The Earl of Beaconsfield
Part 10 out of 11
and a stuttering kind of speech. Vivian was about to retire on the
entrance of the Grand Duke, but Madame Carolina prevented him from
going, and his Royal Highness, turning round, very graciously seconded
her desire, and added that Mr. Grey was the very gentleman with whom he
was desirous of meeting.
"I am anxious," said he to Vivian, in rather a low tone, "to make
Reisenburg agreeable to Mr. Beckendorff's fair friend. As you are one of
the few who are honoured by his intimacy, and are familiar with some of
our state secrets," added the Grand Duke with a smile, "I am sure it
will give you pleasure to assist me in the execution of my wishes."
His Royal Highness proposed that the ladies should ride; and he himself,
with the Crown Prince and Mr. Grey, would attend them. Madame Carolina
expressed her willingness; but the Baroness, like all forward girls
unused to the world, suddenly grew at the same time both timid and
disobliging. She looked sullen and discontented, and coolly said that
she did not feel in the humour to ride for at least these two hours. To
Vivian's surprise, even the Grand Duke humoured her fancy, and declared
that he should then be happy to attend them after the Court dinner.
Until that time Vivian was amused by Madame, and the Grand Duke
exclusively devoted himself to the Baroness. His Royal Highness was in
his happiest mood, and his winning manners and elegant conversation soon
chased away the cloud which, for a moment, had settled on the young
lady's fair brow.
The Grand Duke of Reisenburg was an enthusiastic lover of music, and his
people were consequently music mad. The whole city were fiddling day and
night, or blowing trumpets, oboes, and bassoons. Sunday, however, was
the most harmonious day in the week. The Opera amused the Court and the
wealthiest citizens, and few private houses could not boast their family
concert or small party of performers. In the tea-gardens, of which there
were many in the suburbs of the city, bearing the euphonious, romantic,
and fashionable titles of Tivoli, Arcadia, and Vauxhall, a strong and
amateur orchestra was never wanting. Strolling through the city on a
Sunday afternoon, many a pleasing picture of innocent domestic enjoyment
might, he observed. In the arbour of a garden a very stout man, with a
fair, broad, good-natured, solid German face, may be seen perspiring
under the scientific exertion of the French horn; himself wisely
disembarrassed of the needless incumbrance of his pea-green coat and
showy waistcoat, which lay neatly folded by his side; while his large
and sleepy blue eyes actually gleam with enthusiasm. His daughter, a
soft and delicate girl, touches the light guitar: catching the notes of
the music from the opened opera, which is placed before the father on a
massy music-stand. Her voice joins in melody with her mother, who, like
all German mothers, seems only her daughter's self, subdued by an
additional twenty years. The bow of one violin is handled with the air
of a master by an elder brother; while a younger one, an university
student, grows sentimental over the flute. The same instrument is also
played by a tall and tender-looking young man in black, who stands
behind the parents, next to the daughter, and occasionally looks off his
music-book to gaze on his young mistress's eyes. He is a clerk in a
public office; and on next Michaelmas day, if he succeed, as he hopes,
in gaining a small addition to his salary, he will be still more
entitled to join in the Sunday family concert. Such is one of the
numerous groups, the sight of which must, assuredly, give pleasure to
every man who delights in seeing his fellow-creatures refreshed after
their weekly labours by such calm and rational enjoyment. We would
gladly linger among such scenes; and, moreover, the humours of a
guinguette are not unworthy of our attention: but we must introduce the
reader to a more important party.
The Court chapel and the Court dinner are over. We are in the
Opera-house of Reisenburg; and, of course, rise as the Royal party
enters. The house, which is of moderate size, was fitted up with
splendour: we hardly know whether we should say with great taste; for,
although not merely the scenery, but indeed every part of the house, was
painted by eminent artists, the style of the ornaments was rather
patriotic than tasteful. The house had been built immediately after the
war, at a period when Reisenburg, flushed with the success of its thirty
thousand men, imagined itself to be a great military nation. Trophies,
standards, cannon, eagles, consequently appeared in every corner of the
Opera-house; and quite superseded lyres, and timbrels, and tragic
daggers, and comic masks. The royal box was constructed in the form of a
tent, and held nearly fifty persons. It was exactly in the centre of the
house, its floor over the back of the pit, and its roof reaching to the
top of the second circle; its crimson hangings were restrained by ropes
of gold, and the whole was surmounted by a large and radiant crown. The
house was merely lighted by a chandelier from the centre.
The Opera for the evening was Rossini's Otello. As soon as the Grand
Duke entered the overture commenced, his Royal Highness coming forward
to the front of the box and himself directing the musicians, keeping
time earnestly with his right hand, in which was a long black
opera-glass. This he occasionally used, but merely to look at the
orchestra, not, assuredly, to detect a negligent or inefficient
performer; for in the schooled orchestra of Reisenburg it would have
been impossible even for the eagle eye of his Royal Highness, assisted
as it was by his long black opera-glass, or for his fine ear, matured as
it was by the most complete study, to discover there either inattention
or feebleness. The house was perfectly silent; for when the Monarch
directs the orchestra the world goes to the Opera to listen. Perfect
silence at Reisenburg, then, was etiquette and the fashion. Between the
acts of the Opera, however, the Ballet was performed; and then everybody
might talk, and laugh, and remark as much as they chose.
The Grand Duke prided himself as much upon the accuracy of his scenery
and dresses and decorations as upon the exquisite skill of his
performers. In truth, an Opera at Reisenburg was a spectacle which could
not fail to be interesting to a man of taste. When the curtain drew up
the first scene presented a view of old Brabantio's house. It was
accurately copied from one of the sumptuous structures of Scamozzi, or
Sansovino, or Palladio, which adorn the Grand Canal of Venice. In the
distance rose the domes of St. Mark and the lofty Campanile. Vivian
could not fail to be delighted with this beautiful work of art, for such
indeed it should be styled. He was more surprised, however, but not less
pleased, on the entrance of Othello himself. In England we are
accustomed to deck this adventurous Moor in the costume of his native
country; but is this correct? The Grand Duke of Reisenburg thought not.
Othello was an adventurer; at an early age he entered, as many
foreigners did, into the service of Venice. In that service be rose to
the highest dignities, became General of her armies and of her fleets,
and finally the Viceroy of her favourite kingdom. Is it natural to
suppose that such a man should have retained, during his successful
career, the manners and dress of his original country? Ought we not
rather to admit that, had he done so his career would, in fact, not have
been successful? In all probability, he imitated to affectation the
manners of the country which he had adopted. It is not probable that in
such or in any age the turbaned Moor would have been treated with great
deference by the common Christian soldier of Venice; or, indeed, that
the scandal of a heathen leading the armies of one of the most powerful
of European States would have been tolerated for an instant by indignant
Christendom. If Shylock even, the Jew merchant, confined to his quarter,
and herding with his own sect, were bearded on the Rialto, in what
spirit would the Venetians have witnessed their doge and nobles, whom
they ranked above kings, holding equal converse, and loading with the
most splendid honours of the Republic a follower of Mahound? Such were
the sentiments of the Grand Duke of Reisenburg on this subject, a
subject interesting to Englishmen; and I confess I think that they are
worthy of attention. In accordance with his opinions, the actor who
performed Othello appeared in the full dress of a Venetian magnifico of
the middle ages; a fit companion for Cornaro, or Grimani, or Barberigo,
The first act of the Opera was finished. The Baroness expressed to
Vivian her great delight at its being over, as she was extremely
desirous of learning the story of the ballet, which she had not yet been
able to acquire. His translation of yesterday had greatly interested
her. Vivian shortly gave her the outline of the story of Conrad. She
listened with much attention, but made no remark.
The ballet at Reisenburg was not merely a vehicle for the display of
dancing. It professed by gesture and action, aided by music, to
influence the minds of the spectators not less than the regular drama.
Of this exhibition dancing was a casual ornament, as it is of life. It
took place therefore only on fitting occasions, and grew out, in a
natural manner, from some event in the history represented. For
instance, suppose the story of Othello the subject of the ballet. The
dancing, in all probability, would be introduced at a grand
entertainment given in celebration of the Moor's arrival at Cyprus. All
this would be in character. Our feelings would not be outraged by a
husband chassezing forward to murder his wife, or by seeing the pillow
pressed over the innocent Desdemona by the impulse of a pirouette. In
most cases, therefore, the chief performers in this species of spectacle
are not even dancers. This, however, may not always be the case. If
Diana be the heroine, poetical probability will not be offended by the
goddess joining in the chaste dance with her huntress nymphs; and were
the Baiadere of Goethe made the subject of a ballet, the Indian dancing
girl would naturally be the heroine both of the drama and the poem.
There are few performances more affecting than the serious pantomime of
a master. In some of the most interesting situations it is in fact even
more natural than the oral drama, logically it is more perfect; for the
soliloquy is actually thought before us, and the magic of the
representation not destroyed by the sound of the human voice at a moment
when we all know man never speaks.
The curtain again rises. Sounds of revelry and triumph are heard from
the Pirate Isle. They celebrate recent success. Various groups,
accurately attired in the costume of the Greek islands, are seated on
the rocky foreground. On the left rises Medora's tower, on a craggy
steep; and on the right gleams the blue Aegean. A procession of women
enters. It heralds the presence of Conrad and Medora; they honour the
festivity of their rude subjects. The pirates and the women join in the
national dance; and afterwards eight warriors, completely armed, move in
a warlike measure, keeping time to the music with their bucklers and
clattering sabres. Suddenly the dance ceases; a sail is in sight. The
nearest pirates rush to the strand, and assist the disembarkation of
their welcome comrades. The commander of the vessel comes forward with
an agitated step and gloomy countenance. He kneels to Conrad and
delivers him a scroll, which the chieftain reads with suppressed
agitation. In a moment the faithful Juan is at his side, the contents of
the scroll revealed, the dance broken up, and preparations made to sail
in an hour's time to the city of the Pacha. The stage is cleared, and
Conrad and Medora are alone. The mysterious leader is wrapt in the
deepest abstraction. He stands with folded arms, and eyes fixed on the
yellow sand. A gentle pressure on his arm calls him back to
recollection; he starts, and turns to the intruder with a gloomy brow.
He sees Medora, and his frown sinks into a sad smile. "And must we part
again! this hour, this very hour; it cannot be!" She clings to him with
agony, and kneels to him with adoration. No hope, no hope! a quick
return promised with an air of foreboding fate. His stern arm encircles
her waist. He chases the heavy tear from her fair cheek, and while he
bids her be glad in his absence with her handmaids peals the sad thunder
of the signal gun. She throws herself upon him. The frantic quickness of
her motion strikingly contrasts with the former stupor of her
appearance. She will not part. Her face is buried in his breast; her
long fair hair floats over his shoulders. He is almost unnerved; but at
this moment the ship sails on; the crew and their afflicted wives enter;
the page brings to Lord Conrad his cloak, his carbine, and his bugle. He
tears himself from her embrace, and without daring to look behind him
bounds over the rocks, and is in the ship. The vessel moves, the wives
of the pirates continue on the beach, waving their scarfs to their
desolate husbands. In the foreground Medora, motionless, stands rooted
to the strand, and might have inspired Phidias with a personification
In a hall of unparalleled splendour stern Seyd reclines on innumerable
pillows, placed on a carpet of golden cloth. His bearded chiefs are
ranged around. The chambers are brilliantly illuminated, and an opening
at the farther end of the apartments exhibits a portion of the shining
city and the glittering galleys. Gulnare, covered with a silver veil,
which reaches even to her feet, is ushered into the presence of the
Pacha. Even the haughty Seyd rises to honour his beautiful favourite. He
draws the precious veil from her blushing features and places her on his
right hand. The dancing girls now appear, and then are introduced the
principal artists. Now takes place the scientific part of the ballet;
and here might Bias, or Noblet, or Ronzi Vestris, or her graceful
husband, or the classical Albert, or the bounding Paul, vault without
stint, and attitudinise without restraint, and not in the least impair
the effect of the tragic tale. The Dervise, of course, appears; the
galleys, of course, are fired; and Seyd, of course, retreats. A change
in the scenery gives us the blazing Harem, the rescue of its inmates,
the deliverance of Gulnare, the capture of Conrad.
It is the prison scene. On a mat, covered with irons, lies the forlorn
Conrad. The flitting flame of a solitary lamp hardly reveals the heavy
bars of the huge grate that forms the entrance to its cell. For some
minutes nothing stirs. The mind of the spectator is allowed to become
fully aware of the hopeless misery of the hero. His career is ended,
secure is his dungeon, trusty his guards, overpowering his chains.
To-morrow he wakes to be impaled. A gentle noise, so gentle that the
spectator almost deems it unintentional, is now heard. A white figure
appears behind the dusky gate; is it a guard or a torturer? The gate
softly opens, and a female conies forward. Gulnare was represented by a
girl with the body of a Peri and the soul of a poetess. The Harem Queen
advances with an agitated step; she holds in her left hand a lamp, and
in the girdle of her light dress is a dagger. She reaches with a
soundless step the captive. He is asleep! Ay! he sleeps, while thousands
are weeping over his ravage or his ruin; and she, in restlessness, is
wandering here! A thousand thoughts are seen coursing over her flushed
brow; she looks to the audience, and her dark eye asks why this Corsair
is so dear to her. She turns again, and raises the lamp with her long
white arm, that the light may fall on the captive's countenance. She
gazes, without moving, on the sleeper, touches the dagger with a slow
and tremulous hand, and starts from the contact with terror. She again
touches it; it is drawn from her vest; it falls to the ground. He wakes;
he stares with wonder; he sees a female not less fair than Medora.
Confused, she tells him her station; she tells him that her pity is as
certain as his doom. He avows his readiness to die; he appears
undaunted, he thinks of Medora, he buries his face in his hands. She
grows pale as he avows he loves--another. She cannot conceal her own
passion. He, wondering, confesses that he supposed her love was his
enemy's, was Seyd's. Gulnare shudders at the name; she draws herself up
to her full stature, she smiles in bitterness:
My love stern Seyd's! Oh, no, no, not my love!
The acting was perfect. The house burst into unusual shouts of
admiration. Madame Carolina applauded with her little finger on her fan.
The Grand Duke himself gave the signal for applause. Vivian never felt
before that words were useless. His hand was suddenly pressed. He turned
round; it was the Baroness. She was leaning back in her chair; and
though she did her utmost to conceal her agitated countenance, a tear
coursed down her cheek big as the miserable Medora's!
On the evening of the Opera arrived at Court part of the suite of the
young Archduchess, the betrothed of the Crown Prince of Reisenburg.
These consisted of an old grey-headed General, who had taught her
Imperial Highness the manual exercise; and her tutor and confessor, an
ancient and toothless Bishop. Their youthful mistress was to follow them
in a few days; and this arrival of such a distinguished portion of her
suite was the signal for the commencement of a long series of sumptuous
festivities. After interchanging a number of compliments and a few
snuff-boxes, the new guests were invited by his Royal Highness to attend
a Review, which was to take place the next morning, of five thousand
troops and fifty Generals.
The Reisenburg army was the best appointed in Europe. Never were men
seen with breasts more plumply padded, mustachios better trained, or
such spotless gaiters. The Grand Duke himself was a military genius, and
had invented a new cut for the collars of the Cavalry. His Royal
Highness was particularly desirous of astonishing the old grey-headed
governor of his future daughter by the skilful evolutions and imposing
appearance of his legions. The affair was to be of the most refined
nature, and the whole was to be concluded by a mock battle, in which the
spectators were to be treated by a display of the most exquisite
evolutions and complicated movements which human beings ever yet
invented to destroy others or to escape destruction. Field Marshal Count
von Sohnspeer, the Commander-in-Chief of all the Forces of his Royal
Highness the Grand Duke of Reisenburg, condescended, at the particular
request of his Sovereign, to conduct the whole affair himself.
At first it was rather difficult to distinguish between the army and the
staff; for Darius, in the Straits of Issus, was not more sumptuously and
numerously attended than Count von Sohnspeer. Wherever he moved he was
followed by a train of waving plumes and radiant epaulettes, and foaming
chargers and shining steel. In fact, he looked like a large military
comet. Had the fate of Reisenburg depended on the result of the day, the
Field Marshal, and his Generals, and Aides-de-camp, and Orderlies,
could not have looked more agitated and more in earnest. Von Sohnspeer
had not less than four horses in the field, on every one of which he
seemed to appear in the space of five minutes. Now he was dashing along
the line of the Lancers on a black charger, and now round the column of
the Cuirassiers on a white one. He exhorted the Tirailleurs on a
chestnut, and added fresh courage to the ardour of the Artillery on
It was a splendid day. The bands of the respective regiments played
triumphant tunes as each marched on the field. The gradual arrival of
the troops was picturesque. Distant music was heard, and a corps of
Infantry soon made its appearance. A light bugle sounded, and a body of
Tirailleurs issued from the shade of a neighbouring wood. The
kettle-drums and clarions heralded the presence of a troop of Cavalry;
and an advanced guard of Light Horse told that the Artillery were about
to follow. The arms and standards of the troops shone in the sun;
military music sounded in all parts of the field; unceasing was the
bellow of the martial drum and the blast of the blood-stirring trumpet.
Clouds of dust ever and anon excited in the distance denoted the arrival
of a regiment of Cavalry. Even now one approaches; it is the Red
Lancers. How gracefully their Colonel, the young Count of Eberstein,
bounds on his barb! Has Theseus turned Centaur? His spur and bridle seem
rather the emblems of sovereignty than the instruments of government: he
neither chastises nor directs. The rider moves without motion, and the
horse judges without guidance. It would seem that the man had borrowed
the beast's body, and the beast the man's mind. His regiment has formed
upon the field, their stout lances erected like a young and leafless
grove; but although now in line, it is with difficulty that they can
subject the spirit of their warlike steeds. The trumpet has caught the
ear of the horses; they stand with open nostrils, already breathing war
ere they can see an enemy; and now dashing up one leg, and now the
other, they seem to complain of Nature that she has made them of
The troops have all arrived; there is an unusual bustle in the field.
Von Sohnspeer is again changing his horse, giving directions while he is
mounting to at least a dozen Aides-de-camp. Orderlies are scampering
over every part of the field. Another flag, quite new, and of large
size, is unfurled by the Field-Marshal's pavilion. A signal gun! the
music in the whole field is hushed: a short silence of agitating
suspense, another gun, and another! All the bands of all the regiments
burst forth at the same moment into the national air: the Court dash
into the field!
Madame Carolina, the Baroness, the Countess von S----, and some other
ladies, wore habits of the uniform of the Royal Guards. Both Madame and
the Baroness were perfect horsewomen; and the excited spirits of Mr.
Beckendorff's female relative, both during her ride and her dashing run
over the field, amidst the firing of cannon and the crash of drums and
trumpets, strikingly contrasted with her agitation and depression of the
"Your Excellency loves the tented field, I think!" said Vivian, who was
at her side.
"I love war! it is a diversion for kings!" was the answer. "How fine the
breast-plates and helmets of those Cuirassiers glisten in the sun!"
continued the lady. "Do you see von Sohnspeer? I wonder if the Crown
Prince be with him!"
"I think he is."
"Indeed! Ah! can he interest himself in anything? He seemed Apathy
itself at the Opera last night. I never saw him smile, or move, and have
scarcely heard his voice! but if he love war, if he be a soldier, if he
be thinking of other things than a pantomime and a ball, 'tis well! very
well for his country! Perhaps he is a hero?"
At this moment the Crown Prince, who was of von Sohnspeer's staff,
slowly rode up to the Royal party.
"Rudolph!" said the Grand Duke, "do you head your regiment to-day?"
"No," was the muttered answer.
The Grand Duke moved his horse to his son, and spoke to him in a low
tone, evidently with earnestness. Apparently he was expostulating with
him; but the effect of the royal exhortation was only to render the
Prince's brow more gloomy, and the expression of his withered features
more sullen and more sad. The Baroness watched the father and son as
they were conversing with keen attention. When the Crown Prince, in
violation of his father's wishes, fell into the party, and allowed his
regiment to be headed by the Lieutenant-colonel, the young lady raised
her lustrous eyes to heaven with that same expression of sorrow or
resignation which had so much interested Vivian on the morning that he
had translated to her the moving passage in the Corsair.
But the field is nearly cleared, and the mimic war has commenced. On
the right appears a large body of Cavalry, consisting of Cuirassiers and
Dragoons. A vanguard of Light Cavalry and Lancers, under the command of
the Count of Eberstein, is ordered out, from this body, to harass the
enemy, a strong body of Infantry supposed to be advancing. Several
squadrons of Light Horse immediately spring forward; they form
themselves into line, they wheel into column, and endeavour, by
well-directed manoeuvres, to outflank the strong wing of the advancing
enemy. After succeeding in executing all that was committed to them, and
after having skirmished in the van of their own army, so as to give time
for all necessary dispositions of the line of battle, the vanguard
suddenly retreats between the brigades of the Cavalry of the line; the
prepared battery of cannon is unmasked; and a tremendous concentric fire
opened on the line of the advancing foe. Taking advantage of the
confusion created by this unexpected salute of his artillery, von
Sohnspeer, who commands the Cavalry, gives the word to "Charge!"
The whole body of Cavalry immediately charge in masses; the extended
line of the enemy is as immediately broken. But the Infantry, who are
commanded by one of the royal relatives and visitors, the Prince of Pike
and Powdren, dexterously form into squares, and commence a masterly
retreat in square battalions. At length they take up a more favourable
position than the former one. They are again galled by the Artillery,
who have proportionately advanced, and again charged by the Cavalry in
their huge masses. And now the squares of Infantry partially give way.
They admit the Cavalry, but the exulting Horse find, to their dismay,
that the enemy are not routed, but that there are yet inner squares
formed at salient angles. The Cavalry for a moment retire, but it is
only to give opportunity to their Artillery to rake the obstinate foes.
The execution of the battery is fearful. Headed by their Commander, the
whole body of Cuirassiers and Dragoons again charge with renewed energy
and concentrated force. The Infantry are thrown into the greatest
confusion, and commence a rout, increased and rendered irremediable by
the Lancers and Hussars, the former vanguard, who now, seizing on the
favourable moment, again rush forward, increasing the effect of the
charge of the whole army, overtaking the fugitives with their lances,
and securing the prisoners.
The victorious von Sohnspeer, followed by his staff, now galloped up to
receive the congratulations of his Sovereign.
"Where are your prisoners, Field Marshal?" asked his Royal Highness,
with a flattering smile.
"What is the ransom of our unfortunate guest?" asked Madame Carolina.
"I hope we shall have another affair," said the Baroness, with a flushed
face and glowing eyes.
But the Commander-in-Chief must not tarry to bandy compliments. He is
again wanted in the field. The whole troops have formed in line. Some
most scientific evolutions are now executed. With them we will not weary
the reader, nor dilate on the comparative advantages of forming en
cremaillière and en echiquier; nor upon the duties of tirailleurs, nor
upon concentric fires and eccentric movements, nor upon deploying, nor
upon enfilading, nor upon oblique fronts, nor upon échellons. The day
finished by the whole of the troops again forming in line and passing in
order before the Commander-in-Chief, to give him an opportunity of
observing their discipline and inspecting their equipments.
The review being finished, Count von Sohnspeer and his staff joined the
royal party; and after walking their horses round the field, they
proceeded to his pavilion, where refreshments were prepared for them.
The Field Marshal, flattered by the interest which, the young Baroness
had taken in the business of the day, and the acquaintance which she
evidently possessed of the more obvious details of military tactics, was
inclined to be particularly courteous to her; but the object of his
admiration did not encourage attentions by which half the ladies of the
Court would have thought themselves as highly honoured as by those of
the Grand Duke himself; so powerful a person was the Field Marshal, and
so little inclined by temper to cultivate the graces of the fair sex!
"In the tent keep by my side," said the Baroness to Vivian. "Although I
am fond of heroes, von Sohnspeer is not to my taste. I know not why I
flatter you so by my notice, for I suppose, like all Englishmen, you are
not a soldier? I thought so. Never mind! you ride well enough for a
field marshal. I really think I could give you a commission without much
stickling of my conscience. No, no! I should like you nearer me. I have
a good mind to make you my master of the horse; that is to say, when I
am entitled to have one."
As Vivian acknowledged the young Baroness' compliment by becoming
emotion, and vowed that an office near her person would be the
consummation of all his wishes, his eye caught the lady's: she blushed
deeply, looked down upon her horse's neck, and then turned away
Von Sohnspeer's pavilion excellently became the successful leader of the
army of Reisenburg. Trophies taken from all sides decked its interior.
The black eagle of Austria formed part of its roof, and the brazen
eagle of Gaul supported part of the side. The grey-headed General looked
rather grim when he saw a flag belonging to a troop which perhaps he had
himself once commanded. He vented his indignation to the toothless
Bishop, who crossed his breast with his fingers, covered with diamonds,
and preached temperance and moderation in inarticulate sounds.
During the collation the conversation was principally military. Madame
Carolina, who was entirely ignorant of the subject of discourse,
enchanted all the officers present by appearing to be the most
interested person in the tent. Nothing could exceed the elegance of her
eulogium of "petit guerre." The old grey General talked much about the
"good old times," by which he meant the thirty years of plunder,
bloodshed, and destruction, which were occasioned by the French
Revolution. He gloated on the recollections of horror, which he feared
would never occur again. The Archduke Charles and Prince Schwartzenburg
were the gods of his idolatry, and Nadasti's hussars and Wurmser's
dragoons the inferior divinities of his bloody heaven. One evolution of
the morning, a discovery made by von Sohnspeer himself, in the deploying
of cavalry, created a great sensation; and it was settled that it would
have been of great use to Desaix and Clairfait in the Netherlands affair
of some eight-and-twenty years ago, and was not equalled even by
Seidlitz' cavalry in the affair with the Russians at Zorndorff. In
short, every "affair" of any character during the late war was fought
over again in the tent of Field Marshal von Sohnspeer. At length from
the Archduke Charles and Prince Schwartzenburg, the old grey-headed
General got to Polybius and Monsieur Folard; and the Grand Duke now
thinking that the "affair" was taking too serious a turn, broke up the
party. Madame Carolina and most of the ladies used their carriages on
their return. They were nearly fifteen miles from the city; but the
Baroness, in spite of the most earnest solicitations, would remount
They cantered home, the Baroness in unusual spirits, Vivian thinking
very much of his fair companion. Her character puzzled him. That she was
not the lovely simpleton that Madame Carolina believed her to be, he had
little doubt. Some people have great knowledge of society and little of
mankind. Madame Carolina was one of these. She viewed her species
through only one medium. That the Baroness was a woman of acute feeling,
Vivian could not doubt. Her conduct at the Opera, which had escaped
every one's attention, made this evident. That she had seen more of the
world than her previous conversation had given him to believe, was
equally clear by her conduct and conversation this morning. He
determined to become more acquainted with her character. Her evident
partiality to his company would not render the execution of his purpose
very difficult. At any rate, if he discovered nothing, it was something
to do: it would at least amuse him.
In the evening he joined a large party at the palace. He looked
immediately for the Baroness. She was surrounded by the dandies. Their
attentions she treated with contempt, and ridiculed their compliments
without mercy. Without obtruding himself on her notice, Vivian joined
her circle, and witnessed her demolition of the young Count of Eberstein
with great amusement. Emilius von Aslingen was not there; for having
made the interesting savage the fashion, she was no longer worthy of his
attention, and consequently deserted. The young lady soon observed
Vivian; and saying, without the least embarrassment, that she was
delighted to sec him, she begged him to share her chaise-longue. Her
envious levée witnessed the preference with dismay; and as the object of
their attention did not now notice their remarks, even by her expressed
contempt, one by one fell away. Vivian and the Baroness were left alone,
and conversed much together. The lady displayed, on every subject,
engaging ignorance, and requested information on obvious topics with
artless naïveté Vivian was convinced that her ignorance was not
affected, and equally sure that it could not arise from imbecility of
intellect; for while she surprised him by her crude questions, and her
want of acquaintance with all those topics which generally form the
staple of conversation, she equally amused him with her poignant wit,
and the imperious and energetic manner in which she instantly expected
satisfactory information on every possible subject.
On the day after the review a fancy-dress ball was to be given at Court.
It was to be an entertainment of a peculiar nature. The lively genius of
Madame Carolina, wearied of the commonplace effect generally produced by
this species of amusement, in which usually a stray Turk and a wandering
Pole looked sedate and singular among crowds of Spanish girls, Swiss
peasants, and gentlemen in uniforms, had invented something novel. Her
idea was ingenious. To use her own sublime phrase, she determined that
the party should represent "an age!" Great difficulty was experienced in
fixing upon the century which was to be honoured. At first a poetical
idea was started of having something primeval, perhaps antediluvian; but
Noah, or even Father Abraham, were thought characters hardly
sufficiently romantic for a fancy-dress ball, and consequently the
earliest postdiluvian ages were soon under consideration. Nimrod, or
Sardanapalus, were distinguished personages, and might be well
represented by the Master of the Staghounds, or the Master of the
Revels; but then the want of an interesting lady-character was a great
objection. Semiramis, though not without style in her own way, was not
sufficiently Parisian for Madame Carolina. New ages were proposed and
new objections started; and so the "Committee of Selection," which
consisted of Madame herself, the Countess von S----, and a few other
dames of fashion, gradually slided through the four great empires.
Athens was not aristocratic enough, and then the women were nothing. In
spite of her admiration of the character of Aspasia, Madame Carolina
somewhat doubted the possibility of persuading the ladies of the Court
of Reisenburg to appear in the characters of [Greek: hetairai]. Rome
presented great capabilities, and greater difficulties. Finding
themselves, after many days' sitting and study, still very far from
coming to a decision, Madame called in the aid of the Grand Duke, who
proposed "something national." The proposition was plausible; but,
according to Madame Carolina, Germany, until her own time, had been
only a land of barbarism and barbarians; and therefore in such a
country, in a national point of view, what could there be interesting?
The middle ages, as they are usually styled, in spite of the Emperor
Charlemagne, "that oasis in the desert of barbarism," to use her own
eloquent and original image, were her particular aversion. "The age of
chivalry is past!" was as constant an exclamation of Madame Carolina as
it was of Mr. Burke. "The age of chivalry is past; and very fortunate
that it is. What resources could they have had in the age of chivalry?
an age without either moral or experimental philosophy; an age in which
they were equally ignorant of the doctrine of association of ideas, and
of the doctrine of electricity; and when they were as devoid of a
knowledge of the Incalculable powers of the human mind as of the
incalculable powers of steam!" Had Madame Carolina been the consort of
an Italian grand duke, selection would not be difficult; and, to inquire
no farther, the court of the Medici alone would afford them everything
they wanted. But Germany never had any character, and never produced nor
had been the resort of illustrious men and interesting persons. What was
to be done? The age of Frederick the Great was the only thing; and then
that was so recent, and would offend the Austrians: it could not be
At last, when the "Committee of Selection" was almost in despair, some
one proposed a period which not only would be German, not only would
compliment the House of Austria, but, what was of still greater
importance, would allow of every contemporary character of interest of
every nation, the age of Charles the Fifth! The suggestion was received
with enthusiasm, and adopted on the spot. "The Committee of Selection"
was immediately dissolved, and its members as immediately formed
themselves into a "Committee of Arrangement." Lists of all the persons
of any fame, distinction, or notoriety, who had lived either in the
empire of Germany, the kingdoms of Spain, Portugal, France, or England,
the Italian States, the Netherlands, the American, and, in short, in
every country in the known world, were immediately formed. Von
Chronicle, rewarded for his last historical novel by a ribbon and the
title of Baron, was appointed secretary to the "Committee of Costume."
All guests who received a card invitation were desired, on or before a
certain day, to send in the title of their adopted character and a
sketch of their intended dress, that their plans might receive the
sanction of the ladies of the "Committee of Arrangement," and their
dresses the approbation of the secretary of costume. By this method the
chance and inconvenience of two persons selecting and appearing in the
same character were destroyed and prevented. After exciting the usual
jealousies, intrigues, dissatisfaction, and ill-blood, by the influence
and imperturbable temper of Madame Carolina, everything was arranged;
Emilius von Aslingen being the only person who set both the Committees
of Arrangement and Costume at defiance, and treated the repeated
applications of their respected secretary with contemptuous silence. The
indignant Baron von Chronicle entreated the strong interference of the
"Committee of Arrangement," but Emilius von Aslingen was too powerful an
individual to be treated by others as he treated them. Had the
fancy-dress ball of the Sovereign been attended by all his subjects,
with the exception of this Captain in his Guards, the whole affair might
have been a failure; would have been dark in spite of the glare of ten
thousand lamps and the glories of all the jewels of his state; would
have been dull, although each guest were wittier than Pasquin himself;
and very vulgar, although attended by lords of as many quarterings as
the ancient shield of his own antediluvian house! All, therefore, that
the ladies of the "Committee of Arrangement" could do, was to enclose to
the rebellious von Aslingen a list of the expected characters, and a
resolution passed in consequence of his contumacy, that no person or
persons was, or were, to appear as either or any of these characters,
unless he, or they, could produce a ticket, or tickets, granted by a
member of the "Committee of Arrangement," and countersigned by the
secretary of the "Committee of Costume." At the same time that these
vigorous measures were resolved on, no persons spoke of Emilius von
Aslingen's rebellious conduct in terms of greater admiration than the
ladies of the Committee themselves. If possible, he in consequence
became even a more influential and popular personage than before, and
his conduct procured him almost the adoration of persons who, had they
dared to imitate him, would have been instantly crushed, and would have
been banished society principally by the exertions of the very
individual whom they had the presumption to mimic.
In the gardens of the palace was a spacious amphitheatre, cut out in
green seats, for the spectators of the plays which, during the summer
months, were sometimes performed there by the Court. There was a stage
in the same taste, with rows of trees for side-scenes, and a great
number of arbours and summer-rooms, surrounded by lofty hedges of
laurel, for the actors to retire and dress in. Connected with this
"rural Theatre," for such was its title, were many labyrinths, and
groves, and arched walks, in the same style. More than twelve large
fountains were in the immediate vicinity of this theatre. At the end of
one walk a sea-horse spouted its element through its nostrils; and in
another, Neptune turned an Ocean out of a vase. Seated on a rock,
Arcadia's half-goat god, the deity of silly sheep and silly poets, sent
forth trickling streams through his rustic pipes; and in the centre of a
green grove, an enamoured Salmacis, bathing in a pellucid basin, seemed
watching for her Hermaphrodite.
It was in this rural theatre and its fanciful confines that Madame
Carolina and her councillors resolved that their magic should, for a
night, not only stop the course of time, but recall past centuries. It
was certainly rather late in the year for choosing such a spot for the
scene of their enchantment; but the season, as we have often had
occasion to remark in the course of these volumes, was singularly fine;
and indeed at this moment the nights were as warm, and as clear from
mist and dew, as they are during an Italian midsummer.
But it is eight o'clock; we are already rather late. Is that a figure by
Holbein, just started out of the canvas, that I am about to meet? Stand
aside! It is a page of the Emperor Charles the Fifth! The Court is on
its way to the theatre. The theatre and the gardens are brilliantly
illuminated. The effect of the thousands of coloured lamps, in all parts
of the foliage, is very beautiful. The moon is up, and a million stars!
If it be not quite as light as day, it is just light enough for
pleasure. You could not perhaps endorse a bill of exchange, or engross a
parchment, by this light; but then it is just the light to read a
love-letter by, and do a thousand other things besides.
All hail to the Emperor! we would give his costume, were it not rather
too much in the style of the von Chronicles. Reader! you have seen a
portrait of Charles by Holbein: very well; what need is there of a
description? No lack was there in this gay scene of massy chains and
curious collars, nor of cloth of gold, nor of cloth of silver! No lack
was there of trembling plumes and costly hose! No lack was there of
crimson velvet, and russet velvet, and tawny velvet, and purple velvet,
and plunket velvet, and of scarlet cloth, and green taffeta, and cloth
of silk embroidered! No lack was there of garments of estate, and of
quaint chemews, nor of short crimson cloaks, covered with pearls and
precious stones! No lack was there of party-coloured splendour, of
purple velvet embroidered with white, and white satin dresses
embroidered with black! No lack was there of splendid koyfes of damask,
or kerchiefs of fine Cyprus; nor of points of Venice silver of ducat
fineness, nor of garlands of friars' knots, nor of coloured satins, nor
of bleeding hearts embroidered on the bravery of dolorous lovers, nor of
quaint sentences of wailing gallantry! But for the details, are they not
to be found in those much-neglected and much-plundered persons, the old
chroniclers? and will they not sufficiently appear in the most inventive
portion of the next great historical novel?
The Grand Duke looked the Emperor. Our friend the Grand Marshal was
Francis the First; and Arnelm and von Neuwied figured as the Marshal of
Montmorency and the Marshal Lautrec. The old toothless Bishop did
justice to Clement the Seventh; and his companion, the ancient General,
looked grim as Pompeo Colonna. A prince of the House of Nassau, one of
the royal visitors, represented his adventurous ancestor the Prince of
Orange. Von Sohnspeer was that haughty and accomplished rebel, the
Constable of Bourbon. The young Baron Gernsbach was worthy of the
seraglio, as he stalked along as Solyman the Magnificent, with all the
family jewels belonging to his dowager mother shining in his superb
turban. Our friend the Count of Eberstein personified chivalry, in the
person of Bayard. The younger Bernstorff, the intimate friend of
Gernsbach, attended his sumptuous sovereign as that Turkish Paul Jones,
Barbarossa. An Italian Prince was Andrew Doria. The Grand Chamberlain,
our francisé acquaintance, and who affected a love of literature, was
the Protestant Elector of Saxony. His train consisted of the principal
litterateurs of Reisenburg. The Editor of the "Attack-all Review," who
originally had been a Catholic, but who had been skilfully converted
some years ago, when he thought Catholicism was on the decline, was
Martin Luther, an individual whom, both in his apostasy and fierceness,
he much and only resembled: on the contrary, the editor of the
"Praise-all Review" appeared as the mild and meek Melanchthon. Mr.
Sievers, not yet at Vienna, was Erasmus. Ariosto, Guicciardini, Ronsard,
Rabelais, Machiavel, Pietro Aretino, Garcilasso de la Vega. Sannazaro,
and Paracelsus, afforded names to many nameless critics. Two Generals,
brothers, appeared as Cortes and Pizarro. The noble Director of the
Gallery was Albert Durer, and his deputy Hans Holbein. The Court
painter, a wretched mimic of the modern French School, did justice to
the character of Correggio; and an indifferent sculptor looked sublime
as Michel Angelo.
Von Chronicle had persuaded the Prince of Pike and Powdren, one of his
warmest admirers, to appear as Henry the Eighth of England. His Highness
was one of those true North German patriots who think their own country
a very garden of Eden, and verily believe that original sin is to be
finally put an end to in a large sandy plain between Berlin and Hanover.
The Prince of Pike and Powdren passed his whole life in patriotically
sighing for the concentration of all Germany into one great nation, and
in secretly trusting that, if ever the consummation took place, the
North would be rewarded for their condescending union by a monopoly of
all the privileges of the Empire. Such a character was of course
extremely desirous of figuring to-night in a style peculiarly national.
The persuasions of von Chronicle, however, prevailed, and induced his
Highness of Pike and Powdren to dismiss his idea of appearing as the
ancient Arminius, although it was with great regret that the Prince gave
up his plan of personating his favourite hero, with hair down to his
middle and skins up to his chin. Nothing would content von Chronicle but
that his kind patron should represent a crowned head: anything else was
beneath him. The patriotism of the Prince disappeared before the
flattery of the novelist, like the bloom of a plum before the breath of
a boy, when he polishes the powdered fruit ere he devours it. No sooner
had his Highness agreed to be changed into bluff Harry than the secret
purpose of his adviser was immediately detected. No Court confessor,
seduced by the vision of a red hat, ever betrayed the secrets of his
sovereign with greater fervour than did von Chronicle labour for the
Cardinal's costume, which was the consequence of the Prince of Pike and
Powdren undertaking the English monarch. To-night, proud as was the part
of the Prince as regal Harry, his strut was a shamble compared with the
imperious stalk of von Chronicle as the arrogant and ambitious Wolsey.
The Cardinal in Rienzi was nothing to him; for to-night Wolsey had as
many pages as the other had petticoats!
But, most ungallant of scribblers! Place aux dames! Surely Madame
Carolina, as the beautiful and accomplished Margaret of Navarre, might
well command, even without a mandate, your homage and your admiration!
The lovely Queen seemed the very goddess of smiles and repartee; young
Max, as her page, carried at her side a painted volume of her own
poetry. The arm of the favourite sister of Francis, who it will be
remembered once fascinated even the Emperor, was linked in that of
Caesar's natural daughter, her beautiful namesake, the bright-eyed
Margaret of Austria. Conversing with these royal dames, and indeed
apparently in attendance upon them, was a young gallant of courtly
bearing, and attired in a fantastic dress. It is Clement Marot, "the
Poet of Princes and the Prince of Poets," as he was styled by his own
admiring age; he offers to the critical inspection of the nimble-witted
Navarre a few lines in celebration of her beauty and the night's
festivity; one of those short Marotique poems once so celebrated;
perhaps a page culled from those gay and airy psalms which, with
characteristic gallantry, he dedicated "to the Dames of France!" Observe
well the fashionable bard! Marot was a true poet, and in his day not
merely read by queens and honoured by courtiers: observe him well; for
the character is supported by our Vivian Grey. It was with great
difficulty that Madame Carolina had found a character for her favourite,
for the lists were all filled before his arrival at Reisenburg. She at
first wished him to appear as some celebrated Englishman of the time,
but no character of sufficient importance could be discovered. All our
countrymen in contact or connection with the Emperor Charles were
churchmen and civilians; and Sir Nicholas Carew and the other fops of
the reign of Henry the Eighth, who, after the visit to Paris, were even
more ridiculously francisé than the Grand Chamberlain of Reisenburg
himself, were not, after mature deliberation, considered entitled to the
honour of being ranked in Madame Carolina's age of Charles the Fifth.
But who is this, surrounded by her ladies and her chamberlains and her
secretaries? Four pages in dresses of cloth of gold, and each the son of
a prince of the French blood, support her train; a crown encircles locks
grey as much from thought as from time, but which require no show of
loyalty to prove that they belong to a mother of princes; that ample
forehead, aquiline nose, and the keen glance of her piercing eye denote
the Queen as much as the regality of her gait and her numerous and
splendid train. The young Queen of Navarre hastens to proffer her duty
to the mother of Francis, the celebrated Louise of Savoy; and
exquisitely did the young and lovely Countess of S---- personate the
most celebrated of female diplomatists.
We have forgotten one character; the repeated commands of his father and
the constant entreaties of Madame Carolina had at length prevailed upon
the Crown Prince to shuffle himself into a fancy dress. No sooner had he
gratified them by his hard-wrung consent than Baron von Chronicle called
upon him with drawings of the costume of the Prince of Asturias,
afterwards Philip the Second of Spain. If we for a moment forgot so
important a personage as the future Grand Duke, it must have been
because he supported his character so ably that no one for an instant
believed that it was an assumed one; standing near the side scenes of
the amphitheatre, with his gloomy brow, sad eye, protruding under-lip,
and arms hanging straight by his sides, he looked a bigot without hope,
and a tyrant without purpose.
The first hour is over, and the guests are all assembled. As yet they
content themselves with promenading round the amphitheatre; for before
they can think of dance or stroll, each of them must be duly acquainted
with the other's dress. It was a most splendid scene. The Queen of
Navarre has now been presented to the Emperor, and, leaning on his arm,
they head the promenade. The Emperor had given the hand of Margaret of
Austria to his legitimate son; but the Crown Prince, though he continued
in silence by the side of the young Baroness, soon resigned a hand which
did not struggle to retain his. Clement Marot was about to fall back
into a less conspicuous part of the procession; but the Grand Duke,
witnessing the regret of his loved Consort, condescendingly said, "We
cannot afford to lose our poet;" and so Vivian found himself walking
behind Madame Carolina, and on the left side of the young Baroness.
Louise of Savoy followed with her son, the King of France; most of the
ladies of the Court, and a crowd of officers, among them Montmorency and
De Lautrec, after their Majesties. The King of England moves by; his
state unnoticed in the superior magnificence of Wolsey. Pompeo Colonna
apologises to Pope Clement for having besieged his holiness in the
Castle of St. Angelo. The Elector of Saxony and the Prince of Orange
follow. Solyman the Magnificent is attended by his Admiral; and
Bayard's pure spirit almost quivers at the whispered treason of the
Constable of Bourbon. Luther and Melanchthon, Erasmus and Rabelais,
Cortez and Pizarro, Correggio and Michael Angelo, and a long train of
dames and dons of all nations, succeed; so long that the amphitheatre
cannot hold them, and the procession, that they may walk over the stage,
makes a short progress through an adjoining summer-room.
Just as the Emperor and the fair Queen are in the middle of the stage, a
wounded warrior with a face pale as an eclipsed moon, a helmet on which
is painted the sign of his sacred order, a black mantle thrown over his
left shoulder, but not concealing his armour, a sword in his right hand
and an outstretched crucifix in his left, rushes on the scene. The
procession suddenly halts; all recognise Emilius von Aslingen! and
Madame Carolina blushes through her rouge when she perceives that so
celebrated, "so interesting a character" as Ignatius Loyola, the Founder
of the Jesuits, has not been included in the all-comprehensive lists of
Henry of England led the Polonaise with Louise of Savoy; Margaret of
Austria would not join in it: waltzing quickly followed. The Emperor
seldom left the side of the Queen of Navarre, and often conversed with
her Majesty's poet. The Prince of Asturias hovered for a moment round
his father's daughter, as if he were summoning resolution to ask her to
waltz. Once, indeed, he opened his mouth; could it have been to speak?
But the young Margaret gave no encouragement to this unusual exertion;
and Philip of Asturias, looking, if possible, more sad and sombre than
before, skulked away. The Crown Prince left the gardens, and now a smile
lit up every face, except that of the young Baroness. The gracious Grand
Duke, unwilling to see a gloomy countenance anywhere to-night, turned to
Vivian, who was speaking to Madame Carolina, and said, "Gentle poet,
would that thou hadst some chanson or courtly compliment to chase the
cloud which hovers on the brow of our much-loved daughter of Austria!
Your popularity, sir," continued the Grand Duke, dropping his mock
heroic vein and speaking in a much lower tone, "your popularity, sir,
among the ladies of the Court, cannot be increased by any panegyric of
mine; nor am I insensible, believe me, to the assiduity and skill with
which you have complied with my wishes in making our Court agreeable to
the relative of a man to whom we owe so much as Mr. Beckendorff. I am
informed, Mr. Grey," continued his Royal Highness, "that you have no
intention of very speedily returning to your country; I wish that I
could count you among my peculiar attendants. If you have an objection
to live in the palace without performing your quota of duty to the
State, we shall have no difficulty in finding you an office, and
clothing you in our official costume. Think of this!" So saying, with a
gracious smile, his Royal Highness, leading Madame Carolina, commenced a
walk round the gardens.
The young Baroness did not follow them. Solyman the Magnificent, and
Bayard the irreproachable, and Barbarossa the pirate, and Bourbon the
rebel, immediately surrounded her. Few persons were higher ton than the
Turkish Emperor and his Admiral; few persons talked more agreeable
nonsense than the Knight sans peur et sans reproche; no person was more
important than the warlike Constable; but their attention, their
amusement, and their homage were to-night thrown away on the object of
their observance. The Baroness listened to them without interest, and
answered them with brevity. She did not even condescend, as she had done
before, to enter into a war of words, to mortify their vanity or
exercise their wit. She treated them neither with contempt nor courtesy.
If no smile welcomed their remarks, at least her silence was not
scornful, and the most shallow-headed prater that fluttered around her
felt that he was received with dignity and not with disdain. Awed by her
conduct, not one of them dared to be flippant, and every one of them
soon became dull. The ornaments of the Court of Reisenburg, the arbiters
of ton and the lords of taste, stared with astonishment at each other
when they found, to their mutual surprise, that at one moment, in such a
select party, universal silence pervaded. In this state of affairs,
every one felt that his dignity required his speedy disappearance from
the lady's presence. The Orientals, taking advantage of Bourbon's
returning once more to the charge with an often unanswered remark,
coolly walked away: the Chevalier made an adroit and honourable retreat
by joining a passing party; and the Constable was the only one who,
being left in solitude and silence, was finally obliged to make a formal
bow and retire discomforted from the side of the only woman with whom
he had ever condescended to fall in love. Leaning against the trunk of a
tree at some little distance, Vivian Grey watched the formation and
dissolution of the young Baroness' levée with lively interest. His eyes
met the lady's as she raised them from the ground on von Sohnspeer
quitting her. She immediately beckoned to Vivian, but without her usual
smile. He was directly at her side, but she did not speak. At last he
said, "This is a most brilliant scene!"
"You think so, do you?" answered the lady, in a tone and manner which
almost made Vivian believe, for a moment, that his friend Mr.
Beckendorff was at his side.
"Decidedly his daughter!" thought he.
"You are not gay to-night?" said Vivian.
"Why should I be?" said the lady, in a manner which would have made
Vivian imagine that his presence was as disagreeable to her as that of
Count von Sohnspeer, had not the lady herself invited his company.
"I suppose the scene is very brilliant," continued the Baroness, after a
few moments' silence. "At least all here seem to think so, except
"And who are they?" asked Vivian.
"Myself and--the Crown Prince. I am almost sorry that I did not dance
with him. There seems a wonderful similarity in our dispositions."
"You are pleased to be severe to-night."
"And who shall complain when the first person that I satirize is
"It is most considerate in you," said Vivian, "to undertake such an
office; for it is one which you yourself are alone capable of
fulfilling. The only person that can ever satirize your Excellency is
yourself; and I think even then that, in spite of your candour, your
self-examination must please us with a self-panegyric."
"Nay, a truce to compliments: at least let me hear better things from
you. I cannot any longer endure the glare of these lamps and dresses!
your arm! Let us walk for a few minutes in the more retired and cooler
parts of the gardens."
The Baroness and Vivian left the amphitheatre by a different path to
that by which the Grand Duke and Madame Carolina had quitted it. They
found the walks quite solitary; for the royal party, which was small,
contained the only persons who had yet left the stage.
Vivian and his companions strolled about for some time, conversing on
subjects of casual interest. The Baroness, though no longer absent,
either in her manner or her conversation, seemed depressed; and Vivian,
while he flattered himself that he was more entertaining than usual,
felt, to his mortification, that the lady was not entertained.
"I am afraid you find it dull here," said he; "shall we return?"
"Oh, no; do not let us return! We have so short a time to be together
that we must not allow even one hour to be dull."
As Vivian was about to reply, he heard the joyous voice of young
Maximilian; it sounded very near. The royal party was approaching. The
Baronet expressed her earnest desire to avoid it; and as to advance or
to retreat, in these labyrinthine walks, was almost equally hazardous,
they retired into one of those green recesses which we have before
mentioned; indeed it was the very evergreen grove in the centre of which
the Nymph of the Fountain watched for her loved Carian youth. A shower
of moonlight fell on the marble statue, and showed the Nymph in an
attitude of consummate skill: her modesty struggling with her desire,
and herself crouching in her hitherto pure waters, while her anxious ear
listens for the bounding step of the regardless huntsman.
"The air is cooler here," said the Baroness, "or the sound of the
falling water is peculiarly refreshing to my senses. They have passed. I
rejoice that we did not return; I do not think that I could have
remained among those lamps another moment. How singular, actually to
view with aversion a scene which appears to enchant all!"
"A scene which I should have thought would have been particularly
charming to you," said Vivian; "you are dispirited tonight!"
"Am I?" said the Baroness. "I ought not to be; not to be more dispirited
than I ever am. To-night I expected pleasure; nothing has happened which
I did not expect, and everything which I did. And yet I am sad! Do you
think that happiness can ever be sad? I think it must be so. But whether
I am sorrowful or happy I can hardly tell; for it is only within these
few days that I have known either grief or joy."
"It must be counted an eventful period in your existence which reckons
in its brief hours a first acquaintance with such passions!" said
Vivian, with a searching eye and an inquiring voice.
"Yes; an eventful period, certainly an eventful period," answered the
Baroness, with a thoughtful air and in measured words.
"I cannot bear to see a cloud upon that brow!" said Vivian. "Have you
forgotten how much was to be done to-night? How eagerly you looked
forward to its arrival? How bitterly we were to regret the termination
of the mimic empire?"
"I have forgotten nothing; would that I had! I will not look grave. I
will be gay; and yet, when I remember how soon other mockery besides
this splendid pageant must be terminated, why should I look gay? Why may
I not weep?"
"Nay, if we are to moralise on worldly felicity, I fear that instead of
inspiriting you, which is my wish, I shall prove but a too congenial
companion. But such a theme is not for you."
"And why should it be for one who, though he lecture me with such
gravity and gracefulness, can scarcely be entitled to play the part of
Mentor by the weight of years?" said the Baroness, with a smile: "for
one who, I trust, who I should think, as little deserved, and was as
little inured to, sorrow as myself!"
"To find that you have cause to grieve," said Vivian, "and to learn from
you, at the same time, your opinion of my own lot, prove what I have too
often had the sad opportunity of observing, that the face of man is
scarcely more genuine and less deceitful than these masquerade dresses
which we now wear."
"But you are not unhappy?" asked the Baroness with a quick voice.
"Not now," said Vivian.
His companion seated herself on the marble balustrade which surrounded
the fountain: she did not immediately speak again, and Vivian was
silent, for he was watching her motionless countenance as her large
brilliant eyes gazed with earnestness on the falling water sparkling in
the moonlight. Surely it was not the mysterious portrait at
Beckendorff's that he beheld!
She turned. She exclaimed in an agitated voice, "O friend! too lately
found, why have we met to part?"
"To part, dearest!" said he, in a low and rapid voice, and he gently
took her hand; "to part! and why should we part? why--"
"Ask not; your question is agony!" She tried to withdraw her hand, he
pressed it with renewed energy, it remained in his, she turned away her
head, and both were silent.
"O! lady," said Vivian, as he knelt at her side, "why are we not happy?"
His arm is round her waist, gently he bends his head, their speaking
eyes meet, and their trembling lips cling into a kiss!
A seal of love and purity and faith I and the chaste moon need not have
blushed as she lit up the countenances of the lovers.
"O! lady, why are we not happy?"
"We are, we are: is not this happiness, is not this joy, is not this
bliss? Bliss," she continued, in a low broken voice, "to which I have no
right, no title. Oh! quit, quit my hand! Happiness is not for me!" She
extricated herself from his arm, and sprang upon her feet. Alarm, rather
than affection, was visible on her agitated features. It seemed to cost
her a great effort to collect her scattered senses; the effort was made
with pain, but with success.
"Forgive me," she said, in a hurried and indistinct tone; "forgive me! I
would speak, but cannot, not now at least; we have been long away, too
long; our absence will be remarked to-night; to-night we must give up to
the gratification of others, but I will speak. For yours, for my own
sake, let us, let us go. You know that we are to be very gay to-night,
and gay we will be. Who shall prevent us? At least the present hour is
our own; and when the future ones must be so sad, why, why, trifle
The reader is not to suppose that Vivian Grey thought of the young
Baroness merely in the rapid scenes which we have sketched. There were
few moments in the day in which her image did not occupy his thoughts,
and which, indeed, he did not spend in her presence. From the first her
character had interested him. His accidental but extraordinary
acquaintance with Beckendorff made him view any individual connected
with that singular man with a far more curious feeling than could
influence the young nobles of the Court, who were ignorant of the
Minister's personal character. There was an evident mystery about the
character and situation of the Baroness, which well accorded with the
eccentric and romantic career of the Prime Minister of Reisenburg. Of
the precise nature of her connection with Beckendorff Vivian was wholly
ignorant. The world spoke of her as his daughter, and the affirmation of
Madame Carolina confirmed the world's report. Her name was still unknown
to him; and although during the few moments that they had enjoyed an
opportunity of conversing together alone, Vivian had made every exertion
of which good breeding, impelled by curiosity, is capable, and had
devised many little artifices with which a schooled address is well
acquainted to obtain it, his exertions had hitherto been unsuccessful.
If there was a mystery, the young lady was competent to preserve it; and
with all her naïveté, her interesting ignorance of the world, and her
evidently uncontrollable spirit, no hasty word ever fell from her
cautious lips which threw any light on the objects of his inquiry.
Though impetuous, she was never indiscreet, and often displayed a
caution which was little in accordance with her youth and temper. The
last night had witnessed the only moment in which her passions seemed
for a time to have struggled with, and to have overcome, her judgment;
but it was only for a moment. That display of overpowering feeling had
cost Vivian a sleepless night; and he is at this instant pacing up and
down the chamber of his hotel, thinking of that which he had imagined
could exercise his thoughts no more.
She was beautiful; she loved him; she was unhappy! To be loved by any
woman is flattering to the feelings of every man, no matter how deeply
he may have quaffed the bitter goblet of worldly knowledge. The praise
of a fool is incense to the wisest of us; and though we believe
ourselves broken-hearted, it still delights us to find that we are
loved. The memory of Violet Fane was still as fresh, as sweet, to the
mind of Vivian Grey as when he pressed her blushing cheek for the first
and only time. To love again, really to love as he had done, he once
thought was impossible; he thought so still. The character of the
Baroness had interested him from the first. Her ignorance of mankind,
and her perfect acquaintance with the polished forms of society; her
extreme beauty, her mysterious rank, her proud spirit and impetuous
feelings; her occasional pensiveness, her extreme waywardness, had
astonished, perplexed, and enchanted him. But he had never felt in love.
It never for a moment had entered into his mind that his lonely bosom
could again be a fit resting-place for one so lovely and so young.
Scared at the misery which had always followed in his track, he would
have shuddered ere he again asked a human being to share his sad and
blighted fortunes. The partiality of the Baroness for his society,
without flattering his vanity, or giving rise to thoughts more serious
than how he could most completely enchant for her the passing hour, had
certainly made the time passed in her presence the least gloomy which he
had lately experienced. At the same moment that he left the saloon of
the palace he had supposed that his image quitted her remembrance; and
if she had again welcomed him with cheerfulness and cordiality, he had
felt that his reception was owing to not being, perhaps, quite as
frivolous as the Count of Eberstein, and rather more amusing than the
Baron of Gernsbach.
It was therefore with the greatest astonishment that, last night, he had
found that he was loved, loved, too, by this beautiful and haughty girl,
who had treated the advances of the most distinguished nobles with
ill-concealed scorn, and who had so presumed upon her dubious
relationship to the bourgeois Minister that nothing but her own
surpassing loveliness and her parent's all-engrossing influence could
have excused or authorised her conduct.
Vivian had yielded to the magic of the moment, and had returned the
feelings apparently no sooner expressed than withdrawn. Had he left the
gardens of the palace the Baroness's plighted lover he might perhaps
have deplored his rash engagement, and the sacred image of his first and
hallowed love might have risen up in judgment against his violated
affection; but how had he and the interesting stranger parted? He was
rejected, even while his affection was returned; and while her
flattering voice told him that he alone could make her happy, she had
mournfully declared that happiness could not be hers. How was this?
Could she be another's? Her agitation at the Opera, often the object of
his thought, quickly occurred to him! It must be so. Ah! another's! and
who this rival? this proud possessor of a heart which could not beat for
him? Madame Carolina's declaration that the Baroness must be married off
was at this moment remembered: her marked observation, that von
Sohnspeer was no son of Beckendorff's, not forgotten. The Field Marshal,
too, was the valued friend of the Minister; and it did not fail to occur
to Vivian that it was not von Sohnspeer's fault that his attendance on
the Baroness was not as constant as his own. Indeed, the unusual
gallantry of the Commander-in-Chief had been the subject of many a joke
among the young lords of the Court, and the reception of his addresses
by their unmerciful object not unobserved or unspared. But as for poor
von Sohnspeer, what could be expected, as Emilius von Aslingen observed,
"from a man whose softest compliment was as long, loud, and obscure as a
No sooner was the affair clear to Vivian, no sooner was he convinced
that a powerful obstacle existed to the love or union of himself and the
Baroness, than he began to ask what right the interests of third persons
had to interfere between the mutual affection of any individuals. He
thought of her in the moonlight garden, struggling with her pure and
natural passion. He thought of her exceeding beauty, her exceeding love.
He beheld this rare and lovely creature in the embrace of von Sohnspeer.
He turned from the picture in disgust and indignation. She was his.
Nature had decreed it. She should be the bride of no other man. Sooner
than yield her up he would beard Beckendorff himself in his own retreat,
and run every hazard and meet every danger which the ardent imagination
of a lover could conceive. Was he madly to reject the happiness which
Providence, or Destiny, or Chance had at length offered him? If the
romance of boyhood could never be realised, at least with this engaging
being for his companion, he might pass through his remaining years in
calmness and in peace. His trials were perhaps over. Alas! this is the
last delusion of unhappy men!
Vivian called at the Palace, but the fatigues of the preceding night
prevented either of the ladies from being visible. In the evening he
joined a small and select circle. The party, indeed, only consisted of
the Grand Duke, Madame, their visitors, and the usual attendants,
himself, and von Sohnspeer. The quiet of the little circle did not more
strikingly contrast with the noise, and glare, and splendour of the last
night than did Vivian's subdued reception by the Baroness with her
agitated demeanour in the garden. She was cordial, but calm. He found it
quite impossible to gain even one moment's private conversation with
her. Madame Carolina monopolised his attention, as much to favour the
views of the Field Marshal as to discuss the comparative merits of Pope
as a moralist and a poet; and Vivian had the mortification of observing
his odious rival, whom he now thoroughly detested, discharge without
ceasing his royal salutes in the impatient ear of Beckendorff's
Towards the conclusion of the evening a chamberlain entered the room and
whispered his mission to the Baroness. She immediately rose and quitted
the apartment. As the party was breaking up she again entered. Her
countenance was agitated. Madame Carolina was in the art of being
overwhelmed with the compliments of the Grand Marshal, and Vivian seized
the opportunity of reaching the Baroness. After a few hurried sentences
she dropped her glove. Vivian gave it her. So many persons were round
them that it was impossible to converse except on the most common
topics. The glove was again dropped.
"I see," said the Baroness, with a meaning look, "that you are but a
recreant knight, or else you would not part with a lady's glove
Vivian gave a rapid glance round the room. No one was observing him, and
the glove was immediately concealed. He hurried home, rushed up the
staircase of the hotel, ordered lights, locked the door, and with a
sensation of indescribable anxiety tore the precious glove from his
bosom, seized, opened, and read the enclosed and following note. It was
written in pencil, in a hurried hand, and some of the words were
"I leave the Court to-night. He is here himself. No art can postpone my
departure. Much, much, I wish to see you; to say, to say, to you. He is
to have an interview with the Grand Duke to-morrow morning. Dare you
come to his place in his absence? You know the private road. He goes by
the high road, and calls in his way on a Forest Councillor: it is the
white house by the barrier; you know it! Watch him to-morrow morning;
about nine or ten I should think; here, here; and then for heaven's sake
let me see you. Dare everything! Fail not! Mind, by the private road:
beware the other! You know the ground. God bless you:
Vivian read the note over a thousand times. He could not retire to rest.
He called Essper George, and gave him all necessary directions for the
morning. About three o'clock Vivian lay down on a sofa, and slept for a
few hours. He started often in his short and feverish slumber. His
dreams were unceasing and inexplicable. At first von Sohnspeer was their
natural hero; but soon the scene shifted. Vivian was at Ems, walking
under the well-remembered lime-trees, and with the Baroness. Suddenly,
although it was mid-day, the Sun became large, blood-red, and fell out
of the heavens; his companion screamed, a man rushed forward with a
drawn sword. It was the idiot Crown Prince of Reisenburg. Vivian tried
to oppose him, but without success. The infuriated ruffian sheathed his
weapon in the heart of the Baroness. Vivian shrieked, and fell upon her
body, and, to his horror, found himself embracing the cold corpse of
Vivian and Essper mounted their horses about seven o'clock. At eight
they had reached a small inn near the Forest Councillor's house, where
Vivian was to remain until Essper had watched the entrance of the
Minister. It was a few minutes past nine when Essper returned with the
joyful intelligence that Owlface and his master had been seen to enter
the Courtyard. Vivian immediately mounted Max, and telling Essper to
keep a sharp watch, he set spurs to his horse.
"Now, Max, my good steed, each minute is golden; serve thy master well!"
He patted the horse's neck, the animal's erected ears proved how well it
understood its master's wishes; and taking advantage of the loose
bridle, which was confidently allowed it, the horse sprang rather than
galloped to the Minister's residence. Nearly an hour, however, was lost
in gaining the private road, for Vivian, after the caution in the
Baroness's letter, did not dare the high road.
He is galloping up the winding rural lane, where he met Beckendorff on
the second morning of his visit. He has reached the little gate, and
following the example of the Grand Duke, ties Max at the entrance. He
dashes over the meadows; not following the path, but crossing straight
through the long dewy grass, he leaps over the light iron railing; he is
rushing up the walk; he takes a rapid glance, in passing, at the little
summer-house; the blue passion-flower is still blooming, the house is in
sight; a white handkerchief is waving from the drawing-room window! He
sees it; fresh wings are added to its course; he dashes through a bed of
flowers, frightens the white peacock, darts through the library window,
and is in the drawing room.
The Baroness was there: pale and agitated she stood beneath the
mysterious picture, with one arm leaning on the old carved mantelpiece.
Overcome by her emotions, she did not move forward to meet him as he
entered; but Vivian observed neither her constraint nor her agitation.
"Sybilla! dearest Sybilla! say you are mine!"
He seized her hand. She struggled not to disengage herself; her head
sank upon her arm, which rested upon his shoulder. Overpowered, she
sobbed convulsively. He endeavoured to calm her, but her agitation
increased; and minutes elapsed ere she seemed to be even sensible of his
presence. At length she became more calm, and apparently making a
struggle to compose herself, she raised her head and said, "This is very
weak let us walk for a moment about the room!"
At this moment Vivian was seized by the throat with a strong grasp. He
turned round; it was Mr. Beckendorff, with a face deadly white, his full
eyes darting from their sockets like a hungry snake's, and the famous
Italian dagger in his right hand.
"Villain!" said he, in the low voice of fatal passion; "Villain, is this
Vivian's first thoughts were for the Baroness; and turning his head from
Beckendorff, he looked with the eye of anxious love to his companion.
But, instead of fainting, instead of being overwhelmed by this terrible
interruption, she seemed, on the contrary, to have suddenly regained her
natural spirit and self-possession. The blood had returned to her
hitherto pale cheek, and the fire to an eye before dull with weeping.
She extricated herself immediately from Vivian's encircling arm, and by
so doing enabled him to have struggled, had it been necessary, more
equally with the powerful grasp of his assailant.
"Stand off, sir!" said the Baroness, with an air of inexpressible
dignity, and a voice which even at this crisis seemed to anticipate
that it would be obeyed. "Stand off, sir! stand off, I command you!"
Beckendorff for one moment was motionless: he then gave her a look of
piercing earnestness, threw Vivian, rather than released him, from his
hold, and flung the dagger with a bitter smile, into the corner of the
room. "Well, madam!" said he, in a choking voice, "you are obeyed!"
"Mr. Grey," continued the Baroness, "I regret that this outrage should
have been experienced by you because you have dared to serve me. My
presence should have preserved you from this contumely; but what are we
to expect from those who pride themselves upon being the sons of slaves!
You shall hear further from me." So saying, the lady, bowing to Vivian,
and sweeping by the Minister with a glance of indescribable disdain,
quitted the apartment. As she was on the point of leaving the room,
Vivian was standing against the wall, with a pale face and folded arms;
Beckendorff, with his back to the window, his eyes fixed on the ground;
and Vivian, to his astonishment, perceived, what escaped the Minister's
notice, that while the lady bade him adieu with one hand she made rapid
signs with the other to some unknown person in the garden.
Mr. Beckendorff and Vivian were left alone, and the latter was the first
to break silence.
"Mr. Beckendorff," said he, in a calm voice, "considering the
circumstances under which you have found me in your house this morning,
I should have known how to excuse and to forget any irritable
expressions which a moment of ungovernable passion might have inspired.
I should have passed them over unnoticed. But your unjustifiable
behaviour has exceeded that line of demarcation which sympathy with
human feelings allows even men of honour to recognise. You have
disgraced both me and yourself by giving me a blow. It is, as that lady
well styled it, an outrage; an outrage which the blood of any other man
but yourself could only obliterate from my memory; but while I am
inclined to be indulgent to your exalted station and your peculiar
character, I at the same time expect, and now wait for, an apology!"
"An apology!" said Beckendorff, now beginning to stamp up and down the
room; "an apology! Shall it be made to you, sir, or the Archduchess?"
"The Archduchess;" said Vivian. "Good God! what can you mean! Did I
hear you right?"
"I said the Archduchess," answered Beckendorff, with firmness; "a
Princess of the House of Austria, and the pledged wife of his Royal
Highness the Crown Prince of Reisenburg. Perhaps you may now think that
other persons have to apologise?"
"Mr. Beckendorff," said Vivian, "I am overwhelmed; I declare, upon my
"Stop, sir! you have said too much already--"
"But, Mr. Beckendorff, surely you will allow me to explain--"
"Sir! there is no need of explanation. I know everything; more than you
do yourself. You can have nothing to explain to me! and I presume you
are now fully aware of the impossibility of again speaking to her. It is
at present within an hour of noon. Before sunset you must be twenty
miles from the Court; so far you will be attended. Do not answer me; you
know my power. A remonstrance only, and I write to Vienna: your progress
shall be stopped throughout the South of Europe. For her sake this
business will be hushed up. An important and secret mission will be the
accredited reason of your leaving Reisenburg. This will be confirmed by
your official attendant, who will be an Envoy's Courier. Farewell!"
As Mr. Beckendorff quitted the room, his confidential servant, the
messenger of Turriparva, entered, and with the most respectful bow
informed Vivian that the horses were ready. In about three hours' time
Vivian Grey, followed by the Government messenger, stopped at his hotel.
The landlord and waiters bowed with increased obsequiousness on seeing
him so attended, and in a few minutes Reisenburg was ringing with the
news that his appointment to the Under-Secretaryship of State was now "a
The landlord of the Grand Hotel of the Four Nations at Reisenburg was
somewhat consoled for the sudden departure of his distinguished guest by
selling the plenipotentiary a travelling carriage lately taken for a
doubtful bill from a gambling Russian General at a large profit. In this
convenient vehicle, in the course of a couple of hours after his arrival
in the city, was Mr. Vivian Grey borne through the gate of the Allies.
Essper George, who had reached the hotel about half an hour after his
master, followed behind the carriage on his hack, leading Max. The
Courier cleared the road before, and expedited the arrival of the
special Envoy of the Grand Duke of Reisenburg at the point of his
destination by ordering the horses, clearing the barriers, and paying
the postilions in advance. Vivian had never travelled before with such
style and speed.
Our hero covered himself up with his cloak and drew his travelling cap
over his eyes, though it was one of the hottest days of this singularly
hot autumn. Entranced in a reverie, the only figure that occurred to his
mind was the young Archduchess, and the only sounds that dwelt on his
ear were the words of Beckendorff: but neither to the person of the
first nor to the voice of the second did he annex any definite idea.
After some hours' travelling, which to Vivian seemed both an age and a
minute, he was roused from his stupor by the door of his calèche being
opened. He shook himself as a man does who has awakened from a benumbing
and heavy sleep, although his eyes were the whole time wide open. The
disturbing intruder was his courier, who, bowing, with his hat in hand,
informed his Excellency that he was now on the frontier of Reisenburg;
regretting that he was under the necessity of quitting his Excellency,
he begged to present him with his passport. "It is made out for Vienna,"
continued the messenger. "A private pass, sir, of the Prime Minister,
and will entitle you to the greatest consideration."
The carriage was soon again advancing rapidly to the next post-house,
when, after they had proceeded about half a mile, Essper George calling
loudly from behind, the drivers suddenly stopped. Just as Vivian, to
whose tortured mind the rapid movement of the carriage was some relief,
for it produced an excitement which prevented thought, was about to
inquire the cause of this stoppage. Essper George rode up to
"Kind sir!" said he, with a peculiar look, "I have a packet for you."
"A packet! from whom? speak! give it me!"
"Hush! softly, good master. Here am I about to commit rank treason for
your sake, and a hasty word is the only reward of my rashness."
"Nay, nay, good Essper, try me not now!"
"I will not, kind sir! but the truth is, I could not give you the packet
while that double-faced knave was with us, or even while he was in
sight. 'In good truth,' as Master Rodolph was wont to say--!"
"But of this packet?"
"'Fairly and softly,' good sir! as Hunsdrich the porter said when I
would have drunk the mulled wine, while he was on the cold staircase--"
"Essper! do you mean to enrage me?"
"'By St. Hubert!' as that worthy gentleman the Grand Marshal was in the
habit of swearing, I--"
"This is too much; what are the idle sayings of these people to me?"
"Nay, nay, kind sir! they do but show that each of us has his own way of
telling a story, and that he who would hear a tale must let the teller's
breath come out of his own nostrils."
"Well, Essper, speak on! Stranger things have happened to me than to be
reproved by my own servant."
"Nay, kind master! say not a bitter word to me because you have slipped
out of a scrape with your head on your shoulders. The packet is from Mr.
"Ah! why did you not give it me before?"
"Why do I give it you now? Because I am a fool; that is why. What! you
wanted it when that double-faced scoundrel was watching every eyelash of
yours as it moved from the breath of a fly? a fellow who can see as well
at the back of his head as from his face. I should like to poke out his
front eyes, to put him on an equality with the rest of mankind. He it
was who let the old gentleman know of your visit this morning, and I
suspect that he has been nearer your limbs of late than you have
imagined. Every dog has his day, and the oldest pig must look for the
knife! The Devil was once cheated on Sunday, and I have been too sharp
for Puss in boots and his mouse-trap! Prowling about the Forest
Councillor's house, I saw your new servant, sir, gallop in, and his old
master soon gallop out. I was off as quick as they, but was obliged to
leave my horse within two miles of the house, and then trust to my legs.
I crept through the shrubs like a land tortoise; but, of course, too
late to warn you. However, I was in for the death, and making signs to
the young lady, who directly saw that I was a friend; bless her! she is
as quick as a partridge; I left you to settle it with papa, and, after
all, did that which I suppose you intended, sir, to do yourself; made my
way into the young lady's bedchamber."
"Hold your tongue, sir! and give me the packet."
"There it is, and now we will go on; but we must stay an hour at the
next post, if your honour pleases not to sleep there; for both Max and
my own hack have had a sharp day's work."
Vivian tore open the packet. It contained a long letter, written on the
night of her return to Beckendorff's; she had stayed up the whole night
writing. It was to have been forwarded to Vivian, in case of their not
being able to meet. In the enclosure were a few hurried lines, written
since the catastrophe. They were these: "May this safely reach you! Can
you ever forgive me? The enclosed, you will see, was intended for you,
in case of our not meeting. It anticipated sorrow; yet what were its
anticipations to our reality!"
The Archduchess' letter was evidently written under the influence of
agitated feelings. We omit it; because, as the mystery of her character
is now explained, a great portion of her communication would be
irrelevant to our tale. She spoke of her exalted station as a woman,
that station which so many women envy, in a spirit of agonising
bitterness. A royal princess is only the most flattered of state
victims. She is a political sacrifice, by which enraged Governments are
appeased, wavering allies conciliated and ancient amities confirmed.
Debarred by her rank and her education from looking forward to that
exchange of equal affection which is the great end and charm of female
existence, no individual finds more fatally and feels more keenly that
pomp is not felicity, and splendour not content.
Deprived of all those sources of happiness which seem inherent in woman,
the wife of the Sovereign sometimes seeks in politics and in pleasure a
means of excitement which may purchase oblivion. But the political queen
is a rare character; she must possess an intellect of unusual power, and
her lot must be considered as an exception in the fortunes of female
royalty. Even the political queen generally closes an agitated career
with a broken heart. And for the unhappy votary of pleasure, who owns
her cold duty to a royal husband, we must not forget that even in the
most dissipated courts the conduct of the queen is expected to be
decorous, and that the instances are not rare where the wife of the
monarch has died on the scaffold, or in a dungeon, or in exile, because
she dared to be indiscreet where all were debauched. But for the great
majority of royal wives, they exist without a passion; they have nothing
to hope, nothing to fear, nothing to envy, nothing to want, nothing to
confide, nothing to hate, and nothing to love. Even their duties, though
multitudinous, are mechanical, and, while they require much attention,
occasion no anxiety. Amusement is their moment of great emotion, and for
them amusement is rare; for amusement is the result of equal
companionship. Thus situated, they are doomed to become frivolous in
their pursuits and formal in their manners, and the Court chaplain or
the Court confessor is the only person who can prove they have a soul,
by convincing them that it will be saved.
The young Archduchess had assented to the proposition of marriage with
the Crown Prince of Reisenburg without opposition, as she was convinced
that requesting her assent was only a courteous form of requiring her
compliance. There was nothing outrageous to her feelings in marrying a
man whom she had never seen, because her education, from her tenderest
years, had daily prepared her for such an event. Moreover, she was aware
that, if she succeeded in escaping from the offers of the Crown Prince
of Reisenburg, she would soon be under the necessity of assenting to
those of some other suitor; and if proximity to her own country,
accordance with its sentiments and manners, and previous connection with
her own house, were taken into consideration, an union with the family
of Reisenburg was even desirable. It was to be preferred, at least, to
one which brought with it a foreign husband and a foreign clime, a
strange language and strange customs. The Archduchess, a girl of ardent
feelings and lively mind, had not, however, agreed to become that
all-commanding slave, a Queen, without a stipulation. She required that
she might be allowed, previous to her marriage, to visit her future
Court incognita. This singular and unparalleled proposition was not
easily acceded to: but the opposition with which it was received only
tended to make the young Princess more determined to be gratified in her
caprice. Her Imperial Highness did not pretend that any end was to be
obtained by this unusual procedure, and indeed she had no definite
purpose in requesting it to be permitted. It was originally the mere
whim of the moment, and had it not been strongly opposed it would not
have been strenuously insisted upon. As it was, the young Archduchess
persisted, threatened, and grew obstinate; and the grey-headed
negotiators of the marriage, desirous of its speedy completion, and not
having a more tractable tool ready to supply her place, at length
yielded to her bold importunity. Great difficulty, however, was
experienced in carrying her wishes into execution. By what means and in
what character she was to appear at Court, so as not to excite suspicion
or occasion discovery, were often discussed, without being resolved
upon. At length it became necessary to consult Mr. Beckendorff. The
upper lip of the Prime Minister of Reisenburg curled as the Imperial
Minister detailed the caprice and contumacy of the Princess, and
treating with the greatest contempt this girlish whim, Mr. Beckendorff
ridiculed those by whom it had been humoured with no suppressed
derision. The consequence of his conduct was an interview with the
future Grand Duchess, and the consequence of his interview an unexpected
undertaking on his part to arrange the visit according to her
The Archduchess had not yet seen the Crown Prince; but six miniatures
and a whole length portrait had prepared her for not meeting an Adonis
or a Baron Trenck, and that was all; for never had the Correggio of the
age of Charles the Fifth better substantiated his claims to the office
of Court painter than by these accurate semblances of his Royal
Highness, in which his hump was subdued into a Grecian bend, and his
lack-lustre eyes seemed beaming with tenderness and admiration. His
betrothed bride stipulated with Mr. Beckendorff that the fact of her
visit should be known only to himself and the Grand Duke; and before
she appeared at Court she had received the personal pledge both of
himself and his Royal Highness that the affair should be kept a complete
secret from the Crown Prince.
Most probably, on her first introduction to her future husband, all the
romantic plans of the young Archduchess to excite an involuntary
interest in his heart vanished; but how this may be, it is needless for
us to inquire, for that same night introduced another character into her
romance for whom she was perfectly unprepared, and whose appearance
totally disorganised its plot.
Her inconsiderate, her unjustifiable conduct, in tampering with that
individual's happiness and affection, was what the young and haughty
Archduchess deplored in the most energetic, the most feeling, and the
most humble spirit; and anticipating that after this painful disclosure
they would never meet again, she declared that for his sake alone she
regretted what had passed, and praying that he might be happier than
herself, she supplicated to be forgiven and forgotten.
Vivian read the Archduchess's letter over and over again, and then put
it in his breast. At first he thought that he had lived to shed another
tear; but he was mistaken. In a few minutes he found himself quite
roused from his late overwhelming stupor. Remorse or regret for the
past, care or caution for the future, seemed at the same moment to have
fled from his mind. He looked up to Heaven with a wild smile, half of
despair and half of defiance, it seemed to imply that Fate had now done
her worst, and that he had at last the satisfaction of knowing himself
to he the most unfortunate and unhappy being that ever existed. When a
man at the same time believes in and sneers at his Destiny we may be
sure that he considers his condition past redemption.
They stopped for an hour at the next post, according to Essper's
suggestion. Indeed, he proposed resting there for the night, for both
men and beasts much required repose; but Vivian panted to reach Vienna,
to which city two days' travelling would now carry him. His passions
were so roused, and his powers of reflection so annihilated, that while
he had determined to act desperately, he was unable to resolve upon
anything desperate. Whether, on his arrival at the Austrian capital, he
should plunge into dissipation or into the Danube was equally uncertain.
He had some thought of joining the Greeks or Turks, no matter which,
probably the latter, or perhaps of serving in the Americas. The idea of
returning to England never once entered his mind: he expected to find
letters from his father at Vienna, and he almost regretted it; for, in
his excessive misery, it was painful to be conscious that a being still
breathed who was his friend.
It was a fine moonlight night, but the road was mountainous; and in
spite of all the encouragement of Vivian, and all the consequent
exertions of the postilion, they were upwards of two hours and a half
going these eight miles. To get on any farther to-night was quite
impossible. Essper's horse was fairly knocked up, and even Max visibly
distressed. The post-house was fortunately an inn. It was not at a
village, and, as far as the travellers could learn, not near one, and
its appearance did not promise very pleasing accommodation. Essper, who
had scarcely tasted food for nearly eighteen hours, was not highly
delighted with the prospect before them. His anxiety, however, was not
merely selfish: he was as desirous that his young master should be
refreshed by a good night's rest as himself, and anticipating that he
should have to exercise his skill in making a couch for Vivian in the
carriage, he proceeded to cross-examine the postmaster on the
possibility of his accommodating them. The host was a pious-looking
personage, in a black velvet cap, with a singularly meek and charitable
expression of countenance. His long black hair was exquisitely braided,
and he wore round his neck a collar of pewter medals, all of which had
been recently sprinkled with holy water and blessed under the petticoat
of the saintly Virgin; for the postmaster had only just returned from a
pilgrimage to the celebrated shrine of the Black Lady of Altoting.
"Good friend!" said Essper, looking him cunningly in the face, "I fear
that we must order horses on: you can hardly accommodate two?"
"Good friend!" answered the innkeeper, and he crossed himself very
reverently at the same time, "it is not for man to fear, but to hope."
"If your beds were as good as your adages," said Essper George,
laughing, "in good truth, as a friend of mine would say, I would sleep
"Prithee, friend," continued the innkeeper, kissing a medal of his
collar very devoutly, "what accommodation dost thou lack?"
"Why" said Essper, "in the way of accommodation, little, for two
excellent beds will content us; but in the way of refreshment, by St.
Hubert! as another friend of mine would swear, he would be a bold man
who would engage to be as hungry before his dinner as I shall be after
"Friend!" said the innkeeper, "Our Lady forbid that thou shouldst leave
our walls to-night: for the accommodation, we have more than sufficient;
and as for the refreshment, by Holy Mass! we had a priest tarry here
last night, and he left his rosary behind. I will comfort my soul, by
telling my beads over the kitchen-fire, and for every Paternoster my
wife shall give thee a rasher of kid, and for every Ave a tumbler of
Augsburg, which Our Lady forget me if I did not myself purchase but
yesterday se'nnight from the pious fathers of the Convent of
"I take thee at thy word, honest sir," said Essper. "By the Creed! I
liked thy appearance from the first; nor wilt thou find me unwilling,
when my voice has taken its supper, to join thee in some pious hymn or
holy canticle. And now for the beds!"
"There is the green room, the best bedroom in my house," said the
Innkeeper. "Holy Mary forget me if in that same bed have not stretched
their legs more valorous generals, more holy prelates, and more
distinguished councillors of our Lord the Emperor, than in any bed in
"That, then, for my master, and for myself--"
"H-u-m!" said the host, looking very earnestly in Essper's face; "I
should have thought that thou wert one more anxious after dish and
flagon than curtain and eider-down!"
"By my Mother! I love good cheer," said Essper, earnestly, "and want it
more at this moment than any knave that ever yet starved: but if thou
hast not a bed to let me stretch my legs on after four-and-twenty hours'
hard riding, by holy Virgin! I will have horses on to Vienna."
"Our Black Lady forbid!" said the innkeeper, with a quick voice, and
with rather a dismayed look; "said I that thou shouldst not have a bed?
St. Florian desert me if I and my wife would not sooner sleep in the
chimney-corner than thou shouldst miss one wink of thy slumbers!"
"In one word, have you a bed?"
"Have I a bed? Where slept, I should like to know, the Vice-Principal
of the Convent of Molk on the day before the last holy Ascension? The
waters were out in the morning; and when will my wife forget what his
reverence was pleased to say when he took his leave; 'Good woman!' said
he, 'my duty calls me; but the weather is cold; and between ourselves, I
am used to great feasts, and I should have no objection, if I were
privileged, to stay and to eat again of thy red cabbage and cream!' What
say you to that? Do you think we have got beds now? You shall sleep
to-night, sir, like an Aulic Councillor!"
This adroit introduction of the red cabbage and cream settled
everything; when men are wearied and famished they have no inclination
to be incredulous, and in a few moments Vivian was informed by his
servant that the promised accommodation was satisfactory; and having
locked up the carriage, and wheeled it into a small outhouse, he and
Essper were ushered by their host into a room which, as is usual in
small German inns in the South, served at the same time both for kitchen
and saloon. The fire was lit in a platform of brick, raised in the
centre of the floor: the sky was visible through the chimney, which,
although of a great breadth below, gradually narrowed to the top. A
family of wandering Bohemians, consisting of the father and mother and
three children, were seated on the platform when Vivian entered; the man
was playing on a coarse wooden harp, without which the Bohemians seldom
travel. The music ceased as the new guests came into the room, and the
Bohemian courteously offered his place at the fire to our hero, who,
however, declined disturbing the family group. A small table and a
couple of chairs were placed in a corner of the room by the innkeeper's
wife, a bustling active dame, who apparently found no difficulty in
laying the cloth, dusting the furniture, and cooking the supper at the
same time. At this table Vivian and his servant seated themselves; nor,
indeed, did the cookery discredit the panegyric of the Reverend
Vice-Principal of the Convent of Molk.
Alike wearied in mind and body, Vivian soon asked for his bed, which,
though not exactly fitted for an Aulic Councillor, as the good host
perpetually avowed it to be, nevertheless afforded decent accommodation.
The Bohemian family retired to the hayloft, and Essper George would have
followed his master's example, had not the kind mistress of the house
tempted him to stay behind by the production of a new platter of
rashers: indeed, he never remembered meeting with such hospitable people
as the postmaster and his wife. They had evidently taken a fancy to him,
and, though extremely wearied, the lively little Essper endeavoured,
between his quick mouthfuls and long draughts, to reward and encourage
their kindness by many a good story and sharp joke. With all these both
mine host and his wife were exceedingly amused, seldom containing their
laughter, and frequently protesting, by the sanctity of various saints,
that this was the pleasantest night and Essper the pleasantest fellow
that they had ever met with.
"Eat, eat, my friend!" said his host; "by the Mass! thou hast travelled
far; and fill thy glass, and pledge with me Our Black Lady of Altoting.
By Holy Cross! I have hung up this week in her chapel a garland of silk
roses, and have ordered to be burnt before her shrine three pounds of
perfumed was tapers! Fill again, fill again! and thou too, good
mistress; a bard day's work hast thou had; a glass of wine will do thee
no harm! join me with our new friend! Pledge we together the Holy
Fathers of St. Florian, my worldly patrons and my spiritual pastors: let
us pray that his reverence the Sub-Prior may not have his Christmas
attack of gout in the stomach, and a better health to poor Father Felix!
Fill again, fill again! this Augsburg is somewhat acid; we will have a
bottle of Hungary. Mistress, fetch us the bell-glasses, and here to the
Reverend Vice-Principal of Molk! our good friend: when will my wife
forget what he said to her on the morning of last holy Ascension! Fill
again, fill again!"
Inspired by the convivial spirit of the pious and jolly postmaster,
Essper George soon forgot his threatened visit to his bedroom, and ate
and drank, laughed and joked, as if he were again with his friend,
Master Rodolph but wearied Nature at length avenged herself for this
unnatural exertion, and leaning back in his chair, he was, in the course
of an hour, overcome by one of those dead and heavy slumbers the effect
of the united influence of fatigue and intemperance; in short, it was
like the midnight sleep of a fox-hunter.
No sooner had our pious votary of the Black Lady of Altoting observed
the effect of his Hungary wine than, making a well-understood sign to
his wife, be took up the chair of Essper in his brawny arms, and,
preceded by Mrs. Postmistress with a lantern, he left the room with his
guest. Essper's hostess led and lighted the way to an outhouse, which
occasionally served as a coach-house, a stable, and a lumber-room. It
had no window, and the lantern afforded the only light which exhibited
its present contents. In one corner was a donkey tied up, belonging to
the Bohemian. Under a hayrack was a large child's cradle: it was of a
remarkable size, having been made for twins. Near it was a low wooden
sheep-tank, half filled with water, and which had been placed there for
the refreshment of the dog and his feathered friends, who were roosting
in the rack.
The pious innkeeper very gently lowered to the ground the chair on which
Essper was soundly sleeping; and then, having crossed himself, he took
up our friend with great tenderness and solicitude, and dexterously
fitted him in the huge cradle.
About an hour past midnight Essper George awoke. He was lying on his
back, and very unwell; and on trying to move, found that he was rocking.
His late adventure was obliterated from his memory; and the strange
movement, united with his peculiar indisposition, left him no doubt that
he was on board ship! As is often the case when we are tipsy or nervous,
Essper had been woke by the fright of falling from some immense height;
and finding that his legs had no sensation, for they were quite
benumbed, he concluded that he had fallen down the hatchway, that his
legs were broken, and himself jammed in between some logs of wood in the
hold, and so he began to cry lustily to those above to come down to
"O, Essper George!" thought he, "how came you to set foot on salt timber
again! Had not you had enough of it in the Mediterranean and the Turkish
seas, that you must be getting aboard this lubberly Dutch galliot! for I
am sure she's Dutch by being so low in the water. Well, they may talk of
a sea-life, but for my part, I never saw the use of the Sea. Many a sad
heart it has caused, and many a sick stomach has it occasioned! The
boldest sailor climbs on board with a heavy soul, and leaps on land with
a light spirit. O! thou indifferent ape of Earth! thy houses are of wood
and thy horses of canvas; thy roads have no landmarks and thy highways
no inns; thy hills are green without grass and wet without showers! and
as for food, what art thou, O, bully Ocean! but the stable of
horse-fishes, the stall of cow-fishes, the sty of hog-fishes, and the
kennel of dog-fishes! Commend me to a fresh-water dish for meagre days!
Sea-weeds stewed with chalk may be savoury stuff for a merman; but, for
my part, give me red cabbage and cream: and as for drink, a man may live
in the midst of thee his whole life and die for thirst at the end of it!
Besides, thou blasphemous salt lake, where is thy religion? Where are
thy churches, thou heretic?" So saying Essper made a desperate effort to
crawl up the hold. His exertion set the cradle rocking with renewed
violence; and at lust dashing against the sheep-tank, that pastoral
piece of furniture was overset, and part of its contents poured upon the
inmate of the cradle.
"Sprung a leak in the hold, by St. Nicholas!" bawled out Essper George.
At this moment three or four fowls, roused by the fall of the tank and
the consequent shouts of Essper, began fluttering about the rack, and at
last perched upon the cradle. "The live stock got loose'" shouted
Essper. "and the breeze getting stiffer every instant! Where is the
captain? I will see him. I am not one of the crew: I belong to the
Court! I must have cracked my skull when I fell like a lubber down that
confounded hatchway! Egad! I feel as if I had been asleep, and been
dreaming I was at Court."
The sound of heavy footsteps was now over his head. These noises were at
once an additional proof that he was in the hold, and an additional
stimulus to his calls to those on deck. In fact, these sounds were
occasioned by the Bohemians, who always rose before break of day; and
consequently, in a few minutes, the door of the stable opened, and the
Bohemian, with a lantern in his hand, entered.
"What do you want?" cried Essper.
"I want my donkey"
"You do?" said Essper. "You're the Purser, I suppose, detected keeping a
jackass among the poultry! eating all the food of our live stock, and we
having kid every day. Though both my legs are off, I'll have a fling at
you!" and so saying, Essper, aided by the light of the lantern,
scrambled out of the cradle, and taking up the sheep-tank, sent it
straight at the astonished Bohemian's head. The aim was good, and the
man fell; more, however, from fright than injury. Seizing his lantern,
which had fallen out of his hand, Essper escaped through the stable door
and rushed into the house. He found himself in the kitchen. The noise of
his entrance roused the landlord and his wife, who had been sleeping by
the fire; since, not having a single bed beside their own, they had
given that up to Vivian. The countenance of the innkeeper effectually
dispelled the clouds which had been fast clearing off from Essper's
intellect. Giving one wide stare, and then rubbing his eyes, the truth
lighted upon him, and so he sent the Bohemian's lantern at his
landlord's head. The postmaster seized the poker and the postmistress a
faggot, and as the Bohemian, who had now recovered himself, had entered
in the rear, Essper George stood a fair chance of receiving a thorough
drubbing, had not his master, roused by the suspicious noises and angry
sounds which had reached his room, entered the kitchen with his pistols.
As it was now morning, Vivian did not again retire to rest, but took
advantage of the disturbance in the inn to continue his route at an
earlier hour than he had previously intended.
Essper, when he found himself safely mounted, lagged behind a few
minutes to vent his spleen against the innkeeper's wife.
"May St. Florian confound me, madam!" said Essper, addressing himself to
the lady in the window, "if ever I beheld so ugly a witch as yourself!
Pious friend! thy chaplet of roses was ill bestowed, and thou needest
not have travelled so far to light thy wax tapers at the shrine of the
Black Lady at Altoting; for by the beauty of holiness! an image of ebony
is mother of pearl to that soot-face whom thou callest thy wife. Fare
thee well! thou couple of saintly sinners! and may the next traveller
who tarries in the den of thieves qualify thee for canonisation by thy
wife's admiring pastor, the cabbage-eating Vice-Principal of Molk."
Before the end of an hour they had to ford a rivulet running between two
high banks. The scenery just here was particularly lovely, and Vivian's
attention was so engrossed by it that he did not observe the danger
which he was about to incur.
On the left of the road a high range of rocky mountains abruptly
descended into an open but broken country, and the other side of the
road was occasionally bounded by low undulating hills, partially covered
with dwarf woods, not high enough to obstruct the view of the distant
horizon. Rocky knolls jutted out near the base of the mountains; and on
the top of one of them, overlooked by a gigantic grey peak, stood an
ancient and still inhabited feudal castle. Round the base of this
insulated rock a rustic village peeped above the encircling nutwoods,
its rising smoke softening the hard features of the naked crag. On the
side of the village nearest to Vivian a bold sheet of water discharged
itself in three separate falls between the ravine of a wooded mountain,
and flowing round the village as a fine broad river, expanded before it
reached the foundation of the castled rock into a long and deep lake,
which was also fed by numerous streams, the gulleys only of which were
now visible down the steep sides of the mountains, their springs having
been long dried up.
Vivian's view was interrupted by his sudden descent into the bed of the
rivulet, one of the numerous branches of the mountain torrent, and by a
crash which as immediately ensued. The spring of his carriage was
broken. The carriage fell over, but Vivian sustained no injury; and
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