Page:Early Reminiscences.djvu/80

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52

EARLY REMINISCENCES

divided into three classes—the Court Gala, which is universal for both nobles and the plebeians; the Grand Gala, which is kept in the city, is for the festival of some Minister; and the third and last is the Little Gala, which is when the ladies are let blood. A husband makes a gala here for his wife, the wife for her husband, the children for their parents, and brothers and sisters for one another; so that, to be sure, two-thirds of Vienna are always in Gala; which made a French jester say, 'It would take a great deal of brimstone to cure the Austrians of the Gall (scab).'"

When we were at Vienna it was much the same as when Pöllnitz was there, save that the annual bleedings had gone out of fashion, and consequently the galas on such occasion had ceased to be celebrated.

When we were in Germany, the postage stamps bore the cognizance of Thurn and Taxis with the motto Perpetua fides. The family was from the Lake of Como. Francis della Torre, or von Thurn, was the founder of the post office about the year 1500, and his son, John Baptist, instituted a riding post from Brussels to Vienna. John Baptist's son, Leonard I, in 1553 established a riding post from the Netherlands to Italy; and in 1595 he was created General-head-postmaster of the Empire. In 1621 he was raised to the Imperial Countship. In 1686 Eugenius Alexander was elevated to be a Prince of the Empire.

Now among the mediatized princes, no member of the reigning house may marry without the consent of the Family Council. A good many years later, in the winter of 1877-8, we were at Freiburg. At the theatre the prima donna was a Frau von Fels. Her husband was actually a Prince Thurn u. Taxis. He had fallen in love with a Jewess who sang in the Opera, and only obtained leave of his family to marry her, on condition that he renounced his title and name, and agreed that his children, if any, should have no claims on the family estates. He agreed to these harsh terms and married her. After a while he fell into a decline, and went with her to Lugano, where he grew worse, and took to his bed. She formed a liaison with a Prussian officer, staying at the same hotel, and eloped with him, leaving her husband, who had given up so much for her, to die unbefriended, and her little son—motherless.

The Emperor Joseph II found it so difficult to trace Jewish