Part 21 out of 22
But he claimed an indemnity for the expenses incurred by putting his
regiments upon a war-footing, and demanded twenty millions. He then
agreed to take fifteen, but was finally obliged to be content with ten,
which was all that the Dutch would allow him. Whereupon Frederick the
Great said that Joseph had cried out for a great sum, but had been
obliged to come down to a "pour boire."]
Eskeles Flies besought his Amsterdam correspondent to procure him this
loan, which he was ready to advance to the republic in four instalments.
He bound his friend to strict secrecy, for the information he imparted
was not to be made public for twenty-four hours, and the possession of
this secret gave them signal advantage over all other bankers.
Now Gunther alone had been intrusted by the emperor with this secret of
state. With the exception of Prince Kaunitz, not another man in Austria
knew that Joseph intended to accept the proffered indemnity.
It was clear, then, that Gunther was the traitor, and yet his imperial
master would not believe. He clung to the hope that something might yet
occur to exculpate his favorite, though how or whence exoneration was to
come, he could not conceive.
The banker had been summoned, and the emperor awaited his coming. In the
impatience of his heart he had sent a courier, and after the courier his
own carriage, for he could not endure his suspense one moment longer
than was unavoidable.
Often as he paced the room, his heart throbbing violently, he paused to
listen, and then glanced again and again at the clock to see if the
banker could be nigh.
"If it be true," thought he, resuming his agitated walk, "I never shall
trust man again. I believed that Gunther's heart was as noble as his
face. Is it possible that such a countenance should lie? Gunther, the
generous, disinterested Gunther--can it be that he has sold my secrets?
I cannot, will not believe it. I must see himself, and hear his defence
from his own lips."
Hurried along by this magnanimous impulse, the emperor approached the
door. But he paused, and shook his head.
"No, no. Conviction must come from testimony, not from assertion. Men
are all actors, and often have I seen how skilfully they wear the mask
of innocence. I have been too often deceived. Ah! there at last is the
Yes, it was he. The page flung open the door, and announced:
"Baron von Eskoles Flies."
The baron entered the room. He had grown old since Rachel's flight.
Scarcely a year had elapsed since then; but in that year her father's
raven locks had become white as snow, and the stalwart man of fifty had
grown old and feeble.
The emperor came forward, and extended his hand.
"Look at me, Eskeles," said he, in his quick, eager way; "do not bow so
ceremoniously, we have no time to waste on formalities. Look at me, and
let me see whether you are an honest man scorning falsehood, even though
it might shield a fellow-creature from harm."
The banker looked the emperor full in the face, and bore the scrutiny of
his searching eyes without wincing.
"I see that you can look me in the face," said Joseph. "You will speak
"The Jew is forbidden by his religious code to lie," was the reply.
Joseph crossed the room quickly, and taking a letter from his
escritoire, gave it to the banker.
"Is this your writing?"
Eskeles lifted his eyes slowly to the paper, and seemed surprised.
"Yes, that is my writing. I posted this letter yesterday. How, then, do
I find it here? Its detention is a serious inconvenience to me."
He said this with the demeanor of a merchant whose mind is upon his
business, and who has no idea that it can concern any other person.
"The letter was sent to me by the secret police," said the emperor. The
banker looked up in astonishment. "Ah!" exclaimed he. "then the tales
which are told of the opening of all our letters by detectives, are not
"No--they are not fables, and I am justified in the scrutiny. Men are so
corrupt that our only defence against treachery is espionage. It is a
pity that it should be so; but as long as the people are base, their
sovereigns must stop short of no means to foil them."
"But I have never sinned against your majesty. Why, then, is my letter
open to suspicion?"
"Every man is suspected by the secret police," replied Joseph, with a
shrug. "For that reason they had orders to stop every letter addressed
to Holland. The precaution had been made imperative by our
misunderstandings with that country. And you see yourself that your
letter betrays a secret of state."
"Betrays!" repeated the banker. "We betray that which we are expected to
bury within the recesses of our own heart. But this news was to go out
into the world, and was a subject for percentage. I should have made at
least half a million had my letter not been unluckily detained by your
"I shall not prevent you from earning your percentage," replied Joseph,
scornfully. "Your letter shall go to-day, and my dispatches shall be
detained until to-morrow. In that way you can still make your half
The banker bowed. "I thank your majesty for your exceeding
condescension," said he.
"I will do you this favor, but you must do me a service in return."
"It is not necessary for your majesty to concede me the right to earn
half a million, to buy my services," said Eskeles, with a slight shade
of reproach. "I hope that I have always been ready to serve your
majesty, even when no percentage was to be gained thereby."
"And I have recognized it, BARON Eskeles Flies. But I do not speak of
pecuniary services to-day. I ask a favor of another nature. Tell me,
then, without reserve, who is the man that receives a thousand ducats
for revealing a secret of state to you."
The banker started as if he had received a shot, and glanced inquiringly
at the emperor. "Was that in the letter?" asked he.
Joseph gave it into his hands. Eskeles perused it eagerly, and then,
murmured in a voice of exceeding contrition, "Ay, it is there. I was
indiscreet." Then, as if overcome by his fault, his head sank upon his
"I await your answer," said the emperor. "Who betrayed me to you for a
The banker raised his head as if making a difficult resolve. "Your
majesty, that was an idle boast of mine to enhance the value of my
"Mere evasion, baron!" replied Joseph, angrily. "Even if you had not
written the words in that letter, I should still ask of you, who it is
that betrays my secrets?"
"No one, sire," replied Eskeles, uneasily. "I guessed it. Yes,
yes,"--continued he, as though a happy idea had just struck him--"that
is it--I guessed. Every one knows of your majesty's difficulty with
Holland, and I might well guess that you would be glad to end this
strife by accepting the ten millions, and so save your subjects from the
horrors of war."
"You are not the truthful man I had supposed. There is no logic in your
lies, Baron Eskeles. You might guess that I would accept the ten
millions, but as you are not omniscient, you could not say positively
that I had written my dispatches yesterday, and would sign them to-day.
Your inventions are clumsy, baron, and I must say that they do you
honor; for they prove that you have little experience in the art of
lying. But the truth I must have, and as your lord and emperor, I
command you to speak. For the third time, who betrayed my secrets to
"Oh, sire, I swore not to betray him," said Eskeles, in a faltering
"I absolve you from the oath."
"But the God of Israel cannot absolve me. I cannot speak the name of the
man, but--your majesty can guess it."
He was silent for a few moments, then raising his head, the emperor saw
that his face had become deadly pale. In a low, unsteady voice he
continued: "Your majesty knows that I once had a daughter."
"HAD? You have a daughter, baron."
"She is dead to me," murmured Eskeles so inaudibly that the emperor
scarcely heard him. "She left me a year ago for a man whom she loved
better than her father."
"But she left because you would have married her to a man whom she
hated. Gunther told me so."
"Yes, sire. I had no idea that my unhappy child would go to such
extremity. Had she entreated me as she should have done, I would have
yielded; but her lover had hardened her heart against me, and she
abandoned me--not to become the honorable wife of any man, but to lead a
life of shame and reproach. Rachel is not married, she is the mistress
of that man."
"This, too, is your fault, baron. You made her swear never to become a
Christian, and by our laws she could not marry him. But he considers her
as his wife. You see that I know all. Gunther, to justify himself,
confided to me the whole history of his love."
"He did not tell the truth, sire. My daughter herself is unwilling to
become a Christian."
"Then she is a conscientious Jewess?"
"No, sire, she does not attend the synagogue."
"What is she, then?" asked the emperor, astonished.
"She is a Deist; and precisely because I required of her to profess
either Judaism or Christianity, she fled to that man whom she cannot be
made to believe is the suitor of her wealth and not of herself."
"Do you think, then, that Gunther is interested?"
"I know it, sire. He offered for a hundred thousand florins to renounce
Rachel and deliver her up to me--Here is his letter; your majesty can
The emperor took the letter, and read it. "It is his writing," murmured
he, sorrowfully; "it is too true."
"I refused," continued Eskeles. "I would not buy my daughter back. I
therefore waited to see what would follow."
The banker was silent for a moment; then sighing, he said, in low,
trembling tones: "Not long after, I received another letter. He said he
was straitened in means, that Rachel was pampered, and required so many
luxuries that she had exhausted his purse. As I would not listen to his
first proposition, he had another to make. I would give him a certain
sum, and he would do me a substantial service."
"He offered a thousand ducats, did he not?"
"I do not remember. The sum is stated in the letter. Here it is, your
majesty." And with these words Eskeles drew a paper from his bosom.
"It is, it is," said the emperor, in a voice of anguish. "I can no
longer doubt his treachery."
Eskeles Flies returned the paper to his bosom. "I keep this on my
person," said he, "because when Rachel returns to me, it will cure her
of her love for such a villain. "
"Gunther, then, received the money?" said Joseph.
"He did, sire."
"Then you no longer deny that he was the Judas."
"Your majesty can remember which of your secretaries was charged with
the copying of your dispatches."
The emperor sighed. "I know, I know," murmured he; "and yet it pains me
so to believe it, for I have loved him sincerely."
"And I have loved my daughter," returned Eskeles. "This man stole her
from me, and has converted my child into a Deist."
"She shall be returned to you, and Gunther shall receive the punishment
of his crimes," cried Joseph, in a loud and angry voice. "No mercy for
him! I shall know how to act as becomes a wronged and outraged
"But that will not restore my child" said Eskeles, disconsolately.
"What good is it to me that this wretch is to suffer? It will not bring
back Rachel. And even if she should be forced to seek my protection,
what comfort can I derive from one who is a Deist--a creature who mocks
"She will be obliged to become one thing or the other, if she would
shield herself from the fearful consequences of her skepticism."
"That is it," cried Eskeles, joyfully. "Your majesty has found the
remedy. Rachel must be threatened with the disgrace of legal punishment,
and then she will repent, and return to her father. Sire, I accuse her
of Deism. I exact that she be brought to judgment."
"To judgment!" exclaimed the emperor. "Do you know the punishment for her
"Fifty lashes on the offender's back! But fear will save her. My Rachel
will never dare avow herself a Deist."
"Perhaps not; but I, as a Christian, cannot allow you to force her back
"Then try to make a Christian of her, sire--Oh, I beseech you, lend
yourself to my paternal stratagem for her restoration to honor! Act upon
my accusation; have her imprisoned in her home; and for four weeks, let
a priest visit her daily to instruct her in your majesty's faith. Then
let her decide whether she will become a Christian or remain a Jewess."
"Bethink you that if she should prove contumacious, I cannot rescue her
from punishment. If you persist in your accusation, remember that the
law must take its course."
"I persist, and demand investigation."
"It shall be granted you. And now here is your letter. Post it to-day,
and it will still be twenty-four hours in advance of mine. We must both
perform our duty, you as a merchant, I as a sovereign; and, believe me,
you shall have revenge for the wrongs, inflicted upon you by the double
traitor who has betrayed his emperor and his mistress."
"I care nothing for his punishment," repeated Eskeles, wearily; "all
that I ask is my daughter."
The emperor gave his hand, and the banker, pressing it to his lips,
backed out of the cabinet. Joseph looked after him with sympathizing
eyes. "Poor man! Grief has made him old. Sorrow lengthens days to years,
and wrinkles many a brow which time has never touched."
But without, Baron Eskelies Flies had changed his mien. No longer bowed
down with grief, he stood triumphantly reviewing the success of his
"I am revenged!" thought he. "Short-sighted emperor, you do not dream
that you arc the tool wherewith the Jew has wreaked his vengeance upon
the Christian! Go on, and ruin your faithful friend! Go on, hot-headed
judge; punish the man who loves you, without giving him a hearing; and
imagine yourself to be administering justice, while you inflict the
grossest injustice. It is so Christian-like. Follow the instincts of
your love and hate, your passion or your pleasures, ye children of the
moment, while the calculating Jew plays upon your credulity!--And now,
God of my fathers, let the Christian priest but irritate my child with
his importunities, and she will seek refuge from his persecutions in the
THE FAVOR OF PRINCES.
The emperor thrust open the door which led from his cabinet to the
chancery. There at the long, green table, immersed in their business,
sat the four imperial secretaries; and next to the arm-chair, which was
surmounted by the Austrian crown, sat the unconscious Gunther. Had
Gunther seen the look with which Joseph regarded him as he sat quietly
writing, his heart would have grown chill with apprehension. But not an
eye there was raised. One of the emperor's most stringent orders forbade
the secretaries, when in the chancery, to raise their heads on any
account. They were to take no note of the entrance of Joseph himself;
they were co-workers, and no time was to be wasted in ceremonial.
Joseph seated himself in silence, and taking up a pen, wrote a few hasty
lines upon a sheet of paper. He then rang, and delivered the paper to a
"Take this to the colonel commanding the recruits," said he, and his
voice trembled as he spoke these few words. There was a long silence;
the secretaries continued to write, and Gunther, always obedient to
orders, had not once raised his head. His countenance was as tranquil as
it had ever been. "Gunther." said the emperor, in an imperious tone,
"begin a new sheet, and write what I shall dictate."
Gunther bowed, and prepared to obey. The others went on with their work.
Had Joseph not been so blinded by indignation against his private
secretary, he might have seen how one of the others raised his head and
glanced furtively around; how his face was pale, and his lips were
twitching; and how his hand was so tremulous that he was scarcely able
to hold his pen. No one observed it. The other secretaries were writing;
the emperor, in his wrath, saw nothing but Gunther.
And now with flashing eyes, he called upon Gunther to write.
"To his Eminence, Cardinal Megazzi;
"It has come to my knowledge that the absurd sect which originated in
Bohemia, is spreading its pernicious tenets even to our capital. A
heart-broken father has this day come before me to accuse his daughter
of Deism. To what extremes the Deists go in their imbecility, is shown
by the fact, that this girl, who has defied Heaven, the laws of her
country, and the authority of her father, has left the paternal roof,
and is now living a life of shame with her paramour. She must either
profess some faith, or be punished as the law directs. To this end, your
eminence will commission an intelligent priest to visit and instruct her
in the tenets of Christianity. From this day she is a prisoner in her
own house; but as she is of Jewish birth (and I do not wish to have it
said that we have forced her into Christianity), a Jewish rabbi can also
have daily access to this unhappy infidel. I give to both priests four
weeks to convert her. If, at the end of that time, she continues
contumacious, she must be punished as the Josephine Code directs, with
fifty lashes." [Footnote: Gross-Hoffinger, iii., p. 116.]
The emperor had dictated this letter in sharp biting tones, while
Gunther, nothing apprehending, had written it. Once only, when the
accused had been designated as a Jewess, his pen faltered, and his
handsome, noble face was contracted for a moment by pain. But the pang
had been sympathetic and momentary.
"Have you written?" asked the emperor, striking the table with his
"I have written, sire," replied Gunther, in his fine, sonorous voice,
whose familiar tones, in spite of himself, stirred the innermost depths
of his misguided sovereign's heart.
"Now, answer me one question," continued Joseph, hoarsely. "have you
ever received a thousand ducats from Eskeles Flies?"
Again the head of one of the secretaries was furtively raised, the hands
shook like aspen-leaves, and the eyes gave one rapid glance toward the
side of the table where Gunther sat.
The emperor, as before, was too blinded by passion to see any thing save
the innocent object of his wrath. Gunther was surprised at the tone in
which the question had been asked; and seemed at last to be aware that
it was one full of significance. But his reply was prompt and calm.
"Yes, sire, I received that sum yesterday. Not for me, but for a lady
whose name is well known to your majesty. It was a legacy left by her
Joseph laughed scornfully. "Give me the note to the cardinal," cried he.
Gunther presented it, and having signed it, the emperor gave it into the
hands of the secretary opposite. "Fold and address the letter," said he.
"But stop--write first the address of the person who presumes to avow
herself a Deist in the face of my laws. Her name is Rachel Eskeles
A cry of anguish burst from Gunther's lips, and in his madness he would
have snatched the horrid missive from the secretary's hands. But he
recollected himself, and turning his blanched face toward the emperor,
"Mercy, gracious sovereign, mercy for my Rachel! You have been wickedly
"Ay," cried Joseph, "I have been wickedly deceived; but he who has dared
to betray me, shall be made to suffer for his crime. Rise from this
table and leave this room. You are dismissed from my service as a false
"What, your majesty!" cried Gunther, in tones that were proud and
defiant. "You defame me without so much as telling me of what I am
accused! without allowing me the right of justification Tell me--what
have I done?"
"Ask your own conscience, if you have one, and find an answer there!"
cried Joseph, furious at the lofty bearing of his victim.
"If your majesty refuses me that poor boon," continued Gunther, "I
appeal to the laws. My legal judges will be bound to hear me publicly
accused, and to listen to my defence!"
"I am your accuser and your judge--your only judge," replied Joseph,
with concentrated passion. "I have already found you guilty, and have
already sentenced you."
"But why, why?" cried Gunther. "If you would not drive me mad, tell me
"I shall do nothing but carry out your sentence," cried Joseph ringing a
bell. "Are the men without?" said he to the page who answered his
"Yes, your majesty. A subaltern of the third regiment is without, with
"Show them in!" The page opened the door, and the men entered.
"You march to Hungary to your new garrison to-day, do you not?" said the
"Yes, sire--we march in one hour," was the reply.
"Take this man with you as a recruit."
Gunther started forward, and with an exclamation of horror fell at the
emperor's feet. "Mercy! mercy!" gasped he.
"No mercy, but justice for all men!" cried Joseph, stamping his foot.
Then motioning to the soldiers, he said: "Take him away and watch him
closely, lest he escape. Equip him and put him in the ranks. Away with
The men advanced, and Gunther, seeing that any further appeal was vain,
suffered himself to be led away in silence. The door closed behind them,
and the emperor was alone with his three secretaries. There was a long,
fearful pause, through which the retreating steps of the soldiers and
their victim were heard. When the echoes had died away, the emperor
spoke in hard, cold tones:
"Gunther was a traitor, who betrayed the secrets of the state for gold.
I discovered his treachery, and have punished him accordingly. Take
warning by his fate!"
So saying, he passed into his cabinet, and once more gave vent to his
"I could not do otherwise," thought he. "I, who would not spare
Podstadsky and Szekuly, could not spare this traitor, though he has been
very dear to me indeed. He must suffer, but I shall suffer with him.
Mercy is so much more natural to man than justice! Still, mercy is the
prerogative of Heaven alone. I am here to be equitable to all."
An hour later the third regiment left Vienna for Szegedin, their new
garrison. A few wagons followed with the luggage and the sick men who
were unable to encounter the hardships of that formidable march to
Hungary. In one of these wagons lay the new recruit. His eves glared
with delirium, and his lips were parched with raging fever. For a moment
he seemed to awake from his dream of madness, for he raised himself a
little, and murmured, "Where am I?" No one answered him, but a flash of
memory revealed to him the horrors of his situation, and falling back
with a shudder, he cried out, "Rachel, my Rachel!" and then relapsed
The same evening, Baron Eskeles Flies left his hotel on foot, and
hastily traversing the streets, stopped before a house where, ascending
to the second story, he rang the bell. A richly-liveried servant opened
the door at the head of the staircase.
"Is the imperial secretary Warkenhold within?" asked the baron.
The servant did not know--he would see; but the banker saved him the
trouble by putting him aside, and entering the little vestibule.
"Show me the way," said he; "you need not announce me. A rich man is
The servant obeyed, and conducted the banker through a suite of
apartments whose splendor he contemplated with a sneer. "Now go," said
he, as the servant pointed to a portiere. "I shall announce myself."
He drew the portiere and knocked. Then, without waiting for an answer,
he entered the room.
"Eskeles Flies!" cried the occupant, who was lounging on a sofa, and was
no other than the secretary that had been so disturbed by the emperor's
words in the morning. "Eskeles Flies!" repeated he, springing from the
sofa, and hastening forward.
"Yes, Baron Eskeles Flies," replied the banker, proudly.
"But what brings you to me?" cried Warkenhold, terrified. "Your visit
exposes me to danger."
"Nobody knows of my visit, for I came on foot; and let me tell you, Herr
Warkenhold, that my presence in your house is an honor which is not apt
to endanger you."
"Only, to-day, only at this time," murmured Warkenhold, apologetically.
"Then you should have come to me for your money. You said you were in
great want, having lost every thing at cards, and so I hasten to acquit
myself of my debt. Here is a draft for one thousand ducats."
"Hush, for the love of Heaven!"--whispered Warkenhold.
"What can I do with a draft? I never would dare present it for payment,
for you know that the emperor keeps spies with a hundred eyes to track
his employes. And suppose I go to your office, I expose myself to
"Not at all," interrupted the banker, laughing. "Who should betray you?
Not I. And no one but us two are in the secret. Who, then, should tell
the emperor that you were hidden behind the door while he dictated his
dispatches, and that you are such a skilful imitator? I swear that
Gunther himself would have been staggered had he seen those letters!
They are capital, and I congratulate you. You are a genius."
"Great God! must you annoy me with repetition of all that I did?" cried
the secretary, with asperity. "Is it not enough that I am already
wretched, as I look back to the terrible scenes of the morning? I cannot
banish the image of that unhappy Gunther from my mind. I felt at one
time as if I must confess and save him."
"Ha, ha! did you? Then it was terrible, was it? He thundered like
another Rhadamanthus, did he, that sapient emperor? And forced poor,
innocent Gunther to drink of the chalice we had prepared for him? Oh,
rare, far-seeing judge!--Tell me all about it, Warkenhold."
Warkenhold, shuddering, repeated what had taken place. When he spoke of
the question relating to the thousand ducats, Eskeles Flies interrupted
"And of course he had to say yes. Gunther is of knightly veracity, and I
invented the story of the legacy, in anticipation of that question. Oh,
how admirably my calculations have been made! Let me hear the rest."
Warkenhold went on, and when he had concluded his woful narrative, the
banker nodded and said:
"You are a genius. You narrate as well as you eavesdrop and forge! Upon
my word, you have entertained as well as you have served me! My success
in this affair is entirely owing to you. You are as skilful as your
great Christian ancestor, Judas; but as I hope you are not such a fool
as to go out and hang yourself, here are fifty ducats above our bargain.
They are for your mistress."
He drew out his purse and counted the gold.
"I thank you," said Warkenhold, almost inaudibly. "I must take the money,
for I am sorely pressed; but I would give my right hand not to have been
forced to do this thing!"
"Pray say the left. Your right hand is a treasure not lightly to be
parted with," said the banker, laughing. "But a truce to sentiment. It
is useless for you to drape yourself in the toga of honor or
benevolence. Our business is at an end. You have nothing more to claim,
"Nothing whatever; I am--"
"Then," said the banker taking up his hat, "we have nothing further to
say to each other. You have been the instrument of my righteous
vengeance; but as I have an antipathy to villains, let me never see so
much as a glance of recognition from you again. From this hour we are
THE DEPUTATION FROM HUNGARY.
In the great reception-room of the imperial palace, a deputation of the
most illustrious magnates of Hungary awaited an interview with the
emperor. For one whole year the Hungarian nobles had withdrawn from
court; but now, in the interest of their fatherland, they stood once
more within the walls of the palace; and in their magnificent
state-uniforms, as the representatives of all Hungary, they were
assembled to demand redress for their national grievances.
When the emperor entered the reception-room, he came alone, in a plain
uniform. He greeted the deputies with a smile which they returned by
profound and silent inclinations of their aristocratic heads. Joseph
looked slowly around at the brilliant assemblage of magnates before him.
"A stately deputation of my loyal Hungarians," observed he. "I see all
the proudest families of the kingdom represented here to-day. Count
Palfy, for example, the son of him whom the empress was accustomed to
call her champion and father. Count Batthiany, the heir of my favorite
tutor. I rejoice to see you, and hope that you are here to-day to greet
me as ever, in the character of loyal subjects."
There was a short pause, after which, Count Palfy, stepping a little in
advance of the others, addressed the emperor.
"Sire, we are sent by the kingdom of Hungary to lay our wrongs before
your majesty, and request redress."
"Does the count represent your sentiments?" asked the emperor,
addressing the delegates. A unanimous affirmative was the reply, and
Joseph then continued: "Speak on. I will hear your complaints and reply
Count Palfy bowed and resumed. "We have come to remind your majesty that
when, in November, 1780, you ascended the throne of Austria, we received
a written declaration from your imperial hand, guaranteeing our rights
under the national constitution of Hungary. Nevertheless, these rights
have been invaded, and we come before your majesty's throne in the hope
that our just remonstrances may not appear offensive in the eyes of our
king." [Footnote: These are the words of the Hungarian protest.--See
Hubner, ii., p. 265.]
"But, what if they do appear offensive?" cried the emperor, chafed."
What if I should refuse to hear those complaints which are nothing but
the fermentation of your own pride and arrogance?"
"If your majesty refuses to hear us to-day," said Count Palfy, with
firmness, "we shall return to-morrow, and every day; for we have sworn
to present the grievances of the states to your notice, and must keep
"I am quite as well acquainted with the grievances as you, and to prove
it to you, I will state them myself. First, you are aggrieved because I
have not gone to Hungary to be crowned, and to take the constitutional
"Yes, sire, we are; and this grievance leads us to the second one. We
venture to ask if, secretly and without the consent of the states, the
crown of St. Stephen has been removed to Vienna?"
"Yes, it has been removed," cried Joseph, with increasing irritation.
"It has been brought to me, to whom it belongs; but I shall return it to
Ofen, when the structure which is to receive it is completed."
"That is an unconstitutional act," said Count Palfy. "Is it not, my
"It is," cried a chorus of Magyars.
"I have never taken the oath to the constitution," was Joseph's reply.
"Hungary would have to undergo signal changes before I ever go there to
be crowned as your king. You are not content with reigning over your
vassals; you desire, in your ambitious presumption, to reign over me
also. But I tell you that I am no royal puppet in the hands of a
republic of aristocrats. I am lord and king of all my provinces. Hungary
has no claim to a separate nationality, and, once for all, I shall no
more take the coronation oath there, than I shall do it in Tyrol,
Bohemia, Galicia, or Lombardy. All your crowns are fused into the
imperial crown of Austria, and it is proper that I, who own them all,
should preserve them with my regalia at Vienna. All strife and jealousy
between the provinces composing my empire must cease. [Footnote: The
Emperor's own words.--"Letters of Joseph II."] Provincial interests
must disappear before national exigencies. This is all that I have to
say to the states; but I will say to yourselves, that when I find myself
absolute lord of Hungary, as well as of Austria, I will go thither to be
crowned. And now, Lord Chancellor of Hungary, what other grievance have
you to present?"
"Our second grievance, sire, is, that to the great humiliation of all
Hungary, our native tongue and the Latin language have been superseded
by the German. This, too, is unconstitutional, for it has shut out all
Hungarians, in a measure, from public office, and has placed the
administration of our laws in the hands of Austrians, perfectly ignorant
of our constitution." [Footnote: The words of the Hungarian
protest.--Hubner. ii, p. 267]
"To this I have to say that German shall be the language of all my
subjects. Why should you enjoy the privilege of a national language? I
am Emperor of Germany, and any tongue shall be that of my provinces. If
Hungary were the most important portion of the empire, its language,
doubtless, would be Hungarian; but it is not, and, therefore, shall you
speak German. [Footnote: The emperor's own words.--See "Letters of
Joseph II.," p. 76.] I will now pass on to your third grievance, for you
see that I am well posted on the subject of your sufferings. I have
numbered and taxed your property, and that, too, in spite of your
constitution, which exempts you from taxation. In my opinion, the
privileges of an aristocracy do not consist in evading their share of
the national burdens; on the contrary, they should assume it
voluntarily, and, for the weal of the nation, place themselves on an
equality with the people, each class striving with the other as to who
shall best promote the prosperity of the government. [Footnote: The
emperor's own words.--See "Letters of Joseph II.," p. 76.] I cannot
exempt you, therefore, from paying taxes."
"But, sire, this tax violates our rights and our constitution," replied
"Has Hungary a Constitution? A tumultuous states-diet, privileged
aristocracy, the subjection of three-fifths of the nation to the
remainder--is this a constitution?"
"It is the constitution of Hungary, and we have your majesty's written
promise that you would respect it. But even had we received no solemn
declaration of the sort, upon the security of our national freedom
depends the Austrian right of succession to the throne of Hungary."
[Footnote: The words of the Hungarian protest.--Hubner, ii., p. 263.]
"You dare threaten me?" cried Joseph, furiously.
"No, sire, we do not threaten; we are in the presence of a truth-loving
monarch, and we are compelled to speak the unvarnished truth. We have
already borne much from your majesty's ancestors. But, until the death
of Maria Theresa, our fundamental laws remained inviolate. True, in the
last years of her life she refused to allow the states-diet to assemble;
but she never laid her hand upon our constitution. She was crowned Queen
of Hungary, and took the coronation oath. Charles the Sixth and Joseph
the First did likewise. Each one guaranteed us the right of inheritance,
and our national freedom."
"There is no such thing as national freedom in Hungary. It contains
nothing but lords and vassals, and it is vassalage that I intend to
"Does your majesty think that the general freedom of the state is
promoted by your conscription laws?"
"Ah! here we have grievance the fourth," exclaimed Joseph.
"Yes, the conscription is a thorn in your sensitive sides, because it
claims you as the children and servants of your country, and forces you
to draw your swords in her defence."
"We have never refused our blood to the country," replied Count Palfy,
proudly throwing back his head, "and if her rights are intact to-day, it
is because we have defended and protected them. We have fought for our
fatherland, however, not as conscripts, but as freemen. Our people are
unanimous in their abhorrence of the conscription act. When we weigh the
motives and consequences of this act, we can draw but one inference from
either: that we, who were born freemen, are to be reduced to slavery,
and to be trampled under foot by every other province of Austria. Rather
than submit to such indignity we will lay down our lives, for we are of
one mind, and would sooner die than lose our liberty!"
"And I," cried Joseph, his eye flashing and his face scarlet with
passion, "I say to you all, that you shall live, for I, your king and
master, command you to do so."
An angry murmur was heard, and every eye looked defiance at the emperor.
"Ah," said he, scornfully, "you would ape the Polish diet, and dispute
the will of your king! You remember how the King of Poland succumbed to
dictation! I am another and a different man, and I care neither for your
approbation nor for your blame. It is my purpose to make Hungary
prosperous, and therefore I have abolished the feudal system which is
unfavorable to the development of the resources of the country. You
Magyars would interfere with me. You have a constitution at variance
with my laws, and for the sake of a piece of rotten parchment three
hundred years old, Hungary must be suffered to remain uncivilized
forever! Away with your mediaeval privileges and rusty escutcheons! A
new century has dawned, and not only the nobly born shall see its light,
but the people who, until now, have been thrust aside by your arrogance!
If enlightenment violates your ancient privileges, they shall be swept
away to give place to the victorious rights of man! And this is my
answer to all your grievances. Go home, ye Magyars, assemble your peers,
and tell them that my decision is unalterable; and that what I have done
with deliberation I shall never revoke. Go home and tell them that the
emperor has spoken, and they have nothing to do but to submit!"
With a slight inclination Joseph turned his back; and before the
magnates had time to recover themselves and to reply to this haughty
harangue, the emperor had disappeared and closed the door.
In speechless indignation they glanced at one another. They had expected
difficulty; but such insulting rejection of their petition they had not
anticipated. They remembered the day when, with this same Joseph in her
arms, Maria Theresa had appealed to their fathers for succor; they
remembered, too, how in the enthusiasm of their loyalty they had sworn
to die for Maria Theresa, their king!
"He never revokes!" muttered Palfy, after a long silence. "You heard
him, Magyars, he never revokes! Shall we suffer him to oppress us?"
"No, no!" was the unanimous reply.
"So be it," said Palfy, solemnly. "He has thrown down the gauntlet; we
raise it, and strip for the fight. But for Hungary this man had been
ruined. To-day he would ruin us, and we cast him off. Henceforth our cry
is--'Moriamur pro rege nostro constitutione!'"
"'Moriamur pro rege nostro constitutione!'" echoed the Magyars, every
man with his right hand raised to heaven.
For four weeks Rachel had been a prisoner in her own house; all persons,
with the exception of a Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi, having been
refused access to her. But at the expiration of this time a deputy from
the imperial chancery was admitted, who had a long interview with the
poor girl, and at dusk another visitor presented himself at the door of
that gloomy abode. This last one was Baron Eskeles Flies.
The sentinels had allowed him to pass, and the guards in Rachel's
anteroom gave way also, for the baron's permit to visit his daughter was
from the emperor. With a respectful inclination they presented the key
of the prisoner's room and awaited her father's orders.
"Go below, and wait until I call you," said he.
"Of course, as we are commanded in the permit to obey you, we follow the
Herr Eskeles thanked them, and putting a ducat in the hand of each, the
men departed in a state of supreme satisfaction. They had scarcely left,
when the banker bolted the door from the inside, and crossed the room
toward the opposite door. His hand trembled so that he could not
introduce the key to open it, and he was obliged to retreat to the sofa,
and there recover himself.
"How will she receive me?" thought he. "They say that she is sadly
changed, and that her father would scarcely know his beautiful child
again. Oh, my child, will I be able to bear the sight of your grief
without falling at your feet, and acknowledging my guilt? But pshaw! She
is safe now. I shall take her home; and for every tear that she has
shed, I will give her a diamond bright as a star She shall have gold,
pearls, riches, and be once more the envy of all the women in Vienna.
Yes, my Rachel, yes--gold, diamonds, and happiness!"
He turned the key, and the door opened. Not a sound greeted his entrance
into that dismal room, wherein four funeral-looking wax-lights were
burning at each corner of a square table. Even so had the lights burned
in the room where Rachel's mother once lay head. The banker thought of
this, as between those flaring lights he saw the pale, wan figure on the
sofa, that seemed as rigid, as motionless, and as white as a corpse.
Was it indeed Rachel? Those pinched features, those hollow eyes; that
figure, so bowed with sorrow, could that be his peerless daughter? What
had diamonds and pearls in common with that pale spectre?
The banker could scarcely suppress a cry of angwish as he gaze a upon
the wreck of so much beauty. But he gathered courage to cross the room,
and stood before her.
"Rachel," said he, in a soft, imploring voice, "do you know me?"
"I know you," replied she, without moving; "do you know me?"
"My beloved child, my heart recognizes yon, and calls you to itself.
Come, darling, come and rest within you father's protecting arms. See,
they are open to receive you. I have forgiven all, and am ready to
devote my whole life to your happiness."
He opened his arms, but Rachel did not stir. She looked at him, and when
he saw the look, his hands dropped nerveless to his side.
"Where is Gunther?" asked she. "What have you done with him?"
"I, my child?" exclaimed Eskeles. "The emperor has detected him in some
dishonorable act (I know not what), and has sent him recruit to
"I have heard this fable before," said Rachel, with a glance of mourn.
"The priest who was sent to convert, has tried to console me for my
loss, by dinning in my ears that Gunther was a traitor; but I know
better. He is the victim of a Jew's revenge. It is you who have accused
him with false witnesses, false letters, with all that vengeance can
inspire, and wicked gold can buy. You are the accuser of my noble
Gunther!" By this time she had arisen, and now she stood confronting her
father, her wasted finger pointing toward him, and her sunken eyes
glowing like lights from a dark, deep cave. "Who says so? Who has dared
accuse me?" said he.
"Your face accuses you!--your eyes, that dare not encounter mine!
Nay--do not raise your hand in sacrilegious protest, but answer me. By
the faith of your ancestors, are you not the man who denounced him?"
He could not meet her scrutinizing glance. He averted his face,
murmuring: "He who accused him is no better than himself. But it is the
emperor who condemned him."
"The emperor is miserably befooled," cried Rachel. "He knows not the
subtlety of Jewish revenge. But I am of the Jewish race, and I know it.
I know my father, and I know my lover!"
"In this hour of reunion we will not discuss the innocence or guilt of
the emperor's secretary," said the banker, gently. "I am thankful that
the dark cloud which has hidden you so long from my sight is lifted, and
that all is well with us again."
"All is not well, for between us lies the grave of my happiness, and
that grave has sundered us forever. I cannot come to you, my father: the
memory of my lover is between us, and that memory--oh, do not call it a
cloud! 'Tis the golden beam of that sun which has set, but whose rays
are still warm within my breaking heart. I say nothing to you of all
that I have endured during these four weeks of anguish; but this I can
tell you, my father, that I have never repented my choice. I am
Gunther's for life, and for death, which is the birth of immortality!"
"He is a dishonored man!" said Eskeles, frowning.
"And I, too, will be dishonored to-morrow," replied Rachel.
Her father started. He had forgotten the disgrace which threatened her.
"Rachel," said he, with exceeding tenderness, "I come to rescue you from
shame and suffering."
"To rescue me?" echoed she. "Whither would you have me fly?"
"To the house of your father, my child."
"I have no father," replied she, with a weary sigh. "My father would
have forced my heart, as the priest and the rabbi would have forced my
belief. But I am free in my faith, my love, and my hate; and this
freedom will sustain me to-morrow throughout the torture and shame of a
"You surely will not brave the lash!" cried her father, his cheeks
blanched with horror at the thought. "You will be womanly, my child, and
"I must speak the truth," said she, interrupting him. "The doors of the
synagogue, as well as those of the church, are closed against me. I am
no Jewess, and you forced me to swear that I would never become a
Christian. But what matters it?" continued she, kindling with
enthusiasm, "I believe in God--the God of love and mercy; and to-morrow
I shall see His face!"
"You would destroy yourself!" cried her father, his senses almost
"No. But do you suppose that I shall survive the severity and
humiliation of the lash which it is the pleasure of the emperor to
inflict upon me? No, my father, I shall die before the executioner has
time to strike his second blow."
"Rachel, my Rachel, do not speak such dreadful words!" cried Eskeles,
wringing his hands in despair. "You cannot be a Christian, I know it; for
their belief is unworthy of a pure soul. How could you ever give the
hand of fellowship to a race who have outlawed you, because you scorn to
utter a falsehood! But confess yourself a Jewess, and all will be well
with us once more."
"I shall never return to the Jewish God of wrath and revenge! MY God is
all love. I must acknowledge Him before the world, and die for His
There was a pause. Rachel was calm and resolute; her father almost
distracted. After a time he spoke again.
"So be it, then," cried he, raising his hand to heaven. "Be a Christian.
I absolve you from your oath, and oh, my Rachel! if I sought the world
for a proof of my overweening love, it could offer nothing to compare
with this sacrifice. Go, my child, and become a Christian."
She shook her head. "The Christian's cruelty has cured me of my love for
Christianity. I can never be one of a race who have persecuted my
innocent lover. As for you, the cause of his martyrdom, hear my
determination, and know that it is inflexible. I am resolved to endure
the punishment; and when the blood streams from my back, and my frantic
cries pierce the air until they reach your palace walls;--when in the
midst of the gaping populace, my body lies stretched upon the
market-place, dishonored by the hand of the executioner,--then shall
your revenge have returned to you; for the whole world will point at you
as you pass, and say, 'He is the father of the woman who was whipped to
death by the hangman!' "
"Alas!" sobbed the father, "I see that you hate me, and yet I must
rescue you, even against your own will. The emperor has given me a pass
to Paris. It is himself who allows me to escape with my poor, misguided
child. Come, dear Rachel, come, ere it be too late, and in Paris we can
forget our sorrows and begin life anew!"
"No! he has made the law, and he must bear the consequences of his own
cruelty. He need not think to rescue himself from the odium of his acts,
by conniving at my escape! I hate that emperor, the oppressor of my
beloved; and as he dishonored Gunther, so shall he dishonor me. Our woes
will cry to Heaven for vengeance, and--"
But Rachel suddenly ceased, and fell hack upon a chair. She had no
strength to repulse her father, as he raised her in his arms, and laid
her upon the sofa. He looked into her marble face, and put his lips to
"She has swooned," cried he in despair. "We must fly at once. Rachel,
Rachel, away! The time is almost up. Come, we must away!"
She opened her eyes, and looked around. "Come, my daughter," said her
father, kissing her wasted hands.
She said nothing, but stared and smiled a vacant smile. Again he took
her hands, and saw that they were hot and dry. Her breath, too, was hot,
and yet her pulse was feeble and fitful.
Her father, in his agony, dropped on his knees beside the unconscious
girl. But this was no time for wailing. He rose to his feet again, and
darting from the room, offered a handful of gold to the sentry, if he
would but seek a physician. Then he returned to Rachel. She lay still
with her eyes wide, wide open, while she murmured inaudible words, which
lie vainly strove to understand.
At length came the physician. He bent over the patient, examined her
pulse, felt her forehead, and then turning to the banker, who stood by
with his heart throbbing as if it would burst--
"Are you a relative of the lady?" asked he.
"I am her father," replied Eskeles, and even in this terrible hour he
felt a thrill of joy as he spoke the words.
"I regret, then, to say to you that she is very ill. Her malady is
typhoid fever, in its most dangerous form. I fear that she will not
recover: she must have been ill for some weeks, and have concealed her
illness. Has she suffered mentally of late?"
"Yes, I believe that she has," faltered the banker. "Will she die?"
"I am afraid to give you any hope--the disease has gone so far. It is
strange. Was there no relative near her to see how ill she has been for
so long a time?"
Gracious Heaven! What torture he inflicted upon the guilty father! At
that moment he would have recalled Gunther, and welcomed him as a son,
could his presence have saved the child whom himself had murdered!
"Doctor," said he, in husky, trembling tones, "doctor, you must save my
child. Ask what you will--I am rich, and if you restore her to me, you
shall have a million!"
"Unhappily, life cannot be bought with gold," replied the physician.
"God alone can restore her. We can do naught but assist Nature, and
alleviate her sufferings."
"How can we alleviate her suffering?" asked Eskeles humbly, for his
spirit was broken.
"By cool drinks, and cold compressions upon her head," said the
physician. "Are there no women here to serve her?"
"No," murmured the banker. "My daughter is a prisoner. She is Rachel
"Ah! The Deist who was to have suffered to-morrow? Poor, poor child,
neither church nor synagogue can avail her now, for God will take her to
"But there is a possibility of saving her, is there not?" asked the
father imploringly. "We must try every thing, for--she must be saved!"
"Must?" repeated the physician. "Think you because you are rich that you
can bribe Heaven? See, rather, how impotent your wealth has been to make
your beautiful child happy (for I know her story). And, now, in spite of
all the gold for which you have sacrificed her, she will die of a broken
Just then Rachel uttered a loud shriek, and clasping both her hands
around her head, cried out that her brain was on fire.
"Cold compressions--quick," exclaimed the physician imperatively; and
the banker staggered into Rachel's dressing-room (the room which Gunther
had so daintily fitted up), and brought water and a soft fine towel,
which his trembling hands could scarcely bind upon his poor child's
head. Then, as her moaning ceased, and her arms dropped, he passed into
an ecstasy of joy, for now he began to hope that she would be spared to
"We must have female attendance here," said the physician.
"She must be put to bed and tenderly watched. Go, baron, and bring your
servants. I will see the emperor, and take upon myself the
responsibility of having infringed his orders. Before such imminent
peril all imprisonment is at an end."
"I cannot leave her," returned the baron. "You say she has but a few
days to live; if so, I cannot spare one second of her life. I entreat of
you, take my carriage, and in mercy, bring the servants for me. Oh,
listen! she screams again--doctor go, I entreat! Here--fresh
compressions--water! Oh, be quick!"
And again the wretched man bent over his child, and laid the cloths upon
her head. The physician had gone, and he was alone with his treasure. He
felt it a relief to be able to kiss her hands, to weep aloud, to throw
himself upon his knees, and pray to the God of Israel to spare his idol!
The night went by, the servants came, and the physician, examining his
patient again, promised to return in a few hours. Rachel was carried to
her bed, and, hour after hour, the banker sat patient and watchful,
listening to every moan, echoing every sigh; afraid to trust his
precious charge to any one, lest the vigilance of another might fail.
A day and another night went by, and still no sleep had come over those
glaring eyes. But she wept bitter tears, and when he heard her broken,
murmured words of anguish, he thought he would go mad!
But sometimes in her fever-madness she smiled and was happy. Then she
laughed aloud, and spoke to her beloved, who was always at her side. She
had not once pronounced the name of her father; she seemed to have
forgotten him, remembering nothing in all her past life save her love
Often her father knelt beside her, and with tears streaming from his
eyes, implored a look, a word--one single word of forgiveness. But
Rachel laughed and sang, heedless of the despairing wretch who lay
stricken to the earth at her side; while the lover whom she caressed was
far away, unconscious of the blessing.
Suddenly she uttered a wild cry, and starting up, threw her arms
convulsively about. Now she invoked the vengeance of Heaven upon
Gunther's murderers and at last--at last, was heard the name of her
father! She cursed him!
With a cry as piercing as that of the poor maniac, Eskeles Flies sank
upon his knees, and wept aloud.
Gradually Rachel grew more tranquil: and now she lay back on her pillow
with a happy smile on her lips. But she spoke not a word. Once more she
sighed "Gunther," and then relapsed into silence.
Into a silence that seemed so breathless and so long, that her father
arose, frightened, from his knees. He bent over his smiling child, and
her face seemed transfigured. Not a sigh stirred he, bosom, not a moan
fluttered from her lips. But that smile remained so long unchanged, and
her eyes--surely they were glazed! Yes!--Rachel was dead. [Footnote: The
sad fate of Gunther and of his beloved Rachel is mentioned by Hormayer
in his work, "The Emperor Francis and Metternich: a Fragment," p 78]
THE REBELLION IN THE NETHERLANDS.
The Emperor Joseph was in the Crimea on a visit to the Empress of
Russia. Here he witnessed a great triumph prepared for Catharine by
Potemkin. It was her first greeting at Sebastopol from that navy which
was to confer upon Russia the dominion of the Black Sea.
Potemkin invited Catharine and Joseph to dinner served in a pavilion
erected for the occasion. The festivities were interrupted by the clash
of military music; and the Russian empress and the Austrian emperor
stepped out of the pavilion, the fleet, arranged in line of battle, was
before them, and greeted them with a salute of a hundred guns. As they
ceased, Potemkin turned to Catharine, and cried out in tones of joyful
"The voice of the cannon proclaims that the Black Sea has found its
mistress, and that ere long the flag of Russia shall wave triumphant
over the towers of Constantinople!" [Footnote: See "Conflict for the
Possession of the Black Sea."--Theodore Mundt, pp. 253, 255.]
On another occasion, Joseph was sailing around the bay of Sebastopol, in
company with the empress, Potemkin, and the French ambassador. As they
neared the fleet, Potemkin, pointing out the five-and-twenty
"These ships await my sovereign's word to spread their sails to the
wind, and steer for Constantinople!" [Footnote: Ibid.]
As Potemkin spoke, Catharine's eyes were turned to the south, where
Stamboul still defied her rule, and ambitious aspirations filled her
heart. Joseph, however, looked down upon the foaming waters, and no one
saw the curl of his lip, as Catharine and Potemkin continued the
subject, and spoke of the future Greek empire.
For Joseph had lost all faith in the brilliant schemes with which
Catharine had dazzled his imagination at St. Petersburg.
The enthusiasm with which he had followed her ambitious vagaries, had
long since died out, and he had awakened from his dreams of greatness.
All the pomp and splendor which Potemkin had conjured from the ashes of
a conquered country, could not deceive Joseph. Behind the stately
edifices which had sprung up like the palaces of Aladdin, he saw the
ruins of a desolated land; in the midst of the cheering multitudes, whom
Potemkin had assembled together to do homage to Catharine, he saw the
grim-visaged Tartars, whose eyes were glowing with deadly hatred of her
who had either murdered or driven into exile fifty thousand of their
Nevertheless, he entered with his usual grace and affability into all
Catharine's schemes for the improvement of her new domains. Not far from
Sebastopol she proposed to lay the foundations of a new city, and the
emperor was invited to take a part in the ceremonies.
Amid the booming of cannon, the loud strains of martial music, and the
cheers of her followers, the empress laid the first stone of the city of
Caterinoslaw, and after her, the emperor took up the mortar and trowel,
and laid the second one. He performed his part of the drama with
becoming solemnity; but, about an hour later, as he was taking his
customary afternoon walk with the French ambassador, M. de Sigur, he
laughed, and said
"The empress and I have been working magic to-day; for in the course of
a few minutes we built up an entire city. She laid the first stone of
the place, and I the last." [Footnote: Masson, "Memoires Secretes sur la
Russie," vol. i.]
But in the very midst of these festivities, a courier arrived with
letters for the emperor from Prince Kaunitz. The prince besought him to
return at once, for the discontent which had existed from the
commencement of his reign in the Netherlands, had kindled into open
rebellion, which threatened the imperial throne itself Joseph took hasty
leave of Catharine, but renewed his promise to sustain and assist her
whenever she put into execution her designs against Turkey.
On the emperor's arrival at Vienna, he found new couriers awaiting him,
with still more alarming intelligence. The people were frantic, and,
with the clergy at their head, demanded the restoration of the "Joyeuse
Entree." [Footnote: The "Joyeuse Entree" was the old constitution which
Philip the Good, on his entrance into Brussels, had granted to the
"And all this," cried the emperor, "because I have summoned a
soap-boiler to Vienna for trial!"
"Yes, your majesty, but the Joyeuse Entree exacts that the people of
Brabant shall be tried in their own country," said Prince Kaunitz, with
a shrug. "The Brabantians know every line of their constitution by
"Well, they shall learn to know me also by heart," returned Joseph, with
irritation. "Brabant is mine; it is but a province of my empire, and the
Brabantians, like the Hungarians, are nothing but Austrians. The Bishop
of Frankenberg is not lord of Brabant, and I am resolved to enlighten
this priest-ridden people in spite of their writhings."
"But, unhappily, the priests in Belgium and Brabant are mightier than
your majesty," returned Kaunitz. "The Bishop of Frankenberg is the
veritable lord of Brabant, for he controls the minds and hearts of the
people there, while your majesty can do nothing but command their
ungracious obedience. It is the Bishop of Frankenberg who prejudiced the
people against the imperial seminaries."
"I can well believe that they are distasteful to a bigot," cried Joseph;
"for the theological course of the priests who are to be educated there
is prescribed by me. I do not intend that the children of Levi shall
monopolize the minds and hearts of my people any longer. This haughty
prelate shall learn to know that I am his emperor, and that the arm of
the pope is powerless to shield where I have resolved to strike."
"If your majesty goes to work in this fashion, instead of crushing the
influence of the bishop, you may irretrievably lose your own. Belgium is
a dangerous country. The people cherish their abuses as constitutional
rights, and each man regards the whole as his individual property."
"And because I desire to make them happy and free, they cry out against
me as an innovator who violates these absurd rights. Oh my friend! I
feel sometimes so exhausted by my struggles with ignorance and
selfishness, that I often think it would be better to leave the stupid
masses to their fate!"
"They deserve nothing better," replied Kaunitz, with his usual phlegm.
"They are thankless children whom he can win who feeds them with sugar.
Your majesty, perhaps, has not sufficiently conciliated their weakness.
You have been too honest in your opposition to their rotten privileges.
Had you undermined the Joycuse Entree by degrees, it would have fallen
of itself. But you have attempted to blow it up, and the result is that
these Belgian children cry out that the temple of liberty is on fire,
and your majesty is the incendiary. Now, had you allowed the soap-boiler
to be tried by the laws of his own land, the first to condemn and punish
him would have been his own countrymen: but your course of action has
transformed him into a martyr, and now the Belgians are mourning for him
as a jewel above all price."
"I cannot make use of artifice or stratagem. With the banner of Truth in
my hand, I march forward to the battle of life."
"But, with your eyes fixed upon that banner, you may fall into the
precipices which your enemies have dug for you. I have often told your
majesty that politics can never be successful without stratagem. Let
your standard be that of Truth, if you will, but when the day looks
unpropitious, fold it up, that fools may rally around it unawares."
"Perhaps you are right," sighed the emperor; "but all this is very sad.
I have meant well by my subjects, but they misinterpret my actions, and
accuse me of tyranny. I go to them with a heart full of love, and they
turn upon the as though I were an enemy. But I will not relent! I must
be free to act as seems best to myself. The Joyeuse Entree is in my way.
'Tis a gordian knot which must be unloosed before Belgium can be truly
mine; I have no time to untie it--it must be cut in twain!"
Just then the door of the chancery opened, and one of the secretaries
"Sire," said he, "a courier has arrived from Brussels, with dispatches
from Count Belgiojoso to his highness."
"I had ordered my dispatches to be sent after me, your majesty," paid
Kaunitz, taking the papers, and motioning the secretary to withdraw.
"Does your majesty allow me to read them?"
"By all means. Let us hope that they bring us good news. I gave
stringent orders to Belgiojoso to see that my will was carried out in
Belgium. I bade him inform the people that they should not: have their
precious soap-boiler back; that he was my subject, and I intended to
have him tried here. I told him, moreover, that, like all my other
subjects, the Belgians must pay new taxes without expecting to be
consulted as to the expediency of the measure."
"Belgiojoso has obeyed your majesty's commands," remarked Kaunitz, who
had just finished the first dispatch. "And the consequence is, that the
good people of Brussels broke his windows for him."
"They shall pay dear for those windows." cried Joseph.
"He told them, furthermore, that in spite of the eighth article of their
constitution, they should pay extraordinary taxes; whereupon they
answered him with the fifty-ninth article."
"What says the fifty-ninth article?"
"It says that when the sovereign violates, in any serious way, the
rights guaranteed by the Joyeuse Entree, the people are released from
all obligations toward him."
"That is the language of treason!" cried Joseph.
"And treason it is," returned Kannitz, folding the second dispatch. "The
people collected in the streets, and the burghers, arming themselves,
marched to the palace of the governor-general, and demanded admittance."
"And he, what did he do?"
"He received them, sire," said Kaunitz, respondingly.
"And what said he to the insolent demands of the rebels?--You are
silent, Kaunitz, and I see in your countenance that you have bad news
for me. I know my brother-in-law, Albert of Saxony, or rather, I know my
sister Christina. From her youth she has been my enemy, forever crossing
me in every purpose of my life! Christina was sure to prompt him to
something in opposition to my wishes."
"It would appear that you are right, sire," replied Kaunitz.
"The burghers exacted of the governor-general that they should be
reinstated in all the rights of the Joyeuse Entree, without exception
"Their Joyeatse Entree is nothing but a mass of impertinent privilege;
which Christina herself could not desire to concede," cried Joseph. "I
am curious, then, to know how my brother-in-law crept out of the
difficulty. What was his answer?"
"He asked time for reflection, sire--twelve hours. It was eleven o'clock
in the morning when the burghers came to him."
"Did they go quietly home then?"
"No, sire. They surrounded the palace, their numbers continually
increasing until the place was tilled with armed men, supported by
thousands of insurgents, who rent the air with cries of 'Give us the
Joyeuse Entree! The Joyeuse Entree forever!'"
"Kaunitz, the answer of the Elector of Saxony must have been a
disgraceful one, or you would not be at such pains to describe the
clamors of the rebellious multitude. Tell me at once what occurred."
"Sire, when the twelve hours had expired, the burghers forced the palace
doors, and two hundred armed men rushed unannounced into the presence of
"Well--well!" cried Joseph, breathing heavily.
"The governor was obliged to yield, and to promise them that their
constitution should be reinstated."
The emperor uttered a cry of fury, and grew pale with rage. "He
reinstated the Joyeuse Entree! He presumed to do it! Did I not tell you
that Christina was my enemy? She it is who has brought this humiliation
upon me! She has dared revoke what I had commanded!--Oh, how those
vulgar rebels must have laughed to see that with their pestiferous
breath they lead power to blow away my edicts like so many card-houses!"
"Not at all, sire," said Kaunitz, with composure. "There was no jesting
among the people, although they were very happy, and passed the night in
shouts of joy. Brussels was illuminated, and six hundred young men drew
the carriage of the elector and electress to the theatre, amid cries of
'Long live the emperor! Long live the Joyeuse Entree!'"
"'Long live the emperor!"' cried Joseph, contemptuously. "They treat me
as savages do their wooden idols, When they are unpropitious they beat
them; when otherwise, they set them up and adore them again. Those over
whom I reign, however, shall see that I am no wooden idol, but a man and
a monarch, who draws his sword to avenge an affront from whomsoever
received. Blood alone will extinguish the fire; of this rebellion, and
it shall be quenched in the blood of the rebels."
"Many a throne has been overturned by the wild waves of human blood,"
said Kaunitz thoughtfully; "and many a well-meaning prince has been
branded by history as a tyrant, because he would have forced reform upon
nations unprepared to receive it. The insurgent states have some show of
justice on their side; and if your majesty adopts severe measures toward
them, they will parade themselves before the world as martyrs."
"And yet I alone am the martyr," cried Joseph, bitterly--"the martyr of
liberty and enlightenment. Oh, Kaunitz, how hard it is to be forever
misunderstood!--to see those whom we love, led astray by the wickedness
of others! I must crush this rebellion by force, and yet the real
criminals are the clergy."
"If you think so," said Kaunitz, shrewdly, "then be lenient toward the
misguided people. Perhaps mildness may prevail. Belgium is united to a
man, and if you enforce your will, you must crush the entire nation.
Such extreme measures must be resorted to only when all other means
shall have been exhausted."
"What other means do you counsel?" asked Joseph, irritated. "Would you
have me treat with the rabble?"
"No, sire, but treat with the, people. When an entire nation are united,
they rise to equality with their rulers, and it is no condescension then
on the part of the sovereign if he listen to their grievances and
temporize with the aggrieved. You have not yet tried personal
negotiations with your Netherlanders, sire. Call a deputation of them to
Vienna. We shall thereby gain time, the insurgents will grow more
dispassionate, and perhaps we may reason them into acquiescence. Once
get as far as an armistice with your rebels, and the game is yours; for
insurgents are poor diplomatists. Let me advise your majesty to
dissimulate your anger, and send conciliatory messages."
"Well, well," said the emperor, with a deep sigh, "be it so. I will do
as you like, but I must for ever and ever yield my will to that of
others. Call a deputation of the provinces, and cite the
governor-general and his wife, also to Vienna. I will investigate as a
father before I condemn as a judge. But if this last proof of my
goodness should be of no avail, then I shall strike; and if blood flow
in torrents-upon their heads and not mine, be the sin." [Footnote:
Joseph's own words. Seo Hubner, ii., p. 454.]
THE IMPERIAL SUITOR.
A half year had passed away. The deputation from the Netherlands had
visited Vienna, and had been deeply impressed with the affability of the
emperor. They returned home, taking with them his assurance that their
time-honored usages should be respected, and that Joseph himself would be
the guardian of their ancient rights. He merely desired to free them
from "certain abuses which in the lapse of time had crept into their
constitution." To this end he promised that an imperial delegation
should visit Brussels to consult with the states.
The two envoys publicly sent by the emperor were Count von
Trautmannedorf and General d'Alton. But to these he added a secret envoy
in the person of Count Dietrichstein, the former marshal of Maria
"I know that my two ambassadors will find a wise mentor in you, count,"
said Joseph as Dietrichstein was taking leave of him. "I thank you for
sacrificing your pleasant home with its associations to my interest; for
no man so well as you can enlighten public opinion as to my character
"Your majesty knows that not only my comfort but my life are at the
disposal of my emperor," replied the count. "I deserve no credit for
this; it comes to me as a proud inheritance from an ancestry who have
ever been the loyal subjects of the house of Habsburg."
"I wish that I knew how to testify my sense of your loyalty, and to
prove to you that the Hapsburgers have grateful hearts," exclaimed the
"Sire," said Count Dictrichstein, solemnly, "it is in your power to do
so. If your majesty really thinks that my family are deserving of it,
you can confer upon us a very great favor."
"Speak, then," replied Joseph, eagerly--" speak, for your wish is
already granted. I well know that Count Dietrichstein can ask nothing
that I would not accord!"
"I accept your majesty's kindness," said Dietrichstein, in the same
solemn tone. "My request is easy of fulfilment, and will give but little
trouble to my beloved sovereign. It concerns my daughter Therese, whom I
shall leave behind in Vienna."
"You leave Therese?" said Joseph, coloring.
"Yes, your majesty. My daughter remains under the protection of her
"Ah! Therese is to be left!" cried the emperor, and an expression of
happiness flitted over his features.
Count Dietrichstein saw it, and a cloud passed over his face. "I leave
her here," continued he, "because the mission with which your majesty
has intrusted me might possibly become dangerous. Unhappily, however,
for young girls there is danger everywhere; and for this reason I
scarcely deem the protection of her aunt sufficient."
While Count Dietrichstein had been speaking, Joseph had seemed uneasy;
and finally he had walked to the window, where he was now looking out
upon the square. The count was annoyed at this proceeding; he frowned,
and, crossing the room, came directly behind the emperor.
"Sire," said he, in a distinct voice, "I wish to marry Therese."
"With whom?" asked Joseph, without turning.
"With your majesty's lord of the bedchamber, Count Kinsky."
"And Therese?" asked Joseph, without turning around. "Does she love the
"No, sire, she has never encouraged him. She affects to have a
repugnance to marriage, and has continually urged me to allow her to
enter a convent. But I will not give my consent to such a ridiculous
whim. Count Kinsky is a man of honor; he loves Therese, and will make
her happy. Therese is the true daughter of my house, sire; a wish of
your majesty to her would be a law. I therefore beg of you, as the
greatest favor you could bestow, to urge her to accept Count Kinsky. "
The emperor turned hastily around, and his face was scarlet.
"How?" said he, in a faltering voice. "You exact of me that I should woo
your daughter for Count Kinsky?"
"It is this favor, sire, which you have so graciously promised to
The emperor made no reply. He gazed at the count with gloomy, searching
eyes. The latter met his glance with quiet firmness. A long pause
ensued, and the emperor's face changed gradually until it became very
pale. He sighed and seemed to awake from a reverie.
"Count Dietrichstein," said he, in a trembling voice, "you have pointed
out to me the means of serving you. I will do your behest, and urge your
daughter to be the wife of Count Kinsky."
"There spoke my noble emperor!" cried the count, deeply moved, while he
pressed the hand, which had been extended by Joseph, to his lips. "In
the name of my ancestors, I thank you, sire."
"Do not thank me, my friend," said Joseph, sadly. "You have understood
me, and I you--that is all. When shall I see your daughter?"
"Sire, I leave Vienna this evening, and I would gladly leave Therese an
affianced bride. The marriage can take place on my return."
"Very well," said Joseph, with a smothered sigh, "I will go at once. Is
the countess in the city?" "No, sire, she is at the villa near
Schonbrunn. But I will send for her, and when she arrives, she shall
have the honor of an interview with your majesty."
"No, no," said Joseph, hastily; "let her remain at the villa, and enjoy
one more day of maiden freedom. I myself will drive there to see her. I
shall be obliged to renounce the pleasure of your company thither, for I
know that you have important business to-day to transact with Prince
A distrustful look was the reply to this proposition. The emperor
divined the cause, and went on: "But if you CANNOT accompany, you can
follow me with Count Kinsky; that is, if you really think that I can
persuade the countess to accept him."
"I know it, sire. Therese will be as docile to the wishes of your
majesty as her father. As I am ready, at your desire, to renounce the
happiness of accompanying you to my villa, so she, if you speak the
word, will renounce her foolish fancies, and consent to be Kinsky's
"We can try," said the emperor, moodily. But he smiled as he gave his
hand to Count Dietrichstein, who, perfectly reassured, went off to his
affairs of state.
When the count had left the room, the expression of Joseph's face
changed at once. With a deep sigh he threw himself into an arm-chair,
and for some time sat there motionless; but when the little French clock
on the mantelpiece struck the hour, he started up, exclaiming: "Eleven
o'clock! Time flies, and my word has been given, Alas, it must be
redeemed!--An emperor has no right to grieve; but oh, how hard it is,
sometimes, to perform one's duty!--Well--it must be:--I am pledged to
fulfil the motto of my escutcheon: 'Virtute et exemplo.'"
A quarter of an hour later, the emperor was on his way to the villa,
which was situated in the midst of a fine park, not far from the palace
of Schounbrunn. Joseph drove himself, accompanied by a jockey, who stood
behind. The people on the road greeted their sovereign as he passed. He
returned the greeting, and no one saw how pale and wretched he looked;
for he, like his mother, was fond of fast driving, and to-day his horse
sped like the wind.
THE LAST DREAM OF LOVE.
Therese von Dietrichstein was alone in the little pavilion which her
father had built expressly for her. It consisted of a parlor and a
boudoir. The parlor was fitted up without magnificence, but with great
elegance. Herein Therese was accustomed to receive her intimate
associates. But no one ever entered the boudoir without an express
invitation; for it was her sanctuary and studio. There the countess was
transformed into an artist; there she studied music, and painting, in
both of which she excelled. Her father and her very dear friends knew of
her great proficiency in art, but her reputation went no further, for
Therese was as shy as a gazelle, and as anxious to conceal her talents
as many women are to parade them.
At her father's hotel, Therese received the distinguished guests who
visited there, with the stately courtesy befitting a high-born countess;
but in her little pavilion she was the simple and enthusiastic child of
art. Her boudoir contained little besides a harp, a harpsichord, and an
easel which stood by the arched window opening into a flower-garden.
Near the easel was a small marble table covered with palettes, brushes,
and crayons. When Therese retired to this boudoir, her maid was
accustomed to keep watch lest she should be surprised by visitors. If
any were announced, Therese came out of her boudoir, and, carefully
closing the door, awaited her friends in the parlor.
To-day she sat in this boudoir, feeling so secure from visitors that she
had raised the portiere leading to her parlor, and had flung wide the
casement which opened upon the park. The sweet summer air was fanning
her brow as she sat at the harp, singing a song of her own composition.
She had just concluded; her little white hands had glided from the
strings to her lap, and her head rested against the harp, above the
pillar of which a golden eagle with outstretched wings seemed to be
keeping watch over the young girl, as though to shield her from
With her head bent over her harp, she sat musing until two tears, which
had long been gathering in her eyes, fell upon her hands. As she felt
them, she raised her head. Her dark-blue eyes were full of sorrow, and
tier cheeks were glowing with blushes.
"What right have I to weep over a treasure which is as far from me as
heaven is from earth?" said she. "I will not repine, so long as I am
free to dream of him without crime. But what if I should lose that
freedom? What if my father should wish to force me into marriage? Oh,
then, I should take refuge behind the friendly portals of a convent!"
"Why take refuge in a convent?" said a soft voice behind her.
Therese sprang up with such wild agitation, that the harp, with a clang,
fell back against the wall. Too well she knew this musical voice--it was
the voice which spoke to her in dreams; and as its tones fell so
suddenly upon her ear, she felt as if a bolt from heaven had struck her
heart, and knew not whether she would die of ecstasy or fright.
"Joseph!" exclaimed she, all unconscious of the word, and she sank back
into her chair, not daring to raise her eyes. With one bound the emperor
was at her side, taking her hands, and pressing them within his own.
"Pardon me, countess," said he, tenderly, "I have startled you. It was
wrong of me to send away your maid, and to present myself unannounced.
In my selfishness, I would not wait for form, and forgot that my visit
was totally unexpected. Say that you forgive me; let me read my pardon
in your heavenly eyes. "
Slowly Therese raised her head, and tried to speak. She longed to say
that she had nothing to forgive; but had not the courage to meet the
glances of those eyes which were fixed upon her with an expression of
passionate entreaty, and seemed to be gazing into her heart, reading its
most cherished, most consecrated secrets.
Did he understand the language of her agitation? "Look at me, Therese,"
whispered he." It is an eternity since we met, and now--one more look
at your angel-face, for I come to bid adieu to it forever."
She started, repeating his words, "Bid adieu--adieu!"
"Yes, sweet one, adieu. Some wiseacre has guessed the secret which I had
fondly imagined was known to God and to myself only. And yet, Therese, I
have never even told myself how passionately I love you! My eyes must
have betrayed me to others; for since that happy day at Sclionbrunn when
I kissed the rose which had dropped from your hair, you have not been
seen at court. I never should have told you this, my best beloved, but
the anguish of this hour has wrung the confession from me. It will die
away from your memory like the tones of a strange melody, and be lost in
the jubilant harmony of your happy married life."
He turned away that she might not see the tears which had gathered in
his eyes and were ready to fall. As for Therese, she rose to her feet.
For one moment, her heart stood still--the next, her blood was coursing
so wildly through her veins that she thought he must surely hear its mad
throbbings in the stillness of that little room. The emperor turned
again, and his face was grave, but calm. He had mastered his emotion,
and, ashamed of the weakness of the avowal he had made, he determined to
atone for it. He took the hand of the countess and led her to a divan,
where he gently drew her down, while she obeyed, as though her will had
suddenly been merged into his. She was conscious of one thing only. He
was there!--he whose name was written upon her heart, though she had
never uttered it until that day!
He stood before her with folded arms, and contemplated her as an
enthusiast might look upon the statue of a saint.
"Therese," said he, after a long silence, "why did you say that you
would go into a convent?"
Therese grew pale and shivered, but said nothing. Joseph, bending down
and looking into her eyes, repeated his question.
"Because my father wishes me to marry a man whom I do not love," replied
Therese, with a candor which yielded to the magic of his glance as the
rose gives her heart's sweet perfume to the wooing of the summer breeze.
"But, Therese," said the emperor, mindful of his promise, "you must obey
your father. It is your duty."
"No--I shall never marry," returned Therese, eagerly.
"Marriage is the only vocation fit for a woman," replied Joseph. "The
wife is commanded to follow her husband."
"Yes, to follow the husband of her love," interrupted she, with
enthusiasm. "And oh, it must be heaven on earth to follow the beloved
one through joy and sorrow, to feel with his heart, to see with his
eyes, to live for his love, or, if God grant such supreme happiness, to
die for his sake!"
"Therese!" exclaimed Joseph, passionately, as, gazing upon her inspired
countenance, he forgot every thing except his love.
She blushed, and her eyes sought the floor. "No," said she, as if
communing with herself, "this blessing I shall never know."
"And why not?" cried he. "Why should one so young, so beautiful, so
gifted as you, cast away the ties of social life and pass within the
joyless portals of a convent?"
Therese said nothing. She sat ashamed, bewildered, entranced; and, in
her confusion, her beauty grew tenfold greater. The emperor's
resolutions were fast melting away.
Again he besought her in tender tones. "Tell me, my Therese; confide in
me, for I swear that your happiness is dearer to me than my life." He
bent closer, and seized her hands. His touch was electric, for a tremor
took possession of them both, and they dared not look at each other.
Joseph recovered himself, and began in low, pleading tones: "Look at me,
beloved, and let me read my answer in your truthful eyes. Look at me,
for those eyes are my light, my life, my heaven!"
Therese could not obey. Her head sank lower and lower, and deep,
convulsive sighs rent her heart. The emperor, scarcely knowing what he
did, knelt before her. She met his glance of intoxicated love, and,
unable to resist it, murmured:
"Because I love--thee."
Had he heard aright? Was it not the trees whispering to the summer air,
or the birds cooing beneath the eaves? Or had an angel borne the message
from that heaven which to-day was so radiant and so silver-bright?
He still knelt, and pressed her trembling hands to his lips, while his
face was lit up with a joy, which Therese had never seen there before.
"Have I found you at last, star of my dark and solitary life?" said he.
"Are you mine at last, shy gazelle, that so long have escaped me,
bounding higher and higher up the icy steeps of this cheerless world?
Oh, Therese, why did I not find you in the early years of life? And yet
I thank Heaven that you are mine for these few fleeting moments, for
they have taken me back to the days of my youth and its beautiful
illusions! Ah, Therese, from the first hour when I beheld you advancing
on your father's arm to greet me, proud as an empress, calm as a vestal,
beautiful as Aphrodite, my heart acknowledged you as its mistress! Since
then I have been your slave, kissing your shadow as it went before me,
and yet riot conscious of my insane passion until your father saw me
with that rose--and then I knew that I loved you forever! Yes, Therese,
you are the last love of an unfortunate man, whom the world calls an
emperor, but who lies at your feet, as the beggar before his ideal of
the glorious Madonna! Bend to me, Madonna, and let me drink my last
draught of love! I shall soon have quaffed it, and then--your father
will be here to remind me that you are a high-born countess, the
priceless treasure of whose love I may not possess! Kiss me, my Therese,
and consecrate my lips to holy resignation!"
And Therese, too bewildered to resist, bent forward. Their lips met, and
his arms were around her, and time, place, station, honor--every thing
vanished before the might of their love.
Suddenly they heard an exclamation--and there, at the porture, stood the
father and the suitor of Therese, their pale and angry faces turned
toward the lovers.
The emperor, burning with shame and fury, sprang to his feet. Therese,
with a faint cry, hid her face in her hands, and, trembling with fear,
awaited her sentence.
There was a deep silence. Each one seemed afraid to speak, for the first
word uttered in that room might be treason. With dark and sullen faces,
the two noblemen looked at the imperial culprit, who, leaning against
the window, with head upturned to heaven, seemed scarcely able to
sustain the weight of his own anguish. The stillness was insupportable,
and it was his duty to break it. He glanced at the two men who,
immovable and frowning, awaited this explanation.
Joseph turned to Therese, who had not yet withdrawn her hands. She felt
as if she could never face the world again.
"Rise, Therese, and give me your hand," said he, authoritatively.
She obeyed at once, and the emperor, pressing that trembling hand within
his own, led her to her father.
"Count Dietrichstein," said he, "you reminded me to-day of the
long-tried loyalty of your house, and asked me, as your reward, to
advise your daughter's acceptance of the husband you have chosen for
her. I have fulfilled my promise, and Therese has consented to obey your
commands. She promises to renounce her dream of entering a convent, and
to become the wife of Count Kinsky. Is it not so, Therese? Have I not
your approval in promising these things to your father?"
"It is so," murmured Therese, turning pale as death.
"And now, Count Dietrichstein," continued Joseph, "I will allow you to
postpone your mission to Brussels, so that before you leave Vienna you
may witness the nuptials of your daughter. In one week the marriage will
be solemnized in the imperial chapel. Count Kinsky, I deliver your bride
into your hands. Farewell! I shall meet you in the chapel."
He bowed, and hurried away. He heard the cry which broke from the lips
of Therese, although he did not turn his head when her father's voice
called loudly for help. But seeing that the countess's maid was walking
in the park, he overtook her, saying, hastily, "Go quickly to the
pavilion; the Countess Therese has fainted."
Then he hastened away, not keeping the walks, but trampling heedlessly
over the flowers, and dashing past the lilacs and laburniuns, thinking
of that fearful hour when Adam was driven from Paradise, and wondering
whether the agony of the first man who sinned had been greater than his
to-day, when the sun was setting upon the last dream of love which he
would ever have in this world!
THE TURKISH WAR.
The bolt had fallen. Russia had declared war against Turkey. On the
return of the emperor from his unfortunate pilgrimage to Count
Dietrichstein's villa, three couriers awaited him from Petersburg,
Constantinople, and Berlin. Besides various dispatches from Count
Cobenzl, the courier from Petersburg brought an autographic letter from
the empress. Catharine reminded the emperor of the promise which he had
made in St. Petersburg, and renewed at Cherson, announced that the hour
had arrived for its fulfilment. The enmity so long smothered under the
ashes of simulated peace had kindled and broken out into the flames of
The Porte himself had broken the peace. On account of some arbitrary act
of the Russian ambassador, he had seized and confined him in the Seven
Towers. Russia had demanded his release, and satisfaction for the
insult. The sultan had replied by demanding the restoration of the
Crimea, and the withdrawal of the Russian fleet from the Black Sea.
The disputants had called in the Austrian internuncio, but all diplomacy
was vain. Indeed, neither Russia, Turkey, nor Austria had placed any
reliance upon the negotiations for peace; for while they were pending,
the three powers were all assiduously preparing for war. In the spring
of 1788, the Austrian internuncio declined any further attempt at
mediation, and hostilities between Russia and Turkey were renewed.
Joseph received the tidings with an outburst of joy. They lifted a load
of grief from his heart; for war, to him, was balsam for every sorrow.
"Now I shall be cured of this last wound!" exclaimed he, as he paced his
cabinet, the dispatches in his hand. "God is merciful--He has sent the
remedy, and once more I shall feel like a sovereign and a man! How I
long to hear the bullets hiss and the battle rage! There are no myrtles
for me on earth; perchance I may yet be permitted to gather its laurels.
Welcome, O war! Welcome the march, the camp, and the battle-field!"
He rang, and commanded the presence of Field-Marshal Lacy. Then he read
his dispatches again, glancing impatiently, from time to tine, at the
door. Finally it opened, and a page announced the field-marshal. Joseph
came hurriedly forward, and grasped the hands of his long-tried friend.
"Lacy," cried he, "from this day you shall be better pleased than you
have been with me of late--I have seen your reproving looks--nay, do
not deny it, for they have been as significant as words; and if I made
no answer, it was perhaps because I was guilty, and had nothing to say.
You have sighed over my dejection for months past, dear friend, but it
has vanished with the tidings I have just received I am ready to rush
out into the storm, bold and defiant as Ajax!"
"Oh, how it rejoices my heart to hear such words!" replied Lacy,
pressing Joseph's hand. "I recognize my hero, my emperor again, and
victory is throned upon his noble brow! With those flashing eyes, and
that triumphant bearing, you will inspire your Austrians with such
enthusiasm, that every man of them will follow whithersoever his
"Ah," cried Joseph, joyfully, "you have guessed, then, why I requested
your presence here! Yes, Lacy, war is not only welcome to you and to me,
but I know that it will also rejoice the hearts of the Austrian army.
And now I invite you to accompany me on my campaign against the Turks,
and I give you chief command of my armies; for your valor and patriotism
entitle you to the distinction."
"Your majesty knows that my life is consecrated to your service,"
replied Laoy, with strong emotion. "You know with what pride I would
fight at your side, secure that victory must always perch upon the
banners of my gallant emperor."
"And you rejoice, do you not, Lacy, that our foe is to be the Moslem?"
Lacy was silent for a while. "I should rejoice from my soul." replied
he, with some hesitation, "if Austria were fighting her own battles."
"Our ally is distasteful to you?" asked Joseph, laughing. "You have not
yet learned to love Russia?"
"I have no right to pass judgment upon those whom your majesty has
deemed worthy of your alliance, sire."
"No evasions, Lacy. You are pledged to truth when you enter these palace
"Well, sire, if we are in the palace of truth, I must confess to a
prejudice against Russia, and Russia's empress. Catharine calls for your
majesty's assistance, not to further the cause of justice or of right,
but to aid her in making new conquests."
"I shall not permit her to make any new conquests!" cried Joseph. "She
may fight out her quarrel with Turkey, and, so far, I shall keep my
promise and sustain her. But I shall lend my sanction to none of her
ambitious schetney. I suffered the Porte to code Tauris to Catharine,
because this cession was of inestimable advantage to me. It protected my
boundaries from the Turk himself, and then it produced dissension
between the courts of St. Petersburg and Berlin and so deprived the
latter of leer powerful ally. [Footnote: The emperor's own words.--See.
Gross-Hofflnger, iii., pp. 428, 429.] But having permitted Russia to
take possession of the Crimea, the aspect of affairs is changed. I never
shall suffer the Russians to establish themselves in Constantinople. The
turban I conceive to be a safer neighbor for Austria than the bat.
[Footnote: The emperor's own words.--See" Letters of Joseph ll.," p.
135.] At this present time Russia offers me the opportunity of retaking
Belgrade, and avenging the humiliation sustained by my father at the
hands of the Porte. For two hundred years these barbarians of the East
have been guilty of bad faith toward my ancestors, and the time has
arrived when, as the avenger of all mankind, I shall deliver Europe from
the infidel, and the world from a race which for centuries has been the
scourge of every Christian nation."
"And in this glorious struggle of Christianity and civilization against
Islamism and barbarism, I shall be at my emperor's side, and witness his
triumph! This is a privilege which the last drop of my blood would be
inadequate to buy!"
The emperor again gave his hand. "I knew that you would be as glad to
follow me as a war-horse to follow the trumpet's call. This time we
shall have no child's play; it shall be war, grim, bloody war! And now
to work. In one hour the courier must depart, who bears my manifesto to
the Porte. No, Lacy," continued the emperor, as Lacy prepared to leave,
"do not go. As commander-in-chief, you should be thoroughly acquainted
with the premises of our affair with Turkey, and you must hear both the
manifestoes which I an about to dictate. The first, of course, declares
war against the Porte. The second is, perhaps, a mere letter to the
successor of the great Frederick. His majesty of Prussia, foreseeing, in
his extreme wisdom, that I am likely to declare war against Turkey, is
so condescending as to offer himself as mediator between us! You shall
hear my answer, and tell me what you think of it."
Lacy bowed, and the emperor opening the door leading to the chancery,
beckoned to his private secretary. He entered, took his seat, and held
his pen ready to indite what Joseph should dictate. Lacy retired to the