L. Mühlbach.

Andreas Hofer online

. (page 4 of 43)
Online LibraryL. MühlbachAndreas Hofer → online text (page 4 of 43)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

for the execution of which I must first, and above all things, beg
your majesty's pardon."

"You are your master's servant, and it is your duty to obey him,"
said the emperor, dryly. "Say, therefore, what he ordered you to
tell me."

"Well, then, as your majesty has granted me permission, I will say
that my master, the Emperor of the French, has taken deep umbrage at
the hostile course which Austria has of late pursued toward him."

"And what is it that your emperor complains of?" asked the emperor,
with perfect composure.

"In the first place, the Emperor Napoleon has taken deep umbrage at
Austria's still hesitating to recognize King Joseph as King of
Spain, and to send a minister plenipotentiary to his court."

"I did not know where to send my ambassador, and where he would find
M. Joseph Bonaparte, King of Spain, for the time being - whether at
Madrid or at Saragossa; in the camp, on the field of battle, or in
flight. Hence I did not send an ambassador to his court. So soon as
the Spanish nation is able to inform me where I may look for the
king it has elected and recognized, I shall immediately dispatch a
minister plenipotentiary to this court. State that to your monarch."

"Next, his majesty the Emperor Napoleon complains bitterly that
Austria, instead of being intent on maintaining friendly relations
with France, has left nothing undone to reconcile the enemies of
France who were at war with each other, and to restore peace between
them; and that Austria, by her incessant efforts, has really
succeeded now in bringing about a treaty of peace between Turkey and
England. Now, my master the emperor must look upon this as a hostile
act on the part of Austria, against France; for to reconcile England
with Turkey is equivalent to setting France at variance with Turkey,
or at least neutralizing entirely her influence over the Sublime

"Turkey is my immediate neighbor, and it is highly important to
Austria that there should be no war-troubles and disturbances on all
her frontiers. Every independent state should be at liberty to
pursue its own policy; and while this policy does not assume a
hostile attitude toward other independent states, no one can take
umbrage at it. Are you through with your grievances?"

"No, your majesty," said Andreossi, almost mournfully. "The worst
and most unpleasant part remains to be told; but, as your majesty
was gracious enough to say, I must obey the orders of my master, and
it is his will that I shall now communicate to your majesty the
emperor's views in his own words. It has given great offence to the
Emperor Napoleon that Austria should place herself in a posture of
open hostility against France, when France has given her so many
proofs of her forbearance, and has hitherto always spared Austria,
notwithstanding the numerous acts of duplicity and evident hostility
of the Austrian court. The Emperor Napoleon informs your majesty
that he is well aware of the ambitious schemes of Austria, but that
lie thinks your majesty is not strong enough to carry them into
effect. He requests your majesty never to forget the magnanimity
which the Emperor Napoleon manifested toward you after the battle of
Austerlitz. The Emperor Napoleon has instructed me to remind you of
the fact, well known to you, that you can confide in his generosity,
and that he is firmly resolved to observe the treaties. Naples,
Prussia, and Spain, would stand erect, yet, if their rulers had
relied on their own sagacity, and not listened to the fatal advice
of their ministers, or even of courtiers, women, and ambitious young
princes. His majesty beseeches the Emperor of Austria not to listen
to such insidious advice, nor to yield to the wishes of the war-
party, which is intent only on gratifying its passionate ambition,
and whose eyes refuse to see that it is driving Austria toward the
brink of an abyss where she must perish, as did Prussia, Naples, and
Spain." [Footnote: Hormayr, "Allgemeine Geschichte," vol. iii., p.

"It is very kind in his majesty the Emperor Napoleon to give me such
friendly advice," sail the Emperor Francis, smiling. "But I beg his
majesty to believe that, in accordance with his wishes, I rely only
on my own individual sagacity; that I am influenced by no party, no
person, but am accustomed to direct myself the affairs of my country
and the administration of my empire, and not to listen to any
insinuations, from whatever quarter they may come. I request you to
repeat these words to his majesty the Emperor Napoleon with the same
accuracy with which you communicated his message to me. And now,
Count Andreossi, I believe you have communicated to me all that your
master instructed you to say to me."

"Pardon me, your majesty, I am instructed last to demand in the
emperor's name an explanation as to the meaning of the formidable
armaments of Austria, the organization of the militia, and the
arming of the fortresses on the frontiers, and to inquire against
whom these measures are directed. The emperor implores your majesty
to put a stop to these useless and hurtful demonstrations, and
orders me expressly to state that, if Austria does not stop her
armaments and adopt measures of an opposite character, war will be
inevitable." [Footnote: Napoleon's own words. - See "Lebensbilder,"
vol. ii., and Hormayr, "Allgemeine Geschichte," vol. iii.]

"In that case, Mr. Ambassador of the Emperor Napoleon, war is
inevitable," cried Francis, who now dropped the mask of cold
indifference, and allowed his face to betray the agitation and rage
filling his bosom, by his quivering features, flashing eyes, and
clouded brow. "I have calmly listened to you," he added, raising his
voice; "I have received with silent composure all the arrogant
phrases which you have ventured to utter here in the name of your
emperor. I look on them as one of the famous proud bulletins for
which your emperor is noted, and to whose overbearing and
grandiloquent language all Europe is accustomed. But it is well
known too that these bulletins are not exactly models of veracity,
but sometimes the very reverse of it. An instance of the latter is
your emperor's assertion that he observes the treaties, and that he
gave me proofs of his magnanimity after the battle of Austerlitz.
No, the emperor did no such thing; he made me, on the contrary, feel
the full weight of his momentary superiority. He was my enemy, and
treated me as an enemy, without magnanimity, which, for the rest, I
did not claim at the time. But he has proved to me, too, that he
does not observe the most sacred treaties. He violated every section
of the peace of Presburg; he did not respect the frontiers as
stipulated in that treaty; he forced me, in direct violation of the
treaties, to allow him the permanent use of certain military roads
within the boundaries of my empire; he hurled from their thrones
dynasties which were related to me, and whose existence I had
guaranteed; he deprived, in violation of the law of nations, the
beloved and universally respected head of Christendom of his throne,
and subjected him to a most disgraceful imprisonment; he exerted on
all seas the most arbitrary pressure on the Austrian flag. And now,
after all this has happened, after Austria has endured all these
wrongs so long and silently, the Emperor Napoleon undertakes even to
meddle with the internal administration of my empire, and forbids me
what he, ever since his accession, has incessantly done, to wit: to
mobilize my army, levy conscripts for the troops of the line and the
reserves, and arm the fortresses. He asks me to put a stop to my
armaments; else, he says, war will be inevitable. Well, Mr.
Ambassador, I do not care if the Emperor Napoleon looks at the
matter in that light, and I shall not endeavor to prevent him from
so doing, for I shall not stop, but continue my preparations. I
called out the militia, just as the Emperor of the French constantly
calls new levies of conscripts into immediate activity; and if war
should be inevitable in consequence thereof, I shall bear what is
inevitable with firmness and composure."

"Your majesty, is this your irrevocable resolution?" asked
Andreossi. "Is this the answer that I am to send to my master, the
Emperor Napoleon?"

"I think it will be better for you to convey this answer in person
to your emperor," said Francis, calmly. "As no one has witnessed our
interview, only you yourself can repeat my words with perfect
accuracy; and it is therefore best for you to set out this very day
for Paris."

"That is to say, your majesty gives me my passports, and war will
immediately break out between France and Austria!" sighed Andreossi.
"Your majesty should graciously consider - "

"I have considered every thing," interrupted Francis, vehemently,
"and I request you not to speak to me again in the style of your
French bulletins. I will hear the bulletins of the Emperor Napoleon
on the field of battle rather than in my cabinet. Set out,
therefore, for Paris, Mr. Ambassador, and repeat to the emperor what
I have said to you."

"I will comply with your majesty's orders," said Andreossi, with a
sigh; "I will set out, but I shall leave the members of my legation
here as yet, for I do not yet give up the hope that it may be
possible for the two courts to avoid a declaration of war; and to
spare such a calamity to two countries that have such good reasons
to love each other."

"Let us quietly await the course of events," replied the emperor.
"Farewell, Count Andreossi. If you will accept my advice, you will
set out this very day; for so soon as my dear Viennese learn that
war is to break out in earnest, they will probably give vent to
their enthusiasm in the most tumultuous and rapturous
demonstrations, and I suppose it would be disagreeable to you to
witness them. Farewell, sir!"

He waved his hand toward tile ambassador, bent his head slowly and
haughtily, and left the reception-room without vouchsafing another
glance to Count Andreossi.

"Now my brothers will be in ecstasies," said the emperor to himself,
slowly walking up and down, his hands folded on his back, in the
sitting-room adjoining the reception-room. "They will be angry,
though, because I did not consult them, and decided the whole affair
without listening to their wisdom."

"Your majesty," said a footman, who entered the room at this moment,
"their imperial highnesses, the Archdukes Charles and John, request
an audience of your majesty."

"They are welcome," said the emperor, whose features were lit up by
a faint smile. "Show my brothers in."



A few minutes afterward the two archdukes entered the room of the
emperor, who slowly went some steps to meet them, and greeted them
with a grave, cold glance.

"Why, this is a rare spectacle," said Francis, sneeringly, "to see
my brothers side by side in such beautiful harmony. In truth, it was
only wanting to me that even you two should be of the same opinion,
and come to me for the purpose of inviting me, as Schiller says, to
be the third in your league."

"Your majesty would always be the first in this league," said the
Archduke John, in his clear, ringing voice; "my brother would be the
second, and I only the third."

"See, see, my brother is very modest and humble to-day," said
Francis, smiling. "This means doubtless that you have come to ask a
favor of me, and that, by your kindness and devotedness, you wish to
induce me to comply with your request, as a dog is decoyed with
cakes and sweets by the thief who intends to steal something from
the dog's master."

"Oh, your majesty, we do not intend to steal any thing from our
master!" exclaimed John, laughing. "But there is really an attack to
be made on our master's property; only he who intends to make it
does not decoy us with cakes and sweets, but assails us with the
sword and coarse invectives."

"It was very shrewd in you to mention at once the subject on which
you wished to speak with me," said the emperor, with a slight sneer.
"But permit me first to say a word to my brother Charles there, and
bid welcome to his imperial highness, the illustrious captain, the
generalissimo of our army, the hope and consolation of Austria."

"Your majesty wishes to mock me," said the Archduke Charles, in a
mournful voice.

"I repeat only what I read every day in the newspapers,, and what
the dear Viennese are singing and shouting in every street!"
exclaimed the emperor. "Yes, yes, my dear brother, you must consent
to be the hope and consolation of Austria, and to be praised as the
august and invincible hero of our immediate future."

So saying, the emperor gazed with a long and searching look at his
brother's form, and a scornful expression overspread his features.

Indeed, the epithets which the emperor had applied to his brother
corresponded but little to the appearance of the Archduke Charles.
His small, bent form, with its weak, shrivelled limbs, was not the
form of a hero; his pale, wan face, with the hollow cheeks; the dim
eyes deeply imbedded in their sockets, and the clouded brow, on
which thin tufts of hair hung down, was not the face of a bold
captain, confident of achieving brilliant triumphs by his heroic
deeds, and deserving of the name of the hope and consolation of
Austria. But the Austrians did call him by that name, and the glory
of his military achievements, which filled not only Austria but the
whole of Germany, caused them really to build their hopes on the
Archduke Charles, despite his very feeble health. The Emperor
Francis was aware of this; he knew that the Archdukes Charles and
John were by far more popular than he was; hence he was jealous of
and angry with them - nay, he almost hated them.

"You look very pale and sick to-day, my dear Archduke Charles," said
the emperor, after a pause, during which he had contemplated the
archduke with a searching expression.

"I am very feeble and unwell, your majesty," sighed Charles; "and
but for the special request of my brother, the Archduke John, I
should not have dared to come here this morning. However, I am
afraid that I can do but little to comply with his wishes, and that
my brother John will soon think it would have been better for him
not to ask me to accompany him to your majesty."

"Ah, then, you are after all not so harmonious as I thought when I
saw you entering here together!" exclaimed the emperor, laughing.
"There are still differences of opinion, then, between the two
pillars of my throne, and were I to lean on one, the other would
totter and give way. Well, what do you want? What brought you here?"

"Your majesty, only the intense desire to dedicate our services to
Austria and our emperor!" exclaimed John, enthusiastically. "We
wished to implore your majesty to utter at length the word that will
deliver Austria and all Germany. Your majesty, this hesitation and
silence rests like a nightmare on every heart and every bosom; all
eyes are fixed hopefully on your majesty: Oh, my lord and emperor;
one word from your lips, and this nightmare will disappear; all
hearts will rejoice in blissful ecstasy, and every bosom will expand
and breathe more freely when your majesty shall utter this word:
'War! war!' We hold the sword in our hands; let the will of my
august emperor give us the right now to draw the sword against him
who, for years past, has swept like a destructive hurricane through
all Germany, all Europe, and who tramples alike on princes and
peoples, on liberty and law. Your majesty, in the name of your
people, in the name of all German patriots, I bend my knees here
before my lord and emperor, and thus, kneeling and full of
reverence. I implore your majesty to let the hour of deliverance
strike at length; let us, with joyful courage, expel the enemy who
has already so long been threatening our frontiers with defiant
arrogance: let us take the field against the impudent usurper, and
wrest from him the laurels which he gained at Austerlitz, and of
which he is so proud. Your majesty, your people are filled with
warlike ardor; your faithful Tyrolese are waiting only for a signal
to break their chains and rise for their beloved emperor. Your
Italian provinces are longing for the day when war shall break out,
in order to avenge themselves on the tyrant who promised them
liberty and brought them only slavery. The hour of retribution has
come for Napoleon; may your majesty consult our best interests by
saying that we are to profit by this hour, and that war, a mortal
struggle, is to begin now against the Emperor of the French!"

And, still bending his knees before the emperor, John looked up to
him with longing, beseeching eyes.

Francis looked down on him with a gloomy air, and the noble and
enthusiastic face of his brother, who was ten years younger, and
much stronger and better-looking, made a disagreeable impression on

"Rise, brother," he said, coldly; "your knees must ache, and I, for
my part, do not like such theatrical scenes at all, and such fine
phrases make but little impression on my cold and prosy heart. I am
accustomed to follow always my convictions, and when I advance a
step, I must be sure not to fall to an abyss which some poetical
hero may perhaps have merely covered for me with his flowery
phrases. That I am aware of the dangers threatening us on the part
of France I have proved by putting the army on the war footing, by
intrusting you, Archduke John, with organizing the militia and the
reserves in accordance with the plan you drew up for that purpose;
and by placing you, Archduke Charles, at the head of my army and
appointing you generalissimo."

"An honor, your majesty, which I accepted with reverent gratitude,
although it almost crushes me at the present time," said the
Archduke Charles, with a sigh. "Permit me now, your majesty, to open
my heart to you, and lay my innermost thoughts at your feet. To do
so, I accompanied my brother John to you. He said he would implore
your majesty once more to postpone the declaration of war no longer,
but utter at length the decisive word. I implored him not to do so,
and not to force us to engage prematurely in a war that could not
but bring the greatest calamities on Austria. But my dear brother
would not listen to my remonstrances and prayers; he called me a
secret friend and admirer of Napoleon; he demanded that I should at
least speak out, freely and openly in your majesty's presence, and
refute him if I could, or yield to him if my arguments should prove
untenable. Your majesty, I have therefore complied with the wishes
of my brother, the Archduke John; I have come to you, but only to
say to my lord and emperor: Your majesty, I implore you, in the name
of your people and your throne, do not yet unsheath the sword! Wait
until our army is ready for the contest, and until our armaments are
completed. Do not plunge rashly into war, lest victory escape us. A
great deal remains to be done yet before we can say that our
armaments are completed; and only after being fully prepared can we
dare to take the field against the Emperor Napoleon and his hitherto
victorious legions."

"Ah, do you hear our Fabius Cunctator, brother John, the Lion-
hearted!" exclaimed the emperor, sarcastically. "Which of you is
right, and whose wise advice shall I follow now - I, the poor
emperor, who is not strong and sagacious enough to be his own
adviser and advance a step without his brothers? John, the learned
soldier, beseeches me to declare war, and Charles, the intrepid
hero, implores me not to do so. What am I, the poor emperor, who
cannot advise himself, and who receives too much advice from others,
to do under such circumstances? Whose will must I submit to?"

"Your majesty," cried John, in dismay, "it is we that must submit;
it is your will on which depends the decision. I implore your
majesty to declare war, because I deem it necessary; but, if your
majesty should take a different resolution, I shall submit silently
and obediently."

"And I," said Charles, "requested you to postpone the declaration of
war, because I do not believe that we are sufficiently prepared for
the contest; but, like my brother, I shall submit silently if your
majesty should take a different resolution."

"Indeed, will you do so, archdukes?" asked the emperor, in a
scornful tone. "Will you be mindful of your duties as subjects, and,
instead of giving me unnecessary advice, obey me silently?"

The two archdukes bowed to indicate their submissiveness. The
emperor advanced a few steps, and proudly raising his head, he
looked at his two brothers with a stern and imperious expression.

"Let me tell you, then, archdukes, what I, your lord and emperor,
have resolved," said Francis, sternly. "I have resolved to declare

Two loud cries resounded with one accord; a cry of joy burst from
John's lips, a cry of dismay from those of Charles. Pale, reeling
like a drunken man, the generalissimo approached the emperor and
held out his hands to him with a beseeching expression.

"Your majesty," he said, "you have resolved to declare war, but you
do not mean to say that it is to commence immediately?"

"That is what I mean to say," replied the emperor, sarcastically.

The Archduke Charles turned still paler than before; a strange
tremor passed through his frame, his head dropped on his bosom, and
a deep groan issued from his breast.

The Archduke John, forgetful of his quarrel with his brother
Charles, at the sight of the latter's profound grief, hastened to
him, and tenderly grasped both his hands.

"Brother," he asked, anxiously, "what is the matter? Are you

"I am," said Charles, wiping from his forehead the large drops of
sweat standing on it. "I am unwell, but I must say a few additional
words to the emperor. I must disclose to him a melancholy secret of
which I heard only an hour ago. - Your majesty, I implore you once
more, postpone the war as long as possible; for - hear my terrible
secret - we have been infamously defrauded by Commissary-General von

"Your intimate friend?" interposed the emperor, with a scornful

"Yes, my intimate friend," exclaimed the archduke, in a loud, shrill
voice; "he deceived me most shamefully. All the army contracts had
been intrusted to him, and he assured me he had filled them in the
most conscientious manner. I believed him, and it is only now that I
find out that he has shamefully deceived me and his emperor. All his
bills for the supplies which he pretended to have furnished are in
my hands, but the troops did not get the supplies. The scoundrel
sent only sour flour, bad linen, and moth-eaten uniform cloth to the
regiments, and yet he drew enormous sums of money for the full
amount of his contracts."

"We shall compel the thief to disgorge his ill-gotten gains," cried
the emperor.

"No, your majesty," said Charles, with a groan; and leaning more
firmly on his brother's arm, in order not to sink to the floor, he
added: "no, your majesty, the criminal is beyond the reach of your
power. He escaped from human justice by committing suicide an hour
ago. The criminal has fled from his judges, but his crimes remain,
and our army suffers in consequence of them. Now your majesty knows
all, you will take back your word, and say no longer that you will
declare war. You will be gracious enough to give me time to repair
the injury resulting from the crimes of the commissary-general, and
to provide the army with all that is unfortunately wanting to it as

"No," cried the emperor vehemently, "I will not! I will not take
back my word, and I had already made up my mind before you, my
brothers, entered here to assist me so generously by your wisdom.
War will be declared immediately; my resolution is irrevocable. I
have already informed the French ambassador of it, and ordered him
to leave Vienna this very day. Your warnings come just as much too
late as did John's entreaties. I did what I myself deemed best; and
I deemed it best to declare war against Bonaparte, in reply to his
intolerable arrogance. Every thing is fixed and settled; war will
commence without delay: and you, Archduke Charles, are the
generalissimo of my army."

The Archduke Charles made no reply; he uttered a painful groan and
sank to the floor by John's side. All his limbs trembled and
quivered; his pale face became distorted, he clinched his fists, and
his eyes were glassy as though he were dying.

"He has one of his fits," said the emperor calmly, looking down on
his brother. "Call his servants and his doctor, Archduke John, that

Online LibraryL. MühlbachAndreas Hofer → online text (page 4 of 43)