LOUISA OF PRUSSIA AND HER TIMES
Part 12 out of 14
Was I not the first man to congratulate your majesty, the
indomitable chieftain, on the fresh laurels with which you had
wreathed your heroic brow, even in the cold days of winter?"
"It is true," said Napoleon, "you did so, but your compliment was
intended for others; fate, however, had changed its address.
[Footnote: The whole conversation is strictly in accordance with
history.--Vide "Memoires in edits du Comte de Haugwitz," 1837.] Of
your sincerity I have hitherto had no proofs whatever, but a great
many of your duplicity; for, at all events, you have affixed your
name to the treaty of Potsdam?"
"I have done so, and boast of it," said Count Haugwitz, quickly.
"A glance into the heart of Napoleon satisfied me that he who stands
at the head of human greatness knew no higher aim than to give peace
to mankind, and thus complete the great work which Providence has
intrusted to him."
"Words, words!" said Napoleon. "Let me see actions at last. The
instructions that were given to you before leaving Berlin have been
annulled by the recent events in Moravia; we are agreed about this
point. Now, you are a member of the Prussian cabinet. By sending you
to me, the king has intrusted to you alone the welfare of his
monarchy. We shall see, therefore, whether you will know how to
profit by a rare, perhaps never-recurring opportunity, and to crown
the work which Frederick II., notwithstanding his victories, left
unfinished. Come hither and see."
He stepped rapidly to the table with the maps, and in obedience to a
wave of his hand, Count Haugwitz glided, with his imperturbable
smile, to his side.
"See here," exclaimed Napoleon, pointing at the map; "this is
Silesia, your native country. The king does not rule over the whole
of it, the Emperor of Austria still retaining a portion of it; but
that splendid province ought to belong exclusively to Prussia. We
will see and consider how far your southern frontier ought to be
extended. Just follow my finger on the map; it will designate to you
the new boundaries of Prussian Silesia." [Footnote: Napoleon's own
words.--"Memoires inedits," p. 17.]
And Napoleon's forefinger passed, flashing like a dagger-point,
across the map, and encircled the whole Austrian portion of Silesia,
from Teschen to the Saxon frontier, and from the mountains of
Yablunka to the point where the Riesengebirge disappears in Lusatia.
[Footnote: Ibid., p. 18.] "Well," he then asked, hastily, "would
not such an arrangement round off your Silesian province in the most
Count Haugwitz did not reply immediately, but continued gazing at
the map. Napoleon's eagle glance rested on him for a moment, and
then passed on to the busts of Maria Theresa and Frederick the
"Oh," he exclaimed, with a triumphant smile, pointing to the bust of
Frederick, "that great man would have accepted my proposition
without any hesitation whatever."
"Sire," said Count Haugwitz, hesitatingly, "but that great woman,
Maria Theresa, would not have permitted it so easily."
"But now," exclaimed Napoleon, "now there is no Maria Theresa to
hinder the King of Prussia; now I am here, and I grant the whole of
Silesia to your king if he will conclude a close alliance with me.
Consider well; can you be insensible of the glory which awaits you?"
And his eyes again pierced the embarrassed face of the count like
"Sire," said Haugwitz, in a low voice, "your proposition is
tempting, it is admirable; but as far as I know his majesty the
king, I must?"
"Oh," said Napoleon, impatiently, "do not allude to the king and his
person. We have nothing to do with that. You are minister, and it
behooves you to fulfil the duties which your position demands from
you, and to embrace the opportunity which will never return. One
must be powerful, one can never be sufficiently so, believe me, and
consider well before replying to me."
"But, perhaps, sire, it would be better for us to seek for
aggrandizement on another side," said Haugwitz.
"On the side of Poland or France, I suppose?" asked Napoleon,
harshly. "You would like to deprive me again of Mentz, Cleves, and
the left bank of the Rhine, and you flirt with Russia and Austria
because you hope they might assist you one day, after all, in
obtaining those territories? But, on the other hand, you would not
like to quarrel with me, because there is a possibility that your
hopes will not be fulfilled, and because, in such an eventuality,
you would fear my enmity. You Prussians want to be the allies of
every one; that is impossible, and you must decide for me or for the
others. I demand sincerity, or shall break loose from you, for I
prefer open enemies to false friends. Your king tolerates in Hanover
a corps of thirty thousand men, which, through his states, keeps up
a connection with the great Russian army; that is an act of open
hostility. As for me, I attack my enemies wherever I may find them.
If I wished to do so, I might take a terrible revenge for this
dishonesty. I could invade Silesia, cause an insurrection in Poland,
and deal Prussia blows from which she would never recover. But I
prefer forgetting the past, and pursuing a generous course. I will,
therefore, forgive Prussia's rashness, but only on condition that
Prussia should unite with France by indissoluble ties; and as a
guaranty of this alliance, I require Prussia to take possession of
Hanover." [Footnote: Napoleon's own words.? "Memoires ineidits," p.
"Sire," exclaimed Haugwitz, joyfully, "this was the desirable
aggrandizement which I took the liberty of hinting at before, and I
believe it is the only one which the king's conscience would allow
him to accept."
"Very well, take Hanover, then," said Napoleon, "I cede my claims on
it to Prussia; but in return Prussia cedes to France the
principality of Neufchatel and the fortress of Wesel, and to Bavaria
the principality of Anspach."
"But, sire," exclaimed Haugwitz, anxiously, "Anspach belongs to
Prussia by virtue of family treaties which cannot be contested; and
"No objections," interrupted Napoleon, sternly; "my terms must be
complied with. Either war or peace. War, that is to say, I crush
Prussia, and become her inexorable enemy forever; peace, that is to
say, I give you Hanover and receive for it Neufchatel, Wesel, and
Anspach. Now, make up your mind quickly; I am tired of the eternal
delays and procrastinations. I want you to come at length to a
decision, and you will not leave this room until I have received a
categorical reply. You have had time enough to take every thing into
consideration; hence you must not equivocate any more. Tell me,
therefore, quickly and categorically, what do you want, war or
"Sire, "said Haugwitz, imploringly, "what else can Prussia want than
peace with France."
"Indeed, it is an excellent bargain you make on this occasion,"
exclaimed Napoleon. "Neufchatel is for Prussia a doomed position, to
which, moreover, she has got but extremely doubtful rights. In
return for it, for Wesel and Anspach, with their four hundred
thousand inhabitants, you receive Hanover, which is contiguous to
Prussia, and contains more than a million inhabitants! I believe
Prussia ought to be content with such an aggrandizement."
"Sire," said Hangwitz, "she would be especially content if she
should obtain the faithful and influential friendship of France, and
be able to retain it forever."
"You may rely on my word," replied the emperor, "I am always
faithful to my enemies as well as to my friends. I crush the former
and promote the interests of the latter whenever an opportunity
offers. We will, however, prove to each other that we are in earnest
about this alliance, and draw up its stipulations even to day.
Grandmarshal Duroc has already received my instructions concerning
this matter, and he will lay before you the particulars of the
offensive and defensive alliance to be concluded between France and
Prussia. Be kind enough to go to him and settle every thing with
him, so that we may sign the document as soon as possible. Go, my
dear count; but first accept my congratulations, for at this hour
you have done an important service to Prussia: you have saved her
from destruction. I should have crushed her like a toy in my hand if
you had rejected my offers of friendship. Go, the grand-marshal is
waiting for you." [Footnote: The offensive and defensive alliance
between the Emperor of France and the King of Prussia was concluded
agreeably to the demands of Napoleon. Count Haugwitz, without
obtaining further instructions from his sovereign, signed it on the
15th of December. The same day, in accordance with the treaty of
Potsdam, he was to have delivered to Napoleon Prussia's declaration
of war. Owing to the conclusion of this alliance, the position of
Austria became utterly untenable, and she was obliged to accept the
humiliating terms of Napoleon, and to sign, on the 26th of December,
1805, the peace of Presburg. This treaty deprived Austria of her
best provinces, which were annexed to France, Bavaria, Wurtemberg
and Baden. It is true, Prussia obtained the kingdom of Hanover by
virtue of the treaty with France, but this was an illusory
aggrandizement which Prussia would have to conquer, sword in hand,
from England.] He nodded a parting greeting to the confused, almost
stunned count, and returned to his maps, thus depriving the Prussian
minister of the possibility of entering into further explanations.
The latter heaved a profound sigh, and, walking backward, turned
slowly to the door.
Napoleon took no further notice of him; he seemed wholly absorbed in
his maps and plans; only when the door closed slowly behind the
count, he said, in a low voice: "He will sign the treaty, and then
Austria's last hope is gone! Now I shall assume a more decided
attitude in Presburg, and Austria will accept all my conditions; she
will be obliged to cede to me the Netherlands, Venice, and Tuscany,
for now she cannot count any longer on Prussia's armed
JUDITH AND HOLOFERNES
Napoleon was still engaged in studying his maps and in changing the
positions of the pins on it. From time to time he was interrupted in
this occupation by couriers bringing fresh dispatches from Presburg
or France, but he constantly returned to his maps, and his finger
passing over them extinguished kingdoms and boundaries to create new
states in their places.
Evening was already drawing near, and the emperor was still in his
cabinet. The door had already been opened repeatedly in a cautious
manner, and Constant, the valet de chambre, had looked in with
prying eyes, but seeing the emperor so busily engaged, he had always
withdrawn cautiously and inaudibly. At length, however, he seemed
tired of waiting any longer, and instead of withdrawing, again he
entered and closed the door noiselessly.
The noise caused the emperor to start up.
"Well, Constant, what is the matter?" he asked.
"Sire," whispered Constant, in a low voice, as though he were afraid
the walls might hear him, "sire, that distinguished lady has been
here for an hour; she is waiting for the audience your majesty has
granted to her."
"Ah, the countess or princess," said Napoleon, carelessly, "the
foolish person who asserts that she hated me formerly but loves me
"Sire, she speaks of your majesty in terms of the most unbounded
"Ah, bah! Women like to be enthusiastic admirers of somebody, and to
worship him with the gushing transports of their tender hearts!
Would so many women go into convents and call Christ their
bridegroom, if it were not so? But what is the name of this lady who
has been pleased to fall in love with me?"
"Sire, I believe, the only condition she stipulated was that your
majesty should not ask for her name."
The emperor frowned. "And you would persuade me to receive this
nameless woman? Who knows but she may be a mere intriguer anxious to
penetrate to me for some dark purpose?"
"Sire, one of the most faithful adherents and admirers of your
majesty, M. von Brandt, formerly major in the Austrian service,
pledges his word of honor that she is not, and?"
At this moment the door was opened violently, and Grand-marshal
"Ah, your majesty is here still!" he exclaimed, joyfully. "Your
majesty has not yet received the lady?"
"Well, does that concern you?" asked Napoleon, smiling. "You are
jealous, perhaps? This lady is said to be very beautiful."
"Sire," said Duroc, solemnly, "even though she were as beautiful as
Cleopatra, your majesty ought not to receive her."
"I ought not?" asked Napoleon, sternly. "What should prevent me from
"Sire, the sacred duty to preserve yourself to your people, to your
empire. This lady who tries to penetrate with so much passionate
violence to your majesty is a dangerous intriguer, a mortal enemy of
France and your majesty."
Napoleon cast a triumphant glance on Constant, who, pale and
trembling, was leaning against the wall.
"Well," he asked, "will you defend her still?"
Without waiting for Constant's reply, he turned again to the grand-
"Whence did you obtain this information?"
"Sire, the governor of Vienna, M. de Vincennes, has just arrived
here in the utmost haste. His horse fell half dead to the ground
when he entered the courtyard. He feared that he might be too late."
"How too late?"
"Too late to warn your majesty from this lady, who has evidently
come to carry out some criminal enterprise."
"Ah, bah! she was, perhaps, going to assassinate me?"
"Sire, that is what M. de Vincennes asserts."
"Ah!" exclaimed Napoleon, turning once more toward Constant, "did
you not tell me that she was deeply enamoured of me? Is the governor
"Yes, sire; he wants to know whether he shall not immediately arrest
the lady and closely question her."
Napoleon was silent for a moment, and seemed to reflect.
"Constant," he then said, "tell M. de Vincennes to come hither. I
myself want to speak to him."
Constant went at once into the anteroom and returned in a minute, to
introduce the governor of Vienna, M. de Vincennes.
Napoleon hastily went to meet him. "You have come to warn me," he
said, sternly. "What are your reasons for doing so?"
"Sire, the intentions of this lady are extremely suspicious. Since I
have been in Vienna she has been incessantly watched by my agents,
because she is the intellectual head of all the dangerous and
hostile elements of the city. All the enemies of your majesty, all
the so-called German patriots, meet at her house, and by closely
watching HER, we could learn all our enemies' plans and actions.
Hence, it was necessary for us to find an agent in her house who
would report to me every day what had been going on there, and I was
so fortunate as to enlist the services of her mistress of
"By what means did you bribe her?" asked Napoleon. "By means of love
"Sire, thank God, money alone was sufficient for the purpose."
The emperor smiled. "The woman is old and ugly, then?"
"Very ugly, sire."
"And she hates her mistress because she is beautiful. For, I
suppose, she is very beautiful?"
"Extremely so, sire; a most fascinating woman, and consequently the
more dangerous as an intriguer."
Napoleon shrugged his shoulders. "Proceed with your report. You had
bribed her mistress of ceremonies, then?"
"Yes, sire; she kept an accurate diary, containing a statement of
what her mistress had been doing every hour, and brought it to me
every evening. For the last few days the conduct of her mistress has
seemed to her particularly suspicious; hence she watched her more
closely, and my other agents dogged her steps in disguise whenever
she left her mansion. All symptoms appeared suspicious enough, and
pointed to the conclusion that she was meditating an attack upon
some distinguished person. But I did not guess as yet whom she was
aiming at. All at once, two hours ago, her mistress of ceremonies
came to bring me her diary, and to report to me that her mistress
had just left her mansion with Major von Brandt, and that her last
words had indicated that she had gone to see your majesty at
Schonbrunn. While I was still considering what ought to be done,
another agent of mine made his appearance; I had commissioned him
specially to watch M. von Brandt; for, although he seems to be
extremely devoted to us, I do not trust him."
"And you are perfectly right," said Napoleon, sternly. "Traitors
ought never to be trusted, and this M. von Brandt is a traitor,
inasmuch as he adheres to us, the enemies of his country. What was
the information brought to you by your agent?"
"Sire, my agent caused one of his men, who is a very skilful
pickpocket, to steal the major's memorandum-book just at the moment
when he was entering the lady's house."
"Indeed," said Napoleon, laughing. "Your agents are clever fellows.
What did you find in the memorandum-book? Love letters and unpaid
bills, I suppose?"
"No, sire, I found in it an important document; an agreement, by
virtue of which the lady is to pay the major, in case he should
obtain for her an interview with your majesty, a gold-piece for
every minute of its duration."
Napoleon laughed. "The lady is as rich as Croesus, then?" he asked.
"Yes, sire, the princess is said to?"
"Princess! What princess?"
"Sire, the lady to whom your majesty has granted an audience is the
Princess von Eibenberg."
"The Princess von Eibenberg," replied Napoleon, musingly. "Did I not
hear that name on some former occasion? Yes, yes, I remember," he
said, in a low voice, after a short pause, as if speaking to
himself; "the agent of the Count de Provence, who delivered to me
the letter, and whom I then expelled from Paris."
"Have you got the diary of the mistress of ceremonies and the other
papers with you?" he then asked the governor.
"I have, sire, here they are," replied M. de Vincennes, drawing a
few papers from his bosom. "Here is also the singular agreement of
"Give them to me," said Napoleon; and taking the papers, he looked
over them and read a few lines here and there. "Indeed," he then
said, "this affair is piquant enough; it begins to excite my
curiosity. Constant, where is the lady?"
"Sire, M. de Bausset has taken her to the small reception-room of
your majesty; she is waiting there."
"Well," said Napoleon, "she has waited long enough, and might become
impatient; I will, therefore, go to her."
"But, sire, you will not see her alone, I hope?" asked Duroc,
anxiously. "I trust your majesty will permit me to accompany you?"
"Ah, you are anxious to see the famous belle?" asked Napoleon,
laughing. "Another time, M. grand-marshal--but this time I shall go
alone. Just remember that the princess is passionately enamoured of
me, and that it, therefore, would terribly offend her if I should
not come alone to the interview with her."
He advanced a few steps toward the door. But now Constant rushed
toward him, and kneeling before him, exclaimed, in a voice trembling
with anguish: "Sire, your majesty must have pity on me. Do not
expose your priceless life to such a danger! Do not plunge my poor
heart which adores your majesty into everlasting despair! It was I
who first dared to request your majesty to receive this lady! Now,
sire, I implore your majesty on my knees--do not receive her!"
"Sire, I venture to unite my prayers with those of Constant," said
Duroc, urgently. "Sire, do not receive this lady!"
"Your majesty, permit me rather to arrest her immediately,"
exclaimed M. de Vincennes.
Napoleon's flaming eyes glanced in succession smilingly at the three
men. "Truly," he said, "on hearing you, one might almost believe
this beautiful woman to be a mine, and that it was merely necessary
to touch her in order to explode and be shattered! Reassure
yourselves, I believe we will save our life this time. You have
warned me, and I shall be on my guard. Not another word, no more
prayers! My resolution is fixed; I will see this beautiful woman,
and, moreover, alone!"
"Sire," exclaimed Constant, anxiously, "suppose this crazy woman
should fire a pistol at your head at the moment when your majesty
appears before her?"
"In that case the bullets would harmlessly glance off from me, or
the pistol would miss fire," replied Napoleon, in a tone of firm
conviction. "Fate did not place me here to fall by the hands of an
assassin! Go, gentlemen, and accept my thanks for your zeal and
sympathy. M. de Vincennes, return to Vienna; I shall keep your
papers here. Is Count Haugwitz still at your rooms, Duroc?"
"Yes, sire, we were just engaged in drawing up the several sections
of the treaty, when M. de Vincennes sent for me."
"Return to the count, and you, Constant, go to M. von Brandt and
count with him the minutes which his lady will pass in my company. I
should not be surprised if he should earn a great many gold-pieces,
for I do not intend dismissing the interesting belle so soon."
He nodded to them, and hastily crossing the room, passed through the
door which Constant opened. With rapid steps, and without any
further hesitation, he walked across the two large reception-halls,
and then opened the door of the small reception-room where the lady,
as Constant had told him, was waiting for him.
He remained for a moment on the threshold, and his burning glances
turned toward Marianne, who, as soon as she saw him coming in, had
risen from the arm-chair in which she had been sitting.
"It is true," murmured Napoleon to himself, "she is really
He advanced a few steps; then, as if remembering only at this moment
that he had left the door wide open, he turned around and closed it.
"I suppose you want to speak to me without witnesses?" he asked,
"Sire, the words of love and adoration fail too often in the
presence of others," whispered Marianne, casting a flaming glance on
Napoleon smiled. "Well, why did you hesitate, then, just now to
write the words of love and adoration between my shoulders?" he
asked. "I turned my back to you intentionally; I wished to give you
an opportunity for carrying out your heroic deed."
"What?" exclaimed Marianne, in terror, "has your majesty any doubts
of my intentions?"
"No," said Napoleon, laughing, "I have no doubts whatever of your
intentions; on the contrary, I am quite sure of them. I know that
you have come hither to translate the Bible, the truth of which has
been questioned so often, into reality. You intended to make of the
chapter of Judith and Holofernes a tragedy of our times. But
although you are as beautiful and seductive as Judith, I am no
Holofernes, who allows himself to be ruled by his passion, and
forgets the dictates of prudence in the arms of a woman. I never was
the slave of my passions, madame, and it is not sufficient for a
woman to be beautiful in order to win my heart; I must be able, too,
to esteem her, and never should I be able to esteem a woman capable
of loving the conqueror of her country. You see, therefore, that I
am no Holofernes, and that I should not have opened my arms to you
if I should have believed you to be a recreant daughter of your
country. But I know that you are a patriot, and that alters the
case: I know that I may esteem you; hence, I do not say that I
cannot love you, for it is true, you are enchantingly beautiful."
"Sire," said Marianne, indignantly, "if you have only received me to
insult and mortify me, pray permit me to withdraw!"
"No, I have received you because I wanted to give you good advice,"
said Napoleon, gravely; "I, therefore, pray you to remain. You must
choose your servants more cautiously, madame; you must confide in
them less and watch them better; for slavish souls are easily led
astray, and money is a magnet they are unable to withstand. Your
mistress of ceremonies is a traitress; beware of her!"
"Then she has slandered me?" asked Marianne, with quivering lips.
"No, she has only betrayed you," said Napoleon, smiling. "Even the
diamond ring which you gave her as a souvenir did not touch her
heart. Do you yet remember what you said to her when you handed it
"Sire, how should I remember it?" asked Marianne.
"Well, I will repeat it to you," exclaimed Napoleon, unfolding the
papers which M. de Vincennes had given to him, and which he had kept
all the time rolled up in his hand. "Here it is. You said: 'I know
you are a good and enthusiastic Austrian; like myself, you hate the
tyrant who wants to subjugate us, and you will bless the hand which
will order him to stop, and put an end to his victorious career.'
Well, was it not so, madame?"
Marianne made no reply; her cheeks were pale, and her eyes stared at
the emperor, who looked at her smilingly.
"A moment before you had concealed a flashing object in your bosom,"
continued Napoleon. "That object which your mistress of ceremonies
did not see distinctly was a dagger which you had bought this
forenoon. Shall I tell you where?"--He glanced again at the papers,
and then said: "You bought this dagger in a gun store on the
Kohlmarkt, and paid four ducats for it. You have now got this dagger
with you; truly, it occupies an enviable hiding-place, and I might
be jealous of it. Why do you not draw it forth and carry out your
purpose? Do you really believe what so many fools have said about
me, viz, that I was in the habit of wearing a coat-of-mail? I pledge
you my imperial word, my breast is unprotected, and a dagger will
meet with no resistance provided it is able to reach my breast. Just
Marianne, who, while the emperor was speaking, had dropped on a
chair as if stupefied, now rose impetuously. "Sire," she said,
proudly, "it is enough. Your officers doubtless await me in the
adjoining room, in order to arrest me like a criminal. Permit me to
go thither and surrender to them."
She was about turning toward the door, but Napoleon seized her hand
and kept her back. "Oh, no," he said, "our interview is not yet
over; it has scarcely lasted fifteen minutes, and remember that M.
von Brandt would consequently get only fifteen gold-pieces. Ah, you
look at me in surprise. You wonder that I should be aware of that,
too? I am no magician, however, and have acquired my knowledge of
this laughable incident in a very simple manner. Look here, this is
the written agreement you gave to M. von Brandt!"
He offered the paper to Marianne; she did not take it, however, but
only glanced at it. "Your majesty may see from it how ardently I
longed for an interview with you," she said. "Had M. von Brandt
asked half my fortune for this interview with your majesty, I should
have joyfully given it to him, for an hour in the presence of your
majesty is worth more than all the riches of the world."
"And yet you were going to leave me just now!" exclaimed Napoleon,
reproachfully. "How ingenuous that would have been toward your
friend who is standing in the anteroom with Constant, and, watch in
hand, calculating the number of his gold-pieces. We will be generous
and grant him three hours. Three hours--that is a good time for a
rendezvous; when you leave me, then, you will pay M. von Brandt one
hundred and eighty louis-d'or, and I shall receive the
congratulations of my confidants."
Marianne's eyes flashed angrily, and a deep blush mantled her
cheeks. "Sire," she exclaimed almost menacingly, "call your
officers--have me arrested like a criminal--take my life if I have
deserved it, but let me leave this room!"
"Ah, you would die rather than that people should believe you had
granted me a rendezvous of three hours' duration," asked Napoleon.
"It is true, this rendezvous, if it should result peacefully and
without the eclat which you hoped for when you came hither to play
the part of Judith, would discredit you with your friends! Your
party will distrust you as soon as it learns that, after being three
hours with me, you left Schonbrunn in the middle of the night, while
I was not found on my couch with a dagger in my heart. I cannot
spare you this humiliation; it shall be the only punishment I shall
inflict on you. You remain here!"
"Sire, let me go," exclaimed Marianne, "and I swear to you that I
will never dare again to approach you; I swear to you that I will
live in some remote corner in the most profound retirement, far from
the noise and turmoil of the world."
"Oh, the world would never forgive me if I should deprive it in this
manner of its most beautiful ornament," said the emperor, smiling.
"You are too lovely to live in obscurity and solitude. You will now
grant me three hours, and you are free to tell everybody during the
whole remainder of your life that you hate me; but it is true,
people will hardly believe in the sincerity of your hatred."
"Then you will not permit me to withdraw?" asked Marianne, with
quivering lips. "You want me to stay here?"
"Only three hours, madame; then you may go. Let us improve this time
and speak frankly and honestly to each other. Forget where we are;
imagine we were the heads of two parties, meeting on neutral ground
and telling each other the truth with respectful frankness for the
purpose of thereby bringing about peace, if possible. Well, then,
tell me honestly: do you really hate me so ardently as to have come
hither for the purpose of assassinating me?"
"You ask me to tell you the truth," exclaimed Marianne, her eyes
sparkling with anger, "well, you shall hear it! Yes, I hate you; I
swore to you in Paris, at the time when you sent me like a criminal
to the frontier, the most ardent and implacable hatred, and in
accordance with my oath I came hither to accomplish a work which
would be a boon for Germany, nay, for the whole world. Yes, I wanted
to assassinate you, I wanted to deliver the world from the tyrant
who intends to enslave it. Yes, I had concealed a dagger in my bosom
to kill you as Judith killed Holofernes. Had I accomplished my
purpose, the world would have blessed me and paid the highest honors
to my name; but now that I have failed in carrying out my plan, I
shall be laughed and sneered at. Now I have told you the truth, and
in order that you may not doubt it, I will show you the dagger which
was intended for your breast, and which I shall now hurl down at
your feet as the dragon's feet, from which one day full-grown
warriors will spring for our cause in order to combat you."
She drew the dagger from her bosom, and, with a violent gesture,
threw it at Napoleon's feet. "Sire," she then asked, in an imploring
voice, "will you not yet order me to be arrested?"
"Why?" asked Napoleon, "Words falling from the lips of beautiful
women are never insulting, and I do not punish thoughts which have
not yet become actions. Your hands are free from guilt, and the only
criminal here in this room is that dagger on the floor. I trample it
under foot, and it is unable to rise any more against me."
He placed his foot on the flashing blade, and fixed his piercing
eyes on the princess. "Madame," he said, "when you came to me in
Paris, it was the Count de Provence who had sent you. He sent me a
letter through you at that time. Tell me, did he send me this dagger
"No, I will take the most solemn oath that he knows nothing about
it," replied Marianne. "Nobody knew of my undertaking; I had no
confidants and no accomplices."
"You had only your own hatred, madame," said Napoleon, musingly.
"Why do you hate me so bitterly? What have I done to all of you that
you should turn away from me?"
"Why I hate you?" asked Marianne, impetuously. "Because you have
come to trample Germany in the dust, to transform her into a French
province, and to defraud us of our honor, our good rights, and
independence. What have you done, that all honest men should turn
away from you? You have broken your most sacred oaths--you are a
"Oh, that goes too far," cried Napoleon, passionately. "What hinders
"To have me arrested?" Marianne interrupted him, defiantly--"please
"No, I shall not do you that favor. Proceed, proceed! You stand
before me as though you were Germania herself rising before me to
accuse me. Well, then, accuse me. When have I broken my oaths?"
"From the moment when you raised the banner in the name of the
republic which you intended to upset; from the moment when you
called the nations to you in the name of liberty, in order to rule
over them as their tyrant and oppressor!"
"To those who wanted to keep up the despotism of liberty under which
France had bled and groaned so long, I was a tyrant," said Napoleon,
calmly; "to those who entertained the senseless idea of restoring
the Bourbons, under whom France had bled and groaned as long and
longer, I was an oppressor. The family of the Bourbons has become
decrepit; it resembles a squeezed lemon, the peel of which is thrown
contemptuously aside, because there is no longer any juice in it.
Did you really believe I should have been such a fool as to pick up
this empty peel, which France had thrown aside, and to clothe it in
a purple cloak and crown? Did you believe I had, like those Bourbons
and all legitimate princes, learned nothing from history, and not
been taught by the examples it holds up to all those who have eyes
to see with? I have learned from history that dynasties dry up like
trees, and that it is better to uproot the hollow, withered-up trunk
rather than permit it, in its long decay, to suck up the last
nourishing strength from the soil on which it stands."
"Sire, you do not only uproot the decaying trunk, but with the axe
of the tyrant you deprived this trunk of its fresh, green branches
also," exclaimed Marianne.
"Ah, you refer to the Duke d'Enghien," said Napoleon, quietly. "It
was an act of policy, which I do not regret. The Bourbons had to
understand at length that France wanted to give them up and create a
new era for herself. I stood at the head of this new era, and I had
to fill in a becoming manner the position Providence had conferred
on me. Providence destined me to become the founder of a new
dynasty, and there will be a day when my family will occupy the
first thrones of the world." [Footnote: Napoleon's own words.--Vide
"Le Normand," vol. ii., p. 29.]
"That is to say, you declare war against all princes," exclaimed
"Against the princes, yes," said Napoleon, "for they are nothing but
over-ripe fruits only waiting for the hand that is to shake them
off. I shall be this hand, and before me they will fall to the
ground, and I shall rise higher and higher above them. You call me a
conqueror, but how could I stop now in my work? If I should pause
now in my conquests and sheathe my sword, what should I have gained
by so many efforts but a little glory, without having approached the
goal to which I was aspiring? What should I have gained by setting
all Europe in a blaze if I should be contented with having
overthrown empires and not hasten to build up MY OWN empire on solid
foundations? It is not birth that entitles me to immortality. The
man who is possessed of courage, who does good service to his
country, and renders himself illustrious by great exploits, that man
needs no pedigree, for he is everything by himself."[Footnote:
Napoleon's own words.--Vide "Le Normand." vol. ii., p. 49.]
"But in the eyes of the legitimists he is always nothing but an
upstart," said Marianne, shrugging her shoulders.
"In that case he must overthrow and annihilate all legitimists,"
said Napoleon, quickly; "so that a new dynasty may arise, of which
he will be the founder. I am the man of Destiny, and shall found a
new dynasty, and one day the whole of Europe will be but one empire,
MY empire! All of you, instead of cursing me, should joyfully hail
my coming and welcome me as your liberator sent by Providence to
raise you from your degradation and disgrace. Just look around, you
Germans, and see what sort of princes and governments you have got.
Are you being ruled by noble, high-minded sovereigns; are men of
ability and character at the head of your governments? I only behold
impotence, infamy, and venality everywhere in the German cabinets.
The system of nepotism is everywhere in force; offices are gifts of
favor, and not rewards of merit; intrigues and corrupt influences
succeed in placing the foremost positions of the state into the
hands of incapable men, and great minds, if there be any at all, are
utterly ignored. The result of this system is, of course, that men
cease cultivating their minds, and that the virtues and talents
which are not rewarded with a just tribute of glory, lose their
vigor and enthusiasm; nay, often their very existence. When a nation
sees none but incapable favorites and venal intriguers at the head
of the various departments of its administration and of its armies,
how is it to prosper and expand, to increase its wealth, and to win
victories! Woe to the nation which allows itself to be governed by
such ministers, and to be defended by such generals as I have found
everywhere in Germany! As the man of Destiny, I have come to devote
to her my hand, my mouth, and my heart for the purpose of liberating
her and delivering her from her disgraceful chains." [Footnote:
Ibid., p. 29.]
"And to load her with even more disgraceful ones," exclaimed
Marianne, her eyes naming with anger; "for there is nothing more
disgraceful on earth than a nation submitting to a foreign barbarian
and humbly kissing the feet of its oppressor, instead of expelling
him by the majesty of its wrath. If you, a modern Attila, go on with
your murderous sword, Europe is ruined, and all dignity of the
nations, all the centres of scientific eminence, all the hopes of
humanity are lost. For nations can only perform great things, and
create great things, when they are independent; and freedom itself
is of no use to them if they must receive it as a favor at the hands
of their conqueror."
"Earth ought to have but one ruler, as heaven has but one God," said
Napoleon, solemnly. "I have only begun my task; it is not yet
accomplished. Hitherto I have subjected only France, Italy,
Switzerland, and Holland to my sceptre, but my goal is even more
sublime than that. And who will prevent me from seizing Westphalia,
the Hanseatic cities, and Rome, and from annexing the Illyrian
provinces, Etruria, and Portugal to France? I do not know yet where
to fix the boundaries of my empire. Perhaps it will have no other
boundaries than the vast space of the two hemispheres; perhaps, like
Americus Vespucius and Columbus, I shall obtain the glory of
discovering and conquering another unknown world!"[Footnote:
Napoleon's own words. "Le Normand, Memoires," vol. ii., p. 69.]
"And if you should discover a third world," exclaimed Marianne, "God
may decree, perhaps, that in this new world, an avenger of the two
old worlds may arise and tell you in the thundering voice of
Jehovah: 'Here are the boundaries of your empire! So far and no
"But I should not shrink back," said Napoleon, smiling, "but advance
to fight for my good right with the avenger sent by Providence, for
I was also sent by Providence; I am a chosen son of Heaven, and if
there is a misfortune for me, it is that I have come too late. Men
are too enlightened or too sober; hence, it is impossible to
accomplish great things."
"Ah, you say so," exclaimed Marianne, "you, whose fate is so
brilliant and exalted? You, who once were a humble officer of
artillery, and now are seated as emperor on a mighty throne?"
"Yes," said Napoleon, in a low voice, as if to himself, "I admit, my
career was brilliant enough,--I have pursued a splendid path! But
how much difference there is between me and the heroes of antiquity!
How much more fortunate was Alexander! After conquering Asia, he
declared he was the son of Jove, and the whole Orient believed it,
except Olympias, who knew very well what to think of it, and except
Aristotle, and a few other pedants of Athens! But if I, who have
made more conquests and won greater victories than Alexander,--if I
should declare to-day I were the son of God, and offer Him my
thanksgiving under this title, there would be no fishwoman that
would not laugh at me. The nations are too enlightened and too
sober; it is impossible to accomplish great things."[Footnote:
Napoleon's own words.--Vide "Memoires du Marechal Duc de Raguse,"
vol. ii., p. 243.] "There will be a day, sire, when the nations
will rise and prove to you that they are able to accomplish great
"And on that day they will trample me in the dust, I suppose?" asked
Napoleon, with an almost compassionate smile. "Do not hope too
sanguinely for this day, for your hopes might deceive you. I have
spoken so freely and frankly to you," he continued, rising, "because
I knew that, by speaking to you, I was speaking, through you, to the
most eminent, high-minded, and patriotic men of your nation, and
because I wished to be comprehended and appreciated by them. Go,
then, and repeat my words to them--repeat them to those, too, who
believe that the throne which I have erected belongs to THEM, and
that the tri-colored flag would have to disappear one day before the
lilies. Go, madame, and tell those enthusiastic Bourbons the lilies
were so dreadfully steeped in the misery and blood of France that
nobody would recognize them there, and that everybody was shrinking
back from their cadaverous smell and putridity. Empires and
dynasties, like flowers, have but one day of bloom; the day of the
Bourbons is past; they are faded and stripped of their leaves. State
it to those who one day sent you CERTAINLY to me, and PERHAPS again
to-day. If you relate to them to-day's scene, they may deplore,
perhaps, that fate did not permit you to become a Judith, but they
will have to acknowledge at least that I am no Holofernes. For
although the most beautiful woman of my enemies came to my couch to
visit me, she did not kill me, and her dagger lies at my feet! I
shall preserve it as a remembrancer, and Grand-marshal Duroc, M. von
Brandt, and Constant, my valet de chambre, who are waiting for you
in the anteroom, will believe that dagger to be a souvenir of your
love and of a delightful hour of my life. We will not undeceive
them! Farewell, madame!"
He gave Marianne no time to answer him, but took the silver bell and
rang it so loudly and violently that Constant appeared in evident
terror in the door.
"Constant," said the emperor, "conduct the lady to her carriage; she
will return to Vienna; and as for M. von Brandt, tell him the
princess had allowed me to be her paymaster, and to pay him in her
place for the happy minutes of our interview."
"Sire," ejaculated Marianne, in dismay, "you will--"
"Hush," the emperor interrupted her proudly, "I will pay my tribute
to Dame Fortune! Farewell, madame; remember this hour sometimes!"
He waved a parting salutation to her with his hand, and then
disappeared through the door leading to his bedroom.
Marianne stared at him until he was gone, as though she had just
seen a ghost walking before her, and as though her whole soul were
concentrated in this look with which she gazed after him.
"Madame," said Constant, in a low voice, "if you please!" And he
approached the large hall-door which he opened.
Marianne started when she heard his words as if she were awaking
from a dream; she left the room silently, and without deigning to
glance at Constant, and followed her smiling guide through the
halls. In the first anteroom she beheld Grand-marshal Duroc and
several generals, who looked at the princess with threatening and
sorrowful glances. Marianne felt these glances as if they were
daggers piercing her soul, and daggers seemed to strike her ears
when she heard Constant say to Major von Brandt: "You will stay
here, sir; for the emperor has ordered me to pay you here for the
hours his majesty has spent with the princess."
By a violent effort, Marianne succeeded in overcoming her emotions,
and with a proudly erect head, with a cold and immovable face, she
walked on across the anterooms and descended the staircase until she
reached her carriage.
Only when the carriage rolled along the road toward Vienna through
the silent night, the coachman, notwithstanding the noise of the
wheels, thought he heard loud lamentations, which seemed to proceed
from the interior of the carriage. But he must have certainly been
mistaken, for when the carriage stopped in the courtyard in front of
her mansion, and the footman hastened to open the coach-door, the
princess alighted as proud and calm, as beautiful and radiant as
ever, and ascended the staircase coolly and slowly. At the head of
the stairs stood Madame Camilla, muttering a few words with
trembling lips and pale cheeks. Marianne apparently did not see her
at all, and walked coldly and proudly down the corridor leading to
She ordered the maids, who received her in her dressing-room, with
an imperious wave of her hand, to withdraw, and when they had left
the room she locked the door behind them. She then went with rapid
steps to the boudoir contiguous to the dressing-room, and here,
where she was sure that no one could see or overhear her, she
allowed the proud mask to glide from her face, and showed its
boundless despair. With a loud shriek of anguish she sank on her
knees and raising her folded hands to heaven, cried, in the wailing
notes of terrible grief:
"Oh, my God, my God! let me succumb to this disgrace. Have mercy on
me, and let me die!"
But after long hours of struggling and despair, of lamentations and
curses, Marianne rose again from her knees with defiant pride and
"No," she muttered, "I must not, will not die! Life has still claims
on me, and the secret league, of which I have become the first
member, imposes on me the duty of living and working in its service.
I was unable to strike the tyrant with my dagger; well, then, we
must try to kill him gradually by means of pin-pricks. Such a pin-
prick is the manuscript which Gentz has intrusted to me in order to
have it published and circulated throughout Germany. Somewhere a
printing-office will be found to set up this manuscript with its
types; I will seek for it, and pay the weight of its types in gold."
Early next morning the travelling-coach of the princess stood at the
door, and Marianne, dressed in a full travelling-costume, prepared
for immediate departure. She had spent the whole night in arranging
her household affairs. Now every thing was done, every thing was
arranged and ready, and when about to descend the staircase, the
princess turned around to Madame Camilla, who followed her humbly.
"Madame," she said, coldly and calmly, "you will be kind enough to
leave my house this very hour, in order to write your diary
somewhere else. The French governor of Vienna will assign to you,
perhaps, a place with his MOUCHARDS; go, therefore, to him, and
never dare again to enter my house. My steward has received
instructions from me; he will pay you your wages, and see to it that
you will leave the house within an hour. Adieu!"
Without vouchsafing to glance at Madame Camilla, she descended the
staircase calmly and haughtily, and entered her carriage, which
rolled through the lofty portal of the court-yard with thundering
THE FALL OF THE GERMAN EMPIRE.
The peace of Presburg had been concluded; it had deprived Austria of
her best provinces.
The offensive and defensive alliance between Prussia and France had
been signed; it had deprived Prussia of the principalities of
Cleves, Berg, and Neufchatel.
Germany, therefore, had reason enough in the beginning of 1806 to
mourn and complain, for her princes had been humiliated and
disgraced; her people had to bear with their princes the ignominy of
degradation and dependence.
Germany, however, seemed to be joyful and happy; festivals were
being celebrated everywhere--festivals in honor of the Emperor
Napoleon and his family, festivals of love and happiness.
After the victory Napoleon had obtained at Austerlitz over the two
emperors, after the conclusion of the treaty of Presburg and the
alliance with Prussia, all causes of war with Germany seemed
removed, and Napoleon laid his sword aside in order to repose on his
laurels in the bosom of his family, and, instead of founding new
states, to bring about marriages between his relations and the
scions of German sovereigns--marriages which were to draw closer the
links of love and friendship uniting France with Germany, and to
make all Germany the obedient son-in-law and vassal of the Emperor
In Munich, the wedding-bells which made Napoleon the father-in-law
of a German dynasty, were first rung. In Munich, in the beginning of
1806, Eugene Beauharnais, Napoleon's adopted son, was married to the
beautiful and noble Princess Amelia of Bavaria, daughter of
Maximilian, Elector of Bavaria, who, by the grace of Napoleon, had
become King of Bavaria, as Eugene, by the same grace, had become
Viceroy of Italy.
All Bavaria was jubilant with delight at the new and most fortunate
ties uniting the German state with France; all Bavaria felt honored
and happy when the Emperor Napoleon, with his wife Josephine, came
to Munich to take part in the wedding-ceremonies. Festivals followed
each other in quick succession in Munich; only happy faces were to
be seen there, only jubilant shouts, laughter, and merry jests were
to be heard; and whenever Napoleon appeared in the streets or showed
himself on the balcony of the palace, the people received him with
tremendous cheers, and waved their hats at the emperor, regardless
of the blood and tears he had wrung but a few days before from
another German state.
No sooner had the wedding-bells ceased ringing in Munich than they
commenced resounding in Carlsruhe; for Napoleon wanted there, too,
to become the father-in-law of another German dynasty, and the niece
of Josephine, Mademoiselle Stephanie de Beauharnais, married the
heir of the Elector of Baden, who now, by the grace of Napoleon,
became Grand-duke of Baden.
And to the merry notes of the wedding-bells of Munich and Carlsruhe,
were soon added the joyful sound of the bells which announced to
Germany the rise of a new sovereign house within her borders, and
inaugurated the elevation of the brother-in-law of the Emperor of
France to the dignity of a sovereign German prince. Those solemn
bells resounded in Cleves and Berg, and did homage to Joachim Murat,
who, by the grace of Napoleon, had become Grand-duke of Berg.
Prussia and Bavaria had to furnish the material for this new
princely cloak; Prussia had given the larger portion of it, the
Duchy of Cleves, and Bavaria, grateful for so many favors, had added
to it the principality of Berg, so that these two German states
together formed a nice grand-duchy for the son of the French
innkeeper--for Joachim Murat, for the brother-in-law of the French
And when the joyful sounds had died away in Munich, Carlsruhe, and
the new grand-duchy of Berg, they resounded again in Stuttgart, for
in that capital the betrothal of Jerome, youngest brother of
Napoleon, and of a daughter of the Elector of Wurtemberg, who now,
by the grace of Napoleon, had become King of Wurtemberg, was
celebrated. It is true Jerome, the emperor's brother, wore no crown
as yet; it is true this youngest son of the Corsican lawyer had
hitherto been nothing but an "imperial prince of France," but his
royal father-in-law of Wurtemberg felt convinced that his august
brother, Napoleon, would endow the husband of his daughter in a
becoming manner, and place some vacant or newly-to-be-created crown
on his head. Napoleon, moreover, had just then endowed his elder
brother Joseph in such a manner, and made him King of Naples, after
solemnly declaring to Europe in a manifesto, that "the dynasty of
Naples had ceased to reign, and that the finest country on earth was
to be delivered at length from the yoke of the most perfidious
persons." And in accordance with his word, Napoleon had overthrown
the Neapolitan dynasty, expelled King Ferdinand and Queen Caroline
from their capital, and placed his brother Joseph on the throne of
Naples. [Footnote: Napoleon rewarded his generals and ministers,
besides, with duchies, which he created for them in Italy, and the
rich revenues of which he assigned to them. Thus Marmont became Duke
of Ragusa; Mortier, Duke of Treviso; Bessieres, Duke of Istria;
Savary, Duke of Rovigo; Lannes, Duke of Montebello; Bernadotte,
Prince of Pontecorvo; Talleyrand, Prince of Benevento; Fouche, Duke
of Otranto; Maret, Duke of Bassano; Soult, Duke of Dalmatia;
Berthier, Prince of Neufchatel; Duroc, Duke of Frioul, etc.]
Hence, the King of Wurtemberg was not afraid; he was sure that
Napoleon would discover somewhere a falling crown for his brother
Jerome, and give to the daughter of the most ancient German dynasty
a position worthy of the honor of her house.
But the joyful bells were not only rung in Germany; they resounded
also from the borders of Holland, which now, by the grace of
Napoleon, had become a kingdom, and to which, again by the grace of
Napoleon, a king had been given, in the person of Louis, another
brother of the Emperor of France. They resounded, too, from Italy,
where, in this blessed year of 1806, so productive of new crowns, on
one day, March 30, 1806, suddenly twelve duchies sprang from the
ground and placed as many ducal crowns on the heads of Napoleon's
friends and comrades.
The year of 1806, therefore, was a blessed and happy year; joy and
exultation reigned everywhere, and Napoleon was the author of all
Still there was in the German empire a city which, in spite of all
these recent festivals and demonstrations of satisfaction,
maintained a grave and gloomy aspect, and apparently took no part
whatever in the universal joy, but lived in its sullen, dull quiet
as it had done for centuries.
This city was Ratisbon, the seat of the German Diet, and now the
property and capital of the archchancellor of the German empire,
For centuries Ratisbon had enjoyed the proud honor of having the
ambassadors of all the German states meet in its old city-hall, for
the purpose of deliberating on the welfare of Germany. From the
arched windows of the large session hall the new laws flitted all
over Germany, and what the gentlemen at Ratisbon had decided on, had
to be submitted to by the princes and people of Germany.
And, just as hundreds and hundreds of years ago, they were still in
session at Ratisbon--the ambassadors of the emperor, of the kings,
electors, dukes, free cities, counts, and barons of the German
empire. There met every day in their old hall the states of Austria,
Prussia, Bavaria, Hanover, Wurtemberg, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt,
Mecklenberg, Brunswick, and whatever might be the names of the
different members of the great German empire.
They met, but they did not deliberate any longer; they merely
guessed what might be the fate of Germany, how long they would sit
there in gloomy idleness, and when it might please the new protector
of Germany, the Emperor of France, to remember them and say to them:
"Go home, gentlemen, for your time has expired. The German Diet has
ceased to exist, and I will deliver Germany from this burden."
But neither the Emperor of France nor the sovereigns of Germany
seemed to remember that there was a Diet still in session at the
ancient city-hall of Ratisbon, which formerly had to sanction all
treaties of peace, all cessions of territory, and all political
changes whatever, so that they might be recognized and become valid
in the German empire.
Now, the Emperor of Germany had not even deemed it necessary to
submit to the Diet at Ratisbon the treaty of peace concluded with
Napoleon at Presberg for ratification, but had contented himself
with merely notifying the Diet of its conclusion. In the same
manner, and on the same day, the ambassadors of Bavaria and
Wurtemberg had risen from their seats to announce to the Diet that
they were now no longer representatives of electors, but of kings--
Bavaria and Wurtemberg, with the consent of the Emperor of France,
having assumed the royal title; and when these two gentlemen had
resumed their seats, the ambassador of the Elector of Baden rose for
the purpose of declaring that he was representing no longer an
electorate, but a grand-duchy--the Elector of Baden, with the
consent of the Emperor of France, having assumed the grand-ducal
The Diet had received these announcements silently and without
objection; it had been silent, also, when, a few days later, the
French ambassador, M. Bacher, appeared in the session-hall and
announced that Murat, as Duke of Cleves, had become a member of the
German empire. Every ambassador, however, had asked himself silently
how it happened that the new member of the empire did not hasten to
avail himself of his rights, and to send an ambassador to take his
seat at the Diet of Ratisbon.
The Diet, as we have stated already, received all these
announcements in silence, and what good would it have done to it to
speak? Who still respected its voice? Who still bowed to its name?
Only for appearance sake, only for the purpose of conversing with
each other in a low tone about their own misfortunes, their weakness
and impotence, did the ambassadors of the German princes and cities
meet still, and instead of giving laws to Germany, as formerly, they
only communicated to each other their suppositions concerning the
fate that might be in store for Germany and the German Diet at
The gentlemen were assembled again to-day in the large session-hall,
and all the German states, which elsewhere were bitterly quarrelling
with each other, were sitting peaceably around the large green table
and chatting about the events that had taken place in the German
empire, and might occur in the near future.
"Have you read the new pamphlets which are creating so great a
sensation at the present time?" said Prussia to Saxony, who was
seated by her side.
"No, I never read any pamphlets," replied Saxony.
"It is worth while, however, to read these pamphlets," said Prussia,
smiling: "for they treat of an absurd idea in a most eloquent and
enthusiastic manner. Just think of it, they advocate in dead earnest
the idea of placing the German empire, now that the power of Austria
has been paralyzed, under the protection of Bavaria, and of
appointing the new King of Bavaria chief of Germany."
"The idea is not so bad, after all," said Saxony, smiling; "the
Bavarian dynasty is one of the most ancient in Germany, and its
power is greater than ever, inasmuch as it may boast of the
friendship and favor of the Emperor of France. The Emperor Napoleon
would, perhaps, raise no objections in case the King of Bavaria
should be elected Emperor of Germany."
"Oh, no," whispered Brunswick, Saxony's neighbor on the left; "I
received late and authentic news yesterday. The Emperor Napoleon
intends completely to restore the German empire of the middle ages,
and will himself assume the imperial crown of Germany." [Footnote:
Hausser's "History of Germany," vol. ii., p. 721.] "What," exclaimed
Hesse, who had overheard the words, "the Emperor Napoleon wants to
make himself Emperor of Germany?"
And Hesse had spoken so loudly in her surprise that the whole Diet
had heard her words, and every one repeated them in great
astonishment, while every face assumed a grave and solemn air.
"Yes, you may believe that such is the case," said Bavaria, in an
audible tone; "important changes are in store for us, and I know
from the best source that Minister Talleyrand said the other day,
quite loudly and positively, 'That the fate of the German empire
would be decided on toward the end of this month.'" [Footnote:
Ibid., p. 723.]
"And to-day is already the 23d of May," said Oldenburg, musingly;
"we may look, therefore, every hour for a decision."
"Yes, we may do so," exclaimed Wurzburg; "I know for certain that
they are already engaged in Paris in drawing up a new constitution
"It might be good, perhaps," said her neighbor, "if we should also
commence to draw up a new constitution for Germany, and then send it
to Minister Talleyrand, because we are certainly more familiar with
the customs and requirements of the German empire than the statesmen
of France. We ought to consult with the archchancellor, Baron
Dalberg, about this matter. But where is the archchancellor; where
"Yes, it is true, the archchancellor has not yet made his
appearance," exclaimed Oldenburg, wonderingly. "Where can he be?
Where is Dalberg?"
And the question was whispered from mouth to mouth, "Where is
Formerly, in the glorious old times of the German empire, it had
been the German emperor who, at the commencement of the sessions of
the Diet, had always asked in a loud voice, "Is there no Dalberg?"
And at his question, the Dalbergs had come forward and placed
themselves around the emperor's throne, always ready to undertake
great things and to carry out bold adventures.
Now, it was not the emperor who called for his Dalberg, but the Diet
that whispered his name.
And it seemed as if the man who had been called for, had heard these
whispers, for the large doors of the old session-hall opened, and
the archchancellor of the empire, Baron Dalberg, entered. Clad in
his full official costume, he stepped into the hall and approached
his seat at the green table. But instead of sitting down on the
high-backed, carved arm-chair, he remained standing, and his eyes
glided greetingly past all those grave and gloomy faces which were
fixed on him.
"I beg the august Diet to permit me to lay a communication before
it," said the archchancellor of the empire, with a bow to the
The grave faces of the ambassadors nodded assent, and Dalberg
continued, in a loud and solemn voice: "I have to inform the Diet
that, as I am growing old and feel a sensible decline of my
strength, I have deemed it indispensable for the welfare of Germany
and myself to choose already a successor and coadjutor. Having long
looked around among the noble and worthy men who surround me in so
great numbers, I have at length made my selection and come to such a
decision as is justified by the present state of affairs. The
successor whom I have selected is a worthy and high-minded man,
whose ancestors have greatly distinguished themselves in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in the service of the German
empire. It is the Archbishop and Cardinal Fesch, uncle of the
Emperor of France."
A long and painful pause ensued; the members of the Diet looked, as
if stupefied with terror and astonishment, at this man who, himself
a German prince, dared to inform the German Diet that he had invited
a foreigner to share with him the high dignity of a first German
elector and of inheriting it after his death.
Dalberg read, perhaps, in the gloomy mien of the gentlemen the
thoughts which they dared not utter, for he hastened to communicate
to the Diet the motives which had influenced him in making the above
named selection. He told them he had acted thus, not in his own
interest, but in order to maintain the menaced constitution of the
German empire, and to place it under Napoleon's powerful protection.
He then informed them joyfully that the Emperor of the French had
already approved of the appointment of his uncle, Cardinal Fesch,
and promised, moreover, that he would devote his personal attention
to the regeneration of the German empire and always afford it
The members of the Diet had moodily listened to him; their air had
become more and more dissatisfied and gloomy; and when the elector
paused, not a single voice was heard to propose the vote of thanks
which Dalberg, on concluding his remarks, had asked for, but only a
profound, ominous stillness followed his speech.
This, however, was the only official demonstration which the German
Diet ventured to make against the appointment of Cardinal Fesch, and
their silence did not prevent the consummation of this unparalleled
measure. A foreigner, not even familiar with the German language,
now became coadjutor of the archchancellor of the German empire--a
foreigner became the first member of the German electoral college--a
foreigner was to have the seals of the empire in his hands, keep the
laws of Germany in his archives, and preside at the election of the
emperors and at the sessions of the Diet!
And this foreigner was the uncle of the Emperor of the French, of
the conqueror of the world. But the German Diet was silent and
The horizon of Germany became more and more clouded; the Diet
continued its sessions quietly, calmly, and inaudibly in the old
city-hall at Ratisbon.
It was reported everywhere that the Emperor of France was about to
give a new constitution to the German empire, and that the Emperor
of Germany had pledged himself in the treaty of Presburg not to
oppose the plans of Napoleon in relation to Germany.
The Diet paid no attention to these rumors; it remained in session,
and did not interrupt its silence. It remained in session while the
secondary German princes, whose ambassadors were assembled in
Ratisbon, hastened in person to Paris, in order to appear there as
humble supplicants in the anterooms of the emperor and Talleyrand,
and to win the favor of Napoleon and his minister. This favor, they
hoped, would gain for them crowns and states, render them powerful
and influential, and give them a brilliant position. For Talleyrand
had secretly whispered into the ears of all of them: "Those who
oppose the emperor's plans, and refuse to accept his protection,
will be mediatized!" [Footnote: Mediatized position of the small
German states, when their princes were under an emperor.] Every one
of these secondary German princes hoped, therefore, that the others
would be mediatized, and that he would receive the possessions of
Every one, therefore, was most jealous in protesting his entire
submission to the emperor's will, and in trying to gain as much as
possible by flattery, bribery, and humble supplication. It seemed as
though in Paris, in the anterooms of the emperor and his minister
Talleyrand, a market-booth had been opened, in which dice were being
thrown for German states and German crowns, or where they were sold
at auction to the highest bidder! [Footnote: Enormous bribes were
paid by the German princes to win the favor of the prominent
functionaries of the French empire, in order to be saved by their
influence from being mediatized, and to obtain as valuable additions
to their territories as possible. Diplomatic gifts were not even
secretly distributed, but the business was carried on as publicly as
if the persons concerned in it had been on 'change. Everybody knew
that the Prince of Salm-Kyrburg had bought of one of the French
ministers two hundred thousand bottles of champagne at an enormous
rate; that Labesnardiere, Talleyrand's first secretary, had received
half a million of francs from Hesse Darmstadt; and that the Duke of
Mecklenburg had promised him one hundred and twenty thousand
Fredericks d'ors if he should retain his sovereignty.--Vide
Montgaillard, "Histoire de France," vol. x., p. 115.]
The Diet heard only rumors, vague rumors, about these proceedings,
and remained quietly in session. It met every day and waited.
And at length, on the 1st of August, 1806, the large doors of the
hall, in which the ambassadors of the German empire were assembled,
opened, and the minister of the French emperor appeared in their
midst, and approached in solemn earnest the green table, on which
hitherto Germany alone had had the right to depose her notes and
declarations, and on which hitherto the German Diet alone had
written laws for Germany.
But Bacher, the French minister, came to force a new law upon the
German Diet--the law of the French emperor.
The representative of the French emperor addressed the German Diet
in a solemn tone, and as the vast session-hall echoed the loud,
imperious voice of the foreigner, it seemed as if he called up from
their graves the ghosts of past centuries, and as if they then
placed themselves like a protecting gray cloud before the menaced
"The German constitution," said the minister of France--"the German
constitution is now but a shadow; the Diet has ceased to have a will
of its own. Hence his majesty, the Emperor of France and Italy, is
not obliged to recognize the existence of this German constitution
any longer; a new confederation of German princes will be formed
under his protection, and his majesty will assume the title of
Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine. In order to maintain
peace, he declared formerly that he would never extend the
boundaries of France beyond the Rhine, and he has faithfully kept
his word." [Footnote: "Memoires d'un Homme d'Etat," vol. ix., p.
And after Bacher had uttered these words, sixteen members of the
Diet, twelve princes, and four electors, rose from their seats. The
first of the German electors, the archchancellor of the empire,
Charles Theodore von Dalberg, was their speaker, and he explained to
the Diet, in the name of his fifteen colleagues, their intentions
"The last three wars have demonstrated," he exclaimed, "that the
German empire is rotten and virtually destroyed; hence we German
princes of the south and west of Germany will sever our connection
with a constitution which has ceased to exist, and place ourselves
under the protection of the Emperor of the French, who is anxious to
secure the welfare and prosperity of Germany. We have formed a
confederation among ourselves, and the Emperor of the French will be
the head and protector of this league, which will be called the
Confederation of the Rhine. Solemnly and forever do we, princes of
the German Confederation of the Rhine, renounce the German empire
and the German Diet, acknowledging none but the Emperor of the
French as our head and protector."
"Yes, we renounce the German empire and the German Diet," exclaimed
the sixteen princes, in one breath. "We renounce them now and
And they noisily pushed aside the high-backed arm-chairs, on which
the representatives of their states had sat for centuries, and left
the session-hall in a solemn procession, headed by the
archchancellor of the empire. [Footnote: The members of the
Confederation of the Rhine were Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Baden, the
archchancellor with his territory, Berg, Hesse-Darmstadt, Nassau-
Weilburg, Nassau-Usingen, Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Hohenzollern-
Sigmaringen, Salm-Salm, Salm-Kyrberg, Isenburg, Aremberg,
Lichtenstein, and Von der Leyen.]
The remaining members of the Diet gazed on them in profound silence,
and when the door closed behind the disappearing princes of the
Confederation of the Rhine, it seemed as though strange sounds and
whisperings filled the old hall, and as though low sighs and
lamentations resounded from the walls where the portraits of the
emperors were hanging.
The remaining members of the Diet were filled with awe; the sixteen
vacant chairs struck terror into their souls; they rose silently
from their seats and left the hall with hasty steps.
But on the following day the German Diet met again. It wanted to
consult and deliberate as to what ought to be done in relation to
the desertion of sixteen of its members.
And it consulted and deliberated for six days without coming to any
decision. But on the sixth day a stop was put to the debates.
On the 6th of August a special envoy of the Emperor of Germany
appeared at the city-hall of Ratisbon while the Diet was in session.
He approached the green table and saluted the small remnant of the
great assembly, and producing a large letter bearing the emperor's
privy seal, said in a loud and solemn voice: "In the name of the
And the members of the Diet rose from their seats to listen
reverentially to the imperial message which his majesty had
addressed to the German Diet in an autograph letter. He had
commissioned his envoy to read the letter to the Diet, and the
minister read as follows:
"Feeling convinced that it is impossible for us to exercise our
imperial rights any longer, we deem it our duty to renounce a crown
which was of value to us only so long as we enjoyed the confidence
of the electors, princes, noblemen, and states of the German empire,
and so long as we were able to fulfil the duties they imposed upon
us. Hence we are obliged to declare by these presents in the most
solemn manner, that, considering the ties which united us with the
German empire as broken by the Confederation of the Rhine, we hereby
give up the imperial crown of Germany; at the same time we release
by these presents the electors, princes, and states, as well as the
members of the supreme court and other magistrates from the duties
which they owed to us as legal head of the German empire. Given
under our own hand and seal. Francis the Second, Emperor of Austria,
and ruler of the hereditary states of Austria." [Footnote: "Memoires
d'un Homme d'Etat," vol. ix., p. 160.]
A long and awful silence greeted the reading of this letter, which
put an end to the ancient German empire after an existence of one
thousand and six years, from Charlemagne, crowned in 800, to Francis
II., dispossessed in 1806.
The members of the German Diet then rose in their seats; they were
as silent and shy as night-owls startled from their dark hiding-
places by a stray sunbeam. They left the old session-hall at
Ratisbon in gloomy silence, and when the door closed behind them,
the German Diet had been buried, and the lid on its coffin had been
The last night-owls of the deceased German empire hurried in
mournful silence from the session-hall at Ratisbon, where the old
portraits henceforth watched alone over the grave of the German
When they stepped out into the market-place, a carriage just rolled
past the city-hall, and the gentleman seated in it leaned smilingly
out of the coach-door, and saluted kindly and affably the pale,
grave, and sad men who came from the city-hall.
This gentleman was Count Clement Metternich, who was going to Paris
as special envoy of the Emperor of Austria for the purpose of
offering to the Emperor of France on his birthday the
congratulations of the Emperor of Austria. [Footnote: Ibid., p.
On the 6th of August the German empire had died and was buried!
On the 15th of August the Emperor of the French celebrated his
birthday; and the princes of the Confederation of the Rhine, the
Emperor of Austria, the King of Prussia, and all the sovereigns who
had been members of the late German empire, celebrated the great day
in the most solemn manner.
Napoleon had a new victory--a victory which laid the whole of
Germany at his feet. He had buried the German empire, but stood on
the grave of the august corpse as its lord and master.
THE BATTLE OF JENA.
A GERMAN BOOKSELLER AND MARTYR.
It was long after nightfall; in the narrow, gloomy streets of the
ancient free city of Nuremberg all noise had long since died away,
and all the windows of the high houses with the gable-ends were
dark. Only on the ground-floor of the large house in the rear of St.
Sebald's church a lonely candle was burning, and the watchman, who
was just walking past with his long horn and iron pike, looked
inquisitively into the window, the shutters of which were not
"H'm!" he said to himself in a low voice, "the poor woman is
kneeling and weeping and praying; I am sure it is for her husband.
In her grief she did not notice, perhaps, that it is already
midnight. I will remind her of it, so that she may go to bed."
He placed himself on the street in front of the house, blew his horn
noisily, and then sang in a ringing voice:
"Hort, Ihr Herren, und lasst euch sagen,
Die Glock hat zwolf geschlagen;
Ein Jeder bewahr sein Feuer und Licht,
Dass dieser Stadt kein Harm geschicht!"
[Footnote: The ancient song of the German watchman.--"Listen,
gentlemen, and let me tell you: the clock has struck twelve;
every one must take care of his fire and light, that no harm
may befall this city!"]
"So, now she knows it," muttered the watchman; "now she will go to
And he sauntered down the long and tortuous street, to repeat his
song on the next corner.
He had really accomplished his purpose; his song had interrupted the
prayer of the young wife, and she had risen from her knees.
"Midnight already!" she murmured, in a low voice. "Another day of
anguish is over, and a new one is beginning. Oh, would to God I
could sleep, always sleep, so as to be at least unconscious of the
dangers that are menacing HIM! Oh, my God, my God! protect my poor,
beloved husband, preserve the father of my children! And now I will
go to bed," she added, after a pause. "God will have mercy on me,
perhaps, and grant me a few hours of rest!"
She took the brass candlestick, on which a taper was burning, and
went slowly and with bowed head to the adjoining room. When she had
entered it, her face became calmer and more joyful, and a gentle
smile lighted up her charming features when she now approached the
small bed, in which her two little girls lay arm-in-arm, sweetly
slumbering with rosy cheeks and half-opened crimson lips.
"God preserve to you your peace and innocence," whispered the young
mother, after contemplating her children long and tenderly. "God, I
fondly trust, will cause this cloud to glide past without your
hearing the thunder roll, and being shattered by the lightning.
Good-night, my children!"
She nodded smilingly to the slumbering girls, and then glided
noiselessly to her couch. She commenced undressing--slowly and
sighing, but when she was just about to open the silver buckle of
her sash, she paused and looked anxiously toward the window.
It seemed to her as though she had heard a soft rapping at this
window, which opened upon the garden in the rear of the house, and
as though a low voice has uttered her name.
Sure enough, the sound was repeated, and she now heard the voice say
quite distinctly: "Open the window, Anna."
She rushed toward the window and opened it, pale, breathless, and
almost out of her wits.
"Is it you, Palm?" she cried.
"It is I," said a low, male voice; and now an arm became visible, it
encircled the crosswork of the window; in the next second the whole
form of a gentleman appeared, and vaulted cautiously into the room.
"God be praised, I am with you again!" he said, drawing a deep
breath; "it seems to me as if all danger were past when I am again
in our quiet house with you and the children."
"No, my beloved husband, it is just here that dangers are
threatening you," said the young wife, sinking into the open arms of
her husband, and reposing her head on his breast. "My God, why did
"Because I was afraid when I was far from you, while I feel here
with you courageous enough to brave the whole world," said her
husband, almost cheerfully, imprinting a glowing kiss on the
forehead of his young wife. "Believe me, Anna, a husband always
lacks the right kind of courage when he believes his wife and
children to be in danger. For six days I have been separated from
you; well, in these six days, which I have spent in perfect security
at Erlangen, I have not passed a minute without feeling the painful
palpitation of my heart, nor have I slept a minute. I always thought
of and trembled for you."
"But we are in no danger, while YOU are, my beloved," said the young
wife, sighing. "Our house is closely watched, you may depend upon
it. I have seen French gens-d'armes hidden behind the pillars of the
church, and staring for hours at our street-door. Oh, if they knew
that you were here, they would arrest you this very night!"
"They would not dare to arrest me!" exclaimed Palm, loudly. "We do
not yet belong to France, although the Emperor of France has assumed
the right of giving the ancient free city of Nuremberg to Bavaria,
as though she were nothing but a toy got up in our factories. We are
still Germans, and no French gens-d'armes have any right to
penetrate into our German houses. But look, the children are moving;
little Sophy is opening her eyes. What a barbarian I am to speak so
loudly, and not even to respect the slumber of our little ones!"
He hastened to the small bed, and bending over it, nodded smilingly
a greeting to the little girl, who was staring at him, still half
asleep. The child whispered, in a low voice: "Dear, dear father!"
and fell quietly asleep again.
"Come, Anna," whispered Palm, "let us go to your room, in order not
to disturb the children."
"But the spying eyes of our enemies might see you there," said his
wife, anxiously. "No, let us stay here, even though we should awaken
the little girls. They will not cry, but be happy to see their
beloved father, and what we are speaking to each other they cannot
understand. Come, let us sit down here on the small sofa, and permit
me to place the screen before it; then I am sure nobody will be able
to see you."
She conducted Palm to the small sofa in the corner of the room, and
placed the screen as noiselessly as possible before it.
"So," she said, nestling in his arms, "now we are here as if in a
little cell, where only God's eye can find us. So long as we are in
this cell I shall not be afraid."
"I believe it is unnecessary for you to be afraid at all," said
Palm, smiling. "We carry our apprehensions to too great a length,
you may depend upon it, and because we see M. Bonaparte putting
whole states into his pocket, we believe it would be easy for him
likewise to put a respectable citizen and bookseller of Nuremberg
into it. But, be it spoken between us, that is rather a haughty
idea, and M. Bonaparte has to attend to other things than to take
notice of a bookseller and his publications. Remember, my child,
that he has just got up the Confederation of the Rhine, and,
moreover, is said to be preparing for a war with Prussia. How should
he, therefore, have time to think of a poor bookseller?"
"Do you think, when the lion is going to meet his adversary and to
struggle with him, he will leave the wasp which he has met on his
way, and which has stung him in the ear, unpunished, because he has
more important things to attend to?"
"But I did not sting him at all," said Palm, smiling. "Let us calmly
consider the whole affair, dearest Anna, and you will see that I
have in reality noting to fear, and that only the accursed terror
which this M. Bonaparte has struck into the souls of all Germans has
caused us this whole alarm. A few months ago I received by mail,
from a person unknown to me, a large package of books, enclosing a
letter, in which the stranger requested me to send the copies of the
pamphlet contained in the package immediately to all German
booksellers, and to give it as wide a circulation as possible. The
letter contained also a draft for one thousand florins, drawn by a
banker of Vienna, Baron Franke, on a wealthy banking-house of our
city. This sum of one thousand florins, said the letter, was to be a
compensation for my trouble and for the zeal with which, the writer
stated, he felt convinced I would attend to the circulation of the
"But the very mystery connected with the whole transaction ought to
have aroused your suspicion, my beloved."
"Why! Are not we Germans now under the unfortunate necessity of
keeping secret our most sublime thoughts and our most sacred
sentiments? And ought not, therefore, every one of us to take pains
to honor and protect this secrecy, instead of suspecting it?"
"But the very title of this pamphlet was dangerous, 'Germany in her
Deepest Degradation.' You might have guessed whom this accusation
was aimed at."
"At Germany, I thought, at our infamy and cowardice, at the perfidy
of our princes, at the torpid, passive indifference of our people.
It is high time that Germany, which is now tottering about like a
somnambulist, should be aroused by a manful word from her slumber,
so as to take heart again and draw the sword. The title told me that
the pamphlet contained such words; hence, I was not at liberty to
keep it out of circulation. It would have been a robbery perpetrated
upon Germany, a theft perpetrated upon him who sent me the money,
and to whom I could not return it, because I was not aware of his
"You ought to have thought of your wife and your children," murmured
"I thought of you," he said, tenderly; "hence, I did not read the
pamphlet, in order not to be shaken in what I thought my duty.
First, I had to fulfil my duty as a citizen and man of honor; then
only I was at liberty to think of you and my personal safety. I
sent, therefore, in the first place, a certain number of copies of
the pamphlet to M. Stage, the bookseller, and requested him to
circulate them an speedily as possible among his customers."
"And, God knows, he has done so," sighed Anna, "and, like you, he
was not deterred by the title."
"He did his duty, like myself, and sent the pamphlets to lovers of
books. In this manner it reached a preacher in the country, and
unfortunately there were two French officers at his house; they
understood German, read the pamphlet, and informed their colonel of
its character. The latter paid a visit to the preacher, and learned
from him that M. Stage, the bookseller of Augsburg, had sent him the
pamphlet. The colonel thereupon repaired to Augsburg and saw M.
"And Stage was cowardly and perfidious enough to betray your name
and to denounce you as being the bookseller who had sent him the
pamphlet," exclaimed Anna, her eyes flashing with indignation. "Your
friend, your colleague betrayed you!"
"I had not requested him not to mention my name," said Palm,
gravely; "he had a right to name it, and I do not reproach him with
doing so. I was informed that the French minister in Munich had
bitterly complained of me and demanded that I should be punished;
and as we are Bavarians now, I hastened to Munich in order to defend
"And while you were there, four strangers came hither," Anna
interrupted him. "They asked for the pamphlet, penetrated in the
most outrageous manner, in spite of my remonstrances, into your
store, searched it, and left only when they had satisfied themselves
that not a copy of the unfortunate pamphlet was there."
"You wrote this to me while I was in Munich, and at the same time I
heard that Stage had been arrested in Augsburg. Impelled by my first
terror, I fled from the capital and hastened to Erlangen, which is
situated on Prussian soil, and where neither the Bavarian police nor
the French gens d'armes could lay hands on me. But in Erlangen I
reflected on the matter, and I confess to you I was ashamed of
having fled, instead of confronting an examination openly and
freely. My love, my yearning attracted me toward you; I, therefore,
took carriage last night and rode home to my beloved wife and to my
children. This is a plain statement of the whole affair, and now
tell me what should I be afraid of?"
"You may fear the worst," exclaimed Anna, sadly; "for our French
tyrants will not shrink from any thing."
"But fortunately we do not live yet under the French sceptre,"
replied Palm, vividly; "we are Germans, and only German laws are
valid for us."
"No," said Anna, mournfully, "we are not Germans, but Bavarians,
that is to say, the allies, the humble vassals of France. Not the
King of Bavaria, but the Emperor of France, is ruling over us."
"Well, even were it so, I could not see what crime I should be
charged with. I neither wrote nor published this pamphlet; I merely
circulated it, and cannot, therefore, be held responsible for its
contents. Possibly, they may arrest me as they have arrested Stage,
and may intend thereby to compel me to mention the name of him who
sent me the pamphlet, as Stage mentioned my own name. Fortunately,
however, I am able to prove that I know neither the author nor the
publisher; for I have got the best proof, of it, viz., the letter
which I received with the package. I shall lay this letter before
the court, and the judges will then perceive that I am entirely
innocent. What will remain for them but to caution me not to
circulate henceforth books sent to me anonymously, and then to
"But if they should not release you, my beloved husband?" asked his
wife, anxiously clasping him in her arms; "if in their rage at being
unable to lay their hands on the real criminal, they should wreak
their vengeance on you for having circulated the pamphlet first of
all, and punish you as though you were its author?"
"Oh, you go too far," exclaimed Palm, laughing; "your imagination
calls up before you horrors which belong to the realm of fable. We
still live in a well-regulated state, and however great the
influence of France may be, German laws are still valid here; and as
we live in a state of peace, I can be judged only in accordance with
them. Fear not, therefore, dearest wife. The worst that can befall
me will be a separation for a few days, at the most for a few weeks,
if our authorities should really carry their fawning submission to
Bonaparte to such a length as to call a German citizen to account
for having, in his business as a bookseller, circulated a pamphlet--
understand me well, a German pamphlet, destined only for Germany,
and which does not flatter, perhaps, the Emperor of the French quite
as much as is being done by our German princes and our German
"Oh my God, my God," wailed Anna, in a low voice, "the pamphlet is
directly aimed at Napoleon, then?"
"Yes, at him who has placed his heels on the neck of Germany and
trampled her in the dust," exclaimed Palm. "This pamphlet, called
'Germany in her Deepest Degradation,' must have been written against
him alone. Oh, during the days of my sojourn in Erlangen, I have
read this pamphlet, and whatever may befall me, I am glad it was I
who circulated it, for a noble German spirit pervades the whole of
it, and it is truth that raises the scourge in it to lash the guilty
parties. It is a vigorous and glowing description of the condition
to which all the German states have been reduced by Bonaparte's
arbitrary proceedings. Just listen to this one passage, and then you
may judge whether the pamphlet tells the truth or not."
He drew a few printed leaves from his side-pocket, and unfolded
"You have got a copy of the dreadful pamphlet with you?" asked Anna,
in dismay. "Oh, how imprudent! If they should come now to arrest
you, they would obtain a new proof of your guilt. I implore you, my
friend, my beloved, if you love me, if your children are dear to
you, be cautious and prudent! Burn those terrible leaves, so that
they may not testify against you. Remember that I should die of
grief if your life should be threatened; remember that our poor
children then would be helpless orphans."
"Oh, my poor, timid roe," said Palm, deeply moved, encircling his
weeping young wife with his arms. "How your faithful, innocent heart
is fluttering, as if the cruel hunter were already aiming his
murderous arm at us, and as if we were irretrievably doomed! Calm
yourself, dearest, I pledge you my word that I will comply with your
wishes. We will burn the pamphlet; but previously you shall learn,
at least, the spirit in which this pamphlet, for which your poor
husband will have to suffer, perhaps, a few days' imprisonment, is
written. Just listen to me! The author is speaking here of Bavaria,
and of the oppressions to which she is a prey since we have
concluded an alliance with France. He says: 'Since that time the
Bavarian states have become the winter quarters, and been treated in
a manner unheard of since the Thirty Years' War. At that time the
Austrians, under Tilly and Wallenstein, were pursuing precisely the
same course now followed by the French, and if their emperor draws
no other lessons from that war, he has closely copied, at least, the
system of obtaining supplies for an army which was then in use.
Trustworthy men have assured us that the French ruler, when in
Munich the most urgent remonstrances concerning the oppressions
under which the people of Bavaria were groaning were made to him,
replied in cold blood: "My soldiers have not done so. These are
times of war--let me alone, and do not disturb my plans." Already in
December last the treaty of Presburg was signed, and from that
moment Austria had the prospect of getting rid of her enemies. Had
Bavaria not an equal right to enjoy the advantages of this treaty?
These advantages could be none other than that the French army left
the Bavarian territories and relieved the people from further
oppressions. But just the reverse took place. The French withdrew
from the states of the German emperor to occupy Bavaria, and
celebrate here, by the ruin of all the inhabitants, their victories
in orgies and carousals continued for many months. If I refer to the
ruin of the inhabitants, the words should be taken in their literal
meaning, and not as an expression merely chosen to depict the misery
the French have brought upon Bavaria. It is not yet five years since
a hostile army of the same nation lorded it over that country. And
nobody will venture to assert that the wounds then inflicted upon
the inhabitants should have been healed in so short a time. The
farmer, deprived of his animals, had scarcely commenced to provide
himself again with horses and cattle, when the passage of the
French, in every respect equal to an invasion, took from him again
this important portion of his personal property. Fraud, cunning, and
force were alternately resorted to for this purpose. Tears and the
most humble supplications were rejected with sneers, and even blows.
The French called themselves "preservers of Bavaria." Forsooth a
preservation similar to the fate of the patient whom one doctor
would have sooner sent into the grave, and who is dying more slowly
under the hands of another. If friendship ever was a mockery, it was
so on this occasion. But it is part of Napoleon's plans to exhaust
Germany to such an extent as to render her incapable of becoming
dangerous for him even in the most remote future. He selected
several highly effective expedients for this purpose. Dynasties, the
ancestors of which date back to the most remote ages, and one of
which long since produced emperors and kings, were united with
Bonaparte's family by the closest ties of blood, and thus the ruler
of France has already become the relative of the courts of Baden,
Bavaria, Sweden, and Russia. Not content with this, he offered royal
crowns to Bavaria and Wurtemberg, and the German emperor had to
assent to this measure in the treaty of Presburg. Thus Germany has
got two new kingdoms, and--'" [Footnote: From the celebrated
pamphlet. "Germany in her Deepest Degradation."]
"Oh, I implore you, do not read any further," exclaimed Anna,
suddenly interrupting her husband. "It frightens me to hear you
repeat those threatening and angry words; they fall upon my heart
like a terrible accusation against you! Believe me, my beloved, if
that proud and ambitious Emperor Napoleon should hear of this
terrible pamphlet--if its contents should be communicated to him,
you would be lost: for, having no one else on whom to wreak his
vengeance, he would revenge himself on you!"
"But he will not have me either," said Palm, smiling, "for I shall
take good care not to set foot on French territory; I shall not
leave Nuremberg, and thank God, that is German territory."
"But the French frontier is close to us, for wherever there are
French troops there is France. Napoleon's arm reaches far beyond her
frontiers, and if he wants to seize you he will do so in spite of
all boundary-posts, German laws, and your own citizenship."
"There is really something so convincing in your fears that it might
almost infect me!" said Palm, musingly. "It would have been better,
perhaps, after all, for me not to have come back, but to remain in
"Return thither," exclaimed Anna, imploringly; "I beseech you by our
love, by our children, and by our happiness, return to Erlangen!"
"To-morrow, dearest Anna!" said Palm, smiling, clasping his young
wife in his arms--" to-morrow it will be time enough to think of
another separation. Now let me take a few hours' rest, and enjoy the
unutterable happiness of being at home again!--at home with my wife
and with my dear little ones!"
On the following morning the rumor spread all over Nuremberg, that
Palm, the bookseller, had returned and was concealed in his house.
The cook had stated this in the strictest confidence to some of her
friends when she had appeared on the market-place to purchase some
vegetables. The friends had communicated the news, of course,
likewise in the strictest confidence, to other persons, and thus the
whole city became very soon aware of the secret.
The friends of the family now hastened to go to Mrs. Palm for the
purpose of ascertaining from herself whether the information were
true. Anna denied it, however; she asserted she had received this
very morning a letter written by her husband at Erlangen; but when
one of the more importunate friends requested her to communicate the
contents of the letter to him, or let him see it at least, she
became embarrassed and made an evasive reply.
"He is here!" whispered the friends to each other, when they left
Mrs. Anna Palm. "He is here, but conceals himself so that the French
spies who have been sneaking around here for the last few days may
not discover his whereabouts. It is prudent for him to do so, and we
will not betray him, but faithfully keep his secret."
But a secret of which a whole city is aware, and which is being
talked of by all the gossips in town, is difficult to keep, and it
is useless to make any effort for the purpose of preventing it from
being betrayed to the enemy.
Palm did not suspect any thing whatever of what was going on. He
deemed himself entirely safe in his wife's peaceful, silent room,
the windows of which, opening upon the garden, were inaccessible to
spying eyes, while its only door led to the large store where his
two clerks were attending to the business of the firm and waiting on
the customers who ordered or purchased books of them.
Anna had just left the room to consult with her servants about the
affairs of the household and kitchen; and Palm, who was comfortably
stretched out on the sofa, was engaged in reading. The anxiety which
had rendered him so restless during the previous days had left him
again; he felt perfectly reassured, and smiled at his own fear which
had flitted past him like a threatening cloud.
All at once he was startled from his comfortable repose by a loud
conversation in the store, and rose from the divan in order to hear
what was the matter.
"I tell you I am unable to assist you," he heard his book-keeper
say. "I am poor myself, and Mr. Palm is not at home."
"Mr. Palm is at home, and I implore you let me see him," said a
strange, supplicating voice. "He has a generous heart and if I tell
him of my distress he will pity me and lend me his assistance."
"Come back in a few days, then," exclaimed the book-keeper; "Mr.
Palm will then be back, perhaps, from his journey."
"In a few days!" ejaculated the strange voice--"in a few days my
wife and child will be starved to death, for unless I am able to
procure relief within this hour, my cruel creditor will have me
taken to the debtors' prison, and I shall be unable then to assist
my sick wife and baby. Oh, have mercy on my distress! Let me see Mr.
Palm, that I may implore his assistance!"
"Mr. Palm is not at home as I told you already," exclaimed the book-
keeper in an angry voice. "How am I to let you see him, then? Come
back in a few days--that is the only advice I can give you. Go now,
and do not disturb me any longer!"
"No, people shall never say that I turned a despairing man away from
my door," muttered Palm, rapidly crossing the room and opening the
door of the store.
"Stay, poor man," he said to the beggar, who had already turned
around and was about to leave the store--"stay."
The beggar turned around, and, on perceiving Palm, who stood on the
threshold of the door, uttered a joyful cry.
"Do you see," he said, triumphantly to the book-keeper--" do you see
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