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"Honorable!" said Gentz, shrugging his shoulders. "Napoleon demanded, above all, that the Russian army should retire speedily from the Austrian territories, and the emperor promised this to him. Hence, the Emperor Alexander has departed; the Russian army is retreating; one part of it is going to Prussia, while the other is returning to Poland. The cabinet of Vienna, therefore, is free; that is to say, it is left to its own peculiar infamy without any bounds whatever, and thus peace will be made soon enough. Those contemptible men will submit to any thing, provided he gives up Vienna. Finance-minister Fichy said to me in Olmutz yesterday, 'Peace will be cheap, if we have merely to cede the Tyrol, Venice, and a portion of Upper Austria, and we should be content with such terms.' Ah, if THEY could only be got rid of, what a splendid thing the fall of the monarchy would he! But to lose the provinces, honor, Germany, Europe, and to KEEP Fichy, Ungart, Cobenzl, Collenbach, Lamberti, Dietrichstein--no satisfaction, no revenge?-not a single one of the dogs hung or quartered,--it is impossible to digest THAT!" [Footnote: Gentz's own words.--Vide his "Correspondence with Johannes von Muller," p. 155.]
"It is true," said Marianne, musingly, and in a low voice, "this is a boundless disgrace; and if men will submit to it, and bow their heads, it is time for women to raise theirs, and to become lionesses in order to tear the enemy opposing them! And what do you intend doing now, my friend?" she then asked aloud, forcibly dispelling her painful emotions. "What are your prospects? What plan of battle will you draw up for us?"
"I have no prospects at all, and I have given up drawing plans of battle," said Gentz, sighing. "After exhausting my last strength for five days during my sojourn in Olmutz, I am done with every thing, and I have withdrawn weary and satiated ad nauseam. Our ministers have gone to Presburg, for the purpose of negotiating there with the plenipotentiaries of Bonaparte about the terms of peace."
"And where is he at present--where is the proud triumphator?" asked Marianne, hastily.
"He left Austerlitz to-night, and will reside again at Schonbrunn. until peace has been concluded."
"Ah, in Schonbrunn!" said Marianne, "that is to say, here in Vienna. And you, Frederick, will you remain here, too?"
"After making peace, they will banish me, of course, from Vienna; for Bonaparte knows my hatred against him, and moreover, he knows it to be implacable. Hence, I prefer going voluntarily into exile, and shall repair to Breslau, where I shall find plenty of friends and acquaintances. There I will live, amuse myself, be a man like all of them, that is to say, gratify nothing but my egotism, and take rest after so many annoyances and struggles."
"That cannot be true--that cannot be possible!" exclaimed Marianne, ardently. "A patriot, a man like you, does not repose and amuse himself, while his country is plunged into misery and disgrace. I repeat to you what Arnauld said to his friend Nicole, when the latter, tired of the struggle for Jansenism, declared to him that he would retire and repose: 'Vous reposer! Eh! n'avez-vous pas pour vous reposer V'eternite toute enliere?' If those men were filled with so undying an enthusiasm for an insipid quarrel about mere sophistries, how could you take rest, since eternity itself, whether it be repose or motion, offers nothing more sublime than a struggle for the liberty and dignity of the world?"
"God bless you for these words, Marianne!" exclaimed Gentz, enthusiastically, while he embraced his friend passionately, and imprinted a glowing kiss on her forehead. "Oh, Marianne, I only wished to try you; I wanted to see whether, with the ardor of your love for me, the ardor of the holy cause represented by me, had also left you; I only wanted to know whether, now that you love me no longer--" "And how can you say that I love you no longer?" she interrupted him. "Have I deserved so bitter a reproach?"
"It is no reproach, Marianne," said Gentz, mournfully; "you have paid your tribute to the vacillating, changeable, and fickle organization peculiar to every living creature; and so have I, perhaps. We are all perishable, and hence our feelings must be perishable also. Above all, love is a most precious, fragrant, and enchanting rose; but its life lasts but a day, and then it withers. Happy are those, therefore, who have improved this day and enjoyed the beauty of the rose, and passionately inhaled its fragrance. We did so, Marianne; and when we now look back to our day of blissful love, we may say, 'It was delightful and intoxicating, and with its memories it will shed a golden, sunny lustre over our whole life.' Let us not revile it, therefore, for having passed away, and let us not be angry with ourselves for not being able to prolong it. The rose has faded, but the stem, from which it burst forth, must remain to us; it is our immortal part. That stem is the harmony of our sentiments; it is the consonance of our ideas; in short, the seeds of friendship have ripened in the withered flower of our love. I have not, therefore, come to you, Marianne, to seek for my beloved, but to find my friend? the friend who understands me, who shares my views, my grief, my despair, and my rage, and who is ready to aspire with me to one goal, and to seek with me for it in one way. This goal is the deliverance of Germany from the chains of slavery."
"Above all, the annihilation of the tyrant who wants to enslave us!" exclaimed Marianne, with flashing eyes. "Tell me the way leading to that goal; I will enter it, even if it should be necessary for me to walk on thorns and pointed swords!"
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Louisa of Prussia and Her Times -by- Louisa Muhlbach