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“ Peace and goodwill to men,” the Angels sang,
O Day! above all days, which saw
In manger-cradle laid,
We honour thee with festive song,
O Love supreme! Who from Thy throne
Of majesty on high,
We hail Thee, SAVIOUR, Master, King !
THE CHRISTMAS MASSACRE OF SENDLING.
The Feast of Christmas now draws near, that most beautiful Festival of Love and Joy, Goodwill and Charity. It approaches with its bedecked fir tree glittering with lights and surrounded by joyous, happy faces. Out of doors snow-flakes whirl through the deserted streets, which will not be enlivened until peals of bells, echoing far into the midnight stillness, summon crowds of pious folks to the Christmas Mass in the brilliantly lit churches, according to the beautiful custom which prevails in South Germany, and especially in Munich.
The full tones of the organ in triumphant hymns resound in the nave of the church which is filled to overflowing with worshippers ; hundreds of small wax candles flicker in the dim, lofty space, but the High Altar is a blaze of light, and thence the priest pronounces the blessing. The good people of Munich are loth to miss it, and never fail to observe the annual pious usage. But they also know of a far different Christmas, which brought blood and slaughter in their ancient city, and to this day they pride themselves on recalling the
self-sacrificing loyalty then shown by the sons of the mountains to their Prince and their Fatherland.
Christmas in the year 1705 was indeed a mournful festival to the Bavarians, for death that time reaped a bloody harvest. We will give a short sketch of the misery which befell the country at that holy season.
The broad, sandy table land on which Munich is situated contracts itself towards the south into the greenly-wooded valley of the Isar, and at Tölz the region of the Bavarian Alps begins. There is a great difference between the natives of these Highlands and the inhabitants of the plain. Firmly and faithfully do the mountaineers cling to their ancient customs, and their dispositions are as inflexible as the granite blocks of their home. The life in great cities does not attract them when they descend thither from their mountains, for they are accustomed to enjoy an advantage which no wealth can confer on crowded towns, the pure fresh mountain air which makes the blood flow briskly in their veins, and inspires them with fiery, eager courage.
A great idea incites these people, and fills them with enthusiasm, and the Bavarian peasants had chosen such an incentive amongst other reasons, for the insurrection of which they raised the standard in the
“Rescue the children !" was their true-hearted watchword.
This took place after the Elector Maximilian Emmanuel had rendered good service to Austria in the Turkish wars, for which he was but ill-rewarded, and as he was at variance with the House of Hapsburg on the question of the Spanish succession, he formed an alliance with Louis XIV. Prince Eugene and Marlborough's victory over the French at Hochstädt on the 13th of August 1704, exposed Bavaria to the enemy. The Elector retreated to his Stadtholdership of the Netherlands, resigning the reins of government to his wife Therese Sobieska. Had the daughter of the brave Polish king resolved to appeal to the nation for help all might yet have been well, but her counsellor, the Jesuit Schmacker, preferred inducing the misguided woman to retire to Venice.
Strong bodies of Austrian troops now made their appearance, for the conquerors were anxious to dismember the land. Exorbitant taxes with all the horrors of war oppressed the citizens, and particularly the peasants, and one of the worst evils was a severe conscription which frequently caused young men to be dragged bound from their beds in the dead of night. The limits of endurance for a nation capable of re
sistance had been passed. From the northern districts the cry was first heard, “ Rather let us meet death as Bavarians than destruction as Imperialists! Brothers, thus it must be !” The movement of which the Unterlanders formed the head and the Oberlanders the ardent heart, increased like an avalanche. They held a meeting at Tölz, to consult how to prevent the Electoral children being carried off by force, and there it was resolved to march upon Munich. In vain some of the more prudent ones spoke of the risk of such an undertaking, with small means and without the needful communication and conjunction with the Lowland insurgents. The hot-blooded mountain peasants would not hear of delay. The inn-keeper Jäger from Munich, who was a native of Tölz, assured them of the co-operation of the burghers. He promised that a gate should be opened to them on Christmas Eve, the citizens could easily conceal weapons beneath their long cloaks on their way to the Christmas Mass, and by this twofold attack the Austrian garrison would be overpowered without much difficulty, and the enemy be driven out of the capital, and perchance from the country.
The peasants set forth in large bodies, amounting altogether to between four and five thousand men, and carrying along with them all they met, including officials and their assistants. The Abbey of Schäftlarn on the Isar was their halting and trysting place. Drums were beating the signal to muster in the courtyard of the monastery, where the patriots were drawn up in a large hollow square, marshalled according to their respective districts. Next to the men of Tölz, Länggries and Jachenau, stood the champions from Schliersee, with additional reinforcements from Marbach and Hundham, Geudau and Bayerisch Zell; then came the men of Tegernsee, Egern and Gmund, from the Walchensee and Kochetsee, and the dwellers by the Loisach. The rear was brought up by the men of Wolfrathshausen and Starnberg, and the more distant contingents from Ettal, Eschenloh, Partenkirchen and Ammergau, and also from Murnau and Weilheim. The leaders stood in the midst, beside them the standard-bearers and some men with torches, which cast a lurid light on the grave, silent ranks, and the outlines of the Abbey.
Again the drums beat, and a Benedictine monk came forth from the monastery to pronounce the blessing for which the peasants had begged. A death-like stillness prevailed; the monk took up his position on a slight eminence, and stretching out his hands for an instant over the
multitude, began : “Thou wilt lead me out of tribulation, O LORD: and Thou wilt scatter my foes in Thy mercy.' Thus prayed the Psalmist, and thus do ye pray likewise! And ye have a right so to pray, for the LORD our God hath said, ' And if a mother forget her child, I will not forget you.' Ye have left house and home, wife and child, and have set forth to fight for your native land to which all devoted—for our Sovereign, and his poor helpless children. Ye go forth to a solemn conflict, and the blessed hour at which our LORD and SAVIOUR was born, will be for many of you the hour which calls you away from this world—but be of good cheer, the SAVIOUR will say,
Thou good and faithful servant, enter the joy which My FATHER hath prepared for you from the beginning.' Therefore be ye of good courage, for your cause is a righteous one, and the blessing of heaven will be with you. In God's Name I bless you—to live or die according to His Holy Will—in the Name of the Trinity, which was, and is, and will be to all Eternity. Amen."
At the last words all present sank noiselessly on their knees in the snow-the drums rolled three times at short intervals, and the banners were lowered as though from reverence for the consecration unto death which had thus mysteriously descended on them in the night. When the
groups had resumed animation the men began to form in two large divisions. Jäger mounted his horse in order to reach the city in good time. He took a cheery farewell of his friends, and called from his saddle, “God keep us all! We shall meet at midnight, and please God to-morrow morning likewise at the Thanksgiving Service in the Church of our Lady." With these words he galloped off, and soon disappeared in the distance.
Both detachments were now ready. · One, which included the men of Tölz, who had chosen Captain Gautier, an emissary from the Elector, as their leader, was to advance on the right bank of the river and attack the Red Tower with the Isar Bridge; the other, commanded by Captain Mayer, was to press forward by Thalkirchen and Sendling, and then, when the rocket ascended from S. Peter's Tower, to storm the Sendling and Neuhauser Gate.
The signal to march had been given, and the Tölz marksmen had already begun to leave the courtyard, when loud shouts were heard, mingled with the sound of horses' hoofs. All stopped irresolute and uneasy, and in a few minutes Kirner, the Postmaster of Anzing, dashed up to the gate on a horse covered with foam. “God be praised that
ye have not yet started !” he said, “It is all owing to my own dear chestnut,” he added, stroking his panting steed. “No other beast could have done such a gallop from Anzing! Thank God ye are still here.”
“Wherefore? wherefore ?" was the universal question. " What hath happened ?”
“Nought has happened !" replied Kirner. “Ye need not be alarmed, but nought can happen—it is impossible to storm Munich to-night.”
“But tell us wherefore.”
“A message has come from the folks on the Inn and from the Unterlanders; they cannot join us as was settled. Wendt and Kirschbaum are between us with ten thousand men and stop the Plinganser has sent from Burghausen to say he must be reinforced before he can attack the Austrians and fight his way through, and therefore nought can be done to-night.”.
On receiving this intelligence the leaders collected together for consultation, but discipline was not so strict as to prevent their subordinates from listening and taking part in the discussion when so minded. The debate waxed stormy, for opinions differed and men were excited. No small number wished to disperse and wait for a more favourable opportunity; amongst these was Allram, the Warden of Valley, and almost all the military men and officials; but most of the peasants, especially those from Tölz, Länggries and Jachenau were unable to restrain their ardour for the combat, whilst a third party held that it would be best neither to advance nor disperse, but to take up a safe position in the neighbourhood of Valley until further news, and then to press forward when united with the Unterlanders.
“Peace, my friends, for heaven's sake !” exclaimed Captain Mayer at last. “We are nearly confronting the enemy, and sball strife now arise between us! Truly we soldiers are not behindhand when it comes to blows, but every one is free to hold an opinion and to express it! Here we are, if the march is decided on, we have been in worse plight ere now, and have fought our way out !”
“And we also will fight our way out !" cried Hans Jäger, the brother of the innkeeper, who was Gautier's lieutenant. “Bavarian patriots ! we will hear no more of retreat! Have ye considered its results ? The Munich burghers believe that we are coming and they will do their part at twelve o'clock when they go to mass. They trust to us and are lost without us! The citizens have been our good friends and neighbours, shall we not keep our promise to them ? Shall we expose