Make your own free website on

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

threaten the face, he puts up his hands, and while he does so you
thrust a dagger into his heart."

The two young men laughed heartily over this murderous demonstration,
and A. S. related it that evening at the wine-shop as one of the
peculiarities of character that were common in his friend.  After the
event, the pantomime explained itself.

The month of March arrived.  Sand became day by day calmer, more
affectionate, and kinder; it might be thought that in the moment of
leaving his friends for ever he wished to leave them an ineffaceable
remembrance of him.  At last he announced that on account of several
family affairs he was about to undertake a little journey, and set
about all his preparations with his usual care, but with a serenity
never previously seen in him.  Up to that time he had continued to
work as usual, not relaxing for an instant; for there was a
possibility that Kotzebue might die or be killed by somebody else
before the term that Sand had fixed to himself, and in that case he
did not wish to have lost time.  On the 7th of March he invited all
his friends to spend the evening with him, and announced his
departure for the next day but one, the 9th.  All of them then
proposed to him to escort him for some leagues, but Sand refused; he
feared lest this demonstration, innocent though it were, might
compromise them later on.  He set forth alone, therefore, after
having hired his lodgings for another half-year, in order to obviate
any suspicion, and went by way of Erfurt and Eisenach, in order to
visit the Wartburg.  From that place he went to Frankfort, where he
slept on the 17th, and on the morrow he continued his journey by way
of Darmstadt.  At last, on the 23rd, at nine in the morning, he
arrived at the top of the little hill where we found him at the
beginning of this narrative.  Throughout the journey he had been the
amiable and happy young man whom no one could see without liking.

Having reached Mannheim, he took a room at the Weinberg, and wrote
his name as "Henry" in the visitors' list.  He immediately inquired
where Kotzebue lived.  The councillor dwelt near the church of the
Jesuits; his house was at the corner of a street, and though Sand's
informants could not tell him exactly the letter, they assured him it
was not possible to mistake the house. [At Mannheim houses are marked
by letters, not by numbers.]

Sand went at once to Kotzebue's house: it was about ten o'clock; he
was told that the councillor went to walk for an hour or two every
morning in the park of Mannheim.  Sand inquired about the path in
which he generally walked, and about the clothes he wore, for never
having seen him he could only recognise him by the description.
Kotzebue chanced to take another path.  Sand walked about the park
for an hour, but seeing no one who corresponded to the description
given him, went back to the house.

Kotzebue had come in, but was at breakfast and could not see him.

Sand went back to the Weinberg, and sat down to the midday table
d'hote, where he dined with an appearance of such calmness, and even
of such happiness, that his conversation, which was now lively, now
simple, and now dignified, was remarked by everybody.  At five in the
afternoon he returned a third time to the house of Kotzebue, who was
giving a great dinner that day; but orders had been given to admit
Sand.  He was shown into a little room opening out of the anteroom,
and a moment after, Kotzebue came in.

Sand then performed the drama which he had rehearsed upon his friend
A. S.  Kotzebue, finding his face threatened, put his hands up to it,
and left his breast exposed; Sand at once stabbed him to the heart;
Kotzebue gave one cry, staggered, arid fell back into an arm-chair:
he was dead.

At the cry a little girl of six years old ran in, one of those
charming German children, with the faces of cherubs, blue-eyed, with
long flowing hair.  She flung herself upon the body of Kotzebue,
calling her father with piercing cries.  Sand, standing at the door,
could not endure this sight, and without going farther, he thrust the
dagger, still covered with Kotzebue's blood, up to the hilt into his
own breast.  Then, seeing to his surprise that notwithstanding the
terrible wound--he had just given himself he did not feel the
approach of death, and not wishing to fall alive into the hands of
the servants who were running in, he rushed to the staircase.  The
persons who were invited were just coming in; they, seeing a young
man, pale and bleeding with a knife in his breast, uttered loud
cries, and stood aside, instead of stopping him.  Sand therefore
passed down the staircase and reached the street below; ten paces
off, a patrol was passing, on the way to relieve the sentinels at the
castle; Sand thought these men had been summoned by the cries that
followed him; he threw himself on his knees in the middle of the
street, and said, "Father, receive my soul!"

Then, drawing the knife from the wound, he gave himself a second blow
below the former, and fell insensible.

Sand was carried to the hospital and guarded with the utmost
strictness; the wounds were serious, but, thanks to the skill of the
physicians who were called in, were not mortal; one of them even
healed eventually; but as to the second, the blade having gone
between the costal pleura and the pulmonary pleura, an effusion of
blood occurred between the two layers, so that, instead of closing
the wound, it was kept carefully open, in order that the blood
extravasated during the night might be drawn off every morning by
means of a pump, as is done in the operation for empyaemia.

Notwithstanding these cares, Sand was for three months between life
and death.

When, on the 26th of March, the news of Kotzebue's assassination came
from Mannheim to Jena, the academic senate caused Sand's room to be
opened, and found two letters--one addressed to his friends of the
Burschenschaft, in which he declared that he no longer belonged to
their society, since he did not wish that their brotherhood should
include a man about to die an the scaffold.  The other letter, which
bore this superscription, "To my nearest and dearest," was an exact
account of what he meant to do, and the motives which had made him
determine upon this act.  Though the letter is a little long, it is
so solemn and so antique in spirit, that we do not hesitate to
present it in its entirety to our readers:--

"To all my own
"Loyal and eternally cherished souls

"Why add still further to your sadness?  I asked myself, and I
hesitated to write to you; but my silence would have wounded the
religion of the heart; and the deeper a grief the more it needs,
before it can be blotted out, to drain to the dregs its cup of
bitterness.  Forth from my agonised breast, then; forth, long and
cruel torment of a last conversation, which alone, however, when
sincere, can alleviate the pain of parting.

"This letter brings you the last farewell of your son and your

"The greatest misfortune of life far any generous heart is to see the
cause of God stopped short in its developments by our fault; and the
most dishonouring infamy would be to suffer that the fine things
acquired bravely by thousands of men, and far which thousands of men
have joyfully sacrificed themselves, should be no more than a
transient dream, without real and positive consequences.  The
resurrection of our German life was begun in these last twenty years,
and particularly in the sacred year 1813, with a courage inspired by
God.  But now the house of our fathers is shaken from the summit to
the base.  Forward!  let us raise it, new and fair, and such as the
true temple of the true God should be.

"Small is the number of those who resist, and who wish to oppose
themselves as a dyke against the torrent of the progress of higher
humanity among the German people.  Why should vast whole masses bow
beneath the yoke of a perverse minority?  And why, scarcely healed,
should we fall back into a worse disease than that which we are
leaving behind?

"Many of these seducers, and those are the most infamous, are playing
the game of corruption with us; among them is Kotzebue, the most
cunning and the worst of all, a real talking machine emitting all
sorts of detestable speech and pernicious advice.  His voice is
skillful in removing from us all anger and bitterness against the
most unjust measures, and is just such as kings require to put us to
sleep again in that old hazy slumber which is the death of nations.
Every day he odiously betrays his country, and nevertheless, despite
his treason, remains an idol for half Germany, which, dazzled by him,
accepts unresisting the poison poured out by him in his periodic
pamphlets, wrapped up and protected as he is by the seductive mantle
of a great poetic reputation.  Incited by him, the princes of
Germany, who have forgotten their promises, will allow nothing free
or good to be accomplished; or if anything of the kind is
accomplished in spite of them, they will league themselves with the
French to annihilate it.  That the history of our time may not be
covered with eternal ignominy, it is necessary that he should fall.

"I have always said that if we wish to find a great and supreme
remedy for the state of abasement in which we are, none must shrink
from combat nor from suffering; and the real liberty of the German
people will only be assured when the good citizen sets himself or
some other stake upon the game, and when every true son of the
country, prepared for the struggle for justice, despises the good
things of this world, and only desires those celestial good things
which death holds in charge.

"Who then will strike this miserable hireling, this venal traitor?

"I have long been waiting in fear, in prayer, and in tears--I who am
not born for murder--for some other to be beforehand with me, to set
me free, and suffer me to continue my way along the sweet and
peaceful path that I had chosen for myself.  Well, despite my prayers
and my tears, he who should strike does not present himself; indeed,

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: