The Reminiscences of Carl Schurz/Volume One/11 Flight from the Fatherland

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The Reminiscences of Carl Schurz by Carl Schurz
Volume One: Chapter XI: Flight from the Fatherland
Translated from the original German by Eleonora Kinnicutt and Carl Schurz.


CHAPTER XI


AT a sharp trot we sped on through the night. I still hear Hensel's commanding call, "Boom up! Boom up!" as often as on the turnpike we reached a toll gate. Through Oranienburg, Teschendorf, Löwenberg, we flew without stop, but when we approached the little town of Gransee, nearly thirty-five miles from Spandau, it became clear that our two good bays would soon break down unless we gave them rest and some refreshment. So we stopped at a wayside tavern, near Gransee, and fed them — then forward again.

As daylight appeared I could for the first time look at Kinkel with leisure. How he was changed! He whom a little more than a year ago I had known as a youthful man, the very picture of health and vigor! His closely clipped hair was now tinged with gray, the color of the face a dead yellow, the skin like parchment, the cheeks thin and flabby, the nose sharp, and the face deeply furrowed. If I had met him on the street unexpectedly I should scarcely have recognized him.

"They have dealt hard with you," I said.

"Yes, it was the highest time for me to breathe free air again. A year or two more of that kind of life and I should have been burned to ashes, devastated body and soul. Nobody who has not himself suffered it knows what solitary confinement means and the debasement of being treated like a common criminal. But now," he added gayly, "now human life begins once more."

And then he described in his humorous way how at that very moment in the penitentiary in Spandau they would be discovering that Kinkel, like a bird, had escaped from his cell, and how one turnkey after another with a troubled face would run to the director and the whole gang of them would put their heads together and notify the higher authorities; and how they would then examine the guards of the city gates, and how they would hear of a carriage that between twelve and one o'clock had rattled through the Potsdam gate, and how then a troop of mounted constables would be hurried after us in the direction of Nauen and Hamburg, while we were paying a visit to our friends in Mecklenburg.

"I only wish," remarked Hensel anxiously, "that we could make that visit a little more quickly." The sun was up when we greeted the boundary pole of Mecklenburg. Even there we did not by any means feel quite safe, although a little safer than on Prussian territory. The trot of our horses became slower and slower. One of them appeared utterly exhausted. So we had to stop at the nearest Mecklenburg inn, in Dannenwalde. There Hensel washed the horses with warm water, which helped a little, but only for a short time. In the town of Fürstenberg we had to unharness them for a longer stop because they could go no farther, having put over fifty miles behind them. But at last we reached Strelitz safely, where in the person of Judge Petermann, a city magistrate, we had an enthusiastic friend and protector, who already on the preceding night had been on the road with one of the relay carriages.

Petermann received us with so demonstrative a joy that I feared he would not refrain from proclaiming the happy event from the windows of his house to the passersby. In fact, he could not deny himself the pleasure of bringing in some friends. Soon we sat down to a plentiful meal, and with merrily clinking glasses we waited for another carriage and fresh horses. There we took a cordial leave of our friend Hensel. His two fine bays had lain down as soon as they reached the stable, one of them, as I learned later, never to rise again. Honor to his memory!

Petermann accompanied us on the further drive, which now proceeded with uninterrupted rapidity. In Neubrandenburg, as well as in Teterow, we changed horses, and by seven o'clock the next morning, the 8th of November, we arrived at the "White Cross Inn," on the Neubrandenburg turnpike near the city of Rostock. Petermann went at once to fetch our friend Moritz Wiggers, whose turn it now was to take the management of affairs. Without delay he sent us in a wagon, accompanied by a Rostock merchant by the name of Blume, to Warnemünde, a seaside resort on a fine harbor, where we were cared for in Wöhlert's Hotel. Petermann, happy beyond measure, that his part of the adventure was so successfully accomplished, turned back to Strelitz. On our journey we had accustomed ourselves to call Kinkel by the name of Kaiser and me by the name of Hensel, and these names we inscribed upon the hotel register.


Schurz and Kinkel Escape Route.png

Cartography by Harry Fenn

MAP SHOWING THE ROUTE TAKEN BY SCHURZ AND KINKEL IN THEIR FLIGHT FROM SPANDAU JAIL TO THE BALTIC, AND THE COURSE OF THE “LITTLE ANNA” IN WHICH THEY ESCAPED TO ENGLAND IN NOVEMBER, 1850


Wiggers had recommended Warnemünde to us as a place of patriarchal customs and conditions, where there existed police only in name and where the local authorities, if they should discover us, would make it their business to protect, rather than betray us. There, he thought, it would be safe to remain until a more secure asylum or a favorable opportunity to cross the sea could be found. From the shore of Warnemünde for the first time in my life I saw the sea. I had longed for that spectacle, but the first view of it was disappointing. The horizon appeared to me much narrower and the waves which rushed on white-capped, as the northeast wind drove them in, much smaller than I had pictured them in my imagination. I was soon to make better acquaintance with the sea and to learn to look at it with greater respect and higher enjoyment. However, we were little disposed to give ourselves to the contemplation of nature. Kinkel had spent two, and I three nights in a carriage on the highroad. We were extremely fatigued and in a few minutes lay sound asleep.

The next day Wiggers returned with the news that there was only one brig on the roads, but that she was not ready to sail. A friend of his, Mr. Brockelmann, a merchant and manufacturer, thought it safest to send us across the sea on one of his own ships and to shelter us in his own house until that ship could be started. Thus we left our hotel, and a Warnemünde pilotboat carried us up the Warnow River. We landed near a little village, where Brockelmann awaited us with his carriage.

We saw before us a stalwart man of about fifty years, with gray hair and whiskers, but with rosy complexion and youthful vivacity in expression and movement. He welcomed us with joyous cordiality, and after the first few minutes of our acquaintance, we were like old friends. In him we recognized a self-made man in the best sense of the term, a man who had carved his own fortune, who could look back with self-respect upon what he had accomplished and who found in his successes an inspiration for further endeavor and for an enterprising and self-sacrificing public spirit. His broad humanity, which recognized the right of everyone to a just estimation of his true value and his claim to a corresponding chance of advancement, had made him from his early youth a liberal, and after the revolution of 1848, a democrat. He had practically carried out his principles and theories as far as possible, and he was therefore widely known as a protector of the poor and oppressed. But especially his employees, his working people, of whom there was a large number in his factories, revered and loved him as a father. When he offered us his house as an asylum he could well assure us that he had workingmen enough who at his request would fight for us and in case of need hold possession of our asylum long enough to give us time for escape. However, it would not come to this, he said, as the arrival of such guests as "the Herren Kaiser and Hensel" in his house would attract no attention, and even if our secret were suspected by any of his people, there were no traitors among them. In short, he could vouch for everything. Thus we drove to his house, which was situated in a suburb of Rostock. There we had some days of rest and plenty. Brockelmann, his wife, his eldest daughter, her fiancé, the merchant Schwartz, and a little circle of friends, overwhelmed us with the most lavish attentions. How can I describe the care with which the mistress of the house herself washed Kinkel's wounded hands and bandaged and nursed them! And the meals which, according to Mecklenburg notions of hospitality, were necessary! The indispensable first breakfast and second breakfast and sometimes third breakfast, and the noon repast, and the afternoon coffee with cake, and the suppers, and the "little something" before going to bed, and the nightcaps, which succeeded one another at incredibly short intervals; and the evenings, during which Wiggers played to us Beethoven's sonatas with a masterly hand, reminding Kinkel of the musical language of his Johanna! And the occasional surprises when Brockelmann had the revolutionary hymn, the "Marseillaise," played by a brass band in the house!

With all this, however, the more serious side of our situation was not forgotten. Brockelmann had ordered one of his own vessels, a little schooner of forty tons, which had proved a good sailer, to be prepared for us. The "Little Anna" — this was the name of the schooner — received a cargo of wheat for England, which was put on board as rapidly as possible, and Sunday, the 17th of November, was the day fixed for our departure, if by that time the long-prevailing northeaster should have changed into a more favorable wind.

In the meantime the news of Kinkel's flight had gone through all the newspapers and caused everywhere a great stir. Our friends in Rostock informed themselves with minute care of all that was printed and said and rumored about the matter. The "warrant of capture," which the Prussian Government had published in the newspapers concerning the "escaped convict," Kinkel, our friends brought to us at tea-time, and it was read aloud with all sorts of irreverent comments, amid great hilarity. Of the part I had in the liberation of Kinkel the authorities and the public knew at that time nothing. Especial pleasure we derived from the newspaper reports which announced Kinkel's arrival at several different places at the same time. The liberal Pastor Dulon in Bremen, following a true instinct, described in his journal with much detail when and how Kinkel had passed through Bremen and sailed for England. Some of my friends reported his arrival in Zürich and in Paris. One paper brought a circumstantial report of a banquet that had been tendered to Kinkel by the German refugees in Paris, and even the speech he had made on the occasion. Thus nothing remained untried to confuse the Prussian police and to mislead its searches.

But there were also some alarm signals of a disquieting nature. Wiggers received on the 14th of November a letter, without signature, from the neighborhood of Strelitz in an unknown handwriting, as follows: "Expedite as much as possible the shipment of goods entrusted to you. There is danger in delay." Probably the authorities had discovered our tracks between Spandau and Strelitz, and were pursuing them further. Then on Friday, November 15, a stranger called upon Wiggers, who represented himself to be our friend, "Farmer Hensel," and inquired whether Kinkel, whom he had taken in his carriage from Spandau to Strelitz, was still in Rostock. Wiggers had indeed heard us speak of him with expressions of the highest confidence, but he apprehended the stranger might not be Hensel himself, but a spy in disguise. So he feigned the utmost astonishment at the news that Kinkel was in Rostock, but promised to gather information, and to communicate the result to the stranger, whom he requested to call again the next day. The occurrence was at once reported to us, and the description given by Wiggers of the appearance of the man persuaded us that the stranger was the true Hensel, who, as he had said to Wiggers, had come to Rostock merely to quiet his anxiety about our safety. Kinkel and I wished very much to see him and to press once more the hand of our brave and faithful friend, but Wiggers, who had become seriously worried by the warning received from Strelitz, counseled the utmost circumspection and promised us to transmit to Hensel, who had said that he was to remain in Rostock until the 18th, our warmest greetings after we should have reached the open sea.

Thus we found in spite of all agreeable surroundings considerable comfort in the report that the northeast wind had gone down; that the "Little Anna" was anchoring at Warnemünde, and that everything would be ready for our departure on the 17th of November.

On a frosty Sunday morning we sailed, in the company of an armed escort, which our friends had composed of reliable men in sufficient numbers, as they believed, to resist a possible attack by the police, in two boats across the bay to the anchorage of the "Little Anna." Arrived on board, Mr. Brockelmann gave the captain, who was not a little astonished at receiving a visit from so large a company, his instructions: "You take these two gentlemen," he said, pointing to Kinkel and myself, "with you to Newcastle. You pass Helsingoer without stopping, and pay the Sound dues on your return. In stress of weather you will beach the vessel on the Swedish shore rather than return to a German port. If the wind suits you better for another harbor than Newcastle on the English or Scottish coast, you will sail there. The important thing is that you reach England as quickly as possible. I shall remember you if you carry out my orders punctually." The captain, whose name was Niemann, may have received these instructions with some amazement, but he promised to do his best.

Some of our friends remained with us until the steam tug hitched to the "Little Anna" had carried us a short distance into the open sea. Then came the leave-taking. As Wiggers tells in an elaborate description of the scene in a German periodical, Kinkel threw himself sobbing into his arms and said: "I do not know whether I shall rejoice at my rescue, or shall mourn that like a criminal and an outcast I have to flee my dear fatherland!" Then our friends descended into the tug, and with grateful hearts we bade them farewell. They fired a salute with their pistols and steamed back to Warnemünde, where, according to Wiggers, they celebrated the accomplished rescue with a joyous feast.

Kinkel and I remained on the poop of our schooner and gazed after the little steamboat that carried our good friends away. Then our eyes rested upon the shore of the fatherland until the last vestige had disappeared in the dusk of the evening. In our halting conversation now and then the question would recur: "When shall we return?" That a victorious uprising of the people would call us back, we both hoped fervently. It was a hope born of ardent desire and nursed by fond illusions. What would we have answered the prophet who at that moment had told us that first I, but only after eleven years, would again put my foot on German soil, and then not as a German, but as the Minister of the United States of America to Spain on my return to my new home, and that Kinkel would have to wait until, after the war between Prussia and Austria in 1866, the former Prince of Prussia and commander of the forces that had taken Kinkel prisoner near Rastatt, now king and president of the North-German Confederation, would open to him once more, by an amnesty, the door of the Fatherland!

We did not quit the deck until it was dark. The cabin of the schooner was very small. Its first aspect destroyed in me a fond imagining. I had until then only once seen a seagoing ship, a brig, which at the time when I attended the gymnasium had been brought from Holland up the Rhine and anchored near Cologne; but I could see that ship only from the outside. My conception of the interior of the ship I had derived from novels and descriptions of maritime wars which I had read as a boy, and so the main cabin of a ship stood before my eyes as a spacious room well-fitted out with furniture and the walls decorated with trophies of muskets and pistols and cutlasses. Of all this there was nothing in the cabin of the "Little Anna." It measured hardly more than eight feet between the two berths, one on each side, and in the other direction hardly more than six. It was so low that Kinkel, standing upright, touched the ceiling with his head. In the center there was a little table screwed to the floor, and behind it a small sofa covered with black haircloth; just large enough to hold Kinkel and me, sitting close together. Above the table was suspended a lamp which during the night faintly illumined the room. The berths, which had been hastily prepared for us, were a foot or two above the floor and open, so that when we were in bed we could see one another. These arrangements appeared to be very different from those of the proud East India ships, or of the frigates which I had found so enticingly described in my books; but when I considered that this was after all an unusually small trading schooner, I found that they were as practical as they were simple.

Captain Niemann, who had so unexpectedly been stirred up from his winter's rest by the sudden order of his master, probably did not know at first what to think of his two remarkable guests on the "Little Anna." One of our friends, who had accompanied us on board, had by some hint given him reason to believe that we were bankrupt merchants forced by unfortunate circumstances to run away from home; but the skipper told us afterwards he could not make his theory agree with the manifestations of respect and of warm, aye, even enthusiastic, attachment with which our friends had treated us. However, he had nothing to do but to execute orders received. In case of necessity he would really have run his vessel on shore at the risk of losing her. In the meantime he took very good care of us. The captain had a crew of seven men: a mate, a cook, a boy, and four seamen. Frau Brockelmann had amply provided us with all sorts of delicacies, foreseeing that the bill of fare of the schooner's kitchen would be very limited.

At first the sea voyage was agreeable enough. A gentle breeze filled the sails, and the ship glided along pleasantly. But as morning dawned, wind and sea became more lively and Kinkel reported himself seasick. The wind increased, the sea ran higher, and Kinkel grew more and more miserable as the day progressed. He gathered himself up to go on deck, but soon returned to his berth. I tried to lift him up, but in vain. After a few hours of acute suffering he became quite desperate in his torment and he felt that he was going to die. He had a mind to tell the captain to carry him to the nearest port. His agony seemed to him intolerable. Had he escaped from prison to die such a wretched death? It is recognized as one of the peculiarities of seasickness that those who do not suffer from it do not appreciate the sufferings of those who do, and that the sufferer considers the indifference of the well person as especially hardhearted and exasperating. That was the case with us. I felt myself uncommonly well. The more the "Little Anna" bobbed up and down in the waves, the higher rose my spirits. I felt an inordinate appetite which did the fullest justice to the accomplishments of our cook. This joyous feeling I could not entirely conceal from Kinkel, although I deplored very sincerely his sufferings, which probably were aggravated through the nervous condition resulting from his long imprisonment. I thought I could raise him up by making fun of his fear of immediate death, but that would not do at all, as Kinkel believed in all seriousness that his life was in danger. My jokes sounded to him like unfeeling recklessness, and I had soon to change my tone in order to cheer him.

In this condition we passed Helsingoer, the toll-gate of the Sound dues, and with it the last place in which our liberty might possibly have been in danger, and so we entered the Kattegat. The sea had been wild enough in the Sound, but in the Kattegat it was much wilder. The winds seemed to blow alternately from all points of the compass, and we cruised two days between the Skagen, the projecting headland of Denmark, and the high rocks of Sweden and Norway, until we reached the more spacious basin of the Skagerack. But there too, and as we at last entered the open North Sea, the "dirty weather," as our sailors called it, continued without change. At times the wind grew so violent that Captain Niemann recognized it as a real gale. Like a nutshell the "Little Anna" jumped up and down on the angry billows. The sea constantly washed the deck, where I kept myself all the time that Kinkel did not need me below; and in order not to be washed overboard, I had the mate bind me fast to the mainmast. So I gained a vivid impression of the constantly changing grandeur of the sea, which at the first view from Warnemünde had failed to impress me. Now I was fascinated by the sensation to such a degree that I could hardly tear myself away, and every minute I had to stay below appeared to me like an irretrievable loss.

Kinkel continued seasick several days, but he gradually became aware of how much seasickness a man can endure without fatal result. By degrees his suffering diminished; he went on deck with me and began to appreciate the poetry of the sea voyage and then forgave me that I had refused to believe in the deadly character of the malady. The bad weather continued without interruption ten days and nights. At times the fury of the elements made cooking impossible. The most that could be done was to prepare some coffee, and beyond that we lived on biscuits, cold meats and herring, but we remained in good spirits and began to enjoy the humor of our situation. Two things impressed me especially — the one repeated itself every morning during the stormy time: Shortly after daybreak the mate regularly came to the cabin to bring us our coffee while we were still lying in our berths. When the sea thundered furiously against the sides of the ship and crashed down on the deck so that we could hardly hear our own words, and when then the "Little Anna" bounced up and down and rolled to and fro, like a crazy thing, so that we had to hold on to something in order not to be tumbled out of our berths, the brave seaman stood there in a dripping suit of oilskin, spread his legs far apart, held on with one hand to the little table, and balanced in the other, with astonishing skill, a bowl of coffee without spilling a drop, and screamed at us to the utmost of his power to make us understand the surprising intelligence that the weather was still bad and we could not expect to have any cooking done. We had therefore to be satisfied with what he then offered us. Thirty years later, when I was Secretary of the Interior in the government of the United States, I visited, during the presidential campaign of 1880, the town of Rondout on the Hudson, where I had to deliver a speech. After the meeting I crossed the river on a ferryboat in order to take the railroad train to New York at the station of Rhinebeck opposite. In the dusk of the evening a man approached me on the ferryboat and spoke to me in German. "Excuse me," he said, "that I address you. I should like to know whether you recognize me."

I regretted not being able to do so.

"Do you not remember," he asked, "the mate on the 'Little Anna,' Captain Niemann, on which you and Professor Kinkel, in November, 1850, sailed from Rostock to England?"

"What!" I exclaimed, "do I remember the mate who every morning stood in the cabin with his bowl of coffee and executed such wonderful dances? Yes."

"And you always made such funny remarks about it which set me laughing, if I could understand them in the terrible noise. That mate was I."

I was much rejoiced, and we shook hands vigorously. I asked how he was doing and he replied, "Very well, indeed."

I invited him to visit me in Washington, which he promised to do. I should have been glad to continue the conversation longer, but in the meantime we had reached the eastern bank of the Hudson. My railroad train stood ready and in a few minutes I was on the way to New York. The mate did not keep his promise to visit me in Washington and I have never seen him again.

The other picture still present to my mind was more serious in its involuntary ludicrousness. While we were driven about on the North Sea by violent gales the sky was constantly covered with dense clouds, so that no regular observation could be had to determine where we were. The captain indeed endeavored to ascertain our whereabouts as well as he could by the so-called dead reckoning; but after we had been so going on for several days he declared to us quite frankly that he had only a very vague idea of our latitude and longitude. Now we saw him frequently in the cabin sitting on the little sofa behind the table with his head bent thoughtfully over his chart, and as the matter was important to us, too, we tried to help him in his calculations. Kinkel, after he had overcome the seasickness, and myself spent almost the whole day on deck in spite of the storm, and as we had observed the drifting of the vessel from its true course we formed an opinion on that matter, to which the captain listened with great apparent respect; and when during the night he sat under the lamp over his chart, Kinkel and I stuck our heads out of our berths, holding fast to some object so that we could not fall out, and looking at the chart in this position, discussed with the captain the question of latitude and longitude, of the force of the wind, of the current, of the water, and so on. Finally we would agree upon some point at which the ship ought to be at that time, and that point was then solemnly marked with a pencil on the chart. Then the "navigation council," as we called it, adjourned. The captain mounted again to the deck and Kinkel and I crept back into our berths to sleep.

On the tenth day of our voyage the sky cleared at last, and the first actual observation showed that our calculations had not been so very wrong and that three or four days would bring us to the English coast. So we headed for the port of Newcastle. Kinkel had in the meantime recovered all his bright humor, and would not permit me to remind him of his outbreaks of seasick despair. We were of good cheer, but rejoiced with our whole hearts when we saw the first strip of land rising above the horizon. Then the wind turned toward the south and the captain declared that we would have to cruise a considerable time against it in order to reach the port of Newcastle. The navigation council therefore met once more and resolved to steer in a northerly direction toward Leith, the harbor of Edinburgh. This was done, and the next evening we saw the mighty rocks that guard the entrance of that port. Then the wind suddenly died away and our sails flapped. Kinkel and I quoted for our consolation various verses from Homer: how the angry gods prevented the glorious sufferer Odysseus, by the most malicious tricks, from reaching his beloved home, Ithaca, but how at last, while he was asleep, he was wafted by gentle breezes to the hospitable shores of his island. And so it happened to us. After we had gone to bed in a somewhat surly state of mind, a light wind arose that carried us with the most gentle movement toward the long-wished-for port, and when we awoke next morning the "Little Anna" lay at anchor.

Now the good captain, Niemann, learned for the first time what kind of passengers he had carried across the North Sea under the names of Kaiser and Hensel. He confessed to us that the matter had appeared to him from the beginning quite suspicious, but he expressed in the heartiest manner his joy that, even ignorantly, he had contributed his part to Kinkel's liberation. Kinkel and I were impatient to get to land. Fortunately Mr. Brockelmann had not only given us letters to his correspondent in Newcastle, but also to a merchant in Leith, by the name of McLaren. These letters we wished to present at once, but the captain reminded us that the day was Sunday, on which a Scottish merchant would certainly not be found in his counting-house, and he did not know how we could find his residence. This difficulty we recognized. However, we were heartily tired of the "Little Anna," with its narrow cabin and its many smells. We resolved, therefore, to make our toilet and to go ashore, in order at least to take a look at Edinburgh. We also hoped to find shelter in some hotel. It was a clear, sunny winter morning. What a delight as we ascended the main street of Leith to feel that we had at last firm ground under our feet again and that we could look everyone in the face as free men! At last — all danger past, no more pursuit, a new life ahead! It was glorious. We felt like shouting and dancing, but bethought ourselves of the probable effect such conduct would have on the natives. We wandered from the harbor up into the streets of Edinburgh. These streets had on their Sunday look. All the shops closed; not a vehicle breaking the stillness. The people walked silently to church. We soon noticed that many of the passersby looked at us with an air of surprise and curiosity, and before long a troop of boys collected around us and pursued us with derisive laughter. We looked at one another and became aware that our appearance contrasted strangely indeed with that of the well-dressed church-goers. Kinkel had on his big bearskin overcoat, which reached down to his feet; his beard, which he had permitted to grow, looked like a rough stubblefield — and at that time a full beard was, in Scotland, regarded as an impossibility among respectable people. On his head he wore a cap like that of a Prussian forester. Regulation hats we did not possess. I was in a long brown overcoat with wide sleeves and a hood lined with light blue cloth, a garment which in Switzerland a tailor had evolved from my large soldier's cape. We suddenly became conscious of making very startling figures on a Sunday morning on the streets of this Scottish capital, and were no longer surprised at the astonishment of the sober church-goers and the mockery of the boys. However, there we were. We could make no change, and so sauntered on without troubling ourselves about the feelings of the others.

We looked up the celebrated Walter Scott monument and several of the famous edifices, and then went on and up to the castle, where the first view of soldiers in the splendid Scottish Highland uniform burst upon us. We enjoyed to our hearts' content the aspect of the city and its wonderfully picturesque surroundings. In short, we found Edinburgh beautiful beyond compare. In the meantime it had become high noon, and we began to feel that the contemplation of the most magnificent view does not satisfy the stomach. The imperious desire for a solid meal moved us to descend from the castle and to look about for a hotel, or at least a restaurant. But in vain. From the outside some buildings looked like public houses, but nowhere an open door. One or two we tried to enter, but without success. Now our utter ignorance of the English language became very embarrassing. Of words of English sound we knew only two — "beefsteak" and "sherry." We addressed some of the passersby in German and also in French, but they all responded after a long and astonished stare in an idiom entirely unintelligible to us, although we both had remarked that when we heard these Scottish people talk at a distance, their language sounded very much like German. When we pronounced our two English words, "beefsteak" and "sherry," those whom we addressed pointed toward the harbor. Our situation became more and more precarious, as the sun was setting. We were very tired from our long wanderings and hunger began to be tormenting. Nothing seemed to remain to us but to return to the "Little Anna."

So we walked back to the harbor. Unexpectedly we came upon a large house in the main street of Leith, the front of which bore the inscription "Black Bull Hotel," and an open door. We entered at once, and ascended a flight of stairs to the upper story. There we reached a spacious hall with several doors, one of which was ajar. We looked through it into a little parlor lighted by an open coal fire. Without hesitation we entered, sat down in comfortable armchairs near the fireplace, pulled the bell-rope and waited for further dispensations of fate. Soon there appeared in the door a man in the dress of a waiter, with a napkin under his arm. When he saw the two strange figures sitting near the fireplace, he started and stood a moment, mute and immovable, with staring eyes and open mouth. We could not keep from laughing and when we laughed, he too smiled, but with a somewhat doubtful expression. Then we pronounced our two English words: "Beefsteak, sherry!" The waiter stammered an unintelligible reply. He then moved back toward the door and disappeared. Soon he returned with another man, also a waiter. Both stared at us and exchanged a few words between themselves. We laughed and they smiled. Then one of them said something in English which sounded like a question. Again we spoke our two words — beefsteak and sherry. Thereupon both nodded and both left the room. After a little while a third man appeared, who wore a double-breasted coat — evidently the landlord. He examined our appearance with a knowing look and talked to us in a friendly tone. Again we repeated our speech about beefsteak and sherry and tried to signify by gestures that we were hungry. At the same time Kinkel had the fortunate idea of putting his hand in his pocket and taking out a few gold pieces, which he showed to the landlord on his open palm. The landlord smiled still more, made a little bow, and took himself away.

After a while the waiter whom we had first seen set the table in fine style. Now we sat down at the hospitable board. Thereupon the waiter lifted the silver cover from the soup tureen he had brought in, with a mighty swing, pointed a forefinger of his other hand into the open dish, and said slowly and emphatically, seeming to give a dab to the contents of the tureen with each syllable, "ox — tail — soup." Then he looked at us triumphantly and stepped behind Kinkel's chair. This was my first lesson in English. Judging from the similarity with German words, we could well imagine what the words "ox" and "soup" signified, but the meaning of the word "tail" became clear to us only when we saw the contents of the tureen on our plates. We found the soup delicious, and thus our English vocabulary had been enriched by a valuable substantive. The landlord had been sensible enough not to confine himself to beefsteak and sherry in the execution of the desire we expressed, but to give us a complete dinner, to which, after our long sea voyage and the Sunday walk in the Scottish capital, we did full justice.

By all sorts of ingenious gestures we made our landlord understand that we wanted paper and ink and pens, and that we would then wish to go to bed. All our requests were understood and complied with. We now added postscripts to the letters, which we had written to our families during the last days of our voyage on the "Little Anna," giving further news of our happy arrival on British soil. Kinkel invited his wife to meet him in Paris, and then wrote a long letter to my parents, in which he said to them many kind things about me.

After this was done the waiter conducted us into a spacious sleeping apartment with two beds, the enormous size of which astonished us. The next morning we bade farewell to our kind host, grateful to him for having tolerated in his house two such uncanny looking guests, without luggage and with a vocabulary of only two English words.

Now we called at the counting-house of Mr. McLaren, in whom we found a very pleasant and polite gentleman, speaking German fluently. Letters from Mr. Brockelmann had told him everything about Kinkel and myself; he therefore greeted us with much cordiality, insisted on having our luggage taken from the "Little Anna" to his residence, and upon devoting himself entirely to us so long as we might choose to remain in Edinburgh. In McLaren's counting house we took leave of the good Captain Niemann. I have never seen him again, but many years afterwards I learned that he had perished on the North Sea in a heavy winter gale.

After having bought some presentable clothing and decent hats, thus acquiring an appearance similar to that of other men, we accepted Mr. McLaren's invitation to see Holyrood and to dine at his house, whereupon we took the night train for London.

There we were accredited by Brockelmann to the banking house of Hambro & Son. The chief of the house placed one of his clerks at our disposal, a young gentleman from Frankfurt, Mr. Verhuven, who during our sojourn in London was to devote his whole time to us. He was an exceedingly agreeable companion, and with him we hurried during several days from morning until night from place to place to see the great sights of London. In this way we missed the many visitors who left their cards at our hotel, the "London Coffee House." Among these we found that of Charles Dickens. His acquaintance we should have been especially proud to make, but to our great regret we did not find him at home when we returned his visit.

In those days I received the first distinct impression of the English language, an impression, which now, after long acquaintance with it, I can hardly explain to myself.

The celebrated tragedian Macready was playing several Shakespearian parts in one of the London theaters. We saw him in "Macbeth" and "Henry VIII." Although I did not understand the spoken words, I was sufficiently conversant with those dramas to follow the dialogue, but I had hardly any enjoyment of it, as the impure vowels and the many sibilants, the hissing consonants, in fact, the whole sound and cadence of the English language, fell upon my ear so unmusically, so gratingly, that I thought it a language that I would never be able to learn. And, indeed, this disagreeable first impression long prevented me from taking the study of English seriously in hand.

After a few days of overfatiguing pleasure we started for Paris. To witness the meeting of Kinkel and his wife, after so long and so painful a separation, was hardly less delightful to me than it was to them. But with this delight our arrival in Paris imposed upon me also a heavy burden, which consisted in sudden "fame." Although I had received in Rostock, in Edinburgh, and in London, in small circles of friends, praise of the warmest kind, I was not a little astonished and embarrassed when I learned in Paris of the sensation created by the liberation of Kinkel. While Kinkel and I had been crossing the North Sea in the cabin of the "Little Anna," holding navigation councils with Captain Niemann, it had become generally known that I, a student of the university of Bonn, had taken a somewhat important part in that affair. The details of it were of course still unknown to the general public, but that sort of mystery is notoriously favorable to the formation of legends, and the Liberal newspapers in Germany had vied with one another in romantic stories about the adventure. The favorite and most accredited of those fables represented me like Blondel before the dungeons of Richard Coeur de Lion, attracting the attention of the imprisoned friend, not indeed with the lute of a troubadour, but in my case with a barrel organ, and thus detecting the window of his cell, and then effecting his escape in a marvelous way. Another myth brought me in communication with a Prussian princess, who, in a mysterious, and to herself very perilous, manner, had advanced my undertaking. Several newspapers put before their readers my biography, which consisted in great part of fantastic inventions, inasmuch as there was but little to say of my young life. I even became the subject of poetic effusions, which celebrated me in all sorts of sentimental exaggeration. My parents, as they afterwards wrote me, were fairly flooded with congratulations, which in great part came from persons entirely unknown to them.


Schurz Mythical Portrait.png

A MYTHICAL PORTRAIT OF SCHURZ


Of course, the praise I received from my parents and the gratitude expressed by Frau Kinkel and her children were a real and a great satisfaction to me, but the extravagances which I had to read in German papers and to hear in the constantly extending circle of our acquaintance in Paris, disquieted me seriously. What I had done had appeared to me as nothing so extraordinary as to merit all this ado. Then there was also constantly present to my mind the thought, that without the help of a group of faithful friends, and especially without Brune's bold resolution at the decisive moment, all my efforts would have been in vain. And of Brune, who in those days was subject to a sharp and dangerous investigation, I could not speak without seriously compromising him. Thus I felt in submitting to praise as one who accepts credit for some things, at least, done by others, and this feeling was in a high degree painful to me. Moreover, in every company in which I showed myself I was asked time and again: "How did you succeed in carrying out this bold stroke? Tell us." Inasmuch as I could not tell the whole truth, I preferred to tell nothing. New legends were invented which if possible were still more fantastic than the old ones. This was so oppressive to me that I became very much averse to going into society, and I fear that I sometimes repelled those who came to me and pressed me with questions in an almost unfriendly manner.

To bring the narrative of this episode to a conclusion, I must add something about the further fortunes of those who coöperated with me in the Kinkel rescue. On the day after Kinkel's escape from Spandau, suspicion fell at once upon Brune. He was forthwith arrested and subjected to close examination. At first nothing could be proved against him; but then, so it was reported, they placed with him in his cell a detective whom he did not suspect and to whom in a careless way he confided his story. He was thereupon tried and condemned to three years' imprisonment. After he had served his term he removed with his family to his old home in Westphalia, where, with the money he had received from me, and which had not been discovered, he could comfortably live with his family, and where he enjoyed the respect of his neighbors. When in 1888 I visited Germany I was informed by a friend of Brune's, that Brune was at the time a janitor in a great iron-works in Westphalia, that he was doing well, although he began to feel the infirmities of old age, and that he would like to know something about me. I answered at once, giving him all the desired information about myself, and asked him for his photograph. The same friend wrote again that my letter had given Brune much pleasure, but that he was in his old age still more stubborn than he had been before, that he had always refused to be photographed, and that he even now could not be moved to do it. I desired much to see him again and had already made arrangements for the journey when, to my intense regret, uncontrollable circumstances prevented it. In 1891 I received in America a letter from Brune's daughter in which she informed me of the death of her brave father.

My friends in Spandau had rejoiced so much at the success of our enterprise that they could not conceal their joy; and so Krüger was involved in the investigation and was brought to trial. It has been reported that he willingly confessed the reception he had accorded to me in his hotel, remarking at the same time that it was his business as a hotel-keeper to open his house to all decently appearing strangers who could pay their bills; that he could not always investigate who those strangers might be, and what were their circumstances and their intentions. For instance: immediately after the revolution in Berlin on the 18th of March, 1848, a very stately looking gentleman with some friends had arrived in a carriage at the door of his inn. Those gentlemen had been in great excitement and hurry, and he had noticed several extraordinary things in their conduct. In great haste they had departed, as he had afterwards heard, for England. It had not occurred to him for a single moment to deny to them as unknown people the hospitality of his house. Only later he had been informed that the most distinguished looking of these gentlemen had been His Royal Highness, the Prince of Prussia (later Emperor William I.). This narrative, recounted with the quiet smile peculiar to Krüger, is said to have put the audience present at the trial into the gayest humor, which even the court could not entirely resist. Krüger was pronounced not guilty, continued to live quietly in Spandau, and died in the seventies, much esteemed and mourned by all his fellow-citizens.

Poritz, Leddihn, and Hensel also were acquitted, there being no conclusive proof against them. Poritz and Hensel died not many years afterwards. I saw Leddihn again in 1888 in Berlin. He had been living for several years in the capital, was a well-to-do citizen and a member of the city council. Three years afterwards the newspapers reported his death.

It is remarkable how the memory of that adventure has remained alive in various parts of Germany. Hardly a year has passed since 1850 without bringing me in newspaper articles or letters new versions of the old story, some of them extremely fantastic. When early in this century the penitentiary building in Spandau in which Kinkel had been imprisoned was taken down to make room for another structure, some citizens of Spandau sent me a photograph of it, showing the part of the building from which Kinkel escaped, Kinkel's cell, and his and my portrait, taken from a daguerreotype made in Paris, in December, 1850. In January, 1903, nearly fifty-three years after our drive from Spandau to Rostock, I received a pictorial postal card signed by a member of the German Reichstag and several other gentlemen, who sent me cordial greetings and a picture of the "White Cross Inn," near Rostock, marked "Kinkel's Corner," where we had stopped in our flight, and where the room in which we took an early breakfast still seems to be pointed out to guests.