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Chapter 20


The visit to the field of battle having been paid, the king followed the highway and entered the town of Langensalza. He established his headquarters in the sharpshooters' barracks. The major-general had given orders that all should remain quiet during the night.

His Majesty's first care was to send by three different routes despatches to the queen to tell her of the day's victory and to ask for reinforcements, if not for the next day for the day after. And, as it turned out, he had nothing to fear from the Prussians: they were too thoroughly beaten not to wish for a day's rest.

The night was gay; money had been given to the soldiers, and they were told to pay for everything they had. The bands played "God save the King," and the soldiers sang in chorus,—a song by a Hanoverian volunteer, to the Polish tune:

"A thousand soldiers swear on bended knee."

The next day was spent in waiting for news of the Bavarian army, and in sending out couriers. The first came back with promises which were never kept.

A truce until morning had been offered to the Prussians so that the dead might be buried. The Prussians refused, and the Hanoverians alone proceeded with this pious work. The soldiers dug great trenches 25 feet long and 8 feet wide. The dead were placed in these in two rows. Four thousand armed men led by the king and prince stood bare-headed while Beethoven's funeral march was played. Over each grave a squadron passed and fired a salute by way of military mourning. The municipal officers who had come to thank the king for his orders to the soldiers, which had been strictly carried out, were present at the ceremony.

At eleven in the evening the men who were on guard towards the north announced that a large Prussian army was arriving by way of Mulhausen. It proved to be General Manteuffel's.

The third day after the battle, the Hanoverian army had received no news of the Bavarian army, and was surrounded by 30,000 men.

Towards midday, a lieutenant-colonel came with a flag of truce, from General Manteuffel, to propose that the king should surrender.

The king replied that he knew perfectly well that he was hemmed in on all sides, but that he, his son, his major-general, his officers, and soldiers, from the highest to the lowest, preferred to die, unless an honourable capitulation were offered them.

At the same time he called a council of war which declared unanimously for a capitulation, as long as it was honourable. There was, indeed, no choice. The army had only three hundred shells left, and rations for one night and day. The whole court, the king included, had dined on a piece of boiled beef and potatoes; the soup was given to the wounded. Every man was allowed but one glass of bad beer.

Each article of the capitulation was discussed, so as to spin out the delay as long as possible. The speedy arrival of the Bavarians was still hoped for.

At length, during the night, the following conditions were drawn up, between General Manteuffel for the King of Prussia, and General von Arentschild for the King of Hanover.

The Hanoverian army was to be disbanded and the soldiers sent back to their homes. All the officers and non-commissioned officers were to go free. They were to retain their arms and equipments. The King of Prussia was to guarantee their pay. The king, the prince, and their suite were to be free to go wherever they wished. The king's private fortune was to be intact and inviolable.

The capitulation being signed, General Manteuffel went to the king's quarters. Entering his cabinet he said to him:

"I am sorry, sire, to present myself before Your Majesty in such sad circumstances. We understand all that Your Majesty suffers, we Prussians who have known Jena. I beg Your Majesty to tell me to what place you wish to retire, and to give me my orders. It shall be my duty to see that you suffer no inconvenience on your journey."

"Sir," replied the king coldly, "I do not know where I shall await the finding of the congress which has to decide whether I shall remain king, or become once more a simple English prince. Probably with my father-in-law, the Duke of Saxe-Altenburg, or with His Majesty the Emperor of Austria. In either case I have no need of your protection, for which I thank you."

The same day the king's aide-de-camp left for Vienna, to ask permission for his master to retire through the Austrian states. As soon as this request reached Vienna, one of the emperor's aides-de-camp left to serve as guide and escort to the king. This officer was the bearer of the Marie-Therese medal for the king, and the order of knighthood for the prince.

On the same day, the king sent, as messengers to announce his arrival to His Majesty the Emperor of Austria; Herr Meding, representing the regency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Herr von Platen, and the Minister of War, Herr von Brandis.

The prince asked Benedict to accompany him. As Benedict had never seen Vienna, he assented. But upon conditions. His life, as at Hanover, was to be entirely independent of the court. He still had to arrange Lenhart's business, which, as we know, had been left to Benedict's discretion. Benedict had kept Lenhart for seventeen days. He now gave him four hundred francs and one hundred more as a gratuity—an unexampled generosity to which Lenhart replied by declaring his attachment to the House of Hanover to be such that he would never return to Brunswick from the moment when Brunswick became Prussian. This declaration was worth two hundred francs to him from the King of Hanover, and one hundred francs from the prince.

After this Lenhart's resolution was fixed. He sold, or had sold, all the carriages and horses which he had at Brunswick and with the proceeds he meant to set up a livery stable in Frankfort, a free town, where you seldom see any Prussians. At Frankfort, his brother Hans was in service with one of the best families in the town, that of Chandroz. Madame Chandroz' daughter, the Baroness von Bülow, was the burgomaster's goddaughter. With such connections he could be sure of prospering, and Benedict promised him his custom in case he returned to Frankfort.

The adieux between Benedict and Lenhart were most affecting, and still more so between Lenhart and Frisk, but they were forced to part. Lenhart set out for Frankfort. The king, the prince, Benedict, and Frisk, on their arrival at Vienna, took up their residence in the little chateau of Froehliche Wiederkehr, which means Happy Return.

In this way Benedict's prediction to the king was realized—of victory, overthrow, exile.

Alexandre Dumas pere