The Chief Justice: A Novel

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Beschreibung des Verlags

In the Higher Court of Bolosch, an important Germano-Slavonic town of northern Austria, there sat as Chief Justice some thirty years ago, one of the bravest and best of those men on whom true justice might hopefully rely in that sorely tried land.

Charles Victor, Baron von Sendlingen, as he may be called in this record of his fate, was the last descendant of a very ancient and meritorious race which could trace its origin to a collateral branch of the Franconian Emperors, and which had once upon a time possessed rich lands and mines on the shores of the Wörther See: now indeed by reason of an adverse fate and the love of splendour of some of its scions, there had gradually come to be nothing left of all this save a series of high sounding titles. But the decline of fame and influence had not kept pace with the loss of lands and wealth; the Sendlingens had entered the service of the Hapsburgs and in the last two hundred years had given the Austrian Hereditary Dominions not only several brave generals, but an almost unbroken line of administrators and guardians of Justice. And so, although they were entirely dependent on their slender official salaries, they were reckoned with good reason among the first families of the Empire, and a Sendlingen might from his cradle count upon the office of Chief Justice of one of the Higher Courts. Even unkind envy, to say nothing of honest report, was obliged to admit that these hereditary patricians of Justice had always shown themselves worthy of their sacred office, and just as they regularly inherited certain physical characteristics—great stature, bright eyes and coal-black curly hair—so also gifted intellects, iron industry and a sense of duty which often enough bordered on self-denial, were always theirs. “The majesty of the Law is the most sacred majesty on earth.” Thus spake the first of this family who had entered the service of the Imperial Courts of Justice, the Baron Victor Amadeus, Chief Judge of the Vienna Senate, in answer to an irregular demand of Ferdinand the Catholic, and his descendants held fast to the maxim in good days and evil, even in those worst days when Themis threatened, in this country also, to sink to the level of the venal mistress of Princes. The greatest of the Hapsburgs, Joseph II., knew how to value this at its right worth, and although he much disliked hereditary offices, he on this account appointed the Baron Charles Victor, in spite of his youth, as his father’s successor in one of the most important offices of the State.

This was the grandfather of that Sendlingen whose story is to be told here, a powerful man of unusual strength of will who had again raised the reputation of the family to a most flourishing condition. But although everything went so well with him, the dearest wish of his heart was not to be realized: he was not to transmit office and reputation to his son. This son, Franz Victor, our hero’s father, had to pass his life wretchedly in an insignificant position, the only one among the Sendlingens who went to his grave in mature years, unrenowned and indeed despised.

Belletristik und Literatur
28. März
Library of Alexandria

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