Part 11 out of 22
circumstances to yield the point."
"Ah!" cried Gallitzin, laughing, "Austria would find herself in the
singular position of a nation warring with another to force that nation
to take care of its own interests. Will your highness then tell me, what
are the conditions which Austria is willing to accept for Turkey?"
"They are these: that the right of the Sultan to appoint the Khan of the
Crimea and the Hospodar of Wallachia remain untouched. If Russia will
recognize the sovereignty of the Porte in that quarter, then Austria
will induce him to withdraw his pretensions in Tartary."
"And to leave to Russia the territory she has conquered there?" asked
Gallitzin with his ineffable smile. "The czarina has no desire to
enlarge her vast empire. Russia does not war in the Crimea for herself,
but for a noble race of men who feel rich and powerful enough to elect
their own rulers. Her struggle in Tartary is simply that of civilization
and freedom against barbarism and tyranny."
"How beautiful all this sounds in the mouth of a Russian!" said Kaunitz,
smiling. "You will acknowledge that Russia is not always consistent; for
instance--in Poland, where she does not perceive the right of a noble
race of men to elect their own rulers, but forces upon them a king whom
they all despise. I must now declare to you that my sovereign will enter
into negotiations with Turkey on one condition only: that the
territorial rights of Poland be left untouched, not only by Russia, but
by any other European power!" [Footnote: V. Dohm. "Memoirs" vol. i., p.
Prince Gallitzin stared at Kaunitz as he heard these astounding words;
but the Austrian met his gaze with perfect unconcern.
"Your highness defends the integrity of Polish territory," said
Gallitzin, after a short pause, "and yet you have been the first to
invade it. Is not the Zips a portion of the kingdom of Poland?"
"No, your highness, no. The Zips was originally a Hungarian dependency,
and was mortgaged to Poland. We intend to resume our property and pay
the mortgage in the usual way. This is not at all to the point. We speak
of the fate of Poland. As for Austria, she aims at nothing but her
rights; and as soon as the Empress of Russia withdraws her troops from
Polish ground, we will withdraw ours, as well as all pretensions
whatever to the smallest portion of Polish territory."
"And doubtless your highness intends to restore every thing for which
the Poles are now contending. Her ancient constitution, for instance;
that constitution which has been thrown upon the political system of
Europe like the apple of Eris, threatening discord and conflict without
"No," said Kaunitz, quickly, "their constitution must be modified as the
interests of their neighbors may require. We must unite on some
modifications that are suitable to us, and if Poland refuse to accept
there, she must be forced to do it."
"Ah!" cried Gallitzin, much relieved, "if your highness is of this mind
we will soon understand one another; and I may, therefore, be permitted
to speak with perfect frankness on the part of Russia."
"At last!" exclaimed Kaunitz, taking a long breath. "Russia will speak
at last! So far she has only acted; and I confess that her actions have
"Russia keeps pace with Austria," said Gallitzin. "The court of Vienna
says that the integrity of Poland must be respected; nevertheless she is
the first to lay her hand upon it."
"Some things we dare not do because they seem too difficult, others only
seem to be difficult because we dare not do them. We have taken our
slice of Poland because it belonged to us, and the difficulty of the
step has not deterred us."
"Ah, your highness, as regards your right to the Zips, there is not a
kingdom in Europe that has not some old forgotten right to her
neighbor's territory! Russia and--Prussia, too, have similar claims on
Poland, so that if it be agreeable to the empress-queen and to--your
highness we will meet together to have an understanding on the subject.
Some little time may be required to define our several claims, but this
once settled, there will be no further difficulty in the way."
"I see," said Kaunitz, with a satisfied air, "that we already understand
one another. As Russia has spoken and has made proposals, Austria is
ready to respond. But before we attend to our own affairs, let us give
peace to Turkey. The court of Vienna will negotiate between you. Let me
advise you to be exorbitant in your demands; go somewhat beyond your
real intentions, so that Austria may be obliged to decline your
"And in this way your highness proposes to bring about a peace with
Turkey?" asked Prince Gallitzin, astounded.
"Certainly I do. Austria declines the proposals; Russia moderates her
demands, that is, she concedes what she never intended to exact, and
presents this as her ultimatum. Austria, satisfied with the concessions
now offered to her ally, is of opinion that he should accept them; and
if he prove unreasonable, must force him to do it."
"Your highness is indeed a great statesman!" exclaimed Gallitzin, with
"When a Russian ambassador says so it must be true," replied Kaunitz,
bowing. "As to Poland, the great question there is to preserve the
balance of power. I beg, therefore, that Russia and Prussia will make
known at once the extent of their claims there, that Austria may shape
hers accordingly. I shall enter at once into correspondence with the
King of Prussia, to ascertain his views as to the future boundaries of
Poland. Two things are indispensable to insure the success of this
"What are they?"
"First: perfect frankness between the three powers who are to act as
one; and celerity of action, lest Poland should be quieted before we
come in with our remedy."
"I agree with you. And second?"
"Second: profound secrecy. If France or England were to scent the
affair, there would be troublesome intervention, and we might all be
disappointed. Europe must not learn the partition of Poland until it is
a fait accompli."
"I promise discretion both for Russia and Prussia," said Gallitzin,
eagerly. "Europe shall not hear of it until our troops are on the spot
to defend us from outside interference. All that is necessary now is to
find three equal portions, so that each claimant shall be satisfied."
"Oh," said Kaunitz carelessly, as he played with the lace that edged is
cuffs, "if three equal parts are not to be found on Polish ground, we
can trespass upon the property of another neighbor who has too much
land; and if he resists, we can very soon bring him to reason."
Prince Gallitzin looked with visible astonishment at the cold and calm
face of the Austrian. "Another neighbor?" echoed he, with embarrassment.
"But we have no neighbor unless it be the Porte himself."
"Precisely the neighbor to whom I have reference," said Kaunitz, nodding
his head. "He is almost as troublesome as Poland, and will be the better
for a little blood-letting. I authorize your highness to lay these
propositions before your court; and I await the answer."
"Oh!" cried Gallitzin, laughing while he arose from his chair, "you will
always find Russia ready for a surgical operation upon the body of her
hereditary enemy. The law, both of nature and of necessity, impels her
to prey upon Turkey, and the will of Peter the Great can never be
carried out until the foot of Russia rests upon the Sultans throne at
"Well," said Kaunitz, when Prince Gallitzin had taken his leave, "did
you understand our conference, Binder?"
"Understand!" exclaimed Binder, coming from behind the screen. "No,
indeed! I must have been drunk or dreaming. I surely did not hear your
highness, who, not an hour since, concluded a treaty with Turkey by
which the independence of Poland was to be guaranteed--I surely did not
hear you agree to a partition between Russia, Prussia, and Austria!"
"Yes, you did. We are driven to accept our share of Poland merely by way
of decreasing that of our neighbors."
"Then I DID understand as regards Poland. But I must have been dreaming
when I thought you had told me that we had concluded a treaty with the
Porte by which he pays us ten millions of piasters for our good offices
"Not at all. I certainly told you so."
"Then, dear prince, I have lost my senses," cried Binder, "for indeed I
dreamed that you had proposed to Russia, in case there was not land
enough to satisfy you all in Poland, to take some from the Sultan. "
"You have heard aright. You are very tiresome with your questions and
your stupid, wonder-stricken face. I suppose if a piece of Poland were
thrown at your feet, you would pick it up and hand it over to
Stanislaus; and if the Porte stood before you with a million of
piasters, you would say, 'Not for the world!' It is easy to see what
would become of Austria in your dainty hands! An enviable position she
would hold, if conscience were to guide her policy!"
"No danger while YOU hold the reins, for there will never be a trace of
conscience in your policy," muttered Binder, gathering up his papers and
passing into the adjoining room.
Prince Kaunitz shrugged his shoulders and rang his bell.
"My new state-coach," said he to Hippolyte, who, instead of flying off
as usual to obey, remained standing at the door.
"Why do you stand there?" asked the Prince.
"Pardon me, your highness, the state-coach is not ready," stammered the
"Not yet ready?" repeated the prince, accenting each word. "Did I not
order it to be here at two o'clock?"
"Yes, your highness, but the upholsterer could not understand the
drawings which were given him. He began to work by them, but was obliged
to undo his work, and this caused the delay."
"The man has the assurance to say that he could not work after the
drawings made by my own hand?" asked Kaunitz, with a firey glance of
anger in his eyes. "Because he is an ass does the churl dare to
criticise my drawings? Let him bring the body of the coach to the
palace, and I will show him that he is a bungler and knows nothing of
And the prince, in his rage, stalked to the door. Suddenly he stopped.
"What is the state of the thermometer to-day?" said he.
The valet flew to the window and examined the little thermometer that
"Sixty degrees, your highness."
"Sixty degrees!" sighed the prince. "Then I dare not go to the
coach-house. Is the coach mounted on the wheels?"
"No, your highness."
"Then let the upholsterer have the carriage brought to my room, with the
drawings and his tools. Be off! In ten minutes all must be here!"
Just ten minutes later the door opened, and in came a handbarrow, upon
which stood the body of the coach. It was one mass of bronze,
plate-glass mirrors, and gilding. Behind it appeared the upholsterer,
pale with fright, carrying on one arm a bundle of satin and velvet, and
in his right hand holding the drawings of the prince. "Set it down in
the centre of the room," said Kaunitz, imperiously, and then turning a
look of wrath upon the unhappy upholsterer, he said, with terrible
emphasis: "Is it true that you have the audacity to say that you cannot
work after my drawings?"
"I hope your highness will forgive me," stammered the upholsterer, "but
there is not room in the inside of the coach for all the bows and
rosettes. I would have been obliged to make them so small that the coach
would have looked like one of the patterns we show to our customers. "
"And you dare tell me that to my face? Do you suppose that I do not know
your miserable trade, or do you mean that it is easier to govern an
empire than to trim up a coach? I will prove to you that I am a better
upholsterer than you are. Open the door, and I will decorate the coach
The upholsterer opened the richly-gilded glass door, and Kaunitz, as
much in earnest as when he had been giving and taking a kingdom, entered
the coach and seated himself.
"Give me the satin and velvet, and hold up the drawings, that I may work
after them. Some of you hand me the nails, and some one have the needle
ready. You shall see how Prince Kaunitz, through the stupidity of his
upholsterer, is obliged to decorate the interior of his own coach."
The prince began to work; and in the same room where he had signed
treaties and received ambassadors, the great Austrian statesman sewed
and hammered until he had decorated his carriage to his own
THE LAST PETITION.
Maria Theresa paced her cabinet in visible agitation. Her face was sad
beyond expression, and her eyes turned anxiously toward the door.
"I tremble," murmured she; "for the first time in my life I mistrust the
deed I am about to do. All is not clear in the depths of my conscience;
the voice that whispers such misgivings to my heart, is one which shames
the worldly wisdom of my councillors. We are about to do a wicked deed,
and we shall answer for it before Heaven! Would that my right hand had
lost its cunning, ere ever it had been forced to sign this cruel
document! Oh, it is an unholy thing, this alliance with an unbelieving
king and a dissolute empress! And an alliance for what? To destroy a
kingdom, and to rob its unhappy people of their nationality forever!"
"But what avails remorse?" continued she, heaving a deep sigh. "It is
too late, too late! In a few moments Joseph will be here to exact my
signature, and I dare not refuse it. I have yielded my right to protest
against this crime, and--ah, he comes!" cried the empress, pressing her
hands upon her heart, as she heard the lock of the door turning.
She fell into an arm-chair and trembled violently. But it was not the
emperor who appeared as the door opened; it was the Baroness von
Salmour, governess to the archduchesses.
"Baroness!" cried the empress, "it must be something of most imminent
importance that brings you hither. What is it?"
"I come in the name of misfortune to ask of your majesty a favor," said
the baroness, earnestly.
"Speak, then, and speak quickly."
"Will your majesty grant an audience to my unhappy country-woman, the
"The Countess Anna!" said the empress, with a shudder. Then, as if
ashamed of her agitation, she added, quickly.
"Admit her. If the emperor comes, let him enter also."
The baroness courtesied and withdrew, but she left the door open; and
now was seen advancing the tall and graceful figure of the countess. Her
face was pale as that of the dead. She still wore her black velvet
dress, and the long veil which fell around her person, hovered about her
like a dark, storm-heralding cloud.
"She looks like the angel of death," murmured the empress. "It seems to
me that if those pale, transparent hands, which she folds over her
breast, were to unclasp, her icy breath would still the beatings of my
The countess glided in like a vision, and the door closed behind her.
The empress received her with an affable smile.
"It is very long since I have seen you," said the proud Maria Theresa,
with an embarrassment to which her rank had hitherto made her a
"I was waiting to be summoned by your majesty," replied the countess.
"And as I did not summon you, you came voluntarily. That was kind. I am
very glad to see you."
The lady replied to these flattering words by an inclination of the
head, and a pause ensued. Each one seemed waiting for the other to
speak. As the empress perceived, after a while, that the lips of the
pale countess did not move, she resolved to break the irksome silence
herself. In her own frank way, scorning all circumlocution, she went at
once to the subject nearest their hearts.
"I know why you are here to-day," said she, with a painful blush. "You
have heard of the fate which threatens Poland, and you have come to ask
if thus I fulfil the promises I made to you! Speak--is it not so? Have I
not rightly read the meaning of that lovely but joyless face?"
"It is so," sighed the countess, and her voice trembled with unshed
tears. "Yes, from the solitude wherein I had buried my grief since last
I saw your majesty, I have heard the fatal tidings of my country's woe,
and yet I live! Oh, why should the body survive, when the soul is dead?"
Her words died away upon her lips, and she seemed to grow paler and more
pale as though every drop of blood in her veins had stiffened and turned
to ice. But she heaved a sigh and rallied, for hope now touched her
heart, and the statue awoke to life.
"Ah, great empress," said she, with fervor, "I come to you, in whose
powerful hand lies the issue of my country's fate, whose mighty word can
bid us live, or doom us to death."
"Oh, were it so, you would not sue in vain!" cried the empress,
sorrowfully. "Had the fate of Poland lain in MY hands, she would have
risen triumphant from the arena, where she has battled so bravely for
her sacred rights!"
"Poland's fate lies in your majesty's hand!" exclaimed the countess,
vehemently. "You have not yet signed the warrant for my country's
execution; you are still innocent of her blood; your hand is still free
from participation in the crime of her enemies and yours! Oh, let me
kiss that hand and bless it, while yet it is spotless and pure as your
Hurried away by the might of the sorrow that overwhelmed her, the
countess darted forward, and throwing herself at the feet of the
empress, drew her hand fervently to her lips.
"Rise, dear countess Anna, rise," said the empress, soothingly. "I cannot
bear to see you at my feet, when I can do nothing to avert the fate of
"Who, then, can help her, if not your majesty?" cried the countess. "Oh,
I did not come hither to reproach you; I came but to entreat you to
speak the word that will disenthrall my country!"
"I cannot do it; as God hears me, I cannot," repeated Maria Theresa, in
a voice of anguish. "I have striven against it with all my might. What I
have suffered for your countrymen, no one will ever know! The anxious
days and wretched nights that I have spent for their sakes, have
threatened my life." [Footnote: The empress's own words. See Raumer,
"Contributions to Modern History," vol. iv., p. 539.]
"I CANNOT!" echoed the countess, who seemed to have heard nothing but
these few words. "An empress!--an empress! who, with a wave of her hand,
sways millions of men, and is responsible for her actions to no earthly
"Save that which resides in the claims of her subjects upon the
sovereign, who is bound to reign for their good. I am responsible to my
people for the preservation of peace. Too much blood has been shed since
I came to the throne; and nothing would induce me to be the cause that
the soil of Austria should be crimsoned by another drop." [Footnote: The
empress's own words. See Wolf, "Austria under Maria Theresa," p. 527.]
"And to spare a drop of Austrian blood, your majesty will deal the blow
that murders a whole nation!" cried the countess, rising to her feet and
looking defiance at the empress. "In your egotism for Austria, you turn
from a noble nation who have as good a right to freedom as your own
"Countess, you forget yourself. By what right do you reprove me?"
"By the right which misfortune gives to truth," replied she, proudly,
"and by the right which your imperial word has given me to speak. For
now I recall to you that promise, and I ask where is the eagle that was
to swoop down upon the vultures which are preying upon Poland?"
"Oh, they have caged the eagle," said the empress, sadly. "God in heaven
knows how manfully I have battled for Poland. When I threatened
interference, the answer was this: 'We have resolved to dismember
Poland, and you shall not prevent us.' What, then, could I do? Declare
war? That were to ruin my people. Remain passive, while my enemies
enlarged their frontiers, so as to endanger my own? We then had recourse
to stratagem. We defended our soil inch by inch, and gave up when
resistance became fanaticism. We required for our share more than we
desired, hoping to be refused. But no! To my sorrow and disappointment,
even more was apportioned than we had claimed. Oh! the whole thing has
been so repugnant to my sense of justice, that I refused to take any
share in its arrangements, and all the negotiations have been conducted
by the emperor, Prince Kaunitz and Marshal Lacy." [Footnote: This
discourse is historical. See Wolf, p. 825. Raumer, vol. iv., p. 540.]
"And these are the ashes of the mighty promises of emperors and
empresses!" exclaimed the countess, bitterly. "Oh, empress, think of the
time when you shall appear before God, to give account of your deeds!
How will you answer, when the record of this day is brought before you?
For the last time I am at your feet. Oh, as you hope for mercy above, do
not sign the act that dismembers Poland!"
She was again on her knees; her beautiful eyes drowned in tears, and her
hands clasped convulsively above her head.
"Oh, my God!" exclaimed the empress, rising to her feet, "she does not
believe me." Then bending tenderly over the countess, she pressed her
hands between her own, and gently raised her to a seat.
"Do you not see how deeply I suffer, when I have no spirit to chide your
hard words to me? It is because I comprehend your sorrow, poor child,
that I forgive your injustice. And now, to prove my sincerity," added
she, going to her escritoire and taking from it a letter, "read this! I
was about to send it to Prince Kaunitz when your visit caused me to
forget it. Read it aloud, that I may know whether you understand me at
The countess unfolded the letter and read:
"When my own empire was threatened, and I knew not where to lay my head;
when the sorrows of childbirth were overtaking me, I threw myself upon
God and my just rights. But to-day, when humanity, justice, ay--reason
itself, cry aloud against our acts, I confess to you that my anxiety
transcends all that I have ever suffered in my life before. Tell me,
Prince Kaunitz, have you thought of the evil example we are giving to
the nations of earth, when, for the sake of a few acres of additional
territory, we cast away our reputation, our dignity, and our honor?
"If I yield to-day, it is because I struggle alone, and no longer have
the vigor of mind to contend for right, as in years gone by I would have
done. I am overpowered, but I surrender with a bleeding heart."
[Footnote: This letter was written by Maria Theresa's own hand. See
Hormayer, "Pocket History of Our Native Land," 1831, p. 66.]
The countess remained looking at the parer for a time, then she raised
her tearful eyes to the face of the empress. "I thank your majesty,"
said she, deeply moved, "for allowing me to see this letter. It will
remain in history as a noble monument of Maria Theresa's rectitude. I
have no longer a word of blame for you; and once again, in love and
reverence, I kiss this hand, although I know that to-day it must sign
the death-warrant of unhappy Poland."
She drew near, and raised the hand of the empress to her lips. But Maria
Theresa threw her arms around the countess, exclaiming: "To my heart,
dear, unhappy one! I cannot save Poland, but I can weep with her
loveliest and noblest daughter!"
The countess, overcome by this unexpected tenderness, leaned upon the
bosom of the empress, and wept. Maria Theresa stroked her lustrous black
hair, and, as she kissed her marble cheek, the tears that had gathered
in her eyes, fell upon the head of the countess, where they glittered
like stars upon the darkness of the night.
Neither saw the door open; but both heard a soft, melodious voice,
saying: "Pardon me, your majesty, I thought you were alone."
The countess uttered a low cry, and trembled from head to foot.
"Do not fear," said the empress, as she gently withdrew her arms, "it is
my son the emperor. We need not hide our tears from him, for he knows
that this is not the first time his mother has wept for Poland."
The emperor said nothing; he stood staring at the pale and trembling
Anna. He, too, grew deathly pale as he looked, and now his trembling
limbs answered to the agitation that was overpowering her. Suddenly, as
though awaking from a painful dream, he approached, and offering his
"I rejoice to see you. I have long sought you in vain."
She did not appear to see him. Her arm hung listlessly at her side,
while her figure swayed to and fro like a storm-tossed lily.
"I have not been in Vienna," answered she, in a voice scarcely audible.
"I had gone to bury my sorrow in solitude."
"But her love for Poland brought her hither," said the empress, putting
her arm affectionately around the countess's waist.
"I believe you," returned Joseph, bitterly. "The fate of Poland is the
only thing worthy of touching the Countess Wielopolska. She is not a
woman, she is a Pole--nothing more."
One low wail struggled from the depths of her breaking heart, but she
spoke not a word.
The emperor went on: "The Countess Wielopolska is not a woman. She is a
monad, representing patriotism; and he who cannot think as she does, is
a criminal unworthy of her regard."
"You are cruel, my son," said the empress, deprecatingly. "If the
countess has been bitter in her reproaches to you, we must remember her
grief and her right to reproach us. We should be gentle with
misfortune--above all, when we can bring no relief."
"Let him go on, your majesty," murmured the wretched Anna, while her
eyes were raised with a look of supreme agony upon the stern face of the
"Your majesty is right. I am nothing but a Pole, and I will die with my
fatherland. Your hands shall close our coffin-lids, for our fates will
not cost you a tear. The dear, noble empress has wept for us both, and
the remembrance of her sympathy and of your cruelty we will carry with
us to the grave."
The emperor's eyes flashed angrily, and he was about to retort, but he
controlled himself and approached the empress.
"Your majesty will pardon me if I interrupt your interesting
conversation, but state affairs are peremptory, and supersede all other
considerations. Your majesty has commanded my presence that I might sign
the act of partition. The courier, who is to convey the news to Berlin
and St. Petersburg, is ready to go. Allow me to ask if your majesty has
The countess, who understood perfectly that the emperor, in passing her
by, to treat with his mother of this dreadful act of partition, wished
to force her to retire, withdrew silently to the door.
But the empress, hurt that her son should have been so unfeeling, went
forward, and led her back to her seat.
"No, countess, stay. The emperor says that you represent Poland. Then
let him justify his acts to us both, and prove that what he has done is
right. I have suffered such anguish of mind over the partition of
Poland, that Joseph would lift a load from my heart, if he could show me
that it is inevitable. My son, you have come for my signature. Before
God, your mother, and Poland herself, justify our deed, and I will sign
"Justify? There are many things which we may defend without being able
to justify them: and stern necessity often forces us to the use of
measures which conscience disapproves."
"Prove to me, then, the necessity which has forced us to dismember a
country whose people have never injured us," said the empress,
"But whose disunion at home has become dangerous to their neighbors.
Poland lies like a sick man in our midst, whose dying breath infects the
land. When there is a fire in our neighborhood, we are sometimes obliged
to tear down the burning house lest the fire spread to our own."
"Yes," interrupted the countess, "but you do not rob the neighbor of his
land. The soil belongs to him who owns the house."
"But the Poles are not worthy to own their soil. What is Poland to-day?
A race of slaves and peasants, without law or order, driven hither and
thither by a lewd and corrupt aristocracy, who, instead of blushing for
the degeneracy of their caste, hold their saturnalia over the very
graves of their noble ancestors. And at the head of this degenerate
people is their king, the minion of a foreign court, who promulgates the
laws which he receives from his imperial Russian mistress. Verily, God
has weighed the Polish nation in His balance, and they have been found
"Enough!" faltered the countess, raising her hand in deprecation. "Why
will you vilify a people who are in the throes of death?"
"No, it is not enough," said the emperor, sternly. "The empress says
that I must justify the acts of the three powers to Poland--that pale
and beautiful statue before me which lives--and yet is not a woman. I
say it again: a nation dies by its own corruption! Poland bears within
herself the seeds of her destruction. Her people have been false to
their antecedents, false to themselves, to their honor, and even to
their faith." [Footnote: Wolf. "Austria under Maria Theresa." p. 535.]
"You accuse, but you bring no proofs!" exclaimed the countess, her eyes
now flashing with wounded pride.
"It will not be difficult to collect my proofs," said the emperor,
sneering. "Look at what takes place in Poland, since your countrymen
have foreseen the fate of their fatherland. What are the Polish diet
doing since they anticipate the close of their sittings? Voting
themselves pensions, property, and every conceivable revenue, at the
expense of the republic, and giving her, with their own parricidal
hands, the coup de grace. Such shameless corruption has never come to
light in the history of any other nation. Freedom and fatherland are in
every mouth, but, in reality, no people care less for either than do the
Poles. Slaves, who, while they hold out their hands to be manacled, are
striving to reign over other slaves! [Footnote: Raumer, "Contributions,"
Vol. iv., p. 551.] This is a picture of the Poland whom you love, and
through her own crimes she is dying."
"It is not true!" cried the indignant countess. "She dies through the
covetousness and greed of her neighbors. It is they who have sown
dissension in Poland, while forcing upon her unhappy people a king who
is nothing but the despicable tool of their despicable intrigues."
"All this has no reference to Austria," objected the emperor. "We had
nothing to do with the selection of the king--nothing to do with the
projects of dismemberment. They were resolved upon, with or without our
sanction, and the law of self-preservation demands that if we cannot
prevent, we must endeavor to profit by them. I know that the partition
of Poland has an appearance of gross outrage which is obvious to every
eye; while the stringent necessity which has driven Austria to
participate in it is known to few. I confess that I would be grieved if
the world should misjudge me on this question; for I try, both in public
and private life, to be an honest man; and I believe that honesty in
statesmanship is the wisest and soundest policy. [Footnote: The
emperor's own words. See Raumer, "Contributions," &c., Vol. iv., p.
539.] We could not do otherwise than we have done, and now, with the
full conviction of the exigency which has called for the act, I repeat
my question to your majesty, have you signed the act, or will you be so
kind as to sign it now?"
The empress had listened with profound attention to her son's discourse,
and her countenance, which before had been pale with anxiety, had
assumed an expression of blended serenity and resolution. A pause
ensued. Marble-white and speechless the countess, with half-open mouth,
started and bent forward, her eyes fixed upon the empress; the emperor,
stern and proud, threw back his head and gazed defiantly.
In the midst of this throbbing silence, Maria Theresa went forward and
took her seat at the escritoire. She dipped her pen in the silver
inkstand, and a sob, that sounded like the last death-sigh, escaped from
the lips of the countess. The empress turned quickly around; but the
glance of her eye was resolute and her hand was firm.
She bent over the parchment and wrote; then, throwing her pen on the
floor, she turned to the emperor and pointed with her right hand to the
deed. "Placet," cried she, with her clear, ringing voice--"placet, since
so many great and wise men will have it so. When I am dead, the world
will learn what came of this violation of all that man holds sacred."
[Footnote: The empress's own words.]
And either that she might conceal her own emotion, or avoid an outburst
of grief from the countess, the empress walked hastily through the room,
and shut herself up in her dressing-room.
The countess moaned, and murmuring, "Finis Poloniae!" she, too,
attempted to cross the room.
The emperor watched her, his eyes beaming with tenderness, his heart a
prey to violent anguish. As she reached the door, he saw her reel and
cling to a column for support.
With one bound he reached her, and flinging his arms around her swaying
figure, she fell, almost unconscious, upon his bosom. For one
bewildering moment she lay there.
"Finis Poloniae!" murmured she again, and, drawing herself up to her
full height, she again approached the door.
"Farewell!" said she, softly.
The emperor seized her hand. "Anna," said he, imploringly, "Anna, do we
part thus? Is this our last interview? Shall we never meet again?"
She turned, and all the love that she had struggled to conquer was in
her eyes as they met his. "We shall meet once more," replied she.
"When?" cried Joseph, frantic with grief.
"When the hour has come for us to meet again, I will send for you.
Promise to be there to receive my last farewell."
"I swear to be there."
"Farewell, beloved Anna! Oh, let me touch your hand once more!"
"No!" said she, harshly; and, opening the door, she disappeared, and the
emperor was left alone.
THE MAD COUNTESS.
Count Starhemberg paced his splendid drawing-room in a state of great
excitement. Sometimes he murmured broken sentences, then he sighed
heavily, and again he seemed to be a prey to fear. Occasionally, his
eyes glanced almost reproachfully toward the figure of a young man, who,
with folded arms and smiling countenance, stood in the embrasure of a
window watching the old man's agitation.
As the clock on the marble mantel struck the hour, the count stopped
before his young visitor, and looked searchingly at his mild and
"The half hour has elapsed, Count Esterhazy," said he, solemnly. "I have
told you frankly that my niece, although a beautiful and perchance a
good-hearted woman, has a temper which is the terror of my household.
She inherits this misfortune from her deceased father, and, unhappily,
her lovely and amiable mother did not long survive him. There has been
no one, therefore, to control her; and her terrible temper has never
been restrained. Do not say to me that I might have conquered it! I have
dedicated my whole life to her; and lest she should make another being
unhappy, I have remained a bachelor, as you perceive. But I had made a
solemn promise to her parents that I would be a father to her, and I
have kept my promise. It is not my fault if their child is less amiable
than other women. She has an energetic character, and I fear that if she
marries, she will find means to tyrannize over her husband. I repeat
this to you count, that we may clearly understand each other; and now
that the half hour has gone by, do you still urge your suit?"
"Yes, count, I do," replied Esterhazy in a, soft, treble voice. "I
repeat to you the offer of my hand to the Countess Margaret
The count bowed. "I have done my duty, and, being cleared of all
responsibility in the affair, I give my consent. You must now try to win
"I would like to see the countess in your presence," said Esterhazy,
Count Starhemberg rang the bell, and ordered a servant to bear a request
to his niece to join him in the drawing-room.
"The countess would have the honor of joining her uncle immediately,"
was the answer.
"This promises well," said the old count, looking relieved. "She
generally practises her music at this hour; and I am surprised that--"
Just then the sharp tones of an angry female voice were heard without,
then the jingling of glasses, then a crash, and the fall of some heavy
"That is my niece," said the old man with a shiver. "With that fanfare
she usually announces her coming."
Now the door was flung violently open, and a tall, magnificent woman
dashed into the room. Her features, marvellously chiselled as those of
the antique Venus, would have been irresistible in beauty, if their
expression had corresponded to their symmetry--But in her large black
eyes glared the fire of ungoverned passion, and her rosy mouth was
curled with contempt.
Her tall figure was of exquisite proportions; and her arms, adorned but
not hidden by the lace which fell from the short sleeves of her crimson
velvet dress, were as fair and beautiful as those of the Venus of Milo.
Count Esterhazy, intoxicated by the sight of her wondrous beauty,
withdrew abashed behind the window-curtain, while the countess, graceful
as an angry leopardess, bounded through the room, and stood before her
"Who has annoyed you, my child?" asked he timidly.
"He is an idiot, an awkward animal, and shall be driven from the house
with the lash!" cried she. "Just imagine, uncle, that as I was coming
hither, I met him in the anteroom with a plateau of cups and glasses.
When he saw me, the fool fell to trembling as if he had seen an evil
spirit--the plateau shook; and my dear mother's last gift, the goblet
from which she had cooled her dying lips, fell to the floor and was
Her voice, at first so loud and angry, was now soft and pathetic, and
her eyes glistened with tears. She shook them off impatiently.
"I can well understand, dear child, how much it must have grieved you to
lose this precious relic," said her uncle, soothingly.
She blushed as though she had been surprised in a fault.
"Oh, it was not that," said she, pettishly, "it is all the same to me
whether the goblet was a relic or not, for I hate sentiment. But I
detest such an awkward fool. He never COULD carry any thing without
letting it fall."
"Nay, my child, he has often carried you for hours in his arms, and yet
he never let you fall."
"Uncle, your jests are insupportable," cried she, stamping with her
little satin-slippered foot upon the carpet. "You excuse this
gray-headed dunce merely to vex me, and to remind me that I am an orphan
without a home."
"But my dear--"
"Peace! I will not be interrupted. If I am tyrannized over in every
other way, I will at least claim the right to speak--I wish to say that
this old plague shall not remain here another day to torment my life
with his nonsense. This time, however, I made him feel the weight of my
hand. His face was as red as my dress after it."
"You struck my faithful old Isidor?" cried the count, shocked.
"Yes, I did," replied she, looking defiantly into her uncle's mild face.
"I beat him well, and then I threw the whole waiter of cups and glasses
upon the floor. Have you any fault to find with that, my sympathizing
"None, none," said the old man. "If it gave you pleasure to break the
glasses, we will go out and buy others."
"WE! No, indeed, we shall not. Isidor shall pay for them from his wages.
It was his fault that I was obliged to break them, and no one shall
suffer for it except himself. I claim that as an act of bare justice to
"But, my dear countess--"
She stamped her foot again. "Great God! have you no object in life
except that of contradicting and ill-treating me?"
The count sighed and approached the door. She heard him, and an exulting
smile lit up her beautiful, stormy face.
"Well, as you will not tell him, I shall do it myself. Yes--I shall do
it myself. Do you hear, uncle? You shall not say a word to him."
"I will say nothing, Margaret. Will you now allow me to speak of other
things? Is your vehemence--"
"In your just displeasure, you have overlooked the fact that we are not
He pointed to the window where, half hidden by the heavy silk drapery,
stood Count Frank Esterhazy. The countess followed her uncle's glance,
and as she became aware of the visitor's presence, burst into a merry
"Do not be frightened, young man," said she then; "you may come out from
your corner. I am not a cat, and I don't devour mice. Ah, you have heard
our discussion? What a pity you are not a dramatic poet, you have had
such an opportunity for depicting a foolish old guardian and his
"Unfortunately, I am not a poet," said the young count, coming forward
and bowing to the floor. "If I were, I could write to-day a hundred
sonnets to the eyes of the majestic Hera whose anger heightens her
"Uncle," said the countess, suddenly assuming a stately and court-like
demeanor, "be so good as to present me this young stranger, who pays
such insipid compliments."
"My dear niece, let me introduce Count Frank Esterhazy, a nobleman just
returned from Italy, who is in high favor with the empress."
"The latter is no recommendation, uncle, for am I not also a favorite
with the empress? Have you not often told me so, when the empress was
humbling me with some of her tyrannical condescension?"
"Certainly, my child, I have said so."
"Then you see that it is not necessary to be estimable for one to gain
the empress's good-will. For my part, I wish she loved me less, for then
she would spare me some of the long sermons with which she edifies me,
when I happen to appear at court."
"That, probably, is the reason you appear so seldom," said Count
Esterhazy. "I have heard your absence complained of."
"By her majesty?" asked Count Starhemberg.
"No, your excellency, by the emperor."
"What did he say?"
"Dare I repeat his words?" asked Esterhazy, appealing to the countess.
She bowed her head, and leaned against the back of an arm-chair.
"I was yesterday at the empress's reception. The emperor was so kind as
to do the honors of the court to me. He pointed out the several beauties
of Vienna, who were all strangers to me--'But,' said he, 'the most
beautiful woman in Austria I cannot show you, for she is not here. The
Countess Margaret von Starhemberg has the beauty of Juno and Venus
The countess said nothing; she stood with downcast eyes. Her cheek had
paled, and her lips were firmly compressed together. Suddenly she
rallied and said, with a careless laugh
"I wager that the empress and her ladies made some amiable commentary on
the emperor's words. Come, tell me, what said the empress?"
"If you command me, countess, I will tell you. The empress added, with a
sigh, 'It is true, she is as beautiful as a goddess, but it is Eris whom
"Very witty!" exclaimed the countess, with a sneer.
"And the emperor?" inquired the uncle.
"The emperor frowned at the ladies, who began to laugh. 'Your majesty
may be right,' said he, 'but Grecian mythology has forgotten to say
whether the fierce goddess was ever vanquished by love. Love tames the
most turbulent of women."'
The countess uttered a sharp cry, and caught with both her hands at the
back of the arm-chair. Her eyes closed, and a deadly paleness overspread
her countenance. Her uncle hastened to put his arm around her, inquiring
tenderly, "Dearest child, what ails you?"
She leaned for a while upon his shoulder; then raising her head while
deep blushes crimsoned her cheeks, she said, haughtily: "It is nothing.
A sudden faintness to which I am subject." With an inclination of the
head to Count Esterhazy, she continued
"You will be so good as not to mention this weakness of mine. It is
purely physical, and I hope to conquer it in time. I am rejoiced to
think that I have verified the words of the empress and have appeared
before you to-day as an Eris. I suppose you came hither to see me out of
"No Countess Margaret, the purport of my visit was any thing but
curiosity. I come, with the sanction of your guardian, to offer you my
The black eyes of the countess darted fire at the smiling suitor.
"You do not answer me," said he blandly. "I say that I have won the
consent of your uncle, and respectfully solicit yours. It shall be the
study of my life to make you happy, and, perhaps, at some future day, my
untiring devotion may win a return of my love. Speak, then, countess;
say that you will be my wife."
"Never, never!" cried she, stretching forth her arms as though to ward
away some threatening evil. "I shall never be the wife of any man. I was
not made for marriage, I cannot bow my will before that of any other
"I shall not require you to do so," replied the count, as though he had
now removed every objection. "You will be in my house as you are here,
absolute mistress of all things, and I shall claim nothing but the right
of being your humblest and most devoted servant."
"Unhappily for you, you know not what you claim," exclaimed the countess
angrily. "Ask my uncle, ask his household, and they will tell you that I
am a tyrant, changing my will twenty times an hour; hating to-day the
thing I shall love to-morrow. You would aspire to be my husband, would
you? Have you no friends to warn you of the reefs upon which you are
running that poor little crazy bark of yours? Why the very people, as
they see me pass, tell of my frantic doings; and every child in Vienna
knows that I beat my servants, rage about my uncle's house like the foul
fiend, and dash through the streets on horseback like the Wild
"'Love tames the wildest hearts,' so says the emperor."
Margaret started, and darted a fiery glance at his tranquil face.
"But I do not love you, I tell you; and it is useless to say another
word on the subject."
"Nay," said the count, taking her hand, "it is not useless. I beseech
you, do not deny my suit."
At this moment the door opened, and a servant came in with a golden
tray, on which lay a letter.
"From her majesty the empress," said the servant, handing it to Count
Starhemberg. The count took the letter and went into the embrasure of
the window, while the servant retired noiselessly.
"Countess Margaret," said Count Esterhazy, in an imploring voice, "once
more I entreat you to accept me as your husband."
She looked at him with withering contempt. "Have I not told you," cried
she, passionately, "that I do not love you? A man of honor ceases to
importune a woman after such an avowal."
"A man of spirit never gives up; he perseveres, in the hope that sooner
or later, he will reach his goal. No man has the right to expect that he
will obtain a treasure without trouble."
"Cant! miserable cant!" And the great glowing eyes that were looking
with such scorn at the alight figure of the count, encountered their own
image in the glass before which they both were standing.
"Look!" cried she, pointing to the mirror, "yonder reflection gives its
answer to your suit. Do you see that tall woman, whose head towers above
the blond mannikin that stands beside her? Look at her black hair, her
fiery eyes, and resolute bearing! And now look at the little fair-haired
puppet, that resembles a man about as much as do the statuettes on my
toilet-table. Ah, sir count, if you were the woman and I the man there
might be marriage between us! But as it is, you would die of my
violence, or I of your insipidity. So, excuse me."
She made a deep courtesy and turned to leave the room. But she felt a
touch upon her shoulder, and looking back, she saw her uncle gazing at
her with a face of great anxiety.
"My child," said he, in a faltering voice, "do not send Count Esterhazy
so rudely away. He is rich, noble, and distinguished, and in every way
worthy of my lovely niece. Do not refuse him, Margaret."
"The count has recovered from his stupid delusion, uncle; I have told
him how impossible it is for me to accept his hand."
"But, my poor child, you must try to love him. You dare not reject his
"What! _I_ dare not reject whom I please!" cried she, in a voice shrill
"No, you dare not. The empress commands you to accept the hand of Count
Esterhazy. Here is the note I have at this moment received from her
Margaret tore the paper savagely from her uncle's hand. With staring
eyes she read its contents, while her whole body trembled violently, and
her lips were bloody with the efforts she was making to suppress a
At last she gave it back. "Read it," said she, hoarsely; "the letters
swim before my eyes."
The count took the note and read:
"Dear Count Starhemberg: It is my desire that your niece, the Countess
Margaret, shall become the wife of some honorable man. In this way she
may hope to conquer her ungovernable temper, and become a reasonable
woman. I have heard that Count Esterhazy intends to become her suitor,
and I command her to accept his hand. She has led a life of wild
independence, and it is time she were tamed by the cares, duties, and
responsibilities of matrimony. I am both her empress and godmother, and
I use my double right for her good. The marriage shall take place in one
week, or she goes into a convent. That is my ultimatum. "I remain yours
with sentiments of esteem, "MARIA THERESA."
A long pause ensued after the reading of the letter. The countess stood
with her eyes riveted upon her uncle's face, as though she were waiting
for something more. The young count watched her furtively, but he looked
"You see, my child," at last sighed the old count, "it is inevitable.
The empress must be obeyed."
"No, no!" screamed the wretched girl, awaking from her stupor, "I will
not be the wife of that man."
"Then you will have to go into a convent."
"No!" cried she, her face suddenly lighting up with a flash of
hope--"no, I will do neither. There is a means of rescuing me from
She turned with a bewitching smile to Count Esterhazy, and in a voice
whose softness was music to his ear, she addressed him:
"In your hands lies the power to rescue me from a forced bridal. You
have heard that despotic note from the empress. Match-making is a
monomania with Maria Theresa: it is useless, therefore, for me to appeal
to her, for on a question of marriage she is inexorable. But you, Count
Esterhazy," continued she, in tones of caressing melody, "you will
rescue me, will you not? I cannot be your wife, for I do not love you; I
cannot go into a convent, for I have no piety. Go, then, to the empress,
and tell her that you do not wish to marry me. You, at least, are free.
Refuse to accept me for your wife, and this miserable comedy is at an
She had clasped her little white hands, and was looking imploringly in
The young man shook his head. "I cannot say this to the empress," said
he, quietly, "for it is she who sent me hither to woo you."
"The empress sent you hither!" cried the countess, springing forward
like a lioness. "You came not as a free suitor, but as an obedient slave
of the empress."
"I came at the command of the empress," said the young man, mildly.
The countess burst into a loud laugh.
"That, then, was the glowing love which you were describing just now;
that your tender wish to live for my happiness alone. Obedient
school-boy! You were told to come and ask for my hand, and you came--for
fear of being whipped--Oh! why am I not a man? By the heaven above! no
woman should inflict upon me such contumely!"
"It is true," said Count Esterhazy, taking no note of her words, "that
the empress ordered me hither. But since I have seen you, I need no
prompting save that of my own heart."
"Peace, fool! nobody believes you. You had consented to woo me, in
obedience to your despotic sovereign. But you have seen me; now you know
with how much justice I am called 'The Mad Countess,' and now, surely,
you have manhood enough to reject a termagant like me. Go, then, and
tell the empress that I was willing, but you were not--"
"I would not thus belie you, lovely Margaret."
"What do I care whether you belie me or not, so that I am rid of you?"
said she, contemptuously.
"Submit, my dear child," said the old count, with tears in his eyes.
"'Tis the first time in your life that you have been thwarted, and
therefore it is hard for you to succumb."
"I will not submit!" cried Margaret, flinging back her head. "I will not
marry this man. Uncle, dear uncle, leave me one moment with him. I have
something to say that he alone must hear."
The count withdrew at once into another room.
"Now, sir, that we are alone, I have a secret to reveal--to God and to
yourself. Swear by the memory of your mother that you will not betray
She bowed her head, as though accepting the oath. "And now," raid she,
faltering and blushing, "I will tell you why I can never be your wife.
I--" she hesitated, and her head sank upon her bosom, while she stifled
a sigh. "I love another," whispered she, almost inarticulately. "Yes, I
love another. I love him with every throb of my heart, with all the
strength of my being. My every breath is a prayer for him. Every wish,
hope, and longing of my soul points to him alone. I would die to give
him one hour of joy. Now, that I have made this avowal, you retract your
suit, do you not? You will go now to the empress and say that you will
not accept me for your wife. You give me my freedom, surely--you give it
to me now."
Count Esterhazy smiled compassionately. "This is a fable, countess,
which you have invented to escape me. A few moments ago you said that
you would never love."
"I said that to disincline you to marry me."
"I do not believe you," said Esterhazy, calmly. "You have invented this
story of your love for that end; but it is a falsehood, for you are as
cold as an icicle."
"Oh, I wish that I were. For this love is my greatest misfortune. Look
at me, count. Does this seem like dissimulation?"
And she raised up to his view a face, scarlet with blushes, and eyes
filled with burning tears.
"No, countess," sail Esterbazy, after contemplating her earnestly, "I
will believe the tears that glisten in your speaking eyes. But now,
answer me one question. Your confidence gives me the right to ask it. Is
your love returned?"
She remained silent, as if communing with herself, while every trace of
color vanished from her cheeks.
"No," said she, at last, with quivering lips. "No, he does not know it;
and if he did, he could not offer me his hand."
"Then," replied Esterhazy, coolly, "your love is no impediment to our
marriage. Cherish it, if you choose; raise altars to this unknown god,
and deck them with the brightest flowers of devotion. I will not inquire
the name of your deity. Your secret is safe, even from myself. I, on the
contrary, have never loved. My heart stands with doors and windows open,
ready to receive its mistress; and as the empress has selected you, it
waits joyfully for you to take possession."
The countess laid her hand upon his arm, and grasped it like a vise.
"You will not recede!" said she, hoarsely. "You still persist in
desiring me for your wife?"
"You have told me that your love is hopeless, therefore is mine hopeful.
Perhaps one day it may succeed in winning yours."
"But you do not love me," shrieked the maddened girl. "You are here by
command of the empress."
"And the Esterhazys have always been the loyal servants of the empress.
Whenever she commands, they obey--were it at the cost of life and
happiness. Allow me, then, to persevere in my obedience, not only to her
desires, but to my own. I once more solicit the honor of your hand."
"Woe to you if, after this, I yield!" cried she, with threatening
gesture. "I have stooped to entreat you, and my prayers have been vain.
I have withdrawn the womanly veil that concealed my heart's cherished
secret, and you have not renounced your unmanly suit. I said that I did
not love you. Look at me, and hear me, while I vow eternal hatred,
should I be forced to give you my hand."
"There is but one step from hate to love. Allow me to hope that you will
think better of it, and take that step."
A fearful cry rang from her lips, her eyes glowed like burning coals,
and she raised her clinched hand as though she had hoped it might fell
him to the earth. But suddenly it sank helpless to her side, and she
looked long and searchingly into Count Esterhazy's face.
A long silence ensued. "It is well," said she, at length, in clear,
shrill tones. "You have challenged me to mortal combat, and it may be
that you will win. But, oh, believe me when I tell you that victory will
bring you no glory! Your strength is not your own; it lies in the
imperial hand of Maria Theresa. I swear to you that if I become your
wife, my whole life shall be consecrated to hatred and revenge. Count
Esterhazy, I hold my word inviolate, whether I pledge it to friend or
foe; tend when the blight shall fall upon your head that will grow out
of this hour we have spent together, remember that had you been a man of
honor you might have spared yourself the shame!"
Without another word she lifted her proud head, and, with a look of
withering scorn, left the room.
Count Esterhazy's eyes followed her retreating figure, and his placid
brow grew troubled. "Beautiful as she is," murmured he, "it is dangerous
to woo her. She has the beauty of Medusa. My heart positively seems to
petrify under her glance. I would be more than willing to renounce the
honor of wedding this beautiful demon, but I dare not refuse."
And he drew out his delicate, embroidered handkerchief to wipe off the
big drops of sweat that stood upon his forehead.
"Well?" asked Count Starhemberg, opening the door and putting through
"Pray come in," said Esterhazy, in a piteous tone.
"Ah, my niece has left! Well, I suppose that, as usual, she has
conquered, and you release her?"
"Not at all," replied the unhappy mannikin; "I still beg for the honor
of her hand. The empress has spoken, and I have only to obey."
FRANZ ANTONY MESMER.
For some weeks great excitement had existed in Vienna. In all
assemblies, coffee-houses, and restaurants, in the streets and on the
public places, the topic of conversation had been the wonderful cures of
the Suabian physician, Mesmer. These cures contravened all past
experience, and set at naught all reason. Mesmer made no use of
decoction or electuary--he prescribed neither baths nor cataplasms; he
cured his patients by the power of his hand and the glance of his large,
dark eye. He breathed upon their foreheads, and forthwith they saw
visions of far-off lands; he passed the tips of his fingers over their
faces, and pain and suffering vanished at his touch. No wonder that
physicians denounced him as a charlatan, and apothecaries reviled him as
No wonder that the populace, so prone to believe the marvellous, had
faith in Mesmer, and reverenced him as a saint. Why should he not
perform miracles with his hand, as did Moses with a rod, when he struck
the rock? Why should not the power of his eye master disease, as once
the glance of the Apostles gave speech to the dumb, and awakened life in
Mesmer, too, was an apostle--the apostle of a new faith. He bade
suffering humanity turn to heaven for relief. "The reflection from the
planets," said he, "and the rays of the sun, exercise over the human
system a magnetic power. The great remedy for disease lies in this
magnetic power, which resides in iron and steel, and which has its
highest and most mysterious development in man."
The people believed, and sought his healing hand. He mastered their
infirmities, and soothed their sufferings. But the more the world
honored and trusted him, the more bitter grew the hatred of the faculty.
Each day brought him fresh blessings and fresh imprecations. The
physicians, who, in Salzburg, had hurled Paracelsus from a rock, dared
not attempt the life of Mesmer; but they persecuted him as an impostor,
and proved, by learned and scientific deduction, that his system was a
Those who affected strength of mind, and refused to believe any thing
except that which could be demonstrated by process of reasoning, gave in
their adherence to the indignant physicians. Those, on the contrary, who
had faith in the mysteries of religion, were disciples of Mesmer; and
they reverenced him as a prophet sent from heaven, to prove the
supremacy of nature over knowledge.
Mesmer's fame had reached the court, and the empress herself became
interested in his extraordinary achievements. In vain Van Swieten and
Stork besought her to silence the audacious quack, who was ruining a
great profession. She shook her head, and would have nothing to do with
"I shall wait and see," said she. "His system is harmless, and I shall
not fetter him. One thing is certain. His manipulations will never
poison anybody, as many a regular physician's prescription has done, and
he shall not be molested. He has voluntarily sought an ordeal which will
determine his position before the world. If he cures the blindness of my
little protege, Therese, I shall give in my adherence with the rest; for
he who restores the blind to sight, holds his skill from above."
This young girl was known to all Vienna. In her second year, after an
attack of suppressed measles, she had become blind, and all attempts to
restore her sight had proved unavailing. But if sight had been denied to
her eyes, her soul was lit up by the inspiration of art. When Therese
sat before the harpsichord and her dexterous fingers wandered over its
keys--when, with undisturbed serenity, she executed the most difficult
music that could be written for the instrument, no one who saw her
beautiful eyes could have surmised their inutility. Her features were
expressive, and those sightless eyes apemed at times to brighten with
joy, or to grow dim with sorrow. Nevertheless, Therese von Paradies was
wholly blind; her eyes were merely the portals of her soul--they sent
forth light, but received none in return.
THERESE VON PARADIES.
Therese von Paradies was in her room; her mother stood near, for, with
the assistance of a maid, she had just completed her daughter's toilet.
Therese was elegantly dressed, and she seemed to enjoy her splendor
although she was not permitted to see it.
"Say, mother," said she, as the last touch had been given to her dress,
"of what material is my gown? It feels as soft as a young girl's cheek."
"It is satin, my child."
"Satin? And the color?"
"White!" repeated she, softly. "The color without color. How strange
that must be! I shudder when I think that I shall see it before long."
"Why should you shudder?" said her mother, tenderly. "You should
rejoice, dear child, that the world, with all its beauties, is about to
become known to you."
"I do not know," replied Therese, thoughtfully. "I shall enter upon a
new world which will astonish and perchance affright me by its
strangeness. Now I know you all in my heart, but when I see you I shall
no longer recognize you. Oh, mother, why do you wish me to be restored
to sight? I am very happy as I am."
"Silly child, you will be still happier when you see. It is absurd for
you to dread an event which will add a hundredfold to your enjoyment of
"And why absurd, dear mother? Does not the heart of the bride, on her
wedding-day, beat half in hope and half in fear? And is not her soul
filled with sweet apprehension? I am a bride--the bride of light--and I
await my lover to-day."
"Ah, who knows if light will come?" sighed the mother.
"It will come, mother," said Therese, confidently. "I felt it yesterday,
when, for a moment, Mesmer removed the bandage from my eyes. It was for
a second, but I SAW, and what I saw cut like a sharp sword athwart my
eyes, and I fell, almost unconscious."
"That was a ray of light---the first glance of your bridegroom!" cried
the mother, joyfully.
"Then I fear that I shall never be able to bear his presence," replied
Therese, sadly. "But tell me, mother, am I dressed as becomes a bride?"
"Yes, Therese, you are beautifully dressed; for to-day we receive a
throng of distinguished guests. The empress herself has sent one of her
lords in waiting, to bear her the tidings of your restoration to sight.
The two great doctors, Van Swieten and Stork, will be here to see the
marvel; and princes and princesses, lords and ladies, ministers and
generals, will be around you."
"How is my hair dressed?"
"It is dressed as you like it, a la Matignon. Pepi has built a tower
upon your head at least three quarters of an ell high, and above that is
a blue rosette, with long ends."
"It is indeed very high," replied Therese, laughing, "for I cannot reach
it with my hands. But I have another question to ask, dear mother.
Promise me that it shall be frankly answered."
"Well, then, tell me, is my appearance pleasing? Hitherto every one has
been kind to me because of my misfortune; but when I stand upon equal
footing with other women, do you think that I am pretty enough to give
pleasure to my friends?"
"Yes, my dear, you are very handsome," said the mother, smiling
lovingly at her child's simplicity. "Your figure is graceful, your face
is oval, your features are regular, and your brow is high and
thoughtful. When the light of day shall be reflected from your large,
dark eyes, you will be a beautiful woman, my daughter."
"Thank you, dear mother, these are pleasant tidings," said Therese,
"I must leave you, dearest," said her mother, softly disengaging herself
from Therese's arms. "I have my own toilet to make, and some preparations
for our guests. I will send the maid."
"No, dear mother, send no one. I need silence and solitude. I, too, have
preparations to make for the heavenly guest that visits me to-day. I
must strengthen my soul by prayer."
She accompanied her mother to the door, kissed her again, and returning,
seated herself at the harpsichord. And now from its keys came forth
sounds of mirth and melancholy, of love and complaint, of prayers and
tear. At one time she intoned a hymn of joy; then came stealing over the
air a melody that brought tears to the eyes of the musician; then it
changed and swelled into a torrent of gushing harmony.
Suddenly she paused, a tremor ran through her frame, and a blush slowly
mantled her cheek. Her hands fell, and her bosom heaved. As if drawn by
some invisible power, she rose from her instrument and went toward the
door. In the centre of the room she stopped and pressed her hands upon
"He comes," murmured she, with a smile of ecstasy, "he mounts the
staircase, now he is in the corridor, his hand is upon the door."
Yes; the door opened so softly that the acutest ear could not have
detected a sound. But Therese felt it, and she would have gone forward,
but her feet were paralyzed, and she remained with outstretched arms.
With her heart she had seen him who now appeared upon the threshold. The
person, whose coming had so agitated the young girl, was a man of
scarcely forty years, of a lofty imposing carriage, and of prepossessing
features. His large, blue eyes rested upon Therese with a glance of
power, which thrilled through every fibre of her being. He held out his
right arm toward her; then slowly lowering it, he pointed to the floor.
Therese followed its motion and sank on her knees. A triumphant smile
beamed over Mesmer's face, and he raised his hand again. The girl arose,
and as though she had seen him open his arms, she darted forward and
laid her head upon his breast.
"Mesmer, my friend, my physician," whispered she, softly.
"Yes, it is I," replied Mesmer, in a rich, melodious voice. "Your heart
has seen me, your eyes shall see me too, my child."
He led her to a sofa and seated her gently beside him. Then passing his
outstretched band before her, she trembled.
"You are very much excited to-day, Therese," said he, with a slight tone
"I am excited because you are so, dear friend," said the blind girl.
"Your eyes dart beams that threaten to consume the world."
"A world of ignorance and of wickedness," said he, in reply. "Yes,
Therese, I will consume it to-day, and in its stead shall arise a
supernatural world; yet one to which banished Nature shall return and
claim her rights to man. Oh, will I have strength to say, 'Let there be
"Dear friend, if you doubt the result, do not expose yourself to the
humiliation of failure. I am satisfied with my blindness, for I have a
world of light in my heart."
"No!" cried Mesmer, with energy, "the work is begun, it must be
completed. You MUST see, Therese, or all for which I have striven will
recoil upon my head, and bury me beneath its ruins. This day decides not
only your fate, poor child, but mine. To-day must Mesmer prove to the
world that the animal magnetism, which physicians deride as a quackery,
savans deny as impracticable, and the people ignorantly worship as
sorcery, is a golden link which binds humanity to heaven. To-day you
shall be healed by the magnetic power which binds you to me, and links
us both to God."
"Heal me then, dear master!" cried the girl, inspired by his enthusiasm.
"Restore me to sight, and, in so doing, give light to those who cannot
see your Godlike gift."
He laid his hand upon her shoulder, and gazed earnestly in her face.
"You have faith in me then, Theresa, have you not?"
"I believe in you, and I comprehend you, master. I know that I shall
see; and when the scales fall from my eyes, the light of conviction will
dawn for others. They will then comprehend that there is a power in
Nature stronger than the craft of bare human wisdom."
"Oh, you speak my very thoughts, dear Therese," said Mesmer, tenderly.
"You see into my mind, and its perceptions find birth upon your lips.
Let doctors sneer, and learned skeptics disbelieve, but the day will
come when all must acknowledge that magnetism is truth, and all human
wisdom lies. Physicians, though, will be its deadliest enemies, for they
are travellers, who, having strayed from the right path, go farther and
farther from truth, because they will not retrace their steps."
[Footnote: Mesmer's own words. See "Franz Anton Mesmer, of Suabia," by
Dr. Justinus Kerner. p. 58.]
"But you will show them the path, my master, and the world will honor
you above other men."
"If ingratitude do not blind it to truth. It is hard to find daylight in
the labyrinth of established faith. I, too, have wandered in this
labyrinth, but in all my divarications I sought for Truth. With
passionate longing I called her to my help. Far removed from the hum of
human imbecility, down among the solitudes of untrodden forests I sought
her. Here I was face to face with Nature, and listened for response to
the anxious questionings of my restless heart. It was well for me that
the trees were the only witnesses of my agitation, for my fellow-men,
had they met, would have chained me as a madman."
"Not I, master. I would have understood your noble strife."
Mesmer pressed her hand and went on: "Every occupation became
distasteful to me, every moment dedicated to aught else seemed to be
treason to truth. I regretted the time which it cost me to translate my
thoughts into words, and I formed the singular resolution of keeping
silence. For three months I reflected without speaking a word. At the
end of this time a new faculty unfolded itself in my mind, and I began
to see with rapture that the day of truth had dawned. I knew that
henceforth my life would be one long struggle against preconceived
error; but this did not affright me. So much the more did I feel the
obligation resting upon me to impart to my fellow-beings the gifts I had
received. I have suffered much from their prejudices; but most from the
sneers of envious physicians, who, sooner than receive a light from
other hands, would stumble in the night of their ignorance forever.
[Footnote: This whole conversation is in Mesmer's words. See Justinus
Kerner, p. 60.] But my day of triumph is here. You, Therese, are the
evangelist of my new faith, and your restored vision shall announce it
to the world!"
"It shall, dear master, it shall; and against their will these infidels
shall believe. They will see that we have all been blind together--all
but you, who, questioning in faith, have received your answer from on
high. Take the bandage from my eyes and let me see the light of day! I
tremble no longer with apprehension of its splendor!"
Mesmer held her back as she raised her hands to her head. "Not yet,
Therese. Your bandage must be removed in the presence of my enemies."
"Whom do you expect, master?"
"I have told you--I expect my enemies. Professor Barth will be there to
sneer at the charlatan who, by an invisible power, has healed the malady
which his couching knife would have sought in vain to remove. Doctor
Ingenhaus, my bitter rival, will be there, to find out by what infernal
magic the charlatan has cured hundreds of patients pronounced by him
incurable. Father Hell will be there, to see if the presence of a great
astronomer will not affright the charlatan. Oh, yes!--And others will be
there--none seeking knowledge, but all hoping to see me discomfited."
"Do not call yourself so often by that unworthy name," said Therese
"Men call me so; I may as well accept the title."
"Perhaps they have called you so in days gone by; but from this day they
will call you 'Master,' and will crave your pardon for the obloquy they
have heaped upon your noble head."
"How little you know of the world, Therese! It never pardons those who
convict it of error; and above all other hatred is the hatred that
mankind feel for their benefactors."
"Gracious Heaven, master, if this is the world which is to open to my
view, in mercy leave me to my blindness!"
She stopped suddenly, and sank back upon the cushion of the sofa. Mesmer
raised his hands and passed them before her forehead.
"You are too much excited. Sleep!"
"No, no, I do not wish to sleep," murmured she.
"I command you to sleep," repeated Mesmer.
Therese heaved a sigh; her head fell farther back, and her audible,
regular breathing soon proved that sleep had come at the bidding of her
Mesmer bent over her, and began his manipulations. He approached her
lips, and opening her mouth, breathed into it. She smiled a happy smile.
He then raised his hands and touching the crown of her head described
half-circles in the air; then stooping over her, he again inhaled her
breath, and breathed his own into her mouth.
The door opened, and the mother of Therese came in.
"The guests are here," said she.
Mesmer inclined his head. "We are ready."
"Ready and Therese sleeps so soundly?"
"I will awake her when it is time. Where is my harmonicon?"
"In the parlor, where you ordered it to be placed."
"Let us go, then, and thence we will call Therese. "
THE FIRST DAY OF LIGHT.
The elite of Vienna were assembled in the drawing-room of Herr von
Paradies. The aristocratic, the scientific, and the artistic world were
represented; and the empress, as before intimated, had sent her
messenger to take notes of the extraordinary experiment which was that
day to be tried upon the person of her young pensioner. At the request
of Mesmer, some of the lower classes were there also, for it was his
desire that the cottage as well as the palace should bear testimony to
the triumph of animal magnetism over the prejudices of conventional
By order of Mesmer, the room had been darkened, and heavy green curtains
hung before every window. Seats were arranged around the room, in the
centre of which was a space occupied by a couch, some chairs, and a
table on which lay a box.
Upon this box the eyes of the spectators were riveted; and Professor
Barth himself, in spite of his arrogant bearing, felt quite as much
curiosity as his neighbors, to see its contents.
"You will see, Herr Kollege," said he to one who sat beside him, "you
will see that he merely wishes to collect this brilliant assemblage in
order to perform an operation in their presence, and so make a name for
himself. This box of course contains the instruments. Wait and watch for
the lancet that first or last is sure to make its appearance."
"What will be the use of his lancet," replied Herr Kollege, "when there
is nothing upon which it can operate? The girl is irretrievably blind;
for neither knife nor lancet can restore life to the deadened optical
"If he attempts to use the lancet in MY presence," said the professor in
a threatening tone, "I will prevent him. I shall watch him closely, and
woe to the impostor if I surprise him at a trick!"
"The box does not contain surgical instruments," whispered the
astronomer Hell. "I know what he has in there."
"What?" asked the others eagerly.
"A planet, my friends. You know be is given to meddling with planets. I
hope it is one unknown to science; for if he has carried off any of MY
stars, I shall have him arrested for robbery."
This sally caused much laughter, which was interrupted by the entrance
of Mesmer with Frau von Paradies. Without seeming to observe the
spectators who now thronged the room, Mesmer advanced to the table where
lay the box. His face was pale, but perfectly resolute; and as his eyes
were raised to meet those of the guests, each one felt that whatever
might be the result, in the soul of the operator there was neither doubt
Mesmer opened the box. A breathless silence greeted this act. Every
whisper was hushed, every straining glance was fixed upon that
mysterious coffer. He seated himself before it, and Professor Barth
whispered, "Now he is about to take out his instruments."
But he was interrupted by the sound of music--music so exquisite that
the heart of the learned professor himself responded to its pathos. It
swelled and swelled until it penetrated the room and filled all space
with its thrilling notes. All present felt its power, and every eye was
fixed upon the enchanter, who was swaying a multitude as though their
emotions had been his slaves, and his music the voice that bade them
live or die.
"Ah!" whispered the astronomer, "you made a mistake of a part of speech.
The man has not instruments, but AN instrument."
"True," replied the professor, "and your planet turns out to be an
"And the lancet," added Inaenhaus, "is a cork, with a whale-bone
Mesmer played on, and now his music seemed an entreaty to some invisible
spirit to appear and reveal itself to mortal eyes. At least, so it
sounded to the ears of his listeners. They started--for responsive to
the call, a tall white figure, whose feet seemed scarcely to touch the
floor, glided in and stood for a moment irresolute. Mesmer raised his
hand and stretching it out toward her, she moved. Still he played on,
and nearer and nearer she came, while the music grew louder and more
irresistible in its pleadings.
A movement was perceptible among the spectators. Several ladies had
fainted; their nerves had given way before the might of that wonderful
music.[Footnote: It frequently happened that not only women, but men
also, fainted, when Mesmer played on the glass-harmonicon. Justinus
Kerner, p. 41.] But no one felt disposed to move to assist them, for all
were absorbed by the spell, and each one gazed in speechless expectation
upon Mesmer and Therese.
He still played on, but he threw up his head, and his large eyes were
directed toward his patient with a look of authority. She felt the
glance and trembled. Then she hastened her steps, and smilingly advanced
until she stood close beside the table. He pointed to the couch, and she
immediately turned toward it and sat down.
"This is well gotten up," said Professor Barth. "The scene must have
been rehearsed more than once."
"If the blind are to be restored to sight by harmonicons," whispered
Doctor Ingenhaus, "I shall throw my books to the winds, and become an
"If planets are to be brought down by a wave of the hand," said Hell, "I
will break all my telescopes, and offer my services to Mesmer as an
The harmonicon ceased, and the censorious professors were forced to stop
Mesmer arose, and, approaching Therese, made a few passes above her
"My eyes burn as if they were pierced with red-hot daggers," said she,
with an expression of great suffering.
He now directed the tips of his fingers toward her eyes, and touched the
"Remove the bandage, and see!" cried he in a loud voice.
Therese tore it off, and pale as death she gazed with wonder at the
"Master," who stood directly in front of her. Pointing to him, she said
with an expression of fear and dislike:
"Is that a man which stands before me?" [Footnote: Therese's own words.
Justinus Kerner, p. 63.]
Mesmer bowed his head. Therese started back, exclaiming, "It is fearful!
But where is Mesmer? Show me Mesmer!"
"I am he," said Mesmer, approaching her.
She drew back and looked at him with a scrutinizing expression.
"I had supposed that the human face was radiant with joy," said she,
"but this one looks like incarnate woe. Are all mankind sad? Where is my
Frau von Paradies was awaiting her daughter's call; she now came
forward, her face beaming with love and joy. But Therese, instead of
meeting her with equal fervor, shrank, and covered her face with her
"Therese, my daughter, look upon me," said the mother.
"It is her voice," cried Therese, joyfully, removing her hands. Frau von
Paradies stood by, smiling.
"Is this my mother?" continued she, looking up into her face. "Yes--it
must be so; those tearful eyes are full of love. Oh, mother, come
nearer, and let me look into those loving eyes!"
Her mother leaned over her, but again Therese recoiled. "What a frightful
thing!" said she, with a look of fear.
"What, Therese? What is frightful?" asked her mother.
"Look at your mother, Therese," said Mesmer. She heard the well-beloved
voice, and her hands fell from her eyes.
"Now tell me, what disturbs you," said Frau von Paradies.
Therese raised her hand and pointed to her mother's nose. "It is that,"
said she. "What is it?"
"It is my nose!" exclaimed her mother, laughing, and her laugh was
echoed throughout the room.
"This nose on the human face is horrible," said Therese. "It threatens
me as though it would stab my eyes." [Footnote: These are the exact
words of Therese. Justinus Kerner, p 68.]
"I will show you the figure of a man who threatens," said Mesmer,
assuming an angry air, clinching his fists, and advancing a few paces.
Therese fell upon her knees with a cry. "You will kill me!" exclaimed
she, cowering to the floor.
The spectators were thunderstruck. Even Professor Barth yielded to the
overwhelming evidence of his senses.
"By Heaven, it is no deception!" exclaimed he. "She sees!"
"Since Professor Barth is convinced, no one will dare dispute the fact,"
observed Mesmer, loud enough to be overheard by the professor.
Barth frowned, and pretended not to hear. He already repented of what he
had said, and would have bought back his own words with a handful of
ducats. But it was too late. Every one had heard him, and on every side
murmurs of astonishment and of admiration grew into distinct applause.
Meanwhile, Therese was greeting her father and her other relatives. But
she, who had always been so affectionate, was now embarrassed and cold.
"I knew it," said she, sadly. "I knew that the gift of sight would not
increase my happiness. Imagination had drawn your images, and I loved
the pictures she had painted. But now that I see you with the eyes of
flesh, my heart recoils from participation in the sad secrets which your
careworn faces reveal. Ah, I believe that love, in its highest sense, is
known to the blind alone! But where is Bello? Let me see my dog, the
faithful companion of my days of dependence."
Bello had been whining at the door, and as Frau von Paradies opened it,
he bounded to his mistress, caressing her with his paws, and licking her
Therese bent over him, and the dog raised his eyes to hers. She stroked
his glossy, black coat and; for the first time since she had recovered
her sight, she smiled.
"This dog is more pleasing to me than man," said she, communing with
herself. "There is truth in his eyes, and his face does not terrify me,
like those of my own race." [Footnote: Therese's own words. Justinus
Kerner, p. 63.]
"I think we may take our leave," growled Professor Barth, "the comedy is
over, and the relations and friends can applaud the author and the
actress. I don't feel it my duty to remain for that purpose."
"Nor I," added Doctor Ingenhaus, as he prepared to accompany the
professor. "My head is in a whirl with the antics of this devilish
"Take me with you," said Father Hell. "I must go and look after my
planets. I'm afraid we shall miss another Pleiad."
So saying, the representatives of science took their leave. At the door
they met Count von Langermann, the messenger of the empress.
"Ah, gentlemen," said he, "you are hastening from this enchanted spot to
announce its wonders to the world. No one will venture to doubt, when
such learned professors have seen and believed. I myself am on my way to
apprise the empress of Mesmer's success."
"Pray inform the empress, also, that we have seen an admirable comedy,
count," said Barth, with a sneer.
"A comedy!" echoed the count. "It is a marvellous reality. Yourself
confessed it, professor."
"A careless word, prematurely uttered, is not to be accepted as
evidence," growled Barth.
"Such astounding things demand time for consideration. They may be
optical delusions," added Ingenhaus.
"Ah, gentlemen, the fact is a stubborn one," laughed Count Langermann.
"Therese von Paradies has recovered her sight without couching-knife or
lancet, and I shall certainly convey the news of the miracle to the
"What shall we do?" asked the astronomer of his compeers, as Count
Langermann bowed and left them.
Professor Barth answered nothing.
"We must devise something to prop up science, or she will fall upon our
heads and crush us to death," said Ingenhaus.
"What are we to do?" repeated Barth, slowly, as after an embarrassing
silence, the three had walked some distance together down the street. "I
will tell you what we must do. Treat the whole thing as a farce, and
maintain, in the face of all opposition, that Therese von Paradies is
"But, my honored friend, unhappily for us all, you have made this
impracticable by your awkward enthusiasm."
"I spoke ironically, and the ass mistook sarcasm for conviction."
"Yes, and so did everybody else." sighed Hell. "You will find it
difficult to convince the world that you were not in earnest."
"Perhaps today and tomorrow I may fail to convince the world, but the
day after it will begin to reason and to doubt. If we do not oppose this
quack with a strong phalanx of learned men, we shall be sneered at for
our previous incredulity. Now I adhere to my text. Therese von Paradies
is blind, and no one shall prove to me that she can see. Come to my
study, and let us talk this provoking matter over."
Meanwhile, Therese was receiving the congratulations of her friends. She
gazed at their unknown faces with a melancholy smile, and frowned when
it was said to her, "This is the friend whom you love so much"--"This is
the relative whose society has always been so agreeable to you."
Then she closed her eyes, and said they were weary. "Let me hear your
voices, and so accustom myself to your strange countenances," said she.
"Speak, dear friends; I would rather know you with the heart than with
these deceiving eyes."
Suddenly, as one of her female companions came up to greet her, Therese
burst into a merry laugh. "What absurd thing is that growing out of your
head?" asked she.
"Why, that is the coiffure, which you like the best," replied her
mother. "It is a coiffure a la Matignon."
Therese raised her hands to her own head. "True, the very same towering
absurdity. I never will wear it again, mother."
"It is very fashionable, and you will become accustomed to it."
"No, I shall never be reconciled to such a caricature. Now that I can
choose for myself, I shall attend less to fashion than to fitness in my
dress. But I have seen mankind--let me see nature and heaven. Mesmer,
may I look upon the skies?"
"Come, my child, and we will try if your eyes can bear the full light of
day," replied Mesmer, fondly, and taking her arm he led her toward the
But Therese, usually so firm in her tread, took short, uncertain steps,
and seemed afraid to advance.
"Gracious Heaven!" exclaimed she, clinging anxiously to Mesmer, "see how
the windows come toward us! We shall be crushed to death!"
"No, Therese; it is we who advance, not they. You will soon acquire a
practical knowledge of the laws of optics, and learn to calculate
distances and sizes as well as the rest of us."
"But what is this?" cried she, as they approached the tall mirror that
was placed between the windows.
"That is a mirror."
"And who is that man who is so like yourself?"
"That is only the reflection of my person in the mirror."
"And who is that ridiculous being with the coiffure a la Matignon?"
"That is yourself."
"I!" exclaimed she, quickly advancing to the mirror. But suddenly she
retreated in alarm. "Gracious Heaven! it comes so fast that it will
throw me down. "Then she stopped for a moment and laughed. "See," said
she, "the girl is as cowardly as myself. The farther I step back the
farther she retreats also."
"All this is an optical delusion, Therese. The girl is nothing but a
reflection, a picture of yourself in the mirror."
"True, I forgot. You told me that just now," replied Therese, drawing
her hand wearily across her forehead. "Well, let me contemplate myself.
This, then, is my likeness," said she, musing. "My mother was mistaken.
This face is not handsome. It is weary and soulless. Come, master, I
have enough of it--let me see the heavens."
"Wait until I draw the curtain to see whether you are able to bear the
full light of day."
The curtain was lifted, and Therese, giving a scream, hid her eyes.
"Oh, it cuts like the point of a dagger!" cried she.
"I thought so; you will have to become gradually accustomed to it. You
shall see the sky this evening. But now you must suffer me to bind up
your eyes, for they must have rest." [Footnote: The description of
Therese's impressions, and the words she used upon the recovery of her
sight, are not imaginary. They are all cited by Justinus Kerner, and
were related to him by her own father.]
The Emperor Joseph was in his cabinet, engaged in looking over the
letters and documents of the day, when a page announced his highness
Prince Kaunitz. Joseph waved his hand in token of consent, and when the
prince appeared at the door, rose to meet him as he entered the room.
"It must be business of state that brings your highness to my study at
this early hour," said the emperor.