Part 15 out of 22
No one was there excepting Madame de Campan.
"Campan," said she, while tears were streaming down her cheeks, "shut
the door, close the portiere. Let no one witness the sorrow of the Queen
With a passionate gesture, she buried her face in her hands and wept
After a while she raised her tearful eyes and they rested upon Madame de
Campan, who was kneeling before her with an expression of sincerest
"Oh, Campan, what humiliation I have endured today! The poorest woman on
the street is more fortunate than I; and if she bears a child upon her
arm, she can look down with compassion upon the lonely Queen of
France,--that queen upon whose marriage the blessing of God does not
rest; for she has neither husband nor child."
"Say not so, your majesty, for God has smitten your enemies, and with
His own tender hand He is kindling the fire of love in the heart of the
king your husband."
Marie Antoinette shook her head sadly. "No--the king does not love me.
His heart does not respond to mine. He loves me, perhaps, as a sister,
but no more--no more!"
"He loves your majesty with the passion and enthusiasm of a lover, but
he is very timid, and waits for some token of reciprocity before he
dares to avow his love."
"No, he does not love me," repeated Marie Antoinette with a sigh. "I
have tried every means to win his heart. He is indulgent toward my
failings, and kindly anticipates my wishes; sometimes he seems to enjoy
my society, but it is with the calm, collateral affection of a brother
for his sister. And I!--oh, my God! my whole heart is his, and craves
for that ardent, joy-bestowing love of which poets sing, and which noble
women prize above every earthly blessing. Such love as my father gave to
my happy mother, I would that the king felt for me."
"The king does not know the extent of his love for your majesty," said
De Campan soothingly. "Some fortunate accident or dream of jealousy will
reveal it to him before long."
"God speed the accident or the dream!" sighed the queen; and forthwith
her tears began to flow anew, while her hands lay idly upon her lap.
Those burning tears at last awakened her from the apathy of grief.
Suddenly she gave a start and threw back her head. Then she rose from
her seat, and, like Maria Theresa, began to pace the apartment.
Gradually her face resumed its usual expression, and her demeanor
became, as it was wont to be, dignified and graceful. Coming directly up
to Madame de Campan, she smiled and gave her hand. "Good Campan," said
she, "you have seen me in a moment of weakness, of which I am truly
ashamed. Try to forget it dear friend, and I promise that it shall never
be repeated. And now, call my tire-women and order my carriage. Leonard
is coming with a new coiffure, and Bertin has left me several beautiful
hats. Let us choose the very prettiest of them all, for I must go and
show myself to the people. Order an open carriage, that every one may
see my face, and no one may say that the queen envies the maternal joys
of the Countess d'Artois. Tonight we are to have the opera of
'Iphigenia'--it is one of my magnificent teacher's chefs-d'oeuvre. The
emperor and I are to go together to listen to our divine Gluck's music,
and Paris must believe that Marie Antoinette is happy--too happy to envy
any woman! Come, Campan, and dress me becomingly."
THE ADOPTED SON OF THE QUEEN.
An hour later, the queen entered her carriage in all the splendor of
full dress. Leonard had altered her coiffure. Instead of the three-story
tower, her hair was low, and she wore a most becoming hat, chiefly made
up of flowers and feathers. She also wore rouge, for she was very pale;
and to conceal the traces of weeping she had drawn a faint dark line
below her lower lashes which greatly increased the brilliancy of her
She ordered her coachman to drive through the town. Wherever the royal
outriders announced her coming, the people gathered on: either side of
the streets to wave their hats and handkerchiefs, and greet her with
every demonstration of enthusiasm and love.
Marie Antoinette greatly enjoyed her popularity, she bowed her head, and
smiled, and waved her hand in return, calling upon the ladies who
accompanied her to sympathize with her happiness.
"Indeed," said she to the Princess de Lamballe, [Footnote: The Princess
de Lamballe was subsequently beheaded, and her head was carried through
the streets of Paris on a pike.--Trans.] "the people love me, I do
believe. They seem glad to see me, and I, too, like to see them."
"Your majesty sees that in Versailles, as in Paris, you have thousands
of lovers," replied the princess.
"Ah," said the queen, "my lovers are there to be seen; but my enemies,
who lie concealed, are more active than my friends. And how do I know
that they are not now among the crowd that welcomes me! How dreadful it
is to wear a mask through life! They, perhaps, who shout `Long live the
queen,' are plotting against her peace, and I, who smile in return, dare
not trust them!"
The royal equipage had now reached the gates, and was passing into the
country. Marie Antoinette felt a sense of relief at the change. She
gazed with rapture upon the rich foliage of the trees, and then looking
pensively above for a few moments, she watched the floating clouds of
blue and silver, and then followed the flight of the birds that were
soaring in such freedom through the air.
"How I wish that I could fly!" said she, sighing. "We mortals are less
privileged than the little birds--we must creep along the earth with the
reptiles that we loath! Faster, tell the coachman to drive faster!"
cried she, eagerly, "I would like to move rapidly just now. Faster,
The command went forward, and the outriders dashed ahead at full speed.
The carriage whirled past the cottages on the wayside, while the queen,
leaning back upon her satin cushions, gave herself up to the dreamy
enjoyment which steals over the senses during a rapid drive.
Suddenly there was an exclamation, and the horses were reined in. The
queen started from her reverie, and leaned forward.
"What has happened?" cried she of the equerry, who at that moment sprang
to the side of the caleche.
"Your majesty, a child has just run across the road, and has been
snatched from under the horses' feet."
"A child!" exclaimed the queen, starting from her seat. "Is it killed?"
"No, your majesty. It is luckily unhurt. The coachman reined up his
horses in time for one of the outriders to save it. It is
unhurt--nothing but frightened. Your majesty can see him now in the arms
of the old peasant-woman there."
"She is about to return to the cottage with it," said the queen. Then
stretching her arms toward the old woman, she cried out in an imploring
voice: "Give me the child--bring it here! Heaven has sent it to me as a
comfort! Give it to me, I entreat you."
Meanwhile the old woman, recalled by the equerry, was approaching the
carriage. "See," exclaimed the queen to her ladies, "see what a lovely
boy!" And, indeed, he was a beautiful child, in spite of his little
tattered red jacket, and his bare brown legs, of dark with dirt as with
"Where is his mother?" asked Marie Antoinette, looking compassionately
at the child.
"My daughter is dead, madame," said the peasant. "She died last winter,
and left me the burden of five young children to feed."
"They shall burden you no longer," exclaimed the queen kindly. "I will
maintain them all, and this little angel you must give to me. Will you
"Ah, madame, the child is only too lucky! But my little Jacob is so
wilful that he will not stay with you."
"I will teach him to love me," returned the queen. "Give him to me now."
She leaned forward and received the child from his grandmother's arms.
It was so astounded, that it uttered not a cry; it only opened its great
blue eyes to their utmost, while the queen settled it upon her lap.
"See," exclaimed the delighted Marie Antoinette, "he is not at all
afraid of me. Oh, we are going to be excellent friends! Adieu, my poor
old grandmother. I will send you something for your children as soon as
I reach home. And now, Monsieur de Vievigne, let us return to
Versailles. Tell your grandmamma good-by, little Jacob. You are going to
ride with me."
"Adieu, my little one," said the grandmother. "Don't forget your--"
Her words were drowned in the whirr of the carriage, which disappeared
from her wondering eyes in a cloud of dust.
The motion, the noise, and the air brushing his curls into his face,
awakened the boy from his stupor. He started from the queen's arms, and
looking wildly around, began to yell with all his might. Never had such
unharmonious sounds assailed the ears of the queen before. But she
seemed to be quite amused with it. The louder little Jacob screamed and
kicked, the closer she pressed him to her heart; nor did she seem to
observe that his dirty little feet were leaving unsightly marks upon her
rich silk dress.
The caleche arrived at Versailles, and drew up before the doors of the
palace. With her newly acquired treasure in her arms, the queen
attempted to leave the carriage, but the shrieks and kicks became so
vigorous, that she was obliged to put the child down. The pages,
gentlemen, and ladies in waiting, stared in astonishment as her majesty
went by, holding the refractory little peasant by the hand, his rosy
cheeks covered with many an arabesque, the joint production of tears and
dirt. Little cared Jacob for the splendor around him; still less for the
caresses of his royal protectress.
"I want to go to my grandmother," shrieked he, "I want my brother Louis
and sister Marianne!"
"Oh, dear little one!" cried the queen, "what an affectionate heart he
has! He loves his relatives better than all our luxury, and the Queen of
France is less to him than his poor old grandmother!--Never mind,
darling, you shall be loved as well and better than you ever were at
home, and all the more that you have not learned to flatter!"
She bent down to caress him, but he wiped off her kisses with
indignation. Marie Antoinette laughed heartily, and led the child into
her cabinet, where she placed him on the very spot where she had been
weeping a few hours earlier.
"Campan," said she, "see how good God has been to me to-day! He has sent
me a child upon whom I can lavish all the love which is consuming my
poor, lonely heart. Yes, my little one, I will be a mother to you, and
may God and your own mother hear my vow! Now, Campan, let us take
counsel together as to what is to be done. First, we must have a nurse,
and then his face must be washed, and he must be dressed as becomes my
pretty little adopted son."
The child, who had ceased his cries for a moment, now broke out into
fresh shrieks. "I want to go home! I won't stay here in this big house!
Take me to my grandmother!"
"Hush, you unconscionable little savage!" said Madame de Campan.
"Oh, Campan!" cried, the queen deprecatingly, "how can you chide the
little fellow! His cries are so many proofs of the honesty of his heart,
which is not to be bribed of its love by all that royalty can bestow!"
[Footnote: The queen kept her word. The boy was brought up as her own
child. He always breakfasted and dined by her side, and she never called
him by any other name save that of "my child." When Jacques grew up, he
displayed a taste for painting, and of course had every advantage which
royal protection could afford him. He was privileged to approach the
queen unannounced. But when the Revolution broke out, this miserable
wretch, to avoid popularity, joined the Jacobins, and was one of the
queen's bitterest enemies and most frenzied accusers.]
"CHANTONS, CELEBRONS NOTRE REINE."
The opera-house was full to overflowing. In the lowest tier were the
ladies of the aristocracy, their heads surmounted by those abominable
towers of Leonard's invention. Above them sat the less distinguished
spectators; and the parquet was thronged by poets, learned men,
students, and civil officers of various grades. Almost every class found
some representatives in that brilliant assemblage; and each one felt
keenly the privilege he enjoyed in being present on that particular
occasion. But it was not altogether for the sake of the music that all
Paris had flocked to the opera. The Parisians were less desirous to hear
"Iphigenia," than to see the emperor, who was to be there in company
with his sister.
Since his arrival in the capital, Joseph had been the theme of every
conversation. Every one had something to relate of his affability, his
condescension, or his goodness. His bon mots, too, were in every mouth;
and the Parisians, who at every epoch have been so addicted to wit, were
so much the more enraptured with the impromptu good things which fell
from Joseph's lips, that the Bourbons were entirely deficient in
Every man had an anecdote to relate that concerned Joseph. Yesterday he
had visited the Hotel-Dieu. He had even asked for admission to the
apartments of the lying-in women, and upon being refused entrance by the
sisters, he had said, "Do let me see the first scene of human misery."
The sisters, struck by the words as well as by the noble bearing of the
stranger, had admitted him; and upon taking leave he had remarked to the
nun who accompanied him, "The sufferings which you witness in this room,
reconcile you without doubt to the vows you have made." It was only
after his departure that his rank was discovered, and this by means of
the gift he left in the hands of the prioress--a draft upon the imperial
exchequer of forty-eight thousand livres.
A few days previous, he had sought entrance to the "Jardin des Plantes;"
but the porter had refused to open the gates until a larger number of
visitors should arrive. So the emperor, instead of discovering himself,
took a seat under the trees and waited quietly until the people had
assembled. On his return, he had given eight louis d'ors to the porter;
and thus the latter had learned his majesty's rank.
Again--the emperor had called upon Buffon, announcing himself simply as
a traveller. Buffon who was indisposed, had gone forward to receive his
guest in a dressing-gown. His embarrassment, as he recognized his
imperial visitor, had been very great. But Joseph, laughing, said, "When
the scholar comes to visit his teacher, do you suppose that he troubles
himself about the professor's costume?"
That was not all. He was equally affable with artists. He talked daily
with the painters in the Louvre; and having paid a visit to the great
actor Le Kain, whom he had seen the night before in the character of a
Roman emperor, he found him like Buffon in a dressing-gown.
When Le Kain would have apologized, the emperor had said, "Surely
emperors need not be so fastidious one toward the other!"
"The emperor goes everywhere," cried a voice in the crowd. "Yesterday he
paid a visit to one of the tribunals and remained during the sitting. He
was recognized, and the president would have assigned him a seat among
the council, but the emperor declined and remained in a trellised-box
with the other spectators."
"How!" cried another voice, "the emperor sat in a little common
"Yes," replied the first speaker, "he was in one of those boxes called
lanterns. Even Marsorio and Pasquin had something to say on the
subject." [Foreword: Marsorio and Pasquin were the anonymous wits of the
people, the authors of all the epigrams and pasquinades which were
pasted about the streets and originated with--nobody. Marsorio and
Pasquin still exist in Rome.]
"What did they say? Tell us what said our good friends, Marsorio and
"Here it is. I found it pasted on a corner of the Palais Royal and I
tore it down and put it in my pocket. Shall I read it?"
"Yes, yes," cried the multitude; and it was whispered among them that
this was Riquelmont, the author of the satires that were sung on the
Pont-Neuf, and were attributed to Marsorio and Pasquin.
"Now, gentlemen, listen!"
And with a loud voice, Riquelmont began to read:
"MANSORIO.--Grand miracle. Pasquin. Le soleil dans une lanterne!
PASQUIN.--Allons done, to me Hernes!
MANSORIO.-Pour to dire le vrai, tiens: Dioggne en vain Cherehait jadis
un homme, une lanterne a la main, Eh bien, a Paris ce matin Il l'eut
trouve dans la lanterne."
"Good, good!" cried the listeners, "the emperor is indeed a wonderful--"
Just then the bell for the curtain was heard, and the crowd pressed into
the parterre. Amid the profoundest stillness the opera began. Before the
first scene had ended, a slight rustling of chairs was heard in the
king's box, and all eyes were turned thither. The whole royal family,
with the exception of the king, were there; and in their midst,
loveliest of all, appeared the, young queen, brilliant with youth,
grace, and beauty as she bent her head, and, with bewitching smiles,
returned the greetings of her subjects.
The audience broke out into a storm of rapturous applause, and Marie
Antoinette, kissing her fair hand, took her seat and prepared to listen
to the music.
But the spectators were less interested in "Iphigenia" than in the
imperial box. Their eyes were continually seeking the emperor, who,
concealed behind the heavy velvet draperies, was absorbed in the
performance. At one stage of the representation, Iphigenia is led in
triumph through the Greek camp, while a chorus of Thessalians sing--
"Que d'attraits que de majeste; Que de graces l que de beaute! Chantons,
celebrons notre reine!"
The audience took the cue and transformed themselves into actors. Every
eye and every head turned to the royal box, and for the sea and time
every hand was raised to applaud. From boxes, galleries, and parquet,
the cry was, "Da capo, da capo! Again that chorus!"
The singer who represented Achilles comprehended that the enthusiasm of
the spectators was not for the music.
Enchanted with the idea, of being the mouthpiece of the people, he
stepped to the front of the stage, and raising his arm in the direction
of the royal box, he repeated the line,
"Chantons, celebrons notre reine!"
The heart of the young queen overflowed with excess of joy. She leaned
toward the emperor, and gently drawing him forward, the brother and
sister both acknowledged the graceful compliment. The emperor was
saluted with shouts, and the singers began for the second time,
"Chantons, celebrons notre reine!" The people, with one accord, rose
from their seats, and now, on every side, even from the stage, were
heard the cries of "Long live our queen! Long live the emperor!"
Marie Antoinette, leaning on her brother's arm, bent forward again, and,
for the third time, the singers, and with them the people sang,
"Chantons, eelebrons notre reine!"
This time, every occupant of the imperial box rose to return
acknowledgments, and the audience began for the fourth time,
"Chantons, celebrons notre reine!"
The queen was so overcome, that she could no longer restrain her tears.
She tried to incline her head, but her emotion overpowered her, and
covering her face with her handkerchief, she leaned upon the shoulder of
her brother, and wept.
The applause ceased. The emotion of Marie Antoinette had communicated
itself to her worshippers, and many an eye was dimmed with sympathetic
Suddenly, in the parterre, a tall, manly form arose from his seat, and,
pointing to the queen, recited the following couplet
"Si le peuple pout esperer Qu'il hui sera permis de rire, Ce n'est que
sons l'heureux empire Des princes qui savent pleurer."
This happy impromptu was enthusiastically received. Marie Antoinette had
dried her tears to listen, and as she prepared to leave the theatre, she
turned to her brother, and said
"Oh! that I could die now! Death would be welcome, for in this proud
moment I have emptied my cup of earthly joy!" [Footnote: "Memoires de
Weber," vol i., p. 45.--Memoires de Madame de Campan, vol. i., p. 127.
--Hubner, "Life of Joseph II," page 142.]
THE HOTEL TURENNE.
The host of the Hotel Turenne had punctually obeyed the orders of Count
Falkenstein. He had taken every applicant for rooms, whether he came in
an ignominious hackney-coach or in a magnificent carriage.
But now every room was taken, and the host, fearful of consequences, was
waiting for the emperor to appear, that he might be informed of the
In ten or fifteen minutes, his imperial majesty was seen coming down the
staircase, and Monsieur Louis approached, with a low bow.
"May I have the honor of speaking with Count Falkenstein?"
"Certainly," said the count. "What is it?"
"I wished to inform monsieur le comte, that my hotel is full to the
garret. Should monsieur le comte, then, see a traveller leaving my door,
he will know that I am not infringing his imp--his orders, I mean. I
have not a single room left."
"Your hotel is popular. I congratulate you. But I am not at all
surprised, for you make your visitors exceedingly comfortable."
"A thousand thanks, monsieur le comte, but that is not the reason. I
have never been so thronged before. It is all owing to the honor
conferred upon me by your--, I mean by monsieur le comte. It will be a
heavy disappointment to all who apply to hear that I have no room."
"Monsieur Louis," said the emperor, "you are mistaken. There are two
empty rooms, opening into mine."
"But monsieur le comte, it is impossible for me to let those rooms, for
not only every word spoken in your own room can be overheard there, but
yourself will be disturbed by hearing all that is said by the occupants.
You see that these rooms cannot be occupied, monsieur le comte."
"I see nothing of the sort," said Joseph, laughing. "Not only are you
welcome to let those two rooms, but I request you to do so. Let no man
be incommoded on my account. I shall know how to submit to the
inconvenience which may be entailed upon me."
"Well, he certainly is the most condescending and humane prince that I
ever heard of," thought Monsieur Louis, as the emperor's carriage drove
off. "And one thing is certain--I shall be careful whom I give him for
neighbors. I do not believe a word of what the Count de Provence's valet
says, that he wants to take Alsace and Lorraine, and has come to France
to change the ministry. The king's brothers are not over-fond of the
queen nor of the emperor but the people love them, and everybody in
Paris envies me, now that I have the great emperor as my guest."
And Monsieur Louis, with head erect and hands folded behind him, went up
and down his entrance hall, enjoying the sunshine of his favor with
"I do wish nobody else would come here," thought he, in an ecstasy of
disinterestedness. "Suppose that the enemies of his majesty should
introduce a murderer in my house, and the emperor should lose his life!
I should be eternally disgraced. I am really responsible to his
majesty's subjects for his safety. I am resolved, since he has commanded
me to let these rooms, to allow none but ladies to occupy them."
Filled with enthusiasm at this fortunate idea, the host walked to the
door, and shook his fist at mankind in general--above all to that
segregate of the male species who might happen to be entertaining
thoughts of lodging at the Hotel Turenne.
Presently a travelling-chariot came thundering to the door. Monsieur
Louis peered with his keen, black eyes into the vehicle, and, to his
great relief, saw two ladies.
The gentleman who accompanied them asked to be accommodated with two
rooms; and the host, in his joy, not only opened the coach door himself,
but took the huge silver candelabrum from the butler's hand, and lighted
the company himself to their apartments. As they reached the landing, a
carriage stopped before the door, and a manly voice was heard in the
"How lucky for me that these happened to be women," thought Monsieur
Louis, "for there is the emperor already returned from the theatre!"
He opened the door of the anteroom, and his guests followed him in
silence. Not a word had been spoken by either of the ladies, and nothing
was to be seen of their faces through the thick veils which covered
"Do the ladies require supper?" inquired the host.
"Certainly," replied the gentleman whom Monsieur Louis took to be the
husband of the lady who had seated herself. "The best you can provide;
and let it be ready in quarter of an hour."
"Will madame be served in this room?"
"Yes; and see that we have plenty of light. Above all, be quick."
"This gentleman is very curt," thought the host, as he left the room.
"What if he should entertain evil designs?--I must be on my guard." Then
returning, he added, "Pardon, monsieur, for how many will supper be
The stranger cast a singular glance at the lady in the arm-chair, and
said in a loud and somewhat startling voice, "For two only."
"Right," thought the host, "the other one is a lady's maid. So much the
worse. They are people of quality, and all that tribe hate the emperor.
I must be on my guard."
So Monsieur Louis determined to warn the emperor; but first he attended
to his professional duties. "Supper for the guests just arrived!" cried
he to the chief butler. "Plenty of light for the chandeliers and
candelabra! Let the cook be apprised that he must be ready before
Having delivered himself of these orders, the host hastened to inform
the emperor's valet, Gunther, of his uneasiness and suspicions.
Meanwhile, the garcons were going hither and thither preparing supper
for the strangers. Scarcely ten minutes had elapsed before the first
course was upon the table, and the butler, with a bow, announced the
The singular pair for whom these costly preparations had been made,
spoke not a word to each other. The lady, motionless, kept within the
privacy of her veil; and the gentleman, who was watching the waiters
with an ugly frown, looked vexed and impatient.
"Retire, all of you," said be, imperiously. "I shall have the honor of
waiting on madame myself."
The butler bowed, and, with his well-bred subordinates, left the room.
"Now, madame," said the stranger, with a glance of dislike, to the
lady's maid, "do you leave the room also. Go and attend to your own
The maid made no reply, but remained standing in the window as though
nothing had been said.
"You seem not to hear," said the stranger. "I order you to leave this
room, and, furthermore, I order you to return to your place as a
servant, and not to show yourself here in any other capacity. Go, and
heed my words!"
The lady's maid smiled derisively and replied, "Count, I await my lady's
The veiled lady then spoke. "Gratify the count, my good Dupont," said
she, kindly. "I do not need you to-night. Let the host provide you with
a comfortable room, and go to rest. You must be exhausted."
"At last, at last we are alone," exclaimed the count as the door closed
upon his enemy, the lady's maid.
"Yes, we are alone," repeated the lady, and, throwing off her wrappings,
the tall and elegant form of the Countess Esterhazy was disclosed to
For a moment they confronted each other; then Count Schulenberg, with
open arms, advanced toward the countess.
"Now, Margaret," cried he, "you are mine. I have earned this victory by
my superhuman patience. It is achieved--I am rewarded--come to my
He would have clasped her in his arms, but she stepped back, and again,
as in her dressing-room at Vienna, her hands were raised to ward him
off. "Do not touch me," said she, with a look of supreme aversion. "Come
no nearer, Count Schulenberg, for your breath is poison, and the
atmosphere of your proximity is stifling me."
The count laughed. "My beautiful Margaret, you seek in vain to
discourage me by your charming sarcasm. Oh, my lovely, untamed angel,
away with your coldness! it inflames my passion so much the more. I
would not give up the triumph of this hour for a kingdom!"
"It will yield you nothing nevertheless, save my contempt. You must
renounce your dream of happiness, for I assure you that it has been but
"You jest still, my Margaret," replied the count, with a forced laugh.
"But I tell you that I intend to tame my wild doe into a submissive
woman, who loves her master and obeys his call. Away with this mask of
reluctance! You love me; for you have given me the proof of your love by
leaving kindred and honor to follow me."
"Nay, count I have given you a proof of my contempt, for I have
deliberately used you as a tool. You, the handsome and admired Count
Schulenberg--you who fancied you were throwing me the handkerchief of
your favor, you are nothing to me but the convenient implement of my
revenge. You came hither as my valet, and as I no longer need a valet, I
discharge you. You have served me well, and I thank you. You have done
admirably, for Dupont told me to-day that you had not yet exhausted the
money I gave you for the expenses of our journey. I am, therefore,
highly satisfied with you, and will recommend you to any other woman
desirous of bringing disgrace upon her husband."
The count stared at her in perfect wonder. He smiled, too--but the smile
was sinister and threatened evil.
"How!" said the countess. "You are not yet gone! True--I forgot--a lady
has no right to discharge her valet without paying him."
With these words she drew a purse from her pocket and threw it at his
A loud grating laugh was the reply. He set his foot upon the purse, and
folding his arms, contemplated the countess with a look that boded no
good to his tormentor.
"You do not go, Count Schulenberg?" said she.
"No--and what is more, I do not intend to go."
"Ah!" cried Margaret, her eyes glowing like coals, "you are dishonorable
enough to persist, when I have told you that I despise you!"
"My charming Margaret, this is a way that women have of betraying their
love. You all swear that you despise us; all the while loving us to
distraction. You and I have gone too far to recede. You, because you
allowed me to take you from your husband's house; I, because I gave in
to your rather exacting whims, and came to Paris as your valet. But you
promised to reward me, and I must receive my wages."
"I promised when we should reach Paris to speak the truth, Count
Schulenberg; and as you are not satisfied with as much as I have
vouchsafed, hear the whole truth. You say that in consenting to
accompany you, I gave a proof of love. Think better of me, sir! Had I
loved you, I might have died for you, but never would I have allowed you
to be the partner of my disgrace. You have shared it with me precisely
because I despise you, precisely because there was no man on earth whom
I was less likely to love. As the partner of my flight, you have freed
me from the shackles of a detested union, to rupture which, I underwent
the farce of an elopement. The tyranny of Maria Theresa had compelled me
to marriage with a wretch who succeeded in beguiling me to the altar by
a lie. I swore to revenge myself, and you have been the instrument of my
revenge. The woman who could condescend to leave her home with you, is
so doubly-dyed in disgrace that Count Esterhazy can no longer refuse to
grant her a divorce. And now, count, that I have concealed nothing,
oblige me by leaving me--I need repose."
"No, my bewitching Margaret, a thousand times no!" replied the count.
"But since you have been so candid, I shall imitate your charming
frankness Your beauty, certainly, is quite enough to madden a man, and
embolden him to woo you, since all Vienna knows how the Countess
Esterhazy hates her husband. But you seemed colder to me than you were
to other men, all of whom complained that you had no heart to win. I
swore not to be foiled by your severity, and thereupon my friends staked
a large wager upon the result. Fired by these united considerations, I
entered upon my suit and was successful. You gave me very little
trouble, I must say that for you, countess. Thanks to your clemency, I
have won my bet, and on my return to Vienna, I am to receive one
thousand louis d'ors."
"I am delighted to hear it, and I advise you to go after them with all
speed," replied the countess quietly.
"Pardon me if I reject the advice--for, as I told you before, I really
love you. You have thrown yourself into my arms, and I would be a fool
not to keep you there. No, my enchantress, no. Give up all hope of
escaping from the fate you have chosen for yourself. For my sake you
have branded your fair fame forever, and you shall be rewarded for the
"Wretch," cried she, drawing herself proudly up to her full height, "you
well know that you had no share in the motives of the flight! Its shame
is mine alone; and alone will I bear it. To you I leave the ridicule of
our adventure, for if you do not quit my room, I shall take care that
all Vienna hears how I took you to Paris as my valet."
"And I, Countess Esterbazy, shall entertain all Vienna with the contents
of your album, which I have taken the liberty not only of reading, but
The countess gave a start. "True," murmured she, "I have missed it since
"Yes, and I have it. I think a lover has a right to his mistress's
secrets, and I have made use of my right. I have been reading your
heavenly verses to the object of your unhappy attachment, and all Vienna
shall hear them. What delicious scandal it will be to tell how
desperately in love is the Countess Esterhazy with the son of her
gracious and imperial godmother!"
"Tell it then," cried Margaret, "tell it if you will, for I do love the
emperor! My heart bows down before him in idolatrous admiration, and if
he loved ME, I would not envy the angels their heaven! He does not
return my love--nor do I need that return to make me cherish and foster
my passion for him. No scorn of the world can lessen it, for it is my
pride, my religion, my life! And now go and repeat my words; but beware
of me, Count Schulenberg, for I will have revenge!"
"From such fair hands, revenge would fall quite harmless," exclaimed the
count, dazzled by the splendor of Margaret's transcendent beauty; for
never in her life had she looked lovelier than at that moment. "Revenge
yourself if you will, enchantress, but mine you are doomed to be. Come,
Once more he approached, when the door was flung violently open, and a
loud, commanding voice was heard:
"I forbid you to lay a finger upon the Countess Esterhazy," exclaimed
Margaret uttered a loud cry, the color forsook her cheeks, and closing
her eyes she fell back upon the sofa.
The emperor hastened to her assistance, but finding her totally
insensible, he laid her gently down again.
"She is unconscious," said he; "kind Nature has lulled her to
insensibility--she will recover." Then taking the veil from the
countess's hat, he covered her face, and turned toward the terrified
count, who, trembling in every limb, was powerless to save himself by
"Give me the countess's album!" said the emperor sternly. Count
Schulenberg drew it mechanically forth, and, with tottering steps
advanced and fell at the emperor's feet.
Joseph tore the book from his hands, and laid it on the sofa by the
countess. Then returning, he cried out in a tone of indignation, "Rise!
You have behaved toward this woman like a dishonorable wretch, and you
are unworthy the name of nobleman. You shall be punished for your
"Mercy, sire, mercy," faltered the count. "Mercy for a fault which--"
"Peace!" interrupted Joseph. "The empress has already sent a courier to
order your arrest. Do you know what is the punishment in Austria for a
man who flies with a married woman from the house of her husband?"
"The punishment of death," murmured the count inaudibly.
"Yes, for it is a crime that equals murder," returned the emperor;
"indeed, it transcends murder, for it loses the soul of the unhappy
woman, and brands her husband with infamy."
"Mercy, mercy!" prayed the wretch.
"No," said Joseph sternly, "you deserve no mercy. Follow me." The
emperor returned to is own room, and opening the door that led to the
anteroom he called Gunther.
When the valet appeared, Joseph pointed to the count, who was advancing
slowly, and now stopped without daring to raise his head.
"Gunther," said the emperor, "I give this man in charge to you. I might
require him on his honor not to leave this room until I return; but no
man can pledge that which he does not possess; I must, therefore, leave
him to you. See that he does not make his escape."
The emperor then recrossed his own room, and closing the door behind
him, entered the apartment of the countess. She had revived; and was
looking around with an absent, dreamy expression.
"I have been sleeping," murmured she. "I saw the emperor, I felt his arm
around me, I dreamed that he was bending over me--"
"It was no dream, Countess Esterhazy," said Joseph softly.
She started, and rose from the sofa, her whole frame tremulous with
emotion. Her large; glowing eyes seemed to be searching for the object
of her terror, and then her glance rested with inexpressible fear upon
the door which led into the emperor's room.
"You were there, sire, and heard all--all?" stammered she, pointing with
"Yes--God be praised, I was there, and I am now acquainted with the
motives which prompted your flight from Count Esterhazy. I undertake
your defence, countess; my voice shall silence your accusers in Vienna,
and if it becomes necessary to your justification, I will relate what I
have overheard. I cannot blame you, for I know the unspeakable misery of
a marriage without love, and I comprehend that, to break its fetters,
you were ready to brave disgrace, and to wear upon your spotless brow
the badge of dishonor The empress must know what you have undergone, and
she shall reinstate you in the world's estimation; for she it is who has
caused your unhappiness. My mother is too magnanimous to refuse
reparation where she has erred."
"Sire," whispered the countess, while a deep blush overspread her face,
"do you mean to confide all--all to the empress?"
"All that concerns your relations with your husband and with Count
Schulenberg. Pardon me that I overheard the sweet confession which was
wrung from you by despair! Never will I betray it to living mortal; it
shall be treasured in the depths of my heart, and sometimes at midnight
hour I may be permitted to remember it. I--Come back to Vienna,
countess, and let us seek to console each other for the agony of the
"No, sire," said she mournfully, "I shall never return to Vienna; I
should be ashamed to meet your majesty's eye."
"Have you grown so faint-hearted?" said the emperor, gently. "Are you
suddenly ashamed of a feeling which you so nobly avowed but a few
moments since? Or am I the only man on earth who is unworthy to know
"Sire, the judgment of the world is nothing to me; it is from your
contempt that I would fly and be forgotten. Let other men judge me as
they will--I care not. But oh! I know that you despise me, and that
knowledge is breaking my heart. Farewell, then, forever!"
The emperor contemplated her with mournful sympathy, and took both her
hands in his. She pressed them to her lips, and when she raised her
head, her timidity had given place to strong resolution.
"I shall never see your majesty again," said she, "but your image will
be with me wherever I go. I hope for great deeds from you, and I know
that you will not deceive me, sire. When all Europe resounds with your
fame, then shall I be happy, for my being is merged in yours. At this
moment, when we part to meet no more, I say again with joyful courage, I
love you: May the blessing of that love rest upon your noble head! Give
me your hand once more, and then leave me."
"Farewell, Margaret," faltered the emperor, intoxicated by her tender
avowal, and opening his arms, be added in passionate tones,
"Come to my heart, and let me, for one blissful moment, feel the
beatings of yours! Come, oh, come!"
Margaret leaned her head upon his shoulder and wept, while the emperor
besought her to relent and return to Vienna with him.
"No, sire," replied she, firmly. "Farewell!"
He echoed "farewell," and hastily left the room.
When the door had closed upon him, the countess covered her face with
her hands and sobbed aloud. But this was for a moment only.
Her pale face resumed its haughty expression as she rose from her seat
and hastily pulled the bell-rope. A few minutes later, she unbolted the
door, and Madame Dupont entered the room.
"My good friend," said the countess, "we leave Paris to-night."
"Alone?" asked the maid, looking around.
"Yes; rejoice with me, we are rid of him forever. But we must leave this
place at once. Go and order post-horses."
"But dear lady, whither do we journey?"
"Whither?" echoed Margaret, thoughtfully. "Let the will of God decide.
Who can say whence we come, or whither we go?"
The faithful servant hastened to her mistress, and taking the hand of
the countess in hers, pressed it to her lips. "Oh, my lady," said she,
"shake off this lethargy--be your own brave self again."
"You are right, Dupont," returned Margaret, shaking back her long black
hair, which had become unfastened and fell almost to her feet, "I must
control my grief that I may act for myself. From this day I am without
protector, kindred, or borne. Let us journey to the Holy Land, Dupont.
Perhaps I may find consolation by the grave of the Saviour."
One hour later, the emperor, sitting at his window, heard a carriage
leave the Hotel Turenne. He followed the sound until it was lost in the
distance; for well he knew that the occupant of that coach was the
beautiful and unfortunate Countess Esterhazy.
Early on the following morning another carriage with blinds drawn up,
left the hotel. It stopped before the Austrian embassy, and the valet of
the emperor sprang out. He signified to the porter that he was to keep a
strict watch over the gentleman within, and then sought the presence of
the Count von Mercy.
A quarter of an hour went by, during which the porter had been peering
curiously at the pale face which was staring at the windows of the
hotel. Presently a secretary and a servant of the ambassador came out
equipped for a journey. The secretary entered the carriage; the servant
mounted the box, and Count Schulenberg was transported a prisoner to
Vienna. [Footnote: Count Schulenberg was sentenced to death; and Maria
Theresa, who was inexorable where a breach of morals was concerned,
approved the sentence. But Count Esterhazy hastened to intercede for his
rival, acknowledging at last that Schulenberg had freed him from a tie
which was a curse to him.]
JOSEPH AND LOUIS.
The emperor was right when he said that his sister would derive little
pleasure from his visit to Paris. Her happiness in his society had been
of short duration; for she could not be but sensible of the growing
dislike of the king for his imperial brother-in-law. Joseph's easy and
graceful manners were in humiliating contrast to the stiff and awkward
bearing of Louis; and finally, Marie Antoinette felt many a pang as she
watched the glances of aversion which her husband cast upon her brother,
at such times as the latter made light of the thousand and one
ceremonies which were held so sacred by the royal family of France.
The king, who in his heart had been sorely galled by the fetters of
French etiquette, now that the emperor ridiculed it, became its warmest
partisan; and went so far as to reprove his wife for following her
brother's example, and sacrificing her royal dignity to an absurd
longing for popularity.
The truth was, that Louis was envious of the enthusiasm which Joseph
excited among the Parisians; and his brothers, the other members of the
royal family, and his ministers, took every opportunity of feeding his
envy, by representing that the emperor was doing his utmost to alienate
the affections of the French from their rightful sovereign; that he was
meditating the seizure of Alsace and Lorraine; that he was seeking to
reinstate De Choiseul, and convert France into a mere dependency upon
Louis, who had begun to regard his wife with passionate admiration,
became cold and sarcastic in his demeanor toward her. The hours which,
until the emperor's arrival in Paris, he had spent with Marie
Antoinette, were now dedicated to his ministers, to Madame Adelaide, and
even to the Count de Provence--that brother whose enmity to the queen
was not even concealed under a veil of courtly dissimulation.
Not satisfied with filling the king's ears with calumnies of his poor
young wife, the Count de Provence was the instigator of all those
scandalous songs, in which the emperor and the queen were daily
ridiculed on the Pont-Neuf; and of the multifarious caricatures which,
hour by hour, were rendering Marie Antoinette odious in the eyes of her
subjects. The Count de Provence, who afterward wore his murdered
brother's crown, was the first to teach the French nation that odiouus
epithet of "d'Autrichienne," with which they hooted the Queen of France
to an ignominious death upon the scaffold.
The momentary joy which the visit of the emperor had caused to his
sister had vanished, and given place to embarrassment and anxiety of
heart. Even she felt vexed, not only that her subjects preferred a
foreign prince to their own rightful sovereign, but that Joseph was so
unrestrained in his sarcasms upon royal customs in France. Finally she
was obliged to confess in the silence of her own heart, that her
brother's departure would be a relief to her, and that these dinners en
famille, to which he came daily as a guest, were inexpressibly tedious
One day the emperor came earlier than usual to dinner--so early, in
fact, that the king was still occupied holding his daily levee.
Joseph seated himself quietly in the anteroom to await his turn. At
first no one had remarked his entrance; but presently he was recognized
by one of the marshals of the household, who hastened to his side, and,
apologizing, offered to inform the king at once of Count Falkenstein's
"By no means," returned the emperor, "I am quite accustomed to this sort
of thing. I do it every morning in my mother's ante-room at Vienna."
[Footnote: Memoires de Weber, vol. i., p. 98.]
Just then the door opened, and the king, who had been apprised of the
emperor's arrival, carne forward to greet him.
"We were not aware that we had so distinguished a guest in our
anteroom," said Louis, bowing. "But come, my brother." continued he
cordially, "the weather is beautiful. Let us stroll together in the
gardens. Give me your arm."
But Joseph, pointing to the crowd, replied, "Pardon me, your majesty, it
is not yet my turn; and I should be sorry to interrupt you in your
duties as sovereign."
Louis frowned; and all traces of cordiality vanished from his face. "I
will receive these gentlemen to-morrow," said he, with a slight nod to
his courtiers; and they, comprehending that they were dismissed, took
"Now, count," pursued the king, trying to smile, but scarcely succeeding
in doing so, "we are at liberty."
So saying, he bowed, but did not repeat the offer of his arm; he walked
by the emperor's side. The usher threw open the doors, crying out in
"The king is about to take a walk!"
"The king is about to take a walk," was echoed from point to point; and
now from every side of the palace came courtiers and gentlemen in
waiting, to attend their sovereign; while outside on the terrace the
blast of trumpets was heard, so that everybody in Versailles was made
aware that the king was about to take a turn in his garden, and his
anxious subjects, if so disposed, might pray for his safe return.
The emperor looked on and listened with an amused smile, highly diverted
at the avalanche of courtiers that came rushing on them from corridor
and staircase. Meanwhile the sovereigns pursued their way in solemn
silence until the brilliant throng had descended the marble stairs that
led from the terrace to the gardens. Then came another flourish of
trumpets, one hundred Swiss saluted the king, and twelve gardes de corps
advanced to take their places close to the royal promenaders.
"Sire," asked Joseph, stopping, "are all these people to accompany us?"
"Certainly, count," replied Louis, "this attendance upon me when I walk
is prescribed by court etiquette."
"My dear brother, allow me to state that it gives us much more the
appearance of state prisoners than of free sovereigns enjoying the fresh
air. In the presence of God let us be simple men--our hearts will be
more apt to be elevated by the sight of the beauties of nature, than if
we go surrounded by all this `pomp and circumstance' of royalty."
"You wish to go without attendants?" asked Louis.
"I ask of your majesty as a favor to let me act as a body-guard to the
King of France to-day. I promise to serve him faithfully in that
capacity--moreover, have we not this brilliant suite of noblemen to
defend us in case of danger?"
The king made no reply. He merely turned to the captain of the Swiss
guard to inform him that their majesties would dispense with military
escort. The officer was so astounded that he actually forgot to make his
At the gate of the park the king also dismissed the gardes de corps.
These were quite as astonished as the Swiss had been before there; for
never until that day had a King of France taken a walk in his gardens
without one hundred Swiss and twelve body-guards. [Footnote: Hubner, i.,
THE PROMENADE AND THE EPIGRAM.
The royal brothers-in-law then were allowed to promenade alone; that is
to say, they were attended by twenty courtiers, whose inestimable
privilege it was to follow the king wherever he went.
"It is not then the custom in Austria for princes to appear in public
with their escort?" asked the king, after a long pause.
"Oh, yes, we have our body-guards, but they are the people themselves,
and we feel perfectly secure in their escort. You should try this
body-guard, sire; it is more economical than yours, for its service is
rendered for pure love."
"Certainly," replied the king carelessly, "it is a very cheap way of
courting popularity: but the price would be too dear for a king of
France to pay--he cannot afford to sell his dignity for such small
The emperor raised his large blue eyes, and looked full in the king's
face. "Do you really think," he said, "that a king compromises his
dignity by contact with his subjects? Do you think that to be honored by
your people you must be forever reminding them of your `right divine?'
I, on the contrary, believe that the sovereign who shows himself to be a
man, is the one who will be most sincerely loved by the men whom he
governs. We are apt to become dazzled by the glare of flattery, sire,
and it is well for us sometimes to throw off our grandeur, and mix among
our fellows. There we will soon find out that majesty is not written
upon the face of kings, but resides in the purple which is the work of
the tailor, and the crown, which is that of the goldsmith. I learned
this not long ago from a shoemaker's apprentice."
"From a shoemaker's apprentice!" exclaimed Louis, with a supercilious
smile. "It would be highly edifying to hear from the Count of
Falkenstein how it happened that the Emperor of Austria was taught the
nothingness of royalty by a shoemaker's lad!"
"It came quite naturally, sire. I was out driving in a plain cabriolet,
when I remarked the boy, who was singing, and otherwise exercising his
animal spirits by hopping, dancing, and running along the road by the
side of the vehicle. I was much diverted by his drollery, and finally
invited him to take a drive with me. He jumped in--without awaiting a
second invitation, stared wonderfully at me with his great brown eyes,
and in high satisfaction kicked his feet against the dash-board, and
watched the motion of the wheels. Now and then he vented his delight by
a broad smile, in which I could detect no trace of a suspicion as to my
rank of majesty. Finally I resolved to find out what place I occupied in
the estimation of an unfledged shoemaker; so I questioned him on the
subject. He contemplated me for a moment, and then said, `Perhaps you
might be an equerry?'--'Guess higher,' replied I. 'Well, a count?'--I
shook my head. 'Still higher.'--'A prince?'--'Higher yet.'--'Well,
then, you must be the emperor.'--'You have guessed,' said I. Instead of
being overcome by the communication, the boy sprang from the cabriolet
and pointing at me with a little finger that was full of scorn and dirt,
he cried out to the passers-by, 'Only, look at him! he is trying to pass
himself off for the emperor.'" [Footnote: "Characteristics and Anecdotes
of Joseph II, and his Times," p. 106.]
Louis had listened to this recital with grave composure, and as his face
had not once relaxed from its solemnity, the faces of his courtiers all
wore a similar expression. As Joseph looked around, he saw a row of
There was an awkward pause. Finally the king observed that he could not
see any thing diverting in the insolence of the boy.
"I assure your majesty," replied the emperor, "that it was far more
pleasing to me than the subservience of a multitude of fawning
courtiers." He glanced sharply at the gentlemen of their suite, who knit
their brows in return.
"Let us quicken our pace if it be agreeable to you, count," said Louis,
with some embarrassment. The attendants fell back, and the two monarchs
walked on for some moments, in silence. The king was wondering how he
should manage to renew the conversation, when suddenly, his voice,
tremulous with emotion, Joseph addressed him.
"My brother," said he, "accident at last has favored me, and I may speak
to you for once without witnesses. Tell me, then, why do you hate me?"
"My brother," exclaimed Louis, "who has dared--"
"No one has intimated such a thing," returned Joseph, vehemently; "but I
see it, I feel it in every look of your majesty's eyes, every word that
falls from your lips. Again, I ask why do you hate me? I who came hither
to visit you as friend and brother! Or do you believe the idle rumors of
your courtiers, that I came to rob aught besides the heart of the King
of France? I know that I have been represented as unscrupulous in my
ambition, but I entreat of you, dear brother, think better of me. I will
be frank with you and confess that I DO seek for aggrandizement, but not
at the expense of my allies or friends. I strive to enlarge my
territory, but I shall claim nothing that is not righteously my own.
There are provinces in Germany which are mine by right of inheritance,
others by the right which Frederick used when he took Silesia from the
crown of Austria."
"Or that which Joseph used when he took Galicia from the King of
Poland," interrupted Louis, significantly.
"Sire, we did not take Galicia. It fell to us through the weakness of
Poland, and by reason of exigencies arising from an alliance between the
three powers. My claim to Bavaria, however, is of another nature. It is
mine by inheritance--the more so that the Elector of Zweybrucken, the
successor of the Elector of Bavaria, is willing to concede me my right
to that province. The Bavarians themselves long for annexation to
Austria, for they know that it is their only road to prosperity. They
look with hope and confidence to Maria Theresa, whose goodness and
greatness may compensate them for all that they have endured at the
hands of their pusillanimous little rulers. The only man in Germany who
will oppose the succession of Austria to Bavaria, is Frederick, who is
as ready to enlarge his own dominions as to cry 'Stop thief!' when he
sees others doing likewise. But he will not raise a single voice unless
he receive encouragement from other powers. If my visit to France has
any political significance, it is to obtain your majesty's recognition
of my right to Bavaria. Yes, sire, I DO wish to convince you of the
justice of my claim, and to obtain from you the promise of neutrality
when I shall be ready to assert it. You see that I speak without
reserve, and confide to you plans which heretofore have been discussed
in secret council at Vienna alone."
"And I pledge my royal word never to betray your majesty's confidence to
living mortal," replied Louis, with undisguised embarrassment and
anxiety. "Believe me when I say that every thing you have spoken is as
though I had never heard it. I shall bury it within the recesses of my
own heart, and there it shall remain."
The emperor surveyed his brother-in-law with a glance of mistrust. He
thought that the assurance of his secrecy was given in singular
language. He was not altogether satisfied to hear that what he had been
saying was to be treated as though it had never been said at all.
"Will your majesty, then, sustain me?" asked he of Louis. This direct
question staggered his majesty of France. He scarcely knew what he was
"You ask this question," replied he, with a forced smile, "as if the
elector was dead, and our decision were imperative. Fortunately, his
highness of Bavaria is in excellent health, and the discussion may
be--deferred. Let us think of the present. You were wise, my dear
brother, when you remarked that the beauties of Nature were calculated
to elevate our minds. What royalty can be compared to hers?"
The emperor made no reply. He felt the full significance of the king's
ungracious words, and more than ever he was convinced that Louis
regarded him with dislike and ill-will. Again there was a painful
silence between the two, and every moment it weighed more heavily upon
At last Louis, awaking to a sense of what was due from host to guest,
made a desperate resolution, and spoke.
"Have you made any plans for this evening, my brother?" asked he
"No!" was the curt reply.
"You would be very amiable if, instead of visiting the theatres, you
would join the queen in a game of cards."
"I never play," returned Joseph. "A monarch who loses money at cards,
loses the property of his subjects." [Footnote: Joseph's own words.
Hubner, part i., page 151.]
"Since you do not like cards, we have other recreations at hand. How
would you relish a hunt in the woods of Meudon?"
"Not at all," said Joseph. "Hunting is no recreation for a monarch. HIS
time is too precious to be frittered away in such idle sport."
"Ah," said Louis, whose patience was exhausted, "you imitate your old
enemy, the King of Prussia, who for twenty years has been crying out
against the sins of hunting and gambling."
The emperor's face grew scarlet, and his eyes flashed. "Sire;" replied
he, "allow me to observe to you that I imitate nobody, and that I am
resolved now as ever to conduct myself as I see fit."
To this the king bowed in silence. He was so weary of his walk that he
led the way to a road by which a short-cut might be made to the palace.
This road was crossed by an avenue of trees which bordered a large iron
gate leading to the front entrance of the palace. Here the people were
accustomed to assemble to obtain a view of their sovereigns; and to-day
the throng was greater than usual, for they had learned from the Swiss
guard that the two monarchs were out together, and thousands of eager
eyes were watching for the glittering uniforms of the gardes de corps.
Great was their astonishment to see two individuals alone; apparently
independent of the courtiers at some distance behind them.
"Who could they be--these two gentlemen advancing together? Certainly
not the emperor and the king, for the latter never took a step without
"But it is the emperor!" cried a voice in the crowd. "I know his
handsome face and his dark-blue eyes."
"And the other is the king!" exclaimed another voice.
"It cannot be," said a third. "The King of France never moves in his own
palace without a wall of guards around him--how much less in the open
parks, where he is exposed to the danger of meeting his subjects!"
"I suppose we are indebted to the emperor for this bold act of his
majesty to-day" said another critic.
"Yes, yes, he it is who has persuaded the king to trust us," cried the
multitude. "Let us thank him by a hearty welcome."
The two princes were now quite near, and the crowd took off their hats.
The emperor greeted them--with an affable smile; the king with several
nods, but without a shadow of cordiality. Suddenly the air was rent with
shouts, and a thousand voices cried out, "Long live the emperor!"
The king reddened, but dared not give vent to his displeasure. His eyes
sought the ground, while Joseph, gently shaking his head, looked at the
people and pointed furtively at their sovereign. They understood him at
once, and, eager to repair the inadvertence, they shouted, "Long live
the emperor! Long live our king, the father of his people!"
The emperor now smiled and waved his band; while the king still
displeased, bowed gravely and turned toward Joseph.
"You are quite right," said he, in sharp, cutting accents, "popularity
is a cheap commodity. A king has only to ride about in hackney-coaches
and put on the people's garb, to become the idol of the lower classes.
The question, however, is, how long will a popularity of this sort last?
"If it be called forth by a hackney-coach and an ordinary dress, sire,
it may be of short duration; but if it is to last, it must be accorded
to real worth," replied Joseph, sympathizing with the discontent of the
"Which no one would presume to deny in your majesty's case," rejoined
Louis with a constrained and awkward bow.
"Oh," exclaimed Joseph, blushing, "I had not understood that your
majesty's irony was intended for me, else I should not, have answered as
I did. I do not strive after popularity. My actions flow naturally from
my convictions. These teach me that my natural condition is not that of
an emperor, but of a man, and I conduct myself accordingly." [Footnote:
The emperor's own words. Ramshorn's "Joseph II.," page 146.]
So saying, the emperor turned once more to salute the people, and then
ascended the white marble steps which led to the terrace of the palace.
The two monarchs and the glittering courtiers disappeared amid the
"vivas" of the multitude, and now they became suddenly silent.
In the midst of this silence, the same voice which had so sharply
criticised the king, was heard. Again it spoke as follows
"Marsorio has made another epigram, and mistaking me for Pasquin has
just whispered it in my ear!"
"What did he say? Tell us what our good Marsorio says! Repeat the
epigram!" saluted the speaker on every side.
"Here it is," returned the voice.
"A nos yeux etonnes de sa simplicite Falkenstein a montre la majeste
sans faste; Chez nous par un honteux contraste Qu'a-t'il trouve? Faste
sans majeste." [Footnote: Ramshorn, page 146.]
THE DINNER EN FAMILLE.
Meanwhile the king and the emperor reached the apartment which opened
into the private dining-room of the royal family. The princes with their
wives were already there; but Marie Antoinette always came at the last
moment. She dreaded the sarcasm of the Count de Provence, and the sullen
or contemptuous glances of the king. She would have given much to return
to the old stiff, public ceremonial which she had banished, but that she
could not do. It would have been too great a concession to the court.
Her only refuge was to stay away as long as decorum allowed, and after
the emperor's arrival she never entered the room until he had been
To-day she was even later than usual; and the king, who like other
mortals, was hungry after his walk, began to grow sulky at the delay.
When at last she entered the room, he scarcely vouchsafed her an
inclination of the head as he rose to conduct her to the table. The
queen seemed not to perceive the omission. She gave him her hand with a
sweet smile, and despite his ill-humor, Louis could not suppress a throb
as he saw how brilliantly beautiful she was.
"You have made us wait, madame," said he, "but your appearance to-day
repays us for your tardiness."
The queen smiled again, for well she knew that she was bewitchingly
dressed, and that the new coiffure which Leonard had contrived, was
really becoming, and would heighten her charms by contrast with the
hideout towers that were heaped, like Pelion upon Ossa, over the heads
of the princesses.
"I hope that your majesty will forgive me for being late," said she,
secure in the power of her fascinations. "My little Jacques is to blame.
He is sick to-day, and would have no one to put him to sleep but
"Your majesty should feel flattered," cried the Count de Provence. "You
are expected to put off your dinner until a little peasant is pleased to
go to sleep."
"Pardon me, your highness," said the queen, coloring, "Jacques is no
longer a peasant--he is my child."
"The dauphin, perchance, which your majesty promised not long since to
the dames de la halle?" answered the king's brother.
The queen blushed so deeply that the flush of her shame overspread her
whole face and neck; but instead of retorting, she turned to address her
"You have not a word of greeting for me, Joseph?"
"My dear sister," said the emperor, "I am speechless with admiration at
your coiffure. Where did you get such a wilderness of flowers and
"They are the work of Leonard."
"Who is Leonard?"
"What!" interrupted the Countess d'Artois, "your majesty does not know
who Leonard is--Leonard the queen's hair dresser--Leonard the autocrat
of fashion? He it is who imagined our lovely sister's coiffure, and
certainly these feathers are superb!"
"Beautiful indeed!" cried the Countess de Provence, with an appearance
"Are these the costly feathers which I heard your majesty admiring in
the hat of the Duke de Lauzun?" asked the Count de Provence, pointedly.
"That is a curious question," remarked the king. "How should the
feathers of the Duke de Lauzun be transported to the head of the queen?"
"Sire, I was by, when De Guemenee on the part of De Lauzun, requested
the queen's acceptance of the feathers."
"And the queen?" said Louis, with irritation.
"I accepted the gift, sire," replied Marie Antoinette, calmly. "The
offer was not altogether in accordance with court-etiquette, but no
disrespect was intended, and I could not inflict upon Monsieur de Lauzun
the humiliation of a refusal. The Count de Provence, however, can spare
himself further anxiety in the matter, as the feathers that I wear
to-day are those which were lately presented to me by my sister, the
Queen of Naples."
"Indeed!" exclaimed the emperor, "I was not aware that Caroline gave
presents, although I know that she frequently accepts them from her
"The etiquette at Naples differs then from that of Paris," remarked the
king. "No subject has the right to offer a gift to the Queen of France."
"Heaven be praised!" cried the Count de Provence, "nobody here pays any
attention to court-customs! Since Madame de Noailles gave in her
resignation we have been free to do all things. This inestimable freedom
we owe to our lovely sister-in-law; who, in defiance of all prejudice,
has had boldness enough to burst the fetters which for so many hundred
years bad impeded the actions of the Queens of France."
At that moment the first lady of honor, on bended knee, presented the
queen her soup, and this relieved Marie Antoinette from the painful
embarrassment which this equivocal compliment occasioned. But the
"You have reason to be thankful to my sister that she has had the
independence to attack these absurdities," said Joseph, warmly. "But
pardon me if I ask if etiquette at Versailles approves of the conversion
of the corridors, galleries, and staircases of the palace into booths
for the accommodation of shopkeepers and tradesmen." [Footnote: This
custom was subsequently abolished by Marie Antoinette, and the lower
classes never forgave her for withdrawing this extraordinary privilege
from the hucksters of Palls.]
"It is an old privilege which custom has sanctioned," returned the king,
"But which violates the sanctity of the king's residence," objected the
emperor. "The Saviour who drove the money-changers from the temple,
would certainly expel these traders, were he to appear on earth to-day."
This observation was received in sullen silence. The royal family looked
annoyed, but busied themselves with their knives and forks. A most
unpleasant pause ensued, which was broken by the queen, who turning to
her brother, asked him what he had seen to interest him since his
arrival in Paris.
"You well know," said he, "that Paris abounds in interesting
institutions. Yesterday I was filled with enthusiasm with what I saw in
the course of my morning ramble."
"Whither did you go, count?" asked Louis, appeased and flattered by the
"To the Invalides; and I confess to you that the sight of this noble
asylum filled me with as much envy as admiration. I have nothing in
Vienna that will bear comparison with this magnificent offering of
France to her valiant defenders. You must feel your heart stir with
pride whenever you visit those crippled heroes, sire."
"I have never visited the Invalides," said the king, coloring.
"What?" cried Joseph, raising his hands in astonishment, "the King of
France has never visited the men who have suffered in his behalf! Sire,
if you have neglected this sacred duty, you should hasten to repair the
"What else did you see?" asked the queen, striving to cover the king's
displeasure, and the contemptuous by-play of the Count de Provence.
"I visited the Foundling Hospital. To you, Antoinette, this hospital
must possess especial interest."
"Oh, yes. I subscribe yearly to it from my private purse," said the
"But surely you sometimes visit the pious sisters upon whom devolves the
real burden of this charity, to reward them by your sympathy for their
"No, I have never been there," replied the queen, confused. "It is not
allowed to the Queens of France to visit public benevolent
"And yet it is allowable for them to attend public balls at the
Marie Antoinette blushed and looked displeased. This sally of the
emperor was followed by another blank pause, which finally was broken by
"I also visited another noble institution," continued he, "that of the
deaf mutes. The Abbe de l'Epee deserves the homage of the world for this
monument of individual charity; for I have been told that his
institution has never yet received assistance from the crown. My dear
sister, I venture to ask alms of you for his unfortunate proteges. With
what strength of love has he explored the dark recesses of their minds,
to bear within the light of intelligence and cultivation! Think how he
has rescued them from a joyless stupor, to place them by the side of
thinking, reasoning and happy human beings! As soon as I return to
Vienna, I shall found an institution for the deaf and dumb; I have
already arranged with the abbe to impart his system to a person who
shall be sent to conduct the asylum I propose to endow."
"I am happy to think that you meet with so many things in France worthy
of your approval, count," remarked the king.
"Paris, sire," said Joseph, "is rich in treasures of whose existence you
are scarcely aware."
"What are these treasures, then? Enlighten me, count."
"They are the magnificent works of art, sire, which are lying like
rubbish in your royal store-houses in Paris. Luckily, as I have been
told, etiquette requires that the pictures in your palaces should, from
time to time, be exchanged, and thus these masterpieces are sometimes
brought to view. In this matter, I acknowledge that etiquette is
wisdom." [Footnote: The emperor's words. Campan, vol. i., p. 178]
"Etiquette," replied Louis, "is often the only defence which kings can
place between themselves and importunate wisdom."
"Wisdom is so hard to find that I should think it impossible for her to
be importunate," returned Joseph. "I met with her yesterday, however, in
another one of your noble institutions--I mean the military school. I
spent three hours there, and I envy you the privilege of visiting it as
often as you feel disposed."
"Your envy is quite inappropriate," replied Louis, sharply, "for I have
never visited the institute at all."
"Impossible!" cried the emperor, warmly. "You are unacquainted with all
that is noblest and greatest in your own capital, sire! It is your duty
as a king to know every thing that concerns the welfare of your
subjects, not only here in Paris, but throughout all France." [Footnote:
The emperor's words. Campan, vol. i., p. 79.]
"I disagree with you, and I am of opinion that wisdom is often
exceedingly offensive," replied the king, frowning, as with a stiff bow,
he rose from the table.
Marie Antoinette looked anxiously at Joseph to see the effects of her
husband's impoliteness; but the emperor looked perfectly unconscious,
and began to discuss the subject of painting with the Count d'Artois.
The queen retired to her cabinet, heartily rejoicing that the diner en
famille had come to an end: and almost ready to order that the royal
meals should be served in the state dining-room, and the people of Paris
invited to resume their old custom of coming to stare at the royal
She sat down to her escritoire, to work with her treasurer and private
secretary; that is, to sign all the papers that he placed before her for
The door opened and the emperor entered the room. The queen would have
risen, but he prevented her, and begged that he might not feel himself
to be an intruder.
"I came, dear sister," said he, "to ask you to accompany me to the
theatre to-night. Meanwhile it will give me great pleasure to see you
So the queen went on signing papers, not one of which she examined. The
emperor watched her for a time in astonished silence; finally he came up
to the escritoire.
"Sister," said he, "I think it very strange that you put your name to so
many documents without ever looking at their contents."
"Why strange, brother?" asked the queen, opening her large eyes in
"Because it is a culpable omission, Antoinette. You should not so
lightly throw away your royal signature. The name of a sovereign should
never be signed without deliberation; much less blindly, as you are
signing yours at present." [Footnote: The emperor's own words.]
Marie Antoinette colored with vexation at this reproof in presence of
one of her own subjects. "Brother," replied she hastily, "I admire the
facility with which you generalize on the subject of other people's
derelictions. Unhappily, your homilies are sometimes misapplied. My
secretary, Monsieur d'Augeard, has my full confidence; and these papers
are merely the quarterly accounts of my household expenditures. They
have already been approved by the auditor, and you perceive that I risk
nothing by affixing my signature."
"I perceive further," replied Joseph, smiling, "that you are of one mind
with your husband, and find wisdom sometimes very offensive. Forgive me
if in my over-anxiety I have hurt you, dear sister. Let us be friends;
for indeed, my poor Antoinette, you are sorely in need of friends at
The queen dismissed her secretary, and then came forward and took her
brother's hand. "You have discovered then," said she, "that I am
surrounded by enemies?"
"I have indeed; and I tremble for your safety. Your foes are powerful,
and you--you are not sufficiently cautious, Antoinette."
"What is it in me that they find to blame!" exclaimed she, her beautiful
eyes filling with tears.
"Some other day, we must talk of this together. I see that you are
threatened; but as yet, I neither understand the cause of your danger
nor its remedy. As soon as I shall have unravelled the mystery of your
position, I will seek an interview with you; and then, dear sister, we
must forget that we are sovereigns, and remember but one thing--the ties
that have bound us together since first we loved each ether as children
of one father and mother."
Marie Antoinette laid her head upon her brother's bosom and wept. "Oh,
that we were children again in the gardens of Schonbrunn!" sobbed she;
"for there at least we were innocent and happy!"
A VISIT TO JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU.
Before the door of a small, mean house in the village of Montmorency,
stood a hackney-coach from which a man, plainly dressed, but
distinguished in appearance, had just alighted. He was contemplated with
sharp scrutiny by a woman, who, with arms a-kimbo, blocked up the door
of the cottage.
"Does Monsieur Rousseau live here?" asked the stranger, touching his
"Yes, my husband lives here," said the woman, sharply.
"Ah, you are then Therese Levasseur, the companion of the great
"Yes, I am; and the Lord knows that I lead a pitiful life with the
"You complain, madame, and yet you are the chosen friend of a great
"People do not live on greatness, sir, nor on goodness either. Jean
Jacques is too good to be of any use in this world. He gives away every
thing he has, and leaves nothing for himself and me."
The stranger grew sad as he looked at this great, strapping woman, whose
red face was the very representative of coarseness and meanness.
"Be so good as to conduct me to Monsieur Rousseau's presence, madame,"
said he, in rather a commanding tone.
"I shall do no such thing," cried Therese Levasseur, in a loud, rough
voice. "People who visit in hackney-coaches should not take airs.
Monsieur Rousseau is not to be seen by everybody."
"A curious doctrine that, to be propounded before a philosopher's door!"
said the stranger, laughing. "But pray, madame, excuse me and my
hackney-coach, and allow me to pass."
"You shall first tell your business. Do you bring music to copy?"
"No, madame, I come merely to visit monsieur."
"Then you can go as you came!" exclaimed the virago. "My husband is not
a wild animal on exhibition, and I am not going to let in every idle
stranger that interferes with his work and cuts off my bread. God knows
he gives me little enough, without lessening the pittance by wasting his
time talking to you or the like of you."
The stranger put his hand in his pocket, and, drawing it out again, laid
something in the palm of Therese's broad, dirty hand. He repeated his
She looked at the gold, and her avaricious face brightened.
"Yes, yes," said she, contemplating it with a greedy smile, "you shall
see Jean Jacques. But first you must promise not to tell him of the
louis d'or. He would growl and wish me to give it back. He is such a
fool! He would rather starve than let his friends assist him."
"Be at ease--I shall not say a word to him."
"Then, sir, go in and mount the stairs, but take care not to stumble,
for the railing is down. Knock at the door above, and there you will
find Jean Jacques. While you talk to him I will go out and spend this
money all for his comfort. Let me see--he needs a pair of shoes and a
cravat--and--well," continued she, nodding her head, "farewell, don't
break your neck."
"Yes," muttered she, as she went back to the street, "he wants shoes and
cravats, and coats, too, for that matter, but I am not the fool to waste
my money upon him. I shall spend it on myself for a new neckerchief; and
if there is any thing left, I shall treat myself to a couple of bottles
of wine and some fish."
While Therese stalked through the streets to spend her money, the
stranger had obtained entrance into the little dark room where sat Jean
It was close and mouldy like the rest of the house, and a few straw
chairs with one deal table was the only furniture there. On the wall
hung several bird-cages, whose inmates were twittering and warbling one
to another. Before the small window, which looked out upon a noble
walnut-tree, stood several glass globes, in which various worms and
fishes were leading an uneasy existence.
Rousseau himself was seated at the table writing. He wore a coat of
coarse gray cloth, like that of a laborer, the collar of his rough linen
shirt was turned down over a bright cotton scarf, which was carelessly
tied around his neck. His face was pale, sad, and weary; and his scant
gray hairs, as well as the deep wrinkles upon his forehead, were the
scroll whereon time had written sixty years of strife and struggle with
life. Imagination, however, still looked out from the depths of his dark
eyes, and the corners of his mouth were still graceful with the
pencillinga of many a good-humored smile.
"Pardon me, air," said the stranger, "that I enter unannounced. I found
no one to precede me hither."
"We are too poor to keep a servant, sir," replied Rousseau, "and I
presume that my good Therese has gone out on some errand. How can I
"I came to visit Jean Jacques Rousseau, the poet and philosopher."
"I am the one, but scarcely the other two. Life has gone so roughly with
me, that poetry has vanished long ago from my domicile, and men have
deceived me so often, that have fled from the world in disgust. You see,
then, that I have no claim to the title of philosopher."
"And thus speaks Jean Jacques Rousseau, who once taught that mankind
were naturally good?"
"I still believe in my own teachings, sir," cried Rousseau warmly. "Man
is the vinculum that connects the Creator with His creation, and light
from heaven illumes his birth and infancy. But the world, sir, is evil,
and is swayed by two demons--selfishness and falsehood. [Footnote: This
is not very philosophical. If the fraction man be intrinsically good,
how is it that the whole (the world which is made up of nothing but men)
is so evil? Is there a demiurge responsible for the introduction of
these two demons?] These demons poison the heart of man, and influence
him to actions whose sole object is to advance himself and prejudice his
"I fear that your two demons were coeval with the creation of the
world," said the stranger, with a smile.
"No, no; they were not in Paradise. And what is Paradise but the
primitive condition of man--that happy state when in sweet harmony with
Nature, he lay upon the bosom of his mother earth, and inhaled health
and peace from her life-giving breath? Let us return to a state of
nature, and we shall find that the gates of Paradise have reopened."
"Never! We have tasted of the tree of knowledge, and are for ever exiled
"Woe to us all, if what you say is true; for then the world is but a
vale of misery, and the wise man has but one resource--
self-destruction! But pardon me, I have not offered you a chair."
The stranger accepted a seat, and glanced at the heaps of papers that
covered the rickety old table.
"You were writing?" asked he. "Are we soon to receive another great work
from Rousseau's hands?"
"No, sir," replied Rousseau, sadly, "I am too unhappy to write."
"But surely this is writing," and the stranger pointed to the papers
"Yes, sir, but I copy music, and God knows that in the notes I write,
there is little or no thought. I have written books that I might give
occasion to the French to think, but they have never profited by the
opportunity. They are more complaisant now that I copy music. I give
them a chance to sing, and they sing." [Footnote: This is Rousseau's own
language. Ramshorn, p. 140.]
"It seems to me that there is great discord in their music, sir. You who
are as great a musician as a philosopher, can tell me whether I judge
"You are right," replied Rousseau. "The dissonance increases with every
hour. The voice which you hear is that of the people, and the day will
come when, claiming their rights, they will rend the air with a song of
such hatred and revenge as the world has never heard before."
"But who denies their rights to the people?"
"The property-holders, the priests, the nobles, and the king."
"The king! what has he done?"
"He is the grandson of that Louis XV., whose life of infamy is a foul
blot upon the fame of France; and nothing can ever wash away the
disgrace save an ocean of royal blood."
"Terrible!" exclaimed the visitor, with a shudder. "Are you a prophet,
that you allow yourself such anticipations of evil?"
"No, sir, I predict what is to come, from my knowledge of that which has
"What do you mean?"
Rousseau slowly shook his head. "Fate has threatened this unhappy king
from the day of his birth. Warning after warning has been sent and
disregarded. Truly, the man was a wise one who said, 'Whom the gods
destroy, they first blind!'"
"I implore you, speak further. What evil omens have you seen that lead
you to apprehend misfortune to Louis XVI.?"
"Have you never heard of them? They are generally known."
"No, indeed, I beseech you, enlighten me, for I have good reason for my
"Louis was not born like his predecessors, and it is generally believed
that he will not die a natural death. Not a single member of the royal
family was present at his birth. When, overtaken by the pangs of
childbirth, his mother was accidentally alone in the palace of
Versailles; and the heir of France, upon his entrance into life, was
received by some insignificant stranger. The courier who was sent to
announce his birth fell from his horse and was killed on the spot. The
Abbe de Saujon, who was called in to christen the infant, was struck by
apoplexy while entering the chapel door, and his arm and tongue were
paralyzed. [Footnote: "Memoires de Madame de Creque," vol. iii., p.
179.] From hundreds of healthy women the physician of the dauphiness
chose three nurses for the prince. At the end of a week two of them were
dead, and the third one, Madame Guillotine, after nursing him for six
weeks, was carried of by small-pox. Even the frivolous grandfather was
terrified by such an accumulation of evil omens, and he was heard to
regret that he had given to his grandson the title of Duke de Berry,
'For,' said he the 'name has always brought ill-luck to its
possessors.'" [Footnote: Creque, vol. iii., p. 180.]
"But the king has long since outlived the name, and has triumphed over
all the uncomfortable circumstances attending his birth, for he is now
King of France."
"And do you know what he said when the crown was placed upon his head?"
"No, I have never heard."
"He was crowned at Rheims. When the hand of the archbishop was withdrawn
from the crown, the king moaned, and turning deadly pale, murmured, 'Oh,
how it pains me!' [Footnote: Campan, vol. i., p. 115.] Once before him,
a King of France had made the same exclamation, and that king was Henry
"Strange!" said the visitor. "All this seems very absurd, and yet it
fills me with horror. Have you any thing more of the same sort to point
"Remember all that occurred when the dauphin was married to the
Archduchess Marie Antoinette. When she put her foot upon French ground,
a tent had been erected, according to custom, where she was to lay aside
her clothing and be attired in garments of French manufacture. The walls
of the tent were hung with costly Gobelin tapestry, all of which
represented scenes of bloodshed. On one side was the massacre of the
innocents, on the other the execution of the Maccabees. The archduchess
herself was horror-stricken at the omen. On that night, two of the
ladies in waiting, who had assisted the queen in her toilet, died
suddenly. Think of the terrible storm that raged on the dauphin's
wedding night; and of the dreadful accident which accompanied his
entrance into Paris; and then tell me whether death is not around,
perchance before this unhappy king?"
"But to what end are these omens, since they cannot help us to avert
"To what end?" asked Rousseau, as with a smile he contemplated the
agitated countenance of his guest. "To this end--that the emperor Joseph
may warn his brother and sister of the fate which threatens, and which
will surely engulf them, if they do not heed the signs of the coming
"How, Rousseau! you know me?"
"If I had not known you, sire, I would not have spoken so freely of the
king. I saw you in Paris at the theatre; and I am rejoiced to be able to
speak to your majesty as man to man, and friend to friend."
"Then let me be as frank as my friend has been to me," said Joseph
extending his hand. "You are not situated as becomes a man of your
genius and fame. What can I do to better your condition?"
"Better my condition?" repeated Rousseau absently. "Nothing. I am an old
man whose every illusion has fled. My only wants are a ray of sunshine
to warm my old limbs, and a crust of bread to appease my hunger."
At this moment a shrill voice was heard without: "Put down the money and
I will fetch the music, for we are sadly pressed for every thing."
"Good Heaven!" exclaimed Rousseau, anxiously. "I am not ready, and I had
promised the music to Therese for this very hour. How shall I excuse
myself?" Here the unhappy philosopher turned to the emperor. "Sire, you
asked what you could do for me--I implore you leave this room before
Therese enters it. She will be justly displeased if she finds you here;
and when my dear good Therese is angry, she speaks so loud that my
nerves are discomposed for hours afterward. Here, sire, through this
other door. It leads to my bedroom, and thence by a staircase to the
Trembling with excitement, Rousseau hurried the emperor into the next
room. The latter waved his hand, and the door closed upon him. As he
reached the street Joseph heard the sharp, discordant tones of Therese
Levasseur's voice, heaping abuse upon the head of her philosopher,
because he had not completed his task, and they would not have a sou
wherewith to buy dinner.
The visit of the emperor was drawing to a close. He had tasted to its
utmost of the enjoyments of the peerless city. He had become acquainted
with its great national institutions, its industrial resources, its
treasures of art and of science. The Parisians were enthusiastic in his
praise; from the nobleman to the artisan, every man had something to say
in favor of the gracious and affable brother of the queen. Even the
fish-wives, those formidable dames de la haile, had walked in procession
to pay their respects, and present him a bouquet of gigantic
proportions. [Footnote: On this occasion Madame Trigodin, one of the
most prominent of the poissurdes, made an address on behalf of the
sisterhood. Hubner, i., p. 151.]
The emperor was popular everywhere except at court. His candor was
unacceptable, and his occasional sarcasms had stung the pride of the
royal family. The king never pardoned him the unpalatable advice he had
bestowed relative to the hospitals, the Invalides, and the military
schools. The queen, too, was irritated to see that whereas her brother
might have expressed his disapprobation of her acts in private, he never
failed to do so in presence of the court. The consequence was, that,
like the king and the rest of the royal family, Marie Antoinette was
relieved when this long-wished-for visit of the emperor was over. This
did not prevent her from clinging to his neck, and shedding abundant
tears as she felt his warm and loving embrace.
The emperor drew her close to his heart, whispering meanwhile, "Remember
that we must see each other in private. Send some one to me to conduct
me to the room in the palace which you call your 'asylum.'"
"How!" said the queen with surprise, "you have heard of my asylum? Who
told you of it?"
"Hush, Antoinette, you will awaken the king's suspicion, for all eyes
are upon us! Will you admit me?"
"Yes, I will send Louis to conduct you this afternoon." And withdrawing
herself from her brother's arms, the queen and the royal family took
leave of Count Falkenstein.
His carriages and suite had all left Paris, and Joseph, too, was
supposed to have gone long before the hour when he was conducted to the
queen's "asylum" by her faithful servant Louis. This "asylum" was in an
obscure corner of the Tuileries, and to reach it the emperor was
introduced into the palace by a side door. He was led through dark
passages and up narrow staircases until they reached a small door that
Louis opened with a key which he took from his pocket. He clapped his
hand three times, and the signal being answered, he made a profound
inclination to the emperor.
"Your majesty can enter. The queen is there."
Joseph found himself in a small, simple apartment, of which the
furniture was of white wood covered with chintz. On the wall was a
hanging etagere with books; opposite, an open harpsichord, and in the
recess of the window, a table covered with papers. The emperor hastily
surveyed this room, and no one coming forward, he passed into another.
Here he found his sister, no longer the magnificent queen whose rich
toilets were as proverbial as her beauty; but a lovely, unpretending
woman, without rouge, without jewels, clad in a dress of India muslin,
which was confined at the waist by a simple sash of pale lilac ribbon.
Marie Antoinette came forward with both hands outstretched. "I am
dressed as is my custom," said she, "when the few friends I possess come
to visit me here--here in my asylum, where sometimes I am able to forget
that I am Queen of France."
"You have no right ever to forget it, Antoinette, and it was expressly
to remind you of this that I asked for a private interview with my
"You wished to see this asylum of which you had heard, did you not?"
asked the queen with a shade of bitterness. "I have been calumniated to
you, as I have been to the king and to the French people. I know how my