« ZurückWeiter »
mouth. But why such observations? It is the destiny of princes to be always surrounded by such persons.
"K. You seem to me, my good Cavaliere, to be sensitive. That does not answer in courts. If I were so myself, vexation would have brought me under ground long ago.
"B. When religion and truth are contemned indifference is the highest crime; it is only in such a case that my sensitiveness is so extreme. Courtiers, especially, should never speak of religion at all. Religion knows them as little as they know religion.
"K. Where, then, in your opinion, is religion's true seat?
"B. Where the cross and sorrows are, for there one may learn the greatness of the Saviour and his work; never in courts, where cross and misery are not treasured, but despised.
"K. Do you then suppose that I, as Kaiser, when I behold the affliction of my people, do not feel the weight of God's hand? Do you think that my bodily infirmities do not remind me of my human weakness, and are you ignorant that the thought of God's judgment-seat agitates me, Kaiser, more than any other man? I would, therefore, have you believe that religion is not unknown in courts.
"B. Your Majesty's own personal convictions do not make your court the scat of religion. I have seen several courts where there were princes even so God-fearing as of a surety your Majesty is. But in spite of this, the good example of your Majesty and other rulers does not make that the courts are purified. Our Saviour set the noblest of all examples in the midst of the great nation of old, and yet he was eondemned to death for his religion, his truth, and his love of mankind. If religion had its seat in courts, the Saviour of the world would have appeared at a court instead of being born in poverty. Your Majesty will forgive my utterances, but I am accustomed to deliver my sentiments to princes as well as to common men. The Gospel commands us to speak and act in such cases without ceremony.
"K. You are quite right. Your sentiments edify me, and I should wish to hear such language from the mouths of all my subjects. But, according to report, your teaching does not agree with what you have now said. You maintain, so to speak, a quadruple trinity of the Divine Person through the intervention of his holy mother.
"B. It never entered into my thoughts to teach a quadruple Trinity. To hold that the mother of Christ is a sort of divinity is, however, no heresy; for by her high calling-that, namely, of being chosen to be the mother of the God-Man-she seems to have attained a supernatural elevation. But this is merely an opinion which I hold-one which I never taught, and never can teach. Man's reason is all insufficient to fathom the secrets of the Incarnation. Yet he should think on them, in order to convince himself of the godliness of this mystery. He may then, when he finds how deep it is, humble his reason to subjection.
"K. It is always very dangerous to concern oneself with incomprehen
sible things. The individual man is responsible to his conscience so long as mere opinions are in point. But when these are put into circulation the sovereign and the clergy must take heed that civil society be not troubled, so that from erroneous notions false doctrines do not spring. This seems to be your position, and I trust that the impending investigation of your case may be followed by no evil consequences to your person. As far as I have understood, you are an adept at chemical cures, and have, in fact, already expressed yourself in regard to the state of my health. I would rather hear your views on this matter than about theological affairs. Have you heard anything positive in respect of my condition?
"B. Nothing at all, beyond the idea that your Majesty has taken poison.
"K. Should you suspect that from my appearance ?
"B. A hidden complaint can seldom be discovered from the mere look of the patient. If your Majesty's doctor would show me the statum morbi and the prescriptions ordered, I might perhaps be able to say something. more definite.
"K. It shall be done immediately. Call the court physician, and tell him to bring his prescriptions with him.
"The Kaiser sat at a table in a green dressing-gown. His feet were partially wrapped up; on his head was a cap, which served as a kind of shade. His voice was very unequal-now strong, now weak; his features were rather sunken in.
"B. Within the last few minutes, since your Majesty has spoken of your health, something has occurred to me. If your physician makes the same observation, the supposition of a poisoning would seem to be wellfounded, and there need be no doubt that your highest person can be saved. Scarcely had I said this when the chamberlain allowed himself another observation on the subject of inspiration.
"I soon silenced him by saying,
"Your profession is of necessity inspired by ignorance, and you are lucky enough to be able to retrieve with your hands and feet that which is wanting in your head.'
"On this the Kaiser seemed rather disposed to laugh.
"K. What makes you suppose this? Do you really notice anything about my body?
"B. No. My observation does not refer at all to your Majesty's person; but the air of your apartment is so poisonous that when your physician comes your Majesty must be moved elsewhere.
"The chamberlain began to laugh like a fool. His hilarity displeased
the Kaiser, who punished him with a glance of contempt.
"K. And how have you found this out? for I perceive nothing.
"B. Your Majesty is so accustomed to the poisoned fume that you no longer notice it.
"K. And whence should this fume come ?
"B. From your wax-candles. Look, your Majesty. Do you not see that they burn red?
"K. The flame is very livid, but I do not see anything unusual about it.
"B. Does not your Majesty perceive that fine white vapour rising up, which never happens with ordinary candles?
"K. The fact is that my eyes are so weak that I do not see it. you see it? [addressing himself to the chamberlain.]
"Chamberlain. Yes, your Majesty, I see the vapour clearly enough now that this stranger draws my attention to it.
"B. Thank God! His eyes are good enough after all, even if his brain is not inspired.
"At this moment the court physician arrived.
"K. You have come in the nick of time. I have a travelling doctor with me who has made the astounding discovery that the air of my room is poisoned. What do you say to that?
"Physician. I cannot pretend to contradict this gentleman without having heard his proofs.
"K. Have you got your prescriptions with you?
"B. There they are, your Majesty, beginning from the commencement of your indisposition, which has now lasted for twenty-seven days.
"K. Give them to this gentleman to read.
"I read the prescriptions through one after another, and they seemed to be very carefully and intelligently conceived.
"B. The Herr Physician concludes that the humours are corrupted, and seeks a cure only by gentle remedies, as the bodily weakness seems to preclude the employment of stimulating agents.
"Physician. Your Majesty will remember that this is the very language which I have used for ten days. However, I have lately begun to entertain doubts, for the symptoms which I expected have not appeared. My colleague will bear witness that I have imparted to him my anxiety lest some other malady should be present, on account of the constant cold sweats which have been setting in. This was why I wanted to induce your Majesty to consent to a medical consultation.
"B. You may spare this step if you will kindly grant your attention to my discovery. Your Majesty will permit me to remove these wax-candles from your person and place them on this table. Do you see, Herr Physician, that lively red fire in the flame? Do you mark the fine white vapour that rises so rapidly; and, above all, the extensive deposit upon the ceiling of this lofty chamber?
"Physician. All this I see and remark. But I beg you to give me some further explanation respecting the poisoning qualities of the fume; for clear to me the matter is not.
"B. I wish first to know whether her Majesty the Empress also burns candles of this sort.
"K. Go and fetch the Empress's wax-lights.
"The chamberlain went out, and returned after a few minutes bringing them burning.
"B. Does not your Majesty find that these candles have a much softer, quieter flame, and that they have none of that vapour or squirting?
"K. Now I see the remarkable difference myself.
"B. With your Majesty's leave I will now prove that your candles emit a delicate poison.
"K. Let it be done at once.
"I began to scrape the wax from the wick of one of the candles with a knife, and silently showed the result to the physician, who went to the Kaiser and said,- Will your Majesty order the whole stock of wax-lights to be brought here at once.'
"K. The chamberlain will have all the candles brought in.
They were kept in a cupboard in an ante-chamber, and thirty pounds' weight of them was brought. Curiously enough they were marked at top and bottom with a little gilt wreath, probably to distinguish them from other candles. The Kaiser now ordered that none but the physician, the chamberlain, and myself should remain present, as two other people had taken the liberty of coming in. Continuing our examination of the candles, the physician and I found that the arsenic had been liquefied, that the wicks had been dipped into the solution, then dried, after which the wax had been poured over them.
"K. Do you consider that there is positively poison.
"P. and B. As surely as we are standing before your Majesty.
"I now called for a little dog and a piece of meat, that we might convince ourselves of the effect of the poison. Meanwhile arrangements were made for removing his Majesty from the chamber.
"K. Who attends to the delivery of these lights, and how long is it since I have used this sort?
"The chamberlain went out, and immediately returned with the name of the person by whose orders they had been bought at Candlemas and since burned.
"K. Order him to be arrested directly; and, meanwhile, not a word of these proceedings must transpire.
"B. We will now give the dog a piece of meat, with some bits of wick in it, and then I will consult with the physicians as to what your Majesty must take, so that you may commence the cure at once. It is essentially necessary that your Majesty should exchange this room for a more roomy apartment, in which you may take proper exercise. The room must have two beds in it, so that the bed which you quit at midnight may at once be carried away, and a fresh one be ready for you after every sweat.
"We left the room, ordered the candles to be kept, and plenty of water to be given to the dog, giving instructions that we should be called if he appeared to get unquiet. My talk with the physician lasted about a quarter of an hour. I explained to him what my medicine was, whereat expressed full approval. We went to the court apothecary's shop,
prepared in private the Kaiser's medicine, and began to analyse the substance with which the wicks were impregnated, when the presence of arsenic was palpably declared. The result was far more considerable than we had anticipated. After the lapse of an hour we returned to the Kaiser, and learned that the dog was rushing up and down his room from pain, and was beginning to howl piteously. We looked at him, and locked the
"K. Are you now agreed about my condition?
"B. Perfectly; and the medicine which your Majesty has to take is ready.
"K. You feel positive, then, that this poison has caused my illness? "B. Unquestionably.
"K. Do you expect to save me?
"On this I approached nearer to the Kaiser, in order to observe the colour of his face, his eyes, and lips. When the physician had done the same, we gave our opinion that this was the critical time, but that, with God's help, we hoped to effect his recovery.
"K. Will the cure take a long time?
"B. That depends on the operation of the first two doses of the remedy. This much we can promise your Majesty, that after four or five days the painful symptoms will diminish.
"K. How will you effect this? By purging?
"B. God forbid. Entirely by sweating, for the limbs are more affected than the body.
"K. Will you give me the medicine now?
"B. Yes, your Majesty. We have made it up together.
"The physician gave it to the Kaiser, who, although the quantity was the eighth part of a Mass, drank the whole at a draught.
"K. What am I to do next?
"B. Your Majesty must now walk up and down the room until you remark symptoms of perspiration, upon which you will immediately lie down. When your Majesty feels somewhat uncomfortable, you will take as much as you please of a decoction prepared for the purpose, and the indisposition will pass off. After that you will continue your exercise. Your Majesty will remain in bed while you sweat, until the heat begins to diminish, when you must get into the second bed, which will be ready to receive you. Thereupon you will sleep easily enough, by reason of your fatigue.
"K. Do you consider this is a critical night for me?
"B. By no means. Nevertheless we will not leave until your Majesty sleeps.
"K. That is as I wish. You had better now have something to eat and drink while I see the Empress. So soon as I feel unwell I will have you called.
"B. Very well. Only we pray your Majesty to feel no anxiety. It is a good sign that your Majesty showed no antipathy to the medicine.