Part 4 out of 22
Christina hesitated. She felt as if the balm she was about to bring
would prove more painful than the wounds it was intended to heal.
"Speak, I tell you," cried Joseph angrily. "If you have made use of
Isabella's name to gain access to my presence, it is a trick for which I
will never forgive you. Why did you disturb me? I was with her,"
continued he, staring at the divan where so often they had sat together.
"She wore her white dress and the pink roses, and she smiled with her
enchanting smile. I lay at her feet, I looked into her eyes, I heard the
melody of her voice."
"Did she ever say that she loved you?" asked Christina.
He looked at her intently and grew thoughtful. "I do not know," said he
after a pause, "whether she ever told me so in words. But there needed
no words. I saw her love in every glance, in every smile. Her whole life
was love, and oh! I have lost it forever!"
"You have not lost it, for you never possessed it," said Christina
Joseph drew back and frowned. "What is that?" said be hastily
Christina approached him, and laying her hand upon his shoulder, she
looked into his face until her eyes filled with tears.
"I say," whispered she in a tremulous voice, "do not mourn any longer,
dear brother. For she for whom you grieve, she whom you call your
Isabella, never loved you."
"That is not true," cried Joseph vehemently. "It is a lie, a wicked lie
that you have devised to lessen my grief."
"It is nothing but the truth, and I promised Isabella to tell it to
Joseph sank almost insensible upon the divan. Christina seated herself
near him, and throwing her arms around him, sobbed, "My brother, my
darling brother, think no more of the dead, but turn your heart toward
us; for we love you, and Isabella never did. She merely endured your
"Endured my love!" murmured Joseph, and his head sank powerless upon
Christina's bosom. But suddenly he rose, and looking with a beseeching
expression at his sister's beautiful face, he said
"Bethink you, Christina, of what you do. Think that I love Isabella with
all the strength and glow of my heart; think that for me she was the
embodiment of all beauty, goodness, and purity. Do not seek to comfort
me by destroying my faith in the truth of the only woman I have ever
loved. In whom shall I have faith, if not in her? If HER love was a lie,
is there love in this world? Oh, Christina, in mercy say that you have
sought to comfort by deceiving me!"
"I have sought to comfort you, by telling you the truth. If you will not
believe me, believe her own words."
She drew a paper from her dress and handed it to Joseph. "It is a
letter," said she, "which Isabella gave me, and she made me swear that I
would fulfil its behests. Read, and be satisfied."
Joseph unfolded the letter. "It is her handwriting," said he to himself,
and he tried to read it but in vain; his hand trembled, and his eyes
filled with tears.
He gave it back to Christina, who read it aloud:
"My Christina--confidant of my sufferings and sorrow--hear my dying
request. To you I leave the task of consoling my husband. His noble
tears shall not be shed over the grave of one who is unworthy of them.
Tell him the truth, tell him all you know, show him this letter, and bid
him not grieve for one who never loved him. Do this for me, it is my
last request. ISABELLA."
Suddenly, from the adjoining room, the sweet tones of music were heard;
the air was tremulous with melody, which at first soft and low, swelled
louder and louder until it filled the room with a gush of harmony that
stirred the hearts of those who listened with sweetest and holiest
Joseph bent eagerly forward. He knew those strains so well! He
remembered the night when Isabella's tears had fallen among the
rose-leaves, and he had kissed them away. He saw her once more in the
pride of her beauty, looking at him from the depths of those glorious
dark eyes which he had so madly loved. The music gave life and being to
these memories, and its glamour brought back the dead from her grave! He
remembered how he had asked her if she loved him, and how, avoiding the
words so difficult to speak, she had answered with the witching tones of
her violin. Oh, that heavenly evening hour upon the balcony! She had
said, "Love has its own language: come and listen." And Christina said
SHE HAD NOT LOVED! He could not, would not believe her!
He took the letter from Christina's hand and kissed the paper. "I do not
believe you," he said softly. "My trust in her is like my sorrow--for
This imperturbable faith had the effect of hardening Christina, and
making her cruel. "You shall believe me," said she hastily. "You shall
see in her own handwriting that she loved another."
"ANOTHER! "cried the wretched husband. "I will kill him!"
"He died before you ever knew her," said Christina, frightened at the
effect of her own heartlessness.
A smile overspread his face. "Dead, before I knew her! Then she forgot
him when I loved her." He took up the letter and read it again. "Oh,"
said he, "see how magnanimous was my Isabella. She has been false to her
own heart that she might save me from sorrow. She thought it would dry
my tears to think that she did not love me. Oh, beloved, I see through
thy noble falsehood--in death as in life I know every working of that
Christina said nothing, but she grew more inflexible in her purpose. "He
shall be convinced," said she to herself. "I will give him her letters
to me, and then he will know that he never has been loved."
Again pealed forth the sounds of that heavenly music. Now the violin,
mingling with the tones of the harpsichord, glide into a melody of
divinest beauty; and the full, rich tones of a woman's voice warbled the
complaint of Orpheus: "Che faro senza Eurydice!"
Joseph sighed convulsively, and a faint color tinged his pale cheeks.
This was Isabella's favorite air; and once more the vision started up
before him, once more he saw the tears, he kissed them, and looked into
the depths of those starry eyes!
He rose from the divan, and, drawn thither by a power which he could not
contend, he left the room, and followed the music that was calling him
from madness back to reason.
At the harpsichord sat Ritter Gluck, and by him stood the Archduchess
Elizabeth, whose rich and beautiful voice had exorcised the evil spirit.
The emperor and empress, with all their children, came forward to meet
the unhappy one, and all with tearful eyes kissed and welcomed him with
tender words of love.
Gluck alone seemed not to have seen the archduke. He was chiding
Elizabeth for singing falsely, and called upon her to repeat her song.
Nevertheless, while he corrected his pupil, the big tears were coursing
one another down his cheeks, and fell upon his hands, as they wandered
over the instrument, enrapturing every ear.
Elizabeth began again; and again were heard the heart-breaking tones of
"Che faro senza Eurydice!"
All eyes turned upon the bereaved Orpheus. The empress opened her arms,
and completely subdued, he darted to his mother's heart, and cried out,
"Che faro senza Eurydice!"
Again and again the mother kissed her weeping son. The emperor folded
them both to his loving heart. The brothers and sisters wept for mingled
grief and joy. Elizabeth's voice failed her, and she sang no more. But
Gluck played on, his hands weaving new strains of harmony such as earth
had never heard before. His head thrown back, his eyes upturned toward
heaven, his face beaming with inspiration, he listened to his music,
while from Joseph's anguish was born the wonderful song in Alceste, "No
crudel, no posso vivere, to to sai, senza de te."
The melody went on, the parents caressed their child, and on his
mother's bosom Joseph wept the last tears of his great youthful sorrow.
The dream of love was over! Grief had made of him a man.
KING OF ROME.
FATHER PORHAMMER AND COUNT KAUNITZ.
The empress paced her cabinet with hasty steps. Near the large table,
covered with papers of state, stood Father Porhammer.
"Are you sure of what you say?" said Maria Theresa with impatience. "Are
you sure that the lord chancellor so far forgets his honor and dignity
as to spend his hours of leisure in the company of disreputable
actresses? Is it true that his house is the scene of shameful orgies and
"It is even so, your majesty," replied Porhammer. "It is unhappily true
that he whom your majesty has raised to the first place in the empire
"The first place!" echoed the empress angrily. "Know, sir, that the
first place in the empire is mine. From God I hold my power and my
crown, and I depute them to no man--I alone reign in Austria."
"Your majesty," resumed the father, "did not allow me to finish. I was
about to say that he whom your majesty has made your most illustrious
subject, he who ought to give to all your subjects an example of moral
conduct, is a profligate and libertine. That infamous school of Paris,
where reigns the wanton Marquise de Pompadour, the debauched court of
"Hold, father, and remember that France is Austria's dearest ally,"
interrupted the empress.
The father bowed. "The school of Parisian gallantry, of which the lord
chancellor is a graduate, has borne its fruits. Count Kaunitz mocks at
religion, chastity, and every other virtue. Instead of giving an
honorable mistress to his house, it is the home of Foliazzi, the singer,
who holds him fast with her rosy chains."
"We must send her away from Vienna."
"Ah, your majesty, if you send her, Count Kaunitz will go with her. He
cannot live without La Foliazzi. Even when he comes hither to your
majesty's august presence, La Foliazzi is in his coach, and she awaits
his return at the doors of the imperial palace."
"Impossible! I will not believe such scandalous reports. Count Kaunitz
never would dare bring his mistresses to my palace doors; he never would
have the audacity to treat his official visits to myself as episodes in
a life of lasciviousness with an unchaste singer. You shall withdraw
your words, Father Porhammer, or you shall prove them."
"I will prove them, your majesty."
Just then the door opened, and a page announced the lord chancellor,
"Admit Count Kaunitz," said the empress, "and you, Father Porhammer,
The father withdrew within the embrasure of a window, while the lord
chancellor followed the page into the presence of the empress. The
count's face was as fair and his cheeks as rosy as ever; he wore the
same fantastic peruke of his own invention, and his figure was as
straight and slender as it had ever been. Ten years had gone by since he
became prime minister, but nothing had altered HIM. So marble-like his
face, that age could not wrinkle, nor care trace a line upon its stony
He did not wait for the imperial greeting, but came forward in his
careless, unceremonious way, not as though he stood before his
sovereign, but as if he had come to visit a lady of his own rank.
"Your majesty sees," said he, with a courteous inclination of the head,
"that I use the permission which has been granted me, of seeking an
audience whenever the state demands it. As I come, not to intrude upon
your majesty with idle conversation, but to speak of grave and important
matters of state, I do not apologize for coming unbidden."
The easy and unembarrassed manner in which Kaunitz announced himself had
its effect upon the empress. She who was so accustomed to give vent to
the feelings of the moment, overcame her displeasure and received her
minister with her usual affability.
"Your majesty, then, will grant an audience to your minister of state?"
said Kaunitz, looking sharply at the priest who stood unconcerned at the
"Since the lord chancellor comes at such an unusual hour," replied the
empress, "I must conclude that his business is of an imperative nature.
I am therefore ready to hear him."
Kaunitz bowed, and then turning with an arrogant gesture toward the
empress's confessor, he said, "Do you hear, Father Porhammer? the
empress will hold a council with me."
"I hear it, my lord," said the priest.
"Then as we are not on the subject of religion, you will have the
goodness to leave the room."
"I was ordered by her majesty to remain," replied Father Porhammer
Kaunitz turned toward the empress, who, with knit and angry brow, was
listening to her minister.
"If it be the empress's pleasure," said he, bowing, "I will take the
liberty of retiring until her majesty is at leisure for earthly affairs.
Religion and politics are not to be confounded together; the former
being the weightier subject of the two, I give way."
He bowed again, and was about to leave the room, when the empress
"Stay!" said she. "Father Porhammer will leave us for a while."
Without a word, the father bowed and withdrew.
"Now speak, Count Kaunitz," said the empress, hastily, "and let the
affair be important that has led you to drive my confessor, in such an
uncourteous fashion, from my presence."
"Weighty, most weighty is the news that concerns the imperial house of
Austria," said Kaunitz, with his unruffled equanimity. "A courier has
brought me tidings of the archduke's election as King of Rome."
"Is that all?" said Maria Theresa. "That is no news. The voice of Prussia
decided that matter long ago; and this is the only advantage we have
ever reaped from our long and terrible war with Frederick?"
"No, your majesty, no, this is not the only thing we have obtained. This
war has yielded us material advantages. It has increased the military
strength of the country; it has placed before the eyes of all Europe the
inexhaustible nature of Austria's resources; it has brought all the
little Germanic principalities under Austria's dominion. It has united
Hungary, Sclavonia, Italy, Bohemia, and Lombardy under Austria's flag
and Austria's field-marshals. Indeed, your majesty, this war has given
us something of far more value than Prussia's vote. The bloody baptism
of the battle-field has made Austrians of all those who bled for
"That does not prevent that abominable man from clinging to my fair
domain of Silesia. How will my ancestor, the great Charles, greet me
when I go to my grave, bearing the tidings that under my reign Austria
has been shorn of a principality?"
"No such tidings shall your majesty bear to your forefathers," replied
Kaunitz, fervently. "Leave Frederick alone with his bit of a
principality; more trouble than profit may it be to him! Long before he
will have transformed his Silesian Austrians into loyal Prussians, we
shall have repaired the damage he has done us by new and richer
"No, no, no!" cried the empress, "let us have no more war. What we do
not possess by just right, I never will consent to win with the sword."
"But inheritance and alliance bestow rights," persisted the minister.
"Your majesty has marriageable daughters and sons, and it is time to
think of negotiating honorable alliances for them."
The eyes of the empress sparkled, and her face beamed with happy smiles.
The establishment of her children was her constant thought by night and
day, and in broaching this subject, Kaunitz was meeting her dearest
wishes. Her displeasure against him melted away like snow before the
sun, and she gave herself up entirely to the pleasing discussion.
"It will be difficult to find husbands for my daughters" said she. "All
the reigning heads of European families are married, and their sons are
too young for Elizabeth and Amelia. I cannot marry my grown-up daughters
to boys; nor can I bring a set of insignificant sons-in-law to hang
about the court. My husband the emperor would never consent to bestow
his daughters upon petty princes, who, instead of bringing influence
with them, would derive their reflected consequence from an alliance
with us. If we cannot find them husbands worthy of their station, my
daughters must remain single, or devote their lives to God."
"If your majesty's eldest daughters choose that holy vocation, politics
need not interfere with their inclinations, the boyish heirs of European
kingdoms can await the advent of the younger princesses."
"Let them wait," said the empress; "we will train noble queens for
"But the Archduke Leopold need not wait," said Kaunitz; "we will begin
with him. The Spanish ambassador has received from his sovereign, Carlos
IV., a letter directing him to offer his daughter Maria Louisa to your
majesty's second son. Knowing that his highness the Archduke Joseph is
your majesty's successor, he supposes that the Emperor Francis will
bestow upon his second son the grand duchy of Tuscany. "
"A very good alliance," returned Maria Theresa, nodding her head. "The
women of the house of Bourbon are all estimable. Our lost Isabella was a
lovely woman. Well, the grand-daughter of the King of Spain having died,
let us renew our connection with him through his daughter; and may God
grant to Leopold happier nuptials than were those of my poor Joseph."
"The Archduke Joseph, too, must marry," said Kaunitz. "Poor Joseph!"
sighed the empress; "even now his heart is full of sorrow; and while he
mourns his dead, we make plans to marry him to another! But you are
right, count; he must marry. We cannot listen to his heart, he must
sacrifice himself to duty. Austria must have another heir. But let us
give him a little respite."
"He will forget his sorrow when he is crowned King of Rome," said
Kaunitz. "Ambition is certain to cure love; and the possession of a
crown may well console any man for the loss of a woman."
Maria Theresa was displeased. "Do you deem it, then, so light a thing?"
said she, with a frown, "to lose a beloved wife? Do you think it great
happiness to wear a crown? You know nothing either of the pains of power
or the joys of marriage; but I can tell you that many a time I would
have fainted under the burden of my crown, had my Franz not sustained me
with his loving and beloved hand. But what know you of love? Your heart
is a market-place wherein you seek slaves for your harem, but no
honorable woman would make it her home. I have heard scandalous reports
concerning your house, Count Kaunitz; I have--"
A light knock was heard at the door, and as the empress gave the word,
Father Porhammer entered the room.
Father Porhammer came forward, while the empress looked at him with a
glance of astonishment.
"Forgive me, your majesty, for this intrusion. It is in accordance with
your gracious commands, whose fulfilment I have no right to delay. I was
ordered by your majesty to prove the fact which I asserted."
"Well, have you the proof?" said the empress, impatiently.
"I have, your majesty. It is in the carriage of the lord chancellor, at
the great door of the palace."
The empress made an exclamation; and her face grew scarlet with anger.
Her stormy looks rested upon Kaunitz, who, perfectly unconcerned, seemed
not to have heard what Porhammer had said. This undisturbed serenity on
the part of her minister gave the empress time for recollection. She
knew from experience that the lightning of her wrath would play
harmlessly about the head of this living statue, and she felt more
keenly than she had ever done before, that however Kaunitz's private
life might shock her own sense of honor and decency, his vast intellect
as minister of state was indispensable to Austria.
With a quick and haughty gesture, she motioned the priest away, and then
began to pace up and down the length of the apartment.
Kaunitz remained tranquil near the table, his cold glances resting now
on the papers, now on the pictures that hung opposite to him. He was
busily engaged arranging his Alengon ruffles, when the empress stopped,
and fixed her fiery eyes upon him.
"My lord chancellor, Count Kaunitz, tell me who sits in your carriage
before the doors of my palace, awaiting your return from this
"Who sits in my carriage, your majesty? I was not aware that any one was
there whose name it was necessary for me to announce to your imperial
"I can well believe that you would not dare to pronounce the name of
that person in my presence," cried the empress, indignantly "but let me
tell you, sir count, that your behavior is highly displeasing to me, and
that I blush to hear the things I do, to the disparagement of your honor
"Has your majesty any complaint to make of me as minister, or as
president of council?" asked Kaunitz, almost roughly. "Have I not
fulfilled the vows I made to your majesty ten years ago? Have I
discharged my duties carelessly? The ship of state which, in her hour of
peril, was confided to my hands, have I not steered her safely through
rocks and reefs? Or, have I been unfaithful to my trust? If your majesty
can convict me of crime, or even of negligence, then sit in judgment
upon the culprit. Tell me of what state offence am I accused?"
"I do not speak of my prime minister," replied the empress somewhat
embarrassed. "I have no fault to find with HIM. On the contrary, he has
nobly kept the pledge he made to me and to my Austria, and he has been a
wise, faithful, and conscientious servant. But this is not enough; there
are also duties to perform toward God, toward society, and toward one's
"For your majesty, as well as for me, it suffices that I am true to my
duties as your subject. As to my duty as a man, this is no place to
discuss a matter which lies between God and myself it would be
indecorous for me to raise the veil of my private life before the eyes
of your majesty. I came here to speak of Austria's welfare and yours,
not of me or mine."
Without giving the empress time to make any reply, Kaunitz resumed the
subject which had been interrupted by the visit of Father Porhammer.
"Though your majesty may deem it expedient to postpone the marriage of
the Archduke Joseph, still, that need not prevent us from taking the
steps that will be necessary to secure an advantageous alliance for the
heir to the throne. We can grant a respite to the Archduke of Austria,
but the King of Rome must stifle his grief, and attend to the calls of
duty. He must silence his heart, for the Emperor of Austria must have a
"At least let us choose him a bride worthy to succeed in his affections
the angelic wife he has lost," said the empress, with feeling.
Something like a smile flitted over Kaunitz's sardonic face. "Your
majesty must pardon me, but you view this matter entirely too much as a
thing of sentiment; whereas, in effect, it is an affair of policy. The
main object of the archduke's marriage is to find a princess whose
family can advance the interests of the state, and who is in a condition
to bear children."
"And have you already found such a wife for my poor child?" asked the
empress. "Have you one to propose whom policy will approve, and who will
not be distasteful to the eye or the heart?"
"She must be a German princess," said Kaunitz.
"Because the house of Hapsburg must court the good-will of all Germany,
which, through this long war and from the divided interests of the
German people, it is in danger of losing. Prussia, grown morally strong
by the war, is about to become the rival of Austria, and even now she
seeks to have a voice in German politics. Northern Germany already
inclines to Prussia by its sympathies of creed and opinion. If we allow
this to go on, Prussia will divide Germany into two halves. The northern
half, that which is Protestant, and in my opinion the wiser half,
because free from the prejudices of religion, will belong to enlightened
Prussia; the southern half, the bigoted Catholic portion, that which
believes in the pope and his Jesuits, may perhaps adhere to Austria.
Then comes revolution. Prussia will have for her allies, not only
northern Germany, but Sweden, England, Holland, Denmark, even Russia.
Every step she takes in advance will drive back Austria; and the day may
come when Prussia, our powerful enemy, will seek for the Margrave of
Brandenburg the crown of the Kaisers."
"Never! never!" exclaimed Maria Theresa, passionately--"To think of this
little Burgrave of Nuremberg, the vassal of Rudolf of Hapsburg, growing
to be the rival of the stately house of Austria! No, no! Never shall the
day dawn when Austria descends to an equality with Prussia! We are
natural enemies; we can no more call the Brandenburgs brothers than the
eagle can claim kindred with the vulture! You are right, count; the
strife of the battle-field is over, let us gird ourselves for that of
diplomacy. Let us be wary and watchful; not only the state but the holy
church is in danger. I can no longer allow this prince of infidels to
propagate his unbelief or his Protestantism throughout my Catholic
fatherland. We are the ally and the daughter of our holy father, the
pope, and we must be up and doing for God and for our country. Now let
us think how we are to check this thirst of Prussia for power."
"There are two expedients," said Kaunitz, calmly interrupting the
empress in her torrent of indignation.
"Let us hear them."
"The first one is to strengthen our interest with Germany either by
offers of advantages and honors, payment of subsidies; or by matrimonial
alliances. For this reason it is that the future king of Rome must
choose his wife among the princesses of Germany. Through your majesty's
other children we will ally ourselves to the rest of Europe. The
Bourbons reign in the south, and they must all be allied to the house of
Hapsubrg. Through the marriage of Archduke Leopold with the daughter of
the King of Spain, we shall gain a powerful ally; and the archduke
himself, as Grand Duke of Tuscany, will represent Austria's interest in
Italy. If the Crown Prince of Parma and the young King of Naples unite
themselves to two of your majesty's daughters, then all Italy will be
leagued with Austria. When this is accomplished, the word 'Italy' will
be a geographical designation, but the country will be an Austrian
dependency. Now for Western Europe. For France, we must confirm our
alliance with her also. The son of the dauphin, the grandson of Louis
XV., is now eleven years old; just three years older than the
Archduchess Marie Antoinette."
"Truly, Kaunitz, your plans are great," cried the empress, her face full
of smiles and radiant with joy. "The emperor often calls me a
match-maker, but I am an insignificant schemer by YOUR side. I must say
that I approve your plans, and will do all that I can to insure them
"The most of them are for the future; before all things we must bestir
ourselves about the present. You have seen how later, we can secure the
friendship of the south; that of the north must come through the
marriage of the King of Rome. His selection of a German princess will
incline all Germany toward your majesty's imperial house. Naarest to
Prussia are the two important principalities of Bavaria and Saxony."
"And both have unmarried princesses," exclaimed the empress, joyfully.
"I wish we might select the daughter of the Elector of Saxony, for that
house has suffered so much for Austria, that I would gladly do it this
favor. But I have heard that the Princess Mary Kunigunde has very few
"Perhaps Josepha of Bavaria may be handsomer," said Kaunitz dryly.
"She is nevertheless the daughter of Charles VII., and he has never been
my friend. I have suffered much from this man, and would you have me
accept his daughter as mine?"
"There can be no resentment for bygones in politics," said Kaunitz,
"But there may be gratitude for past services," exclaimed the empress,
warmly. "I shall never forget how Hungary sustained me when this man
would have robbed me of my crown. I never would have worn my imperial
diadem but for the help of God, and the sword of St. Stephen, which my
brave Magyars drew for me on the battle-field! Without Hungary I would
have been dethroned, and shall I now place the crown of St. Stephen's
upon the brow of an enemy's daughter! It would be an injustice to my
loyal Hungarians. I shall give my voice to Mary of Saxony, but if Joseph
prefers Josepha, I will not oppose his choice. And this matter settled,
tell me your other plans for strengthening the power of Austria."
"My second plan is to humanize the Hungarian nobles. These nobles reign
in Hungary like so many petty sovereigns. There is no such thing as
nationality among them. The country is divided into nobles and vassals.
The nobles are so powerful that the government is completely lost sight
of, and the real sovereigns of Hungary are the Magyars."
"That is in some sense true," answered the empress. "I have often felt
how dangerous to my rights was the arrogance of my Hungarian subjects.
They lift their haughty heads too near the regions of royalty."
"And your majesty's great ancestor, Charles V. once said that nothing
had a right to lift its head in the vicinity of a king. The very trees
would he lop, that their branches might not grow too near to heaven; how
much more the heads of men, when they were raised too high."
"But such a policy shall never be mine--I will never buy obedience with
oppression. Besides, I have already said that I am under obligations to
my Hungarian nobles, and I will not injure a hair of their heads."
"There are other ways of conquering besides the sword," said the crafty
Kaunitz. "Coercion would but fortify the Magyars in their insolence.
These haughty lords must be enticed from their fastnesses to Vienna.
They must be greeted with honors, titles, and estates. They must be
taught to love splendor, to spend money, to accumulate debts, until they
become bankrupt, and their possessions in Hungary fall into the hands of
"What an infamous policy!" cried the empress.
"Good, nevertheless," said Kaunitz calmly. "Nothing can be done with the
Magyars by force. They must be vanquished by pleasure, and also by
marriage. They must be made to take home Viennese wives, who will
initiate them into the arts of refined life, who will help them to waste
their money, and so cut off the wings of their freedom. He who has
learned to love pleasure will have no taste for sedition, and he who is
in debt is no longer free. Your majesty must bestow gifts and places at
court; the Magyars will grow ambitious--they will become hangers-on of
princes, and--dissipation, ostentation, and extravagance will do the
While Kaunitz was unfolding his satanic schemes, the empress walked up
and down, in visible agitation. When he ceased, she came and stood
before him, and with her searching eyes tried to look through the mask
of his impenetrable countenance.
"What you have said there," said she, "is a mournful leaf from the book
of worldly wisdom which guides your actions, and it is enough to make an
honest heart ache to think that good is to be reached by such foul
means. My heart struggles against such a course, but my head approves
it, and I dare not listen to my womanly scruples, for I am a sovereign.
May the wiles of the women of Vienna make loyal subjects of my brave
Hungarians! I will bestow honors without end; but for aught else, let it
come as it may. Extravagance, debt, and sequestration, they must bring
"They will follow; and then sequestered estates must go to Austrian
nobles, that our own people may mingle with the Magyars at home, and
strengthen the influence of your majesty's house in Hungary."
"Say no more," said the empress, mournfully. "Bring them hither, if you
can. But my heart aches, and my ears burn to have heard what you have
said. Say no more of Hungary to me--let us speak of our bright plans for
my children. It makes me happy to think that so many of them will wear
"The first will be that of the King of Rome, and I trust that, before
his coronation, your majesty will have persuaded him to marry one of the
two German princesses of whom we have spoken."
"The Saxon or the Bavarian," said the empress. "I think he will
comply--for he will understand as well as ourselves the urgency of the
case. When is the coronation to take place?"
"In two weeks, your majesty." "Then poor Joseph has but fourteen days
for his grief. When he returns from Frankfort, I shall remind him of his
duty as a sovereign. But hark! It is twelve o'clock--the hour for mass.
If the lord chancellor has nothing more to propose, I--"
"Pardon me, your majesty. I have an insignificant petition to
present--it concerns myself."
"It is a pleasure to me," said Maria Theresa, "to think that in any way
I can gratify you. Speak, then, without fear. What can I do to serve
"It is only for the sake of decorum, your majesty," replied Kaunitz.
"You say that I have been useful to the country. I confess that I, too,
think that I deserve something from Austria. If I were another man, and
Kaunitz stood by, as I reviewed in my mind all that he has done and is
trying still to do to make Austria powerful, I would speak thus to your
majesty: 'It is in the power of the empress to distinguish merit by
elevating it to a position above the common herd. Your majesty has
honored Count Kaunitz by calling him your right hand. When the head of a
body politic is an empress, it is not enough for the right hand to be
called a count.'"
"Shall I call you prince?" laughed Maria Theresa.
"Just what I was about to propose to your majesty," said Kaunitz, as he
made a deeper inclination than usual before the empress.
"Then it shall be so," said she, warmly. "From this moment my esteemed
minister is Prince Kaunitz, and the letters patent shall be made out
this very day."
She extended her hand to the new-made prince, who kissed it fervently.
"I take this title, so graciously bestowed, not because it will confer
splendor upon my own name, but because it will prove to the world that
those who serve Maria Theresa with fidelity, she delights to honor. And
now that this trifling matter is arranged, I beg your majesty's
permission to retire."
"Until to-morrow," replied the empress, with a smile.
She waved her hand; but as Kaunitz left the room, he heard her following
him into the anteroom. He had already opened the door leading into the
hall, but hearing her still advance, he turned again, and made a
"Au revoir, my dear prince," said the empress, loud enough for Father
Porhammer, who waited to accompany her to the chapel, to hear her
The father could not withhold some trace of his displeasure from his
countenance, while Kaunitz, with a faint, derisive smile, passed on. The
empress, at that moment, reopened the door, and came out into the hall.
Father Porhammer, advancing to her, said, "Did I not prove to your
majesty the truth of my statement concerning the immorality of--"
"The what?" said the empress, with an absent air. "Oh yes, yes. I had
forgotten. You wished to prove to me that the lord chancellor had some
person in his carriage awaiting his return. I believe you,
father--doubtless there is some one in the carriage of the lord
chancellor, whom it would be improper to name in my presence. But listen
to what I have to say on this subject. It is better for you and for me
not to see what goes on either in the lord chancellor's house or in his
carriage. Close your eyes, as I shall mine, to whatever is objectionable
in his life. I cannot afford to lose his services. So far as I am
concerned, he is blameless. His life may be loose, but his loyalty is
firm; he is a wise and great statesman, and that, you will allow, is a
virtue which may well cover a multitude of sins."
Father Porhammer bowed to the will of his sovereign; Prince Kaunitz went
on with his life of debauchery.
"Let us hasten to the chapel," added the empress; and a page throwing
open the doors of another apartment, Maria Theresa joined her lords and
ladies in waiting, and the imperial court entered the chapel.
But the thoughts of the empress were more of earth than heaven, on that
morning. Her heart was filled with maternal cares, and when the services
were over, and she had arrived at the door of her cabinet, she dismissed
her attendants, and summoned to her presence the marshal of the
household, Count Dietrichstein.
As soon as he appeared, Maria Theresa said eagerly: "Come hither, count.
I wish to have a confidential conversation with you. You are an old and
faithful servant of my family, and I know that I can depend upon your
"Your majesty well knows that I would sooner die than betray a secret of
my imperial mistress," exclaimed good, fat, old Dietrichstein,
The empress looked kindly at his real, good-humored face. "And you would
rather die than tell me an untruth also, is it not so?" said she,
"That," replied Count Dietrichstein, with another smile, "that is an
embarrassing question; for there are cases, when even your majesty's
"Yes, yes; but in this instance I earnestly desire to hear the
"If so, your majesty's desire is for me a command, and I will answer
truthfully whatever you ask."
"Well, then, listen to me. You have just returned from a tour in Bavaria
and Saxony. Of course you have seen the two princesses. Mary Kunigunde
"I know them both," said Dietrichstein, puffing.
"Well, tell me what sort of person is the Princess Mary Kunigunde?"
"She is slender," replied Dietrichstein, shrugging his shoulders;
"slender as a bean-pole. If your majesty will pardon me the expression
in favor of its truth, her bones rattle as she walks, and if you should
chance to touch her by accident, I pity you."
"Because you will retreat from the collision bruised."
"You are a wicked slanderer, count," replied the empress. "You mean to
say that the Princess of Saxony is frail and feminine in her
"If your majesty pleases, so be it; but if you looked into her serene
Highness's face, you might mistake her for a man, nevertheless."
"Holy Virgin! what does the man mean?" cried the empress, astounded.
"I mean," said the count, with a sort of comic seriousness, "that the
frail and feminine princess has a black beard which a cornet might
"Nonsense, count! you saw her at twilight, and mistook a shadow on her
face for a beard."
"Pardon me, your majesty, you commanded me to tell the truth. I saw the
princess by sunlight as well as by candlelight. Under all circumstances,
this black shadow overhung her not very small mouth; and I have strong
reason for persisting in my opinion that it was a flourishing beard."
"But Josepha of Bavaria--is she handsomer?"
"Handsomer, your majesty," cried the old count. "It is said that she is
a good and estimable person; if this be true, her soul is very, very
different from her body. Indeed, her beauty may be said to rival that of
the Princess Mary."
"You are a keen critic," sighed the empress. "But suppose you were
obliged to marry either one of the princesses, which one would you
"Your majesty!" exclaimed the old count, horror stricken. "I never would
have the assurance to raise my eyes to thoughts of marriage with a
"Well, then," said the empress, "suppose you were a prince and her equal
in birth, which one then would you prefer?"
The count looked at the floor, and was silent.
"The truth, the truth!" cried the empress. "Speak out and do not fear.
Whatever you say shall be sacred with me. Now tell me, which of the two
would you take to wife?"
"Well, then," said Count Dietrichstein, with a grimace of excessive
disgust, "since your majesty obliges me to suppose the case, I will tell
the truth. If by any artifice I could escape, nothing on earth would
induce me to marry either one of them. But if the knife were at my
throat, and I had no other way of saving my life, I would take the
Princess Josepha, for she--"
"Speak out," said the empress, amused, though sorely disappointed. "You
would marry Josepha of Bavaria because--"
"Because," sighed the fat old count, "if she is horribly ugly, she has,
at least, something like a woman's bosom."
Maria Theresa broke out into a hearty laugh. "You are right," said she,
"the reason is a very good one, and has its weight. I thank you for your
candor, and will turn over in my mind what you have told me."
"But your majesty has promised not to betray me," protested the count
with imploring look.
"And I will keep my promise faithfully," replied the empress, reaching
him her hand. "Nevertheless, I cling to the hope that you have
exaggerated the defects of the princesses, and that they are not
altogether as ugly as you have pictured them to me." [Footnote: This
conversation is historical, and the criticism of Count Dietrichstein
upon the two princesses, as here related, is almost verbatim. See
Wraxall's "Memoirs," vol. ii., page 406.]
JOSEPHA OF BAVARIA.
Festivity reigned at the court and throughout the city of Vienna. The
weather was cold, but the streets were thronged with people and hung
with garlands. Nothing was thought of but balls, illuminations, and
dress. Every one was curious to see the splendid spectacle of the
day--the entrance of the bride of the King of Rome into Vienna.
The plans of the lord chancellor were beginning to unfold themselves.
The Archduke Joseph had been crowned King of Rome at Frankfort, and the
empress on his return, had prepared him for his second bridal. He had
stoutly refused at first, but finally had yielded to the reasonings of
his mother and the persuasions of his father. He had been told to choose
between Mary Kunigunde and Josepha.
Not far from Toplitz, as if by accident, he met the Princess Mary out on
a hunting party. The princess was on horseback; but she rode awkwardly,
and her demeanor was shy and ungraceful. She well knew the object of
this casual meeting, and when the King of Rome approached to greet her,
she turned pale and trembled as she felt the gaze of his large blue
eyes. Her paleness did not increase her beauty, nor did her shyness
contribute to make her interesting. Joseph was annoyed at her
taciturnity and disgusted with her ugliness. After a few brief words he
bowed, and galloped off to join his retinue. The princess looked sadly
after him, and returned home with a troubled heart. She knew that she
had been disdained, and that the King of Rome would never choose her for
She was right. Joseph preferred the Princess Josepha, whom he had also
"met by chance." He, like Count Dietrichstein, having the knife at his
throat, selected her for his bride who was minus the flourishing black
It was the 22d of January of the year 1765, and the wedding-day of the
King of Rome. From early morning the archduchesses at the palace had
been practising a lyric drama from the pen of Metastasio called "Il
Parnasso Confuso." The music was by Gluck, and his deep bass was heard
accompanying the sweet rich voices of the bridegroom's sisters. They had
studied their parts diligently, and felt quite confident of success, as
they gathered around the maestro. But Gluck was never satisfied, and he
kept Apollo and the Muses at their music-lesson until their ladies of
honor were obliged to inform them that they must positively retire to
their toilets, a courier having arrived to say that the princess had
entered the gates of the city.
While all these preparations were going on around him, the King of Rome
tarried in his private apartments. He was in the room wherein he had
locked himself after the death of Isabella, the room where day and night
he had deplored his lost happiness, until Christina had so rudely
awakened him from his dream of love and sorrow.
This miserable consolation had had its effect. Joseph wiped away his
tears, and having read Isabella's letters and convinced himself that she
never had loved him, he had forborne to murmur at her loss.
On this, his bridal-day, he was thinking of the time when alone and
heart-broken he had paced this room for three days and nights; and now,
surrounded by festivity and splendor, he paced the floor again, awaiting
the moment when he should have to mount his horse and meet the princess.
He was not with the living bride, but with the dead one; and as he
thought of her grace, her smiles, her surpassing beauty, his lip curled
with a sneer, and his brow grew dark and stormy.
"And she, too, deceived me," said he; "those smiles, those glances, that
love, all were false. While she lay in my arms and listened to my words
of love, her heart was in the grave with her murdered lover! Oh, my God!
now that I know that she deceived me, in whom can I place my trust? Even
now, what am I but a dependent boy, the slave of the empress and of her
all-powerful minister, who force upon me a woman whom I hate, and bid me
make her the mother of my children? Oh, when will my shackles fall, when
shall I be free!"
In the distance was heard the dull sound of a cannon. "Already!" cried
the unhappy bridegroom. "It is time for me to meet my bride, and to
begin the loathsome farce of a second bridal. Verily, if I did not hate
this Josepha, I could pity her. She will not find me a loving husband.
The Queen of Rome will never be an enviable woman!"
So saying, he threw around his shoulders his velvet cloak edged with
ermine, and left the room to join his retinue. They were to meet the
princess and accompany her to the castle of Schonbrunn. It was there
that the imperial family awaited the bridal party, and there in the
chapel the marriage was to be solemnized.
The streets were thronged with people that shouted for joy: the
balconies and windows were filled with elegant women, who smiled and
waved their hands in greeting to the royal pair. For all the world this
was a day of rejoicing, except for the two persons for whose sake the
rest rejoiced. These had no part in the universal gayety; and the mirth
which was inspired by their presence found no echo in their
souls--Joseph's heart was full of dislike and ill-will toward his
betrothed, and she was unhappy, fearing the reception that awaited her.
She had trembled as she thought of the meeting with Joseph, and then of
the proud, powerful, and beautiful woman who was his mother. The fame of
her intellect, fascinations, and beauty had reached the court of Munich,
and poor Josepha knew very well that SHE was neither handsome,
cultivated, nor charming. Her education had been neglected, and if she
had attained to the honor of being Queen of Rome and Empress-elect of
Austria, it was not that she had any right to a station so exalted, it
was that her brother was childless and had promised his inheritance to
Josepha was sad as she thought of these things, but she could not
suppress an emotion of joy when she saw the brilliant cortege hat was
coming from Vienna to meet her. This proud and handsome horseman, whose
blue eyes shone like stars, this was her husband, the lord of her
destiny! She had seen him once before, and had loved him from that
moment. True, he had not chosen her from inclination, but she could not
shut her heart to the bliss of being his wife, he who, to-day a king,
would in future years place an imperial crown upon her brow.
And now the two cavalcades met; the carriage of the princess drew up,
and the King of Rome dismounting, came toward her with a low inclination
of the head. Around them stood the noblemen of his suite, whose splendid
uniforms and decorations dazzled the eye with their brilliancy. They
sprang from their horses and each one reverentially saluted the
bride-elect. This done, the King of Rome assisted her to alight, that
she might mount the magnificent horse which was now led forward by the
empress's chief master of the horse.
When her betrothed held out his hand to her, Josepha, blushing, looked
at him with a timid and tender glance, which seemed to implore a return
of her love. She could not speak a word, but she pressed his hand.
Joseph, so far from returning the pressure, looked surprised--almost
disdainful; and, stepping back, he left to the master of the horse and
the other lords in waiting the care of assisting the princess to mount.
She sprang into the saddle with perfect confidence, and grasped her
reins with so much skill, that although the beautiful animal reared and
pranced until his bridle was covered with foam, his rider was perfectly
"She is, at least, a good horsewoman," said Joseph to himself, as he
took his place by her side.
And now the bells chimed merrily, and the cannon proclaimed to all
Vienna that the royal pair were about to enter the city.
Silently they rode through the flower-strewn streets, silently they
heard the joyous shouts of the multitude, here and there smiling wearily
in return, but both tired of splendor, and both longing for rest.
Neither spoke to the other; what had they to say to one another--they
whom policy had chained together for life?
At the farther end of the city the state-coach of the empress awaited
the princess. With an indifferent and careless air, Joseph handed
Josepha to the carriage. This time she dared not press his hand; but as
the door closed upon herself and her governess, she threw herself back
upon the velvet cushions and wept bitterly.
"For the love of Heaven, what mean these tears, your highness?" cried
the governess. "Your highness's head-dress will be ruined, and your eyes
will be swollen."
"'Tis true," murmured Josepha, "I have no right to weep as other women
do, at such a time. I am nothing but a puppet, that laughs or weeps as
"Your highness is excited and does not see your destiny in its true
light," replied the lady, with sympathy. "It is one which any woman on
earth might envy. You are about to become the wife of the handsomest
prince in all Europe, an emperor in prospect, and son of the great Maria
Theresa, whose beauty and goodness are the theme of the whole world. And
then the lovely and accomplished Archduchesses of Austria--they are to
be your sisters-in-law!"
"Yes," said the princess, passionately, "and look at me. You have known
me since my infancy, dear friend, therefore you need not flatter me
because of my station. Look at me, and tell me if it is not enough to
break my heart, that I must appear before this beautiful empress and her
daughters, and that I must try to win the affections of this prince, the
glance of whose eye is enough to kindle love in the heart of every woman
living--oh say, and speak without reserve--tell me if a woman so
obscure, so ignorant, and so destitute of charms, can ever hope to be
loved or cherished by such a family?"
"Your highness is worthy of all affection, and deserves the choicest of
the blessings that are in store for you," replied the lady of honor
warmly. "No one knowing your noble heart would say that any station is
too exalted for you."
"Oh! who will be troubled with looking into my heart in imperial
Vienna?" sobbed the disheartened Josepha. "Externals are every thing in
court; and I, unhappy one, who scarcely dare not utter my heart's
yearnings to those who encourage me, what will become of me if I meet
with cold glances or scornful words? I feel how little I am skilled to
win love, and the consciousness of my defects heightens them and renders
me still more repulsive."
"Your highness is unjust toward yourself. No one else would ever dream
of speaking in such terms of you. Be happy, dear lady, and you will soon
grow comely, too."
"Happy!" sighed the princess, looking from the window at the elegant and
graceful prince, who, cold and stern as though he had been following the
dead, vouchsafed not a look toward the carriage where sat his bride.
With another sigh she turned her head. Her eyes encountered those of the
governess, fixed upon her in wondering sympathy. With a bitter smile
Josephs, laid her hand upon the shoulder of her friend.
"I must tell you something, Lucy," said she--"something terrible and
sad. Hear well my words, and mark them! I already love my betrothed
beyond power of expression; but he will never return my love. I shall
worship him, and I feel that he will hate me!"
Blushing painfully at the sound of her own words, the princess hid her
face in her hands.
The carriage stopped, and now the confused and self-tortured girl had to
go forward to meet the emperor, who waited at the foot of the great
staircase to conduct her to the presence of the empress. Maria Theresa
came gracefully forward, surrounded by her beautiful daughters and a
dazzling train of lords and ladies. Josepha's head reeled when she saw
them, and almost fainting, she sank down at the feet of the empress.
"Mercy, gracious empress, mercy!" sobbed the poor girl, almost beside
herself with terror; while, regardless of all courtly decorum, she
covered the hand of Maria Theresa with tears and kisses.
A sneer was perceptible on the faces of the courtiers, and the young
archduchesses smiled derisively; but Maria Theresa, whose generous heart
beat in sympathetic response to the emotion and fright of the poor young
stranger, kindly raised her up, and, kissing her forehead, encouraged
her with gracious words.
"Be welcome, my daughter," said she, in her clear and silvery voice,
"May all the happiness be yours through life! Come, my children, let us
hasten to the chapel."
She made a sign to her husband, and took the arm of the King of Rome.
The emperor followed with the Princess Josepha, and now through the
splendid halls, that dazzled the eye with festive magnificence, came the
long train of courtiers and ladies that graced the pageant of this royal
bridal. In the chapel, before the altar, stood Cardinal Megazzi,
surrounded by priests and acolytes, all arrayed in the pomp and splendor
attendant on a solemn Catholic ceremony.
The princess had not been wedded by proxy; it was therefore necessary
that she should be married with the blessings of the church, before she
proceedcd in state to the throne-room to receive the homage due to her
as a queen. No time had therefore been given her to retire before the
ceremony, and she was married in her travelling-dress. At the entrance
of the chapel stood the new ladies in waiting of the Queen of Rome. One
of them relieved her of her hat, which the empress replaced by a wreath
of myrtle. Then Maria Theresa, having placed the hand of Josepha in that
of her son, the imperial cortege approached the altar.
As they stood before the chancel, the King of Rome, overcome by the
bitterness of the moment, bowed his head to his unfortunate bride and
whispered, "Poor Josepha, I pity you!"
THE MARRIAGE NIGHT.
The ceremonial was over. The empress herself had conducted the young
Queen of Rome to her apartments; and she had stood by her side, while
her tire-woman exchanged her dress of golden tissue for a light white
negligee of finest cambric trimmed with costly lace. With her own hand
Maria Theresa unfastened the myrtle-wreath and coronet of diamonds that
encircled her daughter-in-law's brow. She then kissed Josepha
affectionately, and, bidding her good-night, she besought the blessing
of God upon both her children.
And now the princess was alone in this vast apartment. On one side,
under a canopy of blue velvet embroidered with gold, was the state-bed
of the Queen of Rome. Close by stood the toilet of gold with its
wilderness of jewels and etuis, all the gifts of the empress. On the
walls of blue velvet hung large Venetian mirrors, filling the room with
images of that gorgeous bed of state. In the centre, on a marble table,
thirty wax-lights in silver candelabra illumined the splendor of the
scene. The heavy velvet window curtains were closed; but they threw no
shadow, for the park of Schonbrunn was illuminated by two hundred
thousand lamps, which far and near lit up the castle on this festive
evening with a flood of fiery splendor. [Footnote: Hormayer,
"Reminiscences of Vienna," vol. v., page 81.]
The Queen of Rome was alone, her bridesmaids and attendants had left
her, and she awaited her husband, who would enter her room through a
private door which, close to the bed of state, led to his own
With beating heart and in feverish suspense, trembling with hope and
fear, Josepha paced her magnificent room. Heavy sighs broke from her
bosom, hot tears fell from her eyes.
"He will come," cried she, wringing her hands, "he will come and look
into my face with his heavenly blue eyes, and I--I shall cast down mine
like a culprit, and dare not confide my secret to him. O God! O God! I
have sworn to conceal my infirmity, for it is not contagious and will
harm no one--and yet my heart misgives me when I think that--Oh, no! no!
It will soon be over, and he will never have known it. Were he told of
it, it might prejudice him against me, and how could I bear to see those
beauteous eyes turned away from me in disgust? I will keep my secret;
and after--my love shall atone to him for this one breach of faith. Oh,
my God! teach me how to win him! I have nothing to bring to this
splendid court save the gushing fountains of my love for him--oh, my
father, why have I nothing but this to offer--why have I neither beauty
nor grace to please my husband's eyes--for I love him, oh, I love him
already more than my life!"
She started, for she heard a sound near the side door. Now the key
turned in the lock, and in another moment the king walked in. He still
wore the magnificent Spanish court-dress in which he had received the
homage of his marriage guests. The order of the Golden Fleece was on his
breast, and also the sparkling diamond cross of the imperial house of
Hapsburg. Josepha, blushing, recalled to mind her night negligee, and
dared not raise her eyes.
For a while they stood opposite to one another, Josepha, in painful
confusion; Joseph, his eyes bent with cold scrutiny upon her person. At
length he approached and touched her gently on the arm.
"Why do you tremble so?" asked he kindly. "Raise your head and look at
Slowly she lifted her eyes, and looked at him with a gaze of entreaty.
"Now," said be, with a bitter smile, "am I so frightful that you have
reason to tremble at my coming?"
"I did not tremble from fear or fright," said she, in a voice scarcely
"Ah, you have no confidence in me," said he, "you wish to hide your
emotions from me. And yet madame, let me tell you that nothing but
mutual and perfect confidence will help us through this hour and through
life. Come, then. Josepha, I will set you the example. I will confide in
you without reserve. Give me your hand and let us sit together on yonder
She placed her trembling hand within his, and he led her to the sofa. A
flood of deep and silent joy overwhelmed her heart, as alone in that
royal apartment, which was hers, she sat by the side of this man whom
she had already loved with passion.
"First, madame, let me ask your forgiveness for accepting a hand which
was not freely bestowed by yourself, but was placed in mine by the
inexorable policy of the destiny that rules kings. In obeying the
commands of your brother, you have not only married one whom you did not
know, but perhaps you have been forced to stifle other wishes, other
"No," cried she, earnestly, "no. I have left nothing to regret, I have
made no sacrifice, I--"
"Yes, you have sacrificed your freedom, the most precious boon that
Heaven has bestowed on man, to become the galley-slave of policy and
princely station. Poor Josepha, I pity you!"
"Do not pity me," said Josepha, tearfully, "pity yourself, whose freedom
has been sacrificed to me. You have given your honored hand to a woman
whom you do not love, a woman who would be too happy--"
"Had she the power to free herself and me from this compulsory union,"
interrupted Joseph. "I believe you, for I read in your countenance that
your heart is good and noble, and gladly would contribute to the
happiness of your fellow-creatures. But we must both accept the destiny
which the hand of diplomacy has woven for us. The heads that wear the
crowns must also wear the thorns. But we will try to lighten the pain to
one another. You have become my wife without love, and I, too, have
become your HUSBAND--without love."
Josepha's head fell, she sighed, and murmured something which Joseph
could not hear.
He went on: "I do not come to you with vain pretensions of a man who
fancies he has won an honorable woman's heart because the priest has bid
them love one another. I will not take advantage of the rights which
either diplomacy or church has given me over you. Here at least there
shall be no dissimulation; here we shall both be privileged to avow
honestly and honorably that we are not lovers. Then let us be friends. I
come to you in all frankness, offering myself to be to you as a brother.
Perhaps it may come to pass that I win your love; perchance your
goodness and your worth may win my sad heart back again to life--the day
may come when we shall be able to say that we love each other. Let us
await this day, and soften the interval by mutual confidence and trust.
And should it ever come to us, Josepha, we will then seal with
heart-felt embrace the bond which the church has made between us to-day.
Take me, then, as brother and friend, and be to me a sister and
companion. Will you, Josepha?"
He reached out his hand, and looked at her with a glance of brotherly
kindness. She gave him hers with a mournful smile, and her eyes sought
"Welcome, then, my friend and sister," said Joseph warmly. "Now for
unreserved confidence. You promise me that, do you not?"
"I promise," gasped the poor girl.
"And you will open your heart that I may read its every page?"
"I will--I promise to keep nothing from you." "I promise the same to
you, and perhaps this plant of friendship may one day bear the flowers
of love. You are inexperienced in the ways of court-life. You will need
a pilot to steer you safe amid reefs and breakers. I will be this pilot
to you, I will teach you what to suspect and to avoid. Above all, never
venture to have an opinion that does not coincide with that of the
empress. We are all a pious and well-brought-up family who see with her
eyes, and hear with her ears, and never dare confess that we possess
sight or hearing in our own persons. Recollect that you, too, must fall
in the line of puppets, and give up your senses to the empress."
"But in the depths of my own heart I trust that I may see with the eyes
of the King of Rome," replied Josepha with a smile. "For if I am to
learn from you, I must surely dare to use my senses."
"Yes; but let no one suspect that you learn any thing from me. In this
court we tread on flowers; and if one of our flowers chances to wither
we cover it over with a pater-noster, and that makes all right again."
"But suppose it will not be made right?" returned Josepha. "Suppose that
prayer should fail?"
"Gracious Heaven, what do I hear!" cried Joseph. "What profane doubt are
you so bold as to utter! You do not belong to the stupid, pious band,
who think that prayer cures all woes? Poor Josepha, let no one but me
hear such heresy from your lips--pray, pray; or make believe to pray; no
one will ever ask you whether your heart is in it or not. And if any one
seeks to know, answer nothing. Pray on, and mistrust every one."
"What! mistrust the generous friend whom kind Providence has given to me
this day!" cried Josepha with feeling. "That I can never do. You have
encouraged me to confide in you, and even had you not done so, you would
have won my confidence unsought. "
"I am glad that you think so," returned Joseph. "Let us begin at once,
then. Have you a wish that I have it in my power to gratify? Or have you
any thing in your heart which you will confide to me as a proof of your
faith in my friendship?"
Josepha started, and her cheeks grew white with fear. This question
awakened her from her short dream of hope and happiness, and she
remembered that she had a secret which it was her duty to reveal to her
husband. She looked furtively at him. Perhaps he had heard something,
and this was a trial of her truth. But no! His face was tranquil and
unsuspecting; there was nothing searching in the glance of his deep-blue
eyes. No! he knew nothing, and wherefore cloud the brightness of the
hour with a confession which might crush its promise of future bliss?
"Well," said Joseph kindly, "is there nothing on your heart that you
would confide to your friend?"
"No!" at last said Joseplia resolutely. "My life has been dull and
uneventful. It is only today that I begin to live; the sun of hope is
dawning upon my heart; I feel as if I might--"
"Hark!" said Joseph, "I think I hear some one coming. Yes; there is
surely a light tap at the door."
The king rose hastily and crossed the room toward the little side-door.
"Is any one there?" asked he in a loud tone of displeasure.
"Yes, your majesty," whispered a trembling voice, "and I pray you
earnestly to open the door."
"It is my valet Anselmo," said Joseph to the princess, while he withdrew
It was Anselmo, in truth, who, with mysterious mien, beckoned to his
lord to come out.
"Will your majesty condescend to step into the corridor, that I may
deliver the message with which I am intrusted?" said the valet.
"Is it so weighty, Anselmo, that it cannot lie upon your conscience
"Not one moment can I defer it, your majesty, for I was told that your
majesty's well-being and health depended upon my speed."
The king stepped outside and closed the door. "Who sent you hither,
Anselmo?" asked he.
"I do not know, sire, but I suspect. It was a female form enveloped in a
long black cloak, with a hood which concealed her face. She came from
the gallery which leads to the apartments of their imperial highnesses,
your majesty's sisters, and entered your majesty's own cabinet, which I
had left open while I was lighting your majesty hither."
"And what said she?" asked the king impatiently.
"She asked if your majesty had gone into the queen's apartments When I
told her that you had, she held out this note and said: 'Speed to the
king, and as you value his health and welfare, give him this note at
once.' She disappeared, and here, your majesty, is the note."
The king took the paper, which by the dim light of the corridor he could
"And who do you think is the mysterious lady, Anselmo?" asked he.
"Sire, I do not know. Perhaps your majesty will recognize the
"I wish to know, Anselmo, who YOU think was hidden under that cloak?"
"Well, then, your majesty," said Anselmo, in a whisper scarcely audible,
"I think it was the Archduchess Christina."
"I suspected as much," said the king to himself. "It is some intrigue of
hers against the Princess Josepha, whom she hates because I selected her
in preference to the sister of Christina's lover, the Elector of
Saxony." [Footnote: The Princess Christina was in love with the Elector
of Saxony; but the Emperor Francis was opposed to the marriage.
Christina used all her influence to bring about a marriage between her
brother and Mary Kunigunde the sister of her lover, hoping thereby to
pave the way for her own union with the handsome Albert. Failing in
this, she became the bitter enemy of the unhappy woman to whom Joseph
had given the preference.]
Perhaps Anselmo understood a few words of this soliloquy, for he
continued: "A courier arrived from Saxony, and I was told by my sister,
the tire-woman of her highness, that the Archduchess Christina had
received a packet of letters."
"Very well, Anselmo," said the king, "if to-morrow you should be asked
whether you delivered the note, say that I tore it up without opening
it. Do you hear?"
Dismissing the valet with a wave of the hand, he returned to the
"Pardon me," said he, "for leaving you, and allow me in your presence to
read a note which has just been mysteriously delivered into my hands. I
wish to give you a proof of my confidence, by entrusting you at once
with my secrets."
So saying, he approached the marble centre-table, and opened the letter.
What was it that blanched Josepha's cheek and made her tremble, as
Joseph smiled and looked at her? Why did she stare at him while he read,
and why did her heart stand still with fright, as she saw his expression
He seemed shocked at the contents of the note, and when he raised his
eyes and their glance met that of Josepha, she saw them filled with
aversion and scorn.
"Madame," said he, and his voice had grown harsh, "madame, I asked you
in good faith whether you had anything to confide to my honor. I
expressed a desire to win your confidence. You answered that you had
nothing to tell. Once more I ask, have you any thing to say? The more
humiliating the confession, the more will I appreciate your candor.
Josepha answered not a word. Her teeth chattered so painfully that she
could not articulate; she trembled so violently that she had to grasp
the back of an arm-chair for support.
Joseph saw this, and he laughed a hoarse and contemptuous laugh. She did
not ask him why he sneered. She threw herself at his feet, and raised
her arms imploringly.
"Mercy," cried the unhappy woman, "mercy!"
He laughed again, and held the paper before her eyes.
"Read, madame, read!" said he rudely.
"I cannot," sobbed she. "I will not read what has been written of me. I
will tell you myself all that I know. I will confide my secret to you; I
"You have nothing to confide, madame," cried Joseph. "With a sincere and
holy desire to perform my duty I asked for your friendship and your
confidence. I cast them both back, for you have allowed the hour of
trust to go by! Now it is too late! You are accused. Do not look to me
for protection; vindicate yourself if you can. Read this letter, and
tell me if the writer speaks the truth."
Josepha still knelt at his feet; but her arms had fallen in despair. She
knew that she had nothing more to hope from her husband: she felt that
she was about to be sentenced to a life of utter misery.
"You will not read?" said Joseph, as unnoticed, Josepha lay at his feet.
"If so, I must read the letter for you myself. It warns me not to come
too near to your royal person. It--"
"I will spare you, sire," exclaimed she, as with the energy of despair
she rose to her feet. "You will not let me speak, you shall see for
With a frantic gesture, she tore her dress from her neck and shoulders,
and heedless that she stood with arms and bosom exposed, she let it fall
to the floor, and bowed her head as if to receive the stroke of the
"Know my secret," said she, as she folded her hands and stood before her
outraged husband. "And now hear me. A few months ago I had a beloved
brother, whom I loved the more that he was unfortunate and afflicted.
From his childhood he had suffered from a malady which his physicians
called leprosy. The very servants deserted him, for it was said that the
disease was contagious. I loved my brother with devotion; I went to him
and nursed him until he died. God shielded me, for I did not take the
malady. But on my neck and back there came dark spots which, although
they are painful, are not contagious. My physicians tod me that my
strong constitution had rejected the leprosy, and these spots were a
regeneration of my skin, which would soon disappear. This, sire, is my
fatal secret; and now judge me. It is in your power to make me the
happiest of mortals, by granting me a generous pardon; but I will not
complain if you condemn and despise me."
"Complain if you choose, it is indifferent to me," cried Joseph, with a
hoarse laugh. "Never in this world shall you be my wife. If the hateful
tie that binds me to you cannot be unloosed, I will make you answerable
for every day of disgust and misery that I am forced to pass under the
same roof with you. If I am cursed before the world with the name of
your husband. I shall punish you in secret with my everlasting hate."
As if stricken by lightning, she fell to the floor. Her fallen dress
exposed to view her beautiful form. Her arms, which were folded above
her head, were round and white as those of a Greek statue; and as she
lay with her full, graceful shoulders bared almost to the waist, she
looked like Niobe just stricken by the wrath of a god.
Joseph was unmindful of this. He had no sympathy with the noble
sacrifice which her loving heart had offered to a dying brother. He saw
neither her youth nor her grace; he saw but those dark spots upon her
back, and he shuddered as she raised her arm to clasp his feet.
"Do not touch me," exclaimed he, starting back. "Your touch is
pollution. We are forever divorced. To day the priest joined our bands
together, but to-night I part them never more to meet. Farewell."
And hurling at her prostrate form the letter which had betrayed her, he
turned and left the room.
AN UNHAPPY MARRIAGE.
It was the morning after the wedding. Maria Theresa had just completed
her toilet, and was smiling at her own beautiful image reflected in the
looking-glass. She looked every inch an empress in her rich crimson
velvet dress, with its long and graceful train, and its border of
ermine. Her superb blond hair had been exquisitely dressed by her little
favourite Charlotte von Hieronymus. It was sprinkled with gold-powder,
and the coiffure was heightened by a little cap of crimson velvet,
attached to the hair by arrows of gold set with costly brilliants. The
complexion of the empress was so lovely, that she never wore rouge; and
surely such eyes as hers needed none of the "adulteries of art" to
heighten their brilliancy or beauty. Although she was in her forty-ninth
year, and had given birth to sixteen children, Maria Theresa was still
beautiful not only youthful in appearance, but youthful in heart, and in
the strength and greatness of her intellect. She loved the emperor as
fondly as she had done twenty-eight years before, and each of her ten
living children was as dear to her maternal heart as if each had been an
She had arrayed herself with unusual magnificence to celebrate the entry
of the newly-married couple into Vienna. The imperial cortege was to
stop at the cathedral of St. Stephen, there to witness the bridals of
twenty-five young couples, all of whom the empress had dowered in honor
of her son's second marriage.
"Surely the prayers of these fifty lovers will bring happiness upon the
heads of my son and his wife," said the empress to herself. "They need
prayers indeed, for poor Josepha is very unlike our peerless Isabella,
and I fear she will not be attractive enough to cause the dead to be
forgotten. Still, she seems mild and kind-hearted, and I have already
read in her eyes that she is in love with Joseph. I hope this will lead
him to love her in return. Sometimes a man will love a woman through
pity, afterward through habit."
A nervous and impatient knock at her door interrupted the current of the
empress's thoughts; the door was flung open without further ceremony,
and the King of Rome entered the room. He was pale and agitated, and to
his mother's affectionate welcome he replied by a deep inclination of
The empress perceived at once that something was wrong, and her heart
"My dear boy," said she, "you do not wear a holiday face, and your young
"I have no bride," interrupted Joseph, angrily. "I have come to beg of
your majesty to discontinue these rejoicings, or at least to excuse me
from appearing in public at the side of the Princess of Bavaria. She is
not my wife, nor ever shall be!"
"What means this?" stammered the empress, bewildered.
"It means that my marriage is null and void; and that no human power
shall force me to be husband of a creature tainted with leprosy."
The empress uttered a cry of horror.
"My son, my son!" exclaimed she, "what unheard of charge is this!"
"A charge which is a miserable truth, your majesty. Do you not remember
to have heard that the natural son of Charles of Bavaria had died, not
long ago, of leprosy which he had contracted during a journey to the
East? Well, his tender and self-sacrificing half-sister volunteered to
nurse him, and was with him until he died. Your majesty, no doubt, will
look upon this as something very fine and Christian-like. I, on the
contrary, would have found it more honorable, if the princess had
advised us of the legacy she wears upon her back."
"Woe to her and to the house of Bavaria, if you speak the truth, my
son!" cried the empress, indignantly.
"If your majesty will send Van Swieten to her, you may convince yourself
of the fact."
A few moments later Van Swieten entered the room. His fame was European.
He was well known as a man of great skill and science; added to this,
his noble frankness and high moral worth had greatly endeared him to the
imperial family. Maria Theresa went hastily forward to meet him.
"Van Swieten," said she, with a voice trembling from agitation, "you
have been our friend in many an hour of sorrow, and many a secret of the
house of Hapsburg has been faithfully buried in your loyal heart. Help
me again, and, above all, let it he in secrecy. The King of Rome says
fearful things of his wife. I will not believe them until I hear your
verdict. Go at once, I implore you, to the princess, and command her, in
my name, to declare her malady."
"But, your majesty, she has not called for my advice," replied Van
Swieten, with surprise.
"Then she must take it unasked," said the empress. "The princess will
receive you, and you will know how to win her to reveal her condition.
As soon as you leave her, return to me."
Van Swieten bowed and left the room. The empress and her son remained
together. Neither spoke a word. The King of Rome stood in the embrasure
of a window, looking sullenly up at the sky. The empress walked
hurriedly to and fro, careless that her violent motions were filling her
dress with the gold powder that fell from her head like little showers
"Christina, was right to warn me," said she, after a long pause. "I
never should have consented to this alliance with the daughter of my
enemy. It is of no use to patch up old enmities. Charles was humbled and
defeated by me, and now comes this Josepha, to revenge her father's
losses, and to bring sorrow to my child. Oh, my son, why did you not
allow my counsel, and marry the Princess of Saxony? But it is useless to
reproach you. The evil is done--let us consult together how best we may
"Not at all!" cried Joseph." We must consult how we may soonest cast it
away from us. Your majesty will never require of me the sacrifice of
remaining bound to that woman. I obeyed your behest; and in spite of my
disinclination to a second marriage, I bent my will before the
necessities of diplomacy, and the command of my sovereign. But we are
now on a ground where the duty of a subject ends, and the honor of a man
stands preeminent. I never will consent to be the husband of this woman
whose person is disgusting to me. Far above all claims of political
expediency, I hold my right as a man."
"But you hold them with unbecoming language," replied the empress, who
did not at all relish the tone of the King of Rome. "And let me tell
you, my royal son, that an upright and honorable prince thinks less of
his rights as a man than of his duties as a ruler. He strives, while a
prince, to be a man; and while a man, to sacrifice his inclinations to
the calls of a princely station."
"But not his personal honor," cried Joseph. "Your majesty's code is that
of Macchiavelli, who counsels a prince never to let his feelings as a
man interfere with his policy as a ruler."
The empress was about to make an angry rejoinder to this remark, when
the door opened, and Van Swieten reappeared.
"Ah!" said the empress, "did you see her, Van Swieten?"
"Yes, your majesty," replied Van Swieten, with emphasis, "I have seen
the Queen of Rome."
"Do you mean to say that she has no disease that unfits her to be the
wife of the King of Rome?" asked Maria Theresa.
"Her only malady is a cutaneous one, which in a short time will be
completely cured. Some persons are so happily organized that they throw
off disease, even when in contact with it. The princess possesses this
sound and healthy organization The poison which she inhaled by her
brother's bedside, has settled upon her skin in a harmless eruption--her
constitution is untouched. In a few weeks all trace of it will
disappear, and nothing will remain to remind us of her noble disregard
of self, save the memory of her heroism and magnanimity. For, indeed,
your majesty, it is easier to confront death on the battle-field than to
face it in the pestiferous atmosphere of a sick-room. "
Maria Theresa turned with a radiant smile toward her son. "You see, my
son "said she," that you have done injustice to your noble wife. Go,
then, and entreat her forgiveness."
"No, your majesty," said a soft voice behind them, "it is for me to
implore my husband's forgiveness."
The empress turned and beheld her daughter-in-law, splendidly attired,
but pale and wan with unmistakable grief.
"Josepha, how came you hither?" asked she.
"I followed Herr van Swieten," replied Josepha. "He told me that your
majesty and the King of Rome were here, awaiting his verdict, and I
judged from his manner that it would be in my favor. Therefore I came,
and having heard his flattering words, which I do not deserve, I am here
to inculpate myself. No, Herr van Swieten, if there were any merit in
suffering for a brother whom I dearly loved, it would all be effaced by
the wrong which I have done to the King of Rome. I feel that I was
guilty in not confiding my malady to your majesty, and I bow my head
before the justice of my punishment, severe though it maybe."
"It shall not be severe, my daughter," said the empress, whose kind
heart was completely overcome by Josepha's humility--"I, for my part,
forgive you; you are already sufficiently punished."
"I thank your majesty," returned Josepha, kissing her outstretched hand.
"It is easy for one so magnanimous, to pardon the guilty; but my
husband, will he also forgive me?"
She turned her pale and imploring face toward Joseph, who, with his arms
crossed, looked scornfully back.
"No," said she sadly, "no. To obtain his forgiveness, I must make a full
confession of my fault."
She approached the window, but her head was cast down so that she did
not see with what a look of hate Joseph beheld her advancing toward him.
"To obtain your pardon, sire," said she, "I must say why I deceived you.
It was because I preferred perjury to the loss of my earthly
happiness--the unspeakable happiness of being your wife. I was afraid of
losing my treasure. For I love you beyond all power of expression; from
the first moment of our meeting, I have loved you, and this love which,
thanks to Almighty God, I have a right to avow before the world--this
love it was that misled me. Oh, my husband, have mercy, and forgive the
fault that was born of my excessive love for you. A whole life of love
and obedience shall atone for my sin. Forgive me, forgive me, for the
sake of my love!"
And, overwhelmed by her grief, the princess knelt at the feet of her
husband, and raised her hands in supplication for pardon.
The empress looked on with sympathetic heart and tearful eyes; she
expected at every moment to see Joseph raise up his wife, and press her
to his heart for her touching avowal of love. She expected to hear HIM
implore forgiveness; but she was sadly mistaken.
Joseph stood immovable, his eyes flashing scorn and fury at the kneeling
princes before him.
This outraged all the pride of Maria Theresa's womanhood. Hastily
approaching Josepha, and stretching her arms toward her, she said: "If
Joseph has no mercy in his obdurate heart, I at least will not witness
such humiliation on the part of his wife. Rise, my daughter, and take
shelter under my love; I will not suffer you to be oppressed--not even
by my own son."
She would have raised Josepha, but the poor girl waved her gently back.
"No, dear lady," said she, sobbing, "let me remain until he forgives
"Let her remain, your majesty," cried Joseph with a burst of wrath, "she
is in her proper place. But if she means to kneel until she has obtained
my forgiveness, let her kneel throughout all eternity! I consented to
this marriage for expediency's sake, and I would have done my best to
make the burden as light for us both as lay in my power. Your majesty
knows how she has deceived me; you have heard her pitiful lie with its
pitiful excuse. I might have forgiven her for marrying me, with her
disgusting disease, but for being a liar--never!"
"Enough," cried the empress, as much excited by her son's obduracy as by
Josepha's touching confession. "This scene must end, and so help me God,
it shall never be enacted a second time! You are bound to one another
for life, and together you shall remain. Each mortal has his weight of
grief to bear. Bear yours in silence, and bear it as becomes your
dignity and station. Have the manliness to smile before the world, my
son, as beseems a prince who has more regard for his princely duties
than for his rights as a man to happiness."
And with that imposing grandeur which Maria Theresa knew so well how to
assume, she continued: "Rise, Queen of Rome, and never again forget
either your own royal station or the dignity of your womanhood. Give her
your hand, my son; if you will not love, you must at least honor and
respect your wife. The bells of Vienna even now are pealing your
welcome; the people await their sovereigns, and it does not become us to
keep them in suspense on such an occasion as this."
Without looking back to see the effect of her words, the empress left
the room, and called to her pages to fling wide the palace doors.
"Apprise the court that we are ready to move," said she, in a commanding
voice, "and let the carriages approach."
The pages threw open the wide doors; the emperor and the archduchesses
entered, and following them came the courtiers and ladies of the
imperial household in all the splendor of flashing jewels and costly
The empress, with unruffled serenity, advanced to meet them. Not once
were her eyes cast behind toward the unhappy couple, whom she knew
perfectly well had yielded to the force of circumstances, and were
already throwing the veil of etiquette and courtly decorum over their
An hour later the imperial family made its entry into Vienna. In her
gilded state-carriage sat the proud and beautiful empress, and at her
side was the pale Queen of Rome. On either side of the carriage rode the
two husbands, the Emperor Francis of Lorraine and the King of Rome. The
people once more shouted for joy, wishing long life to the imperial
pair, and joy to the newly-married couple. From one side to another the
empress and the queen bowed and smiled to all, while the King of Rome
thanked the enraptured Viennese for their welcome. On this clay appeared
a new color in Vienna, so called in honor of Joseph's deep-blue eyes; it
was called "imperial blue."
And the bells chimed; the cannon roared; while in the cathedral the
fifty lovers awaited the King and Queen of Rome, whose marriage filled
all hearts with joy, and seemed to realize every dream of happiness on
A STATESMAN'S HOURS OF DALLIANCE.
"Are there many people in the anteroom?" asked Prince Kaunitz of the
state referendarius, Baron Binder.
"Yes, your highness," returned Binder, "all waiting impatiently for your
"Let them wait, the stupid, strutting representatives of littleness! The
more insignificant the petty masters, the more conceited are the petty
ambassadors. I have no time to see them to-day. We are at peace with the
whole world, and our only diplomacy regards marrying and giving in
"So far you have nothing to boast or in that line," said Binder,
laughing. "There are all sorts of stories afloat about the unhappy
marriage of the King of Rome. Sorne go so far as to say that he shows
his dislike in public."
"Bah! what matters it whether a prince is a happy husband or not? When a
king sets up pretensions to conjugal felicity, he is either an egotist
or a fool. If the King of Rome cannot love his good, stupid, ugly wife,
he can make love to the dowry she brings him. A goodly inheritance comes
with her; what matters it if a woman be thrown into the bargain?"
"Ah, prince, a woman is sometimes harder to conquer than a province; and
I think the King of Rome would much rather have won his Bavaria with the
"Because he is a blockhead full of sublime nonsense, who mistakes his
love of novelty for wisdom. He would break his head against a wall, this
obstinate King of Rome, while I crept safely through a mouse-hole. Walls
are not so easily battered down as he supposes; but mouse-holes abound
everywhere, as this sapient king will find out some of these days. It
was much easier for us to creep into Bavaria with the help of the lovely
Josepha, than to flourish our sword in her brother's face. He has not
long to live, and we shall come peacefully in possession of his fair
"Or rather, the war for its possession will be waged in the king's
"On that silly subject again!" exclaimed Kaunitz, impatiently. "If your
heart bleeds so freely for the sentimental sorrows of the King of Rome,
you may have another opportunity for your sensibilities in the marriage
of his brother Leopold; for I assure you that his intended is not one
whit handsomer, or more intelligent, than Josepha of Bavaria. So you see
that the King of Rome will not be apt to envy his brother."
"Your highness is to escort the Infanta of Spain to Innspruck?"
"Not I, indeed; that honor I do not confer upon insignificant princesses
who are nothing but grand-duchesses elect. I go to Innspruck one day
sooner than the imperial family, to inspect the preparations for the
festivities, and then I shall go as far as the gates of Innspruck--no
farther, to receive Donna Maria Louisa."
"That is the reason why your levee is so crowded to-day," replied Binder
laughing. "The foreign ministers wish to take leave of their master. And
now they have waited long enough for you, prince."
"I shall not see one of them. Austria, thanks to me, is now so powerful
that I need give myself no concern to soothe the anger of a dozen petty
envoys, and to-day there are none other in the anteroom."
"The Dutch and Saxon ministers," urged Binder.
"Little nobodies," said Kaunitz, with a shrug. "I will not see them."
"But, indeed, you presume too much upon their littleness. Only yesterday
you invited the Hessian ambassador to dine, and then you sat down to
table without him."
"He was three minutes behind the time. And do you imagine that Prince
Kaunitz waits for a poor little Hessian envoy? I did it on purpose to
teach him punctuality."
Here the prince rang a bell, and ordered a page to dismiss the gentlemen
in the anteroom. [Footnote: Report of the Prussian ambassador Baron
Furst to Frederick II.]
Baron Binder looked after the page and shook his head. Kaunitz smiled.
"Enough of ambassadors for to-day. The ship of Austria lies proudly and
safely in the haven of her own greatness; and would you deprive the
pilot of a few hours of relaxation? I shall have to take the helm again
to-morrow, when I go to Innspruck, and do you grumble if for a few hours
I enjoy life to-day?"
"I was not aware that dismissing one's visitors was a way to enjoy
life," said Binder.
"I do not mean that, you old pedant. Do you hear that tapping at the
"Yes, I hear it. It is from the little private door that leads to the
"Well, that corridor, as you know, leads to a side-entrance of the
palace, and if you look out of the window you will see there the
equipage of the handsomest, frailest, and most fascinating actress in
all Vienna--the equipage of the divine Foliazzi. Hear how the knocking
grows louder. My charmer becomes impatient."
"Allow me to retire, then," said Binder, "and leave the field to the
prima donna." As he left the room, he muttered: "If Kaunitz were not a
great statesman, he would be a ridiculous old fop!"
Kaunitz listened with perfect a unconcern to the repeated knocking of
his charmer until Binder was out of of sight, then he walked up to the
looking-glass, smoothed his locks, straightened his ruffles, and drew
the bolt of the door. The beautiful Foliazzi, in a coquettish and most
becoming morning-costume, radiant with smiles and beauty, entered the
Kaunitz greeted her coldly, and answered her rapturous salutation by a
faint nod. "Your impatience is very annoying, Olympia," said he; "you
beat upon my door like a drum-major."
"Your highness, it is the impatience of a longing heart," said the
singer. "Do you know that it seems to me a thousand years since last I
was allowed to enter these gates of Paradise! For eight days I have been
plunged in deepest sorrow, watching your carriage as it passed by my
house, snatching every note from my footman's hands in the hope that it
might be one from you--hoping in vain, and at last yielded myself up to
"You express yourself warmly," said Kaunitz, umnoved.
"Yes, indeed; for a feeling heart always finds strong expression,"
answered the signora, showing a row of teeth between her rosy lips that
looked like precious pearls. "And now my adored reprobate, why have you
banished me from your presence for an eternity? Which of my two enemies
have prevailed against me, politics or the Countess Clary? Justify
yourself, unkind but beloved prince; say that you have not deceived me,
for my heart yearns to forgive you?"
She came very, very near, and with her bewitching smiles looked up into
Kaunitz bent to receive the caress, and laid his hand fondly upon her
raven black hair. "Is it true that you have longed for me--very true
indeed?" said he.
"I never knew how dear you were to me until I had endured the
intolerable pangs of your absence," replied Foliazzi, leaning her head
upon the prince's shoulder.
"You love me, then, Olympia? Tell me, dearest, tell me truly?"
"Unjust! You ask me such a question!" cried the signora, putting her
arms around the prince's neck. "If I love you? Do you not feel it in
every pulsation of my heart? do you not read it in every glance of my
eyes? Can you not FEEL that my only thought is of you--my only life,
"I am really glad to hear it," said Kaunitz, with statue-like
tranquillity. "And now I will tell you why I have not sent for you this
past week. It was that I might not interrupt your tender interviews with
Count Palffy, nor frighten away the poor enamoured fool from the snares
you were laying for him."
The signora looked perfectly astounded. "But surely," stammered she,
"your highness does not believe--"
"Oh, no! I believe nothing; I know that the Olympia who loves me so
passionately, has been for two days the fair friend of the young, rich,
and prodigal Count Palffy."
Here the signora laughed outright. "But, your highness, if you knew
this, why did you not stop me in my protestations, and tell me so?"
"I only wanted to see whether, really, you were a finished actress. I
congratulate you, Olympia; I could not have done it better myself."
"Prince," said the signora, seriously, "I learned the whole of this
scene from yourself; and in my relations with you I have followed the
example you gave me. While you swore eternal love to me, you were making
declarations to the Countess Clary. Oh, my lord, I have suffered at your
hands, and the whole world sympathizes with my disappointment! The whole
world knows of your double dealings with women, and calls you a
heartless young libertine."
"Does it?" cried Kaunitz, for a moment forgetting his coldness, and
showing his satisfaction in his face. "Does it, indeed, call me a
heartless young libertine?"
"Yes," replied the signora, who seemed not to see his gratification.
"And when people see a man who is adored by women, and is false to them
all, they say, 'He is a little Kaunitz.'"
When the signora said this, Kaunitz did what he had not done for years,
he broke out into a laugh, repeating triumphantly, "A little Kaunitz.
But mark you," continued he, "other libertines are called little
Kaunitzes, but I alone am the great Kaunitz."
"True," sighed the signora, "and this great Kaunitz it is who has
abandoned me. While I worshipped the air he breathed, he sat at the feet
of the Countess Clary, repeating to her the self-same protestations with
which an hour before he had intoxicated my senses. Oh, when I heard
this, jealousy and despair took possession of my soul. I was resolved to
be revenged, and so I permitted the advances of Count Palffy. Ha! while
I endured his presence, I felt that my heart was wholly and forever
yours! Oh, my adored, my great Kaunitz, say that you love me, and at
your feet I throw all the lesser Kaunitzes in token of my fealty!"
The signora would have flung her arms around him, but Kaunitz with a
commanding gesture waved her off.
"Very well done, Olympia," said he, nodding his head. "You are as
accomplished as you are beautiful; and well I understand how it is that
you infatuate by your charms all manner of little Kaunitzes. But now