Chapter 17: Bräker's legacy:

Bräker and the Revolution reached their ends at almost the same time. These notes show briefly the world that they left behind them.

Completion of the Revolution:

At the end of August, Schlatter reported that the threatened return of the French to St. Gallen now seemed unlikely, but there was uneasiness at the presence of Austrian troops near the Swiss frontier. On the 30th a loyalty oath to the new Republic was sworn at St. Gallen, amid festivities which included dancing by white-clad girls, more "Turkish music", plenty to eat and drink, and a ball held at the monastery till two in the morning. Schlatter was aware, however, that the country's troubles were not over. "Of the seventeen communes, only Herisau, Hundwil, Stein and Tuffen
have sworn the oath, the others are in a serious condition, not sure if they will be flogged dead or only half dead".

The administration of the loyalty oath provoked the last stand of armed resistance to the Revolution, in Nidwald, one of the Forest Cantons. It was crushed by a massacre which took place just before Bräker died, on 9th September 1798. Bräker's view of the ferocity of the French army, and his belief that men sometimes behave like devils, were fully justified. The Nidwalders fought heroically but desperately, retreating and rallying from one farmhouse to another. The French soldiers went completely out of control and even General Schauenbourg was shocked by the savagery shown by his men in the pursuit. Five hundred people were killed; the victims included over a hundred women and twelve children. It is painful to imagine the grief that Bräker would have felt at this indiscriminate slaughter, but Girtanner's record of Bräker's last days gives hope that the news may not have reached him before he died, or that he was already unable to take it in.

The death of Lavater:

Another event of the Revolution which would have grieved him very much was the death of Lavater. After the government of Zürich had fallen and the city was occupied by the French in the spring of 1798, Lavater carried his protests against what he regarded as the "enslavement" of the Swiss people right up to General Schauenbourg himself. Amongst other repressive measures some highly respected officials of the city government were deported to Basel. Lavater added his voice to a general protest against this and was eventually deported himself, though the authorities would probably have left him alone if he had undertaken to remain quiet on political subjects. After facing two tribunals in Basel he was released, but since his way back to Zürich was blocked by the armed forces of France and Austria, he did not reach home until two months later. On 18th August he preached to a huge crowd, including many soldiers of the Austrian army, welcoming him back to the city.

Towards the end of September, however, the French general Masséna, successor to General Schauenbourg, defeated the Austrians, and the city was suddenly full of ragged and starving French soldiers. On the 26th one of these soldiers asked Lavater for food, Lavater gave him wine and bread, and offered money, but this was refused. Only a few minutes later another soldier asked for a shirt, Lavater offered money instead but the soldier became angry and threatened Lavater with a sword. Lavater called out for help to the first soldier who was still nearby, he returned but also demanded money, threatening Lavater with a bayonet. Lavater's manservant pulled his master out of the way, upon which the soldier shot them both, the bullet going through the servant's arm and into Lavater's chest.

Incredibly, Lavater survived this wound for fifteen months, most of them in constant pain, but continuing to preach and to protest against the injustices of the new regime. He died on 2nd