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Only once, for a brief moment, he lifted the veil concealing his
feelings, and permitted his marshals to see into the innermost
recesses of his soul. Marmont had dared to pray the emperor, in the
name of all the marshals, to yield no longer to his grief at what
had occurred, but bear in mind that it was incumbent on him to
preserve himself for the welfare of his subjects and the glory of
his future. Napoleon had answered with a faint smile: "You think I
am sitting here to brood over my misfortune? It is true, I am
burying my dead, and, as there are unfortunately a great many of
them, it takes me a long time to do it. But over the tomb of the
dead of Essling I am going to erect a monument which will be radiant
with the splendor of victory, and on its frontispiece shall be read
the word 'Vengeance!' The Emperor of Austria is lost. Had I defeated
him in this battle, I should, perhaps, have forgiven his arrogance
and perfidy; but as he defeated me, I must and shall annihilate him
and his army."

While Napoleon was thus burying his dead, and reflecting on his
"monument of vengeance," the utmost rejoicings reigned at the
headquarters of the Archduke Charles, the victor of Aspern; and all
Austria, all Germany joined in these rejoicings, and blessed the
glorious day of Bonaparte's first humiliation.

And this victory was soon followed by the news of a triumph hardly
less glorious than the battle of Aspern. The Tyrolese, those
despised peasants, had gained a brilliant victory over the French
veterans, and their Bavarian auxiliaries, on the 21st of May, on
Mount Isel, near the city of Innspruck. Andreas Hofer, commander-in-
chief of the united forces of the Tyrolese, jointly with
Speckbacher, Wallner, and the Capuchin Haspinger, had again defeated
the Bavarians and French, who had re-entered the Tyrol, and
delivered the province a second time from the enemy.

Count Nugent, quartermaster-general of the Archduke John, had
entered the latter's room with this joyful news, and told him with
sparkling eyes of the heroic deeds of the Tyrolese; of Hofer's pious
zeal; of the bold exploits of Wallner and Speckbacher, whose deeds
recalled the ancient heroes of Homer; of the intrepid Capuchin
friar, Haspinger, who, with a huge wooden cross in his hand, led on
the attack, and animated his followers not less by his example than
the assurances of Divine protection which he held forth. Count
Nugent had related all these heroic deeds with fervid eloquence to
the archduke, and yet, to his utter astonishment, the latter's face
had remained gloomy, and not a ray of joy had illuminated it.

"Your imperial highness, then, does not share my exultation?" he
asked, mournfully. "You receive the news quite coldly and
indifferently, and yet I am speaking of your beloved Tyrolese, of
your heroes, Andreas Hofer, Joseph Speckbacher, and Anthony Wallner?
They and their heroic men have delivered the Tyrol a second time
from the enemy, and your imperial highness does not rejoice at it?"

"No, my dear Count," said the archduke, sighing, "for they will lose
it again. All this blood will have been shed in vain, and my poor
Tyrol will be lost in spite of it."

"You believe so? - you who called upon the Tyrolese to take up arms,
who invited its heroes and champions to such daring efforts, who are
ready yourself to fight for the courageous mountaineers to the last

"Yes, I am always ready to do so," cried John, laughing bitterly,
"but what good will it do? They will wind cunning shackles enough
round my feet to make me fall to the ground; they will manacle my
hands again, and put my will into the strait-jacket of loyalty and
obedience. I cannot do what I want to; I am only a tool in the hands
of others, and this will cause both my ruin and that of the Tyrol. I
am willing to sacrifice my life for the Tyrol, and yet I shall be
unable to save it. For the rest, my friend, I knew already all these
particulars of the battle on Mount Isel. A courier from Hormayr had
just reached me and brought me full details. I was able to send back
by the courier a fine reward for the brave Tyrolese, a letter from
the emperor, my august brother, which I received this morning with
the order to forward it to them. I kept a copy of the imperial
letter, for there may be a day when it will be necessary for me to
remind the emperor of this letter. Here is the copy. Read it aloud,
that I may hear, too, how fine the imperial words sound."

The archduke handed a paper to Count Nugent, who read as follows:

"After our arms had suffered heavy reverses, and after the enemy had
captured even the capital of the empire, my army succeeded in
defeating the French army under Napoleon on the 21st and 22d of May,
on the Marshfield, and driving it in disorder across the Danube. The
army and people of Austria are animated with greater enthusiasm than
ever; every thing justifies the most sanguine hopes. Trusting in God
and my just cause, I declare to my loyal provinces of the Tyrol and
Vorarlberg, that they shall never again be separated from the
Austrian empire, and that I will sign no peace but one which will
indissolubly incorporate these provinces with my other states. Your
noble conduct has sunk deep into my heart; I will never abandon you.
My beloved brother, the Archduke John, will speedily be among you,
and put himself at your head. FRANCIS."

[Footnote: Hormayr, "Das Heer von Inner-Oesterreich unter den
Befehlen des Erzherzogs Johann," p. 189.]

"And your imperial highness doubts, even after this solemn promise
given to the Tyrolese by his majesty the emperor?"

"My friend," said the archduke, casting a long, searching look round
the room, "we are alone, no one watches, and, I trust, no one hears
us. Let me, therefore, for once, speak frankly with you; let me
unbosom to you, my friend, what I have hitherto said to God alone;
let me forget for a quarter of an hour that I am a subject of the
emperor, and that his majesty is my brother; permit me to examine
the situation with the eyes of an impartial observer, and to judge
of men as a man. Well, then, I must confess to you that I cannot
share the universal joy at the recent events, and - may God forgive
me! - I do not believe even in the promises which the emperor makes
to the Tyrolese. He himself may at the present hour be firmly
resolved to fulfil them; he may have made up his mind never to sign
any peace but one which will indissolubly incorporate the Tyrol with
his empire; but the events, and especially men, will assuredly
compel him to consent to another treaty of peace. You know full well
that there are two parties about the emperor, and that there is a
constant feud between these two parties. One wants war, the other
wants peace; and the peace-party is unfortunately headed by the
Archduke Charles, the generalissimo of our army. You know the
fawning and submissive letter which the generalissimo addressed to
Napoleon after the defeat of Ratisbon, and which Napoleon disdained
to answer. [Footnote: The Archduke Charles wrote to Napoleon on the
30th of April, 1809: "Your Majesty announced your arrival by a salvo
of artillery; I had no time to reply to it. But, though hardly
informed of your presence, I speedily discovered it by the losses
which I experienced. You have taken many prisoners from me, sire,
and I have taken some thousands from you in quarters where you were
not personally present. I propose to your majesty to exchange them,
man for man, rank for rank; and, if that proposal proves agreeable
to you, point out the place where it may be possible to carry it
into effect. I feel flattered, sire, in combating the greatest
captain of the age; but I should esteem myself much happier if
Heaven had chosen me to be the instrument of procuring for my
country a durable peace. Whatever may be the events of war, or the
chances of an accommodation, I pray your majesty to believe that my
desires will always outstrip your wishes, and that I am equally
honored by meeting your majesty either with the sword or the olive-
branch in your hand."] The war-party is headed by the empress and
Count Stadion. But the empress has unfortunately little influence
over her husband, and Count Stadion is no more influential than her
majesty. His generous enthusiasm and fiery impetuosity are repugnant
to the emperor, who will remove him so soon as he has discovered a
more submissive and obsequious successor who has as much work in him
as Stadion. But there is one point as to which these incessantly
quarrelling parties are agreed and join hands, and that is their
common hostility against the arch-dukes, the emperor's brothers; so
virulent is this hatred, that the peace-party deserts its leader in
order to operate with the war-party against him and his interests.
The Austrian nobility has always claimed the privilege of filling
all superior offices, and it is furious at seeing the archdukes
animated with the desire of dedicating their abilities to their
fatherland and their emperor. Hence, the nobility is decidedly
opposed to the success of the archdukes, which might set bounds to
its oligarchy. It opposes me as well as the other archdukes, whether
this opposition may endanger the interests of the fatherland, and
even the emperor, or not. Things would be even more prosperous in
this campaign, if the generals serving under the archdukes had
carried out the orders of their superiors with greater zeal,
promptness, and willingness. But they have been intentionally slow;
they have often hesitated, misunderstood, or purposely forgotten
their orders. They are intent on proving the incapacity of the
archdukes in order to overthrow them; and they well know that they
are rendering a service to the emperor by doing so, for they are
aware that the emperor does not love his brothers."

"No, your imperial highness," exclaimed Nugent, when the archduke
paused with a sigh. "I hope that this is going too far, and that you
are likewise mistaken about it. It is impossible that the emperor
should not love his brothers, who are doing so much honor to the
imperial house by their surpassing accomplishments, virtues, and

"My friend, you speak like a courtier," said John, shaking his head,
"and you exaggerate as a friend. But even though you were right,
those qualities would not be calculated to render the emperor's
heart more attached to us. He wants the emperor alone to shed lustre
on, and do honor to the imperial house, and not the archdukes, his
father's younger sons, whom he hates."

"No, no, your imperial highness, it is impossible that the emperor
should hate his brothers!"

"And why impossible?" asked John, shrugging his shoulders. "Do not
his brothers, the archdukes, hate each other? Or do you believe,
perhaps, that the Archduke Charles, our generalissimo, loves me, or
even wishes me well? I was so unfortunate as to be twice victorious
during the present campaign, while he was twice defeated; I beat the
French at Sacile and St. Boniface, while he lost the battles of
Landshut and Ratisbon. This is a crime which the archduke will never
forgive me, and for which he will revenge himself."

"Perhaps he thinks that he took a noble and glorious revenge at the
battle of Aspern?"

"Oh, my friend, you forgot that our mother was a daughter of Italy,
and that we, therefore, do not care for a noble and glorious
revenge, but long for an Italian vendetta. The generalissimo will
not content himself with having obtained glory, but I must suffer a
defeat, a disgrace, which will neutralize what few laurels I
gathered at Sacile and St. Boniface. Oh, I know my brother the
generalissimo; I see all the little threads which he is spinning
around me, and which, as soon as they are strong enough, he will
convert into a net, in which he will catch me, in order to exhibit
me to the world as an ignoramus and dreamer, destitute both of
ability and luck as a general. Do not tell me that I am mistaken, my
friend; I have hitherto observed every thing with close attention,
and my observations unfortunately do not deceive me. The
generalissimo is desirous of punishing me for my victories at Sacile
and St. Boniface, and for advocating a declaration of war when he
pronounced three times against it. He has already several times told
the emperor that I am self-willed, disobedient, and always inclined
to oppose his orders by words or even deeds; and the emperor always
takes pleasure in informing me of the generalissimo's complaints."

"It is true," sighed Count Nugent; "this aversion of the
generalissimo to your imperial highness unfortunately cannot be
denied, and you yourself have to suffer by it."

"Oh," cried John, impetuously, "if that were all, I should not
complain; I should add it to the many other pin-pricks of my fate,
and strive to bear it without murmuring. But my soldiers and the
glory of the Austrian arms suffer by it, and it will destroy the
liberty of the Tyrol. It is well known that this is my most
vulnerable point; that I love the Tyrol, and am determined to leave
nothing undone in order to redeem the emperor's pledges to preserve
the Tyrol to the imperial house, and restore its ancient privileges
and liberties. It is known, too, that I long intensely to live in
the future days of peace as the emperor's lieutenant in the Tyrol;
to live, far from the noisy bustle of the capital, in the peaceful
seclusion of the mountain country, for myself, my studies, and the
men whom I love, and who love me. Oh, my poor, unfortunate Tyrol
will grievously suffer for the love which I bear it; Austria will
lose it a second time, and now, perhaps, forever."

"Does your imperial highness believe so?" cried Nugent, in dismay.
"You believe so, even after communicating to me the letter in which
the emperor promises to the Tyrolese never to sign a peace that will
not indissolubly incorporate the Tyrol and Vorarlberg with his
monarchy, and in which he announces the speedy arrival of his
beloved brother John, who is to put himself at the head of the

"My friend, these numerous and liberal promises are the very things
that make me distrustful, and convince me that they are not meant
seriously. If the emperor had the preservation of the Tyrol really
at heart, and intended earnestly that my army should succor and save
the Tyrolese, would he not have left me at liberty to operate
according to the dictates of my own judgment and in full harmony
with the Tyrolese, instead of tying my hands, and regarding and
employing my force only as a secondary and entirely dependent corps
of the generalissimo's army? Look into the past, Nugent, bear in
mind all that has happened since we took the field, and tell me then
whether I am right or not?"

"Unfortunately you are," sighed Nugent; "I can no longer contradict
your imperial highness, I cannot deny that many a wrong has been
inflicted on you and us; that you have have always been prevented
from taking the initiative in a vigorous manner; that you and your
army have constantly been kept in a secondary and dependent
position; that your plans have incessantly been frustrated, and that
your superiors have often done the reverse of what you wished and
deemed prudent and advisable."

"My friend at they will hereafter say that I was alone to blame for
the failure of my plans," cried the archduke, with a mournful smile;
"they will charge me with having been unable to carry out the
grandiloquent promises which I made to the emperor and the Tyrolese,
and the emperor will exult at the discomfiture of the boastful
archduke who took it upon himself to call out the whole people of
the Tyrol, put himself at their head, and successfully defend
against all enemies this fortress which God and Nature erected for
Austria. The faithful Tyrolese have taken up arms; I am ready to put
myself at their head, but already I have been removed from the
Tyrol, and my arm is paralyzed so that I can no longer stretch it
out to take the hand which the Tyrol is holding out to me
beseechingly. If I had been permitted to advance after the victories
which my army gained over the Viceroy of Italy and Marmont, I should
probably now already have expelled the enemy from Upper Italy and
the Southern Tyrol. But I was not allowed to follow up my successes;
I was stopped in the midst of my victorious career. Because the
generalissimo's army had been defeated at Ratisbon, I was compelled,
instead of pursuing the enemy energetically and obliging him to keep
on the defensive, to retreat myself, and, instead of being the
pursuer, be pursued by the forces of the viceroy. Instead of going
to the Tyrol, I was ordered by the generalissimo to turn toward
Hungary and unite with the volunteers in that country. No sooner had
I done so, than I was ordered to advance again toward the Southern
Tyrol, march upon Villach and Salzburg, unite with Jellachich, form
a connection with Field-Marshal Giulay, and operate with them in the
rear of the enemy, who was already in the immediate neighborhood of
Vienna. And he who gave me these orders did not know that Jellachich
had in the meantime been beaten at Wurzl; that Villach had been
occupied by the French; that I was not in the rear of the enemy, but
that the enemy was in my rear; be did not or would not know that the
Viceroy of Italy was in my rear with thirty-six thousand men, and
that the Duke of Dantzic was in front of my position at Salzburg.
Since then we have been moving about amidst incessant skirmishes and
incessant losses; and scarcely had we reached Comorn to re-organize
and re-enforce my little army, when we received orders to march to
the island of Schutt and toward Presburg. I vainly tried to
remonstrate and point to the weakness and exhaustion of my troops; I
vainly asked for time to reorganize my forces, when I would attack
Macdonald and prevent him from uniting with Napoleon. I vainly
proved that this was his intention, and that no one could hinder him
from carrying it into effect, so soon as I had to turn toward
Presburg and open to Macdonald the road to Vienna. My remonstrances
were disregarded; pains were taken to prove to me that I was but a
tool, a wheel in the great machine of state, and the orders were
renewed for me to march into Hungary. Well, I will submit again - I
will obey again; but I will not do so in silence; I will, at least,
tell the emperor that I do it in spite of myself, and will march to
Presburg and Raab only if he approves of the generalissmo's orders."

"That is to say, your imperial highness is going to declare openly
against the generalissimo?"

"No; it is to say that I am going to inform my sovereign of my
doubts and fears, and unbosom to him my wishes and convictions. You
smile, my friend. It is true, I am yet a poor dreamer, speculating
on the heart, and believing that the truth must triumph in the end.
I shall, however, at least be able to say that I have done my duty,
and had the courage to inform the emperor of the true state of
affairs. I shall repair this very day to his majesty's headquarters
at Wolkersdorf. I will dare once more to speak frankly and
fearlessly to him. I will oppose my enemies at least with open
visor, and show to them that I am not afraid of them. God knows, if
only my own personal honor and safety were at stake, I should
withdraw in silence, and shut up my grief and my apprehensions in my
bosom; but my fatherland is at stake, and so is the poor Tyrol, so
enthusiastic in its love, so unwavering in its fidelity; and so are
the honor and glory of our arms. Hence, I will dare once more to
speak the truth, and may God impart strength to my words!"



The Emperor of Austria was still at his headquarters at Wolkersdorf.
The news of the victory at Aspern had illuminated the Emperor's face
with the first rays of hope, and greatly lessened the influence of
the peace-party over him. The war-party became more confident; the
beautiful, pale face of the Empress Ludovica became radiant as it
had never been seen before; and Count Stadion told the emperor he
would soon be able to return to Vienna.

But the Emperor Francis shook his head with an incredulous smile.
"You do not know Bonaparte," he said, "if you think he will, because
he has suffered a defeat, be immediately ready to make peace and
return to France. Now he will not rest before he gains a victory and
repairs the blunders he has committed. There is wild and insidious
blood circulating in Bonaparte's veins, and the battle of Aspern has
envenomed it more than ever. Did you not hear, Stadion, of what
Bonaparte is reported to have said? He declared that there was no
longer a dynasty of the Hapsburgs, but only the petty princes of
Lorraine. And do you not know that he has addressed to the
Hungarians a proclamation advising them to depose me without further
ceremony, and elect another king, of course one of the new-fangled
French princes? Do you not know that he has sent to Hungary
emissaries who are calling upon the people to rise against me and
conquer their liberty, which he, Bonaparte, would protect? In truth,
it is laughable to hear Bonaparte still prating about liberty as
though it were a piece of sugar which he has only to put into the
mouth of the nations, when they are crying like babies, in order to
silence them, and thereupon pull the wool quietly over their eyes.
But it is true, the nations really are like babies; they do not
become reasonable and wise, and the accursed word 'liberty,' which
Bonaparte puts as a flea into their ears, maddens them still as
though a tarantula had bitten them. They have seen in Italy and
France what sort of liberty Napoleon brings to them, and what a yoke
he intends to lay on their necks while telling them that he wishes
to make freemen of them. But they do not become wise, and who knows
if the Magyars will not likewise allow themselves to be fooled and
believe in the liberty which Bonaparte promises to them?"

"No, your majesty," said Count Stadion, "the Magyars are no
children; they are men who know full well what to think of
Bonaparte's insidious flatteries, and will not permit him to mislead
them by his deceptive promises. They received the Archduke John with
genuine enthusiasm, and every day volunteers are flocking to his
standards to fight against the despot who, like a demon of terror,
tramples the peace and prosperity of all Europe under his bloody
feet. No, Bonaparte can no longer count upon the sympathies of the
nations; they are all ready to rise against him, and in the end
hatred will accomplish that which love and reason were unable to
bring about. The hatred of the nations will crush Bonaparte and hurl
him from his throne."

"Provided the princes of the Rhenish Confederation do not support
him, or provided the Emperor Alexander of Russia does not catch him
in his arms," said Francis, shrugging his shoulders." I have no
great confidence in what you call the nations; they are really
reckless and childish people. If Bonaparte is lucky again, even the
Germans will idolize him before long; but if he is unlucky, they
will stone him. Just look at my illustrious brother, the
generalissimo. After the defeats of Landshut and Ratisbon, and the
humble letter which he wrote to Bonaparte, you, Count Stadion,
thought it would be good for the Archduke Charles if we gave him a
successor, and if we removed him, tormented as he is by a painful
disease, from the command-in-chief of the army. We, therefore,
suggested to the archduke quietly to present his resignation which
would be promptly accepted. But the generalissimo would not hear of
it, and thought he would have first to make amends for the defeats
which he had sustained at Landshut and Ratisbon. Now he has done so;
he has avenged his former defeats and achieved a victory at Aspern;
and after this brilliant victory he comes and offers his
resignation, stating that his feeble health compels him to lay down
the command and surrender if to some one else. But all at once my
minister of foreign affairs has changed his mind: the victory of
Aspern has converted him, and he thinks now that the generalissimo
must remain at the head of the army. If so sagacious and eminent a
man as Count Stadion allows success to mould his opinion, am I not
right in not believing that the frivolous fellows whom you call 'the
nations' have no well-settled opinions at all?"

"Pardon me, sire," said Count Stadion, smiling; "your majesty
commits a slight error. Your majesty confounds principles with
opinions. An honorable man and an honorable nation may change their

Online LibraryL. MühlbachAndreas Hofer → online text (page 24 of 43)