Part 10 out of 14
Napoleon, however, seemed not to see it, or the calm voice of the
admiral and the rolling thunder, perhaps, excited his pride to an
even more obstinate resistance.
"Admiral," he replied, sternly, "I have issued my orders. I ask you
once more why did not you carry them out? The consequences concern
only myself. Obey, therefore!"
"Sire," he said, solemnly, "I shall not obey!"
"Sir, you are an impudent fellow!" ejaculated Napoleon, and,
advancing a step toward the admiral, he menacingly raised the hand
in which he still held his riding-whip.
Admiral Bruix drew back a step and laid his hand on his sword. A
terrible pause ensued. The emperor still stood there, the riding-
whip in his uplifted hand, fixing his flaming, angry eyes on the
admiral, who maintained his threatening, manly attitude, and, with
his hand on his sword, awaited the emperor's attack. The generals
and staff-officers, pale with dismay, formed a circle around them.
The emperor suddenly dropped his riding-whip; Admiral Bruix
immediately withdrew his hand from his sword, and, taking off his
hat, he awaited the end of the dreadful scene in profound silence.
"Rear-Admiral Magou," said the emperor, calling one of the gentlemen
of his suite, "cause the movements I had ordered to be carried out
at once: As for you," he continued, slowly turning his eyes toward
the admiral, "you will leave Boulogne within twenty-four hours and
retire to Holland. Begone!"
He turned around hastily and walked toward his barrack. Admiral
Bruix looked after him with an aggrieved air, and then turned also
around in order to go. While walking through the crowd of generals
and staff-officers, he offered his hand to his friends and
acquaintances in order to take leave of them; but few of them,
however, saw it, and shook hands with him; most of them had averted
their eyes from the admiral, whom the sun of imperial favor did not
illuminate any longer, and who consequently was so entirely cast in
the shade, that they were unable to perceive him.
Rear-Admiral Magou had in the mean time carried out the orders of
the emperor. The ships which before had been at anchor near the
outlet of the harbor, keeping it entirely closed, had moved farther
into the sea, while the other vessels in the harbor were going out.
But Admiral Bruix's prediction began already to be fulfilled; the
sky was covered with black clouds from which lightning was bursting
forth in rapid succession. The thunder of the heavens drowned the
roar of the sea, which arose like a huge, black monster, hissing and
howling, and fell back again from its height, covered with foam, and
opened abysses into which the ships seemed to sink in order to be
hurled up again by the next wave. The storm, with its dismal yells,
attacked the masts and broke them as though they were straws, and
lashed the ships, which had already left the harbor, out into the
sea, to certain ruin, to certain death.
The emperor had left his barrack and hurried down to the beach with
rapid steps. With folded arms and lowered head, gloomy and musing,
he walked up and down in the storm. He was suddenly aroused from his
meditations by loud screams, by exclamations of terror and dismay.
Twenty gunboats, which the rear-admiral had already caused to be
manned with sailors and soldiers, had been driven ashore by the
storm, and the waves which swept over them with thundering noise
menaced the crews with certain death. Their cries for help, their
shrieks and supplications were distinctly heard and reechoed by the
wails and lamentations of the masses that had hastened to the beach
in order to witness the storm and the calamities of the shipwreck.
The emperor looked at his generals and staff-officers who surrounded
him, dumbfounded with horror; he saw that no one had the courage or
deemed it feasible to assist the poor drowning men. All at once the
gloomy air vanished from his face, it became radiant with
enthusiasm; the emperor was transformed once more into a hero,
daring every thing, and shrinking back from no danger.
He immediately entered one of the life-boats and pushing back the
arms of those who wished to detain him, he exclaimed in an almost
jubilant voice: "Let me go, let me go! We must assist those unhappy
But his frail bark was speedily filled with water; the waves swept
over it with a wild roar, and covered the whole form of the emperor
with foaming, hissing spray. He still kept himself erect by dint of
almost superhuman efforts; but now another even more terrible wave
approached and swept, thundering and with so much violence over the
bark, that the emperor, reeling and losing his equilibrium, was
about falling overboard, when his generals dragged him from the boat
and took him ashore. He followed them unhesitatingly, stunned as he
was by the wave, and as he stepped ashore, a flash burst forth from
the cloud; a majestic thunder-clap followed; the howling storm tore
the hat from the emperor's head and carried it, as if on invisible
wings, high into the air and then far out into the sea where the
waves seemed to receive it with roars of exultation, driving it down
to their foaming depth.
But the courageous example given by the emperor had exerted an
electric effect on the masses which heretofore had apparently been
stupefied with horror. Every one now felt and recognized it to be
his sacred duty to make efforts for the rescue of the unfortunate
men who were still struggling with the waves and shouting for help;
officers, soldiers, sailors, and citizens, all rushed into the life-
boats or plunged into the sea in order to swim up to the drowning
men and save them in time from a watery grave.
But the sea was not willing to surrender many of its victims. It
wanted, perhaps, to prove its superior divine majesty to the
imperial ruler which had defied it, and punish him for his
Only a few were rescued, for the storm did not abate during the
whole day; it lashed up the sea into waves mountain-high, or opened
abysses frightful to behold. Night finally descended on the angry
waters and spread its black pall over the scene of death and
In the morning the beach was covered with hundreds of corpses which
the sea had thrown ashore. An enormous crowd thronged the shore;
every one came to look with fainting heart and loud lamentations
among the mute, pale corpses for a husband, a friend, or a brother;
shrieks and wails filled the air and even penetrated to the
He had not slept during the whole night; he had been pacing his
rooms, restless, with a gloomy air and pale cheeks: now, early in
the morning, he once more hastened down to the beach. Thousands of
persons, however, had preceded him thither. When they beheld the
emperor they stepped gloomily aside; they did not receive him, as
heretofore, with loud exultation and joyful acclamations; they
looked at him with a reproachful air, and then turned their eyes in
mute eloquence to the corpses lying in the sand.
The emperor was unable to bear the silence of the crowd and the
sight of these corpses; pale and shuddering, he turned away and
walked back to his barrack slowly and with lowered head. But he did
not fail to hear the murmurs of the crowd which had only been silent
so long as it had seen his face, and which, now that he had turned
away, gave free vent to its grief and indignation.
The emperor heard painful sighs when he reached his barrack, and
sent immediately for Roustan, in order to give him secret
instructions. Thanks to these instructions, Roustan's agents
hastened all day through the city of Boulogne and through the camp
for the purpose of distributing money in the name of the emperor
wherever persons were lamenting and weeping, or where gloomy glances
and mourners were to be met with, thus allaying their grief by means
of the shining magic metal which heals all wounds and dries all
The emperor, however, had still a more effectual charm for allaying
the indignation of the crowd, or at least for stirring up again the
jubilant enthusiasm of his soldiers.
Telegraphic dispatches of the highest importance had reached the
camp; courier after courier had followed them. The emperor assembled
all his generals in the council-chamber of his barrack, and when
they left it, after a consultation of several hours, the rumor
spread through the camp that the emperor would now at length utter
those longed-for words and lead his army to new struggles, to new
These joyful tidings spread like wildfire among the troops; every
one hailed them with a radiant face and merry glances. Every one saw
himself on the eve of fresh honors and spoils, and only asked
whither the victorious course of the emperor would be directed this
time--whether to England, which constantly seemed to menace France
with its forest of masts, or whether to Austria, whose hostile
friendship might have been distrusted.
The emperor had not yet spoken the decisive words to any member of
his suite, but he had sent for the grand-marshal of the palace and
ordered him to hold every thing in readiness for his departure; to
settle all accounts and bills against the emperor, and to beware on
this occasion of not paying too much to any one.
On the day after receiving these orders, the grand-marshal, without
being announced, appeared before the emperor, who was in the
council-chamber of his barrack, engaged in studying attentively the
maps spread out on the large table before him.
Napoleon only looked up for a moment, and then continued to stick
pins into the maps, thus designating the route which his army was to
"Well, Duroc," he asked, "is every thing ready for our departure?
Have all bills been paid?"
"Sire, they are all paid except one, and I must dare to disturb your
majesty in relation to this one bill."
"I suppose it is very high and fraudulent?" asked the emperor,
hastily. With these words he rose and approached the grand-marshal.
"Sire," said the latter, "I do not know whether it is fraudulent or
not, but it is very high. It is the bill of Military Intendant
Sordi, who built this barrack, and to whom its fitting up had been
"Well, how much does he charge for it?" asked Napoleon.
"Sire, he asks fifty thousand francs."
"Fifty thousand francs!" exclaimed Napoleon, almost in terror. "I
hope you have not paid this impudent bill?"
"No, sire, I have not; on the contrary, I requested M. Sordi to
reduce the sum."
"And he has done so, of course?" exclaimed Napoleon, gloomily. "Just
like these men. They ask us to confide in them, and yet they try on
every occasion to cheat us. How much did he deduct from his bill?"
"Nothing at all, sire. M. Sordi asserts that he did not charge too
much for a single article; he was unable, therefore, to make even
the slightest deduction."
"And so you have paid the bill?"
"No, sire, I said that I could not pay it until your majesty had
given me express orders to do so."
"Well done," said the emperor, nodding to him. "Send word to the
military intendant that I want to see him immediately. I wish to
talk to him myself."
The grand-marshal withdrew, and Napoleon returned to his maps. He
continued to mark them with long rows of pins, and to draw circles
and straight lines on them.
"If the Austrians are bold enough to advance," he said to himself,
in a low voice, "I shall beat them in the open field; should they
remain stationary and wait for me to attack them, I shall inflict
upon them a crushing defeat at Ulm. It is time for me to make these
overbearing Germans feel the whole weight of my wrath. and, as they
have spurned my friendship, to crush them by my enmity. That little
Emperor of Austria dares to menace me; I shall prove to him that
menacing me is bringing about one's own ruin. I shall assemble my
forces here in this plain, and here--"
"Sire, the military intendant, M. de Sordi, whom your majesty has
ordered to appear before you," said the emperor's aide-de-camp,
opening the door of the council-chamber.
"Let him come in," ejaculated Napoleon, without averting his eyes
from the map.
The aide-de-camp retired, and the tall, powerful form of Intendant
Sordi appeared in the door. His face was pale, but calm; his
features indicated boldness and a fixed purpose; he was evidently
conscious of the importance of the present moment, and felt that it
would decide his whole future.
The emperor continued scanning his maps. M. de Sordi stood at the
door, waiting for the emperor to address him. When he saw that the
latter tarried very long, he advanced a step, and, as if
accidentally, pushed against the chair standing at his side.
The noise aroused Napoleon from his meditation, and reminded him of
the person he had sent for.
He therefore hastily turned around to him. "Sir," he said, "you have
spent a great deal too much money for the decoration of this
miserable barrack; yes, indeed, a great deal too much. Fifty
thousand francs! What do you mean, sir? That is frightful; I shall
not pay that sum!"
M. de Sordi met the flaming glances of the emperor with smiling
"Sire," he said, lifting up his hand and pointing at the ceiling, "I
may truthfully say that the clouds of gold brocade adorning the
ceiling of this room, and surrounding the propitious star of your
majesty, have cost alone not less than twenty-five thousand francs.
Had I consulted, however, the hearts of your subjects, the imperial
eagle, which now again will crush the enemies of France and of your
throne, would have spread out its wings amidst the most magnificent
and precious diamonds." [Footnote: The ceiling of the room was
decorated with golden clouds, amidst which, on a blue ground, was an
eagle, holding a thunderbolt, and pointing it at a star, the star of
the emperor.--Constant, vol. i., p. 246.]
Napoleon smiled. "Very well," he said; "you believe the hearts of my
subjects to be very prodigal. I am not, however, and I repeat to you
I shall not pay that sum now. But as you tell me that this eagle,
which costs so much money, will crush the Austrians, you will
doubtless wait until it has done so, and then I will pay your bill
with the rix-dollars of the Emperor of Germany and the Fredericks
d'or of the King of Prussia." [Footnote: Napoleon's own words.--
Constant, vol. i., p. 246.]
He dismissed him smilingly with a wave of his hand, and returned to
A few hours later Napoleon, followed by all his generals and
adjutants, repaired to the camp. Ascending a small mound, specially
prepared for the occasion, he surveyed with radiant eyes the
surging, motley, and brilliant sea of soldiers who surrounded him on
all sides, and who greeted his appearance with thundering shouts of
A wave of his hand commanded them to be still, and, as if fascinated
by a magician's wand, the roaring masses grew dumb, and profound
silence ensued. Amidst this silence, Napoleon raised his clear,
ringing-voice, and its sonorous notes swept like eagle-wings over
the sea of soldiers.
"Brave soldiers of the camp of Boulogne," he said, "you will not go
to England. The gold of the English government has seduced the
Emperor of Austria, and he has again declared war against France.
His army has crossed the line of demarcation assigned to it, and
inundated Bavaria. Soldiers, fresh laurels are awaiting you beyond
the Rhine; let us hasten to vanquish once more enemies whom we have
already vanquished. On to Germany!" [Footnote: Napoleon's own
words.--Constant, vol. i., p. 282.]
"On to Germany!" shouted the soldiers, jubilantly. "On to Germany!"
was repeated from mouth to mouth, and even the sea seemed to roar
with delight and its waves, thundering against the beach, to shout,
"On to Germany!"
NAPOLEON AND THE GERMAN PRINCES.
The Emperor of France with his army had crossed the boundaries of
Germany. He had come to assist his ally, the Elector of Bavaria,
against the Austrians who had invaded Bavaria; not, however, in
order to menace Bavaria, but, as an autograph letter from the
Emperor Francis to the elector expressly stated, to secure a more
extended and better protected position.
The Elector of Bavaria, Maximilian Joseph, had declared, in a
submissive letter to the Austrian emperor, that he was perfectly
willing to let the Austrian regiments encamp within his dominions.
"I pledge my word as a sovereign to your majesty." he had written to
the Emperor of Germany, "that I shall not hinder the operations of
your army in any manner whatever, and if, what is improbable,
however, your majesty should be obliged to retreat with your army, I
promise and swear that I shall remain quiet and support your
projects in every respect. But I implore your majesty on my knees to
permit me graciously to maintain the strictest neutrality. It is a
father, driven to despair by anguish and care, who implores your
majesty's mercy in favor of his child. My son is just now travelling
in southern France. If I should be obliged to send my troops into
the field against France my son would be lost, and the fate of the
Duke d'Enghien would be in store for him, too; if I should, however,
remain quietly and peaceably in my states, I should gain time for my
son to return from France." [Footnote: "Memoires sur l'Intereor du
Palais de Napoleon," by De Bausset, vol. i., p. 59.]
But on the same day, and with the same pen, on which the ink with
which he had written to the Emperor of Germany was not yet dry, the
elector had also written to the Emperor of France and informed him
"that he was ready to place himself under his protection, that he
would be proud to become the ally of France, and that he would
thenceforward lay himself and his army at the feet of the great and
august Emperor of France."
And the courier who was to deliver the letter with the sacred
pledges of neutrality to the Emperor of Germany, had not yet reached
Vienna when the Elector of Bavaria secretly fled from Munich to
Wurzburg, where his army of twenty-five thousand men was waiting for
He sent his army, commanded by General Deroy, to meet the Emperor of
the French; it was not to attack him as the enemy of Germany, but to
hail him as an ally and to place itself under his direction. He then
issued a proclamation.
"We have separated from Austria," he said, "from Austria, who wanted
to ensnare and annihilate us by her perfidious schemes, and to
compel us to fight at her side for foreign interests; from Austria,
the hereditary foe of our house and of our independence, who is just
now going to make another attempt to devour Bavaria, and degrade her
to the position of an Austrian province. But the Emperor of the
French, Bavaria's natural ally, hastened to the rescue with his
brave warriors, in order to avenge you; your sons will soon fight at
the side of men accustomed to victory; soon, soon the day of
retribution will be at hand." [Footnote: Hausser's "History of
Germany," vol. ii., p. 611.]
Thanks to the hatred of the Germans against their German brethren,
thanks to the hatred of the Bavarians against the Austrians, this
proclamation had been received with joyful acclamations throughout
the whole state, and Bavaria felt proud and happy that she should
fight under the Emperor of the French, her "natural ally," against
the Emperor of Germany.
The French army was drawn up in line in the plain near Nordlingen,
in order to solemnly receive its German auxiliaries. They were the
first German troops that Napoleon had gained over to his side, and
therefore he wished to welcome them pompously and with all honors.
Amidst the jubilant notes of all the bands of the French army,
amidst the enthusiastic shouts of the French soldiers, the Bavarians
marched into the French camp. The emperor, in full uniform,
surrounded by all his generals, welcomed General Deroy and the
Bavarian officers; accompanied by a wave of his sword, he said to
"I have placed myself at the head of my army in order to deliver
your country, for the house of Austria intends to annihilate your
independence. You will follow the example of your ancestors, who
constantly preserved that independence and political existence which
are the first blessings of a nation. I know your valor, and am sure
that I shall be able after the first battle to say to your sovereign
and to my people, that you are worthy to fight in the ranks of the
The Bavarian soldiers hailed this proud address with the same
exultation with which the Bavarian people had received the
proclamation of the elector; and never had the French soldiers
manifested greater enthusiasm for their chieftain and emperor than
did these German soldiers, the first German auxiliaries of the
Napoleon received their jubilant shouts with a gracious smile.
"Duroc," he said, turning to his friend and comrade, who was riding
at his side--"Duroc, listen to what I am going to say to you. The
Germans are not good patriots; they are capable of loving the
conqueror of their country just as well as their legitimate
sovereign. Even at the time of Julius Caesar there was no harmony
among the Germans; and while Arminius opposed the Romans heroically,
Segestes declared in favor of them. If, as a modern Julius Caesar, I
should wish to conquer Germany, I believe I should find there no
Arminius, but certainly many Segesteses."
"But, perhaps, a few Thusneldas, sire," said Duroc, laughing; "and
your majesty knows full well that it was Thusnelda, after all, who
filled her husband with so undying a hatred against the Romans."
"And the son of Thusnelda became a prisoner of the Romans!"
exclaimed Napoleon; "he became a miserable slave of the Romans, and
preferred a life of humiliation and disgrace to an honorable death.
The Germans are great talkers; they are always ready to fight with
their tongues for the honor of their country, but they do not like
to die for it. But who are the Thusneldas with whom you threatened
me? Did you allude to Queen Caroline of Naples, the daughter of
"Oh, no, sire; she is no longer a German, but an Italian intriguer--
"She is, as I told her own ambassador in Milan, a modern Athalia, a
daughter of Jezebel," said Napoleon, interrupting him vehemently.
"But patience, patience, I shall punish her for her bitter hatred
"Sire, it was in your power to receive ardent love at the hands of
Queen Caroline, instead of her hatred, which is, perhaps, nothing
but concealed love. I suppose your majesty knows what the queen said
only a few years ago to the French minister?"
"No, I do not, or perhaps I have only forgotten it," replied
Napoleon, carelessly. "Did she want to make a postillon d'amour of
"Nearly so, sire. She told him she would willingly travel four
hundred leagues in order to see General Bonaparte. She added that
you were the only great man in the world, and none but idiots were
seated at the present time on all the thrones of Europe." [Footnote:
Queen Caroline actually said this to the French minister.]
"A very flattering remark for her husband and for her nephew, the
Emperor of Austria," said Napoleon. "She referred, however, only to
those who are seated on thrones, but the tender queen has been able
to discover a few real men by the side of her husband's throne. I
have never hankered after becoming the rival of Acton and Nelson. I
do not like passionate and ambitious women. They must be gentle and
charming like Josephine if they are to please me."
"I wish the empress were here and able to hear your words,"
"Does she again doubt my constancy?" asked Napoleon, quickly. "Have
my brothers again frightened her by threats of a divorce? Let her be
reassured, I do not think of a separation from her, and all the
Thusneldas of Germany cannot become dangerous to me. But you have
not yet told me the names of those Thusneldas. Let me hear them."
"Sire, first there is the beautiful Queen of Prussia. She is said to
be a bitter enemy of France."
"Yes, a bitter enemy of MINE!" exclaimed Napoleon, with a gloomy and
threatening glance; "a short-sighted woman, who does not see that
she will ruin her good-natured, weak, and irresolute husband if she
carries him along with her on this path of hostility and hatred. She
will repent one day having scorned my friendship, for, if she
succeeds in gaining her husband over to an alliance with Russia, I
shall be inexorable, and mercilessly trample the whole vacillating
and fickle Prussia in the dust. And do you still know of another
"Yes, sire; it is the wife of the Elector Frederick of Wurtemberg,
who is also said to have filled her husband with ardent hatred
against France, and with fervent patriotism for Germany. The elector
and electress are reported to have taken a solemn oath in the
presence of their whole court never to bow or submit to France, and
never to prove recreant to the interests of Germany."
"I shall compel them to believe that the interests of Germany
require them to bow to France and to become our allies!" exclaimed
Napoleon, proudly. "The electress of Wurtemberg is a daughter of
George the Third of England, a daughter of my mortal enemy; hence,
she shall bow to me or feel my power and my wrath. The time for
hesitation and procrastination is over. I want to have my friends at
my side and my enemies opposite me. Let the German princes choose
whether they will go with France against Austria, their common
despot, or whether, like Austria, they wished to be conquered by
France! We shall see which side Wurtemberg will espouse, for Ney is
already with his corps on the road to Stuttgart, and in the course
of a few days I shall pay a visit to the elector and electress at
their own palace."
And a few days later Napoleon really kept his word: he paid a visit
to the elector and electress at Louisburg, after Ney had compelled
the government of Wurtemberg to open the gates of Stuttgart to his
The elector received the emperor at the foot of the palace
staircase, where only an hour ago he had assured his courtiers he
would not receive the upstart Napoleon as an equal and shake hands
with him; but as Napoleon now saluted him with a kind nod, and gave
him his hand, the elector bowed so deeply and respectfully that it
almost looked as if he wished to kiss the small, white, imperial
hand which he had seized so joyfully and reverentially. [Footnote:
"Memoirs of General de Wolzogen," p. 24.]
The electress, who entered at the side of her husband, received the
emperor in the large and brilliant throne-room of the palace. Her
face was pale and gloomy when she bowed ceremoniously to the
hereditary foe of her house, and not the faintest tinge of a smile
was to be seen on her lips when she replied to the emperor's
Napoleon's face, however, was strangely mild and winning to-day, and
yet radiant with dignity and grandeur. It was the face of a
conqueror who does not intend to treat those whom he has subjugated
with arrogance and rigor, but desires to win their affection by
gentleness and love. Hence, his eyes had only mild and kind glances,
and on his finely-formed lips there was playing that smile which the
Empress Josephine said was the sunbeam of his face, and irresistible
to any woman.
Nor was the electress able to withstand this smile and this kind
bearing of Napoleon. She had expected to find in the emperor an
ardent enemy of her native England, and he now paid a glowing and
eloquent tribute to the English, to their country, to their
institutions and character. Napoleon had been described to her as a
barbarian, taking interest only in warfare and every thing connected
with it; and now she found him to be an admirer of the English
poets, and heard him expatiate enthusiastically on Ossian, some of
whose most magnificent verses he recited to her in a French
The stern features of the electress gradually began to relax; the
smile gradually returned to her lips, and she bent her proud head
more graciously to the "upstart" Napoleon.
"Oh, sire!" she exclaimed, joyfully, and for the first time she did
not avoid addressing him with the title due to his rank--"oh, sire,
he who admires the English poets so enthusiastically cannot possibly
be an enemy of England!"
"I am not by any means," said Napoleon, smiling; "I know no enmity
whatever; peace is the sole aim of my efforts, and I believe Fate
has sent me to mankind for the purpose of establishing eternal
peace. It is true, I have to conquer peace by wars and commotions,
but I shall conquer it, and you, princess, you and your husband must
help me to do so. I intrust to your hands a noble task, which the
high-minded and proud daughter of England is worthy of, and the
German elector will not hinder the noble endeavors of his wife,
especially as the honor and welfare of Germany are at stake."
"I am ready and willing to do for Germany what I can, and whatever
your majesty may command me to do," exclaimed the elector. "Will
your majesty now tell me what I must do?"
"You must conclude an alliance with France, in order to save
Germany," said the emperor, almost sternly.
"Sire, I have not the power to conclude such an alliance--I am
unable to do so," said the elector, sighing.
"Your state can if you cannot," said Napoleon, quickly.
"But the representatives of my people will not consent."
"I shall protect you against these representatives of your people.
You will tell them, besides, that you have saved Wurtemberg by
becoming my ally. For he who is not for me is against me, and I
shall annihilate those who are against me, and their states shall
fall to ruin. Those, however, who are for me I shall elevate, and it
seems to me I see already a royal crown on the noble brow of the
electress. I suppose," asked Napoleon, turning again with a smile
toward the electress, "your royal highness would not be dissatisfied
if you should become the queen of your people; it would be agreeable
to you to be called 'your majesty,' and if it were only because it
would remind you in so pleasant a manner of your royal parents who
are addressed with the same title?"
"Oh, sire," exclaimed the electress, with radiant eyes, and unable
to conceal her joy--"oh, sire, you are right, it would remind me
most pleasantly of my paternal home and of England."
"But would not a royal crown crush my state which is too small for
it?" asked the elector.
"Well, we shall enlarge it so as to render it able and worthy to
support a royal crown," exclaimed Napoleon, hastily. "I believe I
shall have the power and opportunity to bestow on my ally, the
elector of Wurtemberg, some aggrandizements in Germany to compensate
and reward him for the auxiliaries which he is to furnish to me.
Besides, your task is a truly grand one. You shall assist me in
subduing Austria, that arrogant Austria which would like to treat
all Germany as her property, and who considers all German princes as
her servants and vassals."
"You are right," said the elector, vehemently; "Austria constantly
endeavors to meddle with my prerogatives in an unbecoming and
arrogant manner. She would like to degrade us to the position of
vassals who must always be ready to obey their emperor, but who,
when they are themselves in danger, never can count on the
assistance and support of their emperor."
"Let us, then, dispel Austria's illusion as though she were your
master," said Napoleon, smiling. "Become my ally, and believe me, we
shall have the power to teach the Emperor of Austria to respect the
KING of Wurtemberg, my ally. Will you be my ally for that purpose?
Will you assist me, as a German prince, in delivering Germany from
the yoke Austria has laid around her neck?"
"Sire, I am ready to save Germany with my life-blood!" exclaimed the
elector, "and as your majesty has come to deliver Germany from
Austria, it would be a crime for any German prince to withhold his
assistance from you. Hence, I accept your alliance. Here is my hand!
I shall stand by you with my troops and with my honor!" [Footnote:
The whole account of this interview is strictly historical. Vide
"Memoirs of General de Wolzogen," and Hausser's "History of
Germany," vol. ii. p. 613. The Elector of Wurtemberg became the
third German ally of the French emperor, the Electors of Bavaria and
Baden having preceded him. He furnished ten thousand German troops
QUEEN LOUISA'S PIANO LESSON.
The queen sat at the piano, practising one of Reichardt's new songs
which her singing-teacher, the royal concert-master and composer,
Himmel, had just brought to her. The queen wore a most brilliant
costume, which, however, seemed calculated less for her silent
cabinet and for the music-teacher than for a great gala-day and an
aristocratic assembly at court. A white satin dress, inter-woven
with golden flowers, and closely fitting, according to the fashion
of that period, surrounded her noble figure. Her splendid white arms
were bare, and her wrists were adorned with two bracelets of gold
and precious stones. Her neck and shoulders, showing the noble lines
and forms of a Venus of Melos, were uncovered like her arms, and
adorned only with jewelry. Her hair, surrounding a forehead of
classical beauty in waving masses, was fastened behind in a Grecian
knot holding the golden diadem, set with diamonds, which arose on
the queen's head. [Footnote: A portrait, representing the queen
precisely in this costume, may be seen at the royal palace in
Berlin.] A gentle blush mantled her cheeks, and a smile of
melancholy and tenderness trembled on her purple lips. She had her
hands on the keys, and her eyes were fixed on the music-book before
her; but she had suddenly ceased singing in the middle of the piece,
and her voice had died away in a long sigh.
Mr. Himmel, the concert-master, stood behind her; he was a man more
than forty years of age, with a broad, full face, beaming with
health, and a tall and slender form which would have been more
fitting for the head of an Apollo than for this head, which reminded
the beholder of a buffalo rather than of a god.
When the queen paused, a joyful smile overspread his features, which
had hitherto been gloomy and ill at ease. "Your majesty pauses?" he
asked, hastily. "Well, I wish your majesty joy of it. That Mr.
Reichardt, of Halle, is too sentimental and arrogant a composer, and
never should I have dared to lay these new pieces of his before your
majesty if you had not asked me to bring you every thing written by
Reichardt. Well, you have seen it now; it displeases your majesty,
and I am glad of it, for--"
"For," said the queen, gently interrupting him, "for the great
composer Himmel is again jealous of the great composer Reichardt. Is
it not so?"
She raised her dark-blue eyes at this question to Himmel's face, and
he saw to his dismay that there were tears in those eyes.
"What!" he asked in terror, "your majesty has wept?"
She nodded in the affirmative, smiling gently. "Yes," she said,
after a pause, "I have wept, and hence I could not continue singing.
Do not scold me, do not be angry with me, my dear and stern teacher.
This song has moved me profoundly; it is so simple and yet so
touching, that it must have come out of the depths of a truly noble
Mr. Himmel replied only with a low sigh and an almost inaudible
murmur, which the queen, however, understood very well.
"Perhaps," she said, trying gently to heal the jealous pangs of the
composer, "perhaps I was so deeply moved by the words rather than by
the music; these words are so beautiful that it seems to me Goethe
never wrote any thing more beautiful."
And bending over the music-book, she read in an undertone:
"Wer nie sein Brod mit Thranen ass,
Wer nie die kummervollen Nachte
Auf seinem Bette einsam sass,
Der kennt euch nicht, Ihr himmlischen Machte!"
"He who never ate his bread with tears,
He who never, through nights of affliction,
Sat on his lonely bed,
He does not know you, powers of heaven!"]
"Say yourself, Mr. Himmel, is not that beautiful and touching?" she
asked, looking up again to her teacher.
"Beautiful and touching for those who have wept much and suffered
much," said Himmel, harshly; "but I cannot conceive why these words
should touch your majesty, whose whole life has hitherto illuminated
the world like an uninterrupted sunny spring morning."
"Hitherto," repeated the queen, musingly, "yes, hitherto, indeed, my
life was a sunny spring morning, but who is able to fathom what
clouds may soon appear on the horizon, and how cloudy and gloomy the
evening may be? This song reechoes in my soul like a melancholy
foreboding, and clings to its wings as if it wanted to paralyze
their flight. 'He who never ate his bread with tears,' ah, how
mournful it sounds, and what a long story of suffering is contained
in these few words!"
The queen paused, and two tears, glistening more beautifully than
the diamonds of her golden diadem, slowly ran down her cheeks.
Concert-master Himmel was not courageous enough to interrupt the
silence of the queen, or, may be, he had not listened very
attentively to her words, and his thoughts perhaps were fixed on
matters of an entirely different character, for his air was absent
and gloomy; his eyes glanced around the room, but returned
continually to the lovely form of the queen.
Suddenly Louisa seemed to arouse herself violently from her gloomy
meditation, and after hastily wiping the tears from her eyes she
forced herself to smile.
"It is not good to give way to melancholy forebodings," she said,
"particularly in the presence of a stern teacher. We must improve
our time in a more useful manner, for time is a very precious thing;
and if I had not judiciously profited by my short leisure to-day, I
should not have had a single hour to spare for my teacher, for there
will be a reception in the palace to-night, and I must previously
give audience to several visitors. I have, therefore, made my
evening toilet in the afternoon, and thereby gained time to take my
dear singing-lesson. But now let us study, so that your pupil may
redound to your honor."
"Oh, your majesty," ejaculated Himmel, "my honor and my happiness!"
"Hush, hush," said Louisa, interrupting him, with an enchanting
smile, "no flattery! no court-phrases! Here I am not the queen, nor
are you my devoted subject; I am nothing but an obedient pupil, and
you are my rigorous master, who has a right to scold and grumble
whenever I sing incorrectly, and who very frequently avails himself
of this privilege. Do not apologize for it, but go on in the same
manner, for I will then only learn the more."
"Your majesty sings like an angel," murmured Himmel, whose eyes were
fixed steadfastly on the queen.
"Well, as far as that is concerned, you are a competent judge,"
exclaimed Lousia, laughing, "for being Himmel (heaven), you must
know how the angels sing, and your opinion cannot be disputed. The
angels, then, sing incorrectly, like your obedient pupil? Let the
angels do so, but not your pupil. Come, Mr. Himmel, sit down. It
does not behoove the maestro to stand at the side of his pupil. Sit
She pointed with a graceful wave of her hand at the chair standing
at her side, and Mr. Himmel, complying with her order, sat down. His
glances returned involuntarily to the queen, whose beauty only now
burst on his short-sighted eyes, and whom he believed he had never
seen so lovely, so fascinating and graceful. Her beautiful face
seemed to him like that of a fairy queen, and her wonderful
shoulders, her superb, dazzling neck, which he had never seen
unveiled and so very near, appeared to him like the bust of a
goddess, moulded by Phidias from living marble.
"Well, let us commence," said the queen, calmly. "Pray play the
melody in the treble and let me play the accompaniment a few times;
I shall then be better able to sing the song."
She commenced eagerly playing the prelude, while a deeper blush
mantled her cheeks. It was Himmel's turn now to begin with the
melody; his eyes, however, were not fixed on the music, but on the
queen, and hence he blundered sadly.
"Well?" asked the queen, looking at him in charming confusion. "You
do not play correctly."
"Yes, I have blundered, your majesty," said Himmel, gloomily; "I
have blundered, for I am only a man after all, and cannot look into
the sun without having a coup de soleil. Your majesty, I have had
such a coup de soleil, and you see I have lost my reason in
With these words he bent over the queen and imprinted a glowing kiss
on her shoulders; then he hastily rose, took his hat, and rushed out
of the room. [Footnote: historical]
The queen's eyes followed him with an air of surprise and
embarrassment; then she burst into ringing, charming laughter.
"Ah," she said, "if that austere 'Madame Etiquette,' the mistress of
ceremonies, should have seen that, she would have either died with
horror, or her wrath would have crushed the criminal. I believe I
will confess the terrible crime to her. Oh, my dear mistress of
ceremonies! my dear mistress of ceremonies!" she cried.
The door of the adjoining room opened immediately, and the Countess
von Voss made her appearance.
"Your majesty has called me," she said, and, after looking around
the room, she cast a glance of surprise on the clock.
"Ah, my dear countess, you are surprised that Mr. Himmel, my
singing-master, has already left, although the hour has only half
expired?" asked the queen, merrily.
"Your majesty," said the countess, sighing, "I really ought no
longer to be surprised at any thing, nor wonder at any violation of
etiquette, for such things, unfortunately, occur every day and every
hour. Your majesty knows, moreover, that this Mr. Himmel is
altogether distasteful to me."
"And why?" asked the queen, gayly.
"Your majesty, because it is contrary to etiquette for a queen to
take lessons, and to have a teacher."
"What!" exclaimed Louisa. "According to etiquette, then, a queen is
not permitted to learn any thing after ascending the throne?"
"No, your majesty, for it is entirely unbecoming that one of your
subjects should become the teacher of his queen, and that anybody
should be permitted and dare to censure her."
"Well, do not you do so very often, my dear countess?" asked the
"I dare not censure the queen, but merely to defend and maintain
etiquette, as my duty and official position require me to do. But a
queen who takes lessons must descend from her throne so long as her
teacher is with her; must renounce her exalted position, and obey
instead of commanding. In such a case, therefore, etiquette is
altogether out of the question."
"You are right," said Louisa, merrily. "Mr. Himmel, the concert-
master, at least, entirely coincides with you, and he takes no
notice whatever of etiquette. Shall I confess to you, my dear
countess, why Mr. Himmel has run away to-day half an hour before the
"Run away?" asked the mistress of ceremonies, in dismay. "He has
dared to run away in the presence of your majesty?"
"Yes, he has dared to do so, but previously he has dared to do
something a great deal worse. He has--but, dear countess, sit down;
you might turn giddy."
"Oh no, your majesty, permit me to stand. Your majesty was going to
communicate graciously to me what Mr. Himmel--this teacher of a
queen is not even a nobleman--has dared to do in the presence of
"Well, listen to me," said the queen, smiling; and bending down
closely to the ear of the countess, she whispered: "He has kissed my
The mistress of ceremonies uttered a piercing cry and tottered back
"Kissed!" she faltered.
"Yes, kissed," sighed the queen; "I really believe it is still to be
She walked with light, swinging steps to the large looking-glass,
and looked at her shoulder with a charming, child-like smile.
"Yes, that small red spot there is Mr. Himmel's crime!" she said.
"Tell me what punishment he has deserved, countess."
"That is a question for the courts alone to decide," said the
mistress of ceremonies, solemnly; "for we shall bring the
occurrence, of course, at once to their notice. Orders should be
issued immediately to arrest him, and his punishment should be as
unparalleled as was his offence. Your majesty will permit me to
repair at once to the king in order--".
"No, my dear mistress of ceremonies," said the queen, who was still
standing in front of the looking glass and contemplating her own
form, not with the contented looks of a conceited woman, but with
the calm, stern eyes of a critic examining a work of art--"no, my
dear mistress of ceremonies, we shall take good care not to raise a
hue and cry about it. And Mr. Himmel is not so culpable, after all,
as he seems to be."
"What! Your majesty intends to defend him?"
"Not to defend, but to excuse him, my dear countess. He was at my
side as my dear old teacher, and I was to him not a queen, but a
pupil; and, moreover, a pupil with very beautiful shoulders. My dear
countess, I am really more culpable than poor Himmel, for, if the
queen becomes a pupil, she must remember that her teacher is a man,
and she must not treat him merely as an automaton instructing her.
The only judge who is able to decide this matter is my husband, the
king. He shall pronounce judgment on it, and if he permits Mr.
Himmel to come back, I shall go on with my singing-lessons.
However," added the queen, smiling, and blushing delicately, "in
future I shall wrap a shawl around my shoulders. And now, my dear
countess, pray let us not mention this little affair to anybody. I
shall submit it to the king and ask him to decide it."
"I shall be silent because your majesty orders me to keep the
occurrence secret," sighed the countess. "But it is unheard-of, it
is dreadful. It is rank treason, and the offended royal majesty will
forgive without punishing."
"Oh, yes, I will!" exclaimed the queen, joyfully. "Forgiving without
punishing, is not that the most sacred and sublime power of a queen;
is it not the most brilliant gem in our crown? How miserable and
deplorable would monarchs be if God had not conferred the right of
mercy upon them! We stand ourselves so much in need of mercy and
forbearance, for we commit errors and faults like other mortals, and
yet we judge and punish like gods. Let us be merciful, therefore,
that we may be judged mercifully."
The door of the anteroom opened at this moment, and the chamberlain-
"Your majesty," he said, "Prince Louis Ferdinand and Minister von
Hardenberg beg leave to wait on your majesty."
"I expected these gentlemen at this hour," said the queen, glancing
at the clock; "let them come in, therefore. And you, my dear
"Your majesty orders me to withdraw?" asked the mistress of
ceremonies, hesitatingly, "Etiquette requires that the queen should
give her audiences only in the presence of her mistress of
ceremonies, or of one of her ladies of honor."
"My dear countess," said the queen, with a slight tinge of
impatience, "I am not going to give any audience, but merely to
receive a friendly visit from my royal cousin and his friend; as I
know it is their intention to communicate to me matters which no one
except myself can hear, I shall receive them alone. Hence be so kind
as to withdraw."
"His royal highness Prince Louis Ferdinand and his excellency
Minister von Hardenberg!" shouted the footman, opening the folding-
The queen nodded a parting greeting to the mistress of ceremonies,
and advanced a few steps to meet the visitors, while the countess,
heaving mournful sighs, disappeared through the side-door.
Prince Louis Ferdinand, a nephew of Frederick the Great, and
Minister von Hardenberg, were at that time the most popular men in
Prussia, because they were known to be the leaders of the party
which at the court of Berlin considered the accession of Prussia to
the coalition of Russia, England, and Austria, as the only means to
save the country, while Minister von Haugwitz, Lombard, the first
secretary of foreign affairs, and General Kockeritz, constantly
renewed their efforts to win the king to an alliance with France.
Prince Ferdinand, a fine looking young man, scarcely thirty years of
age, in his brilliant uniform, in which his tall and noble form
presented a very imposing appearance, and in which he looked like
the incarnation of an heroic warrior, was consequently the special
favorite of the soldiers, who told the most astonishing and
incredible stories about his intrepidity and hardihood. He was,
besides, the favorite of the ladies, who called him the best-looking
and most amiable man in the whole monarchy; and, with amiable
indulgence, attributed his many adventures and acts of inconstancy,
his wild and dissipated life, his extravagance and numerous debts,
to the genius of the prince. He was, indeed, an extraordinary man,
one of those on whose brow Providence has imprinted the stamp of
genius,--not to their own good, but to their misfortune, and who
either miserably perish by their genius, or constantly inflict with
it the most painful wounds upon others.
Minister von Hardenberg, who now, after a long struggle, had
succeeded in overcoming the influence of Minister von Haugwitz, and,
with him, that of the French party, was one of those rare and
extraordinary statesmen who have made diplomacy not a business, but
the task of their whole life, and who have devoted to it all the
strength, all the thoughts and feelings of their soul. A native of
Hanover, and receiving rapid promotion at the hands of the
government of that country, he had, nevertheless, soon entered the
service of the Duke of Brunswick, who had charged him, after the
death of Frederick the Great, to take the king's will, which had
been deposited in the ducal archives at Brunswick, to Berlin.
[Footnote: "Memoires d'un Homme d'Etat," vol. i., p. 202.] King
Frederick William the Second, who was so sagacious as to perceive
and appreciate the diplomatic talents of the young ambassador, had
induced him to enter his service, and intrusted to him the difficult
mission of negotiating the annexation of Baireuth to Prussia, of
settling the claims of the margrave, of paying the crushing burden
of the debts of Baireuth as speedily as possible, and of restoring
the country, which had suffered so much, to its former prosperity
and content. Afterward he had been appointed minister of state and
war in Prussia, and since that time he had always displayed the
greatest activity and zeal in serving Prussia according to the
dictates of his honest conviction, but at the same time also to
guard the interests of the great fatherland, the interests of
Germany. The influence of France, above all, seemed to him to
endanger these interests; hence he believed it to be specially
incumbent upon him to preserve at least Prussia from this noxious
influence and to push her over to the other side, to the side of the
coalition, than to allow her to be devoured, like a poor little
bird, by the French basilisk. These endeavors, which kept up a
continual conflict between him and the special favorites and
confidants of the king, Haugwitz and Kockeritz, had gained him the
love and esteem of all Prussian patriots, and secured him an
extraordinary popularity. These two favorites of the Prussian people
now entered the queen's cabinet.
Louisa replied to the familiar and friendly--rather than respectful-
-greeting of the prince with a smile and a nod, and received the
respectful bow of the minister with the calm and proud dignity of a
"Well, my merry and reckless cousin," she said, turning to the
prince, "are there again some sins to be confessed, some neglects of
discipline to be hushed up, some tears to be dried, and the mercy of
the king to be implored for the extravagant freaks of our genius?
And is it for that reason that you have brought along so eloquent an
advocate and attorney?"
"No, your majesty," said the prince, heaving a sigh, "this time,
unfortunately, I have to confess to you no merry freaks and
agreeable sins, and I am afraid I am about to become a steady man,
and to turn my back on all extravagant pranks. Hence, the minister
has not accompanied me this time in order to defend me and to
implore the gracious intercession of my royal cousin, but we have
come for the purpose of repeating to your majesty Prussia's cry of
anguish and distress, and of beseeching you to assist us in saving
her from the ruin on the verge of which she is tottering at the
The queen looked alternately at the prince and at the minister with
grave, wondering eyes. "It is a political conference, then, you wish
to hold with me?" she asked; and when the two gentlemen made no
reply, she continued more rapidly and in a slightly agitated voice--
"in that case, gentlemen, I must request you to leave me, for I am
no politician, and I do not aspire to the role of a political
intriguer. I am the wife of the reigning king, but not a reigning
queen; my sole endeavor is to render the king a happy husband at
home, and to cause him to forget at my side politics and the
vexations of his official position."
"I am afraid, your majesty," said Minister von Hardenberg, solemnly-
-"I am afraid the time for such an idol on the throne is past; and
instead of causing the king to forget the vexations of his position,
it will now be the great task of your majesty to bear them with
"And we have come to beg my noble and magnanimous cousin to do so,"
exclaimed the prince, enthusiastically. "We have come to implore
your assistance and cooperation in the name of Prussia, in the name
of all German patriots, and in the name of your children!"
"In the name of my children?" ejaculated the queen, turning pale.
"Speak! speak! what has happened? what calamity threatens my
children? I decline listening to you as a queen, but I will do so as
a mother, who anxiously desires to secure the happiness of her
children. What evils, what calamities do you refer to?"
"The independence, nay, perhaps the whole existence of Prussia, is
menaced," said Minister von Hardenberg, solemnly. "We have to choose
whether Prussia is to be an isolated state, shunned by everybody,
and despised by everybody--a state which France will be able to
devour with impunity and amid the jeers of the whole world, as she
has devoured Italy, Holland, and the left bank of the Rhine--or
whether Prussia will preserve her power, her independence, and her
honor, by not staving off a division any longer, but meeting her
friends as well as her enemies with open visor, and by assuming at
length an active and resolute attitude instead of the vacillating
and hesitating course she has so long pursued!"
"We ought to oppose the Emperor of France in a manly manner,"
exclaimed the prince, energetically. "If we do not interfere with
his proceedings, he will soon be our master as he is of all those
who call themselves his allies, and who are really nothing but his
slaves. My heart kindles with rage when I now see all Germany
trembling with fear before this son of a Corsican lawyer, this
tyrant who assassinated the noble and innocent Duke d'Enghien, and
who, not contenting himself with chaining France, would like to
catch the whole world in his imperial mantle so as to fatten its
golden bees on it. And he will succeed in doing so, unless we resist
him, for his word is now already the law of half the world, and this
emperor carries out whatever he wants to do. Truly, if he should
feel some day a hankering for a dish of princes' ears, I should no
longer deem my own ears safe, nor those of your young princes
either!" [Footnote: Prince Louis Ferdinand said this to the queen.--
Vide "Rahel and her Friends," vol. i.]
The queen did not smile at this jest which the prince had uttered in
an angry voice, but she turned once more with a grave and anxious
air to the minister.
"Tell me, has any thing occurred?" she asked. "Has there been a
change in the political situation?"
"Yes, your majesty," replied the minister, "there has been a change
in the political situation; the Emperor Napoleon has dared to
violate our neutrality, and if Prussia should not now demand
satisfaction she either loses her honor, or she places herself
before the whole world as the ally of France, and defies thereby the
open hostility of Austria, Russia, and England."
"You dare to say that Prussia's honor has been attacked, and to
doubt that the king will hold the offender responsible for such an
outrage?" exclaimed the queen, with flashing eyes. "The king, who is
the incarnation of honor, will not permit even the shadow of a stain
to fall on Prussia's honor; in generous anger he will hurl back the
insolent hand that will dare to shake the palladium of our honor."
"Oh, if you think and speak thus," said the prince,
enthusiastically, "I have no longer any fears, but consider Prussia
as saved already from the dangers now menacing her. As I see your
majesty now, in your wondrous beauty, with those eyes reflecting
your inward heaven, with this face so radiant with enthusiasm, you
seem to be the genius whom Providence has sent to Prussia to guard
and protect her, and to guide her on the right path and to the right
goal. O, queen! fulfil the mission which Providence has intrusted to
you; follow your noble and sacred vocation; be the genius of
Prussia; and impart to the vacillating and timid, firm, manly
courage and energetic resolution! Queen, I implore you, on my knees,
have pity on Prussia, have pity on your children: be the genius of
And quite beside himself, his eyes filled with tears, his lips
quivering with emotion, the prince knelt down before the queen and
raised his folded hands imploringly to her.
"Your majesty, permit me also to bend my knees before you," said
Minister von Hardenberg, solemnly, "to adore and worship you as the
genius of Prussia, from whom we expect our salvation, our peace, and
our honor! Oh, queen, you alone have the power to touch the heart of
the king and to remove the doubts of his noble and honorable mind;
you alone will be able to accomplish what neither our arguments nor
our supplications could bring about; you alone will be able to
elevate the vacillation of your husband to the strength of high-
spirited and courageous resolution!"
"No, not a word against the king!" exclaimed the queen, almost
sternly. "Let no one dare to assert that the king lacks manly
determination and vigorous courage. If he is hesitating when you
would wish to act, it is because he looks into the future more
prudently and sagaciously than you, while you only think of the
present time; it is because he weighs and calculates the
consequences, while you only care for the action of the moment. But
arise, gentlemen: let us not perform a sentimental scene at a time
when it is of the highest importance to be prudent and to reflect.
Let us converse, therefore, gravely and soberly; explain to me what
has happened, and what danger is menacing Prussia and my children. I
comply now with your wish; let us hold a political conference. Let
us sit down, then, and commence."
She took a seat on the sofa, and invited the gentlemen to sit down
on the two chairs opposite her.
"Now tell me what has occurred, and what has changed the political
situation. Minister von Hardenberg, pray give me a full and plain
account of the state of our political affairs, for I have already
told you that I never meddle with politics, and do not know much
about them; indeed I have been too happy, and my life too much
absorbed by my happiness, to have made it necessary for me to think
of politics. But I see very well that the time of quiet happiness is
over now! Let us, then, speak of politics. You said, a few minutes
ago, Prussia had been insulted by France?"
"Yes, your majesty, Prussia has been insulted. Her most sacred
right, her neutrality, has been violated," replied Hardenberg. "The
king, in his generous endeavor to preserve the blessings of peace to
his people, intended to maintain a strict neutrality amid all these
wars and storms agitating the world, and the friend and ally of no
party and no power, to rely exclusively on his own strength. He
wanted to wait, to mediate, and conciliate, but not to attack, act,
and decide. There may be times when such a role is a weighty and
dignified one--may secure the peace of the world; but it always
depends on those between whom one wishes to act as a neutral
mediator. One may remain neutral between men of honor, between
princes, to whom their word is sacred, and who do not dare to
violate treaties, but not between those to whom their word is sacred
only so long as their own advantage requires it, and who do not
violate treaties only so long as they do not interfere with their
selfish plans. It is a principle of neutrality not to open one's
territory to either of the contending powers, and this principle has
always been strictly observed. When Russia, now that she is going to
send her troops for the second time to Germany for the purpose of
assisting the Austrians, informed the king that she would march
these troops through Southern Prussia and Silesia, the king deemed
this information equivalent to a declaration of war, and his majesty
immediately ordered the whole army to be placed on the war footing.
We should now be at war with Russia, if the Emperor Alexander had
not sent on the day after the first dispatch had arrived here,
another dispatch to the king, in which he apologized, and declared
that he had been too rash in making the above-named demand.
[Footnote: Vide Hausser's "History of Germany," vol. 11., p. 635.
"Memoires d'un Homme d'Etat," vol. viii., p. 474.] But this step of
Russia, this mere threat of violation of our neutrality, had
sufficed to induce Prussia to place her army on the war footing, and
to do so AGAINST the coalition of Austria, Russia, and England. A
cry of horror resounded throughout Germany when the people heard of
this first step by which Prussia seemed to declare publicly FOR
France and AGAINST the coalition, and this cry was reechoed abroad,
of which the conduct of the King of Sweden gave us a striking proof.
Your majesty is aware that this king, through his ambassador, M. de
Bernstorf, returned to his majesty the King of Prussia the order of
the Black Eagle which he had received from the late lamented king,
accompanying it by an insulting letter in which he stated, that 'he
could not wear an order which the king had recently also sent to
"And on the same day that this offensive return of the highest
Prussian order took place," exclaimed Prince Louis Ferdinand, with a
harsh, angry laugh, "on the same day the King of Prussia received
from the Emperor of France the grand cordon and seven other grand
crosses of the Legion of Honor to be distributed among the princes
and ministers. And not only did we receive these seven orders, but
in return for them we sent seven orders of the Black Eagle to
Paris." [Footnote: Hausser's "History of Germany," vol. ii., p. 76.]
"But you forget to add that the king returned on the same day the
Scraphine order to the King of Sweden, and recalled his ambassador,
so that we are now in a state of war with Sweden," said the queen,
"Oh, my royal cousin, you betray your secrets," exclaimed the
prince, joyfully, "you wanted us to believe that your majesty did
not care at all for politics, and now you know the most minute
details so accurately."
"I take a lively interest in every occurrence which grieves the
heart of my husband," said the queen; "and that event made a very
painful impression upon him."
"Oh, your majesty, it was only a prelude to other mortifications and
insults which we shall have to suffer if the king will not avenge
them," said Hardenberg, energetically. "It has been said that
Prussia was siding with France merely because she would not grant
Russia a passage through her neutral territory, and because she
placed her army in a menacing position against Russia. But what
would the world say if it should learn what has now occurred?"
"Well, what has occurred?" asked the queen, breathlessly.
"The Emperor of France has carried out what Russia only threatened
to do. The Emperor of France, without applying for permission, has
marched a portion of his army, commanded by Bernadotte, through
Prussian territory. He has marched his troops, contrary to treaties
and to international law, through Prussian Franconia, Anspach, and
The queen uttered a cry of surprise, and her cheeks turned pale.
"Does the king already know it?" she asked.
"He has known it since yesterday," said Hardenberg, gravely. "We
kept the matter secret, because we would only lay it before the
public together with the decision of his majesty."
"And has the king come already to a decision?" asked the queen.
"He has, your majesty," said Hardenberg, solemnly. "When Russia
threatened to violate our territory, we placed our army on the war
footing, and it is still in arms. Now that France dares to do what
Russia only threatened to do, we do not turn our arms against her in
order to avenge the insult, but we take our pen and write and ask
France to explain her startling proceedings. It is true we threaten,
but do not strike!"
"No, we do not strike!" exclaimed the prince, laughing scornfully;
"we mobilize our army against our natural friends and allies, but we
do not draw the sword against our natural enemies and adversaries.
The army of Frederick the Great is ready for war, and yet it remains
idle and looks on quietly while the insatiable conqueror is
penetrating farther and farther into the heart of Germany; while he
is scattering broadcast the seeds of treachery, discord, and
mischief; while he is persuading the German princes to turn traitors
to Germany; while he is poisoning and corrupting the hearts of the
people and degrading their characters to such an extent, that the
sense of fidelity, honesty, and constancy will soon become extinct
in Germany, and all the Germans will be nothing but a horde of
slaves, who will be happy if this tyrant does not apply the lash too
often to their backs, and who will kiss his feet, so that he may
step at least mildly and gently on their necks! If the tyrant should
succeed now in humiliating Austria, who alone has been courageous
enough to oppose him; if Napoleon should defeat the Austrian army,
Germany would be lost and become nothing but a French province like
Italy and Holland: all the German princes would lay their crowns at
the feet of Napoleon, and be glad if he should suffer them only as
governors in their former states, or leave them at least their empty
titles after depriving them of their possessions!"
"No, no," exclaimed the queen, "we must not, we shall not permit
that! Prussia is ready to maintain the honor of Germany; Prussia
will rise like a hero accustomed to victory; she will drive the
invader from her territory, and compel him, with arms in her hands,
to keep the peace, if she is unable to obtain it with her pen. You
are right, the time of neutrality and hesitation is past, and
henceforth we must act. I shall no longer remain neutral, I shall
act too. You have appealed to the mother and wife and shown her the
danger threatening her children and her husband; you have reminded
the daughter of Germany of the horrors menacing her fatherland; you
have pointed out to the Queen of Prussia the evils impending over
her people; the mother, the wife, and the queen has heard and
understood you. The time of neutrality is past; we must move the
heart of the best and most magnanimous king by our prayers and
remonstrances, in order that he may listen to us, and no longer to
the insinuations and flatteries of his enemies, so that he may
discern his friends as well as his enemies. The king is hesitating
only because, in generous self-abnegation, he prefers the happiness
of his people to his own wishes and to the gratification of his own
desires. A soldier by nature and predilection, he compels himself to
be a peaceable ruler, because he believes it is necessary for the
happiness of his people. Let us prove to him that his subjects
refuse to accept this generous sacrifice, and that they are joyfully
ready to remove the stains from their honor with their heart's
blood. Let public opinion speak out and come to our assistance. I
say, 'to OUR assistance,' for henceforth I shall side with you, I
shall be a member of your party, and a determined and outspoken
enemy of France!"
"May God bless your majesty for these words!" said Hardenberg,
deeply moved; "I am once again in hopes that Prussia will be saved,
for she has now won an ally who brings more to her than armies and
arms, and who places the enthusiasm and indomitable determination of
a great chieftain at the head of our people."
"And with this chieftain at our head we shall vanquish every French
army," exclaimed Prince Louis, enthusiastically, "with this
chieftain at our head we shall triumphantly march against the enemy,
and one idea, one sentiment will animate all of us: Queen Louisa is
watching and praying for us! Oh, my queen, would that that blessed
day of battle could dawn for us! Command the sun of that day to rise
and to shine into all Prussian hearts, and to fire them with
patriotism so as to shrink back no longer from death and wounds, but
only from dishonor and degradation! Oh, my blood burns like fire in
my veins; it would like to burst forth in a fiery torrent and drown
and burn every Frenchman. Queen, have mercy on me--let the solemn
day when I may shed my blood for the fatherland dawn without delay!"
"Live and labor for the fatherland!" said the queen, with flaming
eyes, and her face radiant with enthusiasm. "It is not the most
exalted and difficult task to die an heroic death for a great idea,
but it is even more noble and difficult to nourish and preserve this
idea in the gloomy days of adversity, and not to abandon it and give
it up in a period of affliction, but to remain its guardian and
priest, even though fate may seem to reject it and to humiliate us
with it. Now that I am entering a new life-path, I say to you, from
the bottom of my heart, we will struggle for the honor, liberty, and
independence of Prussia and Germany, but we will be determined, too,
not only to die for these ideas, but also to suffer and bear
affliction for them. Oh, it seems to me as though I were looking at
this moment into the future, and as though I did see there much
misery and distress in store for us, many storms and thunder-
"But the sun is hidden behind the thunder-clouds, and when the
thunder has died away it will shine again," said Hardenberg.
"And it will then shine on the heads of my husband and of my
children!" exclaimed the queen, raising her radiant eyes to heaven.
"Above all, it will shine on the Prussian people from the face of
their adored Queen Louisa," said the prince.
The queen smiled sadly. "Let us not speak of the sun, but of the
thunder-clouds preceding it. They are gathering around us; let us
see how we can break through them. You may count on my earnest
assistance. My husband and my children are in danger, I feel and see
it. France is the enemy menacing them. Henceforward we will oppose
this enemy with open visor. I promise it to you in the name of
Prussia, in the name of my husband, and of my children. Here, take
my hand; we will stand by each other, and struggle together against
France for the honor and glory of Prussia. You will fight with your
sword and with your pen, and I shall do so with my word and my love.
May the people support us, may God bless us!"
"May God bless us!" repeated the prince and the minister,
reverentially kissing the queen's hands.
"And now, gentlemen, go," said the queen, after a short pause "Let
us not desecrate this solemn moment by any additional words. Every
thing for Prussia! Let that be our watchword! and so I bid you
farewell for to-day. Every thing for Prussia!"
"Every thing for Prussia!" repeated the two gentlemen, taking leave
of the queen.
Louisa sent a long, melancholy look after them; then she turned
hastily around and crossed the room with rapid steps; the sudden
draught produced by her quick passage blew the music-paper from the
piano to the floor; it fell exactly at the queen's feet.
She picked it up; it was the song she had sung an hour ago. A
painful smile played on the lips of the queen, and raising her eyes
sadly to heaven, she whispered, in a low voice:
"Oh, my God, grant that this may not be an omen, and that I may not
be compelled to eat my bread with tears, and to weep through nights
of affliction! But if it must be, O God, give me strength to bear my
misfortunes uncomplainingly, and to be a comfort to my husband, a
mother to my children!"
THE OATH AT THE GRAVE OF FREDERICK THE GREAT.
The wishes of the queen had rapidly been fulfilled; public opinion
had declared in Berlin with rare energy and emphasis against France,
and the people had received the news of the violation of Prussia's
neutrality with a unanimous cry of rage and horror. The inhabitants
of Berlin, usually so peaceable and addicted to pleasure, seemed all
at once transformed into heroes grave and eager for war, who no
longer knew any other aim than to avenge as speedily as possible the
insult offered to them, and to call France to account for the
outrage she had committed against Prussia.
"War! war!" That was the word of jubilee and supplication now
resounding on every street, and in every house; like one exulting
prayer of the whole nation, it rose to the windows of the royal
palace, and seemed to rap gently at them, so that the king might
open them and let it penetrate into his heart.
The people spoke everywhere of this one great affair; they asked
each other, in conversation: "Shall we take up arms? Shall we
declare war against France?"
Those who answered these questions in the negative were treated in
the most contemptuous manner; the people turned their backs on them,
with angry glances and threatening murmurs: to those, however, who
replied in the affirmative, they offered their hands joyfully and
greeted them as friends and allies.
Minister von Haugwitz was known to be an adherent of the French and
an opponent of the war; the people rushed to his house and broke his
windows, shouting loudly and angrily, "We do not want peace! Let all
the French and friends of the French perish!"
Minister von Hardenberg, on the other hand, was hailed by the people
with the most enthusiastic applause wherever he made his appearance;
and on their return from the house of Minister von Haugwitz, they
hurried to Hardenberg's humble residence in order to cheer him and
to shout, "War! war! We want war with France!"
Not only the people in the streets, however, but also the best
classes of the public participated in this general enthusiasm, and
did not hesitate to give vent to it in public. Even the royal
functionaries found suddenly sufficient energy to show themselves as
German patriots, and it was certainly not unintentional that
"Wallenstein's Camp," by Schiller, was to be performed at the Royal
Theatre during those days of general excitement.
Everybody wished to attend this performance; all Berlin rushed to
the Royal Theatre, and the fortunate persons who had succeeded in
obtaining tickets were envied by the thousands unable to gain
admission. The theatre was crowded; the pit was a surging sea, the
gallery was filled to suffocation, and in the boxes of the first and
second tiers the aristocratic, elegant, educated, and learned world
of all Berlin seemed to have met. All faces were glowing, all lips
were smiling, all eyes were sparkling; every one was aware that this
was to be a political demonstration, and every one was happy and
proud to participate in it.
When Prince Louis Ferdinand made his appearance in the small royal
proscenium-box, all eyes turned immediately toward him, and when he
bent forward from his box, and seemed to greet the audience with his
merry eyes and winning smile, there arose a storm of applause as
though a favorite singer had just concluded an aria di bravura and
received the thanks of the enraptured listeners. Suddenly, however,
the loud applause died away, perhaps because the prince had waved
his hands as if he wished to calm this roaring sea--perhaps because
the attention of the audience was attracted by somebody else. The
eyes of the crowd turned from the prince toward an adjoining box.
Four gentlemen, in brilliant uniforms, had just entered it; but
these uniforms were not those of the Prussian army, and the broad
ribbons which these gentlemen wore across their breasts, were not
the ribbons of Prussian orders. The newcomers, who had entered the
box, were the members of the French embassy--General Lefevre, with
his attaches, and General Duroc, whom Napoleon had recently again
sent to Berlin in order to strengthen the friendly relations of
France and Prussia. It was certainly a mere accident that Prince
Louis Ferdinand, just at the moment when these gentlemen intended to
salute him, turned to the opposite side, and did not see and
acknowledge their greetings; it was certainly a mere accident that
the audience, which had just now shouted and applauded jubilantly,
all at once commenced hissing loudly.
The members of the French embassy took good care not to refer this
hissing to themselves; they took their seats quietly near the
balustrade of the box, and seemed to take no notice of the loud
murmurs and the threatening glances of the audience.
The band now struck up the overture. It was a skilfully arranged
medley of well-known popular war-songs, interlarded with the
Dessauer and Hohenfriedberger march, as if the enthusiasm of the
audience were to be carried to the highest pitch by brilliant
reminiscences of the heroic deeds and imperishable glory of Prussia.
All at once a joyful murmur spread through the pit, the boxes, and
the gallery. "The king, the queen!" whispered everybody, and all
those hundreds of faces turned toward the small proscenium-box which
the royal couple had just entered.
The queen, radiantly beautiful, with rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes,
greeted the audience with an enchanting smile; the king, whose brow
seemed unusually gloomy and clouded, cast only a hesitating and
anxious glance over the house, and then withdrew behind the crimson
curtain of the box.
The stage-curtain rose; the performance commenced. The audience
followed it with the most ardent sympathy; every word referring to
the liberty and independence of Germany, was hailed with thunders of
applause, and jubilant shouts resounded at every allusion to foreign
tyranny and despotism. The actors had now reached the last part of
the piece, the merry, soul-stirring horseman's song concluding the
whole. "WOHLAUF, KAMERADEN AUF'S PFER, AUF'S PFERD!" sang the chorus
on the stage, and the audience followed every verse, every line,
with breathless attention. All at once people looked in great
surprise at each other, and then listened with the utmost suspense
to the singers, who had added to the merry horseman's song a verse
which had not been heard heretofore. And when the last words of this
verse had died away, the whole audience shouted and roared, "DA
CAPO! DA CAPO!" In the pit, in the boxes, in the gallery, in short,
every one rose to their feet, and all eyes again turned to the box
in which the members of the French embassy were seated, and thus,
standing, in a jubilant tone and with threatening glances, the whole
audience joined the chorus of the actors on the stage; for they knew
already the words of the additional verse by heart, and sang in a
"Wohlauf, Kameraden, zur Schlacht, zum Krieg,
In's Feld, in die Freibeit gezogen.
Zur blutigeu Schlacht, zum rachenden Sieg
Uber den, der uns Freundsehaft gelogen!
Und Tod und Verderhen dem falschen Mann,
Der treulos den Frieden brechen kann!"
[Footnote: "On, comrades, to battle, to war--let us march into the
field and flght for liberty! To bloody battle, to avenging victory
over him who has lied friendship to us! And death and destruction to
the false man who has perfidiously broken the peace!"
This whole scene is strictly in accordance with history; and the
additional verse, if not literally the same, renders at least the
sentiment of the lines which were sung on that memorable evening.
--Vide "Memoires d'un Homme d'Etat," vol. viii., p. 496, and
"Napoleon; a Memoir," by--, vol. ii., p. 73.]
And the audience repeated once more the last two lines
"Und Tod und Verderben dem falschen Mann, Der treulos den Frieden
All eyes then turned to the royal box. The king was still hidden
behind the small curtain. The queen had risen. Folding her hands, as
if praying, she had raised her eyes to heaven, and two tears ran
slowly down her cheeks.
Prince Louis Ferdinand bent toward Minister von Hardenberg, who had
just entered his box. "Do you see the queen?" he said, in a low
voice. "Does she not look really like a genius praying for Prussia?"
"Ah, and, perhaps, weeping for Prussia!" whispered Hardenberg--"But
let us not give way now to gloomy anticipations. I am the bearer of
good and unexpected news. Listen to me. The king and the queen will
rise in a few minutes in order to leave the box, and who knows
whether the audience will be patient and calm enough to witness the
whole ballet, which is just commencing? I see some of my agents
already below in the pit, where they have made their appearance in
order to circulate my news."
"I beseech your excellency, be here your own agent, and communicate
the news to me."
Minister Hardenberg bent closer to the prince's ear. "I suppose you
know that, thanks to the influence of the queen, I have induced the
king to sign a tolerably warlike and threatening note to the Emperor
of the French?"
"But will this note really be forwarded to Napoleon?"
"It has already been forwarded. But I had sent also a messenger to
the Emperor of Russia with a copy of this note, and the emperor, it
seems, has understood my mission, for--But, just look, my prophecy
commences being fulfilled. The king and the queen rise and leave
their box; and notice, too, the migration beginning in the pit, and
among the occupants of the orchestra-stalls. The beautiful ballet-
girls will soon dance before empty benches."
"But do not let me die with curiosity, your excellency. Tell me at
length what has occurred."
"A surprise, prince. The Emperor Alexander will reach Berlin within
"Are you not jesting? Do you speak in earnest?"
"In dead earnest, prince. The emperor comprehends that the favorable
hour must be improved, and he comes in order to conquer the
friendship of Frederick William, and to overcome his indecision, so
that they may then vanquish the French invader with their united
forces. The emperor is a very sagacious man, and being half a
German, he knows doubtless the German proverb, 'Strike while the
iron is hot.' Our noble queen, with both of us and our excellent
people, will help the emperor to strike the iron. Look, the people
commence striking already. They rush from the theatre in order to
receive the Emperor Alexander at the gate, and to cheer him while he
is riding to the palace. Let us follow the example of the people of
Berlin. Let us go to receive the Emperor Alexander--if it please
God, our ally--at the gate." [Footnote: The Emperor Alexander
arrived in Berlin quite unexpectedly on October 23, 1805; the
courier who had announced his arrival had reached the Prussian
capital only a few hours previously.]
Hardenberg's predictions were to be fulfilled this time. Thanks to
the powerful allies who were fighting for his policy and for
Prussia, the king summoned up sufficient courage to take a decisive
resolution. Those allies of Hardenberg and Prussia were now not only
the queen, Prince Louis Ferdinand, and public opinion, but they were
joined by the Emperor Alexander, who had arrived from Poland, and
the Archduke Anthony, whom the Emperor of Austria had sent to Berlin
at the same time for the purpose of winning the friendship of the
king. But still another ally suddenly and unexpectedly entered the
lists for Hardenberg's policy and for the coalition, and this ally
was the good fortune and genius of Napoleon.
Dreadful tidings reached Berlin simultaneously with the arrival of
Archduke Anthony. Napoleon had gained another victory; he had
defeated the Austrians at Ulm; [Footnote: October 20, 1805] twenty-
three thousand Austrians had laid down their arms at the feet of the
Emperor of the French, and then started as prisoners of war for
France. Surrounded by a brilliant staff, Napoleon made the
humiliated, vanquished Austrians file off before him, between the
French army, which was drawn up in two lines. When they laid down
their arms, and when this flashing pile rose higher and higher,
Napoleon's face, which, amidst the hail of bullets and the dangers
of the battle, had preserved its marble, antique calmness, became
radiant, as if lighted up by a sunbeam, and he turned with a
gracious smile toward the Austrian generals and officers, who
approached him humbly and with lowered heads, in order to thank him
for giving them permission to return to Austria, and for not
compelling them to accompany their soldiers as prisoners of war to
But this smile disappeared rapidly from the emperor's countenance,
which now became threatening and angry. In a voice rolling like
thunder over the heads of the humiliated Austrians, the emperor
said: "It is a misfortune that men so brave as you, whose names are
honorably mentioned wherever you have fought, should now become the
victims of the stupidities of a cabinet which only dreams of
senseless schemes, and does not hesitate to endanger the dignity of
the state and of the nation. It was an unheard-of proceeding to
seize me by the throat without a declaration of war; but it is a
crime against one's own people to bring about a foreign invasion; it
is betraying Europe, to draw Asiatic hordes into our combats.
Instead of attacking me without any good reason whatever, the
Austrian cabinet ought to have united with me for the purpose of
expelling the Russian army from Germany. This alliance of your
cabinet is something unheard of in history; it cannot be the work of
the statesmen of your nation; it is, in short, the alliance of the
dogs and shepherds with the wolf against the sheep. Had France
succumbed in this struggle, you would have speedily perceived the
mistake you have committed." [Footnote: "Memoires du Duc de Rovigo,"
vol. 11., p. 159.]
Such were the tidings which Archduke Anthony had brought with him
from Vienna; such was the new ally Hardenberg had won for his policy
and for Prussia.
This new victory, this new conquest Napoleon had made in Germany,
loomed up before the king as a danger which menaced himself, and
compelled him to take up arms for his own defence. The threatening
and defiant language of the French emperor sounded truly revolting
to the heart of the German king, and instead of being intimidated by
this new and unparalleled triumph, by this threatening language
Napoleon had made use of, he was only provoked to offer him
resistance; he perceived all at once that he could only be the
servant and slave of this powerful man, or his enemy, and that
Napoleon never would tolerate any one as an equal at his side. What
were those three German princes who had found three crowns on the
battle-field of Ulm? Those new Kings of Wurtemberg and Bavaria, that
Grand-duke of Baden, were only vassals and servants of the Emperor
of France, who had first given, and then PERMITTED them to wear
King Frederick William needed no such crown. A genius stood at his
side and breathed with a heavenly smile into his ear: "It is better
to die in an honorable struggle for freedom than to live in splendor
and magnificence, but with a stain on your honor."
And the king listened to the voice of his genius: he listened to the
voice of his minister, who implored him to defend the integrity of
his state for the sake of the honor and welfare of Prussia and
Germany; he listened to the voice of his people, who demanded war
loudly and ardently; he listened to the voice of the Emperor
Alexander, who vowed to him eternal love and eternal friendship; he
listened, finally, to the voice of his own heart, which was the
heart of a true German, and felt deeply the insult offered to him.
King Frederick William listened to all these voices, and resolved at
length on war against France.
On the 3d of November the Emperor Alexander and King Frederick
William signed at Potsdam a SECRET treaty, by which Prussia agreed
to intervene between Napoleon and the allies. By virtue of this
treaty Prussia was to summon the Emperor of the French to
reestablish the former treaties, and to restore the former state of
affairs; that is to say, to give up almost all his conquests, to
indemnify Sardinia, to recognize the independence of Naples, of the
German empire, of Holland, of Switzerland, and to separate the crown
of Italy from that of France. If France should not consent to these
conditions, Prussia agreed to ally herself openly and unreservedly
with the coalition, and take the field with an army of 180,000 men.
A Prussian negotiator was to lay these conditions before the Emperor
Napoleon, and the term at which Prussia should be obliged to act
should expire four weeks after the date of the treaty. [Footnote:
Hausser's "History of Germany," vol. ii., p. 652.]
The king, who, in his kindness, was anxious to indemnify Minister
von Haugwitz for the coldness with which he had been latterly
treated, and for his broken windows, had commissioned him to deliver
a copy of the treaty of Potsdam to Napoleon, and to negotiate with
him. Haugwitz, therefore, left Berlin in order to repair to the
emperor's headquarters. It is true, he did not know exactly where to
find them, but he was satisfied that Napoleon would take care to
make his whereabouts known to him by fresh deeds of heroism and
victories, and Count Haugwitz, therefore, set out.
According to the wishes of the King of Prussia, the treaty of
Potsdam, for some time at least, was to be kept secret; only those
immediately concerned should be informed of its contents, but not
the public generally, and no one was to suspect that Prussia had at
length given up her policy of neutrality.
This secrecy, however, was distasteful to the Emperor Alexander;
moreover, it made Minister von Hardenberg fear lest the king, at the
decisive moment, might be once more gained over to his former
favorite policy of neutrality by the French party at court. It would
be wise, therefore, to force the king so far forward as to render it
impossible for him to recede, and to betray so much of the secret of
the concluded alliance as was required to fasten the king to it.
Hence, the emperor, at the hour of his departure for Austria,
requested the Queen and King of Prussia to accompany him to the
grave of Frederick the Great. At midnight, on the 5th of November,
they repaired, therefore, to the garrison church at Potsdam, the
lower vault of which contains the coffin of the great king. A single
torch-bearer accompanied the three august visitors, whose steps
resounded solemnly in the silent, gloomy halls.
Arriving at the king's coffin, the emperor knelt down; his face,
lighted up by the glare of the torch, was radiant with enthusiasm.
On the other side of the dark vault stood the king and the queen,
both with folded hands; the king with a gloomy and reserved air, the
queen with her eyes turned to heaven, and her face beaming with
pious emotion and joy.
Alexander, still remaining on his knees, now raised his folded hands
toward heaven. "At the grave of the most heroic king," he said in a
loud and solemn voice--"at the grave of Frederick the Great, I swear
to my ally, the King of Prussia, an oath of everlasting love and
constancy; I swear an oath of everlasting constancy and love to the
sacred cause which has united us for the most exalted purpose. Never
shall my constancy waver; never shall my love grow cold! I swear
He kissed the coffin and rose from his knees; his eyes, glistening
with tears, then turned toward the king, as he said:
"It is your turn now, my brother, to swear the oath."
The king hesitated.
The queen laid her hand gently on his shoulder, and bent her
beautiful face so close to him that he felt her breath, like the
kiss of an angel, on his cheek.
"Swear the oath, my friend, my beloved," she whispered; "swear to be
faithful to the holy alliance against the French tyrant; swear
everlasting constancy and love to our noble ally."
The king hesitated no longer; he raised his head resolutely and
approached the coffin. Laying his hand upon it, he repeated in a
grave and calm voice the words which the queen had uttered before,
and which she now whispered with trembling lips.
All three then grasped each other's hands over the coffin; thus they
stood a long while, deeply moved and silent.
All at once this silence was interrupted by the loud, ringing notes
of the church clock, announcing the first hour of the new day. The
sounds died away, and the chime of the bells now commenced playing
in clear and sweet notes the old German hymn, "Ueb immer Treu und
Redlichkeit, bis an dein kuhles Grab!" [Footnote: Holty's beautiful
hymn, "Be honest and faithful until they lay thee in thy cool
The king inclined his head, as if in silent prayer; an almost
imperceptible, strange smile overspread the noble features of the
emperor. The queen, however, glowing with enthusiasm, exclaimed:
"God and the spirit of Frederick the Great give us the motto of our
alliance: 'Ueb immer Treu und Redlichkeit, bis an dein kuhles Grab!'
Let us remember it as long as we live!"
"Let us remember it," repeated the two sovereigns, with a firm,
manly grasp. They looked at each other, and with their eyes bade
each other a last farewell.
Then they turned silently away and left the royal vault.
Five minutes later, the Emperor Alexander of Russia was on his way
to Olmutz, in order to join there the Emperor Francis of Austria,
who had fled thither from Napoleon and his victorious army.
At Olmutz the plan for the campaign of the third coalition against
Napoleon was to be agreed upon.
THE FALL OF THE GERMAN EMPIRE.
It was in the last days of November, 1805. After the victory of Ulm,
the Emperor Napoleon had established his headquarters in Brunn,
where he seemed to wait for his adversaries to attack him. There was
no longer one enemy opposed to him; he had no longer to cope with
Austria alone, but also with Russia, whose emperor was now at Olmutz
with the Emperor of Austria, for the purpose of agreeing with him on
the plan of operations by which Napoleon was to be defeated. The
Russian army had already formed a junction with the Austrian forces,
and even the Russian life-guards, the elite of their army, had left
Russia in order to accompany their emperor to the great decisive
But Napoleon had likewise brought his guards along, and these
splendid troops were impatient and eager to fight the last decisive
battle with the Austrians and with "the hordes of the Russian
Napoleon, however, still hesitated; his plans apparently had not
been matured, and he seemed undecided whether to advance still
further or to content himself with the victories he had already
This last alternative was urged on him by his generals, who believed
the victory of Ulm to be so brilliant a triumph that the French army
might repose on its laurels, instead of drawing the sword once more.
Napoleon, however, did not assent to these views of his generals.
"If we had to cope only with the Austrians we might be satisfied,
but there are the Russians, too, and it will be necessary for us to
send them home. We must give them their passports."
Greatly elated at this idea, the emperor ordered his horse to be
brought to him.
"We will examine the country a little," he said to his generals;
"accompany me, gentlemen."
And surrounded by his brilliant staff, consisting of the most
illustrious and victorious officers of his army, the emperor rode
out far into the plain between Brunn and Vichau, crowned all around
with hills and mountains. His bold, searching glances surveyed the
country in every direction; not a height, not a tree, not a ravine,
escaped his attention; he examined every thing, and seemed to
engrave them on his soul. It was near nightfall when he returned
with his generals from this long ride to his headquarters. He had
all day been taciturn and absorbed, and none of his generals had
been permitted to participate in his plans and observations. He had
only sometimes directed their attention by a laconic word or by a
wave of his hand to some peculiarity of the landscape, and the
generals had received these words and gestures like the mysterious
hints of an oracle, with the most respectful attention, in order to
weigh them in their minds, and to indelibly engrave them in their
memory. On his arrival at the door of his headquarters, the emperor
turned his pale, grave face once more to the plain which they had
"Gentlemen," he said, in a loud voice, "study that part of the
country as closely as possible; you will have to play a role in it
within a few days. General Suchet, on the left side of your division
there is an isolated mound, commanding your entire front. Cause
fourteen cannon to be placed on it in the course of the present
night." [Footnote: Napoleon's own words. Vide "Memoires du Duc de
Rovigo," vol. ii., p. 169.] He nodded to the gentlemen and entered
He paced his room for a long while with folded arms, compressed
lips, and a gloomy air.
"I need a few days more," he muttered. "If they should attack me
now, quickly and resolutely, I must succumb; if they give me three
days' time, however, I shall defeat them."
When he then stooped musingly before his desk, he suddenly noticed
the papers lying on it.
"Ah," he said, hastily seizing a large, sealed letter, "a courier,
who has brought dispatches in my absence! From the minister of the
navy--news from the fleet!"
He broke the seal hurriedly and unfolded the paper. While reading it
his mien became still more gloomy; a cloud of anger settled on his
expansive brow, and his cheeks, which had hitherto only been pale,
The glance which he now cast toward heaven would have reminded the
spectator of the Titans who dared to hurl their missiles even at the
Sovereign Deity; the words muttered by his quivering lips were an
With this oath he crumpled up the paper in his hand, threw it down
and stamped on it; then, as if ashamed of his own violence, he sank
down on a chair, and laid his hands slowly, and with a deep sigh, on
his trembling, pale face. The modern Titan had now found out for the
first time that there was a God enthroned in heaven more powerful
than himself; for the first time an invisible hand had stopped him
in his hitherto victorious course.
The paper he had just trampled under foot announced to him the first
great defeat, the first check his grand schemes had met with.
The French fleet had been completely beaten and almost annihilated
by the English at Trafalgar. [Footnote: October 21, 1806.] England,
the only enemy who had constantly opposed Napoleon in a menacing and
fearless manner, detested England had gained a magnificent triumph.
She had destroyed the whole naval power of France, and won a
brilliant victory; a victory which humiliated France and overwhelmed
her with disgrace. It is true it was a dearly-bought victory for
England, for Nelson, her greatest naval hero, had paid for his
immortal triumph with his life. The French admiral, Villeneuve, who
was defeated at Trafalgar, had not even been lucky and wise enough
to expiate his ignominy by his death; he had fallen, a despairing
prisoner, into the hands of the English, and served as a living
trophy to the triumphant conqueror's. [Footnote: Admiral Villeneuve
was released by the English government. Napoleon banished him to
Rennes, where he committed suicide on the 26th of April, 1806, by
piercing his heart with a pin.]
Such were the terrible tidings which Napoleon had just received; it
was the first thunderbolt which the God of heaven had hurled down
upon the powerful Titan.
But the Titan did not feel crushed by it; the thunderbolt only
served to fan the fire in his breast.
He rose from his seat, and his eyes flashed with anger.
"I cannot be everywhere," he said, aloud, "but my enemies shall soon
find out that I am here, and I shall know how to avenge the disgrace