Part 12 out of 22
"It is indeed, sire," said Kaunitz, taking the chair which Joseph
himself had just placed for him.
"And it must be a day of rejoicing with you, prince, for I see that you
wear every order with which you have been decorated by every court in
Europe. What does this display signify?"
"It signifies, sire, that the day has come, which I have awaited for
twenty years, the day for which I have schemed and toiled, and which for
me shall be the proudest day of my life. I go out to battle, and if I am
to be victorious, your majesty must come to my assistance."
"Is it a duel with the empress, in which I am to be your second? I thank
you for the honor, but you know that I have no influence with my lady
mother. I am an emperor without a sceptre. But tell me Kaunitz, what is
the cause of the trouble?"
"You know it, sire, and I have come to prove to you that I am a man of
my word, and keep my promises."
"I do not remember that you ever promised me any thing."
"But I do. I remember a day on which my young emperor came to me to
complain of a wrong which had been inflicted upon him at court."
"Marianne!" exclaimed the emperor, with a sigh. "Yes, yes, the day on
which I lost sight of her forever."
"Yes, sire. The emperor, worthy of his high vocation, relinquished the
girl who had found favor in his eyes, and for this sacrifice I promised
him my loyal friendship. Three objects formed the ties that bound us
together on that day. Does your majesty remember?"
"Yes. You promised to place Austria at the head of European affairs; you
have done so. You promised indemnity for Silesia; we have it in our
recent acquisitions in Poland."
"I promised also to crush the priesthood, and to ruin the Jesuits,"
cried Kaunitz, exultingly, "and I am here to fulfil my promise. The hour
has come; for I am on my way to obtain the consent of the empress to the
banishment of the Jesuits from Austria."
"You never will obtain it. Attachment to the Order of Jesus is an
inheritance with the house of Hapsburg; and my mother styles me a
degenerate son because I do not participate in the feeling."
"We will find means to alienate the empress," said Kaunitz, quietly.
"I hope so, but I doubt it. Tell me what I am to do, and I am ready to
make another charge against them."
Prince Kaunitz opened his pocket-book, and took thence a letter which he
handed to the emperor.
"Will your majesty have the goodness to hand this to the empress? It is
a letter from Carlos III., in which he earnestly requests his
illustrious kinswoman to give protection no longer to the Jesuits, whom
he has driven from Spain."
"Indeed?" said the emperor, smiling. "If that is all, the Spanish
ambassador might have delivered it quite as well as I."
"No, sire, that is not all. It was the King of Spain's request that your
majesty should deliver the letter, and sustain it by every argument
which your well-known enmity to the Jesuits might suggest."
"I am more than willing to undertake it; but to-day, as ever, my
representations to the empress will be vain."
"Do your best, sire, and I will come to your relief with a reserved
force, which will do good service. Only allow me to request that you
will not quit the empress until the reserve comes up."
"Then the parts we are to play are distributed and learned by heart?"
"Just so; and Heaven be propitious, that the scenery may work well, and
the actors may know their cue!"
"We have accomplices, then?"
"I shall be accompanied by the papal nuncio, and if your majesty permits
me, I will go for him at once. In half an hour I shall come to the
"Go, then, and I fly to the empress," cried Joseph, with exultation.
DOMINUS AC REDEMPTOR NOSTER.
True to their agreement, the emperor sought an interview with his
mother. Not enjoying, like her prime minister, the privilege of entering
the empress's presence without formal leave, Joseph was always obliged
to wait in her anteroom until the chamberlain returned with her
majesty's answer. To-day the empress was propitious, and gave word for
her son to be admitted to her private cabinet at once. That he might
enter promptly upon the object of his visit, the emperor opened the
interview by handing the letter of the King of Spain, and requesting her
majesty to read it in his presence.
The empress, surprised at the urgency of the demand, sat before her
escritoire and read the missive of her royal relative; while her son,
with folded arms, stood near a window, and scrutinized her countenance.
He saw how gradually her expression lowered, until heavy folds
corrugated her brow, and deep heavings agitated her chest.
"Those are the sea-gulls that announce the coming storm," said he, to
himself. "I must be on my guard lest I be engulfed in the foaming
As if she had guessed his thoughts, Maria Theresa raised her eyes from
the letter, and darted a look of displeasure at her son.
"Is the emperor aware of the contents of this letter?" asked she.
"I believe so, your majesty," replied he, coming forward and bowing. "It
is an urgent request on the part of the King of Spain to have the
Jesuits removed from Austria."
"Nothing less," cried the empress, indignantly. "He expects me to assume
all his enmity toward the Jesuits, and urges it in a most unseemly
manner. Doubtless, he requested your majesty to present his letter in
person, because it is well known, that in this, as in all other things,
your opinions are at variance with those of your mother. I presume this
is a new tilt against my predilections, like that in which you overthrew
me but a few weeks since, when I signed the act that ruined Poland.
Speak out. Are you not here to sustain the King of Spain?"
"I am, your majesty," cried Joseph, reddening. "I would do as the King
of Spain has done. I would importune you until the power of the Jesuits
is crushed in Austria, as it has been crushed in France and in Spain."
"You will not succeed!" cried the empress, trying to control her rising
anger. "I make no protest against the action of the kings of France,
Spain, or Portugal, for I presume that they have decided according to
their convictions; but in Austria the Jesuits deserve all praise for
their enlightened piety, and their existence is so essential to the
well-being of the people, that I shall sustain and protect them as long
as I live." [Footnote: Peter Philip Wolf, "General History of the
Jesuits," vol. iv., p. 53.]
"Then," cried Joseph, passionately, "Austria is lost. If I were capable
of hate, I should hate these Jesuits, who, propagating the senile
vagaries of an old Spanish dotard, have sought to govern the souls of
men, and have striven for nothing on earth or in heaven save the
extension of their own influence and authority."
"It appears to me that my son has no reason to lament the softness of
his own heart," replied Maria Theresa, bitterly. "If he were absolute
sovereign here, the Jesuits would be exiled to-morrow; and the King of
Prussia, for whom he entertains such unbounded admiration, would be the
first one to offer them shelter. I will answer your vituperation, my
son, by reading to you a letter written by Frederick to his agent in
Rome. It relates to the rumor now afloat that the pope is about to
disperse the holy brotherhood. I have just received a copy of it from
Italy, and it rejoices me to be able to lay it before you. Hear your
The empress took a paper from her escritoire, and unfolding it, read
"Announce distinctly, but without bravado, that as regards the Jesuits,
I am resolved to uphold them for the future, as I have done hitherto.
Seek a fitting opportunity to communicate my sentiments on the subject
to the pope. I have guaranteed free exercise of religion to my subjects
in Silesia. I have never known a priesthood worthier of esteem than the
Jesuits. Add to this, that as I am an infidel, the pope cannot dispense
me from the obligation of performing my duty as an honorable man and an
upright sovereign. "FREDERICK." [Footnote: Peter Philip Wolf, "General
History of the Jesuits," vol. iv., p. 53.]
"Well," asked the empress, as she folded the letter, "shall the infidel
shame the Christian? Would you seriously ask of me to be less clement to
the priesthood than a Protestant prince? Never, never shall it be said
that Maria Theresa was ungrateful to the noble brotherhood who are the
bulwarks of order and of legitimate authority."
Joseph was about to snake an angry retort, when the door opened and a
page announced, with great formality:
"His highness Prince Kaunitz, and his eminence the papal nuncio,
The two ministers followed close upon the announcement, and the nuncio
was received by the empress with a beaming smile.
"I am curious to know what has brought Prince Kaunitz and the papal
nuncio together," said she. "It is unusual to see the prime minister of
Austria in the company of churchmen. It must, therefore, be something
significant which has united church and state to-day."
"Your majesty is right," replied Kaunitz, "the visit of the nuncio is so
significant for Austria, that the visit of your majesty's minister in
his company was imperative."
"Your eminence comes to speak of state affairs?" inquired the empress,
The nuncio drew from his robe a parchment to which was affixed a ribbon
with the papal seal.
"His holiness instructed me to read this document to your apostolic
majesty," said Monsignore Garampi, with a respectful inclination of the
head. "Will your majesty allow me?"
"Certainly," said the empress, leaning forward to listen.
The nuncio then unfolded the parchment, and amid the breathless
attention of all present, read the celebrated document, which in history
bears the name of its first words "Dominus ac Redemptor Noster." This
letter stated that in all ages the pope had claimed the right to found
religious orders or to abolish them. It cited Gregory, who had abolished
the order of the Mendicant Friars; and Clement V., who had suppressed
that of the Templars. It then referred to the Society of the Brotherhood
of Jesus. It stated that this society had hitherto been sustained and
fostered by the papal see, on acccount of its signal usefulness and the
eminent piety of its members. But of late, the brotherhood had
manifested a spirit of contentiousness amongst themselves, as well as
toward other orders, organizations, and universities; and had thereby
fallen under the displeasure of the princes from whom they had received
encouragement and protection.
When the nuncio had read thus far, he paused and raised his eyes to the
face of the empress. It was very pale and agitated, while the
countenance of the emperor, on the contrary, was flushed with triumph.
Joseph tried to meet the glance of Prince Kaunitz's eye, but it was
blank as ever; sometimes fixed vacantly upon the nuncio, and then
turning with cold indifference toward the speaking countenances of the
devoted friend and inveterate enemy of the Order of Jesus.
"Go on, your eminence," at length faltered the empress.
The nuncio bowed and continued in an audible voice: "Seeing that between
the Holy See and the kings of France, Spain, Portugal, and the Sicilies,
misunderstandings have arisen which are attributable to the influence
of the Order of Jesus; seeing that the society at this present time has
ceased to bear the rich fruits of its past usefulness; the pope, after
conscientious deliberation, has resolved, in the fulness of his
apostolic right, to suppress the brotherhood."
A loud cry burst from the lips of the empress, as overwhelmed by these
bitter tidings she covered her face with her hands. The emperor
approached as though he wished to address her, but she waved him off
"Away, Joseph!" said she; "I will listen neither to your condolence nor
to your exultation. Let me advise you, too, to moderate your transports,
for this is Austrian soil, and no one reigns in Austria but Maria
Theresa. The Jesuits have been a blessing to mankind; they have
instructed our youth, and have been the guardians of all knowledge; they
have encouraged the arts and sciences, and have disseminated the
Christian faith in every part of the world. They have been the true and
loyal friends of my house; and in their day of adversity, though I may
not defend them against their ecclesiastical superiors, I will protect
them against malice and insult."
Thus spoke the generous and true-hearted Maria Theresa; but her efforts
to sustain the Jesuits, as an organized brotherhood, were fruitless.
They were an ecclesiastic fraternity, and as such, their existence was
beyond the reach of civil authority. As individuals, they were her
subjects; but as a society, they were amenable to the laws of the
Church, and by that code alone, they stood or fell.
Bravely she struggled; but the earnest representations of the nuncio,
the sharp, cutting arguments of Kaunitz, and her own reluctance to come
to a rupture with the pope in a matter essentially within ecclesiastical
jurisdiction, all these things united, bore down her opposition; and
with the same reluctance as she had felt in acquiescing to the partition
of Poland, she consented to the suppression of the Society of Jesus.
"Come hither, my son," said the empress, reaching her hand to Joseph.
"Since I have seen fit to give my consent to this thing, I have nothing
wherewith to reproach you. As co-regent I hope that what I am about to
say will obtain your approbation. Monsignore, you have read to me the
order of his holiness, Clement XIV., for the suppression of the Jesuits.
For my part, nothing would ever have induced me to expel them from my
dominions. But since his holiness sees fit to do so, I feel it to be my
duty, as a true daughter of the Church, to allow the order to be put
into execution. [Footnote: The empress's own words. Gross-Horitnger,
vol. i., p. 195.] Acquaint his holiness with my decision, and remain a
few moments that you may witness the promptitude with which his
intentions shall be carried out."
She sat down to her escritoire, and tracing a few lines upon a piece of
paper, handed it to Prince Kaunitz.
"Prince," said she, "here is the order, which, in accordance to strict
form, must be in my own handwriting. Take it to Cardinal Migazzi. Let
him carry out the intentions of the pope, and himself perform the
funeral rites of the devoted Sons of Jesus."
She turned away her head, that none might see the tears which were
streaming from her eyes. Then rising from her seat, she crossed the
room. Those who had brought this grief upon her, watched her noble form,
and as they saw how her step faltered, they exchanged silent glances of
sympathy. When she reached the door, she turned, and then they saw her
pale, sad face and tearful eyes.
"When the cardinal visits the College of the Jesuits to read the papal
order, let an imperial commissarius accompany him," said Maria Theresa
in an imperative tone. "Immediately after its promulgation, he shall
promise to the Jesuits my imperial favor and protection, if they submit
to the will of the pope as becomes true servants of God and of the
Church. It shall also be exacted that the proceedings against the Order
of Jesus shall be conducted with lenity and due respect; and for the
future, I shall never suffer any member of the society to be treated
with contumely or scorn." [Footnote: The empress's words. Adam Wolf.
"Maria Theresa," p. 432.]
She bowed her lofty head, and withdrew.
Complete silence followed the disappearance of the empress. No one dared
to violate the significance of the moment by a word. The nuncio bowed
low to the emperor and retired; but as Kaunitz was about to follow,
Joseph came hastily forward and clasped him in his arms.
"I thank you," whispered he. "You have fulfilled your pledges, and
Austria is free. My obligations to you are for life!"
The two ministers then went down together to the great palace gate,
where their state-carriages awaited them.
Prince Kaunitz greeted the nuncio with another silent bow; and shrinking
from the blasts of a mild September day, [Footnote: The papal order was
promulgated in Vienna on September 10, 1773.] wrapped himself up in six
cloaks, and sealed up his mouth with a huge muff of Rahles. He then
stepped into his carriage, and drove off. Once safe and alone within his
exhausted receiver, he dropped his muff for a moment, and, wonderful to
"Let Wings shape themselves as they will," said he, thoughtfully. "I am
absolute master of Austria. Whether the sovereign be called Maria
Theresa, or Joseph, it is all one to me. Both feel my worth, and both
have vowed to me eternal gratitude. Poland has fallen--the Jesuits are
dispersed; but Kaunitz is steadfast, for he is the pillar upon which the
imperial house leans for support!"
Four weeks after the publication of the papal order by Cardinal Migazzi,
the great doors of the Jesuit College were opened, and forth from its
portals came the brotherhood of the Order of Jesus.
Led by their superior, all in their long black cassocks, with rosaries
hanging at their blue girdles, they left the familiar home, which had
been theirs for a hundred years. Each one carried in his hands his Bible
and breviary. The faces of the brothers were pale and unspeakably sad,
and their lips were compressed as though to thrust back the misery that
was surging within their hearts.
The multitude were mute as they. Not a word, whether of sympathy or of
animosity, greeted the silent procession. On went the noiseless,
spectre-like train until it reached the market-place. There the superior
stopped, and the brothers gathered around him in one vast circle.
He uncovered his head, and all followed his example. All bowed their
heads in prayer to God who had willed that this great humiliation should
befall them. In one last petition to Heaven for resignation, they bade
adieu to their glorious past with its glorious memories; and the people,
overcome by the simple sublimity of the scene, fell upon their knees and
wept, repeating, while they wept, the prayers which they had learned
from the teachers with whom they were parting forever.
The prayer was ended, and now the superior went from brother to brother,
taking the hand of each one. And every man faltered a blessing which
their chief returned. So he went from one to another, until he had
greeted them all; then passing from the crowd, with a Jesuit on either
side, he disappeared.
So ended the dispersion of the Order of Jesus, whom the whole world
believed to be crushed forever. But they knew better; for, as crowding
around their chief, they had whispered: "Shall we ever be a brotherhood
again?" he had returned the pressure of their friendly hands, and had
replied with prophetic fervor:
"Yes; whenever it is God's will to reinstate us. Wait patiently for the
hour. It will surely come; for Loyola's order, like the soul, is
The week of delay which the empress had granted to the Countess Margaret
had passed away, and the eve of her bridal had dawned. During those
eight eventful days the countess had been more fitful than ever, and her
uncle's household had suffered accordingly.
"She will take her life," whispered the servants among themselves, as
each day, like a pale spectre, she glided through the house, to mount
her wild Arabian. The two footmen who accompanied her on these
occasions, told how she galloped so madly that they could scarcely keep
pace with her; and then suddenly checked her horse, and with her head
bent over its neck, remained motionless and wept.
Once the emperor had surprised her in tears, and when she became aware
of his presence, she started off on a mad run and left him far behind.
This occurred twice; but the third time the emperor came upon her so
quickly, that before she had time to fly, he had grasped her rein. The
footmen declared that they had never heard such a cry as she gave; and
they thought that the emperor would be highly offended. But he only
laughed, and said:
"Now, countess, you are my prisoner; and I shall not allow my beautiful
Amazon to go, until she has told me why we never see her at court."
The countess turned so pale that her servants thought she would fall
from her horse, and the emperor cried out: "Good Heaven! what is the
matter with you?"
She broke into a loud laugh, and striking her horse with the whip, tried
to gallop off again. But the emperor put spurs to his horse, and the two
dashed on together. Neck and neck they ran; the countess lashing her
Arabian until he made wild leaps into the air, the emperor urging his
Barb with whip and spur, until his flanks were white with foam. At last
he came so near, that he made a grasp at her rein and caught it,
exclaiming, with a merry laugh:
The countess turned around with eyes that darted lightning.
"Why do you laugh so immoderately?" said she.
"Because we are enacting such a delightfully comic scene. But do not
look so angry; your bright eyes are on fire, and they make a man's heart
boil over. Answer my question, and I restore you to freedom. Why do you
shun me, and why do you never come to court?"
Now the pale cheeks flushed, and the voice was subdued until its tones
were like plaintive music. "Sire, I do not visit the court, because I am
a poor, unhappy creature, unfitted for society, and because no one
misses me there."
"And why do you fly from me as if I were Lucifer, the son of the
"Ah, your majesty, grief flies from the light of day, and seeks the
cover of friendly night! And now, free my horse, if you would not have
me fall dead at your feet!"
Again she turned pale, and trembled from head to foot. When the emperor
saw this, he loosed her rein, and bowing to her saddle bow, galloped
away--out of sight. The countess turned her horse's head, and went
All this Count Starhemberg learned from the footmen, for never a word
had his niece spoken to him since the unhappy day of Count Esterhazy's
visit. To say the truth, the old man was not sorry that her sorrow had
taken the shape of taciturnity; for her pale cheeks and glaring eyes
affrighted him; and he hugged himself close in his short-lived security,
as each day she declined to appear at table, and was served in the
solitude of her own room. She was served; but her food returned
untouched. Neither did she seem to sleep; for at all times of the night
she could be heard pacing her room. Then she would sit for hours before
her piano; and, although her playing and singing had been equally
renowned, her uncle had never suspected the genius that had lain
concealed in the touch of her hands and the sound of her voice. It was
no longer the "fierce countess," whose dashing execution had distanced
all gentler rivals; it was a timid maiden, whose first love was finding
utterance in entrancing melody. On the night following her last
encounter with the emperor, the music became more passionate in its
character. It was less tender, but far more sad; and often it ceased,
because the musician stopped to weep.
Her uncle heard her sob, and following the impulse of his affection and
compassion, he opened the room, and came softly in. He called her, and
she raised her head. The light from the wax-candles that stood on the
harpsichord fell directly upon her face, which was bedewed with tears.
Her uncle's entrance seemed neither to have surprised nor irritated her.
With an expression of indescribable woe she merely murmured
"See, uncle, to what the empress has reduced me."
Her uncle took her in his arms, and, like a weary child, she leaned her
head upon his shoulder. Suddenly she started, and disengaging herself,
she stood before him, and took his hands in hers.
"Oh, is it inevitable? Must I bow my head like a slave to this marriage,
while my heart proclaims an eternal NO!"
The old count wiped his eyes. "I fear there is no hope, my child. I have
done all that I could."
"What have you done?"
"I first appealed to Count Esterhazy; but he declared himself to be too
intoxicated by your beauty to resign you. I then tried to interest some
of our friends at court; but no one dared to intercede for my darling.
The empress has received a severe blow in the expulsion of the Jesuits,
and no one has the courage to come between her and her mania for
match-making. I then appealed to her majesty myself; but in vain. Her
only answer was this: 'You were to marry the count, or go into a
convent.' She added, that to-morrow every thing would be prepared in the
court chapel for your marriage; that she, herself, would honor you by
giving you away; and that, if you did not come punctually, when the
imperial state coach was sent for you, she would have you taken instead
to a convent."
"Is that all?" asked she, with a painful blush.
"No, Margaret. I saw the emperor also."
"What said he?" asked the countess, in a hoarse voice, pressing so
heavily upon the old man's shoulder, that he could scarcely stand under
the weight of her hands. "Word for word, tell me what he said."
"I will tell you. The emperor said: 'Dear count, no one would serve you
sooner than I. But as regards her mania for marrying people, the empress
is inflexible. And, indeed, it seems to me that she has chosen admirably
for your beautiful niece. Count Esterhazy is young, handsome, immensely
rich, and a favorite at court. You will see, dear count, that she will
end by making him an affectionate and obedient wife; for a young girl's
hate is very often nothing but concealed love. Those were the emperor's
words, my dear. I protested against his interpretation of your dislike
to Count Esterhazy--but in vain."
To this, Margaret replied not a word. Her hands had gradually fallen
from her uncle's shoulders, until they hung listless at her side. Her
graceful head was bowed down by the sharp stroke of the humiliation
which had just stricken her, and her whole attitude was that of hopeless
After a few moments she threw back her head with wild defiance. "He will
find that he is a false prophet," exclaimed she, with a laugh of scorn.
"I promise him that."
"But, my dear girl--" began Count Starhemberg. "Will you, too, insult me
with prophecies of my future obedience to this fine young man? Do you,
too, wish to prove to me that I am a fortunate--"
"My child, I wish nothing of the sort."
"Then what means the 'but'? Does it mean that I am to be consoled by the
splendor that is to attend this--execution? Does it mean that my
maidenly blushes--the blushes that betray my secret love--are to be
hidden by a veil of priceless lace? Does it mean that the chains, with
which your peerless empress will fetter my arms, are to be of gold,
secured with diamonds? Have you taken care to provide the myrtle-wreath,
the emblem of love, wherewith to deck the bride's bow? O God! O God! May
some imperial daughter of this woman suffer worse than death for this!"
The count shuddered, and left the room. He had not dared to say that, in
truth, her bridal-dress was all that she had described. It had all been
chosen. The rich robe, the costly veil, the golden bracelets, the
glittering diamonds, even the myrtle-wreath, the emblem of the humble as
well as the high-born bride--all were there, awaiting the morrow.
THE FORCED BRIDAL.
The ceremony was to take place at eleven o'clock. The imperial carriage
of state was at the door; and behind it stood the gilded coaches of
Counts Esterhazy and Starhemberg. The former had been awaiting the
appearance of his bride for two hours; but to all his tender messages
she had curtly replied that she would come when she was ready.
"I fear she will play us some dreadful trick," sighed the old count.
"My dear count," returned Esterhazy, "no man would be so presuming as to
thwart the empress."
"Perhaps not--but my niece has more character than some men."
"What have I done for her to scorn me as she does!" cried the unhappy
"You have opposed her, that is all. My niece is an Amazon, and cannot
bear to give up her heart at another's will! Had she been left free, it
might have been otherwise."
"Do you really think she will come to love me?" asked Esterhazy,
surveying his diminutive comeliness in the mirror opposite.
"I am quite sure of it, and so is the emperor. Take courage, then; bear
with her whims for a while; they are nothing but harmless summer
lightnings. Do not heed the storm; think of the flowers that will spring
up to beautify your life, when the showers of her tears shall have
"Oh, I will be patient. She shall exhaust herself."
Here the door opened, and the countess's maid entered with a request
that Count Esterhazy would follow her to her lady's apartment.
The count kissed his hand to Count Starhemberg and hurried away. When he
entered the countess's sitting-room, she was standing in all the pride
of her bridal attire, and seemed more transcendently beautiful than
ever. The court-dress, with its long trail, heightened the elegance of
her figure, and the silver-spotted veil, that fell to her feet,
enveloped her like a white evening cloud. But how little did her face
accord with this superb festive dress Her cheek was deadly pale; her
exquisite mouth was writhing with anguish, and her great, glowing eyes
darted glances of fiery hatred.
"You really have the courage to persevere, Count Esterhazy? You will
perpetrate the crime of marriage with me?"
"When a man opens his arms to receive the most enchanting woman that
ever was sent on earth, do you call that a crime?" said Esterhazy,
An impatient shrug was the answer to this attempt at gallantry.
"Have I not told you that you would earn nothing for your reward but my
hatred? In the despair of my heart, have I not told you that I love
another man? Oh, you have come to tell me that you spare me the
sacrifice--have you not? You will not force a helpless girl to marry
you, who does so only to escape a convent--will you? Oh, tell me that
you have summoned manliness enough to resist the empress, and to give me
"I have summoned manliness enough to resist you; and bearing your anger,
I am resolved to take the bewitching woman to wife whom my generous
empress has selected for me."
"You are a contemptible coward!" cried she.
"I forgive you the epithet, because I am in love," replied he, with a
"But if you have no pity for me," cried she wildly, "have pity on
yourself. You have seen how I treat my uncle, and yet I love him dearly.
Think what your fate will be, since I hate you immeasurably."
"Ah," said he, "can you expect me to be more merciful to myself than to
you? No, no! I rely upon my love to conquer your hate. It will do so all
in good time."
"As there is a God in heaven, you will rue this hour!" cried Margaret
with mingled defiance and despair.
"Come, countess, come. The empress and her son await us in the
Margaret shivered, and drew her veil around her. She advanced toward the
door, but as the count was in the act of opening it, she laid her two
hands upon his arm, and held him back. "Have mercy with my soul!" sobbed
she. "It is lost if I become your wife. I have a stormy temper, and
sorrow will expand it into wickedness. I feel that I shall be capable of
crime if you force me to this marriage."
"Gracious Heaven!" cried the count, pettishly, "if you abhor me to such
a degree, why do you not go into a convent?"
"I had resolved to do so, for the convent is less repulsive to me than a
home in your palace; but I could not bring myself to the sacrifice.
No!--Were I to be immured within those convent walls, I should forever
be shut out from the sight of him whom I love. Do you hear this? Do you
hear that I marry you only to be free to see him, to hear his voice, to
catch one glance of his eye as he passes me in the crowd? Oh, you will
not take to wife a woman who meditates such perjury as this! You will
not give your father's name to her who is going to the altar with a lie
upon her lips and a crime upon her soul! Go-tell all this to the
empress. Tell her that you will not disgrace your noble house by a
marriage with me! Oh, Count Esterhazy, be merciful, be merciful!"
"Impossible, countess, impossible; were it even possible for me to belie
you by such language. I shall not see the empress until we stand before
the altar together, and then she will be in her oratorium, far beyond my
"Yes, yes, you can reject nie at the altar. Oh, see how I humble myself!
I am on my knees before you. Spurn me from you in the face of the whole
Count Esterhazy looked thoughtful. Unhappily, the countess on her knees
was more beautiful than ever; so that remembering her uncle's words, he
said to himself
"Yes-I will humor her-I must feign to yield."
He stretched out his hands, saying, "Rise, countess. It does not become
a sovereign to kneel before her slave. I have no longer the power to
oppose your will. Before the altar, I will say `No' to the priest's
question, and you shall be free."
The countess uttered a loud cry of joy, and rose to her feet. And as her
pale cheek kindled with hope, and her eyes beamed with happiness, she
was more beautiful than she had ever been in her life before, and Count
Esterhazy exulted over it.
"God bless you!" exclaimed she, with a heavenly smile. "You have earned
my affection now; for my life I vow to love you as a cherished brother.
Come, dear, generous, noble friend, come. Let us hasten to the chapel."
It was she now who opened the door. Count Starhemberg awaited them in
the drawing-room. Margaret flew to meet him, and embracing him, said
"Do I not look like a happy bride now? Come, uncle, come, dear Count
Esterbazy, let us go to our bridal."
She took Esterhazy's arm, and be placed her in the carriage. The old
count followed, in speechless wonder.
At the door of the chapel, they were met by the empress's first lady of
honor, who conducted the bride to the altar. The emperor walked by the
side of Count Esterhazy. The face of the countess was radiant with
happiness, and all who saw her confessed that she was lovely beyond all
And now the ceremonial began. The priest turned to Count Esterhazy and
asked him if he took the Countess Maragret von Starhemberg for his
wedded wife--to love, honor, and cherish her until death should them
There was a pause, and Margaret looked with a bright smile at the face
of her bridegroom. But the eyes of the spectators were fixed upon him in
astonishment, and the brow of the empress grew stormy.
"Will you take this woman for your wedded wife?" repeated the priest.
"I will," said Esterhazy, in a loud firm voice.
A cry escaped from the lips of Margaret. She was so faint that she
reeled and would have fallen, but for the friendly support of an arm
that sustained her, and the witching tones of a voice that whispered:
"Poor girl, remember that a cloister awaits you." She recognized the
voice of the emperor; and overcoming her weakness, the courage of
despair came to her help.
She raised herself from Joseph's arms and taking the vinaigrette that
was tendered her by the lady of honor, she inhaled its reviving aroma;
then she looked at the priest.
He continued, and repeated his solemn question to her. Etiquette
required that before she answered, she should have the sanction of the
empress. The countess turned, with a low inclination, to the lady of
honor, who, in her turn, courtesied deeply to the empress.
Maria Theresa bowed acquiescence, and the bride, having thanked her with
another courtesy, turned once more to the priest and said, "Yes."
The ceremony was over, and the young couple received the
congratulations of the court. Even the empress herself descended
from the oratorium to meet them.
"I have chosen a very excellent husband for you," said she, smiling,
"and I have no doubt you will be a very happy woman." "It must be so, of
course, your majesty," replied the bride; "for had your majesty not
ascertained that this marriage had been made in heaven, you would not
have ordered it on earth, I presume." Maria Theresa darted a look of
anger at the countess, and turning her back upon such presumption,
offered her good wishes to the count.
"What did you say, to irritate the empress so?" whispered Joseph to the
Margaret repeated her words. "That was a bold answer," said he.
"Has your majesty ever taken me for a coward? I think I have shown
preter-human courage this day."
"What! Because you have married Count Esterhazy? Believe me, you will be
the happiest of tyrants, and he the humblest of your slaves."
"I will show him that slaves deserve the lash!" cried she, with a look
of hatred at her husband, who came forward to conduct her to the palace,
where the marriage guests were now to be received.
The festivities of the day over, the empress's lady of honor conducted
the countess to her new home. It was the duty of this lady to assist the
bride in removing her rich wedding-dress, and assuming the costly
neglige which lay ready prepared for her on a lounge in her magnificent
But the countess imperiously refused to change her dress. "Have the
goodness," said she, "to say to her majesty, that you conducted me to my
dressing-room. You can say further," added she, hearing the door open,
"that you left me with Count Esterhazy."
She pointed to the count, who entered, greeting the ladies with a
"I will leave you, then," said the lady, kissing Marearet's forehead.
"May Heaven bless you!"
Count Esterhazy was now alone with his wife. With a radiant smile and
both hands outstretched, he came toward her.
"Welcome to my house, beautiful Margaret! From this hour you reign
supreme in the palace of the Esterhazys."
The countess stepped back. "Do not dare to touch my hand. A gulf yawns
between us; and if you attempt to bridge it, I will throw you, headlong,
into its fiery abyss."
"What gulf? Point it out to me, that I may bridge it with my love,"
"The gulf of my contempt," said she, coldly. "You are a coward and a
liar. You have deceived a woman who trusted herself to your honor; and
God in heaven, who would not hear my prayers, God shall be the witness
of my vengeance. Oh, you shall repent from this hour to come, that ever
you called me wife! I scorn to be a liar like you, and I tell you to
beware. I will revenge myself for this accursed treachery."
"I do not fear your revenge, for you have a noble heart. The day will
come when I shall be forgiven for my deception. Heaven is always clement
toward the repentant sinner; and you are my heaven, Margaret. I await
the day of mercy."
"Such mercy as Heaven has shown to me, I shall show to you," cried she.
"And now, sir, leave this room. I have nothing more to say to you."
"What, Margaret!" said Esterhazy, with an incredulous smile, "you would
deny me the sweet right of visiting your room? Chide, if you will; but
be not so cruel. Let me have the first kiss--"
As he attempted to put his arms around her, Margaret uttered a fearful
cry. Freeing herself with such violence that Esterhazy reeled backward
with the shock, she exclaimed:
"You are worse than a coward, for you would take advantage of rights
which my hatred has annulled forever."
"But, Margaret, my wife--"
"Count Esterhazy," said Margaret slowly, "I forbid you ever to use that
word in this room. Before the world I must endure the humiliation of
being called your wife; but once over the threshold of my own room, I am
Margaret Starhemberg, and you shall never know me as any other Margaret.
She pointed to the door; and as the count looked into her face, where
passion was so condensed that it almost resembled tranquillity, he had
not the hardihood to persist. He felt that he had gained his first and
As soon as he had passed the door, Margaret locked and bolted it; then,
alone with the supreme anguish that had been crushed for these long,
long hours, she fell upon her knees, and wept until the morning-star
looked down upon her agony.
PRINCE LOUIS DE ROHAN.
The cardinal prince, Louis de Rohan, French ambassador at Vienna, had
petitioned the empress for a private audience, and the honor had been
granted him. It was the first time, since a year, that he had enjoyed
this privilege; and the proud prince had determined that all Vienna
should know it, for all Vienna was fully aware of the empress's dislike
Accompanied by a brilliant cortege, the prince set out for the palace.
Six footmen stood behind his gilded carriage, while inside, seated upon
cushions of white satin, the prince dispensed smiles to the women, and
nods to the men who thronged the streets to get a glimpse of his
magnificence. Four pages, in the Rohan livery, dispensed silver coin to
the populace; while behind came four carriages, bearing eight noblemen
of the proudest families in France, and four other carriages which bore
the household of this haughty prince of church and realm. [Footnote: In
the beginning of the year 1780, Prince de Rohan was made cardinal and
grand almoner of France. Before that time, he had been Archbishop of
Strasburg. "Memoires sur la Vie Privee de Marie Antoinette," vol. i., p.
The cortege moved slowly, and the people shouted. From every window,
burgher's or nobleman's, handsome women greeted the handsome cardinal
who was known to be a connoisseur in female beauty. The crowd outside
followed him to the palace-gates, and when his carriage stopped, they
shouted so vociferously, that the noise reached the ears of the empress;
and so long, that their shouts had not ceased when the cardinal, leaving
his brilliant suite, was ushered into the small reception-room where
Maria Theresa awaited him.
She stood by the window, and half turned her head, as the prince, with
profoundest salutations, came forward. She received his obsequious
homage with a slight inclination of the head.
"Can your eminence tell me the meaning of this din?" asked she, curtly.
"I regret not to be able to do so, your majesty. I hear no din; I have
heard nothing save the friendly greetings of your people, whose piety
edifies my heart as a priest, and whose welcome is dear to me as a quasi
subject of your majesty. For the mother of my future queen must allow me
the right to consider myself almost as her subject."
"I would prefer that you considered yourself wholly the subject of my
daughter; as I doubt whether she will ever find much loyalty in your
heart, prince. But before we go further, pray inform me what means all
this parade attendant upon the visit of the French ambassador here
to-day? I am not aware that we are in the carnival; nor have I an
unmarried daughter for whom any French prince can have sent you to
"Surely your majesty would not compare the follies of the carnival with
the solemnity of an imperial betrothal," said the archbishop,
"Be so good as not to evade my question. I ask why you came to the
palace with a procession just fit to take its place in a carnival?"
"Because the day on which the mother of the dauphiness receives me, is a
great festival for me. I have so long sued for an audience, that when it
is granted me, I may well be allowed to celebrate it with the pomp which
befits the honor conferred."
"And in such a style that all Vienna may know it, and the rumor of your
audience reach the ears of the dauphiness herself."
"I cannot hope that the dauphiness takes interest enough in the French
ambassador to care whether he be received at a foreign court or not,"
replied the cardinal, still in his most respectful tone. "I request you
to come to the point," said Maria Theresa, impatiently. "Tell me, at
once, why you have asked for an audience? What seeks the French
ambassador of the empress of Austria?"
"Allow me to say that had I appeared to-day before your majesty as the
French ambassador, I would have been accompanied by my attaches and
received by your majesty in state. But your majesty is so gracious as to
receive me in private. It follows, therefore, that the Cardinal de
Rohan, the cousin of the dauphin, visits the imperial mother of the
"In other words, you come hither to complain of the dauphiness-consort;
again to renew the unpleasant topics which have been the cause of my
repeated refusals to see you here."
"No, your majesty, no. I deem it my sacred duty to speak confidentially
to the mother of the dauphiness."
"If the mother of the dauphiness-consort will listen," cried the proud
empress, sharply emphasizing the word "consort."
"Pardon me, your majesty, the apparent oversight," said De ROhan, with a
smile. "But as a prince of the church, it behooves me, above all things,
to be truthful, and the Dauphiness of France is not yet
dauphiness-consort. Your majesty knows that as well as I do."
"I know that my daughter's enemies and mine have succeeded so far in
keeping herself and her husband asunder," said the empress bitterly.
"But the dauphiness possesses, in her beauty, worth, and sweetness,
weapons wherewith to disarm her enemies, if she would but use them,"
said De Rohan, with a shrug. "Unhappily, she makes no attempt to disarm
"Come--say what you have to say without so much circumlocution," cried
Maria Theresa, imperiously. "What new complaint have the French against
"Your majesty is the only person that can influence the proud spirit of
the dauphiness. Marie Antoinette adores her mother, and your majesty's
advice will have great weight with her."
"What advice shall I give her?"
"Advise her to give less occasion to her enemies to censure her levity
and her contempt of conventional forms."
"Who dares accuse my daughter of levity?" said the empress, her eyes
flashing with angry pride.
"Those who, in the corruption of their own hearts, mistake for
wantonness that which is nothing more than the thoughtlessness of
"You are pleased to speak in riddles. I am Maria Theresa--not Oedipus. "
"I will speak intelligently," said De Rohan, with his everlasting smile.
"There are many things, innocent in themselves, which do not appear so
to worldly eyes. Innocence may be attractive in a cottage, but it is not
so in a palace. An ordinary woman, even of rank, has the right, in the
privacy of her own room, to indulge herself in childish sport; but your
majesty's self cannot justify your daughter when I tell you that she is
in the habit of playing wild games with the young ladies who have been
selected as her companions."
"My poor little Antoinette!" exclaimed the empress, her eyes filling
with compassionate tears. "Her enemies, who do not allow her to be a
wife, might surely permit her to remain a child! I have heard before
to-day, of the harmless diversions which she enjoys with her young
sisters-in-law. If there were any sense of justice in France, you would
understand that, to amuse half-grown girls, the dauphiness must herself
play the child. But I know that she has been blamed for her natural
gayety, poor darling; and I know that Madame de Marsan will never
forgive her for feeling a sisterly interest in the education of the
young princesses of France. [Footnote: Madame de Marsan was their
governess.] I know that the saloons of Madame de Marsan are a hot-bed of
gossip, and that every action of the dauphiness is there distorted into
crime. [Footnote: "Memoires de Madame de Campan." vol. i., p. 65.] If my
lord cardinal has nothing else to tell me it was scarcely worth his
while to come to the palace in so pompous a manner, with such a solemn
"I did not come to your majesty to accuse the dauphiness, but to warn
her, against her enemies; for unfortunately she HAS enemies at court.
These enemies not only deride her private diversions, but, with
affectation of outraged virtue, they speak of recreations, hitherto
unheard of at the court of France."
"What recreations, pray?"
"The dauphiness, without the sanction of the king; indulges in private
"Private theatricals! That must be an invention of her enemies."
"Pardon me, your majesty, it is the truth. The dauphiness and her
married sisters-in-law take the female characters, and the brothers of
the king the male. Sometimes Monsieur de Campan, the private secretary
of the deceased queen, and his son, who fills the same office for the
dauphiness, join the actors. The royal troupe give their entertainments
in an empty entre-sol, to which the household have no access. The Count
of Provence plays the jeune premier, but the Count d'Artois also is
considered a good performer. I am told that the costumes of the
princesses are magnificent, and their rivalry carried to the extreme."
The empress, affecting not to hear the last amiable remark, said "Who
are the audience?"
"There is but one spectator, your majesty, the dauphin himself."
Maria Theresa's face lighted up at once, and she smiled.
The cardinal went on: "The aunts of the dauphin themselves are not
admitted to their confidence, lest they might inform the king, and his
majesty forbid the indecorous representations."
"I shall write to the dauphiness and advise her to give up these
representations," said Maria Theresa, calmly, "not because they are
indecorous, but because they are a pretext for her enemies. If she has
the approbation of her husband, that of itself ought to suffice to the
court; for it is not an unheard thing to have dramatic representations
by the royal family. Louis XIV. appeared on the boards as a dancer; and
even under the pious Madame de Maintenon, the princes and princesses of
France acted the dramas of Corneille and Racine."
"But they had the permission of the king, and none of them were future
"What of that? If the queen approved of the exhibition, the dauphiness
might surely repeat it. My daughter is doing no more at Versailles, than
she has been accustomed to do at Schonbrunn, in her mother's presence."
"The etiquette of the two courts is dissimilar," said De Rohan, with a
shrug. "In Vienna, an archduchess is permitted to do that which, in
Paris, would be considered an impropriety."
"Another complaint!" cried the empress, out of patience.
"The dauphiness finds it a bore," continued De Rohan, "to he accompanied
wherever she goes, by two ladies of honor. She has, therefore, been seen
in the palace, even in the gardens of Versailles, without any escort,
except that of two servants."
"Have you come to the end of your complaints?" said the empress scarcely
able to control her passion.
"I have, your majesty. Allow me to add, that the reputation of a woman
seldom dies from a single blow--it expires gradually from repeated
pricks of the needle. And queens are as liable to such mortality as
"It ill becomes the Prince de Rohan to pass judgment upon the honor of
women," cried Maria Theresa, exasperated by his lip-morality. "If the
French ambassador presumes to come to me with such trivial complaints as
I have heard to-day, I will direct my minister in Paris to make
representations to the king of another and a more serious nature."
"Regarding the unpardonable indifference of the dauphin to his wife?"
asked the cardinal, with sympathizing air.
"No. Regarding the unpardonable conduct of the French ambassador in
Vienna." exclaimed the empress. "If the cardinal is so shocked at a
slight breach of etiquette, he should be careful to conceal his own
deformities under its sheltering veil. Innocence may sin against
ceremony; but he, who leads a dissolute and voluptuous life, should make
decorum a shield wherewith to cover his own shame!"
"I thank your majesty for this axiom so replete with worldly wisdom. But
for whom can it be intended? Certainly not for the dauphiness."
"No; for yourself, prince and cardinal!" cried the empress, beside
herself with anger. "For the prelate who, unmindful of his rank and of
its obligations, carries on his shameless intrigues even with the ladies
of my court. For the ambassador who, leading a life of Oriental
magnificence, is treading under foot the honor of his country, by living
upon the credulity of his inferiors. All Vienna knows that your
household makes unworthy use of your privileges as a foreign minister,
by importing goods free of tax, and reselling them here. All Vienna
knows that there are more silk stockings sold at the hotel of the French
embassy than in all Paris and Lyons together. The world blames me for
having revoked the privilege enjoyed by foreign embassies to import
their clothing free of duty. It does not know that the abuse of this
privilege by yourself has forced me to the measure."
"Your majesty is very kind to take so much trouble to investigate the
affairs of my household. You are more au fait to the details than
myself. I was not aware, for instance, that silk stockings were sold at
the embassy. No more than I was aware that I had had any amours with the
ladies of the court. I have a very cold heart, and, perhaps, that is the
reason why I have never seen one to whom I would devote a second
thought. As regards my manner of living, I consider it appropriate to my
rank, titles, and means; and that is all that I feel it necessary to say
on the subject."
"You dispose of these charges in a summary manner. To hear you, one
would really suppose there was not the slightest ground for reproach in
your life," said the empress, satirically.
"That this is quite within the range of possibility, is proved by the
case of the dauphiness," replied De Rohan. "If your majesty thinks so
little of her breaches of etiquette, it seems to me that mine are of
still less consequence. And allow me to say, that the French nation will
sooner forgive me a thousand intrigues with the ladies of Vienna, than
pass over the smallest deviation from court usages on the part of the
dauphiness. Marie Antoinette has defied them more than once, and I fear
me, she will bitterly repent her thoughtlessness. Her enemies are
"Oh, I see that they are watchful," exclaimed Maria Theresa, "I see it.
Do not deny it, you are one of those whose evil eyes see evil doings in
every impulse of my dear defenceless child's heart. But have a care, sir
cardinal, the friendless dauphiness will one day be Queen of France, and
she will then have it in her power to bring to justice those who
persecute her now!" [Footnote: "Memoires de Madame de Campan," vol. i.,
"I hope that I shall never be accused of such fellowship," said De
Rohan, for the first time losing his proud self-possession.
"I, the Empress of Austria, accuse you to-day of it!" cried Maria
Theresa, with threatening mien. "Oh, my lord, it does you little
honor--you, a royal personage and a prince of the church, to exchange
letters with a Du Barry, to whose shameless ears you defame the mother
of your future queen!"
"When did I do this? When was I so lost to honor as to speak a
disrespectful word of the Empress of Austria?"
"You deny it--do you? Let me tell you that your praise or your blame are
all one to me; and if I have granted you this interview, it was to show
you how little I am disturbed by your censorious language. I know
something of the intriguing at Versailles. I have even heard of the
private orgies of the 'Oeil de Boeuf,' where Louis entertains his
favorites. And I will tell you what took place at the last one. The
Countess du Barry was diverting the company with accounts of the
hypocrisy of the Empress of Austria; and to prove it, she drew from her
pocket-book a letter, saying: 'Hear what the Cardinal de Rohan says
about her.' Now, cardinal, do you still deny that you correspond with
"I do deny it," said the prince, firmly. "I deny that I ever have
written her a word."
The empress took from her pocket a paper, and read as follows
"True, I have seen Maria Theresa weeping over the fate of Poland, but
this sovereign, who is such an adept in the art of dissimulation,
appears to have tears and sighs at her command. In one hand she holds
her pocket-handkerchief, and in the other the sword with which she cuts
off a third of that unhappy country." [Footnote: "Memoires de Weber
concernant Marie Antoinette," vol. viii., p. 803.]
"Now, sir cardinal, upon your sacred honor, did you or did you not write
The prince turned pale, and grasped the arm of the chair on which he
"Upon your honor and your conscience, before God!" reiterated the
The cardinal raised his eyes slowly, and in a low voice, said "I dare
not deny it. I wrote them. In an unlucky hour I wrote them--but not to
"To whom, then?"
"To one who has betrayed me to Du Barry. Far be it for me to name him. I
alone will bear the weight of your majesty's displeasure. I alone am the
"I know of no culprit in the matter," replied Maria Theresa, throwing
back her stately head. "I stand before God and before the world, and
every man has a right to pass sentence upon my actions--even the
Cardinal de Rohan. I merely wish to show him that the dauphiness and her
mother both know what to expect of his eminence."
"The dauphiness knows of this letter?" cried De Rohan.
"It is she who sent me this copy."
The prince bowed his head down upon his hands.
"I am lost!" murmured he.
The empress surveyed him with mistrust. Such emotion on the part of such
a man astonished her, and she doubted its sincerity.
"Why this comedy, prince?" said she. "I have already told you that I am
indifferent to your opinion."
"But the dauphiness never will forgive me," said he, uncovering his
face. "My contrition is no comedy: for I look with prophetic eyes into
the future--and there I see anguish and tears."
"For whom?" said Maria Theresa, scornfully.
"For me, and perchance for the dauphiness. She considers me her enemy,
and will treat me as such. But hatred is a two-edged sword which is as
apt to wound the one who holds it as the one for whom it is unsheathed.
Oh, your majesty, warn the dauphiness! She stands upon the brow of a
precipice, and if she do not recede, her enemies will thrust her
headlong into the abyss below. Marie Antoinette is an angel of innocence
and chastity, but the world in which she lives does not understand the
language of angels; and the wicked will soil her wings, that her purity
may not be a reproach to their own foulness. Warn the dauphiness to
beware of her enemies. But, as God hears me, I am not one of them. Marie
Antoinette will never believe me, and, therefore, my fate is sealed. I
beg leave of your majesty to withdraw."
Without awaiting the answer, the prince bowed and retired.
Maria Theresa looked thoughtfully after him, and long after be had
closed the door, she remained standing in the centre of the room, a prey
to the anxious misgivings which his visit had kindled in her heart.
"He is right," said she, after a time. "She wanders upon the edge of a
precipice, and I must save her. But, oh my God! where shall I find a
friend who will love her enough to brave her displeasure, and, in the
midst of the flattery which surrounds her, will raise the honest voice
of reproof and censure? Ah, she is so unhappy, my little Antoinette, and
I have no power to help her! Oh my God! succor my persecuted child!"
THE POLES AT VIENNA.
The three powers which had lived so long at variance, had united
themselves in one common cause--the pacification of Poland. In vain had
Stanislaus refused his assent to their friendly intervention. In vain
had he appealed to England and France for help. Neither of these powers
was willing, for the sake of unhappy Poland, to become involved in a war
with three nations, who were ready to hurl their consolidated strength
against any sovereign who would have presumed to dispute their joint
In vain King Stanislaus began, by swearing, that sooner than consent to
the dismemberment of Poland, he would lose his right hand. The three
powers, tired of his impotent struggles, informed him, through their
envoys at Warsaw, that there were limits to the moderation which decorum
prescribed to governments; that they stood upon these limits, and
awaited his speedy acquiescence to the act of partition. [Footnote:
Raumer, "Contributions to Modern History," vol. iv., p 516.] The Russian
empress added that, if Stanislaus did not call a convention of the
Polish Diet to recognize the act, she would devastate his land, so that
he would not have a silver spoon left to him. [Footnote: Raumer,
"Contributions to Modern History," vol. i., p. 507.]
The unhappy king had no longer the nerve to brave such terrific threats.
He submitted to the will of his tyrants, and came in as a fourth power,
eager to obtain as much as he could for his own individual advantage.
The wretched Poles took no notice of the edicts of a king who had been
forced upon them by a strange sovereign. Only a few cowards and
hirelings obeyed the call for a convention; so that in all, there were
only thirty-six members, who, under the surveillance of Austrian and
Prussian hussars, signed their names to the act of partition.
The King of Prussia received Pomerelia, and the district of Nantz;
Russia took Livonia, and several important waywodeships; and Austria
obtained the county of Zips, a portion of Galicia and of Lodomeria, and
half of the palatinate of Cracow.
Here and there an isolated voice was raised to protest against the
stupendous robbery; but it was lost amidst the clash of arms and the
tread of soldiery. Whenever a word was spoken that fretted the
sensibilities of Austria or Prussia, Catharine said she was willing to
bear all the blame of the thing; and, laughing heartily, she called the
protests that were sent on the subject, "moutarde apres diner."
Frederick resorted to self-deception, proclaiming to the world, "that
for the first tune the King and the Republic of Poland were established
on a firm basis; that they could now apply themselves in peace to the
construction of such a government as would tend to preserve the balance
of power between proximate nations, and prevent them from clashing."
[Footnote: Raumer, "Contributions," p. 542.]
The Poles, in silent rancor, submitted to their fate, and took the oath
of allegiance to their oppressors. New boundary-lines were drawn, and
new names assigned to the sundered provinces of the dismembered
fatherland. The citadels were given over to their foreign masters, and
now the deed was consummated.
Even Maria Theresa rejoiced to know it, and whether to relieve her
burdened heart, or to pretend to the world that she approved of the
transaction, she ordered a solemn "Te Deum" to be sung in the cathedral
of St. Stephen, in commemoration of the event.
The entire court was to assist at this ceremony, after which the empress
was to receive the oath exacted from those of her new subjects who
desired to retain possession of their property.
The ladies of the court were in the anteroom, awaiting the entrance of
the sovereigns. Their handsome, rouged faces were bright with
satisfaction; for they had all suffered from the misery which, for a
year past, had been endured by their imperial mistress. Now they might
look forward to serene skies and a renewal of court festivities, and
they congratulated one another in triumph.
But they were cautious not to give too audible expression to their
hopes. They whispered their expectations of pleasure, now and then
casting stolen glances at a tall figure in black, which, sorrowful and
alone, stood tearfully regarding the crowds in the streets who were
hurrying to church to celebrate her country's downfall. This was the
Countess von Salmour, governess to the Archduchess Mariana. With the
other ladies of the palace, she was to accompany the empress to the
cathedral; but it was clear to all beholders that to her this was a day
of supreme humiliation.
The great bell of St. Stephen's announced to her people that the empress
was about to leave the palace. The folding-doors were flung open, and
she appeared leaning on the arm of the emperor, followed by the princes,
princesses, generals, and statesmen of her realms. Silently the ladies
of honor ranged themselves on either side of the room to let the
imperial family pass by. Maria Theresa's eyes glanced hastily around,
and fell upon the pale, wan features of the Countess von Salmour.
All eyes now sought the face of the unhappy lady, whose sad mourning
garments were in such striking contrast with the magnificent dresses of
the ladies around her.
"Madame von Salmour," said the empress, "I dispense you from your duties
for this day. You need not accompany the court to church."
The countess courtesied deeply, and replied: "Your majesty is right to
excuse me; for had I gone with the court to church, I might have been
tempted to utter treason to Heaven against the oppressors of my
The company were aghast at the audacity of the rejoinder, but the
empress replied with great mildness:
"You are right; for the temptation would indeed be great, and it is
noble of you to speak the truth. I respect your candor."
She was about to pass on, but paused as if she had forgotten something.
"Is the Countess Wielopolska in Vienna?" asked she.
"She arrived yesterday, your majesty."
"Go to her while we are at church." said Maria Theresa, compassionately.
Madame von Salmour glanced toward the emperor, who, with an expression
of painful embarrassment, was listening to their conversation.
"Pardon me, your majesty," said the lady, "the Countess Wielopolska is
making preparations for a journey, and she receives no one. We parted
yesterday. To-morrow she leaves Vienna forever."
"I am glad that she intends to travel," said Maria Theresa; approvingly.
"It will divert her mind;" and with a friendly smile, she took leave of
the governess, and passed on.
Joseph followed with wildly throbbing heart; and neither the triumphant
strains of the Te Deum, nor the congratulatory shouts of his subjects,
could bring back serenity to his stormy brow. He knelt before the altar,
and with burning shame thought of his first entry into St. Stephen's as
Emperor of Austria. It had been the anniversary of the deliverance of
Vienna by John Sobieski and his Poles; and in the self-same spot where
the emperor had thanked God for this deliverance, he now knelt in
acknowledgment of the new principalities which were the fruits of his
own ingratitude to Poland.
From these painful and humiliating retrospections, the emperor's
thoughts wandered to the beautiful being, who, like a hamadryad, had
blended her life with the tree of Polish liberty. He thought of that
face whose pallid splendor reminded him of the glories of waning day;
and he listened through the long, dim aisles of memory, to the sound of
that enchanting voice, whose melody had won his heart long ago on that
first, happy evening at Neustadt.
The Countess Wielopolska was leaving Vienna forever, and yet there was
no message for him. A longing, that seemed to drown him in the flood of
its intensity, rushed over his soul. He would fly to her presence and
implore her to forgive the chant of victory that was rejoicing over her
country's grave! Oh, the crash of that stunning harmony, how it maddened
him, as kneeling, he listened to its last exultant notes!
It was over, and Joseph scarcely knew where he was, until his mother
laid her hand upon his shoulder and motioned him to rise.
In the great reception-room, with all the pomp of imperial splendor,
Maria Theresa sat upon her throne and received the homage of her new
subjects. Each one, as he passed, knelt before the powerful empress, and
as he rose, the chief marshal of the household announced his name and
rank. The ceremony over, Maria Theresa descended from the throne to
greet her Polish subjects in a less formal manner. No one possessed to a
greater degree than herself the art of bewitching those whom she desired
to propitiate; and to-day, though her youth and beauty were no longer
there to heighten the charms of her address, her elegant carriage, her
ever-splendid eyes, and graceful affability, were as potent to win
hearts as ever. Discontent vanished from the faces of the Poles, and by
and by they gathered into groups, in which were mingled Hungarians,
Italians, and Austrians, all the subjects of that one great empress.
The majority of the Poles had adopted the French costume of the day. Few
had possessed the hardihood to appear before their new sovereign in
their rich national dress. Among these few was an old man of tall
stature and distinguished appearance, who attracted the attention of
every one present.
While his countrymen unbent their brows to the sunshine of Maria
Theresa's gracious words, he remained apart in the recess of a window.
With scowling mien and folded arms, he surveyed the company; nor could
the empress herself, obtain from him more than a haughty inclination of
The emperor was conversing gayly with two Polish noblemen, whose
cheerful demeanor bore evidence to the transitory nature of their
national grief, when he observed this old man.
"Can you tell me," said he, "the name of yonder proud and angry
The faces of the two grew scarlet, as following the direction of the
emperor's finger, they saw the eyes of the old man fixed, with scorn,
upon their smiling countenances.
"That," said one of them, uneasily, "is Count Kannienski."
"Ah, the old partisan leader!" exclaimed the emperor. "As he does not
seem inclined to come to me, I will go forward and greet him myself."
So saying, Joseph crossed over to the window where, the old count was
standing. He received him with a cold, solemn bow.
"I rejoice to meet Count Kannienski, and to express to him my esteem for
his character," began the emperor, reaching out his hand.
The count did not appear to perceive the gesture, and merely made a
silent bow. But Joseph would not be deterred from his purpose by a
hauteur which he knew very well how to excuse.
"Is this your first visit to Vienna?" asked he.
"My first and last visit, sire."
"Are you pleased with the Austrian capital?"
"No, your majesty, Vienna does not please me."
The emperor smiled. Instead of being irritated at the haughtiness with
which his advances were met, he felt both respect and sympathy for the
noble old man who disdained to conceal his discontent from the eyes of
the sovereign himself.
"I wonder that you do not like Vienna. It has great attractions for
strangers, and you meet so many of your countrymen here just now!--there
were never as many Poles in Vienna before."
An angry glance shot athwart the face of the old man. "There were many
more when John Sobieski delivered Vienna from the hands of her enemies,"
said he. "But that is almost a hundred years ago, and the memory of
princes does not extend so far to the obligations of the past.
[Footnote: This whole conversation is historical. It was often related
by the emperor who said that he had been so touched by Count
Kannienski's patriotism and boldness, that but for the fear of a
repulse, he would have embraced him. Swinburne, vol. i., page 349.]
But," continued he, more courteously, "I did not come here to speak of
my country. We must be resigned to the fate apportioned to us by
Providence, and you see how readily my countrymen adapt themselves to
the vicissitudes of their national life."
"And yet, count, their smiles are less pleasing to me than your frowns.
In spite of the present, I cherish the past, and honor those who mourn
over the misfortunes of their native land."
The old man was touched, and looked at the handsome, expressive face of
the emperor. "Sire," said he, sadly, "if Stanislaus had resembled you,
Poland would have been free. But I have not come hither to-day to whine
over the unalterable past. Nor did I come to pay homage to the empress."
"Nevertheless the empress would rejoice to become acquainted with the
brave Count Kannienski. Allow me, count, to present you."
Kannienski shook his gray locks. "No, sire, I came to Vienna purely for
the sake of a woman who will die under the weight of this day's anguish.
I came to console her with what poor consolation I have to bestow."
"Is she a Pole?" asked Joseph, anxiously.
"Yes, sire; she is the last true-hearted Polish woman left on earth, and
I fear she is about to die upon the grave of her fatherland."
"May I ask her name?"
"Countess Anna Wielopolska. She it is who sent me to the palace, and I
came because she asked of me one last friendly service."
"You bring me a message?" faltered the emperor.
"The countess begs to remind the emperor of the promise he made on the
day when the empress signed the act of--"
"I remember," interrupted the emperor.
"She asks, if mindful of his promise, he will visit her to-morrow
afternoon at six o'clock."
"Where shall I find her?"
"In the very same room which she occupied before. I have delivered my
message. Your majesty will, therefore, permit me to withdraw."
He bowed and turned away. Slowly and proudly he made his way through the
giddy crowd, without a word of recognition for the frivolous Poles who
saluted him as he passed.
"He is the last Polish hero, as she is the last Polish heroine," sighed
the emperor, as he followed the old man with his eyes. "Our destiny is
accomplished. She would bid me a last farewell."
THE LAST FAREWELL.
Countess Anna Wielopolska was alone in her room, which, like herself,
was decked to receive some great and distinguished guest. A rich carpet
covered the floor, flowers bloomed in costly vases, the piano was
opened, and the music on the stand showed that the countess still found
consolation in her genius. But she herself was strangely altered since
the day on which she had thrown her bouquet to the emperor in Neustadt.
Nevertheless she wore the same dress of black velvet, the same jewels,
and in her bosom the same bouquet of white roses, bound with a long
Her heart beat high, and her anxious eyes wandered to the little bronze
clock that stood upon a console opposite. The clock struck six, and her
pale cheek flushed with anticipated happiness.
"It is the hour," said she. "I shall see him once more." And as she
spoke, a carriage stopped, and she heard his step within the vestibule
below. Trembling in every limb, she approached the door, and bent her
ear to listen.
"Yes, he comes," whispered she, while, with a gesture of extreme
agitation she drew from her pocket a little case, whence she took a tiny
flask, containing a transparent, crimson liquid. She held it for a few
seconds to the light, and now she could hear the sound of his voice, as
he spoke with Matuschka in the anteroom. The steps came nearer and
"It is time," murmured she; and hastily moving the golden capsule that
covered the vial, she put it to her lips and drank it to the last drop.
"One hour of happiness," said she, replacing the vial in her pocket, and
hastening back to the door.
It was opened, and the emperor entered the room. Anna met him, with both
hands outstretched, and smiled with unmistakable love as he came forward
to greet her. Silent, but with visible agitation, the emperor looked
into those eyes, which were already resplendent with the glory of
approaching death. Long they gazed upon each other without a word, yet
speaking love with eyes and lips.
Suddenly the emperor dropped her hands, and laying his own gently upon
her cheeks, he drew down her head, and rested it upon his breast. She
left it there, and looked up with a tender smile.
"Do not speak, love," said he. "I am an astrologer, who looks into his
heaven to read the secrets there. And, oh," sighed he, after he had
gazed for a time. "I see sorrow and suffering written upon that snowy
brow. Tears have dimmed the splendor of my stars, but they have not been
able to lessen their beauty. I know you again, my queen of the night, as
you first appeared to me at Neustadt. You are still the same proud
"No, dearest, no. I am a trembling woman, craving nothing from earth
save the glance of my beloved, and the privilege of dying in his
"She who loves, desires to live for her lover," said he, pressing her
again and again to his heart.
"Death is the entrance to eternal life, and she who truly loves will
love throughout eternity."
"Speak not of death in this hour of ecstasy, when I have found you once
more as I had pictured you in dreams. Oh, Anna, Anna! will you part me
from you again? Have you indeed brought me hither to cheat me with
visions of love, and then to say farewell, forever!"
"No, Joseph, I bid you eternal welcome. Oh, my lover, my soul has gone
forth to meet yours, and nothing shall ever part us again."
"And are you mine at last!" cried Joseph, kissing her passionately. "Has
the statue felt the ray of love, and uttered its first sweet sound? Oh,
how I longed to hear that sound! I have gone about by day, wearing the
weight of sovereignty upon my fainting shoulders; and by night I have
wept like a lovesick boy for your sake, Anna; but no one suspected it.
No one knew that the emperor was unhappy."
"I knew it," whispered she--"I knew it; for your sorrows have all been
"No, no!" cried Joseph, awaking from his dream of bliss, "you told me
that Poland was dearer to you than I. I remember it now You refused me
your hand, and forsook me for the sake of your country."
"But, now, beloved," said she, clinging to him, "now I am but a woman--a
woman who abandons her fatherland with all its memories, and asks but
one blessing of Heaven--the blessing of living and dying in her lover's
"Oh, if you would not kill me, speak no more of dying, Anna! Now you are
mine--mine for life; and my heart leaps with joy as it did when first I
heard your heavenly voice. Let me hear it once more. Sing to me, my
She went to the harpsichord, and the emperor bent over her, smiling as
he watched the motion of her graceful hands upon the keys. She struck a
few full chords, and then glided into a melody of melancholy sweetness.
The emperor listened attentively; then, suddenly smiling, he recognized
the song which she had sung before the King of Prussia and himself.
The words were different now. They represented Poland as a beggared
queen, wandering from door to door, repulsed by all. She is starving,
but she remembers that death will release her from shame and hunger.
The countess was singing these lines--
"If life to her hath brought disgrace,
Honor returns with death's embrace--"
when she stopped and her hands fell powerless from the instrument. The
emperor raised her head, and saw with alarm that her face was distorted
by pain. Without a word, he took her in his arms, and, carrying her
across the room, laid her gently upon the sofa. She raised her loving
eyes to his, and tried to steal her arm around his neck, but it fell
heavily to her side. Joseph saw it, and a pang of apprehension shook his
"Anna!" groaned he, "what means this?"
"Honor returns with death's embrace," whispered she.
The emperor uttered a savage cry, and raised his despairing arms to
heaven. "And it was false," cried he, almost mad with grief--"it was
false! She had not forgotten Poland. Oh, cruel, cruel Anna!" and he
sobbed piteously, while she strove to put her trembling hand upon his
"Cruel to myself, Joseph, for I have just begun to value life. But I
swore to my mother that I would not outlive the disgrace of Poland; and
you would have ceased to love me had I violated my oath. Forgive the
pain I inflict upon you, dearest. I longed for one single hour of
happiness, and I have found it here. With my dying breath I bless you."
"Is there no remedy?" asked he, scarcely able to speak.
"None," said she, with a fluttering smile. "I obtained the poison from
Cagliostro. Nay--dear one, do not weep: you see that I could not live.
Oh, do not hide your face from me; let me die with my eyes fixed upon
"And," cried Joseph, "must I live forever?"
"You must live for your subjects--live to be great and good, yet ever
mistrusted, ever misunderstood. But onward, my prince, and the blessing
of God be upon you! Think, too, that the Poles, my brethren, are among
your subjects, and promise me to love and cherish them?"
"Try to reconcile them to their fate--do not return their ill-will;
swear to me that you will be clement to my countrymen?"
"I swear! I swear to respect their misfortunes, and to make them happy!"
One last, beaming illuminated her face. "Thank you--dearest," said she,
with difficulty. "My spirit shall look out from the eye of every Pole,
to whom you will have given--one moment--of joy! Oh, what agony!
One more look--one shudder--and all was still.
The emperor fell upon his knees by the body, and prayed long and
fervently. The little clock struck seven. The hour of happiness had
passed away forever.
The following day, Joseph, pale, but perfectly calm, sought an interview
with his mother.
"I come to ask leave of absence of your majesty," said he, languidly.
"Leave of absence, my son? Do you wish to travel again so soon?"
"I must travel, your majesty. I must make a journey to Galicia, to
become acquainted with our new subjects."
"Perhaps it might be as well for us to show them some consideration at
this period. I had already thought of this; but I have been told that
Galicia is rather an uncivilized country, and that the people are
ill-disposed toward us."
"We cannot expect them to love their oppressors, your majesty."
"No--but it is a dreadful country. No roads--no inns--miles and miles of
uninhabited woods, infested by robbers. Oh, my son, postpone your
journey to a milder season! I shall be trembling for your safety."
"There is no danger, your majesty. Give me your consent; I am very, very
desirous of visiting Poland."
"But no vehicle can travel there at this time of year, my son."
"I will go on horseback, your majesty."
"But where will you get provisions, Joseph? Where will you rest at
"I will rest wherever night overtakes me, either in a cottage, on my
horse, or on the ground. And as for food, mother, if there is food for
our people, there will be some for me; and if there should be scarcity,
it is but just that I should share their hardships. Let me go, I entreat
"Go, then, my son, and God's blessing be with you," said the empress,
kissing her son's forehead.
"Joseph!" said she, as he was leaving the room, "have you heard that the
poor young Countess Anna has committed suicide on account of the
troubles in Poland?"
"Yes, your majesty," replied Joseph, without flinching.
"Perhaps you had better defer your journey for a day to attend her
funeral. All the Poles will be there; and as we both knew and admired
her, I think it would propitiate our new subjects if we gave some public
mark of sympathy by following the body to the grave. I have forbidden
mention to be made of the manner of her death, that she may not be
denied a resting-place within consecrated ground."
How she probed his wound until the flesh quivered with agony!
"The Countess Wielopolska is not to be interred in Austria, your
majesty," said he. "Count Kannienski will accompany the body to Poland.
Near Cracow there is a mound wherein it is said that Wanda, the first
Queen of Poland, was buried. Anna Wielopolska will share her tomb. Her
heroic spirit could rest nowhere save in Poland. When I visit Cracow I
will go thither to plant flowers upon her grave, that the white roses
she loved may grow from the consecrated earth that lies upon her heart."
Therese Paradies was to give a concert, the first at which she had
performed since the restoration of her sight. Of course, the hall was
thronged, for in spite of the incontrovertible fact itself, and of its
corroboration by the Paradies family, there were two parties in
Vienna--one who believed in the cure, and the other who did not. Those
who did not, doubted upon the respectable testimony of Professor Barth,
Doctor Ingenhaus, and the entire faculty, who, one and all, protested
against the shameful imposition which Mesmer was practising upon an
The audience, therefore, was less interested in Therese's music,
wonderful as it was, than in her eyes; for her father had announced that
during the pauses Therese would prove to the incredulous that her cure
was no deception.
Professor Barth, Doctor Ingenhaus, and the astronomer were there in the
front row, sneering away the convictions of all who were within hearing.
Herr Paradies now appeared, and as he stood reckoning the profits that
were to gladden his pockets on that eventful evening, Barth left his
seat and approached him.
"You really believe, do you, that your daughter sees?" said the
"She sees as well as I do. Were you not there to witness it yourself
when her bandage was removed?"
"I humored the jest to see how far the impudence of Mesmer and the
credulity of his admirers would travel together. I hear curious accounts
of your daughter's mistakes, granting her the use of her eyesight. It is
said that some one presented her a flower, when, looking at it, she
remarked, 'What a pretty star!' And did she not put a hair-pin in her
mother's cheek while trying to fasten her hair?"
"Yes, she did both these things, but I think they prove her to be making
awkward use of a new faculty. She is not likely to know the name of a
thing when she sees it for the first time; neither has she learned to
appreciate distances. Objects quite close to her she sometimes stumbles
upon, and those out of reach she puts out her hand to take. All this
will correct itself, and when Therese has become as familiar with
prospective illusions as the rest of us, she will go out into the
streets, and the world will be convinced."
"You really believe it, then?"
"I am as convinced of it as that I see myself."
"It is very disinterested of you to publish it," said the professor,
looking significantly at the happy father. "This acknowledgment will
cost you a considerable sum."
"How?" asked Von Paradies, frightened. "I do not understand."
"It is very simple, nevertheless," said the professor, carelessly. "Does
the empress give your daughter a pension?"
"Certainly. You know she does, and a handsome one, too."
"Of course it is lost to her," replied Berth, enjoying the sudden
paleness which overspread the radiant face of Von Paradies. "A girl who
sees has no right to the money which is given to the blind, and I heard
Von Stork this very day saying that as soon as it was proved that your
daughter could see, he intended to apply to the empress for her pension
in behalf of another party."
"But this pension is our chief support; it enables us to live very
comfortably. If it were withdrawn, I should be a beggar."
"That would not alter the case. Pensions are granted to those who by
their misfortunes have a claim upon the public charity. The claim dies
from the moment that your daughter's infirmity is removed. Through the
favor of the empress she has become a scientific musician, and this now
must be her capital. She can teach music and give concerts."
"But that will not maintain us respectably," urged Von Paradies, with
"Of course it will not maintain you as you live with your handsome
pension. But you need not starve. Be that as it may, there is a blind
countess who is my patient, for whom Von Stork is to obtain the pension
as soon as you can convince the faculty that your daughter is no longer
in need of it. This patient, I assure you, will receive it as long as
she lives, for it will never enter into her head to fancy that she has
been cured by Master Mesmer."
"But, my dear professor," entreated Von Paradies, "have mercy on me and
my family! For sixteen years we have received this income, and it had
been secured to us during Therese's lifetime."
"Nevertheless, it goes to the countess, if she is not blind, I tell you.
The empress (so says Von Stork) has never refused a request of his
because he never asks any thing but that which is just and reasonable."
"We are ruined!" exclaimed Von Paradies, in accents of despair.
"Not unless you prove to us that your daughter IS NOT DECEIVING YOU,"
replied Barth, with sharp emphasis. "If you can show her to be blind,
you are saved; and Von Stork would petition the empress, in
consideration of the shameful imposition practised upon your paternal
love, to increase the pension. Well--this evening's entertainment will
decide the matter. Meanwhile, adieu!"
The professor lounged back to his seat, leaving his poisoned arrow
"I think," said Barth, smiling, as he saw the victim writhe, "that I
have given him a receipt for his daughter's eyes that will be more
potent than Mesmer's passes. It will never do to restore the age of
"No, indeed; if miracles are to make their appearance upon the stage of
this world, what becomes of science?" asked Ingenhaus.
"Let us await the end of the farce," said the professor. "Here she
A murmur went through the hall as Therese entered. The guests rose from
their seats to obtain a sight of her. They had known her from infancy;
but to-night she was an object of new and absorbing interest, even to
the elegant crowd, who seldom condescended to be astonished at anything.
Therese seemed to feel her position, for whereas she had been accustomed
to trip into the concert-room with perfect self-possession, she now came
timidly forward, with downcast eyes. The audience had always received
her with enthusiasm, for she was a great artiste; but now perfect
silence greeted her entrance, for nothing was remembered, save the
marvel which her appearance there was to attest.
Whether accidentally or intentionally, several chairs were in her way as
she passed to the instrument. She avoided them with perfect confidence,
scarcely brushing them with the folds of her white satin dress.
"She is cured! She is no longer blind!" murmured the spectators; and
with renewed curiosity, they watched her every motion.
There were three people within the concert-room upon whom these murmurs
produced profound and dissimilar impressions. Barth frowned angrily; Von
Paradies grew paler and trembled like a coward as he was; while Mesmer,
who leaned against a pillar, fixed his eyes upon Therese with a glance
of supreme happiness. Therese returned the glance with one of such deep
trust and love, that no one who saw it could doubt her power of vision.
The audience burst out into one simultaneous storm of applause, and this
reminded the young girl that she was not alone with her "master." She
raised her eyes for the first time toward the spectators, and met every
glance directed toward herself.
The sight of this sea of upturned faces so terrified the poor child,
that she felt faint and dizzy. She groped about with her hands, to find
a seat, for she could scarcely stand.
The action attracted universal attention. A significant look passed
between Von Paradies and Barth, while Mesmer's brow darkened, and his
face flushed with disappointment. It was very unfortunate--that
faintness of Therese. She stood irresolute and alone, unable to advance,
and too weak to see the chair that stood close at hand.
For some time, the audience surveyed her with breathless interest.
Suddenly the silence was broken by a voice in the crowd:
"Will no one take pity upon the girl and lead her to the harpsichord? Do
you not see that she is as blind as ever?"
Therese recovered herself when she heard these insulting words, and her
eyes flashed strangely for eyes that could not see.
"I am not blind!" cried she, in a clear, firm voice, and as if the sneer
had restored her strength and self-possession, she came forward at once,
and took her seat.
The audience applauded a second time, and Therese bowed and smiled.
While she drew off her gloves, she looked back at Mesmer, who returned
the glance with one of affectionate pride.
Scarcely knowing what she did, Therese began to play. She kept her eyes
fixed upon Mesmer, and as she felt the power of his magnetic glance, she
soared into heights of harmony that ravished the ears of her listeners,
and left all her previous performances far behind.
She ended with a sigh, as though awaking from some heavenly dream. Never
had she been so enthusiastically applauded as now. This time it was not
her vision, but her incomparable skill which had elicited the
acclamations of the public; and Therese, happy in her success, bowed,
and smiled again upon her admirers.
And now the artistic exhibition was at an end. Herr von Paradies,
advancing, informed the public that they would now proceed to test the
genuineness of his daughter's cure. He then came to the edge of the
platform, and spoke in a loud, distinct voice: "I request the
distinguished company, who have brought books or music for the purpose,
to hand them to me, that we may discover whether in truth she sees, or
imagines that she sees. I beg so much the more for your attention,
ladies and gentlemen," continued he, in a faltering voice, "that this
night is to decide a fearful doubt in my own mind. Doctor Mesmer affirms
that my daughter's vision has been restored. I, alas! believe that she
is yet blind!"
The audience expressed astonishment; Therese uttered a cry of horror,
and turned to Mesmer, who, pale and stunned by the shock of her father's
cruel words, had lost all power to come to the poor child's assistance.
Barth was laughing behind his pocket-handkerchief. "The remedy works,"
whispered he to Ingenhaus--"the remedy works."
Two gentlemen arose. One handed a book, the other a sheet of music. As
Von Paradies turned the book over to his daughter, she gave him a
reproachful look. She opened it and read: "Emilia Galotti, by Gotthold
"And, now," continued she, "if one of the ladies present will select a
passage, and another will look over me as I read, the audience can thus
convince themselves that I see."
One of the most distinguished ladies in Vienna approached Therese and
stood close by her side, while another, a celebrated actress, requested
her to open the book at page 71.
Therese turned over the leaves and found the place.
"That is right, my love," said the countess. "Now read."
Therese began to read, and when she ended, the excitement of the people
knew no bounds.
"She sees! She sees!" cried the people. "Who can doubt it?"
And now from the crowd arose a voice:
"We have enough proof. The fact is self-evident, and we may all
congratulate the fraulein upon the recovery of her sight. Let us have
more of her delightful music."