Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of Karl Ludwig Sand, by Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

all the blessings of heaven.

"We shall be obliged, I think, to give up this correspondence, so as
not to inconvenience the grand-duke's commission.  I finish,
therefore, by assuring you, once more, but for the last time,
perhaps, of my profound filial submission and of my fraternal
affection.--Your most tenderly attached

"KARL-LUDWIG SAND."


Indeed, from that moment all correspondence between Karl and his
family ceased, and he only wrote to them, when he knew his fate, one
more letter, which we shall see later on.

We have seen by what attentions Sand was surrounded; their humanity
never flagged for an instant.  It is the truth, too, that no one saw
in him an ordinary murderer, that many pitied him under their breath,
and that some excused him aloud.  The very commission appointed by
the grand-duke prolonged the affair as much as possible; for the
severity of Sand's wounds had at first given rise to the belief that
there would be no need of calling in the executioner, and the
commission was well pleased that God should have undertaken the
execution of the judgment.  But these expectations were deceived: the
skill of the doctor defeated, not indeed the wound, but death: Sand
did not recover, but he remained alive; and it began to be evident
that it would be needful to kill him.

Indeed, the Emperor Alexander, who had appointed Kotzebue his
councillor, and who was under no misapprehension as to the cause of
the murder, urgently demanded that justice should take its course.
The commission of inquiry was therefore obliged to set to work; but
as its members were sincerely desirous of having some pretext to
delay their proceedings, they ordered that a physician from
Heidelberg should visit Sand and make an exact report upon his case;
as Sand was kept lying down and as he could not be executed in his
bed, they hoped that the physician's report, by declaring it
impossible for the prisoner to rise, would come to their assistance
and necessitate a further respite.

The chosen doctor came accordingly to Mannheim, and introducing
himself to Sand as though attracted by the interest that he inspired,
asked him whether he did not feel somewhat better, and whether it
would be impossible to rise.  Sand looked at him for an instant, and
then said, with a smile--

"I understand, sir; they wish to know whether I am strong enough to
mount a scaffold: I know nothing about it myself, but we will make
the experiment together."

With these words he rose, and accomplishing, with superhuman courage,
what he had not attempted for fourteen months, walked twice round the
room, came back to his bed, upon which he seated himself, and said

"You see, sir, I am strong enough; it would therefore be wasting
precious time to keep my judges longer about my affair; so let them
deliver their judgment, for nothing now prevents its execution."

The doctor made his report; there was no way of retreat; Russia was
becoming more and more pressing, and an the 5th of May 1820 the high
court of justice delivered the following judgment, which was
confirmed on the 12th by His Royal Highness the Grand-Duke of Baden:

"In the matters under investigation and after administration of the
interrogatory and hearing the defences, and considering the united
opinions of the court of justice at Mannheim and the further
consultations of the court of justice which declare the accused, Karl
Sand of Wonsiedel, guilty of murder, even on his own confession, upon
the person of the Russian imperial Councillor of State, Kotzebue; it
is ordered accordingly, for his just punishment and for an example
that may deter other people, that he is to be put from life to death
by the sword.

"All the costs of these investigations, including these occasioned by
his public execution, will be defrayed from the funds of the law
department, on account of his want of means."

We see that, though it condemned the accused to death, which indeed
could hardly be avoided, the sentence was both in form and substance
as mild as possible, since, though Sand was convicted, his poor
family was not reduced by the expenses of a long and costly trial to
complete ruin.

Five days were still allowed to elapse, and the verdict was not
announced until the 17th.  When Sand was informed that two
councillors of justice were at the door, he guessed that they were
coming to read his sentence to him; he asked a moment to rise, which
he had done but once before, in the instance already narrated, during
fourteen months.  And indeed he was so weak that he could not stand
to hear the sentence, and after having greeted the deputation that
death sent to him, he asked to sit down, saying that he did so not
from cowardice of soul but from weakness of body; then he added, "You
are welcome, gentlemen; far I have suffered so much for fourteen
months past that you come to me as angels of deliverance."

He heard the sentence quite unaffectedly and with a gentle smile upon
his lips; then, when the reading was finished, he said--

"I look for no better fate, gentlemen, and when, more than a year
ago, I paused on the little hill that overlooks the town, I saw
beforehand the place where my grave would be; and so I ought to thank
God and man far having prolonged my existence up to to-day."

The councillors withdrew; Sand stood up a second time to greet them
on their departure, as he had done on their entrance; then he sat
down again pensively in his chair, by which Mr. G, the governor of
the prison, was standing.  After a moment of silence, a tear appeared
at each of the condemned man's eyelids, and ran down his cheeks;
then, turning suddenly to Mr.  G----, whom he liked very much, he
said, "I hope that my parents would rather see me die by this violent
death than of some slow and shameful disease.  As for me, I am glad
that I shall soon hear the hour strike in which my death will satisfy
those who hate me, and those wham, according to my principles, I
ought to hate."

Then he wrote to his family.

"MANNHEIM

"17th of the month of spring, 1820

"DEAR PARENTS, BROTHERS, AND SISTERS,--You should have received my
last letters through the grand-duke's commission; in them I answered
yours, and tried to console you for my position by describing the
state of my soul as it is, the contempt to which I have attained for
everything fragile and earthly, and by which one must necessarily be
overcome when such matters are weighed against the fulfilment of an
idea, or that intellectual liberty which alone can nourish the soul;
in a word, I tried to console you by the assurance that the feelings,
principles, and convictions of which I formerly spoke are faithfully
preserved in me and have remained exactly the same; but I am sure all
this was an unnecessary precaution on my part, for there was never a
time when you asked anything else of me than to have God before my
eyes and in my heart; and you have seen how, under your guidance,
this precept so passed into my soul that it became my sole object of
happiness for this world and the next; no doubt, as He was in and
near me, God will be in and near you at the moment when this letter
brings you the news of my sentence.  I die willingly, and the Lord
will give me strength to die as one ought to die.

"I write to you perfectly quiet and calm about all things, and I hope
that your lives too will pass calmly and tranquilly until the moment
when our souls meet again full of fresh force to love one another and
to share eternal happiness together.

"As for me, such as I have lived as long as I have known myself--that
is to say, in a serenity full of celestial desires and a courageous
and indefatigable love of liberty, such I am about to die.

"May God be with you and with me!--Your son, brother, and friend,

KARL-LUDWIG SAND."


>From that moment his serenity remained un troubled; during the whole
day he talked more gaily than usual, slept well, did not awake until
half-past seven, said that he felt stronger, and thanked God for
visiting him thus.

The nature of the verdict had been known since the day before, and it
had been learned that the execution was fixed for the 20th of May
--that is to say, three full days after the sentence had been read to
the accused.

Henceforward, with Sand's permission, persons who wished to speak to
him and whom he was not reluctant to see, were admitted: three among
these paid him long and noteworthy visits.

One was Major Holzungen, of the Baden army, who was in command of the
patrol that had arrested him, or rather picked him up, dying, and
carried him to the hospital.  He asked him whether he recognised him,
and Sand's head was so clear when he stabbed himself, that although
he saw the major only for a moment and had never seen him again
since, he remembered the minutest details of the costume which he had
been wearing fourteen months previously, and which was the full-dress
uniform.  When the talk fell upon the death to which Sand was to
submit at so early an age, the major pitied him; but Sand answered,
with a smile, "There is only one difference between you and me,
major; it is that I shall die far my convictions, and you will die
for someone else's convictions."

After the major came a young student from Jena whom Sand had known at
the university.  He happened to be in the duchy of Baden and wished
to visit him.  Their recognition was touching, and the student wept
much; but Sand consoled him with his usual calmness and serenity.

Then a workman asked to be admitted to see Sand, on the plea that he
had been his schoolfellow at Wonsiedel, and although he did not
remember his name, he ordered him to be let in: the workman reminded
him that he had been one of the little army that Sand had commanded
on the day of the assault of St. Catherine's tower.  This indication
guided Sand, who recognised him perfectly, and then spoke with tender
affection of his native place and his dear mountains.  He further
charged him to greet his family, and to beg his mother, father,
brothers, and sisters once more not to be grieved on his account,

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com