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of the atmosphere produced the same effect in preventing the decomposition of dead bodies.

He accounted for the vast number of uncoffined bodies found lying in heaps together by saying, that when the plague raged in Vienna, in the year 1713, nearly ten thousand persons perished, and that a large proportion of them were buried in the vaults of St. Stephen's, into which they were probably thrown with more haste than ceremony.

Had I heard this before my subterranean visit of this morning, the spectacle would, I think, have inspired terror as well as disgust, notwithstanding the one hundred and twenty-three years that have elapsed since the visitation. Not the slightest smell or want of fresh air, however, was perceptible in any part of the catacombs.


The Duc de Reichstadt.-The conduct pursued by the Emperor Francis towards him.-Congress of Vienna.-Position of Maria Louisa. Her presence in a concealed Situation at one of the Fêtes. Anecdotes of the Duc de Reichstadt and his Grandfather. Secret Proposals from France in 1830.-Prince Metternich's Reply to them.-The Character and Sentiments of the Duke.-The Inscription upon his Coffin.

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December 4th, 1836.

AMONG the many things that I have found unlike what I expected at Vienna, few have struck me more than the particulars which I have learnt respecting the Duc de Reichstadt; nor can there be a stronger proof of our very profound ignorance of what is going on here, than the many erroneous notions that have been entertained among us relative to his position at the court of his grandfather.

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From the hour that the uncrowned little King of Rome was placed by Maria Louisa in the arms of her father, on the steps of the palace at Rambouillet, the Emperor of Austria seems, with the judgment, rectitude, and tenderness that made up his

character, to have decided what place the son of Napoleon might hold in the empire, and what place the son of his daughter should hold in his heart.

From the conduct dictated by this decision he never swerved, though it may be that the uncommonly attractive talents and fine qualities of the boy might eventually have rendered him of more importance to the domestic happiness of the Emperor than could have been at first contemplated.

The residence of the mother and child was fixed at Schönbrunn, the very palace in which, five short years before, the all-conquering Napoleon had established his head-quarters, and dictated thence the tremendous terms of his offered peace and alliance to the imperial house of Austria. We all know how these terms were kept by him who offered them. La Fontaine, long ago, gave a hint on this subject, as well as on most others, that might have been profitably taken

S'assure-t-on de l'alliance qu'a faite la nécessité ?

And now the son of him who had first dared to propose such terms, and again to disturb the peace they promised at such an awful price, was thrown into the bosom of the potentate so every way injured. To ordinary minds there would have been something exceedingly embarrassing in such a charge. What, in truth, could more accurately answer to the expressive phrase—une fausse position, than the residence of the son of the arch-usurper of half the

thrones in Europe at the court of the Emperor of Austria in the character of his grandson?

But the mind of Francis of Austria had nothing ordinary in it. By simply, and without a shadow of mystery, acting as his conscience and his judgment told him he ought to act, he avoided all the difficulties which appeared to lie in his path. How often have I heard it said in England, some dozen years ago, "What in the world can Austria do with him?" Nor do I remember ever to have listened to any very satisfactory answer to the question; but since I have been here, and particularly since I have read M. de Montbel's simple but eloquent Memoir of the Duc de Reichstadt's short but happy life, it is plain enough to me that, had we possessed much real knowledge of the then Emperor of Austria's character, it would have been a question of no difficulty at all.

The explanation of the system he pursued may be given by the single word TRUTH. It was founded upon truth, and sustained by truth. No political arrière pensée ever mixed itself with the counsels which decided the destiny of the strangely-fortuned boy. There was the faith of a sovereign to keep with Europe, and there was the faith of a father to keep with a child who, like a second Iphigenia, had been offered upon the altar to ensure the safety of his people, and to both he kept it; while by a justness and uniformity of acting and thinking, seldom seen in the tortuous affairs of human life, the impe

rially-descended son of an adventurer was gently, yet frankly, made to understand his unparalleled position; so that the consciousness of it grew with his strength, without ever having at any moment been permitted to sting him by his finding that there was yet something more to learn concerning it. The only expression of his regrets that I have heard recorded, was uttered on his journey from Rambouillet to Schönbrunn, when, missing his usual companions, he exclaimed, "Je n'ai plus de pages!"


The reception of the restored archduchess by the people, from the moment she re-entered Austria, was enthusiastically affectionate; and the welcome which she and her throneless child received from the illustrious race assembled to meet them at Schönbrunn, certainly more than justifies her submitting herself and him to the gentle will of her imperial father, instead of exposing both to unknown difficulties in defiance of it. If she were but Napoleon's widow still! . . . . . But this has nothing to do with the Duc de Reichstadt.

It would be difficult, I think, for the most able romancer to imagine a situation combining materials for a stranger variety of feelings than that of Maria Louisa during the celebrated Congress of Vienna, Affectionately cherished in her own person and that of her son by every member of her family, she was nevertheless doomed to see them consecrating every day that passed by some fête given in jubilee of the downfall of him to whom she had been wife,-the

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