The cavalcade proceeded for some time at a brisk but irregular pace, until they arrived at a less wild and wooded part of the forest. The Prince of Little Lilliput reined in his steed as he entered a broad avenue of purple beeches, at the end of which, though at a considerable distance, Vivian perceived the towers and turrets of a Gothic edifice glittering in the sunshine.
“Welcome to Turriparva!” said his Highness.
“I assure your Highness,” said Vivian, “that I view with no unpleasant feeling the prospect of a reception in any civilised mansion; for to say the truth, for the last eight-and-forty hours Fortune has not favoured me either in my researches after a bed, or that which some think still more important than repose.”
“Is it so?” said the Prince. “Why, we should have thought by your home thrust this morning that you were as fresh as the early lark. In good faith, it was a pretty stroke! And whence come you, then, good sir?”
“Know you a most insane and drunken idiot who styles himself the Grand Duke of Johannisberger?”
“No, no!” said the Prince, staring in Vivian’s face earnestly, and then laughing. “And you have actually fallen among that mad crew. A most excellent adventure! Arnelm! why, man, where art thou? Ride up! Behold in the person of this gentleman a new victim to the overwhelming hospitality of our Uncle of the Wines. And did they confer a title on you on the spot? Say, art thou Elector, or Palsgrave, or Baron; or, failing in thy devoirs, as once did our good cousin Arnelm, confess that thou wert ordained with becoming reverence the Archprimate of Puddledrink. Eh! Arnelm, is not that the style thou bearest at the Palace of the Wines?”
“So it would seem, your Highness. I think the title was conferred on me the same night that your Highness mistook the Grand Duke’s proboscis for Oberon’s horn, and committed treason not yet pardoned.”
“Good! good! thou hast us there. Truly a good memory is often as ready a friend as a sharp wit. Wit is not thy strong point, friend Arnelm; and yet it is strange that in the sharp encounter of ready tongues and idle logomachies thou hast sometimes the advantage. But, nevertheless, rest assured, good cousin Arnelm, that wit is not thy strong point.”
“It is well for me that all are not of the same opinion as your Serene Highness,” said the young Jagd Junker, somewhat nettled; for he prided himself on his repartees.
The Prince was much diverted with Vivian’s account of his last night’s adventure; and our hero learnt from his Highness that his late host was no less a personage than the cousin of the Prince of Little Lilliput, an old German Baron, who passed his time, with some neighbours of congenial temperament, in hunting the wild boar in the morning, and speculating on the flavours of the fine Rhenish wines during the rest of the day. “He and his companions,” continued the Prince, “will enable you to form some idea of the German nobility half a century ago. The debauch of last night was the usual carouse which crowned the exploits of each day when we were a boy. The revolution has rendered all these customs obsolete. Would that it had not sent some other things equally out of fashion!”
At this moment the Prince sounded his bugle, and the gates of the castle, which were not more than twenty yards distant, were immediately thrown open. The whole cavalcade set spurs to their steeds, and dashed at full gallop over the hollow-sounding drawbridge into the courtyard of the castle. A crowd of serving-men, in green liveries, instantly appeared, and Arnelm and Von Neuwied, jumping from their saddles, respectively held the stirrup and the bridle of the Prince as he dismounted.
“Where is Master Rodolph?” asked his Highness, with a loud voice.
“So please your Serene Highness, I am here!” answered a very thin treble; and, bustling through the surrounding crowd, came forward the owner of the voice. Master Rodolph was not much above five feet high, but he was nearly as broad as he was long. Though more than middle-aged, an almost infantile smile played upon his broad fair face, to which his small turn-up nose, large green goggle-eyes, and unmeaning mouth gave no expression. His long hair hung over his shoulders, the flaxen locks in some places maturing into grey. In compliance with the taste of his master, this most unsportsman-like-looking steward was clad in a green jerkin, on the right arm of which was embroidered a giant’s head, the crest of the Little Lilliputs.
“Truly, Rodolph, we have received some scratch in the chase to-day, and need your assistance. The best of surgeons, we assure you, Mr. Grey, if you require one: and look you that the blue chamber be prepared for this gentleman; and we shall have need of our cabinet this evening. See that all this be done, and inform Prince Maximilian that we would speak with him. And look you, Master Rodolph, there is one in this company; what call you your servant’s name, sir? Essper George! ’tis well: look you, Rodolph, see that our friend Essper George be well provided for. We know that we can trust him to your good care. And now, gentlemen, at sunset we meet in the Giants’ Hall.” So saying, his Highness bowed to the party; and taking Vivian by the arm, and followed by Arnelm and Von Neuwied, he ascended a stair case which opened into the court, and then mounted into a covered gallery which ran round the whole building. The interior wall of the gallery was alternately ornamented with stags’ heads or other trophies of the chase, and coats of arms blazoned in stucco. The Prince did the honours of the castle to Vivian with great courtesy. The armoury and the hall, the knights chamber, and even the donjon-keep, were all examined; and when Vivian had sufficiently admired the antiquity of the structure and the beauty of the situation, the Prince, having proceeded down a long corridor, opened the door into a small chamber, which he introduced to Vivian as his cabinet. The furniture of this room was rather quaint, and not unpleasing. The wainscot and ceiling were painted alike, of a light green colour, and were richly carved and gilt. The walls were hung with green velvet, of which material were also the chairs, and a sofa, which was placed under a large and curiously-cut looking glass. The lower panes of the windows of this room were of stained glass, of vivid tints; but the upper panes were untinged, in order that the light should not be disturbed which fell through them upon two magnificent pictures; one a hunting-piece, by Schneiders, and the other a portrait of an armed chieftain on horseback, by Lucas Cranach.
And now the door opened, and Master Rodolph entered, carrying in his hand a white wand, and bowing very reverently as he ushered in servants bearing a cold collation. As he entered, it was with difficulty that he could settle his countenance into the due and requisite degree of gravity; and so often was the fat steward on the point of bursting into laughter, as he arranged the setting out of the refreshments on the table, that the Prince, with whom he was at the same time both u favourite and a butt, at last noticed his unusual and unmanageable risibility.
“Why, Rodolph, what ails thee? Hast thou just discovered the point of some good saying of yesterday?”
The steward could now contain his laughter no longer, and he gave vent to his emotion in a most treble “He! he! he!”
“Speak, man, in the name of St. Hubert, and on the word of as stout a huntsman as ever yet crossed horse. Speak, we say; what ails thee?”
“He! he! he! in truth, a most comical knave! I beg your Serene Highness ten thousand most humble pardons, but, in truth, a more comical knave did I never see. How call you him? Essper George, I think; he! he! he! In truth, your Highness was right when you styled him a merry knave; in truth, a most comical knave; he! he! a very funny knave! He says, your Highness, that I am like a snake in a consumption! he! he! he! In truth, a most comical knave!”
“Well, Rodolph, so long as you do not quarrel with his jokes, they shall pass as true wit. But why comes not our son? Have you bidden the Prince Maximilian to our presence?”
“In truth have I, your Highness; but he was engaged at the moment with Mr. Sievers, and therefore he could not immediately attend my bidding. Nevertheless, he bade me deliver to your Serene Highness his dutiful affection, saying that he would soon have the honour of bending his knee unto your Serene Highness.”
“He never said any such nonsense. At least, if he did, he must be changed since last we hunted.”
“In truth, your Highness, I cannot aver, upon my conscience as a faithful steward, that such were the precise words and exact phraseology of his Highness the Prince Maximilian. But in the time of the good Prince, your father, whose memory be ever blessed, such were the words and style of message which I was schooled and instructed by Mr. von Lexicon, your Serene Highness’ most honoured tutor, to bear unto the good Prince your father, whose memory be ever blessed, when I had the great fortune of being your Serene Highness’ most particular page, and it fell to my lot to have the pleasant duty of informing the good Prince your father, whose memory be ever blessed — ”
“Enough! but Sievers is not Von Lexicon, and Maximilian, we trust, is — ”
“Papa! papa! dearest papa!” shouted a young lad, as he dashed open the door, and, rushing into the room, threw his arms round the Prince’s neck.
“My darling!” said the father, forgetting at this moment of genuine feeling the pompous plural in which he had hitherto spoken of himself. The Prince fondly kissed his child. The boy was about ten years of age, exquisitely handsome. Courage, not audacity, was imprinted on his noble features.
“Papa! may I hunt with you to-morrow?”
“What says Mr. Sievers?”
“Oh! Mr. Sievers says I am excellent; I assure you, upon my honour, he does, I heard you come home; but though I was dying to see you, I would not run out till I had finished my Roman History. I say, papa! what a grand fellow Brutus was; what a grand thing it is to be a patriot! I intend to be a patriot myself, and to kill the Grand Duke of Reisenburg. Who is that?”
“My friend, Max, Mr. Grey. Speak to him.”
“I am happy to see you at Turriparva, sir,” said the boy, bowing to Vivian with dignity. “Have you been hunting with his Highness this morning?”
“I can hardly say I have.”
“Max, I have received a slight wound to-day. Do not look alarmed; it is slight. I only mention it because, had it not been for this gentleman, it is very probable you would never have seen your father again. He has saved my life!”
“Saved your life! saved my papa’s life!” said the young Prince, seizing Vivian’s hand. “Oh! sir, what can I do for you? Mr. Sievers!” said the boy, with eagerness, to a gentleman who entered the room; “Mr. Sievers! here is a young lord who has saved papa’s life!”
Mr. Sievers was a tall, thin man, about forty, with a clear sallow complexion, a high forehead, on which a few wrinkles were visible, bright keen eyes, and a quantity of grey curling hair, which was combed back off his forehead, and fell down over his shoulders. He was introduced to Vivian as the Prince’s particular friend; and then he listened, apparently with interest, to his Highness’ narrative of the morning’s adventure, his danger, and his rescue. Young Maximilian never took his large, dark-blue eyes off his father while he was speaking, and when he had finished the boy rushed to Vivian and threw his arms round his neck. Vivian was delighted with the affection of the child, who whispered to him in a low voice, “I know what you are!”
“What, my young friend?”
“Ah! I know.”
“But tell me!”
“You thought I should not find out: you are a patriot!”
“I hope I am,” said Vivian; “but travelling in a foreign country is hardly a proof of it. Perhaps you do not know that I am an Englishman.”
“An Englishman!” said the child, with an air of great disappointment. “I thought you were a patriot! I am one. Do you know I will tell you a secret. You must promise not to tell, though. Promise, upon your word! Well, then,” said the urchin, whispering with great energy in Vivian’s ear through his hollow fist, “I hate the Grand Duke of Reisenburg, and I mean to stab him to the heart.” So saying, the little Prince grated his teeth with an expression of bitter detestation.
“What the deuce is the matter with the child!” thought Vivian; but at this moment his conversation with him was interrupted.
“Am I to believe this young gentleman, my dear Sievers,” asked the Prince, “when he tells me that his conduct has met your approbation?”
“Your son, Prince,” answered Mr. Sievers, “can only speak truth. His excellence is proved by my praising him to his face.”
The young Maximilian, when Mr. Sievers had ceased speaking, stood blushing, with his eyes fixed on the ground; and the delighted parent, catching his child up in his arms, embraced him with unaffected fondness.
“And now, all this time Master Rodolph is waiting for his patient. By St. Hubert, you can none of you think me very ill! Your pardon, Mr. Grey, for leaving you. My friend Sievers will, I am sure, be delighted to make you feel at ease at Turriparva. Max, come with me!”
Vivian found in Mr. Sievers an interesting companion; nothing of the pedant and much of the philosopher. Their conversation was of course chiefly on topics of local interest, anecdotes of the castle and the country, of Vivian’s friends, the drunken Johannisberger and his crew, and such matters; but there was a keenness of satire in some of Mr. Sievers’ observations which was highly amusing, and enough passed to make Vivian desire opportunities of conversing with him at greater length, and on subjects of greater interest. They were at present disturbed by Essper George entering the room to inform Vivian that his luggage had arrived from the village, and that the blue chamber was now prepared for his presence.
“We shall meet, I suppose, in the hall, Mr. Sievers?”
“No; I shall not dint; there. If you remain at Turriparva, which I trust you will. I shall be happy to see you in my room. If it have no other inducement to gain it the honour of your visit, it has here, at least, the recommendation of singularity; there is, at any rate, no other chamber like it in this good castle.”
The business of the toilet is sooner performed for a hunting party in a German forest than for a state dinner at Château Desir, and Vivian was ready before he was summoned.
“His Serene Highness has commenced his progress towards the hall.” announced Essper George to Vivian in a treble voice, and bowing with ceremony as he offered to lead the way with a white wand waving in his right hand.
“I shall attend his Highness,” said his master; “but before I do, if that white wand be not immediately laid aside it will be broken about your back.”
“Broken about my back! what, the wand of office, sir, of your steward! Master Rodolph says that, in truth, a steward is but half himself who hath not his wand: methinks when his rod of office is wanting, his Highness of Lilliput’s steward is but unequally divided. In truth, he is stout enough to be Aaron’s wand that swallowed up all the rest. But has your nobleness any serious objection to my carrying a wand? It gives such an air!”
The Giants’ Hall was a Gothic chamber of imposing appearance; the oaken rafters of the curiously-carved roof rested on the grim heads of gigantic figures of the same material. These statues extended the length of the hall on each side; they were elaborately sculptured and highly polished, and each one held in its outstretched arm a blazing and aromatic torch. Above them, small windows of painted glass admitted a light which was no longer necessary at the banquet to which we are now about to introduce the reader. Over the great entrance doors was a gallery, from which a band of trumpeters, arrayed in ample robes of flowing scarlet, sent forth many a festive and martial strain. More than fifty individuals, all wearing hunting dresses of green cloth on which the giant’s head was carefully emblazoned, were already seated in the hall when Vivian entered: he was conducted to the upper part of the chamber, and a seat was allotted him on the left hand of the Prince. His Highness had not arrived, but a chair of state, placed under a crimson canopy, denoted the style of its absent owner; and a stool, covered with velvet of the same regal colour, and glistening with gold lace, announced that the presence of Prince Maximilian was expected. While Vivian was musing in astonishment at the evident affectation of royal pomp which pervaded the whole establishment of the Prince of Little Lilliput, the trumpeters in the gallery suddenly commenced a triumphant flourish. All rose as the princely procession entered the hall: first came Master Rodolph twirling his white wand with the practised pride of a drum-major, and looking as pompous as a turkey-cock in a storm; six footmen in splendid liveries, two by two, immediately followed him. A page heralded the Prince Maximilian, and then came the Serene father; the Jagd Junker, and four or five other gentlemen of the court, formed the suite.
His Highness ascended the throne, Prince Maximilian was on his right, and Vivian had the high honour of the left hand; the Jagd Junker seated himself next to our hero. The table was profusely covered, chiefly with the sports of the forest, and the celebrated wild boar was not forgotten. Few minutes had elapsed ere Vivian perceived that his Highness was always served on bended knee; surprised at this custom, which even the mightiest and most despotic monarchs seldom exact, and still more surprised at the contrast which all this state afforded to the natural ease and affable amiability of the Prince, Vivian ventured to ask his neighbour Arnelm whether the banquet of to-day was in celebration of any particular event of general or individual interest.
“By no means,” said the Jagd Junker, “this is the usual style of the Prince’s daily meal, except that to-day there is, perhaps, rather less state and fewer guests than usual, in consequence of many of our fellow-subjects having left us with the purpose of attending a great hunting party, which is now holding in the dominions of his Highness’ cousin, the Duke of Micromegas.”
When the more necessary but, as most hold, the less delightful part of banqueting was over, and the numerous serving-men had removed the more numerous dishes of wild boar, red deer, roebuck, and winged game, a stiff Calvinistic-looking personage rose and delivered a long and most grateful grace, to which the sturdy huntsmen listened with a due mixture of piety and impatience. When his starch reverence, who in his black coat looked among the huntsmen very like (as Essper George observed) a blackbird among a set of moulting canaries, had finished, an old man, with long snow-white hah — and a beard of the same colour, rose from his seat, and, with a glass in his hand, bowing first to his Highness with great respect and then to his companions, with an air of condescension, gave in a stout voice, “The Prince!” A loud shout was immediately raised, and all quaffed with rapture the health of a ruler whom evidently they adored. Master Rodolph now brought forward an immense silver goblet full of some crafty compound, from its odour doubtless delicious. The Prince held the goblet by its two massy handles, and then said in a loud voice:
“My friends, the Giant’s head! and he who sneers at its frown may he rue its bristles!”
The toast was welcomed with a cry of triumph. When the noise had subsided the Jagd Junker rose, and prefacing the intended pledge by a few observations as remarkable for the delicacy of their sentiments as the elegance of their expression, he gave, pointing to Vivian, “The Guest! and may the Prince never want a stout arm at a strong push!” The sentiment was again echoed by the lusty voices of all present, and particularly by his Highness. As Vivian shortly returned thanks and modestly apologised for the German of a foreigner, he could not refrain from remembering the last time when he was placed in the same situation; it was when the treacherous Lord Courtown had drank success to Mr. Vivian Grey’s maiden speech in a bumper of claret at the political orgies of Château Desir. Could he really be the same individual as the daring youth who then organised the crazy councils of those ambitious, imbecile grey-beards? What was he then? What had happened since? What was he now? He turned from the comparison with feelings of sickening disgust, and it was with difficulty that his countenance could assume the due degree of hilarity which befitted the present occasion.
“Truly, Mr. Grey,” said the Prince, “your German would pass current at Weimar. Arnelm, good cousin Arnelm, we must trouble thy affectionate duty to marshal and regulate the drinking devoirs of our kind subjects to-night; for by the advice of our trusty surgeon, Master Rodolph, of much fame, we shall refrain this night from our accustomed potations, and betake ourselves to the solitude of our cabinet; a solitude in good sooth, unless we can persuade you to accompany us, kind sir,” said the Prince, turning to Mr. Grey. “Methinks eight-and-forty hours without rest, and a good part spent in the mad walls of our cousin of Johannisberger, are hardly the best preparatives for a drinking bout; unless, after Oberon’s horn, ye may fairly be considered to be in practice. Nevertheless, I advise the cabinet and a cup of Rodolph’s coffee. What sayest thou?” Vivian acceded to the Prince’s proposition with eagerness; and accompanied by Prince Maximilian, and preceded by the little steward, who, surrounded by his serving-men, very much resembled a planet eclipsed by his satellites, they left the hall.
“’Tis almost a pity to shut out the moon on such a night,” said the Prince, as he drew a large green velvet curtain from the windows of the cabinet.
“’Tis a magnificent night!” said Vivian; “how fine the effect of the light is upon the picture of the warrior. The horse seems quite living, and its fierce rider actually frowns upon us.”
“He may well frown,” said the Prince of Little Lilliput, in a voice of deep melancholy; and he hastily redrew the curtain. In a moment he started from the chair on which he had just seated himself, and again admitted the moonlight. “Am I really afraid of an old picture? No, no; it has not yet come to that.”
This was uttered in a distinct voice, and of course excited the astonishment of Vivian, who, however, had too much discretion to evince his surprise, or to take any measure by which his curiosity might be satisfied.
His companion seemed instantly conscious of the seeming singularity of his expression.
“You are surprised at my words, good sir,” said his Highness, as he paced very rapidly up and down the small chamber; “you are surprised at my words; but, sir, my ancestor’s brow was guarded by a diadem!”
“Which was then well won, Prince, and is now worthily worn.”
“By whom? where? how?” asked the Prince, in a rapid voice. “Maximilian,” continued his Highness, in a more subdued tone; “Maximilian, my own love, leave us; go to Mr. Sievers. God bless you, my only boy. Good night!”
“Good night, dearest papa, and down with the Grand Duke of Reisenburg!”
“He echoes the foolish zeal of my fond followers,” said the Prince, as his son left the room. “The idle parade to which their illegal loyalty still clings; my own manners, the relics of former days; habits will not change like stations; all these have deceived you, sir. You have mistaken me for a monarch; I should be one. A curse light on me the hour I can mention it without a burning blush. Oh, shame! shame on the blood of my father’s son! Can my mouth own that I once was one? Yes, sir! you see before you the most injured, the least enviable of human beings. I am a mediatised Prince!”
Vivian had resided too long in Germany to be ignorant of the meaning of this title, with which, perhaps, few of our readers may be acquainted. A mediatised Prince is an unhappy victim of those Congresses which, among other good and evil, purged with great effect the ancient German political system. By the regulations then determined on, that country was freed at one fell swoop from the vexatious and harassing dominion of the various petty Princes who exercised absolute sovereignties over little nations of fifty thousand souls. These independent sovereigns became subjects; and either swelled, by their mediatisation, the territories of some already powerful potentate, or transmuted into a state of importance some more fortunate petty ruler than themselves, whose independence, through the exertions of political intrigue or family influence, had been preserved inviolate. In most instances, the concurrence of these little rulers in their worldly degradation was obtained by a lavish grant of official emoluments or increase of territorial possessions; and the mediatised Prince, instead of being an impoverished and uninfluential sovereign, became a wealthy and powerful subject. But so dominant in the heart of man is the love of independent dominion, that even with these temptations few of the petty princes could have been induced to have parted with their cherished sceptres, had they not been conscious that, in case of contumacy, the resolutions of a Diet would have been enforced by the armies of an emperor. As it is, few of them have yet given up the outward and visible signs of regal sway. The throne is still preserved and the tiara still revered. They seldom frequent the courts of their sovereigns, and scarcely condescend to notice the attentions of their fellow nobility. Most of them expend their increased revenues in maintaining the splendour of their little courts at their ancient capitals, or in swelling the ranks of their retainers at their solitary forest castles.
The Prince of Little Lilliput was the first mediatised sovereign that Vivian had ever met. At another time, and under other circumstances, he might have smiled at the idle parade and useless pomp which he had this day witnessed, or moralised on that weakness of human nature which seemed to consider the inconvenient appendages of a throne as the great end for which power was to be coveted; but at the present moment he only saw a kind and, as he believed, estimable individual disquieted and distressed. It was painful to witness the agitation of the Prince, and Vivian felt it necessary to make some observations, which, from his manner, expressed more than they meant.
“Sir,” said his Highness, “your sympathy consoles me. Do not imagine that I can misunderstand it; it does you honour. You add by this to the many favours you have already conferred on me by saving my life and accepting my hospitality. I sincerely hope that your departure hence will be postponed to the last possible moment. Your conversation and your company have made me pass a more cheerful day than I am accustomed to. All here love me; but, with the exception of Sievers, I have no companion; and although I esteem his principles and his talents, there is no congeniality in our tastes, or in our tempers. As for the rest, a more devoted band cannot be conceived; but they think only of one thing, the lost dignity of their ruler; and although this concentration of their thoughts on one subject may gratify my pride, it does not elevate my spirit. But this is a subject on which in future we will not converse. One of the curses of my unhappy lot is, that a thousand circumstances daily occur which prevent me forgetting it.”
The Prince rose from the table, and pressing with his right hand on part of the wall, the door of a small closet sprung open; the interior was lined with crimson velvet. He took out of it a cushion of the same regal material, on which reposed, in solitary magnificence, a golden coronet of antique workmanship.
“The crown of my fathers,” said his Highness, as he placed the treasure with great reverence on the table, “won by fifty battles and lost without a blow! Yet in my youth I was deemed no dastard; and I have shed more blood for my country in one day than he who claims to be my suzerain in the whole of his long career of undeserved prosperity. Ay, this is the curse; the ancestor of my present sovereign was that warrior’s serf!” The Prince pointed to the grim chieftain, whose stout helmet Vivian now perceived was encircled by a crown similar to the one which was now lying before him. “Had I been the subject, had I been obliged to acknowledge the sway of a Caesar, I might have endured it with resignation. Had I been forced to yield to the legions of an Emperor, a noble resistance might have consoled me for the clanking of my chains. But to sink without a struggle, the victim of political intrigue; to become the bondsman of one who was my father’s slave; for such was Reisenburg, even in my own remembrance, our unsuccessful rival; this was too had. It rankles in my heart, and unless I ran be revenged I shall sink under it. To have lost my dominions would have been nothing. But revenge I will have! It is yet in my power to gain for an enslaved people the liberty I have myself lost. Yes! the enlightened spirit of the age shall yet shake the quavering councils of the Reisenburg cabal. I will, in truth I have already seconded the just, the unanswerable demands of an oppressed and insulted people, and, ere six months are over, I trust to see the convocation of a free and representative council in the capital of the petty monarch to whom I have been betrayed. The chief of Reisenburg has, in his eagerness to gain his grand ducal crown, somewhat overstepped the mark.
“Besides myself, there are no less than three other powerful princes whose dominions have been devoted to the formation of his servile duchy. We are all animated by the same spirit, all intent upon the same end. We have all used, and are using, our influence as powerful nobles to gain for our fellow-subjects their withheld rights; rights which belong to them as men, not merely as Germans. Within this week I have forwarded to the Residence a memorial subscribed by myself, my relatives, the other princes, and a powerful body of discontented nobles, requesting the immediate grant of a constitution similar to those of Wirtemburg and Bavaria. My companions in misfortune are inspirited by my joining them. Had I been wise I should have joined them sooner; but until this moment I have been the dupe of the artful conduct of an unprincipled Minister. My eyes, however, are now open. The Grand Duke and his crafty counsellor, whose name shall not profane my lips, already tremble. Part of the people, emboldened by our representations, have already refused to answer an unconstitutional taxation. I have no doubt that he must yield. Whatever may be the inclination of the Courts of Vienna or St. Petersburg, rest assured that the liberty of Germany will meet with no opponent except political intrigue; and that Metternich is too well acquainted with the spirit which is now only slumbering in the bosom of the German nation to run the slightest risk of exciting it by the presence of foreign legions. No, no! that mode of treatment may do very well for Naples, or Poland, or Spain; but the moment that a Croat or a Cossack shall encamp upon the Rhine or the Elbe, for the purpose of supporting the unadulterated tyranny of their new-fangled Grand Dukes, that moment Germany becomes a great and united nation. The greatest enemy of the prosperity of Germany is the natural disposition of her sons; but that disposition, while it does now, and may for ever, hinder us from being a great people, will at the same time infallibly prevent us from ever becoming a degraded one.”
At this moment, this moment of pleasing anticipation of public virtue and private revenge, Master Rodolph entered, and prevented Vivian from gaining any details of the history of his host. The little round steward informed his master that a horseman had just arrived, bearing for his Highness a despatch of importance, which he insisted upon delivering into the Prince’s own hands.
“Whence comes he?” asked his Highness.
“In truth, your Serene Highness, that were hard to say, inasmuch as the messenger refuses to inform us.”
A man whose jaded looks proved that he had travelled far that day was soon ushered into the room, and, bowing to the Prince, delivered to him in silence a letter.
“From whom comes this?” asked the Prince.
“It will itself inform your Highness,” was the only answer.
“My friend, you are a trusty messenger, and have been well trained. Rodolph, look that this gentleman be well lodged and attended.”
“I thank your Highness,” said the messenger, “but I do not tarry here. I wait no answer, and my only purpose in seeing you was to perform my commission to the letter, by delivering this paper into your own hands.”
“As you please, sir; you must be the best judge of your own time; but we like not strangers to leave our gates while our drawbridge is yet echoing with their entrance steps.”
The Prince and Vivian were again alone. Astonishment and agitation were visible on his Highness’ countenance as he threw his eye over the letter. At length he folded it up, put it into his breast-pocket and tried to resume conversation; but the effort was both evident and unsuccessful. In another moment the letter was again taken out, and again read with not less emotion than accompanied its first perusal.
“I fear I have wearied you, Mr. Grey,” said his Highness; “it was inconsiderate in me not to remember that you require repose.”
Vivian was not sorry to have an opportunity of retiring, so be quickly took the hint, and wished his Highness agreeable dreams.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:07