The people were thunderstruck; they did not stir, but stared wildly and pale with horror at the regiments that now approached to the jubilant music of their bands, and treated the Viennese to the notes of the Marseillaise and the air of Va-t-en-guerrier; they stared at the sullen, ragged men who marched in the midst of the soldiers, like the Roman slaves before the car of the Triumphator. These poor, pale men wore no French uniforms, and the tri-colored sash was not wrapped around their waists, nor did they bear arms; their hands were empty, and their eyes were fixed on the ground. They were prisoners, prisoners of the French, and they wore Russian uniforms.
The people saw it with dismay. The good Viennese had suddenly been hurled from their proud hopes of victory into an abyss of despair, and they were stunned by the sudden fall, and unable to speak and to collect their thoughts. They stood on the road, pale and breathless, and witnessed the spectacle of the return of the victorious columns with silent despondency.
All at once the brilliant column, which had filed through the ranks of the people, halted, and the band ceased playing. An officer galloped up and exchanged a few words with the colonel in command. The colonel made a sign and uttered a few hurried words, whereupon four soldiers stepped from the ranks, and forcing a passage through the staring crowd, walked directly toward a small house situated solitary and alone on the road, in the middle of a garden.
Every inhabitant of Vienna knew this house and the man living in it, for it was the residence of Joseph Haydn.
When the four soldiers approached the door of the popular and well- known maestro, the people seemed to awake from their stupefaction, a unanimous cry of rage and horror resounded, and thousands and thousands of voices shouted and screamed, "Father Haydn! They want to arrest Father Haydn!"
But, no. The four soldiers stopped at the door, and remained there as a guard of honor.
And the band of the next regiment, which had just come up, halted on the road too, and, in stirring notes, the French musicians began to play a melody which was well known to everybody, the melody of the great hymn from the "Creation," "In verdure clad." [Footnote: Historical.]
It sounded to the poor Viennese like a cruel mockery to hear a band of the victorious French army play this melody composed by a German maestro, and tears of heart-felt shame, of inward rage, filled many an eye which had never wept before, and a bitter pang seized every breast.
The French musicians had not yet finished the tune, when a window in the upper story of the house was opened, and Joseph Haydn's venerable white-haired head appeared. His cheeks were pale, and his lips trembled, for his footman, who had just returned home, had brought him the news that the French had been victorious again, and that Napoleon had defeated the two emperors at Austerlitz.
Joseph Haydn, the old man, was pale and trembling, but Joseph Haydn, the genius, was courageous, joyful, and defiant, and he was filled with noble anger when he heard that the trumpeters of the French conqueror dared to play his German music.
This anger of the eternally-young and eternally-bold genius now burst forth from Haydn's eyes, and restored to his whole bearing the vigor and elasticity of youth.
Leaning far out of the window, he beckoned the people with both arms, while they were looking up to him and waving their hats to salute him.
"Sing, people of Vienna!" he shouted, "oh, sing our favorite hymn!"
The music had just ceased, and Joseph Haydn now commenced singing in a loud, ringing voice, "GOTT ERHALTE FRANZ DEN KAISER, UNSERN GUTEN KAISER FRANZ!"
And thousands of voices sang and shouted all at once, "GOTT ERHALTE FRAN DEN KAISER, UNSERN GUTEN KAISER FRANZ!"
Joseph Haydn stood at the window, and moved his arm as though he were standing before his orchestra and leading his choir.
The people sang their favorite hymn louder and more jubilantly, and to the notes of this prayer of a whole people, of this jubilant hymn, by which the Viennese honored their unfortunate, vanquished emperor in the face of the conquering army, the French marched up the road toward the interior of the city.
Joseph Haydn was still at the window; he led the choir no longer; he sang no more. He had folded his hands and listened to the majestic anthem of the people, and the tears, filling his eyes, glistened like diamonds.
The people continued shouting and singing, in spite of the French, the hymn of "GOTT ERHALTE FRANZ DEN KAISER, UNSERN GUTEN KAISER FRANZ!"
And the victorious French marched silently through the opened ranks of the people.
Louisa of Prussia and Her Times -by- Louisa Muhlbach