it as it may, his absence cut off all
I now repented my folly and vanity; I had brought my misfortunes on
myself. I had myself rendered my dungeon impenetrable. Death would
have followed but for the dependence I placed in the court of
The officers remarked the loss of my fortitude and thoughtfulness;
the verses I wrote were desponding. The only comfort they could
give was--"Patience, dear Trenck; your condition cannot be worse;
the King may not live for ever." Were I sick, they told me I might
hope my sufferings would soon have an end. If I recovered they
pitied me, and lamented their continuance. What man of my rank and
expectations ever endured what I did, ever was treated as I have
Peace had been concluded nine months. I was forgotten. At last,
when I supposed all hope lost, the 25th of December, and the day of
freedom, came. At the hour of parade, Count Schlieben, lieutenant
of the guards, brought orders for my release!
The sub-governor supposed me weaker in intellect than I was, and
would not too suddenly tell me these tidings. He knew not the
presence of mind, the fortitude, which the dangers I had seen had
My doors for the LAST TIME resounded! Several people entered; their
countenances were cheerful, and the sub-governor at their head at
length said, "This time, my dear Trenck, I am the messenger of good
news. Prince Ferdinand has prevailed on the King to let your irons
be taken off." Accordingly, to work went the smith. "You shall
also," continued he, "have a better apartment." "I am free, then,"
said I. "Speak! fear not! I can moderate my transports."
"Then you are free!" was the reply.
The sub-governor first embraced me, and afterwards his attendants.
He asked me what clothes I would wish. I answered, the uniform of
my regiment. The tailor took my measure. Reichmann told him it
must be made by the morning. The man excused himself because it was
Christmas Eve. "So, then, this gentleman must remain in his dungeon
because it is holiday with you." The tailor promised to be ready.
I was taken to the guard-room, congratulations were universal, and
the town-major administered the oath customary to all state
1st. That I should avenge myself on no man.
2nd. That I should neither enter the Prussian nor Saxon states.
3rd. That I should never relate by speech or in writing what had
happened to me.
4th. And that, so long as the King lived, I should neither serve in
a civil nor military capacity.
Count Schlieben delivered me a letter from the imperial minister,
General Reidt, to the following purport:- That he rejoiced at having
found an opportunity of obtaining my liberty from the King, and that
I must obey the requisitions of Count Schlieben, whose orders were
to accompany me to Prague.
"Yes, dear Trenck," said Schlieben, "I am to conduct you through
Dresden to Prague, with orders not to suffer you to speak to any one
on the road. I have received three hundred ducats, to defray the
expenses of travelling. As all things cannot be prepared today,
the, sub-governor has determined we shall depart to-morrow night."
I acquiesced, and Count Schlieben remained with me; the others
returned to town, and I dined with the major and officers on guard,
with General Walrabe in his prison.
Once at liberty, I walked about the fortifications, to collect the
money I had concealed in my dungeon. To every man on guard I gave a
ducat, to the sentinels, each three, and ten ducats to be divided
among the relief-guard. I sent the officer on guard a present from
Prague, and the remainder of my money I bestowed on the widow of the
worthy Gelfhardt. He was no more, and she had entrusted the
thousand florins to a young soldier, who, spending them too freely,
was suspected, betrayed her, and she passed two years in prison.
Gelfhardt never received any punishment; he was in the field. Had
he left any children, I should have provided for them. To the widow
of the man who hung himself before my prison door, in the year 1756,
I gave thirty ducats, lent me by Schlieben.
The night was riotous, the guard made merry, and I passed most of it
in their company. I was visited by all the generals of the garrison
on Christmas morning, for I was not allowed to enter the town. I
dressed, viewed myself in the glass, and found pleasure; but the
tumult of my passions, the congratulations I received, and the
vivacity round me, prevented my remembering incidents minutely.
Yet how wonderful an alteration in the countenances of those by whom
I had been guarded! I was treated with friendship, attention, and
flattery. And why? Because these fetters had dropped off which I
had never justly borne.
Evening came, and with it Count Schlieben, a waggon, and four post-
horses. After an affecting farewell, we departed. I shed tears at
leaving Magdeburg. It seems strange that I lived here ten years,
yet never saw the town.
The duration of my imprisonment at Magdeburg was nearly ten years,
and with the term of my imprisonment at Glatz, the time is eleven
years. Thus was I robbed of time, my body weakened, my health
impaired, so that in my decline of life, a second time, I suffer the
gloom and chains of the dungeon at Magdeburg.
The reader would now hope that my calamities were at an end; yet,
upon my honour, I would prefer the suffering of the Star Fort to
those I have since endured in Austria, especially while Krugel and
Zetto were my referendaries and curators.
At this moment I am obliged to be guarded in my expressions. I have
put my enemies to shame; but the hope of justice or reward is vain.
No rewards are bestowed on him who, with the consciousness of
integrity, demands, and does not deplore. The facts I shall relate
will seem incredible, yet I have, in my own hands, the vouchers of
"If my right hand is guilty of writing untruths in this book, may
the executioner sever it from my body, and, in the memory of
posterity, may I live a villain!"
I will proceed with my history.
On the 2nd of January I arrived, with Count Schlieben, at Prague;
the same day he delivered me to the governor, the Duke of Deuxponts.
He received me with kindness; we dined with him two days, and all
Prague were anxious to see a man who had surmounted ten years of
suffering so unheard of as mine. Here I received three thousand
florins, and paid General Reidt his three hundred ducats, which he
had advanced Count Schlieben, for my journey, the repayment of which
he demanded in his letter, although he had received ten thousand
florins. The expense of returning I also paid to Schlieben, made
him a present, and provided myself with some necessaries. After
remaining a few days at Prague, a courier arrived from Vienna, to
whom I was obliged to pay forty florins, with an order from
government to bring me from Prague to Vienna. My sword was
demanded; Captain Count Wela, and two inferior officers, entered the
carriage, which I was obliged to purchase, in company with me, and
brought me to Vienna. I took up a thousand florins more, in Prague,
to defray these expenses, and was obliged, in Vienna, to pay the
captain fifty ducats for travelling charges back.
I was brought back like a criminal, was sent as a prisoner to the
barracks, there kept in the chamber of Lieutenant Blonket, with
orders that I should be suffered to write to no one, speak to no
one, without a ticket from the counsellors Kempt or Huttner.
Thus I remained six weeks; at length, the colonel of the regiment of
Poniatowsky, the present field-marshal, Count Alton, spoke to me. I
related what I supposed were the reasons of my being kept a prisoner
in Vienna; and to the exertions of this man am I indebted that the
intentions of my enemies were frustrated, which were to have me
imprisoned as insane in the fortress of Glatz. Had they once
removed me from Vienna, I should certainly have pined away my life
in a madhouse. Yet I could never obtain justice against these men.
The Empress was persuaded that my brain was affected, and that I
uttered threats against the King of Prussia. The election of a king
of the Romans was then in agitation, and the court was apprehensive
lest I should offend the Prussian envoy. General Reidt had been
obliged to promise Frederic that I should not appear in Vienna, and
that they should hold a wary eye over me. The Empress-Queen felt
compassion for my supposed disease, and asked if no assistance could
be afforded me; to which they answered, I had several times let
blood, but that I still was a dangerous man. They added, that I had
squandered four thousand florins in six days at Prague; that it
would be proper to appoint guardians to impede such extravagancies.
Count Alton spoke of me and my hard destiny to the Countess Parr,
mistress of the ceremonies to the Empress-Queen. The late Emperor
entered the chamber, and asked whether I ever had any lucid
intervals. "May it please your Majesty," answered Alton, "he has
been seven weeks in my barracks, and I never met a more reasonable
man. There is mystery in this affair, or he could not be treated as
a madman. That he is not so in anywise I pledge my honour."
The next day the Emperor sent Count Thurn, grand-master of the
Archduke Leopold, to speak to me. In him I found an enlightened
philosopher, and a lover of his country. To him I related how I had
twice been betrayed, twice sold at Vienna, during my imprisonment;
to him showed that my administrators had acted in this vile manner
that I might be imprisoned for life, and they remain in possession
of my effects. We conversed for two hours, during which many things
were said that prudence will not permit me to repeat. I gained his
confidence, and he continued my friend till death. He promised me
protection, and procured me an audience of the Emperor.
I spoke with freedom; the audience lasted an hour. At length the
Emperor retired into the next apartment. I saw the tears drop from
his eyes. I fell at his feet, and wished for the presence of a
Rubens or Apelles, to preserve a scene so honourable to the memory
of the monarch, and paint the sensations of an innocent man,
imploring the protection of a compassionate prince. The Emperor
tore himself from me, and I departed with sensations such as only
those can know who, themselves being virtuous, have met with wicked
men. I returned to the barracks with joy, and an order the next day
came for my release. I went with Count Alton to the Countess Parr,
and by her mediation I obtained an audience with the Empress.
I cannot describe how much she pitied my sufferings and admired my
fortitude. She told me she was informed of the artifices practised
against me in Vienna; she required me to forgive my enemies, and
pass all the accounts of my administrators. "Do not complain of
anything," said she, "but act as I desire--I know all--you shall be
recompensed by me; you deserve reward and repose, and these you
I must either sign whatever was given to sign, or be sent to a
madhouse. I received orders to accompany M. Pistrich to Counsellor
Ziegler; thither I went, and the next day was obliged to sign, in
their presence, the following conditions:-
First--That I acknowledged the will of Trenck to be valid.
Secondly--That I renounced all claim to the Sclavonian estates,
relying alone on her Majesty's favour.
Thirdly--That I solemnly acquitted my accountants and curators.
Lastly--That I would not continue in Vienna.
This I must sign, or languish in prison.
How did my blood boil while I signed! This confidence I had in
myself assured me I could obtain employment in any country of
Europe, by the labours of my mind, and the recital of all my woes.
At that time I had no children; I little regretted what I had lost,
or the poor portion that remained.
I determined to avoid Austria eternally. My pride would never
suffer me, by insidious arts, to approach the throne. I knew no
such mode of soliciting for justice, hence I was not a match for my
enemies; hence my misfortunes. Appeals to justice were represented
as the splenetic effusions of a man never to be satisfied. My too
sensitive heart was corroded by the treatment I met at Vienna. I,
who with so much fortitude had suffered so much in the cause of
Vienna, I, on whom the eyes of Germany were fixed, to behold what
should be the reward of these sufferings, I was again, in this
country, kept a prisoner, and delivered to those by whom I had been
plundered as a man insane!
Before my intended departure to seek my fortune, I fell ill, and
sickness almost brought me to the grave. The Empress, in her great
clemency, sent one of her physicians and a friar to my assistance,
both of whom I was obliged to pay.
At this time I refused a major's commission, for which I was obliged
to pay the fees. Being excluded from actual service, to me the
title was of little value; my rank in the army had been equal ten
years before in other service. The following words, inserted in my
commission, are not unworthy of remark:- "Her Majesty, in
consequence of my fidelity for her service, demonstrated during a
long imprisonment, my endowments and virtues, had been graciously
pleased to grant me, in the Imperial service, the rank of major."--
The rank of major!--From this preamble who would not have expected
either the rank of general, or the restoration of my great
Sclavonian estates? I had been fifteen years a captain of cavalry,
and then was I made an invalid major three-and-twenty years ago, and
an invalid major I still remain! Let all that has been related be
called to mind, the manner in which I had been pillaged and
betrayed; let Vienna, Dantzic, and Magdeburg he remembered; and be
this my promotion remembered also! Let it be known that the
commission of major might be bought for a few thousand florins!
Thirty thousand florins only of the money I had been robbed of would
have purchased a colonel's commission. I should then have been a
companion for generals.
During the thirty-six years that I have been in the service of
Austria, I never had any man of rank, any great general, my enemy,
except Count Grassalkowitz, and he was only my enemy because he had
conceived a friendship for my estates.
My character was never calumniated, nor did any worthy man ever
speak of me but with respect. Who were, who are, my enemies?--
Jesuits, monks, unprincipled advocates, wishing to become my
curators, referendaries, who died despicable, or now live in houses
of correction. Such as live, live in dread of a similar end, for
the Emperor Joseph is able to discover the truth. Alas! the truth
is discovered so late; age has now nearly rendered me an invalid.
Men with hearts so base ought, indeed, to become the scavengers of
society, that, terrified by their example, succeeding judges may not
rack the heart of an honest man, seize on the possessions of the
orphan and the widow, and expel virtue out of Austria.
I attended the levee of Prince Kaunitz. Not personally known to
him, he viewed in me a crawling insect. I thought somewhat more
proudly; my actions were upright, and so should my body be. I
quitted the apartment, and was congratulated by the mercenary Swiss
porter on my good fortune of having obtained an audience!
I applied to the field-marshal, from whom I received this answer--
"If you cannot purchase, my dear Trenck, it will be impossible to
admit you into service; besides, you are too old to learn our
manoeuvres." I was then thirty-seven. I briefly replied, "Your
excellency mistakes my character. I did not come to Vienna to serve
as an invalid major. My curators have taken good care I should have
no money to purchase; but had I millions, I would never obtain rank
in the army by that mode." I quitted the room with a shrug. The
next day I addressed a memorial to the Empress. I did not re-demand
my Sclavonian estates, I only petitioned.
First--That those who had carried off quintals of silver and gold
from the premises, and had rendered no account to me or the
treasury, should refund at least a part.
Secondly--That they should be obliged to return the thirty-six
thousand florins taken from my inheritance, and applied to a
Thirdly--That the thirty-six thousand florins might be repaid, which
Count Grassalkowitz had deducted from the allodial estates, for
three thousand six hundred pandours who had fallen in the service of
the Empress; I not being bound to pay for the lives of men who had
died in defence of the Empress.
Fourthly--I required that fifteen thousand florins, which had been
deducted from my capital, and applied to the Bohemian
fortifications, should likewise be restored, together with the
fifteen thousand which had been unduly paid to the regiment of
Fifthly--I reclaimed the twelve thousand florins which I had been
robbed of at Dantzic by the treachery of the Imperial Resident,
Abramson; and public satisfaction from the magistracy of Dantzic,
who had delivered me up, so contrary to the laws of nations, to the
I likewise claimed the interest of six per cent, for seventy-six
thousand florins, detained by the Hungarian Chamber, which amounted
to twenty thousand florins; I having been allowed five per cent.,
and at last four.
I insisted on the restoration of my Sclavonian estates, and a proper
allowance for improvements, which the very sentence of the court had
granted, and which amounted to eighty thousand florins.
I petitioned for an arbitrator; I solicited justice concerning
rights, but received no answer to this and a hundred other
I must here speak of transactions during my imprisonment. I had
bought a house in Vienna in the year 1750; the price was sixteen
thousand florins, thirteen thousand of which I had paid by
instalments. The receipts were among my writings; these writings,
with my other effects, were taken from me at Dantzic, in the year
1754; nor have I, to this hour, been able to learn more than that my
writings were sent to the administrators of my affairs at Vienna.
With respect to my houses and property in Dantzic, in what manner
these were disposed of no one could or would say.
After being released at Magdeburg, I inquired concerning my house,
but no longer found it mine. Those who had got possession of my
writings must have restored the acquittances to the seller,
consequently he could re-demand the whole sum. My house was in
other hands, and I was brought in debtor six thousand florins for
interest and costs of suit. Thus were house and money gone. Whom
can I accuse?
Again, I had maintained, at my own expense Lieutenant Schroeder, who
had deserted from Glatz, and for whom I obtained a captain's
commission in the guard of Prince Esterhazy, at Eisenstadt. His
misconduct caused him to be cashiered. In my administrator's
accounts I found the following
"To Captain Schroeder, for capital, interest, and costs of suit,
sixteen hundred florins."
It was certain I was not a penny indebted to this person; I had no
redress, having been obliged to pass and sign all their accounts.
I, four years afterwards, obtained information concerning this
affair: I met Schroeder, knew him, and inquired whether he had
received these sixteen hundred florins. He answered in the
affirmative. "No one believed you would ever more see the light. I
knew you would serve me, and that you would relieve my necessities.
I went and spoke to Dr. Berger; he agreed we should halve the sum,
and his contrivance was, I should make oath I had lent you a
thousand florins, without having received your note. The money was
paid me by M. Frauenberger, to whom I agreed to send a present of
Tokay, for Madam Huttner."
This was the manner in which my curators took care of my property!
Many instances I could produce, but I am too much agitated by the
recollection. I must speak a word concerning who and what my
The Court Counsellor, Kempf, was my administrator, and Counsellor
Huttner my referendary. The substitute of Kempf was Frauenberger,
who, being obliged to act as a clerk at Prague during the war,
appointed one Krebs as a sub-substitute; whether M. Krebs had also a
sub-substitute is more than I am able to say.
Dr. Bertracker was fidei commiss-curator, though there was no fidei
commissum existing. Dr. Berger, as Fidei Commiss-Advocate, was
superintendent, and to them all salaries were to be paid.
Let us see what was the business this company had to transact. I
had seventy-six thousand florins in the Hungarian Chamber, the
interest of which was to be yearly received, and added to the
capital: this was their employment, and was certainly so trifling
that any man would have performed it gratis. The war made money
scarce, and the discounting of bills with my ducats was a profitable
trade to my curators. Had it been honestly employed, I should have
found my capital increased, after my imprisonment, full sixty
thousand florins. Instead of these I received three thousand
florins at Prague, and found my capital diminished seven thousand
Frauenberger and Berger died rich; and I must be confined as a
madman, lest this deputy should have been proved a rogue. This is
the clue to the acquittal I was obliged to sign:- Madam K- was a
lady of the bedchamber at court; she could approach the throne: her
chamber employments, indeed, procured her the keys of doors that to
me were eternally locked.
Not satisfied with this, Kempf applied to the Empress, informed her
they were acquitted, not recompensed, and that Frauenberger required
four thousand florins for remuneration. The Empress laid an
interdict on the half of my income and pension. Thus was I obliged
to live in poverty; banished the Austrian dominions, where my
seventy-six thousand florins were reduced to sixty-three, the
interest of which I could only receive; and that burthened by the
above interdict, the fidei commissum, and administratorship.
The Empress during my sickness ordered that my captain's pay, during
my ten years' imprisonment, should be given me, amounting to eight
thousand florins; which pay she also settled on me as a pension. By
this pension I never profited; for, during twenty-three years, that
and more was swallowed by journeys to Vienna, chicanery of courtiers
and agents, and costs of suits. Of the eight thousand florins three
were stolen; the court physician must be paid thrice as much as
another, and what remained after my recovery was sunk in the
preparations I had made to seek my fortune elsewhere.
How far my captain's pay was matter of right or favour, let the
world judge, being told I went in the service of Vienna to the city
of Dantzic. Neither did this restitution of pay equal the sum I had
sent the Imperial Minister to obtain my freedom. I remained nine
months in my dungeon after the articles were signed, unthought of;
and, when mentioned by the Austrians, the King had twice rejected
the proposal of my being set free. The affair happened as follows,
as I received it from Prince Henry, Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick,
and the Minister, Count Hertzberg:- General Reidt had received my
ten thousand florins full six months, and seemed to remember me no
more. One gala day, on the 21st of December, the King happened to
be in good humour; and Her Majesty the Queen, the Princess Amelia,
and the present monarch, said to the Imperial Minister, "This is a
fit opportunity for you to speak in behalf of Trenck." He
accordingly waited his time, did speak, and the King replied, "Yes."
The joy of the whole company appeared so great that Frederic THE
GREAT was offended!
Other circumstances which contributed to promote this affair, the
reader will collect from my history. That there were persons in
Vienna who desired to detain me in prison is indubitable, from their
proceedings after my return. My friends in Berlin and my money were
Walking round Vienna, having recovered from my sickness, the broad
expanse of heaven inspired a consciousness of freedom and pleasure
indescribable. I heard the song of the lark. My heart palpitated,
my pulse quickened, for I recollected I was not in chains.
"Happen," said I, "what may, my will and heart are free."
An incident happened which furthered my project of getting away from
Austria. Marshal Laudohn was going to Aix-la-Chapelle to take the
waters. He went to take his leave of the Countess Parr; I was
present the Empress entered the chamber, and the conversation
turning upon Laudohn's journey, she said to me, "The baths are
necessary to the re-establishment of your health, Trenck." I was
ready, and followed him in two days, where we remained about three
The mode of life at Aix-la-Chapelle and Spa pleased me, where men of
all nations meet, and where princes mingle with persons of all
ranks. One day here procured me more pleasure than a whole life in
I had scarcely remained a month before the Countess Parr wrote to me
that the Empress had provided for me, and would make my fortune as
soon as I returned to Vienna. I tried to discover in what it
consisted, but in vain. The death of the Emperor Francis at
Innsbruck occasioned the return of General Laudohn, and I followed
him, on foot, to Vienna.
By means of the Countess Parr I obtained an audience. The Empress
said to me, "I will prove to you, Trenck, that I keep my word. I
have insured your fortune; I will give you a rich and prudent wife."
I replied, "Most gracious Sovereign, I cannot determine to marry,
and, if I could, my choice is already made at Aix-la-Chapelle."--
"How! are you married, then?"--"Not yet, please your Majesty."--"Are
"Yes."--"Well, well, no matter for that; I will take care of that
affair; I am determined on marrying you to the rich widow of M-, and
she approves my choice. She is a good, kind woman, and has fifty
thousand florins a year. You are in want of such a wife."
I was thunderstruck. This bride was a canting hypocrite of sixty-
three, covetous, and a termagant. I answered, "I must speak the
truth to your Majesty; I could not consent did she possess the
treasures of the whole earth. I have made my choice, which, as an
honest man, I must not break." The Empress said, "Your unhappiness
is your own work. Act as you think proper; I have done." Here my
audience ended. I was not actually affianced at that time to my
present wife, but love had determined my choice.
Marshal Laudohn promoted the match. He was acquainted with my heart
and the warmth of my passion, and perceived that I could not conquer
the desire of vengeance on men by whom I had been so cruelly
treated. He and Professor Gellert advised me to take this mode of
calming passions that often inspired projects too vast, and that I
should fly the company of the great. This counsel was seconded by
my own wishes. I returned to Aix-la-Chapelle in December, 1766, and
married the youngest daughter of the former Burgomaster De Broe. He
was dead; he had lived on his own estate in Brussels, where my wife
was born and educated. My wife's mother was sister to the Vice-
Chancellor of Dusseldorf, Baron Robert, Lord of Roland. My wife was
with me in most parts of Europe. She was then young, handsome,
worthy, and virtuous, has borne me eleven children, all of whom she
has nursed herself; eight of them are still living and have been
properly educated. Twenty-two years she has borne a part of all my
sufferings, and well deserves reward.
During my abode in Vienna I made one effort more. I sought an
audience with the present Emperor Joseph, related all that had
happened to me, and remarked such defects as I had observed in the
regulations of the country. He heard me, and commanded me to commit
my thoughts to writing. My memorial was graciously received. I
also gave a full account of what had happened to me in various
countries, which prudence has occasioned me to express more
cautiously in these pages. My memorial produced no effect, and I
hastened back to Aix-la-Chapelle.
For some years I lived in peace; my house was the rendezvous of the
first people, who came to take the waters. I began to be more known
among the very first and best people. I visited Professor Gellert
at Leipzig, and asked his advice concerning what branch of
literature he thought it was probable I might succeed in. He most
approved my fables and tales, and blamed the excessive freedom with
which I spoke in political writings. I neglected his advice, and
many of the ensuing calamities were the consequence.
I received orders to correspond with His Majesty's private
secretary, Baron Roder; suffice it to say, my attempts to serve my
country were frustrated; I saw defects too clearly, spoke my
thoughts too frankly, and wanted sufficient humility ever to obtain
In the year 1767 I wrote "The Macedonian Hero," which became famous
throughout all Germany. The poem did me honour, but entailed new
persecutions; yet I never could repent: I have had the honour of
presenting it to five reigning princes, by none of whom it has been
burnt. The Empress alone was highly enraged. I had spoken as
Nathan did to David, and the Jesuits now openly became my enemies.
The following trick was played me in 1768. A friend in Brussels was
commissioned to receive my pay, from whom I learnt an interdict had
been laid upon it by the court called Hofkriegsrath, in Vienna, in
which I was condemned to pay seven hundred florins to one Bussy,
with fourteen years' interest.
Bussy was a known swindler. I therefore journeyed, post-haste, to
Vienna. No hearing; no satisfactory account was to be obtained.
The answer was, "Sentence is passed, therefore all attempts are too
I applied to the Emperor Joseph, pledged my head to prove the
falsification of this note; and entreated a revision of the cause.
My request was granted and my attorney, Weyhrauch, was an upright
man. When he requested a day of revision to be appointed, he was
threatened to be committed by the referendary. Zetto, should he
interfere and defend the affairs of Trenck. He answered firmly,
"His defence is my business: I know my cause to be good."
Four months did I continue in Vienna before the day was appointed to
revise this cause. It now appeared there were erasures and holes
through the paper in three places; all in court were convinced the
claim ought to be annulled, and the claimant punished. Zetto
ordered the parties to withdraw, and then so managed that the judges
resolved that the case must be laid before the court with formal and
This gave time for new knavery; I was obliged to return to Aix-la-
Chapelle, and four years elapsed before this affair was decided.
Two priests, in the interim, took false oaths that they had seen me
receive money. At length, however, I proved that the note was dated
a year after I had been imprisoned at Magdeburg. Further, my
attorney proved the writs of the court had been falsified. Zetto,
referendary, and Bussy, were the forgers; but I happened to be too
active, and my attorney too honest, to lose this case. I was
obliged to make three very expensive journeys from Aix-la-Chapelle
to Vienna, lest judgement should go by default. Sentence at last
was pronounced. I gained my cause, and the note was declared a
forgery, but the costs, amounting to three thousand five hundred
florins, I was obliged to pay, for Bussy could not: nor was he
punished, though driven from Vienna for his villainous acts. Zetto,
however, still continued for eleven years my persecutor, till he was
deprived of his office, and condemned to the House of Correction.
My knowledge of the world increased at Aix-la-Chapelle, where men of
all characters met. In the morning I conversed with a lord in
opposition, in the afternoon with an orator of the King's party, and
in the evening with an honest man of no party. I sent Hungarian
wine into England, France, Holland, and the Empire. This occasioned
me to undertake long journeys, and as my increased acquaintance gave
me opportunities of receiving foreigners with politeness an my own
house, I was also well received wherever I went.
The income I should have had from Vienna was engulfed by law-suits,
attorneys, and the journeys I undertook; having been thrice cited to
appear, in person, before the Hofkriegsrath. No hope remained. I
was described as a dangerous malcontent, who had deserted his native
land. I nevertheless remained an honest man; one who could provide
for his necessities without the favour of courts; one whose
acquaintance was esteemed. In Vienna alone was I unsought,
unemployed, and obscure.
One day an accident happened which made me renowned as a magician,
as one who had power over fogs and clouds.
I had a quarrel with the Palatine President, Baron Blankart,
concerning a hunting district. I wrote to him that he should repair
to the spot in dispute, whither I would attend with sword and
pistol, hoping he would there give me satisfaction for the affront I
had received. Thither I went, with two huntsmen and two friends,
but instead of the baron I found two hundred armed peasants
I sent one of my huntsmen to the army of the enemy, informing them
that, if they did not retreat, I should fire. The day was fine, but
a thick and impenetrable fog arose. My huntsman returned, with
intelligence that, having delivered his message just as the fog came
on, these heroes had all run away with fright.
I advanced, fired my piece, as did my followers, and marched to the
mansion of my adversary, where my hunting-horn was blown in triumph
in his courtyard. The runaway peasants fired, but the fog prevented
their taking aim.
I returned home, where many false reports had preceded me. My wife
expected I should be brought home dead; however, not the least
mischief had happened.
It soon was propagated through the country that I had raised a fog
to render myself invisible, and that the truth of this could be
justified by two hundred witnesses. All the monks of Aix-la-
Chapelle, Juliers, and Cologne, preached concerning me, reviled me,
and warned the people to beware of the arch-magician and Lutheran,
On a future occasion, this belief I turned to merriment. I went to
hunt the wolf in the forests of Montjoie, and invited the townsmen
to the chase. Towards evening I, and some forty of my followers,
retired to rest in the charcoal huts, provided with wine and brandy.
"My lads," said I, "it is necessary you should discharge your
pieces, and load them anew; that to-morrow no wolf may escape, and
that none of you excuse yourselves on your pieces missing fire."
The guns were reloaded, and placed in a separate chamber. While
they were merry-making, my huntsman drew the balls, and charged the
pieces with powder, several of which he loaded with double charges.
Some of their notched balls I put into my pocket.
In the morning away went I and my fellows to the chase. Their
conversation turned on my necromancy, and the manner in which I
could envelope myself in a cloud, or make myself bullet-proof.
"What is that you are talking about?" said I.--"Some of these
unbelieving folks," answered my huntsman, "affirm your honour is
unable to ward off balls."--"Well, then," said I, "fire away, and
try." My huntsman fired. I pretended to parry with my hand, and
called, "Let any man that is so inclined fire, but only one at a
time." Accordingly they began, and, pretending to twist and turn
about, I suffered them all to discharge their pieces. My people had
carefully noticed that no man had reloaded his gun. Some of them
received such blows from the guns that were doubly charged that they
fell, terrified at the powers of magic. I advanced, holding in my
hand some of the marked balls. "Let every one choose his own,"
called I. All stood motionless, and many of them slunk home with
their guns on their shoulders; some remained, and our sport was
On Sunday the monks of Aix-la-Chapelle again began to preach. My
black art became the theme of the whole country, and to this day
many of the people make oath that they fired upon me, and that,
after catching them, I returned the balls.
My invulnerable qualities were published throughout Juliers, Aix-la-
Chapelle, Maestricht, and Cologne, and perhaps this belief saved my
life; the priests having propagated it from their pulpits, in a
country which swarms with highway robbers, and where, for a single
ducat, any man may hire an assassin.
It is no small surprise that I should have preserved my life, in a
town where there are twenty-three monasteries and churches, and
where the monks are adored as deities. The Catholic clergy had been
enraged against me by my poem of "The Macedonian Hero;" and in 1772
I published a newspaper at Aix-la-Chapelle, and another work
entitled, "The Friend of Men," in which I unmasked hypocrisy. A
major of the apostolic Maria Theresa, writing thus in a town
swarming with friars, and in a tone so undaunted, was unexampled.
At present, now that freedom of opinion is encouraged by the
Emperor, many essayists encounter bigotry and deceit with ridicule;
or, wanting invention themselves, publish extracts from writings of
the age of Luther. But I have the honour of having attacked the
pillars of the Romish hierarchy in days more dangerous. I may boast
of being the first German who raised a fermentation on the Upper
Rhine and in Austria, so advantageous to truth, the progress of the
understanding, and the happiness of futurity.
My writings contain nothing inimical to the morality taught by
Christ. I attacked the sale of indulgences, the avarice of Rome,
the laziness, deceit, gluttony, robbery, and blood-sucking of the
monks of Aix-la-Chapelle. The arch-priest, and nine of his
coadjutors, declared every Sunday that I was a freethinker, a
wizard, one whom every man, wishing well to God and the Church,
ought to assassinate. Father Zunder declared me an outlaw, and a
day was appointed on which my writings were to be burnt before my
house, and its inhabitants massacred. My wife received letters
warning her to fly for safety, which warning she obeyed. I and two
of my huntsmen remained, provided with eighty-four loaded muskets.
These I displayed before the window, that all might be convinced
that I would make a defence. The appointed day came, and Father
Zunder, with my writings in his hand, appeared ready for the attack;
the other monks had incited the townspeople to a storm. Thus passed
the day and night in suspense.
In the morning a fire broke out in the town. I hastened, with my
two huntsmen, well armed, to give assistance; we dashed the water
from our buckets, and all obeyed my directions. Father Zunder and
his students were there likewise. I struck his anointed ear with my
leathern bucket, which no man thought proper to notice. I passed
undaunted through the crowd; the people smiled, pulled off their
hats, and wished me a good-morning. The people of Aix-la-Chapelle
were bigots, but too cowardly to murder a man who was prepared for
his own defence.
As I was riding to Maestricht, a ball whistled by my ears, which, no
doubt, was a messenger sent after me by these persecuting priests.
When hunting near the convent of Schwartzenbruck, three Dominicans
lay in ambush behind a hedge. One of their colleagues pointed out
the place. I was on my guard with my gun, drew near, and called
out, "Shoot, scoundrels! but do not kill me, for the devil stands
ready for you at your elbow." One fired, and all ran: The ball hit
my hat. I fired and wounded one desperately, whom the others
In 1774, journeying from Spa to Limbourg, I was attacked by eight
banditti. The weather was rainy, and my musket was in its case; my
sabre was entangled in my belt, so that I was obliged to defend
myself as with a club. I sprang from the carriage, and fought in
defence of my life, striking down all before me, while my faithful
huntsman protected me behind. I dispersed my assailants, hastened
to my carriage, and drove away. One of these fellows was soon after
hanged, and owned that the confessor of the banditti had promised
absolution could they but despatch me, but that no man could shoot
me, because Lucifer had rendered me invulnerable. My agility,
fighting, too, for life, was superior to theirs, and they buried two
of their gang, whom with my heavy sabre I had killed.
To such excess of cruelty may the violence of priests be carried! I
attacked only gross abuses--the deceit of the monks of Aix-la-
Chapelle, Cologne, and Liege, where they are worse than cannibals.
I wished to inculcate true Christian duties among my fellow-
citizens, and the attempt was sufficient to irritate the selfish
Church of Rome.
From my Empress I had nothing to hope. Her confessor had painted me
as a persecutor of the blessed Mother Church. Nor was this all.
Opinions were propagated throughout Vienna that I was a dangerous
man to the community.
Hence I was always wronged in courts of judicature, where there are
ever to be found wicked men. They thought they were serving the
cause of God by injuring me. Yet they were unable to prevent my
writings from producing me much money, or from being circulated
through all Germany. The Aix-la-Chapelle Journal became so famous,
that in the second year I had four thousand subscribers, by each of
whom I gained a ducat.
The postmasters, who gained considerably by circulating newspapers,
were envious, because the Aix-la-Chapelle Journal destroyed several
of the others, and they therefore formed a combination.
Prince Charles of Sweden placed confidence in me during his
residence at Aix-la-Chapelle and Spa, and I accompanied him into
Holland. When I took my leave of him at Maestricht, he said to me,
"When my father dies, either my brother shall be King, or we will
lose our heads." The King died, and Prince Charles soon after said,
in the postscript of one of his letters, "What we spoke of at
Maestricht will soon be fully accomplished, and you may then come to
On this, I inserted an article in my journal declaring a revolution
had taken place in Sweden, that the king had made himself absolute.
The other papers expressed their doubts, and I offered to wager a
thousand ducats on the truth of the article published in my journal
under the title of "Aix-la-Chapelle." The news of the revolution in
Sweden was confirmed.
My journal foretold the Polish partition six weeks sooner than any
other; but how I obtained this news must not be mentioned. I was
active in the defence of Queen Matilda of Denmark.
The French Ministry were offended at the following pasquinade:- "The
three eagles have rent the Polish bear, without losing a feather
with which any man in the Cabinet of Versailles can write. Since
the death of Mazarin, they write only with goose-quills."
By desire of the King of Poland, I wrote a narrative of the attempt
made to assassinate him, and named the nuncio who had given
absolution to the conspirators in the chapel of the Holy Virgin.
The house was now in flames. Rome insisted I should recall my
words. Her nuncio, at Cologne, vented poison, daggers, and
excommunication; the Empress-Queen herself thought proper to
interfere. I obtained, for my justification, from Warsaw a copy of
the examination of the conspirators. This I threatened to publish,
and stood unmoved in the defence of truth.
The Empress wrote to the Postmaster-General of the Empire, and
commanded him to lay an interdict on the Aix-la-Chapelle Journal.
Informed of this, I ended its publication with the year, but wrote
an essay on the partition of Poland, which also did but increase my
The magistracy of Aix-la-Chapelle is elected from the people, and
the Burghers' court consists of an ignorant rabble. I know no
exceptions but Baron Lamberte and De Witte; and this people assume
titles of dignity, for which they are amenable to the court at
Vienna. Knowing I should find little protection at Vienna, they
imagined they might drive me from their town. I was a spy on their
evil deeds, of whom they would have rid themselves. I knew that the
two sheriffs, Kloss and Furth, and the recorder, Geyer, had robbed
the town-chamber of forty thousand dollars, and divided the spoil.
To these I was a dangerous man. For such reasons they sought a
quarrel with me, pretending I had committed a trespass by breaking
down a hedge, and cited me to appear at the town-house.
The postmaster, Heinsberg, of Aix-la-Chapelle, although he had two
thousand three hundred rix-dollars of mine in his possession,
instituted false suits against me, obtained verdicts against me,
seized on a cargo of wine at Cologne, and I incurred losses to the
amount of eighteen thousand florins, which devoured the fortune of
my wife, and by which she, with myself and my children, were reduced
The Gravenitz himself, in 1778, acknowledged how much he had injured
me, affirmed he had been deceived, and promised he would try to
obtain restitution. I forgave him, and he attempted to keep his
promise; but his power declined; the bribes he had received became
too public. He was dispossessed of his post, but, alas! too late
for me. Two other of my judges are at this time obliged to sweep
the streets of Vienna, where they are condemned to the House of
Correction. Had this been their employment instead of being seated
on the seat of judgment twenty years ago, I might have been more
fortunate. It is a remarkable circumstance that I should so
continually have been despoiled by unjust judges. Who would have
had the temerity to affirm that their evil deeds should bring them
to attend on the city scavenger? I indeed knew them but too well,
and fearlessly spoke what I knew. It was my misfortune that I was
acquainted with their malpractices sooner than gracious Sovereign.
Let the scene close on my litigations at Aix-la-Chapelle and Vienna.
May God preserve every honest man from the like! They have
swallowed up my property, and that of my wife. Enough!
From the year 1774 to 1777, I journeyed through England and France.
I was intimate with Dr. Franklin, the American Minister, and with
the Counts St. Germain and de Vergennes, who made me proposals to go
to America; but I was prevented by my affection for my wife and
My friend the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, who had been Governor of
Magdeburg during my imprisonment, offered me a commission among the
troops going to America, but I answered--"Gracious prince, my heart
beats in the cause of freedom only; I will never assist in enslaving
men. Were I at the head of your brave grenadiers. I should revolt
to the Americans."
During 1775 I continued at Aix-la-Chapelle my essays, entitled, "The
Friend of Men." My writings had made some impression; the people
began to read; the monks were ridiculed, but my partisans increased,
and their leader got himself cudgelled.
They did not now mention my name publicly, but catechised their
penitents at confession. During this year people came to me from
Cologne, Bonn, and Dusseldorf, to speak with me privately. When I
inquired their business, they told me their clergy had informed them
I was propagating a new religion, in which every man must sign
himself to the devil, who then would supply them with money. They
were willing to become converts to my faith, would Beelzebub but
give them money, and revenge them on their priests. "My good
friends," answered I, "your teachers have deceived you; I know of no
devils but themselves. Were it true that I was founding a new
religion, the converts to whom the devil would supply money, your
priests, would be the first of my apostles, and the most catholic.
I am an honest, moral man, as a Christian ought to be. Go home, in
God's name, and do your duty."
I forgot to mention that the recorder of the sheriff's court at Aix-
la-Chapelle, who is called Baron Geyer, had associated himself in
1778 with a Jew convert, and that this noble company swindled a
Dutch merchant out of eighty thousand florins, by assuming the arms
of Elector Palatine, and producing forged receipts and contracts.
Geyer was taken in Amsterdam, and would have been hanged, but, by
the aid of a servant, he escaped. He returned to Aix-la-Chapelle,
where he enjoys his office. Three years ago he robbed the town-
chamber. His wife was, at that time, generis communis, and procured
him friends at court. The assertions of this gentleman found
greater credit at Vienna than those of the injured Trenck! Oh,
shame! Oh, world! world!
My wine trade was so successful that I had correspondents and stores
in London, Paris, Brussels, Hamburg, and the Hague, and had gained
forty thousand florins. One unfortunate day destroyed all my hopes
in the success of this traffic.
In London I was defrauded of eighteen hundred guineas by a swindler.
The fault was my brother-in-law's, who parted with the wine before
he had received the money. When I had been wronged, and asked my
friends' assistance, I was only laughed at, as if they were happy
that an Englishman had the wit to cheat a German.
Finding myself defrauded, I hastened to Sir John Fielding. He told
me he knew I had been swindled, and that his friendship would make
him active in my behalf; that he also knew the houses where my wine
was deposited, and that a party of his runners should go with me,
sufficiently strong for its recovery. I was little aware that he
had, at that time, two hundred bottles of my best Tokay in his
cellar. His pretended kindness was a snare; he was in partnership
with robbers, only the stupid among whom he hanged, and preserved
the most adroit for the promotion of trade.
He sent a constable and six of his runners with me, commanding them
to act under my orders. By good fortune I had a violent headache,
and sent my brother-in-law, who spoke better English than I. Him
they brought to the house of a Jew, and told him, "Your wine, sir,
is here concealed." Though it was broad day, the door was locked,
that he might be induced to act illegally. The constable desired
him to break the door open, which he did; the Jews came running, and
asked--"What do you want, gentlemen?"--"I want my wine," answered my
brother.--"Take what is your own," replied a Jew; "but beware of
touching my property. I have bought the wine."
My brother attended the constable and runners into a cellar, and
found a great part of my wine. He wrote to Sir John Fielding that
he had found the wine, and desired to know how to act. Fielding
answered: "It must be taken by the owner." My brother accordingly
sent me the wine.
Next day came a constable with a warrant, saying, "He wanted to
speak with my brother, and that he was to go to Sir John Fielding."
When he was in the street, he told him--"Sir, you are my prisoner."
I went to Sir John Fielding, and asked him what it meant. This
justice answered that my brother had been accused of felony. The
Jews and swindlers had sworn the wine was a legal purchase. If I
had not been paid, or was ignorant of the English laws, that was my
fault. Six swindlers had sworn the wine was paid for, which
circumstance he had not known, or he should not have granted me a
warrant. My brother had also broken open the doors, and forcibly
taken away wine which was not his own. They made oath of this, and
he was charged with burglary and robbery.
He desired me to give bail in a thousand guineas for my brother for
his appearance in the Court of King's Bench; otherwise his trial
would immediately come on, and in a few days he would be hanged.
I hastened to a lawyer, who confirmed what had been told me, advised
me to give bail, and he would then defend my cause. I applied to
Lord Mansfield, and received the same answer. I told my story to
all my friends, who laughed at me for attempting to trade in London
without understanding the laws. My friend Lord Grosvenor said,
"Send more wine to London, and we will pay you so well that you will
soon recover your loss."
I went to my wine-merchants, who had a stock of mine worth upwards
of a thousand guineas. They gave bail for my brother, and he was
Fielding, in the interim, sent his runners to my house, took back
the wine, and restored it to the Jews. They threatened to prosecute
me as a receiver of stolen goods. I fled from London to Paris,
where I sold off my stock at half-price, honoured my bills, and so
ended my merchandise.
My brother returned to London in November, to defend his cause in
the Court of King's Bench; but the swindlers had disappeared, and
the lawyer required a hundred pounds to proceed. The conclusion was
that my brother returned with seventy pounds less in his pocket,
spent as travelling expenses, and the stock in the hands of my wine-
merchants was detained on pretence of paying the bail. They brought
me an apothecary's bill, and all was lost.
The Swedish General Sprengporten came to Aix-la-Chapelle in 1776.
He had planned and carried into execution the revolution so
favourable to the King, but had left Sweden in discontent, and came
to take the waters with a rooted hypochondria.
He was the most dangerous man in Sweden, and had told the King
himself, after the revolution, in the presence of his guards, "While
Sprengporten can hold a sword, the King has nothing to command."
It was feared he would go to Russia, and Prince Charles wrote to me
in the name of the monarch, desiring I would exert myself to
persuade him to return to Sweden. He was a man of pride, which
rendered him either a fool or a madman. He despised everything that
was not Swedish.
The Prussian Minister, Count Hertzberg, the same year came to Aix-
la-Chapelle. I enjoyed his society for three months, and
accompanied this great man. To his liberality am I indebted that I
can return to my country with honour.
The time I had to spare was not spent in idleness; I attacked, in my
weekly writings, those sharpers who attend at Aix-la-Chapelle and
Spa to plunder both inhabitants and visitants, under the connivance
of the magistracy; nor are there wanting foreign noblemen who become
the associates of these pests of society. The publication of such
truths endangered my life from the desperadoes, who, when detected,
had nothing more to lose. How powerful is an innocent life, nothing
can more fully prove than that I still exist, in despite of all the
attempts of wicked monks and despicable sharpers.
Though my life was much disturbed, yet I do not repent of my manner
of acting; many a youth, many a brave man, have I detained from the
gaming-table, and pointed out to them the most notorious sharpers.
This was so injurious to Spa, that the Bishop of Liege himself, who
enjoys a tax on all their winnings, and therefore protects such
villains, offered me an annual pension of five hundred guineas if I
would not come to Spa; or three per cent. on the winnings, would I
but associate myself with Colonel N-t, and raise recruits for the
gaming-table. My answer may easily be imagined; yet for this was I
threatened to be excommunicated by the Holy Catholic Church!
I and my family passed sixteen summers in Spa. My house became the
rendezvous of the most respectable part of the company, and I was
known to some of the most respectable characters in Europe.
A contest arose between the town of Aix-la-Chapelle and Baron
Blankart, the master of the hounds to the Elector Palatine: it
originated in a dispute concerning precedence between the before-
mentioned wife of the Recorder Geyer and the sister of the
Burgomaster of Aix-la-Chapelle, Kahr, who governed that town with
This quarrel was detrimental to the town and to the Elector
Palatine, but profitable to Kahr, whose office it was to protect the
rights of the town, and those persons who defended the claims of the
Elector; the latter kept a faro bank, the plunder of which had
enriched the town; and the former Kahr, under pretence of defending
their cause, embezzled the money of the people; so that both parties
endeavoured with all their power to prolong the litigation.
It vexed me to see their proceedings. Those who suffered on each
side were deceived; and I conceived the project of exposing the
truth. For this purpose I journeyed to the court at Mannheim,
related the facts to the Elector, produced a plan of accommodation,
which he approved, and obtained power to act as arbitrator. The
Minister of the Elector, Bekkers, pretended to approve my zeal,
conducted me to an auberge, made me dine at his house, and said a
commission was made out for my son, and forwarded to Aix-la-
Chapelle--which was false; the moment he quitted me he sent to Aix-
la-Chapelle to frustrate the attempt he pretended to applaud. He
was himself in league with the parties. In fine, this silly
interference brought me only trouble, expense, and chagrin. I made
five journeys to Mannheim, till I became so dissatisfied that I
determined to quit Aix-la-Chapelle, and purchase an estate in
The Bavarian contest was at this time in agitation; my own affairs
brought me to Paris, and here I learned intelligence of great
consequence; this I communicated to the Grand Duke of Florence, on
my return to Vienna. The Duke departed to join the army in Bohemia,
and I again wrote to him, and thought it my duty to send a courier.
The Duke showed my letter to the Emperor; but I remained unnoticed.
I did not think myself safe in foreign countries during this time of
war, and purchased the lordship of Zwerbach, with appurtenances,
which, with the expenses, cost me sixty thousand florins.
To conclude this purchase, I was obliged to solicit the referendary,
Zetto, and his friend whom he had appointed as my curator, for my
new estate was likewise made a fidei commissum, as my referendaries
and curators would not let me escape contribution. The six thousand
florins of which they emptied my purse would have done my family
In May, 1780, I went to Aix-la-Chapelle, where my wife's mother died
in July; and in September my wife, myself, and family, all came to
My wife solicited the mistress of the ceremonies to obtain an
audience. Her request was granted, and she gained the favour of the
Empress. Her kindness was beyond expression: she introduced my
wife to the Archduchess, and commanded her mistress of the
ceremonies to present her everywhere. "You were unwilling," said
she, "to accompany your husband into my country, but I hope to
convince you that you may live happier in Austria than at Aix-la-
She next day sent me her decree, assuring me of a pension of four
My wife petitioned the Empress to grant me an audience: her request
was complied with: and the Empress said to me: "This is the third
time in which I would have made your fortune, had you been so
disposed." She desired to see my children, and spoke of my
writings. "How much good might you do," said she, "would you but
write in the cause of religion!"
We departed for Zwerbach, where we lived contentedly, but when we
were preparing to return to Vienna, and solicited the restitution of
part of my lost fortune, during this favour of the court, Theresa
died, and all my hopes were overcast.
I forgot to relate that the Archduchess, Maria Anna, desired me to
translate a religious work, written in French by the Abbe Baudrand,
into German. I replied I would obey Her Majesty's commands. I
began my work, took passages from Baudrand, but inserted more of my
own. The first volume was finished in six weeks; the Empress
thought it admirable. The second soon followed, and I presented
She asked me if it equalled the first; I answered, I hoped it would
be found more excellent. "No," said she; "I never in my life read a
better book:" and added, "she wondered how I could write so well and
so quickly." I promised another volume within a month. Before the
third was ready, Theresa died. She gave orders on her death-bed to
have the writings of Baron Trenck read to her; and though her
confessor well knew the injustice that had been done me, yet in her
last moments he kept silence, though he had given me his sacred
promise to speak in my behalf.
After her death the censor commanded that I should print what I have
stated in the preface to that third volume, and this was my only
For one-and-thirty years had I been soliciting my rights, which I
never could obtain, because the Empress was deceived by wicked men,
and believed me a heretic. In the thirty-second, my wife had the
good fortune to convince her this was false; she had determined to
make me restitution; just at this moment she died.
The pension granted my wife by the Empress in consequence of my
misfortunes and our numerous family, we only enjoyed nine months.
Of this she was deprived by the new monarch. He perhaps knew
nothing of the affair, as I never solicited. Yet much has it
grieved me. Perhaps I may find relief when the sighs wrung from me
shall reach the heart of the father of his people in this my last
writing. At present, nothing for me remains but to live unknown in
The Emperor thought proper to collect the moneys bestowed on
hospitals into one fund. The system was a wise one. My cousin
Trenck had bequeathed thirty-six thousand florins to a hospital for
the poor of Bavaria. This act he had no right to do, having
deducted the sum from the family estate. I petitioned the Emperor
that these thirty-six thousand florins might be restored to me and
my children, who were the people whom Trenck had indeed made poor,
nothing of the property of his acquiring having been left to pay
this legacy, but, on the contrary, the money having been exacted
In a few days it was determined I should be answered in the same
tone in which, for six-and-thirty years past, all my petitions had
"THE REQUEST OF THE PETITIONER CANNOT BE GRANTED."
Fortune persecuted me in my retreat. Within six years two
hailstorms swept away my crops; one year was a misgrowth; there were
seven floods; a rot among my sheep: all possible calamities befell
me and my manor.
The estate had been ruined, the ponds were to drain, three farms
were to be put into proper condition, and the whole newly stocked.
This rendered me poor, especially as my wife's fortune had been sunk
in lawsuits at Aix-la-Chapelle and Cologne.
The miserable peasants had nothing, therefore could not pay: I was
obliged to advance them money. My sons assisted me, and we laboured
with our own hands: my wife took care of eight children, without so
much as the help of a maid. We lived in poverty, obliged to earn
our daily bread.
The greatest of my misfortunes was my treatment in the military
court, when Zetto and Krugel were my referendaries. Zetto had
clogged me with a curator and when the cow had no more milk to give,
they began to torture me with deputations, sequestrations,
administrations, and executions. Nineteen times was I obliged to
attend in Vienna within two years, at my own expense. Every six
years must I pay an attorney to dispute and quarrel with the
curator. I, in conclusion, was obliged to pay. If any affair was
to be expedited, I, by a third hand, was obliged to send the
referendary some ducats. Did he give judgment, still that judgment
lay fourteen months inefficient, and, when it then appeared, the
copy was false, and so was sent to the upper courts, the high
referendary of which said I "must be dislodged from Zwerbach."
They obliged me at last to purchase my naturalisation. I sent to
Prussia for my pedigree; the attestation of this was sent me by
Count Hertzberg. Although the family of Trenck had a hundred years
been landholders in Hungary, yet was my attorney obliged to solicit
the instrument called ritter-diploma, for which, under pain of
execution, I must pay two thousand florins.
By decree a Prussian nobleman is not noble in Austria, where every
lackey can purchase a diploma, making him a knight of the Empire,
for twelve hundred wretched florins!--where such men as P- and
Grassalkowitz have purchased the dignity of a prince!
Tortured by the courts, terrified by hailstorms, I determined to
publish my works, in eight volumes, and this history of my life.
Fourteen months accomplished this purpose. My labours found a
favourable reception through all Germany, procured me money, esteem,
and honour. By my writings only will I seek the means of existence,
and by trying to obtain the approbation and the love of men.
On the 22nd of August, 1786, the news arrived that Frederic the
Great had left this world
* * *
The present monarch, the witness of my sufferings in my native
country, sent me a royal passport to Berlin. The confiscation of my
estates was annulled, and my deceased brother, in Prussia, had left
my children his heirs.
* * *
I journey, within the Imperial permission, back to my country, from
which I have been two-and-forty years expelled! I journey--not as a
pardoned malefactor, but as a man whose innocence has been
established by his actions, has been proved in his writings, and who
is journeying to receive his reward.
Here I shall once more encounter my old friends my relations, and
those who have known me in the days of my affliction. Here shall I
appear, not as my country's Traitor, but as my country's Martyr!
Possible, though little probable, are still future storms. For
these also I am prepared. Long had I reason daily to curse the
rising sun, and, setting, to behold it with horror. Death to me
appears a great benefit: a certain passage from agitation to peace,
from motion to rest. As for my children, they, jocund in youth,
delight in present existence. When I have fulfilled the duties of a
father, to live or die will then be as I shall please.
Thou, O God! my righteous Judge, didst ordain that I should be an
example of suffering to the world; Thou madest me what I am, gavest
me these strong passions, these quick nerves, this thrilling of the
blood, when I behold injustice. Strong was my mind, that deeply it
might meditate on deep subjects; strong my memory, that these
meditations I might retain; strong my body, that proudly it might
support all it has pleased Thee to inflict.
Should I continue to exist, should identity go with me, and should I
know what I was then, when I was called Trenck; when that
combination of particles which Nature commanded should compose this
body shall be decomposed, scattered, or in other bodies united; when
I have no muscles to act, no brain to think, no retina on which
pictures can mechanically be painted, my eyes wasted, and no tongue
remaining to pronounce the Creator's name, should I still behold a
Creator--then, oh then, will my spirit mount, and indubitably
associate with spirits of the just who expectant wait for their
golden harps and glorious crowns from the Most High God. For human
weaknesses, human failings, arising from our nature, springing from
our temperament, which the Creator has ordained, shall be even thus,
and not otherwise; for these have I suffered enough on earth.
Such is my confession of faith; in this have I lived, in this will I
die. The duties of a man and of a Christian I have fulfilled; nay,
often have exceeded, often have been too benevolent, too generous;
perhaps also too proud, too vain. I could not bend, although liable
to be broken.
That I have not served the world, in acts and employments where best
I might, is perhaps my own fault: the fault of my manner, which is
now too radical to be corrected in this, my sixtieth year. Yes, I
acknowledge my failing, acknowledge it unblushingly; nay, glory in
the pride of a noble nature.
For myself, I ask nothing of those who have read my history; to them
do I commit my wife and children. My eldest son is a lieutenant in
the Tuscan regiment of cavalry, under General Lasey, and does honour
to his father's principles. The second serves his present Prussian
Majesty, as ensign in the Posadowsky dragoons, with equal promise.
The third is still a child. My daughters will make worthy men
happy, for they have imbibed virtue and gentleness with their
mother's milk. Monarchs may hereafter remember what I have
suffered, what I have lost, and what is due to my ashes.
Here do I declare--I will seek no other revenge against my enemies
than that of despising their evil deeds. It is my wish, and shall
be my endeavour, to forget the past; and having committed no
offence, neither will I solicit monarchs for posts of honour; as I
have ever lived a free man, a free man will I die.
I conclude this part of my history on the evening preceding my
journey to Berlin. God grant I may encounter no new afflictions, to
be inserted in the remainder of this history.
This journey I prepared to undertake, but my ever-envious fate threw
me on the bed of sickness, insomuch that small hope remained that I
ever should again behold the country of my forefathers. I seemed
following the Great Frederic to the mansions of the dead; then
should I never have concluded the history of my life, or obtained
the victory by which I am now crowned.
A variety of obstacles being overcome, I found it necessary to make
a journey into Hungary, which was one of the most pleasant of my
I have no words to express my ardent wishes for the welfare of a
nation where I met with so many proofs of friendship. Wherever I
appeared I was welcomed with that love and enthusiasm which only
await the fathers of their country. The valour of my cousin Trenck,
who died ingloriously in the Spielberg, the loss of my great
Hungarian estates, the fame of my writings, and the cruelty of my
sufferings, had gone before me. The officers of the army, the
nobles of the land, alike testified the warmth of their esteem.
Such is the reward of the upright; such too are the proofs that this
nation knows the just value of fortitude and virtue. Have I not
reason to publish my gratitude, and to recommend my children to
those who, when I am no more, shall dare uprightly to determine
concerning the rights which have unjustly been snatched from me in
Not a man in Hungary but will proclaim I have been unjustly dealt
by; yet I have good reason to suspect I never shall find redress.
Sentence had been already given; judges, more honest, cannot,
without difficulty, reverse old decrees; and the present possessors
of my estates are too powerful, too intimate with the governors of
the earth, for me to hope I shall hereafter be more happy. God
knows my heart; I wish the present possessors may render services to
the state equal to those rendered by the family of the Trencks.
There is little probability I shall ever behold my noble friends in
Hungary more. Here I bid them adieu, promising them to pass the
remainder of any life so as still to merit the approbation of a
people with whose ashes I would most willingly have mingled my own.
May the God of heaven preserve every Hungarian from a fate similar
The Croats have ever been reckoned uncultivated; yet, among this
uncultivated people I found more subscribers to my writings than
among all the learned men of Vienna; and in Hungary, more than in
all the Austrian dominions.
The Hungarians, the unlettered Croats, seek information. The people
of Vienna ask their confessors' permission to read instructive
books. Various subscribers, having read the first volume of my
work, brought it back, and re-demanded their money, because some
monk had told them it was a book dangerous to be read. The judges
of their courts have re-sold them to the booksellers for a few pence
or given them to those who had the care of their consciences to
In Vienna alone was my life described as a romance; in Hungary I
found the compassion of men, their friendship, and effectual aid.
Had my book been the production of an Englishman, good wishes would
not have been his only reward.
We German writers have interested critics to encounter if we would
unmask injustice; and if a book finds a rapid sale, dishonest
printers issue spurious editions, defrauding the author of his
The encouragement of the learned produces able teachers, and from
their seminaries men of genius occasionally come forth. The world
is inundated with books and pamphlets; the undiscerning reader knows
not which to select; the more intelligent are disgusted, or do not
read at all, and thus a work of merit becomes as little profitable
to the author as to the state.
I left Vienna on the 5th of January, and came to Prague. Here I
found nearly the same reception as in Hungary; my writings were
read. Citizens, noblemen, and ladies treated me with like favour.
May the monarch know how to value men of generous feelings and
I bade adieu to Prague, and continued my journey to Berlin. In
Bohemia, I took leave of my son, who saw his father and his two
brothers, destined for the Prussian service, depart. He felt the
weight of this separation; I reminded him of his duty to the state
he served; I spoke of the fearful fate of his uncle and father in
Austria, and of the possessors of our vast estates in Hungary. He
shrank back--a look from his father pierced him to the soul--tears
stood in his eyes--his youthful blood flowed quick, and the
following expression burst suddenly from his lips:- "I call God to
witness that I will prove myself worthy of my father's name; and
that, while I live, his enemies shall be mine!"
At Peterswald, on the road to Dresden, my carriage broke down: my
life was endangered; and my son received a contusion in the arm.
The erysipelas broke out on him at Berlin, and I could not present
him to the King for a month after.
I had been but a short time at Berlin before the well-known
minister, Count Hertzberg, received me with kindness. Every man to
whom his private worth is known will congratulate the state that has
the wisdom to bestow on him so high an office. His scholastic and
practical learning, his knowledge of languages, his acquaintance
with sciences, are indeed wonderful. His zeal for his country is
ardent, his love of his king unprejudiced, his industry admirable,
his firmness that of a man. He is the most experienced man in the
Prussian states. The enemies of his country may rely on his word.
The artful he can encounter with art; those who menace, with
fortitude; and with wise foresight can avert the rising storm. He
seeks not splendour in sumptuous and ostentatious retinue; but if he
can only enrich the state, and behold the poor happy, he is himself
willing to remain poor. His estate, Briess, near Berlin, is no
Chanteloup, but a model to those patriots who would study economy.
Here he, every Wednesday, enjoys recreation. The services he
renders the kingdom cost it only five thousand rix-dollars yearly;
he, therefore, lives without ostentation, yet becoming his state,
and with splendour when splendour is necessary. He does not plunder
the public treasury that he may preserve his own private property.
This man will live in the annals of Prussia: who was employed under
the Great Frederic; had so much influence in the cabinets of Europe;
and was a witness of the last actions, the last sensations, of his
dying king; yet who never asked, nor ever received, the least
gratuity. This is the minister whose conversation I had the
happiness to partake at Aix-la-Chapelle and Spa, whose welfare is
the wish of my heart, and whose memory I shall ever revere.
I was received with distinction at his table, and became acquainted
with those whose science had benefited the Prussian states; nor was
anything more flattering to my self-love than that men like these
should think me worthy their friendship.
Not many days after I was presented to the court by the Prussian
chamberlain, Prince Sacken, as it is not customary at Berlin for a
foreign subject to be presented by the minister of his own court.
Though a Prussian subject, I wore the Imperial uniform.
The King received me with condescension; all eyes were directed
towards me, each welcomed me to my country. This moved me the more
as it was remarked by the foreign ministers, who asked who that
Austrian officer could be who was received with so much affection
and such evident joy in Berlin. The gracious monarch himself gave
tokens of pleasure at beholding me thus surrounded. Among the rest
came the worthy General Prittwitz, who said aloud -
"This is the gentleman who might have ruined me to effect his own
Confused at so public a declaration, I desired him to expound this
riddle; and he added -
"I was obliged to be one of your guards on your unfortunate journey
from Dantzic to Magdeburg, in 1754, when I was a lieutenant. On the
road I continued alone with you in an open carriage. This gave you
an opportunity to escape, but you forbore. I afterwards saw the
danger to which I had exposed myself. Had you been less noble-
minded, had such a prisoner escaped through my negligence, I had
certainly been ruined. The King believed you alike dangerous and
deserving of punishment. I here acknowledge you as my saviour, and
am in gratitude your friend." I knew not that the generous man, who
wished me so well, was the present General Prittwitz. That he
should himself remind me of this incident does him the greater
Having been introduced at court, I thought it necessary to observe
ceremonies, and was presented by the Imperial ambassador, Prince
Reuss, to all foreign ministers, and such families as are in the
habit of admitting such visits. I was received by the Prince Royal,
the reigning Queen, the Queen-Dowager, and the royal family in their
various places, with favour never to be forgotten. His Royal
Highness Prince Henry invited me to a private audience, continued
long in conversation with me, promised me his future protection,
admitted me to his private concerts, and sometimes made me sup at
A like reception I experienced in the palace of Prince Ferdinand of
Brunswick, where I frequently dined and supped. His princess took
delight in hearing my narratives, and loaded me with favour.
Prince Ferdinand's mode of educating children is exemplary. The
sons are instructed in the soldier's duties, their bodies are inured
to the inclemencies of weather; they are taught to ride, to swim,
and are steeled to all the fatigue of war. Their hearts are formed
for friendship, which they cannot fail to attain. Happy the nation
in defence of which they are to act!
How ridiculous these their ROYAL HIGHNESSES appear who, though born
to rule, are not deserving to be the lackeys to the least of those
whom they treat with contempt; and yet who swell, strut, stride, and
contemplate themselves as creatures essentially different by nature,
and of a superior rank in the scale of beings, though, in reality,
their minds are of the lowest, the meanest class.
Happy the state whose prince is impressed with a sense that the
people are not his property, but he the property of the people! A