NAPOLEON AND BLUCHER
Part 2 out of 12
commenced the overture, and the festive cantata began. On the stage
was seen the radiant temple of the sun, surrounded by the
brilliantly-adorned crowd of priests and priestesses. They raised
their arms, not to the temple of the sun, but toward Napoleon's box,
and, amid their soul-stirring chorus, the high-priest stepped forth
from the temple. Advancing to the edge of the stage, he bowed to the
imperial sun, and commenced singing in a powerful voice, "The sun
rises gloriously on the firmament, illuminating and heating the
world; but thou, his greater brother, thou conquerest him, and he
drives back his car, acknowledging that, since thou art here, the
world needs no other sun." While the high-priest sang these words
the temple on the stage suddenly paled, and over its entrance the
following words appeared in large letters of gold: "Di Lui men
grande e men chiaro il Sole." [Footnote: "Less great and brilliant
than he is the sun." The author of this cantata, performed in honor
of Napoleon, was Orlandi, an Italian; Morlacchi bad composed the
At this sight, cheers burst from all sides of the brilliantly
decorated house; the audience rose from their seats and turned
toward the imperial box to salute Napoleon; the Emperor of Austria,
the King of Saxony, and the princes of the Confederation of the
Rhine, joined in the applause. But Napoleon, to whom these cheers
were addressed, did not even seem to notice them. He had suddenly
risen and turned his back to the stage, regardless of the high-
priest and his emphatic words. Heedless of the cheers and applause,
he left his place and hastened to the Emperor Francis, who was
sitting on the left side, close to the two empresses. "Sire," said
Napoleon, "I request your majesty to exchange seats with me, and
pardon me for erroneously taking the chair that was intended for
"No, no; it is no mistake at all," exclaimed the Emperor Francis,
hastily. "It is all right as it is, and your majesty must stay
there, for that easy-chair is the seat of honor."
"That is precisely the reason why it should be occupied by your
majesty, the august Emperor of Austria, my beloved and revered
father-in-law," said Napoleon, bowing his head lower than he had
ever before done to any prince in the world. "Come, sire, permit me
to conduct you to the seat that is due to you alone." With gentle
violence he took the emperor's hand and conducted him to the seat at
the right side of Maria Louisa.
"My dear Louisa," he said, turning to his consort, "I renounce the
happiness of sitting beside you, because this seat is due to the
head of our family, the father of my consort, the grandfather of my
son. You may embrace the opportunity to tell our dear papa all about
the little King of Rome." He greeted Maria Louisa with a beaming
smile, and then repaired to the seat which the Emperor Francis had
occupied, at the left side of the Empress Ludovica. The smile was
still on his face; he sat down on this chair, and, turning to the
empress, his mother-in-law, asked her, almost humbly, if she would
grant him the happiness of sitting by her side.
Ludovica felt flattered; the gentle, suppliant voice of the emperor,
his smile, and flashing eyes, exerted their wonted charm upon her.
She had armed her heart against the arrogant master of the world,
but, before the kind and almost humble bearing of Napoleon, her arms
sank to the ground, and she who had hitherto felt nothing but hatred
against him, regarded him now with mingled astonishment and
Napoleon seemed to have read the depths of her heart, for his face
grew even milder, and his smile more fascinating. "Your majesty has
hated me intensely, I suppose?" he asked, in a low voice. "Oh, do
not deny it; I have been portrayed to you in very repulsive colors?"
Ludovica looked at him admiringly. "I must confess, sire," she said,
"that not one of the portraits of your majesty which I have seen, is
"Oh, I believe so," exclaimed Napoleon, hastily; "they have always
painted me too dark, and the portraits shown to your majesty
doubtless have been of that description; but before you, madame, the
Moor would like to wash his face, and I wish you could see me
painted less repulsively."
"Sire," said the empress, smiling, "did we not see but a few minutes
since that your image is even more radiant than the sun?"
"Ah, those are silly coups de theatre," exclaimed Napoleon. "It is
no great honor, indeed, to surpass the splendor of a sun made out of
paper. If the lamplighter had approached too close to it it would
have burned, while I think that I can stand in fire without running
the risk of perishing. However, the fire of anger flashing from your
eyes, madame, would annihilate me, and I pray you, therefore, to
have mercy on me. Pray, let us be frank. Why do you hate me?" He
looked at the empress with so mild and smiling an expression, that
she felt confused by it, and a faint blush suffused her beautiful
"No," she said, in a low voice, "who tells you that? How would it be
possible to hate the man to whom all Europe bows in admiration?"
"I have put my foot on the neck of Europe; I have tamed the wild
horse, and it acknowledges me as its master," said Napoleon,
proudly. "But is that a reason why you should hate me? Let all lie
in the dust before me, but Austria shall stand erect by my side, for
the Emperor of Austria is my father-in-law, and though I do not
venture to say that the beautiful young Empress of Austria is my
mother-in-law, I may be allowed to say that she is the mother of my
consort, and that I admire and esteem her with all my heart. Austria
has nothing to fear, so long as she is friendly toward me. She shall
share my triumphs; and, when at last all Europe is prostrate, the
Emperors of France and Austria will stand side by side, and divide
the world between them."
"And one will take his Herculaneum, and the other his Pompeii," said
the empress, sarcastically.
"Ah, you mean to say that the world we shall have conquered will
consist only of ruined cities and dead subjects?" asked Napoleon,
"Sire," said Ludovica, gently, "I mean that when Vesuvius shows
itself to the wondering world in its whole majesty and beauty, it
cannot prevent the molten lava, which rises from its crater, as a
natural consequence, from rushing down its sides, and spreading
everywhere death and destruction."
"Well," exclaimed Napoleon, smiling, "if your simile is correct, the
molten lava will soon inundate Russia, and carry terror, death, and
destruction into the empire of the arrogant czar."
"Ah, sire," said Ludovica, gravely, "Russia is so very cold that I
believe even the fires of Vesuvius would be extinguished there, the
molten lava would freeze, or, flowing back, injure Vesuvius itself."
"Oh, no, madame," exclaimed Napoleon, hastily, "Vesuvius will not be
extinguished, for divine fire is burning in its heart."
"And Russia will not thaw, for it is a divine frost that freezes
every thing approaching her," said Ludovica, gently.
Napoleon cast on her one of his quick, angry glances. "Madame," he
At this moment the whole audience burst into loud and enthusiastic
cheers, and shouted, "Long live the emperor! Long live the hero who
conquers the world!"
Napoleon interrupted himself, and turned his eyes toward the stage.
The temple of the sun was still dark, but a new brilliant light was
beaming over it; in its middle was the word "Napoleon" in large
flaming letters, which illumined the whole scene. In this sight the
audience were unable to restrain their delight, and burst into the
deafening cheers which had interrupted Napoleon's words.
The King of Saxony was evidently pleased with this outburst of
enthusiasm. "Now," he thought, "the great Napoleon will forget the
disagreeable scene of this morning. The people then were silent, and
admired, but to-night they have recovered their speech; and when we
leave the theatre, and behold the whole city in a flood of light,
Napoleon will feel convinced that my subjects love him sincerely.--
But what is that? The emperor rises. Does he intend already to leave
the theatre?" And he hastened to Napoleon, who advanced toward him.
"Let us leave, sire," he said. "These flatteries are more than
enough. You see the sun has set here."
"But he is still among us, sire," said Frederick Augustus. "And if
it has grown dark on the stage, the reason is simply, that all the
light now fills the streets of Dresden, to prove to the great
Napoleon that there is no night where he is--that his presence turns
darkness into light, and night into day."
"Ah," said Napoleon, in a tired, wearied tone, "an illumination then
has been arranged?"
"Sire, my people, as well as I, cannot find words to utter to your
majesty the transports with which your visit has filled our hearts,
and I hope you will see this in the lights shining at every window.
I request your majesty not to return directly to the palace, but
first ride through the city."
Napoleon nodded assent. "Let us do so, cher papa," he said; "let us
take a look at your illumination!" He offered his arm to Maria
Louisa, and left the box with her. The crowd of kings, dukes, and
princes, followed him in haste.
As the King of Saxony descended the staircase with his consort,
Chamberlain von Planitz met him with a pale and frightened face.
"Well," asked the king, "I suppose the illumination has already
commenced? It must be a splendid spectacle!"
"Your majesty," said the chamberlain, in a low voice, "the royal
palace and the public buildings are brilliantly lit up, but the
houses of the citizens are dark, and the streets are deserted."
"But," exclaimed the king, in dismay, "did not the police command
the citizens to illuminate their houses?"
"Yes, your majesty, the police have done their duty."
"And yet, sire, all the houses are dark. It is as if the whole
population had conspired to disobey the order. The police have again
given orders; they received everywhere the same reply, that neither
oil nor candles were to be had any where."
"The stubborn people ought to have been told that they would be
punished for this."
"The police tried this, too, your majesty, threatening that every
citizen who did not obey should be fined a dollar, and all declared
their readiness to pay rather than illuminate."
"That is open rebellion," said the king, sighing. "The streets,
then, are dark?"
"Then we must not take the intended ride through the city,"
exclaimed the king, anxiously. "Make haste, baron, countermand the
At this moment the first carriage rolled from the portal. "It is too
late," groaned the king. "The emperor has already started. He will
witness our humiliation."
"Possibly, he may drive immediately to the palace," said the queen.
"He seemed tired and exhausted--"
"No, no," said the king, "he consented to see the illumination, and
the outriders are instructed accordingly. I myself marked out the
route. But, an expedient occurs to me. Quick, Baron von Planitz! Go
to the outrider of my carriage. Tell him to follow the imperial
carriage as fast as he can ride. He must overtake it, though his
horse die under him. He must order the driver to turn and pass down
Augustus Street to the Linden, and then slowly across the square, to
the palace. Make haste!" The chamberlain hastened to carry out the
"And we?" asked the queen--"shall we also follow him?"
"No, we return to the palace, and will wait for him there. The
others, of course, will follow the imperial carriage, and I hope we
shall soon see the two emperors again." Profoundly sighing, the king
conducted his consort to the carriage, and drove with her toward the
palace. A flood of light beamed upon them in the palace square. Huge
pillars, covered with festoons of colored lamps, stood in front of
the long palace bridge, and were connected with each other by
brilliant girandoles. Four similar pillars were in front of the main
portal of the Catholic church at the entrance of Augustus Street.
Around the square altars were erected, on which naphtha was burning.
On the royal palace the Austrian and French coats-of-arms displayed
all their colors with heraldic accuracy. It was a dazzling
spectacle, and even the king himself rejoiced at the beautiful and
imposing effect. "I think," he said, pointing to the pillars, "I
think this will be agreeable to him."
"Yes, but I am afraid that will be disagreeable to him," said the
queen, pointing to the Neustadt, lying dark on the other side of the
"Heaven grant that he may not see it!" said the king, sighing; he
then leaned back and closed his eyes until they halted in front of
the portal. "I shall remain here until the emperors arrive," he
added, bowing to his consort. With anxious eyes he gazed upon the
place, and listened in suspense to any distant noise. After waiting
fifteen minutes, the roll of approaching wheels was heard, and now
they thundered across the square and entered the palace portal. King
Frederick Augustus, hat in hand, stepped up with a most submissive
air to the first carriage, the door of which was just opened by
lackeys in gorgeous liveries. He lifted the young empress Maria
Louisa out, and then offered his hand almost timidly to Napoleon to
assist him also. With a quick wave of his hand he refused
assistance, and alighted. Anger was burning in his eyes.
"We left the theatre at an earlier hour than the citizens expected,"
said the king, timidly, "and that is the reason why the illumination
has not yet generally commenced."
"Oh, no," said Napoleon, in a petulant voice; "YOUR illumination is
magnificent; as to the inhabitants of Dresden, it seems to me, they
are the children of the sun that we saw at the theatre--their lights
have gone out." And the emperor, coldly bowing to the king, and
offering his arm to his consort, walked with her into the palace.
"He is not in good humor," muttered Frederick Augustus, in dismay.
"Oh, he is incensed at me!"
At this moment the Emperor Francis, with his consort, met him. "A
very pretty idea," said the emperor, with a laughing face, "to unite
the coats-of-arms of Austria and France in such a blaze of
variegated light! It gladdens one's heart to behold them. I thank
your majesty for having thus exhibited my coat-of-arms. It looks
admirably by the side of that of France."
NAPOLEON'S HIGH-BORN ANCESTORS.
A new guest had arrived at Dresden to do homage to Napoleon--the
King of Prussia, accompanied by the young crown prince, and
Chancellor von Hardenberg. The two inimical friends, the Emperor of
France and the King of Prussia, met for the first time at the rooms
of the Queen of Saxony, and shook hands with forced kindness. They
exchanged but a few words, when Napoleon withdrew, inviting the king
to participate in the gala dinner and ball to take place that day.
The king accepted the invitation with a bow, without replying a
word, and repaired to the Marcolini palace, where quarters had been
provided for him and his suite. Not a member of the royal family
deemed it necessary to accompany him. He went away quietly and
alone. His arrival had not been greeted, like that of Napoleon and
the Emperor of Austria, with ringing of bells and cannon salutes,
nor had the soldiers formed in line on both sides of the streets
through which he passed on entering the city. The court had not
shown any attention to him, but allowed him to make his entry into
Dresden without any display whatever.
But if the court thought they might with impunity violate the rules
of etiquette because Frederick William was unfortunate, the people
indemnified him for this neglect, and honored him. Thousands hurried
out of the gate to cheer him on his arrival, and escorted him amid
the most enthusiastic acclamations to the royal palace. When he left
it again, the crowd followed him to the Marcolini palace, and
cheered so long in front of it that the king appeared on the
balcony. It is true, the anterooms of the king were deserted; no
smiling courtiers' faces, no chamberlains adorned with glittering
orders, no dignitaries, no marshals, princes, or dukes, were there;
but below in the street was his real anteroom--there his devoted
courtiers were waiting for their royal master, looking up to his
windows, and longing for his coming. The smiles with which they
greeted Frederick William were no parasites' smiles, and the love
beaming from those countless eyes was faithful and true.
Beneath the residence of Napoleon the people did not stand, as
usual, in silent curiosity staring at the windows, behind which from
time to time the pale face of the emperor showed itself. The street
was empty--those who formerly stood there were now joyously
thronging in front of the King of Prussia's quarters; they had
recovered their voices, and often cheered in honor of Frederick
The anterooms of Napoleon indeed presented an animated spectacle. A
brilliant crowd filled them at an early hour; there were generals
and marshals, the princes of the Confederation of the Rhine, the
dukes, princes, and kings of Germany, whom Napoleon had newly
created--all longing for an audience, in order to wrest from
Napoleon's munificence a province belonging to a neighbor, a title,
or a prominent office. Germany was in the hands of Napoleon, and to
bow the lower to him was to be raised the higher. In these rooms of
the emperor there was the unwonted spectacle of German sovereigns
soliciting instead of granting favors; and, instead of being
surrounded by, were themselves courtiers, who, in the most
submissive manner, sought the intercession of adjutants and
chamberlains, to procure admission to the imperial presence and
And all these courtiers gave vent to their love and admiration for
Napoleon in terms of the most extravagant praise. They spoke with
prophetic ecstasy of the fresh laurels that Napoleon was to bind
upon his brow, and of Alexander's madness to resist a conqueror
destined to make new triumphs for the glory of France and the
humiliation of Russia. Yet, when two or three of these expectant
gentlemen stood in some window-niche, and believed themselves beyond
the reach of indiscreet ears, they dared to ask each other, in a low
and anxious tone, whether all this splendor would not soon vanish as
a meteor--whether one might not see the aurora of a new day dawning-
-whether the battles into which Napoleon was about to plunge so
recklessly would not result in the downfall of him whom they
publicly extolled, but secretly cursed. But, to these whispered
questions the brilliant anterooms, the marshals of the empire,
crowned with victory, the dukes and princes, the court of Napoleon,
composed of the sovereigns of Germany, made a triumphant reply.
Secret hope could hardly survive in the recollection of the
greatness and invariable good fortune of Napoleon, and they who
desired the humiliation of the conqueror yielded to submission.
Returning to the crowd of princely courtiers, they renewed their
enthusiasm, and joined in the plaudits of Napoleon's admirers.
When the emperor, with Maria Louisa, entered the room, all pressed
forward, anxious to receive a glance, a smile, or a pleasant
salutation. Rank and etiquette were overlooked; there was but one
master, one sovereign, to whom all were doing homage. Rushing toward
him, each one tried to outstrip the other; and many a high
dignitary, prime minister, prince, duke, or king, was pushed aside
by an inferior. Napoleon stood in the centre of the room, uttering
words of condescending affability to the fortunate men nearest him.
Suddenly cheers resounded in the streets, rattling the window-panes.
Napoleon looked in the direction of the windows. "What is that?" he
asked, turning to the Duke de Bassano.
"Sire," said the duke, "the good people of Dresden are impatient to
see their imperial majesties of France, and pay them their
More deafening shouts were heard. Napoleon smiled, and hastily
walking with his consort through the circle of the courtiers stepped
to the open window. He frowned as he looked down. An immense crowd
had gathered below, but their faces were not turned toward the
windows of the royal palace, and their cheers were not intended for
the emperor. The multitude crossed the square, and in their midst
drove slowly an open carriage surrounded by the enthusiastic people.
In this carriage sat the King of Prussia, to whom were given the
loud greetings mistaken by Napoleon. He understood it at a glance,
and, stepping back from the window with the empress, turned to
Grand-Marshal Duroc, who was standing by his side. "See that the
populace go home," he said, hastily, "and that they no longer
disturb the people of the city by indecent and riotous proceedings.
I do not wish to hear any more yelling near the palace!"
Duroc bowed, and withdrew to instruct the police officers not to
tolerate any similar conduct on the part of the citizens. The
emperor meanwhile turned to Duke Augustus of Gotha, who had just
succeeded in penetrating through the ranks of courtiers, with his
broad shoulders and colossal form.
"Ah, you are back again, duke?" asked the emperor, kindly. "Did you
attend thoroughly to your government affairs?"
"I did, sire," said the duke, nearly bowing to the ground, and then
seizing the emperor's hand to press it to his lips.
"Well, I must confess that you accomplished your task with great
rapidity. Was it not three days since you took leave of us to go to
"Yes, sire, I set out three days ago."
"And you are back already! You performed the trip and your official
business in so short a time! How large is your duchy, then?"
"Sire," said the Duke of Gotha, quickly, "it is as large as your
majesty commands it to be." [Footnote: This reply is historical]
Napoleon's smile was reflected in the faces of those seeking his
At this moment the doors of the outer anteroom opened, and on the
threshold appeared the grave and dignified form of King Frederick
William. The courtiers, with an impatient expression, receded
anxiously, as though afraid of contact with this unfortunate man,
who had no territories, no riches, no honors to offer them, but had
come as a vassal to pacify the wrath of Napoleon, and save at least
a remnant of his kingdom. But the king did not come with craven
heart; he did not hasten his approach to the emperor with fawning
submissiveness, but slowly, with his head proudly erect, and a grave
Napoleon received him with a haughty nod. "Your majesty, you must
have had a troublesome drive from your quarters to the royal
palace," he said harshly. "I noticed that the gaping crowd were
thronging about your carriage and annoying you."
"Pardon me, sire," said the king, "the people did not annoy me. They
did me the honor of bidding me welcome, and this was the more
generous, as I am not one of those who are favored by Fortune. But
the German people yield sometimes to generous impulse, and show
thereby how little they know of the etiquette and sagacity of
While uttering these words, the king glanced with his clear, calm
eyes--in which a slightly sarcastic expression was to be seen--at
the multitude of brilliantly adorned and distinguished gentlemen who
tried to get as far as possible from him. Napoleon smiled. He
himself despised sycophancy sufficiently to be pleased with this
rebuke. But his severe look returned, and he gazed with some
indignation upon the tall form of the King of Prussia. He noticed
that, while himself appeared in silk stockings and buckled shoes,
the king had come in long trousers and boots.
"Your majesty, doubtless, was not informed that there would be a
ball after the banquet?" asked Napoleon, pointing to the king's
"I was, sire, but since the death of my consort I have not danced."
"But etiquette," exclaimed Napoleon, vehemently, "etiquette is--"
"Sire," interrupted the king, in a calm and dignified tone,
"etiquette is intended for parasites and people of the court, and it
is very proper for them to adhere to it. But a sovereign king, I
should think, has a right to disregard it, and follow the promptings
of his own inclinations."
The door of the anteroom opened again, and the grand marshal
appeared to announce dinner. The emperor offered his arm to Maria
Louisa, preceded by the high dignitaries and the officers of his
household, and followed by the swarm of princes and gentlemen of the
courts. The King of Prussia, taking the place to which his rank
entitled him, walked on the other side of the empress, and entered
the dining-hall at the same time with Napoleon, amid the notes of
the imperial band. Napoleon walked with his consort to his guests,
who were waiting for him in the centre of the hall--the Emperor and
Empress of Austria, and the King and Queen of Saxony.
The banquet was a distinguished one, and the French cooks of
Napoleon's household had displayed all their culinary skill to
satisfy the palate of even the most fastidious epicures. Napoleon,
as usual, gave his guests but little time to revel in the delicacies
prepared for them. Scarcely half an hour had elapsed since the
commencement of the dinner, when he rose, and thereby gave the
signal that the gala-dinner was at an end.
The Emperor Francis, who was almost always in good humor, could not
refrain from frowning, and, after offering his arm to his consort to
conduct her to the saloon, where coffee was to be served, he
muttered, "I do not know, but it seems to me that the Emperor
Napoleon eats too little."
"And yet he has so hearty an appetite, that he is able to swallow
and digest the territories of sovereigns," whispered the Empress
Ludovica, with a sneer. "He is now as satisfied as an anaconda after
devouring an ox."
"Yes, but we poor mortals are still hungry," said Francis,
thoughtfully. "It does not do us any good that his appetite is
"There will be a day when our hunger shall be appeased, and he
starve," said the empress.
"Hush!" whispered Francis, "not a word against him! He is my son-in-
law, Ludovica. And, besides, he has an appetite strong enough yet to
swallow another ox."
"He will get it in Russia, I suppose?" said Ludovica, quickly.
"Yes," said Francis. "He explained his whole plan to me and
Metternich for over an hour to-day, and proved to us that four weeks
hence there would be no Russian emperor; that Russia would fall to
ruins and decay. He dwelt on a great many other things, and told us
of gigantic schemes, which, to tell the truth, I did not comprehend
very well. Let me confess to you," he whispered, standing near the
door of the reception-room, "that his words almost frightened me.
His heart may be all right, but as to his head, I am afraid there is
something wrong about it." [Footnote: The emperor's own words,--Vide
Hormayer's "Lebensbilder," vol. iii.]
Ludovica smiled. "Do you believe, then, my husband, that he has
really a heart?" she asked. "But as to his head, the princes and
nations of Europe, I hope, will soon find an opportunity to set it
"Hush!" said Francis again; "he is my son-in-law."
"And because he is your son-in-law, your majesty should hesitate no
longer to deliver to him, or rather to his consort, the precious
gift which you ordered for her, and which arrived to-day."
"It is true," exclaimed Francis. "Let us at once present the gift to
He entered the saloon and hastily approached his daughter, who stood
with Napoleon in the centre of the room, and was just handing him a
cup of coffee, to which she herself had added sugar and cream.
[Footnote: The Empress Josephine, in her tender care for Napoleon,
who frequently forgot to take his coffee, was in the habit of
preparing a cup for him after dinner, and presenting it to him,
Maria Louisa had adopted Josephine's habit.]
"Louisa," said Francis, kindly nodding as he approached her, "I have
a little gift for you, which I hope will be acceptable. I ordered it
several months since, but when we set out from Vienna it was not
ready. To-day, however, it has arrived, and, as we are now in a
family circle, I may as well present it to you. That is to say,"
added the emperor, bowing to Napoleon, "if your majesty permits me
to do so."
"Your majesty was right in saying that we are here a family circle,"
said Napoleon, smiling; "and as the father is always the head and
master, I have nothing to permit, but only to pray that your majesty
may make what present your love has chosen for her."
"And I assure you, father," exclaimed Maria Louisa, smiling, "I am
as anxious to know what you have for me as I was at the time when I
was a little archduchess, and when your majesty promised me a
surprise. Let me, therefore, see your gift."
Francis smiled, and, walking to the open door of the adjoining room
(where the dukes, who did not belong to the imperial family, the
princes, the marshals, and courtiers, were assembled), made a sign
to one of the gentlemen, who stood near the door. The latter
immediately left the room, and returned after a few minutes with an
oblong, narrow something, carefully wrapped in a piece of gold
brocatel, which he presented to the emperor with a respectful bow.
Francis took it hastily, and approached Maria Louisa with a solemn
air. "Here, Louisa," he said, kindly, "here is my present. It will
show you what, it is true, every day proves to admiring Europe,
namely, that genuine royal blood is flowing in the veins of your
Maria Louisa opened the covering with inquisitive impatience, and
there appeared under it a golden box, ornamented with diamonds and
pearls. "What magnificent diamonds!" she exclaimed. "What skilful
work!" said Napoleon, smiling.
"The box was made by Benvenuto Cellini," said Francis; "it was
highly prized by my lamented father, the Emperor Leopold, who
brought it from Florence to Vienna. But that is not the principal
thing--the contents are more important. Here is the key, Louisa;
open the box!" He handed her a golden key, and Maria Louisa applied
it to the key-hole, adorned with large oriental turquoises. Around
her stood the Emperor and Empress of Austria, the King and Queen of
Saxony, the King of Prussia, and the Grand-duke of Wurzburg;
Napoleon was close beside her. All eyes were expressive of curiosity
and suspense. Nothing was there but a roll of parchment. Maria
Louisa unfolded it. "A pedigree!" she exclaimed, wonderingly.
"Yes, a pedigree," said the Emperor Francis, merrily, "but a very
precious and beautiful one, which you may put into the cradle of the
little King of Rome, and from which he may learn his letters. Sire,"
he then added, turning to Napoleon, "your majesty must allow me to
add another jewel to your imperial crown. I mean, this pedigree. It
proves irrefutably that your majesty is the descendant of a glorious
old sovereign family, which ruled over Treviso during the middle
ages. Signor Giacamonte, the most renowned genealogist in all Italy,
devoted himself, at my request, for a whole year to this study, and
succeeded in proving that the Bonaparte family is of ancient and
"That is a splendid discovery," exclaimed Maria Louisa, with
delight; "my little King of Rome, consequently, has a very
respectable number of distinguished ancestors?"
"More than fifty!" exclaimed her father, proudly. "Look here; this
is the founder of the whole family, the Duca di Buon et Malaparte;
he lived in the twelfth century."
He pointed to the genealogical trunk of the beautifully painted and
ornamented pedigree, of which Maria Louisa held the lower end, while
the King and Queen of Saxony obligingly took hold of the upper end.
The King of Prussia stood beside them and witnessed this strange
scene with a scarcely perceptible smile, while the Empress Ludovica
looked with undisguised scorn into the joy-excited countenance of
her step-daughter. Napoleon surveyed the faces of all present with a
rapid glance, and an expression of sublime pride overspread his
"Look," exclaimed the Emperor Francis, bending over the pedigree,
"there is his name! There is the founder of Napoleon's family."
At this moment Napoleon laid his hand gently on his shoulder. "Oh,
no," he said, "the founder of that family stands here."
"Where, then?" asked Francis, eagerly, still bending over and
looking for the name.
"If your majesty desires to see him, you must be so kind as to avert
your eyes from that piece of parchment, and turn them toward me,"
said Napoleon, raising his voice.
Francis looked up and gazed wonderingly upon his son-in-law.
Napoleon smiled; it was a triumphant smile. "I, and I alone, am the
founder of Napoleon's family," he said, slowly and solemnly. "I am
the ancestor of those who bear my name. The King of Rome needs no
other, unless it be that your majesty should count every victory
which his father gained an ancestor, and compose his pedigree from
the laurels I have obtained in Europe and Africa. My son has a right
to despise ancestors invisible in the darkness of by-gone centuries,
whom history does not mention, while the vainest genealogy can
scarcely discover that they lived and died. My grandsons and great-
grandsons need not seek the name of the founder of their family on
decayed parchments and confused pedigrees; they only need read the
pages of history. They will also find it at night in the marshalled
host of heaven, where twinkles a star which science names Napoleon.
I think, sire, that star will never set; it will illuminate the path
of your grandson better than the lamp flickering in the tombs of
Maria Louisa at the first words of Napoleon withdrew her hands from
the pedigree, and stood half sullen and ashamed by the side of her
husband. The royal couple of Saxony hastened to roll up the pedigree
as quickly as possible, and put it back into the golden box.
Napoleon offered his arm to his consort. "Come, madame," he said,
"let us go to the ball-room." While he was walking away with her,
the Emperor Francis turned to Ludovica, and, tapping his forehead,
whispered cautiously, "I was right! There is something wrong in
NAPOLEON'S DEPARTURE FROM DRESDEN.
The brilliant court ball ended, and Napoleon retired to his cabinet.
He seemed more careworn than he had ever allowed any of his
attendants to notice. He was slowly walking his room, casting an
occasional glance on the map marked with the positions of the
various corps now near the frontiers of Russia. "Narbonne has not
yet arrived," he muttered to himself. "Alexander seems really to
hesitate whether to make peace or not. My four hundred thousand men,
who have reached the Niemen, will frighten him, and he will submit
as all the others. He will not dare to bid me defiance! He will
yield! He--" Suddenly Napoleon paused and stepped hastily to the
window on which he had happened to fix his eyes. A strange spectacle
presented itself. The large square directly in front of his windows,
which on the day of his arrival had been so splendidly lit up, was
dark and silent; but, on the other side of the river, the Neustadt
was now in a flood of light, and it seemed to him as if he heard
cheers. He opened the window, and, leaning out, saw the houses
illuminated--even the residences of the neighboring Palace Street.
These houses, like those in the other parts of the city, had given
previously no token of joy, and remained in darkness. The emperor
shut the window angrily and rang the bell. "Tell the grand marshal I
wish to see him," he said to the footman.
A few minutes afterward Duroc entered. "Duroc," exclaimed the
emperor, in an angry voice, and pointing his arm at the window,
"what is the meaning of that illumination? In whose honor is it?"
"Sire," said Duroc, slowly, "I suppose it is in honor of the King of
Prussia, who arrived to-day."
The emperor stamped on the floor, and his eyes flashed. "The
inhabitants of Dresden are rebels, and ought to be brought to their
senses by bomb-shells!" he shouted, in a thundering voice. "What
does the King of Prussia concern them? And why do they show him this
"Sire," said Duroc, smiling, "the people, as the King of Prussia
said to-day, know but little of etiquette, and are not so wise as
"'People!'" growled Napoleon. "There are no 'people;' there are only
subjects, and they ought to be punished with fire and sword if they
think of playing the part of 'the people.' Did I not issue orders
to-day to the effect that all demonstrations should be prohibited?
Why were my orders disobeyed?"
"Sire, they were obeyed so far as it was in our power. The police
managed to prevent the populace from gathering and shouting in the
street, but they are unable forcibly to enter the houses, because
the inmates, without making any further demonstration, placed a few
lights at their windows. Our agents, nevertheless, went to the
proprietors of some of the houses, and asked for the reason of this
sudden and unexpected demonstration. They replied that it was in
honor of the Emperor Napoleon, the guest of their king."
"The villains! They dare to falsify!" exclaimed Napoleon. "The facts
are against them. On the day when they were to illuminate in honor
of my arrival, all the houses were gloomy as the grave, on account
of hostility to me. The same feeling is the reason of to-day's
illumination. It seems, then, that the king of Prussia is
exceedingly popular in Saxony?"
"Yes, sire. The king, as I positively know, had instructed the
inhabitants of the Prussian places through which he had to pass on
his journey to Dresden, not to receive him in any formal manner
whatever; but, of course, he was unable to issue such orders in
regard to the cities and villages of Saxony. Well, so soon as he
crossed the Saxon frontier, he was everywhere received in the most
ardent manner. All the bells were rung in the towns of Juterbogk and
Grossenhayn on his arrival, and the whole population, headed by the
municipal authorities, and all the other functionaries, came to meet
him on the outskirts of the towns, and cheered him in the most
"And how did he receive these honors?"
"He thanked the citizens, in plain and simple words, for the
disinterested respect they were good enough to pay to a German
"A German prince?" repeated Napoleon, vehemently; "ah, this little
King of Prussia still braves me! I was too generous at Tilsit! I
must cut his wings still shorter! I will show him what the French
emperor can do with a German prince, when he dares to bid me
"Sire," said Duroc, in a suppliant voice, "I beseech your majesty
not to go too far! The King of Prussia is backed by the sympathies
of the whole German nation. His misfortunes cause the people to look
on him as a martyr. They also believe that he participates but
reluctantly in this Russian war, and this increases the love with
which they regard him, for I venture to say to your majesty that
this nation is opposed to the war."
"I have not appointed the German nation my secretary of war,"
exclaimed Napoleon, "and I have not asked my grand marshal to give
me his advice. Carry out my orders, and do your duty. Tell Berthier
to come to me!"
Duroc hung his head mournfully, and turned toward the door. The
flaming eyes of Napoleon followed him. Just as the grand marshal
opened the door, he heard the emperor calling him. "Sire?" he asked,
turning, and standing at the door. There was now beaming so much
love and mildness in the emperor's face, that Duroc was unable to
resist, and. as if attracted by a magnetic power, returned.
"Duroc, my old friend," said Napoleon, offering him his hand, "I
thank you for your good advice, for, though I did not ask it, it was
well meant. I know full well that the so-called German people, as
well as their princes, however they may cajole me, are opposed to
this war. Oh, I know those treacherous princes! I know that those
who flatter me today in the most abject manner, are only watching
for an opportunity to avenge themselves for their sycophancy; but I
have chained them to me with iron bands, and extracted their teeth,
so that they are unable to bite--their teeth, that is to say, their
soldiers, whom I am taking with me into this last and decisive war.
For I tell you, Duroc, it will be our last campaign. On the ruins of
Moscow I will compel Alexander to submit, and then peace will bo
restored to Europe for years to come. And who knows, it may not be
necessary to go so far? Perhaps it may be sufficient for me to march
my army as far as the Niemen, to awaken Alexander from his reveries,
and bring him to his senses."
"Alas, sire!" said Duroc, sighing, "Alexander has loved your majesty
too tenderly not to feel irritated in the highest degree."
"Is it I, then, who broke this friendship?" exclaimed Napoleon,
vehemently. "Is it I who brought about this war? Have I not rather
resorted to all means in order to avoid it? Have I not twice sent
Lauriston to Alexander, and offered him peace in case he should
fulfil my conditions: to shut his ports against British ships, to
lay an embargo upon British goods, and give up commercial
intercourse with England? But, emboldened by his victories over the
Turks, the Emperor of Russia takes the liberty of dictating
conditions to me! He asks me to give him an indemnity for
confiscating the states of his brother-in-law, the Prince of
Oldenburg; he demands that I should not engage to reestablish the
kingdom of Poland! He wants to impose on me the terms by which peace
is to be maintained! Conditions! I am the man to make them, but not
to accept any! That would be a humiliation I could not submit to!
You see, therefore, Duroc, I have been compelled to enter upon this
war; I did not seek it, but I cannot avoid it. You see the justice
of it, do you not? You know that I desired, and am still desiring
peace, and that it is with a heavy heart I shed the blood of my
"Sire," said Duroc, with a faint smile, "I see at least that it is
too late now to speak of peace, inasmuch as an army of four hundred
thousand men is waiting on the Niemen for the arrival of your
"Let Alexander speak; let him accept my terms, and it will not be
too late," exclaimed Napoleon. "I am looking for Narbonne, who may
arrive at any moment. He will bring us either peace or war, for he
will have Alexander's final reply. As soon as he arrives he must be
admitted, no matter whether I am asleep or awake. Go, now, Duroc!
Tell Berthier to come to me!"
When Berthier entered, the emperor was standing at the window, and
looking over to the Neustadt, which was still in a blaze of light.
The marshal remained respectfully at the door, waiting to be
addressed. A long pause ensued. Suddenly Napoleon turned his pale
countenance to Berthier, and exclaimed: "Berthier, you will set out
immediately. Go to Berlin, and convey my order to the Duke de
Belluno. Tell him that I recommend the utmost vigilance, and that it
is his task to maintain order in Prussia. The population of that
country are very seditious. They are constantly ready to conspire
and rise in rebellion, and who knows whether Frederick William will
not make common cause with the insurgents? This ought to be
prevented by all means; war is at hand; hence we must redouble our
firmness and vigilance, that no revolution may annoy us in our rear.
You will repeat all this to the duke, and take him my instructions."
"Sire," said Berthier, "if your majesty has no further orders, I
shall set out immediately."
"You will tell the Duke de Belluno that it is my will that no
Prussian general or officer shall command at Berlin, and that the
French general alone must give all necessary orders. Sit down; I
will dictate to you the other instructions."
Berthier took a seat at the desk, and waited, pen in hand, for the
emperor's words. Casting again a glance on the city honoring the
King of Prussia, he dictated: "Special care is to be taken that
neither at Berlin nor in its vicinity shall there be a depot of
small-arms or cannon, which the populace might take possession of.
No Prussian troops whatever shall be left at Berlin, and what few
regular soldiers remain at the capital shall exclusively perform the
military service at the palace. The French troops at Berlin shall
not be lodged with the citizens, but take up their quarters at the
barracks, and, if these should be insufficient for their
accommodation, encamp in the open field. You will constantly keep
some field-pieces ready for immediate use, in order to suppress any
seditious movements that might take place. Every insult heaped upon
a Frenchman will be punished by a court-martial according to the
laws of war. Besides, it is necessary that the governor-general of
Berlin should organize a secret police, that he may know what is
going on, and have a vigilant eye on all dangerous attempts at
disturbing the public peace. You will inform the Duke de Belluno
that the administration of the country will be entirely left to the
king's ministers, but that the surveillance of the newspapers, as
well as all other publications, and the whole organization of the
police, must be in the duke's hands, that nothing may give a
dangerous impulse to the people, and that they may have no
opportunities of entering into a rebellion. Prussia must be kept
down by all means at our command. You will tell the Duke de Belluno
that I have given orders that three or four well-informed French
officers should stay at Colberg and Graudenz. The right of having a
Prussian garrison was reserved only to Colberg, and Potsdam is the
only city through which the French troops are not allowed to pass;
but the inhabitants of Potsdam should be accustomed to see many
French officers in their midst. The latter must frequently stop
there overnight on the pretext of seeing the city, and, if their own
curiosity should not impel them to do so, their commander should
induce them to pursue the course I have indicated. The duke shall,
under all circumstances, show the greatest deference to the King of
Prussia, and even to affectation at festivals and on all public
occasions. He shall, besides, frequently invite to his table the
Prussian ministers, and what few Prussian officers will be left at
Berlin, and always treat them in the most polite and obliging
manner. But at all hours a vigilant eye must be had on the king as
well as on the authorities and the people, and the duke ought always
to be ready to put down the slightest demonstration or disorder. I
have done," said Napoleon. "Go, Berthier, and comply carefully with
my instructions. No confidence can be reposed in Frederick William
or in his people. We have subjugated Prussia, but it may perhaps be
necessary to crush her. At the slightest provocation this must be
done; if she will not be an honest ally, I will prove to her that I
am an honest enemy, and, to give her this proof, put an end to her
existence. Go, Berthier; set out immediately."
Berthier withdrew, while Napoleon returned to the window with a
triumphant air. "Ah, my little King of Prussia," he said,
scornfully, "they kindle lights here under my eyes in honor of your
petty majesty, but my breath can extinguish them and leave you in a
profound darkness. Another such provocation, and your throne breaks
The door of the antechamber was hastily opened, and Roustan
appeared. "Sire," he said, "his excellency Count de Narbonne
requests an audience."
"Narbonne!" ejaculated Napoleon, joyously. "Come in, Narbonne, come
in!" And he hastened to meet the count, who entered the cabinet,
and, as an experienced cavalier of the court of Louis XVI., made his
bows in strict accordance with etiquette.
"Omit these unnecessary ceremonies," said Napoleon, quivering with
impatience and anxiety. "I have been looking for you a long time.
What results do you bring me?"
"Sire," said the count, with his imperturbable, diplomatic smile, "I
am afraid the result of my mission will be war."
"What!" exclaimed Napoleon, eagerly, and, for a moment, a faint
blush tinged his cheeks. "What! The Emperor Alexander will not
yield? He refuses to comply with my conditions?"
"Sire, your majesty will permit me to repeat to you the emperor's
own words," said the count, with composure. "When I had laid your
propositions before his majesty, and told him that if the czar
should shut his ports against British ships, continue the war with
England, lay an embargo on all British goods, and give up all direct
and indirect commercial intercourse with England, your majesty then
would make peace with Russia, the Emperor Alexander exclaimed
vehemently, 'Such a peace I would accept only after having been
forced into the interior of Siberia!'" [Footnote: Alexander's own
words.--Vide "Memoires d'un Homme d'Etat," vol. xiii., p. 375.]
"Ah," exclaimed Napoleon, "I will give him the pleasure of that
journey. He will become acquainted with Siberia, and there I mean to
dictate terms of peace, unless I prefer to leave him there forever.
Did you bring any other dispatches?"
"I did, sire. Here is the official reply of Minister Count Romanzoff
to the letter of the Duke de Bassano, of which I was the bearer. It
is nothing but a repetition of the phrases which the Russian
ambassador at Paris made to us up to the day of his departure. Here
is Romanzoff's letter. Will your majesty be so gracious as to read
Napoleon took the paper and glanced over it. "You are right," he
said, flinging the paper contemptuously on the table. "Nothing but
the same phrase: 'Alexander wants peace, but is unable to fulfil my
conditions.' Well, then, he shall have war! The first shot
discharged at my soldiers will be answered by a thousand cannon, and
they will announce to the world that Napoleon is expelling the
barbarians from Europe."
"Sire," said Narbonne, smiling, "if your majesty intends to wait
until the Russians fire the first gun, there will be no war, and may
it be so! The Emperor Alexander has made up his mind not to take the
initiative. Only when the armies of your majesty have crossed the
frontier of Russia, when you have forcibly entered his states, will
Alexander look upon the war as begun, but he will not carry it
beyond the boundaries of his country: he will not meet the enemy,
whom he would still like so much to call his friend, outside the
frontiers of his empire."
"Ah, I knew well that Alexander is hesitating," exclaimed Napoleon,
triumphantly. "He dares not attack me, and his vacillation will give
me time to complete my preparations, and surround him so closely
that he cannot escape. While he is still dreaming at the Kremlin of
the possibility of peace, I shall be at the gates, and ask him in
the thunder of my cannon whether he will submit, or bury himself
beneath the ruins of his throne."
"He will choose the latter," exclaimed Narbonne, quickly.
"He will not!" said Napoleon, proudly. "He will submit! A terrible
blow struck in the heart of the empire, Moscow--holy Moscow--
delivers Russia into my hands. I know Alexander; I exerted formerly
great influence over him. I must dazzle his imagination by boldness
and energy, and he will return to my friendship."
"Heaven grant that it may be so!" said Narbonne, sighing.
"It is so!" said Napoleon, confidently, walking with rapid steps and
proud head; "yes, it is so! Fate has intrusted me with the mission
of ridding Europe of the barbarians. The logic of events
necessitates this war, and even family ties, such as we proposed to
form at our interview at Erfurt, would not have prevented it. The
barbarism of Russia is threatening the whole of Europe. Think of
Suwarrow and his Tartars in Italy! Our reply ought to be, to hurl
them back beyond Moscow; and when would Europe be able to do so,
unless now and through me." [Footnote: Napoleon's own words.--Vide
"Souvenirs du Comte Villemain," vol. i., p. 168] "But, sire,
Europe, in the madness of her hatred, would prefer to make common
cause with Russia. Suppose she should offer her hand to the Tartars
and Cossacks, to deliver herself from the yoke which the glory and
greatness of Napoleon have imposed upon her neck? Sire, at this
decisive hour you must permit me to tell you the truth: I am afraid
the hatred, the cunning malice and rage of your enemies, will this
time be stronger than the military skill of your majesty, and the
bravery of the hundreds of thousands who have followed you with such
enthusiasm. Your majesty says that Alexander is hesitating, and that
may, perhaps, be true; but his people are the more resolute, and so
is the emperor's suite. They are bent on having war, and with the
whole strength of mortal hatred and patriotic fanaticism. The
people, instigated by their venomous and impassioned priests, regard
this as a holy war, commanded by God Himself. Their priests have
told them that the Emperor of the French is coming with his armies
to devastate Russia, to destroy the altars and images of the saints,
and to dethrone the czar, in order to place himself on the throne.
The Russian people, who, in their childlike innocence, believe to be
true whatever their priests tell them, feel themselves profoundly
wounded in their most sacred sympathies: love for the fatherland,
the church, and the czar, and they are rising to a man to save them.
Sire, this war which your majesty is about to commence is no
ordinary war: the enemy will not oppose you in the open field; like
the Parthian, he will seemingly flee from his pursuer; he will decoy
you forward, but in the thicket or ravine he will conceal himself,
and when you pass by will have you at an advantage. He will never
allow you to fight him in a pitched battle, but every village and
cottage will be an obstacle, a rampart obstructing your route. Every
peasant will regard himself a soldier, and believe it his bounden
duty to fight, however sure he may be to die. Sire, the terrible
scenes in Spain may be renewed in Russia, for all Russia will be a
vast Saragossa; women, children, and old men, will participate in
this struggle; they will die eating poisoned bread with the enemy,
rather than give him wholesome food."
"You are exaggerating!" exclaimed Napoleon, sneeringly. "In truth,
it is mere imagination to compare the Russian serf--the blood in
whose veins is frozen by Siberian cold, and whose back is cut up and
bowed by the knout--with the Spaniard, passionate and free beneath a
torrid sun, and who in his rags still feels himself noble and a
grandee. But these exaggerations shall not influence me! The die is
cast: I cannot recede! Great Heaven! this tedious old Europe! I will
bring from Russia the keys to unlock a new world. Or do you believe,
you short-sighted little men, that I have undertaken, merely for the
sake of Russia, this greatest expedition that military history will
ever engrave upon its tablets? No; Moscow is to me but the gate of
Asia! My route to India passes that way. Alexander the Great had as
long a route to the Ganges as I shall have from Moscow, and yet he
reached his destination. Should I shrink from what he succeeded in
accomplishing? Since the days of St. Jean d'Acre I have thought of
this scheme; if it had not been for the discontinuance of the siege
and the plague, I should at that time have conquered one-half of
Asia, and have thence returned to Europe for the thrones of Germany
and Italy. Do not look at me so wonderingly, Narbonne. I tell you
nothing but my real schemes. They shall be carried into effect, and
then you and the world will have to acknowledge that my words are
oracles, my actions miracles, and every day a new one! [Footnote:
Napoleon's own words.--Vide Villemain, "Souvenirs," vol. i, p. 180.]
In the morning I set out early and repair to the headquarters of my
army. Do not say a word, Narbonne! I leave Dresden early in the
morning. The fate of Russia is decided! Go!" He waved his hand
toward the door, and turned his back to Narbonne.
The count left the imperial cabinet with a sigh. In the corridor
outside he met Berthier and Duroc, who seemed to await him. "Well,"
both of them asked eagerly, "were your representations successful?
Will the emperor, at the eleventh hour, make peace?"
Narbonne shook his head sadly. "It was all in vain," he replied. "He
wishes war, and you do not even dream how far he means to carry it.
When listening to him, one believes him to be either a demigod, to
whom temples should be built, or a lunatic, who should be sent to
Bedlam!" [Footnote: Count Louis de Narbonne's own words.--Vide
"Souvenir," vol. i.]
THE LAST DAYS OF 1812
THE CONSPIRATORS OF HELGOLAND.
The storm was howling over the ocean, revealing its depths, and
hurling its foaming waves to the sky. They dashed wildly against
yonder lofty rock that calmly overlooked the anger of the tempest.
It was the rock of Helgoland. In times of old, it towered even more
proudly above the unruly element surrounding it. It was then a
terror to seafaring nations, and when the ships of the rich
merchants of Hamburg, Bremen, Holland, and Denmark, passed it at as
great a distance as possible, the masters made the sign of the
cross, and prayed God would deliver them from this imminent danger.
In ancient days Helgoland was ten times larger than it its now, and
on this old rocky island, which had been the last aslyum of the gods
of northern paganism, lived a warlike people, who knew no other laws
than those, of their own will, no other toil than piracy, and who
submitted to no other master than the chieftain chosen from among
their most colossal fellows. The pirates of Helgoland were desperate
men, who had selected for themselves as a coat of arms a wheel and a
gallows, which they wore embroidered on the sleeves of their
jackets: and their last chieftain, who especially terrified the
hearts of sea-captains passing the island, called himself: "I, by my
own grace, and not that of God, Long Peter, Murderer of the Dutch,
Destroyer of the Hamburgers, Chastiser of the Danes, and Scourge of
the Bremen Ships." But Long Peter, "by his own grace, and not that
of God," had at length fallen a victim to the vicissitudes of life.
The women of Helgoland, revolting against his cruelty, baseness, and
tyranny, surrendered the island, the seat of the ancient gods, to
Admiral Paulsen, of the Danish navy. This occurred in 1684, and
since then Helgoland remained under the authority of the Danish
crown until 1807. The conflagration of Copenhagen melted the chains
that fastened the old gray rock to Denmark, and England, that
triumphantly conveyed the whole Danish fleet to her own shores,
The island had become much smaller ever since Long Peter, its last
chieftain, died. The storms had swept over it, tearing rocky masses
from its shores, and flinging them far into the sea, which had
undermined the foundations of Helgoland, and hidden the conquest
beneath the waves. Although small, it was the beacon of Europe. In
the last days of 1812 the eyes of all German patriots were fixed
longingly and hopefully upon that lonely rock in the North Sea. It
was British territory--the first advance which England had made to
the shores of suffering Germany, and, her proud flag waving over it,
made it the asylum of persecuted patriots and members of the secret
leagues. To the red rock, in the midst of the sea, came no French
spies; there were no traitors' ears, for the pilot at the light-
house kept a good lookout, and no suspicious ship was permitted to
anchor; no one was allowed to land without having given a good
account of himself, and satisfying the authorities that confidence
might be reposed in him. Those allowed to disembark were heartily
welcomed, for, by setting foot on the rocky island, they had become
members of the vast family of Napoleon's enemies--of the brethren
who had united against his power--of the conspirators whose sworn
duty it was to oppose Napoleon with the weapons of cunning as well
as force--of intrigue creeping in the dark, or of brave and manly
In Helgoland the swarms of smugglers sheltered, who had taken upon
themselves the risk of trading English goods, against which
Napoleon's hatred tried to shut the entire continent. There came the
crowd of foreign merchants, to purchase of English dealers the goods
which Napoleon's decrees had prohibited in his own dominions, as
well as in those of his allies. Every British manufacturer and
wholesale dealer had his counting-house and depot at Helgoland. Vast
warehouses, resembling palaces, rose on the plateau of the island,
and approaching ships beheld them from afar. In these warehouses
were stored all the articles which British industry was able to
offer to the rest of Europe, and which the people of the whole
continent desired the more ardently, the more rigorously they were
forbidden to purchase them. A very large commercial firm of London
and Manchester had branches of their business on the island; every
wealthy banker had an office there, and people were justified in
calling Helgoland "Little London." You would have thought yourself
in the city of London, when passing through the narrow streets of
the island, lined on both sides with vast warehouses, and reading on
each the names of the most celebrated London firms. You would almost
have fancied you were in the gigantic harbor of the Thames, when
looking at the forest of masts, the animated crowds, the ships and
boats, where from three to four hundred vessels cleared and entered
Not only merchants and smugglers, adventurers and speculators,
flocked to Helgoland, but diplomatists, politicians, and patriots
found on the rocky island a refuge and convenient point, where they
might meet their brethren and reunite kindred hearts. The members of
the great secret league hastened from the north and the south of
Europe to Helgoland, to hold meetings there, concert plans, and
communicate to each other what they had succeeded in accomplishing.
On one of the last days in September, 1812, an unusual commotion
prevailed on the island. It was noon, and yet more than two hundred
ships had arrived and cast anchor. All the stores were open and the
goods displayed; brokers and speculators elbowed themselves in busy
haste through the multitude of merchants, owners of ships,
smugglers, and sailors, that filled the whole upper part of the
island, offering goods for sale in all languages; and among them
were to be seen the beautiful girls of Helgoland, dressed in their
strange costume, and carrying in baskets and on plates all sorts of
delicacies, for which they sought purchasers.
At a distance from the throng stood three men, who paid but little
attention to the merry, excited crowd. They were closely wrapped in
cloaks, with their hats drawn over their foreheads, and looked
steadfastly upon the sea. Far on the horizon there appeared another
small dark speck, which gradually assumed a definite shape.
"A ship!" ejaculated one of the three men, eagerly.
"Yes, a ship," repeated his two companions. They paused, looking
eagerly at the vessel, which rapidly darted across the waves, and
could now be discerned by the unaided eye.
"Look," said one of the three, "she is a man-of-war. I see the port-
"But I do not see her flag," said one of his companions.
"I do," exclaimed the third, who had hitherto looked at the ship
through a large telescope. "Yellow and blue, the Swedish colors."
"At length!" exclaimed the first speaker, joyously. "I hope it is
"There is another ship," said the second speaker, pointing his hand
to a different part of the horizon. "How she is dashing along!--her
keel cuts the waves so that their foaming crests sweep like a silver
chain behind her. Oh, I like that ship! it seems to me as though she
brings us glad tidings, and comes for our sake, and not for
"Now she unfurls her flag!" exclaimed the third speaker. "It is the
union jack! Oh, you are right, she comes for our sake, and I hope
some friend is on board. But we are forgetting the Swedish vessel.
Where is she?"
"There! The little fish has become a whale. And see, the English
ship, too, is much larger, and is dancing along like a beauty. Both
are very fast, and in half an hour they will be at anchor in the
"Heaven grant that the friends for whom we are looking may be on
board!" said his two companions, sighing.
"Your wish will be granted," said their friend. "God is with us and
blesses our league. Has He not already for twelve days bidden the
sea be calm, and not detain us or one of ours by adverse winds? Have
we not all arrived to-day, as we had agreed to, from three different
parts of the world? Why should the other brethren of our league not
be able to do the same?"
"Yes, you are right," said the first speaker, smiling. "Heaven does
seem to be with us, and it is apparently for our sake that this rock
emerged from the waves as a snug little boudoir for our European
rendezvous. Bonaparte may often enough cast angry glances in this
direction, but the lightning of his eyes and the thunder of his
words do not reach our sea-girt asylum, which God Himself has built
and furnished for us. Grim Bonaparte cannot hurt us here, but we
will try to hurt him, and one day he will find out what we are doing
at the political boudoir of Helgoland."
"Look," exclaimed his friend, "the two ships have reached the island
at the same time, and are now anchoring."
"They are lowering their boats," exclaimed the third speaker. "The
passengers are going ashore."
"Let us go to the place agreed upon, and see whether they are the
brethren we are looking for," said the first speaker.
"Yes, let us go," exclaimed his two companions.
Without exchanging another word, they turned and walked hastily
through the busy crowds to the staircase leading from the upper part
of the island to the lower shore. Here they passed through the
streets of small, neat fishermen's huts, and then entered the last
building. A footman in a gorgeous livery received them in the small
hall, and opened with reverential politeness the door leading into
the only room of the hut. The three men walked in, and locked the
door carefully. One of them took off his hat and cloak, and now
stood before his two companions in splendid uniform, his breast
covered with orders. "Permit me, gentlemen," he said, smiling--
"permit me to greet you here as guests of mine, for you are now at
my house. I have bought this building for the purpose of holding the
meetings of the members of our league. Up to this time we have
recognized each other as friends only by the signs and passwords
that had been agreed on; but now, if you please, we will drop our
incognito. I am Count Munster, minister of the Elector of Hanover
and the King of England."
"And I," said the second gentleman, taking off his cloak--"I have
the honor of introducing myself to your excellency as the chief of
the Berlin police, who was proscribed and exiled by Bonaparte. My
name is Justus Gruner."
"A name that I have known a long time, though I was not acquainted
with the man himself," said Count Munster, kindly offering him his
hand. "Let me bid you welcome as a faithful and zealous adherent of
the good cause--as a noble patriot in whom Germany confides and
"It is my turn now to unmask," said the third, whose countenance had
hitherto been almost entirely invisible, so closely had he muffled
himself. Taking off his cloak and hat and bowing to his companions,
he said, "My name is Frederick William of Brunswick."
"I had the honor to recognize your highness when you were yet in the
boat, and I stood on the shore," said Count Munster, smiling and
"And why did you not tell me so?" asked the duke, eagerly.
"Because I respected your incognito, your highness," said the count.
The duke shook his head, which was covered with dark, curly hair.
"No etiquette, count," he said, almost indignantly. "I am nothing
but a poor soldier, who scarcely knows where to lay his head, whom
grief is tormenting, and whose hunger for vengeance is not
"There will be a time when all those who are hungry, like your
highness, will be satisfied," said Justus Gruner, solemnly.
"If you speak the truth, my friend," exclaimed the duke, with
emphasis, "the eyes of my blind father, who died in despair, will
reopen, and he will look down with blissful tears upon the delivered
world. And they will blot out his last dying words, that are burning
like fire in my heart. 'Oh, what a disgrace! what a disgrace!' were
the last words my father uttered. I hear them night and day; they
are always resounding in my ears like the death-knell of Germany;
they are ever smarting in my heart like an open wound. Germany is
groaning and lamenting, for Napoleon's foot is still on her neck,
and, mortally wounded and blinded like my father, we are all crying,
'Oh, what a disgrace! what a disgrace!'"
"But the time will soon come when our wounds will heal," said Count
Munster, gravely. "Our night is passing, the morning dawns, and the
star of Bonaparte will fade forever."
"I do not think it," said the duke, sighing. "It is still shining
over our heads--he is rather like a threatening meteor, and its
eccentric course is over the snow-fields of Russia. But hush!
footsteps are approaching." The duke was not mistaken. They heard
the door of the hut violently open and close, and shortly after some
one rapped at the locked door.
"The password!" shouted Count Munster, putting his hand on the key.
"Il est temps de finir!" replied a sonorous voice outside.
Count Munster opened the door. A gentleman of imposing stature
entered the room. "Count Nugent," exclaimed Count Munster, joyously,
offering both his hands to the friend whom he had known for many
years. "Was it you who arrived on the last English ship?"
"Yes," said the count, saluting the other gentlemen. "But I believe
there will be more guests here directly. I saw close behind me two
men wrapped in cloaks, who were also moving hither. Ah, they are
passing the window at this moment."
"And now they are entering the house," said the count, listening.
Another rapping was heard, and the call for the password was
answered again by the shout of "Il est temps de finir!"
"They are the passengers from the Swedish vessel, as I hoped they
would be," said Count Munster, opening the door. Two men in cloaks
entered, and bowed silently to the others.
"Gneisenau! My dear Gneisenau!" exclaimed Count Munster, tenderly
embracing the gentleman who had entered last. "Then, you have really
kept your word! You have come in spite of all dangers! I thank you
in the name of Germany!"
"You will thank me only after having learned what new ally I have
enlisted for our holy cause," said Gneisenau, smiling, and pointing
to his companion, who, still closely muffled, was standing by his
side silent and motionless.
"You come from Stockholm," said Count Munster, joyously, "you bring
us a delegate of the crown prince of Sweden, the noble Bernadotte,
do you not? My heart does not deceive me--I am sure!"
"No, your heart does not deceive you," said Gneisenau, smiling.
"This gentleman is an envoy of the crown prince of Sweden, who
promises us his friendship and assistance."
"No," said the stranger, slowly and solemnly. "At this hour there
must be truth between us. I am not an envoy of the crown prince of
Sweden, I am he himself, I am Bernadotte!" He took off his hat and
cloak, and bowed to the astonished gentlemen. "I wish to prove to
you, and to those whom you are representing, that I am in earnest,"
said Bernadotte, in the most dignified manner. "My French heart had
to undergo a long and painful struggle, but the crown prince of
Sweden conquered it. I must think no longer of the blood that is
flowing in my veins, but remember only that, by the decree of the
noble Swedish nation, I have been destined to become its king, and
that, therefore, the interests of Sweden must be more important and
sacred to me than my own heart. The Emperor of the French has
offered me an alliance. But Russia and Prussia are urging me to
espouse their cause. The interest of Sweden requires me to ally
myself with those who have justice, strength, and honor on their
side; I shall, therefore, side with Russia, England, and Prussia.
This is the reply which I made to the Russian ambassadors, and
likewise to the Prussian General Gneisenau here. But, at the same
time, I asked opportunity to complete my preparations, and until
that can be done, I have requested the ambassadors to keep secret my
accession to the northern alliance. It seemed to me as though this
request of mine were looked upon as a proof of my vacillation, and
as a want of candor, and as though doubts were entertained as to my
ultimate decision. Hence I wished to manifest my true spirit by
coming myself to you instead of sending a delegate. Now, you have
heard my political confession. Are you content with it, and may I
participate in your deliberations?" And the crown prince of Sweden,
uttering the last words, turned with a winning smile to Count
Munster, and sank his head as a prisoner waiting for sentence.
"I pray your royal highness, in the name of my friends present, to
remain and participate in our discussions," said Count Munster. "We
are now waiting for no further arrivals--all the invited guests have
come. Let us take our seats. Let the conference commence. But first
permit me to introduce the gentlemen to each other."
THE EUROPEAN CONSPIRACY.
The six gentlemen sat down on chairs placed around the table
standing in the middle of the room. Count Munster bowed to them. "As
it was I who invited you to attend this conference," he said, "I
must take the liberty of addressing you first. I must justify myself
for having called upon you in the name of Germany, in the name of
Europe, to come hither notwithstanding the dangers and hardships of
the journey. Yes, gentlemen, Germany stands in need of our
assistance. But not only Germany--Spain, drenched in the blood of
her patriots; poor, enslaved Italy; Holland, ruthlessly annexed to
France; in short, all the states that are groaning under the
tyrant's yoke; yea, France herself!--all are crying for deliverance
from slavery. But whence is help to come when every one shuts his
eyes against the despairing wail of Europe; when every one idly
folds his hands and waits for some one else to be bold enough to
call upon the people to take up arms? Every individual must be
animated with this courage; must regard himself as chosen by
Providence to commence the task of liberation. Each one must act as
though it were he who is to set the world in motion, and were the
head of the great and holy conspiracy by which mankind is to be
delivered from the tyrant. I told myself so when I saw all Germany
sinking; I repeat it to myself every day, and it is my excuse now
for having ventured to invite thither men who are my superiors in
every respect. But to Germany alone we shall give an account of what
we have hitherto done for her liberation; for her let us deliberate
as to what we further ought to do, and what plans we should pursue.
The world lies prostrate, but we must raise it again; the nations
are manacled, but we must be the files that imperceptibly cut
through the fetters, and we must then tell the people that it is
easy for them to gain their independence; that it is only necessary
to take the sword, and prove by deeds that they feel themselves
free--then they will be free. This is our task--the task of all
generous patriots. Every one has been conscious of this, but also,
that there should be a bond connecting all the members of this
secret league, to which every patriot belongs. That was the idea
which caused several friends and myself to unite our efforts. We did
so, and this union made us feel doubly strong; we conferred as to
our duties and schemes, and by doing so they became clearer to us,
and better matured. We made ourselves emissaries of the sacred cause
of the fatherland, and went into the world to enlist soldiers, to
create a new nation, awaken the sleepers, enlighten the ignorant,
bring back the faithless, undeceive the deceived, and console the
despairing. For this purpose I have struggled for years, and so have
all my friends, and so do all good and faithful patriots, without
perhaps being fully conscious of it. But it is necessary, too, that
those who, like us, are fully alive to their duty, should from time
to time give each other an account of what they have accomplished,
that they may agree upon new plans for the future. I, therefore,
requested my friends Count Nugent and General Gneisenau, to come
hither; I wrote to Minister von Stein, who is now at Prague, either
to come himself, or send a reliable representative, and I requested
another in Northern Germany to send one of his intimate friends.
Four months ago I dispatched my invitations; the meeting was to take
place to-day, and we have all promptly responded to the call. My
friend in Northern Germany induced the noblest and most faithful
soldier of the fatherland, Duke Frederick William of Brunswick, to
go to Helgoland. Minister von Stein, who, in the mean time, was
obliged to go to Russia, sends us a noble representative in the
person of Justus Gruner, and the magnanimous crown prince of Sweden
offers us, by his voluntary appearance in our midst, a new guaranty
for the success of our schemes. We know now what has called us
hither. Let us communicate to each other what we have hitherto done,
in order to attain the object for which we are striving, and what
plans we shall adopt. In this respect, the two noble princes now in
our midst are especially able to make valuable suggestions, and it
is to them principally that we shall apply. The former question,
however, concerns chiefly ourselves, who have for years been members
of the league, and have jointly tried to promote its objects. In
order to know what we should do, we must be informed exactly of what
we have already done. To be able to conceive plans for the future,
we must carefully weigh, and render ourselves perfectly familiar
with, the present political situation, and communicate our
observations and adventures to each other. Let us do so now. Let the
gentleman who arrived last speak first. General Gneisenau, tell us,
therefore, what hopes do you entertain in regard to Prussia? What
are the sentiments of the king? What has Germany or Prussia to hope
from the ministers of Frederick William? What is the spirit of the
people and the soldiers?"
"You ask a great deal," said Gneisenau, sighing, "and I have but
little to reply. I have no hopes whatever in regard to Prussia. That
is the result of the observations during my present journey. Every
thing is in about the same condition as it was in 1811; the same men
are still ruling, and the same state of affairs, on account of which
I left the Prussian service at that time, is still prevailing. The
king is the noblest and best-meaning man, but his indecision and
distrust in his own abilities are his own curse, as well as that of
his country. When, in 1808, we heard at Konigsberg the news of the
events of Bayonne, the king said, 'Bonaparte will assuredly not
catch me in such a manner!' and now he has delivered himself into
the hands of his most relentless enemy, who, if Russia should be
defeated, would dethrone him, or, if Bonaparte should not be
successful, keep him as a hostage. [Footnote: Gneisenau's own
words.--Vide "Lebensbilder," vol. i., p. 261.] The friends of the
French, the timid, and the cowards, are still besieging the king's
ears, and enjoying his confidence to a greater extent than
Hardenberg does. Hardenberg is all right, but he intends, after the
fashion of diplomatists, to attain the great object slowly and
cautiously, instead of struggling for it boldly, and sword in hand.
He is secretly on our side; he hates Napoleon and curses the chains
that are fettering Prussia; he is always planning as to the best
means of breaking them, but publicly he negotiates with the
diplomatists of Napoleon to bring about a marriage between the crown
prince and one of Napoleon's nieces. There can be no question of any
army in Prussia, for the forty thousand men whom Napoleon permitted
the King of Prussia still to retain under arms, had either to
accompany the French army to Russia, or are at least stationed, as
Napoleon's reserves, on the extreme frontiers. Berlin, as well as
all larger cities, and the fortresses, are garrisoned by French
troops, keeping down the national spirit of the population, and
rendering any attempt at insurrection an utter impossibility, even
though the people should intend to strike. But they think no longer
of rising. They are exhausted in their misery, and have lost their
energy. They feel only that they are suffering, but they inquire no
more for the cause. And thus Prussia will perish, unless some
powerful impetus from abroad, some dispensation of Providence,
should arouse her from her lethargy, and restore her to the
consciousness of her disgrace and her strength. I hope that this
will occur; for only this and England's energy will be able to save
us. But other hopes I do not entertain. I, therefore, shall leave
Prussia again and accompany you to England, Count Minister, when you
"I shall set out for England this day, as soon as our conference is
at an end," said Count Munster, "and you will be a most welcome and
agreeable companion. It is only now that I perceive how necessary a
personal interview was, and how good it is that we are here
assembled. Many things, which cannot be explained in the longest
letters, may be perfectly understood after an interview of fifteen
minutes. I believe and hope, my friend, that your view of the
present state of affairs is by far too gloomy. You are hoping for an
impetus from abroad; but that will scarcely be needed to arouse the
nations from their lethargy. A new spirit is animating Germany, and
it is Spain, with her heroic victories, that has awakened this
spirit. The immortal defence of Saragossa has passed like a magic
song throughout Europe, and has told the oppressed and enslaved
nations that Bonaparte is not invincible, and that a nation which
will not suffer itself to be enslaved has the strength to defend
itself against the most powerful tyrant. Looking upon Spain, the
nations recollect these noble words of Tacitus: 'It is not the
tyrants who make nations slaves, but the nations degrading
themselves voluntarily to the abject position of slaves make
tyrants.' And the nations will have no more tyrants, but are
determined to annihilate him who has put his foot upon their neck.
Tell us, Count Nugent--you who, in the service of holy liberty, have
been wandering about the world for the last two years--tell us
whether I am not justified in asserting that the nations are about
"Yes, I believe so," said Count Nugent, joyously. "For the third
time during two years I have finished a journey through Europe. From
Vienna I went by way of Trieste, Corfu, and Malta, to the British
generals in Sicily, Spain, and Portugal, thence to England, and from
England I returned to Vienna under an assumed name and all sorts of
disguises. During my first two journeys I saw everywhere only that
the nations submitted unhesitatingly, as though Bonaparte were the
scourge which God Himself had sent to chastise them, and against
whom they were not allowed to revolt, although rivers of blood were
spilled. But I saw no prince who had the strength or courage, or
even the wish to rule as a free and independent sovereign over a
free people. The princes were everywhere content with being the
vassals of France; they deemed themselves happy to have secured by
their humiliation at least a title; they were striving to obtain by
base sycophancy additional territories and orders, and betraying
their own country and their own people in order to serve the Emperor
of France. It was a terrible, heart-rending spectacle presented by
Germany during these last years, and which could not but fill the
heart of every patriot with shame and despair. And yet this period
of degradation was necessary and even salutary, for it blinded
Napoleon by the glaring sunshine of his power; it rendered him
overbearing and reckless; he dared every thing, because he believed
he would succeed in every thing, and that the world had utterly
succumbed to his power. He dared all, trampled on every feeling of
justice, and thereby finally goaded the nations to resist him. In
1810 he exclaimed triumphantly, 'Three years yet, and I shall be
master of the world!' And when he lately took the field against
Russia, he said, 'After humiliating Russia and reducing her to an
Asiatic power, I shall establish at Paris a universal European court
and universal archives!' He believes himself to be the master of the
world; he thinks the thunderbolts of heaven are in his hands, and
his arrogance will drive him to destruction, for 'the gods first
blind him whom they intend to destroy.' And Napoleon is blind, for
he does not see the wrath of the nations; he is deaf, for he does
not hear the imprecations which all nations, from the Mediterranean
to the North Sea and the Baltic, are uttering against him. Yes, the
morning is dawning, and the nations are awaking; Napoleon has
already passed the zenith of his glory; his star does not now dazzle
mankind; they have commenced to doubt the stability of his power. I
saw a curious instance of this last year in Vienna at Metternich's
saloon. When the courier who brought the news of the birth of the
King of Rome, still exhausted by the rapid ride from Nancy, entered
and held up Champagny's letter containing nothing but these words,
'Eh bien, le Roi de Rome est arrive!' every one cried, 'Is not the
hand of God there? The wonderful man has the son he wished for.
Whither will the madmen and demagogues direct their hopes now?' But
a courageous and merry native of Vienna exclaimed in the midst of
the diplomatists, 'Oh! ten years hence this King of Rome will be a
poor little student in this city!'[Footnote: Historical.--Vide
"Lebensbilder." vol. i., p. 80.] The diplomatists were silent; the
former ambassador of Hanover, however, Count Hardenberg, brother of
the chancellor of state, burst into loud laughter. These words were
circulated among the people, and the Viennese say now smilingly,
though as yet in a low tone, 'The King of Rome will come as a poor
student to Vienna.' And the same words are repeated more boldly by
the faithful Tyrolese, the guardians of the fires of patriotism. The
Italians are whetting their swords, and France herself is preparing
for the possibility of a new state of affairs. The military ardor of
her marshals is exhausted; like the whole country, they are longing
for repose; they begin to curse him whom they have hitherto
idolized; they want peace, and are determined to compel Napoleon to
comply with their demands."
"And is our friend. Baron von Stein, also of this opinion?" asked
Count Munster, turning to Justus Gruner.
"Yes, he is," said Gruner. "When the Emperor Alexander invited him
to come to St. Petersburg, he went thither not so much because he
needed an asylum, but because he believed he could serve the cause
of Germany in a more efficacious manner in Russia than anywhere
else, and was convinced that Alexander needed a firm and energetic
adviser to fan his hostility to Napoleon, and keep all pacific
influences away from him. Nothing but a crushing defeat of Napoleon
in Russia can deliver Germany; Stein feels convinced of it, and
therefore he stands as an immovable rock by the side of Alexander,
and never ceases to influence the emperor by soul-stirring and
courageous advice. Here is a letter which Stein requested me to
deliver to Count Munster."
Count Munster took the letter and quickly glanced over it. "Ah," he
exclaimed, joyously, "Stein, too, believes the day to be at hand
when Germany will and must rise; he, too, prophesies that Napoleon
will speedily fall. It is, therefore, time for us to think of the
future, and agree as to the steps to be taken. And now I take the
liberty of asking the crown prince of Sweden what assistance he
offers us, and what the nations enslaved by Napoleon may hope from
"All the assistance which I and my country are able to offer," said
the crown prince, ardently. "The king has authorized me to take all
necessary measures for an active campaign. Already I have chartered
transports; the troops which are to participate in the campaign have
been concentrated in their camps, and will soon march to the various
points of embarkation. When the German powers call me--when it is
sure that England entertains honest intentions toward us, and will
stand faithfully by us, I shall be ready to embark with my troops
and participate in the great struggle, provided that the annexation
of Norway to Sweden be guaranteed."
"I am authorized to do so in the name of England," exclaimed Count
"In that case the Swedes will regard this campaign as a national
affair," said Bernadotte, "and will joyously rally round the banner
of their crown prince, who, on his part, longs for nothing more than
to follow the footsteps of the great Gustavus Adolphus, and give
Sweden fresh claims to her ancient glory and the gratitude of the
nations. [Footnote: Bernadotte's own words.--Vide "Memoires d'un
Homme d'Etat," vol. xi] I am waiting for the call of the allied
powers to hasten to the point where I may do good service."
"And so am I," said the Duke of Brunswick, eagerly. "I have nothing
to offer to Germany but my hatred against Napoleon, my burning
thirst for vengeance, my name, and my sword."
"But those will be the dragon's teeth, from which, in due time, will
spring up mail-clad warriors," exclaimed Munster--"warriors who,
with the most ardent enthusiasm, will follow the hero whose
audacious expedition from the forests of Bohemia to the Weser will
never be forgotten by the patriots of Germany. Let us prepare every
thing as secretly as possible; let us enlist soldiers for the great
and holy army; its chieftains are ready; Gneisenau, Frederick
William of Brunswick, the crown prince of Sweden, and, in due time,
Blucher, Schwarzenberg, and Wellington, will join them."
"Yes, let us prepare for the great task of the future," exclaimed
Gneisenau. "I feel now reanimated with hope, patience, and courage.
I go to London, but not to brood over my fate; I go to enlist an
English legion for Germany; to tell the English ministers that the
British government can take no step more conducive to the liberation
of the nations and the safety of Great Britain than make Germany the
principal seat of war, and transfer thither Wellington, with all the
troops in Spain, and those which can be spared from the islands of
the United Kingdom. Let them consider me a visionary; the future
will, perhaps, prove to them that I was right. Oh, a victory over
Napoleon in Germany would loosen the fetters of all governments,
throw the most determined efforts of many millions of people into
the scales of Great Britain, and deliver us, perhaps forever, from
the monster equally terrible in his strength and in his poison."
[Footnote: Gneisenau's own words.--Vide "Lebensbilder," vol. i., p.
"And I go to Vienna to influence, together with my friends, the
patriotic impulses of the emperor," said Count Nugent. "I go to
Austria to tell the noble Archdukes John and Charles that they ought
to hold themselves in readiness, and to inform the Tyrolese that the
war of liberation is at hand."
"Baron von Stein has sent me to Germany to enlist there an
intellectual army, and set in motion for Germany not only swords but
pens," said Justus Gruner, smiling. "Stein says the sword will only
do its work when the mind has paved the way for it. The mind and the
free word, these are the generals that must precede the sword, and,
before raising an army of soldiers, we must raise an army of ideas
and minds to take the field. And there can be no better mental
chieftain than noble Baron von Stein. He has placed a worthy
adjutant at his side; I refer to Ernst Moritz Arndt, whom Stein has
called to St. Petersburg, and who is thence to send his patriotic
songs into the world, and by his soul-stirring writings kindle the
ardor of the Germans. I have brought with me some of Arndt's
pamphlets that have been printed in St. Petersburg, and his
catechism for German soldiers, which gives instructions as to what a
Christian warrior ought to be, and has been circulated, in spite of
Napoleon's power, in all the German divisions of his army. To
influence public opinion in Germany is the task which Stein and the
Emperor Alexander have intrusted to me. I am to report about every
thing that takes place in the rear of the French army, and try to
obtain correct information concerning its reinforcements and the
condition of the fortresses. My principal task, however, will be to
direct public opinion, exasperate the people against their
oppressors, and the accomplices of the latter, support isolated
risings, and organize flying corps for the purpose of intercepting
the couriers." [Footnote: Pertz, "Life of Baron von Stein," vol.
iii., p. 117.]
"That is a plan strictly in accordance with the indomitable spirit
of Baron von Stein. However, the influence and power of one person
will not suffice to carry it into effect."
"I am, therefore, authorized to enlist agents whom the Emperor of
Russia will pay," said Gruner. "Hired observers and spies must be
spread all over Germany. I must everywhere have my confidants--my
agents and instruments. Such I have already engaged in some forty
cities. I furnish them instructions, telling them what to do, in
order to participate in the liberation of Germany; they have to send
me weekly reports, written of course in cipher and with chemical
ink, and, on my part, I address reports to the Emperor Alexander and
Baron von Stein, which I forward every week by special couriers to
Russia. My agents, as well as myself, will endeavor to hold
intercourse with all prominent patriots, and our noble Stein has
referred me especially to the eminent gentlemen here assembled.
General Scharnhorst, too, is aware of our enterprise; President von
Vinke supports it in the most enthusiastic and active manner, and we
find everywhere friends, assistance, and advice. Already the net-
work is spread over the country; this will every day become more
impenetrable--a fatal trap in which, if it please God, we shall one
day catch Bonaparte."
"But beware of traitors," exclaimed Count Nugent, anxiously. "All
your agents are not reticent, for, to tell you the truth, I have
already heard of your bold scheme, and Austria is highly indignant.
Count Metternich, a few days since, addressed a complaint to the
Prussian cabinet about what he calls your revolutionary intrigues,
and the Prussian Minister von Bulow, who is friendly to France, is
greatly exasperated against Justus Gruner and his guerilla warfare.
Be on your guard, sir, that, while weaving this net-work of
conspiracy, you may not yourself fall into the snares of the
"And if I do, what matters it if one dies, provided the cause he
served lives?" exclaimed Justus Gruner, enthusiastically. "This
sacred cause cannot die; it is strong enough to succeed, even
without me. It is spreading everywhere, and will remain, though the
little spider that wove it should be crushed. There is but one part
of Germany in which my work still lacks the necessary points where I
might secure it."
"You allude to Austria, do you not?"
"I do; there my agents are distrustfully turned away from the
frontier, and I have so far been unable to enlist special and active
allies. I pray you, therefore, give me the names of some reliable,
honest, and faithful men to whom I may apply; for I must go to
"That is to say," exclaimed Count Nugent, "you are going to prison.
Let me warn you, do not go to Austria; Metternich's spies have keen
eyes, and if they catch you, you are lost."
"I must go to Austria," said Gruner, smiling; "the cause of the
fatherland demands it. Dangers will not deter me, and if the
Austrian police are on the lookout for me--well, I have been myself
a police-officer, and may outwit them. In the first place, however,
I shall go to Leipsig, to have the second volume of Arndt's
excellent work, 'The Spirit of the Times,' secretly printed, and
cause a printing-office to be established on the Saxon frontier for
the purpose of issuing the war bulletins which I am to receive from
Russia. But then I shall go to Prague and Vienna."
"And may God grant success to your enterprise!" said Count Munster.
"We shall all, I am satisfied of it, help in carrying out your
schemes wherever we can. We will try to liberate you if you are
imprisoned, and avenge you if killed. Shall we not?"
"We shall!" exclaimed Gneisenau and Bernadotte, Nugent, and
Frederick William of Brunswick, and all four offered their hands to
"Henceforth we all act for one, and one for all," exclaimed the Duke
of Brunswick, enthusiastically, "and my noble father is looking down
and blessing us. Oh, may the hour of liberation soon strike! We have
our hands on our swords, and wait for Germany to call us."
"We are ready, and wait for our country to call us," they said,
shaking hands with determined eyes and smiling lips.
"And now, if the gentlemen have no objection, I will adjourn the
conference," said Count Munster, after a pause. "We well know each
other, and what we have to do. Here is the cipher in which we may
write to each other whenever important communications are to be
made. Justus Gruner will see to it that his agents will promptly
forward the letters to us."
"I will," said Justus Gruner, "and as long as I am not in prison, or
dead, you may be sure that your letters will not fall into the hands
of enemies or traitors." [Footnote: The predictions and
apprehensions of Count Nugent were fulfilled but too soon. Gruner
went as far as Prague, but there he was arrested in the last days of
October, at the special request of the Prussian police, deprived of
his papers and his funds, and sent to an Austrian fortress. The
Emperor of Russia succeeded only nine months afterward in obtaining
his release.--Vide Pertz's "Life of Baron von Stein," vol. iii, p.
"And now let us go. God save us and Germany!"
GEBHARD LEBERECHT BLUCHER.
It was a cold and unpleasant morning in December. The dreary sky
hung like a pall over the oppressed world. How beautiful and
fragrant had been the summer park of the estate of Kunzendorf! now
it was bereft of its flowers, and the cold gray trees were moaning
in the winter blasts. How bright had been this large room on the
lower floor of the mansion of Kunzendorf, when the summer morning
flung its beams into the windows, while a merry company were
chatting and laughing there! But, on this day, no guests were
assembled in it. It contained but two persons, an old gentleman and
lady. The gentleman was sitting at the window and looking out
mournfully into the cold; he seemed to count the snow-flakes slowly
falling. A large military cloak enveloped his tall, powerful form;
his right leg, encased in a heavy cavalry-boot, rested on a cushion;
his head was leaning against the high back of the easy-chair on
which he sat. His bearing and appearance indicated suffering, age,
and disease; he who did not look at his countenance could not but
believe that he was in the presence of a sick and decrepit old man;
but when his face turned to the beholder, with its large, fiery blue
eyes, high and scarcely-furrowed brow, Roman nose, and florid
complexion, he thought he saw the head of a man of about fifty
years. It is true, the hair which covered his temples in a few thin
tufts was snow-white, and so was the mustache which shaded his mouth
and hung down on both sides of it, imparting a vigorous and martial
expression to the whole face, and contrasting with his bronzed
cheeks and flashing eyes.
Opposite him, in the niche of the other window, sat a lady in a
plain, yet elegant toilet. Small brown ringlets, threaded here and
there with white, peeped forth from the lace cap, trimmed with blue
ribbons, and a gray silk dress, reaching to the neck, enveloped her
slender and graceful form. Her countenance, which still showed
traces of former beauty, was bent over her embroidery, and her
white, tapering fingers, adorned with many rings, busily plied the
The old gentleman blew dense clouds of smoke from his long clay
pipe, and nothing broke the silence save the parrot (in a large
gilded cage on a marble pedestal in the third window-niche),
uttering from time to time a loud scream, or exclaiming in a sharp
voice, "Good-morning!" The ticking of the bronze clock on the
mantel-piece at the other end of the room could be distinctly heard.
Suddenly the old gentleman struck the window-board so violently with
his right hand that the panes rattled, the lady gave a start, and
the parrot screeched. "Well, now it is all right," he exclaimed
savagely,--"it snows so thickly that nothing can be seen at a
distance of twenty yards. The roads will be blocked up again, and no
one will come to us from Neisse to-day. We shall be left alone, and
the time will hang as heavily with us as with a pug-dog in a
bandbox. But," he exclaimed, jumping up so hastily that his long
clay pipe broke on his knee and fell in small pieces on the floor,
"it is all right. If the guests from Neisse do not come to me I will
go to them." While uttering these words, he fixed his lustrous eyes
on the lady, and seemed to wait for a reply from her; but she
remained silent, and seemed to ply her needle even more
industriously. "Well," he asked at last, hesitatingly, "what do you
say to it, Amelia?"
"Nothing at all, Blucher," she replied, without looking at him; "for
you did not ask me about it."
"Why, that is an agreeable addition to this horrible weather, that
my wife should pout!" exclaimed Blucher, casting a despairing glance
at the sky. He then looked again at his wife. She was still bending
over her embroidery and remained silent. He approached, and seizing
both her hands with gentle violence, took the embroidery and threw
it away. "Why is your attention directed to that old rag, Amelia,
instead of looking at me?" he said, with ill-restrained anger.
"Wife, you know I am not rude; when with you I am as gentle as a
lamb; but you must not pout, Amelia, for that makes me angry. And
now speak--tell me honestly--what is it? What have I done to you!"
"Nothing," she said, fixing her dark eyes upon him with a sad
expression, "nothing at all!"
"Aha! you do not want to tell me," exclaimed Blucher, looking at her
uneasily, "but I know it nevertheless. Yes, I know what ails you,
and why you are in bad humor with me. Will you give me a kiss, if I
guess what it is?" She nodded, and an almost imperceptible smile
played around her finely-formed lips. "Now, listen," he said,
drawing her to himself, and putting his hand under her chin. "You
are angry because I came home from Neisse so late last night?"
"Last night?" she asked. "I believe it was at five o'clock this
"Yes, I promised you to be back at five o'clock in the afternoon,
because the doctor said the night air is injurious to me, and would
increase my pains. But, you see, Amelia, it would not do. We went to
the 'Ressource,' and there I met some old friends--"
"And there we played faro," his wife interrupted him, "and I lost
the two hundred louis d'ors with which I desired to buy four new
"Yes, it is all true," said Blucher, soothingly. "But what matters
it? In the first place, I am quite well, which proves what fools the
doctors are; they think they know every thing, and, in fact, know
nothing. I feel no pain, and yet have inhaled the night air. And as
to the two hundred louis d'ors--well, I am almost glad that I lost
them, for I amused myself. Do you know who was among the gamblers?
Ex-Major von Leesten!"
"Major von Leesten?" asked his wife, wonderingly. "But he never
plays--he is so sensible a gentleman, that--"
"That he does not deal cards, you mean?" interrupted Blucher,
smiling. "Yes, you see, I am also a sensible man, but I deal cards
sometimes, and, for the rest, to tell you the truth, I seduced Major
von Leesten to play last night."
"That was very wrong," said Madame von Blucher, in a tone of gentle
reproach. "Leesten is poor; he has a large family--five full-grown
daughters, who, of course, will not be married because they have no
fortune. And now you seduce the poor man, and he will lose the last
penny belonging to his family. For the most terrible consequences of
this gambling passion are, that it deprives men of reflection,
attachment to their family, and prudence. A man who is addicted to
playing cards, loves nothing but his cards; every thing else seems
unimportant to him; see it in your case, Blucher, and it makes my
heart ache. You do not love me, your time hangs heavy in my
presence; the card-table is your only pleasure, and I believe, when
the passion seizes you, and you have lost all your money, you would
stake the remainder of your property on a card, and your wife to
Blucher burst into loud laughter. "Why," he exclaimed, "what an odd
idea that is! I stake you on a card, you--"
"You suppose that no one would care about winning me?" asked Madame
von Blucher, smiling.
"No, I do not think that," replied Blucher, suddenly growing
serious. "Why should no one care about winning you? You are still a
very pretty and charming little woman; your eyes still flash so
irresistibly, your lips are still so red and full, and--"
"And my hair is beautifully gray," she interrupted him, laughing,
"and I am so astonishingly young, scarcely fifty years of age!"
"Well, that is not so very old," said Blucher, merrily. "I have read
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