I brought him a whiff of that great outside world from which he was an exile, with whose doings he kept in touch only through the meager despatches in the papers brought by the fortnightly mail-boat from Java, or through occasional travelers like myself.
If we may judge from Metternich's statements in his "Memoirs," written many years later, he was all along in secret sympathy with these views. But his actions and his official despatches during the first six weeks of the armistice bore another complexion; they were almost colourless, or rather, they were chameleonic.
The saxon Colonel, von Odeleben, has left us a vivid picture of the great man's restlessness during those four days. Surrounded by maps and despatches, and waited on by watchful geographer and apprehensive secretary, he spent much of the time scrawling large letters on a sheet of paper, uneasily listening for the tramp of a courier.
After his morning devotions he listened to the reading of the despatches from the generals at the front, and dictated replies in the shape of suggestions, censure, or praise. He slept for an hour after breakfast, and then went to the Government Buildings, arriving there punctually every morning as the clock on the dome struck nine.
He was spoiling for a run and volunteered eagerly to carry despatches to Sackett's Harbour. He would go alone, for now one blanket was sufficient bed, and a couple of pounds of dry meat was enough food for each day. A small hatchet would be useful, but his rifle seemed too heavy to carry; as he halted in doubt, a junior officer offered him a pistol instead, and he gladly stuck it in his belt.
Every telegram sent by President Lincoln or the members of his Cabinet to the generals in the field, or received by them from those generals, was put on record at Washington, as were all cipher despatches, deciphered by General Eckert.
Next day the Austrians fell back upon Gunsburg, retreating before our victorious legions, who, pursuing their triumphal course, entered Augsburg on the 10th, and Munich on the 12th. When I received my despatches I could have fancied I was reading a fabulous narrative.
In dealing with the political situation which Gregory confronted, Catherine speaks without reserve. The suggestions concerning practical matters with which the letter closes are lucid and to the point. Altogether, it is a masterly document which the daughter of Jacopo Benincasa despatches to the Head of Christendom.
Of the various matters which arose between us, one is perhaps worthy of mention, since it has recently given rise to a controversy between a German-American journalist and Bismarck's principal biographer. One morning, as I sat in dismay before my work-table, loaded with despatches, notes, and letters, besides futilities of every sort, there came in the card of Lothar Bucher.
Stanley and his uncle had been present at all these engagements and, in the absence of any cavalry, had done good service in conveying messages and despatches; and the lad had several times acted as interpreter between the officers and Burmese prisoners. Both received letters from the commissioner, thanking them for the assistance that they had rendered.