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MARIA LOUISA AND CARLO LUDOVICO.*

BY L. MARIOTTI, AUTHOR OF “ ITALY PAST AND PRESENT.”

Maria Louisa, Leopoldina, Carolina, Imperial Princess, Arch-duchess of Austria, Duchess of Parma, Piacenza, and Guasttala, was born at Schön. brunn, on the 13th of December, 1791. She was the eldest daughter of Francis II., afterwards Emperor of Germany, -and of the second of his four wives, Maria Theresa, of Naples.

The princess was brought up under all the fostering cares which environ the young nurslings of that fruitful pepinière of Schönbrunn. She was taught to speak French and Italian, to read Latin, to paint in oil-colours, to play on the piano, and to hate the French and Napoleon.

The habitual play of the princess, and of her brothers and sisters, consisted in drawing up in battle array a band of little wax or wooden dolls, which were made to represent the French army, with a dark demon-like figure at their head—the accursed Corsican—and their devoted ranks were made to bear the brunt of the youngsters' popguns.

Meanwhile, the French and the Corsican managed to thrive in despite of all that dire execution. The king-slayers were twice at the gates. Austria had twice lost all ; had nothing to give; the hungry lions were roaring for more prey. Austria gave up her flesh and blood. Maria Louisa was doomed!

The poor young princess ! She who had been reared in so salutary a dread of male animals! It was the story of “ Beauty and the Beast" acted over again. “ Will he bite? Will he tear me to pieces ?” She, the daughter of the Cæsars—wedded to the Corsican ;-to bear imps to the arch-devil!

The language at her father's court was now strangely changed. The brigand-chief had become a leader of heroes. They made wondrous discoveries about his ancient pedigree. Napoleon had become a standing toast with the aulic council. Her imperial father himself addressed him as “ Monsieur mon frère.” The devil was not so dark, after all, as he was painted. There was a dash of the Alexander-breed in his composition, and had not Alexander chosen him a bride amongst the daughters of his prostrate enemy?

Maria Louisa listened and grew wise. The mild creature never had an idea, never a wish of her own: she never knew how to show any reluctance to other people's demands. She had been taught to hate, and she hated —she was now bidden to love, and she married—“ Behold thine handmaid !” she said, and the Ogre led her to her nuptial apartment.

Maria Louisa was then (1810) in the bloom of youth ; her stature was above the middle size-queenly in her countenance and bearing. Her complexion was fresh and fair ; she had hazel hair, Austrian eyes and lips --features much admired by some, though the eyes, drawn down obliquely

We do not hold ourselves responsible for the opinions, somewhat strongly asserted by M. Mariotti; neither can we vouch for his statements; but we think it right that an Italian should be heard on a subject like the present, especially when we believe him to be accurate, and know him to be conscientious.Ed, N. M. M.

towards the nose, bear a close resemblance to those of a pig, and the pursed-up lips wear an unpleasant expression of haughtiness. Her hand and foot often served as models to the artist, and Canova, who was summoned to Paris for the purpose, made as much of them as he could in his statue “ La Concordia,” which is to be seen in the hall of the ducal palace at Colorno.

It is just possible that Maria Louisa brought herself to endure her husband during four years. About Napoleon's tenderness for her, from his wedding to his dying day, we have been entertained to satiety. He called her Ma petite vie! And as a man who' valued the sex from their prolific capacities, he was most probably amused by a naïveté so closely bordering upon silliness.

In 1813, and the following year, he thought he could propitiate his treacherous ally of Austria, by placing his empress at the head of the regency which was to rule in his absence. Her task was, however, less difficult than might be supposed. The yea and nay, by which she was to answer all questions were invariably prompted by the nod of Cambacères.* It is amusing to see her helplessness in circumstances of the least difficulty, and the ingenuousness with which she had recourse to her private secretary, acknowledging that she had not the least idea. Why should she? If great warriors and statesmen choose to trust their nursery toys and little

geese with arduous cares of empire, why, they must take the consequences.

Her illness and pusillanimity hastened the catastrophe of 1814. ran away to Rambouillet, March 19th, taking along with her her reluctant infant, and an escort of 2500 men, the élite of the garrison of Paris.

From this moment, Maria Louisa considered herself as virtually divorced from her husband. Napoleon was once more the arch-fiend and ogre of her childhood. His solicitations that she would join him beyond the Loire were disregarded. Her father placed her in the keeping of a horde of Cossacks; in her interview with him, she declared herself ready to desert the cause of the conquered, and exchanged her imperial diadem for the independent possession of an Italian principality.

From the first instant of her departure from Paris—and there are courtiers who have registered every word that fell from her lips—there is no symptom of regret or rejoicing on her part. Her French servants and advisers were removed from her side. She travelled across Switzerland and the Tyrol, and came back-a prodigal child—miraculously restored.

* There is an anecdote relating to this period which we cannot refrain from quoting, although it may be familiar to many of our readers. On the first surmises of the defection of Austria, Napoleon, who was not always careful in the choice of his terms, expressed his indignation towards his father-in-law, by saying to the empress, “ Votre père est un ganache.Ganache, a word more fit for the barrack-room than the court, comes as near as possible to the English blockhead. Maria Louisa, who had studied French all her life-time, had, however, to run to the Duchess of Montebello, her grande-maitresse, for a definition of that singular word. The good widow of Marshal Lannes, in the greatest embarrassment, replied, “ Ganache-to be sure—it means a worthy and clever fellow.Maria Louisa treasured up the word, and “made a note" of it. During her regency, being pressed to answer some puzzling question before her imperial council, “Let us consult the arch-chancellor," said she, “who is le plus grand ganache de tous !"

Feb.-YOL. LXXXII. NO. CCCXXVI.

R

The work of re-naturalisation was too plain and easy. She sought rest and oblivion amidst frivolous occupations. She joined her relatives in the clamorous rejoicings for the enemy's downfall. Her aunt, Maria Carolina of Naples, gave her a hint as to the propriety of tying up her bed-clothes, to let herself down from her window, by the aid of them, and join her good man at Elba. But Maria Louisa was already weaned . from her proud associations. She evinced no desire to cling to the wrecks of departed greatness. In the duchy of Parma, which the allies, ever since the 11th of April, held before her eyes-a glittering bauble to a spoiled child-all her silly ambition was centered. She dwelt with an inconceivable fondness on the prospects of unshared sovereignty, and her anxiety for the exercise of dominion was increased by the artful postponement of its enjoyment ; by doubt and difficulties which placed it further and further from her reach. Parma was to be a reward for unbounded, unconditional obedience; and we have already seen that Maria Louisa belonged to the non-resistance school. They bade her put off her arms and liveries, to divest herself of her proud titles, to forget her husband, to deliver all his letters into her father's hands, to cease from all correspondence with him, to surrender her son to an Austrian governess, to renounce in his name all rights to the succession of her new states, to deprive him of his name, re-baptise him as Charles Joseph, Duke of Reichstadt; to suffer him to linger behind in a kind of imprisonment at Schönbrunn. Her obedience outdid even the immoderateness of their demands. She was, above all things, eager to advance her prospects as a candidate for an Italian principality. The attempts of Murat, King of Naples, upon the north of Italy, the troubles of the whole Peninsula, and the endless intrigues of the Congress of Vienna, raised at every step new obstacles against the fulfilment of her desires. Wearied with deferred expectatica, and urged, also, by that animal instinct of locomotion, which became one of the prominent features of her character in after-life, she pleaded illhealth, and earnestly solicited, and obtained from her father, permission to repair, unattended by her son, to the baths of Aix, in Savoy.

If there is a spot on earth which the tempter of mankind may look upon as his most favourable battle-ground, it is, undoubtedly, a wateringplace. All that might remain pure and ingenuous in the character of the ex-empress was corrupted among the pleasures and dissipations of her short sojourn at Aix. On her arrival, July 17th, she was met by the Count Neipperg. She avowed to her secretary, M. de Meneval, the only Frenchman who continued by her side, that her first impression of that gentleman was any thing but agreeable. To do her justice, Maria Louisa never loved at first sight.

Adam Albert, Count of Neipperg, Lieutenant-General of Hungarian light-horse, was a tall, fine-looking personage. His age, at his arrival, was not much beyond forty. He had a bright, warlike countenance, and, when seen on the right side, he was a striking type of manly beauty. In his early campaigns, in a close engagement, a French lancer had poked out his left eye ; that honourable wound was carefully covered by a black band drawn round the brow in the shape of a diadem, and there remained charm enough in the one eye he had left to drive Napoleon's image from the empress's heart.

As a private secretary and chamberlain, the count and his imperial mistress were brought into the closest intimacy. In consultations of state

(for the duchess busied herself much about the welfare of her future subjects), as well as in parties of pleasure, riding, dancing, or travelling, they became indivisible.

To the watering season followed a romantic excursion. At Berne the ex-empress fell in with the Princess of Wales, and oh, the singing, flirting, and frolicking of that blessed evening between those two congenial spirits and their gallant cavaliers. Neipperg sat at the piano, the accomplished conductor of a royal concert. A few days after, the Austrian arch-duchess rambled about the ruins of the Castle of Habsburgh, she picked up relics and fragments of armour ; instituted a new order of chivalry, and decorated her secretary with the collar of grand-master.

These base intrigues continued at Vienna, where the count accompanied his sovereign lady in September, 1814. A few months afterwards Napoleon was again triumphant in Paris. Maria Louisa was in a fever of anxiety about her hard-won Italian sovereignty, which that untimely invasion might yet have power to wrench from her grasp. Under that apprehension, she solemnly disclaimed all knowledge of, or participation in, that hair-brained enterprise, and implored her father's and the allies' protection against her husband, as against her most dangerous enemy. She rejected all her husband's advances, revealed and frustrated an attempt made by his friends to carry her off with her child, and sat down with the arch-duchess to embroider banners for the Austrian regiments. Finally, she announced her determination never to re-unite herself to her husband—“were even all her father's authority exercised to compel her to return to him!" Napoleon was sent to St. Helena.

Widowed and childless, though not yet bereaved by death, but surrounded with pomp and magnificence, with her one-eyed secretary by her side, Maria Louisa left Vienna, at last, in the spring of 1816, hastening towards her humble metropolis. Greeted and applauded wherever she passed on her journey, she drew after her the best part of the population of Lombardy. Parma was crowded with strangers of all nations and conditions. They were especially the friends and servants of her husband, the Italian warriors of the Russian and German campaigns, disappointed people, unable to make up their minds to present circumstances, and willing still to look up to Maria Louisa as the centre of their discomfited party, and to her son as the per altera mundi.

The pomp and triumph displayed on the occasion, the enthusiasm excited by her solemn entrance, were unexampled in the annals of Parma. All that first intoxication, however, began to abate when it was understood that she had left her son behind ; and the disenchantment was complete when the new government, thanking every one kindly for their good wishes, desired all aliens to go about their business. The festivals were at an end, order was restored, and Maria Louisa found herself alone with her subjects.

The duchy of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla, is one of the most fertile districts of the vale of Po. It is bounded on the north by that noble river, on the east and west by the Euza and Trabbia, two of its tributaries, and on the south by the woody Apennine chain. It measures about 2200 square miles, and has now something less than half a million inhabitants.

Parma and Piacenza, Roman colonies, rose into active existence as independent republics in the middle ages : they shed their best blood in endless as well as useless feuds, till, after passing from one tyrant's hands to another's—from Correggio to Visconti, and from those again to Este; they were added to the dominions of the church by the warlike Julius II., in 1508. They were subsequently erected into an independent duchy by Pope Paul III., who invested with it Pier Luigi Farnese, his illegitimate son, and although that son of a pope did not fare too well at the hands of his subjects, who strangled and Aung him from a high window of the citadel of Piacenza into the moat beneath, yet the sovereignty of that state remained in possession of Pier Luigi's descendants, some of whom-such as Alexander Farnese, and the hot-headed Octavio—are famous in history. Like most other Italian reigning families, the Farnese became extinct from sheer impotence, engendered by habitual debauchery, in 1748. The ill-fated duchy became a bone of contention for all the powers of Europe, and had in the end to pay most of the expense of the wars it had given rise to. It was, in the end, adjudged to Don Philip, one of the Infantes of the Spanish house of Bourbon. Don Philip having, providentially, broken his neck at the chase, Don Ferdinand, his son and successor, called the bell-ringer, from his partiality for that pious and healthy exercise, found himself involved in the great catastrophe of the French invasion, and, in 1802, Parma and Placentia were united to the French territories under the appellation of Departement du Taro.

Maria Louisa, enthroned in prejudice of the illegitimate heir, the Duke of Lucca, grandson of Ferdinand the bell-ringer, found, at her arrival, a thriving community, enriched by the gold lavished upon it during the Bourbonic dominion, by the comparative peace and security which it enjoyed during the first storms of the French Revolution, and by the commerce and industry awakened by the circumstance of its incorporation with a larger state. Parma, the capital, a pleasant and lively town, with a population fluctuating between 35,000 and 40,000 souls, lies on a smiling plain, twelve miles south of the “King of Rivers,” and six miles north of the last skirts of the Apennines. It rises on the banks of a small but noisy stream--a flood of muddy waters in the spring-tide, a wilderness of fint and gravel in the summer months—which gave its name to the town and territory. Its frank and hospitable inhabitants have always rivalled the largest Italian cities in every department of intellectual culture. Under the last Spanish duke-the Principe Campanaro-- it cultivated letters and arts with such signal success as won it the flattering appellation of the “ Athens of Italy.'

It was, then, difficult to misunderstand the course to be taken by the newly-installed government. Days of repose having finally dawned again, the pursuits of peace were once more the order of the day.

It is not impossible that Maria Louisa was by taste and inclination addicted to all kinds of refinement, and naturally disposed to declare herself a patroness of art. She was very fond of painted cockatoos, and could therefore not be said to be insensible to beauty of colour. She brushed up and varnished the Correggios, which had been rumpled and crumpled by the French ruffians of the first invasion ; she gave the models for the wigs and gowns of the professors at the university, and bid a cheerful welcome to all the strolling fiddlers and players who applied for her patronage.

She took the lying-in hospital under her patronage ; built a bridge on the Taro, with twenty arches, three times the length of London Bridge,

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