Part 1 out of 11
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An HISTORICAL NOVEL
by Lousia Muhlbach
II The Emperor Francis
III The Courier and the Ambassador
IV The Emperor and his Brothers
V The Performance of "The Creation"
VI Andreas Hofer
VII Andreas Hofer at the Theatre
VIII Consecration of the Flags, and Farewell
IX Tis Time!
X Anthony Wallner of Windisch-Matrey
XI The Declaration of Love
XIII The Bridegroom
XIV The Bridge of St. Lawrence
XV The Bridge of Laditch
XVI On the Sterzinger Moos
XVII The Hay-Wagons
XVIII Capture of Innspruck
XIX The Capitulation of Wiltau
XX Eliza Wallner's Return
XXI The Catastrophe
XXII Eliza and Ulrich
XXIII The Triumph of Death
XXIV The Archduke John at Comorn
XXV The Emperor Francis at Wolkersdorf
XXVI The Reply of the King of Prussia
XXVII The Battle of Wagram
XXVIII The Armistice of Znaym
XXIX Hofer and Speckbacher
XXX The Capuchin's Oath
XXXI The First Battle
XXXII The Fifteenth of August at Innspruck
XXXIII Andreas Hofer, the Emperor's Lieutenant
XXXIV The Fifteenth of August at Comorn
XXXV A Day of the Emperor's Lieutenant
XXXVI The Lovers
XXXVII Elza's Return
XXXVIII The Wedding
XXXIX The Treaty of Peace
XL Dreadful Tidings
XLI Betrayal and Seizure of Hofer
XLII The Warning
XLIII The Flight
XLIV Andreas Hofer's Death
The year 1809 had come; but the war against France, so intensely
longed for by all Austria, had not yet broken out, and the people
and the army were vainly waiting for the war-cry of their sovereign,
the Emperor Francis. It is true, not a few great things bad been
accomplished in the course of the past year: Austria had armed,
organized the militia, strengthened her fortresses, and filled her
magazines; but the emperor still hesitated to take the last and most
decisive step by crowning his military preparations with a formal
declaration of war.
No one looked for this declaration of war more intensely than the
emperor's second brother, the Archduke John, a young man of scarcely
twenty-seven. He had been the soul of all the preparations which,
since the summer of 1808, had been made throughout Austria; he had
conceived the plan of organizing the militia and the reserves; and
had drawn up the proclamation of the 12th of May, 1808, by which all
able-bodied Austrians were called upon to take up arms. But this
exhausted his powers; he could organize the army, but could not say
to it, "Take the field against the enemy!" The emperor alone could
utter this word, and he was silent.
"And he will be silent until the favorable moment has passed,"
sighed the Archduke John, when, on returning from a very long
interview with the emperor, he was alone with his friend, General
Nugent, in his cabinet.
He had communicated to this confidant the full details of his
interview with the emperor, and concluded his report by saying, with
a deep sigh, "The emperor will be silent until the favorable moment
Count Nugent gazed with a look of heart-felt sympathy into the
archduke's mournful face; he saw the tears filling John's large blue
eyes; he saw that he firmly compressed his lips as if to stifle a
cry of pain or rage, and that he clinched his hands in the agony of
his despair. Animated by tender compassion, the general approached
the archduke, who had sunk into a chair, and laid his hand gently on
his shoulder. "Courage, courage!" he whispered; "nothing is lost as
yet, and your imperial highness--"
"Ah, why do you address me with `imperial highness'?" cried the
archduke, almost indignantly. "Do you not see, then, that this is a
miserable title by which Fate seems to mock me, and which it
thunders constantly, and, as it were, sneeringly into my ears, in
order to remind me again and again of my deplorable powerlessness?
There is nothing 'imperial' about me but the yoke under which I am
groaning; and my `highness' is to be compared only with the crumbs
of Lazarus which fell from the rich man's table. And yet there are
persons, Nugent, who envy me these crumbs--men who think it a
brilliant and glorious lot to be an 'imperial highness,' the brother
of a sovereign emperor! Ah, they do not know that this title means
only that I am doomed to everlasting dependence and silence, and
that the emperor's valet de chambre and his private secretary are
more influential men than the Archduke John, who cannot do anything
but submit, be silent, and look on in idleness."
"Now your imperial highness slanders yourself," exclaimed Count
Nugent. "You have not been silent, you have not looked on in
idleness, but have worked incessantly and courageously for the
salvation of your people and your country. Who drew up the original
plan for the organization of the militia and the reserves? Who
elaborated its most minute details with admirable sagacity? It was
the Archduke John--the archduke in whom all Austria hopes, and who
is the last refuge and comfort of all patriots!"
"Ah, how much all of you are to be pitied, my friend, if you hope in
me!" sighed John. "What am I, then? A poor atom which is allowed to
move in the glare of the imperial sun, but which would be
annihilated so soon as it should presume to be an independent
luminary. Pray, Nugent, do not speak of such hopes; for, if the
emperor should hear of it, not only would my liberty be endangered,
but also yours and that of all who are of your opinion. The emperor
does not like to see the eyes of his subjects fixed upon me; every
kind word uttered about me sours him and increases the ill-will with
which he regards me."
"That is impossible, your highness," exclaimed the count. "How can
our excellent emperor help loving his brother, who is so gifted, so
high-minded and learned, and withal so modest and kind-hearted? How
can he help being happy to see that others love and appreciate him
"Does the emperor love my brother Charles, who is much more gifted
and high-minded than I am?" asked John, shrugging his shoulders.
"Did he not arrest his victorious career, and recall him from the
army, although, or rather BECAUSE, he knew that the army idolized
him, and that all Austria loved him and hoped in him? Ah, believe
me, the emperor is distrustful of all his brothers, and all our
protestations of love and devotedness do not touch him, but rebound
powerlessly from the armor of jealousy with which he has steeled his
heart against us. You see, I tell you all this with perfect
composure, but I confess it cost me once many tears and inward
struggles, and it was long before my heart became calm and resigned.
My heart long yearned for love, confidence, and friendship. I have
got over these yearnings now, and resigned myself to be lonely, and
remain so all my life long. That is to say," added the archduke,
with a gentle smile, holding out his hand to the count, "lonely,
without a sister, without a brother--lonely in my family. However, I
have found a most delightful compensation for this loneliness, for I
call you and Hormayr friends; I have my books, which always comfort,
divert, and amuse me; and last, I have my great and glorious hopes
regarding the future of the fatherland. Ah, how could I say that I
was poor and lonely when I am so rich in hopes, and have two noble
and faithful friends? I am sure, Nugent, you will never desert me,
but stand by me to the end--to the great day of victory, or to the
end of our humiliation and disgrace?"
"Your imperial highness knows full well that my heart will never
turn from you; that I love and revere you; that you are to me the
embodiment of all that is noble, great, and beautiful; that I would
be joyfully ready at any hour to suffer death for you; and that
neither prosperity nor adversity could induce me to forsake you. You
are the hope of my heart, you are the hope of my country--nay, the
hope of all Germany. We all need your assistance, your heart, your
arm; for we expect that you will place yourself at the head of
Germany, and lead us to glorious victories!"
"God grant that the hour when we shall take the field may soon come!
Then, my friend, I shall prove that I am ready, like all of you, to
shed my heart's blood for the fatherland, and conquer or die for the
liberty of Austria, the liberty of Germany. For in the present state
of affairs the fate of Germany, too, depends on the success of our
arms. If we succumb and have to submit to the same humiliations as
Prussia, the whole of Germany will be but a French province, and the
freedom and independence of our fatherland will be destroyed for
long years to come. I am too weak to survive such a disgrace. If
Austria falls, I shall fall too; if German liberty dies, I shall die
too." [Footnote: The Archduke John's own words.--See "Forty-eight
Letters from Archduke John of Austria to Johannes von Muller," p.
"German liberty will not die!" exclaimed Count Nugent,
enthusiastically; "it will take the field one day against all the
powerful and petty tyrants of the fatherland. Then it will choose
the Archduke John its general-in-chief, and he will lead it to
"No, no, my friend," said John, mournfully; "Fate refuses to let me
play a decisive part in the history of the world. My role will
always be but a secondary one; my will will always be impeded, my
arm will be paralyzed forever. You know it. You know that I am
constantly surrounded by secret spies and eavesdroppers, who watch
me with lynx-eyed mistrust and misrepresent every step I take. It
was always so, and will remain so until I die or become a decrepit
old man, whose arm is no longer able to wield the sword or even the
pen. That I am young, that I have a heart for the sufferings of my
country, a heart not only for the honor of Austria, but for that of
Germany--that is what gives umbrage to them, what renders me
suspicious in their eyes, and causes them to regard me as a
revolutionist. I had to suffer a good deal for my convictions; a
great many obstacles were raised against all my plans; and yet I
desired only to contribute to the welfare of the whole; I demanded
nothing for myself, but every thing for the fatherland. To the
fatherland I wished to devote my blood and my life; for the
fatherland I wished to conquer in the disastrous campaign of 1805.
However, such were not the plans of my adversaries; they did not
wish to carry on the war with sufficient energy and perseverance;
they would not give my brother Charles and me an opportunity to
distinguish ourselves and gain a popular name. Whenever I planned a
vigorous attack, I was not permitted to carry it into effect.
Whenever, with my corps, I might have exerted a decisive influence
upon the fortunes of the war, I was ordered to retreat with my
troops to some distant position of no importance whatever; and when
I remonstrated, they charged me with rebelling against the emperor's
authority. Ah, I suffered a great deal in those days, and the wounds
which my heart received at that juncture are bleeding yet. I had to
succumb, when the men who had commenced the war at a highly
unfavorable time, conducted it at an equally unfavorable moment, and
made peace. And by that peace Austria lost her most loyal province,
the beautiful Tyrol, one of the oldest states of the Hapsburgs; and
her most fertile province, the territory of Venetia and Dalmatia,
for which I did not grieve so much, because it always was a source
of political dissensions and quarrels for the hereditary provinces
of Austria. What afflicted me most sorely was the loss of the Tyrol,
and even now I cannot think of it without the most profound emotion.
It seemed as though Fate were bent on blotting out from our memory
all that might remind us of our ancestors, their virtues, their
patriotism, and their perseverance in the days of universal
adversity; and as though, in consequence of this, the spirit, of the
Hapsburgs had almost become extinct, and we were to lose all that
they bad gained in the days of their greatness. [Footnote: John's
own words.--See "Forty-eight Letters from Archduke John to Johannes
von Muller," p. 103.] But now Fate is willing to give us another
opportunity to repair our faults and show that we are worthy of our
ancestors. If we allow this to pass too, all is lost, not only the
throne of the Hapsburgs, but also their honor!"
"This opportunity will not pass!" exclaimed the count. "The throne
of the Hapsburgs will be preserved, for it is protected by the
Archdukes John and Charles, a brave army that is eager for a war
with France, and a faithful, intrepid people, which is sincerely
devoted to its imperial dynasty, which never will acknowledge
another ruler, and which never will desert its Hapsburgs."
"Yes, the people will not desert us," said John, "but worse things
may happen; we may desert ourselves. Just look around, Nugent, and
see how lame we have suddenly become again; how we have all at once
stopped half way, unable to decide whether it might not be better
for us to lay down our arms again and surrender at discretion to the
Emperor of the French."
"Fortunately, it is too late now to take such a resolution; for
Austria has already gone so far that a hesitating policy at this
juncture will no longer succeed in pacifying the Emperor of the
French. And it is owing to the efforts of your imperial highness
that it is so; we are indebted for it to your zeal, your energy, and
your enthusiasm for the good cause, which is now no longer the cause
of Austria, but that of Germany. And this cause will not succumb;
God will not allow a great and noble people to be trampled under
foot by a foreign tyrant, who bids defiance to the most sacred
treaties and the law of nations, and who would like to overthrow all
thrones to convert the foreign kingdoms and empires into provinces
of his empire, blot out the history of the nations and dynasties,
and have all engulfed by his universal monarchy."
"God may not decree this, but He may perhaps allow it if the will of
the nations and the princes should not be strong enough to set
bounds to such mischief. When the feeling of liberty and
independence does not incite the nations to rise enthusiastically
and defend their rights, God sends them a tyrant as a scourge to
chastise them. And such, I am afraid, is our case. Germany has lost
faith in herself, in her honor; she lies exhausted at the feet of
the tyrant, and is ready to be trampled in the dust by him. Just
look around in our German fatherland. What do you see there? All the
sovereign princes have renounced their independence, and become
Napoleon's vassals; they obey his will, they submit to his orders,
and send their armies not against the enemy of Germany, but against
the enemies of France, no matter whether those enemies are their
German brethren or not. The German princes have formed the
Confederation of the Rhine, and the object of this confederation is
not to preserve the frontier of the Rhine to Germany, but to secure
the Rhine to France. The German princes are begging for honors and
territories at the court of Napoleon; they do not shrink from
manifesting their fealty to their master, the Emperor of the French,
by betraying the interests of Germany; they are playing here at
Vienna the part of the meanest spies; they are watching all our
steps, and are shameless enough to have the Emperor Napoleon reward
their infamy by conferring royal titles on them, and to accept at
his hands German territories which he took from German princes.
Bavaria did not disdain to aggrandize her territories at our
expense; Wurtemberg accepts without blushing the territories of
other German princes at the bands of Napoleon, who thus rewards her
for the incessant warnings by which the King of Wurtemberg urges the
Emperor of the French to be on his guard against Austria, and always
distrust the intentions of the Emperor Francis. [Footnote:
Schlosser, "History of the Eighteenth Century," vol. vii., p. 488.]
In the middle of the German empire we see a new French kingdom;
Westphalia, established by Napoleon's orders; it is formed of the
spoils taken from Prussia and Hanover; and the German princes suffer
it, and the German people bow their heads, silently to the
disgraceful foreign yoke! Ah, Nugent, my heart is full of grief and
anger, full of the bitterness of despair; for I have lost faith in
Germany, and see shudderingly that she will decay and die, as Poland
died, of her own weakness. Ah, it would be dreadful, dreadful, if we
too, had to fall, as the unfortunate Kosciusko did, with the
despairing cry of 'Finis Germaniae!'"
"No, that will never happen!" cried Nugent. "No, Germany will never
endure the disgrace and debasement of Poland; she will never sink to
ruin and perish like Poland. It is true, a majority of the German
princes bow to Napoleon's power, and we may charge them with
infidelity and treason against Germany; but we can not prefer the
same charge against the German people and the subjects of the
traitorous German princes. They have remained faithful, and have not
yet lost faith in their fatherland. They are indignantly champing
the bit with which their despots have shut their mouth; and, in
silence, harmony, and confidence in God, they are preparing for the
great hour when they will rise, for the sacred day when they will
break their shackles with the divine strength of a united and high-
minded people. Everywhere the embers are smouldering under the
ashes; everywhere secret societies and leagues have been formed;
everywhere there are conspirators, depots of arms, and passwords;
everywhere the people of Germany are waiting only for the moment
when they are to strike the first blow, and for the signal to rise.
And they are in hopes now that Austria will give the signal. Our
preparations for war have been hailed with exultation throughout
Germany: everywhere the people are ready to take up arms so soon as
Austria draws the sword. The example of Spain and Portugal has
taught the Germans how the arrogant conqueror must be met; the
example of Austria will fill them with boundless enthusiasm, and
lead them to the most glorious victories!"
"And we are still temporizing and hesitating," exclaimed John,
mournfully; "we are not courageous enough to strike the first blow!
All is ready; the emperor has only to utter the decisive word, but
he refuses to do so!"
"The enthusiasm of his people will soon compel him and his advisers
to utter that word," said Nugent. "Austria can no longer retrace her
steps; she must advance. Austria must lead Germany in the sacred
struggle for liberty; she can no longer retrace her steps."
"God grant that your words may be verified!" cried John, lifting his
tearful eyes to heaven; "God grant that--"
A low rapping at the door leading to the small secret corridor
caused the archduke to pause and turn his eyes with a searching
expression to this door.
The rapping was repeated, more rapidly than before.
"It is Hormayr," exclaimed the archduke, joyfully; and he hastened
to the secret door and opened it quickly.
A tall young man, in the uniform of an Austrian superior officer,
appeared in the open door. The archduke grasped both his hands and
drew him hastily into the cabinet.
"Hormayr, my friend," he said, breathlessly, "you have returned from
the Tyrol? You have succeeded in fulfilling the mission with which I
intrusted you? You have carried my greetings to the Tyrolese? Oh,
speak, speak, my friend! What do my poor, deserted Tyrolese say?"
Baron von Hormayr fixed his flashing dark eyes with an expression of
joyful tenderness on the excited face of the archduke.
"The Tyrolese send greeting to the Archduke John," he said; "the
Tyrolese hope that the Archduke John will deliver them from the
hateful yoke of the Bavarians; the Tyrolese believe that the hour
has arrived, when they may recover their liberty; and to prove this-
"To prove this?" asked the archduke, breathlessly, when Hormayr
paused a moment.
"To prove this," said Hormayr, in a lower voice, stepping up closer
to the prince, "some of the most influential and respectable
citizens of the Tyrol have accompanied me to Vienna; they desire to
assure your imperial highness of their loyal devotedness, and
receive instructions from you."
"Is Andreas Hofer, the landwirth, among them?" asked the archduke,
"He is, and so are Wallner and Speckbacher. I bring to your imperial
highness the leading men of the Tyrolese peasants, and would like to
know when I may introduce them to you, and at what hour you will
grant a private audience to my Tyrolese friends?"
"Oh, I will see them at once!" exclaimed John, impatiently. "My
heart longs to gaze into the faithful, beautiful eyes of the
Tyrolese, and read in their honest faces if they really are still
devoted and attached to me. Bring them to me, Hormayr; make haste--
but no, I forgot that it is broad daylight, and that the spies
watching me have eyes to see, ears to hear, and tongues to report to
the emperor as dreadful crimes all that they have seen and heard
here. We must wait, therefore, until the spies have closed their
eyes, until dark and reticent night has descended on earth, and--.
Well, Conrad, what is it?" the archduke interrupted himself, looking
at his valet de chambre, who had just entered hastily by the door of
"Pardon me, your imperial highness," said Conrad; "a messenger of
her majesty the empress is in the anteroom. Her majesty has ordered
him to deliver his message only to the archduke himself."
"Let him come in," said the archduke.
Conrad opened the door, and the imperial messenger appeared on the
"Her majesty the Empress Ludovica sends her respects to the
archduke," said the messenger, approaching the archduke
respectfully. "Her majesty thanks your imperial highness for the
book which you lent her; and she returns it with sincere thanks."
An expression of astonishment overspread John's face, but it soon
disappeared, and the archduke received with a calm smile the small
sealed package which the messenger handed to him.
"All right," he said; "tell her majesty to accept my thanks."
The messenger returned to the anteroom, and Conrad closed the door
"Place yourself before the door, Nugent, that nobody may be able to
look through the key-hole," whispered John, "for you know that I do
not trust Conrad. And you, Hormayr, watch the secret door."
The two gentlemen hastened noiselessly to obey. The archduke cast a
searching glance around the walls, as if afraid that even the silken
hangings might contain somewhere an opening for the eyes of a spy,
or serve as a cover to an ear of Dionysius.
"Something of importance must have occurred," whispered John;
"otherwise the empress would not have ventured to send me a direct
message. I did not lend her a book, and you know we agreed with the
ladies of our party to communicate direct news to each other only in
cases of pressing necessity. Let us see now what it is."
He hastily tore open the sealed package and drew from it a small
prayer-book bound in black velvet. While he was turning over the
leaves with a smile, a small piece of paper fluttered from between
the gilt-edged leaves and dropped to the floor.
"That is it," said John, smiling, picking up the paper, and fixing
his eyes on it. "There is nothing on it," he then exclaimed,
contemplating both sides of the paper. "There is not a word on it.
It is only a book-mark, that is all. But, perhaps, something is
written in the book, or there may be another paper."
"No, your imperial highness," whispered Nugent, stepping back a few
paces from the door. "The Princess Lichtenstein whispered to me
yesterday, at the court concert, that she had obtained an excellent
way of sending a written message to her friends and allies, and
that, if we received a piece of white paper from the ladies of our
party, we had better preserve it and read it afterward near the
"Ah, sympathetic ink," exclaimed John; "well, we will see."
He hastily approached the fireplace, where a bright fire was
burning, and held the piece of paper close to the flames.
Immediately a number of black dots and lines appeared on the paper;
these dots and lines assumed gradually the shape of finely-written
The archduke followed with rapt attention every line, every letter
that appeared on the white paper, and now he read as follows:
"The French ambassador has requested the emperor to grant him an
audience at eleven o'clock this morning. A courier from Metternich
in Paris has arrived, and, I believe, brought important news. The
decisive hour is at hand. Hasten to the emperor; leave nothing
undone to prevail on him to take a bold stand. Send somebody to the
Archduke Charles; request him to repair likewise to the emperor and
influence him in the same direction. I have paved the way for you. I
hope the French ambassador will, in spite of himself, be our ally,
and by his defiant and arrogant bearing, attain for us the object
which we have hitherto been unable to accomplish by our persuasion
and our arguments. Make haste! Burn this paper."
The archduke signed to his two confidants to come to him, and
pointed to the paper. When they had hastily read the lines, he threw
the paper into the flames, and turned to the two gentlemen who stood
"Well, what do you think of it?" he inquired. "Shall I do what these
mysterious lines ask of me? Shall I go to the emperor without being
summoned to him?"
"The empress requests you to do so, and she is as prudent as she is
energetic," said Count Nugent.
"I say, like the empress, the decisive hour is at hand," exclaimed
Baron von Hormayr. "Hasten to the emperor; try once more to force
the sword into his hand, and to wrest at length the much-wished-for
words, 'War against France!' from his lips. The Tyrolese are only
waiting for these words, to rise for their emperor and become again
his loving and devoted subjects. All Austria, nay, all Germany, is
longing for these words, which will be the signal of the deliverance
of the fatherland from the French yoke. Oh, my lord and prince,
hasten to the emperor; speak to him with the impassioned eloquence
of the cherubim, break the fatal charm that holds Austria and the
At this moment the large clock standing on the mantelpiece commenced
"Eleven o'clock," said the archduke--"the hour when the emperor is
to give an audience to the French ambassador. It is high time,
therefore. Nugent, hasten to my brother; implore him to repair
forthwith to the emperor, and to act this time at least in unison
with me. Tell him that everything is at stake, and that we must risk
all to win all. But you, Hormayr, go to my dear Tyrolese; tell them
that I will receive them here at twelve o'clock to-night, and
conduct them to me at that hour, my friend. We will hold a council
of war at midnight."
"And your imperial highness does not forget that you promised to go
to the concert to-night?" asked Nugent. "Your highness is aware that
our friends not only intend to-night to give an ovation to the
veteran master of German art, Joseph Haydn, but wish also to profit
by the German music to make a political demonstration; and they long
for the presence of the imperial court, that the emperor and his
brothers may witness the patriotic enthusiasm of Vienna."
"I shall certainly be present," said the archduke, earnestly, "and I
hope the empress will succeed in prevailing on the emperor to go to
the concert.--Well, then, my friends, let us go to work, and nay God
grant success to our efforts!"
THE EMPEROR FRANCIS.
The Emperor Francis had to-day entered his study at an earlier hour
than usual, and was industriously engaged there in finishing a
miniature cup which he had commenced cutting from a peach-stone
yesterday. On the table before him lay the drawing of the model
after which he was shaping the cup; and Francis lifted his eves only
from time to time to fix them on the drawing, and compare it with
his own work. These comparisons, however, apparently did not lead to
a cheering result, for the emperor frowned and put the cup rather
impetuously close to the drawing on the table.
"I believe, forsooth, the cup is not straight," murmured the emperor
to himself, contemplating from all sides the diminutive object which
had cost him so much labor. "Sure enough, it is not straight, it has
a hump on one side. Yes, yes, nothing is straight, nowadays; and
even God in heaven creates His things no longer straight, and does
not shrink from letting the peach-stones grow crooked. But no
matter--what God does is well done," added the emperor, crossing
himself devoutly; "even an emperor must not censure it, and must not
grumble when his cup is not straight because God gave the peach-
stone a hump. Well, perhaps, I may change it yet, and make the cup
He again took up the little cup, and commenced industriously working
at it with his sharp files, pointed knives, and gimlets. It was hard
work; large drops of sweat stood on the emperor's forehead; his arms
ached, and his fingers became sore under the pressure of the knives
and files; but the emperor did not mind it, only from time to time
wiping the sweat from his brow, and then continuing his labor with
Close to the small table containing the tools stood the emperor's
large writing-table. Large piles of documents and papers lay on this
table, and among them were scattered also many letters and
dispatches with broad official seals. But the emperor had not yet
thought of opening these dispatches or unsealing these letters. The
peach-stone had engrossed his attention this morning, and he had
unsealed only one of the papers; the emperor had read only the
report of the secret police on the events of the previous day. These
reports of the secret police and the Chiffre-Cabinet were the
favorite reading matter of the Emperor Francis, and he would have
flown into a towering passion if he had not found them on his
writing-table early every morning.
Thanks to these reports, the emperor knew every morning all that had
occurred in Vienna during the previous day; what the foreign
ambassadors had done, and, above all things, what his brothers, the
Archdukes Charles, Ferdinand, Joseph, and John, had said, done, and
perhaps only thought. To-day's report had not communicated many
important things to the emperor; it had only informed him that, at
daybreak, a courier from Paris had arrived at the house of the
French ambassador, Count Andreossi, and that there were good reasons
to believe that be had brought highly important news.
It was exactly for the purpose of dispelling the anxiety with which
this unpleasant intelligence had filled him, that. Francis bad laid
aside the report and recommenced his work on the cup; and by this
occupation he bad succeeded in forgetting the burdensome duties of
his imperial office.
He was just trying very hard to plane one side of his cup, when a
low rap at the small door leading to the narrow corridor, and thence
to the apartments of the empress, interrupted him. The emperor gave
a start and looked toward the door, listening and hoping, perhaps,
that his ear might have deceived him. But no, the rapping was heard
once more: there could no longer be a doubt of it--somebody sought
admittance, and intended to disturb the peaceful solitude of the
"What does the empress want?" murmured Francis. "What does she come
here for? I am afraid something unpleasant has happened again."
He rose with a shrug from his chair, put his miniature cup hastily
into the drawer of his table, and hurried to open the door.
Francis had not been mistaken. It really was the Empress Ludovica,
the third consort of the emperor, who had married her only a few
months ago. She wore a handsome dishabille of embroidered white
muslin, closely surrounding her delicate and slender form, and
trimmed with beautiful laces. The white dress reached up to the
neck, where a rose-colored tie fastened it. Her beautiful black
hair, which fell down in heavy ringlets on both sides of her face,
was adorned with a costly lace cap, from which wide ribbons of rose-
colored satin flowed down on her shoulders. But the countenance of
the empress did not correspond to this coquettish and youthful
dress. She was young and beautiful, but an expression of profound
melancholy overspread her features. Her cheeks were transparently
white, and a sad, touching smile quivered round her finely-
chiselled, narrow lips; her high, expansive forehead was shaded, as
it were, by a cloud of sadness; and her large black eyes shot, from
time to time, gloomy flashes which seemed to issue from a gulf of
fiery torture. But whatever passions might animate her delicate,
ethereal form, the empress had learned to cover her heart with a
veil, and her lips never gave utterance to the sufferings of her
soul. Only her confidantes were allowed to divine them; they alone
knew that, twofold tortures were racking Ludovica's fiery soul,
those of hatred and wounded pride. Napoleon! it was he whom the
empress hated with indescribable bitterness; and the neglect with
which her consort, the Emperor Francis, treated her cut her proud
heart to the quick. Thanks to the intrigues and immense riches of
her mother, Beatrix of Este, Duchess of Modena, she had become the
wife of an emperor, and herself an empress; but she had thereby
obtained only an august position, not a husband and partner. She was
an empress in name only, but not in reality. Francis had given her
his hand, but not his heart and his love. He disdained his
beautiful, lovely wife; he avoided any familiar intercourse with her
with anxious timidity; only in the presence of the court and the
public did he treat the empress as his consort, and tolerate her
near his person. At first Ludovica had submitted to this strange
conduct on the part of her husband with proud indifference, and not
the slightest murmur, not the mildest reproach, had escaped her
lips. For it was not from love that she had chosen this husband, but
from ambition and pride. She had told herself that it would be
better for her to be Empress of Austria than Princess of Modena and
Este; and even the prospect of being the third wife of Francis of
Austria, and the stepmother of the ten children whom his second wife
had borne to him, had not deterred her. She meant to marry the
emperor, and not the man; she wished to play a prominent part, and
exert a powerful influence on the destinies of the world. But these
hopes were soon to prove utterly futile. The emperor granted her
publicly all the privileges of her exalted position by his side; but
in the privacy of her apartments he never made her his confidante;
he refused to let her have any influence over his decisions; he
never consulted her as to the measures of his administration: nay,
he avoided alluding to such topics in her presence.
Such was the grief that was gnawing at the heart of the young
empress--the wound from which her proud and lofty soul was bleeding.
But for a few weeks past she had overcome her silent grief, and the
presence of her mother, the shrewd and intriguing Duchess of Modena,
seemed to have imparted fresh strength to the empress, and confirmed
her in her determination to conquer the heart and confidence of her
husband. Whereas she had hitherto met his indifference by proud
reticence, and feigned not to notice it, she was kind and even
affectionate toward him; and it often happened that, availing
herself of the privilege of her position, she traversed the private
corridor separating her rooms from those of her husband, and,
without being summoned to him, entered his cabinet to talk politics
with him in spite of his undisguised aversion to doing so. The
emperor hated these interviews from the bottom of his heart; a
shudder pervaded his soul, and a cloud covered his brow, whenever he
heard the low rap of the empress at his private door. To-day, too,
the dark cloud covered his forehead even after the empress had
entered his cabinet. Ludovica noticed it, and a mournful smile
overspread her pale face for a moment.
"As your majesty did not come to me to bid me good-morning, I have
come to you," she said, in a gentle, kind voice, holding out her
beautiful white hand to the emperor.
Francis took it and pressed it to his lips. "It is true," he said,
evidently embarrassed, "I did not come this morning to pay my
respects to you, but time was wanting to me. I had to go at once to
my cabinet and work; I am very busy."
"I see," said Ludovica; "your majesty's dress still bears the traces
of your occupation."
The emperor hastened to brush away with his hands the small
particles of the peach-stone that had remained on his shirt-bosom
and his sleeve; but while he was doing this his brow darkened still
more, and he cast a gloomy and defiant glance on the empress.
"Look, empress," he said; "perhaps you belong to the secret police,
and have been employed to watch me in order to find out what I am
doing when I am alone in my cabinet. Why, if I found out that that
was so, I should be obliged to be on my guard and have this door
walled up, so that my esteemed consort might no longer be able to
surprise and watch me."
"Your majesty will assuredly not do that," said Ludovica, whose
voice was tremulous, and whose cheeks had turned even paler than
before. "No, your majesty will not make me undergo the humiliation
of making known to the world the deplorable secret with which we
alone have hitherto been acquainted. Your majesty will not deprive
me of the only privilege which I enjoy in common with your former
consorts, and thereby proclaim to the world that I am in this palace
a stranger who has not even access to the rooms of her husband."
"I do not say that I intend to do it," said Francis, shrugging his
shoulders; "I say only that it is highly repugnant to me to have my
steps dogged and watched in any manner. It is true, my former
consort had also the keys of this private corridor, but--pardon me
for this remark, your majesty--the empress never used these keys,
but always waited for me to open the door."
"And she did not wait in vain," said the empress, quickly; "your
majesty never failed to come, for you loved your consort, and I have
been told you never suffered even a few hours to pass by without
leaving your cabinet and crossing the secret corridor to repair to
the rooms of the empress."
"But the good Empress Theresa," exclaimed the emperor, "when I was
with her, never endeavored to talk to me about politics and state
"I understand that," said Ludovica; "you had both so many mutual
interests to converse about. You had your mutual love, your
children, to talk about. I, who am so unhappy as not to be able to
talk with you about such matters, how intensely so-ever my heart
longs for it, must content myself with conversing with my husband on
different subjects; and I desire to share at least his cares when I
cannot share his love. My husband, I beseech you, do not disdain my
friendship; accept a friend's hand, which I offer to you honestly
"My God, that is precisely what I long for!" exclaimed the emperor
fervently, again pressing to his lips the hand which the empress
held out to him. "My fondest wish is fulfilled when your majesty
will give me your friendship, and confide in me as your best, most
devoted, and faithful friend!"
"But this confidence must be reciprocated, my dearest friend," said
Ludovica, putting her hand on the emperor's shoulder. and gazing
long and ardently into his eyes. "Your majesty must confide in me
too, and count implicitly on my fidelity."
"That is what I do," said Francis, hastily; "never should I dare to
doubt the fidelity of the purest, chastest, and most virtuous
empress and lady--the fidelity of my wife."
"I did not refer to the wife's fidelity," said Ludovica, sighing,
"but to the fidelity of my friendship, which is joyously ready to
share all your cares and afflictions."
"Well then," said the emperor, nodding to her smilingly, "I will
give you a proof of my faith in your friendship. Yes, you shall
share my cares and afflictions."
"Oh, my husband, how happy you make me by these words!" exclaimed
Ludovica, and a faint blush beautified her noble face.
"I will let you participate in my work to-day, and you shall give me
your advice," said the emperor, nodding to the empress, and stepping
to the writing-table, from whose drawer he took the little cup.
"Look, my dear friend," added the emperor, handing the cup to his
consort, "I wished to make a little cup from this peach-stone and
give it to Maria Louisa, who delights in such things; but when I had
nearly finished it, I discovered suddenly that the peach-stone was
crooked and not equally round on both sides. Now give me your
advice, my fair friend; tell me what I am to do in order to
straighten the cup. Look at it, and tell me how to fix it. It would
be an everlasting disgrace for an emperor to be unable to straighten
a thing which he himself made crooked."
The empress had turned pale again; her dark eyes shot fire for a
moment, and she compressed her lips as if to stifle a cry of
indignation. But she overcame her agitation quickly, and hastily
took the little cup which the emperor still held out to her.
"Your majesty is right," she said; the "cup is really crooked, and
will not stand erect when you put it on the table. As your majesty
has asked me what ought to be done about it, I advise you to get rid
of the thing, declare war against the little cup, and remove it
forever by touching it in this manner with your little finger."
She upset the miniature cup with her slender little finger, so that
it rolled to the other end of the table.
"That is very energetic advice, indeed," said Francis, smiling, "but
I do not like it. To upset a thing that is not well done is no way
of improving it."
"Yes, your majesty, to destroy what is not well done is paving the
way for something better," exclaimed Ludovica.
"You yourself said just now it would be an everlasting disgrace for
an emperor to be unable to straighten anything which lie himself
made crooked. It seems to me, now, an emperor should extricate
himself from any position imposing on him the necessity of doing
anything crooked and unworthy of his imperial dignity. If such is
his duty in regard to a thing so insignificant as a peach-stone, how
much more urgent is this duty, when there is at stake something so
great and sacred as the independence and honor of your empire and
"See, see!" said the emperor, scratching his head with an expression
of ludicrous surprise; "then we have really got back from the peach-
stone to political affairs and the war-question. Now, this war-
question is a hard peach-stone to crack, and the mere thought of it
sets my teeth on edge."
"Ah," said Ludovica, "your teeth are firm and strong, for they are
composed of three hundred thousand swords, and thousands of cannon
and muskets. If the lion is determined to use his teeth, lie will
easily succeed in destroying the were-wolf; for this rapacious and
bloodthirsty were-wolf is brave and invincible only when he has to
deal with lambs; only the feeble and disarmed have reason to fear
"In speaking of a were-wolf, I suppose you refer to the Emperor
Napoleon?" asked the emperor, smiling. "I must tell you, however,
that, in your warlike enthusiasm, you do him injustice. It seems to
me he is brave not alone where he has to deal with lambs, arid not
alone the feeble and disarmed have reason to fear him. I think I did
not march lambs against him at Austerlitz, but brave men, who were
not feeble and disarmed, but strong and well-armed. Nevertheless,
Bonaparte overpowered them; he gained the battle of Austerlitz over
us, and we had to submit to him, and accept the terms of peace which
he imposed on us."
"Yes, your majesty had to submit to him." cried the empress,
ardently; "you were obliged to repair to the proud usurper's camp
and beseech him to grant you peace!"
"I was not obliged to go to him, but I did so in order to restore
peace to my people, and prevent all Austria from sinking into ruin.
It is true, it was a dreadful walk for me, and when I saw the
Emperor of the French at his camp-fire, he became utterly
distasteful to me. [Footnote: The emperor's own words.--See
"Lebensbilder aus dem Befreiungekriege," vol. i.] Nevertheless, the
truth cannot be gainsaid, and the truth is that the Emperor Napoleon
is more than a were-wolf killing only lambs; he is a lion whose
furious roar causes all thrones to tremble, and who, when he shakes
his mane, shakes all Europe to its foundations."
"The more is it incumbent on us then to put an end to this unnatural
state of affairs," exclaimed the empress, vehemently; "to strengthen
the thrones, and restore at length tranquillity to Europe. And there
is only one way of doing this, my lord and emperor, and that is war!
We must destroy the lion in order to restore tranquillity to the
"But what if, instead of destroying the lion, we should be destroyed
by him?" asked the emperor, with a shrug. "What if the lion should a
second time place his foot on our neck, trample us in the dust, and
dictate to us again a disgraceful and humiliating peace? Do you
think that the present position of the King of Prussia is a pleasant
and honorable one, and that I am anxious to incur a similar fate?
No, madame! I am by no means eager to wear a martyr's crown instead
of my imperial crown, and I will rather strive to keep my crown on
my head, regardless of the clamor of the German war-party. These
German shriekers are nice fellows. They refuse to do any thing, but
think it is enough for them to cry, 'War! war!' and that that will
be sufficient to conquer Bonaparte. But, empress, a great deal more
is required for that purpose than the fanatical war-clamor of the
aristocratic saloons, and the scribblings of the journalists and
patriotic poets; in order to attain so grand an object, it is
indispensable that all Germany should rise, take up arms, and attack
the enemy with united forces."
"It is as your majesty says," exclaimed Ludovica, enthusiastically;
"all Germany is ready for the struggle against the enemy. The nation
is only waiting for Austria to give the signal, draw the sword, and
advance upon France, when all Germany will follow her."
"I know these fine phrases," said Francis, shrugging his shoulders;
"I hear them every day from my brothers, who are eager for war, and
who manage to gain a great deal of popularity in so comfortable a
manner. But after all, they are phrases with very little sense in
them. For just tell me, empress, where is the Germany which, you
say, is only waiting for Austria to give the signal? Where are the
German armies which, you say, are only waiting for Austria to
advance, when they will follow her? I have good sound eyes, but I
cannot see such armies anywhere. I am quite familiar with the
geography of Germany, I know all the states that belong to it, but
among them I vainly look for those which are waiting for us to give
such a signal. Prussia is utterly powerless, and cannot do any
thing. The princes of the Rhenish Confederacy, it is true, are
waiting for the signal, but Bonaparte will give it to them, and when
they march, they will march against Austria and strive to fight us
bravely in order to obtain from the French Emperor praise, honors,
titles, and grants of additional territories. No, no, I cannot be
blinded by brave words and bombastic phrases; I know that Austria,
in case a war should break out, would stand all alone, and that she
must either conquer or be ruined. In 1805, when, in consequence of
the disastrous battle of Austerlitz, I lost half my states, I was
not alone, Russia was my ally. But Russia has recently declared
that, in case a war should break out, she would not assist us
against Napoleon, but observe a strict neutrality as long as
possible; if she should, however, be obliged to take a decided
stand, she would be on the side of France and against us.
Consequently, I am entirely isolated, and Napoleon has numerous
"But your majesty has a powerful ally in the universal enthusiasm of
the Austrians and Germans, in the universal indignation of the
nations against Napoleon. You have public opinion on your side, and
that is the most powerful ally."
"Ah, let me alone with that abominable ally," cried the emperor,
vehemently; "I do not want to hear of it nor to have anything to do
with it. Public opinion is the hobby which my brother, the popular
Archduke John, is riding all the time; but it will throw him one day
into the mire, and then he will find out what it really amounts to.
Pray, never speak to me again of public opinion, for I detest it. It
smells of revolution and insurrection, and, like a patient donkey,
suffers itself to be led by whosoever offers it a thistle as a bait.
I renounce once for all the alliance of public opinion, and I do not
care whether it blesses or crucifies me, whether it calls me emperor
or blockhead. You see now, empress, that I am entirely isolated, for
the ally which you offer to me will do me no good; I do not want it,
and I have no other allies. I thought it necessary to arm, in view
of the formidable armaments of France, and show our adversary that I
am not afraid of him, but am prepared for every thing. I therefore
put my army on the war footing, and showed Bonaparte that Austria is
able to cope with him, and that money and well-disciplined armies
are not wanting to her. But just now I shall not proceed any
further, and, unless something important should occur, all this war-
clamor and all importunities will make no impression on me. The
important event to which I alluded would be Napoleon's defeat in
Spain, whereby he would be compelled to keep his armies there. In
that event, I should no longer be isolated, but Spain would be my
ally, and I should probably declare war. But if matters should turn
out otherwise, if fortune should favor Napoleon there as everywhere
else, necessity alone will determine my course. I shall not attack,
and thereby challenge fate of my own accord; but I shall wait, sword
in hand, for Napoleon to attack me. If he does, God and my good
right will be on my side, and whatever may be the result of the
struggle, people will be unable to say that I rashly plunged into
war and broke the peace. If we succumb, it is the will of God and
the Holy Virgin, and not, our fault. And now, empress," said the
emperor, drawing a deep breath, "I have complied with your wishes
and talked politics with you. I think it will be enough once for
all, and you and you political friends will perceive that you cannot
do any thing with me, and that it will be best for you to let me
entirely alone; for I am so stubborn as not to allow others to lead
me, but pursue my own course. You have promised me, empress, to be a
faithful friend tome. I ask you now to give me a proof of your
friendship. Let us speak of something else than polities; that is
all that I ask of your friendship."
"Well, then, let us drop the subject," said the empress, with a deep
sigh. "Your majesty will be kind enough to permit me now to ask a
favor of you?"
"Ah, you speak as if there were anything that I could refuse you,"
exclaimed the emperor, smiling.
Ludovica bowed slightly. "I pray you, therefore," she said, "to be
kind enough to accompany me to the concert which is to be given at
the university hall. Haydn's 'Creation' will be performed there, and
I believe the old maestro himself will be present to receive the
homage of his admirers."
"H'm, h'm! I am afraid there is something else behind it," said the
emperor, thoughtfully, "and the audience will not content itself
with merely offering homage to old Haydn. But no matter, your
majesty wishes to go to the concert, and it will afford me pleasure
to accompany my empress."
At this moment they heard a low rap at the door leading from the
emperor's cabinet into the conference-room, where the officers of
the private imperial chancery were working.
"Well, what is it?" exclaimed the emperor. "Come in."
The emperor's private chamberlain slipped softly through the half-
opened door, and, on beholding the empress, be stood still without
uttering a word.
"Never mind, the empress will excuse you," said Francis.
"Just tell me what you have come in for."
"Your majesty," said the chamberlain, "the French ambassador, Count
Andreossi, has just arrived, and requests your majesty to grant him
an audience. He says he wishes to communicate information of great
importance to you."
"Why did he not apply to my minister of foreign affairs?" asked the
"Your majesty, the ambassador begs your pardon, but he says the
Emperor Napoleon gave him express orders to endeavor if possible to
speak with your majesty."
"And he is already in the anteroom, and waits for an immediate
"Yes, your majesty."
"Well, then, I will receive him," said the emperor, rising. "Conduct
the ambassador to the small audience-room.--Well?" asked the
emperor, wonderingly, when the chamberlain did not withdraw. "You do
not go? Do you wish to tell me any thing else?"
"I do, your majesty. A courier has just arrived from Paris with
pressing dispatches from Count Metternich to your majesty."
"Ah, that changes the matter!" exclaimed the emperor. "Tell the
ambassador that I can not receive him now, but that he is to come
back in an hour, at eleven precisely, when I shall be ready to
receive him. Tell the courier to come to me at once."
The chamberlain slipped noiselessly out of the door, and the emperor
turned again to the empress:
"Empress," he said, "do me the honor of permitting me to offer you
my arm, and conduct you back to your rooms. You see I am a poor,
tormented man, who is so overwhelmed with business that he cannot
even chat an hour with his wife without being disturbed. Pity me a
little, and prove it to me by permitting me henceforth to rest in
your presence from the cares of business, and not talk politics."
"The wish of my lord and emperor shall be fulfilled," said the
empress, mournfully, taking the arm which the emperor offered to her
to conduct her back to her rooms.
Just as she crossed the threshold of the imperial cabinet, and
stepped into the corridor, she heard the voice of the chamberlain,
who announced: "The courier from Paris, Counsellor von Hudelist."
"All right, I shall be back directly!" exclaimed the emperor, and he
conducted the empress with a somewhat accelerated step through the
corridor. In front of the door at its end he stood still and bowed
to the empress with a pleasant smile.
"I have conducted you now to the frontier of your realm," said
Francis; "permit me, therefore, to return to mine. Farewell! We
shall go to the concert to-night. Farewell!"
Without waiting for the reply of the empress, he turned and hastily
re-entered his cabinet.
Ludovica entered her room and locked the door behind her. "Closed
forever!" she said, with a sigh. "At least I shall not try again to
avail myself of this door, and shall not expose myself again to the
sneers of the emperor. I must, then, bear this disgrace; I must
submit to being disdained and repudiated by my husband; I--But
hush!" the empress interrupted herself, "this is no time for
bewailing my personal fate, for the fate of all Austria is at stake
at this juncture. Highly important events must have occurred at
Paris, else Metternich would not have sent his confidant and
assistant Hudelist, nor would Andreossi demand an audience in so
impetuous a manner. Perhaps this intelligence may at length lead to
a decision to-day, or we may at least contribute to such a result. I
will write to the Archduke John, and ask him to see the emperor.
Perhaps he will succeed better than I did in persuading my husband
to take a determined stand."
She hastened to her writing-desk, and penned that mysterious little
note which she sent to the Archduke John in the book which she
pretended he had lent to her.
THE COURIER AND THE AMBASSADOR.
The emperor, in returning to his cabinet, like the empress,
carefully locked the door behind him. He then turned hastily to the
courier, who was standing near the opposite door, and was just
bowing most ceremoniously to his majesty.
"Hudelist, it is really you, then?" asked the emperor. "You left
your post by the side of Metternich without obtaining my permission
to come to Vienna? Could you not find any other man to bring your
dispatches? I had commissioned you to remain always by the side of
Metternich, watch him carefully, and inform me of what he was doing
"Your majesty, I have brought my report with me," said Hudelist;"
and as for your majesty's order that I should always remain by the
side of Count Metternich, I have hardly violated it by corning to
Vienna, for I believe the Count will follow me in the course of a
few days. Unless your majesty recalls him to Vienna, the Emperor
Napoleon, I think, will expel him from Paris."
"You do not say so!" exclaimed Francis, shrugging his shoulders.
"You think he will issue a manifesto against Metternich, as he did
against the Prussian minister Von Stein? Well, let me hear the news.
What have you to tell me?"
"So many important things, your majesty, that the count and myself
deemed it expedient to report to your majesty verbally, rather than
send a dispatch which might give you only an unsatisfactory idea of
what has occurred. Hence I came post-haste to Vienna, and arrived
here only a quarter of an hour since; I pray your majesty therefore
to pardon me for appearing before you in my travelling-dress."
"Sit down, you must be tired," said the emperor, good-naturedly,
seating himself in an arm-chair, and pointing to the opposite chair.
"Now tell me all!"
"Your majesty," said Hudelist, mysteriously, while a strange
expression of mischievous joy overspread his ugly, pale face, "the
Emperor Napoleon has returned from Spain to France."
The Emperor Francis gave a start and frowned. "Why?" he asked.
"Because he intends to declare war against Austria," said Hudelist,
whose face brightened more and more. "Because Napoleon is
distrustful of us, and convinced that Austria is intent on attacking
him. Besides, he felt no longer at ease in pain, and all sorts of
conspiracies had been entered into in Paris, whereby his return
might have been rendered impossible if he had hesitated any longer."
"Who were the conspirators?"
"Talleyrand and Fouche, the dear friends and obedient servants of
the Emperor Napoleon. He knows full well what their friendship and
devotedness amount to. Hence be had the two gentlemen well watched,
and it seems his spies sent him correct reports, for, after
returning from Spain, he rebuked them unmercifully; be told them,
with the rage of a true Corsican, and regardless of etiquette, what
miserable fellows they were, and how high he stood above them."
"And yet he would like so much to be an emperor in strict.
accordance with court etiquette," said the emperor, laughing. "He is
anxious to have such a court about him as Louis XIV. had. But the
lawyer's son always reappears in the emperor, and, if it please God,
He will one day deprive him of all his power and splendor."
"And, if it please God, your majesty will be His instrument in
putting an end to Napoleon's power and splendor," cried Hudelist,
with a smile which distorted his face strangely, and caused two rows
of large yellow teeth to appear between the pale lips of his
enormous mouth. "It is true he stands firm as yet, and rebukes his
ministers as Nero did his freedmen. Talleyrand was still
thunderstruck at what the emperor had told him, when he had an
interview with Count Metternich and myself in Fouche's green-house.
To be sure, the phrases which he repeated to us were well calculated
to make even the blood of a patient minister boil. Napoleon sent for
the two ministers immediately after his arrival: when they came to
him, he let them stand at the door of his cabinet like humble
suppliants, and, running up and down before them, and casting fiery
glances of anger upon them, he upbraided them with their conduct,
and told them he was aware of all their intrigues, and knew that
they were conspiring with Austria, Spain, and, through Spain, with
England. Then he suddenly stood still in front of them, his hands
folded on his back, and his glances would have crushed the two
ministers if they had not had such a thick skin 'You are impudent
enough to conspire against me!' he shouted, in a thundering voice.
'To whom are you indebted for every thing--for your honors, rank,
and wealth? To me alone! How can you preserve them? By me alone!
Look backward, examine your past. If the Bourbons had reascended the
throne, both of you would have been hanged as regicides and
traitors. And you plot against me? You must be as stupid as you are
ungrateful, if you believe that anybody else could promote your
interest as well as I have done. Had another revolution broken out,
on whatever side you might have placed yourselves, you would
certainly have been the first to be crushed by it!'" [Footnote:
Napoleon's own words--See Schlosser, "History of the Eighteenth
Century," vol. viii., p. 488.]
"That is very plain talk, indeed," said Francis, laughing. "But
Talleyrand and Fouche have sound stomachs; they will digest it, and
not get congestions in consequence of it provided the emperor does
not punish them in a different manner."
"For the time being, he only punished Talleyrand, whom he deprived
of the position and salary of lord chamberlain. Fouche remained
police minister, but both are closely watched by Napoleon's secret
police. Nevertheless, they succeeded in holding a few unobserved
interviews with us. Count Metternich learned also from another very
well-informed quarter many accurate details regarding the plans and
intentions of the Emperor Napoleon."
"What do you mean? What well-informed quarter do you refer to?"
asked the emperor.
"Your majesty," said Hudelist, with a significant grin, "Count
Metternich is a very fine-looking man; now, Queen Caroline of
Naples, Murat's wife, and Napoleon's favorite sister, is by no means
insensible to manly beauty, and she accepted with evident
satisfaction the homage which the count offered to her. For the
rest, Napoleon winked at and encouraged this flirtation; for,
previous to his departure for Spain, he said to his sister loud
enough to be overheard by some of our friends, 'Amusez-nous ce
niais, Monsieur de Metternich. Nous en avons besoin a present!'
[Footnote: Hormayr, "The Emperor Francis and Metternich, a
Fragment," p. 55.] Madame Caroline Murat told Count Metternich, for
instance, that it is the Kings of Bavaria and Wurtemburg that keep
their spies for Napoleon here in Vienna, and that they urged
Napoleon vehemently to return from Spain in order to declare war
against Austria. And Napoleon is determined to comply with their
wishes. He travelled with extraordinary expedition from Madrid to
Paris, stopping only at Valladolid, where he shut himself up for two
days with Maret, his minister of foreign affairs, and dispatched
eighty-four messages in different directions, with orders to
concentrate his forces in Germany, and call out the full contingents
of the Rhenish Confederacy. His own troops and these German
Contingents are to form an array--to which he intends to give the
name of 'the German Army of the Emperor Napoleon.' Although Count
Metternich was aware of all this, he hastened to attend the great
reception which took place at the Tuileries after Napoleon's return,
in order to assure him again of the friendly dispositions of the
imperial court of Austria. But Napoleon gave hire no time for that.
He came to meet him with a furious gesture, and shouted to him in a
thundering voice: 'Well, M. de Metternich! here is fine news from
Vienna. What does all this mean? Have they been stung by scorpions?
Who threatens you? What would you be at? Do you intend again to
disturb the peace of the world and plunge Europe into numberless
calamities? As long as I had my army in Germany, you conceived no
disquietude for your existence; but the moment it is transferred to
Spain, you consider yourselves endangered! What can be the end of
these things? What, but that I must arm as you arm, for at length I
am seriously menaces; I am rightly for my former caution.'"
[Footnote: Napoleon's own words.--See Schlosser, vol. vii., p. 480.]
"What an impudent fellow!" murmured the Emperor Francis to himself.
"And Metternich? What did he reply?"
"Nothing at all, your majesty. He withdrew, returned immediately to
the legation, and I set out that very night to convey this
intelligence to your majesty. Your majesty, we can no longer doubt
that Napoleon has made up his mind to wage war against Austria. His
exasperation has risen to the highest pitch, and the events in Spain
have still more inflamed his rage and vindictiveness." "Then he is
unsuccessful in Spain?" asked the emperor, whose eyes brightened.
"Spain is still bidding him defiance, and fighting with the
enthusiasm of an heroic people who will suffer death rather than be
subjugated by a tyrant. She will never accept King Joseph, whom
Napoleon forced upon her; and as they see themselves deserted and
given up by their royal family, the Spanish patriots turn their eyes
toward Austria, and are ready to proclaim one of your majesty's
brothers king of Spain, if your majesty would send him to them with
an auxiliary army."
"That would be a nice thing!" cried the emperor, angrily. "Not
another word about it! If my brothers should hear it, their heads
would be immediately on fire, for they are very ambitious; hence, it
is much better that they should not learn anything of these chateaux
en Espagne. Tell me rather how it looks in France. Are the French
still satisfied with their emperor by the grace of the people!"
"They are not, your majesty. Let me tell you that not only
Napoleon's own officers, his marshals and ministers, are
dissatisfied with him; but the whole people, those who possess money
as well as those who own no other property than their lives, are
murmuring against the emperor. He robs the moneyed men of their
property by heavy taxes and duties, and those who have nothing but
their lives he threatens with death by forcing muskets into their
hands, and compelling them to do military service. Another
conscription has been ordered, and as the population of France is
decreasing, youths from sixteen to eighteen years old have to be
enrolled. France is tired of these everlasting wars, and she curses
Napoleon's insatiable bloodthirstiness no longer in secret only, but
loud enough to be heard by the emperor from time to time."
"And the army?"
"The army is a part of France, and feels like the rest of the French
people. The marshals are quarrelling among themselves and some of
them hate Napoleon, who never gives them time to repose on their
laurels and enjoy the riches which they have obtained during their
campaigns. The army is a perfect hotbed of conspiracies and secret
societies, some of which are in favor of the restoration of the
republic, while others advocate the restoration of the Bourbons.
Napoleon, who is served well enough at least by his spies, is aware
of all these things. He is afraid of the discontent and disobedience
of his marshals and generals, conspiracies in the army, the
treachery of his ministers, and the murmurs of his people; and he
fears, besides, that the fanaticism of the Spaniards may dim his
military glory; hence, he feels the necessity of arousing the
enthusiasm of his people by fresh battles, of silencing the
malcontents by new victories, and of reviving the heroic spirit of
his army. He hopes to gain these victories in a war between his
German array and the Austrian forces. He is, therefore, firmly
resolved to wage war, and the only question now is, whether your
majesty will anticipate him, or await a declaration of war on his
part. This is about all I have to communicate to your majesty; the
vouchers and other papers I shall have the honor to deposit at the
The emperor made no reply, but gazed into vacancy, deeply absorbed
in his reflections. Hudelist fixed his small sparkling eyes on the
bent form of the emperor; and as he contemplated his care-worn,
gloomy face, his flabby features, his protruding under-lip, his
narrow forehead, and his whole emaciated and fragile form, an
expression of scorn overspread the face of the counsellor; and his
large mouth and flashing eyes seemed to say, "You are the emperor,
but I do not envy you, for I am more than you are; I am a man who
knows what he wants."
At this moment the clock commenced striking slowly, and its shrill
notes aroused the emperor from his contemplation.
"Eleven o'clock," he said, rising from his chair, "the hour when I
am to give an audience to the French ambassador. Hudelist, go to the
chancery and wait there until I call you. You will not return to
Paris anyhow, but resume your former position in the chancery of
state. I am glad that you have returned, for I consider you a
faithful, able, and reliable man, whom I have good reason to be
content, and who, I hope, will not betray my confidence. I know,
Hudelist, you are ambitious, and would like to obtain a
distinguished position. Well, serve me--do you hear?--serve none but
me honestly and faithfully; watch everything and watch closely;
never think of obtaining the friendship and good graces of others,
nor seeking for any other protectors, save me; and I shall always be
favorably disposed toward you, and see to it that the cravings of
your ambition are satisfied. Go then, as I said before, to the
chancery of state; and on hearing me re-enter the room, step in
again. There are many other things which I wish to tell you."
"I see through him," said Hudelist, looking with a smile after the
emperor, who closed the door of the cabinet behind him, to repair to
the small reception-room; "yes, I see through the emperor. He is
glad of my return, for I am a good spy for him in regard to the
doings of his brothers, of whom he is jealous, and whom he hates
with all his heart. If I succeed one day in communicating to him
things capable of rendering the archdukes suspicious to him, or even
convicting them of a wrong committed against him, the emperor will
reward and promote me, and, as he says, satisfy the cravings of my
ambition. Well, well, we shall see. If you watch a man very closely
and are really intent on spying out something suspicious in his
conduct, you will in the end surely find some little hook or other
by which you may hold him, and which you may gradually hammer out
and extend until it becomes large enough to hang the whole man on
it. In the first place, I shall pay particular attention to the
Archduke John, for his brother is particularly jealous of and angry
with him. Ah, if I could discovery such a little hook by which to
hold him, the emperor would reward my zeal with money, honors, and
orders, and he would henceforward repose the most implicit
confidence in my fidelity. Well, I shall think of it; the idea is a
good one, and worthy of being matured. I shall form a scheme to make
the good and munificent Archduke John the ladder by which I shall
rise. I must conquer, and if I can do it only by pulling down
others, it is the duty of self-preservation for me not to shrink
from the task. I will now go to the chancery and wait there for the
emperor's return. Ah, how his old limbs trembled when he heard of
Napoleon's return. How hard and unpleasant it was for him to swallow
the bad news which I communicated to him! There is no more
interesting spectacle than that presented by a human face passing
through all the various stages of excitement, and involuntarily
performing in its features the five acts of a tragedy. And all the
better when this human face is that of an emperor. During my whole
journey from Paris to Vienna I was enjoying, by anticipation, the
moment when I should deliver this Pandora's box to the emperor. He
is opposed to war, and must nevertheless wage it; that is the best
part of the joke. Aha! it is a fine sight to behold the gods of this
earth a prey to such human embarrassments! I felt like bursting into
loud laughter at the woe-begone appearance of the emperor. But hush,
hush! I will go to the chancery until he returns."
In the meantime the emperor had repaired to the small reception-
room, where Count Andreossi, the French ambassador, was already
waiting for him.
Francis responded to the respectful greeting of the ambassador by a
scarcely perceptible nod, and strode, with head erect, into the
middle of the room. There he stood still, and casting a stern and
almost defiant glance on the ambassador, he said in a cold,
dignified tone: "You requested an audience of me in a very unusual
manner. I granted it to prove to you my desire to remain at peace
with France. Now speak; What has the ambassador of the Emperor of
the French to say to the Emperor of Austria?"
"Your majesty, I have to present to you, in the first place, the
respects of my master, who has returned from Spain to Paris."
Francis nodded his head slowly. "What next?" he asked.
"Next, my sovereign has charged me with a very difficult commission,
for the execution of which I must first, and above all things, beg
your majesty's pardon."
"You are your master's servant, and it is your duty to obey him,"
said the emperor, dryly. "Say, therefore, what he ordered you to
"Well, then, as your majesty has granted me permission, I will say
that my master, the Emperor of the French, has taken deep umbrage at
the hostile course which Austria has of late pursued toward him."
"And what is it that your emperor complains of?" asked the emperor,
with perfect composure.
"In the first place, the Emperor Napoleon has taken deep umbrage at
Austria's still hesitating to recognize King Joseph as King of
Spain, and to send a minister plenipotentiary to his court."
"I did not know where to send my ambassador, and where he would find
M. Joseph Bonaparte, King of Spain, for the time being--whether at
Madrid or at Saragossa; in the camp, on the field of battle, or in
flight. Hence I did not send an ambassador to his court. So soon as
the Spanish nation is able to inform me where I may look for the
king it has elected and recognized, I shall immediately dispatch a
minister plenipotentiary to this court. State that to your monarch."
"Next, his majesty the Emperor Napoleon complains bitterly that
Austria, instead of being intent on maintaining friendly relations
with France, has left nothing undone to reconcile the enemies of
France who were at war with each other, and to restore peace between
them; and that Austria, by her incessant efforts, has really
succeeded now in bringing about a treaty of peace between Turkey and
England. Now, my master the emperor must look upon this as a hostile
act on the part of Austria, against France; for to reconcile England
with Turkey is equivalent to setting France at variance with Turkey,
or at least neutralizing entirely her influence over the Sublime
"Turkey is my immediate neighbor, and it is highly important to
Austria that there should be no war-troubles and disturbances on all
her frontiers. Every independent state should be at liberty to
pursue its own policy; and while this policy does not assume a
hostile attitude toward other independent states, no one can take
umbrage at it. Are you through with your grievances?"
"No, your majesty," said Andreossi, almost mournfully. "The worst
and most unpleasant part remains to be told; but, as your majesty
was gracious enough to say, I must obey the orders of my master, and
it is his will that I shall now communicate to your majesty the
emperor's views in his own words. It has given great offence to the
Emperor Napoleon that Austria should place herself in a posture of
open hostility against France, when France has given her so many
proofs of her forbearance, and has hitherto always spared Austria,
notwithstanding the numerous acts of duplicity and evident hostility
of the Austrian court. The Emperor Napoleon informs your majesty
that he is well aware of the ambitious schemes of Austria, but that
lie thinks your majesty is not strong enough to carry them into
effect. He requests your majesty never to forget the magnanimity
which the Emperor Napoleon manifested toward you after the battle of
Austerlitz. The Emperor Napoleon has instructed me to remind you of
the fact, well known to you, that you can confide in his generosity,
and that he is firmly resolved to observe the treaties. Naples,
Prussia, and Spain, would stand erect, yet, if their rulers had
relied on their own sagacity, and not listened to the fatal advice
of their ministers, or even of courtiers, women, and ambitious young
princes. His majesty beseeches the Emperor of Austria not to listen
to such insidious advice, nor to yield to the wishes of the war-
party, which is intent only on gratifying its passionate ambition,
and whose eyes refuse to see that it is driving Austria toward the
brink of an abyss where she must perish, as did Prussia, Naples, and
Spain." [Footnote: Hormayr, "Allgemeine Geschichte," vol. iii., p.
"It is very kind in his majesty the Emperor Napoleon to give me such
friendly advice," sail the Emperor Francis, smiling. "But I beg his
majesty to believe that, in accordance with his wishes, I rely only
on my own individual sagacity; that I am influenced by no party, no
person, but am accustomed to direct myself the affairs of my country
and the administration of my empire, and not to listen to any
insinuations, from whatever quarter they may come. I request you to
repeat these words to his majesty the Emperor Napoleon with the same
accuracy with which you communicated his message to me. And now,
Count Andreossi, I believe you have communicated to me all that your
master instructed you to say to me."
"Pardon me, your majesty, I am instructed last to demand in the
emperor's name an explanation as to the meaning of the formidable
armaments of Austria, the organization of the militia, and the
arming of the fortresses on the frontiers, and to inquire against
whom these measures are directed. The emperor implores your majesty
to put a stop to these useless and hurtful demonstrations, and
orders me expressly to state that, if Austria does not stop her
armaments and adopt measures of an opposite character, war will be
inevitable." [Footnote: Napoleon's own words.--See "Lebensbilder,"
vol. ii., and Hormayr, "Allgemeine Geschichte," vol. iii.]
"In that case, Mr. Ambassador of the Emperor Napoleon, war is
inevitable," cried Francis, who now dropped the mask of cold
indifference, and allowed his face to betray the agitation and rage
filling his bosom, by his quivering features, flashing eyes, and
clouded brow. "I have calmly listened to you," he added, raising his
voice; "I have received with silent composure all the arrogant
phrases which you have ventured to utter here in the name of your
emperor. I look on them as one of the famous proud bulletins for
which your emperor is noted, and to whose overbearing and
grandiloquent language all Europe is accustomed. But it is well
known too that these bulletins are not exactly models of veracity,
but sometimes the very reverse of it. An instance of the latter is
your emperor's assertion that he observes the treaties, and that he
gave me proofs of his magnanimity after the battle of Austerlitz.
No, the emperor did no such thing; he made me, on the contrary, feel
the full weight of his momentary superiority. He was my enemy, and
treated me as an enemy, without magnanimity, which, for the rest, I
did not claim at the time. But he has proved to me, too, that he
does not observe the most sacred treaties. He violated every section
of the peace of Presburg; he did not respect the frontiers as
stipulated in that treaty; he forced me, in direct violation of the
treaties, to allow him the permanent use of certain military roads
within the boundaries of my empire; he hurled from their thrones
dynasties which were related to me, and whose existence I had
guaranteed; he deprived, in violation of the law of nations, the
beloved and universally respected head of Christendom of his throne,
and subjected him to a most disgraceful imprisonment; he exerted on
all seas the most arbitrary pressure on the Austrian flag. And now,
after all this has happened, after Austria has endured all these
wrongs so long and silently, the Emperor Napoleon undertakes even to
meddle with the internal administration of my empire, and forbids me
what he, ever since his accession, has incessantly done, to wit: to
mobilize my army, levy conscripts for the troops of the line and the
reserves, and arm the fortresses. He asks me to put a stop to my
armaments; else, he says, war will be inevitable. Well, Mr.
Ambassador, I do not care if the Emperor Napoleon looks at the
matter in that light, and I shall not endeavor to prevent him from
so doing, for I shall not stop, but continue my preparations. I
called out the militia, just as the Emperor of the French constantly
calls new levies of conscripts into immediate activity; and if war
should be inevitable in consequence thereof, I shall bear what is
inevitable with firmness and composure."
"Your majesty, is this your irrevocable resolution?" asked
Andreossi. "Is this the answer that I am to send to my master, the
"I think it will be better for you to convey this answer in person
to your emperor," said Francis, calmly. "As no one has witnessed our
interview, only you yourself can repeat my words with perfect
accuracy; and it is therefore best for you to set out this very day
"That is to say, your majesty gives me my passports, and war will
immediately break out between France and Austria!" sighed Andreossi.
"Your majesty should graciously consider--"
"I have considered every thing," interrupted Francis, vehemently,
"and I request you not to speak to me again in the style of your
French bulletins. I will hear the bulletins of the Emperor Napoleon
on the field of battle rather than in my cabinet. Set out,
therefore, for Paris, Mr. Ambassador, and repeat to the emperor what
I have said to you."
"I will comply with your majesty's orders," said Andreossi, with a
sigh; "I will set out, but I shall leave the members of my legation
here as yet, for I do not yet give up the hope that it may be
possible for the two courts to avoid a declaration of war; and to
spare such a calamity to two countries that have such good reasons
to love each other."
"Let us quietly await the course of events," replied the emperor.
"Farewell, Count Andreossi. If you will accept my advice, you will
set out this very day; for so soon as my dear Viennese learn that
war is to break out in earnest, they will probably give vent to
their enthusiasm in the most tumultuous and rapturous
demonstrations, and I suppose it would be disagreeable to you to
witness them. Farewell, sir!"
He waved his hand toward tile ambassador, bent his head slowly and
haughtily, and left the reception-room without vouchsafing another
glance to Count Andreossi.
"Now my brothers will be in ecstasies," said the emperor to himself,
slowly walking up and down, his hands folded on his back, in the
sitting-room adjoining the reception-room. "They will be angry,
though, because I did not consult them, and decided the whole affair
without listening to their wisdom."
"Your majesty," said a footman, who entered the room at this moment,
"their imperial highnesses, the Archdukes Charles and John, request
an audience of your majesty."
"They are welcome," said the emperor, whose features were lit up by
a faint smile. "Show my brothers in."
THE EMPEROR AND HIS BROTHERS.
A few minutes afterward the two archdukes entered the room of the
emperor, who slowly went some steps to meet them, and greeted them
with a grave, cold glance.
"Why, this is a rare spectacle," said Francis, sneeringly, "to see
my brothers side by side in such beautiful harmony. In truth, it was
only wanting to me that even you two should be of the same opinion,
and come to me for the purpose of inviting me, as Schiller says, to
be the third in your league."
"Your majesty would always be the first in this league," said the
Archduke John, in his clear, ringing voice; "my brother would be the
second, and I only the third."
"See, see, my brother is very modest and humble to-day," said
Francis, smiling. "This means doubtless that you have come to ask a
favor of me, and that, by your kindness and devotedness, you wish to
induce me to comply with your request, as a dog is decoyed with
cakes and sweets by the thief who intends to steal something from
the dog's master."
"Oh, your majesty, we do not intend to steal any thing from our
master!" exclaimed John, laughing. "But there is really an attack to
be made on our master's property; only he who intends to make it
does not decoy us with cakes and sweets, but assails us with the
sword and coarse invectives."
"It was very shrewd in you to mention at once the subject on which
you wished to speak with me," said the emperor, with a slight sneer.
"But permit me first to say a word to my brother Charles there, and
bid welcome to his imperial highness, the illustrious captain, the
generalissimo of our army, the hope and consolation of Austria."
"Your majesty wishes to mock me," said the Archduke Charles, in a
"I repeat only what I read every day in the newspapers,, and what
the dear Viennese are singing and shouting in every street!"
exclaimed the emperor. "Yes, yes, my dear brother, you must consent
to be the hope and consolation of Austria, and to be praised as the
august and invincible hero of our immediate future."
So saying, the emperor gazed with a long and searching look at his
brother's form, and a scornful expression overspread his features.
Indeed, the epithets which the emperor had applied to his brother
corresponded but little to the appearance of the Archduke Charles.
His small, bent form, with its weak, shrivelled limbs, was not the
form of a hero; his pale, wan face, with the hollow cheeks; the dim
eyes deeply imbedded in their sockets, and the clouded brow, on
which thin tufts of hair hung down, was not the face of a bold
captain, confident of achieving brilliant triumphs by his heroic
deeds, and deserving of the name of the hope and consolation of
Austria. But the Austrians did call him by that name, and the glory
of his military achievements, which filled not only Austria but the
whole of Germany, caused them really to build their hopes on the
Archduke Charles, despite his very feeble health. The Emperor
Francis was aware of this; he knew that the Archdukes Charles and
John were by far more popular than he was; hence he was jealous of
and angry with them--nay, he almost hated them.
"You look very pale and sick to-day, my dear Archduke Charles," said
the emperor, after a pause, during which he had contemplated the
archduke with a searching expression.
"I am very feeble and unwell, your majesty," sighed Charles; "and
but for the special request of my brother, the Archduke John, I
should not have dared to come here this morning. However, I am
afraid that I can do but little to comply with his wishes, and that
my brother John will soon think it would have been better for him
not to ask me to accompany him to your majesty."
"Ah, then, you are after all not so harmonious as I thought when I
saw you entering here together!" exclaimed the emperor, laughing.
"There are still differences of opinion, then, between the two
pillars of my throne, and were I to lean on one, the other would
totter and give way. Well, what do you want? What brought you here?"
"Your majesty, only the intense desire to dedicate our services to
Austria and our emperor!" exclaimed John, enthusiastically. "We
wished to implore your majesty to utter at length the word that will
deliver Austria and all Germany. Your majesty, this hesitation and
silence rests like a nightmare on every heart and every bosom; all
eyes are fixed hopefully on your majesty: Oh, my lord and emperor;
one word from your lips, and this nightmare will disappear; all
hearts will rejoice in blissful ecstasy, and every bosom will expand
and breathe more freely when your majesty shall utter this word:
'War! war!' We hold the sword in our hands; let the will of my
august emperor give us the right now to draw the sword against him
who, for years past, has swept like a destructive hurricane through
all Germany, all Europe, and who tramples alike on princes and
peoples, on liberty and law. Your majesty, in the name of your
people, in the name of all German patriots, I bend my knees here
before my lord and emperor, and thus, kneeling and full of
reverence. I implore your majesty to let the hour of deliverance
strike at length; let us, with joyful courage, expel the enemy who
has already so long been threatening our frontiers with defiant
arrogance: let us take the field against the impudent usurper, and
wrest from him the laurels which he gained at Austerlitz, and of
which he is so proud. Your majesty, your people are filled with
warlike ardor; your faithful Tyrolese are waiting only for a signal
to break their chains and rise for their beloved emperor. Your
Italian provinces are longing for the day when war shall break out,
in order to avenge themselves on the tyrant who promised them
liberty and brought them only slavery. The hour of retribution has
come for Napoleon; may your majesty consult our best interests by
saying that we are to profit by this hour, and that war, a mortal
struggle, is to begin now against the Emperor of the French!"
And, still bending his knees before the emperor, John looked up to
him with longing, beseeching eyes.
Francis looked down on him with a gloomy air, and the noble and
enthusiastic face of his brother, who was ten years younger, and
much stronger and better-looking, made a disagreeable impression on
"Rise, brother," he said, coldly; "your knees must ache, and I, for
my part, do not like such theatrical scenes at all, and such fine
phrases make but little impression on my cold and prosy heart. I am
accustomed to follow always my convictions, and when I advance a
step, I must be sure not to fall to an abyss which some poetical
hero may perhaps have merely covered for me with his flowery
phrases. That I am aware of the dangers threatening us on the part
of France I have proved by putting the army on the war footing, by
intrusting you, Archduke John, with organizing the militia and the
reserves in accordance with the plan you drew up for that purpose;
and by placing you, Archduke Charles, at the head of my army and
appointing you generalissimo."
"An honor, your majesty, which I accepted with reverent gratitude,
although it almost crushes me at the present time," said the
Archduke Charles, with a sigh. "Permit me now, your majesty, to open
my heart to you, and lay my innermost thoughts at your feet. To do
so, I accompanied my brother John to you. He said he would implore
your majesty once more to postpone the declaration of war no longer,
but utter at length the decisive word. I implored him not to do so,
and not to force us to engage prematurely in a war that could not
but bring the greatest calamities on Austria. But my dear brother
would not listen to my remonstrances and prayers; he called me a
secret friend and admirer of Napoleon; he demanded that I should at
least speak out, freely and openly in your majesty's presence, and
refute him if I could, or yield to him if my arguments should prove
untenable. Your majesty, I have therefore complied with the wishes
of my brother, the Archduke John; I have come to you, but only to
say to my lord and emperor: Your majesty, I implore you, in the name
of your people and your throne, do not yet unsheath the sword! Wait
until our army is ready for the contest, and until our armaments are
completed. Do not plunge rashly into war, lest victory escape us. A
great deal remains to be done yet before we can say that our
armaments are completed; and only after being fully prepared can we
dare to take the field against the Emperor Napoleon and his hitherto
"Ah, do you hear our Fabius Cunctator, brother John, the Lion-
hearted!" exclaimed the emperor, sarcastically. "Which of you is
right, and whose wise advice shall I follow now--I, the poor
emperor, who is not strong and sagacious enough to be his own
adviser and advance a step without his brothers? John, the learned
soldier, beseeches me to declare war, and Charles, the intrepid
hero, implores me not to do so. What am I, the poor emperor, who
cannot advise himself, and who receives too much advice from others,
to do under such circumstances? Whose will must I submit to?"
"Your majesty," cried John, in dismay, "it is we that must submit;
it is your will on which depends the decision. I implore your
majesty to declare war, because I deem it necessary; but, if your
majesty should take a different resolution, I shall submit silently
"And I," said Charles, "requested you to postpone the declaration of
war, because I do not believe that we are sufficiently prepared for
the contest; but, like my brother, I shall submit silently if your
majesty should take a different resolution."
"Indeed, will you do so, archdukes?" asked the emperor, in a
scornful tone. "Will you be mindful of your duties as subjects, and,
instead of giving me unnecessary advice, obey me silently?"
The two archdukes bowed to indicate their submissiveness. The
emperor advanced a few steps, and proudly raising his head, he
looked at his two brothers with a stern and imperious expression.
"Let me tell you, then, archdukes, what I, your lord and emperor,
have resolved," said Francis, sternly. "I have resolved to declare
Two loud cries resounded with one accord; a cry of joy burst from
John's lips, a cry of dismay from those of Charles. Pale, reeling
like a drunken man, the generalissimo approached the emperor and
held out his hands to him with a beseeching expression.
"Your majesty," he said, "you have resolved to declare war, but you
do not mean to say that it is to commence immediately?"
"That is what I mean to say," replied the emperor, sarcastically.
The Archduke Charles turned still paler than before; a strange
tremor passed through his frame, his head dropped on his bosom, and
a deep groan issued from his breast.
The Archduke John, forgetful of his quarrel with his brother
Charles, at the sight of the latter's profound grief, hastened to
him, and tenderly grasped both his hands.
"Brother," he asked, anxiously, "what is the matter? Are you
"I am," said Charles, wiping from his forehead the large drops of
sweat standing on it. "I am unwell, but I must say a few additional
words to the emperor. I must disclose to him a melancholy secret of
which I heard only an hour ago.--Your majesty, I implore you once
more, postpone the war as long as possible; for--hear my terrible
secret--we have been infamously defrauded by Commissary-General von
"Your intimate friend?" interposed the emperor, with a scornful
"Yes, my intimate friend," exclaimed the archduke, in a loud, shrill
voice; "he deceived me most shamefully. All the army contracts had
been intrusted to him, and he assured me he had filled them in the
most conscientious manner. I believed him, and it is only now that I
find out that he has shamefully deceived me and his emperor. All his
bills for the supplies which he pretended to have furnished are in
my hands, but the troops did not get the supplies. The scoundrel
sent only sour flour, bad linen, and moth-eaten uniform cloth to the
regiments, and yet he drew enormous sums of money for the full
amount of his contracts."
"We shall compel the thief to disgorge his ill-gotten gains," cried
"No, your majesty," said Charles, with a groan; and leaning more
firmly on his brother's arm, in order not to sink to the floor, he
added: "no, your majesty, the criminal is beyond the reach of your
power. He escaped from human justice by committing suicide an hour
ago. The criminal has fled from his judges, but his crimes remain,
and our army suffers in consequence of them. Now your majesty knows
all, you will take back your word, and say no longer that you will
declare war. You will be gracious enough to give me time to repair
the injury resulting from the crimes of the commissary-general, and
to provide the army with all that is unfortunately wanting to it as
"No," cried the emperor vehemently, "I will not! I will not take
back my word, and I had already made up my mind before you, my
brothers, entered here to assist me so generously by your wisdom.
War will be declared immediately; my resolution is irrevocable. I
have already informed the French ambassador of it, and ordered him
to leave Vienna this very day. Your warnings come just as much too
late as did John's entreaties. I did what I myself deemed best; and
I deemed it best to declare war against Bonaparte, in reply to his
intolerable arrogance. Every thing is fixed and settled; war will
commence without delay: and you, Archduke Charles, are the
generalissimo of my army."
The Archduke Charles made no reply; he uttered a painful groan and
sank to the floor by John's side. All his limbs trembled and
quivered; his pale face became distorted, he clinched his fists, and
his eyes were glassy as though he were dying.
"He has one of his fits," said the emperor calmly, looking down on
his brother. "Call his servants and his doctor, Archduke John, that
they may remove the generalissimo to another room and administer
medicine to him."
John rushed to the door, and soon the servants and the physician,
who always accompanied the Archduke Charles, hastened into the room.
They lifted with practised hands the archduke, who was still
writhing in convulsions, and carried him tenderly out of the room.
John, who, with touching solicitude, had remained near the sufferer,
would have accompanied him; but a word from the emperor called him
"Stay a moment, archduke," said Francis; "the Archduke Charles only
has his fits, and his servants will take care of him. I have yet to
speak a few words with you. This will be a formidable war, brother,
and we must see to it that it breaks out at the same time in all
quarters of our empire, and that the people rise with one accord and
take up arms. We have made our preparations everywhere, and our
emissaries have done their duty; they have everywhere enlisted
friends of our cause, and established committees which have made all
necessary dispositions for the defence of the country. You yourself
sent your emissary, Baron von Hormayr, to your beloved Tyrol; if I
am correctly informed, he has already returned to Vienna."
"Your majesty, he arrived here this morning," said John, looking at
his brother with an air of surprise and even terror.
This did not escape the emperor, and a smile of satisfaction lit up
"You see, my agents serve me very well, and I am aware of all that
is going on," said Francis, gravely. "I know, too, that Baron von
Hormayr has returned to Vienna not alone, but accompanied by some
good friends. I believe you did not come here to give me your
advice, but to beg permission to receive your Tyrolese friends at
your palace to-night."
"What?" asked John, surprised; "your majesty is aware of this, too?"
"I have told you already that my agents serve me very well. Let this
be a warning to you not to do or undertake any thing that you would
like to conceal from me. I know that Andreas Hofer is here, to
concert with you some sort of plan for the insurrection of the
Tyrol. Under the present circumstances I permit you to do so, for it
is really important that the German and Italian Tyrol should rise;
and as we are going to have war, we will strive to recover our
Tyrol. But we must proceed cautiously, and the world must not find
out that we instigated the Tyrolese to rise in arms. That would be
setting a bad example to the other nations of our empire. We may at
times profit by popular insurrections, but must beware of letting
the world know that we ourselves brought them about. Hence, I do not
want to know any thing of your Tyrolese, and shall not grant them an
audience. But I permit you to do so, and you may tell these brave
Tyrolese, too, that I should be glad if they would become again my
"Your majesty," exclaimed John, joyously, "these words of their
emperor will be the signal for them to rise as one man, take their
rifles, and expel the Evil One, that is to say, the Bavarians."
"I shall be glad to see the Tyrolese do so, and, moreover, do it in
time," said the emperor, nodding his head. "Repeat my words to
Andreas Hofer, brother John, and pledge him my word that, if we
recover the Tyrol this time, we shall never give it up again. But
Andreas Hofer must behave with great prudence, and not show himself
to the public here, but keep in the background, that the police may
wink at his presence in Vienna, and act as though they did not see
him and his friends. And now, brother, farewell, and inquire if the
generalissimo has recovered from his fit. It would be bad, indeed,
if these fits should befall him once in the midst of a battle. Well,
let us hope for the best for us all, and especially for the Tyrol.
You have now a great task before you, John, for you will receive a
command; you shall assist the Tyrolese in shaking off the foreign
"Oh, my lord and emperor," exclaimed John, with a radiant face and
fiery glance, "how kind and gracious you are to-day! It is the heart
of a brother that speaks out of your mouth--of a brother who wishes
to make me happy, and knows how to do so. Yes, send me with a corps
to the assistance of the Tyrolese; let me bring freedom and
salvation to my beloved mountaineers. That is a task which fills me
with boundless ecstasy, and for which I shall always be grateful and
devoted to you, brother."
"Be devoted to your emperor, archduke," said Francis, smiling; "the
brothers will get along well enough; they have nothing to do with
politics and public affairs. Farewell, John. But, remember, we shall
meet again to-day, for I shall summon the ministers and generals to
a consultation, and you will, of course, be present. Once more,
He nodded repeatedly to the archduke and left the room with unusual
quickness. The emperor walked hastily and with a gloomy face through
the adjoining room, and entered his cabinet, the door of which he
closed rather noisily. "I am to let him bring freedom and salvation
to his beloved mountaineers," murmured Francis to himself--"to HIS
mountaineers! I believe he would be glad if they really were his,
and if he could become King of the Tyrol. Well, we shall see. I have
lulled his suspicion by permitting him to hold intercourse with the
Tyrolese, and concert plans with them. We shall see how far my
brother will go, and what his gratitude and devotion will amount to.
It is a troublesome burden for me to have such dangerously ambitious
and renowned brothers, against whom I must be constantly on my
guard. I would I could pick them off as quickly as I remove the
flies from this wall."
So saying, he took from the table the fly flap which had always to
lie on it in readiness, and entered upon his favorite amusement, the
pursuit of the flies on the wall and furniture, which his servants
took good care not to drive from the emperor's cabinet, because
Francis would never have pardoned them for spoiling his sport.
Walking along the walls with a rapid step, the emperor commenced
killing the flies.
"Ha!" he exclaimed, striking a fly, "ha! brother Charles, this
stroke is intended for you. Really, there lies the fly writhing, as
the generalissimo did, on the floor. But he has a tougher life than
the fly; for the fly will writhe until it is dead, but the
generalissimo always revives; and when he has no fits, he is a very