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The Dynasts by Thomas Hardy

Part 9 out of 16

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Shake heads seems most natural in the case. O House of Hapsburg,
how hast thou fallen!

some drunk. The conversation becomes animated and noisy; several
move off to the card-room, and the scene closes.]



[The spot is where the road passes under the slopes of the Wiener
Wald, with its beautiful forest scenery.]


A procession of enormous length, composed of eighty carriages--
many of them drawn by six horses and one by eight--and escorted
by detachments of cuirassiers, yeomanry, and other cavalry, is
quickening its speed along the highway from the city.

The six-horse carriages contain a multitude of Court officials,
ladies of the Court, and other Austrian nobility. The eight-horse
coach contains a rosy, blue-eyed girl of eighteen, with full red
lips, round figure, and pale auburn hair. She is MARIA LOUISA, and
her eyes are red from recent weeping. The COUNTESS DE LAZANSKY,
Grand Mistress of the Household, in the carriage with her, and the
other ladies of the Palace behind, have a pale, proud, yet resigned
look, as if conscious that upon their sex had been laid the burden
of paying for the peace with France. They have been played out of
Vienna with French marches, and the trifling incident has helped on
their sadness.

The observer's vision being still bent on the train of vehicles and
cavalry, the point of sight is withdrawn high into the air, till the
huge procession on the brown road looks no more than a file of ants
crawling along a strip of garden-matting. The spacious terrestrial
outlook now gained shows this to be the great road across Europe from
Vienna to Munich, and from Munich westerly to France.

The puny concatenation of specks being exclusively watched, the
surface of the earth seems to move along in an opposite direction,
and in infinite variety of hill, dale, woodland, and champaign.
Bridges are crossed, ascents are climbed, plains are galloped over,
and towns are reached, among them Saint Polten, where night falls.

Morning shines, and the royal crawl is resumed, and continued through
Linz, where the Danube is reapproached, and the girl looks pleased
to see her own dear Donau still. Presently the tower of Brannau
appears, where the animated dots pause for formalities, this being
the frontier; and MARIA LOUISA becomes MARIE LOUISE and a Frenchwoman,
in the charge of French officials.

After many breaks and halts, during which heavy rains spread their
gauzes over the scene, the roofs and houses of Munich disclose
themselves, suggesting the tesserae of an irregular mosaic. A long
stop is made here.

The tedious advance continues. Vine-circled Stuttgart, flat
Carlsruhe, the winding Rhine, storky Strassburg, pass in panorama
beneath us as the procession is followed. With Nancy and Bar-le-
Duc sliding along, the scenes begin to assume a French character,
and soon we perceive Chalons and ancient Rheims. The last day of
the journey has dawned. Our vision flits ahead of the cortege to
Courcelles, a little place which must be passed through before
Soissons is reached. Here the point of sight descends to earth,
and the Dumb Show ends.



[It is now seen to be a quiet roadside village, with a humble
church in its midst, opposite to which stands an inn, the highway
passing between them. Rain is still falling heavily. Not a soul
is visible anywhere.

Enter from the west a plain, lonely carriage, traveling in a
direction to meet the file of coaches that we have watched. It
stops near the inn, and two men muffled in cloaks alight by the
door away from the hostel and towards the church, as if they
wished to avoid observation. Their faces are those of NAPOLEON
and MURAT, his brother-in-law. Crossing the road through the mud
and rain they stand in the church porch, and watch the descending

NAPOLEON (stamping an impatient tattoo)

One gets more chilly in a wet March than in a dry, however cold, the
devil if he don't! What time do you make it now? That clock doesn't

MURAT (drily, looking at his watch)

Yes, it does; and it is right. If clocks were to go as fast as your
wishes just now it would be awkward for the rest of the world.

NAPOLEON (chuckling good-humouredly)

How we have dished the Soissons folk, with their pavilions, and
purple and gold hangings for bride and bridegroom to meet in, and
stately ceremonial to match, and their thousands looking on! Here
we are where there's nobody. Ha, ha!


But why should they be dished, sire? The pavilions and ceremonies
were by your own orders.


Well, as the time got nearer I couldn't stand the idea of dawdling
about there.


The Soissons people will be in a deuce of a taking at being made
such fools of!


So let 'em. I'll make it up with them somehow.--She can't be far
off now, if we have timed her rightly. (He peers out into the rain
and listens.)


I don't quite see how you are going to manage when she does come.
Do we go before her toward Soissons when you have greeted her here,
or follow in her rear? Or what do we do?


Heavens, I know no more than you! Trust to the moment and see what
happens. (A silence.) Hark--here she comes! Good little girl; up
to time!

[The distant squashing in the mud of a multitude of hoofs and
wheels is succeeded by the appearance of outriders and carriages,
horses and horsemen, splashed with sample clays of the districts
traversed. The vehicles slow down to the inn. NAPOLEON'S face
fires up, and, followed by MURAT, he rushes into the rain towards
the coach that is drawn by eight horses, containing the blue-eyed
girl. He holds off his hat at the carriage-window.]

MARIE LOUISE (shrinking back inside)

Ah, Heaven! Two highwaymen are upon us!

THE EQUERRY D'AUDENARDE (simultaneously)

The Emperor!

[The steps of the coach are hastily lowered, NAPOLEON, dripping,
jumps in and embraces her. The startled ARCHDUCHESS, with much
blushing and confusion recognizes him.]

MARIE LOUISE (tremulously, as she recovers herself)

You are so much--better looking than your portraits--that I hardly
knew you! I expected you at Soissons. We are not at Soissons yet?


No, my dearest spouse, but we are together! (Calling out to the
equerry.) Drive through Soissons--pass the pavilion of reception
without stopping, and don't halt till we reach Compiegne.

[He sits down in the coach and is shut in, MURAT laughing silently
at the scene. Exeunt carriages and riders toward Soissons.]


First 'twas a finished coquette,
And now it's a raw ingenue.--
Blond instead of brunette,
An old wife doffed for a new.
She'll bring him a baby,
As quickly as maybe,
And that's what he wants her to do,
And that's what he wants her to do!


What lewdness lip those wry-formed phantoms there!


Nay, Showman Years! With holy reverent air
We hymn the nuptials of the Imperial pair.

[The scene thickens to mist and obscures the scene.]



[One of the private apartments is disclosed, in which the Empress-
mother and Alexander are seated.]


So one of Austrian blood his pomp selects
To be his bride and bulwark--not our own.
Thus are you coolly shelved!


Me, mother dear?
You, faith, if I may say it dutifully!
Had all been left to me, some time ere now
He would have wedded Kate.


How so, my son?
Catharine was plighted, and it could not be.


Rather you swiftly pledged and married her,
To let Napoleon have no chance that way.
But Anne remained.


How Anne?--so young a girl!
Sane Nature would have cried indecency
At such a troth.


Time would have tinkered that,
And he was well-disposed to wait awhile;
But the one test he had no temper for
Was the apparent slight of unresponse
Accorded his impatient overtures
By our suspensive poise of policy.


A backward answer is our country's card--
The special style and mode of Muscovy.
We have grown great upon it, my dear son,
And may such practice rule our centuries through!
The necks of those who rate themselves our peers
Are cured of stiffness by its potency.


The principle in this case, anyhow,
Is shattered by the facts: since none can doubt
Your policy was counted an affront,
And drove my long ally to Austria's arms,
With what result to us must yet be seen!


May Austria win much joy of the alliance!
Marrying Napoleon is a midnight leap
For any Court in Europe, credit me,
If ever such there were! What he may carve
Upon the coming years, what murderous bolt
Hurl at the rocking Constitutions round,
On what dark planet he may land himself
In his career through space, no sage can say.


Well--possibly! . . . And maybe all is best
That he engrafts his lineage not on us.--
But, honestly, Napoleon none the less
Has been my friend, and I regret the dream
And fleeting fancy of a closer tie!


Ay; your regrets are sentimental ever.
That he'll be writ no son-in-law of mine
Is no regret to me! But an affront
There is, no less, in his evasion on't,
Wherein the bourgeois quality of him
Veraciously peeps out. I would be sworn
He set his minions parleying with the twain--
Yourself and Francis--simultaneously,
Else no betrothal could have speeded so!


Despite the hazard of offence to one?


More than the hazard; the necessity.


There's no offence to me.


There should be, then.
I am a Romanoff by marriage merely,
But I do feel a rare belittlement
And loud laconic brow-beating herein!


No, mother, no! I am the Tsar--not you,
And I am only piqued in moderateness.
Marriage with France was near my heart--I own it--
What then? It has been otherwise ordained.

[A silence.]


Here comes dear Anne Speak not of it before her.

[Enter the GRAND-DUCHESS, a girl of sixteen.]


Alas! the news is that poor Prussia's queen,
Spirited Queen Louisa, once so fair,
Is slowly dying, mother! Did you know?

ALEXANDER (betraying emotion)

Ah!--such I dreaded from the earlier hints.
Poor soul--her heart was slain some time ago.


What do you mean by that, my brother dear?


He means, my child, that he as usual spends
Much sentiment upon the foreign fair,
And hence leaves little for his folk at home.


I mean, Anne, that her country's overthrow
Let death into her heart. The Tilsit days
Taught me to know her well, and honour her.
She was a lovely woman even then! . . .
Strangely, the present English Prince of Wales
Was wished to husband her. Had wishes won,
They might have varied Europe's history.


Napoleon, I have heard, admired her once;
How he must grieve that soon she'll be no more!


Napoleon and your brother loved her both.

[Alexander shows embarrassment.]

But whatsoever grief be Alexander's,
His will be none who feels but for himself.


O mother, how can you mistake him so!
He worships her who is to be his wife,
The fair Archduchess Marie.


Simple child,
As yet he has never seen her, or but barely.
That is a tactic suit, with love to match!

ALEXANDER (with vainly veiled tenderness)

High-souled Louisa;--when shall I forget
Those Tilsit gatherings in the long-sunned June!
Napoleon's gallantries deceived her quite,
Who fondly felt her pleas for Magdeburg
Had won him to its cause; the while, alas!
His cynic sense but posed in cruel play!


Bitterly mourned she her civilities
When time unlocked the truth, that she had choked
Her indignation at his former slights
And slanderous sayings for a baseless hope,
And wrought no tittle for her country's gain.
I marvel why you mourn a frustrate tie
With one whose wiles could wring a woman so!

ALEXANDER (uneasily)

I marvel also, when I think of it!


Don't listen to us longer, dearest Anne.

[Exit Anne.]

--You will uphold my judging by and by,
That as a suitor we are quit of him,
And that blind Austria will rue the hour
Wherein she plucks for him her fairest flower!

[The scene shuts.]



[The view is up the middle of the Gallery, which is now a spectacle
of much magnificence. Backed by the large paintings on the walls
are double rows on each side of brightly dressed ladies, the pick
of Imperial society, to the number of four thousand, one thousand
in each row; and behind these standing up are two rows on each side
of men of privilege and fashion. Officers of the Imperial Guard
are dotted about as marshals.

Temporary barriers form a wide passage up the midst, leading to the
Salon-Carre, which is seen through the opening to be fitted up as
a chapel, with a gorgeous altar, tall candles, and cross. In front
of the altar is a platform with a canopy over it. On the platform
are two gilt chairs and a prie-dieu.

The expectant assembly does not continuously remain in the seats,
but promenades and talks, the voices at times rising to a din amid
the strains of the orchestra, conducted by the EMPEROR'S Director
of Music. Refreshments in profusion are handed round, and the
extemporized cathedral resolves itself into a gigantic cafe of
persons of distinction under the Empire.]


All day have they been waiting for their galanty-show, and now the
hour of performance is on the strike. It may be seasonable to muse
on the sixteenth Louis and the bride's great-aunt, as the nearing
procession is, I see, appositely crossing the track of the tumbril
which was the last coach of that respected lady. . . . It is now
passing over the site of the scaffold on which she lost her head.
. . . Now it will soon be here.

[Suddenly the heralds enter the Gallery at the end towards the
Tuileries, the spectators ranging themselves in their places.
In a moment the wedding procession of the EMPEROR and EMPRESS
becomes visible. The civil marriage having already been performed,
Napoleon and Marie Louise advance together along the vacant pathway
towards the Salon-Carre, followed by the long suite of illustrious
personages, and acclamations burst from all parts of the Grand


Whose are those forms that pair in pompous train
Behind the hand-in-hand half-wedded ones,
With faces speaking sense of an adventure
Which may close well, or not so?


First there walks
The Emperor's brother Louis, Holland's King;
Then Jerome of Westphalia with his spouse;
The mother-queen, and Julie Queen of Spain,
The Prince Borghese and the Princess Pauline,
Beauharnais the Vice-King of Italy,
And Murat King of Naples, with their Queens;
Baden's Grand-Duke, Arch-Chancellor Cambaceres,
Berthier, Lebrun, and, not least, Talleyrand.
Then the Grand Marshal and the Chamberlain,
The Lords-in-Waiting, the Grand Equerry,
With waiting-ladies, women of the chamber,
An others called by office, rank, or fame.


New, many, to Imperial dignities;
Which, won by character and quality
In those who now enjoy them, will become
The birthright of their sons in aftertime.


It fits thee not to augur, quick-eared Shade.
Ephemeral at the best all honours be,
These even more ephemeral than their kind,
So random-fashioned, swift, perturbable!


Napoleon looks content--nay, shines with joy.


Yet see it pass, as by a conjuror's wand.

[Thereupon Napoleon's face blackens as if the shadow of a winter
night had fallen upon it. Resentful and threatening, he stops the
procession and looks up and down the benches.]


This is sound artistry of the Immanent Will: it relieves the monotony
of so much good-humour.

NAPOLEON (to the Chapel-master)

Where are the Cardinals? And why not here? (He speaks so loud that
he is heard throughout the Gallery.)

ABBE DE PRADT (trembling)

Many are present here, your Majesty;
But some are feebled by infirmities
Too common to their age, and cannot come.


Tell me no nonsense! Half absent themselves
Because they WILL not come. The factious fools!
Well, be it so. But they shall flinch for it!

[MARIE LOUISE looks frightened. The procession moves on.]


I seem to see the thin and headless ghost
Of the yet earlier Austrian, here, too, queen,
Walking beside the bride, with frail attempts
To pluck her by the arm!


Nay, think not so.
No trump unseals earth's sepulchre's to-day:
We are the only phantoms now abroad
On this mud-moulded ball! Through sixteen years
She has decayed in a back-garden yonder,
Dust all the showance time retains of her,
Senseless of hustlings in her former house,
Lost to all count of crowns and bridalry--
Even of her Austrian blood. No: what thou seest
Springs of the quavering fancy, stirred to dreams
By yon tart phantom's phrase.

MARIE LOUISE (sadly to Napoleon)

I know not why,
I love not this day's doings half so well
As our quaint meeting-time at Compiegne.
A clammy air creeps round me, as from vaults
Peopled with looming spectres, chilling me
And angering you withal!


O, it is nought
To trouble you: merely, my cherished one,
Those devils of Italian Cardinals!--
Now I'll be bright as ever--you must, too.


I'll try.

[Reaching the entrance to the Salon-Carre amid strains of music
the EMPEROR and EMPRESS are received and incensed by the CARDINAL
GRAND ALMONERS. They take their seats under the canopy, and the
train of notabilities seat themselves further back, the persons-
in-waiting stopping behind the Imperial chairs.

The ceremony of the religious marriage now begins. The choir
intones a hymn, the EMPEROR and EMPRESS go to the altar, remove
their gloves, and make their vows.]


The English Church should return thanks for this wedding, seeing
how it will purge of coarseness the picture-sheets of that artistic
nation, which will hardly be able to caricature the new wife as it
did poor plebeian Josephine. Such starched and ironed monarchists
cannot sneer at a woman of such a divinely dry and crusted line like
the Hapsburgs!

[Mass is next celebrated, after which the TE DEUM is chanted in
harmonies that whirl round the walls of the Salon-Carre and quiver
down the long Gallery. The procession then re-forms and returns,
amid the flutterings and applause of the dense assembly. But
Napoleon's face has not lost the sombre expression which settled
on it. The pair and their train pass out by the west door, and
the congregation disperses in the other direction, the cloud-
curtain closing over the scene as they disappear.




[A bird's-eye perspective is revealed of the peninsular tract of
Portuguese territory lying between the shining pool of the Tagus on
the east, and the white-frilled Atlantic lifting rhythmically on
the west. As thus beheld the tract features itself somewhat like a
late-Gothic shield, the upper edge from the dexter to the sinister
chief being the lines of Torres Vedras, stretching across from the
mouth of the Zezambre on the left to Alhandra on the right, and
the south or base point being Fort S. Julian. The roofs of Lisbon
appear at the sinister base, and in a corresponding spot on the
opposite side Cape Roca.

It is perceived in a moment that the northern verge of this nearly
coast-hemmed region is the only one through which access can be
gained to it by land, and a close scrutiny of the boundary there
reveals that means are being adopted to effectually prevent such

From east to west along it runs a chain of defences, dotted at
intervals by dozens of circular and square redoubts, either made
or in the making, two of the latter being of enormous size.
Between these stretch unclimbable escarpments, stone walls, and
other breastworks, and in front of all a double row of abatis,
formed of the limbs of trees.

Within the outer line of defence is a second, constructed on the
same shield-shaped tract of country; and is not more than a twelfth
of the length of the others. It is a continuous entrenchment of
ditches and ramparts, and its object--that of covering a forced
embarkation--is rendered apparent by some rocking English
transports off the shore hard by.]


Innumerable human figures are busying themselves like cheese-mites
all along the northernmost frontage, undercutting easy slopes into
steep ones, digging ditches, piling stones, felling trees, dragging
them, and interlacing them along the front as required.

On the second breastwork, which is completed, only a few figures move.

On the third breastwork, which is fully matured and equipped, minute
red sentinels creep backwards and forwards noiselessly.

As time passes three reddish-grey streams of marching men loom out
to the north, advancing southward along three roads towards three
diverse points in the first defence. These form the English army,
entering the lines for shelter. Looked down upon, their motion
seems peristaltic and vermicular, like that of three caterpillars.
The division on the left is under Picton, in the centre under Leith
and Cole, and on the extreme right, by Alhandra, under Hill. Beside
one of the roads two or three of the soldiers are dangling from a
tree by the neck, probably for plundering.

The Dumb Show ends, and the point of view sinks to the earth.



[The winter day has gloomed to a stormful evening, and the road
outside the first line of defence forms the foreground of the stage.

Enter in the dusk from the hills to the north of the entrenchment,
near Calandrix, a group of horsemen, which includes MASSENA in
command of the French forces, FOY, LOISON, and other officers of
his staff.

They ride forward in the twilight and tempest, and reconnoitre,
till they see against the sky the ramparts blocking the road they
pursue. They halt silently. MASSENA, puzzled, endeavours with his
glass to make out the obstacle.]


Something stands here to peril our advance,
Or even prevent it!


These are the English lines--
Their outer horns and tusks--whereof I spoke,
Constructed by Lord Wellington of late
To keep his foothold firm in Portugal.


Thrusts he his burly, bossed disfigurements
So far to north as this? I had pictured me
The lay much nearer Lisbon. Little strange
Lord Wellington rode placid at Busaco
With this behind his back! Well, it is hard
But that we turn them somewhere, I assume?
They scarce can close up every southward gap
Between the Tagus and the Atlantic Sea.


I hold they can, and do; although, no doubt,
By searching we shall spy some raggedness
Which customed skill may force.


Plain 'tis, no less,
We may heap corpses vainly hereabout,
And crack good bones in waste. By human power
This passes mounting! What say you's behind?


Another line exactly like the first,
But more matured. Behind its back a third.


How long have these prim ponderosities
Been rearing up their foreheads to the moon?


Some months in all. I know not quite how long.
They are Lord Wellington's select device,
And, like him, heavy, slow, laborious, sure.


May he enjoy their sureness. He deserves to.
I had no inkling of such barriers here.
A good road runs along their front, it seems,
Which offers us advantage. . . . What a night!

[The tempest cries dismally about the earthworks above them, as
the reconnoitrers linger in the slight shelter the lower ground
affords. They are about to turn back.

Enter from the cross-road to the right JUNOT and some more
officers. They come up at a signal that the others are those
they lately parted from.]


We have ridden along as far as Calandrix,
Favoured therein by this disordered night,
Which tongues its language to the disguise of ours;
And find amid the vale an open route
That, well manoeuvred, may be practicable.


I'll look now at it, while the weather aids.
If it may serve our end when all's prepared
So good. If not, some other to the west.

[Exeunt MASSENA, JUNOT, LOISON, FOY, and the rest by the paved
crossway to the right.

The wind continues to prevail as the spot is left desolate, the
darkness increases, rain descends more heavily, and the scene is
blotted out.]



[The anteroom to the EMPRESS MARIE LOUISE'S bed-chamber, in which
are discovered NAPOLEON in his dressing-gown, the DUCHESS OF
MONTEBELLO, and other ladies-in-waiting. CORVISART the first
physician, and the second physician BOURDIER.

The time is before dawn. The EMPEROR walks up and down, throws
himself on a sofa, or stands at the window. A cry of anguish comes
occasionally from within.

NAPOLEON opens the door and speaks into the bed-chamber.]


How now, Dubois?


Less well, sire, than I hoped;
I fear no skill can save them both.

NAPOLEON (agitated)

Good god!

[Exit CORVISART into the bed-room. Enter DUBOIS.]

DUBOIS (with hesitation)

Which life is to be saved? The Empress, sire,
Lies in great jeopardy. I have not known
In my long years of many-featured practice
An instance in a thousand fall out so.


Then save the mother, pray! Think but of her;
It is her privilege, and my command.--
Don't lose you head, Dubois, at this tight time:
Your furthest skill can work but what it may.
Fancy that you are merely standing by
A shop-wife's couch, say, in the Rue Saint Denis;
Show the aplomb and phlegm that you would show
Did such a bed receive your ministry.

[Exit DUBOIS.]


O pray, pray don't! Those ugly things terrify me! Why should I be
tortured even if I am but a means to an end! Let me die! It was
cruel of him to bring this upon me!

[Exit NAPOLEON impatiently to the bed-room.]


Keep up your spirits, madame! I have been through it myself and I
assure you there is no danger to you. It is going on all right, and
I am holding you.


Heaven above! Why did you not deep those cursed sugar-tongs out of
her sight? How is she going to get through it if you frighten her
like this?


If you will pardon me, your Majesty,
I must implore you not to interfere!
I'll not be scapegoat for the consequence
If, sire, you do! Better for her sake far
Would you withdraw. The sight of your concern
But agitates and weakens her endurance.
I will inform you all, and call you back
If things should worsen here.

[Re-enter NAPOLEON from the bed-chamber. He half shuts the door,
and remains close to it listening, pale and nervous.]


I ask you, sire,
To harass yourself less with this event,
Which may amend anon: I much regret
The honoured mother of your Majesty,
And sister too, should both have left ere now,
Whose solace would have bridged these anxious hours.

NAPOLEON (absently)

As we were not expecting it so soon
I begged they would sit up no longer here. . . .
She ought to get along; she has help enough
With that half-dozen of them at hand within--
Skilled Madame Blaise the nurse, and two besides,
Madame de Montesquiou and Madame Ballant---

DUBOIS (speaking through the doorway)

Past is the question, sire, of which to save!
The child is dead; the while her Majesty
Is getting through it well.


Praise Heaven for that!
I'll not grieve overmuch about the child. . . .
Never shall She go through this strain again
To lay down a dynastic line for me.

DUCHESS OF MONTEBELLO (aside to the second lady)

He only says that now. In cold blood it would be far otherwise.
That's how men are.


Doctor, the child's alive! (The cry of an infant is heard.)

VOICE OF DUBOIS (calling from within)

Sire, both are saved.

[NAPOLEON rushes into the chamber, and is heard kissing MARIE


A vigorous boy, your Imperial Majesty. The brandy and hot napkins
brought him to.


It is as I expected. A healthy young woman of her build had every
chance of doing well, despite the doctors.

[An interval.]

NAPOLEON (re-entering radiantly)

We have achieved a healthy heir, good dames,
And in the feat the Empress was most brave,
Although she suffered much--so much, indeed,
That I would sooner father no more sons
Than have so fair a fruit-tree undergo
Another wrenching of such magnitude.

[He walks to the window, pulls aside the curtains, and looks out.
It is a joyful spring morning. The Tuileries' gardens are thronged
with an immense crowd, kept at a little distance off the Palace by
a cord. The windows of the neighbouring houses are full of gazers,
and the streets are thronged with halting carriages, their inmates
awaiting the event.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS (whispering to Napoleon)

At this high hour there broods a woman nigh,
Ay, here in Paris, with her child and thine,
Who might have played this part with truer eye
To thee and to thy contemplated line!

NAPOLEON (soliloquizing)

Strange that just now there flashes on my soul
That little one I loved in Warsaw days,
Marie Walewska, and my boy by her!--
She was shown faithless by a foul intrigue
Till fate sealed up her opportunity. . . .
But what's one woman's fortune more or less
Beside the schemes of kings!--Ah, there's the new!

[A gun is heard from the Invalides.]

CROWD (excitedly)


[Another report of the gun, and another, succeed.]

Two! Three! Four!

[The firing and counting proceed to twenty-one, when there is great
suspense. The gun fires again, and the excitement is doubled.]

Twenty-two! A boy!

[The remainder of the counting up to a hundred-and-one is drowned
in the huzzas. Bells begin ringing, and from the Champ de Mars a
balloon ascends, from which the tidings are scattered in hand-bills
as it floats away from France.

and other officers of state. NAPOLEON turns from the window.]


Unstinted gratulations and goodwill
We bring to your Imperial Majesty,
While still resounds the superflux of joy
With which your people welcome this live star
Upon the horizon of history!


All blessings at their goodliest will grace
The advent of this New Messiah, sire,
Of fairer prospects than the former one,
Whose coming at so apt an hour endues
The widening glory of your high exploits
With permanence, and flings the dimness far
That cloaked the future of our chronicle!


My thanks; though, gentlemen, upon my soul
You might have drawn the line at the Messiah.
But I excuse you.--Yes, the boy has come;
He took some coaxing, but he's here at last.--
And what news brings the morning from without?
I know of none but this the Empress now
Trumps to the world from the adjoining room.


Nothing in Europe, sire, that can compare
In magnitude therewith to more effect
Than with an eagle some frail finch or wren.
To wit: the ban on English trade prevailing,
Subjects our merchant-houses to such strain
That many of the best see bankruptcy
Like a grim ghost ahead. Next week, they say
In secret here, six of the largest close.


It shall not be! Our burst of natal joy
Must not be sullied by so mean a thing:
Aid shall be rendered. Much as we may suffer,
England must suffer more, and I am content.
What has come in from Spain and Portugal?


Vaguely-voiced rumours, sire, but nothing more,
Which travel countries quick as earthquake thrills,
No mortal knowing how.


Of Massena?


Yea. He retreats for prudence' sake, it seems,
Before Lord Wellington. Dispatches soon
Must reach your Majesty, explaining all.


Ever retreating! Why declines he so
From all his olden prowess? Why, again,
Did he give battle at Busaco lately,
When Lisbon could be marched on without strain?
Why has he dallied by the Tagus bank
And shunned the obvious course? I gave him Ney,
Soult, and Junot, and eighty thousand men,
And he does nothing. Really it might seem
As though we meant to let this Wellington
Be even with us there!


His mighty forts
At Torres Vedras hamper Massena,
And quite preclude advance.


O well--no matter:
Why should I linger on these haps of war
Now that I have a son!

[Exeunt NAPOLEON by one door and by another the PRESIDENT OF THE


The Will Itself is slave to him,
And holds it blissful to obey!--
He said, "Go to; it is my whim

"To bed a bride without delay,
Who shall unite my dull new name
With one that shone in Caesar's day.

"She must conceive--you hear my claim?--
And bear a son--no daughter, mind--
Who shall hand on my form and fame

"To future times as I have designed;
And at the birth throughout the land
Must cannon roar and alp-horns wind!"

The Will grew conscious at command,
And ordered issue as he planned.

[The interior of the Palace is veiled.]



[The dawn of a mid-May day in the same spring shows the village
of Albuera with the country around it, as viewed from the summit
of a line of hills on which the English and their allies are ranged
under Beresford. The landscape swept by the eye includes to the
right foreground a hill loftier than any, and somewhat detached
from the range. The green slopes behind and around this hill are
untrodden--though in a few hours to be the sanguinary scene of the
most murderous struggle of the whole war.

The village itself lies to the left foreground, with its stream
flowing behind it in the distance on the right. A creeping brook
at the bottom of the heights held by the English joins the stream
by the village. Behind the stream some of the French forces are
visible. Away behind these stretches a great wood several miles
in area, out of which the Albuera stream emerges, and behind the
furthest verge of the wood the morning sky lightens momently. The
birds in the wood, unaware that this day is to be different from
every other day they have known there, are heard singing their
overtures with their usual serenity.]


As objects grow more distinct it can be perceived that some strategic
dispositions of the night are being completed by the French forces,
which the evening before lay in the woodland to the front of the
English army. They have emerged during the darkness, and large
sections of them--infantry, cuirassiers, and artillery--have crept
round to BERESFORD'S right without his suspecting the movement, where
they lie hidden by the great hill aforesaid, though not more than
half-a-mile from his right wing.


A hot ado goes forward here to-day,
If I may read the Immanent Intent
From signs and tokens blent
With weird unrest along the firmament
Of causal coils in passionate display.
--Look narrowly, and what you witness say.


I see red smears upon the sickly dawn,
And seeming drops of gore. On earth below
Are men--unnatural and mechanic-drawn--
Mixt nationalities in row and row,
Wheeling them to and fro
In moves dissociate from their souls' demand,
For dynasts' ends that few even understand!


Speak more materially, and less in dream.


I'll do it. . . . The stir of strife grows well defined
Around the hamlet and the church thereby:
Till, from the wood, the ponderous columns wind,
Guided by Godinot, with Werle nigh.
They bear upon the vill. But the gruff guns
Of Dickson's Portuguese
Punch spectral vistas through the maze of these! . . .
More Frenchmen press, and roaring antiphons
Of cannonry contuse the roofs and walls and trees.


Wrecked are the ancient bridge, the green spring plot,
the blooming fruit-tree, the fair flower-knot!


Yet the true mischief to the English might
Is meant to fall not there. Look to the right,
And read the shaping scheme by yon hill-side,
Where cannon, foot, and brisk dragoons you see,
With Werle and Latour-Maubourg to guide,
Waiting to breast the hill-brow bloodily.

BERESFORD now becomes aware of this project on his flank, and sends
orders to throw back his right to face the attack. The order is not
obeyed. Almost at the same moment the French rush is made, the
Spanish and Portuguese allies of the English are beaten beck, and
the hill is won. But two English divisions bear from the centre of
their front, and plod desperately up the hill to retake it.


Now he among us who may wish to be
A skilled practitioner in slaughtery,
Should watch this hour's fruition yonder there,
And he will know, if knowing ever were,
How mortals may be freed their fleshly cells,
And quaint red doors set ope in sweating fells,
By methods swift and slow and foul and fair!

The English, who have plunged up the hill, are caught in a heavy
mist, that hides from them an advance in their rear of the lancers
and hussars of the enemy. The lines of the Buffs, the Sixty-sixth,
and those of the Forty-eighth, who were with them, in a chaos of
smoke, steel, sweat, curses, and blood, are beheld melting down
like wax from an erect position to confused heaps. Their forms
lie rigid, or twitch and turn, as they are trampled over by the
hoofs of the enemy's horse. Those that have not fallen are taken.


It works as you, uncanny Phantom, wist! . . .
Whose is that towering form
That tears across the mist
To where the shocks are sorest?--his with arm
Outstretched, and grimy face, and bloodshot eye,
Like one who, having done his deeds, will die?


He is one Beresford, who heads the fight
For England here to-day.


He calls the sight
Despite itself!--parries yon lancer's thrust,
And with his own sword renders dust to dust!

The ghastly climax of the strife is reached; the combatants are
seen to be firing grape and canister at speaking distance, and
discharging musketry in each other's faces when so close that
their complexions may be recognized. Hot corpses, their mouths
blackened by cartridge-biting, and surrounded by cast-away
knapsacks, firelocks, hats, stocks, flint-boxes, and priming
horns, together with red and blue rags of clothing, gaiters,
epaulettes, limbs and viscera accumulate on the slopes, increasing
from twos and threes to half-dozens, and from half-dozens to heaps,
which steam with their own warmth as the spring rain falls gently
upon them.

The critical instant has come, and the English break. But a
comparatively fresh division, with fusileers, is brought into the
turmoil by HARDINGE and COLE, and these make one last strain to
save the day, and their names and lives. The fusileers mount the
incline, and issuing from the smoke and mist startle the enemy by
their arrival on a spot deemed won.


They come, beset by riddling hail;
They sway like sedges is a gale;
The fail, and win, and win, and fail. Albuera!


They gain the ground there, yard by yard,
Their brows and hair and lashes charred,
Their blackened teeth set firm and hard.


Their mad assailants rave and reel,
And face, as men who scorn to feel,
The close-lined, three-edged prongs of steel.


Till faintness follows closing-in,
When, faltering headlong down, they spin
Like leaves. But those pay well who win Albuera.


Out of six thousand souls that sware
To hold the mount, or pass elsewhere,
But eighteen hundred muster there.


Pale Colonels, Captains, ranksmen lie,
Facing the earth or facing sky;--
They strove to live, they stretch to die.


Friends, foemen, mingle; heap and heap.--
Hide their hacked bones, Earth!--deep, deep, deep,
Where harmless worms caress and creep.


Hide their hacked bones, Earth!--deep, deep, deep,
Where harmless worms caress and creep.--
What man can grieve? what woman weep?
Better than waking is to sleep! Albuera!

The night comes on, and darkness covers the battle-field.



[The walls of the room are padded, and also the articles of
furniture, the stuffing being overlaid with satin and velvet, on
which are worked in gold thread monograms and crowns. The windows
are guarded, and the floor covered with thick cork, carpeted. The
time is shortly after the last scene.

The KING is seated by a window, and two of Dr. WILLIS'S attendants
are in the room. His MAJESTY is now seventy-two; his sight is
very defective, but he does not look ill. He appears to be lost
in melancholy thought, and talks to himself reproachfully, hurried
manner on occasion being the only irregular symptom that he


In my lifetime I did not look after her enough--enough--enough!
And now she is lost to me, and I shall never see her more. Had I
but known, had I but thought of it! Gentlemen, when did I lose the
Princess Amelia?


The second of last November, your Majesty.


And what is it now?


Now, sir, it is the beginning of June.


Ah, June, I remember! . . . The June flowers are not for me. I
shall never see them; nor will she. So fond of them as she was.
. . . Even if I were living I would never go where there are flowers
any more! No: I would go to the bleak, barren places that she never
would walk in, and never knew, so that nothing might remind me of
her, and make my heart ache more than I can bear! . . . Why, the
beginning of June?--that's when they are coming to examine me! (He
grows excited.)

FIRST ATTENDANT (to second attendant, aside)

Dr. Reynolds ought not have reminded him of their visit. It only
disquiets him and makes him less fit to see them.


How long have I been confined here?


Since November, sir; for your health's sake entirely, as your Majesty


What, what? So long? Ah, yes. I must bear it. This is the fourth
great black gulf in my poor life, is it not? The fourth.

[A signal from the door. The second attendant opens it and whispers.
other gentlemen.]

KING (straining his eye to discern them)

What! Are they come? What will they do to me? How dare they! I
am Elector of Hanover! (Finding Dr. Willis is among them he shrieks.)
O, they are going to bleed me--yes, to bleed me! (Piteously.) My
friends, don't bleed me--pray don't! It makes me so weak to take my
blood. And the leeches do, too, when you put so many. You will not
be so unkind, I am sure!

WILLIS (to Baillie)

It is extraordinary what a vast aversion he has to bleeding--that
most salutary remedy, fearlessly practised. He submits to leeches
as yet but I won't say that he will for long without being strait-

KING (catching some of the words)

You will strait-jacket me? O no, no!


Leeches are not effective, really. Dr. Home, when I mentioned it to
him yesterday, said he would bleed him till he fainted if he had
charge of him!


O will you do it, sir, against my will,
And put me, once your king, in needless pain?
I do assure you truly, my good friends,
That I have done no harm! In sunnier years
Ere I was throneless, withered to a shade,
Deprived of my divine authority--
When I was hale, and ruled the English land--
I ever did my utmost to promote
The welfare of my people, body and soul!
Right many a morn and night I have prayed and mused
How I could bring them to a better way.
So much of me you surely know, my friends,
And will not hurt me in my weakness here! (He trembles.)


The tears that lie about this plightful scene
Of heavy travail in a suffering soul,
Mocked with the forms and feints of royalty
While scarified by briery Circumstance,
Might drive Compassion past her patiency
To hold that some mean, monstrous ironist
Had built this mistimed fabric of the Spheres
To watch the throbbings of its captive lives,
(The which may Truth forfend), and not thy said
Unmaliced, unimpassioned, nescient Will!


Mild one, be not touched with human fate.
Such is the Drama: such the Mortal state:
No sigh of thine can null the Plan Predestinate!


We have come to do your Majesty no harm.
Here's Dr. Heberden, whom I am sure you like,
And this is Dr. Baillie. We arrive
But to inquire and gather how you are,
Thereon to let the Privy Council know,
And give assurances for you people's good.

[A brass band is heard playing in the distant part of Windsor.]


Ah--what does that band play for here to-day?
She has been dead and I so short a time! . . .
Her little hands are hardly cold as yet;
But they can show such cruel indecency
As to let trumpets play!


They guess not, sir,
That you can hear them, or their chords would cease.
Their boisterous music fetches back to me
That, of our errands to your Majesty,
One was congratulation most sincere
Upon this glorious victory you have won.
The news is just in port; the band booms out
To celebrate it, and to honour you.


A victory? I? Pray where?


Indeed so, sir:
Hard by Albuera--far in harried Spain--
Yes, sir; you have achieved a victory
Of dash unmatched and feats unparalleled!


He says I have won a battle? But I thought
I was a poor afflicted captive here,
In darkness lingering out my lonely days,
Beset with terror of these myrmidons
That suck my blood like vampires! Ay, ay, ay!--
No aims left to me but to quicken death
To quicklier please my son!--And yet he says
That I have won a battle! O God, curse, damn!
When will the speech of the world accord with truth,
And men's tongues roll sincerely!


Faith, 'twould seem
As if the madman were the sanest here!

[The KING'S face has flushed, and he becomes violent. The
attendants rush forward to him.]


Something within me aches to pray
To some Great Heart, to take away
This evil day, this evil day!


Ha-ha! That's good. Thou'lt pray to It:--
But where do Its compassions sit?
Yea, where abides the heart of it?

Is it where sky-fires flame and flit,
Or solar craters spew and spit,
Or ultra-stellar night-webs knit?

What is Its shape? Man's counterfeit?
That turns in some far sphere unlit
The Wheel which drives the Infinite?


Mock on, mock on! Yet I'll go pray
To some Great Heart, who haply may
Charm mortal miseries away!

[The KING'S paroxysm continues. The attendants hold him.]


This is distressing. One can never tell
How he will take things now. I thought Albuera
A subject that would surely solace him.
These paroxysms--have they been bad this week? (To Attendants.)


Sir Henry, no. He has quite often named
The late Princess, as gently as a child
A little bird found starved.

WILLIS (aside to apothecary)

I must increase the opium to-night, and lower him by a double set of
leeches since he won't stand the lancet quietly.


You should take twenty ounces, doctor, if a drop--indeed, go on
blooding till he's unconscious. He is too robust by half. And the
watering-pot would do good again--not less than six feet above his
head. See how heated he is.


Curse that town band. It will have to be stopped.


The same thing is going on all over England, no doubt, on account of
this victory.


When he is in a more domineering mood he likes such allusions to his
rank as king. . . . If he could resume his walks on the terrace he
might improve slightly. But it is too soon yet. We must consider
what we shall report to the Council. There is little hope of his
being much better. What do you think, Willis?


None. He is done for this time!


Well, we must soften it down a little, so as not to upset the Queen
too much, poor woman, and distract the Council unnecessarily. Eldon
will go pumping up bucketfuls, and the Archbishops are so easily
shocked that a certain conventional reserve is almost forced upon us.

WILLIS (returning from the King)

He is already better. The paroxysm has nearly passed. Your opinion
will be far more favourable before you leave.

[The KING soon grows calm, and the expression of his face changes
to one of dejection. The attendants leave his side: he bends his
head, and covers his face with his hand, while his lips move as if
in prayer. He then turns to them.]

KING (meekly)

I am most truly sorry, gentlemen,
If I have used language that would seem to show
Discourtesy to you for your good help
In this unhappy malady of mine!
My nerves unstring, my friend; my flesh grows weak:
"The good that I do I leave undone,
The evil which I would not, that I do!"
Shame, shame on me!

WILLIS (aside to the others)

Now he will be as low as before he was in the other extreme.


A king should bear him kingly; I of all,
One of so long a line. O shame on me! . . .
--This battle that you speak of?--Spain, of course?
Ah--Albuera! And many fall--eh? Yes?


Many hot hearts, sir, cold, I grieve to say.
There's Major-General Houghton, Captain Bourke,
And Herbert of the Third, Lieutenant Fox,
And Captains Erck and Montague, and more.
With Majors-General Cole and Stewart wounded,
And Quartermaster-General Wallace too:
A total of three generals, colonels five,
Five majors, fifty captains; and to these
Add ensigns and lieutenants sixscore odd,
Who went out, but returned not. Heavily tithed
Were the attenuate battalions there
Who stood and bearded Death by the hour that day!


O fearful price for victory! Add thereto
All those I lost at Walchere.--A crime
Lay there! . . . I stood on Chatham's being sent:
It wears on me, till I am unfit to live!

WILLIS (aside to the others)

Don't let him get on that Walcheren business. There will be another
outbreak. Heberden, please ye talk to him. He fancies you most.


I'll tell him some of the brilliant feats of the battle. (He goes
and talks to the KING.)

WILLIS (to the rest)

Well, my inside begins to cry cupboard. I had breakfast early. We
have enough particulars now to face the Queen's Council with, I
should say, Sir Henry?


Yes.--I want to get back to town as soon as possible to-day. Mrs
Siddons has a party at her house at Westbourne to-night, and all the
world is going to be there.


Well, I am not. But I have promised to take some friends to Vauxhall,
as it is a grand gala and fireworks night. Miss Farren is going to
sing "The Canary Bird."--The Regent's fete, by the way, is postponed
till the nineteenth, on account of this relapse. Pretty grumpy he
was at having to do it. All the world will be THERE, sure!


And some from the Shades, too, of the fair, sex.--Well, here comes
Heberden. He has pacified his Majesty nicely. Now we can get away.

[The physicians withdraw softly, and the scene is covered.]



[It is a cloudless midsummer evening, and as the west fades the
stars beam down upon the city, the evening-star hanging like a
jonquil blossom. They are dimmed by the unwonted radiance which
spreads around and above Carlton House. As viewed from aloft the
glare rises through the skylights, floods the forecourt towards
Pall Mall, and kindles with a diaphanous glow the huge tents in
the gardens that overlook the Mall. The hour has arrived of the
Prince Regent's festivity.

A stream of carriages and sedan-chairs, moving slowly, stretches
from the building along Pall Mall into Piccadilly and Bond Street,
and crowds fill the pavements watching the bejewelled and feathered
occupants. In addition to the grand entrance inside the Pall Mall
colonnade there is a covert little "chair-door" in Warwick Street
for sedans only, by which arrivals are perceived to be slipping in
almost unobserved.]


What domiciles are those, of singular expression,
Whence no guest comes to join the gemmed procession;
That, west of Hyde, this, in the Park-side Lane,
Each front beclouded like a mask of pain?


Therein the princely host's two spouses dwell;
A wife in each. Let me inspect and tell.

[The walls of the two houses--one in Park Lane, the other at
Kensington--become transparent.]

I see within the first his latter wife--
That Caroline of Brunswick whose brave sire
Yielded his breath on Jena's reeking plain,
And of whose kindred other yet may fall
Ere long, if character indeed be fate.--
She idles feasting, and is full of jest
As each gay chariot rumbles to the rout.
"I rank like your Archbishops' wives," laughs she;
"Denied my husband's honours. Funny me!"

[Suddenly a Beau on his way to the Carlton House festival halts at
her house, calls, and is shown in.]

He brings her news that a fresh favourite rules
Her husband's ready heart; likewise of those
Obscure and unmissed courtiers late deceased,
Who have in name been bidden to the feast
By blundering scribes.

[The Princess is seen to jump up from table at some words from her
visitor, and clap her hands.]

These tidings, juxtaposed,
Have fired her hot with curiosity,
And lit her quick invention with a plan.


Mine God, I'll go disguised--in some dead name
And enter by the leetle, sly, chair-door
Designed for those not welcomed openly.
There unobserved I'll note mine new supplanter!
'Tis indiscreet? Let indiscretion rule,
Since caution pensions me so scurvily!


Good. Now for the other sweet and slighted spouse.


The second roof shades the Fitzherbert Fair;
Reserved, perverse. As coach and coach roll by
She mopes within her lattice; lampless, lone,
As if she grieved at her ungracious fate,
And yet were loth to kill the sting of it
By frankly forfeiting the Prince and town.
"Bidden," says she, "but as one low of rank,
And go I will not so unworthily,
To sit with common dames!"--A flippant friend
Writes then that a new planet sways to-night
The sense of her erratic lord; whereon
The fair Fitzherbert muses hankeringly.

MRS. FITZHERBERT (soliloquizing)

The guest-card which I publicly refused
Might, as a fancy, privately be used! . . .
Yes--one last look--a wordless, wan farewell
To this false life which glooms me like a knell,
And him, the cause; from some hid nook survey
His new magnificence;--then go for aye!


She cloaks and veils, and in her private chair
Passes the Princess also stealing there--
Two honest wives, and yet a differing pair!


With dames of strange repute, who bear a ticket
For screened admission by the private wicket.


A wife of the body, a wife of the mind,
A wife somewhat frowsy, a wife too refined:
Could the twain but grow one, and no other dames be,
No husband in Europe more steadfast than he!


Cease fooling on weak waifs who love and wed
But as the unweeting Urger may bestead!--
See them withinside, douce and diamonded.

[The walls of Carlton House open, and the spectator finds himself
confronting the revel.]



[A central hall is disclosed, radiant with constellations of
candles, lamps, and lanterns, and decorated with flowering shrubs.
An opening on the left reveals the Grand Council-chamber prepared
for dancing, the floor being chalked with arabesques having in the
centre "G. III. R.," with a crown, arms, and supporters. Orange-
trees and rose-bushes in bloom stand against the walls. On the
right hand extends a glittering vista of the supper-rooms and
tables, now crowded with guests. This display reaches as far as

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