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CHAPTER I. DAYS OF CHILDHOOD. "One moment of bliss is not too dearly bought with death," says our great German poet, and he may be right; but a moment of bliss purchased with a long lifetime full of trial and suffering is far too costly. And when did it come for her, this "moment of bliss?" When could Hortense Beauharnais, in speaking of herself, declare, "I am happy? Now, let suffering and sorrow come upon me, if they will; I have tasted... more...

THE KING'S RECOLLECTIONS. "Well," said the king, "whenever I look back into the past, every thing seems to me covered with a gray mist, through which only two stars and two lights are twinkling. The stars are your eyes, and the lights are the two days I alluded to before—the day on which I saw you for the first time, and the day on which you arrived in Berlin. Oh, Louisa, never shall I forget that first day! I call it the first day,... more...

CHAPTER I. THE FESTIVAL. The sufferings of the long war still continued; still stood Frederick the Great with his army in the field; the tremendous struggle between Prussia and Austria was yet undecided, and Silesia was still the apple of discord for which Maria Theresa and Frederick II. had been striving for years, and for which, in so many battles, the blood of German brothers had been spilt. Everywhere joy seemed extinguished; the light... more...

CHAPTER I. CHOOSING A CONFESSOR. It was in the year 1543. King Henry the Eighth of England that day once more pronounced himself the happiest and most enviable man in his kingdom, for to-day he was once more a bridegroom, and Catharine Parr, the youthful widow of Baron Latimer, had the perilous happiness of being selected as the king's sixth consort. Merrily chimed the bells of all the steeples of London, announcing to the people the... more...

CHAPTER I. THE QUEEN SOPHIA DOROTHEA. The palace glittered with light and splendor; the servants ran here and there, arranging the sofas and chairs; the court gardener cast a searching glance at the groups of flowers which he had placed in the saloons; and the major domo superintended the tables in the picture gallery. The guests of the queen will enjoy to-night a rich and costly feast. Every thing wore the gay and festive appearance which, in... more...

The dark clouds which hung yet over the future of Napoleon Bonaparte, the lieutenant of artillery, were gathering in heavier and heavier masses over all France, and already were overshadowing the throne of the lilies. Marie Antoinette had already abandoned the paradise of innocency in Trianon, and when she came there now it was to weep in silence, to cast away the mask from her face, and under the garb of the proud, imperious, ambitious queen to... more...

CHAPTER I. AFTER ESSLINGEN. It was the evening of the 22d of May, 1809, the fatal day inscribed in blood-stained letters upon the pages of history, the day which brought to Napoleon the first dimming of his star of good fortune, to Germany, and especially to Austria, the first ray of dawn after the long and gloomy night. After so many victories and triumphs; after the battles of Tilsit, Austerlitz, and Jena, the humiliation of all Germany, the... more...