HotFreeBooks.com
The Dynasts - An Epic-Drama Of The War With Napoleon, In Three Parts, - Nineteen Acts, And One Hundred And Thirty Scenes
by Thomas Hardy
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[A third citizen enters from the direction NAPOLEON has taken.]

THIRD CITIZEN [breathlessly]

I have seen him go! And while he passed the gate I stood i' the crowd So close I could have touched him! Few discerned In one so soiled the erst Arch-Emperor!— In the lax mood of him who has lost all He stood inert there, idly singing thin: "Malbrough s'en va-t-en guerre!"—until his suite Came up with horses.

SECOND CITIZEN [still gazing afar]

Poniatowski's Poles Wearily walk the level causeway now; Also, meseems, Macdonald's corps and Reynier's. The frail-framed, new-built bridge has broken down: They've but the old to cross by.

FIRST CITIZEN

Feeble foresight! They should have had a dozen.

SECOND CITIZEN

All the corps— Macdonald's, Poniatowski's, Reynier's—all— Confusedly block the entrance to the bridge. And—verily Blucher's troops are through the town, And are debouching from the Ranstadt Gate Upon the Frenchmen's rear!

[A thunderous report stops his words, echoing through the city from the direction in which he is gazing, and rattling all the windows. A hoarse chorus of cries becomes audible immediately after.]

FIRST, THIRD, ETC., CITIZENS

Ach, Heaven!—what's that?

SECOND CITIZEN

The bridge of Lindenau has been upblown!

SEMICHORUS I OF THE PITIES [aerial music]

There leaps to the sky and earthen wave, And stones, and men, as though Some rebel churchyard crew updrave Their sepulchres from below.

SEMICHORUS II

To Heaven is blown Bridge Lindenau; Wrecked regiments reel therefrom; And rank and file in masses plough The sullen Elster-Strom.

SEMICHORUS I

A gulf is Lindenau; and dead Are fifties, hundreds, tens; And every current ripples red With marshals' blood and men's.

SEMICHORUS II

The smart Macdonald swims therein, And barely wins the verge; Bold Poniatowski plunges in Never to re-emerge!

FIRST CITIZEN

Are not the French across as yet, God save them?

SECOND CITIZEN [still gazing above]

Nor Reynier's corps, Macdonald's, Lauriston's, Nor yet the Poles.... And Blucher's troops approach, And all the French this side are prisoners. —Now for our handling by the Prussian host; Scant courtesy for our king!

[Other citizens appear beside him at the window, and further conversation continues entirely above.]

CHORUS OF IRONIC SPIRITS

The Battle of the Nations now is closing, And all is lost to One, to many gained; The old dynastic routine reimposing, The new dynastic structure unsustained.

Now every neighbouring realm is France's warder, And smirking satisfaction will be feigned: The which is seemlier?—so-called ancient order, Or that the hot-breath'd war-horse ramp unreined?

[The October night thickens and curtains the scene.]



SCENE VI

THE PYRENEES. NEAR THE RIVER NIVELLE

[Evening. The dining-room of WELLINGTON'S quarters. The table is laid for dinner. The battle of the Nivelle has just been fought.

Enter WELLINGTON, HILL, BERESFORD, STEWART, HOPE, CLINTON, COLBORNE, COLE, KEMPT [with a bound-up wound], and other officers.

WELLINGTON

It is strange that they did not hold their grand position more tenaciously against us to-day. By God, I don't quite see why we should have beaten them!

COLBORNE

My impression is that they had the stiffness taken out of them by something they had just heard of. Anyhow, startling news of some kind was received by those of the Eighty-eighth we took in the signal-redoubt after I summoned the Commandant.

WELLINGTON

Oh, what news?

COLBORNE

I cannot say, my lord, I only know that the latest number of the Imperial Gazette was seen in the hands of some of them before the capture. They had been reading the contents, and were cast down.

WELLINGTON

That's interesting. I wonder what the news could have been?

HILL

Something about Boney's army in Saxony would be most probable. Though I question if there's time yet for much to have been decided there.

BERESFORD

Well, I wouldn't say that. A hell of a lot of things may have happened there by this time.

COLBORNE

It was tantalizing, but they were just able to destroy the paper before we could prevent them.

WELLINGTON

Did you question them?

COLBORNE

Oh yes. But they stayed sulking at being taken, and would tell us nothing, pretending that they knew nothing. Whether much were going on, they said, or little, between the army of the Emperor and the army of the Allies, it was none of their business to relate it; so they kept a gloomy silence for the most part.

WELLINGTON

They will cheer up a bit and be more communicative when they have had some dinner.

COLE

They are dining here, my lord?

WELLINGTON

I sent them an invitation an hour ago, which they have accepted. I could do no less, poor devils. They'll be here in a few minutes. See that they have plenty of Madeira to whet their whistles with. It well screw them up into a better key, and they'll not be so reserved.

[The conversation on the day's battle becomes general. Enter as guests French officers of the Eighty-eighth regiment now prisoners on parole. They are welcomed by WELLINGTON and the staff, and all sit down to dinner.

For some time the meal proceeds almost in silence; but wine is passed freely, and both French and English officers become talkative and merry.

WELLINGTON [to the French Commandant]

More cozy this, sir, than—I'll warrant me— You found it in that damned redoubt to-day?

COMMANDANT

The devil if 'tis not, monseigneur, sure!

WELLINGTON

So 'tis for us who were outside, by God!

COMMANDANT [gloomily]

No; we were not at ease! Alas, my lord, 'Twas more than flesh and blood could do, to fight After such paralyzing tidings came. More life may trickle out of men through thought Than through a gaping wound.

WELLINGTON

Your reference Bears on the news from Saxony, I infer?

SECOND FRENCH OFFICER

Yes: on the Emperor's ruinous defeat At Leipzig city—brought to our startled heed By one of the Gazettes just now arrived.

[All the English officers stop speaking, and listen eagerly.]

WELLINGTON

Where are the Emperor's headquarters now?

COMMANDANT

My lord, there are no headquarters.

WELLINGTON

No headquarters?

COMMANDANT

There are no French headquarters now, my lord, For there is no French army! France's fame Is fouled. And how, then, could we fight to-day With our hearts in our shoes!

WELLINGTON

Why, that bears out What I but lately said; it was not like The brave men who have faced and foiled me here So many a long year past, to give away A stubborn station quite so readily.

BERESFORD

And what, messieurs, ensued at Leipzig then?

SEVERAL FRENCH OFFICERS

Why, sirs, should we conceal it? Thereupon Part of our army took the Lutzen road; Behind a blown-up bridge. Those in advance Arrived at Lutzen with the Emperor— The scene of our once famous victory! In such sad sort retreat was hurried on, Erfurt was gained with Blucher hot at heel. To cross the Rhine seemed then our only hope; Alas, the Austrians and the Bavarians Faced us in Hanau Forest, led by Wrede, And dead-blocked our escape.

WELLINGTON

Ha. Did they though?

SECOND FRENCH OFFICER

But if brave hearts were ever desperate, Sir, we were desperate then! We pierced them through, Our loss unrecking. So by Frankfurt's walls We fared to Mainz, and there recrossed the Rhine. A funeral procession, so we seemed, Upon the long bridge that had rung so oft To our victorious feet!... What since has coursed We know not, gentlemen. But this we know, That Germany echoes no French footfall!

AN ENGLISH OFFICER

One sees not why it should.

SECOND FRENCH OFFICER

We'll leave it so.

[Conversation on the Leipzig disaster continues till the dinner ends The French prisoners courteously take their leave and go out.]

WELLINGTON

Very good set of fellows. I could wish They all were mine!...Well, well; there was no crime In trying to ascertain these fat events: They would have sounded soon from other tongues.

HILL

It looks like the first scene of act the last For our and all men's foe!

WELLINGTON

I count to meet The Allies upon the cobble-stones of Paris Before another half-year's suns have shone. —But there's some work for us to do here yet: The dawn must find us fording the Nivelle!

[Exeunt WELLINGTON and officers. The room darkens.]



ACT FOURTH

SCENE I

THE UPPER RHINE

[The view is from a vague altitude over the beautiful country traversed by the Upper Rhine, which stretches through it in birds-eye perspective. At this date in Europe's history the stream forms the frontier between France and Germany.

It is the morning of New Year's Day, and the shine of the tardy sun reaches the fronts of the beetling castles, but scarcely descends far enough to touch the wavelets of the river winding leftwards across the many-leagued picture from Schaffhausen to Coblenz.]

DUMB SHOW

At first nothing—not even the river itself—seems to move in the panorama. But anon certain strange dark patches in the landscape, flexuous and riband-shaped, are discerned to be moving slowly. Only one movable object on earth is large enough to be conspicuous herefrom, and that is an army. The moving shapes are armies.

The nearest, almost beneath us, is defiling across the river by a bridge of boats, near the junction of the Rhine and the Neckar, where the oval town of Mannheim, standing in the fork between the two rivers, has from here the look of a human head in a cleft stick. Martial music from many bands strikes up as the crossing is effected, and the undulating columns twinkle as if they were scaly serpents.

SPIRIT OF RUMOUR

It is the Russian host, invading France!

Many miles to the left, down-stream, near the little town of Caube, another army is seen to be simultaneously crossing the pale current, its arms and accoutrements twinkling in like manner.

SPIRIT OF RUMOUR

Thither the Prussian levies, too, advance!

Turning now to the right, far away by Basel [beyond which the Swiss mountains close the scene], a still larger train of war- geared humanity, two hundred thousand strong, is discernible. It has already crossed the water, which is much narrower here, and has advanced several miles westward, where its ductile mass of greyness and glitter is beheld parting into six columns, that march on in flexuous courses of varying direction.

SPIRIT OF RUMOUR

There glides carked Austria's invading force!— Panting, too, Paris-wards with foot and horse, Of one intention with the other twain, And Wellington, from the south, in upper Spain.

All these dark and grey columns, converging westward by sure degrees, advance without opposition. They glide on as if by gravitation, in fluid figures, dictated by the conformation of the country, like water from a burst reservoir; mostly snake- shaped, but occasionally with batrachian and saurian outlines. In spite of the immensity of this human mechanism on its surface, the winter landscape wears an impassive look, as if nothing were happening.

Evening closes in, and the Dumb Show is obscured.



SCENE II

PARIS. THE TUILERIES

[It is Sunday just after mass, and the principal officers of the National Guard are assembled in the Salle des Marechaux. They stand in an attitude of suspense, some with the print of sadness on their faces, some with that of perplexity.

The door leading from the Hall to the adjoining chapel is thrown open. There enter from the chapel with the last notes of the service the EMPEROR NAPOLEON and the EMPRESS; and simultaneously from a door opposite MADAME DE MONTESQUIOU, the governess, who carries in her arms the KING OF ROME, now a fair child between two and three. He is clothed in a miniature uniform of the Guards themselves.

MADAM DE MONTESQUIOU brings forward the child and sets him on his feet near his mother. NAPOLEON, with a mournful smile, giving one hand to the boy and the other to MARIE LOUISE, en famille, leads them forward. The Guard bursts into cheers.]

NAPOLEON

Gentlemen of the National Guard and friends, I have to leave you; and before I fare To Heaven know what of personal destiny, I give into your loyal guardianship Those dearest in the world to me; my wife, The Empress, and my son the King of Rome.— I go to shield your roofs and kin from foes Who have dared to pierce the fences of our land; And knowing that you house those dears of mine, I start afar in all tranquillity, Stayed by my trust in your proved faithfulness. [Enthusiastic cheers for the Guard.]

OFFICERS [with emotion]

We proudly swear to justify the trust! And never will we see another sit Than you, or yours, on the great throne of France.

NAPOLEON

I ratify the Empress' regency, And re-confirm it on last year's lines, My bother Joseph stoutening her rule As the Lieutenant-General of the State.— Vex her with no divisions; let regard For property, for order, and for France Be chief with all. Know, gentlemen, the Allies Are drunken with success. Their late advantage They have handled wholly for their own gross gain, And made a pastime of my agony.

That I go clogged with cares I sadly own; Yet I go primed with hope; ay, in despite Of a last sorrow that has sunk upon me,— The grief of hearing, good and constant friends, That my own sister's consort, Naples' king, Blazons himself a backer of the Allies, And marches with a Neapolitan force Against our puissance under Prince Eugene.

The varied operations to ensue May bring the enemy largely Paris-wards; But suffer no alarm; before long days I will annihilate by flank and rear Those who have risen to trample on our soil; And as I have done so many and proud a time, Come back to you with ringing victory!— Now, see: I personally present to you My son and my successor ere I go.

[He takes the child in his arms and carries him round to the officers severally. They are much affected and raise loud cheers.]

You stand by him and her? You swear as much?

OFFICERS

We do!

NAPOLEON

This you repeat—you promise it?

OFFICERS

We promise. May the dynasty live for ever!

[Their shouts, which spread to the Carrousel without, are echoed by the soldiers of the Guard assembled there. The EMPRESS is now in tears, and the EMPEROR supports her.]

MARIE LOUISE

Such whole enthusiasm I have never known!— Not even from the Landwehr of Vienna.

[Amid repeated protestations and farewells NAPOLEON, the EMPRESS, the KING OF ROME, MADAME DE MONTESQUIOU, etc. go out in one direction, and the officers of the National Guard in another.

The curtain falls for an interval.

When it rises again the apartment is in darkness, and its atmosphere chilly. The January night-wind howls without. Two servants enter hastily, and light candles and a fire. The hands of the clock are pointing to three.

The room is hardly in order when the EMPEROR enters, equipped for the intended journey; and with him, his left arm being round her waist, walks MARIE LOUISE in a dressing-gown. On his right arm he carries the KING OF ROME, and in his hand a bundle of papers. COUNT BERTRAND and a few members of the household follow.

Reaching the middle of the room, he kisses the child and embraces the EMPRESS, who is tearful, the child weeping likewise. NAPOLEON takes the papers to the fire, thrusts them in, and watches them consume; then burns other bundles brought by his attendants.]

NAPOLEON [gloomily]

Better to treat them thus; since no one knows What comes, or into whose hands he may fall!

MARIE LOUISE

I have an apprehension-unexplained— That I shall never see you any more!

NAPOLEON

Dismiss such fears. You may as well as not. As things are doomed to be they will be, dear. If shadows must come, let them come as though The sun were due and you were trusting to it: 'Twill teach the world it wrongs in bringing them.

[They embrace finally. Exeunt NAPOLEON, etc. Afterwards MARIE LOUISE and the child.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Her instinct forwardly is keen in cast, And yet how limited. True it may be They never more will meet; although—to use The bounded prophecy I am dowered with— The screen that will maintain their severance Would pass her own believing; proving it No gaol-grille, no scath of scorching war, But this persuasion, pressing on her pulse To breed aloofness and a mind averse; Until his image in her soul will shape Dwarfed as a far Colossus on a plain, Or figure-head that smalls upon the main.

[The lights are extinguished and the hall is left in darkness.]



SCENE III

THE SAME. THE APARTMENTS OF THE EMPRESS

[A March morning, verging on seven o'clock, throws its cheerless stare into the private drawing-room of MARIE LOUISE, animating the gilt furniture to only a feeble shine. Two chamberlains of the palace are there in waiting. They look from the windows and yawn.]

FIRST CHAMBERLAIN

Here's a watering for spring hopes! Who would have supposed when the Emperor left, and appointed her Regent, that she and the Regency too would have to scurry after in so short a time!

SECOND CHAMBERLAIN

Was a course decided on last night?

FIRST CHAMBERLAIN

Yes. The Privy Council sat till long past midnight, debating the burning question whether she and the child should remain or not. Some were one way, some the other. She settled the matter by saying she would go.

SECOND CHAMBERLAIN

I thought it might come to that. I heard the alarm beating all night to assemble the National Guard; and I am told that some volunteers have marched out to support Marmot. But they are a mere handful: what can they do?

[A clatter of wheels and a champing and prancing of horses is heard outside the palace. MENEVAL enters, and divers officers of the household; then from her bedroom at the other end MARIE LOUISE, in a travelling dress and hat, leading the KING OF ROME, attired for travel likewise. She looks distracted and pale. Next come the DUCHESS OF MONTEBELLO, lady of honour, the COUNTESS DE MONTESQUIOU, ladies of the palace, and others, all in travelling trim.]

KING OF ROME [plaintively]

Why are we doing these strange things, mamma, And what did we get up so early for?

MARIE LOUISE

I cannot, dear, explain. So many events Enlarge and make so many hours of one, That it would be too hard to tell them now.

KING OF ROME

But you know why we a setting out like this? Is it because we fear our enemies?

MARIE LOUISE

We are not sure that we are going yet. I may be needful; but don't ask me here. Some time I will tell you.

[She sits down irresolutely, and bestows recognitions on the assembled officials with a preoccupied air.]

KING OF ROME [in a murmur]

I like being here best; And I don't want to go I know not where!

MARIE LOUISE

Run, dear to Mamma 'Quiou and talk to her [He goes across to MADAME DE MONTESQUIOU.] I hear that women of the Royalist hope [To the DUCHESS OF MONTEBELLO] Have bent them busy in their private rooms With working white cockades these several days.— Yes—I must go!

DUCHESS OF MONTEBELLO

But why yet, Empress dear? We may soon gain good news; some messenger Hie from the Emperor or King Joseph hither?

MARIE LOUISE

King Joseph I await. He's gone to eye The outposts, with the Ministers of War, To learn the scope and nearness of the Allies; He should almost be back.

[A silence, till approaching feet are suddenly heard outside the door.]

Ah, here he comes; Now we shall know!

[Enter precipitately not Joseph but officers of the National Guard and others.]

OFFICERS

Long live the Empress-regent! Do not quit Paris, pray, your Majesty. Remain, remain. We plight us to defend you!

MARIE LOUISE [agitated]

Gallant messieurs, I thank you heartily. But by the Emperor's biddance I am bound. He has vowed he'd liefer see me and my son Blanched at the bottom of the smothering Seine Than in the talons of the foes of France.— To keep us sure from such, then, he ordained Our swift withdrawal with the Ministers Towards the Loire, if enemies advanced In overmastering might. They do advance; Marshal Marmont and Mortier are repulsed, And that has come whose hazard he foresaw. All is arranged; the treasure is awheel, And papers, seals, and cyphers packed therewith.

OFFICERS [dubiously]

Yet to leave Paris is to court disaster!

MARIE LOUISE [with petulance]

I shall do what I say!... I don't know what— What SHALL I do!

[She bursts into tears and rushes into her bedroom, followed by the young KING and some of her ladies. There is a painful silence, broken by sobbings and expostulations within. Re-enter one of the ladies.]

LADY

She's sorely overthrown; She flings herself upon the bed distraught. She says, "My God, let them make up their minds To one or other of these harrowing ills, And force to't, and end my agony!"

[An official enters at the main door.]

OFFICIAL

I am sent here by the Minister of War To her Imperial Majesty the Empress.

[Re-enter MARIE LOUISE and the KING OF ROME.]

Your Majesty, my mission is to say Imperious need dictates your instant flight. A vanward regiment of the Prussian packs Has gained the shadow of the city walls.

MENEVAL

They are armed Europe's scouts!

[Enter CAMBACERES the Arch-Chancellor, COUNT BEAUHARNAIS, CORVISART the physician, DE BAUSSET, DE CANISY the equerry, and others.]

CAMBACERES

Your Majesty, There's not a trice to lose. The force well-nigh Of all compacted Europe crowds on us, And clamours at the walls!

BEAUHARNAIS

If you stay longer, You stay to fall into the Cossacks hands. The people, too, are waxing masterful: They think the lingering of your Majesty Makes Paris more a peril for themselves Than a defence for you. To fight is fruitless, And wanton waste of life. You have nought to do But go; and I, and all the Councillors, Will follow you.

MARIE LOUISE

Then I was right to say That I would go! Now go I surely will, And let none try to hinder me again!

[She prepares to leave.]

KING OF ROME [crying]

I will not go! I like to live here best! Don't go to Rambouillet, mamma; please don't. It is a nasty place! Let us stay here. O Mamma 'Quiou, stay with me here; pray stay!

MARIE LOUISE [to the Equerry]

Bring him down.

[Exit MARIE LOUISE in tears, followed by ladies-in-waiting and others.]

DE CANISY

Come now, Monseigneur, come.

[He catches up the boy in his arms and prepares to follow the Empress.]

KING OF ROME [kicking]

No, no, no! I don't want to go away from my house—I don't want to! Now papa is away I am the master! [He clings to the door as the equerry is bearing him through it.]

DE CANISY

But you must go.

[The child's fingers are pulled away. Exit DE CANISY with the King OF ROME, who is heard screaming as he is carried down the staircase.]

MADAME DE MONTESQUIOU

I feel the child is right! A premonition has enlightened him. She ought to stay. But, ah, the die is cast!

[MADAME DE MONTESQUIOU and the remainder of the party follow, and the room is left empty. Enter servants hastily.]

FIRST SERVANT

Sacred God, where are we to go to for grub and good lying to-night? What are ill-used men to do?

SECOND SERVANT

I trudge like the rest. All the true philosophers are gone, and the middling true are going. I made up my mind like the truest that ever was as soon as I heard the general alarm beat.

THIRD SERVANT

I stay here. No Allies are going to tickle our skins. The storm which roots—Dost know what a metaphor is, comrade? I brim with them at this historic time!

SECOND SERVANT

A weapon of war used by the Cossacks?

THIRD SERVANT

Your imagination will be your ruin some day, my man! It happens to be a weapon of wisdom used by me. My metaphor is one may'st have met with on the rare times when th'hast been in good society. Here it is: The storm which roots the pine spares the p—s—b—d. Now do you see?

FIRST AND SECOND SERVANTS

Good! Your teaching, friend, is as sound as true religion! We'll not go. Hearken to what's doing outside. [Carriages are heard moving. Servants go to the window and look down.] Lord, there's the Duchess getting in. Now the Mistress of the Wardrobe; now the Ladies of the Palace; now the Prefects; now the Doctors. What a time it takes! There are near a dozen berlines, as I am a patriot! Those other carriages bear treasure. How quiet the people are! It is like a funeral procession. Not a tongue cheers her!

THIRD SERVANT

Now there will be a nice convenient time for a little good victuals and drink, and likewise pickings, before the Allies arrive, thank Mother Molly!

[From a distant part of the city bands are heard playing military marches. Guns next resound. Another servant rushes in.]

FOURTH SERVANT

Montmartre is being stormed, and bombs are falling in the Chaussee d'Antin!

[Exit fourth servant.]

THIRD SERVANT [pulling something from his hat]

Then it is time for me to gird my armour on.

SECOND SERVANT

What hast there?

[Third servant holds up a crumpled white cockade and sticks it in his hair. The firing gets louder.]

FIRST AND SECOND SERVANTS

Hast got another?

THIRD SERVANT [pulling out more]

Ay—here they are; at a price.

[The others purchase cockades of third servant. A military march is again heard. Re-enter fourth servant.]

FOURTH SERVANT

The city has capitulated! The Allied sovereigns, so it is said, will enter in grand procession to-morrow: the Prussian cavalry first, then the Austrian foot, then the Russian and Prussian foot, then the Russian horse and artillery. And to cap all, the people of Paris are glad of the change. They have put a rope round the neck of the statue of Napoleon on the column of the Grand Army, and are amusing themselves with twitching it and crying "Strangle the Tyrant!"

SECOND SERVANT

Well, well! There's rich colours in this kaleidoscopic world!

THIRD SERVANT

And there's comedy in all things—when they don't concern you. Another glorious time among the many we've had since eighty-nine. We have put our armour on none too soon. The Bourbons for ever!

[He leaves, followed by first and second servants.]

FOURTH SERVANT

My faith, I think I'll turn Englishman in my older years, where there's not these trying changes in the Constitution!

[Follows the others. The Allies military march waxes louder as the scene shuts.]



SCENE IV

FONTAINEBLEAU. A ROOM IN THE PALACE

[NAPOLEON is discovered walking impatiently up and down, and glancing at the clock every few minutes. Enter NEY.]

NAPOLEON [without a greeting]

Well—the result? Ah, but your looks display A leaden dawning to the light you bring! What—not a regency? What—not the Empress To hold it in trusteeship for my son?

NEY

Sire, things like revolutions turn back, But go straight on. Imperial governance Is coffined for your family and yourself! It is declared that military repose, And France's well-doing, demand of you Your abdication—unconditioned, sheer. This verdict of the sovereigns cannot change, And I have pushed on hot to let you know.

NAPOLEON [with repression]

I am obliged to you. You have told me promptly!— This was to be expected. I had learnt Of Marmont's late defection, and the Sixth's; The consequence I easily inferred.

NEY

The Paris folk are flaked with white cockades; Tricolors choke the kennels. Rapturously They clamour for the Bourbons and for peace.

NAPOLEON [tartly]

I can draw inferences without assistance!

NEY [persisting]

They see the brooks of blood that have flowed forth; They feel their own bereavements; so their mood Asked no deep reasoning for its geniture.

NAPOLEON

I have no remarks to make on that just now. I'll think the matter over. You shall know By noon to-morrow my definitive.

NEY [turning to go]

I trust my saying what had to be said Has not affronted you?

NAPOLEON [bitterly]

No; but your haste In doing it has galled me, and has shown me A heart that heaves no longer in my cause! The skilled coquetting of the Government Has nearly won you from old fellowship!... Well; till to-morrow, marshal, then Adieu.

[Ney goes. Enter CAULAINCOURT and MACDONALD.]

Ney has got here before you; and, I deem, Has truly told me all?

CAULAINCOURT

We thought at first We should have had success. But fate said No; And abdication, making no reserves, Is, sire, we are convinced, with all respect, The only road, if you care not to risk The Empress; loss of every dignity, And magnified misfortunes thrown on France.

NAPOLEON

I have heard it all; and don't agree with you. My assets are not quite so beggarly That I must close in such a shameful bond! What—do you rate as naught that I am yet Full fifty thousand strong, with Augereau, And Soult, and Suchet true, and many more? I still may know to play the Imperial game As well as Alexander and his friends! So—you will see. Where are my maps?—eh, where? I'll trace campaigns to come! Where's my paper, ink, To schedule all my generals and my means!

CAULAINCOURT

Sire, you have not the generals you suppose.

MACDONALD

And if you had, the mere anatomy Of a real army, sire, that's left to you, Must yield the war. A bad example tells.

NAPOLEON

Ah—from your manner it is worse, I see, Than I cognize!... O Marmont, Marmont,—yours, Yours was the bad sad lead!—I treated him As if he were a son!—defended him, Made him a marshal out of sheer affection, Built, as 'twere rock, on his fidelity! "Forsake who may," I said, "I still have him." Child that I was, I looked for faith in friends!...

Then be it as you will. Ney's manner shows That even he inclines to Bourbonry.— I faint to leave France thus—curtailed, pared down From her late spacious borders. Of the whole This is the keenest sword that pierces me.... But all's too late: my course is closed, I see. I'll do it—now. Call in Bertrand and Ney; Let them be witness to my finishing!

[In much agitation he goes to the writing-table and begins drawing up a paper. BERTRAND and NEY enter; and behind them are seen through the doorway the faces of CONSTANT the valet, ROUSTAN the Mameluke, and other servants. All wait in silence till the EMPEROR has done writing. He turns in his seat without looking up.]

NAPOLEON [reading]

"It having been declared by the Allies That the prime obstacle to Europe's peace Is France's empery by Napoleon, This ruler, faithful to his oath of old, Renounces for himself and for his heirs The throne of France and that of Italy; Because no sacrifice, even of his life, Is he averse to make for France's gain." —And hereto do I sign. [He turns to the table and signs.]

[The marshals, moved, rush forward and seize his hand.]

Mark, marshals, here; It is a conquering foe I covenant with, And not the traitors at the Tuileries Who call themselves the Government of France! Caulaincourt, go to Paris as before, Ney and Macdonald too, and hand in this To Alexander, and to him alone.

[He gives the document, and bids them adieu almost without speech. The marshals and others go out. NAPOLEON continues sitting with his chin on his chest.

An interval of silence. There is then heard in the corridor a sound of whetting. Enter ROUSTAN the Mameluke, with a whetstone in his belt and a sword in his hand.]

ROUSTAN

After this fall, your Majesty, 'tis plain You will not choose to live; and knowing this I bring to you my sword.

NAPOLEON [with a nod]

I see you do, Roustan.

ROUSTAN

Will you, sire, use it on yourself, Or shall I pass it through you?

NAPOLEON [coldly]

Neither plan Is quite expedient for the moment, man.

ROUSTAN

Neither?

NAPOLEON

There may be, in some suited time, Some cleaner means of carrying out such work.

ROUSTAN

Sire, you refuse? Can you support vile life A moment on such terms? Why then, I pray, Dispatch me with the weapon, or dismiss me. [He holds the sword to NAPOLEON, who shakes his head.] I live no longer under such disgrace!

[Exit ROUSTAN haughtily. NAPOLEON vents a sardonic laugh, and throws himself on a sofa, where he by and by falls asleep. The door is softly opened. ROUSTAN and CONSTANT peep in.]

CONSTANT

To-night would be as good a time to go as any. He will sleep there for hours. I have my few francs safe, and I deserve them; for I have stuck to him honourably through fourteen trying years.

ROUSTAN

How many francs have you secured?

CONSTANT

Well—more than you can count in one breath, or even two.

ROUSTAN

Where?

CONSTANT

In a hollow tree in the Forest. And as for YOUR reward, you can easily get the keys of that cabinet, where there are more than enough francs to equal mine. He will not have them, and you may as well take them as strangers.

ROUSTAN

It is not money that I want, but honour. I leave, because I can no longer stay with self-respect.

CONSTANT

And I because there is no other such valet in the temperate zone, and it is for the good of society that I should not be wasted here.

ROUSTAN

Well, as you propose going this evening I will go with you, to lend a symmetry to the drama of our departure. Would that I had served a more sensitive master! He sleeps there quite indifferent to the dishonour of remaining alive!

[NAPOLEON shows signs of waking. CONSTANT and ROUSTAN disappear. NAPOLEON slowly sits up.]

NAPOLEON

Here the scene lingers still! Here linger I!... Things could not have gone on as they were going; I am amazed they kept their course so long. But long or short they have ended now—at last! [Footsteps are heard passing through the court without.] Hark at them leaving me! So politic rats Desert the ship that's doomed. By morrow-dawn I shall not have a man to shake my bed Or say good-morning to!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Herein behold How heavily grinds the Will upon his brain, His halting hand, and his unlighted eye.

SPIRIT IRONIC

A picture this for kings and subjects too!

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Yet is it but Napoleon who has failed. The pale pathetic peoples still plod on Through hoodwinkings to light!

NAPOLEON [rousing himself]

This now must close. Roustan misunderstood me, though his hint Serves as a fillip to a flaccid brain.... —How gild the sunset sky of majesty Better than by the act esteemed of yore? Plutarchian heroes outstayed not their fame, And what nor Brutus nor Themistocles Nor Cato nor Mark Antony survived, Why, why should I? Sage Canabis, you primed me!

[He unlocks a case, takes out a little bag containing a phial, pours from it a liquid into a glass, and drinks. He then lies down and falls asleep again.

Re-enter CONSTANT softly with a bunch of keys in his hand. On his way to the cabinet he turns and looks at NAPOLEON. Seeing the glass and a strangeness in the EMPEROR, he abandons his object, rushes out, and is heard calling.

Enter MARET and BERTRAND.]

BERTRAND [shaking the Emperor]

What is the matter, sire? What's this you've done?

NAPOLEON [with difficulty]

Why did you interfere!—But it is well; Call Caulaincourt. I'd speak with him a trice Before I pass.

[MARET hurries out. Enter IVAN the physician, and presently CAULAINCOURT.]

Ivan, renew this dose; 'Tis a slow workman, and requires a fellow; Age has impaired its early promptitude.

[Ivan shakes his head and rushes away distracted. CAULAINCOURT seizes NAPOLEON'S hand.]

CAULAINCOURT

Why should you bring this cloud upon us now!

NAPOLEON

Restrain your feelings. Let me die in peace.— My wife and son I recommend to you; Give her this letter, and the packet there. Defend my memory, and protect their lives. [They shake him. He vomits.]

CAULAINCOURT

He's saved—for good or ill-as may betide!

NAPOLEON

God—here how difficult it is to die: How easy on the passionate battle-plain!

[They open a window and carry him to it. He mends.]

Fate has resolved what man could not resolve. I must live on, and wait what Heaven may send!

[MACDONALD and other marshals re-enter. A letter is brought from MARIE LOUISE. NAPOLEON reads it, and becomes more animated.

They are well; and they will join me in my exile. Yes: I will live! The future who shall spell? My wife, my son, will be enough for me.— And I will give my hours to chronicling In stately words that stir futurity The might of our unmatched accomplishments; And in the tale immortalize your names By linking them with mine.

[He soon falls into a convalescent sleep. The marshals, etc. go out. The room is left in darkness.]



SCENE V

BAYONNE. THE BRITISH CAMP

[The foreground is an elevated stretch of land, dotted over in rows with the tents of the peninsular army. On a parade immediately beyond the tents the infantry are drawn up, awaiting something. Still farther back, behind a brook, are the French soldiery, also ranked in the same manner of reposeful expectation. In the middle- distance we see the town of Bayonne, standing within its zigzag fortifications at the junction of the river Adour with the Nive.

On the other side of the Adour rises the citadel, a fortified angular structure standing detached. A large and brilliant tricolor flag is waving indolently from a staff on the summit. The Bay of Biscay, into which the Adour flows, is seen on the left horizon as a level line.

The stillness observed by the soldiery of both armies, and by everything else in the scene except the flag, is at last broken by the firing of a signal-gun from a battery in the town-wall. The eyes of the thousands present rivet themselves on the citadel. Its waving tricolor moves down the flagstaff and disappears.]

THE REGIMENTS [unconsciously]

Ha-a-a-a!

[In a few seconds there shoots up the same staff another flag—one intended to be white; but having apparently been folded away a long time, it is mildewed and dingy.

From all the guns on the city fortifications a salute peals out. This is responded to by the English infantry and artillery with a feu-de-joie.]

THE REGIMENTS

Hurrah-h-h-h!

[The various battalions are then marched away in their respective directions and dismissed to their tents. The Bourbon standard is hoisted everywhere beside those of England, Spain, and Portugal. The scene shuts.]



SCENE VI

A HIGHWAY IN THE OUTSKIRTS OF AVIGNON

[The Rhone, the old city walls, the Rocher des Doms and its edifices, appear at the back plane of the scene under the grey light of dawn. In the foreground several postillions and ostlers with relays of horses are waiting by the roadside, gazing northward and listening for sounds. A few loungers have assembled.]

FIRST POSTILLION

He ought to be nigh by this time. I should say he'd be very glad to get this here Isle of Elba, wherever it may be, if words be true that he's treated to such ghastly compliments on's way!

SECOND POSTILLION

Blast-me-blue, I don't care what happens to him! Look at Joachim Murat, him that's made King of Naples; a man who was only in the same line of life as ourselves, born and bred in Cahors, out in Perigord, a poor little whindling place not half as good as our own. Why should he have been lifted up to king's anointment, and we not even have had a rise in wages? That's what I say.

FIRST POSTILLION

But now, I don't find fault with that dispensation in particular. It was one of our calling that the Emperor so honoured, after all, when he might have anointed a tinker, or a ragman, or a street woman's pensioner even. Who knows but that we should have been king's too, but for my crooked legs and your running pole-wound?

SECOND POSTILLION

We kings? Kings of the underground country, then, by this time, if we hadn't been too rotten-fleshed to follow the drum. However, I'll think over your defence, and I don't mind riding a stage with him, for that matter, to save him from them that mean mischief here. I've lost no sons by his battles, like some others we know.

[Enter a TRAVELLER on horseback.]

Any tidings along the road, sir of the Emperor Napoleon that was?

TRAVELLER

Tidings verily! He and his escort are threatened by the mob at every place they come to. A returning courier I have met tells me that at an inn a little way beyond here they have strung up his effigy to the sign-post, smeared it with blood, and placarded it "The Doom that awaits Thee!" He is much delayed by such humorous insults. I have hastened ahead to escape the uproar.

SECOND POSTILLION

I don't know that you have escaped it. The mob has been waiting up all night for him here.

MARKET-WOMAN [coming up]

I hope by the Virgin, as 'a called herself, that there'll be no riots here! Though I have not much pity for a man who could treat his wife as he did, and that's my real feeling. He might at least have kept them both on, for half a husband is better than none for poor women. But I'd show mercy to him, that's true, rather than have my stall upset, and messes in the streets wi' folks' brains, and stabbings, and I don't know what all!

FIRST POSTILLION

If we can do the horsing quietly out here, there will be none of that. He'll dash past the town without stopping at the inn where they expect to waylay him.—Hark, what's this coming?

[An approaching cortege is heard. Two couriers enter; then a carriage with NAPOLEON and BERTRAND; then others with the Commissioners of the Powers,—all on the way to Elba.

The carriages halt, and the change of horses is set about instantly. But before it is half completed BONAPARTE'S arrival gets known, and throngs of men and women armed with sticks and hammers rush out of Avignon and surround the carriages.]

POPULACE

Ogre of Corsica! Odious tyrant! Down with Nicholas!

BERTRAND [looking out of carriage]

Silence, and doff your hats, you ill-mannered devils!

POPULACE [scornfully]

Listen to him! Is that the Corsican? No; where is he? Give him up; give him up! We'll pitch him into the Rhone!

[Some cling to the wheels of NAPOLEON'S carriage, while others, more distant, throw stones at it. A stone breaks the carriage window.]

OLD WOMAN [shaking her fist]

Give me back my two sons, murderer! Give me back my children, whose flesh is rotting on the Russian plains!

POPULACE

Ay; give us back our kin—our fathers, our brothers, our sons— victims to your curst ambition!

[One of the mob seizes the carriage door-handle and tries to unfasten it. A valet of BONAPARTE'S seated on the box draws his sword and threatens to cut the man's arm off. The doors of the Commissioners' coaches open, and SIR NEIL CAMPBELL, GENERAL KOLLER, and COUNT SCHUVALOFF—The English, Austrian, and Russian Commissioners—jump out and come forward.]

CAMPBELL

Keep order, citizens! Do you not know That the ex-Emperor is wayfaring To a lone isle, in the Allies' sworn care, Who have given a pledge to Europe for his safety? His fangs being drawn, he is left powerless now To do you further harm.

SCHUVALOFF

People of France Can you insult so miserable a being? He who gave laws to a cowed world stands now At that world's beck, and asks its charity. Cannot you see that merely to ignore him Is the worst ignominy to tar him with, By showing him he's no longer dangerous?

OLD WOMAN

How do we know the villain mayn't come back? While there is life, my faith, there's mischief in him!

[Enter an officer with the Town-guard.]

OFFICER

Citizens, I am a zealot for the Bourbons, As you well know. But wanton breach of faith I will not brook. Retire!

[The soldiers drive back the mob and open a passage forward. The Commissioners re-enter their carriages. NAPOLEON puts his head out of his window for a moment. He is haggard, shabbily dressed, yellow-faced, and wild-eyed.]

NAPOLEON

I thank you, captain; Also your soldiery: a thousand thanks! [To Bertrand within] My God, these people of Avignon here Are headstrong fools, like all the Provencal fold, —I won't go through the town!

BERTRAND

We'll round it, sire; And then, as soon as we get past the place, You must disguise for the remainder miles.

NAPOLEON

I'll mount the white cockade if they invite me! What does it matter if I do or don't? In Europe all is past and over with me.... Yes—all is lost in Europe for me now!

BERTRAND

I fear so, sire.

NAPOLEON [after some moments]

But Asia waits a man, And—who can tell?

OFFICER OF GUARD [to postillions]

Ahead now at full speed, And slacken not till you have slipped the town.

[The postillions urge the horses to a gallop, and the carriages are out of sight in a few seconds. The scene shuts.]



SCENE VII

MALMAISON. THE EMPRESS JOSEPHINE'S BEDCHAMBER

[The walls are in white panels, with gilt mouldings, and the furniture is upholstered in white silk with needle-worked flowers. The long windows and the bed are similarly draped, and the toilet service is of gold. Through the panes appears a broad flat lawn adorned with vases and figures on pedestals, and entirely surrounded by trees—just now in their first fresh green under the morning rays of Whitsunday. The notes of an organ are audible from a chapel below, where the Pentecostal Mass is proceeding.

JOSEPHINE lies in the bed in an advanced stage of illness, the ABBE BERTRAND standing beside her. Two ladies-in-waiting are seated near. By the door into the ante-room, which is ajar, HOREAU the physician-in-ordinary and BOURDOIS the consulting physician are engaged in a low conversation.]

HOREAU

Lamoureux says that leeches would have saved her Had they been used in time, before I came. In that case, then, why did he wait for me?

BOURDOIS

Such whys are now too late! She is past all hope. I doubt if aught had helped her. Not disease, But heart-break and repinings are the blasts That wither her long bloom. Soon we must tell The Queen Hortense the worst, and the Viceroy.

HOREAU

Her death was made the easier task for grief [As I regarded more than probable] By her rash rising from a sore-sick bed And donning thin and dainty May attire To hail King Frederick-William and the Tsar As banquet-guests, in the old regnant style. A woman's innocent vanity!—but how dire. She argued that amenities of State Compelled the effort, since they had honoured her By offering to come. I stood against it, Pleaded and reasoned, but to no account. Poor woman, what she did or did not do Was of small moment to the State by then! The Emperor Alexander has been kind Throughout his stay in Paris. He came down But yester-eve, of purpose to inquire.

BOURDOIS

Wellington is in Paris, too, I learn, After his wasted battle at Toulouse.

HOREAU

Has his Peninsular army come with him?

BOURDOIS

I hear they have shipped it to America, Where England has another war on hand. We have armies quite sufficient here already— Plenty of cooks for Paris broth just now! —Come, call we Queen Hortense and Prince Eugene.

[Exeunt physicians. The ABBE BERTRAND also goes out. JOSEPHINE murmurs faintly.]

FIRST LADY [going to the bedside]

I think I heard you speak, your Majesty?

JOSEPHINE

I asked what hour it was—-if dawn or eve?

FIRST LADY

Ten in the morning, Madame. You forget You asked the same but a brief while ago.

JOSEPHINE

Did I? I thought it was so long ago!... I wish to go to Elba with him so much, But the Allies prevented me. And why? I would not have disgraced him, or themselves! I would have gone to him at Fontainebleau, With my eight horses and my household train In dignity, and quitted him no more.... Although I am his wife no longer now, I think I should have gone in spite of them, Had I not feared perversions might be sown Between him and the woman of his choice For whom he sacrificed me.

SECOND LADY

It is more Than she thought fit to do, your Majesty.

JOSEPHINE

Perhaps she was influenced by her father's ire, Or diplomatic reasons told against her. And yet I was surprised she should allow Aught secondary on earth to hold her from A husband she has outwardly, at least, Declared attachment to.

FIRST LADY

Especially, With ever one at hand—his son and hers— Reminding her of him.

JOSEPHINE

Yes.... Glad am I I saw that child of theirs, though only once. But—there was not full truth—not quite, I fear— In what I told the Emperor that day He led him to me at Bagatelle, That 'twas the happiest moment of my life. I ought not to have said it. No! Forsooth My feeling had too, too much gall in it To let truth shape like that!—I also said That when my arms were round him I forgot That I was not his mother. So spoke I, But oh me,—I remembered it too well!— He was a lovely child; in his fond prate His father's voice was eloquent. One might say I am well punished for my sins against him!

SECOND LADY

You have harmed no creature, madame; much less him!

JOSEPHINE

O but you don't quite know!... My coquetries In our first married years nigh racked him through. I cannot think how I could wax so wicked!... He begged me come to him in Italy, But I liked flirting in fair Paris best, And would not go. The independent spouse At that time was myself; but afterwards I grew to be the captive, he the free. Always 'tis so: the man wins finally! My faults I've ransomed to the bottom sou If ever a woman did!... I'll write to him— I must—again, so that he understands. Yes, I'll write now. Get me a pen and paper.

FIRST LADY [to Second Lady]

'Tis futile! She is too far gone to write; But we must humour her.

[They fetch writing materials. On returning to the bed they find her motionless. Enter EUGENE and QUEEN HORTENSE. Seeing the state their mother is in, they fall down on their knees by her bed. JOSEPHINE recognizes them and smiles. Anon she is able to speak again.]

JOSEPHINE [faintly]

I am dying, dears; And do not mind it—notwithstanding that I feel I die regretted. You both love me!— And as for France, I ever have desired Her welfare, as you know—have wrought all things A woman's scope could reach to forward it.... And to you now who watch my ebbing here, Declare I that Napoleon's first-chose wife Has never caused her land a needless tear. Tell him—these things I have said—bear him my love— Tell him—I could not write!

[An interval. She spasmodically flings her arms over her son and daughter, lets them fall, and becomes unconscious. They fetch a looking-glass, and find that her breathing has ceased. The clock of the Chateau strikes noon. The scene is veiled.]



SCENE VIII

LONDON. THE OPERA HOUSE

[The house is lighted up with a blaze of wax candles, and a State performance is about to begin in honour of the Allied sovereigns now on a visit to England to celebrate the Peace. Peace-devices adorn the theatre. A band can be heard in the street playing "The White Cockade."

An extended Royal box has been formed by removing the partitions of adjoining boxes. It is empty as yet, but the other parts of the house are crowded to excess, and somewhat disorderly, the interior doors having been broken down by besiegers, and many people having obtained admission without payment. The prevalent costume of the ladies is white satin and diamonds, with a few in lilac.

The curtain rises on the first act of the opera of "Aristodemo," MADAME GRASSINI and SIGNOR TRAMEZZINI being the leading voices. Scarcely a note of the performance can be heard amid the exclamations of persons half suffocated by the pressure.

At the end of the first act there follows a divertissement. The curtain having fallen, a silence of expectation succeeds. It is a little past ten o'clock.

Enter the Royal box the PRINCE REGENT, accompanied by the EMPEROR OF RUSSIA, demonstrative in manner now as always, the KING OF PRUSSIA, with his mien of reserve, and many minor ROYAL PERSONAGES of Europe. There are moderate acclamations. At their back and in neighbouring boxes LORD LIVERPOOL, LORD CASTLEREAGH, officers in the suite of the sovereigns, interpreters, and others take their places.

The curtain rises again, and the performers are discovered drawn up in line on the stage. They sing "God save the King." The sovereigns stand up, bow, and resume their seats amid more applause.]

A VOICE [from the gallery]

Prinny, where's your wife? [Confusion.]

EMPEROR OF RUSSIA [to Regent]

To which of us is the inquiry addressed, Prince?

PRINCE REGENT

To you, sire, depend upon't—by way of compliment.

[The second act of the Opera proceeds.]

EMPEROR OF RUSSIA

Any later news from Elba, sir?

PRINCE REGENT

Nothing more than rumours, which, 'pon my honour, I can hardly credit. One is that Bonaparte's valet has written to say the ex-Emperor is becoming imbecile, and is an object of ridicule to the inhabitants of the island.

KING OF PRUSSIA

A blessed result, sir, if true. If he is not imbecile he is worse —planning how to involve Europe in another way. It was a short- sighted policy to offer him a home so near as to ensure its becoming a hot-bed of intrigue and conspiracy in no long time!

PRINCE REGENT

The ex-Empress, Marie-Louise, hasn't joined him after all, I learn. Has she remained at Schonbrunn since leaving France, sires?

EMPEROR OF RUSSIA

Yes, sir; with her son. She must never go back to France. Metternich and her father will know better than let her do that. Poor young thing, I am sorry for her all the same. She would have joined Napoleon if she had been left to herself.—And I was sorry for the other wife, too. I called at Malmaison a few days before she died. A charming woman! SHE would have gone to Elba or to the devil with him. Twenty thousand people crowded down from Paris to see her lying in state last week.

PRINCE REGENT

Pity she didn't have a child by him, by God.

KING OF PRUSSIA

I don't think the other one's child is going to trouble us much. But I wish Bonaparte himself had been sent farther away.

PRINCE REGENT

Some of our Government wanted to pack him off to St. Helena—an island somewhere in the Atlantic, or Pacific, or Great South Sea. But they were over-ruled. 'Twould have been a surer game.

EMPEROR OF RUSSIA

One hears strange stories of his saying and doings. Some of my people were telling me to-day that he says it is to Austria that he really owes his fall, and that he ought to have destroyed her when he had her in his power.

PRINCE REGENT

Dammy, sire, don't ye think he owes his fall to his ambition to humble England by rupture of the Peace of Amiens, and trying to invade us, and wasting his strength against us in the Peninsula?

EMPEROR OF RUSSIA

I incline to think, with the greatest deference, that it was Moscow that broke him.

KING OF PRUSSIA

The rejection of my conditions in the terms of peace at Prague, sires, was the turning-point towards his downfall.

[Enter a box on the opposite side of the house the PRINCESS OF WALES, attended by LADY CHARLOTTE CAMPBELL, SIR W. GELL, and others. Louder applause now rings through the theatre, drowning the sweet voice of the GRASSINI in "Aristodemo."]

LADY CHARLOTTE CAMPBELL

It is meant for your Royal Highness!

PRINCESS OF WALES

I don't think so, my dear. Punch's wife is nobody when Punch himself is present.

LADY CHARLOTTE CAMPBELL

I feel convinced that it is by their looking this way.

SIR W. GELL

Surely ma'am you will acknowledge their affection? Otherwise we may be hissed.

PRINCESS OF WALES

I know my business better than to take that morsel out of my husband's mouth. There—you see he enjoys it! I cannot assume that it is meant for me unless they call my name.

[The PRINCE REGENT rises and bows, the TSAR and the KING OF PRUSSIA doing the same.]

LADY CHARLOTTE CAMPBELL

He and the others are bowing for you, ma'am!

PRINCESS OF WALES

Mine God, then; I will bow too! [She rises and bends to them.]

PRINCE REGENT

She thinks we rose on her account.—A damn fool. [Aside.]

EMPEROR OF RUSSIA

What—didn't we? I certainly rose in homage to her.

PRINCE REGENT

No, sire. We were supposed to rise to the repeated applause of the people.

EMPEROR OF RUSSIA

H'm. Your customs sir, are a little puzzling.... [To the King of Prussia.] A fine-looking woman! I must call upon the Princess of Wales to-morrow.

KING OF PRUSSIA

I shall, at any rate, send her my respects by my chamberlain.

PRINCE REGENT [stepping back to Lord Liverpool]

By God, Liverpool, we must do something to stop 'em! They don't know what a laughing-stock they'll make of me if they go to her. Tell 'em they had better not.

LIVERPOOL

I can hardly tell them now, sir, while we are celebrating the Peace and Wellington's victories.

PRINCE REGENT

Oh, damn the peace, and damn the war, and damn Boney, and damn Wellington's victories!—the question is, how am I to get over this infernal woman!—Well, well,—I must write, or send Tyrwhitt to- morrow morning, begging them to abandon the idea of visiting her for politic reasons.

[The Opera proceeds to the end, and is followed by a hymn and chorus laudatory to peace. Next a new ballet by MONSIEUR VESTRIS, in which M. ROZIER and MADAME ANGIOLINI dance a pas-de-deux. Then the Sovereigns leave the theatre amid more applause.

The pit and gallery now call for the PRINCESS OF WALES unmistakably. She stand up and is warmly acclaimed, returning three stately curtseys.]

A VOICE

Shall we burn down Carlton House, my dear, and him in it?

PRINCESS OF WALES

No, my good folks! Be quiet. Go home to your beds, and let me do the same.

[After some difficulty she gets out of the house. The people thin away. As the candle-snuffers extinguish the lights a shouting is heard without.]

VOICES OF CROWD

Long life to the Princess of Wales! Three cheers for a woman wronged!

[The Opera-house becomes lost in darkness.]



ACT FIFTH

SCENE I

ELBA. THE QUAY, PORTO FERRAJO

[Night descends upon a beautiful blue cove, enclosed on three sides by mountains. The port lies towards the western [right-hand] horn of the concave, behind it being the buildings of the town; their long white walls and rows of windows rise tier above tier on the steep incline at the back, and are intersected by narrow alleys and flights of steps that lead up to forts on the summit.

Upon a rock between two of these forts stands the Palace of the Mulini, NAPOLEONS'S residence in Ferrajo. Its windows command the whole town and the port.]

CHORUS OF IRONIC SPIRITS [aerial music]

The Congress of Vienna sits, And war becomes a war of wits, Where every Power perpends withal Its dues as large, its friends' as small; Till Priests of Peace prepare once more To fight as they have fought before!

In Paris there is discontent; Medals are wrought that represent One now unnamed. Men whisper, "He Who once has been, again will be!"

DUMB SHOW

Under cover of the dusk there assembles in the bay a small flotilla comprising a brig called l'Inconstant and several lesser vessels.

SPIRIT OF RUMOUR

The guardian on behalf of the Allies Absents himself from Elba. Slow surmise Too vague to pen, too actual to ignore, Have strained him hour by hour, and more and more. He takes the sea to Florence, to declare His doubts to Austria's ministrator there.

SPIRIT IRONIC

When he returns, Napoleon will be—where?

Boats put off from these ships to the quay, where are now discovered to have silently gathered a body of grenadiers of the Old Guard. The faces of DROUOT and CAMBRONNE are revealed by the occasional fleck of a lantern to be in command of them. They are quietly taken aboard the brig, and a number of men of different arms to the other vessels.

CHORUS OF RUMOURS [aerial music]

Napoleon is going, And nought will prevent him; He snatches the moment Occasion has lent him!

And what is he going for, Worn with war's labours? —To reconquer Europe With seven hundred sabres.

About eight o'clock we observe that the windows of the Palace of the Mulini are lighted and open, and that two women sit at them: the EMPEROR'S mother and the PRINCESS PAULINE. They wave adieux to some one below, and in a short time a little open low-wheeled carriage, drawn by the PRINCESS PAULINE'S two ponies, descends from the house to the port. The crowd exclaims "The Emperor!" NAPOLEON appears in his grey great-coat, and is much fatter than when he left France. BERTRAND sits beside him.

He quickly alights and enters the waiting boat. It is a tense moment. As the boat rows off the sailors sing the Marseillaise, and the gathered inhabitants join in. When the boat reaches the brig its sailors join in also, and shout "Paris or death!" Yet the singing has a melancholy cadence. A gun fires as a signal of departure. The night is warm and balmy for the season. Not a breeze is there to stir a sail, and the ships are motionless.

CHORUS OF RUMOURS

Haste is salvation; And still he stays waiting: The calm plays the tyrant, His venture belating!

Should the corvette return With the anxious Scotch colonel, Escape would be frustrate, Retention eternal.

Four aching hours are spent thus. NAPOLEON remains silent on the deck, looking at the town lights, whose reflections bore like augers into the water of the bay. The sails hang flaccidly. Then a feeble breeze, then a strong south wind, begins to belly the sails; and the vessels move.

CHORUS OF RUMOURS

The south wind, the south wind, The south wind will save him, Embaying the frigate Whose speed would enslave him; Restoring the Empire That fortune once gave him!

The moon rises and the ships silently disappear over the horizon as it mounts higher into the sky.



SCENE II

VIENNA. THE IMPERIAL PALACE

[The fore-part of the scene is the interior of a dimly lit gallery with an openwork screen or grille on one side of it that commands a bird's-eye view of the grand saloon below. At present the screen is curtained. Sounds of music and applause in the saloon ascend into the gallery, and an irradiation from the same quarter shines up through chinks in the curtains of the grille.

Enter the gallery MARIE LOUISE and the COUNTESS OF BRIGNOLE, followed by the COUNT NEIPPERG, a handsome man of forty two with a bandage over one eye.]

COUNTESS OF BRIGNOLE

Listen, your Majesty. You gather all As well as if you moved amid them there, And are advantaged with free scope to flit The moment the scene palls.

MARIE LOUISE

Ah, my dear friend, To put it so is flower-sweet of you; But a fallen Empress, doomed to furtive peeps At scenes her open presence would unhinge, Reads not much interest in them! Yet, in truth, 'Twas gracious of my father to arrange This glimpse-hole for my curiosity. —But I must write a letter ere I look; You can amuse yourself with watching them.— Count, bring me pen and paper. I am told Madame de Montesquiou has been distressed By some alarm; I write to ask its shape.

[NEIPPERG spreads writing materials on a table, and MARIE LOUISE sits. While she writes he stays near her. MADAME DE BRIGNOLE goes to the screen and parts the curtains.

The light of a thousand candles blazes up into her eyes from below. The great hall is decorated in white and silver, enriched by evergreens and flowers. At the end a stage is arranged, and Tableaux Vivants are in progress thereon, representing the history of the House of Austria, in which figure the most charming women of the Court.

There are present as spectators nearly all the notables who have assembled for the Congress, including the EMPEROR OF AUSTRIA himself, has gay wife, who quite eclipses him, the EMPEROR ALEXANDER, the KING OF PRUSSIA—still in the mourning he has never abandoned since the death of QUEEN LUISA,—the KING OF BAVARIA and his son, METTERNICH, TALLEYRAND, WELLINGTON, NESSELRODE, HARDENBERG; and minor princes, ministers, and officials of all nations.]

COUNTESS OF BRIGNOLE [suddenly from he grille]

Something has happened—so it seems, madame! The Tableau gains no heed from them, and all Turn murmuring together.

MARIE LOUISE

What may be?

[She rises with languid curiosity, and COUNT NEIPPERG adroitly takes her hand and leads her forward. All three look down through the grille.]

NEIPPERG

some strange news, certainly, your Majesty, Is being discussed.—I'll run down and inquire.

MARIE LOUISE [playfully]

Nay—stay here. We shall learn soon enough.

NEIPPERG

Look at their faces now. Count Metternich Stares at Prince Talleyrand—no muscle moving. The King of Prussia blinks bewilderedly Upon Lord Wellington.

MARIE LOUISE [concerned]

Yes; so it seems.... They are thunderstruck. See, though the music beats, The ladies of the Tableau leave their place, And mingle with the rest, and quite forget That they are in masquerade. The sovereigns show By far the gravest mien.... I wonder, now, If it has aught to do with me or mine? Disasters mostly have to do with me!

COUNTESS OF BRIGNOLE

Those rude diplomists from England there, At your Imperial father's consternation, And Russia's, and the King of Prussia's gloom, Shake shoulders with hid laughter! That they call The English sense of humour, I infer,— To see a jest in other people's troubles!

MARIE LOUISE [hiding her presages]

They ever take things thus phlegmatically: The safe sea minimizes Continental scare In their regard. I wish it did in mine! But Wellington laughs not, as I discern.

NEIPPERG

Perhaps, though fun for the other English here, It means new work for him. Ah—notice now The music makes no more pretence to play! Sovereigns and ministers have moved apart, And talk, and leave the ladies quite aloof— Even the Grand Duchesses and Empress, all— Such mighty cogitations trance their minds!

MARIE LOUISE [with more anxiety]

Poor ladies; yea, they draw into the rear, And whisper ominous words among themselves! Count Neipperg—I must ask you now—go glean What evil lowers. I am riddled through With strange surmises and more strange alarms!

[The COUNTESS OF MONTESQUIOU enters.]

Ah—we shall learn it now. Well—what, madame?

COUNTESS OF MONTESQUIOU [breathlessly]

Your Majesty, the Emperor Napoleon Has vanished from Elba! Wither flown, And how, and why, nobody says or knows.

MARIE LOUISE [sinking into a chair]

My divination pencilled on my brain Something not unlike that! The rigid mien That mastered Wellington suggested it.... Complicity will be ascribed to me, Unwitting though I stand!... [A pause.] He'll not succeed! And my fair plans for Parma will be marred, And my son's future fouled!—I must go hence, And instantly declare to Metternich That I know nought of this; and in his hands Place me unquestioningly, with dumb assent To serve the Allies.... Methinks that I was born Under an evil-coloured star, whose ray Darts death at joys!—Take me away, Count.—You [to the ladies] Can stay and see the end.

[Exeunt MARIE LOUISE and NEIPPERG. MESDAMES DE MONTESQUIOU and DE BRIGNOLE go to the grille and watch and listen.]

VOICE OF ALEXANDER [below]

I told you, Prince, that it would never last!

VOICE OF TALLEYRAND

Well, sire, you should have sent him to the Azores, Or the Antilles, or best, Saint-Helena.

VOICE OF THE KING OF PRUSSIA

Instead, we send him but two days from France, Give him an island as his own domain, A military guard of large resource, And millions for his purse!

ANOTHER VOICE

The immediate cause Must be a negligence in watching him. The British Colonel Campbell should have seen That apertures for flight were wired and barred To such a cunning bird!

ANOTHER VOICE

By all report He took the course direct to Naples Bay.

VOICES [of new arrivals]

He has made his way to France—so all tongues tell— And landed there, at Cannes! [Excitement.]

COUNTESS OF BRIGNOLE

Do now but note How cordial intercourse resolves itself To sparks of sharp debate! The lesser guests Are fain to steal unnoticed from a scene Wherein they feel themselves as surplusage Beside the official minds.—I catch a sign The King of Prussia makes the English Duke; They leave the room together.

COUNTESS OF MONTESQUIOU

Yes; wit wanes, And all are going—Prince Talleyrand, The Emperor Alexander, Metternich, The Emperor Francis.... So much for the Congress! Only a few blank nobodies remain, And they seem terror-stricken.... Blackly ends Such fair festivities. The red god War Stalks Europe's plains anew!

[The curtain of the grille is dropped. MESDAMES DE MONTESQUIOU and DE BRIGNOLE leave the gallery. The light is extinguished there and the scene disappears.]



SCENE III

LA MURE, NEAR GRENOBLE

[A lonely road between a lake and some hills, two or three miles outside the village of la Mure, is discovered. A battalion of the Fifth French royalist regiment of the line under COMMANDANT LESSARD, is drawn up in the middle of the road with a company of sappers and miners, comprising altogether about eight hundred men.

Enter to them from the south a small detachment of lancers with an aide-de-camp at their head. They ride up to within speaking distance.]

LESSARD

They are from Bonaparte. Present your arms!

AIDE [calling]

We'd parley on Napoleon's behalf, And fain would ask you join him.

LESSARD

Al parole With rebel bands the Government forbids. Come five steps further and we fire!

AIDE

To France, And to posterity through fineless time, Must you then answer for so foul a blow Against the common weal!

[NAPOLEON'S aide-de-camp and the lancers turn about and ride back out of sight. The royalist troops wait. Presently there reappears from the same direction a small column of soldiery, representing the whole of NAPOLEON'S little army shipped from Elba. It is divided into an advance-guard under COLONEL MALLET, and two bodies behind, a troop of Polish lancers under COLONEL JERMANWSKI on the right side of the road, and some officers without troops on the left, under MAJOR PACCONI.

NAPOLEON rides in the midst of the advance-guard, in the old familiar "redingote grise," cocked hat, and tricolor cockade, his well-known profile keen against the hills. He is attended by GENERALS BERTRAND, DROUOT, and CAMBRONNE. When they get within gun-shot of the royalists the men are halted. NAPOLEON dismounts and steps forward.]

NAPOLEON

Direct the men To lodge their weapons underneath the arm, Points downward. I shall not require them here.

COLONEL MALLET

Sire, is it not a needless jeopardy To meet them thus? The sentiments of these We do not know, and the first trigger pressed May end you.

NAPOLEON

I have thought it out, my friend, And value not my life as in itself, But as to France, severed from whose embrace] I am dead already.

[He repeats the order, which is carried out. There is a breathless silence, and people from the village gather round with tragic expectations. NAPOLEON walks on alone towards the Fifth battalion, Throwing open his great-coat and revealing his uniform and the ribbon of the Legion of Honour. Raising his hand to his hat he salutes.]

LESSARD

Present arms!

[The firelocks of the royalist battalion are levelled at NAPOLEON.]

NAPOLEON [still advancing]

Men of the Fifth, See—here I am!... Old friends, do you not know me? If there be one among you who would slay His Chief of proud past years, let him come on And do it now! [A pause.]

LESSARD [to his next officer]

They are death-white at his words! They'll fire not on this man. And I am helpless.

SOLDIERS [suddenly]

Why yes! We know you, father. Glad to see ye! The Emperor for ever! Ha! Huzza!

[They throw their arms upon the ground, and, rushing forward, sink down and seize NAPOLEON'S knees and kiss his hands. Those who cannot get near him wave their shakos and acclaim him passionately. BERTRAND, DROUOT, and CAMBRONNE come up.]

NAPOLEON [privately]

All is accomplished, Bertrand! Ten days more, And we are snug within the Tuileries.

[The soldiers tear out their white cockades and trample on them, and disinter from the bottom of their knapsacks tricolors, which they set up.

NAPOLEON'S own men now arrive, and fraternize with and embrace the soldiers of the Fifth. When the emotion has subsided, NAPOLEON forms the whole body into a square and addresses them.]

Soldiers, I came with these few faithful ones To save you from the Bourbons,—treasons, tricks, Ancient abuses, feudal tyranny— From which I once of old delivered you. The Bourbon throne is illegitimate Because not founded on the nation's will, But propped up for the profit of a few. Comrades, is this not so?

A GRENADIER

Yes, verily, sire. You are the Angel of the Lord to us; We'll march with you to death or victory! [Shouts.]

[At this moment a howling dog crosses in front of them with a cockade tied to its tail. The soldiery of both sides laugh loudly.

NAPOLEON forms both bodies of troops into one column. Peasantry run up with buckets of sour wine and a single glass; NAPOLEON takes his turn with the rank and file in drinking from it. He bids the whole column follow him to Grenoble and Paris. Exeunt soldiers headed by NAPOLEON. The scene shuts.]



SCENE IV

SCHONBRUNN

[The gardens of the Palace. Fountains and statuary are seen around, and the Gloriette colonnade rising against the sky on a hill behind.

The ex-EMPRESS MARIE LOUISE is discovered walking up and down. Accompanying her is the KING OF ROME—now a blue-eye, fair-haired child—in the charge of the COUNTESS OF MONTESQUIOU. Close by is COUNT NEIPPERG, and at a little distance MENEVAL, her attendant and Napoleon's adherent.

The EMPEROR FRANCIS and METTERNICH enter at the other end of the parterre.]

MARIE LOUISE [with a start]

Here are the Emperor and Prince Metternich. Wrote you as I directed?

NEIPPERG

Promptly so. I said your Majesty had not part In this mad move of your Imperial spouse, And made yourself a ward of the Allies; Adding, that you had vowed irrevocably To enter France no more.

MARIE LOUISE

Your worthy zeal Has been a trifle swift. My meaning stretched Not quite so far as that.... And yet—and yet It matters little. Nothing matters much!

[The EMPEROR and METTERNICH come forward. NEIPPERG retires.]

FRANCIS

My daughter, you did not a whit too soon Voice your repudiation. Have you seen What the allies have papered Europe with?

MARIE LOUISE

I have seen nothing.

FRANCIS

Please you read it, Prince.

METTERNICH [taking out a paper]

"The Powers assembled at the Congress here Owe it to their own troths and dignities, And to the furtherance of social order, To make a solemn Declaration, thus: By breaking the convention as to Elba, Napoleon Bonaparte forthwith destroys His only legal title to exist, And as a consequence has hurled himself Beyond the pale of civil intercourse. Disturber of the tranquillity of the world, There can be neither peace nor truce with him, And public vengeance is his self-sought doom.— Signed by the Plenipotentiaries."

MARIE LOUISE [pale]

O God, How terrible!... What shall—-[she begins weeping.]

KING OF ROME

Is it papa They want to hurt like that, dear Mamma 'Quiou? Then 'twas no good my praying for him so; And I can see that I am not going to be A King much longer!

COUNTESS OF MONTESQUIOU [retiring with the child]

Pray for him, Monseigneur, Morning and evening just the same! They plan To take you off from me. But don't forget— Do as I say!

KING OF ROME

Yes, Mamma 'Quiou, I will!— But why have I no pages now? And why Does my mamma the Empress weep so much?

COUNTESS OF MONTESQUIOU

We'll talk elsewhere.

[MONTESQUIOU and the KING OF ROME withdraw to back.]

FRANCIS

At least, then, you agree Not to attempt to follow Paris-ward Your conscience-lacking husband, and create More troubles in the State?—Remember this, I sacrifice my every man and horse Ere he Rule France again.

MARIE LOUISE

I am pledged already To hold by the Allies; let that suffice!

METTERNICH

For the clear good of all, your Majesty, And for your safety and the King of Rome's, It most befits that your Imperial father Should have sole charge of the young king henceforth, While these convulsions rage. That this is so You will see, I think, in view of being installed As Parma's Duchess, and take steps therefor.

MARIE LOUISE [coldly]

I understand the terms to be as follows: Parma is mine—my very own possession,— And as a counterquit, the guardianship Is ceded to my father of my son, And I keep out of France.

METTERNICH

And likewise this: All missives that your Majesty receives Under Napoleon's hand, you tender straight The Austrian Cabinet, the seals unbroke; With those received already.

FRANCIS

You discern How vastly to the welfare of your son This course must tend? Duchess of Parma throned You shine a wealthy woman, to endow Your son with fortune and large landed fee.

MARIE LOUISE [bitterly]

I must have Parma: and those being the terms Perforce accept! I weary of the strain Of statecraft and political embroil: I long for private quiet!... And now wish To say no more at all.

[MENEVAL, who has heard her latter remarks, turns sadly away.]

FRANCIS

There's nought to say; All is in train to work straightforwardly.

[FRANCIS and METTERNICH depart. MARIE LOUISE retires towards the child and the COUNTESS OF MONTESQUIOU at the back of the parterre, where they are joined by NEIPPERG.

Enter in front DE MONTROND, a secret emissary of NAPOLEON, disguised as a florist examining the gardens. MENEVAL recognizes him and comes forward.]

MENEVAL

Why are you here, de Montrond? All is hopeless!

DE MONTROND

Wherefore? The offer of the Regency I come empowered to make, and will conduct her Safely to Strassburg with her little son, If she shrink not to breech her as a man, And tiptoe from a postern unperceived?

MENEVAL

Though such quaint gear would mould her to a youth Fair as Adonis on a hunting morn, Yet she'll refuse! A German prudery Sits on her still; more, kneaded by her arts There's no will left to her. I conjured her To hold aloof, sign nothing. But in vain.

DE MONTROND [looking towards Marie Louise]

I fain would put it to her privately!

MENEVAL

A thing impossible. No word to her Without a word to him you see with her, Neipperg to wit. She grows indifferent To dreams as Regent; visioning a future Wherein her son and self are two of three But where the third is not Napoleon.

DE MONTROND [In sad surprise]

I may as well go hence then as I came, And kneel to Heaven for one thing—that success Attend Napoleon in the coming throes!

MENEVAL

I'll walk with you for safety to the gate, Though I am as the Emperor's man suspect, And any day may be dismissed. If so I go to Paris.

[Exeunt MENEVAL and DE MONTROND.]

SPIRIT IRONIC

Had he but persevered, and biassed her To slip the breeches on, and hie away, Who knows but that the map of France had shaped And it will never now!

[There enters from the other side of the gardens MARIA CAROLINA, ex-Queen of Naples, and grandmother of Marie Louise. The latter, dismissing MONTESQUIOU and the child, comes forward.]

MARIA CAROLINA

I have crossed from Hetzendorf to kill an hour; Why art so pensive, dear?

MARIE LOUISE

Ah, why! My lines Rule ruggedly. You doubtless have perused This vicious cry against the Emperor? He's outlawed—to be caught alive or dead, Like any noisome beast!

MARIA CAROLINA

Nought have I heard, My child. But these vile tricks, to pluck you from Your nuptial plightage and your rightful glory Make me belch oaths!—You shall not join your husband Do they assert? My God, I know one thing, Outlawed or no, I'd knot my sheets forthwith, Were I but you, and steal to him in disguise, Let come what would come! Marriage is for life.

MARIE LOUISE

Mostly; not always: not with Josephine; And, maybe, not with me. But, that apart, I could do nothing so outrageous. Too many things, dear grand-dame, you forget. A puppet I, by force inflexible, Was bid to wed Napoleon at a nod,— The man acclaimed to me from cradle-days As the incarnate of all evil things, The Antichrist himself.—I kissed the cup, Gulped down the inevitable, and married him; But none the less I saw myself therein The lamb whose innocent flesh was dressed to grace The altar of dynastic ritual!— Hence Elba flung no duty-call to me, Neither does Paris now.

MARIA CAROLINA

I do perceive They have worked on you to much effect already! Go, join your Count; he waits you, dear.—Well, well; The way the wind blows needs no cock to tell!

[Exeunt severally QUEEN MARIA CAROLINA and MARIE LOUISE with NEIPPERG. The sun sets over the gardens and the scene fades.]



SCENE V

LONDON. THE OLD HOUSE OF COMMONS

[The interior of the Chamber appears as in Scene III., Act I., Part I., except that the windows are not open and the trees without are not yet green.

Among the Members discovered in their places are, of ministers and their supporters, LORD CASTLEREAGH the Foreign Secretary, VANSITTART Chancellor of the Exchequer, BATHURST, PALMERSTON the War Secretary, ROSE, PONSONBY, ARBUTHNOT, LUSHINGTON, GARROW the Attorney General, SHEPHERD, LONG, PLUNKETT, BANKES; and among those of the Opposition SIR FRANCIS BURDETT, WHITBREAD, TIERNEY, ABERCROMBY, DUNDAS, BRAND, DUNCANNON, LAMBTON, HEATHCOTE, SIR SAMUEL ROMILLY, G. WALPOLE, RIDLEY, OSBORNE, and HORNER.

Much interest in the debate is apparent, and the galleries are full. LORD CASTLEREAGH rises.]

CASTLEREAGH

At never a moment in my stressed career, Amid no memory-moving urgencies, Have I, sir, felt so gravely set on me The sudden, vast responsibility That I feel now. Few things conceivable Could more momentous to the future be Than what may spring from counsel here to-night On means to meet the plot unparalleled In full fierce play elsewhere. Sir, this being so, And seeing how the events of these last days Menace the toil of twenty anxious years, And peril all that period's patient aim, No auguring mind can doubt that deeds which root In steadiest purpose only, will effect Deliverance from a world-calamity As dark as any in the vaults of Time.

Now, what we notice front and foremost is That this convulsion speaks not, pictures not The heart of France. It comes of artifice— From the unique and sinister influence Of a smart army-gamester—upon men Who have shared his own excitements, spoils, and crimes.— This man, who calls himself most impiously The Emperor of France by Grace of God, Has, in the scale of human character, Dropt down so low, that he has set at nought All pledges, stipulations, guarantees, And stepped upon the only pedestal On which he cares to stand—his lawless will. Indeed, it is a fact scarce credible That so mysteriously in his own breast Did this adventurer lock the scheme he planned, That his companion Bertrand, chief in trust, Was unapprised thereof until the hour In which the order to embark was given!

I think the House will readily discern That the wise, wary trackway to be trod By our own country in the crisis reached, Must lie 'twixt two alternatives,—of war In concert with the Continental Powers, Or of an armed and cautionary course Sufficing for the present phase of things.

Whatever differences of view prevail On the so serious and impending question— Whether in point of prudent reckoning 'Twere better let the power set up exist, Or promptly at the outset deal with it— Still, to all eyes it is imperative That some mode of safeguardance be devised; And if I cannot range before the House, At this stage, all the reachings of the case, I will, if needful, on some future day Poise these nice matters on their merits here.

Meanwhile I have to move: That an address unto His Royal Highness Be humbly offered for his gracious message, And to assure him that his faithful Commons Are fully roused to the dark hazardries To which the life and equanimity Of Europe are exposed by deeds in France, In contravention of the plighted pacts At Paris in the course of yester-year.

That, in a cause of such wide-waked concern, It doth afford us real relief to know That concert with His Majesty's Allies Is being effected with no loss of time— Such concert as will thoroughly provide For Europe's full and long security. [Cheers.]

That we, with zeal, will speed such help to him So to augment his force by sea and land As shall empower him to set afoot Swift measures meet for its accomplishing. [Cheers.]

BURDETT

It seems to me almost impossible, Weighing the language of the noble lord, To catch its counsel,—whether peace of war. [Hear, hear.] If I translate his words to signify The high expediency of watch and ward, That we may not be taken unawares, I own concurrence; but if he propose Too plunge this realm into a sea of blood To reinstate the Bourbon line in France, I should but poorly do my duty here Did I not lift my voice protestingly Against so ruinous an enterprise!

Sir, I am old enough to call to mind The first fierce frenzies for the selfsame end, The fruit of which was to endow this man, The object of your apprehension now, With such a might as could not be withstood By all of banded Europe, till he roamed And wrecked it wantonly on Russian plains. Shall, then, another score of scourging years Distract this land to make a Bourbon king? Wrongly has Bonaparte's late course been called A rude incursion on the soil of France.— Who ever knew a sole and single man Invade a nation thirty million strong, And gain in some few days full sovereignty Against the nation's will!—The truth is this: The nation longed for him, and has obtained him....

I have beheld the agonies of war Through many a weary season; seen enough To make me hold that scarcely any goal Is worth the reaching by so red a road. No man can doubt that this Napoleon stands As Emperor of France by Frenchmen's wills. Let the French settle, then, their own affairs; I say we shall have nought to apprehend!—

Much as I might advance in proof of this, I'll dwell not thereon now. I am satisfied To give the general reasons which, in brief, Balk my concurrence in the Address proposed. [Cheers.]

PONSONBY

My words will be but few, for the Address Constrains me to support it as it stands. So far from being the primary step to war, Its sense and substance is, in my regard, To leave the House to guidance by events On the grave question of hostilities.

The statements of the noble lord, I hold, Have not been candidly interpreted By grafting on to them a headstrong will, As does the honourable baronet, To rob the French of Buonaparte's rule, And force them back to Bourbon monarchism. That our free land, at this abnormal time, Should put her in a pose of wariness, No unwarped mind can doubt. Must war revive, Let it be quickly waged; and quickly, too, Reach its effective end: though 'tis my hope, My ardent hope, that peace may be preserved.

WHITBREAD

Were it that I could think, as does my friend, That ambiguity of sentiment Informed the utterance of the noble lord [As oft does ambiguity of word], I might with satisfied and sure resolve Vote straight for the Address. But eyeing well The flimsy web there woven to entrap The credence of my honourable friends, I must with all my energy contest The wisdom of a new and hot crusade For fixing who shall fill the throne of France.

Already are the seeds of mischief sown: The Declaration at Vienna, signed Against Napoleon, is, in my regard, Abhorrent, and our country's character Defaced by our subscription to its terms! If words have any meaning it incites To sheer assassination; it proclaims That any meeting Bonaparte may slay him; And, whatso language the Allies now hold, In that outburst, at least, was war declared. The noble lord to-night would second it, Would seem to urge that we full arm, then wait For just as long, no longer, than would serve The preparations of the other Powers, And then—pounce down on France!

CASTLEREAGH

No, no! Not so.

WHITBREAD

Good God, then, what are we to understand?— However, this denial is a gain, And my misapprehension owes its birth Entirely to that mystery of phrase Which taints all rhetoric of the noble lord,

Well, what is urged for new aggression now, To vamp up and replace the Bourbon line? The wittiest man who ever sat here[21] said That half our nation's debt had been incurred In efforts to suppress the Bourbon power, The other half in efforts to restore it, [laughter] And I must deprecate a further plunge For ends so futile! Why, since Ministers Craved peace with Bonaparte at Chatillon, Should they refuse him peace and quiet now?

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse