Joseph II. and His Court
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JOSEPH II. AND HIS COURT
An Historical Novel
by L. MUHLBACH
FREDERICK THE GREAT AND HIS COURT,
THE MERCHANT OF BERLIN,
BERLIN AND SANS-SOUCI,
FREDERICK THE GREAT AMD HIS FAMILY,
STORY OF A MILLIONAIRE,
TWO LIFE PATHS, ETC.
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN
BY ADELAIDE DEV. CHAUDRON
I. The Conference.
II. The Letter.
III. The Toilet of the Empress.
IV. Husband and Wife.
V. The Archduke Joseph.
VII. The Toilet.
VIII. The Red Stockings.
IX. New Austria.
X. The Young Soldier.
XI. The Empress and her Son.
XII. An Italian Night.
XIII. Isabella of Parma.
XIV. The Ambassador Extraordinary.
XV. The Dream of Love.
XVII. The New Opera.
XVIII. Ranier Von Calzabigi.
XIX. The Birthday.
XX. Orpheus and Eurydice.
XXI. "In Three Years, We Meet Again."
XXII. Che Faro Senza Eurydice.
KING OF ROME
XXIII. Father Porhammer and Count Kaunitz.
XXIV. Matrimonial Plans.
XXV. Josepha of Bavaria.
XXVI. The Marriage Night.
XXVII. An Unhappy Marriage.
XXVIII. A Statesman'S Hours of Dalliance.
XXIX. Prince Kaunitz and Ritter Gluck.
XXX. An Unfortunate Meeting.
XXXII. The Imperial Abbess.
XXXIII. The Co-Regent.
XXXIV. Haroun Al Raschid.
XXXV. The Disguise Removed.
XXXVI. Rosary and Sceptre.
XXXVII. The Difference Between an Abbess and an Empress.
XXXVIII. The Reigning Empress.
XXXIX. The Co-Regent Deposed.
XL Mother and Son.
XLI. Death the Liberator.
XLII. The Mirror.
XLIII. The Interview with Kaunitz.
XLIV. The Archduchess Josepha.
XLV. The Departure.
XLVII. An Adventure.
XLVIII. The Judgment of Solomon.
XLIX. Two Affianced Queens.
EMPEROR OF AUSTRIA
L. The Dinner at the French Ambassador's.
LI. Marianne's Disappearance.
LII. Count Falkenstein.
LIII. What they found at Wichern.
LIV. The Somnambulist.
LV. The Prophecy.
LVI. The Gift.
LVII. The Conference.
LIX. Souvenir d'Eperies.
LX. Frederick The Great.
LXI. The Prima Donna.
LXII. Frederick the Great and Prince Kaunitz.
LXIII. Russia a Foe to all Europe.
LXIV. The Map of Poland.
LXV. The Countess Wielopolska.
LXYI. The Emperor and The Countess.
LXVII. Maria Theresa.
LXVIII. Marie Antoinette and Court Etiquette.
LXIX. The Triumph of Diplomacy.
LXXI. An Explanation.
LXXII Famine in Bohemia.
LXXIII. The Black Broth.
LXXIV. The Extortioners of Quality.
LXXV. Diplomatic Esoterics.
LXXVI. Russia Speaks.
LXXVII. The Last Petition.
LXXVIII. Finis Polonie.
LXXIX. The Mad Countess.
LXXX. The Betrothal.
LXXXI. Franz Antony Mesmer.
LXXXII. Therese Von Paradies.
LXXXIII. The First Day of Light.
LXXXIV. Diplomatic Strategy.
LXXXV. Dominus ac Redemptor Noster.
LXXXVII. The Forced Bridal.
LXXXVIII. Prince Louis de Rohan.
LXXXIX. The Poles at Vienna.
XC. The Last Farewell.
XCI. The Concert.
XCII. The Catastrophe.
XCIII. Le Roi ist Mort, Vive Le Roi!
XCIV. The Memoranda.
XCV. France and Austria.
XCVI. The King's List.
XCVII. The First Pasquinade.
XCVIII. The New Fashions.
XCIX The Temple of Etiquette.
C. The New Fashions and their Unhappy Results.
CII. The Following Day.
CIII. The Last Appeal.
CIV. The Flight.
CV. Joseph in France.
CVI. The Godfather.
CVII. The Godfather.
CVIII. The Arrival at Versailles.
CIX. Count Falkenstein In Paris.
CX. The Queen and The "Dames de la Halle."
CXI. The Adopted Son of the Queen.
CXII. "Chantons, Celebrons Notre Reine."
CXIII. The Hotel Turenne.
CXIV. The Denouement.
CXV. The Parting.
CXVI. Joseph and Louis.
CXVII. The Promenade and the Epigram.
CXVIII. The Dinner en Famille.
CXIX. A Visit to Jean Jacques Rousseau.
CXX. The Parting.
CXXI. Death of the Elector of Bavaria.
CXXII. A Page From History.
CXXIII. The Emperor as Commander-In-Chief.
CXXIV. Secret Negotiations for Peace.
CXXV. Fraternal Discord.
CXXVI. The Defeat.
CXXVII. The Revenge.
CXXVIII. A Letter to the Empress of Russia.
CXXIX. The Gratitude of Princes.
CXXX. Frederick The Great.
CXXXI, "The Darkest Hour is Before Day."
CXXXII. The Emperor and his Mother.
CXXXIII. Prince Potemkin.
CXXXIV. The Prussian Ambassador.
CXXXV. The Austrian Ambassador.
CXXXVI. The Empress Catharine.
CXXXVII. The Czarina and her Master.
CXXXVIII A Diplomatic Defeat.
CXXXIX. The Czarina and the Kaiser.
THE REIGN OF JOSEPH
CXL. The Oath.
CXLI. Prince Kaunitz.
CXLII. The Banker and his Daughter.
CXLIII. The Countess Baillou,
CXLIV. The Expulsion of the Clarisserines.
CXLV. Count Podstadsky'S Escort.
CXLVI. The Lampoon.
CXLVII. The Petitioners.
CXLVIII. The Petitioners.
CXLIX. The Lady Patroness.
CL. Mother and Son.
CLI. The Two Oaths.
CLII. New-Fashioned Obsequies.
CLIII. The Pope in Vienna.
CLIV. The Flight.
CLV. The Marriage before God.
CLVI. The Park.
CLVII. The Parting.
CLVIII. Colonel Szekuly.
CLIX. The Pope's Departure.
CLX. The Repulse.
CLXI. The Count in the Pillory.
CLXII. The Nemesis.
CLXIII. Horja and the Rebellion In Hungary.
CLXIV. The Jew's Revenge.
CLXV. The Favor of Princes.
CLXVI. The Deputation from Hungary.
CLXVII. The Recompense.
CLXVIII. The Rebellion in the Netherlands.
CLXIX. The Imperial Suitor.
CLXX. The Last Dream of Love.
CLXXI. The Turkish War.
CLXXII. Marriage and Separation.
CLXXIII. The Last Dream of Glory.
CLXXIV. The Hungarians Again.
CLXXV. The Revocation.
CLXXVI. The Death of The Martyr.
JOSEPH II. AND HIS COURT
In the council-chamber of the Empress Maria Theresa, the six lords, who
composed her cabinet council, awaited the entrance of their imperial
mistress to open the sitting.
At this sitting, a great political question was to be discussed and its
gravity seemed to be reflected in the faces of the lords, as, in low
tones, they whispered together in the dim, spacious apartment, whose
antiquated furniture of dark velvet tapestry corresponded well with the
anxious looks of its occupants.
In the centre of the room stood the Baron von Bartenstein and the Count
von Uhlefeld, the two powerful statesmen who for thirteen years had been
honored by the confidence of the empress. Together they stood, their
consequence acknowledged by all, while with proud and lofty mien, they
whispered of state secrets.
Upon the fair, smooth face of Bartenstein appeared an expression of
haughty triumph, which he was at no pains to conceal; and over the
delicate mouth of Von Uhlefeld fluttered a smile of ineffable
"I feel perfectly secure," whispered Von Bartenstein. "The empress will
certainly renew the treaties, and continue the policy which we have
hitherto pursued with such brilliant results to Austria."
"The empress is wise," returned Uhlefeld. "She can reckon upon our
stanch support, and so long as she pursues this policy, we will sustain
While he spoke, there shot from his eyes such a glance of conscious
power, that the two lords who, from the recess of a neighboring window,
were watching the imperial favorites, were completely dazzled.
"See, count" murmured one to the other, "see how Count Uhlefeld smiles
to-day. Doubtless he knows already what the decision of the empress is
to be; and that it is in accordance with his wishes, no one can doubt
who looks upon him now."
"It will be well for us," replied Count Colloredo, "if we subscribe
unconditionally to the opinions of the lord chancellor. I, for my part,
will do so all the more readily, that I confess to you my utter
ignorance of the question which is to come before us to-day. I was
really so preoccupied at our last sitting that I--I failed exactly to
comprehend its nature. I think, therefore, that it will be well for us
to vote with Count von Uhlefeld--that is, if the president of the Aulic
Council, Count Harrach, does not entertain other opinions."
Count Harrach bowed. "As for me," sighed he, "I must, as usual, vote
with Count Bartenstein. His will be, as it ever is, the decisive voice
of the day; and its echo will be heard from the lips of the empress. Let
us echo them both, and so be the means of helping to crush the
presumption of yonder crafty and arrogant courtier."
As he spoke he glanced toward the massive table of carved oak, around
which were arranged the leathern arm-chairs of the members of the Aulic
Council. Count Colloredo followed the glance of his friend, which, with
a supercilious expression, rested upon the person to whom he alluded.
This person was seated in one of the chairs, deeply absorbed in the
perusal of the papers that lay before him upon the table. He was a man
of slight and elegant proportions, whose youthful face contrasted
singularly with the dark, manly, and weather-beaten countenances of the
other members of the council. Not a fault marred the beauty of this fair
face; not the shadow of a wrinkle ruffled the polish of the brow; even
the lovely mouth itself was free from those lines by which thought and
care are wont to mark the passage of man through life. One thing,
however, was wanting to this beautiful mask. It was devoid of
expression. Those delicate features were immobile and stony, No trace of
emotion stirred the compressed lips; no shadow of thought flickered over
the high, marble brow; and the glance of those clear, light-blue eyes
was as calm, cold, and unfeeling as that of a statue. This young man,
with Medusa-like beauty, was Anthony Wenzel von Kaunitz, whom Maria
Theresa had lately recalled from Paris to take his seat in her cabinet
The looks of Harrach and Colloredo were directed toward him, but he
appeared not to observe them, and went on quietly with his examination
of the state papers.
"You think, then, count," whispered Colloredo, thoughtfully, "that young
Kaunitz cherishes the absurd hope of an alliance with France?"
"I am sure of it. I know that a few days ago the French ambassador
delivered to him a most affectionate missive from his friend the
Marquise de Pompadour; and I know too that yesterday he replied to it in
a similar strain: It is his fixed idea, and that of La Pompadour also,
to drive Austria into a new line of policy, by making her the ally of
Count Colloredo laughed. "The best cure that I know of for fixed ideas
is the madhouse," replied he, "and thither we will send little Kaunitz
He ceased suddenly, for Kaunitz had slowly raised his eyes from the
table, and they now rested with such an icy gaze upon the smiling face
of Colloredo, that the frightened statesman shivered.
"If he should have heard me!" murmured he. "If he--" but the poor count
had no further time for reflection; for at that moment the folding-doors
leading to the private apartments of the empress were thrown open, and
the lord high steward announced the approach of her majesty.
The councillors advanced to the table, and in respectful silence awaited
the imperial entrance.
The rustling of silk was heard; and then the quick step of the Countess
Fuchs, whose duty it was to accompany the empress to the threshold of
her council-chamber, and to close the door behind her.
And now appeared the majestic figure of the empress. The lords laid
their hands upon their swords, and inclined their heads in reverence
before the imperial lady, who with light, elastic step advanced to the
table, while the Countess Fuchs noiselessly closed the door and
The empress smilingly acknowledged the salutation, though her smile was
lost to her respectful subjects, who, in obedience to the strict Spanish
etiquette which prevailed at the Austrian court, remained with their
heads bent until the sovereign had taken her seat upon the throne.
One of these subjects had bent his head with the rest, but he had
ventured to raise it again, and he at least met the glance of royalty.
This bold subject was Kaunitz, the youngest of the councillors.
He gazed at the advancing empress, and for the first time a smile
flitted over his stony features. And well might the sight of his
sovereign lady stir the marble heart of Kaunitz; for Maria Theresa was
one of the loveliest women of her day. Though thirty-six years of age,
and the mother of thirteen children, she was still beautiful, and the
Austrians were proud to excess of her beauty. Her high, thoughtful
forehead was shaded by a profusion of blond hair, which lightly powdered
and gathered up behind in one rich mass, was there confined by a golden
net. Her large, starry eyes were of that peculiar gray which changes
with every emotion of the soul; at one time seeming to be heavenly-blue,
at another the darkest and most flashing brown. Her bold profile
betokened great pride; but every look of haughtiness was softened away
by the enchanting expression of a mouth in whose exquisite beauty no
trace of the so-called "Austrian lip" could be seen. Her figure, loftier
than is usual with women, was of faultless symmetry, while her graceful
bust would have seemed to the eyes of Praxiteles the waking to life of
his own dreams of Juno.
Those who looked upon this beautiful empress could well realize the
emotions which thirteen years before had stirred the hearts of the
Hungarian nobles as she stood before them; and had wrought them up to
that height of enthusiasm which culminated in the well-known shout of
"MORIAMUR PRO REGE NOSTRO!"
"Our king!" cried the Hungarians, and they were right. For Maria
Theresa, who with her husband, was the tender wife; toward her children,
the loving mother; was in all that related to her empire, her people,
and her sovereignty, a man both in the scope of her comprehension and
the strength of her will. She was capable of sketching bold lines of
policy, and of following them out without reference to personal
predilections or prejudices, both of which she was fully competent to
stifle, wherever they threatened interference with the good of her
realm, or her sense of duty as a sovereign.
The energy and determination of her character were written upon the
lofty brow of Maria Theresa; and now, as she approached her councillors,
these characteristics beamed forth from her countenance with such power
and such beauty, that Kaunitz himself was overawed, and for one moment a
smile lit up his cold features.
No one saw this smile except the imperial lady, who had woke the Memnon
into life; and as she took her seat upon the throne, she slightly bent
her head in return.
Now, with her clear and sonorous voice, she invited her councillors also
to be seated, and at once reached out her hand for the memoranda which
Count Bartenstein had prepared for her examination.
She glanced quickly over the papers, and laid them aside. "My lords of
the Aulic Council," said she, in tones of deep earnestness, "we have
to-day a question of gravest import to discuss. I crave thereunto your
attention and advice. We are at this sitting to deliberate upon the
future policy of Austria, and deeply significant will be the result of
this day's deliberations to Austria's welfare. Some of our old treaties
are about to expire. Time, which has somewhat moderated the bitterness
of our enemies, seems also to have weakened the amity of our friends.
Both are dying away; and the question now before us is, whether we shall
extinguish enmity, or rekindle friendship? For seventy years past
England, Holland, and Sardinia have been our allies. For three hundred
years France has been our hereditary enemy. Shall we renew our alliance
with the former powers, or seek new relations with the latter? Let me
have your views, my lords."
With these concluding words, Maria Theresa waved her hand, and pointed
to Count Uhlefeld. The lord chancellor arose, and with a dignified
inclination of the head, responded to the appeal.
"Since your majesty permits me to speak, I vote without hesitation for
the renewal of our treaty with the maritime powers. For seventy years
our relations with these powers have been amicable and honorable. In our
days of greatest extremity--when Louis XIV. took Alsatia and the city of
Strasburg, and his ally, the Turkish Sultan, besieged Vienna--when two
powerful enemies threatened Austria with destruction, it was this
alliance with the maritime powers and with Sardinia, which, next to the
succor of the generous King of Poland, saved our capital, and Savoy held
Lombardy in check, while England and Holland guarded the Netherlands,
which, since the days of Philip II., have ever been the nest of
rebellion and revolt. To this alliance, therefore, we owe it that your
majesty still reigns over those seditious provinces. To Savoy we are
indebted for Lombardy; while France, perfidious France, has not only
robbed us of our territory, but to this day asserts her right to its
possession! No, your majesty--so long as France retains that which
belongs to Austria, Austria will neither forgive her enmity nor forget
it. See, on the contrary, how the maritime powers have befriended us! It
was THEIR gold which enabled us first to withstand France, and afterward
Prussia--THEIR gold that filled your majesty's coffers--THEIR gold that
sustained and confirmed the prosperity of your majesty's dominions. This
is the alliance that I advocate, and with all my heart I vote for its
renewal. It is but just that the princes and rulers of the earth should
give example to the world of good faith in their dealings; for the
integrity of the sovereign is a pledge to all nations of the integrity
of his people."
Count Uhlefeld resumed his seat, and after him rose the powerful
favorite of the empress, Count Bartenstein, who, in a long and animated
address, came vehemently to the support of Uhlefeld.
Then came Counts Colloredo and Harrach, and the lord high steward, Count
Khevenhuller--all unanimous for a renewal of the old treaty. Not one of
these rich, proud nobles would have dared to breathe a sentiment in
opposition to the two powerful statesmen that had spoken before them.
Bartenstein and Uhlefeld had passed the word. The alliance must continue
with those maritime powers, from whose subsidies such unexampled wealth
had flowed into the coffers of Austria, and--those of the lords of the
exchequer! For, up to the times of which we write, it was a fundamental
doctrine of court faith, that the task of inquiry into the accounts of
the imperial treasury was one far beneath the dignity of the sovereign.
The lords of the exchequer, therefore, were responsible to nobody for
their administration of the funds arising from the Dutch and English
It was natural, then, that the majority of the Aulic Council should vote
for the old alliance. While they argued and voted, Kaunitz, the least
important personage of them all, sat perfectly unconcerned, paying not
the slightest attention to the wise deductions of his colleagues. He
seemed much occupied in straightening loose papers, mending his pen, and
removing with his finger-tips the tiny, specks that flecked the lustre
of his velvet coat. Once, while Bartenstein was delivering his long
address, Kaunitz carried his indifference so far as to draw out his
repeater (on which was painted a portrait of La Pompadour, set in
diamonds) and strike the hour! The musical ring of the little bell
sounded a fairy accompaniment to the deep and earnest tones of
Bartenstein's voice; while Kaunitz, seeming to hear nothing else, held
the watch up to his ear and counted its strokes. [Footnote: Vide
Kormayr, "Austrian Plutarch," vol. xii., p.352.] The empress, who was
accustomed to visit the least manifestation of such inattention on the
part of her councillors with open censure--the empress, so observant of
form, and so exacting of its observance in others--seemed singularly
indulgent to-day; for while Kaunitz was listening to the music of his
watch, his imperial mistress looked on with half a smile. At last, when
the fifth orator had spoken, and it became the turn of Kaunitz to vote,
Maria Theresa turned her flashing eyes upon him with a glance of anxious
and appealing expectation.
As her look met his, how had all coldness and unconcern vanished from
his face! How glowed his eyes with the lustre of great and world-swaying
thoughts, as, rising from his chair, he returned the gaze of his
sovereign with one that seemed to crave forbearance!
But Kaunitz had almost preternatural control over his emotions, and he
recovered himself at once.
"I cannot vote for a renewal of our worn-out alliance with the maritime
powers," said he, in a clear and determined voice. As he uttered these
words, looks of astonishment and disapprobation were, visible upon the
faces of his colleagues. The lord chancellor contented himself with a
contemptuous shrug and a supercilious smile. Kaunitz perceived it, and
met both shrug and smile with undisturbed composure, while calmly and
slowly he repeated his offending words. For a moment he paused, as if to
give time to his hearers to test the flavor of his new and startling
language. Then, firm and collected, he went on:
"Our alliance with England and Holland has long been a yoke and a
humiliation to Austria. If, in its earlier days, this alliance ever
afforded us protection, dearly have we paid for that protection, and we
have been forced to buy it with fearful sacrifices to our national
pride. Never for one moment have these two powers allowed us to forget
that we have been dependent upon their bounty for money and defence.
Jealous of the growing power and influence of Austria, before whose
youthful and vigorous career lies the glory of future greatness--jealous
of our increasing wealth--jealous of the splendor of Maria Theresa's
reign--these powers, whose faded laurels are buried in the grave of the
past, have compassed sea and land to stop the flow of our prosperity,
and sting the pride of our nationality. With their tyrannical commercial
edicts, they have dealt injury to friends as well as foes. The closing
of the Scheldt and Rhine, the Barrier treaty, and all the other
restrictions upon trade devised by those crafty English to damage the
traffic of other nations, all these compacts have been made as binding
upon Austria as upon every other European power. Unmindful of their
alliance with us, the maritime powers have closed their ports against
our ships; and while affecting to watch the Netherlands in our behalf,
they have been nothing better than spies, seeking to discover whether
our flag transcended in the least the limits of our own blockaded
frontiers; and whether to any but to themselves accrued the profits of
trade with the Baltic and North Seas. Vraiment, such friendship lies
heavily upon us, and its weight feels almost like that of enmity. At
Aix-la-Chapelle I had to remind the English ambassador that his
unknightly and arrogant bearing toward Austria was unseemly both to the
sex and majesty of Austria's empress. And our august sovereign herself,
not long since, saw fit to reprove the insolence of this same British
envoy, who in her very presence spoke of the Netherlands as though they
had been a boon to Austria from England's clemency. Incensed at the tone
of this representative of our friends, the empress exclaimed: 'Am I not
ruler in the Netherlands as well as in Vienna? Do I hold my right of
empire from England and Holland?'" [Footnote: Coxe, "History of the
House of Austria," vol. v., p. 51.]
"Yes," interrupted Maria Theresa, impetuously, "yes, it is true. The
arrogance of these royal traders has provoked me beyond all bearing. I
will no longer permit them to insinuate of my own imperial rights that I
hold them as favors from the hand of any earthly power. It chafes the
pride of an empress-queen to be CALLED a friend and TREATED as a vassal;
and I intend that these proud allies shall feel that I resent their
It was wonderful to see the effect of these impassioned words upon the
auditors of the empress. They quaked as they thought how they had voted,
and their awe-stricken faces were pallid with fright. Uhlefeld and
Bartenstein exchanged glances of amazement and dismay; while the other
nobles, like adroit courtiers, fixed their looks, with awakening
admiration, upon Kaunitz, in whom their experienced eyes were just
discovering the rising luminary of a new political firmament.
He, meanwhile, had inclined his head and smiled when the empress had
interrupted him. She ceased, and after a short pause, Kaunitz resumed,
with unaltered equanimity: "Your majesty has been graciously pleased to
testify, in your own sovereign person, to the tyranny of our two
northern allies. It remains, therefore, to speak of Sardinia
alone--Sardinia, who HELD LOMBARDY IN CHECK. No sooner had Victor
Amadeus put his royal signature to the treaty made by him with Austria,
than he turned to his confidants and said (loud enough for us to hear
him in Vienna): 'Lombardy is mine. I will take it, but I shall eat it
up, leaf by leaf, like an artichoke.' And methinks his majesty of
Sardinia has proved himself to be a good trencherman. He has already
swallowed several leaves of his artichoke, in that he is master of
several of the fairest provinces of Lombardy. It is true that this royal
gourmand has laid aside his crown; and that in his place reigns Victor
Emanuel, of whom Lord Chesterfield, in a burst of enthusiasm, has said,
that `he never did and never will commit an act of injustice.' Concede
that Victor Emanuel is the soul of honor; still," added Kaunitz with a
shake of the head, and an incredulous smile "still--the Italian princes
are abominable geographers--and they are inordinately fond of
artichokes. [Footnote: Kaunitz's own words. Kotmayr, "Austrian
Plutarch," vol. xi.] Now their fondness for this vegetable is as
dangerous to Austria as the too loving grasp of her northern allies, who
with their friendly hands not only close their ports against us, but lay
the weight of their favors so heavily upon our heads as to force us
down upon our knees before them. What have we from England and Holland
but their subsidies? And Austria can now afford to relinquish them--
Austria is rich, powerful, prosperous enough to be allowed to proffer
her friendship where it will be honorably returned. Austria, then, must
be freed from her oppressive alliance with the maritime powers. She has
youth and vitality enough to shake off this bondage, and strike for the
new path which shall lead her to greatness and glory. There is a moral
and intangible greatness, of whose existence these trading Englishmen
have no conception, but which the refined and elevated people of France
are fully competent to appreciate. France extends to us her hand, and
offers us alliance on terms of equality. Cooperating with France, we
shall defy the enmity of all Europe. With our two-edged sword we shall
turn the scales of future European strife, and make peace or war for
other nations. France, too, is our natural ally, for she is our
neighbor. And she is more than this, for she is our ally by the sacred
unity of one faith. The Holy Father at Rome, who blesses the arms of
Austria, will no longer look sorrowfully upon Austria's league with
heresy. When apostolic France and we are one, the blessings of the
Church will descend upon our alliance. Religion, therefore, as well as
honest statesmanship, call for the treaty with France."
"And I," cried Maria Theresa, rising quickly from her seat, her eyes
glowing with enthusiastic fire, "I vote joyfully with Count Kaunitz. I,
too, vote for alliance with France. The count has spoken as it stirs my
heart to hear an Austrian speak. He loves his fatherland, and in his
devotion he casts far from him all thought of worldly profit or
advancement. I tender him my warmest thanks, and I will take his words
Overcome with the excitement of the moment, the empress reached her hand
to Kaunitz, who eagerly seized and pressed it to his lips.
Count Uhlefeld watched this extraordinary scene with astonishment and
consternation. Bartenstein, so long the favorite minister of Maria
Theresa, was deadly pale, and his lips were compressed as though he were
trying to suppress a burst of rage. Harrach, Colloredo, and Khevenhuller
hung their heads, while they turned over in their little minds how best
to curry favor with the new minister.
The empress saw nothing of the dismayed faces around her. Her soul was
filled with high emotions, and her countenance beamed gloriously with
the fervor of her boundless patriotism.
"Everything for Austria! My heart, my soul, my life, all are for my
fatherland," said Maria Theresa, with her beautiful eyes raised to
heaven. "And now, my lords," added she, after a pause, "I must retire,
to beg light and counsel from the Almighty. I have learned your
different views on the great question of this day; and when Heaven shall
have taught me what to do, I will decide."
She waved her hand in parting salutation, and with her loftiest imperial
bearing left the room.
Until the doors were closed, the lords of the council remained standing
with inclined heads. Then they looked from one to another with faces of
wonder and inquiry. Kaunitz alone seemed unembarrassed; and gathering up
his papers with as much unconcern as if nothing had happened, he
slightly bent his head and left the room.
Never before had any member of the Aulic Council dared to leave that
room until the lord chancellor had given the signal of departure. It was
a case of unparalleled violation of court etiquette. Count Uhlefeld was
aghast, and Bartenstein seemed crushed. Without exchanging a word, the
two friends rose, and with eyes cast down, and faces pale with the
anguish of that hour, together they left the council-chamber toward
which they had repaired with hearts and bearing so triumphant.
Colloredo and Harrach followed silently to the anteroom, and bowed
deferentially as their late masters passed through. But no sooner had
the door closed, than the two courtiers exchanged malicious smiles.
"Fallen favorites," laughed Harrach. "Quenched lights which yesterday
shone like suns, and to-day are burnt to ashes! There is to be a soiree
to-night at Bartenstein's. For the first time in eleven years I shall
stay away from Bartenstein's soirees."
"And I," replied Colloredo, laughing, "had invited Ulhlefeld for
to-morrow. But, as the entertainment was all in his honor, I shall be
taken with a sudden indisposition, and countermand my supper."
"That will be a most summary proceeding," said Harrach. "I see that you
believe the sun of Uhlefeld and Bartenstein has set forever."
"I am convinced of it. They have their death-blow."
"And the rising sun? You think it will be called Kaunitz?"
"Will be? It is called Kaunitz: so take my advice. Kaunitz I know, is
not a man to be bribed; but he has two weaknesses--women and horses.
You are, for the present, the favorite of La Fortina; and yesterday you
won from Count Esterhazy an Arabian, which Kaunitz says is the finest
horse in Vienna. If I were you, I would present to him both my mistress
and my horse. Who knows but what these courtesies may induce him to
adopt you as a PROTEGE?"
From her cabinet council the empress passed at once to her private
apartments. When business was over for the, day, she loved to cast the
cares of sovereignty behind, and become a woman--chatting with her
ladies of honor over the "on dits" of the court and city. During the
hours devoted to her toilet, Maria Theresa gave herself up unreservedly
to enjoyment. But she was so impetuous, that her ladies of honor were
never quite secure that some little annoyance would not ruffle the
serenity of her temper. The young girl whose duty it was to read aloud
to the empress and dress her hair, used to declare that she would sooner
wade through three hours' worth of Latin dispatches from Hungary, than
spend one half hour as imperial hair-dresser.
But today, as she entered her dressing-room, the eyes of the empress
beamed with pleasure, and her mouth was wreathed with sunny smiles. The
little hair-dresser was delighted, and with a responsive smile took her
place, and prepared for her important duties. Maria Theresa glided into
the chair, and with her own hands began to unfasten the golden net that
confined her hair. She then leaned forward, and, with a pleased
expression, contemplated the beautiful face that looked out from the
silver-framed Venetian glass before which she sat.
"Make me very charming today, Charlotte," said she. [Footnote: Charlotte
von Hieronymus was the mother of Caroline Pichler.]
"Your majesty needs no help from me to look charming," said the gentle
voice of the little tire-woman. "No hair-dresser had lent you her aid on
that day when your Magyar nobles swore to die for you, and yet the world
says that never were eyes of loyal subjects dazzled by such beauty and
"Ah, yes, child, but that was thirteen years ago. Thirteen years! How
many cares have lain upon my heart since that day! If my face is
wrinkled and my hair grown gray, I may thank that hateful King of
Prussia, for he is the cause of it all."
"If he has no greater sins to repent of than those two," replied
Charlotte, with an admiring smile, "he may sleep soundly. Your majesty's
forehead is unruffled by a wrinkle, and your hair is as glossy and as
brown as ever it was."
Brighter still was the smile of the empress, as she turned quickly round
and exclaimed: "Then you think I have still beauty enough to please the
emperor? If you do, make good use of it today, for I have something of
importance to ask of him, and I long to find favor in his eyes. To work,
then, Charlotte, and be quick, for--"
At that moment, the silken hangings before the door of the dressing-room
were drawn hastily aside, and the Countess Fuchs stepped forward.
"Ah, countess," continued the empress, "you are just in time for a
cabinet toilet council."
But the lady of honor showed no disposition to respond to the gay
greeting of her sovereign. With stiffest Spanish ceremony, she
courtesied deeply. "Pardon me, your majesty, if I interrupt you," said
she, solemnly, "but I have something to communicate to yourself alone."
"Oh, countess!" exclaimed Maria Theresa, anxiously, "you look as if you
bare me sad tidings. But speak out-Charlotte knows as many state secrets
as you do; you need not be reserved before her."
"Pardon me," again replied the ceremonious lady, with another deep
courtesy, "I bring no news of state--I must speak with your majesty
The eyes of the empress dilated with fear. "No state secret," murmured
she; "oh, what can it be, then? Go, Charlotte, go, child, and remain
until I recall you."
The door closed behind the tired woman, and the empress cried out: "Now
we are alone, be quick, and speak out what you have to say. You have
come to give me pain, I feel it."
"Your majesty ordered me, some time since," began the countess in her
low, unsympathizing tones, "to watch the imperial household, so that
nothing might transpire within it that came not to the knowledge of your
majesty. I have lately watched the movements of the emperor's valet."
"Ah!" cried the empress, clasping her hands convulsively together, "you
watched him, and"
"Yes, your majesty, I watched him, and I was informed this morning that
he had left the emperor's apartments with a sealed note in his hands,
and had gone into the city."
"No more just yet," said the empress, with trembling lip.
"Give me air! I cannot breathe." With wild emotion she tore open her
velvet bodice, and heaving a deep sigh, signed to the countess to go on.
"My spy awaited Gaspardi's return, and stopped him. He was forbidden, in
the name of your majesty, to go farther. "
"He was brought to me, your majesty, and now awaits your orders."
"So that if there is an answer to the note, he has it," said Maria
Theresa, sharply. The countess bowed.
"Where is he?"
"In the antechamber, your majesty."
The empress bounded from her seat, and walked across the room. Her face
was flushed with anger, and she trembled in every limb. She seemed
undecided what to do; but at last she stopped suddenly, and blushing
deeply, without looking at the countess, she said in a low voice, "Bring
The countess disappeared and returned, followed by Gaspardi. Maria
Theresa strode impetuously forward, and bent her threatening eyes upon
the valet. But the shrewd Italian knew better than to meet the lightning
glance of an angry empress. With downcast looks and reverential
obeisance he awaited her commands. "Look at me, Gaspardi," said she, in
tones that sounded in the valet's ears like distant thunder. "Answer my
Gaspardi raised his eyes.
"To whom was the note addressed that was given you by the emperor this
"Your majesty, I did not presume to look at it," replied Gaspardi,
quietly. "His imperial majesty was pleased to tell me where to take it,
and that sufficed me."
"And whither did you take it?"
"Imperial majesty, I have forgotten the house."
"What street, then?"
"Pardon me, imperial majesty; these dreadful German names are too hard
for my Italian tongue. As soon as I had obeyed his majesty's commands, I
forgot the name of the street."
"So that you are resolved not to tell me where you went with the
"Indeed, imperial majesty, I have totally forgotten."
The empress looked as if she longed to annihilate a menial who defied
her so successfully.
"I see," exclaimed she, "that you are crafty and deceitful, but you
shall not escape me. I command you, as your sovereign, to give up the
note you bear about you for the emperor. I myself will deliver it to his
Gaspardi gave a start, and unconsciously his hand sought the place where
the note was concealed. He turned very pale and stammered, "Imperial
majesty, I have no letter for the emperor."
"You have it there!" thundered the infuriated empress, as with
threatening hand she pointed to the valet's breast. "Deliver it at once,
or I will call my lackeys to search you."
"Your majesty forces me then to betray my lord and emperor?" asked
"You serve him more faithfully by relinquishing the letter than by
retaining it," returned Maria Theresa, hastily. "Once more I command you
to give it up."
Gaspardi heaved a sigh of anguish, and looked imploringly at the
empress. But in the trembling lips, the flashing eyes, the flushed
cheeks that met his entreating glance, he saw no symptoms of relenting,
and he dared the strife no longer. His hand shook as he drew forth the
The empress uttered a cry, and with the fury of a lioness snatched the
paper and crushed it in her hand.
"Your majesty," whispered the countess, "dismiss the valet before
he learns too much. He might--"
"Woe to him if he breathes a word to one human being!" cried the
empress, with menacing gesture. "Woe to him if he dare breathe one word
to his master!"
"Heaven forbid that I should betray the secrets of my sovereign!" cried
the affrighted Gaspardi. "But, imperial majesty, what am I to say to my
lord the emperor?"
"You will tell your lord that you brought no answer, and it will not be
the first lie with which you have befooled his imperial ears," replied
Maria Theresa coutemptuously, while she waved her hand as a signal of
dismissal. The unhappy Mercury retired, and as he disappeared, the
pent-up anguish of the empress burst forth.
"Ah, Margaretta," cried she, in accents of wildest grief, "what an
unfortunate woman I am! In all my life I have loved but one man! My
heart, my soul, my every thought are his, and he robs me, the mother of
his children, of his love, and bestows it upon another!"
"Perhaps the inconstancy is but momentary," replied the countess, who
burned to know the contents of the letter. "Perhaps there is no
inconstancy at all. This may be nothing but an effort on the part of
some frivolous coquette to draw our handsome emperor within the net of
her guilty attractions. The note would show--" The empress scarcely
heeded the words of her confidante. She had opened her hand, and was
gazing upon the crumpled paper that held her husband's secret.
"Oh!" murmured she, plaintively. "Oh, it seems to me that a thousand
daggers have sprung from this little paper, to make my heart's blood
flow. Who is the foolhardy woman that would entice my husband from his
loyalty to me? Woe, woe to her when I shall have learned her name! And I
will learn it!" cried the unhappy wife. "I myself will take this letter
to the emperor, and he shall open it in my presence. I will have
justice! Adultery is a fearful crime, and fearful shall be its
punishment in my realms. The name! the name! Oh, that I knew the name of
the execrable woman who has dared to lift her treasonable eyes toward my
"Nothing is easier than to learn it, your majesty," whispered the
countess, "squat like a toad, close to the ear of Eve"--"the letter will
The empress frowned. Oh, for Ithuriel then!
"Dost mean that I shall open a letter which was never intended to be
read by me?"
The countess pointed to the paper. "Your majesty has already broken the
seal. You crushed it unintentionally. There remains but to unfold the
paper, and every thing is explained. I will wage that it comes from the
beautiful dancer Riccardo, whom the emperor admired so much last night
in the ballet, and whom he declared to be the most bewitching creature
he had ever seen."
The eyes of the empress dropped burning tears, and, covering her face
with her hands, she sobbed aloud. Then she seemed ashamed of her
emotion, and raised her beautiful head again.
"It is contemptible so to mourn for one who is faithless," said she. "It
is for me to judge and to punish, and that will I! It is my duty as
ruler of Austria to bring crime to light. I will soon learn who it is
that dares to exchange letters with the husband of the reigning empress.
And after all, the speediest, the simplest way to do this, lies before
me. I must open the letter, for justice sake; but I swear that I will
not read one word contained within its stages. I will see the name of
the writer alone; and then I can be sure that curiosity and personal
interest have not prompted me."
And so Maria Theresa silenced her scruples, and persuaded herself that
she was compelled to do as the tempter had suggested. She tore open the
note; but true to her self-imposed vow, she paused on the threshold of
dishonor, and read nothing but the writer's name.
"Riccardo!" cried she, wildly. "You were right, Margaretta: an intrigue
with the Riccardo. The emperor has written to her--the emperor, my
She folded the fatal letter, and oh, how her white hands trembled as she
laid it upon the table I and how deadly pale were the cheeks that had
flushed with anger when Gaspardi had been by!
The countess was not deceived by this phase of the empress's grief. She
knew that the storm would burst, and she thought it better to divide its
wrath. She stepped lightly out to call the confessor of her victim.
Maria Theresa was unconscious of being alone. She stood before the table
staring at the letter. Gradually her paleness vanished, and the hue of
anger once more deepened on her cheeks. Her eyes, which had just been
drooping with tears, flamed again with indignation; and her expanded
nostrils, her twitching mouth, and her heaving chest, betrayed the fury
of the storm that was raging within.
"Oh, I will trample her under foot!" muttered she between her teeth,
while she raised her hand as if she would fain have dealt a
leach-stroke. "I will prove to the court--to the empire--to the world,
how Maria Theresa hates vice, and how she punishes crime, without
respect of persons. Both criminals shall feel the lash of justice. If my
woman's heart break, the empress shall do her duty. It shall not be said
that lust holds its revels in Vienna, as at the obscene courts of
Versailles and St. Petersburg. No! Nor shall the libertines of Vienna
point to the Austrian emperor as their model, nor shall their weeping
wives be taunted with reports of the indulgence of the Austrian empress.
Morality and decorum shall prevail in Vienna. The fire of my royal
vengeance shall consume that bold harlot, and then--then for the
"Your majesty will never consent to bring disgrace upon the father of
your imperial children," said a gentle voice close by, and, turning at
the sound, the empress beheld her confessor.
She advanced hastily toward Father Porhammer. "How!" exclaimed she
angrily, "how!--you venture to plead for the emperor? You come hither to
stay the hand of justice?"
"I do indeed," replied the father, "for to-day at least, her hand, if
uplifted against the emperor, must recoil upon the empress. The honor of
my august sovereigns cannot be divided. Your majesty must throw the
shield of your love over the fault of your imperial husband."
"Oh, I cannot! I cannot suffer this mortal blow in silence," sobbed the
"Nay," said the father, smiling, "the wife may be severe, though the
empress be clement."
"But she, father--must she also be pardoned? she who has enticed my
husband from his conjugal faith?"
"As for the Riccardo," replied Father Porhammer, "I have heard that she
is a sinful woman, whose beauty has led many men astray. If your majesty
deem her dangerous, she can be made to leave Vienna; but let retribution
go no further."
"Well, be it so," sighed the empress, whose heart was already softening.
"You are right, reverend father, but La Riccardo shall leave Vienna
So saying, she hastened to her escritoire, and wrote and signed the
order for the banishment of the danseuse.
"There." cried she, handing the order to the priest. "I pray you, dear
father, remit this to Count Bartenstein, and let him see that she goes
hence this very day. And when I shall have laid this evil spirit,
perchance I may find peace once more. But, no, no!" continued she, her
eyes filling with tears; "when she has gone, some other enchantress will
come in her place to charm my husband's love away. Oh, father, if
chastity is not in the heart, sin will always find entrance there."
"Yes, your majesty; and therefore should the portals of the heart be
ever guarded against the enemy. As watchmen are appointed to guard the
property, so are the servants of God sent on earth to extend the
protection of Heaven to the hearts of your people."
"And why may I not aid them in their holy labors?" exclaimed the
empress, glowing suddenly with a new interest. "Why may I not appoint a
committee of good and wise men to watch over the morals of my subjects,
and to warn them from temptation, ere it has time to become sin? Come,
father, you must aid me in this good work. Help me to be the earthly, as
the Blessed Virgin is the heavenly mother of the Austrian people. Sketch
me some plan whereby I may organize my scheme. I feel sure that your
suggestions will be dictated by that Heaven to which you have devoted
your whole life."
"May the spirit of counsel and the spirit of wisdom enlighten my
understanding," said the father, with solemn fervor, "that I may
worthily accomplish the mission with which my empress has intrusted me!"
"But, your majesty," whispered the Countess Fuchs, "in your magnanimous
projects for your people, you are losing sight of yourself. The Riccardo
has not yet been banished; and the emperor, seeing that no answer is
coming to his note, may seek an interview: Who can guess the
consequences of a meeting?"
The empress shivered, as the countess probed the wounds herself had made
in that poor, jealous heart.
"True, true," returned she, in an unsteady voice. "Go, father, and begin
my work of reform, by casting out that wicked woman from among the
unhappy wives of Vienna. I myself will announce her departure to the
emperor. And now, dear friends, leave me. You, father, to Count
Bartenstein. Countess, recall Charlotte, and send me my tire-women. Let
the princes and princesses be regally attired to-day. I will meet the
emperor in their midst."
The confessor bowed and retired, and the countess opening the door of
the inner dressing-room, beckoned to Charlotte, who, in the recess of a
deep bay-window, sat wearily awaiting the summons to return.
THE TOILET OF THE EMPRESS.
SO dark and gloomy was the face of the empress, that poor Charlotte's
heart misgave her, as with a suppressed sigh she resumed her place, and
once more took down the rich masses of her sovereign lady's hair. Maria
Theresa looked sternly at the reflection of her little maid of honor's
face in the glass. She saw how Charlotte's hands trembled and this
increased her ill-humor. Again she raised her eyes to her own image, and
saw plainly that anger was unbecoming to her. The flush on her face was
not rosy, but purple; and the scowl upon her brow was fast deepening
into a wrinkle. Her bosom heaved with a heavy, heavy sigh.
"Ah," thought she, "if I am ever again to find favor in his eyes, I must
always smile; for smiles are the last glowing tints of beauty's sunset.
And yet, how can I smile, when my heart is breaking? He said that the
Riccardo was the loveliest woman he had ever seen. Alas! I remember the
day when he knelt at my feet, and spoke thus of me. Oh, my Franz! Am I
indeed old, and no longer lovable?"
In her anxiety to scrutinize her own features, the empress bent suddenly
forward, and the heavy mass of puffs and braids that formed the coiffure
she had selected for the day, gave way. She felt the sharp points of the
hair-pins in her head, and, miserable and nervous as she was, they
seemed to wound her cruelly. Starting from her chair, she poured forth a
torrent of reproaches upon Charlotte's head, who, pale and trembling
more than ever, repaired the damage, and placed among the braids a
bouquet of white roses. These white roses deepened the unbecoming
redness of the empress's face. She perceived this at once, and losing
all self-control, tore the flowers from her hair, and dashed them on the
"You are all leagued against me." cried she, indignantly. "You are
trying your best to disfigure me, and to make me look old before my
time. Who ever saw such a ridiculous structure as this headdress, that
makes me look like a perambulating castle on a chessboard? Come, another
coiffure, and let it not be such a ridiculous one as this."
Charlotte, of course, did not remind her mistress that the coiffure and
roses had been her own selection. She had nothing to do but to obey in
silence, and begin her work again.
At last the painful task was at an end. The empress looked keenly at
herself in the glass, and convinced that she really looked well, she
called imperatively for her tire-women. In came the procession, bearing
pooped-skirt rich-embroidered train, golden-flowered petticoat, and
bodice flashing with diamonds. But the empress, usually so affable at
her toilet, surveyed both maids and apparel with gloomy indifference. In
moody silence she reached out her feet, while her slippers were
exchanged for high-heeled shoes. Not a look had she to bestow upon the
magnificent dress which enhanced a thousandfold her mature beauty.
Without a word she dismissed the maids of honor, all except Charlotte,
whose crowning labor it was to give the last touch to the imperial head
when the rest of the toilet had been declared to be complete.
Again Maria Theresa stood before that high Venetian glass, and certainly
it did give back the image of a regal beauty. For a while she examined
her costume from head to foot; and at last---at last, her beautiful blue
eyes beamed bright with satisfaction, and a smile rippled the corners of
"No," said she, aloud. "No, it is not so. I am neither old nor ugly. The
light of youth has not yet fled from my brow. My beauty's sun has not
yet set forever. My Franz will love me still; and however charming
younger women may be, he will remember the beloved of his boyhood, and
we will yet be happy in reciprocal affection, come what may to us as
emperor and empress. I do not believe that he said he had never seen so
lovely a woman as Riccardo. Poor, dear Franz! He has a tedious life as
husband of the reigning sovereign. From sheer ennui he sometimes wanders
from his wife's heart, but oh! he must, he must return to me; for if I
were to lose him, earthly splendor would be valueless to me forever!"
Charlotte, who stood behind her mistress with the comb in her hand, was
dismayed at all that she heard; and the plaintive tones of this
magnificent empress, at whose feet lay a world of might, touched her
heart's core. But she sickened as she thought that her presence had been
unheeded, and that the empress had fancied herself alone, while the
secrets of her heart were thus struggling into words. The ample train
completely screened little Charlotte from view, and a deadly paleness
overspread her countenance as she awaited discovery.
Suddenly the empress turned, and putting her hand tenderly on
Charlotte's head, she said, in a voice of indescribable melancholy "Be
warned, Charlotte, and if you marry, never marry a man who has nothing
to do. Men will grow inconstant from sheer ennui." [Footnote: Maria
Theresa's words. See Caroline Pichler. "Memoirs of My Life."]
"I never expect to marry, beloved mistress," said the young girl, deeply
touched by this confidence. "I wish to live and die in your majesty's
"Do you? And can you bear for a lifetime with my impatience, dear
child?" asked the empress, kissing the little devotee on the forehead.
"You know now, my little Charlotte, why I have been so unkind to-day;
you know that my heart was bleeding with such anguish, that had I not
broken out in anger, I must have stifled with agony. You have seen into
the depths of my heart, and why should I not confide in you, who know
every secret of my state-council? No one suspects what misery lies under
the regal mantle. And I care not to exhibit myself to the world's pity.
When Maria Theresa weeps, let her God and those who love her be the
witnesses of her sorrow. Go, now, good little Charlotte, and forget
every thing except your sovereign's love for you. Tell the governess of
the Archduke Ferdinand to bring him hither. Let the other imperial
children await me in my reception-room; and tell the page in the
anteroom to announce to his majesty that I request the honor of a visit
Charlotte, once more happy, left the room, her heart filled with joy for
herself, and gentle sorrow for her sovereign.
Meanwhile the empress thought over the coming interview. "I will try to
recall him to me by love," murmured she, softly. "I will not reproach
him, and although as his empress I have a double claim upon his loyalty,
I will not appeal to any thing but his own dear heart; and when he hears
how he has made his poor Theresa suffer, I know--"
Here her voice failed her, and tears filled her eyes. But she dashed
them quickly away, for steps approached, and the governess entered, with
the infant prince in her arms.
HUSBAND AND WIFE.
A half an hour later, the princes and princesses of Austria were all
assembled in their mother's private parlor. They were a beautiful group.
The empress, in their midst, held little Ferdinand in her arms.
Close-peeping through the folds of their mother's rich dress, were three
other little ones; and a few steps farther were the Archduchesses
Christine and Amelia. Near the open harpsichord stood the graceful form
of the empress's eldest child, the Princess Elizabeth, who now and then
ran her fingers lightly over the instrument, while she awaited the
arrival of her father.
In the pride of her maternity and beauty stood the empress-queen; but
her heart throbbed painfully, though she smiled upon her children.
The page announced the coming of the emperor, and then left the room.
The empress made a sign to her eldest daughter, who seated herself
before the harpsichord. The door opened, and on the threshold appeared
the tall, elegant form of the Emperor Francis. Elizabeth began a
brilliant "Welcome," and all the young voices joined in one loud chorus,
"Long live our emperor, our sovereign, and our father!" sang the
children; but clear above them all were heard the sonorous tones of the
mother, exclaiming in the fulness of her love, "Long live my emperor,
and my husband!" As if every tender chord of Maria Theresa's heart had
been struck, she broke forth into one of Metastasio's most passionate
songs; while Elizabeth, catching the inspiration, accompanied her mother
with sweetest melody. The empress, her little babe in her arms, was
wrapped up in the ecstasy of the moment. Never had she looked more
enchanting than she did as she ceased, and gave one look of love to her
The emperor contemplated for a moment the lovely group before him, and
then, full of emotion, came forward, and bending over his wife, he
kissed the round white arm that held the baby, and whispered to the
mother a few words of rapture at her surpassing beauty.
"But tell me, gracious empress," said he, aloud, "to what am I indebted
for this charming surprise?"
The eyes of the empress shot fire, but instead of a reply, she bent down
to the little Archduchess Josepha, who was just old enough to lisp her
father's name, and said:
"Josepha, tell the emperor what festival we celebrate to-day" the little
one, turning to her father, said, "To-day is imperial mamma's
"Our wedding-day!" murmured the emperor, "and I could forget it!"
"Oh, no! my dear husband," said the empress, "I am sure that you cannot
have forgotten this joyous anniversary. Its remembrance is burned in
your heart, and the presence of your children here, my trust, has
awakened that remembrance, and carried you back with me to the happy,
happy days of our early love."
The voice of the wife was almost tearful, as she spoke those tender
words; and the emperor, touched and humbled at the thought of his own
oversight, sought to change the subject. "But why," asked he, looking
around, "why, if all our other children are here to greet their father,
is Joseph absent from this happy family gathering?"
"He has been disobedient and obstinate again," said the empress, with a
shrug of her shoulders, "and his preceptor, to punish him, kept him
The emperor walked to the door. "Surely," exclaimed he, "on such a day
as this, when all my dear children are around me, my son and the future
emperor should be the first to bid me welcome."
"Stay, my husband," cried the empress, who had no intention of allowing
the emperor to escape so easily from his embarrassment.
"You must be content to remain with us, without the future emperor of
Germany, whose reign, I hope I may be allowed to pray, is yet for some
years postponed. Or is this a happy device of the future emperor's
father to remind me, on my wedding-day, that I am growing old enough to
begin to think of the day of my decease?"
The emperor was perfectly amazed. Although he was accustomed to such
outbursts on the part of his wife, he searched vainly in his heart for
the cause of her intense bitterness to-day. He looked his astonishment;
and the empress, mindful of her resolve not to reproach him, tried her
best to smile. The emperor shook his head thoughtfully as he watched her
face, and said half aloud: "All is not right with thee, Theresa; thou
smilest like a lioness, not like a woman."
"Very well, then," said she sharply, "the lioness has called you to look
upon her whelps. One day they will be lions and lionesses too, and in
that day they will avenge the injuries of their mother."
The empress, as she spoke, felt that her smothered jealousy was bursting
forth. She hastily dismissed her children, and going herself to the
door, she called for the governess of the baby, and almost threw him in
"I foresee the coming of a storm," thought the emperor, as the door
being closed, Maria Theresa came quickly back, and stood before him.
"And is it indeed true," said she bitterly, "that you had forgotten your
wedding-day? Not a throb of your heart to remind you of the past!"
"My memory does not cling to dates, Theresa," replied the emperor.
"What, if to-day be accidentally the anniversary of our marriage? With
every beating of my heart, I celebrate the hour itself, when I won the
proud and beautiful heiress of Austria; and when I remember that she
deigned to love ME, the poor Archduke of Lorraine, my happiness
overwhelms me. Come, then, my beautiful, my beloved Theresa; come to my
heart, that I may thank you for all the blessings that I owe to your
love. See, dearest, we are alone; let us forget royalty for to-day, and
be happy together in all the fulness of mutual confidence and
So saying, he would have pressed her to his heart, but the empress drew
coldly back, and turned deadly pale. This unembarrassed and confident
tenderness irritated her beyond expression. That her faithless spouse
should, without the slightest remorse, act the part of the devoted
lover, outraged her very sense of decency.
"Really, my husband, it becomes you well to prate of confidence and
affection, who have ceased to think of your own wife, and have eyes
alone for the wife of another!"
"Again jealous?" sighed the emperor wearily. "Will you never cease to
cloud our domestic sky by these absurd and groundless suspicions?"
"Groundless!" cried the empress, tearing the letter violently from her
bosom. "With this proof of your guilt confronting you, you will not dare
to say that I am jealous without cause!"
"Allow me to inquire of your majesty, what this letter is to prove?"
"It proves that to-day you have written a letter to a woman, of whom
yesterday you said that she was the most beautiful woman in the world."
"I have no recollection of saying such a thing of any woman; and I am
surprised that your majesty should encourage your attendants to repeat
such contemptible tales," replied the emperor, with some bitterness.
"Were I like you, the reigning sovereign of a great empire, I should
really find no time to indulge in gossip and scandal."
"Your majesty will oblige me by refraining from any comment upon affairs
which do not concern you. I alone am reigning empress here, and it is
for my people to judge whether I do my duty to them; certainly not for
you, who, while I am with my ministers of state, employ your leisure
hours in writing love-letters to my subjects."
"I? I write a love-letter?" said the emperor.
"How dare you deny it? "cried the outraged empress. "Have you also
forgotten that this morning you sent Gaspardi out of the palace on an
"No, I have not forgotten it," replied the emperor, with growing
astonishment. But Maria Theresa remarked that he looked confused, and
avoided her eye.
"You confess, then, that you sent the letter, and requested an answer?"
"Yes, but I received no answer," said the emperor, with embarrassment.
"There is your answer," thundered the enraged wife. "I took it from
"And is it possible, Theresa, that you have read a letter addressed to
me?" asked the emperor, in a severe voice.
The empress blushed, and her eyes sought the ground.
"No," said she, "I have not read it, Franz."
"But it is open," persisted he, taking it from his wife's hand. "Who,
then, has dared to break the seal of a letter addressed to me?"
And the emperor, usually so mild toward his wife, stood erect, with
stormy brow and eyes flashing with anger.
Maria Theresa in her turn was surprised. She looked earnestly at him,
and confessed inwardly that never had she seen him look so handsome; and
she felt an inexplicable and secret pleasure that her Franz, for once in
his life, was really angry with her.
"I broke the seal of the letter, but I swear to you that I did not read
one word of it," replied she. "I wished to see the signature only, and
that signature was enough to convince me that I had a faithless husband,
who outrages an empress by giving her a dancer as her rival!"
"The signature convinced you of this?" asked the emperor.
"And you read nothing else?"
"Nothing, I tell you."
"Then, madam," returned he, seriously, handing the letter back to her,
"do me the favor to read the whole of it. After breaking the seal, you
need not hesitate. I exact it of you."
The empress looked overwhelmed. "You exact of me to read a love-letter
addressed to you?"
"Certainly I do. You took it from my valet, you broke it open, and now I
beg you will be so good as to read it aloud, for I have not yet read it
"I will read it, then," cried the empress, scornfully. "And I promise
you that I shall not suppress a word of its contents."
"Read on," said the emperor, quietly.
The empress, with loud and angry tone, began:
"To his Gracious Majesty, the Emperor:
"Your majesty has honored me by asking my advice upon a subject of the
highest importance. But your majesty is much nearer the goal than I. It
is true that my gracious master, the count, led me to the vestibule of
the temple of science, but further I have not penetrated. What I know I
will joyfully impart to your majesty; and joyfully will I aid you in
your search after that which the whole world is seeking. I will come at
the appointed hour.
"Your majesty's loyal servant,
"I do not understand a word," said the mystified empress.
"But I do," returned the emperor, with a meaning smile. "Since your
majesty has thrust yourself into the portals of my confidence, I must
e'en take you with me into the penetralia, and confess at once that I
have a passion, which has cost me many a sleepless night, and has
preoccupied my thoughts, even when I was by your majesty's side."
"But I see nothing of love or passion in this letter," replied Maria
Theresa, glancing once more at its singular contents.
"And yet it speaks of nothing else. I may just as well confess, too,
that in pursuit of the object of my love, I have spent three hundred
thousand guilders, and thrown away at least one hundred thousand
guilders' worth of diamonds."
"Your mistress must be either very coy or very grasping," said Maria
Theresa, almost convulsed with jealousy.
"She is very coy," said the emperor. "All my gold and diamonds have won
me not a smile--she will not yield up her secret. But I believe that she
has responded to the love of one happy mortal, Count Saint-Germain."
"Count Saint-Germain!" exclaimed the empress, amazed.
"Himself, your majesty. He is one of the fortunate few, to whom the coy
beauty has succumbed; and to take his place I would give millions. Now,
I heard yesterday that the confidant of the count was in Vienna; and,
hoping to learn something from him, I invited him hither. Signor
"SIGNOR Riccardo! Was this letter written by a man?"
"By the husband of the dancer."
"And your letter was addressed to him?"
"Even so, madame."
"Then this passion of which you speak is your old passion--alchemy."
"Yes, it is. I had promised you to give it up, but it proves stronger
than I. Not to annoy you, I have ever since worked secretly in my
laboratory. I have just conceived a new idea. I am about to try the
experiment of consolidating small diamonds into one large one, by means
of a burning-glass."
The empress answered this with a hearty, happy laugh, and went up to her
husband with outstretched hands.
"Franz," said she, "I am a simpleton; and all that has been for
tormenting in my heart is sheer nonsense. My crown does not prevent me
from being a silly woman. But, my heart's love, forgive my folly for the
sake of my affection."
Instead of responding to this appeal, the emperor stood perfectly still,
and gazed earnestly and seriously at his wife.
"Your jealousy," said he, after a moment's silence, "I freely forgive,
for it is a source of more misery to you than to me. But this jealousy
has attacked my honor as a man, and that I cannot forgive. As reigning
empress, I render you homage, and am content to occupy the second pace
in Austria's realms. I will not deny that such a rule is irksome to me,
for I, like you, have lofty dreams of ambition; and I could have wished
that, in giving me the TITLE, you had allowed me sometimes the
privileges of a co-regent. But I have seen that my co-regency irritated
and annoyed you; I have, therefore, renounced all thought of governing
empires. I have done this, not only because I love you, Theresa, but
because you are worthy by your intellect to govern your people without
my help. In the world, therefore, I am known as the husband of the
reigning empress; but at home I am lord of my own household, and here I
reign supreme. The emperor may be subordinate to his sovereign, but the
man will acknowledge no superior; and the dignity of his manhood shall
be respected, even by yourself."
"Heaven forbid that I should ever seek to wound it!" exclaimed Maria
Theresa, while she gazed with rapture upon her husband's noble
countenance, and thought that never had he looked so handsome as at this
moment, when, for the first time, he asserted his authority against
"You HAVE wounded it, your majesty," replied the emperor, with emphasis.
"You have dogged my steps with spies; you have suffered my character to
be discussed by your attendants. You have gone so far as to compromise
me with my own servants; forcing them to disobey me by virtue of your
rights as sovereign exercised in opposition to mine as your husband. I
gave Gaspardi orders to deliver Riccardo's note to me alone. I forbade
him to tell any one whither he went. YOU took my note from him by force,
and committed the grave wrong of compelling a servant, hitherto
faithful, to disobey and betray his master."
"I did indeed wrong you, dear Franz," said the empress, already
penitent. "In Gaspardi's presence I will ask your pardon for my
indelicate intrusion, and before him I will bear witness to his
fidelity. I alone was to blame. I promise you, too, to sin no more
against you, my beloved, for your love is the brightest jewel in my
crown. Without it, no happiness would grandeur give to me. Forgive me,
then, my own Franz--forgive your unhappy Theresa!"
As she spoke, she inclined her head toward her husband, and looked up to
him with such eyes of love, that he could but gaze enraptured upon her
"Come, Franz, come!" said she tenderly; "surely, that wicked jest of
yours has amply revenged you. Be satisfied with having given me a
heartache for jealousy of the coy mistress upon whom you have wasted
your diamonds, and be magnanimous."
"And you, Theresa?--will you be magnanimous also? Will you leave my
servants and my letters alone, and set no more spies to dog my steps?"
"Indeed, Franz, I will never behave as I have done to-day, while we both
live. Now, if you will sign my pardon, I will tell you a piece of news
with which I intend shortly to surprise all Austria."
"Out with it, then, and if it is good news I sign the pardon," said the
emperor, with a smile.
"It is excellent news," cried the empress, "for it will give new life to
Austria. It will bring down revenge upon our enemies, and revenge upon
that wicked infidel who took my beautiful Silesia from me, and who,
boasting of his impiety, calls it enlightenment."
"Have you not yet forgiven Frederick for that little bit of Silesia that
he stole from you?" asked the emperor, laughing.
"No, I have not yet forgiven him, nor do I ever expect to do so. I owe
it to him, that, years ago, I came like a beggar before the Magyars to
whimper for help and defence. I have never yet forgotten the humiliation
of that day, Franz."
"And yet, Theresa, we must confess that Frederick is a great man, and it
were well for Austria if we were allies; for such an alliance would
secure the blessings of a stable peace to Europe."
"It cannot be," cried the empress. "There is no sympathy between Austria
and Prussia, and peace will never come to Europe until one succumbs to
the other. No dependence is to be placed upon alliances between
incongruous nations. In spite of our allies, the English, the Dutch, and
the Russians, the King of Prussia has robbed me of my province; and all
the help I have ever got from them was empty condolence. For this reason
I have sought for alliance with another power--a power which will
cordially unite with me in crushing that hateful infidel, to whom
nothing in life is sacred. This is the news that I promised you. Our
treaty with England and Holland is about to expire, and the new ally I
have found for Austria is France."
"An alliance with France is not a natural one for Austria, and can never
be enduring," exclaimed the emperor. [Footnote: The emperor's own words.
Coxe, "History of the House of Austria," vol. v., p. 67.]
"It WILL be enduring," cried Maria Theresa, proudly, "for it is equally
desired by both nations. Not only Louis XV., but the Marquise de
Pompadour is impatient to have the treaty signed."
"That means that Kaunitz has been flattering the marquise, and the
marquise, Kaunitz. But words are not treaties, and the marquise's
promises are of no consequence whatever."
"But, Franz, I tell you that we have gone further than words. Of this,
however, no one knows, except the King of France, myself, Kaunitz, and
"How in the world did you manage to buy the good-will of the marquise?
How many millions did you pay for the precious boon?"
"Not a kreutzer, dear husband, only a letter."
"Letter! Letter from whom?"
"A letter from me to the marquise."
"What!" cried the emperor, laughing. "You write to La Pompadour--YOU,
"With my own hand, I have written to her, and more than once," returned
Maria Theresa, joining in the laugh. "And what do you suppose I did, to
save my honor in the matter? I pretended to think that she was the wife
of the king, and addressed her as 'Madame, ma soeur et cousine.'"
Here the emperor laughed immoderately. "Well, well!" exclaimed he. "So
the Empress-Queen of Austria and Hungary writes with her own hand to her
beloved cousin La Pompadour!"
"And do you know what she calls me?" laughed the empress in return.
"Yesterday I had a letter from her in which she calls me, sportively,
'Ma chere reine.'"
The emperor broke out into such a volley of laughter, that he threw
himself back upon a chair, which broke under him, and the empress had to
come to his assistance, for he was too convulsed to get up alone.
"Oh dear! oh dear!" groaned the emperor, still continuing to laugh. "I
shall die of this intelligence. Maria Theresa in correspondence with
"Well, what of it, Franz?" asked Maria Theresa. "Did I not write to the
prima donna Farinelli when we were seeking alliance with Spain? and is
the marquise not as good as a soprano singer?" [Footnote: The empress's
own words. Coxe, vol. v., p. 69.]
The emperor looked at her with such a droll expression that she gave up
all idea of defending herself from ridicule, and laughed as heartily as
At this moment a page knocked, and announced the Archduke Joseph and his
"Poor lad!" said the emperor; "I suppose he comes, as usual, accompanied
by an accuser."
THE ARCHDUKE JOSEPH.
The emperor was right; Father Francis came in with complaints of his
highness. While the father with great pathos set forth the reason of the
archduke's absence from the family circle, the culprit stood by,
apparently indifferent to all that was being said. But, to any one
observing him closely, his tremulous mouth, and the short, convulsive
sighs, which he vainly strove to repress, showed the real anxiety of his
fast-beating heart. He thrust back his rising tears, for the little
prince teas too proud to crave sympathy; and he had already learned how
to hide emotion by a cold and haughty bearing. From his childhood he had
borne a secret sorrow in his heart--the sorrow of seeing his young
brother Carl preferred to himself. Not only was Carl the darling of his
parents, but he was the pet and plaything of the whole palace. True, the
poor little archduke was not gifted with the grace and charming naivete
of his brother. He was awkward, serious, and his countenance wore an
expression of discontent, which was thought to betray an evil
disposition, but which, in reality, was but the reflection of the heavy
sorrow which clouded his young heart. No one seemed to understand--no
one seemed to love him. Alone in the midst of that gay and splendid
court, he was never noticed except to be chided. [Footnote: Hubner,
"Life of Joseph II.," page 15.] The buds of his poor young heart were
blighted by the mildew of neglect, so that outwardly he was cold,
sarcastic, and sullen, while inwardly he glowed with a thousand
emotions, which he dared reveal to no one, for no one seemed to dream
that he was capable of feeling them.
To-day, as usual, he was brought before his parents as a culprit; and
without daring to utter a word in his own defence, he stood by, while
Father Francis told how many times he had yawned over the "Lives of the
Martyrs;" and how he had refused to read, longer than one hour, a most
edifying commentary of the Fathers on the Holy Scriptures.
The empress heard with displeasure of her son's lack of piety; and she
looked severely at him, while he gazed sullenly at a portrait that hung
"And can it be, my son," exclaimed she, "that you close your heart
against the word of God, and refuse to read religious books?"
The boy gave her a glance of defiance. "I do not know," said he,
carelessly, "whether the books are religious or not; but I know that
they are tiresome, and teach me nothing."
"Gracious Heaven!" cried the empress, with horror, "hear the impious
"Rather, your majesty," said Father Francis, "let us pray Heaven to
soften his heart." The emperor alone said nothing; but he looked at the
boy with a friendly and sympathizing glance. The child saw the look, and
for one moment a flush of pleasure passed over his face. He raised his
eyes with an appealing expression toward his father, who could no longer
resist the temptation of coming to his relief.
"Perhaps," suggested he, "the books may be dull to a child of Joseph's
"No book," returned the empress, "should be dull that treats of God and
of His holy Church."
"And the work, your majesty, which we were reading, was a most learned
and celebrated treatise," said Father Francis; "one highly calculated to
edify and instruct youth."
Joseph turned away from the father, and spoke to the emperor.
"We have already gone through five volumes of it, your majesty, and I am
tired to death of it. Moreover, I don't believe half that I read in his
The empress, as she heard this, uttered a cry of pain. She felt an icy
coldness benumb her heart, as she remembered that this unbelieving boy
was one day to succeed her on the throne of Austria. The emperor, too,
was pained. By the deadly paleness of her face, he guessed the pane that
was rending his wife's heart, and he dared say no more in defence of his
"Your majesty sees," continued Father Francis, "how far is the heart of
his highness from God and the Church. His instructors are grieved at his
precocious unbelief, and they are this day to confer together upon the
painful subject. The hour of the conference is at hand, and I crave your
majesty's leave to repair thither."
"No," said the empress, with a deprecating gesture; "no. Remain, good
father. Let this conference he held in the presence of the emperor and
myself. It is fitting that we both know the worst in regard to our
The emperor bowed acquiescence, and crossing the room, took a seat by
the side of the empress.
He rang a little golden bell; and the page who came at the summons, was
ordered to request the attendance of the preceptors of his highness the
Crown Prince of Austria.
Maria Theresa leaned her head upon her hand, and with a sad and
perplexed countenance watched the open door. The emperor, with his arm
thrown over the gilded back of the divan, looked earnestly at the young
culprit, who, pale, and with a beating heart, was trying his best to
suppress his increasing emotion.
"I will not cry," thought he, scarcely able to restrain his tears; "for
that would be a triumph for my detestable teachers. I am not going to
give them the pleasure of knowing that I am miserable."
And, by dint of great exertion, he mastered his agitation. He was so
successful, that he did not move a muscle nor turn his head when the
solemn procession of his accusers entered the room.
First, at the head, came Father Porhammer, who gave him lessons in logic
and physic; after him walked the engineer Briguen, professor of
mathematics; then Herr von Leporini, who instructed him in general
history; Herrvson Bartenstein, who expounded the political history of
the house of Austria; Baron von Beck, who was his instructor in
judicature; and finally, his governor, Count Bathiany, the only one
toward whom the young prince felt a grain of good-will.
The empress greeted them with grave courtesy, and exhorted them to say
without reserve before his parents what they thought of the progress and
disposition of the archduke.
Count Bathiany, with an encouraging smile directed toward his pupil,
assured their majesties that the archduke was anxious to do right--not
because he was told so to do by others, but because he followed the
dictates of his own conscience. True, his highness would not see through
the eyes of any other person; but this, though it might be a defect in a
child, would be the reverse in a man--above all, in a sovereign. "In
proof of the archduke's sincere desire to do right," continued Count
Bathiany, "allow me to repeat to your majesties something which he said
to me yesterday. We were reading together Bellegarde on knowledge of
self and of human nature. The beautiful thoughts of the author so
touched the heart of his highness, that, stopping suddenly, he exclaimed
to me, 'We must read this again; for when I come to the throne I shall
need to know, not only myself, but other men also.'"
"Well said, my son!" exclaimed the emperor.
"I cannot agree with your majesty," said the empress, coldly. "_I_ do
not think it praiseworthy for a child of his age to look forward with
complacency to the day when his mother's death will confer upon him a
throne. To rile it would seem more natural if Joseph thought more of his
present duties and less of his future honors."
A breathless silence followed these bitter words. The emperor, in
confusion, withdrew behind the harpsichord. The archduke looked
perfectly indifferent. While Count Bathiany had been repeating his
words, his face had slightly flushed; but when he heard the sharp
reproof of his mother, he raised his head, and gave her back another
defiant look. With the same sullen haughtiness, he stared first at one
accuser, and then at another, while each one in his turn gave judgment
against him. First, and most vehement in his denunciations, was Count
Bartenstein. He denounced the archduke as idle and inattentive. He never
would have any political sagacity whatever. Why, even the great work, in
fifteen folios, which he (Count Bartenstein) had compiled from the
imperial archives for the especial instruction of the prince, even THAT
failed to interest him! [Footnote: Hormayer says that this book was
heavy and filled with tiresome details. (No wonder! In fifteen
Then followed the rest of their professorships. One complained of
disrespect; another of carelessness; a third of disobedience; a fourth
of irreligion. All concurred in declaring the archduke to be obstinate,
unfeeling, and intractable.
His face, meanwhile, grew paler and harder, until it seemed almost to
stiffen into marble. Although every censorious word went like a dagger
to his sensitive heart, he still kept on murmuring to himself, "I will
not cry, I will not cry."
His mother divined nothing of the agony which, like a wild tornado, was
desolating the fair face of her child's whole being. She saw nothing
beyond the portals of that cold and sullen aspect, and the sight filled
her with sorrow and anger.
"Alas," cried she bitterly, "you are right! He is a refractory and
At this moment, like the voice of a conciliatory angel, were heard the
soft tones of the melody with which the empress had greeted her husband
that morning. It was the emperor, whose hands seemed unconsciously to
wander over the keys of the harpsichord, while every head bent entranced
When the first tones of the heavenly melody fell upon his ear, the young
prince began to tremble. His features softened; his lips, so scornfully
compressed, now parted, as if to drink in every sound; his eyes filled
with tears, and every angry feeling of his heart was hushed by the magic
of music. With a voice of love it seemed to call him, and unable to
resist its power and its pathos, he burst into a flood of tears, and
with one bound reached his father's arms, sobbing--
"Father, dear father, pity me!"
The emperor drew the poor boy close to his heart. He kissed his blond
curls, and whispering, said: "Dear child, I knew that you were not
heartless. I was sure that you would come when your father called."
The empress had started from her seat, and she now stood in the centre
of the room, earnestly gazing upon her husband and her child. Her
mother's heart beat wildly, and tears of tenderness suffused her eyes.
She longed to speak some word of pardon to her son; but before all
things, Maria Theresa honored court ceremony. She would not, for the
world, that her subjects had seen her otherwise than self-possessed and
regal in her bearing.
With one great effort she mastered her emotions; and before the strength
of her will, the mighty flood rolled back upon her heart. Not a tear
that glistened in her eyelids fell; not a tone of her clear, silvery
voice was heard to falter.
"Count Bathiany," said she, "I perceive that in the education of the
archduke, the humanizing influences of music have been overlooked. Music
to-day has been more powerful with him than filial love or moral
obligation. Select for him, then, a skilful teacher, who will make use
of his art to lead my son back to duty and religion." [Footnote: Maria
Theresa's own words. Coxe, "House of Austria," vol. v.]
Three weeks had elapsed since the memorable sitting at which Maria
Theresa had declared in favor of a new line of policy. Three long weeks
had gone by, and still no message came for Kaunitz; and still
Bartenstein and Uhlefeld held the reins of power.
With hasty steps, Kaunitz paced the floor of his study. Gone was all
coldness and impassibility from his face. His eyes glowed with restless
fire, and his features twitched nervously.
His secretary, who sat before the writing-table, had been gazing
anxiously at the count for sometime. He shook his head gloomily, as he
contemplated the strange sight of Kaunitz, agitated and disturbed.
Kaunitz caught the eye of his confidant, and coming hastily toward the
table, he stood for a few moments without speaking a word. Suddenly he
burst into a loud, harsh laugh--a laugh so bitter, so sardonic, that
Baron Binder turned pale as he heard the sound.
"Why are you so pale, Binder?" asked Kaunitz, still laughing. "Why do
you start as if you had received an electric shock?"
"Your laughing is like an electric shock to my heart," replied the
baron. "Its sound was enough to make a man pale. Why, for ten years I
have lived under your roof, and never have I heard you laugh before."
"Perhaps you are right, Binder, for in sooth my laugh echoes gloomily
within the walls of my own heart. But I could not help it--you had such
a droll, censorious expression on your face."
"No wonder," returned Baron Binder. "It vexes me to see a statesman so
irresolute and unmanned."
"Statesman!" exclaimed Kaunitz, bitterly. "Who knows whether my role of
statesman is not played out already?"
He resumed his walk in moody silence, while Binder followed him with his
eyes. Suddenly Kaunitz stopped again before the table. "Baron," said he,
"you have known me intimately for ten years. In all my embassies you
have been with me as attache. Since we have lived together, have you
ever known me to be faint-hearted?"
"Never!" cried the baron, "never! I have seen you brave the anger of
monarchs, the hatred of enemies, the treachery of friends and
mistresses. I have stood by your side in more than one duel, and never
before have I seen you otherwise than calm and resolute."
"Judge, then, how sickening to me is this suspense, since, for the first
time in my life, I falter. Oh! I tremble lest--"
"Lest what?" asked the baron, with interest.
"Binder, I fear that Maria Theresa may prove less an empress than a
woman. I fear that the persuasions of the handsome Francis of Lorraine
may outweigh her own convictions of right. What if her husband's
caresses, her confessor's counsel, or her own feminine caprice, should
blind her to the welfare of her subjects and the interest of her empire?
Oh, what a giant structure will fall to the earth, if, at this crisis,
the empress should fail me! Think what a triumph it would be to dash
aside my rivals and seize the helm of state to gather, upon the deck of
one stout ship, all the paltry principalities that call themselves
'Austria;' to band them into one consolidated nation; and then to steer
this noble ship into a haven of greatness and glorious peace! Binder, to
this end alone I live. I have outlived all human illusions. I have no
faith in love--it is bought and sold. No faith in the tears of men; none
in their smiles. Society, to me, is one vast mad house. If, in its
frenzied walls, I show that I am sane, the delirious throng will shout
out, 'Seize the lunatic!' Therefore must I seem as mad as they, and
therefore it is that, outside of this study, I commit a thousand
follies. In such a world I have no faith; but, Binder, I believe in
divine ambition. It is the only passion that has ever stirred my
heart--the only passion worthy to fill the soul of a MAN! My only love,
then, ambition. My only dream is of power. Oh! that I might eclipse and
outlive the names of my rivals! But alas! alas! I fear that the
greatness of Kaunitz will be wrecked upon the shoals of Maria Theresa's
"No, no," said the baron vehemently. "Fear nothing, Kaunitz; you are the
man who is destined to make Austria great, and to disperse the clouds of
ignorance that darken the minds of her people."
"You may be sure that if ever I attain power, Binder, nor church nor
churchman shall have a voice in Austria. Kaunitz alone shall reign. But
will Maria Theresa consent? Will she ever have strength of mind to burst
the shackles with which silly love and silly devotion have bound her? I
fear not. Religion--"
Here the door opened, and the count's valet handed a card to the
"A visit from Count Bartenstein!" exclaimed the baron triumphantly. "Ah!
"Will you receive him here, in the study?"
"I will receive him nowhere," replied Kaunitz coldly. "Say to the
count," added he to the valet, "that I am engaged, and beg to be
"What! You deny yourself to the prime minister?" cried Binder,
Kaunitz motioned to the servant to withdraw.
"Binder," said he exultingly, "do you not see from this visit that MY
day is about to dawn, and that Bartenstein is the first lark to greet
the rising sun? His visit proves that he feels a presentiment of his
fall and my rebuff shall verify it. The whole world will understand that
when Bartenstein was turned away from my door, I gave old Austria, as
well as himself, a parting kick. Away with anxiety and fear! The deluge
is over, and old Bartenstein has brought me the olive-branch that
announces dry land and safety."
"My dear count!"
"Yes, Binder, dry land and safety. Now we will be merry, and lift our
head high up into clouds of Olympic revel! Away with your deeds and your
parchments! We are no longer bookworms, but butterflies. Let us sport
among the roses!"
While Kaunitz spoke, he seized a hand-bell from the table, and rang
"Make ready for me in my dressing-room," said he to the valet. "Let the
cook prepare a costly dinner for twenty persons. Let the steward select
the rarest wines in the cellar. Tell him to see that the Champagne is
not too warm, nor the Johannisberg to cold; the Sillery too dry, nor the
Lachryma Christi too acid. Order two carriages, and send one for Signora
Ferlina, and the other for Signora Sacco. Send two footmen to Counts
Harrach and Colloredo, with my compliments. Stay--here is a list of the
other guests. Send a messenger to the apartments of my sister, the
countess. Tell her, with my respects, to oblige me by dining to-day in
her own private rooms. I will not need her to preside over my
"But, my lord," stammered the valet, "the countess--"
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