Part 2 out of 14
they call the real emperor of Vienna, and tried to compel him to
"Sad, sad tidings, indeed!" sighed Haydn, shaking his head. "Worse
than I thought. The people riotous and rebellious--the army
defeated--and the enemy marching upon Vienna. But don't despair--
courage, courage, children; let us put our trust in God and our
excellent emperor. Those two will never forsake us--they will guard
and protect Vienna, and never suffer a single stone to be taken from
"Ah, husband, don't count any longer upon the emperor," said his
wife. "For that is the worst part of the news, and shows that every
thing is lost: the emperor has left Vienna."
"What!" exclaimed Haydn, and his face grew flushed with anger.
"What, they dare to slander the emperor so infamously as that! They
dare to assert that the emperor has forsaken his Viennese when they
are in danger? No, no, the emperor is an honest man and a faithful
prince; he will share good and evil days alike with his people. A
good shepherd does not leave his flock, a good prince does not leave
"But the emperor has forsaken us," said Conrad; "it is but too true,
master. All Vienna knows it, and all Vienna mourns over it. The
emperor is gone, and so are the empress and the imperial children.
All are gone and off for Presburg."
"Gone! the emperor gone!" muttered Haydn, mournfully, and a deadly
paleness suddenly covered his cheeks. "Oh, poor Austria! poor
people! Thy emperor has forsaken thee--he has fled from thee!"
He sadly inclined his head, and profound sighs escaped from his
"Do you see now, husband, that I was right?" asked his wife. "Is it
not true that it is high time for us to think of our property, and
to pack up and bury our valuables?"
"No!" exclaimed Haydn, raising his head again; "this is no time to
think of ourselves, and of taking care of our miserable property.
The emperor has left--that means, the emperor is in danger; and
therefore, as his faithful subjects, we should pray for him, and all
our thoughts and wishes should only be devoted to his welfare. In
the hour of danger we should not be faint-hearted, and bow our
heads, but lift them up to God, and hope and trust in Him! Why do
the people of Vienna lament and despair? They should sing and pray,
so that the Lord God above may hear their voices--they should sing
and pray, and I will teach them how!"
And with proud steps Haydn went to the piano, and his hands began to
play gently, at first, a simple and choral-like air; but soon the
melody grew stronger and more impressive. Haydn's face became
radiant; instinctively opening his lips, he sang in an enthusiastic
and ringing voice words which he had never known before--words
which, with the melody, had spontaneously gushed from his soul. What
his lips sang was a prayer, and, at the same time, a hymn of
victory--full of innocent and child-like piety:
"Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser,
Unsern guten Kaiser Franz,
Lange lebe Franz den Kaiser
In des Gluckes hellem Glanz!
Ihm erbluhen Lorbeerreiser,
Wo er geht, zum Ehrenkranz!
Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser,
Unsern guten Kaiser Franz!"
[Footnote: The celebrated Austrian hymn, "God save the Emperor
Profound silence prevailed while Haydn was singing, and when he
concluded with a firm and ringing accord and turned around, he saw
that his wife, overcome with emotion, with folded hands and eyes
lifted up to heaven, had sunk down on her knees, and that old
Catharine and Conrad were kneeling behind her, while the cat stood
between them listening to the music as it were, and even the parrot
below seemed to listen to the new hymn, for its screams had ceased.
A smile of delight played on Haydn's lips and rendered his face
again young and beautiful. "Now, sing with me, all three of you," he
said. "Sing loudly and firmly, that God may hear us. I will commence
again at the beginning, and you shall accompany me."
He touched the keys vigorously, and sang once more, "God save the
Emperor Francis!" and carried away by the melody so simple and yet
so beautiful, the two women and the old footman sang with him the
tender and artless words.
"And now," said Haydn, eagerly, "now, I will write down the melody
on the spot, and then you shall run with it to Councillor von
Swieten. He must add a few verses to it. And then we will have it
copied as often as possible--we will circulate it in the streets,
and sing it in all public places, and if the French really should
come to Vienna, the whole people shall receive them with the
jubilant hymn, 'God save the Emperor Francis!' And God will hear our
song, and He will be touched by our love, and He will lead him back
to us, our good Emperor Francis."
He sat down at his desk, and in youthful haste wrote down the music.
"So," he said then, "take it, Conrad, take it to Herr von Swieten;
tell him it is my imperial hymn. Oh, I believe it will be useful to
the emperor, and therefore I swear that I will play it every day as
long as I live. My first prayer always shall be for the emperor."
[Footnote: Haydn kept his word, and from that time played the hymn
every day. It was even the last piece of music he performed before
his death. On the 26th of May, 1809, he played the hymn three times
in succession. From the piano he had to be carried to his bed, which
he never left again. When Iffland paid him a visit in 1807, Haydn
played the hymn for him. He then remained a few moments before the
instrument--placed his hands on it, and said, in the tone of a
venerable patriarch: "I play this hymn every morning, and in times
of adversity have often derived consolation and courage from it. I
cannot help it--I must play it at least once a day. I feel greatly
at ease whenever I do so, and even a good while afterward."--
"Iffland's Theatrical Almanac for 1855," p. 181.]
"And now run, Conrad, and ask Herr von Swieten to finish the poem
quickly, and you, women, leave me. I feel the ideas burning in my
head, and the melodies gushing from my heart. The hymn has inspired
me with genuine enthusiasm; and now, with God and my emperor, I will
commence my Creation! But you, you must not despair--and whenever
you feel dejected, sing my imperial hymn, and pour consolation and
courage into your hearts--into the hearts of all Austrians who will
sing it. For not only for you, but for Austria, I have sung my hymn,
and it shall belong to the whole Austrian people!"
At length peace was to be concluded. For several weeks had the three
Austrian plenipotentiaries been at Udine; the Austrian court having
sent with Count Meerveldt and Count Louis Cobenzl the Marquis de
Gallo, who, although Neapolitan ambassador at Vienna, and therefore,
not in the imperial service, acted as their adviser.
General Bonaparte was at Passeriano: he alone had been authorized by
the great French Republic to conclude peace with Austria, or to
renew the war, just as he saw fit.
The eyes of France and Germany, nay of all Europe, were riveted upon
this small point on the border of Germany and Italy, for there the
immediate future of Europe was to be decided; there the dice were to
fall which were to bring peace or war to the world.
Austria wanted peace; it was a necessity for her, because she did
not feel strong enough for war, and was afraid of the dangers and
losses of continued defeats. But she did not want peace, coute qui
coute; she wanted to derive substantial advantages from it--she
intended to aggrandize herself at the expense of Italy, at the
expense of Prussia--and, if need be, at the expense of Germany.
But what did France want, or rather, what did General Bonaparte
want? None but himself knew. None could read his thoughts in his
marble countenance. None could decipher his future actions from his
laconic utterances. None could tell what Bonaparte intended to do
and what aim his ambition had in view.
The negotiations with Austria had been going on for months. For
several weeks the Austrian plenipotentiaries and General Bonaparte
had had daily interviews of many hours' duration, which alternately
took place at Udine and at Passeriano, but the work of pacification
would not come to a satisfactory conclusion. Austria demanded too
much, and France would not yield enough. These conferences had
frequently assumed a very stormy character, and often, during the
debates, Bonaparte's voice had resounded in thundering tones, and
flashes of anger had burst forth from his eyes. But the Austrian
plenipotentiaries had not been struck by them. The flashes from the
great chieftain's eyes had recoiled powerlessly from their
imperturbable smile. When his voice thundered at them, they had
lowered their heads only to raise them slowly again as soon as the
general was silent.
To-day, on the thirteenth of October, another interview was to take
place, at the hotel of Count Cobenzl, and perhaps that was the
reason why General Bonaparte had risen at an unusually early hour in
the morning. He had just finished his toilet; the four valets who
had assisted him had just concluded their task. As usual, Bonaparte
had suffered them to dress and wash him like a child. [Footnote:
"Memoires de Constant, premier valet de chambre de l'Empereur
Napoleon," vol. i., p. 180.] With a silent gesture he now ordered
the servants to withdraw, and called out, "Bourrienne!"
The door was opened at once, and a tall young man, in the citizen's
dress of that period, stepped in. Bonaparte, greeting his youthful
secretary with a slight nod of his head, pointed with his hand at
Bourrienne walked noiselessly to the desk, sat down, took a pen and
some blank paper, and waited for what the general would have to
But Bonaparte was silent. With his hands folded on his back, he
commenced rapidly walking up and down. Bourrienne, holding the pen
in his hand and momentarily ready to write, enjoyed this pause, this
absorbed pondering of the general, with genuine delight; for it
afforded him leisure to contemplate Bonaparte, to study his whole
appearance, and to engrave every feature, every gesture of the
conqueror of Italy upon his mind.
Bourrienne was an old friend of Bonaparte; they had been together at
the military academy; they had met afterward at Paris--and poor
young Lieutenant Bonaparte had often been glad enough to accept a
dinner at the hands of his wealthier friend.
Only a few years had elapsed since that time, and now Lieutenant
Bonaparte had become already an illustrious general; while
Bourrienne, whom the Terrorists had proscribed, thankfully accepted
the protection of his old comrade, and now filled the position of
private secretary under him.
He had been with him in this capacity only two days--for two days he
had seen Bonaparte every hour, and yet he contemplated with ever new
surprise this wonderful countenance, in which he vainly tried to
recognize the features of the friend of his youth. True, the same
outlines and contours were still there, but the whole face was an
entirely different one. No traces of the carelessness, of the
harmless hilarity of former days, were left in these features. His
complexion was pale almost to sickliness; his figure, which did not
rise above the middle height, was slender and bony. Upon looking at
him, you seemed at first to behold a young man entirely devoid of
strength, and hopelessly doomed to an early death. But the longer
you examined him, the more his features seemed to breathe vitality
and spirit, and the firmer grew the conviction that this was an
exceptional being--a rare and strange phenomenon. Once accustomed to
his apparent pale and sickly homeliness, the beholder soon saw it
transformed into a fascinating beauty such as we admire on the
antique Roman cameos and old imperial coins. His classical and
regular profile seemed to be modelled after these antique coins; his
forehead, framed in on both sides with fine chestnut hair, was high
and statuesque. His eyes were blue, but brimful of the most
wonderful expression and sparkling with fire, a faithful mirror of
his fiery soul, now exceedingly mild and gentle, and then again
stern and even harsh. His mouth was classically beautiful--the
finely-shaped lips, narrow and slightly compressed, especially when
in anger; when he laughed, he displayed two rows of teeth, not
faultlessly fine, but of pearly white. Every lineament, every single
feature of his face was as regular as if modelled by a sculptor;
nevertheless there was something ugly and repulsive in the whole,
and in order to be able to admire it, it was necessary first to get
accustomed to this most extraordinary being. Only the feet and the
small white hands were so surpassingly beautiful that they enlisted
at once the liveliest admiration, and this was perhaps the reason
why General Bonaparte, who otherwise observed the greatest
simplicity in his toilet, had adorned his hands with several
splendid diamond rings. [Footnote: Memoires de Constant, vol. i, p.
Bourrienne was still absorbed in contemplating the friend of his
youth, when the latter suddenly stood still before him and looked at
him with a pleasant smile.
"Why do you stare at me in this manner, Bourrienne?" he asked in his
abrupt and hasty tone.
"General. I only contemplate the laurels which your glorious
victories have woven around your brow, since I saw you the last
time," said Bourrienne.
"Ah, and you find me a little changed since you saw me the last
time," replied Bonaparte, quickly. "It is true, the years of our
separation have produced a great many changes, and I was glad that
you had the good taste to perceive this, and upon meeting me under
the present circumstances, to observe a becoming and delicate
reserve. I am under obligations to you for it, and from to-day you
shall be chief of my cabinet, my first private secretary."
[Footnote: Memoires de Monsieur de Bourrienne, vol. 1., p. 33.]
Bourrienne rose to thank the young general by bowing respectfully,
but Bonaparte took no further notice of him, and walked again
rapidly up and down. The smile had already vanished from his face,
which had resumed its immovable and impenetrable expression.
Bourrienne quietly sat down again and waited; but now he dared no
longer look at Bonaparte, the general having noticed it before.
After a lengthy pause, Bonaparte stood still close to the desk.
"Have you read the dispatches which the Directory sent me yesterday
through their spy, M. Botot?" asked the general, abruptly.
"I have, general!"
"They are unreasonable fools," exclaimed Bonaparte, angrily, "they
want to direct our war from their comfortable sofas in the
Luxembourg, and believe their ink-stained hands could hold the
general's baton as well as the pen. They want to dictate to us a new
war from Paris, without knowing whether we are able to bear it or
not. They ask us to conclude peace with Austria without ceding
Venice to her as compensation for Belgium. Yes, Talleyrand is
senseless enough to ask me to revolutionize the whole of Italy once
more, so that the Italians may expel their princes, and that liberty
may prevail throughout the entire peninsula. In order to give them
liberty, they want me to carry first war and revolution into their
midst. These big-mouthed and ignorant Parisians do not know that
Italy will not belong to us in reality until after the restoration
of peace, and that the Directory, even at the first dawn of peace,
will rule her from the mountains of Switzerland to the capes of
Calabria. Then, and only then, the Directory will be able to alter
the various governments of Italy, and for this very reason we have
to attach Austria to our cause by a treaty of peace. As soon as she
has signed it, she will no longer molest us: first, because she is
our ally; and principally because she will apprehend that we might
take back from her what we generously gave, in order to win her over
to our side. The war party at Vienna, however, will not submit
without hoping for some counter-revolution--a dream which the
emigres and the diplomacy of Pillnitz still cherishes with the
utmost tenacity. [Footnote: Bonaparte's own words. See "Memoires
d'un Homme d'Etat," vol. iv., p. 578.] And these unreasonable
gentlemen of the Directory want war and revolution, and they dare to
accuse me of selfish motives. Ah, I am yearning for repose, for
retirement--I feel exhausted and disgusted, and shall for the third
time send in my resignation, which the Directory twice refused to
He had said all this in a subdued and rapid voice, apparently only
talking to himself--the only man worthy of learning the most secret
thoughts of his soul--and still with proud disdain toward him who
could overhear every word he said. He felt as though he were alone,
and he only spoke and consulted with himself, notwithstanding the
Another long pause ensued. Bonaparte pacing the room once more with
rapid steps. Violent and impassioned feelings seemed to agitate his
breast; for his eyes became more lustrous, his cheeks were suffused
with an almost imperceptible blush, and he breathed heavily; as if
oppressed by the closeness of the room, and in want of fresh air,
for he stepped up to the window and opened it violently.
An expression of amazement escaped from his lips, for the landscape,
which yesterday was clad in the gorgeous hues of autumn, now offered
an entirely different aspect. Hoar-frost, dense and glittering,
covered the trees and the verdure of the meadows; and the Noric
Alps, which crowned the horizon with a majestic wreath, had adorned
themselves during the night with sparkling robes of snow and
brilliant diadems of ice.
Bonaparte looked at the unexpected spectacle long and thoughtfully.
"What a country!" He then whispered, "Snow and ice in the first part
of October! Very well! we must make peace!" [Footnote: Bonaparte's
own words. Bourrienne, vol. 1., p. 313.]
He closed the window and returned to the desk.
"Give me the army register," he said to Bourrienne, and took a seat
at his side.
Bourrienne laid the books and papers in succession before him, and
Bonaparte read and examined them with close attention.
"Yes," he then said, after a long pause, "it is true, I have an army
of nearly eighty thousand men; I have to feed and pay them, but, on
the battle-field, I could not count on more than sixty thousand men.
I should win the battle, but lose again twenty thousand men in
killed, wounded, and prisoners. How, then, should I be able to
resist the united Austrian forces, which would hasten to the
assistance of Vienna? It would take the armies on the Rhine more
than a month to come up in supporting distance, and in the course of
two weeks the snow will have blocked up all roads and mountain-
passes. I am determined, therefore, to make peace. Venice must pay
for the war, and the frontier of the Rhine. The Directory and the
learned lawyers may say what they please.[Footnote: Bonaparte's own
words.--"Memoires d'un Homme d'Etat," vol. iv., p. 558.] Write,
Bourrienne, I will now dictate my reply."
Bourrienne took his pen; Bonaparte arose from his seat, and folding
his arms on his breast, he resumed his promenade across the room,
dictating slowly and clearly, so that every word dropped from his
lips like a pearl, until gradually the course of his speech grew
more rapid and rolled along in an unbroken, fiery, and brilliant
"We shall sign the treaty of peace to-day," he dictated, in his
imperious tone, "or break off the negotiations altogether. Peace
will be advantageous to us--war with Austria will injure us; but war
with England opens an extensive, highly important and brilliant
field of action to our arms."
And now he explained to the Directory the advantages of a treaty of
peace with Austria, and of a war with England, with logical
acuteness and precision. His words were no less pointed and sharp
than the edge of his sword, and as brief, stern, and cold as the
utterances of a Cato.
He then paused for a moment, not in order to collect his thoughts,
but only to give his secretary a few seconds' rest, and to get a
breathing-spell for himself.
"Let us go on now," he said, after a short interval, and dictated in
an enthusiastic voice, and with flaming eyes: "If I have been
mistaken in my calculations, my heart is pure, and my intentions are
well meaning. I have not listened to the promptings of glory, of
vanity and ambition; I have only regarded the welfare of the country
and government. If they should not approve of my actions and views,
nothing is left to me but to step back into the crowd, put on the
wooden shoes of Cincinnatus, and give an example of respect for the
government, and of aversion to military rule, which has destroyed so
many republics, and annihilated so many states." [Footnote:
Bonaparte's own words.--"Memoires d'un Homme d'Etat," vol. iv., p.
"Are you through?" asked Bonaparte, drawing a long breath.
"Yes, general, I am."
"Then take another sheet, my friend. We are going to write now to
the sly fox who generally perceives every hole where he may slip in,
and who has such an excellent nose that he scents every danger and
every advantage from afar. But this time he has lost the trail and
is entirely mistaken. I will, therefore, show him the way. 'To
Citizen Talleyrand, Minister of Foreign Affairs.' Did you write the
"Well, go on."
And without stopping a single time, and even without hesitating,
Bonaparte dictated the following letter:
"In three or four hours, citizen minister, every thing will be
decided--peace or war. I confess that I shall do every thing to make
peace, in consequence of the advanced season and the slim prospect
of achieving important successes."
"You know very little about the nations of the peninsula; they do
not deserve that forty thousand French soldiers should be killed for
their sake. I see from your letter that you always argue from
unfounded premises. You fancy that liberty would make a great
impression upon a lazy, superstitious, cowardly, and degraded
"You ask me to do miracles, and I cannot perform them. Ever since I
came to Italy, the nation's desire for liberty and equality was not
my ally, or at best it was but a very feeble one. Whatever is merely
good to be mentioned in proclamations and printed speeches is worth
no more than a novel."
"Hoping that the negotiations will have a favorable issue, I do not
enter upon further details to enlighten you about many matters which
apparently have been misunderstood. Only by prudence, sagacity, and
determination we are able to realize great objects and surmount all
obstacles; otherwise all our efforts will prove unavailing.
Frequently there is but a single step from victory to ruin. In
highly critical times, I have always noticed that a mere nothing
decided the most important events."
"It is characteristic of our nation to be too rash and fiery in
prosperity. If we adopt a sagacious policy, which is nothing but the
result of the calculation of combination and chances as a base for
our operations, we shall long remain the greatest nation and most
powerful state in Europe--nay, more, we shall hold the balance of
power, we shall make it incline wherever we desire, and if it were
the will of Providence, it would be no impossibility to achieve in
the course of a few years those great results which a glowing and
excited imagination perhaps foresees, but which only a man of
extraordinary coolness, perseverance, and prudence is able to
accomplish if--" [Footnote: "Memoires d'un Homme d'Etat," vol. iv.,
Bonaparte paused suddenly as if he had been about to betray a
profound secret, and stopped exactly when it was not yet too late to
keep it buried within his own breast.
"It is enough," he then said, "erase the last word and close the
letter. What makes you look at me so strangely, Bourrienne?"
"I beg your pardon, general, I had a vision. It seemed to me as if
an oriflamme were burning on your head, and I believe if all nations
and all men could behold you as I saw you just now, they would
believe once more in the fables of pagan mythology, and feel
satisfied that Jove the Thunderer had deigned to descend once more
into our human world."
Bonaparte smiled, and this smile lighted up his face, previously so
stern and rigid.
"You are a flatterer and a courtier," he said, playfully pinching
Bourrienne's ear so violently that the latter was scarcely able to
conceal a shriek of pain under a smile. "Yes, indeed, you are a
regular courtier, and the republic has done well to banish you, for
flattery is something very aristocratic, and injurious to our stiff
republican dignity. And what an idea, to compare me to Jove
appearing on earth! Don't you know, then, you learned scholar and
flatterer, that Jove, whenever he descended from Olympus, was in
pursuit of a very worldly and entirely ungodly adventure? It would
only remain for you to inform my Josephine that I was about to
transform myself into an ox for the sake of some beautiful Europa,
or drop down in the shape of a golden rain to gain the love of a
"General, the sagacious and spirited Josephine would believe the
former to be impossible, for even if you should succeed in
performing all the miracles of the world, you could never transform
yourself into an ox."
"What! you compared me a minute ago with Jove, and now you doubt
already whether I could accomplish what Jove has done!" exclaimed
Bonaparte, laughing. "Ah, flatterer, you see I have caught you in
your own meshes. But would my Josephine believe, then, that I could
transform myself into a golden rain for the purpose of winning a
Danae, you arrant rogue?"
"Yes, general, but she always would take good care to be that Danae
"Yes, indeed, you are right," replied Bonaparte, laughing even
louder than before. "Josephine likes golden rains, and should they
be ever so violent, she would not complain; for if they should
immerse her up to the neck, in the course of a few hours she would
have got rid of the whole valuable flood."
"Your wife is as liberal and generous as a princess, and that is the
reason why she spends so much money. She scatters her charities with
"Yes, Josephine has a noble and magnanimous heart," exclaimed
Napoleon, and his large blue eyes assumed a mild and tender
expression. "She is a woman just as I like women--so gentle and
good, so childlike and playful, so tender and affectionate, so
passionate and odd! And at the same time so dignified and refined in
her manners. Ah, you ought to have seen her at Milan receiving the
princes and noblesse in her drawing-room. I assure you, my friend,
the wife of little General Bonaparte looked and bore herself
precisely like a queen holding a levee, and she was treated and
honored as though she were one. Ah, you ought to have seen it!"
"I DID see it, general. I was at Milan before coming here."
"Ah, yes, that is true. I had forgotten it. You lucky fellow, you
saw my wife more recently than I did myself. Josephine is beautiful,
is she not? No young girl can boast of more freshness, more grace,
innocence, and loveliness. Whenever I am with her, I feel as
contented, as happy and tranquil as a man who, on a very warm day,
is reposing in the shade of a splendid myrtle-tree, and whenever I
am far from her--"
Bonaparte paused, and a slight blush stole over his face. The young
lover of twenty-eight had triumphed for a moment over the stern,
calculating general, and the general was ashamed of it.
"This is no time to think of such things," he said, almost
indignantly. "Seal the letters now, and dispatch a messenger to
Paris. Ah, Paris! Would to God I were again there in my little house
in the Rue Chantereine, alone and happy with Josephine! But in order
to get there, I must first make peace here--peace with Austria, with
the Emperor of Germany. Ah, I am afraid Germany will not be much
elated by this treaty of peace which her emperor is going to
conclude, and by which she may lose some of her most splendid
fortresses on the Rhine."
"And the Republic of Venice, general?"
"The Republic of Venice is about to disappear," exclaimed Bonaparte,
frowning. "Venice has rendered herself unworthy of the name of a
republic--she is about to disappear."
"General, the delegates of the republic were all day yesterday in
your anteroom, vainly waiting for an audience."
"They will have to wait to-day likewise until I return from the
conference which is to decide about war or peace. In either case,
woe unto the Venetians! Tell them, Bourrienne, to wait until I
return. And now, my carriage. I cannot let the Austrian
plenipotentiaries wait any longer for my ultimatum."
THE TREATY OF CAMPO FORMIO.
The Austrian plenipotentiaries were at the large Alberga of Udine,
waiting for General Bonaparte. Every thing was prepared for his
reception; the table was set, and the cooks were only looking for
the arrival of the French chieftain in order to serve up the
magnificent dejeuner with which to-day's conference was to begin.
Count Louis Cobenzl and the Marquis de Gallo were in the dining-
room, standing at the window and looking at the scenery.
"It is cold to-day," said Count Cobenzl, after a pause in the
conversation. "For my part, I like cold weather, for it reminds me
of the most memorable years of my life--of my sojourn at the court
of the Russian Semiramis. But you, marquis, are probably reminded by
this frosty weather even more sensibly of your beautiful Naples and
the glowing sun of the south. The chilly air must make you
"That disease is unknown to me, count," said the marquis. "I am at
home wherever I can serve my king and my country."
"But to-day, my dear marquis, you have to serve a foreign prince."
"Austria is the native country of my noble Queen Caroline," said the
marquis, gravely, "and the empress is my king's daughter. The
Austrian court, therefore, may command my whole power and ability."
"I am afraid that we are going to have hard work to-day, marquis,"
remarked Count Cobenzl, gloomily. "This French general is really a
sans-culotte of the worst kind. He is entirely devoid of noblesse,
bon ton, and refinement."
"My dear count, for my part I take this Bonaparte to be a very long-
headed man, and I am sure we must be greatly on our guard to be able
to wrest a few concessions from him."
"Do you really believe that, marquis?" asked the count, with an
incredulous smile. "You did not see, then, how his marble face
lighted up when I handed him the other day that autograph letter
from his majesty the emperor? You did not see how he blushed with
pleasure while reading it? Oh, I noticed it, and, at that moment, I
said to myself: 'This republican bear is not insensible to the
favors and affability of the great.' Flattery is a dish which he
likes to eat; we will, therefore, feed him with it, and he will be
ours, and do whatever we may want without even noticing it. The
great Empress Catharine used to say: 'Bears are best tamed by
sweetmeats, and republicans by titles and decorations.' Just see,
marquis, how I am going to honor him! I let him drink his chocolate
to-day from my most precious relic from this cup here, which the
great empress gave to me, and which you see contains the czarina's
portrait. Ah, it was at the last festival at the Ermitage that she
handed me the cup with chocolate, and, in order to give it its real
value, she touched the rim of the cup with her own sublime lips,
sipped of the chocolate, and then permitted me to drink where she
had drunk. This cup, therefore, is one of my most cherished
reminiscences of St. Petersburg, and little General Bonaparte may be
very proud to be permitted to drink from Catharine's cup. Yes, yes,
we will give sweetmeats to the bear, but afterward he must dance
just as we please. We will not yield, but HE must yield to US. Our
demands ought to be as exorbitant as possible!"
"By straining a cord too much, you generally break it," said the
Italian, thoughtfully. "General Bonaparte, I am afraid, will not
consent to any thing derogatory to the honor and dignity of France.
Besides, there is another bad feature about him--he is
incorruptible, and even the titles and decorations of the Empress
Catharine would not have tamed this republican. Let us proceed
cautiously and prudently, count. Let us demand much, but yield in
time, and be content with something less in order not to lose every
"Austria can only consent to a peace which extends her boundaries,
and enlarges her territory," exclaimed Cobenzl, hastily.
"You are right, certainly," replied the Marquis de Gallo, slowly;
"but Austria cannot intend to aggrandize herself at the expense of
France. What is that so-called Germany good for? Let Austria take
from her whatever she wants--a piece of Bavaria, a piece of Prussia-
-I would not care if she even gave to France a piece of Germany, for
instance the frontier of the Rhine. In the name of Heaven, I should
think that the so-called German empire is decayed enough to permit
us to break off a few of its pieces."
"You are very unmerciful toward the poor German empire," said Count
Cobenzl, with a smile, "for you are no German, and owing to that, it
seems you are much better qualified to act as Austrian
plenipotentiary in this matter. Nevertheless it is odd and funny
enough that in these negotiations in which the welfare of Germany is
principally at stake, the Emperor of Germany should be represented
by an Italian, and the French Republic by a Corsican!"
"You omit yourself, my dear count," said the marquis, politely. "You
are the real representative of the German emperor, and I perceive
that the emperor could not have intrusted the interests of Germany
to better hands. But as you have permitted me to act as your
adviser, I would beg you to remember that the welfare of Austria
should precede the welfare of Germany. And--but listen! a carriage
"It is General Bonaparte," said Count Cobenzl, hastening to the
window. "Just see the splendid carriage in which he is coming. Six
horses--four footmen on the box, and a whole squadron of lancers
escorting him! And you believe this republican to be insensible to
flattery? Ah, ha! we will give sweetmeats to the bear! Let us go and
He took the arm of the marquis, and both hastened to receive the
general, whose carriage had just stopped at the door.
The Austrian plenipotentiaries met Bonaparte in the middle of the
staircase and escorted him to the dining-room, where the dejeuner
was waiting for him.
But Bonaparte declined the dejeuner, in spite of the repeated and
most pressing requests of Count Cobenzl.
"At least take a cup of chocolate to warm yourself," urged the
count. "Drink it out of this cup, general, and if it were only in
order to increase its value in my eyes. The Empress Catharine gave
it to me, and drank from it; and if you now use this cup likewise, I
might boast of possessing a cup from which the greatest man and the
greatest woman of this century have drunk!"
"I shall not drink, count!" replied Bonaparte, bluntly. "I will have
nothing in common with this imperial Messalina, who, by her
dissolute life, equally disgraced the dignity of the crown and of
womanhood. You see I am a strong-headed republican, who only
understands to talk of business. Let us, therefore, attend to that
Without waiting for an invitation, he sat down on the divan close to
the breakfast-table, and, with a rapid gesture, motioned the two
gentlemen to take seats at his side.
"I informed you of my ultimatum the day before yesterday," said
Bonaparte, coldly; "have you taken it into consideration, and are
you going to accept it?"
This blunt and hasty question, so directly at the point,
disconcerted the two diplomatists.
"We will weigh and consider with you what can be done," said Count
Cobenzl, timidly. "France asks too much and offers too little.
Austria is ready to cede Belgium to France, and give up Lombardy,
but in return she demands the whole territory of Venice, Mantua
"Mantua must remain with the new Cisalpine Republic!" exclaimed
Bonaparte, vehemently. "That is one of the stipulations of my
ultimatum, and you seem to have forgotten it, count. And you say
nothing about the frontier of the Rhine, and of the fortress of
Mentz, both of which I have claimed for France."
"But, general, the Rhine does not belong to Austria, and Mentz is
garrisoned by German troops. We cannot give away what does not
belong to us."
"Do not I give Venice to you?" exclaimed Bonaparte--"Venice, which,
even at the present hour, is a sovereign state, and whose delegates
are at my headquarters, waiting for my reply! The Emperor of Germany
has certainly the right to give away a German fortress if he
"Well, Austria is not indisposed to cede the frontier of the Rhine
to France," remarked the Marquis de Gallo. "Austria is quite willing
and ready to form a close alliance with France, in order to resist
the ambitious schemes of Prussia."
"If Austria should acquire new territory in consequence of an
understanding with France, she must be sure that no such right of
aggrandizement should be granted to Prussia," said Count Cobenzl,
"France and Austria might pledge themselves in a secret treaty not
to permit any further aggrandizement of Prussia, but to give back to
her simply her former possessions on the Rhine," said De Gallo.
"No digressions, if you please!" exclaimed Bonaparte, impatiently.
"Let us speak of my ultimatum. In the name of France, I have offered
you peace, provided the territories on the left bank of the Rhine
with their stipulated boundaries, including Mentz, be ceded to
France, and provided, further, that the Adige form the boundary-line
between Austria and the Cisalpine Republic, Mantua to belong to the
latter. You cede Belgium to France, but, in return, we give you the
continental possessions of Venice; only Corfu and the Ionian Islands
are to fall to the share of France, and the Adige is to form the
frontier of Venetian Austria."
"I told you already, general," said Count Cobenzl, with his most
winning smile, "we cannot accept the last condition. We must have
Mantua, likewise; in return, we give you Mentz; and not the Adige,
but the Adda, must be our frontier."
"Ah! I see--new difficulties, new subterfuges!" exclaimed Bonaparte,
and his eyes darted a flash of anger at the diplomatist.
This angry glance, however, was parried by the polite smile of the
count. "I took the liberty of informing you likewise of OUR
ultimatum, general," he said, gently, "and I am sorry to be
compelled to declare that I shall have to leave this place unless
our terms be acceded to. But in that case, I shall hold YOU
responsible for the blood of the thousands which may be shed in
Bonaparte jumped up, with flaming eyes, and lips quivering with
"You dare to threaten me!" he shouted, angrily. "You resort to
subterfuge after subterfuge. Then you are determined to have war?
Very well, you shall have it."
He extended his arm hastily and seized the precious cup which the
Empress Catharine had given to Count Cobenzl, and, with an impetuous
motion, hurled it to the ground, where it broke to pieces with a
"See there!" he shouted in a thundering voice. "Your Austrian
monarchy shall be shattered like this cup within less than three
months. I promise you that."
Without deigning to cast another glance upon the two gentlemen, he
hurried with rapid steps to the door, and left the room.
Pale with anger and dismay, Count Cobenzl stared at the debris of
the precious cup, which so long had been the pride and joy of his
"He is leaving," muttered the Marquis de Gallo. "Shall we let him
"How is that bear to be kept here?" asked the count, sighing, and
shrugging his shoulders.
At this moment Bonaparte's powerful voice was heard in the anteroom,
"He calls out of the window," whispered the marquis. "Let us hear
what he has got to say."
The two plenipotentiaries slipped on tiptoe to the window,
cautiously peeping from behind the curtains. They saw a French
lancer galloping up below, and stopping and saluting under the
window of the adjoining room.
Again they heard Bonaparte's thundering voice. "Ride over to the
headquarters of Archduke Charles," shouted Bonaparte. "Tell him on
my behalf that the armistice is at an end, and that hostilities will
recommence from the present hour. That is all. Depart!"
Then they heard him close the window with a crash, and walk with
loud steps through the anteroom.
The two plenipotentiaries looked at each other in dismay. "Count,"
whispered the marquis, "listen! he leaves and has threatened to
shatter Austria. He is the man to fulfil his threat. My God, must we
suffer him to depart in anger? Have you been authorized to do that?"
"Will you try to command the storm to stand still?" asked Count
"Yes, I will try, for we must not break off the negotiations in this
way and recommence hostilities. We must conciliate this terrible
He rushed out of the room, and hastened through the anteroom and
down-stairs to the front door.
Bonaparte had already entered his carriage; his escort had formed in
line, the driver had seized the reins and whip in order to give the
impatient horses the signal to start.
At this moment, the pale and humble face of the Marquis de Gallo
appeared at the carriage door. Bonaparte did not seem to see him.
Leaning back into the cushions, he gloomily looked up to heaven.
"General," said the marquis, imploringly, "I beseech you not to
"Marquis," replied Bonaparte, shrugging his shoulders, "it does not
become me to remain peaceably among my enemies. War has been
declared, for you have not accepted my ultimatum."
"But, general, I take the liberty to inform you that the Austrian
plenipotentiaries have resolved to accept your ultimatum."
Bonaparte's marble countenance did not betray the slightest emotion
of surprise and joy; his large eyes only cast a piercing glance upon
"You accept it without subterfuge or reserve?" he asked, slowly.
"Yes, general, precisely as you have stated it. We are ready to sign
the treaty of peace, and accept the ultimatum. Just be kind enough
to alight once more, and continue the conference with us."
"No, sir," said Bonaparte, "nulla vestigia retrorsam! Being already
in my carriage, I shall not return to you. Besides, the delegates of
the Venetian Republic are waiting for me at Passeriano, and I
believe it is time for me to inform them too of my ultimatum. At the
end of three hours, I ask you, marquis, and Count Cobenzl to proceed
to my headquarters at Passeriano. There we will take the various
stipulations of the treaty into consideration, and agree upon the
public and secret articles."
"But you forget, general, that your orderly is already on the way to
the Austrian headquarters in order to announce the reopening of
"That is true," said Napoleon, quietly. "Here, two orderlies. Follow
the first orderly, and command him to return. You see, marquis, I
believe in the sincerity of your assurances. In three hours, then, I
shall expect you at Passeriano for the purpose of settling the
details of the treaty. We shall sign it, however, on neutral ground.
Do you see that tall building on the horizon?"
"Yes, general, it is the decayed old castle of Campo Formio."
"Well, in that castle, the treaty shall be signed. In three hours,
then. Until then, farewell."
He nodded carelessly to the marquis, who, as humble as a vassal, at
the feet of the throne, stood at the carriage door, constantly
bowing deeply, and waving his plumed hat.
"Forward!" shouted Bonaparte, and the carriage, followed by a
brilliant suite, rolled away. Bonaparte, carelessly leaning into the
corner, muttered, with a stealthy smile: "It was a coup de theatre,
and it had evidently great success. They had to accept peace at my
hands as a favor. Ah, if they had guessed how much I needed it
myself! But these men are obtuse; they cannot see any thing. They
have no aim; they only live from minute to minute, and whenever they
find a precipice on their route, they stumble over it, and are lost
beyond redemption. My God, how scarce real men are! There are
eighteen millions in Italy, and I have scarcely found two men among
them. I want to save these two men, but the rest may fulfil their
destiny. The Republic of Venice shall disappear from the earth--this
cruel and bloodthirsty government shall be annihilated. We shall
throw it as a prey to hungry Austria; but when the latter has
devoured her, and stretched herself in the lazy languor of
digestion, then it will be time for us to stir up Austria. Until
then, peace with Austria--peace!"
Three hours later the treaty between Austria and France was signed
at the old castle of Campo Formio. France, by this treaty, acquired
Belgium, the left bank of the Rhine, and the fortress of Monte.
Austria acquired the Venetian territory. But to these acquisitions,
which were published, secret articles were added. In these secret
articles, France promised, in case Prussia should demand an
enlargement of her dominions, like Austria, not to consent to it.
The Emperor of Austria, on his part, pledged himself to withdraw his
troops, even before the conclusion of the treaty with the German
empire, to be agreed upon at Rastadt, from all the fortresses on the
Rhine--in other words, to surrender the German empire entirely to
its French neighbors.
Austria had enlarged her territory, but, for this aggrandizement,
Germany was to pay with her blood, and finally with her life.
Austria had made peace with France at Campo Formio, and it was
stipulated in the treaty that the German empire likewise should
conclude peace with France. For this purpose, a congress was to meet
at Rastadt; all German princes were to send their ambassadors to
that fortress, in order to settle, jointly, with three
representatives of the French Republic, the fate of the empire.
The most noble Countess von Voss, mistress of ceremonies at the
court of Prussia, was pacing the anteroom of Queen Louisa in the
most excited manner. She wore the regular court dress--a long black
robe and a large cap of black crape. In her white hands, half
covered with black silk gloves, she held a gorgeous fan, which she
now impatiently opened and closed, and then again slowly moved up
and down like a musical leader's baton.
If anybody had been present to observe her, the noble mistress of
ceremonies would not have permitted herself such open manifestations
of her impatience. Fortunately, however, she was quite alone, and
under these circumstances even a mistress of ceremonies at the royal
court might feel at liberty to violate the rules of that etiquette
which on all other occasions was the noble lady's most sacred
gospel. Etiquette, however, was just now the motive of her intense
excitement, and in its interest she was going to fight a battle on
that very spot in Queen Louisa's anteroom.
"Now or never!" she murmured. "What I was at liberty to overlook as
long as Frederick William and Louisa were merely 'their royal
highnesses, the crown prince and crown princess,' I cannot permit
any longer now that they have ascended the royal throne. Hence I am
determined to speak to the young king on this first day of his reign
[Footnote: footnote: November 17, 1797.] in as emphatic and sincere
a manner as is required by a faithful discharge of my responsible
Just at that moment the large folding doors were opened, and a tall
and slender young man in a dashing uniform entered the room. It was
young King Frederick William III., on his return from the interior
palace-yard where he had received the oath of allegiance at the
hands of the generals of the monarchy.
The noble and youthful countenance of this king of twenty-seven
years was grave and stern, but from his large blue eyes the kindness
and gentleness of his excellent heart was beaming, and his handsome
and good-natured features breathed a wonderful spirit of serenity
He crossed the room with rapid and noiseless steps, and, politely
bowing to the mistress of ceremonies, approached the opposite door.
But the mistress of ceremonies, evidently anxious to prevent him
from opening that door, placed herself in front of it and gravely
said to him:
"Your majesty, it is impossible. I cannot permit etiquette to be
violated in this manner, and I must beg your majesty to inform me
most graciously of what you are going to do in these rooms?"
"Well," said the king, with a pleasant smile, "I am going to do to-
day what I am in the habit of doing every day at this hour--I am
going to pay a visit to my wife."
"To your WIFE!" exclaimed the mistress of ceremonies, in dismay.
"But, your majesty, a king has no WIFE!"
"Ah! in that case a king would be a very wretched being," said the
king, smiling, "and, for my part, I would sooner give up my crown
than my beloved wife."
"Good Heaven, your majesty, you may certainly have a wife, but let
me implore you not to apply that vulgar name to her majesty in the
presence of other people. It is contrary to etiquette and injurious
to the respect due to royalty."
"My dear countess," said the young king, gravely, "I believe, on the
contrary, that it will only increase the respect which people will
feel for us, if her majesty remains a woman in the noblest and
truest meaning of the word, and my wife--I beg your pardon, I was
going to say the queen--is such a woman. And now, my dear countess,
permit me to go to her."
"No," exclaimed the mistress of ceremonies, resolutely. "Your
majesty must first condescend to listen to me. For an hour already I
have been waiting here for your majesty's arrival, and you must now
graciously permit me to speak to you as frankly and sincerely as is
required by my duty and official position."
"Well, I will listen to you, my dear countess," said the king, with
an inaudible sigh.
"Your majesty," said the mistress of ceremonies, "I consider it my
duty to beseech your majesty on this memorable day to confer upon me
the power of enforcing the privileges of my office with more
severity and firmness."
"And to submit myself to your sceptre. That is what you want me to
do, I suppose, dear countess?" asked the king, smiling.
"Sire, at all events it is impossible to keep up the dignity and
majesty of royalty if the king and queen themselves openly defy the
laws of etiquette."
"Ah!" exclaimed the king, sharply, "not a word against the queen, if
you please, my dear mistress of ceremonies! You may accuse me just
as much as you please, but pray let me hear no more complaints about
my Louisa! Well, then, tell me now what new derelictions I have been
"Sire," said the countess, who did not fail to notice the almost
imperceptible smile playing on the king's lips--"sire, I perceive
that your majesty is laughing at me; nevertheless, I deem it
incumbent on me to raise my warning voice. Etiquette is something
sublime and holy--it is the sacred wall separating the sovereign
from his people. If that ill-starred queen, Marie Antoinette, had
not torn down this wall, she would probably have met with a less
"Ah! countess, you really go too far; you even threaten me with the
guillotine," exclaimed the king, good-naturedly. "Indeed, I am
afraid I must have committed a great crime against etiquette. Tell
me, therefore, where you wish to see a change, and I pledge you my
word I shall grant your request if it be in my power to do so."
"Sire," begged the mistress of ceremonies, in a low and impressive
voice," let me implore you to be in your palace less of a father and
husband, and more of a king, at least in the presence of others. It
frequently occurs that your majesty, before other people, addresses
the queen quite unceremoniously with 'thou,' nay, your majesty even
in speaking of her majesty to strangers or servants, often briefly
calls the queen 'my wife.' Sire, all that might be overlooked in the
modest family circle and house of a crown prince, but it can-not be
excused in the palace of a king."
"Then," asked the king, smiling, "this house of mine has been
transformed into a palace since yesterday?"
"Assuredly, sire, you do not mean to say that you will remain in
this humble house after your accession to the throne?" exclaimed the
mistress of ceremonies, in dismay.
"Now tell me sincerely, my dear countess, cannot we remain in this
"I assure your majesty it is altogether out of the question. How
would it be possible to keep up the court of a king and queen in so
small a house with becoming dignity? The queen's household has to be
largely increased; hereafter we must have four ladies of honor, four
ladies of the bedchamber, and other servants in the same pro-
portion. According to the rules of etiquette, Sire, you must like-
wise enlarge your own household. A king must have two adjutant-
generals, four chamberlains, four gentlemen of the bedchamber, and--
"Hold on," exclaimed the king, smiling, "MY household fortunately
does not belong to the department of the mistress of ceremonies, and
therefore we need not allude to it. As to your other propositions
and wishes, I shall take them into consideration, for I hope you are
"No, your majesty, I am not. I have to mention a good many other
things, and I must do so to-day--my duty requires it," said the
mistress of ceremonies, in a dignified manner.
The king cast a wistful glance toward the door.
"Well, if your duty requires it, you may proceed," he said, with a
"I must beseech your majesty to assist me in the discharge of my
onerous duties. If the king and queen themselves will submit to the
rigorous and just requirements of etiquette, I shall be able to
compel the whole court likewise strictly to adhere to those salutary
rules. Nowadays, however, a spirit of innovation and disinclination
to observe the old-established ceremonies and customs, which deeply
afflicts me, and which I cannot but deem highly pernicious, is
gaining ground everywhere. It has even now infected the ladies and
gentlemen of the court. And having often heard your majesty, in
conversation with her majesty the queen, contrary to etiquette, use
the vulgar German language instead of the French tongue, which is
the language of the courts throughout Germany, they believe they
have a perfect right to speak German whenever they please. Yes, it
has become a regular custom among them to salute each other at
breakfast with a German 'Guten Morgen!' [Footnote: Vide Ludwig
Hausser's "History of Germany," vol, ii.] That is an innovation
which should not be permitted to anybody, without first obtaining
the consent of her majesty's mistress of ceremonies and your
majesty's master of ceremonies."
"I beg your pardon," said the king, gravely, "as to this point, I
altogether differ from you. No etiquette should forbid German
gentlemen or German ladies to converse in their mother tongue, and
it is unnatural and mere affectation to issue such orders. In order
to become fully conscious of their national dignity, they should
especially value and love their own language, and no longer deign to
use in its place the tongue of a people who have shed the blood of
their king and queen, and whose deplorable example now causes all
thrones to tremble. Would to God that the custom of using the German
language would become more and more prevalent at my court, for it
behooves Germans to feel and think and speak like Germans; and that
will also be the most reliable bulwark against the bloody waves of
the French Republic, in case it should desire to invade Germany. Now
you know my views, my dear mistress of ceremonies, and if your book
of ceremonies prescribes that all court officers should converse in
French, I request you to expunge that article and to insert in its
place the following: 'Prussia, being a German state, of course
everybody is at liberty to speak German.' This will also be the rule
at court, except in the presence of persons not familiar with the
German language. Pray don't forget that, my dear countess, and now,
being so implacable a guardian of that door, and of the laws of
etiquette, I request you to go to her majesty the queen, and ask her
if I may have the honor of waiting upon her majesty. I should like
to present my respects to her majesty; and I trust she will
graciously grant my request." [Footnote: The king's own words.--Vide
Charakterzuge und Historische Fragmente aus dem Leben des Konigs von
Preussen, Friedrich Wilhelm III. Gesammelt und herausgegeben von B.
Fr. Eylert, Bishop, u.s.w. Th. ii., p. 21.] The mistress of
ceremonies bowed deeply, her face radiant with joy, and then rapidly
entered the adjoining room.
The king looked after her for a moment, with a peculiar smile.
"She has to pass through six large rooms before reaching Louisa's
boudoir," he murmured: "this door, however, directly leads to her
through the small hall and the other anteroom. That is the shortest
road to her, and I shall take it."
Without hesitating any longer, the king hastily opened the small
side door, slipped through the silent hall and across the small
anteroom, and knocked at the large and heavily-curtained door.
A sweet female voice exclaimed, "Come in!" and the king immediately
opened the door. A lady in deep mourning came to meet him, extending
her hands toward him.
"Oh, my heart told me that it was you, my dearest!" she exclaimed,
and her glorious blue eyes gazed upon him with an indescribable
expression of impassioned tenderness.
The king looked at her with a dreamy smile, quite absorbed in her
aspect. And indeed it was a charming and beautiful sight presented
by this young queen of twenty years.
Her blue eyes were beaming in the full fire of youth, enthusiasm,
and happiness; a sweet smile was always playing on her finely-formed
mouth, with the ripe cherry lips. On both sides of her slightly-
blushing cheeks her splendid auburn hair was flowing down in waving
ringlets; her noble and pure forehead arose above a nose of
classical regularity, and her figure, so proud and yet so charming,
so luxuriant and yet so chaste, full of true royal dignity and
winning womanly grace, was in complete harmony with her lovely and
"Well?" asked the queen, smiling. "Not a word of welcome from you,
my beloved husband?"
"I only say to you, God bless you on your new path, and may He
preserve you to me as long as I live!" replied the king, deeply
moved, and embracing his queen with gushing tenderness.
She encircled his neck with her soft, white arms, and leaned her
head with a happy smile upon his shoulder. Thus they reposed in each
other's arms, silent in their unutterable delight, solemnly moved in
the profound consciousness of their eternal and imperishable love.
Suddenly they were interrupted in their blissful dream by a low cry,
and when they quickly turned around in a somewhat startled manner,
they beheld the Countess von Voss, mistress of ceremonies, standing
in the open door, and gloomily gazing upon them.
The king could not help laughing.
"Do you see now, my dear countess?" he said. "My wife and I see each
other without any previous interruption as often as we want to do
so, and that is precisely as it ought to be in a Christian family.
But you are a charming mistress of ceremonies, and hereafter we will
call you Dame d'Etiquette. [Footnote: The king's own words.--Vide
Eylert, part ii., p. 98.] Moreover, I will comply with your wishes
as much as I can."
He kindly nodded to her, and the mistress of ceremonies, well aware
of the meaning of this nod, withdrew with a sigh, closing the door
as she went out.
The queen looked up to her husband with a smile.
"Was it again some quarrel about etiquette?" she asked.
"Yes, and a quarrel of the worst kind," replied the king, quickly.
"The mistress of ceremonies demands that I should always be
announced to you before entering your room, Louisa."
"Oh, you are always announced here," she exclaimed, tenderly; "my
heart always indicates your approach--and that herald is altogether
sufficient, and it pleases me much better than the stern countenance
of our worthy mistress of ceremonies."
"It is the herald of my happiness," said the king, fervently, laying
his arm upon his wife's shoulder, and gently drawing her to his
"Do you know what I am thinking of just now?" asked the queen, after
a short pause. "I believe the mistress of ceremonies will get up a
large number of new rules, and lecture me considerably about the
duties of a queen in regard to the laws of etiquette."
"I believe you are right," said the king, smiling. "But I don't
believe she is right!" exclaimed the queen, and, closely nestling in
her husband's arms, she added: "Tell me, my lord and king, inasmuch
as this is the first time that you come to me as a king, have I not
the right to ask a few favors of you, and to pray you to grant my
requests?" "Yes, you have that right, my charming queen," said the
king, merrily; "and I pledge you my word that your wishes shall be
fulfilled, whatever they may be."
"Well, then," said the queen, joyfully, "there are four wishes that
I should like you to grant. Come, sit down here by my side, on this
small sofa, put your arm around my waist, and, that I may feel that
I am resting under your protection, let me lean my head upon your
shoulder, like the ivy supporting itself on the trunk of the strong
oak. And now listen to my wishes. In the first place, I want you to
allow me to be a wife and mother in my own house, without any
restraint whatever, and to fulfil my sacred duties as such without
fear and without regard to etiquette. Do you grant this wish?"
"Most cordially and joyfully, in spite of all mistresses of
ceremonies!" replied the king.
The queen nodded gently and smiled. "Secondly," she continued, "I
beg you, my beloved husband, on your own part, not to permit
etiquette to do violence to your feelings toward me, and always to
call me, even in the presence of others, your 'wife,' and not 'her
majesty the queen.' Will you grant that, too, my dearest friend?"
The king bent over her and kissed her beautiful hair.
"Louisa," he whispered, "you know how to read my heart, and,
generous as you always are, you pray me to grant what is only my own
dearest wish. Yes, Louisa, we will always call each other by those
most honorable of our titles, 'husband and wife.' And now, your
third wish, my dear wife?"
"Ah, I have some fears about this third wish of mine," sighed the
queen, looking up to her husband with a sweet smile. "I am afraid
you cannot grant it, and the mistress of ceremonies, perhaps, was
right when she told me etiquette would prevent you from complying
"Ah, the worthy mistress of ceremonies has lectured you also today
already?" asked the king, laughing.
The queen nodded. "She has communicated to me several important
sections from the 'book of ceremonies,'" she sighed. "But all that
shall not deter me from mentioning my third wish to you. I ask you,
my Frederick, to request the king to permit my husband to live as
plainly and modestly as heretofore. Let the king give his state
festivals in the large royal palace of his ancestors--let him
receive in those vast and gorgeous halls the homage of his subjects,
and the visits of foreign princes, and let the queen assist him on
such occasions. But these duties of royalty once attended to, may we
not be permitted, like all others, to go home, and in the midst of
our dear little family circle repose after the fatiguing pomp and
splendor of the festivities? Let us not give up our beloved home for
the large royal palace! Do not ask me to leave a house in which I
have passed the happiest and finest days of my life. See, here in
these dear old rooms of mine, every thing reminds me of you, and
whenever I am walking through them, the whole secret history of our
love and happiness stands again before my eyes. Here, in this room,
we saw each other for the first time after my arrival in Berlin,
alone and without witnesses. Here you imprinted the first kiss upon
your wife's lips, and, like a heavenly smile, it penetrated deep
into my soul, and it has remained in my heart like a little guardian
angel of our love. Since that day, even in the fullest tide of
happiness, I always feel so devout and grateful to God; and whenever
you kiss me, the little angel in my heart is praying for you, and
whenever I am praying, he kisses you."
"Oh, Louisa, you are my angel--my guardian angel!" exclaimed the
The queen apparently did not notice this interruption--she was
entirely absorbed in her recollections. "On this sofa here," she
said, "we were often seated in fervent embrace like to-day and when
every thing around us was silent, our hearts spoke only the louder
to each other, and often have I heard here from your lips the most
sublime and sacred revelations of your noble, pure, and manly soul.
In my adjoining cabinet, you were once standing at the window,
gloomy and downcast; a cloud was covering your brow, and I knew you
had heard again sorrowful tidings in your father's palace. But no
complaint ever dropped from your lips, for you always were a good
and dutiful son, and even to me you never alluded to your father's
failings. I knew what you were suffering, but I knew also that at
that hour I had the power to dispel all the clouds from your brow,
and to make your eyes radiant with joy and happiness. Softly
approaching you, I laid my arm around your neck, and my head on your
breast, and thereupon I whispered three words which only God and my
husband's ears were to hear. And you heard them, and you uttered a
loud cry of joy, and before I knew how it happened, I saw you on
your knees before me, kissing my feet and the hem of my garment, and
applying a name to me that sounded like heavenly music, and made my
heart overflow with ecstasy and suffused my cheeks with a deep
blush. And I don't know again how it happened, but I felt that I was
kneeling by your side, and we were lifting up our folded hands to
heaven, thanking God for the great bliss He had vouchsafed to us,
and praying Him to bless our child, unknown to us as yet, but
already so dearly beloved. Oh, and last, my own Frederick, do you
remember that other hour in my bedroom? You were sitting at my
bedside, with folded hands, praying, and yet, during your prayer,
gazing upon me, while I was writhing with pain, and yet so supremely
happy in my agony, for I knew that Nature at that hour was about to
consecrate me for my most exalted and sacred vocation, and that God
would bless our love with a visible pledge of our happiness. The
momentous hour was at hand--a film covered my eyes, and I could only
see the Holy Virgin surrounded by angels, on Guido Reni's splendid
painting, opposite my bed. Suddenly a dazzling flash seemed to
penetrate the darkness surrounding me, and through the silence of
the room there resounded a voice that I had never heard before--the
voice of my child. And at the sound of that voice I saw the angels
descending from the painting and approaching my bedside in order to
kiss me, and the Mother of God bent over me with a heavenly smile,
exclaiming: 'Blessed is the wife who is a mother!' My consciousness
left me--I believe my ineffable happiness made me faint."
"Yes, you fainted, beloved wife," said the king, gently nodding to
her; "but the swoon had not dispelled the smile from your lips, nor
the expression of rapturous joy from your features. You lay there as
if overwhelmed with joy and fascinated by your ecstatic bliss.
Knowing that you were inexpressibly happy, I felt no fear whatever--
"Well, I awoke soon again," added the queen, joyfully. "I had no
time to spare for a long swoon, for a question was burning in my
heart. I turned my eyes toward you--you were standing in the middle
of the room, holding the babe that, in its new little lace dress,
had just been laid into your arms. My heart now commenced beating in
my breast like a hammer. I looked at you, but my lips were not
strong enough to utter the question. However, you understood me well
enough, and drawing close to my bedside, and kneeling down and
laying the babe into my arms, you said, in a voice which I shall
never forget, 'Louisa, give your blessing to your son!' Ah, at that
moment it seemed as if my ecstasy would rend my breast. I had to
utter a loud scream, or I should have died from joy. 'A son!' I
cried, 'I have given birth to a son!' And I drew my arms around you
and the babe, and we wept tears--oh, such tears--"
She paused, overwhelmed with emotion, and burst into tears.
"Ah!" she whispered, deprecatingly, "I am very foolish--you will
laugh at me."
But the king did not laugh, for his eyes also were moist; only he
was ashamed of his tears and kept them back in his eyes. A pause
ensued, and the queen laid her head upon the shoulder of her
husband, who had drawn his arm around her waist. All at once she
raised her head, and fixing her large and radiant eyes upon the
deeply-moved face of the king, she asked: "My Frederick, can we
leave a house in which I bore you a son and crown prince? Will we
give up our most sacred recollections for the sake of a large and
gorgeous royal palace?"
"No, we will not," said the king, pressing his wife closer to his
heart. "No, we will remain in this house of ours--we will not leave
it. Our happiness has grown and prospered here, and here it shall
bloom and bear fruit. Your wish shall be fulfilled; we will continue
living here as man and wife, and if the king and queen have to give
festivals and to receive numerous guests, then they will go over to
the palace to comply with their royal duties, but in the evening
they will return to their happy home."
"Oh, my friend, my beloved friend, how shall I thank you?" exclaimed
the queen, encircling his neck with her arms, and imprinting a
glowing kiss upon his lips.
"But now, dear wife, let me know your fourth wish," said the king,
holding her in his arms. "I hope your last wish is a real one, and
not merely calculated to render ME happy, but one that also concerns
"Oh, my fourth wish only concerns myself," said the queen, with an
arch smile. "I can confide it to you, to you alone, and you must
promise to keep it secret, and not to say a word about it to the
mistress of ceremonies."
"I promise it most readily, dear Louisa."
"Well," said the queen, placing her husband's hand upon her heart,
and gently stroking it with her fingers. "I believe during the
coming winter we shall often have to be king and queen. Festivals
will be given to us, and we shall have to give others in return; the
country will do homage to the new sovereign, and the nobility will
solemnly take the oath of allegiance to him. Hence there will be a
great deal of royal pomp, but very little enjoyment for us during
the winter. Well, I will not complain, but endeavor, to the best of
my ability, to do honor to my exalted position by your side. In
return, however, my beloved lord and friend--in return, next summer,
when the roses are blooming, you must give me a day--a day that is
to belong exclusively to myself; and on that day we will forget the
cares of royalty, and only remember that we are a pair of happy
young lovers. Of course, we shall not spend that day in Berlin, nor
in Parez either; but like two merry birds, we will fly far, far away
to my home in Mecklenburg, to the paradise of my early years--to the
castle of Hohenzieritz; and no one shall know any thing about it.
Without being previously announced, we will arrive there, and in the
solitude of the old house and garden we will perform a charming
little idyl. On that day you only belong to me, and to nobody else.
On that day I am your wife and sweetheart and nothing else, and I
shall provide amusement and food for you. Yes, dearest Frederick, I
shall prepare your meals all alone, and set the table and carve for
you. Oh, dear, dear friend; give me such a day, such an idyl of
"I give it to you and to myself, most joyfully; and let me confess,
Louisa, I wish the winter were over already, and the morning of that
beautiful day were dawning."
"Thanks--thousand thanks!" exclaimed the queen, enthusiastically.
"Let the stiff and ceremonious days come now, and the sneaking,
fawning courtiers and the incense of flattery. Through all the mist
I shall constantly inhale the sweet fragrance of the roses of the
future, and on the stiff gala-days I shall think of the idyl of that
day that will dawn next summer and compensate me for all the
annoyances and fatigues of court life."
The king placed his right hand on her head, as if to bless her, and
with his left, lifted up her face that was reposing on his breast.
"And you really think, you charming, happy angel, that I do not
understand you?" he asked, in a low voice. "Do you think I do not
feel and know that you want to offer me this consolation and to
comfort me by the hope of such a blissful day for the intervening
time of care, fatigue, and restlessness? Oh, my dear Louisa, you
need no such consolation, for God has intended you for a queen, and
even the burdens and cares of your position will only surround you
like enchanting genii. You know at all times how to find the right
word and the right deed, and the Graces have showered upon you the
most winning charms to fascinate all hearts, in whatever you may be
doing. On the other hand, I am awkward and ill at ease. I know it
only too well; my unhappy childhood, grief and cares of all kinds,
have rendered my heart reserved and bashful. Perhaps I am not always
lacking right ideas, but I fail only too often to find the right
word for what I think and feel. Hereafter, my dear Louisa, frequent
occasions will arise when you will have to speak for both of us. By
means of your irresistible smile and genial conversation you will
have to win the hearts of people, while I shall be content if I can
only win their heads."
"Shall I be able to win their hearts?" asked the queen, musingly.
"Oh, assist me, my dearest friend. Tell me what I have to do in
order to be beloved by my people."
"Remain what you are, Louisa," said the king, gravely--"always
remain as charming, graceful, and pure as I beheld you on the most
glorious two days of my life, and as my inward eye always will
behold you. Oh, I also have some charming recollections, and
although I cannot narrate them in words as fascinating and glowing
as yours, yet they are engraved no less vividly on my mind, and,
like beautiful genii, accompany me everywhere. Only before others
they are bashful and reticent like myself."
"Let me hear them, Frederick," begged the queen, tenderly leaning
her beautiful head on her husband's shoulder. "Let us devote another
hour to the recollections of the past."
"Yes, let another hour be devoted to the memories of past times,"
exclaimed the king, "for can there be any thing more attractive for
me than to think of you and of that glorious hour when I saw you
first? Shall I tell you all about it, Louisa?"
"Oh, do so, my beloved friend. Your words will sound to me like some
beautiful piece of music that one likes better and understands
better the more it is heard. Speak, then, Frederick, speak."
THE KING'S RECOLLECTIONS.
"Well," said the king, "whenever I look back into the past, every
thing seems to me covered with a gray mist, through which only two
stars and two lights are twinkling. The stars are your eyes, and the
lights are the two days I alluded to before--the day on which I saw
you for the first time, and the day on which you arrived in Berlin.
Oh, Louisa, never shall I forget that first day! I call it the first
day, because it was the first day of my real life. It was at
Frankfort-on-the-Main, during the campaign on the Rhine. My father,
the king, accompanied by myself, returned the visit that the Duke of
Mecklenburg, your excellent father, had paid on the previous day. We
met in a small and unpretending villa, situated in the midst of a
large garden. The two sovereigns conversed long and seriously, and I
was listening to them, in silence. This silence was, perhaps,
disagreeable to my father the king."
"'What do you think, your Highness?' he suddenly asked your father.
'While we are talking about the military operations, will we not
permit the young gentleman there to wait upon the ladies? As soon as
we are through, I shall ask you to grant me the same privilege.'"
"The duke readily assented, and calling the footman waiting in the
anteroom, he ordered him to go with me to the ladies and to announce
my visit to them. Being in the neighborhood of the seat of war, you
know, little attention was paid to ceremonies. I followed the
footman, who told me the ladies were in the garden, whither he
conducted me. We walked through a long avenue and a number of side-
paths. The footman, going before me, looked around in every
direction without being able to discover the whereabouts of the
ladies. Finally, at a bend in the avenue, we beheld a bower in the
distance, and something white fluttering in it."
"'Ah, there is Princess Louisa,' said the footman, turning to me,
and he then rapidly walked toward her. I followed him slowly and
listlessly, and when he came back and told me Princess Louisa was
ready to receive me, I was perhaps yet twenty yards from the rose-
bower. I saw there a young lady rising from her seat, and
accelerated my steps. Suddenly my heart commenced pulsating as it
never had done before, and it seemed to me as if a door were
bursting open in my heart and making it free, and as if a thousand
voices in my soul were singing and shouting, 'There she is! There is
the lady of your heart!' The closer I approached, the slower grew my
steps, and I saw you standing in the entrance of the bower in a
white dress, loosely covering your noble and charming figure, a
gentle smile playing on your pure, sweet face, golden ringlets
flowing down both sides of your rosy cheeks, and your head wreathed
with the full and fragrant roses which seemed to bend down upon you
from the bower in order to kiss and adorn you, your round white arms
only half covered with clear lace sleeves, and a full-blown rose in
your right hand which you had raised to your waist. And seeing you
thus before me, I believed I had been removed from earth, and it
seemed to me I beheld an angel of innocence and beauty, through
whose voice Heaven wished to greet me. [Footnote: Goethe saw the
young princess at the same time, and speaks of her "divine beauty."]
At last I stood close before you, and in my fascination I entirely
forgot to salute you. I only looked at you. I only heard those
jubilant voices in my heart, singing, 'There is your wife--the wife
you will love now and forever!' It was no maudling sentimentality,
but a clear and well-defined consciousness which, like an
inspiration, suddenly moistened my eyes with tears of joy.
[Footnote: The king's own words, vide Bishop Eylert's work, vol.
ii., p. 22.] Oh, Louisa, why am I no painter to perpetuate that
sublime moment in a beautiful and glorious picture? But what I
cannot do, shall be tried by others. A true artist shall render and
eternize that moment for me, [Footnote: This painting was afterward
executed, and may now be seen at the royal palace of Berlin. The
whole account of the first meeting of the two lovers is based upon
the communication the king made himself to Bishop Eylert] so that
one day when we are gone, our son may look up to the painting and
say: 'Such was my mother when my father first saw her. He believed
he beheld an angel, and he was not mistaken, for she was the
guardian angel of his whole life.'"
"Oh! you make me blush--you make me too happy, too happy!" exclaimed
the queen, closing her husband's lips with a burning kiss.
"Don't praise me too much, lest I should become proud and
The king gently shook his head. "Only the stupid, the guilty, and
the base are proud and overbearing," he said. "But, whoever has seen
you, Louisa, on the day of your first arrival in Berlin, will never
forget your sweet image in its radiance of grace, modesty, and
loveliness. It was on a Sunday, a splendid clear day in winter, the
day before Christmas, which was to become the greatest holiday of my
life. A vast crowd had gathered in front of the Arsenal Unter den
Linden. Every one was anxious to see you. At the entrance of the
Linden, not far from the Opera-Place, a splendid triumphal arch had
been erected, and here a committee of the citizens and a number of
little girls were to welcome you to Berlin. In accordance with the
rules of court etiquette, I was to await your arrival at the palace.
But my eagerness to see you would not suffer me to remain there.
Closely muffled in my military cloak, my cap drawn down over my
face, in order not to be recognized by anybody, I had gone out among
the crowd and, assisted by a trusty servant, obtained a place behind
one of the pillars of the triumphal arch. Suddenly tremendous cheers
burst forth from a hundred thousand throats, thousands of arms were
waving white handkerchiefs from the windows and roofs of the houses,
the bells were rung, the cannon commenced thundering, for you had
just crossed the Brandenburger Gate. Alighting from your carriage,
you walked up the Linden with your suite, the wildest enthusiasm
greeting every step you made, and finally you entered the triumphal
arch, not suspecting how near I was to you, and how fervently my
heart was yearning for you. A number of little girls in white, with
myrtle-branches in their hands, met you there; and one of them,
bearing a myrtle-wreath on an embroidered cushion, presented it to
you and recited a simple and touching poem. Oh, I see even now, how
your eyes were glowing, how a profound emotion lighted up your
features, and how, overpowered by your feelings, you bent down to
the little girl, clasped her in your arms and kissed her eyes and
lips. But behind you there stood the mistress of ceremonies,
Countess von Voss, pale with indignation, and trembling with horror
at this unparalleled occurrence. She hastily tried to draw you back,
and in her amazement she cried almost aloud, 'Good Heaven! how could
your royal highness do that just now? It was contrary to good-
breeding and etiquette!' Those were harsh and inconsiderate words,
but in your happy mood you did not feel hurt, but quietly and
cheerfully turned around to her and asked innocently and honestly.
'What! cannot I do so any more?' [Footnote: Eylert, vol. ii., p.79.]
Oh, Louisa, at that moment, and in consequence of your charming
question, my eyes grew moist, and I could hardly refrain from
rushing out of the crowd and pressing you to my heart, and kissing
your eyes and lips as innocently and chastely as you had kissed
those of the little girl."
"See," said the king, drawing a deep breath, and pausing for a
minute," those are the two great days of my life, and as you ask me
now, what you ought to do in order to win the love of your people, I
reply to you once more: Remain what you are, so that these beautiful
pictures of you, which are engraved upon my heart, may always
resemble you, and you will be sure to win all hearts. Oh, my Louisa,
your task is an easy one, you only have to be true to yourself, you
only have to follow your faithful companions the Graces, and success
will never fail you. My task, however, is difficult, and I shall
have to struggle not only with the evil designs, the malice, and
stupidity of others, but with my own inexperience, my want of
knowledge, and a certain irresolution, resulting, however, merely
from a correct appreciation of what I am lacking."
The queen with a rapid gesture placed her hand upon the king's
"You must be more self-reliant, for you may safely trust yourself,"
she said, gravely. "Who could be satisfied with himself, if you were
to despair? What sovereign could have the courage to grasp the
sceptre, if your hands should shrink back from it?--your hands, as
free from guilt and firm and strong as those of a true man should
be! I know nothing about politics, and shall never dare to meddle
with public affairs and to advise you in regard to them; but I know
and feel that you will always be guided by what you believe to be
the best interests of your people, and that you never will deviate
from that course. The spirit of the Great Frederick is looking upon
you; he will guide and bless you!"
The king seemed greatly surprised by these words.
"Do you divine my thoughts, Louisa?" he asked. "Do you know my soul
has been with him all the morning--that I thus conversed with him
and repeated to myself every thing he said to me one day in a great
and solemn hour. Oh, it was indeed a sacred hour, and never have I
spoken of it to anybody, for every word would have looked to me like
a desecration. But you, my noble wife, you can only consecrate and
sanctify the advice I received in that momentous hour; and as I am
telling you to-day about my most glorious reminiscences, you shall
hear also what Frederick the Great once said to me."
The queen nodded approvingly, raising her head from his shoulder and
folding her hands on her lap as if she were going to pray.
The king paused for a moment, and seemed to reflect.
"In 1785," he then said, "on a fine, warm summer day, I met the king
in the garden at Sans-Souci. I was a youth of fifteen years at that
time, strolling carelessly through the shrubbery and humming a song,
when I suddenly beheld the king, who was seated on the bench under
the large beech-tree, at no great distance from the Japanese palace.
He was alone; two greyhounds were lying at his feet, in his hands he
held his old cane, and his head reposed gently on the trunk of the
beech-tree. A last beam of the setting sun was playing on his face,
and rendered his glorious eyes even more radiant. I stood before him
in reverential awe, and he gazed upon me with a kindly smile. Then
he commenced examining me about my studies, and finally he drew a
volume of La Fontaine's 'Fables' from his pocket, opened the book
and asked me to translate the fable on the page he showed me. I did
so--but when he afterward was going to praise me for the skill with
which I had rendered it, I told him it was but yesterday that I had
translated the same fable under the supervision of my teacher. A
gentle smile immediately lighted up his face, and tenderly patting
my cheeks, he said to me, in his sonorous, soft voice: 'That is
right, my dear Fritz, always be honest and upright. Never try to
seem what you are not--always be more than what you seem!' I never
forgot that exhortation, and I have always abhorred falsehood and
The queen gently laid her hand upon his heart. "Your eye is honest,"
she said, "and so is your heart. My Frederick is too proud and brave
to utter a lie. And what did you say to your great ancestor?"
"I? He spoke to me--I stood before him and listened. He admonished
me to be industrious, never to believe that I had learned enough;
never to stand still, but always to struggle on. After that he arose
and, conversing with me all the time, slowly walked down the avenue
leading to the garden gate. All at once he paused, and leaning upon
his cane, his piercing eyes looked at me so long and searchingly,
that his glance deeply entered into my heart. 'Well, Fritz,' he
said, ' try to become a good man, a good man par excellence. Great
things are in store for you. I am at the end of my career, and my
task is about accomplished. I am afraid that things will go pell-
mell when I am dead. A portentous fermentation is going on
everywhere, and the sovereigns, especially the King of France,
instead of calming it and extirpating the causes that have produced
it, unfortunately are deluded enough to fan the flame. The masses
below commence moving already, and when the explosion finally takes
place, the devil will be to pay. I am afraid your own position one
day will be a most difficult one. Arm yourself, therefore, for the
strife!--be firm!--think of me! Watch over our honor and our glory!
Beware of injustice, but do not permit any one to treat you
unjustly!' He paused again, and slowly walked on. While deeply moved
and conscious of the importance of the interview, I inwardly
repeated every word he had said, in order to remember them as long
as I lived. We had now reached the obelisk, near the gate of Sans-
Souci. The king here gave me his left hand, and with his uplifted
right hand he pointed at the obelisk. 'Look at it,' he said, loudly
and solemnly; 'the obelisk is tall and slender, and yet it stands
firm amid the most furious storms. It says to you: Ma force est ma
droiture. The culmination, the highest point overlooks and crowns
the whole; it does not support it, however, but is supported by the
whole mass underlying it, especially by the invisible foundation,
deeply imbedded in the earth. This supporting foundation is the
people in its unity. Always be on the side of the people, so that
they will love and trust you, as they alone can render you strong
and happy.' He cast another searching glance upon me, and gave me
his hand. When I bent over it in order to kiss it, he imprinted a
kiss on my forehead. 'Don't forget this hour,' he said kindly,
nodding to me. He turned around, and accompanied by his greyhounds,
slowly walked up the avenue again. [Footnote: The king's own account
to Bishop Eylert, in the latter's work, vol. i., p. 466.] I never
forgot that hour, and shall remember it as long as I live."
"And the spirit of the great Frederick will be with you and remain
with you," said the queen, deeply moved.
"Would to God it were so!" sighed the king. "I know that I am weak
and inexperienced; I stand in need of wise and experienced advisers;
A rap at the door interrupted the king, and on his exclaiming, "Come
in!" the door was opened and the court marshal appeared on the
"I humbly beg your majesty's pardon for venturing to disturb you,"
he said, bowing reverentially; "but I must request your majesty to
decide a most important domestic matter--a matter that brooks no
"Well, what is it?" said the king, rising and walking over to the
"Your majesty, it is about the bill of fare for the royal table, and
I beseech your majesty to read and approve the following paper I
have drawn up in regard to it."
With an obsequious bow, he presented a paper to the king, who read
it slowly and attentively.
"What!" he suddenly asked, sharply, "two courses more than
"Your majesty," replied the marshal, humbly, "it is for the table of
"And you believe that my stomach has grown larger since I am a
king?" asked Frederick William. "No, sir, the meals shall remain the
same as heretofore, [Footnote: Vide Eylert, vol. i., p. 18] unless,"
he said, politely turning to the queen, "unless you desire a change,
The queen archly shook her head. "No," she said, with a charming
smile; "neither has my stomach grown larger since yesterday."
"There will be no change, then," said the king, dismissing the
"Just see," he said to the queen, when the courtier had disappeared,
"what efforts they make in order to bring about a change in our
simple and unassuming ways of living; they flatter us wherever they
can, and even try to do so by means of our meals."
"As for ourselves, however, dearest, we will remember the words of
your great uncle," said the queen, "and when they overwhelm us on
all sides with their vain and ridiculous demands, we will remain
firm and true to ourselves."
"Yes, Louisa," said the king, gravely, "and whatever our new life
may have in store for us, we will remain the same as before."
Another rap at the door was heard, and a royal footman entered.
"Lieutenant-Colonel von Kockeritz, your majesty, requests an
"Ah, yes, it is time," said the king, looking at the clock on the
mantel-piece. "I sent him word to call on me at this hour. Farewell,
Louisa, I must not let him wait."
He bowed to his wife, whose hand he tenderly pressed to his lips,
and turned to the door.
The footman who had meantime stood at the door as straight as an
arrow, waiting for the king's reply, now hastened to open both
"What!" asked the king, with a deprecating smile, "have I suddenly
grown so much stouter that I can no longer pass out through one
door?" [Footnote: Ibid., p. 19]
The queen's eyes followed her husband's tall and commanding figure
with a proud smile, and then raising her beautiful, radiant eyes
with an indescribable expression to heaven, she whispered: "Oh, what
a man I my husband!" [Footnote: "O, welch em Mann! mem Mann!"--
Eylert, vol. ii., p. 107]
THE YOUNG KING.
The king rapidly walked through the rooms and across the hall,
separating his own apartments from those of the queen. He had
scarcely entered his cabinet, when he opened the door of the ante-
room, and exclaimed:
"Pray, come in, my dear Kockeritz."
A corpulent little gentleman, about fifty years of age, with a kind,
good-natured face, small, vivacious eyes, denoting an excellent
heart, but little ability, and large, broad lips, which never
perhaps had uttered profound truths, but assuredly many pleasant
jests, immediately appeared on the threshold.
While he was bowing respectfully, the king extended his hand to him.
"You have received my letter, my friend?" he asked.
"Yes, your majesty. I received it yesterday, and I have been
studying it all night."
"And what are you going to reply to me?" asked the king, quickly.
"Are you ready to accept the position I have tendered to you? Will
you become my conscientious and impartial adviser--my true and
"Your majesty," said the lieutenant-colonel, sighing, "I am afraid
your majesty has too good an opinion of my abilities. When I read
your truly sublime letter, my heart shuddered, and I said to myself,
'The king is mistaken about you. To fill the position he is offering
to you, he needs a man of the highest ability and wisdom. The king
has confounded your heart with your head.' Yes, your majesty, my
heart is in the right place; it is brave, bold, and faithful, but my
head lacks wisdom and knowledge. I am not a learned man, your
" But you are a man of good common sense and excellent judgment, and
that is worth more to me than profound learning," exclaimed the
king. "I have observed you for years, and these extended
observations have confirmed my conviction more and more that I was
possessing in you a man who would be able one day to render me the
most important services by his straightforwardness, his unerring
judgment, his firm character, and well-tried honesty. I have a
perfect right to trust you implicitly. I am a young man, as yet too
ignorant of the world to rely exclusively upon myself, and not to
fear lest dishonest men, in spite of the most earnest precautions,
should deceive me. Hence every well-meant advice must be exceedingly
welcome to me, and such advice I can expect at your hands. I pray
you, sir, remain my friend, do not change your bearing toward me,
become my adviser. [Footnote: Vide "A letter to Lieutenant-Colonel
von Kockeritz, by Frederick William III."] Kockeritz, will you
reject my request?"
"No," exclaimed Herr von Kockeritz; "if that is all your majesty
asks of me, I can promise it and fulfil my promise. Your majesty
shall always find me to be a faithful, devoted, and honest servant."
"I ask more than that," said the king, gently. "Not only a faithful
servant, but a devoted FRIEND--a friend who will call my attention
to my short-comings and errors. Assist me with your knowledge of men
and human nature. For nobody is more liable to make mistakes in
judging of men than a prince, and it cannot be otherwise. To a
prince no one shows himself in his true character. Every one tries
to fathom the weaknesses and inclinations of rulers--and then
assumes such a mask as seems best calculated to accomplish his
purposes. Hence, I expect you to look around quietly, without
betraying your intentions, for honest and sagacious men, and to find
out what positions they are able to fill in the most creditable
manner." [Footnote: Ibid.]
"I shall take pains, your majesty, to discover such men," said Herr
von Kockeritz, gravely. "It seems to me, however, sire, that
fortunately you have got many able and excellent men close at hand,
and for that reason need not look very far for other assistants."
"To whom do you allude?" exclaimed the king, sharply, and with a
Herr von Kockeritz cast a rapid glance upon the king's countenance
and seemed to have read his thoughts upon his clouded brow.
"Your majesty," he said, gravely and slowly, "I do not mean to say
any thing against Wollner, the minister, and his two counsellors,
Hermes and Hiller, nor against Lieutenant-General von
The frown had already disappeared from the king's brow. Stepping up
to his desk, he seized a piece of paper there, which he handed to
"Just read that paper, and tell me what to do about it."
"Ah, Lieutenant-General von Bischofswerder has sent in his
resignation!" exclaimed Herr von Kockeritz, when he had read the
paper. "Well, I must confess that the general has a very fine nose,
and that he acted most prudently."
"You believe, then, I would have dismissed him anyhow?"
"Yes, I believe so, your majesty."
"And you are right, Kockeritz. This gloomy and bigoted man has done
a great deal of mischief in Prussia, and the genius of our country
had veiled his head and fled before the spirits which Bischofswerder
had called up. Oh, my friend, we have passed through a gloomy,
disastrous period, and seen many evil spirits here, and been
tormented by them. But not another word about it: It does not
behoove me to judge the past, for it does not belong to me. Only the
future is mine; and God grant when it has, in turn, become the past,
that it may not judge ME! Lieutenant-General von Bischofswerder was
the friend and confidant of my lamented father, the king, and in
that capacity I must and will honor him. I shall accept his
resignation, but grant him an ample pension."
"That resolution is highly honorable to your majesty's heart,"
exclaimed Herr von Kockeritz, feelingly.
"As to Minister Wollner," said the king, frowning, "in respectful
remembrance of my lamented father's partiality for him, I shall not
at once dismiss him, but leave it to himself to send in his
resignation. Let him see if he will be able to reconcile himself to
the new era, for a new era, I hope, is to dawn for Prussia--an era
of toleration, enlightenment and true piety, that does not seek
faction in mere lip-service and church-going, but in good and pious
deeds. Religion is not an offspring of the church, but the reverse
is true; the church is an offspring of religion, and the church
therefore, ought to be subordinate to religion, and never try to
place itself above it. Henceforth there shall be no more compulsion
in matters of faith, and all fanatical persecutions shall cease. I
honor religion myself; I devoutly follow its blessed precepts, and
under no circumstances would I be the ruler of a people devoid of
religion. But I know that religion always must remain a matter of
the heart and of personal conviction, and if it is to promote virtue
and righteousness, it must not, by a mere methodical constraint, be
degraded to an empty and thoughtless ritualism. Hereafter Lutheran
principles shall be strictly adhered to in religious affairs, for
they are entirely in harmony with the spirit and Founder of our
religion. No compulsory laws are necessary to maintain true religion
in the country and to increase its salutary influence upon the
happiness and morality of all classes of the people. [Footnote: Vide
"Menael's Twenty Years of Prussian History," p. 534.] These, I am
afraid, are principles which Minister Wollner cannot adopt; and if
he is an honest man, he will consequently send in his resignation.
If he should not do so in the course of a few weeks, of course I
shall dismiss him. You see, Kockeritz, I am speaking to you frankly
and unreservedly, as if you were a true friend of mine, and I am
treating you already as my adviser. Now tell me who are the men of
whom you wished to speak, and whom you believe to be able and
The face of Herr von Kockeritz assumed an embarrassed and anxious
air, but the king was waiting for an answer, and therefore he could
not withhold it any longer.