He did not in any wise partake of the spread before 안산오피 him. He had always dined previously at one o’clock. But he had a loaf of brown bread and a plate of butter put before him; and, while his guests were dining, he occupied himself with spreading and cutting a succession of daintily thin slices of bread and butter for his own repast.

Victor Emmanuel used similarly to dine in the middle of the day, and at his state banquets used to take no more active part than was involved in honouring them with his presence. But Metternich, I think, would not have said what my friend G. P. Marsh, the United States minister, once told me Victor Emmanuel said to him on one occasion. Mr. Marsh, as dean of the diplomatic body (it was before any of the great powers sent ambassadors to the court of the Quirinal), was seated next to his majesty at table. Innumerable dishes were being carried round in long succession, when the king, turning to his neighbour with a groan, said, “Will this never come to an end?” I have no doubt Marsh cordially echoed his majesty’s sentiments on the subject.

The words of men who have occupied positions in any degree similar to that of Prince Metternich are apt to be picked up, remembered, and recorded, when in truth the only value of the utterances in question is to show that such men do occasionally think and speak like other mortals! And my notebooks are not without similar evidences of gobemoucherie on my own part. But there is one subject on{335} which I have heard Metternich speak words which really are worth recording. That subject was the Emperor Napoleon Buonaparte.

Of course on such a topic the Austrian statesman might have said much that he was not at liberty to say; and there was also much that he might have said which could not have found place in one halfhour’s conversation. The particular point upon which I heard him speak was the celebrated interview, at which the emperor lost his temper because he could not induce Austria to declare war.

Metternich described the way in which the emperor, with the manners of the guard-room rather than those of the council-chamber, suddenly and violently tossed his cocked hat into the corner of the room, “evidently expecting that I should pick it up and present it to him,” said the old statesman; “but I judged it better to ignore the action and the intention altogether, and his majesty after a minute or two rose and picked it up himself.”

He went on to express his conviction that all this display of passion on the emperor’s part was altogether affected, fictitious, and calculated; and said that similar manifestations of intemperate violence were by no means infrequently used by the emperor with a view to produce calculated effects, and were often more or less successful.

It would be a great mistake to suppose that the most cynical observer could have detected the slightest shade of bitterness in the words or the manner of Prince Metternich. On that field of{336} battle at all events the honours did not fall to the share of Napoleon. And his aged adversary spoke of the encounter with the amused pleasantry and easy smile of a veteran who recounts passages at arms in which his part has been that best worth telling.

But with a graver manner he went on to say, that the most unpleasant part of the circumstance connected with dealing with Napoleon arose from the fact that he was not a gentleman in any sense of the word, or anything like one. Of course the prince, with his unblemished sixteen quarterings, was not talking of anything connected with Napoleon’s birth. And I doubt whether he may have been aware that Napoleon Buonaparte was technically gentle by virtue of his descent from an ancient Tuscan territorial noble race. Metternich, in expressing the opinion quoted, was not thinking of anything of the kind. He was speaking of the moral nature of the man. In these days, after all that has since that time been published on the subject, the expression of Metternich seems almost like the enunciation of an accepted and recognised truism. Nevertheless, even now the judgment on such a point, of one who had enjoyed (no, certainly not enjoyed, but we will say undergone) so much personal intercourse with the great conqueror, is worth recording.

My mother has given an account of the same conversation, which I have here recorded, in the second volume of her book on Vienna and the{337} Austrians. Her account tallies with mine in all essentials (I did not read it—in this half-century—till after I had written the above sentences); but she relates one or two circumstances which I have omitted; and she apparently did not hear what the prince said afterwards about Napoleon as a gentleman—or perhaps it was said upon another occasion, which I cannot assert may not have been the case.

One point of my mother’s narrative should not be omitted. Metternich, observing that it was impossible for any human being to have heard what passed between him and Napoleon, but that everybody had read all about it, said that Savary relates truly the incident of the hat, which must have been told him by Napoleon himself. This is very curious.

Another amusing anecdote recounted by Metternich one evening, when my mother and myself, together with only a very small circle of habitués were present, I remember well, and intended to give my own reminiscences of it in this place. But I find the story so well told by my mother, and it is so well worth repeating, that I will reproduce her telling of it.

“During the hundred days of Napoleon’s extraordinary but abortive 안산오피 restoration, he found himself compelled by circumstances, bon gré mal gré to appoint Fouché minister of police. About ten days after this arch-traitor was so placed, Prince Metternich was informed that a stranger desired{338} to see him. He was admitted, and the prince recognised him as an individual whom he had known as an employé at Paris. But he now appeared under a borrowed name, bringing only a fragment of Fouché’s handwriting, as testimony that he was sent by him. His mission he said was of the most secret nature, and in fact, only extended to informing the prince that Fouché was desirous of offering to his consideration propositions of the most important nature. The messenger declared himself wholly ignorant of their purport, being authorised only to invite the prince to a secret conference through the medium of some trusty envoy, who should be despatched to Paris for the purpose. The prince’s reply was, ‘You must permit me to think of this.’ The agent retired, and the Austrian minister repaired to the emperor, and recounted what had passed. ‘And what do you think of doing?’ said the emperor.

“‘I think,’ replied the prince, ‘that we should send a confidential agent, not to Paris, but to some other place that may be fixed upon, who shall have no other instructions but to listen to all that the Frenchman, who will meet him there, shall impart, and bring us faithfully an account of it.’

“The emperor signified his approbation; ‘And then,’ continued the prince, ‘as we were good and faithful allies, and would do nothing unknown to those with whom we were pledged to act in common, I hastened to inform the allied sovereigns, who were still at Vienna, of the arrival of the{339} messenger, and the manner in which I proposed to act.’ The mysterious messenger was accordingly dismissed with an answer purporting that an Austrian, calling himself Werner, should be at a certain hotel in the town of Basle, in Switzerland, on such a day, with instructions to hear and convey to Prince Metternich whatever the individual sent to meet him should deliver. This meeting took place at the spot and hour fixed. The diplomatic agents saluted each other with fitting courtesy, and seated themselves vis-à-vis, each assuming the attitude of a listener.

“‘May I ask you, sir,’ said the envoy from Paris at length, ‘what is the object of our meeting?’

“‘My object, sir,’ replied the Austrian, ‘is to listen to whatever you may be disposed to say.’

“‘And mine,’ rejoined the Frenchman, ‘is solely to hear what you may have to communicate.’

“Neither the one nor the other had anything further to add to this interesting interchange of information, and after remaining together long enough for each to be satisfied that the other had nothing to tell, they separated with perfect civility, both returning precisely as wise as they came.

“Some time after the imperial restoration had given way to the royal one in France, the mystery was explained. Fouché, cette revolution incarnée, as the prince called him, no sooner saw his old master and benefactor restored to power, than he imagined the means of betraying him, and accordingly despatched the messenger, who presented himself to Prince{340} Metternich. Fouché was minister of police, and probably all the world would have agreed with him in thinking that if any man in France could safely send off a secret messenger it was himself. But all the world would have been mistaken, and so was Fouché. The Argus eyes of Napoleon discovered the proceeding. The first messenger was seized and examined on his return. The minister of police was informed of the discovery, and coolly assured by his imperial master that he would probably be hanged. The second messenger was then despatched by Napoleon himself with exactly the same instructions as the envoy who met him from Vienna, to the effect that he was to listen to all that might be said to him, and when questioned himself, confess, what was the exact truth, that all he knew of the mission on which he came was that he was expected to remember and repeat all that he should hear.”

On the 30th of November in that year I witnessed the by far most gorgeous pageant I ever saw—for I was not in Westminster Abbey on the 21st of June, 1887—the installation of eleven Knights of the Golden Fleece. As a pageant, nothing, I think, could exceed the gorgeous and historic magnificence of this ceremony; but no “Kings of the Isles brought gifts,” nor was the imperial body-guard composed of sovereign princes or their representatives. In significance, that show and all others such, even the meeting of the Field of the Cloth of Gold itself, is eclipsed by the ever-memorable day which{341} England has just seen. But it was not only a very grand but a very interesting sight, the whole details of which may be found by those interested in such matters very accurately described in the volume by my mother which I have so often quoted.

On the very next day I saw another sight which I think it probable no subsequent sight-seer in Vienna during all the half-century that has elapsed since that day has seen, or any will see in the future. It was a sight more monstrously contrasted with the scene I had yesterday witnessed than it could well enter into the human mind to conceive. It was a visit to the vast, long-disused catacombs under the cathedral church of St. Stephen. It was then about sixty years, as I was told—now more than a hundred—since these vaults were used as a place of sepulture. Here, as in many other well-known instances, the special peculiarities of soil and atmosphere prevent all the usual processes of decay, and the tens of thousands of corpses which have been deposited there—very many uncoffined and unshrouded during the visitation of the plague in 1713—have become to all intents and purposes mummies. They retain not only the form of human beings, but in many cases the features retain the ghastly expression which was their last when the breath of life left them. The countless forms, which never apparently from the day they were deposited there had been subjected to any sort of arrangement whatever, lay in monstrous confused heaps, mingled with shattered remains of coffins. The skin in{342} every case had become of the consistency of very thick and tough leather, not quite so thick as that used for the sole of a stout shoe, but a good deal thicker than what is generally used for the upper leather even of the stoutest. There was not the slightest disagreeable odour in any part of the vaults. In the course of a long life I have seen very many strange sights, but never any one to match that in weird strangeness and impressive horror. If any sight on earth merits the degraded epithet “awful,” it must be that of those fearsome catacombs.

What I have written here conveys but a very imperfect notion of all that we saw and felt during our progress through that terrible succession of vaults. But I abstain from chronicling the sights of this charnel-house for the same reason that I refrained from any attempt at describing the cloth of gold and the velvets and the silks and satins of the previous day. The detailed description of them may all be found in my mother’s book, in the fortieth chapter of which the reader so inclined may sup full of horrors to his heart’s content. I will content myself with testifying to the perfect accuracy and absence of exaggeration in the account there given.

My mother expresses disapproval of the authorities who permit such an exhibition, and she is very vague as to the means by which we obtained admission to it. Nor does my memory furnish any clear information upon this point, but I have{343} a strong impression that it was all an affair of bribery, managed “under the rose” (what a phrase for such an exploit!) by backstairs influence in some way. I do not think that the first comer, with however large a fee in his hand, could have caused the door of that chamber of horrors to be opened to him. There are, it is true, sundry words and incidents in my mother’s account which seem to indicate that the showman guide, who attended us, was in the habit of similarly attending others; but I am persuaded that my mother was in error in supposing, if she did suppose, that to be the case. Unquestionably the man was at home in the gruesome place, and well acquainted with all the parts of it, but I have reason to be persuaded that his familiarity with it arose simply from the habit of pillaging the remains of the coffins for firewood!

Not long after this memorable expedition to the catacombs I received a communication from Birmingham which rendered it necessary for me to leave Vienna and turn my face homewards.{344}

CHAPTER XVII.
I left Vienna by the carriage which carried the imperial mail, shortly before Christmas, in very severe weather. It would be impossible to construct a more comfortable carriage for the use of those to whom speed is no object. It carried only two passengers and the courier, and was abundantly roomy and well cushioned. It carried, of course, also all the mails from Hungary and from Vienna to the north and westward, including those to Munich and Paris and London. And to the best of my recollection all these despatches, printed as well as written, were carried in the hind boot of our conveyance. If they were not there I can’t guess where they were!

I remember that I was tremendously great-coated, having, besides my “box-coat,” a “buffalo robe,” which I had brought back with me from America, and I have no recollection of suffering at all from cold. We proceeded in very leisurely fashion; and I well remember the reply of the courier to my question, how long we were to remain at the place at which we were to dine, given with an air of mild surprise{345} at my thinking such a demand necessary. “Till we have done dinner!” said the courier—“Bis wir gespeist haben!” The words seem still to echo in my ears! To me, whose experiences were of the Quicksilver mail!

When we had done dinner, and he asked me with leisurely courtesy if I had dined well, he said, in answer to my confessing that I could have wished nothing more, unless it were a cup of coffee, if perchance there were one ready, “No doubt the hostess will make us one. It is best fresh made!” And so, while the imperial mail, and all the Paris and London letters, and the post-horses, waited at the door, the coffee was made and leisurely discussed!

I will upon this occasion also spare the reader all guide-book chatter, and pass on to the arrival of myself and the friend who was with me, at Dover, which arrival was a somewhat remarkable one.

We had travelled by Antwerp, which I wished to revisit for the sake of the cathedral, and crossed from Ostend, where also I was not sorry to pass a day.

We had a long and nasty passage, but at last reached Dover to find the whole town and the surrounding hills under snow, and to be met by the intelligence that all communication between Dover and London was interrupted! Even the boat which used to ply between Dover and the London Docks would not face the abominable weather, and was not running. There was nothing for it but to take{346} up our abode at the “King’s Head” (no “Lord Warden” in those days!), and wait for the road to be opened.

We waited one day, two days, with no prospect of any amelioration of our position. On the third day two young Americans who were in the house, equally weather-bound with ourselves, and equally impatient of their imprisonment, assured us that in their country the matter would speedily be remedied, and declared their determination of getting to Canterbury on a sledge. We had heard by that time that from Canterbury to London the road was open. The people at the “King’s Head” assured us that no such attempt had any chance of succeeding. But of course our American friends considered that to be a strictly professional opinion, and determined on starting. We agreed to share the adventure with them. Four of the best post-horses we could find in Dover were hired, a couple of postboys, whose pluck was stimulated by promises of high fees, were engaged, and a sledge was rigged under the personal supervision of our experienced friends.

On the fourth day we got ourselves and our respective trunks on to the sledge, and started among the ill-omened prognostications of our host of the “King’s Head” and his friends. I think the postboys did their utmost bravely, but at the end of about five miles from Dover they dismounted from their floundering horses and declared the enterprise an impossible one. It was totally out of the question, they said, to reach Canterbury. It would be{347} quite as much as they could do to get back to Dover.

What was to be done? The boys were so evidently right that the 안산오피 Americans did not attempt to gainsay their decision. A council of war was called, the upshot of which was that our two American allies decided to return to Dover with their and our baggage and wraps, while my friend and I determined at all risks to push on to Canterbury on foot. We had eleven miles of bleak country before us, which was simply one uniform undulating field of snow. The baffled postboys gave us many minute directions of signs and objects by which we were to endeavour to keep the road. We had started from Dover about nine o’clock in the morning. It was then not quite noon. The mail would leave Canterbury at ten at night for London, and we had therefore ten hours before us for our undertaking.

We thought that four, or, at the outside, five would be ample for the purpose, if we were ever to get to Canterbury at all. But we did not reach “The Fountain” in that much-longed-for city till past eight that evening!

It was a terrible walk. Of course at no conceivable rate of progression could we have been eight hours in walking eleven miles if we had continued to progress at all. But we lost the road again and again! sometimes got far away from it, and fought our way back to it by the directions obtained at farm-houses or labourers’ cottages, from people who{348} evidently deemed our enterprise a desperate one. Mostly we were struggling knee-deep in snow, once or twice plunging into and out of drifts over our waists. We were not on foot quite all the time; for once we rested in a hospitable cottage for an hour, when we were about six miles from Canterbury. Our host there, who was, I take it, a waggoner, strongly advised us to give it up, and offered to let us pass the night in his cottage. We were already very much beaten, and were sorely tempted to close with his proposal. Perhaps, if we had known that we should never, as was the case, see those Americans again, we should have done so. But much as our bodies needed rest, our souls needed triumph more! So we turned out into the snow again, and—by eight o’clock did reach the hospitable “Fountain”!

But we were in a sad plight, desperately wearied, a good deal bruised and knocked about, and as thoroughly wet through literally as though we had been walking in water instead of snow. Rest was delicious; a hot supper was such delight as no “gods” had ever enjoyed. Good beds would have been Elysium! But—the thought of the next morning gave us pause. We had no rag of clothing of any sort save the thoroughly soaked things on our backs. No boots or shoes! And how should we possibly put on again those on our feet if once they were taken off? In London, if once reached, all these troubles would be at an end!

Finally we decided to go on by the mail at ten{349} that night. But here a fresh disappointment awaited us. The mail was booked full inside! There were two outside places, those on the roof behind the driver, available. But we were dead beat, wet through to the bone, unprovided with any wrap of any kind, and it was freezing hard!

But on to the mail we climbed at ten o’clock. I believe the good hostess of “The Fountain” genuinely thought our proceeding suicidal, and the refusal of her beds absolutely insane.

That journey from Canterbury to London was by far the worst I ever made. It really was a very bad business. But at every change of horses I got down, and holding on by the coach behind ran as far as my breath and strength would allow me, and thus knocked a little warmth into my veins. I could not persuade my companion to do likewise. He seemed to be wearied and frozen into apathy. The consequence was that whereas I was after some twelve hours in bed not a jot the worse, he was laid up for a fortnight.

Shortly afterwards I assumed my new duties at Birmingham. The new building had been completed, and was—or rather is, as all the world may see to the present day—a very handsome one. The head master, whose assistant I specially was, was Dr. Jeune, who became subsequently Bishop of Peterborough. The second master, Mr. Gedge, had also an assistant named Mason. Our duties were to teach Latin and Greek to any of the sons of the inhabitants of Birmingham who chose to{350} avail themselves of King Edward’s benevolent foundation. None of the masters had anything to do with the business of lodging or victualling boys. The boys were all day boys, and our business was to teach them Latin and Greek during certain hours of every day.

I soon became aware by a strangely subtle process of feeling rather than observation that my eight years’ Winchester experience of schoolboy life and ways had not constituted a favourable preparation for my present work. I felt that I was working in an atmosphere and on a material that was new to me. It would be absurd to imagine that all those sons of Birmingham tradesmen were stupider or duller boys than the average of our Winchester lads. But it appeared to me that it was far more difficult to teach them with any fair amount of success. They were no doubt all, or nearly all, the sons of men who had never learned anything in their lives save the elements of a strictly commercial education. And I felt myself tempted to believe that the results of heredity must extend themselves even to the greater or lesser receptivity of one description of teaching instead of another. I suppose that the descendant of a long line of shoemakers would be more readily taught how to make a shoe than how to build a ship. And it may be in like manner that ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes comes more readily to a boy whose forefathers have for generations done the same thing than it would to the descendant of generations unmoulded by any such discipline!