Part 7 out of 14
And Jean Debry's wife knelt down by her side, drawing her little
girls down with her.
"Let us pray, my children, for your father, for ourselves, and for
our friends," she said, folding the children's hands.
While the women were praying, the men issued their last orders to
the servants and to the postilions.
At length every thing was in readiness, and if they really wished to
set out, it had to be done at once.
Roberjot and Jean Debry approached softly and with deep emotion
their wives, who were kneeling and praying still, and raised them
"Now be strong and courageous--be wives worthy of your husbands,"
they whispered. "Dry your tears and come! The carriages are waiting
for us. Come, come, France is waiting for us!"
"Or the grave!" muttered Bonnier, who accompanied the others to the
courtyard where the carriages were standing.
The ambassadors with their wives and attendants had finally taken
seats in the carriages. Roberjot and his wife occupied the first
carriage; Bonnier, the second; Jean Debry with his wife and
daughters, the third; in the fourth, fifth, and sixth were the
secretaries of legation, the clerks and servants of the ambassadors.
The last coach-door was closed; a profound momentary silence
succeeded the noise and turmoil that had prevailed up to this time.
Then the loud, ringing voice of Roberjot asked from the first
carriage, "All ready?"
"All ready!" was the reply from the other carriages.
"Then let us start," shouted Roberjot, and his carriage immediately
commenced moving. The other five carriages followed slowly and
The night was chilly and dark. The sky was covered with heavy
clouds. Not the faintest trace of the moon, not a star was visible.
In order that they might not lose their way, and see the bridge
across the Rhine, a man, bearing a torch, had to precede the
carriages. But the gale moved the flame so violently that it now
seemed near going out, and then again flared up and cast a glare
over the long procession of the carriages. Then every thing once
more became dark and gloomy and ominously still.
The torch-bearer, preceding the foremost carriage, vigorously
marched ahead on the road. All at once it seemed to him as though
black figures were emerging from both sides of the highway and
softly flitting past him. But assuredly he must have been mistaken;
it could not have been any thing but the shadows of the trees
standing on both sides of the road.
No, now he saw it again, quite plainly. The shadows were horsemen,
softly riding along on both sides of the highway. He raised his
torch and looked at the horsemen. There was quite a cavalcade of
them. Now they crossed the ditch and took position across the road,
thus preventing the carriages from passing on. The torch-bearer
stood still and turned around in order to shout to the postilions to
halt. But only an inarticulated, shrill cry escaped from his throat,
for at the same moment two of the horsemen galloped up and struck at
him with their flashing swords. He parried the strokes with his
torch, his only weapon, so that one of the swords did not hit him at
all, while the other only slightly touched his shoulder.
"What is the matter?" shouted Roberjot, in an angry voice, from the
The horsemen seized the arms of the torch-bearer and dragged him
toward the carriage. "Light!" they shouted to him, and quite a squad
of merry horsemen was now coming up behind them. When they dashed
past the torch, the frightened torch-bearer was able to see their
wild, bearded faces, their flashing eyes, and the silver lace on
The torch betrayed the secret of the night, and caused the Sczekler
hussars of Barbaczy's regiment to be recognized.
They now surrounded the first carriage, shouting furiously, and
shattering the windows with their sabres.
"Minister Roberjot! Are you Minister Roberjot?" asked a dozen wild,
Roberjot's grave and threatening face, illuminated by the glare of
the torch, appeared immediately in the aperture of the window. "Yes,
I am Roberjot," he said, loudly; "I am the ambassador of France, and
here is the passport furnished me by the ambassador of the Elector
He exhibited the paper, but the hussars took no notice of it; four
vigorous arms dragged Roberjot from the carriage, and before he had
time to stretch out his hand toward his pistols, the sabres of the
hussars fell down upon his head and shoulders.
A terrible yell was heard, but it was not Roberjot who had uttered
it; it was his wife, who appeared with pale and distorted features
in the coach door, hastening to her beloved husband, to save him or
to die with him.
But two stout arms kept her back--the arms of the valet de chambre
who, perceiving that his master was hopelessly lost, wanted to
protect at least his mistress from the murderous sabres of the
"Let me go, let me go; I will die with him!" she cried; but the
faithful servant would not loosen his hold, and, unable to reach her
husband, she had to witness his assassination by the hussars, who
cut him with their sabres until he lay weltering in his gore.
"He is dead!" shrieked his wife, and her wail aroused Roberjot once
more from his stupor. He opened his eyes and looked once more at his
"Sauvez! sauvez!" he shouted, in a voice full of anguish. "Oh!--"
"What! not dead yet?" roared the hussars, and they struck him again.
Now he was dying. That loud, awful death-rattle was his last life-
struggle. The valet de chambre in order to prevent her from hearing
that awful sound, with his hands closed the ears of his mistress,
who, petrified with horror, was looking at her dying husband.
But she did not hear it; she had fainted in the servant's arms. At
this moment a heavy hand was laid on his shoulder, and the wild,
bearded face of a hussar stared at him.
"Footman?" asked the hussar, in his broken Hungarian dialect. "Yes,
footman!" said the valet de chambre, in broken German.
The hussar smilingly patted his shoulder, and, with his other hand,
pulled the watch from his vest-pocket, kindly saying to him,
"Footman, stay here. No harm will befall him!" He then bent forward,
and with a quick grasp, tore the watch and chain from the neck of
Roberjot's fainting wife.
His task was now accomplished, and he galloped to the second
carriage, to which the other hussars had just dragged the torch-
bearer, and which they had completely surrounded.
"Bonnier, alight!" howled the hussars, furiously--"Bonnier, alight!"
"Here I am!" said Bonnier, opening the coach door; "here--" They did
not give him time to finish the sentence. They dragged him from the
carriage, and struck him numerous blows amidst loud laughter and
yells. Bonnier did not defend himself; he did not parry a single one
of their strokes; without uttering a cry or a groan, he sank to the
ground. His dying lips only whispered a single word. That word was,
The six hussars who crowded around him now stopped in their
murderous work. They saw that Bonnier was dead--really dead--and
that their task was accomplished. Now commenced the appropriation of
the spoils, the reward that had been promised to them. Four of them
rushed toward the carriage in order to search it and to take out all
papers, valuables, and trunks; the two others searched and undressed
the warm corpse of Bonnier with practised hands.
Then the six hussars rushed after their comrades toward the third
carriage--toward Jean Debry. But the others had already outstripped
them. They had dragged Debry, his wife, and his daughters from the
carriage; they were robbing and searching the lady and the children,
and cutting Jean Debry with their sabres.
He dropped to the ground; his respiration ceased, and a convulsive
shudder passed through the bloody figure, and then it lay cold and
motionless in the road.
"Dead! dead!" shouted the hussars, triumphantly. "The three men are
killed; now for the spoils! The carriages are ours, with every thing
in them! Come, let us search the fourth carriage. We will kill no
more; we will only seize the spoils!"
And all were shouting and exulting, "Ho for the spoils! for the
spoils! Every thing is ours!" And the wild crowd rushed forward, and
Jean Debry lay motionless, a bleeding corpse by the side of the
Profound darkness enveloped the scene of horror and carnage. The
torch had gone out; no human eye beheld the corpses with their
gaping wounds. The ladies had been taken into the carriages by their
servants; the hussars were engaged in plundering the three remaining
carriages, the inmates of which, however, forewarned in time by the
shrieks and groans that had reached them from the scene of
Roberjot's assassination, had left and fled across the marshy
meadows to the wall of the castle garden. Climbing over it and
hastening through the garden, they reached the city and spread
everywhere the terrible tidings of the assassination of the
As soon as the report of the dreadful occurrence had been
circulated, a dense crowd gathered in the streets of Rastadt, and
for the first time for two years the ambassadors of all the German
powers were animated by one and the same idea, and acting in concord
and harmony. They repaired in a solemn procession to the Ettlinger
gate, headed by Count Goertz and Baron Dohm; the others followed in
pairs, Count Lehrbach, the Austrian ambassador, being the only one
who had not joined the procession. But the guard at the gate refused
to let them pass, and when they had finally succeeded, after long
and tedious negotiations, in being permitted to leave the city, they
were met outside of the gate by the Austrian Captain Burkhard and
Count Goertz went to meet him with intrepid courage. "Did you hear
that an infamous murder has been perpetrated on the French
ambassadors not far from the city?"
"I have heard of it," said the captain, shrugging his shoulders.
"And what steps have you taken in order to save the unfortunate
victims, if possible?"
"I have sent an officer and two hussars for the purpose of
ascertaining the particulars."
"That is not sufficient, sir!" exclaimed Count Goertz. "You must do
more than that, you must strain every nerve on this occasion, for
this is not an ordinary murder, but your honor, sir, is at stake, as
well as the honor of your monarch and the honor of the German
"The honor of the German nation is at stake," shouted the
ambassadors, unanimously. "Our honor has been sullied by the
But the captain remained cold and indifferent. "It is a deplorable
misunderstanding," he said. "It is true, the patrols were going the
rounds at night, and such things may occur at this time. The French
ministers should not have set out by night. The crime has been
committed, and who is to blame for it? It was not done by anybody's
order." [Footnote: The literal reply of Captain Burkhard.--Vide
"Report of the German Ambassadors concerning the Assassination of
the French Ministers near Rastadt."]
"Who would deem it possible that such an outrage should have been
committed by order of any commanding officer?" exclaimed Count
"Ah, yes, an outrage indeed!" said Burkhard, shrugging his
shoulders. "A few ambassadors have been killed. A few of our
generals, too, were killed during the last few years."[Footnote:
Count Goertz turned to the other ambassadors with an air of profound
indignation. "You see," he said, "we need not hope for much
assistance here; let us seek it elsewhere. Let some of us repair in
person to Colonel Barbaczy's headquarters at Gernsbach, while the
rest of us will go to the spot where the murders were committed. If
the captain here declines giving us an escort for that purpose, we
shall repair thither without one; and if we should lose our lives by
so doing, Germany will know how to avenge us!"
"I will give you an escort," said Burkhard, somewhat abashed by the
energetic bearing of the count.
While the ambassadors were negotiating with the captain at the
Ettlinger gate, the hussars were incessantly engaged in plundering
the six carriages. After finishing the first three carriages, they
ordered the ladies and servants to reenter them and to await quietly
and silently what further would be done in relation to them. No one
dared to offer any resistance--no one was strong enough to oppose
them. Dismay had perfectly paralyzed and stupefied all of them.
Madame Debry lay in her carriage with open, tearless eyes, and
neither the lamentations nor the kisses of her daughters were able
to arouse her from her stupor. Madame Roberjot was wringing her
hands, and amidst heart-rending sobs she was wailing all the time,
"They have hacked him to pieces before my eyes!" [Footnote: "I ls
l'ont hache devant mes yeux!"--Lodiacus, vol. iii., p. 195.]
No one paid any attention to the corpses lying with their gaping
wounds in the adjoining ditch. Night alone covered them with its
black pall; night alone saw that Jean Debry all at once commenced
stirring slightly, that he opened his eyes and raised his head in
order to find out what was going on around him. With the courage of
despair he had been playing the role of a motionless corpse as long
as the hussars were in his neighborhood; and now that he no longer
heard any noise in his vicinity, it was time for him to think of
He remained in a sitting position in the ditch and listened. His
head was so heavy that he had not sufficient strength to hold it
erect, it dropped again upon his breast; from a burning, painful
wound the blood was running over his face into his mouth, and it was
the only cooling draught for his parched lips. He wanted to raise
his arm in order to close this wound and to stanch the blood, but
the arm fell down by his side, heavy and lame, and he then felt that
it was likewise severely injured.
And yet, bleeding and hacked as he was, he was alive, and it was
time for him to think of preserving his life. For over yonder, in
the carriage, there resounded the wail of his children, and the
lamentations of his servants. His wife's voice, however, he did not
hear. Was she not there? Had she also been assassinated?
He dared not inquire for her at this moment. He had to save himself,
and he was determined to do it.
He arose slowly, and heedless of the pain it caused him. Every thing
around him remained silent. No one had seen him rise; night with its
black pall protected him. It protected him now as he walked a few
steps toward the forest, closely adjoining the highway. At length he
reached the forest, and the shades of darkness and of the woods
covered the tall, black form that now disappeared in the thicket.
But his enemies might be lurking for him in this thicket. Every step
forward might involve him in fresh dangers. Exhausted and in
despair, Jean Debry supported his tottering body against a tree, the
sturdy trunk of which he encircled with his arms. This tree was now
his only protector, the only friend on whom he could rely. To this
tree alone he determined to intrust his life.
Heedless of his wounded arm and the racking pains of his other
injuries, Jean Debry climbed the knotty trunk; seizing a large
branch, he raised himself from bough to bough. A few birds, aroused
from their slumbers, arose from the foliage and flitted away. Jean
Debry followed them with his eyes, and whispered, "You will not
On the highest bough, in the densest foliage, he sat down, gasping
with exhaustion, and groaning with pain. In his utter prostration
after the extraordinary effort he had just made, he leaned his head
against the trunk of the tree, the dense branches of which closely
enveloped him, and gave a roof to his head and a resting-place to
"Here I am safe--here no one will look for me!" he muttered, and he
fell asleep, prostrated by his sufferings and loss of blood.
Night with its dark mantle covered him up and fanned his feverish
brow with its cooling air: the foliage of the tree laid itself soft
and fresh around his burning cheeks, and delightful dreams descended
from heaven to comfort this poor, tormented human soul.
After several hours of invigorating sleep, Jean Debry was awakened,
not, however, by the rude hands of men, but heaven itself aroused
him by the torrents of a heavy shower.
Oh, how refreshing were these cold drops for his parched lips! How
gently did this soft and tepid water wash the blood and dust from
his wounds! How delightfully did it bathe his poor benumbed limbs!
He felt greatly invigorated, and courageously determined to make
further efforts for the preservation of his life. He slowly glided
down from the tree and stood once more on the ground.
The shower was constantly on the increase, and the rain became now,
at daybreak, Jean Debry's protector. When men forsake their poor,
tormented fellow-beings, Nature takes pity on them and encircles
them with her saving and protecting maternal arms.
The rain protected Jean Debry; it washed the dust and blood from his
garments, and made him resemble the other men who had gathered in a
large crowd on the road, not far from where he emerged from the
forest. All of them were looking with pale faces and expressions of
unbounded horror at some objects lying in their midst. What was it
that rendered this crowd, generally so noisy and turbulent, to-day
so silent and grave?
Jean Debry penetrated further into their midst, and he discovered
now with a shudder what riveted the attention of the vast gathering
on the road.
He beheld the bloody and mutilated corpses of his two friends--the
dead bodies of Roberjot and Bonnier.
Jean Debry closely compressed his lips in order to keep back the cry
that forced itself from his breast; with the whole energy of his
will he suppressed the tears that started from his eyes, and he
turned away in order to return to Rastadt.
The rain protected Jean Debry. The rain had driven the soldiers at
the gate into the guard-room, and the sentinel into the sentry-box.
No one took any notice of this wet and dripping man when he entered
He quietly walked up the street, directly toward the house inhabited
by Count Goertz, the Prussian ambassador. He entered the house with
firm steps, and hastened into the anteroom which, as he formerly
used to do, he wanted to cross in order to walk to the count's room
without sending in his name.
But the footmen kept him back; they refused to admit this pale man
with the lacerated face and tattered clothes to their master's
"Don't you know me any longer, my friends?" he asked, sadly. "Am I
so disfigured that no one of you is able to recognize Jean Debry?"
The footmen now recognized his voice, and the valet de chambre
hastened to open the door of the count's study, and to shout, in a
loud voice, "His excellency, the French ambassador Debry!"
Count Goertz uttered a joyful cry, and hastily rose from the sofa on
which, exhausted by the efforts of the terrible night, he had sought
a little rest.
Jean Debry entered the room. He made a truly lamentable appearance
as he approached the count, and fixed his dimmed, bloodshot eyes
upon him with an expression of unutterable anguish.
"Are my wife and children safe?" he asked, breathlessly.
"Yes, they are safe!" exclaimed the count.
And Jean Debry, the austere republican, the scoffing infidel, Jean
Debry fell upon his knees! Lifting up his arms toward heaven, his
eyes filled with tears, he exclaimed: "Divine Providence, if I have
hitherto refused to acknowledge thy benefits, oh, forgive me!"
[Footnote: He exclaimed: "Divine providence, si j'ai meconnu tes
bien faits jusqu'ici, pardonne!"--Lodiacus, iii., p. 195.]
"And punish those who have perpetrated this horrible crime!" added
Count Goertz, folding his hands, and uttering a fervent prayer. "O
God, reveal the authors of this misdeed; let us find those who have
committed this outrage, lest it may remain a bloody stigma on the
fame of our country! Have mercy on poor Germany, on whose brow this
mark of infamy is now burning, and who will be obliged to pour out
rivers of her best blood in order to atone for this crime, and to
clear her sullied honor! Have mercy on all of us, and give us
courage to bravo the storms which this horrible event will assuredly
call down! Have mercy, O God; punish only the assassins, but not our
This prayer of Count Goertz was not fulfilled. The real instigators
of the murder were never detected and punished, although the
Austrian court, in a public manifesto to the German nation, promised
a searching investigation of the whole affair, and a rigorous
chastisement of the assassins. But the investigation was but a very
superficial proceeding, and its results were never published. The
Sczekler hussars publicly sold, on the following day, the watches,
snuff-boxes, and valuables they had stolen from the French
ambassadors. Some of them even acknowledged openly that they had
perpetrated the murder, at the instigation of their officers. But
nobody thought of arresting them, or calling them to account for
their crime. It is true, after a while some of them were imprisoned
and tried. But the proceedings instituted against them were never
published, although the Austrian court had expressly promised to lay
the minutes of the commission trying the prisoners, and the results
of the whole investigation, before the public. In reality, however,
the Austrian authorities tried to hush up the whole affair, so that
the world might forget it. And it was forgotten, and remained
unpunished. In diplomatic circles, however, the real instigators of
the outrage were well known. "It was," says the author of the
"Memoirs of a German Statesman" (Count Schlitz), "it was a man who,
owing to his exalted position, played a very prominent part at
Rastadt; not a very noble one, however. He was actuated by
vindictiveness, and he was determined to seize the most secret
papers of the ambassadors at any price. The general archives,
however, had been forwarded to Strasburg several days before. He had
found willing tools in the brutal hussars. These wretches believed
that what a man of high standing asked them to do was agreeable to
the will of their imperial master. Baseness is easily able to
mislead stupidity, and soldiers thus became the assassins of unarmed
men, who stood under the sacred protection of international law."
The excitement and indignation produced by this horrible crime were
general throughout Europe, and every one recognized in it the bloody
seeds of a time of horrors and untold evils; every one was satisfied
that France would take bloody revenge for the assassination of her
ambassadors. In fact, as soon as the tidings from Rastadt penetrated
beyond the Rhine, there arose throughout the whole of France a
terrible cry of rage and revenge. The intelligence reached Mentz in
the evening, when the theatre was densely crowded. The commander
ordered the news to be read from the stage, and the furious public
shouted, "Vengeance! vengeance! et la mort aux Allemands!"
[Footnote: "Vengeance! vengeance! and death to the Germans!"]
In Paris, solemn obsequies were performed for the murdered
ambassadors. The seats which Bonnier and Roberjot had formerly
occupied in the hall of the Corps Legislatif were covered with their
bloody garments. When the roll was called and their names were read,
the president rose and replied solemnly: "Assassinated at Rastadt!"
The clerks then exclaimed: "May their blood be brought home to the
authors of their murder!"
Count Haugwitz, the Prussian minister of foreign affairs, had just
returned from a journey he had made with the young king to
Westphalia. In his dusty travelling-costume, and notwithstanding his
exhaustion after the fatigues of the trip, as soon as he had entered
his study, he had hastily written two letters, and then handed them
to his footman, ordering him to forward them at once to their
address, to the ambassadors of Prussia and England. Only then he had
thrown himself on his bed, but issued strict orders to awaken him as
soon as the two ambassadors had entered the house.
Scarcely an hour had elapsed when the footman awakened the count,
informing him that the two ambassadors had just arrived at the same
time, and were waiting for him in the small reception-room.
The minister hastily rose from his couch, and without devoting a
single glance to his toilet and to his somewhat dishevelled wig, he
crossed his study and entered the reception-room, where Lord
Grenville and Count Panin were waiting for him.
"Gentlemen," said the count after a hurried bow, "be kind enough to
look at my toilet, and then I hope you will excuse me for daring to
request you to call upon me, instead of coming to you as I ought to
have done. But you see I have not even doffed my travelling habit,
and it would not have behooved me to call on you in such a costume;
but the intelligence I desire to communicate is of such importance
that I wished to lose no time in order to lay it before you, and
hence I took the liberty of inviting you to see me."
"As far as I am concerned, I willingly accepted your invitation,"
said Lord Grenville, deliberately, "for in times like these we can
well afford to disregard the requirements of etiquette."
"That I was no less eager to follow your call," said Count Panin,
with a courteous smile, "you have seen from the fact that I arrived
at the same time with the distinguished ambassador of Great Britain.
But now, gentlemen, a truce to compliments; let us come to the point
directly, and without any further circumlocution. For the six months
that I have been here at Berlin, in order to negotiate with Prussia
about the coalition question, I have been so incessantly put off
with empty phrases, that I am heartily tired of that diet and long
for more substantial food."
"Your longing will be gratified to-day, Count Panin," said Count
Haugwitz, with a proud smile, inviting the gentlemen, by a polite
gesture, to take seats on the sofa, while he sat down in an arm-
chair opposite them. "Yes, you will find to-day a good and
nourishing diet, and I hope you will be content with the cook who
has prepared it for you. I may say that I am that cook, and believe
me, gentlemen, the task of preparing that food for you has not been
a very easy one."
"You have induced the King of Prussia at length to join the
coalition, and to enter into an alliance with Russia, England, and
Austria against the French Republic?" asked Count Panin, joyfully.
"You have told his majesty that England is ready to pay large
subsidies as soon as Prussia leads her army into the field against
France?" asked Lord Grenville.
"Gentlemen," said Count Haugwitz, in a slightly sarcastic tone, "I
feel greatly flattered by your impetuous inquiries, for they prove
to me how highly you value an alliance with Prussia. Permit me,
however, to communicate to you quietly and composedly the whole
course of negotiations. You know that I had the honor of
accompanying my royal master on his trip to our Westphalian
possessions, where his majesty was going to review an army of sixty
"It would have been better to send these sixty thousand men directly
into the field, instead of losing time by useless parades," muttered
The minister seemed not to have heard the words, and continued: "His
majesty established his headquarters at Peterhagen, and there we
were informed that Archduke Charles of Austria was holding the Rhine
against Bernadotte and Jourdan, and that the imperial army, under
the command of Kray, in Italy, had been victorious, too; it is true,
however, the Russian auxiliary army, under Field-Marshal Suwarrow,
had greatly facilitated Kray's successful operations. This
intelligence did not fail to make a powerful impression upon my
young king, and I confess upon myself too. Hitherto, you know, I had
always opposed to a war against France, and I had deemed it most
expedient for Prussia to avoid hostilities against the republic. But
the brilliant achievements of Russia and Austria in Italy, and the
victories of Archduke Charles on the Rhine, seem to prove at length
that the lucky star of France is paling, and that it would be
advantageous for Prussia openly to join the adversaries of the
republic in their attack."
"A very bold and magnanimous resolution," said Count Panin, with a
"A resolution influenced somewhat by the British subsidies I have
promised to Prussia, I suppose?" asked Lord Grenville.
"Let me finish my statement, gentlemen," said Count Haugwitz,
courteously. "The king, undecided as to the course he ought to
pursue, assembled at Paterhagen a council of war, our great
commander, Ferdinand, duke of Brunswick, of course, having been
invited to be present. His majesty requested us to state honestly
and sincerely whether we were in favor of war or peace with France.
The duke of Brunswick was, of course, the first speaker who replied
to the king; he voted for war. He gave his reasons in a fiery and
energetic speech, and demonstrated to the king that at a time when
England was about to send an army to Holland, an advance into
Holland by our own army would be highly successful. For my part, I
unconditionally assented to the duke's opinion, and Baron Kockeritz
declaring for it likewise, the king did not hesitate any longer, but
took a great and bold resolution. He ordered the Duke of Brunswick
to draw up a memorial, stating in extenso why Prussia ought to
participate in the war against France, and to send in at the same
time a detailed plan of the campaign. He instructed me to return
forthwith to Berlin, and while he would continue his journey to
Wesel, to hasten to the capital for the purpose of informing you,
gentlemen, that the king will join the coalition, and of settling
with you the particulars--"
At this moment the door of the reception-room was hastily opened,
and the first secretary of the minister made his appearance.
"Pardon me, your excellency, for disturbing you," he said, handing a
sealed letter to the count, "but a courier has just arrived from the
king's headquarters with an autograph letter from his majesty. He
had orders to deliver this letter immediately to your excellency,
because it contained intelligence of the highest importance."
"Tell the courier that the orders of his majesty have been carried
out," said Count Haugwitz; "and you, gentlemen, I am sure you will
permit me to open this letter from my king in your presence. It may
contain some important particulars in relation to our new alliance."
The two gentlemen assured him of their consent, and Count Haugwitz
opened the letter. When he commenced reading it, his face was as
unruffled as ever, but his features gradually assumed a graver
expression, and the smile disappeared from his lips.
The two ambassadors, who were closely watching the count's
countenance, could not fail to notice this rapid change in his
features, and their faces now assumed likewise a gloomier air.
Count Haugwitz, however, seemed unable to master the contents of the
royal letter; he constantly read it anew, as though he were seeking
in its words for a hidden and mysterious meaning. He was so absorbed
in the perusal of the letter that he had apparently become entirely
oblivious of the presence of the two gentlemen, until a slight
coughing of the English ambassador aroused him from his musing.
"Pardon me, gentlemen," he said, hastily, and in evident
embarrassment; "this letter contains some intelligence which greatly
"I hope it will not interfere with the accession of Prussia to the
coalition?" said Panin, fixing his eyes upon the countenance of the
"Not at all," said Count Haugwitz, quickly and smilingly. "The
extraordinary news is this: his majesty the king will reach Berlin
within this hour, and orders me to repair to him at once."
"The king returns to Berlin!" exclaimed Count Panin.
"And did not your excellency tell us just now that the king had set
out for Wesel?" asked Lord Grenville, with his usual stoical
"I informed you, gentlemen, of what occurred two weeks ago," said
Count Haugwitz, shrugging his shoulders.
"What! Two weeks ago? Nevertheless, your excellency has just arrived
at Berlin, and are wearing yet your travelling-habit?"
"That is very true. I left Minden two weeks ago, but the impassable
condition of the roads compelled me to travel with snail-like
slowness. My carriage every day stuck in an ocean of mire, so that I
had to send for men from the adjoining villages in order to set it
going again. The axle-tree broke twice, and I was obliged to remain
several day in the most forsaken little country towns until I
succeeded in getting my carriage repaired."
"The king seems to have found better roads," said Count Panin, with
a lurking glance. "The journey to Wesel has been a very rapid one,
at all events."
"The king, it seems, has given up that journey and concluded on the
road to return to the capital," said Count Haugwitz, in an
"It would be very deplorable if the king should as rapidly change
his mind in relation to his other resolutions!" exclaimed Lord
"Your excellency does not fear, then, lest this sudden return of the
king should have any connection with our plans?" asked Panin. "The
king has authorized you to negotiate with the English ambassador,
Sir Thomas Grenville, and with myself, the representative of the
Emperor Paul, of Russia, about forming an alliance for the purpose
of driving the rapacious, revolutionary, and bloodthirsty French
Republic beyond the Rhine, and restoring tranquillity to menaced
"It is true the king gave me such authority two weeks ago," said
Count Haugwitz, uneasily, "and I doubt not for a single moment that
his majesty is now adhering to this opinion. But you comprehend,
gentlemen, that I must now hasten to wait on the returning king, in
order to receive further instructions from him."
"That means, Count Haugwitz, that you have invited us to call on you
in order to tell us that we may go again?" asked Panin, frowning.
"I am in despair, gentlemen, at this unfortunate coincidence," said
Count Haugwitz, anxiously. "It is, however, impossible for me now to
enter into further explanations. I must repair immediately to the
palace, and I humbly beg your pardon for this unexpected
interruption of our conference."
"I accept your apology as sincerely as it was offered, and have the
honor to bid you farewell," said Panin, bowing and turning toward
Count Haugwitz hastened to accompany him. When he arrived at the
door, and was about to leave the room, Count Panin turned around
"Count Haugwitz," he said, in a blunt voice, "be kind enough to call
the attention of the king to the fact that my imperial master, who
is very fond of resolute men and measures, prefers an open and
resolute enemy to a neutral and irresolute friend. He who wants to
be no one's enemy and everybody's friend, will soon find out that he
has no friends whatever, and that no one thanks him for not
committing himself in any direction. It is better after all to have
a neighbor with whom we are living in open enmity, than one on whose
assistance we are never able to depend, and who, whenever we are at
war with a third power, contents himself with doing nothing at all
and assisting no one. Be kind enough to say that to his majesty."
He bowed haughtily, and entered the anteroom with a sullen face.
Count Haugwitz turned around and met the stern, cold glance of the
English ambassador, who was also approaching the door with slow and
"Count Haugwitz," said Lord Grenville. quietly, "I have the honor to
tell you that, in case the King of Prussia will not now, distinctly
and unmistakably, declare his intention of joining the coalition
between Russia, Austria, and England, we shall use the subsidies we
had promised to pay to Prussia for an army of twenty-five thousand
men, in some other way. Besides, I beg you to remind his majesty of
the words of his great ancestor, the Elector Frederick William. That
brave and great sovereign said: 'I have learned already what it
means to be neutral. One may have obtained the best terms, and, in
spite of them, will be badly treated. Hence I have sworn never to be
neutral again, and it would hurt my conscience to act in a different
manner.' [Footnote: Hausser's "History of Germany," vol. ii., p.
281.] I have the honor, count, to bid you farewell."
And Lord Grenville passed the count with a stiff bow, and
disappeared in the door of the anteroom.
Count Haugwitz heaved a profound sigh, and wiped off the
perspiration pearling in large drops on his brow. He then took the
king's letter from his side-pocket and perused it once more. "It is
the king's handwriting," he said, shaking his head, "and it is also
his peculiar laconic style." And, as if to satisfy himself by
hearing the contents of the letter, he read aloud:
"Do not enter into any negotiations with the ambassadors of Russia
and Great Britain. We will hold another council of war. I am on my
way to Berlin. Within an hour after receipt of these lines, I shall
expect to see you in my cabinet. Yours, affectionately,"
"Yes, yes, the king has written that," said Haugwitz, folding the
letter; "I must hastily dress, therefore, and repair to the palace.
I am anxious to know whence this new wind is blowing, and who has
succeeded in persuading the king to change his mind. Should my old
friend, Kockeritz, after all, be favorable to France? It would have
been better for him to inform me confidentially, and we might have
easily agreed; for I am by no means hostile to France, and I am
quite ready to vote for peace, if there be a chance to maintain it.
Or should the young king really have come to this conclusion without
being influenced by anybody? Why, that would be a dangerous
innovation! We should take quick and decisive steps against it.
Well, we will see! I will go and dress."
THE FRIEND OF PEACE.
The king, with his wonted punctuality, had reached Berlin precisely
at the specified time, and when Count Haugwitz arrived at the palace
he was immediately conducted to the king, who was waiting for him in
Count Haugwitz exchanged a rapid glance with Baron Kockeritz, who
was standing in a bay window, and then approached the king, who was
pacing the room with slow steps and a gloomy air.
He nodded to the minister, and silently continued his promenade
across the room for some time after his arrival. He then stepped to
his desk, which was covered with papers and documents, and sitting
down on a plain cane chair in front of it, he invited the gentlemen
to take seats by his side.
"The courier reached you in time, I suppose?" he said, turning to
"Your majesty, your royal letter reached me while holding a
conference with the ambassadors of Russia and Great Britain, and
just when I was about to inform them of your majesty's resolution to
join the coalition."
"You had not done so, then?" asked the king, hastily. "It was your
first conference, then?"
"Yes, your majesty, it was our first conference. I invited the
ambassadors immediately after my return to call on me."
"It took you, then, two weeks to travel from Minden to Berlin!"
"Yes, your majesty, two weeks."
"And yet these gentlemen are in favor of an advance of the army!"
exclaimed the king, vehemently. "Yes, if all of my soldiers were
encamped directly on the frontier of Holland and had their base of
supplies there! But in order to send a sufficient army to Holland, I
should have to withdraw a portion of my soldiers from the provinces
of Silesia and Prussia. They would have to march across Westphalia,
across the same Westphalia where it took you with your carriage two
weeks to travel from Minden to Berlin. And my soldiers have no other
carriages but their feet. They would stick in that dreadful mire by
hundreds and thousands; they would perish there of hunger, and that
march would cost me more men than a great, decisive battle. I had
given you my word that I would join the coalition, Count Haugwitz; I
had even authorized you to negotiate with the ambassadors of Russia
and Great Britain, but on the road to Wesel I was obliged to change
my mind. Ask Baron Kockeritz what we had to suffer on the first day
of our journey, and how far we had got after twelve hours'
"Yes, indeed, it was a terrible trip," said General von Kockeritz,
heaving a sigh. "In spite of the precautions of the coachman, his
majesty's carriage was upset five times in a single day, and finally
it stuck so firmly in the mud that we had to send for assistance to
the neighboring villages in order to set it going once more. We were
twelve hours on the road, and made only three German miles during
"And we had to stop over night in a miserable village, where we
scarcely found a bed to rest our bruised and worn-out limbs," said
the king, indignantly. "And I should expose my army to such fatigues
and sufferings! I should, heedless of all consideration of humanity,
and solely in obedience to political expediency, suffer them to
perish in those endless marshes, that would destroy the artillery
and the horses of the cavalry. And all that for what purpose? In
order to drag Prussia violently into a war which might be avoided by
prudence and by a sagacious reserve; in order to hasten to the
assistance of other powers not even threatened by France, and only
in return to draw upon ourselves her wrath and enmity!"
"But at the same time the sympathies of all Europe," said General
von Kockeritz, eagerly. "Your majesty has permitted me to speak my
mind at all times openly and honestly, and I must therefore persist
in what I previously said to you. Now or never is the time for
Prussia to give up her neutrality, and to assume a decided attitude.
France has placed herself in antagonism with all law and order, and
with all treaties consecrated by centuries of faithful observance;
she is threatening all monarchies and dynasties, and is trying to
win over the nations to her republican ideas. And at the head of
this French Republic there is a young general, whose glory is
filling the whole world, who has attached victory to his colors, and
who intoxicates the nations by his republican phrases of liberty and
fraternity, so that, in their mad joy, they overturn thrones, expel
their sovereigns, and awake them from their ecstasy under the
republican yoke of France. Your majesty, I believe it to be the duty
of every prince to preserve his people from such errors, and,
jointly with his people, to raise a bulwark against the evil designs
of France. Austria and Russia have already begun this holy task;
their heroic armies have driven back on all sides the hosts of the
overbearing French, who have been compelled to abandon their
conquests in Italy and Switzerland. If your majesty should join
England, occupy Holland, restore that country to its legitimate
sovereign, and menace the northern frontier of France, while Austria
is menacing her southern frontier, the arrogance of the republic
would be tamed, the overflowing torrent would be forced back into
its natural bed, and Europe would have at last peace and
"First of all, every one ought to think of himself," said the king,
sharply. "Prussia has hitherto enjoyed peace and tranquillity, and I
believe it to be my principal task to preserve these blessings to my
country. I am no ruler hankering after glory and honors; I do not
want to make any conquests, nor to acquire any new territory, but I
will content myself with the humble renown of having fulfilled my
duties as a ruler to the best of my ability, and according to the
dictates of my conviction, as the father and friend of my people.
Hence I have not dared to identify my name with that of my great
ancestor, Frederick the Second, and call myself Frederick the Third,
for a name imposes obligations, and I know very well that I am no
hero and genius, like Frederick the Great. I assumed, therefore, the
name of Frederick William, as the successor of my peaceable father,
Frederick William the Second. It is true, Frederick William the
Second has waged a war against France, but precisely that war has
satisfied me that a war with France may involve Prussia in the
greatest dangers and calamities. I participated in the campaign of
1792, gentlemen, and I must honestly confess that I feel little
inclination to resume a war which, at best, will only produce
sacrifices for us, and no reward whatever."
"There is a reward, however, your majesty," said Count Haugwitz,
solemnly. "It is the preservation of the thrones, and of monarchical
principles. We cannot fail to perceive that the thrones are being
menaced, and those republics of America, France, and Italy are
teaching the nations very dangerous lessons--the lessons of self-
government and popular sovereignty. That insatiable General
Bonaparte has attached these two words to his colors, and if the
princes do not combat him with united strength, and try to take
those colors from him, he will soon carry them into the midst of all
nations, who will rapturously hail him, and desire to follow the
example of France."
"I have no fears for myself," said the king, calmly; "but even if I
should be so unfortunate as to be obliged to doubt the love and
fidelity of my people, the thought of my personal safety and of the
fate of my dynasty ought not to exert a decisive influence upon my
resolutions concerning the welfare of my country. I told you before,
I want to be the father of my country; a good father always thinks
first of the welfare of his children, and tries to promote it; only
when he has succeeded in doing so he thinks of himself."
"A good father ought to strive, first of all, to preserve himself to
his children," exclaimed Count Haugwitz. "An orphan people is as
unfortunate as are orphan children. Your people need you, sire; they
need a wise and gentle hand to direct them."
"And yet you want to put the sword in my hand, and that I should
lead my people to war and carnage," said the king.
"In order to make peace bloom forth from war and carnage," said
Count Haugwitz, gravely. "The bloody monster of war is stalking now
through the whole world, and, as it cannot be avoided, it is better
to attack it, and to confront it in a bold manner. Russia, Austria,
and England are ready to do so, and they stretch out their hands
toward you. Refuse to grasp them, and, for the doubtful and
dangerous friendship of France, you will have gained three powerful
"And if I grasp their hands I shall not advance the interests of
Prussia by shedding the blood of my people, but only those of
Austria and Russia," replied the king. "If France should be greatly
weakened, or even entirely annihilated, serious dangers would arise
for Prussia, for Austria and Russia would unite in that case, for
the purpose of menacing our own security. They would easily and
quickly find compensations for themselves, and Austria especially
would profit by the losses of France; for she would recover the
Netherlands, which Prussia is to conquer now by the blood of her
soldiers, and acquire, perhaps, even Bavaria. But what compensation
would fall to the share of Prussia? Or do you believe, perhaps,
Austria, from a feeling of gratitude toward us, would cede to
Prussia a portion of her former hereditary possessions in the
Netherlands? No, no--no war with France! Let Russia and Austria
fight alone; they are strong enough for it. I say all this after
mature deliberation, and this is not only my opinion, but also that
of distinguished and experienced generals. General von Tempelhof,
too, is of my opinion, and confirmed it in a memorial which I asked
him to draw up for me."
"Your majesty requested the Duke of Brunswick, also, to write a
memorial on the intended coalition against France," said General von
Kockeritz, hastily. "On our arrival I received this memorial and
read it, according to your majesty's orders. The duke persists in
the opinion that it is necessary for the honor, glory, and safety of
Prussia to join the coalition, and to oppose France in a determined
manner. Your majesty, I must confess that I share the view
maintained by the duke."
"So do I!" exclaimed Count Haugwitz, "and so do all your subjects.
Sire, your whole people ardently desire to chastise this arrogant
France, and to sweep these hosts of Jacobins from the soil of
Germany. Oh, my king and lord, only make a trial, only raise your
voice and call upon the people to rally around your standards, and
to wage war against France! You will see them rally enthusiastically
around the Prussian eagles and fervently bless their courageous
king. And when you begin this struggle, sire, you and your army will
have a formidable, an invincible ally. That ally is PUBLIC OPINION,
sire! Public opinion requires this war, and public opinion is no
longer something dumb and creeping in the dark, but something that
has a voice, and that raises it in ringing, thundering notes in the
newspaper and magazine. One of these voices spoke a few weeks ago in
the Political Journal, as follows: 'Can our monarch abandon the
German empire? Can he look on quietly while France is making
preparations for attacking Prussia as soon as her turn shall come?
It is only necessary for us to think of Italy, Switzerland, and
Holland in order to appreciate the friendship of France.' [Footnote:
"Political Journal." Berlin, 1798.] This voice has re-echoed
throughout Prussia, and everyone is looking up to the throne of your
majesty anxiously and hopefully; every one is satisfied that you
will draw the sword for the honor and rights of Germany. Sire, at
this moment I am nothing but the voice of your people, and therefore
I implore your majesty to take a bold and manful resolution. Draw
the sword for Prussia's honor and Germany's safety."
"I implore your majesty likewise to do so," exclaimed General von
Kockeritz. "I dare to implore your majesty, in the name of your
people. Oh, sire, take a bold and manly resolution! Draw the sword
for Prussia's honor and Germany's safety."
The king had risen and paced the room with violent steps. His
features, usually so quiet and gentle, were not uneasy and agitated;
a gloomy cloud covered his brow, and a painful expression trembled
on his lips. He seemed to carry on a violent and desperate inward
struggle, and his breath issued painfully and gaspingly from his
breast. Finally, after a long pause, he approached the two gentlemen
who had risen and were looking at him with evident anxiety.
"I am unable to refute all these reasons," said the king, sighing,
"but an inward voice tells me that I ought not to break my word, and
commence hostilities. If the welfare of the state requires it,
however, I shall join the coalition, but only on condition that the
Austrians attack Mentz in force, take the fortress by assault, and
thereby cover the left flank of my base of operations. [Footnote:
The king's own words.--Vide "Memoiren zur Geschichte des Preuss.
Staats." By Col. Massenbach. Vol iii., p. 88.] And now we will close
our consultation for to-day. Go, Count Haugwitz, and resume your
negotiations with the ambassadors of Russia and Great Britain. As
for you, General von Kockeritz, I beg you to bring me the memorial
of the Duke of Brunswick, and then you may return to your house and
take some rest, of which you doubtless stand greatly in need after
the fatigues you have undergone."
He greeted the gentlemen with a hasty nod and turned his back to
them, without paying any attention to the deep and reverential bows
with which the minister and the general withdrew toward the door.
When the two gentlemen had reached the anteroom, they satisfied
themselves by a rapid glance that they were alone, and that nobody
was able to hear them.
"He was quite angry," whispered General von Kockeritz; "he only
yielded with the utmost reluctance; and, believe me, my friend, the
king will never forgive us this victory we have obtained over him;
it may produce the worst results and endanger our whole position."
"It is true," said Count Haugwitz, sighing, "the king dismissed us
in a more abrupt and harsh manner than ever before. It would have
been better for us to yield, and let the king have his own way. Who
knows but he is right, and an alliance with France, perhaps, would
be more advantageous than this coalition with Austria and Russia? It
startles me somewhat that Austria should be so anxious to obtain the
accession of Prussia to the coalition, for Austria certainly would
feel no inclination to propose any alliance that might prove
profitable to Prussia. It may be best for Prussia, after all, to
side with France."
"But public opinion would execrate such an alliance," said General
von Kockeritz, sighing. "Public opinion--"
"My dear friend," interrupted Count Haugwitz, angrily, "public
opinion is like the wind, changing its direction every day. Success
alone influences and decides public opinion, and if France should
vanquish the three powers, the same public opinion which now urges
us to join the coalition would condemn us. Public opinion should not
induce us to endanger our position and our power over the king for
its sake. And I tell you, I am uneasy about this matter. The king
was greatly irritated; he seemed angry with us, because he felt that
he is not entirely free and independent, and that he has granted us
some power over his decisions."
"We should yield even now," said General von Kockeritz, anxiously.
"We should confess to the king that his reasons have convinced us,
that we have been mistaken--"
"So that he would feel with twofold force that not his own free
will, but our altered opinion, decided his action?" asked the
minister. "No, we must give the king a chance to decide the whole
question by his own untrammelled authority, and to prove that he
alone is the ruler of Prussia's destinies. You can give him the best
opportunity for so doing, for you have a pretext to return to him at
once. Did not the king order you to bring him the memorial of the
Duke of Brunswick?"
"Good Heaven! that is true; the king is waiting for the memorial!"
exclaimed the general, in terror. "In my anxiety, I even forgot his
"Hasten, my friend, to bring it at once to him," said Count
Haugwitz, "and with your leave I shall take a little rest in the
room which the king has been kind enough to assign to you here in
the palace. He will perhaps countermand the instructions he has just
A few minutes afterward General von Kockeritz, with the memorial in
his hands, reentered the cabinet of the king, who was still slowly
pacing the room, without noticing the arrival of his adviser.
"Your majesty," said the general, timidly, "here is the memorial of
Ferdinand, duke of Brunswick."
"Just lay it on my desk there," said the king, continuing his
General von Kockeritz stepped to the desk and placed the memorial on
it. Just at that moment the king had arrived at the desk too, and
paused in front of the general. He fixed a long and mournful glance
upon him and slowly shook his head.
"You have deserted me also," said the king, sighing. "You may be
right, gentlemen. I have yielded to your more profound sagacity for
the time being, but an inward voice tells me that it is wrong to
break the peace because France at the present time is being
threatened on all sides, and because her armies have been defeated."
"Your majesty alone has to decide the whole question," said
Kockeritz, solemnly. "Your conviction is our law, and we submit in
dutiful obedience to your majesty's more profound sagacity. It is
for you to command, and for us to obey."
A sudden gleam beamed in the eyes of the king, and a deeper blush
mantled his cheeks. The general saw it, and comprehended it very
"Moreover," he added, with downcast eyes and with an air of
confusion, "moreover, I have to make a confession to your majesty in
my own name and in that of Count Haugwitz. While trying to win your
majesty by our arguments for the war and for the coalition, it has
happened to us that we were converted by the arguments your majesty
adduced against the war and against the coalition, and that your
majesty convinced us of the fallacy of our opinion. It is, perhaps,
very humiliating to admit that our conviction has veered around so
suddenly, but your majesty's convincing eloquence--"
"No, not my poor eloquence, but the truth has convinced you,"
exclaimed the king, joyfully, "and I thank you for having the truly
manly and noble courage to admit that you were mistaken and have
changed your mind. I am grateful to Count Haugwitz, too, and I shall
never forget this generous and highly honorable confession of yours.
It is a new proof for me that you are faithful and reliable friends
and servants of mine, men who are not ashamed of acknowledging an
error, and who care more for the welfare of the state than for
carrying their own point. I therefore withdraw my previous
instructions. I shall not join the coalition. Hasten to Haugwitz, my
friend. Tell him to go forthwith to the Russian ambassador and
inform him that my army will not assist the forces of the coalition,
and that I shall take no part whatever in the war against France.
Haugwitz is to say the same to the English ambassador, and to inform
him that I shall not claim the subsidy of six million dollars, which
England offered to pay me for my auxiliary army. Six million
dollars! I believe General Tempelhof was right when he said the
siege of a second-rate fortress would cost a million dollars, and in
Holland we should have to take more than ten fortresses from the
stubborn and intrepid French. This would cost as more than ten
million dollars, and, moreover, we should have to use up the powder
and ammunition destined for our own defence. Those six million
dollars that England would pay me would not cover our outlay; I
should be obliged to add four million dollars more, and to shed the
blood of my brave and excellent soldiers without obtaining, perhaps,
even the slightest advantage for Prussia. Hasten, general, to
communicate my fixed and irrevocable resolution to Count Haugwitz.
Prussia remains neutral, and takes no part whatever in the war
"I hasten to carry out your majesty's orders," exclaimed General von
Kockeritz, walking toward the door, "and I know that Count Haugwitz
will submit to the royal decision with the same joyful humility and
obedience as myself."
The king's eyes followed him with an expression of genuine emotion.
"He is a faithful and honest friend," he said, "and that is, indeed,
a rare boon for a king. Ah, I have succeeded, then, in averting this
bloody thunder-cloud, once more from Prussia, and I shall preserve
the blessings of peace to my people. And now, I believe, I may claim
some credit for the manner in which I have managed this delicate
affair, and repose a little from the cares of government. I will go
to Louisa--her sight and the smiles of my children will reward me
for having done my duty as a king."
THE LEGITIMATE WIFE.
The Prince von Reuss, Henry XIV., Austrian ambassador at Berlin, had
died an hour ago. A painful disease had confined him to his bed for
weeks, and Marianne Meier had nursed him during this time with the
greatest love and devotion. She had never left his bedside, and no
one except herself, the physicians, and a few servants had been
permitted to enter the sick-room. The brothers and nephews of the
prince, who had come to Berlin in order to see their dying relative
once more, had vainly solicited this favor. The physicians had told
them that the suffering prince was unable to bear any excitement,
there being great danger that immediate death would be the
consequence of a scene between them.
The prince, moreover, had sent his trusted valet de chambre to his
brother, and informed him, even if he were entirely well, he would
not accept the visits of a brother who had shown him so little
fraternal love, and caused him so much grief by opposing his
faithful and beloved friend Marianne Meier in the most offensive and
The distinguished relatives of the prince, therefore, had to content
themselves with watching his palace from afar, and with bribing a
few of his servants to transmit to them hourly reports about the
condition of the patient.
And now Prince Henry XIV. was dead, and his brother was his
successor and heir, the prince having left no legitimate offspring.
It was universally believed that he had never been married, and that
his immense fortune, his estates and titles, would devolve on his
brother. It is true there was still that mistress of his, fair
Marianne Meier, to whom the prince, in his sentimental infatuation,
had paid the honors of a legitimate wife. But, of course, she had no
claims whatever to the inheritance; it would be an act of generosity
to leave her in possession of the costly presents the prince had
made to her, and to pay her a small pension.
The prince had hardly closed his eyes, therefore, and the doctors
had just pronounced him dead, when his brother, now Prince Henry
XV., accompanied by a few lawyers, entered the palace of the
deceased in order to take possession of his property, and to have
the necessary seals applied to the doors. However, to give himself
at least a semblance of brotherly love, the prince desired first to
repair to the death-room, and to take a last leave of the deceased.
But in the anteroom he met the two footmen of his brother, who dared
to stop his passage, telling him that no one was allowed to enter.
"And who dares to issue such orders?" asked the prince, without
stopping a moment.
"Madame has done so," said the first valet de chambre. "Madame wants
to be alone with the remains of her husband."
The prince shrugged his shoulders, and, followed by the legal
gentlemen, he walked to the door, which he vainly tried to open.
"I believe that woman has locked the door," said the prince,
"Yes, sir, madame has locked the door," said the valet de chambre;
"she does not want to be disturbed in her grief by mere visits of
"Well, let us leave her, then, to her grief," exclaimed the prince,
with a sarcastic smile. "Come, gentlemen, let us attend to our
business. Let us take an inventory of the furniture in the several
rooms and then seal them. You may be our guide, valet."
But the valet de chambre shrugged his shoulders and shook his head.
"Pardon me, sir, that is impossible. His highness, our late prince
and master, several days ago, when he felt that his end was drawing
near, caused every room to be locked and sealed by the first attache
of the legation in the presence of all the members of the embassy.
The keys to all the rooms, however, were handed by order of the
prince to madame, his wife."
The new prince, Henry XV., turned somewhat uneasily to the legal
"Have we a right to open the doors forcibly?"
"No, that would be contrary to law," said one of the lawyers, in a
low voice. "The late prince has doubtless left some directions in
relation to this matter and intrusted them to the officers of the
legation. Your highness ought to apply to those gentlemen."
"Is the first attache of the legation, Baron Werdern, in the
palace?" said the prince to the valet de chambre.
"No, your highness, he has just gone out with a few other gentlemen
of the legation to request the attendance of two officers of the
law, that the will may be opened and read in their presence."
"My brother has made a will, then?" asked the prince, in a somewhat
"Yes, your highness, and he laid it, in the presence of every member
of the legation, of two officers of the law, and of every servant,
three days ago, in a strong box, the key of which he handed to the
officers of the law, when the box was deposited in the archives of
"And why did Baron Werdern go now for the officers of the law?"
"In order to request their attendance in the palace, the late prince
having left the verbal order that his will should be opened two
hours after his death. The baron was going to invite your highness
likewise to be present."
"Well, let us wait here for the arrival of the gentlemen," said
Prince Henry XV., shrugging his shoulders. "It seems a little
strange to me, however, that I must wait here in the anteroom like a
supplicant. Go and announce my visit to madame!"
The valet de chambre bowed and left the room. The prince called the
two lawyers to his side. "What do you think of this whole matter?"
he asked, in a low voice.
The two representatives of the law shrugged their shoulders.
"Your highness, every thing seems to have been done here legally. We
must wait for the return of the gentlemen and for the opening of the
The valet de chambre now reentered the room, and approached the
prince. "Madame sends her respects to the prince, and begs him to
excuse her inability to admit her brother-in-law just now, as she is
dressing at the present moment. She will have the honor to salute
her gracious brother-in-law at the ceremony."
"Does that woman call myself her gracious brother-in-law?" asked the
prince, with an air of the most profound contempt, turning his back
to the valet de chambre. "We will wait here, then, gentlemen," he
added, turning to the lawyers. "It seems that woman intends to take
a petty revenge at this moment for the contempt with which I have
always treated her. I shall know, however, how to chastise her for
"Hush, your highness," whispered one of the lawyers, "they are
In fact, the large folding-doors were opened at that moment, and on
a catafalque, hung with black cloth, the remains of the prince were
lying in state; on both sides of the catafalque large tapers were
burning in heavy silver chandeliers.
Prince Henry, awed by this solemn scene, walked forward, and the
grave countenance of his brother, with whom he had lived so long in
discord, and whom he had not seen for many years, filled his heart
with uneasiness and dismay.
He approached the room, followed by the legal gentlemen, with
hesitating, noiseless steps. On the threshold of the door there now
appeared the first attache of the legation, Baron Werdern, who,
bowing deeply, invited the prince whisperingly to come in.
The prince walked in, and on crossing the threshold, it seemed to
him as if his brother's corpse had moved, and as if his half-opened
eyes were fixed upon him with a threatening expression.
The prince averted his eyes from the corpse in dismay and saluted
the gentlemen standing around a table covered with black cloth. Two
large chandeliers, with burning tapers, a strong box, and writing-
materials, had been placed upon this table; on one side, two arm-
chairs, likewise covered with black cloth, were to be seen.
The baron conducted the prince to one of these arm-chairs, and
invited him to sit down. Prince Henry did so, and then looked
anxiously at the officers of the law, who were standing at the table
in their black robes, and behind whom were assembled all the members
of the legation, the physicians, and the servants of the late
A long pause ensued. Then, all at once, the folding-doors opened,
and the prince's steward appeared on the threshold.
"Her highness the Princess Dowager von Reuss," he said, in a loud,
solemn voice, and Marianne's tall, imposing form entered the room.
She was clad in a black dress with a long train; a black veil,
fastened above her head on a diadem, surrounded her noble figure
like a dark cloud, and in this cloud beamed her expansive,
thoughtful forehead, and her large flaming eyes sparkled. Her
features were breathing the most profound and majestic tranquillity;
and when she now saluted the gentlemen with a condescending nod, her
whole bearing was so impressive and distinguished that even Prince
Henry was unable to remain indifferent, and he rose respectfully
from his arm-chair.
Marianne, however, paid no attention to him, but approached the
remains of her husband. With inimitable grace she knelt down on one
side of the catafalque. The priest who had entered with her knelt
down on the other.
Both of them muttered fervent prayers for the deceased. Marianne
then arose, and, bending over the corpse, imprinted a long kiss upon
the forehead of her departed husband.
"Farewell, my husband!" she said, in her full, melodious voice, and
then turned around and stepped toward the table. "Without deigning
to glance at the prince, she sat down in the arm-chair."
"I request the officers of the law now to open the strong box," she
said, in an almost imperious voice.
One of the officers handed the key to Baron Werdern; the latter
opened the strong box, and took from it a sealed paper, which he
gave to the officer.
"Do you recognize the paper as the same yourself locked in this
strong box?" she asked. "Is it the same which his highness the late
Prince von Reuss, Henry XIV., handed to you?"
"Yes, it is the same," said the two officers; "it is the will of the
"And you know that his highness ordered us to open it immediately
after his death, and to promulgate its contents. Proceed, therefore,
according to the instructions of the deceased."
One of the officers broke the seal, and now that he unfolded the
paper, Marianne turned her head toward the prince, and fixed her
burning eyes piercingly upon his countenance.
The officer commenced reading the will. First came the preamble, to
be found in every will, and then the officer read in a louder voice,
"In preparing to appear before the throne of the Lord, I feel
especially called upon to return my most heart-felt thanks, in this
public manner, to my wife, Princess Marianne, nee Meier, for the
constancy, love, and devotion which she has shown to me during our
whole married life, and for the surpassing patience and self-
abnegation with which she nursed me during my last sickness. I deem
myself especially obliged to make this acknowledgment, inasmuch as
my wife, in her true love for me, has suffered many undeserved
aspersions and insults, because, in accordance with my wishes, she
kept our marriage secret, and in consequence had to bear the sneers
of evil-disposed persons, and the insults of malicious enemies. But
she is my lawful wife before God and man, and she is fully entitled
to assume the name of a Princess Dowager von Reuss. I hereby
expressly authorize her to do so, and, by removing the secret that
has been observed during my life in relation to our marriage, I
authorize my wife to assume the title and rank due to her, and
hereby command my brother, as well as his sons and the other members
of my family, to pay to the Princess Dowager von Reuss, nee Meier,
the respect and deference due to her as the widow of the late head
of the family, and to which she is justly entitled by her virtue,
her blameless conduct, her respectability, beauty, and amiability.
The Princess Dowager von Reuss is further authorized to let her
servants wear the livery and color of my house, to display the coat-
of-arms of the princes von Reuss on her carriages, and to enjoy the
full privileges of her rank. If my brother Henry, the heir of my
titles, should have any doubts as to her rights in this regard, the
officer reading my will is requested to ask him whether or not he
desires to obtain further evidence in relation to the legitimacy of
"Does your highness require any further evidence?" asked the
officer, interrupting the reading of the will.
"I do," said the prince, who had listened to the reading of the will
with a pale and gloomy mien.
"Here is that evidence," said the priest, beckoning the sexton, who
stood on the threshold of the door. The latter approached the
priest, and handed him a large volume bound in black morocco.
"It is the church register, in which I have entered all the
marriages, christenings, and funeral masses performed in the chapel
of the Austrian embassy," said the priest. "On this page you find
the minutes of the marriage of the Prince von Reuss, Henry XIV., and
Miss Marianne Meier. The ceremony took place two years ago. I have
baptized the princess myself, and thereby received her into the pale
of the holy Catholic Church, and I have likewise performed the rite
of marriage on the occasion referred to. I hereby certify that the
princess is the lawful wife of the late prince, as is testified by
the minutes entered on the church register. The marriage was
performed in the chapel, and in the presence of witnesses, who have
signed the minutes, like myself."
"I witnessed the marriage," said Baron Werdern, "and so did the
military counsellor Gentz, who, if your highness should desire
further testimony, will be ready to corroborate our statements."
"No," said the prince, gloomily, "I require no further testimony. I
am fully satisfied of the truth of your statements, and will now pay
my respects to my sister-in-law, the Princess Dowager von Reuss, nee
He bowed, with a sarcastic smile, which, for a moment, caused the
blood to rush to Marianne's pale cheeks, and then carelessly leaned
back into his arm-chair.
"Be kind enough to proceed," he said, turning to the officer. The
latter took up the will again and read its several sections and
clauses. The prince bequeathed his palace, with every thing in it,
to his wife Marianne, and likewise his carriages, his horses, and
the family diamonds he had inherited from his mother. The remainder
of his considerable property he left to his brother, asking him to
agree with the Princess Marianne on a pension corresponding with her
rank and position in society. Then followed some legacies and
pensions for the old servants of his household, a few gifts to the
poor, and last the appropriation of a sum for which a mass was to be
read on every anniversary of his death, for the peace of his soul.
The ceremony was over. The officers of the law and the members of
the embassy had left the death-room, and on a sign from Marianne the
servants had also withdrawn.
The prince had exchanged a few words in a low voice with his two
lawyers, whereupon they likewise had left the room. No one except
the brother and the wife of the deceased remained now in this gloomy
room, illuminated by the flickering tapers. Marianne, however,
seemed to take no notice of the presence of her brother-in-law; she
had approached the corpse again, and gazed at it with the most
"I thank you, Henry," she said, loudly and solemnly. "I thank you
from the bottom of my heart; you have given back to me my honor; you
have revenged me upon your haughty relatives, and upon the sneering
"Do not thank him, respected sister-in-law, for he has left you
poor," said the prince, approaching her, and contemplating her with
a freezing smile. "My brother has made you a princess, it is true,
but he has not given you the means to live as a princess. He has
bequeathed to you this palace, with its costly furniture; he has
bequeathed to you his carriages and diamonds; but a palace and
furniture are no estates, and in order to keep carriages one has to
feed men and horses. It is true, you can sell the palace and the
diamonds, and obtain for them several hundred thousand florins. That
sum would be amply sufficient for a person leading a retired life,
but it is very little for one who desires to keep up a princely
household, and to live in the style becoming a lady of your beauty
and social position. My brother has foreseen all this, and he
indirectly gave us a chance to come to an understanding, by asking
me to agree with you on a pension to be paid you. Hence I ask you,
how much do you demand? How high will be the sum for which you will
sell me your mourning veil, your name, and your title of princess
dowager? For you doubtless anticipate, madame, that I do not propose
to acknowledge you publicly as my sister-in-law, and to receive a--
Marianne Meier among the members of my family. Tell me your price,
Marianne looked at him with flaming eyes, a deep blush of anger
mantling her cheeks. "Prince von Reuss," she said, proudly, "you
will have to permit the world to call me your sister-in-law. I am
your sister-in-law, and I shall prove to the world and to you that
it is unnecessary to have been born under a princely canopy in order
to live, think, and act like a princess. My husband has rewarded me
in this hour for years of suffering and humiliation. Do you believe
that my reward is for sale for vile money? And if you should offer
me millions, I should reject them if, in return, I were to lead a
nameless, disreputable, and obscure existence. I will sooner die of
starvation as a Princess Dowager von Reuss than live in opulence as
Marianne Meier. This is my last word; and now, sir, begone! Do not
desecrate this room by your cold and egotistic thoughts, and by your
heartless calculations! Honor the repose of the dead and the grief
of the living. Begone!"
She proudly turned away from him, and bent once more over the
corpse. While she was doing so her black veil, with a gentle rustle,
fell down over her face and wrapped her, as well as the corpse, as
in a dark mist, so that the two forms seemed to melt into one.
The prince felt a shudder pervading his frame, and the presence of
the corpse embarrassed him.
"I will not disturb you now in your grief, madame," he said; "I hope
your tears will flow less copiously as soon as the funeral is over,
and I shall then send my lawyer, for the purpose of treating further
He bowed, and hastened to the door. She seemed neither to have heard
his words, nor to have noticed that he was withdrawing. She was
still bending over the remains of her husband, the black cloud
surrounding her and the corpse.
THE EIGHTEENTH OF BRUMAIRE.
"News from France!" exclaimed Counsellor Gentz, entering Marianne's
boudoir in breathless haste. "Do you already know what has occurred?
Did you hear, Marianne, how France has closed the eighteenth
Marianne looked up into the face of her friend, with a gentle and
peculiar smile. "That must have been exciting intelligence," she
said. "inasmuch as it was even able to arouse the dreamer, Frederick
Gentz, from his political sleep, and to cause him to take interest
again in the affairs of the world. Well, let us hear the news; what
has occurred in France?"
"General Bonaparte has overthrown the Directory, and dispersed the
Council of Five Hundred."
"And you call that news?" asked Marianne, shrugging her shoulders.
"You tell me there the history of the ninth and tenth of November,
or, as the French republicans say, of the eighteenth and nineteenth
of Brumaire. And you believe that I have not yet heard of it to-day,
on the twenty-sixth of December? My friend Gentz, Bonaparte's deeds
need not more than a month in order to penetrate through the world;
they soar aloft with eagle-wings, and the whole world beholds them,
because they darken the horizon of the whole world."
"But you have only heard the preamble of my news," ejaculated Gentz,
impatiently. "I have no doubt that you know the history of the
eighteenth of Brumaire, and that you are aware that France, on that
day, placed herself under the rule of three consuls, one of whom was
"The other two consuls are Sieyes and Dacos," interrupted Marianne.
"I know that, and I know, too, that Lucien, Bonaparte's brother,
president of the Legislative Assembly, upon receiving the oath of
office of the three consuls, said to them. 'The greatest nation on
earth intrusts you with its destinies; the welfare of thirty
millions of men, the preservation of order at home, and the
reestablishment of peace abroad, are your task. Three months from
to-day public opinion will expect to hear from you how you have
accomplished it.'" [Footnote: "Histoire du Consulat et de l'Empire,"
par A. Theirs, vol. i., p. 16.]
"Well, M. Bonaparte did not make public opinion wait so long," said
Gentz; "or rather, he asserts public opinion had not given him time
to wait so long, and that it was public opinion itself that called
upon him to proclaim himself sovereign of France."
"Sovereign of France?" asked Marianne, in surprise. "Bonaparte has
made himself king?"
"Yes, king, but under another name; he has caused himself to be
elected consul for ten years! Ah, he will know how to shorten these
ten years, just as he knew how to shorten those three months!"
"And this report is reliable?" asked Marianne, musingly.
"Perfectly so. Bonaparte was elected first consul on the twenty-
fifth of December, and on the same day the new constitution was
promulgated throughout France. That is a very fine Christmas present
which France has made to the world! A box filled with dragon's
teeth, from which armed hosts will spring up. It is true the first
consul now pretends to be very anxious to restore peace to Europe.
He has sent special ambassadors to all courts, with profuse
assurances of his friendship and pacific intentions, and he sent
them off even previous to his election, in order to announce the
news of the latter to the foreign courts on the same day on which he
was proclaimed first consul at Paris. Such a peace-messenger of the
general has arrived at Berlin; he has brought us the strange and
"What is the name of this peace-messenger of the modern god of war?"
"He sent his adjutant, General Duroc; the latter reached Berlin
yesterday, and appeared even to-day as the petted guest of our
court, at the great soiree of the queen. Oh, my friend, my stupid
German heart trembled with anger when I saw the kind and flattering
attentions that were paid to this Frenchman, while German gentlemen
of genius, merit, and ability were kept in the background, neither
the king nor the queen seeming to take any notice of their presence!
There were Count Hardenberg. and the noble President of Westphalia,
Baron Stein; they stood neglected in a bay window, and looked sadly
at the royal couple, who treated the Frenchman in the midst of the
court in the most distinguished manner; there were Blucher and
Gneisenau, overlooked by everybody, although their uniforms were no
less brilliant than that of the French envoy; and there was finally
Frederick Gentz, myself, who had only appeared at this court
festival owing to the special desire and order of the queen, and
whose presence she had entirely forgotten, although Gualtieri
reminded her of it at least three times, and told her that I was
there, and had only come because the queen had expressly ordered it
so. But what did her beautiful majesty care that a German writer was
vainly waiting for a smile of her affability, and a gracious nod of
her lovely head? The French envoy was by far more important than all
of us. For the sake of the Frenchman, even 'Madame Etiquette,' the
Countess von Voss, mistress of ceremonies, had been silenced, and
the plain adjutant of the first consul was received with as much
distinction as if he were a minister plenipotentiary, while he only
came as the simple agent for a private individual. They asked him to
tell them about the battle of the Pyramids, about the battles of
Mount Tabor and Aboukir, and the whole court listened to him with a
suspense as though Bonaparte's adjutant were preaching a new gospel.
Whenever he paused in his narrative, the queen, with her fascinating
smile, constantly addressed new questions to him, and praised the
achievements of General Bonaparte as though he were the Messiah sent
into the world to deliver it from the evils of war! In short, he had
a perfect success; and at last, by means of an adroit trick, he
managed to render it as magnificent as possible. The queen told
General Duroc of our German customs, and informed him that this was
the day on which the Germans everywhere made presents to each other,
and that gifts were laid under Christmas-trees, adorned with burning
tapers. At that moment Duroc turned to the king, and said, with his
intolerable French amiability: 'Sire, if this is the day of
universal presents in Germany, I believe I will be courageous enough
to-day to ask your majesty for a present in the name of the first
consul, General Bonaparte, if your majesty will permit me to do so.'
The king, of course, gave him the desired permission, and Duroc
continued: 'Sire, the present for which I am to ask your majesty, in
the name of the first consul, is a bust of your great ancestor,
Frederick the Second. The first consul recently examined the statues
in the Diana Gallery at the Tuileries; there were the statues of
Caesar and Brutus, of Coriolanus and Cicero, of Louis XIV. and
Charles V., but the first consul did not see the statue of Frederick
the Great, and he deems the collection of the heroes of ancient and
modern times incomplete as long as it does not embrace the name of
Frederick the Great. Sire, I take the liberty, therefore, to ask
you, in the name of France, for a bust of Frederick the Great!'"
"Very adroit, indeed," said Marianne, smiling; "these republicans
seem to be excellent courtiers."
"Yes, very adroit!" exclaimed Gentz; "the whole court was in ecstasy
at this tremendous flattery, at this compliment paid by the great
republic to little Prussia; but I could not stand it any longer in
those halls, and in the presence of these fawning Germans, and I
hastened away in order to unbosom to you my rage, my indignation,
and my grief. Oh, my fair friend, what is to become of Germany, and
what will be the end of all these troubles? Ruin is staring us in
the face, and we do not see it; we are rushing toward the precipice,
and must fall a prey to France, to this wolf in sheep's clothing,
which will caress and pet us until it will be able to devour us!" "I
like to hear you talk in this strain," said Marianne, joyfully.
"That is again the friend of my heart, who is now talking to me.
Listen to me. I have to communicate news to you, too, and you must
not be surprised if I reply to your important political intelligence
by a reference to my petty personal interests. But there is a
connection between them, and you will see it by and by. Listen,
then, to the news concerning myself."
"Yes, Marianne," said Gentz, kneeling down before her, and leaning
his head upon her knees, "yes, tell me about yourself, my beautiful
fairy queen; lull my political pains a little by the magic song
which is flowing from your red lips like a fresh source of love. Oh,
my charming princess, now that I am looking up into your radiant
face, I feel a burning shame that I should have desecrated the
delightful moments I passed by your side by such trivial complaints
about the misery of German politics. What have we to do with
politics? What do we care if Germany is going to be ruined? Apres
nous le deluge! Let us enjoy the bliss of the fleeting hour!"
Marianne played smilingly with her slender fingers, covered with
sparkling diamond rings, in his hair, and looked upon him with a
"Enthusiast!" she said; "now an ardent politician, then an
impassioned lover, and ready at all hours to exchange one role for
the other! Will you not listen to my news? My quarrel with my dear
brother-in-law, Henry XV., is ended; we have come to an agreement."
"And I hope my sagacious and prudent Marianne has subdued her proud
and bold heart this time, and had a little regard for her
advantage," replied Gentz. "A woman as beautiful and radiant as
Marianne Meier needs no empty aristocratic title, for your beauty
makes you the queen of the world; but you need wealth in order to
add power to your beauty, and to adorn it with a cloak glittering
with gold and purple. Well, my queen, are you again Marianne Meier
and a millionaire besides?"
"What a fool!" she exclaimed, proudly, "what a fool you are to
believe I would crawl back into the Jews' quarter and expose myself
to the sneers of my enviable friends! No, my friend, money and
beauty are insufficient for those who desire to play a role in the
world; they stand in need of rank and titles, too, for these are the
magic words opening to us the doors of royal palaces, and placing us
on a par with the privileged and inacessible. I, for one, want to
play my role in the world; hence I must have a distinguished title.
It is true I also stand in need of wealth, and by means of a skilful
arrangement I have secured both. The mote in my Jewish eye appearing
to my aristocratic relatives like a very large beam, I have yielded
and renounced the title of a Princess von Reuss; but, in spite of
that, I remain a princess and retain the title of highness. The
prince, my brother-in-law, has given me a splendid estate in fee-
simple, the annual revenues of which amount to no less than twenty
thousand dollars; in return, however, I surrender to him the family
diamonds, this palace, the carriages with the coat-of-arms of the
Reuss family, the horses and liveries, and last, the name and title
of a Princess Dowager von Reuss."
"And now, like all the fairies in the children's books, you are a
wondrous child without name and rank, but showering with your snowy
hands golden suns and glittering stars upon mankind?"
"No, I am no nameless woman now, but I adopt the name of my estate
of Eibenberg, and from this day forward I shall be the Princess
Marianne of Eibenberg, the Emperor of Germany himself having
recognized my new title. The documents, signed by the emperor
himself, are on the table there. The prince brought them to me to-
day as a Christmas-present. Now, my friend, my real life is to
commence; I have acquired wealth and a distinguished name. The poor
Jewess, the daughter of the Ghetto, has moved into the palace of the
aristocracy and become a princess."
"And I will be the first to do you homage as though you were my
princess and queen!" exclaimed Gentz, "the first who will call
himself your vassal. Come, my princess, let me place the sweet yoke
upon my neck; let my forehead touch the ground on which you are
walking; place your foot upon my neck, so that I may feel the sweet
burden of your rule."
And bending down his head until his brow touched the floor, he
placed her tiny foot, encased in a beautiful silken shoe, upon his
neck. Marianne did not interfere with him, but looked down on him
with a proud, triumphant smile.
"You lie at my feet, Frederick Gentz," she said, "nevertheless I
will lift you up to me; you shall stand by my side, my equal, famous
and great as you ought to be, owing to your genius! But a truce to
tender trifling, my friend; both of us have to accomplish great
purposes, and our thoughts and actions should be grave and stern.
Come, rise from your knees, my vassal; you shall be a prince by my
side, and we will rule the world together."
She withdrew her foot from his neck, but Gentz seized it with both
hands and kissed it. He then quickly rose from his knees, and drew
himself up to his full height, looking at her sternly and almost
"You have often told me that you loved me," he said, "but it was a
lie; you do not understand love, your heart is cold and your senses
are silent, only your pride speaks."
"It is possible that you are right," she replied, "but, in that
case, I love you with my pride and with my mind, and that is worth
something, at all events. I want to see you honored, famous, and
influential; is not that also love?"
"No, it is a mockery!" ejaculated Gentz, mournfully. "It is malice,
for you see I am a poor, despised man, without money, without fame,
without rank; a miserable military counsellor, outranked by every
private counsellor, and persecuted day by day by my creditors, as if
they were vultures following a poor dove whose wings have been
"But your wings shall grow again, so that you may escape from the
vultures!" exclaimed Marianne, "and that you may soar, eagle-like,
above the miseries of the world, and exercise a commanding influence
over it. The time of dreams and expectations is over, the time for
action has come for all energetic and able minds. Two years ago I
asked you, as I do to-day, if you would not devote your services to
Austria, and if you would not seek for fame and happiness in that
country, in which your genius would be appreciated and rewarded. Do
you remember what you replied to me at that time?"
"Yes, I remember," said Gentz, with a sarcastic smile; "I was
foolish enough to reject your offers, and to declare that I would
stay here at Berlin, and see if my native country would not need my
abilities and my services, and if our rulers here would not avail
themselves of my talents and of my pen. And thus I have lost, again,
two years of my life, and only my debts have increased, but not my
"Because you were an enthusiast, and expected to be appreciated in
Prussia; believing this good king (who would like to make his people
happy and prosperous, but who timidly shrinks back from all
energetic resolutions) would be very grateful to you for exhorting
him to grant freedom of the press to his subjects, and, in general,
to introduce liberty and equality in his states. Do you still
believe that Frederick William the Third will do so?"
"No, he will not," replied Gentz, mournfully; "no, this king does
not understand the present age, and instead of being a step in
advance of it, he will always remain a step behind it, and thus
involve Prussia in untold misery and suffering. I have hoped and
waited long enough; the time of patience and idleness is now over,
and I therefore renounce, to-day, at the end of the eighteenth
century, my native state, in order to become a citizen and son of a
larger fatherland. I cease to be a Prussian, in order to become a
German; and Prussia having no desire to avail herself of my
abiliies, I am going to see whether or not Germany has any use for
them. My beautiful Marianne, you shall be the priestess who receives
the oath which I make on the altar of the fatherland: 'I swear to
devote all my powers and talents to Germany; I swear to be a
faithful and untiring son to my great fatherland!'"
"I have heard your oath, Frederick Gentz, and I accept it in the
name of Germany," said Marianne, solemnly. "You shall be the
champion of the honor and rights of Germany; your weapon, however,
shall not be the sword, but the pen."
"But where will the lists be opened to my tournament?" asked Gentz,
"In Austria," replied Marianne, quickly; "the Emperor of Germany is
expecting you, the son of Germany; the Emperor of Germany is calling
you to serve and promote the interests of your fatherland. I am
authorized to tell you that. The new Austrian envoy, Count Stadion,
has requested me to do so; he has asked me to win you for Austria,
that is, for Germany. For, believe me, the welfare of Germany is
nowadays consulted in Austria, and not in Prussia!"
"No, not in Prussia!" exclaimed Gentz, mournfully. "Our government
shuts its eyes in order not to behold the terrors which are rushing
toward us with irresistible force, and will soon, like an avalanche,
roll over Germany and annihilate us all, unless we skilfully
calculate the danger, and raise sufficient bulwarks against it. They
admire Bonaparte here, and only behold a hero, while I scent a
tyrant--a tyrant who wants to subjugate us by his revolutionary
liberty and his Jacobin's cap, which is but a crown in another
shape. I hate Bonaparte, for I hate the revolution which,
notwithstanding its phrases of liberty and equality, is but a bloody
despotism that does not even grant freedom of opinion to the
citizen, and drags such ideas as are distasteful to it upon the
scaffold. I hate the revolution, I hate Bonaparte, and I hate every
form of tyranny, and shall oppose it as long as I live!"
"And I shall be a faithful squire by your side, and sharpen the
bolts which you are going to hurl at the enemy," said Marianne, with
fervent enthusiasm. "We are both going to Vienna, in order to serve
Germany. In Vienna a new century and a new country will open their
arms to us. Thanks to my title, to my rank, and to my connections,
every door will be open to us there, and the Jewess, Marianne Meier,
princess of Eibenberg, will not even find the apartments of the
emperor and empress closed; on the contrary, their imperial
majesties will receive me as an honored and welcome guest. for I am
a princess by the act of the emperor, and the friend of the empress;
Victoria de Poutet Colloredo is also my friend. And whithersoever I
go, you shall go, too, my friend, and the doors that will open to me
shall not be closed to you. My rank opens them to me, and your
genius opens them to you. Come, let us be faithful allies; let us
swear to support each other firmly and immovably, and to walk
together step by step."
"Oh, my noble and generous friend," exclaimed Gentz, sadly, "how
delicately you try to veil your protection! In such an alliance, I
am unable to offer you any compensation, for I should find all doors
closed if you should not open them to me. I have neither rank,
money, nor friends at court!"
"Well, let me protect you now, and at some later period you will
protect me," said Marianne. "Let us swear to pursue our path
"I swear it by all that is sacred to me!" exclaimed Gentz. "I swear
that I will remain faithful to you and to Germany for my whole life.
I swear that I will follow you everywhere; that I will serve you
wherever and whenever I can, and to love you to my last breath."
"The alliance is closed," said Marianne, solemnly, "Henceforth, we
will fight jointly, and pursue our goal together. It is our own
greatness, and the greatness of Germany. The country is in danger--
let us see if we cannot contribute something to its preservation,
and if it does not need our hands and our heads in order to weather
the storm. If we should be able, while assisting the country, to
pick up a few laurels, titles, decorations, and treasures for
ourselves, we would be fools not to avail ourselves of the
"Yes, you are right," said Gentz, smiling, "we would be fools not to
do so; and you are right, too, as to the perils of the country.
Germany is in danger. The new century will dawn upon her with a
bloody morning sun, and it will arouse us from our sleep by a
terrific cannonade. But as for ourselves, we will not wait until the
roar of the strife awakens us; we will be up and doing now and work
on the lightning-rod with which we will meet the approaching
thunderstorm, in order that its bolts may glance off harmlessly and
not destroy Germany. I will be an untiring warrior in the great
struggle against the revolution, and my pen, which is my sword,
shall never be idle in the strife. From this hour I cease to be the
insignificant Prussian counsellor, Frederick Gentz; from this hour I
will strive to become the great political writer of Germany. May the
genius of Germany be with me in my endeavors!"
"Amen!" said Marianne, fervently. "May the genius of Germany bless
us and the new century. Amen!"
THE PEACE OF LUNEVILLE
The minister, Baron Thugut, was pacing his cabinet in an excited
manner. His face, usually so cold and immovable, was painfully
agitated to-day; his shaggy white eyebrows were closely contracted,
and his eyes were casting angry glances on the dispatch which he had
just thrown on his desk, and which a courier from General Melas, in
Lombardy, had brought to him a few minutes ago.
"Another battle lost!" he muttered; "another laurel-wreath placed on
the defiant head of General Bonaparte! This man will make me mad yet
by his impudent good luck. It is dreadful only to think that he was
already defeated at Marengo [Footnote: The battle of Marengo was
fought on the 14th of June, 1800.]--so surely defeated that General
Melas issued orders for the pursuit of the enemy, and rode to
Alessandria to take his supper in the most comfortable manner. That
fellow Melas is a jackass, who only scented the roast meat which he
was going to have for supper, but not General Desaix, who arrived
with his troops in time to snatch victory from our grasp, and to
inflict a most terrible defeat upon our triumphant army. All of our
generals are short-sighted fools, from that ridiculously-over-rated
Archduke Charles down to General Schwarzenberg, and whatever the
names of these gentlemen may be--these gentlemen with the golden
epaulets, and decorated breasts, and empty heads--I have no
confidence in a single one of them. At the moment of danger as well
as of victory they regularly lose their senses, and thereby turn our
victories into defeats; while they render our checks in the same way
only more disastrous and decisive. I am entirely opposed to placing
any more archdukes at the head of our armies. Fortunately, I have
succeeded in getting rid of Archduke Charles, and I hope that
Archduke John, too, will be badly beaten at no distant period, so
that we may remove him, like his brother, from his position at the
head of his troops. It will never do. Well--" he interrupted himself
in his soliloquy, casting an angry glance on his private secretary,
Hudlitz, who was just entering the room--"well, why do you disturb
me without being called for?"
"Pardon me, your excellency," said Hudlitz, humbly, "but your
excellency had instructed me to inform you immediately of the
arrival of the custodian of the imperial library, whom your