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The Life and Adventures of Baron Trenck, Volume 2   By: (1726-1794)

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Transcribed from the 1886 Cassell & Co. edition by David Price, email, proofed by Kenyon, Uzma G., Marie Gilham, L. F. Smith and David.






Thomas Holcroft, the translator of these Memoirs of Baron Trenck, was the author of about thirty plays, among which one, The Road to Ruin , produced in 1792, has kept its place upon the stage. He was born in December, 1745, the son of a shoemaker who did also a little business in horse dealing. After early struggles, during which he contrived to learn French, German, and Italian, Holcroft contributed to a newspaper, turned actor, and wrote plays, which appeared between the years 1791 and 1806. He produced also four novels, the first in 1780, the last in 1807. He was three times married, and lost his first wife in 1790. In 1794, his sympathy with ideals of the French revolutionists caused him to be involved with Hardy, Horne Tooke, and Thelwall, in a charge of high treason; but when these were acquitted, Holcroft and eight others were discharged without trial.

Holcroft earned also by translation. He translated, besides these Memoirs of Baron Trenck, Mirabeau's Secret History of the Court of Berlin , Les Veillees du Chateau of Madame de Genlis, and the posthumous works of Frederick II., King of Prussia, in thirteen volumes.

The Memoirs of Baron Trenck were first published at Berlin as his Merkwurdige Lebensbeschreibung , in three volumes octavo, in 1786 and 1787. They were first translated into French by Baron Bock (Metz, 1787); more fully by Letourneur (Paris, 1788); and again by himself (Strasbourg, 1788), with considerable additions. Holcroft translated from the French versions.



Blessed shade of a beloved sister! The sacrifice of my adverse and dreadful fate! Thee could I never avenge! Thee could the blood of Weingarten never appease! No asylum, however sacred, should have secured him, had he not sought that last of asylums for human wickedness and human woes the grave! To thee do I dedicate these few pages, a tribute of thankfulness; and, if future rewards there are, may the brightest of these rewards be thine. For us, and not for ours, may rewards be expected from monarchs who, in apathy, have beheld our mortal sufferings. Rest, noble soul, murdered though thou wert by the enemies of thy brother. Again my blood boils, again my tears roll down my cheeks, when I remember thee, thy sufferings in my cause, and thy untimely end! I knew it not; I sought to thank thee; I found thee in the grave; I would have made retribution to thy children, but unjust, iron hearted princes had deprived me of the power. Can the virtuous heart conceive affliction more cruel? My own ills I would have endured with magnanimity; but thine are wrongs I have neither the power to forget nor heal.

Enough of this.

The worthy Emperor, Francis I., shed tears when I afterwards had the honour of relating to him in person my past miseries; I beheld them flow, and gratitude threw me at his feet. His emotion was so great that he tore himself away. I left the palace with all the enthusiasm of soul which such a scene must inspire.

He probably would have done more than pitied me, but his death soon followed. I relate this incident to convince posterity that Francis I. possessed a heart worthy an emperor, worthy a man. In the knowledge I have had of monarchs he stands alone. Frederic and Theresa both died without doing me justice; I am now too old, too proud, have too much apathy, to expect it from their successors. Petition I will not, knowing my rights; and justice from courts of law, however evident my claims, were in these courts vain indeed to expect. Lawyers and advocates I know but too well, and an army to support my rights I have not.

What heart that can feel but will pardon me these digressions! At the exact and simple recital of facts like these, the whole man must be roused, and the philosopher himself shudder... Continue reading book >>

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