Part 4 out of 14
"I beg your pardon, madame; I was really entirely innocent. Your
carriage being the last to arrive, it had to take the hindmost
place; that was the reason why it took us so long to get it to the
door. I beg your pardon, madame."
Marianne only turned to him for a moment, bending a single
contemptuous glance upon him, and then, without uttering a word,
continued ascending the staircase.
The footman paused and looked after the proud lady, whispering with
"She will discharge me--she never forgives!"
Marianne had now reached the upper story, and walked down the
corridor as slowly and as proudly as ever. Her valet stood at the
door, receiving her with a profound bow, while opening the folding
door. She crossed gravely and silently the long suite of rooms now
opening before her, and finally entered her dressing-room. Her two
lady's maids were waiting for her here in order to assist her in
putting on a more comfortable dress.
When they approached their mistress, she made an imperious,
"Begone!" she said, "begone!"
That was all she said, but it sounded like a scream of rage and
pain, and the lady's maids hastened to obey, or rather to escape.
When the door had closed behind them, Marianne rushed toward it and
locked it, and drew the heavy curtain over it.
Now she was alone--now nobody could see her, nobody could hear her.
With a wild cry she raised her beautiful arms, tore the splendid
diadem of brilliants from her hair, and hurled it upon the floor.
She then with trembling hands loosened the golden sash from her
tapering waist, and the diamond pins from her hair, and threw all
these precious trinkets disdainfully upon the floor. And now with
her small feet, with her embroidered silken shoes, she furiously
stamped on them with flaming eyes, and in her paroxysm of anger
slightly opening her lips, so as to show her two rows of peerless
teeth which she held firmly pressed together.
Her fine hair, no longer fastened by the diamond pins, had fallen
down, and was now floating around her form like a black veil, and
closely covered her purple dress. Thus she looked like a goddess of
vengeance, so beautiful, so proud, so glorious and terrible--her
small hands raised toward heaven, and her feet crushing the jewelry.
"Insulted, scorned!" she murmured. "The meanest woman on the street
believes she has a right to despise me--me, the celebrated Marianne
Meier--me, at whose feet counts and princes have sighed in vain! And
who am I, then, that they should dare to despise me?"
She asked this question with a defiant, burning glance toward
heaven, but all at once she commenced trembling, and hung her head
humbly and mournfully.
"I am a disgraced woman," she whispered. "Diamonds and velvet do not
hide my shame. I am the prince's mistress. That's all!"
"But it shall be so no longer!" she exclaimed, suddenly. "I will put
a stop to it. I MUST put a stop to it! This hour has decided my
destiny and broken my stubbornness. I thought I could defy the world
in MY way. I believed I could laugh at its prejudices; but the world
is stronger than I, and therefore I have to submit, and shall
hereafter defy it in its own way. And I shall do so most assuredly.
I shall do so on the spot."
Without reflecting any further, she left her chamber and hastened
once more through the rooms. Her hair now was waving wildly around
her shoulders, and her purple dress, no longer held together by the
golden sash, was floating loosely around her form. She took no
notice whatever of her dishabille; only one idea, only one purpose
filled her heart.
In breathless haste she hurried on, and now quickly opened a last
door, through which she entered a room furnished in the most
sumptuous and comfortable manner.
At her appearance, so sudden, and evidently unexpected, the elderly
gentleman, who had reposed on the silken sofa, arose and turned
around with a gesture of displeasure.
On recognizing Marianne, however, a smile overspread his features,
and he went to meet her with a pleasant greeting.
"Back already, dearest?" he said, extending his hand toward her.
"Yes, your highness--I am back already," she said drily and coldly.
The gentleman upon whose features the traces of a life of
dissipation were plainly visible, fixed his eyes with an anxious air
upon the beautiful lady. He only now noticed her angry mien and the
strange dishabille in which she appeared before him.
"Good Heaven, Marianne!" he asked, sharply, "what is the cause of
your agitation, of your coldness toward me? What has happened to
"What has happened to me? The most infamous insults have been heaped
upon my head!" she exclaimed with quivering lips, an angry blush
suffusing her cheeks, "For a quarter of an hour, nay, for an
eternity, I was the target of the jeers, the contempt, and the scorn
of the rabble that publicly abused me in the most disgraceful
"Tell me," exclaimed the old gentleman, "what has occurred, and
whose fault it was!"
"Whose fault it was?" she asked, bending a piercing glance upon him.
"YOURS, my prince; you alone are to blame for my terrible disgrace
and humiliation. For your sake the rabble has reviled me, called me
your mistress, and laughed at my diamonds; calling them the reward
of my shame! Oh, how many insults, how many mortifications have I
not already suffered for your sake--with how many bloody tears have
I not cursed this love which attaches me to you, and which I was
nevertheless unable to tear from my heart, for it is stronger than
myself. But now the cup of bitterness is full to overflowing. My
pride cannot hear so much contumely and scorn. Farewell, my prince,
my beloved! I must leave you. I cannot stay with you any longer.
Shame would kill me. Farewell! Hereafter, no one shall dare to call
me a mistress."
With a last glowing farewell, she turned to the door, but the prince
kept her back. "Marianne," he asked, tenderly, "do you not know that
I love you, and that I cannot live without you?"
She looked at him with a fascinating smile. "And I?" she asked, "far
from you, shall die of a broken heart; with you, I shall die of
shame. I prefer the former. Farewell! No one shall ever dare again
to call me by that name." And her hand touched already the door-
The prince encircled her waist with his arms and drew her back. "I
shall not let you go," he said, ardently. "You are mine, and shall
remain so! Oh, why are you so proud and so cold? Why will you not
sacrifice your faith to our love? Why do you insist upon remaining a
"Your highness," she said, leaning her head on his shoulder, "why do
you want me to become a Christian?"
"Why?" he exclaimed. "Because my religion and the laws of my country
prevent me from marrying a Jewess."
"And if I should sacrifice to you the last that has remained to me?"
she whispered--"my conscience and my religion."
"Marianne," he exclaimed, solemnly, "I repeat to you what I have
told you so often already: 'Become a Christian in order to become my
She encircled his neck impetuously with her arms and clung to him
with a passionate outburst of tenderness. "I will become a
Christian!" she whispered.
LOVE AND POLITICS.
"At last! at last!" exclaimed Gentz, in a tone of fervid tenderness,
approaching Marianne, who went to meet him with a winning smile. "Do
you know, dearest, that you have driven me to despair for a whole
week? Not a word, not a message from you! Whenever I came to see
you, I was turned away. Always the same terrible reply, 'Madame is
not at home,' while I felt your nearness in every nerve and vein of
mine, and while my throbbing heart was under the magic influence of
your presence. And then to be turned away! No reply whatever to my
letters, to my ardent prayers to see you only for a quarter of an
"Oh, you ungrateful man!" she said, smiling, "did I not send for you
to-day? Did I not give you this rendezvous quite voluntarily?"
"You knew very well that I should have died if your heart had not
softened at last. Oh, heavenly Marianne, what follies despair made
me commit already! In order to forget you, I plunged into all sorts
of pleasures, I commenced new works, I entered upon fresh love-
affairs. But it was all in vain. Amidst those pleasures I was sad;
during my working hours my mind was wandering, and in order to
impart a semblance of truth and tenderness to my protestations of
love, I had to close my eyes and imagine YOU were the lady whom I
"And then you were successful?" asked Marianne, smiling.
"Yes, then I was successful," he said, gravely; "but my new lady-
love, the beloved of my distraction and despair, did not suspect
that I only embraced her so tenderly because I kissed in her the
beloved of my heart and of my enthusiasm."
"And who was the lady whom you call the beloved of your distraction
and despair?" asked Marianne.
"Ah, Marianne, you ask me to betray a woman?"
"No, no; I am glad to perceive that you are a discreet cavalier. You
shall betray no woman. I will tell you her name. The beloved of your
distraction and despair was the most beautiful and charming lady in
Berlin--it was the actress Christel Eughaus. Let me compliment you,
my friend, on having triumphed with that belle over all those
sentimental, lovesick princes, counts, and barons. Indeed, you have
improved your week of 'distraction and despair' in the most
"Still, Marianne, I repeat to you, she was merely my sweetheart for
the time being, and I merely plunged into this adventure in order to
"Then you love me really?" asked Marianne.
"Marianne, I adore you! You know it. Oh, now I may tell you so.
Heretofore you repelled me and would not listen to my protestations
of love because I was a MARRIED man. Now, however, I have got rid of
my ignominious fetters, Marianne; now I am no longer a married man.
I am free, and all the women in the world are at liberty to love me.
I am as free as a bird in the air!"
"And like a bird you want to flit from one heart to another?"
"No, most beautiful, most glorious Marianne; your heart shall be the
cage in which I shall imprison myself."
"Beware, my friend. What would you say if there was no door in this
cage through which you might escape?"
"Oh, if it had a door, I should curse it."
"Then you love me so boundlessly as to be ready to sacrifice to me
the liberty you have scarcely regained?"
"Can you doubt it, Marianne?" asked Gentz, tenderly pressing her
beautiful hands to his lips.
"Are you in earnest, my friend?" she said, smiling. "So you offer
your hand to me? You want to marry me?"
Gentz started back, and looked at her with a surprised and
frightened air. Marianne laughed merrily.
"Ah!" she said, "your face is the most wonderful illustration of
Goethe's poem. You know it, don't you?" And she recited with
ludicrous pathos the following two lines:
"'Heirathen, Kind, ist wunderlich Wort,
Hor ich's, mocht ich gleich wieder fort.'"
"Good Heaven, what a profound knowledge of human nature our great
Goethe has got, and how proud I am to be allowed to call him a
friend of mine--Heirathen, Kind, ist wunderlich Wort."
"Marianne, you are cruel and unjust, you--"
"And you know the next two lines of the poem?" she interrupted him.
"The maiden replied to him:"
"'Heirathen wir eben,
Das Ubrige wird sich geben.'"
"You mock me," exclaimed Gentz, smiling, "and yet you know the
maiden's assurance would not prove true in our case, and that there
is something rendering such a happiness, the prospect of calling you
my wife, an utter impossibility. Unfortunately, you are no
Christian, Marianne. Hence I cannot marry you." [Footnote: Marriages
between Christians and Jews were prohibited in the German states at
"And if I were a Christian?" she asked in a sweet, enchanting voice.
He fixed his eyes with a searching glance upon her smiling, charming
"What!" he asked, in evident embarrassment. "If you were a
Christian? What do you mean, Marianne?"
"I mean, Frederick, that, I have given the highest proof of my love
to the man who loves me so ardently, constantly, and faithfully. For
his sake I have become a Christian, Yesterday I was baptized. Now,
my friend, I ask you once more, I ask you as a Christian woman:
Gentz, will you marry me? Answer me honestly and frankly, my friend!
Remember that it is 'the beloved of your heart and of your
enthusiasm,' as you called me yourself a few moments ago, who now
stands before you and asks for a reply. Remember that this moment
will be decisive for our future--speedily, nay, immediately
decisive. For you see I have removed all obstacles. I have become a
Christian, and I tell you I am ready to become your wife in the
course of the present hour. Once more, then, Gentz, will you marry
He had risen and paced the room in great excitement. Marianne
followed him with a lurking glance and a scornful smile, but when he
now stepped back to her, she quickly assumed her serious air.
"Marianne," he said, firmly, "you want to know the truth, and I love
you too tenderly to conceal it from you. I will not, must not,
cannot marry you. I WILL not, because I am unable to bear once more
the fetters of wedded life. I MUST not, because I should make you
unhappy and wretched. I CANNOT, while, doing so, I should act
perfidiously toward a friend of mine, for you know very well that
the Prince von Reuss is my intimate friend."
"And _I_ am his mistress. You wished to intimate that to me by your
last words, I suppose?"
"I wished to intimate that he loves you boundlessly, and he is a
generous, magnanimous man, whose heart would break if any one should
take you from him."
"For the last time, then: you will not marry me?"
"Marianne, I love you too tenderly--I cannot marry you!"
Marianne burst into a fit of laughter. "A strange reason for
rejecting my hand, indeed!" she said. "It is so original that in
itself it might almost induce me to forgive your refusal. And yet I
had counted so firmly and surely upon your love and consent that I
had made already the necessary arrangements in order that our
wedding might take place to-day. Just look at me, Gentz. Do you not
see that I wear a bridal-dress?"
"Your beauty is always a splendid bridal-dress for you, Marianne."
"Well said! But do you not see a myrtle-wreath, my bridal-wreath, on
the table there? Honi soit qui mal y pense! The priest is already
waiting for the bride and bridegroom in the small chapel, the
candles on the altar are lighted, every thing is ready for the
ceremony. Well, we must not make the priest wait any longer. So you
decline being the bridegroom at the ceremony? Well, attend it, then,
as a witness. Will you do so? Will you assist me as a faithful
friend, sign my marriage-contract, and keep my secret?"
"I am ready to give you any proof of my love and friendship," said
"Well, I counted on you," exclaimed Marianne, smiling, "and, to tell
you the truth, I counted on your refusal to marry me. Come, give me
your arm. I will show you the same chapel which the Prince von Reuss
has caused to be fitted up here in the building of the Austrian
embassy. The servants will see nothing strange in our going there,
and I hope, moreover, that we shall meet with no one on our way
thither. At the chapel we shall perhaps find Prince Henry--that will
be a mere accident, which will surprise no one. Come, assist me in
putting on this long black mantilla which will entirely conceal my
white silk dress. The myrtle-wreath I shall take under my arm so
that no one will see it. And now, come!"
"Yes, let us go," said Gentz, offering his arm to her. "I see very
well that there is a mystification in store for me, but I shall
follow you wherever you will take me, to the devil or--"
"Or to church," she said, smiling. "But hush now, so that no one may
They walked silently through the rooms, then down a long corridor,
and after descending a narrow secret staircase, they entered a small
apartment where three gentlemen were waiting for them.
One of them was a Catholic priest in his vestments, the second the
Prince von Reuss, Henry XIII., and the third the first attache of
the Austrian embassy.
The prince approached Marianne, and after taking her hand he saluted
Gentz in the most cordial manner.
"Every thing is ready," he said; "come, Marianne, let me place the
wreath on your head."
Marianne took off her mantilla, and, handing the myrtle-wreath to
the prince, she bowed her head, and almost knelt down before him. He
took the wreath and fastened it in her hair, whereupon he beckoned
the attache to hand to him the large casket standing on the table.
This casket contained a small prince's coronet of exquisite
workmanship and sparkling with the most precious diamonds.
The prince fastened this coronet over Marianne's wreath, and the
diamonds glistened now like stars over the delicate myrtle-leaves.
"Arise, Marianne," he then said, loudly. "I have fastened the
coronet of your new dignity in your hair; let us now go to the
Marianne arose. A strange radiance of triumphant joy beamed in her
face; a deep flush sufused used her cheeks, generally so pale and
transparent; a blissful smile played on her lips. With a proud and
sublime glance at Gentz, who was staring at her, speechless and
amazed, she took the prince's arm.
The priest led the way, and from the small room they now entered the
chapel of the embassy. On the altar, over which one of Van Dyck's
splendid paintings was hanging, large wax-tapers were burning in
costly silver chandeliers. On the carpet in front of the altar two
small prie-dieus for Marianne and the prince were placed, and two
arm-chairs for the witnesses stood behind them. Opposite the altar,
on the other side of the chapel, a sort of choir or balcony with an
organ had been fitted up.
But no one was there to play on that organ. All the other chairs and
benches were vacant; the ceremony was to be performed secretly and
Gentz saw and observed every thing as though it were a vision, he
could not yet make up his mind that it was a reality; he was
confused and almost dismayed, and did not know whether it was owing
to his surprise at what was going on, or to his vexation at being so
badly duped by Marianne. He believed he was dreaming when he saw
Marianne and the prince kneeling on the prie-dieus, Marianne Meier,
the Jewess, at the right hand of the high-born nobleman, at the
place of honor, only to be occupied by legitimate brides of equal
rank; and when he heard the priest, who stood in front of the altar,
pronounce solemn words of exhortation and benediction, and finally
ask the kneeling bride and bridegroom to vow eternal love and
fidelity to each other. Both uttered the solemn "Yes" at the same
time, the prince quietly and gravely, Marianne hastily and in a
joyful voice. The priest thereupon gave them the benediction, and
the ceremony was over. The whole party then returned to the anteroom
serving as a sacristy. They silently received the congratulations of
the priest and the witnesses. The attache then took a paper from his
memorandum-book; it contained the minutes of the ceremony, which he
had drawn up already in advance. Marianne and the prince signed it;
the witnesses and the priest did the same, the latter adding the
church seal to his signature. It was now a perfectly valid
certificate of their legitimate marriage, which the prince handed to
Marianne, and for which she thanked him with a tender smile.
"You are now my legitimate wife," said the Prince von Reuss,
gravely; "I wish to give you this proof of my love and esteem, and I
return my thanks to these gentlemen for having witnessed the
ceremony; you might some day stand in need of their testimony. For
the time being, however, I have cogent reasons for keeping our
marriage secret, and you have promised not to divulge it."
"And I renew my promise at this sacred place and in the presence of
the priest and our witnesses, my dear husband," said Marianne. "No
one shall hear from me a word or even an intimation of what has
occurred here. Before the world I shall be obediently and patiently
nothing but your mistress until you deem it prudent to acknowledge
that I am your wife."
"I shall do so at no distant day," said the prince. "And you,
gentlemen, will you promise also, will you pledge me your word of
honor that you will faithfully keep our secret?"
"We promise it upon our honor!" exclaimed the two gentlemen.
The prince bowed his thanks. "Let us now leave the chapel
separately, just as we have come," he said; "if we should withdraw
together, it would excite the attention and curiosity of the
servants, some of whom might meet us in the hall. Come, baron, you
will accompany me." He took the attache's arm, and left the small
sacristry with him. "And you will accompany me," said Marianne,
kindly nodding to Gentz.
"And I shall stay here for the purpose of praying for the bride and
bridegroom," muttered the priest, returning to the altar.
Marianne now hastily took the coronet and myrtle-wreath from her
hair and concealed both under the black mantilla which Gentz
gallantly laid around her shoulders.
They silently reascended the narrow staircase and returned through
the corridor to Marianne's rooms. Upon reaching her boudoir,
Marianne doffed her mantilla with an indescribable air of triumphant
joy, and laid the coronet and myrtle-wreath on the table.
"Well," she asked in her sonorous, impressive voice, "what do you
say now, my tender Gentz?"
He had taken his hat, and replied with a deep bow: "I have to say
that I bow to your sagacity and talents. That was a master-stroke of
"Was it not?" she asked, triumphantly. "The Jewess, hitherto
despised and ostracized by society, has suddenly become a legitimate
princess; she has now the power to avenge all sneers, all derision,
all contempt she has had to undergo. Oh, how sweet this revenge will
be--how I shall humble all those haughty ladies who dared to despise
me, and who will be obliged henceforth to yield the place of honor
"And will you revenge yourself upon me too, Marianne?" asked Gentz,
humbly--"upon me who dared reject your hand? But no, you must always
be grateful to me for that refusal of mine. Just imagine I had
compelled you to stick to your offer: instead of being a princess,
you would now be the unhappy wife of the poor military counsellor,
Marianne laughed. "You are right," she said, "I am grateful to you
for it. But, my friend, you must not and shall not remain the poor
military counsellor Gentz."
"God knows that that is not my intention either," exclaimed Gentz,
laughing. "God has placed a capital in my head, and you may be sure
that I shall know how to invest it at a good rate of interest."
"But here you will obtain no such interest," said Marianne, eagerly,
"let us speak sensibly about that matter. We have paid our tribute
to love and friendship; let us now talk about politics I am
authorized--and she who addresess you now is no longer Marianne
Meier, but the wife of the Austrian ambassador--I am authorized to
make an important offer to you. Come, my friend, sit down in the
arm-chair here, and let us hold a diplomatic conference."
"Yes, let us do so," said Gentz, smiling, and taking the seat she
had indicated to him.
"Friend Gentz, what are your hopes for the future?"
"A ponderous question, but I shall try to answer it as briefly as
possible. I am in hopes of earning fame, honor, rank, influence, and
a brilliant position by my talents."
"And you believe you can obtain all that here in Prussia?"
"I hope so," said Gentz, hesitatingly.
"You have addressed a memorial to the young king; you have urged him
to give to his subjects prosperity, happiness, honor, and freedom of
the press. How long is it since you sent that memorial to him?"
"Four weeks to-day."
"Four weeks, and they have not yet rewarded you for your glorious
memorial, although the whole Prussian nation hailed it with the most
rapturous applause? They have not yet thought of appointing you to a
position worthy of your talents? You have not yet been invited to
"Yes, I was invited to court. The queen wished to become acquainted
with me. Gualtieri presented me to her, and her majesty said very
many kind and flattering things to me." [Footnote: Varnhagen,
"Gallerie von Bildnissen," etc., vol. ii.]
"Words, empty words, my friend! Their actions are more eloquent. The
king has not sent for you, the king has not thanked you. The king
does not want your advice, and as if to show to yourself, and to all
those who have received your letter so enthusiastically, that he
intends to pursue his own path and not to listen to such advice, the
king, within the last few days, has addressed a decree to the
criminal court, peremptorily ordering the prosecuting attorneys to
proceed rigorously against the publishers of writings not submitted
to or rejected by the censors." [Footnote: F. Foerster, "Modern
History of Prussia," vol. i., p. 498.]
"That cannot be true--that is impossible!" exclaimed Gentz, starting
"I pardon your impetuosity in consideration of your just
indignation, "said Marianne, smiling. "That I told you the truth,
however, you will see in to-morrow's Gazette, which will contain the
royal decree I alluded to. Oh, you know very well the Austrian
ambassador has good friends everywhere, who furnish him the latest
news, and keep him informed of all such things. You need not hope,
therefore, that the young king will make any use of your talents or
grant you any favors. Your splendid memorial has offended him
instead of winning him; he thought it was altogether too bold.
Frederick William the Third is not partial to bold, eccentric acts;
he instinctively shrinks back from all violent reforms. The present
King of Prussia will not meddle with the great affairs of the world;
the King of Prussia wishes to remain neutral amidst the struggle of
contending parties. Instead of thinking of war and politics, he
devotes his principal attention to the church service and
examination of the applicants for holy orders, and yet he is not
even courageous enough formally to abolish Wollner's bigoted edict,
and thus to make at least one decisive step forward. Believe me,
lukewarmness and timidity will characterize every act of his
administration. So you had better go to Austria."
"And what shall I do in Austria?" asked Gentz, thoughtfully.
"What shall you do there?" exclaimed Marianne, passionately. "You
shall serve the fatherland--you shall serve Germany, for Germany is
in Austria just as well as in Prussia. Oh, believe me, my friend,
only in Austria will you find men strong and bold enough to brave
the intolerable despotism of the French. And the leading men there
will welcome you most cordially; an appropriate sphere will be
allotted to your genius, and the position to which you will be
appointed will amply satisfy the aspirations of your ambition. I am
officially authorized to make this offer to you, for Austria is well
aware that, in the future, she stands in need of men of first-class
ability, and she therefore desires to secure your services, which
she will reward in a princely manner. Come, my friend, I shall set
out to-day with the prince on a journey to Austria. Accompany us--
become one of ours!"
"Ours! Are you, then, no longer a daughter of Prussia?"
"I have become a thorough and enthusiastic Austrian, for I worship
energy and determination, and these qualities I find only in
Austria, in the distinguished man who is holding the helm of her
ship of state, Baron Thugut. Come with us; Thugut is anxious to have
you about his person; accompany us to him."
"And what are you going to do in Vienna?" asked Gentz, evasively.
"Is it a mere pleasure-trip?"
"If another man should put that question to me, I should reply in
the affirmative, but to you I am going to prove by my entire
sincerity that I really believe you to be a devoted friend of mine.
No, it is no pleasure-trip. I accompany the prince to Vienna because
he wants to get there instructions from Baron Thugut and learn what
is to be done at Rastadt."
"Ah, at Rastadt--at the peace congress," exclaimed Gentz. "The
emperor has requested the states of the empire to send
plenipotentiaries to Rastadt to negotiate there with France a just
and equitable peace. Prussia has already sent there her
plenipotentiaries, Count Goertz and Baron Dohm. Oh, I should have
liked to accompany them and participate in performing the glorious
task to be accomplished there. That congress at Rastadt is the last
hope of Germany; if it should fail, all prospects of a regeneration
of the empire are gone. That congress will at last give to the
nation all it needs: an efficient organization of the empire, a
well-regulated administration of justice, protection of German
manufactures against British arrogance, and last, but not least,
freedom of the press, for which the Germans have been yearning for
so many years."
Marianne burst into a loud fit of laughter. "Oh, you enthusiastic
visionary!" she said, "but let us speak softly, for even the walls
must not hear what I am now going to tell you."
She bent over the table, drawing nearer to Gentz, and fixing her
large, flaming eyes upon him, she asked in a whisper, "I suppose you
love Germany? You would not like to see her devoured by France as
Italy was devoured by her? You would not like either to see her go
to decay and crumble to pieces from inherent weakness?"
"Oh, I love Germany!" said Gentz, enthusiastically. "All my wishes,
all my hopes belong to her. Would to God I could say some day, all
my talents, my energy, my perseverance are devoted to my fatherland-
"Well, if you really desire to be useful to Germany," whispered
Marianne, "hasten to Rastadt. If Germany is to be saved at all, it
must be done at once. You know the stipulations of the treaty of
Campo Formio, I suppose?"
"I only know what every one knows about them."
"But you do not know the secret article. I will tell you all about
it. Listen to me. The secret article accepted by the emperor reads
as follows: 'The emperor pledges himself to withdraw his troops from
Mentz, Ehrenbreitstein, Mannheim, Konigstein, and from the German
empire in general, twenty days after the ratification of the peace,
which has to take place in the course of two months.'" [Footnote:
Schlosser's "History of the Eighteenth Century," vol. v., p. 43.]
"But he thereby delivers the empire to the tender mercies of the
enemy," exclaimed Gentz, in dismay. "Oh, that cannot be! No German
could grant and sign such terms without sinking into the earth from
shame. That would be contrary to every impulse of patriotism--"
"Nevertheless, that article has been signed and will be carried out
to the letter. Make haste, therefore, Germany is calling you; assist
her, you have got the strength. Oh, give it to her! Become an
Austrian just as Brutus became a servant of the kings; become an
Austrian in order to save Germany!"
"Ah, you want to entice me, Delilah!" exclaimed Gentz. "You want to
show me a beautiful goal in order to make me walk the tortuous paths
which may lead thither! No, Delilah, it is in vain! I shall stay
here; I shall not go to Austria, for Austria is the state that is
going to betray Germany. Prussia may be able to save her; she stands
perhaps in need of my arm, my pen, and my tongue for that purpose. I
am a German, but first of all I am a Prussian, and every good
patriot ought first to serve his immediate country, and wait until
she calls him. I still hope that the king will prove the right man
for his responsible position; I still expect that he will succeed in
rendering Prussia great and Germany free. I must, therefore, remain
a Prussian as yet and be ready to serve my country."
"Poor enthusiast! You will regret some day having lost your time by
indulging in visionary hopes."
"Well, I will promise, whenever that day comes, whenever Prussia
declares that she does not want my services, then I will come to
you--then you shall enlist me for Austria, and perhaps I may then
still be able to do something for Germany. But until then, leave me
here. I swear to you, not a word of what you have just told me here
shall be betrayed by my lips; but I cannot serve him who has
"You cannot be induced, then, to accept my offer? You want to stay
here? You refuse to accompany me to Vienna, to Rastadt, in order to
save what may yet be saved for Germany?"
"If I had an army under my command," exclaimed Gentz, with flaming
eyes, "if I were the King of Prussia, then I should assuredly go to
Rastadt, but I should go thither for the purpose of dispersing all
those hypocrites, cowards, and scribblers who call themselves
statesmen, and of driving those French republicans who put on such
disgusting airs, and try to make us believe they had a perfect right
to meddle with the domestic affairs of Germany--beyond the Rhine! I
should go thither for the purpose of garrisoning the fortresses of
the Rhine--which the Emperor of Germany is going to surrender to the
tender mercies of the enemy--with my troops, and of defending them
against all foes from without or from within. That would be my
policy if I were King of Prussia. But being merely the poor military
counsellor, Frederick Gentz, and having nothing but some ability and
a sharp pen, I shall stay here and wait to see whether or not
Prussia will make use of my ability and of my pen. God save Germany
and protect her from her physicians who are concocting a fatal
draught for her at Rastadt: God save Germany!"
FRANCE AND GERMANY.
CITOYENNE JOSEPHINE BONAPARTE.
A joyful commotion reigned on the eighth of November, 1797, in the
streets and public places of the German fortress of Rastadt. The
whole population of the lower classes had gathered in the streets,
while the more aristocratic inhabitants appeared at the open windows
of their houses in eager expectation of the remarkable event for
which not only the people of the whole city, but also the foreign
ambassadors, a large number of whom had arrived at Rastadt, were
looking with the liveliest symptoms of impatience.
And, indeed, a rare spectacle was in store for them. It was the
arrival of General Bonaparte and his wife Josephine that all were
waiting for this morning. They were not to arrive together, however,
but both were to reach the city by a different route. Josephine, who
was expected to arrive first, was coming from Milan by the shortest
and most direct route; while Bonaparte had undertaken a more
extended journey from Campo Formio through Italy and Switzerland. It
was well known already that he had been received everywhere with the
most unbounded enthusiasm, and that all nations had hailed him as
the Messiah of liberty. There had not been a single city that had
not received him with splendid festivities, and honors had been paid
to him as though he were not only a triumphant victor, but an
exalted ruler, to whom every one was willing to submit. Even free
Switzerland had formed no exception. At Geneva the daughters of the
first and most distinguished families, clad in the French colors,
had presented to him in the name of the city a laurel-wreath. At
Berne, his carriage had passed through two lines of handsomely
decorated coaches, filled with beautiful und richly adorned ladies,
who had hailed him with the jubilant shout of "Long live the
In the same manner the highest honors had been paid to his wife
Josephine, who had been treated everywhere with the deference due to
a sovereign princess. The news of these splendid receptions had
reached Rastadt already; and it was but natural that the authorities
and citizens of the fortress did not wish to be outdone, and that
they had made extensive arrangements for welcoming the conqueror of
Italy in a becoming manner.
A magnificent triumphal arch had been erected in front of the gate
through which General Bonaparte was to enter the city, and under it
the city fathers, clad in their official robes, were waiting for the
victorious hero, in order to conduct him to the house that had been
selected for him. In front of this house, situated on the large
market-place, a number of young and pretty girls, dressed in white,
and carrying baskets with flowers and fruits which they were to lay
at the feet of the general's beautiful wife, had assembled.
At the gate through which Josephine was to arrive, a brilliant
cavalcade of horsemen had gathered for the purpose of welcoming the
lady of the great French chieftain, and of escorting her as a guard
Among these cavaliers there were most of the ambassadors from the
different parts of Germany, who had met here at Rastadt in order to
accomplish the great work of peace. Every sovereign German prince,
every elector and independent count had sent his delegates to the
southwestern fortress for the purpose of negotiating with the French
plenipotentiaries concerning the future destinies of Germany. Even
Sweden had sent a representative, who had not appeared so much,
however, in order to take care of the interests of Swedish
Pomerania, as to play the part of a mediator and reconciler.
All these ambassadors had been allowed to enter Rastadt quietly and
entirely unnoticed. The GERMAN city had failed to pay any public
honors to these distinguished GERMAN noblemen; but every one
hastened to exhibit the greatest deference to the French general--
and even the ambassadors deemed it prudent to participate in these
demonstrations: only they tried to display, even on this occasion,
their accustomed diplomacy, and instead of receiving the victorious
chieftain in the capacity of humble vassals, they preferred to
present their respects as gallant cavaliers to his beautiful wife
and to escort her into the city.
The German ambassadors, therefore, were waiting for Mme. General
Bonaparte on their magnificent prancing steeds in front of the gate
through which she was to pass. Even old Count Metternich, the
delegate of the Emperor of Austria and ruler of the empire,
notwithstanding the stiffness of his limbs, had mounted his horse;
by his side the other two ambassadors of Austria were halting--Count
Lehrbach, the Austrian member of the imperial commission, and Count
Louis Cobenzl, who was acting as a delegate for Bohemia and Hungary.
Behind old Count Metternich, on a splendid and most fiery charger, a
young cavalier of tall figure and rare manly beauty might be seen;
it was young Count Clemens Metternich, who was to represent the
corporation of the Counts of Westphalia, and to begin his official
diplomatic career here at Rastadt under the eye of his aged father.
By his side the imposing and grave ambassadors of Prussia made their
appearance--Count Goertz, who at the time of the war for the
succession in Bavaria had played a part so important for Prussia and
so hostile to Austria; and Baron Dohm, no less distinguished as a
cavalier, than as a writer. Not far from them the representatives of
Bavaria, Saxony, Wurtemberg, and of the whole host of the so-called
"Immediates" [Footnote: The noblemen owning territory in the states
of secondary princes, but subject only to the authority of the
emperor, were called "Immediates."] might be seen, whom the editors
and correspondents had joined, that had repaired to Rastadt in the
hope of finding there a perfect gold-mine for their greedy pens. But
not merely the German diplomatists and the aristocratic young men of
Rastadt were waiting here for the arrival of Mme. General Bonaparte;
there was also the whole crowd of French singers, actors, and
adventurers who had flocked to the Congress of Rastadt for the
purpose of amusing the distinguished noblemen and delegates by their
vaudevilles, comedies, and gay operas. Finally, there were also the
French actresses and ballet-girls, who, dressed in the highest style
of fashion, were occupying on one side of the road a long row of
splendid carriages. Many of these carriages were decorated on their
doors with large coats-of-arms, and a person well versed in heraldry
might have easily seen therefrom that these escutcheons indicated
some of the noble diplomatists on the other side of the road to be
the owners of the carriages. In fact, a very cordial and friendly
understanding seemed to prevail between the diplomatists and the
ladies of the French theatre. This was not only evident from the
German diplomatists having lent their carriages to the French ladies
for the day's reception, but likewise from the ardent, tender, and
amorous glances that were being exchanged between them, from their
significant smiles, and from their stealthy nods and mute but
Suddenly, however, this inimical flirtation was interrupted by the
rapid approach of a courier. This was the signal announcing the
impending arrival of Josephine Bonaparte. In fact, the heads of four
horses were seen already in the distance; they came nearer and
nearer, and now the carriage drawn by these horses, and a lady
occupying it, could be plainly discerned.
It was a wonderful warm day in November. Josephine, therefore, had
caused the top of her carriage to be taken down, and the spectators
were able, not merely to behold her face, but to scan most leisurely
her whole figure and even her costume. The carriage had approached
at full gallop, but now, upon drawing near to the crowd assembled in
front of the gate, it slackened its speed, and every one had time
and leisure to contemplate the lady enthroned in the carriage. She
was no longer in the first bloom of youth; more than thirty years
had passed already over her head; they had deprived her complexion
of its natural freshness, and left the first slight traces of age
upon her pure and noble forehead. But her large dark eyes were
beaming still in the imperishable fire of her inward youth, and a
sweet and winning smile, illuminating her whole countenance as
though a ray of the setting sun had fallen upon it, was playing
around her charming lips. Her graceful and elegant figure was
wrapped in a closely fitting gown of dark-green velvet, richly
trimmed with costly furs, and a small bonnet, likewise trimmed with
furs, covered her head, and under this bonnet luxuriant dark
ringlets were flowing down, surrounding the beautiful and noble oval
of her face with a most becoming frame.
Josephine Bonaparte was still a most attractive and lovely woman,
and on beholding her it was easily understood why Bonaparte,
although much younger, had been so fascinated by this charming lady
and loved her with such passionate tenderness.
The French actors now gave vent to their delight by loud cheers, and
rapturously waving their hats, they shouted: "Vive la citoyenne
Bonaparte! Vive l'august epouse de l'Italique!"
Josephine nodded eagerly and with affable condescension to the
enthusiastic crowd, and slowly passed on. On approaching the
diplomatists, she assumed a graver and more erect attitude; she
acknowledged the low, respectful obeisances of the cavaliers with
the distinguished, careless, and yet polite bearing of a queen, and
seemed to have for every one a grateful glance and a kind smile.
Every one was satisfied that she had especially noticed and
distinguished him, and every one, therefore, felt flattered and
elated. From the diplomatists she turned her face for a moment to
the other side, toward the ladies seated in the magnificent
carriages. But her piercing eye, her delicate womanly instinct told
her at a glance that these ladies, in spite of the splendor
surrounding them, were no representatives of the aristocracy; she
therefore greeted them with a rapid nod, a kind smile, and a
graceful wave of her hand, and then averted her head again.
Her carriage now passed through the gate, the cavaliers surrounding
it on both sides, and thereby separating the distinguished lady from
her attendants, who were following her in four large coaches. These
were joined by the carriages of the actresses, by whose sides the
heroes of the stage were cantering and exhibiting their horsemanship
to the laughing belles with painted cheeks.
It was a long and brilliant procession with which Mme. General
Bonaparte made her entrance into Rastadt, and the last of the
carriages had not yet reached the gate, when Josephine's carriage
had already arrived on the market-place and halted in front of the
house she was to occupy with her husband. Before the footman had had
time to alight from the box, Josephine herself had already opened
the coach door in order to meet the young ladies who were waiting
for her at the door of her house, and to give them a flattering
proof of her affability. In polite haste she descended from the
carriage and stepped into their midst, tendering her hands to those
immediately surrounding her, and whispering grateful words of thanks
to them for the beautiful flowers and fruits, and thanking the more
distant girls with winning nods and smiling glances. Her manners
were aristocratic and withal simple; every gesture of hers, every
nod, every wave of her hand was queenly and yet modest, unassuming
and entirely devoid of haughtiness, just as it behooved a prominent
daughter of the great Republic which had chosen for her motto
"Liberte, egalite, fraternite."
Laden with flowers, and laughing as merrily as a young girl,
Josephine finally entered the house; in the hall of the latter the
ladies of the French ambassadors, the wives and daughters of Bonnier
Reberjot and Jean Debry, were waiting for her. Josephine, who among
the young girls just now had been all hilarity, grace, and
familiarity, now again assumed the bearing of a distinguished lady,
of the consort of General Bonaparte, and received the salutations of
the ladies with condescending reserve. She handed, however, to each
of the ladies one of her splendid bouquets, and had a pleasant word
for every one. On arriving at the door of the rooms destined for her
private use, she dismissed the ladies and beckoned her maid to
"Now, Amelia," she said hurriedly, as soon as the door had closed
behind them--"now let us immediately attend to my wardrobe. I know
Bonaparte--he is always impetuous and impatient, and he regularly
arrives sooner than he has stated himself. He was to be here at two
o'clock, but he will arrive at one o'clock, and it is now almost
noon. Have the trunks brought up at once, for it is high time for me
Amelia hastened to carry out her mistress's orders, and Josephine
was alone. She hurriedly stepped to the large looking-glass in the
bedroom and closely scanned in it her own features.
"Oh, oh! I am growing old," she muttered after a while. "Bonaparte
must love me tenderly, very tenderly, not to notice it, or I must
use great skill not to let him see it. Eh bien, nous verrons!"
And she glanced at herself with such a triumphant, charming smile
that her features at once seemed to grow younger by ten years. "Oh,
he shall find me beautiful--he shall love me," she whispered, "for I
love him so tenderly."
Just then Amelia entered loaded with bandboxes and cartons, and
followed by the servants carrying the heavy trunks. Josephine
personally superintended the lowering of the trunks for the purpose
of preventing the men from injuring any of those delicate cartons;
and when every thing was at last duly arranged, she looked around
with the triumphant air of a great general mustering his troops and
conceiving the plans for his battle.
"Now lock the door and admit no one, Amelia," she said, rapidly
divesting herself of her travelling-dress. "Within an hour I must be
ready to receive the general. But stop! We must first think of
Zephyr, who is sick and exhausted. The dear little fellow cannot
stand travelling in a coach. He frequently looked at me on the road
most dolorously and imploringly, as if he wanted to beseech me to
discontinue these eternal travels. Come, Zephyr; come, my dear
On hearing her voice, a small, fat pug-dog, with a morose face and a
black nose, arose from the trunk on which he had been lying, and
waddled slowly and lazily to his mistress.
"I really believe Zephyr is angry with me," exclaimed Josephine,
laughing heartily. "Just look at him, Amelia--just notice this
reserved twinkling of his eyes, this snuffling pug-nose of his, this
proudly-erect head that seems to smell roast meat and at the same
time to utter invectives! He exactly resembles my friend Tallien
when the latter is making love to the ladies. Come, my little
Tallien, I will give you some sweetmeats, but in return you must be
kind and amiable toward Bonaparte; you must not bark so furiously
when he enters; you must not snap at his legs when he gives me a
kiss; you must not snarl when he inadvertently steps on your toes.
Oh, be gentle, kind, and amiable, my beautiful Zephyr, so as not to
exasperate Bonaparte, for you know very well that he does not like
dogs, and that he would throw you out of the window rather than
suffer you at my feet."
Patting the dog tenderly, she lifted him upon an arm-chair, and then
spread out biscuits and sweetmeats before him, which Zephyr
commenced examining with a dignified snuffling of the nose.
"Now, Amelia, we will attend to my toilet," said Josephine, when she
saw that Zephyr condescended to eat some of the biscuits.
Amelia had opened all the trunks and placed a large number of small
jars and vials on the dressing-table. Josephine's beauty stood
already in need of some assistance, and the amiable lady was by no
means disinclined to resort to cosmetics for this purpose. It is
true, the republican customs of the times despised rouge, for the
latter had been very fashionable during the reign of the "tyrant"
Louis XVI., and Marie Antoinette had greatly patronized this fashion
and always painted her cheeks. Nevertheless Josephine found rouge to
be an indispensable complement to beauty, and, as public opinion was
adverse to it, she kept her use of it profoundly secret. Amelia
alone saw and knew it--Amelia alone was a witness to all the little
secrets and artifices by which Josephine, the woman of thirty-three
years, had to bolster up her beauty. But only the head stood in need
of some artificial assistance. The body was as yet youthful,
prepossessing, and remarkable for its attractiveness and luxuriant
forms, and when Josephine now had finished her task, she was truly a
woman of enchanting beauty and loveliness. Her eyes were so radiant
and fiery, her smile so sweet and sure of her impending triumph, and
the heavy white silk dress closely enveloped her figure, lending an
additional charm to its graceful and classical outlines.
"Now, a few jewels," said Josephine; "give me some diamonds, Amelia;
Bonaparte likes brilliant, sparkling trinkets. Come, I will select
She took from Amelia's hands the large case containing all of her
caskets, and glanced at them with a smile of great satisfaction.
"Italy is very rich in precious trinkets and rare gems," she said,
with a gentle shake of her head. "When, a few months ago, I came
thither from Paris, I had only three caskets, and the jewelry they
contained was not very valuable. Now, I count here twenty-four
etuis, and they are filled with the choicest trinkets. Just look at
these magnificent pearls which the Marquis de Lambertin has given to
me. He is an old man, and I could not refuse his princely gift. This
casket contains a bracelet which Mancini, the last Doge of Venice,
presented to me, and which he assured me was wrought by Benvenuto
Cellini for one of his great-great-grandmothers. This splendid set
of corals and diamonds was given to me by the city of Genoa when she
implored my protection and begged me to intercede with Bonaparte for
her. And here--but do you not hear the shouts? What does it mean!
She did not finish the sentence, but hastened to the window. The
market-place, which she was able to overlook from there, was now
crowded with people, but the dense masses had not assembled for the
purpose of seeing Josephine. All eyes were directed toward yonder
street from which constantly fresh and jubilant crowds of people
were hurrying toward the market-place, and where tremendous cheers,
approaching closer and closer, resounded like the angry roar of the
sea. Now some white dots might be discerned in the midst of the
surging black mass. They came nearer and grew more distinct; these
dots were the heads of white horses. They advanced very slowly, but
the cheers made the welkin ring more rapidly and were reechoed by
thousands and thousands of voices. Amidst these jubilant cheers the
procession drew near, now it turned from the street into the market-
place. Josephine, uttering a joyful cry, opened the window and waved
her hand, for it was Bonaparte whom the excited masses were
He sat all alone in an open barouche, drawn by six milk-white horses
magnificently caparisoned in a silver harness. [Footnote: "These six
horses with their magnificent harness were a gift from the Emperor
of Austria, who had presented them to Bonaparte after the peace of
Campo Fonnio. Bonaparte had rejected all other offers."--Bourrienne,
vol. 1., p. 389.]
Leaning back into the cushions in a careless and fatigued manner, he
scarcely seemed to notice the tremendous ovation that was tendered
to him. His face looked pale and tired; a cloud had settled on his
expansive marble forehead, and when he from time to time bowed his
thanks, he did so with a weary and melancholy smile. But it was
exactly this cold, tranquil demeanor, this humble reserve, this pale
and gloomy countenance that seemed to strike the spectators and fill
them with a feeling of strange delight and wondering awe. In this
pale, cold, sombre, and imposing face there was scarcely a feature
that seemed to belong to a mortal, earth-born being. It seemed as
though the spectre of one of the old Roman imperators, as though the
shadow of Julius Caesar had taken a seat in that carriage, and
allowed the milk-white horses to draw him into the surging bustle
and turmoil of life. People were cheering half from astonishment,
half from fear; they were shouting, "Long live Bonaparte!" as if
they wanted to satisfy themselves that he was really alive, and not
merely the image of an antique imperator.
The carriage now stopped in front of the house. Before rising from
his seat, Bonaparte raised his eyes hastily to the windows. On
seeing Josephine, who stood at the open window, his features became
more animated, and a long, fiery flash from his eyes struck her
face. But he did not salute her, and the cloud on his brow grew even
gloomier than before.
"He is in bad humor and angry," whispered Josephine, closing the
window, "and I am afraid he is angry with me. Good Heaven! what can
it be again? What may be the cause of his anger? I am sure I have
committed no imprudence--"
Just then the door was hastily opened, and Bonaparte entered.
BONAPARTE AND JOSEPHINE.
Bonaparte had scarcely deigned to glance at the French ambassadors
and their ladies, who had received him at the foot of the staircase.
All his thoughts centred in Josephine. And bowing slightly to the
ladies and gentlemen, he had impetuously rushed upstairs and opened
the door, satisfied that she would be there and receive him with
open arms. When he did not see her, he passed on, pale, with a
gloomy face, and resembling an angry lion.
Thus he now rushed into the front room where he found Josephine.
Without saluting her, and merely fixing his flashing eyes upon her,
he asked in a subdued, angry voice: "Madame, you do not even deem it
worth the trouble to salute me! You do not come to meet me!"
"But, Bonaparte, you have given me no time for it," said Josephine,
with a charming smile. "While I thought you were just about to
alight from your carriage, you burst already into this room like a
thunder-bolt from heaven."
"Oh, and that has dazzled your eyes so much that you are even unable
to salute me?" he asked angrily.
"And you, Bonaparte?" she asked, tenderly. "You do not open your
arms to me! You do not welcome me! Instead of pressing me to your
heart, you scold me! Oh, come, my friend, let us not pass this first
hour in so unpleasant a manner! We have not seen each other for
almost two months, and--"
"Ah, madame, then you know that at least," exclaimed Bonaparte;
"then you have not entirely forgotten that you took leave of me two
months ago, and that you swore to me at that time eternal love and
fidelity, and promised most sacredly to write to me every day. You
have not kept your oaths and pledges, madame!"
"But, my friend, I have written to you whenever I was told that a
courier would set out for your headquarters."
"You ought to have sent every day a courier of your own for the
purpose of transmitting your letters to me," exclaimed Bonaparte,
wildly stamping his foot, so that the jars and vials on the table
rattled violently, while Zephyr jumped down from his arm-chair and
commenced snarling. Josephine looked anxiously at him and tried to
calm him by her gestures.
Bonaparte continued: "Letters! But those scraps I received from time
to time were not even letters. Official bulletins of your health
they were, and as cold as ice. Madame, how could you write such
letters to me, and moreover only every fourth day? If you really
loved me, you would have written every day. But you do not love me
any longer; I know it. Your love was but a passing whim. You feel
now how ridiculous it would be for you to love a poor man who is
nothing but a soldier, and who has to offer nothing to you but a
little glory and his love. But I shall banish this love from my
heart, should I have to tear my heart with my own teeth." [Footnote:
Bonaparte's own words.--Vide "Lettres a Josephine. Memoires d'une
Contemporaine," vol. i., p. 853.]
"Bonaparte," exclaimed Josephine, half tenderly, half anxiously,
"what have I done that you should be angry with me? Why do you
accuse me of indifference, while you know very well that I love
"Ah, it is a very cold love, at all events," he said, sarcastically.
"It is true, I am only your husband, and it is not in accordance
with aristocratic manners to love one's husband; that is mean,
vulgar, republican! But I am a republican, and I do not want any
wife with the manners and habits of the ANCIEN REGIME. I am your
husband, but woe to him who seeks to become my wife's lover! I would
not even need my sword in order to kill him. My eyes alone would
crush him![Footnote: Bonaparte's own words.--Ibid.] And I shall know
how to find him; and if he should escape to the most remote regions,
my arm is a far-reaching one, and I will extend it over the whole
world in order to grasp him."
"But whom do you allude to?" asked Josephine, in dismay.
"Whom?" he exclaimed in a thundering voice. "Ah, madame, you believe
I do not know what has occurred? You believe I see and hear nothing
when I am no longer with you? Let me compliment you, madame! The
handsome aide-de-camp of Leclerc is a conquest which the ladies of
Milan must have been jealous of; and Botot, the spy, whom Barras
sent after me, passes even at Paris for an Adonis. What do you mean
by your familiarities with these two men, madame? You received
Adjutant Charles at eleven o'clock in the morning, while you never
leave your bed before one o'clock. Oh, that handsome young fellow
wanted to tell you how he was yearning for his home in Paris, and
what his mother and sister had written to him, I suppose? For that
reason so convenient an hour had to be chosen? For that reason he
came at eleven o'clock while you were in bed yet. His ardor was so
intense, and if he had been compelled to wait until one o'clock,
impatience would have burned his soul to ashes!" [Footnote:
Bonaparte's own words.--Vide "Memoires d'un Contemporaine," vol.
ii., p. 80.]
"He wanted to set out for Paris precisely at twelve o'clock. That
was the only reason why I received him so early, my friend," said
"Oh, then, you do not deny that you have actually received him?"
shouted Bonaparte, and his face turned livid. With flaming eyes and
uplifted hand, he stepped up close to Josephine. "Madame," he
exclaimed, in a thundering voice, "then you dare to acknowledge that
Charles is your lover?"
Before Josephine had time to reply to him Zephyr, who saw him
threaten his mistress, furiously pounced upon Bonaparte, barking and
howling, showing his teeth, and quite ready to lacerate whom he
supposed to be Josephine's enemy.
"Ah, this accursed dog is here, too, to torment me!" exclaimed
Bonaparte, and raising his foot, he stamped with crushing force on
the body of the little dog. A single piercing yell was heard; then
the blood gushed from Zephyr's mouth, and the poor beast lay
writhing convulsively on the floor. [Footnote: Vide "Rheinischer-
Antiquar.," vol. ii., p. 574.]
"Bonaparte, you have killed my dog," exclaimed Josephine,
reproachfully, and bent over the dying animal.
"Yes," he said, with an air of savage joy, "I have killed your dog,
and in the same manner I shall crush every living being that dares
to step between you and myself!"
Josephine had taken no notice of his words. She had knelt down by
the side of the dog, and tenderly patted his head and writhing limbs
till they ceased moving.
"Zephyr is dead," she said rising. "Poor little fellow, he died
because he loved me. Pardon me, general, if I weep for him. But
Zephyr was a cherished souvenir from a friend who died only a short
while ago. General Hoche had given the dog to me."
"Hoche?" asked Bonaparte, in some confusion.
"Yes, Lazarus Hoche, who died a few weeks ago. A few days before his
death he sent the dog to me while at Milan--Lazarus Hoche who, you
know it very well, loved me, and whose hand I rejected because I
loved you," said Josephine, with a noble dignity and calmness, which
made a deeper impression upon Bonaparte than the most poignant
rebuke would have done.
"And now, general," she proceeded, "I will reply to your reproaches.
I do not say that I shall JUSTIFY myself, because I thereby would
acknowledge the justice of your charges, but I will merely answer
them. I told you already why I admitted Charles at so early an hour.
He was about to set out for Paris, and I wished to intrust to him
important and secret letters and other commissions."
"Why did not you send them by a special courier?" asked Bonaparte,
but in a much gentler voice than before.
"Because it would have been dangerous to send my letters to Botot by
a courier," said Josephine, calmly.
"To Botot? Then you admit your familiarities with Botot, too? People
did not deceive me, then, when they told me that you received this
spy Botot, whom Barras had sent after me, in order to watch me,
every morning in your boudoir--that you always sent your maid away
as soon as he came, and that your interviews with him frequently
lasted for hours?"
"That is quite true; I do not deny it," said Josephine, proudly.
Bonaparte uttered an oath, and was about to rush at her. But she
receded a step, and pointing at the dead dog with a rapid gesture,
she said: "General, take care! There is no other dog here for you to
kill, and I am only a weak, defenceless woman; it would assuredly
not behoove the victor of Arcole to attack me!"
Bonaparte dropped his arm, and, evidently ashamed of himself,
stepped back several paces.
"Then you do not deny your intimate intercourse with Botot and
"I do not deny that both of them love me, that I know it, and that I
have taken advantage of their love. Listen to me, general: I have
taken advantage of their love. That is mean and abominable; it is
playing in an execrable manner with the most exalted feelings of
others, I know it very well, but I did so for your sake, general--I
did so in your interest."
"In my interest?" asked Bonaparte, in surprise.
"Yes, in your interest," she said. "Now I can tell and confess every
thing to you. But as long as Charles and Botot were present, I could
not do so, for if you had ceased being jealous--if, warned by
myself, you had treated these two men kindly instead of showing your
jealous distrust of them by a hostile and surly demeanor, they might
have suspected my game and divined my intrigue, and I would have
been unable to avail myself any longer of their services."
"But, for God's sake, tell me what did you need their services for?"
"Ah, sir, I perceive that you know better how to wield the sword
than unravel intrigues," said Josephine, with a charming smile.
"Well, I made use of my two lovers in order to draw their secrets
from them. And secrets they had, general, for you know Botot is the
most intimate and influential friend of Barras, and Madame Tallien
adores Charles, the handsome aide-de-camp. She has no secrets that
he is not fully aware of, and she does whatever he wants her to do;
and again, whatever she wants to be done, her husband will do--her
husband, that excellent Tallien, who with Barras is one of the five
directors of our republic." "Oh, women, women!" muttered Bonaparte.
Josephine continued: "In this manner, general, I learned every
scheme and almost every idea of the Directory; in this manner,
through my devoted friends, Botot and Charles, I have succeeded in
averting many a foul blow from your own head. For you were menaced,
general, and you are menaced still. And what is menacing you? That
is your glory and your greatness--it is the jealousy of the five
kings of France, who, under the name of directors, are now reigning
at the Luxemburg. The Quintumvirate beheld your growing power and
glory with terror and wrath, and all endeavors of theirs only aimed
at lessening your influence. A favorite way of theirs for carrying
out their designs against you was the circulation of false news
concerning you. Botot told me that Barras had even hired editors to
write against you, and to question your integrity. These editors now
published letters purporting to come from Verona, and announcing
that Bonaparte was about to proclaim himself dictator. Then, again,
they stated in some letter from the frontier, or from a foreign
country, that the whole of Lombardy was again on the eve of an
insurrection; that the Italians detested the tyranny imposed upon
them by the conqueror, and that they were anxious to recall their
"Ah, the miserable villains!" exclaimed Bonaparte, gnashing his
"Hush, general! listen to my whole reply to your reproaches," said
Josephine, with imperious calmness. "At some other time these
hirelings of the press announced in a letter from Turin that an
extensive conspiracy was about to break out at Paris; that the
Directory was to be overthrown by this conspiracy, and that a
dictatorship, at the head of which Bonaparte would be, was to take
place. They further circulated the news all over the departments,
that the ringleaders of the plot had been arrested and sent to the
military commissions for trial; but that the conqueror of Italy had
deemed it prudent to avoid arrest by running away." [Footnote: Le
Normand, Memoires, vol. i., p. 267.]
"That is a truly infernal web of lies and infamies!" ejaculated
Bonaparte, furiously. "But I shall justify myself, I will go to
Paris and hurl the calumnies of these miserable Directors back into
"General, there is no necessity for you to descend into the arena in
order to defend yourself," said Josephine, smiling. "Your actions
speak for you, and your friends are watching over you. Whenever such
an article appeared in the newspapers. Botot forwarded it to me;
whenever the Directory sprang a new mine, Botot sent me word of it.
And then I enlisted the assistance of my friend Charles, and he had
to refute those articles through a journalist who was in my pay, and
to foil the mine by means of a counter-mine."
"Oh, Josephine, how can I thank you for what you have done for me!"
exclaimed Bonaparte, enthusiastically. "How--"
"I am not through yet, general," she interrupted him, coldly. "Those
refutations and the true accounts of your glorious deeds found an
enthusiastic echo throughout the whole of France, and every one was
anxious to see you in the full splendor of your glory, and to do
homage to you at Paris. But the jealous Directory calculated in
advance how dangerous the splendor of your glory would be to the
statesmen of the Republic, and how greatly your return would eclipse
the five kings. For that reason they resolved to keep you away from
Paris; for that reason exclusively they appointed you first
plenipotentiary at the congress about to be opened at Rastadt, and
intrusted the task to you to exert yourself here for the conclusion
of peace. They wanted to chain the lion and make him feel that he
has got a master whom he must obey."
"But the lion will break the chain, and he will not obey," exclaimed
Bonaparte, angrily. "I shall leave Rastadt on this very day and
hasten to Paris."
"Wait a few days, general," said Josephine, smiling. "It will be
unnecessary for you to take violent steps, my friends Botot and
Charles having worked with me for you. Botot alone not being
sufficiently powerful, inasmuch as he could influence none but
Barras, I sent Charles to his assistance in order to act upon Madame
Tallien. And the stratagem was successful. Take this letter which I
received only yesterday through a special messenger from Botot--you
know Botot's handwriting, I suppose?"
"Yes, I know it."
"Well, then, satisfy yourself that he has really written it," said
Josephine, drawing a sheet of paper from her memorandum-book and
handing it to Bonaparte.
He glanced at it without touching the paper. "Yes, it is Botot's
handwriting," he murmured.
"Read it, general," said Josephine.
"I do not want to read it; I believe all you tell me!" he exclaimed,
"I shall read it to you," she said, "for the contents will interest
you. Listen therefore: 'Adored Citoyenne Josephine.--We have reached
the goal--we have conquered! The Directory have at length listened
to wise remonstrances. They have perceived that they stand in need
of a strong and powerful arm to support them, and of a pillar to
lean against. They will recall Bonaparte in order that he may become
their pillar and arm. In a few days a courier will reach Bonaparte
at Rastadt and recall him to Paris.--BOTOT.' That is all there is in
the letter, General; it contains nothing about love, but only speaks
"I see that I am the happiest of mortals," exclaimed Bonaparte,
joyfully; "for I shall return to Paris, and my beautiful, noble, and
adored Josephine will accompany me."
"No, general," she said, solemnly, "I shall return to Italy; I shall
bury myself in some convent in order to weep there over the short
dream of my happiness, and to pray for you. Now I have told you
every thing I had to say to you. I have replied to your reproaches.
You see that I have meanly profited by the love of these poor men,
that I have made a disgraceful use of the most sacred feeling in
order to promote your interests. I did so secretly, for I told you
already, general, your valorous hand knows better how to wield the
sword than to carry on intrigues. A strong grasp of this hand might
have easily destroyed the whole artificial web of my plans, and for
this reason I was silent. But I counted on your confidence, on your
esteem. I perceive now, however, that I do not possess them, and
this separates us forever. Unreserved confidence is not only the
nourishment that imparts life to friendship, but without it love
also pines away and dies. [Footnote: Josephine's own words.--Vide
LeNormand, vol. i., p. 248.] Farewell, then, general; I forgive your
distrust, but I cannot expose myself any longer to your anger.
She bowed and turned to the door. But Bonaparte followed her, and
keeping her back with both hands, he said, in a voice trembling with
emotion: "Where are you going, Josephine?"
"I told you already," she sighed, painfully; "I am going to a
convent to weep and pray for you."
"That means that you want to kill me!" he exclaimed, with flaming
eyes. "For you know I cannot live without you. If I had to lose you,
your love, your charming person, I would lose every thing rendering
life pleasant and desirable for me. Josephine, you are to me a world
that is incomprehensible to me, and every day I love you more
passionately. Even when I do not see you, my love for you is
constantly growing; for absence only destroys small passions; it
increases great passions. [Footnote: Bonaparte's words.--Vide
"Memoires d'une Contemporaine," vol. ii., p. 363.] My heart never
felt any of the former. It proudly refused to fall in love, but you
have filled it with a boundless passion, with an intoxication that
seems to be almost degrading. You were always the predominant idea
of my soul; your whims even were sacred laws for me. To see you is
my highest bliss; you are beautiful and enchanting; your gentle,
angelic soul is depicted in your features. Oh, I adore you just as
you are; if you had been younger, I should have loved you less
intensely. Every thing you do seems virtuous to me; every thing you
like seems honorable to me. Glory is only valuable to me inasmuch as
it is agreeable to you and flatters your vanity. Your portrait
always rests on my heart, and whenever I am far from you, not an
hour passes without my looking at it and covering it with kisses.
[Footnote: Vide "Correspondance inedite avec Josephine," Lettre v.]
The glass broke the other day when I pressed it too violently
against my breast. My despair knew no bounds, for love is
superstitious, and every thing seems ominous to it. I took it for an
announcement of your death, and my eyes knew no sleep, my heart knew
no rest, till the courier whom I immediately dispatched to you, had
brought me the news that you were well, and that no accident had
befallen you. [Footnote: "Memoires sur Napoleon, par Constant," vol.
i.. p. 809.] See, woman, woman, such is my love! Will you now tell
me again that you wish to leave me?"
"I must, general," she said, firmly. "Love cannot be lasting without
esteem, and you do not esteem me. Your suspicion has dishonored me,
and a dishonored and insulted woman cannot be your wife any longer.
She wanted to disengage herself from his hands, but he held her only
the more firmly. "Josephine," he said, in a hollow voice, "listen to
me, do not drive me to despair, for it would kill me to lose you. No
duty, no title would attach me any longer to earth. Men are so
contemptible, life is so wretched--you alone extinguish the ignominy
of mankind in my eyes. [Footnote: "Correspondance inedite avec
Josephine," p. 875] Without you there is no hope, no happiness. I
love you boundlessly."
"No, general, you despise me; you do not love me!"
"No, no!" he shouted, wildly stamping his foot. "If you go on in
this manner, I shall drop dead at your feet. Do not torment me so
dreadfully. Remember what I have often told you: Nature has given to
me a strong, decided soul, but it has made you of gauze and lace.
You say I do not love. Hear it, then, for the last time. Since you
have been away from me, I have not passed a single day without
loving you, not a single night without mentally pressing you to my
heart. I have not taken a single cup of tea without cursing the
glory and ambition separating me from the soul of my life.
[Footnote: "Correspondance," etc., p. 532.] Amidst my absorbing
occupations--at the head of my troops, on the march and in the
field--my heavenly Josephine ever was foremost in my heart. She
occupied my mind; she absorbed my thoughts. If I left you with the
impetuosity of the Rhone, I only did so in order to return the
sooner to your side. If I ran from my bed at night and continued
working, I did so for the purpose of accelerating the moment of our
reunion. The most beautiful women surrounded me, smiled upon me,
gave me hopes of their favor, and tried to please me, but none of
them resembled you; none had the gentle and melodious features so
deeply imprinted on my heart. I only saw you, only thought of you,
and that rendered all of them intolerable to me. I left the most
beautiful women in order to throw myself on my couch and sigh, 'When
will my adored wife be again with me?' [Footnote: Ibid., p. 349.]
And if I just now gave way to an ebullition of anger, I only did so
because I love you so boundlessly as to be jealous of every glance,
of every smile. Forgive me, therefore, Josephine, forgive me for the
sake of my infinite love! Tell me that you will think no more of it,
and that you will forget and forgive every thing."
He looked at her anxiously and inquiringly, but Josephine did not
reply to his glances. She averted her eyes and remained silent.
"Josephine." he exclaimed, perfectly beside himself, "make an end of
it. Just touch my forehead; it is covered with cold perspiration,
and my heart is trembling as it never trembled in battle. Make an
end of it; I am utterly exhausted. Oh, Josephine, my dear Josephine,
open your arms to me."
"Well, come then, you dear, cruel husband," she said, bursting into
tears and extending her arms to him.
Bonaparte uttered a joyful cry, pressed her to his heart, and
covered her with kisses.
"Now I am sure you have forgiven every thing," he said, encircling
her all the time with his arms. "You forgive my madness, my
"I forgive every thing, Bonaparte, if you will promise not to be
jealous again," she said, with a charming smile.
"I promise never to be jealous again, but to think, whenever you
give a rendezvous to another man, that you only do so for my sake,
and for the purpose of conspiring for me. Ah, my excellent wife, you
have worked bravely for me, and henceforth I know that I can intrust
to your keeping my glory and my honor with implicit confidence. Yea,
even the helm of the state I would fearlessly intrust to your hands.
Pray, therefore, Josephine, pray that your husband may reach the
pinnacle of distinction, for in that case I should give you a seat
in my council of state and make you mistress of every thing except
one point--" [Footnote: Le Normand, vol. i. p. 341.]
"And what is that?" asked Josephine, eagerly.
"The only thing I should not intrust to you, Josephine," he said,
laughing, "would be the keys of my treasury; you never would get
them, my beautiful prodigal little wife of gauze, lace, diamonds,
and pearls!" [Footnote: Ibid., vol. i., p. 342.]
"Ah, then you would deprive me of the right to distribute charities
in your name?" she asked, sadly. "Is not that the most precious and
sublime duty of the wife of a great man, to conquer Heaven for him
by charities while he is conquering earth by his deeds? And you
would take from me the means for doing so? Yours is a wild and
passionate nature, and I shall often have to heal the wounds that
you have inflicted in your outbursts of anger. Happy for me if I
should always be able to heal them, and if your anger should be less
fatal to men than to my poor little dog, who merely wanted to defend
me against your violence."
"Poor little dog!" said Bonaparte, casting a glance of confusion
upon Zephyr. "I greatly regret the occurrence, particularly as the
dog was a gift from Hoche. But no lamentations of mine being able to
recall Zephyr to life, Josephine, I will immortalize him at all
events. He shall not find an unknown grave, like many a hero; no, we
will erect to this valiant and intrepid defender of the charming
fortress Josephine, a monument which shall relate his exploits to
the most remote posterity. Have Zephyr packed up in a box; couriers
and convoys of troops will set out to-day for Milan. They shall take
the corpse along, and I will issue orders that a monument be erected
to your Zephyr in the garden of our villa. [Footnote: Bonaparte kept
his word. The little victim of his Jealousy, Zephyr, the dog, was
buried in the gardens of Mondeza, near Milan, and a marble monument
was erected on his grave.--Le Normand, vol. i., p. 498.] But now,
Josephine, I must leave you; life, with its stern realities, is
calling me. I must go and receive the Austrian ambassadors."
THE RECEPTION OF THE AMBASSADORS.
A motley crowd of gentlemen in uniforms and glittering gala-dresses
had filled the anterooms of the French embassy ever since the
arrival of General Bonaparte and Josephine. All these high-born
representatives of German sovereigns and states hastened to do
homage to the French lady and to commend themselves to the
benevolence and favor of the victorious general of the republic. But
the doors of the general and of his wife were as difficult to open
as those of the French ambassadors, Bonnier, Jean Debry, and
Roberjot. General Bonaparte had received the Austrian ambassadors,
and returned their visit. But nobody else had been admitted to him
during the first day. The ambassadors, therefore, flocked the more
eagerly on this second day after his arrival to the anterooms of the
French ambassadors, for every one wanted to be the first to win for
his sovereign and for his state the good-will of the French
conqueror. Every one wished to obtain advantages, to avert mischief,
and to beg for favors.
Happy were they already who had only succeeded in penetrating into
the anterooms of the French embassy, for a good deal of money had to
be spent in order to open those doors. In front of them stood the
footmen of the ambassadors with grave, stern countenances, refusing
to admit any but those who had been previously recommended to them,
or who knew now how to gain their favor by substantial rewards.
[Footnote: The employes of the French embassy, from the first
secretary down to the lowest footman and cook, received handsome
gifts at the hands of the German delegates, for every one was
anxious to secure the goodwill of the French representatives; and in
obedience to the old trick of diplomatists, they tried to gain the
favor of the masters by means of that of their servants. The latter
made a very handsome thing out of it.--Vide Hausser, vol. ii., p.
163.] And when they finally, by means of such persuasive gifts, had
succeeded in crossing the threshold of the anteroom, they found
there the clerks and secretaries of the French gentlemen, and these
men again barred the door of the cabinet occupied by the ambassadors
themselves. These clerks and secretaries had to be bribed likewise
by solicitations, flatteries, and money; only, instead of satisfying
them with silver, as in the case of the doorkeepers, they had to
give them heavy gold pieces.
Having finally overcome all these obstacles--having now penetrated
into the presence of the French diplomatists--the ambassadors of the
German powers met with a haughty reserve instead of the kindness
they had hoped for, and with sarcastic sneers in lieu of a warm
reception. It was in vain for Germany thus to humble herself and to
crouch in the dust. France was too well aware of her victories and
superiority, and the servility of the German aristocracy only
excited contempt and scorn, which the French gentlemen did not
refrain from hurling into the faces of the humble solicitors. The
greater the abjectness of the latter, the more overbearing the
haughty demeanor of the former, and both gained the firm conviction
that France held the happiness and quiet of Germany in her hands,
and that France alone had the power to secure to the German princes
the possession of their states, to enlarge their dominions, or to
deprive them thereof, just as she pleased, and without paying any
deference to the wishes of the Germans themselves.
To-day, however, all these distinguished men--the counts and barons
of the empire, the bishops and other ecclesiastical dignitaries--had
not appeared for the purpose of conquering the favor of the three
French stars--to-day a new constellation had arisen on the sky of
Rastadt, and they wanted to stare at it--they wanted to admire
Bonaparte and Josephine.
But Bonaparte took hardly any notice of the crowd assembled in the
anteroom. His hands folded on his back, he was pacing his room, and
listening with rapt attention to the accounts the three French
ambassadors were giving him concerning the policy they had pursued
up to the present time.
"We have done every thing in our power to spread republican notions
hereabouts," said Jean Debry, at the conclusion of his lengthy
remarks. "We have sent agents to all of these small German states
for the purpose of enlightening the people about their dignity,
their rights, and the disgrace of submitting to miserable princes,
instead of being free and great under the wholesome influence of
"We have, moreover, even here, excellent spies among the
ambassadors," said Roberjot, "and through them we have skilfully
fanned the flames of that discord which seems to be the bane of
Germany. It is true, they hold secret meetings every day in order to
agree on a harmonious line of policy, but discord, jealousy, and
covetousness always accompany them to those meetings, and they are
therefore never able to agree about any thing. Besides, these German
noblemen are very talkative, hence we find out all their secrets,
and it is an easy task for us to foil every scheme of theirs. Every
one of them is anxious to enlarge his possessions; we therefore give
them hopes of acquiring new territory at the expense of their
neighbors, and thereby greatly increase the discord and confusion
prevailing among them. We fill the ambassadors of the secondary
princes, and especially those of the ecclesiastical sovereigns, with
distrust against the more powerful German states, and intimate to
them that the latter are trying to aggrandize themselves at their
expense, and that they have asked the consent of France to do so. We
inform the first-class governments of the desire of the smaller
princes to enlarge their dominions, and caution them against placing
implicit trust in their representations. Thus we sow the seeds of
discord among these princely hirelings, and endeavor to undermine
the thrones of Germany."
"Germany must throw off all her princes like ripe ulcers," exclaimed
Bonnier, scornfully. "These numerous thrones beyond the Rhine are
dangerous and fatal to our sublime and indivisible French Republic--
bad examples spoiling good manners. Every throne must disappear from
the face of the earth, and freedom and equality must shine
throughout the whole world like the sun."
"You are right," said Bonaparte, gravely. "It is our duty to
disseminate our principles among these Germans, who are living in
slavery as yet, and to assist the poor serfs in obtaining their
liberty. Germany must become a confederate republic, and discord is
the best sword wherewith to attack these princely hirelings. But
what does the Swedish ambassador--whose name I noticed on the list
of applicants for interviews with myself--here among the
representatives of the German princes?"
"He pretends to participate in the congress of peace because Sweden
warranted the execution of the treaty of Westphalia," exclaimed Jean
Debry, shrugging his shoulders.
"Bah! that is a most ridiculous pretext," said Bonnier, gloomily.
"This M. Fersen is a royalist. The political part played by this
diplomatist at the court of Louis Capet, and afterward continued by
him, is only too well known. He now tries to dazzle us by his
kindness merely for the purpose of laying a trap for the French
"Ah, we shall show to the gentleman that the Republic has got an
open eye and a firm hand, and that it discovers and tears all such
meshes and traps," said Bonaparte, impetuously. "But we have done
business enough for to-day, and I will go and receive the
ambassadors who have been waiting here for a long while in the ante-
He saluted the three gentlemen with a familiar nod, and then
repaired to the reception-room, the doors of which were opened at
last to admit the German ambassadors.
It was a brilliant crowd now entering in a solemn procession through
the opened folding-doors. The ambassadors of every German sovereign
were in attendance; only the representatives of Austria and Prussia,
whom Bonaparte had received already in a special audience, were
This German peace delegation, which now entered the room to do
homage to the French general, was a very large one. There were first
the ambassadors of Bavaria and Saxony, of Baden and Wurtemberg, of
Hanover and Mecklenburg; then followed the host of the small princes
and noblemen, by whose side the ecclesiastical dignitaries, the
representatives of the electors and bishops, were walking in.
[Footnote: The whole German peace delegation consisted of seventy-
nine persons, and all these seventy-nine distinguished men, the
ambassadors of emperor, kings, and princes, tried to gain the favor
of the ambassadors of France: and the three gentlemen, representing
the great Republic, seemed more powerful and influential than all
the representatives of Germany.]
Bonaparte stood proudly erect in the middle of the room, his gloomy
glances inspecting the gentlemen, who now commenced stationing
themselves on both sides of the apartment. A master of ceremonies,
who had been previously selected for the meetings of the peace
congress, now walked solemnly through the ranks and announced in a
ringing voice the name, rank, and position of every ambassador.
"His excellency Count Fersen," he shouted just now, in a solemn
manner, "ambassador of his majesty the King of Sweden and Duke of
Count Fersen had not yet finished his ceremonious obeisance, When
Bonaparte rapidly approached him.
"Just tell me, sir," he exclaimed, bluntly; "what is the name of the
minister whom Sweden has now in Paris?"
Count Fersen looked in evident surprise and confusion at the pale
face of the general, whose flaming eyes were fixed upon him with an
"I do not know," he faltered, "I am not quite sure--"
"Ah, sir, you know only too well that Sweden has not yet given a
successor to M. de Haill," Bonaparte interrupted him violently, "and
that the only ambassador whom she was willing to send had to be
rejected by the Directory. You were this ambassador whom the
Directory would not tolerate in Paris. Friendly ties have united
France and Sweden for a long series of years, and I believe Sweden
ought to appreciate and recognize their importance at the present
time more than ever. How, then, is the conduct of the court of
Stockholm to be explained, that tries to make it its special
business to send everywhere, either to Paris or wherever the
plenipotentiaries of France may be seen, ministers and ambassadors
who must be peculiarly distasteful to every citizen of France?"
"That is certainly not the intention of my court," exclaimed Count
"That may be," said Bonaparte, proudly, "but I should like to know
if the King of Sweden would remain indifferent in case a French
ambassador should try to instigate an insurrection of the people of
Stockholm against him! The French Republic cannot permit men, whose
connection with the old court of France is a matter of notoriety, to
appear in official capacities, and thus to irritate and humble the
republican ambassadors, the representatives of the first nation on
earth, who, before consulting her policy, knows how to maintain her
"I shall immediately set out for Stockholm in order to communicate
these views of the conqueror of Italy to my court," said Count
Fersen, pale with shame and mortification.
"Do so, set out at once," exclaimed Bonaparte, impetuously, "and
tell your master, unless he should conclude to pursue a different
policy, I will send him some day a skilful diplomatic Gascon who
knows how to simplify the machine and make it go less rapidly. King
Gustavus will perhaps find out, when it is too late, and at his own
expense, that the reins of government must be firmly held in one
hand, and the other skilfully wield the sword, while it is yet time.
Go, sir, and inform your king of what I have told you!"
Count Fersen made no reply; he merely bowed hastily and silently,
and, beckoning his attaches who were standing behind him, he left
the room with his suite. [Footnote: This whole scene actually took
place, and contains only such words as really were exchanged between
Bonaparte and Fersen.--Vide "Memoires d'un Homme d'Etat," vol. v.,
p. 64. Le Normand, Memoires, vol. i., p. 263.]
Bonaparte's flashing eyes followed him until he had disappeared, and
then the general turned once more to the ambassadors.
"I could not suffer a traitor and enemy in our assembly," he said,
in a loud and firm voice. "We are here in order to make peace, while
he was secretly anxious for a renewal of war, and was bent upon
sowing the evil seeds of discord among us. Let us all endeavor to
make peace, gentlemen, to the best of our power. Do not compel me to
enter the lists against you, too, for the struggle could not be
doubtful between a nation that has just conquered her liberty, and
princes who tried to deprive her of it again. If you reject to-day
the pacific overtures I shall make to you, I shall impose other
conditions to-morrow; but woe unto him among you, who should refuse
my mediation; for in that case I should overthrow the whole
framework of a false policy, and the thrones standing on a weak
foundation would soon break down. I speak to you with the frankness
of a soldier and the noble pride of a victorious general; I caution
you because I have the welfare of the nations at heart, who more
than ever need the blessings of peace. It is now for you to say
whether we shall have war or peace, and it will solely depend upon
your submissiveness whether France will be able to conclude an
honorable peace with her German neighbors, or whether you will
compel us to take up arms once more. But in that case woe unto you,
for we should retaliate in the most terrible manner on those who
would dare to oppose us!" [Footnote: Bonaparte's own words.--Vide Le
Normand, vol. i.. p. 964]
He paused and rapidly glanced at the assembled gentlemen. They stood
before him with grave and gloomy faces, but none of them were
courageous enough to make a dignified reply to the proud and
humiliating words of the French general. The ambassadors of Germany
received the severe lecture of the representative of France with
An imperceptible smile played on Bonaparte's lips. He saluted the
gentlemen with a slight nod and rapidly returned to his own rooms.
FRANCE AND AUSTRIA.
Bonaparte had scarcely reached his room and just closed the door,
when the opposite door opened, and the entering footman announced,
"His excellency Count Louis Cobenzl." Bonaparte waved his hand and
went to meet the count in the anteroom, where he welcomed him with
the utmost kindness and courtesy.
The two gentlemen thereupon reentered the room hand in hand, a
pleasant smile playing on their lips, while both were assuring each
other of their kind intentions, but at the same time secretly
entertaining the ardent desire and purpose to divine their mutual
thoughts, but to conceal their own schemes. The general, with great
politeness, offered the seat of honor on the sofa to the count, and
sat down in an arm-chair in front of him. A small round table with
writing-materials and paper stood between them, forming as it were
the frontier between Austria and France.
"So the ardent desires of Austria are fulfilled now," said Count
Cobenzl, with a sweet smile. "France will no longer oppose us; she
will be our friend and ally."
"France will welcome this new friend and ally of hers," exclaimed
Bonaparte, feelingly, "provided Austria's intentions are loyal. Ah,
my dear count, no protestations now! In politics words prove
nothing, deeds every thing. Let Austria, then, prove by her deeds
that she really desires to keep up a good understanding with France,
and that she has given up forever her hostile attitude toward the
"But has not Austria given proof of her intentions toward France
already?" asked the count, in surprise. "Has not his majesty the
emperor declared his willingness to resume diplomatic relations with
France, and thereby formally and before the whole world to recognize
the French Republic?"
"Sir," exclaimed Bonaparte, "the French Republic does not humbly
solicit to be recognized. She compels hostile states to recognize
her, for, like the sun, she sheds her light over the whole globe,
and she would pierce the eyes of such as would feign not to see her,
rendering them blind for all time to come! [Footnote: Bonaparte's
own words.--Vide Constant, vol. i., p. 284.] Austria beheld this
radiant sun of the republic at Lodi, at Rivoli, Arcole, and Mantua;
whence, then, would she derive courage enough to refuse recognizing
France? But instead of words, prove to us by your actions that your
friendship is honest and sincere."
"We are ready to do so," said Count Cobenzl, politely. "Austria is
ready to give a public and brilliant proof of her devotion to the
great general whose glory is now filling the whole world with
astonishment and admiration. His majesty the emperor, in the letter
which I had the honor of delivering to you some time ago, told you
already in eloquent words how greatly he admired the conqueror of
Italy, and how gladly his majesty, if it were in his power, would
grant you such favors as would be agreeable to you. But at that time
you rejected all such offers, general, and nothing could induce you
to accept of what we wished to present to you. It seemed not to have
value enough to--"
"Rather say, count, it was all too valuable not to be looked upon as
a bribe," exclaimed Bonaparte. "I was negotiating with you, sword in
hand, and it would not have been becoming of me to lay the sword
aside in order to fill my hands with your presents."
"But now, general, now that we have laid the sword aside, that we
have made peace, that we have exchanged the ratifications of the
treaty--now that you tender your hand to Austria in friendship and
peace, you might permit his majesty the Emperor of Austria to
deposit something in your friendly hand, that might prove to you how
sincerely my august master the emperor is devoted to you."
"And what does the emperor desire to deposit in my hand?" asked
Bonaparte, with a quiet smile.
Count Cobenzl hesitated a little before making a reply. "General,"
he then said, "when I see you thus before me in your marble beauty,
I am involuntarily reminded of the heroes of Rome and Greece, who
have immortalized the glory of their countries, but whom the
admiration of posterity had to compensate for the ingratitude of
their contemporaries. General, republics never were grateful to
their great men, and only too often have they stigmatized their most
glorious deeds; for the republics deprecated the greatness of their
heroes, because he who distinguished himself, thereby annulled the
equality and fraternity of all the citizens. Pericles was banished
from Athens, and Julius Caesar was assassinated! General, will
modern republics be more grateful than those of antiquity? For my
part, I dare say, it is rather doubtful, and the French being
descendants of the Romans, I am afraid they will not prove any more
grateful than the latter. The emperor, my august master, shares my
fears, and as he loves and venerates you, he would like to exalt you
so high as to prevent the hands of the political factions from
reaching up to you. His majesty therefore proposes to create a
principality for you in Germany, and to make you the sovereign ruler
of two hundred thousand people, appointing you at the same time a
prince of the German empire, and giving you a seat and vote at the
imperial diet. [Footnote: Historical.--Vide "Memoires d'un Homme
d'Etat," vol. V., p. 67.] General, do you accept my emperor's
"To become the emperor's vassal?" asked Bonaparte, with an
imperceptible smile. "A small prince of the German empire who on
solemn occasions might be deemed worthy to present the wash-basin to
the emperor, or to be his train bearer, while every king and elector
would outrank me. No, my dear count, I do not accept the offer. I
sincerely thank the emperor for the interest he takes in my welfare,
but I must accept no gifts or favors not coming directly from the
French nation, and I shall always be satisfied with the income
bestowed upon me by the latter," [Footnote: Bonaparte's own reply.--
Vide "Memoires d'un Homme d'Etat," vol. V., p. 51.]
"You reject the emperor's offer?" asked Cobenzl, mournfully--"you
disdain wearing a crown?"
"If the crown should crush the few laurels with which my victories
have adorned me, yes; in that case I should prefer to decline the
crown in favor of my laurels. And, my dear count, if I had been so
anxious for a crown, I might have picked up one of those crowns that
fell down at my feet in Italy. But I preferred to crush them under
my heels, just as St. George crushed the dragon; and the gold of the
crushed crowns, as it behooved a good and dutiful son, I laid down
on the altar of the great French Republic. So you see I am not
longing for crowns. If I might follow my own inclinations, I should
return to the silence and obscurity of my former life, and I should
lay my sword aside in order to live only as a peaceable citizen."
"Oh, general, if you should do so," exclaimed Cobenzl, "there would
soon be men to pick up your sword in order to fight with it against
the Republic and to recall the Bourbons to the throne of the
A rapid flash from Bonaparte's eyes struck the count's face and met
his sharp, searching glance.
"Count Cobenzl," he said, quietly and coldly, "the lilies of France
have dropped from their stems, and, being drowned in the blood of
the guillotine, they could not be made to bloom again. He would be a
poor, short-sighted gardener who would try to draw flowers from
seeds dead and devoid of germs. And believe me, we are no such poor,