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Home | 2017 | Schubart


Posted by Richard on UTC 2017-05-15 18:42.

On Schubart's capture the management of the prisoner's re-education was handed over to his old enemy Zilling and his new enemy Rieger. Zilling was in frequent communication with Rieger and the Chaplain of the fortress, receiving reports from them on the progress of the prisoner and issuing directions for his treatment.

Unguarded comments by Schubart during his conversations with Rieger or the Chaplain were noted – or perhaps invented – and assiduously passed back to Zilling. Schubart asked to take communion, for example, but then, when pressed by Rieger, allegedly questioned the divinity of Christ. Zilling asked if Schubart had shown any signs of remorse for his sins; Rieger couldn't think of any.

Tales were recounted that reflected badly on Schubart's character: he had pretended to have stomach cramps in order to get more herbal wine; his repeated requests to have a piano, pen and ink had been made just so that he could 'trifle' instead of improving himself; the Bible that had been lent to him had been so damaged that the dirt had to be scraped off with a knife.

Zilling instructed the Chaplain of Hohenasperg that Schubart was not to be admitted to communion until 'clear and reliable signs of a change of heart' were seen in him, nor was he to be given communion without Zilling's explicit permission.

The Chaplain wrote to Zilling on 29 January 1778, when Schubart was still in the dungeon cell and almost a broken man. On several occasions, the Chaplain told Zilling, as he walked walked along the top of the fortress walls he had heard Schubart praying loudly and touchingly to God as a poor sinner filled with remorse. The Chaplain felt that withholding communion much longer would tip Schubart into despair. What should he do? [Briefe 1:269]

Zilling, to his fingertips the Pietist, was not finished with his old foe yet, though. He immediately wrote back to the Chaplain, urging caution. If Schubart were so remorseful and desperate to take communion, he wrote, why hadn't he discussed his condition with the Chaplain for so long? Did he think that he was self-sufficient and that he could do without the Chaplain's visits? What other reason could there be for his indifference to the Chaplain's visits and to his counsel? [Briefe 1:270]

Zilling alluded to his previous experiences with the wild Schubart and noted that this would not be the first time that Schubart, when in difficulties, had hidden his true feelings behind tearful remorse, only to continue his wicked ways when the moment of danger had passed. As Zilling put it, the callouses in Schubart's conscience would take time to soften, let alone be healed, so that rushing to give someone like him communion would only have a temporary effect. After the Chaplain's latest visit these callouses had begun to soften. Clearly now they had begun to stink, suppurate and be painful. Zilling wrote that he had waited long for this moment, for Schubart would not be truly human again until he stank physically and morally.

Zilling asked the Chaplain to visit Schubart as often as he could and to try to find out what grounds Schubart had for so suddenly and intensively asking for communion, whether it was a true appreciation of his own sinfulness and depravity or whether he was just slyly trying to improve his lot and obtain a quick pardon from the Duke. [Briefe 1:271]