NAPOLEON IN GERMANY
LOUISA OF PRUSSIA AND HER TIMES
A Historical Novel
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN BY F. JORDAN
I. Dreadful Tidings II. Minister von Thugut III. The Interview IV. The Two Ministers V. The House in the Gumpendorfer Suburb VI. Joseph Haydn VII. General Bonaparte VIII. The Treaty of Campo Formio
THE YOUNG QUEEN OF PRUSSIA.
IX. Queen Louisa X. The King's Recollections XI. The Young King XII. Frederick Gentz XIII. The Interview with the Minister of Finance XIV. The Memorial to Frederick William III. XV. The Wedding XVI. Marianne Meier XVII. Love and Politics
FRANCE AND GERMANY.
XVIII. Citoyenne Josephine Bonaparte XIX. Bonaparte and Josephine XX. The Reception of the Ambassadors XXI. France and Austria XXII. The Banner of Glory XXIII. Minister Thugut XXIV. The Festival of the Volunteers XXV. The Riot
LAST DAYS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
XXVI. Victoria de Poutet XXVII. Rastadt XXVIII. The Justification XXIX. The Assassination XXX. Jean Debry XXXI. The Coalition XXXII. The Friend of Peace XXXIII. The Legitimate Wife XXXIV. The Eighteenth of Brumaire
THE PEACE OF LUNEVILLE.
XXXV. Johannes Muller XXXVI. Thugut's Fall XXXVII. Fanny von Arnstein XXXVIII. The Rivals XXXIX. The Legacy XL. The First Consul XLI. Two German Savants
THE THIRD COALITION.
XLVII. The Emperor Napoleon XLVIII. Napoleon and the German Princes XLIV. Queen Louisa's Piano Lesson XLV. The Conference XLVI. The Oath at the Grave of Frederick the Great
THE FALL OF THE GERMAN EMPIRE.
XLVII. Evil Tidings XLVIII. Before the Battle XLIX. "Gott Erhalte Franz den Kaiser!" L. Patriotism LI. Judith LII. Napoleon and the Prussian Minister LIII. Judith and Holofernes LIV. The Fall of the German Empire
THE BATTLE OF JENA.
LV. A German Bookseller and Martyr LVI. The Arrest LVII. A Wife's Love LVIII. The Women of Braunau LIX. The Last Hour LX. Prussia's Declaration of War LXI. A Bad Omen LXII. Before the Battle LXIII. The German Philosopher
The population of Vienna was paralyzed with terror; a heavy gloom weighed down all minds, and the strength of the stoutest hearts seemed broken. Couriers had arrived today from the camp of the army, and brought the dreadful tidings of an overwhelming defeat of the Austrian forces. Bonaparte, the young general of the French Republic, who, in the course of one year (1796), had won as many battles and as much glory as many a great and illustrious warrior during the whole course of an eventful life—Bonaparte had crossed the Italian Alps with the serried columns of his army, and the most trusted military leaders of Austria were fleeing before him in dismay. The hero of Lodi and Arcole had won new victories, and these victories constantly diminished the distance between his army and the menaced capital of Austria.
Archduke Charles had been defeated by Massena, and driven back to Villach; Bernadotte had reached Laybach; the citadels of Goritz, Triest, and Laybach had surrendered; Klagenfurth, after a most desperate struggle, had been forced to open its gates to the conquerors; Loudon, with his brave troops, had been dispersed in the Tyrol; Botzen had opened its gates to General Joubert, who, after a brief sojourn, left that city in order to join Bonaparte, who, in his victorious career, was advancing resistlessly toward Vienna.
Such were tidings which the couriers had brought, and these tidings were well calculated to produce a panic in the Austrian capital. While the court and the nobility were concealing their grief and their sorrows in the interior of their palaces, the populace rushed into the streets, anxiously inquiring for later intelligence, and still hopeful that God in His mercy might perhaps send down some ray of light that would dispel this gloom of anguish and despair.
But a pall covered Vienna, and everybody looked sad and dejected. Suddenly some new movement of terror seemed to pervade the crowd that had gathered on the Kohlmarkt. [Footnote: Cabbage Market.] As if a storm were raising up the waves of this black sea of human figures, the dense mass commenced to undulate to and fro, and a wail of distress arose, growing louder and louder, until it finally broke out into the terrible cry: "The emperor has deserted us! the emperor and the empress have fled from Vienna!"
While the masses were bewailing this new misfortune with the manifestations of despair, while they assembled in small groups to comment vociferously on this last and most dreadful event of the day, all of a sudden Hungarian hussars galloped up and commanded the people, in the most peremptory manner, to stand aside and to open a passage for the wagons which were about to enter the market from one of the adjoining streets.
The people, intimidated by the flashing swords and harsh words of the soldiers, fell back and gazed with an expression of anxious suspense upon the strange procession which now made its appearance.
This procession consisted of twelve wagons, apparently not destined to receive living men, but the remains of the dead. The broad and heavy wheels were not surmounted by ordinary carriage-boxes, but by immense iron trunks, large enough to enclose a coffin or a corpse; and these trunks were covered with heavy blankets, the four corners of which contained the imperial crown of Austria in beautiful embroidery. Every one of these strange wagons was drawn by six horses, mounted by jockeys in the imperial livery, while the hussars of the emperor's Hungarian bodyguard rode in serried ranks on both sides.
The horses drew these mysterious wagons slowly and heavily through the streets; the wheels rolled with a dull, thundering noise over the uneven pavement; and this noise resounded in the ears and hearts of the pale and terrified spectators like the premonitory signs of some new thunderstorm.
What was concealed in these mysterious wagons? What was taken away from Vienna in so careful a manner and guarded so closely? Everybody was asking these questions, but only in the depth of his own heart, for nobody dared to interrupt the painful and anxious silence by a loud word or an inquisitive phrase. Every one seemed to be fascinated by the forbidding glances of the hussars, and stunned by the dull rumbling of the wheels.
But, when finally the last wagon had disappeared in the next street, when the last horseman of the hussar escort had left the place, the eyes of the anxious spectators turned once more toward the speakers who had previously addressed them, and told them of the misfortunes of Austria, and of the brilliant victories of the youthful French General Bonaparte.
"What do those wagons contain?" shouted the crowd. "We want to know it, and we must know it!"
"If you must know it, why did you not ask the soldiers themselves?" shouted a sneering voice in the crowd.
"Yes, yes," said another voice, "why did you not approach the wagons and knock at the trunks?—may be the devil would have jumped out and shown you his pretty face!"
The people paid no attention to these sneering remarks. The painful uncertainty, the anxious excitement continued unabated, and everybody made surmises concerning the contents of the wagons.
"The trunks contain perhaps the coffins of the imperial ancestors, which have been removed from the Kapuzinergruft, in order to save them from the French," said an honest tailor to his neighbor, and this romantic idea rolled immediately, like an avalanche, through the vast crowd.
"They are removing the remains of the old emperors from Vienna!" wailed the crowd. "Even the tombs are no longer safe! They are saving the corpses of the emperors, but they are forsaking us—the living! They abandon us to the tender mercies of the enemy! All who have not got the money to escape are lost! The French will come and kill us all!"
"We will not permit it!" shouted a stentorian voice. "We want to keep the remains of Maria Theresa and of the great Emperor Joseph here in Vienna. As long as they lived they loved the people of the capital, and they will protect us in death. Come, brethren, come; let us follow the wagons—let us stop them and take the bodies back to the Kapuzinergruft [Footnote: Vaults of the Capuchins]".
"Yes, let us follow the wagons and stop them," yelled the crowd, which now, when it could no longer see the flashing and threatening weapons of the soldiers, felt exceedingly brave.
Suddenly, however, these furious shouts and yells were interrupted by a powerful voice which ordered the people to desist, and they beheld a tall man who, with cat-like agility, climbed upon the iron lamp-post in the centre of the square.
"Stop, stop!" roared this man, extending his arms over the crowd as if, a new Moses, he wanted to allay the fury of the sea and cause it to stand still.
The crowd instantly obeyed this tremendous voice, and all these indignant, anxious, and terrified faces now turned toward the speaker who stood above them on top of the lamp-post.
"Don't make fools of yourselves," said he—"don't give these Hungarians—who would be only too glad to quench their present rage in German blood—a chance to break your bones. Have you any arms to compel them to show you the wagons and their contents? And even if you were armed, the soldiers would overpower you, for most of you would run away as soon as a fight broke out, and the balance of you would be taken to the calaboose. I will do you the favor, however, to tell you all about those wagons. Do you want to know it?"
"Yes, yes, we do!" shouted the crowd, emphatically. "Be quiet over there!—Stop your noise!—Do not cry so loud!—Hush!—Let us hear what is in the wagons.—Silence, silence!"
Profound silence ensued—everybody held his breath and listened.
"Well, then, listen to me. These wagons do not contain the remains of the former emperors, but the gold and the jewels of the present emperor. It is the state treasure which those hussars are escorting from Vienna to Presburg, because the government deems it no longer safe here. Just think of what we have come to now-a-days! Our imperial family, and even the state treasure, must flee from Vienna! And whose fault is it that we have to suffer all this? Who has brought these French down upon us? Who is inundating all Austria with war and its calamities? Shall I tell you who is doing it?"
"Yes, tell us, tell us!" shouted the crowd. "Woe unto him who has plunged Austria into war and distress, and caused the flight of the emperor and the removal of the treasure from Vienna!"
The speaker waited until the angry waves of the people's wrath had subsided again, and then said in the clear, ringing tones of his powerful voice: "It is the fault of our prime minister, Baron von Thugut. He don't want us to make peace with the French. He would rather ruin us all than to make peace with the French Republic."
"But we don't want to be ruined!" shouted the crowd—"we don't want to be led to the shambles like sheep. No, no; we want peace—peace with France. Prime Minister Thugut shall give us peace with France!"
"You had better go and inform the proud minister himself of what you want," said the speaker with a sneer. "First compel him to do what the emperor and even our brave Archduke Charles wanted to be done— compel the omnipotent minister to make peace."
"We will go and ask him to give us peace," said several voices in the crowd.
"Yes, yes, we will do that!" shouted others. "Come, come; let us all go to the minister's house and ask him to give us back the emperor and the state treasure, and to make peace with Bonaparte."
The speaker now descended hurriedly from the lamp-post. His tall, herculean figure, however, towered above the crowd even after his feet had touched the pavement.
"Come," said he to the bystanders in a loud and decided tone, "I will take you to the minister's house, for I know where he lives, and we will shout and raise such a storm there until the proud gentleman condescends to comply with our wishes."
He led the way rapidly, and the crowd, always easily guided and pliable, followed its improvised leader with loud acclamations. Only one idea, only one wish, animated all these men: they wanted peace with France, lest Bonaparte might come to Vienna and lay their beautiful capital in ashes in the same manner in which he had treated so many Italian cities.
Their leader walked proudly at the head of the irregular procession; and as the crowd continued to shout and yell, "Peace with France!" he muttered, "I think I have accomplished a good deal to-day. The archduke will be satisfied with what I have done, and we may compel the minister after all to make peace with France."
MINISTER VON THUGUT.
The prime minister, Baron von Thugut, was in his cabinet, in eager consultation with the new police minister, Count von Saurau, who had given him an account of the safe removal of the imperial state treasure which, like the emperor and the empress, had set out for Hungary.
"All right! all right!" said Thugut, with a sinister chuckle. "In Hungary both will be safe enough, for I think I have intimidated the Hungarians so much that they will remain very quiet and very humble."
"Your excellency refers to the conspiracy which we discovered there, two years ago," said Count Saurau, smiling, "and which the accursed traitors expiated on the gallows!"
"De Mortuir Nil Nisi Bene!" exclaimed Thugut. "We are under many obligations to these excellent traitors, for they have enabled us to render the Hungarians submissive, just as the traitors who conspired here at Vienna two years ago enabled us to do the same thing to the population of the capital. A conspiracy discovered by the authorities is always a good thing, because it furnishes us with an opportunity to make an example, to tell the nation through the bloody heads of the conspirators: 'Thus, thus, all will be treated who dare to plot against the government and against their masters!' The Viennese have grown very humble and obedient since the day they saw Hebenstreit, the commander of the garrison, on the scaffold, and Baron Riedel, the tutor of the imperial children, at the pillory. And the Hungarians, too, have learned to bow their heads ever since the five noble conspirators were beheaded on the Generalwiese, in front of the citadel of Ofen. Believe me, count, that day has contributed more to the submissiveness of Hungary than all the favors and privileges which the Emperors of Austria have bestowed upon the Magyars. Nations are always frivolous and impudent children: he who tries to educate them tenderly is sure to spoil them; but raise them in fear and trembling, and they will become quiet and obedient men. And for that reason, I tell you once more, don't call those men, now that they are dead, accursed traitors, for they have been very useful to us; they have been the instrument with which we have chastised the whole overbearing people of Austria and Hungary, and those were blessed days for us when we mowed down the high-born traitors of both countries. The sword of our justice performed a noble work on that day, for it struck down a savant and a poet, a count and a distinguished prelate. Oh, what a pity that there was no prince among them!"
"Well, a prince might have been found likewise," said Count Saurau, "and perhaps he may get into our meshes on some other occasion. Your excellency is an adroit hunter."
"And you are an excellent pointer for me. You scent such things on the spot," Count Thugut exclaimed, and broke out into a loud burst of laughter.
Count Saurau laughed also, and took good care not to betray how cruelly the joke had wounded his aristocratic pride. The Austrian aristocracy was accustomed to such insults at the hands of the powerful and proud prime minister, and everybody knew that Thugut, the son of a poor ship-builder, in the midst of his greatness, liked to recall his modest descent, and to humble the nobility through the agency of the ship-builder's son.
"Your excellency will permit me to render myself at once worthy of the praise you have kindly bestowed upon me," said the police minister, after a short pause. "I believe we have discovered another conspiracy here. True, it is only an embryo as yet, but it may grow into something if we give it the necessary time."
"What is it, Saurau?" said Thugut, joyfully—"tell me at once what it is! A conspiracy—a good, sound conspiracy?"
"Yes, a most malignant and important conspiracy! A conspiracy against your excellency's life!"
"Bah!—is that all?" said Thugut carelessly, and with evident disappointment. "I was in hopes that by this time you would hand over to me some high-born aristocrats who had held secret intercourse with that execrable French Republic. It would have been a splendid example for all those hare-brained fools who are so fond of repeating the three talismanic words of the republican regicides, and who are crazy with delight when talking of Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite. I would have liked to chastise a few of these madmen, in order to put a stop to the prevailing republican enthusiasm. But instead of that, you talk to me of a conspiracy only aimed at myself!"
"Only at yourself!" repeated the count, with great indignation. "As if it were not the most dreadful calamity for Austria if she should be deprived of your services. You know that we are standing on the verge of a precipice; in the interior, the liberal and seditious desires which the senseless reforms of the Emperor Joseph have stirred up, are still prevalent, and the people only submit with reluctance and with spiteful feelings to the reforms which your excellency has inaugurated with a view to the best interests of Austria. Abroad, on the other hand, the blood-stained French Republic incites the malecontents to imitate its own infamies; they would like to see the victorious banners of General Bonaparte here in order to have his assistance in establishing a republican government in Austria."
"It is true," said Thugut, "the Austrian empire, at the present time, is exposed to great dangers from within and without; the reins must be held very firmly in order to conduct the ship of state safely through the breakers, and I believe I am the man to do it. You see, count, I do not underrate my own importance. I know only too well that Austria needs me. Still, the plots and conspiracies that are merely directed against myself, make me laugh. For let me tell you, my dear little count, I really fancy that my person has nothing to fear either from daggers, or from pistols, or from poisoned cups. Do you believe in a Providence, count? Ah!—you look surprised, and wonder how such a question could fall from infidel lips like mine. Yes, yes, I am an infidel, and I honestly confess that the heaven of Mohammed, where you are smoking your chibouk, seated on cushions of clouds, while houris, radiant with beauty, are tickling the soles of your feet with rosy fingers, appears to me by far more desirable than the Christian heaven where you are to stand in eternal idleness before the throne of God Almighty, singing hymns, and praising His greatness. Ah! during the happy days of my sojourn at Constantinople, I have had a slight foretaste of the heaven of Mohammed; and again, in the tedious days of Maria Theresa, I have had a foretaste of the heaven of Christianity!"
"And which Providence did your excellency refer to?" asked Saurau. "I pray your excellency to tell me, because your faith is to be the model of mine."
"I believe in a Providence that never does any thing in vain, and never creates great men in order to let them be crushed, like flies, by miserable monkeys. That is the reason why I am not afraid of any conspiracy against myself. Providence has created me to be useful to Austria, and to be her bulwark against the surging waves of the revolution, and against the victorious legions of General Bonaparte. I am an instrument of Providence, and therefore it will protect me as long as it needs me. But if, some day, it should need me no longer, if it intended then that I should fall, all my precautions would be fruitless, and all your spies, my dear count, would be unable to stay the hand of the assassin."
"You want me to understand, then, that no steps whatever are to be taken against the criminals conspiring against your excellency's life?"
"By no means, count—indeed, that would be an exaggeration of fatalism. I rely greatly on your sagacity and on the vigilance of your servants, count. Let them watch the stupid populace—see to it that faux freres always attend the meetings of my enemies, and whenever they inform you of conspiracies against myself, why, the malefactors shall be spirited away without any superfluous noise. Thank God, we have fortresses and state prisons, with walls too thick for shrieks or groans to penetrate, and that no one is able to break through. The public should learn as little as possible of the fate of these criminals. The public punishment of an assassin who failed to strike me, only instigates ten others to try if they cannot hit me better. But the noiseless disappearance of a culprit fills their cowardly souls with horror and dismay, and the ten men shrink back from the intended deed, merely because they do not know in what manner their eleventh accomplice has expiated his crime. The disappearance of prisoners, the oubliettes, are just what is needed. You must quietly remove your enemies and adversaries—it must seem as if some hidden abyss had ingulfed them; everybody, then, will think this abyss might open one day before his own feet, and he grows cautious, uneasy, and timid. Solely by the wisdom of secret punishments, and through the terror inspired by its mysterious tribunals, Venice has been able to prolong her existence for so many centuries. Because the spies of the Three were believed to be ubiquitous—and because everybody was afraid of the two lions on the Piazzetta, the Venetians obeyed these invisible rulers whom they did not know, and whose avenging hand was constantly hanging over them."
"Now, however, it seems that a visible hand, a hand of iron, is going to strike away the invisible hands of the Three," said Count Saurau, quickly. "Bonaparte seems to desire to force Venice, too, into the pale of his Italian republics. The city is full of French emissaries, who, by means of the most eloquent and insidious appeals, try to bring about a rising of the Venetians against their rulers, in order—but hark!" said the count, suddenly interrupting himself. "What is that? Don't you hear the clamor in the street, right under our window?"
He paused, and, like the minister, turned his eyes and ears toward the window. A confused noise, loud shouts and yells, resounded below.
The two ministers, without uttering a word, arose from their arm- chairs and hurried to one of the windows, which looked upon the wide street extending from the Kohlmarkt to the minister's palace. A vast mass of heads, broad shoulders, and uplifted arms, was visible there, and the angry roar of the excited populace was approaching already the immediate neighborhood of the palace.
"It seems, indeed, as if these honorable representatives of the people, intended to pay me a visit," said Thugut, with great composure. "Just listen how the fellows are roaring my name, as if it were the refrain of some rollicking beer-song!"
"Why, it is a regular riot!" exclaimed the police minister, angrily. "Your excellency will permit me to withdraw—"
He left the window hastily, and took his hat, but Thugut's vigorous hand kept him back.
"Where are you going, count?" said he, smiling.
"To the governor of Vienna," said Saurau. "I want to ask him why he permits this nonsense, and order him to disperse the rabble in the most summary manner!"
"Pray, stay here," said Thugut, quietly. "The governor of Vienna is a man of great sagacity, who knows perfectly well how we have to treat the people. Why, it would be an unparalleled tyranny if the poor people were not even allowed to give the prime minister their good advice, and tell him what they think of the state of affairs. Just give them this permission, and they will believe they have performed a most heroic deed, and it will seem to them as if they could boast of great liberty. True political wisdom, my dear little count, commands us to give the people a semblance of liberty; we thereby succeed in dazzling their eyes so well that they do not perceive that they have no real liberty whatever."
The clamor and noise in the street below had increased in fury. The people, whose dense masses now entirely obstructed the street, impetuously moved up to the portal of the ministerial palace, the front door of which had been locked and barred already by the cautious porter. Vigorous fists hammered violently against the door, and as an accompaniment to this terrible music of their leaders, the people howled and yelled their furious refrain: "We want to see the minister! He shall give us peace! peace! peace!"
"Ah! I know what it means!" exclaimed Count Saurau, gnashing his teeth. "Your enemies have instigated these scoundrels. The party that would like to overthrow you and me, that wants to make peace with France at any price, and to keep Belgium united with Austria— this party has hired the villains below to get up a riot. They want to compel your excellency either to resign or to comply with the wishes of the people, and make peace with the French Republic."
Thugut laughed. "Compel ME!" said he, laconically.
At that moment the mob yelled louder than ever, and the shout— "Peace! we want peace!" shook the windows.
Simultaneously the furious blows against the front door redoubled in violence.
"Assuredly, I cannot stand this any longer!" exclaimed the police minister, perfectly beside himself. "I ought not to listen quietly to this outrage."
"No," said Thugut, very quietly, "we won't listen to it any longer. This is my breakfast-hour, and I invite you to be my guest. Come, let us go to the dining-room."
He took the count's arm, and proceeded with him to the adjoining room. Breakfast for eight persons was served in this room, for Baron Thugut was in the habit of keeping every day open table for seven uninvited guests, and his intimate acquaintances, as well as his special favorites, never failed to call on the minister at least once a week during his well-known breakfast and dinner hours.
To-day, however, the minister's rapid and inquisitive glances did not discover a single guest. Nobody was in the room except the eight foot-men who stood behind the chairs. Well aware of their master's stern and indomitable spirit, they occupied their usual places, but their faces were very pale, and their eyes turned with an expression of extreme anxiety toward the windows which, just then, trembled again under the heavy, thundering blows levelled at the front door.
"Cowards!" muttered Thugut, while walking to his chair at the upper end of the table and beckoning Count Saurau to take a seat at his side.
At this moment, however, the door was hastily opened, and the steward, pale and with distorted features, rushed into the room.
"Excuse me, your excellency," said he, "but this time they are assuredly in earnest. The people are storming the front door—the hinges are beginning to give way, and in fifteen minutes, at the latest, the scoundrels will have forced an entrance!"
"You had no business to close the door," said the minister. "Who ordered you to do so? Who ordered you to barricade the house, as if it were a fortress—as if we had a bad conscience and were afraid of the people?"
The steward looked aghast, and did not know what to reply.
"Go down-stairs at once," continued the minister; "order the porter to open the door, and admit everybody. Show the people up-stairs; and you rascals who are standing there with pale faces and trembling knees, open the two folding-doors so that they can get in without hurting each other. Now do what I have told you."
The steward bowed with a sigh expressive of the agony he felt, and hurriedly left the room.
The footmen, meanwhile, hastened to open the folding-doors of the dining-room, as well as those of the antechamber. The two gentlemen at the table obtaining thereby a full view of the landing of the large staircase, directly in front of the open door of the first room.
"And now, Germain," said Thugut to the footman behind his chair, "now let us have our breakfast. Be wise, my dear count, and follow my example; take some of this sherbet. It cools the blood, and, at the same time, is quite invigorating. Drink, dear count, drink! Ah! just see, my cook has prepared for us to-day a genuine Turkish meal, for there is a turkey boiled with rice and paprica. The chief cook of the grand vizier himself furnished me the receipt for this exquisite dish, and I may venture to assert that you might look for it everywhere in Vienna without finding it so well prepared as at my table."
Heavy footsteps and confused voices were now heard on the staircase.
"They are coming—they really dare to enter here!" said Count Saurau, trembling with anger. "Pardon me, your excellency; I admire your heroic equanimity, but I am unable to imitate it. It is an utter impossibility for me to sit here calmly and passively, while a gang of criminals is bold enough to break into your house!"
"I beg your pardon, count; these people did not break into my house, but I voluntarily opened the door to admit them," said Baron Thugut, coolly. "And as far as your official position is concerned, I pray you to forget it for half an hour, and remember only that I have the honor of seeing you—a rare guest—at my table. Let me beg you to take some of that fowl; it is really delicious!"
Count Saurau, heaving a loud sigh, took a piece of the fowl which Germain presented to him, and laid it on the silver plate that stood before him. But just as he was going to taste the first morsel, he hesitated, and looked steadily through the open doors. Several heads with shaggy hair and flashing eyes emerged above the railing of the staircase; many others followed—now the entire figures became visible, and in the next moment, from twenty to thirty wild-looking men reached the landing, behind whom, on the staircase, a dense mass of other heads rose to the surface.
But the loud shouts, the fierce swearing and yelling, had ceased; the awe with which the intruders were filled by the aristocratic appearance of every thing they beheld, had hushed their voices, and even the intrepid orator, who previously, on the Kohlmarkt, had excited the people to commit acts of violence, and brought them to the minister's house—even he stood now hesitating and undecided, at the door of the dining-room, casting glances full of savage hatred and rage into the interior.
Thugut took apparently no notice whatever of what was going on; his breakfast entirely absorbed him, and he devoted his whole attention to a large piece of the turkey, which he seemed to relish greatly.
Count Saurau merely feigned to eat, and looked steadfastly at his plate, as he did not want the rioters to read in his eyes the furious wrath that filled his breast.
The men of the people did not seem to feel quite at ease on beholding this strange and unexpected scene, which all of a sudden commenced to cool their zeal and heroism, like a wet blanket. They had triumphantly penetrated into the palace, shouting vociferously, and quite sure that the minister would appear before them trembling and begging for mercy; and now, to their utter amazement, they beheld him sitting very calmly at the breakfast-table!
There was something greatly embarrassing for the poor men in this position. They suddenly grew quite sober, and even intimidated, and many of those who had ascended the staircase so boisterously and triumphantly, now deemed it prudent to withdraw as quietly as possible. The number of the heads that had appeared above the balusters was constantly decreasing, and only about twenty of the most resolute and intrepid remained at the door of the ante-room.
At length, the speaker who had addressed them on the Kohlmarkt, conscious of his pledges and of the reward promised to him, overcame his momentary bashfulness and stepped boldly into the ante-room, where the others, encouraged by his example, followed him at once.
Baron Thugut now raised his eyes with an air of great indifference from his plate and glanced at the men who with noisy steps approached through the anteroom. Then turning to the footman behind him, he said, in a loud voice:
"Germain, go and ask these gentlemen if they want to see me? Ask them likewise whom you will have the honor to announce to your master?"
The men, overhearing these words, grew still more confused when the servant in his gorgeous livery stepped up to them, and, with a most condescending smile, informed them of the errand his master had given to him.
But now it was out of the question to withdraw, as there was nothing left to them but to arm themselves with whatever pluck and boldness they had at their command in order to carry out the role they had undertaken to play in the most becoming manner.
"Yes," said the speaker of the Kohlmarkt, loudly and resolutely, "we want to see the minister; and as for our names, I am Mr. Wenzel, of the tailors' guild; my neighbor here is Mr. Kahlbaum, also a tailor; and others may mention their own names, so that this polite gentleman may answer them to his excellency."
But none of the other men complied with this request; on the contrary, all looked timidly aside, a misgiving dawning in their minds that such a loud announcement of their names might not be altogether without danger for them.
Germain did not wait for the final conclusion, but hastily returned to his master, in order to inform him of what he had heard.
"Mr. Wenzel, of the tailors' guild, Mr. Tailor Kahlbaum, and the other gentlemen, whatever their names may be, are welcome." said the minister, aloud, but without interrupting his meal for a single moment.
The men thereupon advanced to the door of the dining-room. But here a proud and imperious glance from the minister caused them suddenly to halt.
"I believe you have breakfasted already?" asked Thugut.
"Yes, we have breakfasted already," replied Mr. Wenzel, in a surly voice.
"Well, unluckily, I have not, and so I request you to let me finish my breakfast first," said Thugut, attacking once more the wing of the turkey on his plate.
A long pause ensued. The men stood in the most painful embarrassment at the door, where the minister's stern glance had arrested them, and a most unpleasant apprehension of what might be the result of this scene began to take hold of their minds. Flashing sword-blades and muskets aimed at their breasts would not have frightened them so much as the aspect of the calm, proud, and forbidding figure of the minister, and the utter indifference, the feeling of perfect security with which he took his breakfast in full view of a seditious mob filled the rioters with serious apprehensions for the safety of their own persons.
"I am sure a good many soldiers and policemen are hidden about the palace," thought Mr. Wenzel, "and that is the reason why he permitted us to enter, and why he is now so calm and unconcerned; for as soon as we get into the dining-room, those fine-looking footmen will lock the door behind, and the soldiers will rush out of that other door and arrest us."
These pleasant reflections were interrupted by another terrible glance from the minister, which caused poor Mr. Wenzel to tremble violently.
"Now, gentlemen, if you please, come in; I have finished my breakfast." said Thugut with perfect coolness. "I am quite ready and anxious to hear what you wish to say to me. So, come in, come in!"
The men who stood behind Mr. Wenzel moved forward, but the tall, herculean figure of the member of the tailors' guild resisted them and compelled them to stand still.
"No, I beg your excellency's pardon," said Mr. Wenzel, fully determined not to cross the fatal threshold of the dining-room, "it would not become poor men like us to enter your excellency's dining- room. Our place is in the anteroom—there we will wait until your excellency will condescend to listen to us."
This humble language, this tremulous voice, that did not tally at all with the air of a lion-hearted and outspoken popular leader, which Mr. Wenzel had assumed in the street, struck terror and consternation into the souls of the men who had so rashly followed him into the palace.
The minister rose; his broad-shouldered figure loomed up proudly, a sarcastic smile played on his angular and well-marked features; his shaggy white eyebrows convulsively contracted up to this moment—the only outward symptom of anger which Thugut, even under the most provoking circumstances, ever exhibited—relaxed and became calm and serene again, as he approached the men with slow and measured steps.
"Well, tell me now what you have come for? What can I do for you?" asked Thugut, in the full consciousness of his power.
"We want to implore your excellency to give us peace. The poor people—"
"Peace with whom?" calmly asked the minister.
"Peace with France, your excellency—peace with General Bonaparte, who is said to be a magician, bewitching everybody, and capable of conquering all countries by a glance, by a motion of his hands, whenever he wishes to do so. If we do not make peace, he will conquer Austria too, come to Vienna, and proclaim himself emperor; whereupon he will dismiss our own wise and good ministers, and give us French masters. But we would like to keep our emperor and our excellent ministers, who take care of us so paternally. And that is the only reason why we have come here—just to implore your excellency to have mercy with the poor people and make peace, so that the emperor may return to Vienna, and bring his state treasury back to the capital. Yes, men, that is all we wanted, is it not? We just wanted to pray your excellency to give us peace!"
"Yes, your excellency," shouted the men, "have mercy with us, and give us peace!"
"Well, for angels of peace, you have penetrated rather rudely into my house," said the minister, sternly. "You got up a riot in order to obtain peace."
"It was merely our anxiety that made us so hasty and impetuous," said Mr. Wenzel, deprecatingly. "We ask your excellency's pardon if we have frightened you."
"Frightened me!" echoed Thugut, in a tone of unmeasured contempt. "As if you were the men to frighten ME! I knew that you would come, and I knew, too, who had bribed you to do it. Yes, yes, I know they have paid you well, Mr. Wenzel, to get up a riot—they have given you shining ducats for leading a mob into my house. But will their ducats be able to get you out of it again?"
Mr. Wenzel turned very pale; he uttered a shriek and staggered back a few paces.
"Your excellency knew—" he said.
"Yes, I knew," continued Thugut, sternly, "that men who have no regard for the honor and dignity of their country—men who are stupid enough to believe that it would be better to submit voluntarily to the dominion of the French Republic, instead of resisting the demands of the regicides manfully and unyieldingly— that these men have hired you to open your big mouth, and howl about things which you do not understand, and which do not concern you at all."
At this moment, shrieks of terror and loud supplications, mingled with violent and threatening voices, and words of military command were heard outside.
The men turned anxiously around, and beheld with dismay that the staircase, which only a few minutes ago was crowded with people, was now entirely deserted.
Suddenly, however, two men appeared on the landing, who were little calculated to allay the apprehensions of the rioters, for they wore the uniform of that dreaded and inexorable police who, under Thugut's administration, had inaugurated a perfect reign of terror in Vienna.
The two officers approached the door of the anteroom, where they were met by Germain, the footman, who conversed with them in a whisper. Germain then hastened back to the door of the dining-room and walked in, scarcely deigning to cast a contemptuous glance on the dismayed rioters.
"Well, what is it?" asked Thugut.
"Your excellency, the chief of police sends word that his men are posted at all the doors of the palace, and will prevent anybody from getting out. He has cleared the streets, besides, and dispersed the rioters. The chief of police, who is in the hall below, where he is engaged in taking down the names of the criminals who are yet in the house, asks for your excellency's further orders."
"Ah, he does not suspect that his own chief, the minister of police is present," said Thugut, turning with a smile to Count Saurau, who, being condemned to witness this scene in the capacity of an idle and passive spectator, had withdrawn into a bay-window, where he had quietly listened to the whole proceedings.
"My dear count, will you permit the chief of police to come here and report to yourself?" asked Thugut.
"I pray you to give him this permission," replied the count, approaching his colleague.
Germain hastened back to the policemen in the anteroom.
"And what are we—?" asked Mr. Wenzel, timidly.
"You will wait!" thundered the minister. "Withdraw into yonder corner! may be the chief of police will not see you there."
They withdrew tremblingly into one of the corners of the ante-room, and did not even dare to whisper to each other, but the glances they exchanged betrayed the anguish of their hearts.
The two ministers, meanwhile, had likewise gone into the ante-room, and, while waiting for the arrival of the chief of police, conversed in a whisper.
In the course of a few minutes, the broad-shouldered and erect figure of the chief of the Viennese police appeared in the official uniform so well known to the people of the capital, who, for good reasons, were in the utmost dread of the terrible functionary. When the rioters beheld him, they turned even paler than before; now they thought that every thing was lost, and gave way to the most gloomy forebodings.
Count Saurau beckoned the chief to enter; the latter had a paper in his right hand.
"Your report," said the count, rather harshly. "How was it possible that this riot could occur? Was nobody there to disperse the seditious scoundrels before they made the attack on his excellency's palace?"
The chief of police was silent, and only glanced anxiously at Baron Thugut. The latter smiled, and turned to the count:
"I beg you, my dear count, don't be angry with our worthy chief of police. I am satisfied he has done his whole duty."
"The whole house is surrounded," hastily added the chief. "Nobody can get out, and I have taken down the names of all the criminals."
"Except these here," said Thugut, pointing at Mr. Wenzel and his unfortunate companions, who vainly tried to hide themselves in their corner. "But that is unnecessary, inasmuch as they have given us their names already, and informed us of their wishes Then, sir, the whole honorable meeting of the people is caught in my house as in a mouse-trap?"
"Yes, we have got them all," said the chief. "Now, I would like to know of his excellency, the minister of police, what is to be done with them."
"I beg you, my dear count," said Thugut, turning to Count Saurau, "let me have my way in this matter, and treat these men in a spirit of hospitality. I have opened them the doors of my palace and admitted them into my presence, and it would be ungenerous not to let them depart again. Do not read the list of the names which the chief holds in his hand, but permit him to give it to me, and order him to withdraw his men from my house, and let the prisoners retire without molestation, and with all the honors of war."
"Your will shall be done, of course, your excellency," said the count, bowing respectfully. "Deliver your list to the prime minister, and go down-stairs to carry out the wishes of his excellency."
The chief delivered the list of the captured rioters, and left the room, after saluting the two dignitaries in the most respectful manner.
"And we—? may we go likewise, your excellency?" asked Mr. Wenzel, timidly.
"Yes, you may go," said Thugut. "But only on one condition. Mr. Wenzel, you must first recite to me the song which the honorable people were howling when you came here."
"Ah, your excellency, I only know a single verse by heart!"
"Well, then, let us have that verse. Out with it! I tell you, you will not leave this room until you have recited it. Never fear, however; for whatever it may be, I pledge you my word that no harm shall befall you."
"Very well," said Mr. Wenzel, desperately. "I believe the verse reads as follows:"
"'Triumph! triumph! es siegt die gute Sache! Die Turkenknechte flieh'n! Laut tont der Donner der gerechten Sache, Nach Wien und nach Berlin.'"
[Footnote: "Triumph! triumph! the good cause conquers The despots' minions flee! The thunders of the just cause Reach Vienna and Berlin!" This hymn was universally sung at that time (1797) in all the German States, not merely by the popular classes, but likewise in the exclusive circles of the aristocracy. It is found in a good many memoirs of that period.]
"Indeed, it is a very fine song," said Thugut, "and can you tell me who has taught you this song?"
"No, your excellency, I could not do it. Nobody knows it besides. It was printed on a small handbill, and circulated all over the city. A copy was thrown into every house, and the working-men, when setting out early one morning, found it in the streets."
"And did you not assist in circulating this excellent song, my dear Mr. Wenzel?"
"I? God and the Holy Virgin forbid!" exclaimed Mr. Wenzel, in dismay. "I have merely sung it, like all the rest of us, and sung it to the tune which I heard from the others."
"Well, well, you did right, for the melody is really pleasing. Such songs generally have the peculiarity that not a single word of them is true; people call that poetry. Now, you may go, my poetical Mr. Wenzel, and you others, whom the people sent with this pacific mission to me. Tell your constituents that I will this time comply mercifully with their wishes, and give them peace, that is, I will let them go, and not send them to the calaboose, as they have abundantly deserved. But if you try this game again, and get up another riot, and sing that fine song once more, you may rest assured that you will be taken to jail and taught there a most unpleasant lesson. Begone now!"
He turned his back on the trembling citizens, and took no notice of the respectful bows with which they took leave of him, whereupon they retired with soft but hasty steps, like mice escaping from the presence of the dreaded lion.
"And now, my dear count, as we have finished our breakfast, let us return to my cabinet, for I believe we have to settle some additional matters."
THE TWO MINISTERS.
Baron Thugut took the count's arm and led him back to his cabinet.
"I read a question in your eyes," he said, smiling; "may I know what it is?"
"Why, yes, your excellency," replied Count Saurau.
"Let me ask you, then, what all this means? Why did you excuse the chief of police, who evidently had not done his duty and been guilty of a lack of vigilance? And why did you let these rascals go, instead of having them whipped to death?"
"You were away from Vienna, count? You were absent from the capital because you accompanied their majesties on their trip to Presburg, and have returned only an hour ago. Am I right?"
"Perfectly right, your excellency."
"Then you could not be aware of what has happened meanwhile here in Vienna, and the chief of police could not have informed you of the particulars. Well, then, he came to me and told me that an insurrection had been planned against the two emperors—(I believe you know that the people does us the honor of calling us the two emperors of Vienna), and that the faction hostile to us was going to make an attempt to overthrow us. A great deal of money had been distributed among the populace. Prince Carl von Schwarzenburg himself had dropped some indiscreet remarks. In short, the faction which hates me because I do not deem seditious Belgium a priceless jewel of the crown of Austria, and do not advise the emperor to keep that remote province at any price—the faction which detests both of us because we do not join its enthusiastic hymns in honor of the French Republic and the republican General Bonaparte—this faction has hired the miserable rabble to represent the people, to break my windows, and frighten me sufficiently to make me ready and willing to adopt its insane policy. The chief of police came to see me yesterday. He gave me an account of the whole affair, and declared himself fully prepared to protect my palace, and to nip the riot in the bud. I begged him not to do any thing of the kind, but to look on passively and attentively, and only come to my palace after the mob had entered it. I was very anxious for once to find out something definite about the strength, courage, and importance of the opposing faction. It is always desirable to know one's adversaries, and to learn as accurately as possible what they are capable of. Besides, it was a splendid opportunity for the police to discover the sneaking demagogues and ringleaders of the mob, and to take down their names for the purpose of punishing them by and by, as we Europeans unfortunately cannot imitate the example of that blessed Queen of Egypt, who took a thousand conspirators by the tails, and, holding them in her left hand, cut off their thousand seditious heads with one stroke of the sword in her right hand. Unfortunately, we have to act by far more cautiously."
"But why did you dismiss all the rioters this time without giving them into custody?" asked the count, moodily.
"Why, we have them all by the tails, anyhow," laughed Thugut, "for have not we got the list of the names here? Ah, my dear little count, perhaps you thought I would have gone in my generosity so far as to tear this list, throw the pieces away, and avert my head, like the pious bishop who found a murderer under his bed, permitted him to escape, and averted his head in order not to see the fugitive's face and may be recognize him on some future occasion? I like to know the faces of my enemies, and to find out their names, and, depend upon it, I shall never, never forget the names I read on this list."
"But for the time being, these scoundrels, having escaped with impunity, will go home in triumph, and repeat the same game as soon as another occasion offers."
"Ah, I see you do not know the people at all! Believe me, we could not have frightened them worse than by letting them go. They are perfectly conscious of their guilt. The very idea of not having received any punishment at our hands fills them with misgivings, and they tremble every moment in the expectation that they will have to suffer yet for their crime. Remorse and fear are tormenting them, and THEY are the best instruments to rule a people with. My God, what should be done with a nation consisting of none but pure and virtuous men? It would be perfectly unassailable, while its vices and foibles are the very things by which we control it. Therefore, do not blame the people on account of its vices. I love it for the sake of them, for it is through them that I succeed in subjecting it to my will. The idea of acting upon men by appealing to their virtues, is simply preposterous. You must rely on their faults and crimes, and, owing to the latter, all these fellows whom we dismissed to-day without punishment have become our property. The discharged and unpunished criminal is a sbirro—the police has only to hand him a dagger, and tell him, 'Strike there!' and he will strike."
"Your excellency believes, then, that even the ringleaders should not be punished?"
"By no means. Of course some of them should be chastised, in order to increase the terror of the others. But for God's sake, no public trials—no public penalties! Wenzel should be secretly arrested and disposed of. Let him disappear—he and the other ringleaders who were bold enough to come up here. Let us immure them in some strong, thick-walled prison, and while the other rioters are vainly tormenting their heavy skulls by trying to guess what has become of their leaders, we shall render the latter so pliable and tame by all kinds of tortures and threats of capital punishment, that when we finally set them free again, they will actually believe they are in our debt, and in their gratitude become willing tools in our hands to be used as we may deem best."
"By the eternal, you are a great statesman, a sagacious ruler!" exclaimed Count Saurau, with the gushing enthusiasm of sincere admiration. "Men grow wise by listening to you, and happy and powerful by obeying you! I am entirely devoted to you—full of affection and veneration—and do not want to be any thing but your attentive and grateful pupil."
"Be my friend," said Thugut. "Let us pursue our career hand in hand- -let us always keep our common goal in view, and shrink back from no step in order to reach it."
"Tell me what I am to do. I shall follow you as readily as the blind man follows his guide."
"Well, if you desire it, my friend, we will consider a little how we have to steer the ship of state during the next months in order to get her safely through the breakers that are threatening her on all sides. During the few days of your absence from the capital, various events have occurred, materially altering the general state of affairs. When you departed, I advised the emperor not to make peace with France under any circumstances. We counted at that time on the regiments of grenadiers whom we had sent to the seat of war, and who, under the command of Archduke Charles, were to defend the defiles of Neumarkt against the advancing columns of the French army. We knew, besides, that the French troops were worn out, exhausted, and anxious for peace, or that General Bonaparte would not have addressed that letter to the Archduke Charles, in which he requested the latter to induce the Emperor of Austria to conclude peace with France. In accordance with our advice, the archduke had to give Bonaparte an evasive answer, informing him that, in case of further negotiations, he would have to send to Vienna for fresh instructions."
"But, your excellency, you were firmly determined not to make peace with France!"
"So I was, and even now I have not changed my mind; but we are frequently compelled to disguise our real intentions, and events have occurred, which, for the present, render peace desirable. You need not be frightened, my dear count—I merely say, for the present. In my heart I shall never make peace with France, and my purpose remains as fixed as ever—to revenge Austria one day for the humiliations we have suffered at her hands. Never forget that, my friend; and now listen to me. Late dispatches have arrived. Massena, after a bloody struggle with our troops, has taken Friesach, and advanced on the next day to attack the fresh regiments of our grenadiers in the gorges of Neumarkt. Archduke Charles had placed himself at the head of these regiments, firing the courage of the soldiers by his own heroic example. But he was confronted by the united French forces from Italy and Germany, and in the evening of that disastrous day the archduke and his grenadiers were compelled to evacuate Neumarkt, which was occupied by the victorious French. The archduke now asked the French general for a cessation of hostilities during twenty-four hours in order to gain time, for he was in hopes that this respite would enable him to bring up the corps of General von Kerpen, and then, with his united forces, drive the enemy back again. But this little General Bonaparte seems to possess a great deal of sagacity, for he rejected the request, and sent a detached column against Von Kerpen's corps, which separated the latter still farther from our main army. Bonaparte himself advanced with his forces as far as Fudenberg and Leoben. In order to save Vienna, there was but one course left to the archduke: he had to make proposals of peace."
"Did he really do so?" asked Count Saurau, breathlessly.
"He did. He sent two of our friends—Count Meerveldt, and the Marquis de Gallo—to Bonaparte's headquarters at Leoben, for the purpose of opening negotiations with him."
"Did your excellency authorize the archduke to do so?" asked the count.
"No, I did not, and I might disavow it now if it suited me, but it does not—it would not promote our interests—and I know but one policy, the policy of interest. We should always adopt those measures which afford us a reasonable prospect of gain, and discard those which may involve us in loss. Power alone is infallible, eternal, and divine, and power has now decided in favor of France. Wherefore we must yield, and don the garb of peace until we secure once more sufficient power to renew hostilities. We must make peace! Our aim, however, should be to render this peace as advantageous to Austria as possible—"
"You mean at the expense of France?"
"Bah!—at the expense of Germany, my dear little count. Germany is to compensate us for the losses which peace may inflict. If we lose any territory in Italy, why, we shall make it up in Germany, that is all."
"But in that case, there will be another terrible hue and cry about the infringement of the rights of the holy German empire," said Count Saurau, smiling; "Prussia will have a new opportunity of playing the defender of the German fatherland."
"My dear count, never mind the bombastic nonsense in which Prussia is going to indulge—we shall take good care that nothing comes of it. Prussia has no longer a Frederick the Great at her head, but the fat Frederick William the Second—"
"But his life," said the count, interrupting him, "I know for certain, will last but a few days, at best for a few weeks; for his disease, dropsy of the chest, you know, does not even respect kings."
"And when Prussia has lost her present fat king, she will have another, Frederick William—a young man twenty-seven years of age, volia tout! He is just as old as General Bonaparte, and was born in the same year as this general whose glory already fills the whole world; but of the young heir of the Prussian throne the world has heard nothing as yet, except that he has a most beautiful wife. He is not dangerous, therefore, and I hope and believe that Austria never will lack the power to humiliate and check this Prussian kingdom—this revolutionary element in the heart of the German empire. The danger, however, that threatens us now, does not come from Prussia, but from France, and especially from this General Bonaparte, who, by his glory and his wonderful battles, excites the wildest enthusiasm for the cause of the revolution, and delights the stupid masses so much that they hail him as a new messiah of liberty. Liberty, detestable word! that, like the fatal bite of the tarantula, renders men furious, and causes them to rave about in frantic dances until death strikes them down."
"This word is the talismanic charm with which Bonaparte has conquered all Italy, and transformed the Italians into insurgents and rebels against their legitimate sovereigns," said Count Saurau, mournfully.
"All Italy? Not yet, my friend. A portion of it still stands firm. The lion of St. Mark has not yet fallen."
"But he will fall. His feet are tottering already."
"Well, then, we must try to make him fall in a manner which will entitle us to a portion of the spoils. And now, my dear little count, we have reached the point which claims our immediate attention. The preliminaries of the peace have been concluded at Leoben, and until peace itself is established, we should pursue such a policy that the peace, instead of involving Austria in serious losses, will give her a chance to increase her strength and enlarge her territory. We must keep our eyes on Bavaria—for Bavaria will and must be ours as soon as a favorable opportunity offers. If France should object and refuse to let us seize our prey, why, we will be sure to revive the old quarrel about Belgium, which will render her willing and tame enough."
"But what shall we do if Prussia should support the objections of France? Shall we satisfy her, too, by giving her a piece of Germany?"
"On the contrary, we shall try to take as much as possible from her; we shall try to humiliate and isolate her, in order to deprive her of the power of injuring us. We shall endeavor so to arrange the peace we are going to conclude with France as to benefit Austria, and injure Prussia as much as we can. In the north, we shall increase our territory by the acquisition of Bavaria; in the south, by the annexation of Venice."
"By the annexation of Venice!" ejaculated Count Saurau, greatly astonished at what he had heard. "But did you not just tell me that Venice still stood firm?"
"We must bring about her fall, my dear count; that is our great task just now; for, I repeat, Venice is to compensate us on our southern frontier for our losses elsewhere. Of course, we ought to receive some substantial equivalent for ceding Belgium to France, and if it cannot be Bavaria, then let it be Venice."
"Nevertheless, I do not comprehend—"
"My dear count, if my schemes were so easily fathomed, they could not be very profound. Everybody may guess the game I am playing now; but the cards I have got in my hand must remain a secret until I have played them out, or I would run the risk of losing every thing. But this time I will let you peep into my cards, and you shall help me win the game. Venice is the stake we are playing for, my dear count, and we want to annex her to Austria. How is that to be brought about?"
"I confess, your excellency, that my limited understanding is unable to answer that question, and that I cannot conceive how a sovereign and independent state is to become an Austrian province in the absence of any claims to its territory, except by an act of open violence."
"Not exactly, my dear count. Suppose we set a mouse-trap for Venice, and catch her, like a mouse, in it? Listen to me! We must encourage Venice to determine upon open resistance against the victor of Lodi, and make war upon France."
"Ah, your excellency, I am afraid the timid signoria will not be bold enough for that, after hearing of our late defeats, and of the new victories of the French."
"Precisely. It is of the highest importance, therefore, that the signoria should hear nothing of it, but believe exactly the reverse, viz., that our troops are victorious; and this task, my friend, de- devolves upon you. Pray dispatch, at once, some reliable agents to Venice, and to other parts of the Venetian territory. Inform the signoria that the French have been defeated in the Tyrol and in Styria, and was now in the most precarious position. Through some other confidential messenger send word to Count Adam Neipperg, who, with some of our regiments occupies the southern Tyrol in close proximity to the Venetian frontier, that Venetia is ready to rise and needs his assistance, and order him to advance as far as Verona. The Venetians will look upon this advance as a confirmation of the news of our victories. The wise little mice will only smell the bait, and, in their joy, not see the trap we have set for them. They will rush into it, and we shall catch them. For a rising in Venice will be called nowadays a rebellion against France, and France will hasten to punish so terrible a crime. The Venetian Republic will he destroyed by the French Republic, and then we shall ask France to cede us Venice as a compensation for the loss of Belgium."
"By the Eternal! it is a splendid—a grand scheme!" exclaimed Count Saurau—"a scheme worthy of being planned by some great statesman. In this manner we shall conquer a new province without firing a gun, or spilling a drop of blood."
"No. Some blood will be shed," said Thugut, quietly. "But it will not be Austrian blood—it will be the blood of the Venetian insurgents whom we instigate to rise in arms. This bloodshed will glue them firmly to us, for no cement is more tenacious than blood. And now, my dear count, as you know and approve of my plans, I pray you to carry them out as rapidly as possible. Dispatch your agents without delay to Venice and to the Tyrol. We have no time to lose, for the preliminaries of Leoben only extend to the eighteenth of April, and until then Venice must have become a ripe fruit, which, in the absence of hands to pluck it, will spontaneously fall to the ground."
"In the course of an hour, your excellency, I shall have executed your orders, and my most skilful spies and agents will be on their road."
"Whom are you going to send to the Venetian signoria? "
"The best confidential agent I have—Anthony Schulmeister."
"Oh, I know him; he has often served me, and is very adroit, indeed. But do not forget to pay him well in order to be sure of his fidelity, for fortunately he has a failing which renders it easy for us to control him. He is exceedingly covetous, and has a pretty wife who spends a great deal of money. Pay him well, therefore, and he will do us good service. And now, farewell, my dear count. I believe we understand each other perfectly, and know what we have to do."
"I have found out once more that the Austrian ship of state is in the hands of a man who knows how to steer and guide her, as no other ruler does," said Count Saurau, who rose and took his hat.
"I have inherited this talent, perhaps, my dear count. My father, the ship-builder, taught me all about the management of ships. Addio, caro amico mio."
They cordially shook hands, and Count Saurau, with a face radiant with admiration and affection, withdrew from the cabinet of the prime minister. A smile still played on his features when the footman in the anteroom assisted him in putting on his cloak, whereupon he rapidly descended the magnificent marble staircase which an hour ago had been desecrated by the broad and clumsy feet of the populace. But when the door of his carriage had closed behind him, and no prying eyes, no listening ears were watching him any longer, his smile disappeared as if by magic, and savage imprecations burst from his lips.
"Intolerable arrogance! Revolting insolence!" said he, angrily. "He thinks he can play the despot, and treat all of us—even myself— worse than slaves. He dares to call me 'his little count!' His little count! Ah, I shall prove to this ship-builder's son one day that little Count Saurau is, after all, a greater man than our overbearing and conceited prime minister. But patience, patience! My day will come. And on that day I shall hurl little Thugut from his eminent position!"
THE HOUSE IN THE GUMPENDORFER SUBURB.
Vienna was really terribly frightened by the near approach of the French army, and the conviction of their dangerous position had excited the people so fearfully that the Viennese, generally noted for their peaceful and submissive disposition, had committed an open riot—for the sole purpose, however, of compelling the all-powerful prime minister to make peace with France. Archduke Charles had been defeated—the emperor had fled to Hungary.
None of all these disastrous tidings had disturbed the inmates of a small house on the outskirts of the Gumpendorfer suburb, in close proximity to the Mariahilf line. This little house was a perfect image of peace and tranquillity. It stood in the centre of a small garden which showed the first tender blossoms of returning spring on its neatly arranged beds. Dense shrubbery covered the white walls of the house with evergreen verdure. Curtains as white and dazzling as fresh snow, and, between them, flower-pots filled with luxuriant plants, might be seen behind the glittering window-panes. Although there was nothing very peculiar about the house, which had but two stories, yet nobody passed by without looking up to the windows with a reverential and inquisitive air, and he who only thought he could discover behind the panes the fugitive shadow of a human being, made at once a deep and respectful bow, and a proud and happy smile overspread his features.
And still, we repeat, there was nothing very peculiar about the house. Its outside was plain and modest, and the inside was equally so. The most profound silence prevailed in the small hall, the floor of which had been sprinkled with fresh white sand. A large spotted cat—truly beautiful animal—lay not far from the front door on a soft, white cushion, and played gracefully and gently with the ball of white yarn that had just fallen from the woman sitting at the window while she was eagerly engaged in knitting. This woman, in her plain and unassuming dress, seemed to be a servant of the house, but at all events a servant in whom entire confidence was reposed, as was indicated by the large bunch of keys, such as the lady of the house or a trusted housekeeper will carry, which hung at her side. An expression of serene calmness rendered her venerable features quite attractive, and a graceful smile played on her thin and bloodless lips as she now dropped her knitting upon her lap, and, with her body bent forward, commenced watching the merry play of the cat on the cushion. Suddenly the silence was interrupted by a loud and shrill scream, and a very strange-sounding voice uttered a few incoherent words in English. At the same time a door was opened hastily, and another woman appeared—just as old, just as kind- looking, and with as mild and serene features as the one we have just described. Her more refined appearance, however, her handsome dress, her beautiful cap, her well-powdered toupet, and the massive gold chain encircling her neck, indicated that she was no servant, but the lady of the house.
However, peculiarly pleasant relations seemed to prevail between the mistress and the servant, for the appearance of the lady did not cause the latter to interrupt her merry play with the cat; and the mistress, on her part, evidently did not consider it strange or disrespectful, but quietly approached her servant.
"Catharine," she said, "just listen how that abominable bird, Paperl, screams again to-day. I am sure the noise will disturb the doctor, who is at work already."
"Yes, Paperl is an intolerable nuisance," sighed Catharine. "I cannot comprehend why the Kapellmeister—I was going to say the doctor—likes the bird so well, and why he has brought it along from England. Yes, if Paperl could sing, in that case it would not be strange if the Ka—, I mean the doctor, had grown fond of the bird. But no, Paperl merely jabbers a few broken words which no good Christian is able to understand."
"He who speaks English can understand it well enough, Catharine, "said the lady, "for the bird talks English, and in that respect Paperl knows more than either of us."
"But Paperl cannot talk German, and I think that our language, especially our dear Viennese dialect, sounds by far better than that horrid English. I don't know why the doctor likes the abominable noise, and why he suffers the bird to disturb his quiet by these outrageous screams."
"I know it well enough, Catharine," said the doctor's wife, with a gentle smile. "The parrot reminds my husband of his voyage to England, and of all the glory and honor that were showered upon him there."
"Well, as far as that is concerned, I should think it was entirely unnecessary for my master to make a trip to England," exclaimed Catharine. "He has not returned a more famous man than he was already when he went away. The English were unable to add to his glory, for he was already the most celebrated man in the whole world when he went there, and if that had not been the case, they would not have invited him to come and perform his beautiful music before them, for then they would not have known that he is such a splendid musician."
"But they were delighted to see him, Catharine, and I tell you they have perfectly overwhelmed him with honors. Every day they gave him festivals, and even the king and queen urged him frequently to take up his abode in England. The queen promised him splendid apartments in Windsor Castle, and a large salary, and in return my husband was to do nothing but to perform every day for an hour or so before her majesty, or sing with her. Nevertheless, he had the courage to refuse the brilliant offers of the king and queen, and do you know, Catharine, why he rejected them?"
Catharine knew it well enough; she had frequently heard the story from her mistress during the two years since the doctor had returned from England, but she was aware that the lady liked to repeat it, and she liked it very much, too, to hear people talk about her beloved master's fame and glory, having faithfully served him already for more than twenty years. Hence she said, with a kind- hearted smile:
"No, indeed, I don't know it, and I cannot comprehend why the doctor said no to the king and queen of England."
"He did so for my sake, Catharine!" said the lady, and an expression of joyful pride shed a lustre of beauty and tenderness over her kind old face. "Yes, I tell you, it was solely for my sake that my husband came home again. 'Remain with us!' said the king to him. 'You shall have every thing the queen has offered you. You shall live at Windsor, and sing once a day with the queen. Of you, my dear doctor, I shall not be jealous, for you are an excellent and honest German gentleman.' And when the king had told him that, my husband bowed respectfully, and replied: 'Your majesty, it is my highest pride to maintain this reputation. But just because I am an honest German, I must tell you that I cannot stay here—I cannot leave my country and my wife forever!'"
"'Oh, as far as that is concerned,' exclaimed the king, 'we shall send for your wife. She shall live with you at Windsor.' But my husband laughed and said: 'She will never come, your majesty. She would not cross the Danube in a skiff, much less make a trip beyond the sea. And, therefore, there is nothing left to me but to return myself to my little wife.' And he did so, and left the king, and the queen, and all the noble lords and ladies, and came back to Vienna, and to his little wife. Say, Catharine, was not that well done of him?"
"Of course it was," said Catharine; "the fact was, our good doctor loved his wife better than the queen, and all the high born people who treated him so well in England. And, besides, he knew that people hereabouts treat him with as much deference as over there, and that if he only desired it, he could hold daily intercourse with the emperor, the princes, and the highest dignitaries in the country. But he does not care for it. The fact is, our master is by far too modest; he is always so quiet and unassuming, that nobody, unless they knew him, would believe for a single moment that he is so far-famed a man; and then he dresses so plainly, while he might deck himself with all the diamond rings and breast-pins, the splendid watches and chains, which the various sovereigns have given to him. But all these fine things he keeps shut up in his desk, and constantly wears the old silver watch which he has had already God knows how long!"
"Why, Catharine, that was the wedding-present I gave him," said the good wife, proudly; "and just for that reason my husband wears it all the time, although he has watches by far more beautiful and valuable. At the time I gave him that watch, both of us were very poor. He was a young music-teacher, and I was a hairdresser's daughter. He lived in a small room in my father's house, and as he often could not pay the rent, he gave me every day a lesson on the piano. But in those lessons, I did not only learn music—I learned to love him, too. He asked me to become his wife, and on our wedding-day, I gave him the silver watch, and that is just the reason why he wears it all the time, although he has by far better ones. His wife's present is more precious to him than what kings and emperors have given to him."
"But he might wear at least a nice gold chain to it," said Catharine. "Why, I am sure he has no less than a dozen of them. But he never wears one of them, not even the other day when the Princess Esterhazy called for him with her carriage to drive with him to the emperor. The doctor wore on that occasion only a plain blue ribbon, on which his own name was embroidered in silver."
"Well, there is a story to that ribbon," said the mistress, thoughtfully. "My husband brought it likewise from Loudon, and he got it there on one of his proudest days. I did not know the story myself, for you are aware my husband is always so modest, and never talks about his great triumphs in Loudon, and I would not have learned any thing about the ribbon if he had not worn it the other day when he accompanied the princess to the emperor. Ah, Catharine, it is a very beautiful and touching story!"
Catharine did not know this story at all; hence she asked her mistress with more than usual animation to tell her all about the ribbon.
The doctor's wife assented readily. She sat down on a chair at Catharine's side, and looked with a pleasant smile at the cat who had come up to her, and, purring comfortably, lay down on the hem of her dress.
"Yes," said she, "the story of that ribbon is quite touching, and I do not know really, Catharine, but I will have to shed a few tears while telling it. It was in Loudon, when my husband had just returned from Oxford, where the university had conferred upon him the title of Doctor of—"
"Yes, yes, I know," grumbled Catharine, "that is the reason why we now have to call him doctor, which does not sound near as imposing and distinguished as our master's former title of Kapellmeister."
"But then it is a very high honor to obtain the title of doctor of music in England, Catharine. The great composer Handel lived thirty years in England without receiving it, and my husband had not been there but a few months when they conferred the title upon him. Well, then, on the day after his return from Oxford, he was invited to the house of a gentleman of high rank and great wealth, who gave him a brilliant party. A large number of ladies and gentlemen were present, and when my husband appeared among them they rose and bowed as respectfully as though he were a king. When the doctor had returned the compliment, he perceived that every lady in the room wore in her hair a ribbon of blue silk, on which his name had been embroidered in silver. His host wore the same name in silver beads on his coat-facings, so that he looked precisely as if he were my husband's servant, and dressed in his livery. Oh, it was a splendid festival which Mr. Shaw—that was the gentleman's name—gave him on that day. At length Mr. Shaw asked the doctor to give him a souvenir, whereupon he presented him with a snuff-box he had purchased in the course of the day for a few shillings; and when my husband requested the lady of the house, whom he pronounces the most beautiful woman on earth, to give him likewise a souvenir; Mrs. Shaw thereupon took the ribbon from her head and handed it to him; and my husband pressed it to his lips, and assured her he would always wear that ribbon on the most solemn occasions. You see, Catharine, he keeps his promise religiously, for he wore the ribbon the other day when he was called to the imperial palace. But my story is not finished yet. Your master called a few days after that party on Mr. Shaw, when the latter showed him the snuff-box he had received from my husband. It was enclosed in a handsome silver case, a beautiful lyre was engraved on the lid, with an inscription stating that my great and illustrious husband had given him the box. [Footnote: The inscription was: "Ex dono celeberrimi Josephi Haydn."] How do you like my story, Catharine?"
"Oh, it is beautiful," said the old servant, thoughtfully; "only, what you said about that beautiful Mrs. Shaw did not exactly please me. I am sure the doctor got the parrot also from her, and for that reason likes the bird so well, although it screeches so horribly, and doubtless disturbs him often in his studies."
"Yes, he got the bird from Mrs. Shaw," replied her mistress, with a smile. "She taught Paperl to whistle three airs from my husband's finest quartets, singing and whistling the music to the bird every day during three or four weeks for several hours, until Paperl could imitate them; and when my husband took leave of her, she gave him the parrot."
"But the bird never whistles the tunes any more. I have only heard Paperl do it once, and that was on the day after the doctor's return from England." "I know the reason why. The bird hears here every day so much music, and so many new melodies which the doctor plays on his piano, that its head has grown quite confused, and poor Paperl has forgotten its tunes."
"It has not forgotten its English words, though," murmured Catharine. "What may be the meaning of these words which the bird is screaming all the time?"
"That beautiful Mrs. Shaw taught Paperl to pronounce them, Catharine. I do not know their precise meaning, but they commence as follows: 'Forget me not, forget me not—' Good Heaven! the bird has commenced screaming again. I am sure it has not had any sugar to- day. Where is Conrad? He ought to attend to the bird."
"He has gone down town. The doctor has given him several errands."
"Good Heaven! the screams are almost intolerable. Go, Catharine, and give poor Paperl a piece of sugar."
"I dare not, madame; it always snaps at me with its abominable beak, and if the chain did not prevent it from attacking me, it would scratch out my eyes."
"I am afraid of it, too," said the lady, anxiously; "nevertheless we cannot permit the bird to go on in this manner. Just listen to it— it is yelling as though it were going to be roasted. It will disturb my husband, and you know the doctor is composing a new piece. Come, Catharine, we must quiet the bird. I will give him the sugar."
"And I shall take my knitting-needles along, and if it should try to bite, I will hit it on the beak. Let us go now, madame."
And the two women walked boldly across the anteroom, toward the door of the small parlor, in order to commence the campaign against the parrot. The cat followed them gravely and solemnly, and with an air as though it had taken the liveliest interest in the conversation, and thought it might greatly assist them in pacifying the screaming bird.
While the parrot's screams had rendered the mistress and her maid so uneasy, the most profound stillness and quiet reigned in the upper rooms of the little house. Not a sound interrupted the silence of this small, elegantly-furnished sitting-room. Even the sun apparently dared only to send a few stealthy beams through the windows, and the wind seemed to hold its breath in order not to shake the panes of the small chamber adjoining, venerated by all the inmates of the house as a sacred temple of art.
In this small chamber, in this temple of art, a gentleman, apparently engaged in reading, was seated at a table covered with papers and music-books, close to an open piano. He was no longer young; on the contrary, beholding only the thin white hair hanging down on his expansive and wrinkled forehead, and his stooping form, it became evident that he was an old man, nearly seventy years of age. But as soon as he raised his eyes from the paper, as soon as he turned them toward heaven with an air of blissful enthusiasm, the fire of eternal youth and radiant joyousness burst forth from those eyes; and whatever the white hair, the wrinkled forehead, the furrowed cheeks and the stooping form might tell of the long years of his life, those eyes were full of youthful ardor and strength— only the body of this white haired man was old; in his soul he had remained young—a youth of fervid imagination, procreative power, and nervous activity.
This venerable man with the soul, the heart, and the eyes of a youth, was Joseph Haydn, the great composer, whose glory, even at that time, filled the whole world, although he had not yet written his greatest masterpieces—the "Creation" and the "Seasons."
He was working to-day at the "Creation." [Footnote: Haydn commenced the "Creation" in 1797, and finished it in April, 1798.] The poem, which had been sent to him from England, and which his worthy friend Von Swieten had translated into German, lay before him. He had read it again and again, and gradually it seemed as if the words were transformed into music; gradually he heard whispering—low at first, then louder, and more sublime and majestic—the jubilant choirs of heaven and earth, that were to resound in his "Creation."
As yet he had not written a single note; he had only read the poem, and composed in reading, and inwardly weighed and tried the sublime melodies which, when reduced to time and measure, and combined into an harmonious whole, were to form the new immortal work of his genius. While thus reading and composing, the aged musician was transformed more and more into a youth, and the glowing enthusiasm which burst forth from his eyes became every moment more radiant, surrounding his massive forehead with a halo of inspiration, and shedding the purple lustre of ecstatic joy upon his furrowed cheeks.
"Yes, yes, it will do. I shall succeed!" he exclaimed suddenly, in a loud and full voice. "God will give me the strength to complete this work; but it must be commenced with Him—strength and inspiration come from Him alone!"
And Joseph Haydn, perhaps not quite conscious of what he was doing, knelt down and with folded hands, and beaming eyes lifted up to heaven, he prayed: "O, Lord God, give me Thy blessing and Thy strength, that I may gloriously and successfully carry out this work, which praiseth Thee and Thy creation. Breathe Thy Holy Spirit into the words which Thou speakest in my work. Speak through me to Thy creatures, and let my music be Thy language!"
He paused, but remaining on his knees, continued to look up to heaven. Then he rose slowly, and like a seer or a somnambulist, with eyes opened but seeing nothing, he went to his piano without knowing what he was doing. He sat down on the stool, and did not know it; his hands touched the keys and drew magnificent chords from them, and he did not hear them. He only heard the thousands of seraphic voices which in his breast chanted sublime anthems; he only heard the praise of his own winged soul which, in divine ecstasy, soared far into the realm of eternal harmonies.
Louder and louder rolled the music he drew from the keys; now it burst forth into a tremendous jubilee, then again it died away in melancholy complaints and gentle whispers, and again it broke out into a swelling, thundering anthem.
At length Haydn concluded with a sonorous and brilliant passage, and then with youthful agility jumped up from his seat.
"That was the prelude," he said, aloud, "and now we will go to work."
He hastily threw the white and comfortable dressing-gown from his shoulders and rapidly walked toward the looking-glass which hung over the bureau. Every thing was ready for his toilet, the footman having carefully arranged the whole. He put the cravat with lace trimmings around his neck and arranged the tie before the looking- glass in the most artistic manner; then he slipped into the long waistcoat of silver-lined velvet, and finally put on the long-tailed brown coat with bright metal buttons. He was just going to put the heavy silver watch, which his wife had given him on their wedding- day, into his vest-pocket, when his eye fell upon the blue ribbon embroidered with silver, which, ever since his visit to the imperial palace, had lain on the bureau.
"I will wear it on this holiday of mine," said Haydn, with great warmth, "for I think the day on which a new work is begun is a holiday, and we ought to wear our choicest ornaments to celebrate it."
He attached the ribbon to his watch, threw it over his neck, and slipped the watch into his vest-pocket.
"If that beautiful Mrs. Shaw could see me now," he whispered, almost inaudibly, "how her magnificent eyes would sparkle, and what a heavenly smile would animate her angelic features! Yes, yes, I will remember her smile—it shall find an echo in the jubilant accords of my Creation. But let us begin—let us begin!"
He rapidly walked toward his desk, but stopped suddenly. "Hold on!" said he; "I really forgot the most important thing—my ring. While looking at the precious ribbon of my beautiful English friend, I did not think of the ring of my great king—and still it is the talisman without which I cannot work at all."
Returning once, more to the bureau, he opened a small case and took from it a ring which he put on his finger. He contemplated the large and brilliant diamonds of the ring with undisguised admiration.
"Yes," he exclaimed—"yes, thou art my talisman, and when I look at thee, it seems to me as if I saw the eyes of the great king beaming down upon me, and pouring courage and enthusiasm into my heart. That is the reason, too, why I cannot work unless I have the ring on my finger. [Footnote: Haydn had dedicated six quartets to Frederick the Great, who acknowledged the compliment by sending him a valuable diamond ring. Haydn wore this ring whenever he composed a new work, and it seemed to him as though inspiration failed him unless he wore the ring. He stated this on many occasions.] But now I am ready and adorned like a bridegroom who is going to his young bride. Yes, yes, it is just so with me. I am going to my bride—to St. Cecilia!"
When he now returned to his desk, his features assumed a grave and solemn expression. He sat down once more at the piano and played an anthem, then he resumed his seat at the desk, took a sheet of music- paper and commenced writing. He wielded his pen with the utmost rapidity, and covered page after page with the queer little dots and dashes which we call notes.
And Haydn's eyes flashed and his cheeks glowed, and a heavenly smile played on his lips while he was writing. But all of a sudden his pen stopped, and a slight cloud settled on his brow. Some passage, may be a modulation, had displeased him, in what he had just composed, for he glanced over the last few lines and shook his head. He looked down sadly and dropped the pen.
"Help me, O Lord God—help me!" he exclaimed, and hastily seized the rosary which always lay on his desk, "Help me!" he muttered once more, and, while hurriedly pacing the room, he slipped the beads of the rosary through his fingers and whispered an Ave Maria.
His prayer seemed to have the desired effect, for the cloud disappeared from his forehead, and his eyes beamed again with the fervor of inspiration. He resumed his seat and wrote on with renewed energy. A holy peace now settled on his serene features, and reigned around him in the silent little cabinet.
But all at once this peaceful stillness was interrupted by a loud noise resounding from below. Vociferous lamentations were heard, and heavy footsteps ascended the staircase.
Haydn, however, did not hear any thing—his genius was soaring far away in the realm of inspiration, and divine harmonies still enchanted his ears.
But now the door of the small parlor was opened violently, and his wife, with a face deadly pale and depicting the liveliest anxiety, rushed into the room. Catharine and Conrad, the aged footman, appeared behind her, while the cat slipped in with her mistress, and the parrot ejaculated the most frantic and piercing screams.
Haydn started in dismay from his seat and stared at his wife without being able to utter a single word. It was something unheard of for him to be disturbed by his wife during his working hours, hence he very naturally concluded that something unusual, something really terrible must have occurred, and the frightened looks of his wife, the pale faces of his servants, plainly told him that he was not mistaken.
"Oh, husband—poor, dear husband!" wailed his wife, "pack up your papers, the time for working and composing is past. Conrad has brought the most dreadful tidings from the city. We are all lost!— Vienna is lost! Oh, dear, dear! it is awful, and I tell you I am almost frightened out of my senses!"