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Spread o’er the moon, when we see it’s form still,

time:2023-12-05 18:54:27 source:Untouched network author:ability read:893次

Some ten or fifteen years ago, the late King Vladislaus, our Uncle of blessed memory, loving George, and not having royal moneys at command, permitted him to redeem with his own cash certain Hungarian Domains, pledged at a ruinously cheap rate, but unredeemable by Vladislaus. George did so; years ago, guess ten or fifteen. George did not like the Hungarian Domains, with their Turk and other inconveniences; he proposed to exchange them with King Vladislaus for the Bohemian-Silesian Duchy of Jagerndorf; which had just then, by failure of heirs, lapsed to the King. This also Vladislaus, the beneficent cashless Uncle, liking George more and more, permitted to be done. And done it was; I see not in what year; only that the ultimate investiture (done, this part of the affair, by Ludwig OHNE HAUT, and duly sanctioned by the Kaiser) dates 1524, two years before the fatal Mohacz business.

Spread o’er the moon, when we see it’s form still,

From the time of this purchase, and especially till Brother Casimir's death, which happened in 1527, George resided oftener at Jagerndorf than at Anspach. Anspach, by the side of Baireuth, needed no management; and in Jagerndorf much probably required the hand of a good Governor to put it straight again. The Castle of Jagerndorf, which towers up there in a rather grand manner to this day, George built: "the old Castle of the Schellenbergs" (extinct predecessor Line) now gone to ruins, "stands on a Hill with larches on it, some miles off." Margraf George was much esteemed as Duke of Jagerndorf. What his actions in that region were, I know not; but it seems he was so well thought of in Silesia, two smaller neighboring Potentates, the Duke of Oppeln and the Duke of Ratibor, who had no heirs of their body, bequeathed, with the Kaiser's assent, these towns and territories to George: [Rentsch, pp. 623, 127-131. Kaiser is Ferdinand, Karl V.'s Brother,--as yet only KING of Bohemia and Hungary, but supreme in regard to such points. His assent is dated "17th June, 1531" in Rentsch.]--in mere love to their subjects (Rentsch intimates), that poor men might be governed by a wise good Duke, in the time coming. The Kaiser would have got the Duchies otherwise.

Spread o’er the moon, when we see it’s form still,

Nay the Kaiser, in spite of his preliminary assent, proved extortionate to George in this matter; and exacted heavy sums for the actual possession of Oppeln and Ratibor. George, going so zealously ahead in Protestant affairs, grew less and less a favorite with Kaisers. But so, at any rate, on peaceable unquestionable grounds, grounds valid as Imperial Law and ready money, George is at last Lord of these two little Countries, in the plain of South-Silesia, as of Jagerndorf among the Mountains hard by. George has and holds the Duchy of Jagerndorf, with these appendages (Jagerndorf since 1524, Ratibor and Oppeln since some years later); and lives constantly, or at the due intervals, in his own strong Mountain-Castle of Jagerndorf there,--we have no doubt, to the marked benefit of good men in those parts. Hereby has Jagerndorf joined itself to the Brandenburg Territories: and the reader can note the circumstance, for it will prove memorable one day.

Spread o’er the moon, when we see it’s form still,

In the business of the Reformation, Margraf George was very noble. A simple-hearted, truth-loving, modestly valiant man; rising unconsciously, in that great element, into the heroic figure. "George the Pious (DER FROMME)," "George the Confessor (BEKENNER)," were the names he got from his countrymen. Once this business had become practical, George interfered a little more in the Culmbach Government; his brother Casimir, who likewise had Reformation tendencies, rather hanging back in comparison to George.

In 1525 the Town-populations, in the Culmbach region, big Nurnberg in the van, had gone quite ahead in the new Doctrine; and were becoming irrepressibly impatient to clear out the old mendacities, and have the Gospel preached freely to them. This was a questionable step; feasible perhaps for a great Elector of Saxony;--but for a Margraf of Anspach? George had come home from Jagerndorf, some three hundred miles away, to look into it for himself; found it, what with darkness all round, what with precipices menacing on both hands, and zealous, inconsiderate Town-populations threatening to take the bit between their teeth, a frightfully intricate thing. George mounted his horse, one day this year, day not dated farther, and "with only six attendants" privately rode off, another two hundred miles, a good three days' ride, to Wittenberg; and alighted at Dr. Martinus Lutherus's door. [Rentsch, p. 625.] A notable passage; worth thinking of. But such visits of high Princes, to that poor house of the Doctor's, were not then uncommon. Luther cleared the doubts of George; George returned with a resolution taken; "Ahead then, ye poor Voigtland Gospel populations! I must lead you, we must on!"--And perils enough there proved to be, and precipices on each hand: BAUERNKRIEG, that is to say Peasants'-War, Anabaptistry and Red- Republic, on the one hand; REICHS-ACHT, Ban of Empire, on the other. But George, eagerly, solemnly attentive, with ever new light rising on him, dealt with the perils as they came; and went steadily on, in a simple, highly manful and courageous manner.

He did not live to see the actual Wars that followed on Luther's preaching:--he was of the same age with Luther, born few months later, and died two years before Luther; [4th March, 1484,-- 27th Dec., 1543, George; 10th November, 1483--18th February, 1546, Luther.]--but in all the intermediate principal transactions George is conspicuously present; "George of Brandenburg," as the Books call him, or simply "Margraf George."

At the Diet of Augsburg (1530), and the signing of the Augsburg Confession there, he was sure to be. He rode thither with his Anspach Knightage about him, "four hundred cavaliers,"-- Seckendorfs, Huttens, Flanses and other known kindreds, recognizable among the lists; [Rentsch, p. 633.]--and spoke there, notbursts of parliamentary eloquence, but things that had meaning in them. One speech of his, not in the Diet, but in the Kaiser's Lodging (15th June, 1530; no doubt, in Anton Fugger's house, where the Kaiser "lodged for year and day" this time but WITHOUT the "fires of cinnamon" they talk of on other occasions [See Carlyle's Miscellanies (iii. 259 n.). The House is at present an Inn, "Gasthaus zu den drei Mohren;" where tourists lodge, and are still shown the room which the Kaiser occupied on such visits.]), is still very celebrated. It was the evening of the Kaiser Karl Fifth's arrival at the Diet; which was then already, some time since, assembled there. And great had been the Kaiser's reception that morning; the flower of Germany, all the Princes of the Empire, Protestant and Papal alike, riding out to meet him, in the open country, at the Bridge of the Lech. With high-flown speeches and benignities, on both sides;--only that the Kaiser willed all men, Protestant and other, should in the mean while do the Popish litanyings, waxlight processionings and idolatrous stage-performances with him on the morrow, which was CORPUS-CHRISTI Day; and the Protestants could not nor would. Imperial hints there had already been, from Innspruck; benign hopes, of the nature of commands, That loyal Protestant Princes would in the interim avoid open discrepancies, --perhaps be so loyal as keep their chaplains, peculiar divine- services, private in the interim? These were hints;--and now this of the CORPUS-CHRISTI, a still more pregnant hint! Loyal Protestants refused it, therefore; flatly declined, though bidden and again bidden. They attended in a body, old Johann of Saxony, young Philip of Hessen, and the rest; Margraf George, as spokesman, with eloquent simplicity stating their reasons,--to somewhat this effect:--

Invinciblest all-gracious Kaiser, loyal are we to your high Majesty, ready to do your bidding by night and by day. But it is your bidding under God, not against God. Ask us not, 0 gracious Kaiser! I cannot, and we cannot; and we must not, and dare not. And "before I would deny my God and his Evangel," these are George's own words, "I would rather kneel down here before your Majesty, and have my head struck off,"--hitting his hind-head, or neck, with the edge of his hand, by way of accompaniment; a strange radiance in the eyes of him, voice risen into musical alt: "Ehe Ich wolte meinen Gott und sein Evangelium verlaugnen, ehe wolte Ich hier vor Eurer Majestat niderknien, und mir den Kopf abhauen lassen."--"Nit Kop ab, lover Forst, nit Kop ab!" answered Charles in his Flemish- German; "Not head off, dear Furst, not head off!" said the Kaiser, a faint smile enlightening those weighty gray eyes of his, and imperceptibly animating the thick Austrian under-lip. [Rentsch, p. 637. Marheineke, Geschichte der Teutschen Reformation (Berlin, 1831), ii. 487.]

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