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Title: Memoirs of the Empress Catherine II. - Written by Herself
Author: Catherine II Empress of Russia
Language: English
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                                OF THE
                         EMPRESS CATHERINE II.

                          WRITTEN BY HERSELF.

                     WITH A PREFACE BY A. HÉRZEN.

                      TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH.

                               NEW YORK:
                       D. APPLETON AND COMPANY,
                          346 & 348 BROADWAY.


Some hours after the death of the Empress Catherine, her son, the
Emperor Paul, ordered Count Rostoptchine to put the seals upon her
papers. He was himself present at the arrangement of these papers. Among
them was found the celebrated letter of Alexis Orloff,[1] in which, in a
cynical tone and with a drunken hand, he announced to the Empress the
assassination of her husband Peter III. There was also a manuscript,
written entirely by the hand of Catherine herself, and enclosed in a
sealed envelope, bearing this inscription:--"_To his Imperial Highness,
the Cesarewitch and Grand Duke Paul, my beloved son._" Under this
envelope was the manuscript of the Memoirs which we now publish.

The manuscript terminates abruptly towards the close of the year 1759.
It is said that there were with it some detached notes, which would have
served as materials for its continuation. Some persons affirm that Paul
threw these into the fire; but nothing certain is known upon this point.
Paul kept his mother's manuscript a great secret, and never entrusted
it to any one but the friend of his childhood Prince Alexander
Kourakine. The Prince took a copy of it. Some twenty years after the
death of Paul, Alexander Tourgeneff and Prince Michael Worontzoff
obtained copies from the transcript of Kourakine. The Emperor Nicholas
having heard of this, gave orders to the Secret Police to seize all the
copies. Amongst them was one written at Odessa, by the hand of the
celebrated poet Pouschkine. A complete stop was now put to the further
circulation of the Memoirs.

The Emperor Nicholas had the original brought to him by the Count D.
Bloudoff, read it, sealed it with the great seal of state, and ordered
it to be kept in the imperial archives, among the most secret documents.

To these details, which I extract from a notice communicated to me, I
ought to add that the first person who spoke to me on the subject was
Constantine Arsenieff, the preceptor of the present Emperor. He told me,
in 1840, that he had obtained permission to read many secret documents
relative to the events which followed the death of Peter I, up to the
reign of Alexander I. Among these documents, he was authorized to read
the Memoirs of Catherine II. (At that time he was teaching the Modern
History of Russia to the Grand Duke, the heir presumptive.)

During the Crimean war, the archives were transferred to Moscow. In the
month of March, 1855, the present Emperor had the manuscript brought to
him to read. Since that period one or two copies have again circulated
at Moscow and St. Petersburg. It is from one of these that we now
publish the Memoirs. As to their authenticity, there is not the least
room for doubt. Besides, it is only necessary to read two or three pages
of the text to be quite satisfied on the point.

We have abstained from all corrections of the style, in every case in
which it was not evident that the copy presented some fault of

Passing to the Memoirs themselves, what do we find?

The early years of Catherine II--of that woman-Emperor, who occupied for
more than a quarter of a century all contemporary minds, from Voltaire
and Frederic II to the Khan of the Crimea and the Chiefs of the
Kirghis--_her young days described by herself!_ ... What is there for
the Editor to add to this?

In reading these pages, we behold her entering on the scene, we see her
forming herself to that which she afterwards became. A frolicsome girl
of fourteen, her head dressed "_à la Moïse_," fair, playful, betrothed
of a little idiot, the Grand Duke, she has already caught the disease of
the Winter Palace--the thirst of dominion. One day, while "perched" with
the Grand Duke upon a window-sill, and joking with him, she saw Count
Lestocq enter: "Pack up your things," he said, "you are off for
Germany." The young idiot seemed but little affected by the threatened
separation. "It was pretty nearly a matter of indifference to me also,"
says the little German girl; "_but the Crown of Russia was not so_,"
adds the Grand Duchess.

Here we have, in the bud, the Catherine of 1762!

To dream of the crown, however, was quite natural in the atmosphere of
that court; natural not only for the betrothed of the Heir Presumptive,
but for every one. The groom Biren, the singer Rasoumowsky, the Prince
Dolgorouky, the plebeian Menchikoff, the oligarch Volynski--every one
was anxious for a shred of the imperial mantle. The crown of Russia,
after Peter I, was a _res nullius_.

Peter I, a terrorist and reformer, before all things, had no respect for
legitimacy. His absolutism sought to reach even beyond the tomb. He gave
himself the right of appointing his successor, and instead of appointing
him, he contented himself with ordering the assassination of his own

After the death of Peter, the nobles assembled for deliberation.
Menchikoff put a stop to all discussion, and proclaimed as empress his
old mistress, the widow of a brave Swedish dragoon, slain upon the field
of battle, the widow of Peter also, to whom Menchikoff had resigned her
"through devotion" to his master.

The reign of Catherine I was short. After her the crown passed from head
to head as chance directed: from the once Livonian tavern-keeper, to a
street-boy (Peter II); from this street-boy who died of small-pox, to
the Duchess of Courland (Anne); from the Duchess of Courland to a
Princess of Mecklenburg (wife of a Prince of Brunswick), who reigned in
the name of an infant in the cradle (Ivan); from this boy, born _too
late_ to reign, the crown passed to the head of a woman born _too
soon_--Elizabeth. She it is who represents legitimacy.

Tradition broken, the people and the state completely separated by the
reforms of Peter I, _coups d'état_ and palace revolutions were the order
of the day; nothing was fixed. The inhabitants of St. Petersburg, when
retiring at night, knew not under whose government they should awake in
the morning; they consequently took but little interest in changes,
which, after all, did not essentially concern any but a few German
intriguers, become Russian ministers, a few great nobles grown gray in
perjury and crime, and the regiment of Preobrajensky, which disposed of
the crown like the Pretorians of old. For all others, everything
remained unchanged. And when I say others, I speak only of the nobles
and officials; for as to the great silent people--that people prostrate,
sad, stupefied, dumb--it was never thought of. The people was beyond the
pale of the law, and passively accepted the terrible trial which God had
sent it, caring little for the spectres which mounted with tottering
steps the ascent to the throne; gliding like shadows, and disappearing
in Siberia, or in the dungeons. The people was sure to be pillaged in
any case. Its social condition therefore was beyond the reach of

What a strange period! The imperial throne, as we have elsewhere
said,[2] was like the bed of Cleopatra. A crowd of oligarchs, of
strangers, of panders, of minions, led forth nightly an unknown, a
child, a German; placed the puppet on the throne, worshipped it, and, in
its name, gave the knout to all who presumed to question the
arrangement. Scarcely had the chosen one time to become intoxicated with
the delights of an exorbitant and absurd power, and to condemn his
enemies to slavery or torture, when the succeeding wave raised up
another pretender, and the chosen of yesterday, with all his followers,
was ingulphed in the abyss. The ministers and generals of one day, were
the next on their way to Siberia, loaded with chains.

This _bufera infernale_ carried away people with such rapidity, that
there was not time to get accustomed to their faces. Marshal Munich, who
had overturned Biren, rejoined him on a raft, stopped upon the Volga,
himself a prisoner, with chains on his feet. It is in the struggle of
these two Germans, who disputed the empire of Russia as if it had been a
jug of beer, that we may retrace the true type of the _coups d'état_ of
the good old times.

The Empress Anne died, leaving the crown, as we have just said, to a
child only a few months old, under the Regency of her lover Biren. The
Duke of Courland was all-powerful. Despising everything Russian, he
wished to civilize us with the lash. In the hope of strengthening
himself, he destroyed with a cold-blooded cruelty hundreds of men, and
drove into exile more than twenty thousand. Marshal Munich got tired of
this; he was a German as well as Biren, and besides a good soldier. One
day, the Princess of Brunswick, the mother of the little Emperor,
complained to him of the arrogance of Biren. "Have you spoken on this
subject to any one else?" asked the Marshal. "I have not." "Very well,
then; keep silent, and leave everything to me." This was on the 7th of
September, 1740.

On the 8th, Munich dined with Biren. After dinner he left his family
with the Regent, and retired for a moment. Going quietly to the
residence of the Princess of Brunswick, he told her to be prepared for
the night, and then returned. Supper came on. Munich gave anecdotes of
his campaigns, and of the battles he had gained. "Have you made any
nocturnal expeditions?" asked the Count de Loewenhaupt. "I have made
expeditions at all hours," replied the Marshal, with some annoyance. The
Regent, who was indisposed, and was lying on a sofa, sat up at these
words, and became thoughtful.

They parted friends.

Having reached home, Munich ordered his aide-de-camp, Manstein, to be
ready by two o'clock. At that hour they entered a carriage, and drove
straight to the Winter Palace. There he had the Princess awakened. "What
is the matter?" said the good German, Anthony Ulrich, of
Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, to his wife. "I am not well," replied the
Princess.--And Anthony Ulrich turned over and slept like a top.

While he slept, the Princess drest herself, and the old warrior
conferred with the most turbulent of the soldiers in the Preobrajensky
regiment. He represented to them the humiliating position of the
Princess, spoke of her future gratitude, and as he spoke, bade them load
their muskets.

Then leaving the Princess under the guard of some _forty_ grenadiers, he
proceeded with _eighty_ others to arrest the chief of the state, the
terrible Duke of Courland.

They traversed without impediment the streets of St. Petersburg; reached
the palace of the Regent; entered it; and Munich sent Manstein to arrest
the Duke in his bed-chamber, living or dead. The officers on duty, the
sentinels, and the servants looked on. "Had there been a single officer
or soldier faithful," says Manstein, in his memoirs, "we were lost." But
there was not one. Biren, perceiving the soldiers, endeavoured to escape
by creeping under the bed. Manstein had him forced out: Biren defended
himself. He received some blows from the butt-ends of their muskets, and
was then conveyed to the guard-house.

The _coup d'état_ was accomplished. But something stranger still was
soon to follow.

Biren was detested; that might explain his fall. The new Regent, on the
contrary--a good and gentle creature, who gave umbrage to no one while
she gave much love to the Ambassador Linar--was even liked a little
from hatred to Biren. A year passed. All was tranquil. But the court of
France was dissatisfied with an Austro-Russian alliance which the Regent
had just concluded with Maria Theresa. How was this alliance to be
prevented? Nothing easier. It was only to make a _coup d'état_, and
expel the Regent. In this case, we have not even a marshal reverenced by
the soldiers, not even a statesman. An intriguing physician, Lestocq,
and an intriguing ambassador, La Chétardie, are sufficient to carry to
the throne, Elizabeth, daughter of Peter I.

Elizabeth, absorbed in pleasures and petty intrigues, little thought of
overturning the government. She was led to believe that the Regent
intended to shut her up in a convent. She, Elizabeth, who spent her time
in the barracks of the guards, and in licentious excesses ... better
make herself Empress! So also thought La Chétardie; and he did more than
think; he gave French gold to hire a handful of soldiers.

On the 25th of November, 1741, the Grand Duchess, dressed in a
magnificent robe, and with a brilliant cuirass on her breast, presented
herself at the guard-house of the Preobrajensky regiment. She exposed to
the soldiers her unhappy condition. They, reeking with wine, cried out,
"Command, mother, command, and we will slaughter them all!" The
charitable Grand Duchess recoils with horror, and _only_ orders the
arrest of the Regent, her husband, and their son--the _baby_-Emperor.

Once again is the old scene repeated.

Anthony Ulrich, of Braunschweig, is awakened from the most profound
slumber; but this time he cannot relapse into it again, for two soldiers
wrap him up in a sheet and carry him to a dungeon, which he will leave
only to go and die in exile.

Again is the _coup d'état_ accomplished.

The new reign seems to go on wheels. And once more nothing is wanting to
this strange crown ... but an heir. The Empress who will have nothing to
do with the little Ivan, seeks one in the Episcopal palace of the
Prince-Bishop of Lubeck. It is the nephew of the Bishop whom she
selects, a grandson of Peter I, an orphan without father or mother, and
the intended husband of the little Sophia Augusta Frederica, Princess of
Anhalt-Zerbst-Bernburg, who resigned all these sonorous and illustrious
titles to be called simply ... _Catherine II_.

And now, after all that has been said, let the reader picture to himself
what must have been the nature of the medium into which destiny had cast
this young girl, gifted, as she was, not only with great talent, but
also with a character pliant, though full of pride and passion.

Her position at St. Petersburg was horrible. On one side was her mother,
a peevish, scolding, greedy, niggardly, pedantic German, boxing her
ears, and taking away her new dresses to appropriate them to her own
use; on the other, the Empress Elizabeth, a coarse and grumbling
virago, never quite sober, jealous, envious, causing every step of the
young Princess to be watched, every word reported, taking offence at
everything, and all this after having given her for a husband the most
ridiculous Benedict of the age.

A prisoner in the palace, she could do nothing without permission. If
she wept for the death of her father, the Empress sent her word that she
had grieved enough. "That her father was not a king, that she should
mourn him longer than a week." If she evinced a friendship for any of
her maids of honour, she might be sure the lady would be dismissed. If
she became attached to a faithful servant, still more certain was it
that that servant would be turned away.

Her relations with the Grand Duke were monstrous, degrading. He made her
the confidante of his amorous intrigues. Drunk from the age of ten, he
came one night in liquor to entertain his wife with a description of the
graces and charms of the daughter of Biren; and as Catherine pretended
to be asleep, he gave her a punch with his fist to awaken her. This
booby kept a kennel of dogs, which infested the air, at the side of his
wife's bed-chamber, and hung rats in his own, to punish them according
to the rules of martial law.

Nor is this all. After having wounded and outraged nearly every feeling
of this young creature's nature, they began to deprave her
systematically. The Empress regards as a breach of order her having no
children. Madame Tchoglokoff speaks to her on the subject, insinuating
that, _for the good of the state_, she ought to sacrifice her scruples,
and concludes by proposing to her a choice between Soltikoff and
Narichkine. The young lady affects simplicity and takes both--nay,
Poniatowsky into the bargain, and thus was commenced a career of
licentiousness in which she never halted during the space of forty

What renders the present publication of serious consequence to the
imperial house of Russia is, that it proves not only that this house
does not belong to the family of Romanoff, but that it does not even
belong to that of Holstein Gottorp. The avowal of Catherine on this
point is very explicit--_the father of the Emperor Paul is Sergius

The Imperial Dictatorship of Russia endeavours in vain to represent
itself as traditional and secular.

One word before I close.

In perusing these Memoirs, the reader is astonished to find one thing
constantly lost sight of, even to the extent of not appearing
anywhere--it is _Russia and the People_. And here is the characteristic
trait of the epoch.

The Winter Palace, with its military and administrative machinery, was a
world of its own. Like a ship floating on the surface of the ocean, it
had no real connection with the inhabitants of the deep, beyond that of
eating them. It was the _State for the State_. Organized on the German
model, it imposed itself on the nation as a conqueror. In that monstrous
barrack, in that enormous chancery, there reigned the cold rigidity of
a camp. One set gave or transmitted orders, the rest obeyed in silence.
There was but one single spot within that dreary pile in which human
passions reappeared, agitated and stormy, and that spot was the domestic
hearth; not that of the nation--but of the state. Behind that triple
line of sentinels, in those heavily ornamented saloons, there fermented
a feverish life, with its intrigues and its conflicts, its dramas and
its tragedies. It was there that the destinies of Russia were woven, in
the gloom of the alcove, in the midst of orgies, _beyond_ the reach of
informers and of the police.

What interest, then, could the young German Princess take in that
_magnum ignotum_, that people _unexpressed_, poor, semi-barbarous, which
concealed itself in its villages, behind the snow, behind bad roads, and
only appeared in the streets of St. Petersburg like a foreign outcast,
with its persecuted beard, and prohibited dress--tolerated only through

It was only long afterwards that Catherine heard the Russian people
seriously spoken of, when the Cossack Pougatcheff, at the head of an
army of insurgent peasants, menaced Moscow.

When Pougatcheff was vanquished, the Winter Palace again forgot the
people. And there is no telling when it would have been again remembered
had it not itself put its masters in mind of its existence, by rising in
mass in 1812, rejecting, on the one hand, the release from serfdom
offered to it at the point of foreign bayonets, and, on the other,
marching to death to save a country which gave it nothing but slavery,
degradation, misery--and the oblivion of the Winter Palace.

This was the second _memento_ of the Russian people. Let us hope that at
the third it will be remembered a little longer.


LONDON, _November 15th, 1858_.


                                OF THE

                         EMPRESS CATHERINE II.

                          WRITTEN BY HERSELF.



Fortune is not so blind as people think. Her movements are often the
result of precise and well-planned measures, which escape the perception
of common minds; still oftener are they the result of personal
qualities, character, and conduct.

To render this more evident, I will propose the following syllogism:

Qualities and character shall form the major

Conduct, the minor;

Good or evil fortune, the conclusion.

Here are two striking illustrations:


The mother of Peter III was a daughter of Peter I. Two months after the
birth of her son she died of consumption, in the little town of Kiel, in
Holstein, a victim to grief at finding herself established in such a
place and married so badly. Charles Frederic, Duke of Holstein, nephew
of Charles XII, King of Sweden, was the father of Peter III. He was a
weak prince, ugly, little, sickly, and poor (see the Journal of
Berkholz, in Busching's Magazine). He died in 1739, leaving his son, not
quite eleven years old, under the guardianship of his cousin, Adolphus
Frederic, Bishop of Lubeck and Duke of Holstein, since elected King of
Sweden, in consequence of the peace of Abo, and the recommendation of
the Empress Elizabeth. The education of Peter III was placed under the
superintendence of the Grand Marshal of his Court, Brummer, a Swede by
birth, under whom were the Great Chamberlain Berkholz, author of the
journal just alluded to, and four chamberlains, two of whom, Adlerfeldt,
author of a history of Charles XII, and Wachmeister, were Swedes, and
the other two, Wolff and Madfeldt, natives of Holstein. The Prince was
educated for the throne of Sweden, in a court too large for the country
which contained it; and this court was divided into several factions
mutually hating each other, each seeking to obtain an ascendancy over
the mind of the Prince, instead of endeavouring to form his character,
and all bent upon inspiring him with an aversion for those opposed to
them. The young Prince cordially hated Brummer; nor did he like any of
his attendants, because they kept him under restraint.

Even from the ago of ten, Peter III showed a fondness for drink. He had
to submit to numerous presentations, and was never out of sight night or
day. The persons he most liked during his childhood and the first years
of his residence in Russia were two old valets de chambre--Cramer, a
Livonian, and Roumberg, a Swede. The latter was the favourite; he was a
somewhat rough and vulgar person, who had been a dragoon under Charles
XII. Brummer, and consequently Berkholz, who only saw with the eyes of
Brummer, was attached to the Prince Guardian and Administrator; all the
rest were dissatisfied with this Prince, and still more so with his

When the Empress Elizabeth ascended the throne of Russia, she sent the
Chamberlain Korf into Holstein to demand her nephew. In consequence, the
Prince Administrator immediately sent him off, accompanied by the Grand
Marshal Brummer, the Chamberlain Berkholz, and the Chamberlain Decken,
nephew of the former. The Empress received the Prince with great joy,
and soon after his arrival set out for Moscow to be crowned. She had
determined to declare him her heir; but, first of all, it was
indispensable that he should be received into the Greek church. The
enemies of the Grand Marshal Brummer, and particularly the Great
Chamberlain Count Bestoujeff and the Count M. Panin, who was for a long
time Russian minister in Sweden, pretended to have in their possession
convincing proofs that Brummer, from the moment he found the Empress
determined to declare her nephew heir presumptive to her throne, took as
much pains to corrupt the mind and heart of his pupil as he had before
taken to render him worthy of the crown of Sweden. But I have always
doubted this atrocity, and looked upon the education of Peter III as a
conflict of unfortunate circumstances. I will relate what I have seen
and heard, and even that will explain a great deal.

I saw Peter III for the first time when he was eleven years old. He was
then at Eutin with his guardian, the Prince Bishop of Lubeck, some
months after the death of his father, the Duke Charles Frederic. The
Prince Bishop had assembled all his family at Eutin, in 1739, in order
to meet his ward. My grandmother, mother of the Prince Bishop, and my
mother, his sister, had come from Hamburg with me. I was then ten years
old. Prince Augustus and the Princess Anne, brother and sister of the
Prince Guardian and Administrator of Holstein, were also there; and it
was then I heard it stated, in the presence of the assembled family,
that the young Duke was inclined to drink, his attendants finding it
difficult to prevent him from getting intoxicated at table; that he was
restive and impetuous; without affection for those about him, and
especially disliking Brummer; that, otherwise, he was not wanting in
vivacity, but that he was of a weak and sickly constitution. In point of
fact, his complexion was pale, and he appeared thin and delicate. To
this child his attendants wished to give the appearance of a complete
man; and for this purpose he was tormented with restraints only
calculated to teach him falsehood as well in character as in deportment.

The little court of Holstein had not long been settled in Russia when an
embassy arrived from Sweden, requesting the Empress to allow her nephew
to be placed on the throne of that kingdom. Elizabeth, however, had
already announced her intentions by the preliminaries of the peace of
Abo, as previously mentioned; and she replied to the Swedish diet that
she had declared her nephew heir to the throne of Russia, and that she
adhered to the preliminaries of the peace of Abo, which gave to Sweden,
as heir presumptive to the crown, the Prince Administrator of Holstein.
(This Prince had had an elder brother, to whom the Empress had been
affianced at the death of Peter I. The marriage had not taken place, as
the Prince died of small-pox a few weeks after the betrothal; but the
Empress retained much affection for his memory, as she showed by many
marks of favour to all the family.)

Peter III, then, was declared heir to Elizabeth and Grand Duke of
Russia, after having previously made his profession of faith according
to the rites of the Greek church. His instructor on this occasion was
Simon Theodorsky, since Archbishop of Pleskov. The Prince had been
baptized and brought up in the Lutheran creed in its most rigid and
least tolerant form. He had always been refractory under instruction of
every kind; and I have heard his attendants say that, while at Kiel,
they had infinite trouble in getting him to church on Sundays and
holidays, and making him perform the acts of devotion required of him;
and that most of the time he displayed his irreligion in the presence of
Simon Theodorsky. His Royal Highness took it into his head to dispute
upon every point, and his attendants had often to be called in to check
his ill-humour or impetuosity. At last, after giving a deal of trouble,
he submitted to the wishes of his aunt the Empress; though, whether from
prejudice, habit, or the spirit of contradiction, he frequently took
care to let it be seen that he would rather have gone to Sweden than
remain in Russia. He retained Brummer, Berkholz, and his Holstein
attendants until his marriage. Some other masters were added to these as
a matter of routine: Mr. Isaac Wesselowsky for the Russian language; he
came but rarely at first, and finally not at all; the other was the
Professor Stehlein, who was to teach him mathematics and history, but
who, in reality, only played with him, and served him as a buffoon. The
person who was most assiduous was the ballet-master, Laudé, who taught
him dancing.


At first, the sole occupation of the Grand Duke, when in his private
apartment, was to make the two servants who attended him there to go
through the military exercise. He gave them titles and ranks, and then
again degraded them, according to the whim of the moment. It was truly
child's play, and a constant childhood. In general, indeed, he was very
childish, although at this time he was sixteen. In 1744, while the court
was at Moscow, Catherine II arrived there with her mother, on the 9th of

The Russian court was at that time divided into two great sections or
parties. At the head of the first, which now began to recover from its
previous depression, was the Vice-Chancellor Count Bestoujeff Rumine. He
was a man far more feared than loved, excessively intriguing and
suspicious, firm and resolute in his principles, not a little
tyrannical, an implacable enemy, but a steady friend, never abandoning
those who did not first turn their backs on him. He was, besides,
difficult to get along with, and apt to stand upon trifles. He was at
the head of the department of foreign affairs. Having to contend with
those immediately about the Empress, he had been kept down before the
journey to Moscow; but now he began to gain an ascendancy. He leaned to
the court of Vienna, to that of Saxony, and to England. The arrival of
Catherine II and her mother gave him no pleasure; it was the secret
work of the faction opposed to him. The enemies of the Count were
numerous, but he made them all tremble. He had over them the advantage
of his position and character, which gave him great weight in the
politics of the ante-chamber.

The party opposed to Bestoujeff were in favour of France, her protégée
Sweden, and the king of Prussia. The Marquis de la Chétardie was the
soul of this party; the courtiers from Holstein its prominent
personages. They had gained over Lestocq, one of the principal actors in
the revolution which had placed Elizabeth on the throne of Russia. He
had a large share in her confidence. He had been her surgeon since the
death of the Empress Catherine I, to whose household he had also been
attached, and had rendered essential services to both mother and
daughter. He was not wanting either in shrewdness, skill, or intrigue;
but he was malicious, and had a bad heart. All these strangers supported
him, and put forward Count Michael Woronzoff, who had also taken part in
the revolution, and had accompanied Elizabeth on the night she ascended
the throne. She had made him marry the niece of the Empress Catherine I,
the Countess Anna Karlovna Skavronsky, who had been brought up with
herself, and was very much attached to her. To this faction also
belonged the Count Alexander Roumianzoff, father of the Marshal, who had
signed the peace of Abo with Sweden--a peace in which Bestoujeff had
been but little consulted. The party also counted upon the
Procurator-general Troubetzkoy, upon the whole Troubetzkoy family, and,
consequently, upon the Prince of Hesse-Homburg, who had married a
princess of this family. The Prince of Hesse-Homburg, who was much
thought of at that time, was personally of little consequence, his
importance being wholly derived from the extensive family to which his
wife belonged, and of which the father and mother were still living: the
latter enjoyed great consideration.

The remaining portion of those who were about the Empress consisted at
that time of the family of Schouvaloff. These balanced in all respects
the Master of the Hounds, Razoumowsky, who, for the moment, was the
acknowledged favourite.

Count Bestoujeff knew how to make these latter useful, but his chief
reliance was on the Baron Tcherkassoff, Secretary of the Cabinet to the
Empress, and who had previously served in the cabinet of Peter I. He was
a rough and headstrong man, an advocate of order and justice, and one
who wished to see everything in due form and system. The remainder of
the court took sides with one or other of these parties, according to
their several interests or personal feelings.

The arrival of my mother and myself seemed to give the Grand Duke much
pleasure. I was then in my fifteenth year. During the first few days he
showed me great attention. Even then, and in that short time, I could
see that he cared but little for the nation over which he was destined
to rule; that he leaned to Lutheranism; that he had no affection for
those about him; and that he was very childish. I was silent, and
listened, and this gained me his confidence. I remember his telling me,
among other things, that what most pleased him in me was, that I was his
cousin, as he could therefore, from our near relationship, open his
heart to me with entire confidence; and hereupon he went on to inform me
that he was in love with one of the maids of honour to the Empress, who
had been dismissed from court in consequence of the misfortune of her
mother, a Madame Lapoukine, who had been exiled to Siberia; that he
would have been very glad to have married her, but that he was resigned
to marry me instead, as his aunt wished it. I listened with a blush to
these family disclosures, thanking him for his premature confidence;
but, in reality, I was astounded at his imprudence and utter want of
judgment in a variety of matters.

The tenth day after my arrival in Moscow, it was Saturday, the Empress
went to the convent of Troïtza. The Grand Duke remained with us at
Moscow. Three masters had already been assigned me: Simon Theodorsky, to
instruct me in the Greek faith; Basil Adadouroff, for the Russian
language; and the ballet-master, Laudé, for dancing. In order to make
greater progress in the Russian, I used to sit up in bed when every one
else was asleep, and learned by heart the lessons which Adadouroff had
left me. As my room was warm, and I had no experience of the climate, I
neglected to put on my shoes or stockings, but studied just as I left my
bed. The consequence was, that from the fifteenth day I was seized with
a pleurisy which threatened to kill me. It commenced with a shivering,
which seized me on the Tuesday after the departure of the Empress for
the convent of Troïtza, just as I had dressed for dinner. My mother and
myself were to dine that day with the Grand Duke, and I had much
difficulty in getting her to allow me to go to bed. On her return from
dinner, she found me almost without consciousness, in a burning fever,
and with an excruciating pain in the side. She fancied I was going to
have the small-pox; sent for the physicians, and wished me to be treated
in consequence. The medical men insisted on my being bled, but she would
not listen to the proposal, saying that it was from being bled that her
brother had died of the small-pox in Russia, and that she did not wish
me to share the same fate. The physicians, and the attendants of the
Grand Duke, who had not had the disease, sent to the Empress an exact
report of the state of matters, and in the mean time, while my mother
and the doctors were disputing, I lay in my bed, unconscious, in a
burning fever, and with a pain in the side which occasioned intense
suffering, and forced from me continual moanings, for which my mother
scolded me, telling me that I ought to bear my sufferings patiently.

Finally, on the Saturday evening, at seven o'clock, that is, on the
fifth day of my disease, the Empress returned from the convent at
Troïtza, and, on alighting from her carriage, proceeded to my room, and
found me without consciousness. She had with her Count Lestocq and a
surgeon, and having heard the opinion of the physicians, she sat down at
the head of my bed, and ordered me to be bled. The moment the blood
came, I recovered my consciousness, and, opening my eyes, found myself
in the arms of the Empress, who had lifted me up. For twenty-seven days
I lay between life and death, and during that period I was bled sixteen
times, on some occasions as often as four times in the day. My mother
was scarcely ever allowed to enter my room. She continued opposed to
these frequent bleedings, and loudly asserted that the doctors were
killing me. She began, however, to believe that I should not have the
small-pox. The Empress had placed the Countess Roumianzoff and several
other ladies in attendance on me, and it seemed that my mother's
judgment was distrusted. At last, under the care of the physician
Sanches, a Portuguese, the abscess which had formed in my right side
burst. I vomited it, and from that moment I began to recover. I soon
perceived that my mother's conduct during my illness had lowered her in
every one's estimation. When she saw me very bad, she wished a Lutheran
clergyman to be brought to me. I have been told that they brought me to
myself, or took advantage of a moment of returning consciousness, to
propose this to me, and that I replied, "What is the good? I would
rather have Simon Theodorsky; I will speak to him with pleasure." He was
brought, and addressed me in a manner that gave general satisfaction.
This occurrence did me great service in the opinion of the Empress and
of the entire court. There was also another circumstance which injured
my mother. One day, towards Easter, she took it into her head to send me
word by a maid-servant that she wished me to give up to her a piece of
blue and silver stuff, which my father's brother had presented to me on
my departure for Russia, seeing that I had taken a great fancy for it. I
replied that she could, of course, take it, though I certainly prized it
very much, as my uncle had given it to me because I liked it so much.
The persons about me perceiving that I parted with it unwillingly, and
considering how long I had hovered between life and death, having only
got a little better within the last two or three days, began to complain
of my mother's imprudence in giving any annoyance to a dying child,
saying, that so far from depriving me of my dress, she ought not even to
have mentioned the matter. The circumstance was related to the Empress,
who instantly sent me several superb pieces of stuff, and among them one
of blue and silver, but the circumstance injured my mother in the
estimation of the Empress. She was accused of having no affection for
me, nor any discretion either. I had accustomed myself during my illness
to lie with my eyes closed. I was supposed to be asleep, and then the
Countess Roumianzoff, and the ladies who were with her, spoke their
minds freely, and I thus learned a great many things.

As I began to get better, the Grand Duke often came to spend the evening
in my mother's apartment, which was also mine. He and every one else
seemed to take the greatest interest in my condition. The Empress had
often shed tears about me. At last, on the 21st of April, 1744, my
birthday, whence commenced my fifteenth year, I was able to appear in
public for the first time after this severe illness.

I fancy that people were not much edified with the apparition. I was
wasted away to a skeleton. I had grown; but my face and features had
lengthened, my hair had fallen off, and I was deadly pale. To myself I
looked frightfully ugly; I could not recognize myself. The Empress sent
me, on the occasion, a pot of rouge, and ordered me to use it.

With the return of spring and fine weather, the assiduities of the Grand
Duke ceased. He preferred walking and shooting in the environs of
Moscow. Sometimes, however, he came to dine or sup with us, and then he
continued his childish confidences to me, while his attendants conversed
with my mother, who received much company, and with whom many
conferences took place, which did not fail to displease those who were
not present at them, especially Count Bestoujeff, all whose enemies were
in the habit of assembling with us, and particularly the Marquis de la
Chétardie, who had not yet put forth any character[3] from the court of
France, though he carried in his pocket his credentials as ambassador.

In the month of May, the Empress again visited the convent of Troïtza,
whither the Grand Duke, myself, and my mother followed her. For some
time the Empress had begun to treat my mother with much coldness. At the
convent of Troïtza, the reason for this became apparent. One afternoon,
when the Grand Duke was in our room, the Empress entered suddenly, and
desired my mother to follow her into the other apartment. Count Lestocq
followed there also. The Grand Duke and I sat upon a window-sill,
waiting. The conversation lasted a long time. At last, Count Lestocq
came out, and, in passing, came near the place where the Grand Duke and
I were sitting laughing, and said to us, "This merriment will soon
cease." And then, turning to me, he added, "You may pack up: you are
going to set off home at once." The Grand Duke wished to know the reason
of this. "You will learn afterwards," was the reply of the Count, who
departed to fulfil the commission with which he was charged, and of the
nature of which I was ignorant. The Grand Duke and myself were left to
ruminate on what we had heard. His commentaries were in words; mine in
thoughts. "But," he said, "if your mother is in fault, you are not." I
answered, "My duty is to follow my mother, and do what she orders me." I
saw plainly that he would have parted from me without regret. As for
myself, considering his character and sentiments, the matter was nearly
indifferent to me also, but the crown of Russia was not so. At last the
door of the bed-room opened, and the Empress came out with a flushed
face and an angry look. My mother followed her, her eyes red, and filled
with tears. As we scrambled down from the window where we were perched,
and which was rather high, the Empress smiled. She then kissed us both,
and departed. When she had gone, we learned pretty nearly how matters

The Marquis de la Chétardie, who formerly, or, to speak more correctly,
in his first diplomatic journey to Russia, had stood very high in the
favour and confidence of the Empress, found himself, in his second
journey, fallen from his hopes. His conversations were more measured
than his letters; these were filled with the most rancorous bitterness.
They had been opened, deciphered. In them were found the details of his
conversations with my mother, and with many other persons, relative to
the affairs of the empire, and to the Empress herself; and as the
Marquis had not displayed any character,[4] the order was given for
expelling him from the empire. The badge of the order of St. Andrew and
the portrait of the Empress were taken from him; but he was allowed to
retain all the other presents of jewels made him by her Majesty. I do
not know whether my mother succeeded in justifying herself in the mind
of the Empress, but at all events, we did not go away. However, my
mother continued to be treated with much reserve and coldness. I do not
know what passed between her and La Chétardie, but I know that one day
he complimented me on my having my hair arranged _en Moyse_. I replied
that to satisfy the Empress, I would dress my hair in every style that
could give her pleasure. When he heard this he turned on his heel, went
off in another direction, and did not again speak to me.

On our return from Moscow with the Grand Duke, my mother and I were more
isolated. Fewer people came to see us, and I was being prepared for
making my profession of faith. The 28th of June was fixed for this
ceremony, and the following day, the Feast of St. Peter, for my
betrothal with the Grand Duke. I remember that Marshal Brummer, several
times during this period, complained to me of his pupil, and wished to
make use of me for correcting or reproving him; but I told him it was
impossible for me to do so, and that were I to attempt it I should only
render myself as odious to him as his attendants were already.

During this period, my mother became very intimate with the Prince and
Princess of Hesse, and still more so with the brother of the latter, the
Chamberlain Retsky. This connection displeased the Countess Roumianzoff,
Marshal Brummer, and, in fact, every one; and, while she was engaged
with them in her room, the Grand Duke and I were making a racket in the
ante-chamber, of which we were in full possession; we were neither of us
wanting in youthful vivacity.

In the month of July, the Empress celebrated, at Moscow, the peace with
Sweden. On this occasion, a Court was formed for me, as an affianced
Grand Duchess of Russia; and, immediately after the celebration, the
Empress sent us off for Kiev. She set out herself some days later. We
made short stages--my mother and I, the Countess Roumianzoff, and one of
the ladies of my mother's suite in one carriage; the Grand Duke,
Brummer, Berkholz, and Decken in another. One afternoon, the Grand Duke,
tired of being with his pedagogues, wished to join my mother and me.
Once in with us, he would not leave our carriage. Then my mother,
wearied with being always with him and me, took a fancy to augment our
company. She communicated her idea to the young people of our suite,
among whom were Prince Galitzine, since Marshal of this name, and Count
Zachar Czernicheff. One of the carriages, containing our beds, was
taken, benches were ranged all round it, and the next morning the Grand
Duke, my mother and I, Prince Galitzine, Count Czernicheff, and one or
two more of the youngest of the suite, entered it. And thus we passed
the rest of our journey very gaily, as far as our carriage life was
concerned; but all who were not with us protested against the
arrangement. It extremely displeased the Grand Marshal Brummer, the
Great Chamberlain Berkholz, the Countess Roumianzoff, the
Lady-in-waiting on my mother, and, in fact, all the rest of the suite,
because they were never admitted; and, while we laughed through the
journey, they were grumbling and wearied.

In this manner we reached Koselsk, at the end of three weeks, and there
remained three other weeks waiting for the Empress, who had been delayed
on her route by several occurrences. We learnt at Koselsk that during
her journey several persons of her suite had been sent into exile, and
that she was in very bad humour. At last, about the middle of August,
she reached Koselsk, and we remained there with her till the end of the
month. While there, the people played at faro from morning till night,
in a large hall in the centre of the house, and they played high. We
were all much cramped in point of space. My mother and I slept in the
same room, the Countess Roumianzoff and the Lady-in-waiting on my mother
in the ante-chamber, and so on with the others. One day, when the Grand
Duke came into our room, my mother was writing, while her casket lay
open at her side. The Duke, from curiosity, wanted to rummage in the
casket; my mother told him not to touch it; and, in point of fact, he
moved away and went capering about the place. But while leaping here
and there in order to make me laugh, he caught the lid of the casket and
upset it. Then my mother got angry, and hard words passed between them.
She accused him of having upset the casket on purpose; he denied this,
and complained of her injustice. Both appealed to me. Knowing my
mother's temper, I was afraid of getting my ears boxed if I did not side
with her; and, on the other hand, I did not wish to tell a falsehood or
displease the Grand Duke, so that I was between two fires. However, I
told my mother that I did not think the Duke had done it intentionally,
but that, while leaping, his dress had caught the lid of the casket,
which stood on a very small stool. Then my mother took me in hand, for
when she was angry she must have some one to find fault with. I was
silent and began to cry. The Grand Duke finding that all my mother's
anger fell upon me, because I had testified in his favour, and seeing me
in tears, accused her of injustice and of being mad with passion; to
which she retorted by calling him a very ill-behaved little boy. In a
word, it would have been difficult to go farther than they did without
actually coming to blows. From this moment the Grand Duke took a dislike
to my mother; nor did he ever forget this quarrel. She, on the other
hand, retained a grudge against him, and their behaviour to each other
tended to produce restraint, distrust, and bitterness. They seldom
concealed their feelings when with me, and it was in vain that I sought
to soften them towards each other. I never succeeded beyond the moment,
and that but rarely. They had always some sarcasm ready for annoyance,
and my situation became every day more painful. I tried to obey the one
and please the other; and, indeed, at that time the Grand Duke gave me
his confidence more completely than he did to any one else; for he saw
that my mother often took me to task, when she was unable to fasten upon
him. This, of course, did me no harm in his estimation, for he felt that
he could count upon me.

Finally, on the 29th of August we reached Kiev. We remained there ten
days, and then set out for Moscow, travelling in precisely the same
manner as before.

Having arrived at Moscow, the entire autumn was passed in dramatic
representations, ballets, and court masquerades. In spite of all this,
however, it was evident that the Empress was often in bad humour. One
day while at the theatre, my mother, the Grand Duke, and I, being in a
box opposite her Majesty, I perceived the Empress speaking very warmly
and angrily to Count Lestocq. When she had ended, the Count left her and
came to our box. Approaching me he said, "Have you seen how the Empress
spoke to me?" I answered that I had. "Very well, then," he said; "she is
very angry with you." "With me! and why?" I replied. "Because," he said,
"you are much in debt. She says that wells may be dried up; that when
she was a princess she had no greater allowance than you have, though
she had an establishment to provide for; and that she took care not to
get into debt, because she knew that no one would pay for her." All this
he uttered in a dry tone and with an air of displeasure, apparently that
the Empress might see from her box how he had executed his commission.
Tears came into my eyes, and I was silent. Having finished what he had
to say, the Count departed. The Grand Duke, who was seated at my side,
heard most of the conversation; and after questioning me relative to the
remainder, he gave me to understand, rather by looks than words, that he
agreed with his aunt and was not sorry I had been scolded. This was his
general way of acting, and he fancied he should thus render himself
agreeable to the Empress by entering into her views when she was angry
with any one. My mother also, when she learnt what had happened, said it
was only the natural consequence of the pains that had been taken to
withdraw me from her control; and that since they had put me in a
condition to act without consulting her, she should wash her hands of
the matter. Thus they both took part against me.

As for me, I determined instantly to put my affairs into order; and the
next morning I called for my accounts. From these I found that I was in
debt to the amount of 17,000 roubles. Before leaving Moscow for Kiev,
the Empress had sent me 15,000 roubles and a large chest of simple
dresses; but it was necessary for me to be richly dressed, so that,
everything reckoned, I owed 2,000 roubles, and this did not appear to me
an unreasonable sum. Different causes had thrown me into these expenses.

In the first place, I had arrived in Russia very badly provided for. If
I had three or four dresses in the world, it was the very outside; and
this at a court where people changed their dress three times a-day. A
dozen chemises constituted the whole of my linen, and I had to use my
mother's sheets.

In the second place, I had been told that in Russia people liked
presents; and that generosity was the best means of acquiring friends
and making one's self agreeable.

Thirdly, they had placed with me the most extravagant woman in Russia,
the Countess Roumianzoff, who was always surrounded with tradesmen, and
constantly showing me a variety of things which she induced me to
purchase, and which I often purchased merely to present them to her, as
I knew she was eager to have them.

The Grand Duke also cost me not a little, for he was fond of presents.

Besides, I had found out that my mother's ill-humour was easily appeased
by the present of anything that pleased her; and as she was often out of
temper, and especially with me, I did not neglect this means of soothing
her. Her ill-humour arose in part from her being on such a bad footing
with the Empress, and from the fact that her Majesty often subjected her
to annoyances and humiliations. Besides, heretofore, I had always
followed her; and now she could not without displeasure see me take
precedence of her. I carefully avoided doing so, whenever it was
possible; but in public it could not be avoided. In general, I had made
it a rule to pay her the greatest respect, and treat her with all
possible deference; but it was of no use, she had always and on all
occasions some disagreeable remark to make, a thing which did not do her
much good or prepossess people in her favour.

The Countess Roumianzoff, by her scandals and gossippings, contributed
much--as did many others--to prejudice my mother in the opinion of the
Empress. That carriage for eight, during the journey to Kiev, had also
much to do with this result. All the old had been excluded; all the
young admitted. God only knows what was tortured out of this
arrangement, harmless as it was in itself. What was most evident was,
that it had displeased all those who by their rank were entitled to
admission, but were, nevertheless, set aside for the sake of more
amusing companions. But the real foundation of all this trouble was the
exclusion of Betzky and the Troubetzkoys, in whom my mother had most
confidence during the journey to Kiev. Brummer and the Countess
Roumianzoff had also, no doubt, contributed to it; and the carriage for
eight, into which they had not been admitted, was a source of rancour.

In the month of November, the Grand Duke took the measles, at Moscow. As
I had not had them, care was taken to prevent me from catching them.
Those who were about the Prince did not come near us, and all diversions
ceased. As soon as the disease had passed off, and the winter fully set
in, we left Moscow for St. Petersburg, in sledges; my mother and me in
one, the Grand Duke and Brummer in another. We celebrated the birthday
of the Empress, the 18th of December, at Tver, and the next day
continued our journey. Having reached the town of Chotilovo--about
midway--the Grand Duke, while in my room in the evening, became unwell.
He was led to his own apartments, and put to bed. He had considerable
fever during the night. At noon, the next day, my mother and I went to
see him; but I had scarcely passed the threshold when Count Brummer
advanced towards me, and desired me not to proceed farther. I asked the
reason, and learnt that indications of small-pox had just manifested
themselves. As I had not had the disease, my mother instantly hurried me
out of the room; and it was decided that she and I should set off the
same day for St. Petersburg, leaving the Duke and his suite at
Chotilovo. The Countess Roumianzoff and the lady in attendance on my
mother remained there also, to nurse the invalid, they said.

A courier, despatched to the Empress, had already preceded us, and was
by this time at St. Petersburg. At some distance from Novogorod, we met
the Empress herself, who, having learnt that the Grand Duke had taken
the small-pox, was on her way from St. Petersburg to Chotilovo, where
she remained as long as the disease lasted. As soon as she perceived
us, though it was in the middle of the night, she stopped her sledge and
ours to make inquiries concerning the condition of the Duke. My mother
told her all she knew, and she then bade the driver proceed, while we
continued our journey, and reached Novogorod towards morning.

It was a Sunday, and I went to mass, after which we dined; and just as
we were about to start again, the Chamberlain, Prince Galitzine, and the
Gentleman of the Bedchamber, Zachar Czernicheff, arrived from Moscow, on
their way to St. Petersburg. My mother was angry with the Prince because
he was in company with Count Czernicheff, who had told some falsehood or
other. She maintained that he ought to be avoided as a dangerous
character, who indulged in gratuitous fabrications. She sulked with them
both; but as this sulking was dreadfully wearisome, as, besides, there
was no choice in the matter, and as these two gentlemen were better
informed and had more conversational powers than any of the others, I
did not join in these sulks, and this drew upon me some unpleasant
remarks from my mother.

At last we reached St. Petersburg, and took up our residence in one of
the houses attached to the court. The palace, at that time, was not
sufficiently large to allow even the Grand Duke to reside there, so that
he occupied a house situated between the palace and ours. My apartments
were at the left of the palace, my mother's at the right. As soon as she
saw this arrangement, she became angry: first, because she thought my
rooms better situated than her own; secondly, because hers were
separated from mine by a common hall. In point of fact, we each had four
rooms, two in front and two facing the court-yard of the house. The
rooms were equal in size, and furnished exactly alike, the furniture
being blue and red. But what chiefly contributed to annoy my mother was
the circumstance which I am going to mention. While we were at Moscow,
the Countess Roumianzoff had brought me the plan of this house by
direction of the Empress, forbidding me, in her name, to speak of the
matter, and consulting me as to how my mother and myself should be
respectively placed. There was no choice in the case, for the two sets
of apartments were in all respects equal. I said so to the Countess, and
she gave me to understand that the Empress preferred my having separate
rooms to occupying, as at Moscow, the same apartments as my mother. This
change pleased me also, for I was much inconvenienced in being with my
mother, and, in fact, no one liked the arrangement. My mother in some
way got to hear of the plan that had been shown me. She spoke to me on
the subject, and I told the simple truth, just as the matter had
occurred. She scolded me for the secrecy I had maintained. I said I had
been forbidden to speak; but she would not admit the validity of this
reason, and altogether I saw that from day to day, she became more and
more displeased with me, and, in fact, she had managed to quarrel with
almost every one, so that she now scarcely ever came to table, either
for dinner or supper, but was served in her own room. As for me, I went
to her apartments three or four times a-day. The rest of my time was
spent in learning Russian, in playing on the harpsichord, and in
reading, for I had bought myself books; so that at fifteen I was
retired, and tolerably studious for my age.

Towards the close of our stay at Moscow, a Swedish embassy arrived, at
the head of which was the Senator Cedercreutz. A short time afterwards,
the Count Gyllenburg also arrived, to announce to the Empress the
marriage of the Prince of Sweden, my mother's brother, with a Swedish
princess. Count Gyllenburg, and many other Swedes, became known to us at
the time of the Prince Royal's departure for Sweden. He was a man of
talent, no longer young, and my mother thought very highly of him. For
myself, I was, in some respects, under obligations to him; for at
Hamburg, seeing that my mother made little or no account of me, he told
her she was wrong, and assured her that I was a child much beyond my
age. On his arrival at St. Petersburg, he visited us, and as he had told
me, while at Hamburg, that I had a very philosophical turn of mind, he
asked me how it fared with my philosophy in the vortex in which I was
placed. I told him how I passed my time in my room. He replied that a
philosopher of fifteen could not know herself, and that I was surrounded
by so many rocks that I ran great danger of being wrecked, unless the
temper of my mind was of a very superior stamp; that I ought, therefore,
to fortify it by the study of the best works, such as the Lives of
Plutarch, that of Cicero, and the Causes of the Greatness and Decay of
the Roman Republic, by Montesquieu. I immediately ordered those books to
be procured for me, and there was considerable difficulty in finding
them in St. Petersburg at that period. I told the Count that I would
trace my portrait for him, such as I supposed it, that he might see
whether or not I really did understand myself.

I did, in fact, trace out this portrait in writing, and gave it to him
under the following title:--"A Portrait of the Philosopher of Fifteen."
Many years afterwards, viz., in the year 1758, I turned up this
portrait; and I was astonished at the accuracy and depth of
self-knowledge which it evinced. Unfortunately I burnt it that same
year, with all my other papers, fearing to keep a single one in my room,
at the time of the unfortunate affair of Bestoujeff.

Count Gyllenburg returned my manuscript a few days afterwards. I do not
know whether he took a copy. He accompanied it by some dozen pages of
reflections which he had made relative to me. In these he endeavoured to
strengthen my character in firmness and elevation of mind, as well as in
all the other qualities of the head and heart. I read his remarks again
and again, many times. I impressed them on my mind, and determined very
sincerely to follow his advice. I made a promise to myself that I would
do so, and when once I have made a promise to myself, I do not remember
ever having failed in keeping it. Finally, I returned the manuscript to
the Count as he had requested, and I confess that it has been of great
service to me in forming and strengthening my mind and character.

In the beginning of February, the Empress returned from Chotilovo with
the Grand Duke. As soon as we had heard of her arrival we went to
receive her, and met her in the great hall, between four and five
o'clock in the evening, when it was nearly dark. Notwithstanding the
obscurity, however, I was almost terrified at beholding the Grand Duke.
He had grown very much, but his features were scarcely to be recognized;
they had all enlarged; the whole face was still swelled, and it was
quite evident that he would remain deeply marked. As his hair had been
cut off, he wore an immense wig, which greatly added to his
disfigurement. He came to me, and asked if I did not find it difficult
to recognize him. I stammered out my congratulations upon his
convalescence, but in truth he had grown frightful.

On the 9th of February, 1745, a year had passed since my arrival at the
court of Russia. On the 10th, the Empress celebrated the birthday of the
Grand Duke. He had now entered his seventeenth year. On this occasion, I
dined with her Majesty. She dined upon the throne, and I was the only
guest. The Grand Duke did not appear in public that day, nor for a long
time afterwards; they were in no hurry to show him in the condition in
which the small-pox had left him. The Empress was very gracious during
dinner. She told me that the letters I had written to her in Russian,
while she was at Chotilovo, had very much pleased her (to tell the
truth, they were the composition of M. Adadourof, though I had copied
them out;) and she also said she had been informed that I took great
pains to acquire the language of the country. She spoke to me in
Russian, and wished me to reply to her in that language, which I did;
and then she was pleased to praise my correct pronunciation. Finally,
she told me that I had grown handsomer since my illness at Moscow. In
fact, during the whole time of dinner, she was occupied in giving me
marks of her kindness and affection. I returned home highly delighted
with my dinner, and received congratulations on all sides. The Empress
had my portrait, which the painter Caravaque had commenced, brought to
her, and she kept it in her own room. It is the one which the sculptor
Falconnet has carried with him to France. At the time, it was a speaking

In going to mass, or to the Empress, my mother and I had to pass through
the apartments of the Grand Duke, which were situated near mine; we
therefore often saw him. He also was in the habit of coming of an
evening, to pass some moments with me; but there was no eagerness in
these visits. On the contrary, he was always glad of any excuse for
dispensing with them, and remaining at home, occupied with the childish
amusements already mentioned.

A short time after the arrival of the Empress and Grand Duke at St.
Petersburg, my mother met with a serious annoyance, which she could not

Prince Augustus, her brother, had written to her at Kiev, expressing his
great desire to visit Russia. She had learnt that the only object of
this journey was to have the administration of the territory of Holstein
conferred upon him as soon as the Grand Duke became of age; and it was
proposed to advance the period of his majority. In other words, it was
wished to take the guardianship out of the hands of the elder brother,
now become Prince Royal of Sweden, in order to give the administration
of the territory of Holstein, in the name of the Grand Duke, then of
age, to Prince Augustus, the younger brother of my mother and of the
Prince Royal of Sweden.

This intrigue had been formed by the Holstein party, which was opposed
to the Prince Royal, joined by the Danes, who could not pardon this
Prince for having prevailed, in Sweden, over the Prince Royal of
Denmark, whom the Dalecarlians wished to elect as successor to the
throne of Sweden. My mother replied to Prince Augustus from Koselsk,
telling him, that instead of lending himself to intrigues directed
against his brother, it would be better for him to enter the service of
Holland, where he was, and die with honour, rather than cabal against
his brother and join the enemies of his sister in Russia. My mother had
here reference to Count Bestoujeff, who encouraged all this intrigue in
order to injure Brummer, and all the other friends of the Prince Royal
of Sweden, the guardian of the Grand Duke for Holstein. This letter was
opened, and read by the Count and the Empress, who was by no means
pleased with my mother, and very much irritated against the Prince Royal
of Sweden, who, led by his wife, sister of the King of Prussia, had
allowed himself to be carried away by the French party in all their
views, a party in every way opposed to Russia. He was accused of
ingratitude, and my mother of want of affection for her younger brother,
because she had told him to die (_se faire tuer_), an expression which
was treated as harsh and inhuman; while my mother, in the company of her
friends, boasted of having used a firm and sounding phrase. The result
of all this was, that without any regard for my mother's feelings, or
rather to mortify her and annoy the Holstein-Swedish party, Count
Bestoujeff obtained permission, unknown to my mother, for Prince
Augustus of Holstein to visit St. Petersburg. My mother, when she learnt
that he was on his way, was extremely annoyed and grieved, and received
him very coldly. But he, pushed on by Bestoujeff, ran his course. The
Empress was persuaded to give him a favourable reception, which she did
in appearance. This, however, did not last, and could not last, for
Prince Augustus was not in himself a person of any consequence. Even his
external appearance was against him. He was very small, and badly made,
passionate, and with but little talent, and entirely led by his
followers, who were themselves quite insignificant. His stupidity, since
I must speak out, very much annoyed my mother, and, altogether, his
arrival nearly drove her crazy.

Count Bestoujeff, having obtained a control over the mind of the Prince
by means of his followers, killed many birds with one stone. He could
not be ignorant that the Grand Duke hated Brummer as much as he did
himself. Prince Augustus did not like him either, because he was
attached to the Prince Royal of Sweden, under pretence of relationship
and as a native of Holstein. Prince Augustus ingratiated himself with
the Grand Duke by constantly talking to him about Holstein and his
coming majority, so that he induced him to urge his aunt and Count
Bestoujeff to advance the period. To do this, however, it was necessary
to have the consent of the Roman Emperor, who, at that time, was Charles
VII, of the House of Bavaria. But, meantime, he died, and the matter
dragged on till the election of Francis I.

As Prince Augustus had been coldly received by my mother, and, in
return, manifested but little consideration for her, this circumstance
also contributed to diminish the slight remains of respect which the
Grand Duke entertained for her. On the other hand, both Prince Augustus
and the old valet, the favourite of the Grand Duke, fearing, seemingly,
my future influence, often talked to him about the manner in which he
ought to treat his wife. Romberg, an old Swedish dragoon, told him that
his wife dared not speak in his presence nor meddle with his affairs;
and that if she only attempted to open her mouth even, he ordered her to
hold her tongue; that he was master in his own house, and that it was
disgraceful for a husband to allow himself to be led by his wife like a

Now the Grand Duke had about as much discretion as a cannon ball, and,
when his mind was full of anything, he could not rest until he had
unburdened it to the persons he was in the habit of talking with, never
for a moment considering to whom it was he spoke. Consequently he used
to tell me all these things, with the utmost frankness, the first time
he saw me afterwards. He always fancied that every one was of his
opinion, and that nothing could be more reasonable than all this. I took
good care not to speak of these things to any one; but they made me
reflect very seriously upon the fate which awaited me. I determined to
husband carefully the confidence of the Grand Duke, in order that he
might at least consider me as a person of whom he felt sure, and to whom
he could confide everything without the least inconvenience to himself;
and in this I succeeded for a long time. Besides, I treated every one in
the best way I could, and studied how to gain the friendship, or at
least to lessen the enmity of those whom I in any way suspected of being
badly disposed to me. I showed no leaning to any side, nor meddled with
anything; always maintained a serene air, treated every one with great
attention, affability, and politeness, and, as I was naturally very gay,
I saw with pleasure that from day to day I advanced in the general
esteem, and was looked upon as an interesting child, and one by no means
wanting in mind. I showed great respect for my mother, a boundless
obedience for the Empress, and the most profound deference for the Grand
Duke; and I sought with the most anxious care to gain the affection of
the public.

From the period of our visit to Moscow, the Empress had assigned me some
ladies and gentlemen who formed my court. A short time after my arrival
at St. Petersburg she gave me some Russian maids, in order, as she said,
to aid me in acquiring increased facility in the use of the language.
This arrangement pleased me very much; for these persons were all young,
the oldest of them being only about twenty; all, too, were very lively,
so that from that time I did nothing but sing, dance, and play in my
room, from the moment I awoke in the morning till I went to sleep again
at night. In the evening, after supper, I brought into my bed-room my
three maids, the two Princesses Gagarine and Mademoiselle Koucheleff,
and we played at blind-man's buff and all sorts of games suited to our
age. All these ladies mortally feared the Countess Roumianzoff; but as
she played at cards from morning till night, either in the ante-chamber
or in her own room, never leaving her chair, except from necessity, she
rarely came near us.

In the midst of our mirth, the fancy seized me to distribute among my
women the care of all my effects. I placed my money, my expenditure, and
my linen in the charge of Mademoiselle Schenck, the lady's-maid whom I
had brought from Germany; she was a silly and querulous old maid, to
whom our gaiety was extremely annoying; and besides that, she was
jealous of all these young companions who were about to share her
functions and my affection. I gave all my jewels to Mademoiselle
Joukoff; she having more intelligence and being more gay and frank than
the others, began to gain my favour. My clothes I entrusted to my valet
Timothy Yevreinoff; my lace to Mademoiselle Balkoff, who afterwards
married the poet Soumarokoff; my ribbons to the elder Mademoiselle
Scorochodov, since married to Aristarchus Kachkine; her younger sister
Anne having nothing, as she was only between thirteen and fourteen years

The day after this grand arrangement, in which I had exercised my
central power within the limits of my own chamber, and without
consulting a living soul, there were theatricals in the evening. To go
to them, it was necessary to pass through my mother's apartments. The
Empress, the Grand Duke, and the whole court were there. A little
theatre had been erected in a riding-school, which, in the time of the
Empress Anne, had been used by the Duke of Courland, whose apartments I
now occupied. After the play, when the Empress had retired, the Countess
Roumianzoff came into my room, and told me that the Empress disapproved
of the arrangement I had made in distributing the care of my effects
among my women, and that she was ordered to withdraw the keys of my
jewels out of the hands of Mademoiselle Joukoff, and restore them to
Mademoiselle Schenck, which she did in my presence, and then departed,
leaving Mademoiselle Joukoff and me with faces somewhat elongated, and
Mademoiselle Schenck triumphing in the marked confidence of the Empress.
She began to assume with me arrogant airs, which made her more
ridiculous than ever, and even less amiable than she had been before.

The first week of Lent I had a singular scene with the Grand Duke. In
the morning, while in my room with my maids, who were all very devout,
listening to matins, which were sung in the ante-chamber, I received an
embassy from the Grand Duke. He had sent me his dwarf to inquire how I
was, and to tell me that, on account of its being Lent, he should not
visit me that day. The dwarf found us all listening to the prayers, and
fulfilling exactly the prescriptions of Lent, according to our creed. I
returned the usual compliments to the Duke, through his dwarf, who then
departed. When he got back, whether it was that he had really been
edified by what he had seen, or that he wished his dear lord and master,
who was anything but devout, to do the same, he passed a high eulogium
upon the devotion which reigned in my apartments, and, by doing so, put
the Duke in a very bad humour with me. The first time we met he began by
sulking. Having asked the cause of this, he scolded me very much for
what he called the excessive devotion to which I gave myself up. When I
asked who had told him this, he named his dwarf as an eye-witness of it.
I told him I did no more than was proper, only what every one else did,
and what could not be dispensed with without scandal; but he thought
differently. The dispute ended as most disputes do, by leaving each one
with his own opinion; but, as his Imperial Highness had no one but me to
speak to during mass, he gradually left off pouting.

Two days after, I had another alarm. In the morning, while matins were
being sung in my apartments, Mademoiselle Schenck entered my room in
great consternation, telling me that my mother had been taken ill, and
had fainted. I instantly ran to her, and found her lying on the ground
on a mattress, but not unconscious. I ventured to ask her what was the
matter. She told me, that wishing to be bled, the surgeon was so clumsy
as to miss four times, having tried both arms and both feet, and that
she had fainted. I knew that she dreaded bleeding; I was ignorant of her
intention in wishing to be bled, and did not even know that she stood in
need of it. Yet she reproached me with caring little for her condition,
and said many disagreeable things on the subject. I excused myself in
the best way I could, acknowledging my ignorance; but, seeing that she
was in a very bad humour, I became silent, and endeavoured to restrain
my tears, nor did I leave her till she had desired me to do so with some
degree of harshness. On my return to my room, in tears, my maids wanted
to know what was the matter, and I told them quite simply. I went
several times during the day to my mother's room, and remained there as
long as I thought I could do so without being troublesome. This was a
capital point with her, to which I was so well accustomed, that there is
nothing I have so carefully avoided during my life as remaining with any
one longer than I was wanted. I have made it a point instantly to retire
whenever the least suspicion crossed my mind that my farther stay would
be an inconvenience. But I know by experience that every one does not
act upon the same principle, for my own patience has often been put to
the test by those who do not know how to go away before they have worn
out their welcome or become a source of weariness.

In the course of the Lent, my mother had a grief which was very real. At
a time when it was least expected, she received the news of the sudden
death of my younger sister, Elizabeth, a child only between three and
four years old. She was very much afflicted, and I grieved also.

One morning, some few days afterwards, I saw the Empress come into my
room. She sent for my mother, and they retired to my dressing-room,
where they had a long and private conversation; after which they
returned into my bed-room, and I saw that my mother's eyes were red and
filled with tears. From the sequence of the conversation I understood
that they had been talking about the death of the Emperor Charles VII,
of the house of Bavaria, the news of which had just reached the Empress.
Her Majesty was then without alliance, and she hesitated between Prussia
and the house of Austria, each of which had their partisans. She had the
same complaint against Austria as against France, towards which the King
of Prussia leaned, for the Marquis de Botta, the minister of the court
of Vienna had been sent away from Russia for speaking against the
Empress--an act which at the time it was sought to represent as a
conspiracy. The Marquis de la Chétardie had been similarly dismissed for
the same reasons. I do not know what was the object of this
conversation, but my mother seemed to conceive great hopes from it, and
went away very well satisfied. As for me, I was in all this simply a
spectator, and one, too, very passive, very discreet, and pretty nearly

After Easter, when the spring had fully set in, I expressed to the
Countess Roumianzoff the desire I had to learn to ride, and she obtained
the consent of the Empress. I had begun to have pains in the chest at
the commencement of the year, after the pleurisy I had had in Moscow,
and I was still very thin. The doctors ordered me milk and Seltzer water
every morning. It was at Roumianzoff House, in the barracks of the
Ismaïlofsky regiment, that I took my first lesson in riding. I had
already ridden several times at Moscow, but very badly.

In the month of May, the Empress, with the Grand Duke, went to occupy
the Summer Palace. To my mother and I had been assigned a stone
building, by the side of the Fontanka, close to the house of Peter I. My
mother occupied one side of this building, and I the other. Here ended
all the assiduities of the Grand Duke; he told me quite plainly, and
through a servant, that he now lived too far off to come and see me
often. I fully perceived his want of interest, and how little I was
cared for. My self-esteem and vanity grieved in silence, but I was too
proud to complain. I should have thought myself degraded if any one had
shown me a friendship which I could have taken for pity. Nevertheless, I
shed tears when alone, then quietly dried them up, and went to romp with
my maids. My mother also treated me with great coldness and ceremony,
but I never missed visiting her several times during the day. At heart I
felt very sad, but I took care not to speak of this. However,
Mademoiselle Joukoff one day perceived my tears, and spoke to me on the
subject. I gave her the best reasons I could, without however giving her
the true ones. I laboured more earnestly than before to gain the
affection of every one. Great or small, I neglected no one, but laid it
down to myself as a rule to believe that I stood in need of every one,
and so to act in consequence as to obtain the good will of all; and I
succeeded in doing so.

After some days' stay in the Summer Palace, where people began to speak
of the preparations for my marriage, the court removed to Peterhoff,
where it was more concentrated than in the city. The Empress and the
Grand Duke occupied the upper portion of the house built by Peter I; my
mother and I were beneath, in the apartments of the Grand Duke. We dined
with him every day, under a tent, upon the open gallery adjoining his
apartments; he supped with us. The Empress was often absent, moving
about among her different country residences. We were out a good deal,
walking, riding, or driving. I then saw as clear as day, that the
persons about the Grand Duke had lost all credit with him, and all
control over him. The military games, which he formerly carried on in
private, he now enacted almost in their presence. Count Brummer and his
head master scarcely ever saw him, except to follow him in public. The
rest of his time was literally passed, in the company of his valets, in
acts of childishness unheard of at his age, for he played at puppets.

My mother took advantage of the absences of the Empress to go and sup at
the neighbouring mansions, and especially at that of the Prince and
Princess of Hesse-Homburg. One evening when she had ridden out there, I
was sitting, after supper, in my room, which was on a level with the
garden, one of the doors leading into it, when I felt tempted by the
fine weather. I proposed to my maids and my three ladies of honour to
take a walk in the garden; and I had no great trouble in persuading
them. We were eight, and my valet, who made nine, followed us with two
other valets. We walked about till midnight in the most innocent manner
possible. My mother having returned, Mademoiselle Schenck, who had
refused to accompany us, and grumbled at our project, was in a great
hurry to tell her that I had gone out against her advice. My mother went
to bed, and when I got back with my troop, Mademoiselle Schenck told me,
with an air of triumph, that my mother had sent twice to inquire if I
had returned, as she wished to speak to me; but that as it was very
late, and she tired of waiting, she had gone to bed. I would have
instantly gone to her, but I found the door closed. I told Schenck that
she might have had me called. She pretended that she had not been able
to find us; but this was a mere story to make a quarrel, and get me
scolded; I saw this clearly, and went to bed with a good deal of
uneasiness. The following day, as soon as I awoke, I went to my mother
and found her in bed. I approached to kiss her hand, but she angrily
withdrew it, and gave me a dreadful scolding for having dared to walk
out at night without her permission. I said she was not at home; but she
replied that the hour was improper, and said all sorts of disagreeable
things, for the purpose, seemingly, of giving me a distaste for
nocturnal promenades. This, however, is certain, that although this walk
may have been an imprudence, nothing could have been more innocent. What
most distressed me was, that she accused me of having gone up to the
apartments of the Grand Duke. I replied that this was an abominable
calumny, at which she became so enraged that she seemed out of herself.
It was in vain that I went on my knees to soothe her irritation. She
treated my submission as acting, and ordered me out of the room. I
retired to my own apartments in tears. At dinner-time I ascended with
her, she still being very angry, to the apartments of the Grand Duke,
who inquired what was the matter, as my eyes were very red. I told him
exactly what had happened. This time he took my part, and accused my
mother of being capricious and passionate. I begged him not to speak to
her on the subject, which request he complied with, and by degrees her
anger wore off; but I was always treated very coldly. We left Peterhoff
at the end of July, and returned to the city, where all was preparation
for the approaching marriage.

At last the Empress fixed the 21st of August for the ceremony. As the
day came nearer, I became more and more melancholy. My heart predicted
but little happiness; ambition alone sustained me. In my inmost soul
there was a something which never allowed me to doubt for a single
moment that sooner or later I should become the sovereign Empress of
Russia in my own right.

The marriage was celebrated with much pomp and magnificence. In the
evening I found in my room Madame Krause, sister of the head lady's-maid
to the Empress, who had placed her with me as my head lady's-maid. From
the very next day I found that this person had thrown all my other women
into consternation, for on approaching one of them to speak to her, as
usual, she said to me, "In God's name, do not come near me; we have been
forbidden to whisper to you." On the other hand, my beloved spouse did
not trouble himself in the slightest degree about me, but was constantly
with his valets, playing at soldiers, exercising them in his room, or
changing his uniform twenty times a-day. I yawned, and grew weary,
having no one to speak to; or I endeavoured to keep up appearances. On
the third day after my marriage, the Countess Roumianzoff Sent me word
that the Empress had dispensed with her attendance on me, and that she
was going to return home to her husband and children. This did not
grieve me much, for she had been the cause of a great deal of scandal.

The marriage festivities lasted ten days, at the end of which the Grand
Duke and myself took up our residence in the Summer Palace, where the
Empress was living; and the departure of my mother was beginning to be
talked of. Since my marriage I did not see her every day; but she had
very much softened towards me. About the latter end of September she
took her departure, the Grand Duke and I accompanying her as far as
Krasnoe-Selo. I was sincerely afflicted, and wept a great deal. After
taking leave of her we returned to the city. On reaching the palace I
called for Mademoiselle Joukoff. I was told that she had gone to see her
mother who was ill. The next day I put the same question, and received
the same answer. About noon the Empress passed with great pomp from the
Summer to the Winter Palace. We followed her to her apartments. Having
reached the state bed-room she stopped, and, after some casual remarks,
spoke of my mother's departure, and told me, with apparent kindness, to
moderate my grief. But I thought I should have dropped when she said, in
the presence of some thirty people, that at my mother's request she had
dismissed from my service Mademoiselle Joukoff, because my mother feared
I might become too much attached to a person who so little deserved my
favour; and then her Majesty spoke very pointedly against the poor girl.
I certainly was no way edified with this scene, nor convinced of what
her Majesty advanced; but I was deeply afflicted at the misfortune of
poor Joukoff, dismissed from court solely because, from her sociable
disposition, she suited me better than my other women. "For why," as I
said to myself, "was she placed with me if she was not worthy?" My
mother could not know her, could not even speak to her, as she did not
understand Russian, the only language with which Joukoff was acquainted;
she could only have been guided by the silly remarks of Schenck, who
scarcely possessed common sense. This girl suffers for me, I said to
myself; I must not, therefore, abandon her in her misfortune, of which
my affection has been the sole cause. I have never been able to learn
whether or not my mother really had requested the Empress to dismiss
this person from my service; if so, she must have preferred violent
measures to those of mildness, for she never opened her lips to me in
reference to the girl; and yet a single word from her would have been
sufficient to put me on my guard, at least, against an attachment in
itself very innocent. The Empress, also, might have acted with less
austerity. The girl was young: it was only necessary to have found a
suitable match for her, which might easily have been done; but instead
of this they acted in the manner I have mentioned.

The Empress having dismissed us, the Grand Duke and I proceeded to our
own apartments. On our way, I perceived that her Majesty had already
acquainted her nephew with what she had done. I stated to him my
objections on the subject, and made him understand that this girl was
unfortunate solely because it was supposed that I had a liking for her;
and that since she was suffering on account of my affection, I thought
myself justified in not abandoning her, as far, at all events, as
depended on myself. In fact, I immediately sent her some money, through
my valet; but he informed me that she had already departed for Moscow
with her mother and sister. I ordered what I had destined for her to be
sent through her brother, who was a sergeant in the guards. I learnt
that he also, together with his wife, had been ordered away, and that he
had been placed as an officer in a country regiment. At the present time
I am scarcely able to give any plausible explanation of these things; it
seems to me like doing wrong gratis, and from mere caprice, without a
shadow of reason, or even of pretext. But matters did not stop even
here. Through my valet and my other attendants, I endeavoured to find
for Mademoiselle Joukoff a suitable match. One was proposed to me: it
was a sergeant in the guards, a gentleman of some property, named
Travin. He went to Moscow to marry her, provided she suited him. He did
marry her, and was made lieutenant in a country regiment. As soon as the
Empress heard of this, she banished them both to Astracan. It is
difficult to find a reason for such persecution.

At the Winter Palace, the Grand Duke and I occupied the apartments which
we had previously used; those of the Duke were separated from mine by an
immense staircase, which also led to the apartments of the Empress. In
going to him, or in his coming to me, it was necessary to cross the
landing of this staircase--not the pleasantest thing in the world,
especially in winter. Nevertheless, we made the passage several times
a-day. In the evening, I went to play at billiards in his ante-chamber
with the Chamberlain Berkholz, while he romped with his gentlemen in the
other room. My party at billiards was interrupted by the retirement of
Brummer and Berkholz, whom the Empress dismissed from attendance on the
Grand Duke, at the end of the winter of 1746. This winter was passed in
masquerades given at the principal houses in the city, which were then
very small. The court and the whole town assisted at them regularly.

The last of them was given by the Master-General of the Police,
Tatizcheff, in a house called Smolnoy Dvoretz, belonging to the Empress.
The centre portion of this wooden house had been destroyed by a fire;
nothing remained but the wings, which were of two stories. One of these
wings was set apart for dancing; but in order to go to supper, which was
laid out in the other, it was necessary to pass, and this in the month
of January, through the court-yard and the snow. After supper this
journey had to be repeated. The Grand Duke returned home, and went to
bed, but the next morning he awoke with a violent headache, which
prevented him from rising. I sent for the doctors, who pronounced him in
a burning fever of the most violent kind. He was carried in the evening
from my bed to the audience-chamber, where, after being bled, he was
placed in a bed arranged there for him. They bled him several times; he
was very ill. The Empress visited him frequently during the day, and
seeing me in tears, she was pleased with me. One evening, while reading
the night-prayers in a small oratory adjoining my dressing-room, Madame
Ismaïloff came in. She was a person of whom the Empress was very fond,
and she informed me that her Majesty, knowing I was much afflicted by
the illness of the Duke, had sent her to tell me not to be cast down,
but to put my trust in God, and that whatever happened she would not
forsake me. She then asked me what I was reading; I told her the prayers
for night, and she said I should hurt my eyes by reading such small
print by candle-light. I then begged her to thank her Imperial Majesty
for her goodness towards me, and we parted very affectionately, she to
give an account of her mission, I to go to bed. Next day the Empress
sent me a prayer-book printed in large type, in order to preserve my
eyes, she said.

Although the room in which the Grand Duke was placed adjoined mine, I
never entered it except when I felt that I should not be in the way, for
I saw that he did not care much to have me there, but preferred being
with his attendants, who, on the other hand, did not much suit me.
Besides, I was not much accustomed to pass my time alone among a set of
men. Meanwhile, Lent came round. I went to my duty (_fis mes
dévotions_)[5] the first week. Generally speaking, I was inclined to
devotion at that period. I saw plainly that the Grand Duke cared little
about me. A fortnight after our marriage he confessed to me again that
he was in love with Mademoiselle Carr, Maid of Honour to her Imperial
Majesty, since married to a Prince Galitzine, Equery to the Empress. He
told Count Devier,[6] his Chamberlain, that there was no comparison
between that lady and me. Devier maintained the contrary, and the Duke
got angry with him. This scene took place almost in my presence, and I
witnessed their contest. Surely, I said to myself, it would be
impossible for me not to be unhappy with such a man as this, were I to
give way to sentiments of tenderness thus requited. I might die of
jealousy without benefit to any one. I endeavoured therefore to master
my feelings, so as not to be jealous of a man who did not love me. Had
he wished to be loved, I should have found no difficulty in loving him.
I was naturally well disposed, and accustomed to fulfil my duties; but
then, too, I should have required a husband who had common sense, which
this one had not.

I had abstained[7] (_fait maigre_) during the first week of Lent. On the
Saturday, the Empress sent me word that it would give her pleasure if I
abstained during the second week also. I replied that I begged her
Majesty would permit me to abstain during the entire Lent. Sievers,
Marshal of the Court to the Empress, a son-in-law to Madame Krause, who
was the bearer of this message, told me that the Empress was greatly
pleased with my request, and that she granted it. When the Grand Duke
learned that I continued to abstain, he scolded me a good deal; but I
told him I could not do otherwise. After he had got well, he still
feigned illness in order not to leave his room, where he found more
congenial amusement than in the formal life of the court. He did not
quit it till the last week of Lent, when he went to his duty.

After Easter, he had a marionette theatre set up in his room, and
invited company to see it, and even ladies. This show was the most
insipid thing imaginable. The room in which it was set up had a door
which was fastened up, in consequence of its leading into one of the
Empress' apartments. In this apartment there was a mechanical table,
which could be lowered and raised so as to admit of dining without
servants. One day, while the Grand Duke was in his room preparing his
so-called theatricals, he heard people talking in this room beyond, and,
with his usual inconsiderate vivacity, he took up from his theatre one
of those carpenters' tools used for making holes in boards, and set to
work boring holes in this condemned door, so that he could see all that
passed within, and among other things, the dinner which the Empress was
then taking there. The Master of the Hounds, Count Razoumowsky, in a
brocaded dressing-gown, dined with her--he had taken medicine that
day--and there were, besides, some dozen persons of those most in the
confidence of the Empress. The Grand Duke, not content with enjoying the
fruit of his skilful labour himself, must needs call all who were about
him to share in the pleasure of looking through the holes which he had
bored with so much diligence. When all were fully satisfied with this
indiscreet pleasure, he came and invited Madame Krause, myself, and my
maids, to go to his room and see something which we had never seen
before. He did not tell us what it was, doubtless to give us an
agreeable surprise. As I did not hurry myself sufficiently to gratify
his impatience, he led away Madame Krause and my women. I arrived last,
and found them stationed in front of this door, where he had placed
benches, chairs, and stools, for the accommodation of the spectators, as
he said. On entering, I asked what all this was about. He ran to meet
me, and told me what the case was. I was terrified and indignant at his
rashness, and told him I would neither look nor have anything to do with
this impropriety, which would certainly bring him into trouble if his
aunt should come to hear of it, and this she could not well help doing,
seeing that there were at least twenty persons in his secret. All who
had allowed themselves to look through the door, finding that I would
not do the same, began to file off one after the other. The Duke himself
became ashamed of what he had done, and recommenced working on his
theatre. I returned to my room.

Up to the Sunday, we heard nothing of this affair; but on that day it
happened, I hardly know how, that I got to mass rather later than usual.
On returning to my room, I was about taking off my court dress, when I
saw the Empress enter with a flushed and angry look. As she had not been
at the chapel mass, but had heard mass in her private oratory, I went to
meet her, to kiss her hand as usual, as I had not seen her before that
day. She kissed me, desired the Grand Duke to be sent for, and, while
waiting for him, scolded me for being late at mass, and preferring my
own adornment to the service of God. She added that in the time of the
Empress Anne, though not living at court, but in a house at some
distance from the palace, she had never failed in her duties, but often
got up by candle-light for this purpose. Then she sent for the valet de
chambre who dressed my hair, and told him that for the future, if he was
so slow in dressing my hair, she would have him dismissed. When she had
ended with him, the Grand Duke, who had undressed in his own room,
entered in his dressing-gown, with his night cap in his hand, and with a
gay and careless air. He ran to kiss the hand of the Empress, who
embraced him, and then asked him how he had dared to act in the manner
he had done, adding that she had gone into the room which contained the
mechanical table, and found the door all pierced with holes, all these
holes being directed towards the place where she usually sat; that he
seemed to have forgotten what he owed her; that she could no longer
consider him as anything but an ungrateful person; that her father,
Peter I., had also an ungrateful son, and that he punished him by
disinheriting him; that, in the time of the Empress Anne, she had never
failed in giving her the respect due to a crowned head, anointed of the
Lord; that the Empress Anne did not understand jokes, but sent to the
Fortress those who were wanting in respect; that as for him, he was but
a little boy, and she would teach him how to behave. At this he began
to get angry, and would have answered her, stammering out a few words to
this effect, but she commanded him to be silent, and became so excited
that her anger knew no bounds, as was usually the case when she got into
a passion. She loaded him with insults, and said all sorts of shocking
things, treating him with as much contempt as anger.

We were thunderstruck, and although this scene did not refer directly to
me, yet tears came into my eyes. She perceived this, and said to me,
"This does not apply to you; I know that you had nothing to do with this
act, and that you neither looked nor wished to look through the door."
This remark, which was correct, calmed her a little, and she stopped;
besides, it would have been difficult for her to have gone farther than
she had done. She then wished us good morning, and retired, with a
flushed face and flashing eyes. The Grand Duke went to his room, and I
undressed in silence, ruminating on what I had heard. When I had done,
the Duke returned, and said to me--in a tone half sheepish, half
comical--"She was like a fury, and did not know what she said." "She was
dreadfully angry," I replied. We talked over the matter, and then dined
in my room, quite alone. When the Grand Duke had gone to his own
apartments, Madame Krause entered my room. "It must be acknowledged,"
she said, "that the Empress has acted like a true mother to-day." I saw
she wished to make me talk, and therefore I said nothing. She continued:
"A mother gets angry, scolds her children, and there the matter ends;
you ought both of you to have said to her, _I beg your pardon, Madame_,
and you would have disarmed her." I said I was astounded and petrified
by her Majesty's anger, and all I could do at the moment was to listen
and be silent. She then left me, probably to make her report. As for me,
the "_I beg your pardon, Madame_," as a means of disarming the anger of
the Empress, remained in my head; and I have since used it with success,
when occasion required, as will be seen in the sequel.

Some time before the Empress had relieved Count Brummer and the Great
Chamberlain from attendance on the Grand Duke, I happened one day to go
earlier than usual into the ante-chamber. The Count was there alone, and
seized the occasion to speak to me. He begged and entreated me to go
every day to the Empress' dressing-room, as my mother, at leaving, had
obtained permission for me to do; a privilege of which I had made very
little use hitherto, as it was a prerogative which wearied me
excessively. I had gone once or twice, and found there the Empress'
women, who retired by degrees, so that I was left alone. I told him
this. He said it was of no consequence, I ought to continue. But I could
not understand this courtier-like perseverance. It might answer his
views, but it did not at all suit me to be kept standing in the Empress'
dressing-room, and be, besides, an inconvenience to her. I stated to him
my repugnance, but he did everything to persuade me, though without
success. I was much better pleased to be in my own rooms, especially
when Madame Krause was not there. I had discovered in her this winter a
very decided propensity for drink, and as she soon after got her
daughter married to the Marshal of the Court, Sievers, she either was
out a good deal, or my people contrived to make her tipsy, when she went
to sleep, and my room was delivered from this surly Argus.

Count Brummer and the Grand Chamberlain Berkholz having been relieved
from their duties about the Prince, the Empress named as his attendant
General Prince Basil Repnine. A better appointment could not have been
made, for Prince Repnine was not only a man of honour and probity, he
was also a man of talent, a very worthy man, candid and straightforward.
For my own-self, I had every reason to be satisfied with the conduct of
Prince Repnine. For Count Brummer I felt no regret; he wearied me with
his eternal politics, he smelt of intrigue; while the frank and
soldier-like character of Prince Repnine inspired me with confidence. As
for the Grand Duke, he was delighted to get rid of his pedagogues, whom
he hated. In quitting him, however, they left him with no slight anxiety
at finding himself at the mercy of the intrigues of Count Bestoujeff,
who was the prime mover in all these changes, made under the plausible
pretext of the majority of his Imperial Highness in his duchy of
Holstein. Prince Augustus, my uncle, was still at St. Petersburg,
watching the administration of the Grand Duke's hereditary territory.

In the month of May we moved to the Summer Palace. At the end of the
month the Empress placed with me, as chief housekeeper, Madame
Tchoglokoff, one of her maids of honour, and her relative. This was a
thunderbolt for me. This lady was altogether in the interest of Count
Bestoujeff, extremely silly, spiteful, capricious, and very selfish. Her
husband, Chamberlain to the Empress, was then gone on some sort of
mission from her Majesty to Vienna. I wept a great deal on seeing her
arrive, and all the rest of the day. I was to be bled on the following
day. In the morning the Empress came to my room, and seeing my eyes red,
said to me that young women who did not love their husbands were always
crying; that my mother, however, had assured her I had no repugnance to
marrying the Grand Duke; that, besides, she had not forced me; that, as
I was married, I must not cry any more. I remembered the instructions of
Madame Krause, and said to her, _I beg your pardon, Madame_, and she was
appeased. Meanwhile the Grand Duke came in, and this time the Empress
received him very graciously, and then went away. I was bled, and indeed
I required it; I then went to bed, and wept the whole day. The next day,
the Grand Duke drew me aside in the course of the afternoon, and I saw
clearly that they had given him to understand that Madame Tchoglokoff
had been placed with me because I did not love him. But I cannot
understand how they expected to increase my attachment for him by giving
me that woman; and so I told him. As to placing her with me as an Argus,
that was a different matter. But if this was their object, they ought to
have chosen some one less stupid; and, besides, it was not necessary for
this purpose to be spiteful and malevolent. Madame Tchoglokoff was
thought to be extremely virtuous, because she loved her husband to
adoration. She had married him for love: so excellent an example placed
before me would perhaps persuade me to imitate it. We shall see how far
the experiment was successful. In all probability, it was the
circumstance which I am about to relate which precipitated this
arrangement. I say precipitated, because I believe that, from the
beginning, Count Bestoujeff had it in view to surround us with his
creatures. He would gladly have done the same in the case of the Empress
also, but that was not so easy.

The Grand Duke, at the time I arrived in Moscow, had in his service
three domestics named Czernicheff, all three sons of grenadiers in the
bodyguard of the Empress. Their fathers held the rank of lieutenant,
which they received as a recompense for having aided in placing the
Empress on the throne. The oldest of the Czernicheffs was cousin to the
two others, who were brothers. The Grand Duke was very fond of all
three. They were the persons most in his confidence, and were really
very useful. All three were tall and well made, especially the oldest.
The Duke made use of him in all his commissions, and several times in
the day he sent him to me. He it was, too, whom the Duke made his
confidant when he did not care to come to me. This man was on very
intimate and friendly terms with my valet Yevreinoff, and through this
channel I often knew things which I should otherwise have been ignorant
of. Besides, both of them were attached to me heart and soul, and I
often obtained information from them, on a variety of matters, which it
would have been difficult to have procured otherwise. I do not know in
reference to what it was that the oldest of the Czernicheffs said one
day to the Grand Duke, "she is not my intended, but yours." This
expression made the Grand Duke laugh. He related it to me, and from that
time it pleased his Imperial Highness, when speaking to me, to call me
his intended, and Andrew Czernicheff your intended. After our marriage
Andrew Czernicheff, to put a stop to this badinage, proposed to his
Imperial Highness to call me his mother, and I, on my part, called him
my son. Now between the Grand Duke and myself there was always some
reference to this son, for he was excessively attached to the man; and I
also liked him very much.

My servants were greatly disturbed on this account; some through
jealousy, others from apprehension of the consequences which might
result both for them and for us. One day when there was a masked ball at
court, and I had gone to my room to change my dress, my valet Timothy
Yevreinoff took me aside, and told me that he and all my servants were
terrified at the danger into which he saw me plunging. I asked him what
he meant. He said, "You speak of nothing and think of nothing but Andrew
Czernicheff." "Well," I said, in the innocence of my heart, "what harm
is there in that? He is my son. The Grand Duke likes him as much and
more than I do; and he is devoted and faithful to us." "Yes," he
replied, "that is all very true; the Grand Duke can do as he pleases;
but you have not the same right. What you call kindness and attachment,
because this man is faithful and serves you, your people call love." The
utterance of this word, which had never once occurred to me, was a
thunderbolt; first, on account of the opinion of my servants, which I
called rash; secondly, on account of the condition in which I had placed
myself, without being aware of it. He told me that he had advised his
friend Czernicheff to pretend illness in order to put an end to these
remarks. This advice Czernicheff followed, and his feigned illness
lasted pretty nearly to the month of April. The Grand Duke was much
concerned about him, and spoke of him continually to me. He had not the
slightest suspicion of the real circumstances. At the Summer Palace
Andrew Czernicheff again made his appearance. I could no longer meet him
without embarrassment. Meanwhile the Empress had thought proper to make
a new arrangement with the servants of the court. They were to serve in
turn in all the rooms, and Andrew Czernicheff like the rest. The Grand
Duke often had concerts in the afternoon, and he himself played the
violin at them. During one of these concerts, which usually wearied me,
I went to my own room. This opened into the great hall of the Summer
Palace, which was then filled with scaffoldings, as they were painting
the ceiling. The Empress was absent; Madame Krause had gone to her
daughter's, Madame Sievers; and I did not find a soul in my room. From
_ennui_ I opened the door of the hall, and saw at the other end Andrew
Czernicheff. I made a sign to him to approach; he came to the door,
though with much apprehension. I asked him if the Empress would return
soon. He said, "I cannot speak to you; they make too much noise in the
hall; let me come into your room." I replied, "That I will not do." He
was outside the door and I within, holding the door half open as I spoke
to him. An involuntary impulse made me turn my head in the direction
opposite to the door at which I stood, and I saw behind me at the other
door of my dressing-room, the Chamberlain, Count Divier, who said to me,
"The Grand Duke wishes to see you, madam." I closed the door of the
hall, and returned with Count Divier to the apartment where the Grand
Duke was giving his concert. I have since learnt that Count Divier was a
kind of reporter employed as such, like many others about me. The
following day, which was Sunday, after mass, we learnt--that is, the
Grand Duke and I--that the three Czernicheffs had been placed as
lieutenants in the regiments stationed near Orenburg; and in the
afternoon of this day Madame Tchoglokoff was placed with me.

A few days afterwards, we received orders to prepare to accompany the
Empress to Reval. At the same time, Madame Tchoglokoff told me from her
Majesty that, for the future, her Imperial Majesty would dispense with
my coming to her dressing-room, and that if I had any communication to
make to her it must not be made through any one but Madame Tchoglokoff.
In my own mind, I was delighted with this order, which relieved me from
the necessity of being kept standing among the Empress' women; besides,
I seldom went to her dressing-room, and then but rarely saw her. During
the whole time that I had been going there I had not seen her more than
three or four times, and, generally speaking, whenever I went, her women
quitted the room one after the other. Not to be left there alone, I
seldom stayed long either.

In the month of June the Empress set out for Reval, and we accompanied
her. The Grand Duke and I travelled in a carriage for four persons;
Prince Augustus and Madame Tchoglokoff made up its complement. Our plan
of travelling was neither agreeable nor convenient. The post-houses or
stations were occupied by the Empress; we were accommodated in tents or
in the outhouses. I remember that on one occasion, during this journey,
I dressed near the oven where the bread had just been baked; and that
another time, when I entered the tent where my bed was placed, there was
water in it up to the ankle. Besides all this, the Empress had no fixed
hour, either for setting out or stopping, for meals or repose. We were
all, masters and servants, strangely harassed.

After ten or twelve days' march, we reached an estate belonging to Count
Steinbock, forty verstes from Reval. From this place the Empress
departed in great state, wishing to reach Catherinthal in the evening;
but somehow it happened that the journey was prolonged till half-past
one in the morning.

During the entire journey, from St. Petersburg to Reval, Madame
Tchoglokoff was the torment of our carriage. To the simplest thing that
was said, she would reply, "Such a remark would displease her Majesty;"
or, "Such a thing would not be approved of by her Majesty." It was
sometimes to the most innocent and indifferent matters that she
attached these etiquettes. As for me, I made up my mind, and during the
whole journey slept continually while in the carriage.

From the day after our arrival at Catherinthal, the court recommenced
its ordinary round of occupations; that is to say, from morning till
night, and far into the night, gambling, and for rather high stakes, was
carried on in the ante-chamber of the Empress, a hall which divided the
house and its two stories into two sections.

Madame Tchoglokoff was a gambler; she induced me to play at faro like
the rest. All the favourites of the Empress were ordinarily fixed here
when they did not happen to be in her Majesty's room, or rather tent,
for she had erected a very large and magnificent tent at the side of her
apartments, which were on the ground floor, and very small, as was
usually the case with the structures of Peter I. He had built this
country residence, and planted the garden.

The Prince and Princess Repnine, who were of the party, and were aware
of the arrogant and senseless conduct of Madame Tchoglokoff during the
journey, persuaded me to speak of it to the Countess Schouvaloff and
Madame Ismaïloff, the ladies most in her Majesty's favour. These ladies
had no love for Madame Tchoglokoff, and they had already learnt what had
happened. The little Countess Schouvaloff, who was indiscretion itself,
did not wait for me to speak to her, but happening to be seated by my
side at play, she introduced the subject herself, and, being very
humorous, she placed the whole conduct of Madame Tchoglokoff in such a
ridiculous light, that she soon made her the laughing-stock of every
one. She did more; she related to the Empress all that had passed. It
would seem as if Madame Tchoglokoff had received a reproof, for she
lowered her tone very considerably with me. Indeed, there was much need
of this being done, for I began to feel a great tendency to melancholy.
I felt totally isolated. The Grand Duke, at Reval, took a passing fancy
for a Madame Cédéraparre. As usual, he did not fail to confide the
matter to me immediately. I had frequent pains in the chest, and at
Catherinthal a spitting of blood, for which I was bled. On the afternoon
of that day, Madame Tchoglokoff came to my room, and found me in tears.
With a countenance greatly softened, she asked me what was the matter,
and proposed to me, on the part of the Empress, to take a walk in the
garden, to dissipate my hopochondria, as she said. That day the Grand
Duke had gone to hunt with the Master of the Hounds, Count Razoumowsky.
She also placed in my hands, as a present from her Imperial Majesty,
3000 roubles, for playing at faro. The ladies had noticed that I was
without money, and told the Empress. I begged Madame Tchoglokoff to
thank her Majesty for her goodness, and then went with her for a walk in
the garden.

Some days after our arrival at Catherinthal, the High Chancellor, Count
Bestoujeff, arrived, accompanied by the Imperial Ambassador, the Baron
Preyslain, and we learned, by the tenor of his congratulations, that the
two imperial courts had just become united by a treaty of alliance. In
consequence of this, the Empress went to see her fleet manoeuvre; but,
except the smoke of the cannons, we saw nothing. The day was excessively
hot, and the sea perfectly calm. On returning from this manoeuvre,
there was a ball in the Empress' tents, which were erected on the
terrace. The supper was spread in the open air, around a basin intended
for a fountain; but scarcely had her Majesty taken her seat, when there
came on a shower which wetted the entire company, forcing it to
disperse and seek shelter, as best it could, in the houses and in the
tents. Thus ended this _fête_.

Some days afterwards the Empress departed for Roguervick. The fleet
manoeuvred there also, and again we saw nothing but smoke. In this
journey we all suffered very much in our feet. The soil of the place is
a rock, covered with a thick bed of pebbles, of such a nature that if
one stood for a short time in the same spot, the feet would sink in and
the pebbles cover them. We encamped here for several days, and were
forced to walk, in passing from tent to tent, and in our tents, upon
this ground. For more than four months afterwards my feet were sore in
consequence. The convicts who worked at the pier wore sabots, and even
these seldom lasted beyond eight or ten days.

The imperial ambassador had followed her Majesty to this port. He dined
there and supped with her half-way between Roguervick and Reval. During
this supper an old woman, who had reached the age of 130 years, was led
before the Empress. She looked like a walking skeleton. The Empress sent
her meat from her own table, as well as money, and we continued our

On our return to Catherinthal, Madame Tchoglokoff had the satisfaction
of finding there her husband, who had returned from his mission to
Vienna. Many of the court equipages had already taken the road for Riga,
whither the Empress intended to go. But on her return from Roguervick
she suddenly changed her mind. Many people tormented their brains, in
vain, to discover the cause of this change. Several years afterwards it
came to light. When M. Tchoglokoff was passing through Riga, a Lutheran
priest, a madman or a fanatic, placed in his hands a letter and a
memorial addressed to the Empress, in which he exhorted her not to
undertake this journey, as if she did she would incur the most imminent
risk; that there were people posted in ambush by the enemies of the
empire for the purpose of killing her, and such like absurdities. These
writings, being delivered to the Empress, left her in no humour for
travelling farther. As for the priest, he was found to be mad; but the
journey did not take place.

We returned by short stages from Reval to St. Petersburg. I caught in
this journey a severe sore throat, which compelled me to keep my bed for
several days; after which we went to Peterhoff, and thence made weekly
excursions to Oranienbaum.

At the beginning of August the Empress sent word to the Grand Duke and
myself that we ought to go to our duty. We both complied with her
wishes, and immediately began to have matins and vespers sung in our
apartments, and to go to mass every day. On the Friday, when we were to
go to confession, the cause of this order became apparent. Simon
Theodorsky, Bishop of Pleskov, questioned us both a great deal, and each
separately, respecting what had passed between the Czernicheffs and us.
But as nothing whatever had passed, he looked a little foolish when he
heard it asserted, with the candour of innocence, that there was not
even the shadow of what people had dared to suppose. He was so far
thrown off his guard as to say to me, "But how then is it that the
Empress has been impressed to the contrary?" To which I replied, that I
really did not know. I suppose our confessor communicated our confession
to the Empress' confessor, and that the latter retailed it to her
Majesty--a thing which certainly could do us no harm. We communicated
on the Saturday, and on the Monday went for a week to Oranienbaum, while
the Empress made an excursion to Zarskoe-Selo.

On arriving at Oranienbaum the Grand Duke enlisted all his suite. The
chamberlains, the gentlemen of the bed-chamber, the officers of the
court, the adjutants of Prince Repnine, and even his son, the servants,
the huntsmen, the gardeners, every one, in fact, had to shoulder his
musket. His Imperial Highness exercised them every day, and made them
mount guard, the corridor of the house serving as a guard-room, and here
they passed the day. For their meals the gentlemen went up stairs, and
in the evening they came into the hall to dance in gaiters. As for
ladies there were only myself, Madame Tchoglokoff, the Princess Repnine,
my three maids of honour, and my lady's-maids; consequently the ball was
very meagre and badly managed, the men harassed and in bad humour with
these continual military exercises, which did not suit the taste of
courtiers. After the ball they were allowed to go home to sleep.
Generally speaking, we were all dreadfully tired of the dull life we led
at Oranienbaum, where we were, five or six women, all to ourselves;
while the men, on their side, were engaged in unwilling exercises. I had
recourse to the books I had brought with me. Since my marriage I read a
great deal. The first book I read after my marriage was a novel called
Tiran the Fair (Tiran le blanc), and for a whole year I read nothing but
novels. But I began to tire of these. I stumbled by accident upon the
letters of Madame de Sévigné, and was much interested by them. When I
had devoured these, the works of Voltaire fell into my hands. After
reading them, I selected my books with more care.

We returned to Peterhoff, and after two or three journeys backwards and
forwards, between that place and Oranienbaum, with the same amusements,
we finally got back to St. Petersburg, and took up our residence in the
Summer Palace.

At the close of autumn the Empress passed to the Winter Palace, where
she occupied our apartments of the previous year; while we moved into
those occupied by the Grand Duke before our marriage. These we liked
very much, and, indeed, they were very convenient. They were those used
by the Empress Anne. Every evening the members of our court assembled in
our apartments, and we amused ourselves with all kinds of small games,
or we had a concert. Twice a-week there was a performance at the great
theatre, which at that time was opposite the church of Kasan. In a word,
this winter was one of the gayest and best managed I have ever spent. We
literally did nothing but laugh and romp the whole day.

About the middle of the winter, the Empress sent us word to follow her
to Tichvine, where she was going. It was a journey of devotion; but just
as we were about to enter our sledges, we learnt that the journey was
put off. It was whispered to us that the Master of the Hounds, Count
Razoumowsky, had got a fit of the gout, and that her Majesty did not
wish to go without him. About two or three weeks afterwards we did
start. The journey lasted only five days, when we returned. In passing
through Ribatchia Slobodk, and by the house where I knew the
Czernicheffs were, I tried to see them through the windows, but I could
see nothing. Prince Repnine was not in the party during this journey; we
were told that he had the gravel. The husband of Madame Tchoglokoff took
his place on the occasion, and this was not the most agreeable
arrangement in the world for most of us. He was an arrogant and brutal
fool; everybody feared him, and his wife as well; and indeed, they were
both mischievous and dangerous characters. However, there were means, as
will be seen in the sequel, not only of lulling these Arguses to sleep,
but even of gaining them over. At that time these means had not been
discovered. One of the surest was to play at faro with them; they were
both eager players, and very selfish ones. This weak point was the one
first perceived; the others came afterwards.

During this winter, the Princess Gagarine, maid of honour, died of a
burning fever, just as she was to be married to the Chamberlain Prince
Galitzine, who subsequently married her younger sister. I regretted her
very much, and during her illness I went several times to see her,
notwithstanding the representations of Madame Tchoglokoff. The Empress
replaced her by her elder sister, since married to count Matiuschkine.
She was then at Moscow, and was sent for accordingly.

In the spring, we went to the Summer Palace, and thence to the country.
Prince Repnine, under the pretext of bad health, received permission to
retire to his own house, and M. Tchoglokoff continued to discharge his
functions in the interim. He first signalized himself by the dismissal
from our court of Count Divier, who was placed as brigadier in the army,
and of the Gentleman of the Bedchamber Villebois, who was sent there as
colonel. These changes were made at the instigation of Tchoglokoff, who
looked on both with an evil eye, because he saw that we thought well of
them. A similar dismissal had taken place in 1745, in the case of Count
Zachar Czernicheff, sent away at the request of my mother. Still these
removals were always considered at court as disgraces, and they were
therefore sensibly felt by the individuals. The Grand Duke and myself
were much annoyed with this latter one. Prince Augustus, too, having
obtained all he had asked for, was told from the Empress that he must
now leave. This also was a manoeuvre of the Tchoglokoffs, who were
bent upon completely isolating us. In this they followed the
instructions of Count Bestoujeff, who was suspicious of everybody.

During this summer, having nothing better to do, and everything being
very dull at home, I took a passion for riding; the rest of my time I
spent in my room, reading everything that came in my way. As for the
Grand Duke, as they had taken from him the people he liked best, he
chose other favourites among the servants of the court.

During this interval, my valet Yevreinoff, while dressing my hair one
day, told me that by a strange accident he had discovered that Andrew
Czernicheff and his brothers were at Ribatchia, under arrest, in a
pleasure-house, which was the private property of the Empress, who had
inherited it from her mother. It was thus that the discovery was
made:--During the carnival, Yevreinoff went out for a drive, having his
wife and sister-in-law with him in the sledge, and the two
brothers-in-law behind. The sister's husband was secretary to the
Magistrate of St. Petersburg, and had a sister married to an
under-secretary of the secret Chancery. They went for a walk one day to
Ribatchia, and called on the man who had charge of this estate of the
Empress. A dispute arose about the Feast of Easter, as to what day it
would fall on. The host said that he would soon end the controversy by
asking the prisoners for a book called Swiatzj, which contained all the
Feasts, together with the calendar, for several years. In a few minutes
he brought it in. The brother-in-law of Yevreinoff took the book, and
the first thing he saw, on opening it, was that Andrew Czernicheff had
put his name in it, with the date of the day on which he had received it
from the Grand Duke. After this he looked for the Feast of Easter. The
dispute being ended, the book was sent back, and they returned to St.
Petersburg, where some days later, the brother-in-law of Yevreinoff
confided to him the discovery he had made. Yevreinoff entreated me not
to mention the matter to the Grand Duke, as his discretion was not at
all to be relied on. I promised him that I would not, and kept my word.

About the middle of Lent, we went with the Empress to Gostilitza, to
celebrate the feast-day of the Master of the Hounds, Count Razoumowsky.
We danced, and were tolerably well amused, and then returned to town.

A few days afterwards, the death of my father was announced to me. It
greatly afflicted me. For a week I was allowed to weep as much as I
pleased, but at the end of that time, Madame Tchoglokoff came to tell me
that I had wept enough; that the Empress ordered me to leave off; that
my father was not a king. I told her I knew that he was not a king, and
she replied that it was not suitable for a Grand Duchess to mourn for a
longer period a father who had not been a king. In fine, it was arranged
that I should go out on the following Sunday, and wear mourning for six

The first day I left my room, I found Count Santi, Grand Master of
Ceremonies to the Empress, in her Majesty's ante-chamber. I addressed a
few casual remarks to him, and passed on. Some days later, Madame
Tchoglokoff came to tell me that her Majesty had learned from Count
Bestoujeff--to whom Santi had given the information in writing--that I
had told him (Santi) I thought it very strange that the ambassadors had
not offered their condolences to me on the occasion of my father's
death; that her Majesty considered my remarks to Count Santi very
uncalled for; that I was too proud; that I ought to remember that my
father was not a king, and therefore that I could not and must not
expect to receive the condolences of the foreign ministers. I was
astounded at this speech. I told Madame Tchoglokoff that, if Count Santi
had said or written that I had spoken to him a single word having the
least allusion to this subject, he was a notorious liar; that nothing of
the kind had ever entered my mind; and therefore that I had not uttered
a syllable to him or any one else in reference to it. This was the exact
truth, for I had laid it down to myself as an invariable rule never, in
any case, to make any pretensions, but to conform in everything to the
wishes of the Empress, and fulfil all her commands. It would seem that
the ingenuousness with which I replied to Madame Tchoglokoff carried
conviction to her mind, for she said she would not fail to tell the
Empress that I gave the lie to Count Santi. In fact, she went to her
Majesty, and came back to tell me that the Empress was extremely angry
with Count Santi for having uttered such a falsehood, and that she had
ordered him to be reprimanded. Some days afterwards, the Count sent
several persons to me, and among them the Chamberlain, Count Nikita
Panine, and the Vice-Chancellor, Woronzoff, to tell me that Count
Bestoujeff had forced him to tell this falsehood, and that he was sorry
to find himself in disgrace with me in consequence. I told these
gentlemen that a liar was a liar, whatever might be his reasons for
lying; and that, in order that Count Santi might not again mix me up
with his falsehoods, I should never speak to him. Here is what has
occurred to me in reference to this matter: Santi was an Italian. He
was fond of intermeddling, and attached much importance to his office of
Grand Master of Ceremonies. I had always spoken to him as I spoke to
every one else. He thought, perhaps, that compliments of condolence on
the part of the diplomatic corps might be admissible; and, judging by
his own feelings, he probably considered that this would be a means of
obliging me. He went then to Count Bestoujeff, the High Chancellor, and
his superior, and told him that I had appeared in public for the first
time, and seemed very much affected; the omission of the condolences
might have added to my grief. Count Bestoujeff, always carping, and
delighted to have an opportunity of humbling me, had all that Santi said
or insinuated--and which he had ventured to support with my name--put
into writing, and made him sign this protocol. Santi, terribly afraid of
his superior, and above all things dreading to lose his place, did not
hesitate to sign a falsehood rather than sacrifice his means of
existence. The High Chancellor sent the note to the Empress. She was
annoyed to see my pretensions, and despatched Madame Tchoglokoff to me,
as already mentioned. But having heard my reply, founded upon the exact
truth, the only result was a slap in the face for his excellency the
Grand Master of the Ceremonies.

In the country, the Grand Duke formed a pack of hounds, and began to
train dogs himself. When tired of tormenting these, he set to work
scraping on the violin. He did not know a note, but he had a good ear,
and made the beauty of music consist in the force and violence with
which he drew forth the tones of his instrument. Those who had to listen
to him, however, would often have been glad to stop their ears had they
dared, for his music grated on them dreadfully. This course of life
continued not only in the country, but also in town. On returning to
the Winter Palace, Madame Krause--who had all along been an
Argus--moderated so far as often even to aid in deceiving the
Tchoglokoffs, who were hated by every one. She did more: she procured
for the Grand Duke playthings--puppets, and such like childish toys, of
which he was passionately fond. During the day, they were concealed
within, or under my bed; the Grand Duke retired immediately after
supper, and as soon as we were in bed Madame Krause locked the door, and
then the Grand Duke played with his puppets till one or two o'clock in
the morning. Willing or unwilling, I was obliged to share in this
interesting amusement; and so was Madame Krause. I often laughed, but
more frequently felt annoyed, and even inconvenienced; the whole bed was
covered and filled with playthings, some of which were rather heavy. I
do not know whether Madame Tchoglokoff came to hear of these nocturnal
amusements, but one night, about twelve o'clock, she knocked at the door
of our bed room. We did not open it immediately, as the Grand Duke,
myself, and Madame Krause were scrambling with all our might to gather
up and conceal the toys: for this purpose the cover-lid of the bed
answered very well, as we crammed them all in under it. This done, we
opened the door. She complained dreadfully of having been kept waiting,
and told us that the Empress would be very angry when she learnt that we
were not asleep at that hour. She then sulkily departed, without having
made any further discovery. As soon as she was gone, the Duke resumed
his amusements until he became sleepy.

At the commencement of autumn we again returned to the apartments which
we had occupied after our marriage, in the Winter Palace. Here, a very
stringent order was issued by the Empress through M. Tchoglokoff,
forbidding every one from entering either my apartments or those of the
Grand Duke, without the express permission of M. and Madame Tchoglokoff.
The ladies and gentlemen of our court were directed, under pain of
dismissal, to keep in the ante-chamber, and not to pass the threshold,
or speak to us--or even to the servants--otherwise than aloud. The Grand
Duke and myself, thus compelled to sit looking at each other, murmured,
and secretly interchanged thoughts relative to this species of
imprisonment, which neither of us had deserved. To procure for himself
more amusement during the winter, the Duke had five or six hounds
brought from the country, and placed them behind a wooden partition
which separated the alcove of my bed-room from a large vestibule behind
our apartments. As the alcove was separated only by boards, the odour of
the kennel penetrated into it; and in the midst of this disgusting smell
we both slept. When I complained to him of the inconvenience, he told me
it was impossible to help it. The kennel being a great secret, I put up
with this nuisance, rather than betray his Imperial Highness.

As there was no kind of amusement at court during this carnival, the
Grand Duke took it into his head to have masquerades in my room. He
dressed his servants, mine, and my maids in masks, and made them dance
in my bed-room. He himself played the violin, and danced as well. All
this continued far into the night. As for me, under different pretexts
of headache or lassitude, I lay down on a couch, but always in a
masquerade dress, tired to death of the insipidity of these
_bal-masqués_, which amused him infinitely. When Lent came on, four more
persons were removed from attendance on him, three of them being pages,
whom he liked better than the others. These frequent dismissals affected
him; still he took no steps to prevent them, or he took them so clumsily
that they only tended to increase the evil.

During this winter, we learnt that Prince Repnine, ill as he was, had
been appointed to command the troops which were to be sent to Bohemia,
in aid of the Empress-Queen Maria Theresa. This was a formal disgrace
for Prince Repnine. He went, and never returned, having died of grief in
Bohemia. It was the Princess Gagarine, my maid of honour, who gave me
the first intimation of this, notwithstanding all the prohibitions
against allowing a word to reach us relative to what occurred in the
city or the court. This shows how useless are all such prohibitions.
There are too many persons interested in infringing them ever to allow
of their being strictly enforced. All about us, even to the nearest
relatives of the Tchoglokoffs, interested themselves in diminishing the
rigour of the kind of political imprisonment to which we were subjected.
There was no one, not even excepting Madame Tchoglokoff's own brother,
Count Hendrikoff, who did not contrive to give us useful intimations;
and many persons even made use of him to convey information to me, which
he was always ready to do with the frankness of a good and honest
fellow. He ridiculed the stupidities and brutalities of his sister and
brother-in-law in such a manner that every one was at ease with him, and
no one ever thought of distrusting him, for he never compromised any
one, nor had any person ever been disappointed in him. He was a man of
correct but limited judgment, ill-bred, and very ignorant, but firm, and
without any evil.

During this same Lent, one day about noon, I went into the room where
our ladies and gentlemen were assembled--the Tchoglokoffs had not yet
come--and in speaking first to one and then to another, I approached the
door near which the Chamberlain Outzine was standing. In a low voice he
turned the conversation to the subject of the dull life we led, and
said, that notwithstanding all this, people contrived to prejudice us in
the mind of the Empress; that a few days before, her Imperial Majesty
had said at table that I was overwhelmed with debt; that every thing I
did bore the stamp of folly; that for all that I thought myself very
clever--an opinion, however, in which no one else shared, for nobody was
deceived in me, my stupidity being patent to all; and therefore that it
was less necessary to mind what the Grand Duke did than what I did. He
added, with tears in his eyes, that he was ordered by the Empress to
tell me all this, but he begged me not to let it be supposed that he had
told me of this order. I replied, that as to my stupidity it ought not
to be objected to me as a fault, every one being just what God had made
him; that as to my debts it was not very surprising I should be in debt
when, with an allowance of 30,000 roubles, my mother, at parting, left
me to pay 6,000 roubles on her account, while the Countess Roumianzoff
had led me into innumerable expenses which she considered as
indispensable; that Madame Tchoglokoff alone cost me this year 17,000
roubles, and that he himself knew what infernal play one was constantly
obliged to play with them; that he might say all this to those who had
sent him; that for the rest, I was very sorry I had been prejudiced in
the opinion of her Imperial Majesty, to whom I had never failed in
respect, obedience, and deference, and that the more closely my conduct
was looked into the more would she be convinced of this. I promised him
the secrecy he asked for, and kept it. I do not know whether he
reported what I told him, but I fancy he did, though I heard no more of
the matter, and did not care to renew a conversation so little

During the last week of Lent, I took the measles. I could not make my
appearance at Easter, but received the communion in my room, on the
Saturday. During this illness, Madame Tchoglokoff, though far advanced
in pregnancy, scarcely ever left me, and did all she could to amuse me.
I had then a little Kalmuck girl, of whom I was very fond. She caught
the measles from me. After Easter, we went to the Summer Palace, and
thence, at the end of May--for the Feast of the Ascension--to the
residence of the Count Razoumowsky, at Gostilitza. The Empress invited
there, on the 23rd of this month, the Ambassador of the Imperial Court,
the Baron Breitlack, who was about to leave for Vienna. He spent the
evening there, and supped with the Empress. This supper was served at a
very late hour, and we returned to the cottage in which we were lodged
after sunrise. This cottage was of wood, placed on a slight elevation,
and attached to the slides.[8] We had been pleased with the situation of
this cottage when we were here in the winter, for the fête of the Master
of the Hounds; and, in order to gratify us, he had placed us in it on
the present occasion. It had two stories; the upper one consisted of a
staircase, a saloon, and three cabinets. In one of these we slept, the
Grand Duke used another as a dressing-room, and Madame Krause occupied
the third. Below were lodged the Tchoglokoffs, my maids of honour, and
my lady's-maids. On our return from supper, every one retired to rest.
About six o'clock in the morning, a sergeant in the guards, Levacheff,
arrived from Oranienbaum, to speak to Tchoglokoff relative to the
buildings which were in the course of erection there. Finding every one
asleep in the house, he sat down by the sentinel, and heard certain
crackling noises, which excited his suspicions. The sentinel told him
that these cracklings had been several times renewed since he had been
on duty. Levacheff got up, and ran to the outside of the house. He saw
that large blocks of stone were detaching themselves from the lower
portion. He ran and woke Tchoglokoff, telling him that the foundations
of the house were giving way, and that he must try and get every one out
of it. Tchoglokoff put on a dressing-gown, and ran up stairs; where,
finding the doors--which were of glass--locked, he burst them open. He
thus reached our room, and drawing the curtains, desired us to get up as
fast as possible and leave the house, as the foundations were giving
way. The Grand Duke leaped out of bed, seized his dressing-gown, and ran
off. I told Tchoglokoff that I would follow him, and he left me. While
dressing I recollected that Madame Krause slept in the next room, and
went to call her. She was so sound asleep that I had much difficulty in
waking her, and then in making her understand that she must leave the
house. I helped her to dress. When she was in a condition to go out, we
passed into the drawing-room; but we had scarcely done so, when there
was a universal crash, accompanied by a noise like that made by a vessel
launched from the docks. We both fell on the ground. At the moment of
our fall, Levacheff entered by the staircase door, which was opposite
us. He raised me up, and carried me out of the room. I accidentally cast
my eyes towards the slides: they had been on a level with the second
story; they were so no longer but some two or three feet below it.
Levacheff reached with me as far as the stairs by which he had ascended;
they were no longer to be found, they had fallen; but several persons
having climbed upon the wreck, Levacheff passed me to the nearest, these
to the others, and thus from hand to hand I reached the bottom of the
staircase in the hall, and thence was carried into a field. I there
found the Grand Duke in his dressing-gown.

Once out of the house, I directed my attention to what was passing
there, and saw several persons coming out of it all bloody, while others
were carried out. Amongst those most severely wounded was the Princess
Gagarine, my maid of honour. She had tried to escape like the rest, but
in passing through a room adjoining her own, a stove, which fell down,
overturned a screen, by which she was thrown upon a bed, which was in
the room. Several bricks fell upon her head, and wounded her severely,
as they did also a girl who was with her. In this same story there was a
small kitchen, in which several servants slept, three of whom were
killed by the fall of the fire-place. This, however, was nothing
compared with what occurred between the foundations and the ground
floor. Sixteen workmen attached to the slides slept there, and all of
them were crushed to death by the fall of the house. All this mischief
arose from the house having been built in the autumn, and in a hurry.
They had given it as a foundation four layers of limestone. In the lower
story the architect had placed, in the vestibule, twelve beams, which
served as pillars. He had to go to the Ukraine, and at his departure
told the manager of the estate of Gostilitza not to allow any one to
touch those beams till his return. Yet, notwithstanding this
prohibition, when the manager learnt we were to occupy this cottage,
nothing would do but he must immediately remove these beams, because
they disfigured the vestibule. Then, when the thaw came, everything sank
upon the four layers of limestone, which gave way in different
directions, and the entire building slid towards a hillock, which
arrested its progress. I escaped with a few slight bruises and a great
fright, for which I was bled. This fright was so general and so great
amongst us all, that for more than four months afterwards, if a door was
only slammed with a little extra force, every one started. On the day of
the accident, when the first terror had passed, the Empress, who
occupied another house, sent for us, and, as she wished to make light of
the danger we had been in, every one tried to see little in it, and some
none at all. My terror displeased her very much, and she was out of
humour with me. The Master of the Hounds wept, and was inconsolable; he
talked of blowing out his brains. I presume he was prevented, for he did
nothing of the kind, and the next day we returned to St. Petersburg, and
some weeks later to the Summer Palace.

I do not exactly remember, but I fancy it was about this time that the
Chevalier Sacromoso arrived in Russia. It was a long time since a Knight
of Malta had visited this country, and, generally speaking, few persons
came to St. Petersburg in those days; his arrival, therefore, was a sort
of event. He was received with marked attention, and was shown
everything worthy of note in St. Petersburg and Cronstadt. A naval
officer of distinction was appointed to accompany him. This was M.
Poliansky, then captain of a man-of-war, since an admiral. He was
presented to us. In kissing my hand he slipped into it a very small
note, saying at the same time, in a low voice, "It is from your
mother." I was almost stupefied with terror at this act. I dreaded its
being observed by some one or other, especially by the Tchoglokoffs, who
were close by. However, I took the note, and slipped it into my right
hand glove; no one had noticed it. On returning to my room, I found, in
fact, a letter from my mother, rolled up in a slip of paper, on which it
was stated that the Chevalier expected an answer through an Italian
musician, who attended the Grand Duke's concerts. My mother, rendered
anxious by my involuntary silence, wanted to know the cause of it; she
also wished to know in what situation I was. I wrote to her, giving her
the information she required. I told her that I had been forbidden to
write to any one, under the pretext that it did not become a Grand
Duchess of Russia to write any letters but such as were composed at the
Office of Foreign Affairs, where I was only to attach my signature, and
never to dictate what was to be written, because the ministers knew
better than I did what was proper to be said; that it had almost been
made a crime in M. Olzoufieff that I had sent him a few lines, which I
begged him to enclose in a letter to my mother. I also gave her
information on several other points, about which she had inquired. I
rolled up my note in the same manner as the one I had received, and
watched with impatience and anxiety the moment for getting rid of it. At
the first concert given by the Grand Duke, I made the tour of the
orchestra, and stopped behind the chair of the solo violinist,
D'Ologlio, who was the person pointed out to me. When he saw me come
behind his chair, he pretended to take his handkerchief from his
coat-pocket, and in doing so left his pocket wide open. Without any
appearance of action, I slipped my note into it, and no one had the
slightest suspicion of what had happened. During his stay in St.
Petersburg, Sacromoso delivered to me two or three other notes having
reference to the same matter; my answers were returned in the same
manner, and no one was ever the wiser.

From the Summer Palace we went to Peterhoff, which was then being
rebuilt. We were lodged in the upper palace, in Peter the First's old
house, which was standing at that time. Here, to pass the time, the
Grand Duke took it into his head to play with me every afternoon at
two-handed ombre. When I won he got angry, and when I lost he wanted to
be paid forthwith. I had no money, so he began to play at games of
hazard with me, quite by ourselves. I remember on one occasion his
night-cap stood with us for 10,000 roubles; but when at the end of the
game he was a loser, he became furious, and would sometimes sulk for
many days. This kind of play was not in any way to my taste.

During this stay at Peterhoff we saw from our windows, which looked out
upon the garden towards the sea, that M. and Madame Tchoglokoff were
continually passing and repassing from the upper palace towards that of
Monplaisir on the sea-shore, where the Empress was then residing. This
excited our curiosity, and that of Madame Krause also, to know the
object of all these journeys. For this purpose Madame Krause went to her
sister's, who was head lady's-maid to the Empress. She returned quite
radiant with pleasure, having learned that all these movements were
occasioned by its having come to the knowledge of the Empress that M.
Tchoglokoff had had an intrigue with one of my maids of honour,
Mademoiselle Kocheleff, who was with child in consequence. The Empress
had sent for Madame Tchoglokoff and told her that her husband deceived
her, while she loved him like a fool; that she had been blind to such a
degree as to have this girl, the favourite of her husband, almost living
with her; that if she wished to separate from her husband at once it
would not be displeasing to her Majesty, who even from the beginning had
not regarded her marriage with M. Tchoglokoff with a favourable eye. Her
Majesty declared to her point-blank that she did not choose him to
continue with us, but would dismiss him and leave her in charge. Madame
Tchoglokoff at first denied the passion of her husband, and maintained
that the charge against him was a calumny; but in the meantime her
Majesty had sent some one to question the young lady, who at once
acknowledged the fact. This rendered Madame Tchoglokoff furious against
her husband. She returned home and abused him. He fell upon his knees
and begged her pardon, and made use of all his influence over her to
soothe her anger. The brood of children which they had also helped to
patch up their difference; but their reconciliation was never sincere.
Disunited in love, they remained connected by interest. The wife
pardoned her husband; she went to the Empress, and told her that she had
forgiven everything, and wished to remain with him for the sake of her
children. She entreated her Majesty on her knees not to dismiss him
ignominiously from court, saying that this would be to disgrace her and
complete her misery. In a word, she behaved so well on this occasion,
and with such firmness and generosity, and her grief besides was so
real, that she disarmed the anger of the Empress. She did more; she led
her husband before her Imperial Majesty, told him many home truths, and
then threw herself with him at the feet of her Majesty, and entreated
her to pardon him for her sake and that of her six children, whose
father he was. These different scenes lasted five or six days; and we
learned, almost hour by hour, what was going on, because we were less
watched during the time, as every one hoped to see these people
dismissed. But the issue did not answer their expectations; no one was
dismissed but the young lady, who was sent back to her uncle, the Grand
Marshal of the Court, Chepeleff; while the Tchoglokoffs remained, less
glorious, however, than they had been. The day of our departure for
Oranienbaum was chosen for the dismissal of Mademoiselle Kocheleff; and
while we set off in one direction, she went in another.

At Oranienbaum, we resided, this year, in the town, to the right and
left of the main building, which was small. The affair of Gostilitza had
given such a thorough fright, that orders had been issued to examine the
floors and ceilings in all the houses belonging to the court, and to
repair those which required attention.

This is the kind of life I led at Oranienbaum: I rose at three o'clock
in the morning, and dressed myself alone from head to foot in male
attire; an old huntsman whom I had was already waiting for me with the
guns; a fisherman's skiff was ready on the sea-shore: we traversed the
garden on foot, with our guns upon our shoulders; entered the boat
together with a fisherman and a pointer, and I shot ducks in the reeds
which bordered on both sides the canal of Oranienbaum, which extends two
verstes into the sea. We often doubled this canal, and consequently were
occasionally, for a considerable time, in the open sea in this skiff.
The Grand Duke came an hour or two after us; for he must needs always
have a breakfast and God knows what besides, which he dragged after him.
If we met we went together, if not each shot and hunted alone. At ten
o'clock, and often later, I returned and dressed for dinner. After
dinner we rested; and in the evening the Grand Duke had music, or we
rode out on horseback. Having led this sort of life for about a week, I
felt myself very much heated and my head confused. I saw that I required
repose and dieting; so for four-and-twenty hours I ate nothing, drank
only cold water, and for two nights slept as long as I could. After this
I recommenced the same course of life, and found myself quite well. I
remember reading at that time the Memoirs of Brantôme, which greatly
amused me. Before that I had read the Life of Henri IV. by Périfix.

Towards autumn we returned to town, and learned that we were to go to
Moscow in the course of the winter. Madame Krause came to tell me that
it was necessary to increase my stock of linen for this journey. I
entered into the details of the matter; Madame Krause pretended to amuse
me by having the linen cut up in my room, in order, as she said, to
teach me how many chemises might be cut from a single piece of cloth.
This instruction or amusement seems to have displeased Madame
Tchoglokoff, who had become very ill-tempered since the discovery of her
husband's infidelity. I know not what she told the Empress; but, at all
events, she came to me one afternoon and said that her Majesty had
dispensed with Madame Krause's attendance on me, and that she was going
to retire to the residence of her son-in-law the Chamberlain Sievers;
and next day Madame Tchoglokoff brought Madame Vladislava to me to
occupy her place. Madame Vladislava was a tall woman, apparently well
formed, and with an intelligent cast of features, which rather
prepossessed me at the first look. I consulted my oracle Timothy
Yevreinoff relative to this choice. He told me that this woman, whom I
had never before seen, was the mother-in-law of the Counsellor
Pougovichnikoff, head clerk to Count Bestoujeff; that she was not
wanting either in intelligence or sprightliness, but was considered very
artful; that I must wait and see how she conducted herself, and
especially be careful not to place much confidence in her. She was
called Praskovia Nikitichna. She began very well; she was sociable, fond
of talking, conversed and narrated with spirit, and had at her fingers'
ends, all the anecdotes of the time, past and present. She knew four or
five generations of all the families, could give at a moment everybody's
genealogy, father, mother, grandfathers, grandmothers, together with
their ancestors, paternal and maternal; and from no one else have I
received so much information relative to all that has occurred in Russia
for the last hundred years. The mind and manners of this woman suited me
very well; and when I felt dull I made her chat, which she was always
ready to do. I easily discovered that she very often disapproved of the
sayings and doings of the Tchoglokoffs; but as she also went very often
to her Majesty's apartments, no one knew why, we were obliged to be on
our guard with her, to a certain degree, not knowing what interpretation
might be put upon the most innocent words and actions.

From the Summer Palace we passed to the Winter Palace. Here was
presented to us Madame La Tour l'Annois, who had been in attendance on
the Empress in her early youth, and had accompanied the Princess Anna
Petrovna, eldest daughter of Peter I., when she left Russia with her
husband, the Duke of Holstein, during the reign of the Emperor Peter II.
After the death of this Princess, Madame l'Annois returned to France,
and she now came to Russia, either to remain there, or possibly to
return after having obtained some favours from her Majesty. Madame
l'Annois hoped, on the ground of old acquaintance, to re-enter into the
favour and familiarity of the Empress. But she was greatly deceived;
every one conspired to exclude her. From the first few days after her
arrival I foresaw what would happen, and for this reason: One evening,
while they were at cards in the Empress' apartment, her Majesty
continued moving from room to room without fixing herself anywhere, as
was her custom; Madame l'Annois, hoping, no doubt, to pay her court to
her, followed her wherever she went. Madame Tchoglokoff seeing this,
said to me, "See how that woman follows the Empress everywhere; but that
will not continue long, she will very soon drop that habit of running
after her." I took this as settled, and, in fact, she was first kept at
a distance, and finally sent back to France with presents.

During this winter was celebrated the marriage of Count Lestocq with
Mademoiselle Mengden, Maid of Honour to the Empress. Her Majesty and the
whole court assisted at it, and she paid the newly-married couple the
honour of visiting them at their own house. One would have said that
they enjoyed the highest favour, but in a couple of months afterwards
fortune turned. One evening, while looking on at those engaged at play
in the apartments of the Empress, I saw the Count, and advanced to speak
to him. "Do not come near me," he said in a low tone, "I am a suspected
man." I thought he must be jesting, and asked what he meant. He replied,
"I tell you quite seriously not to come near me, because I am a
suspected man, whom people must shun." I saw that he had an altered
look, and was extremely red. I fancied he must have been drinking, and
turned away. This happened on the Friday. On the Sunday morning, while
dressing my hair, Timothy Yevreinoff said to me, "Are you aware that
last night Count Lestocq and his wife were arrested, and conducted to
the Fortress as state criminals?" No one knew why, but it became known
that General Stephen Apraxine and Alexander Schouvaloff had been named
commissioners for this affair.

The departure of the court for Moscow was fixed for the 16th of
December. The Czernicheffs had been transported to the Fortress, and
placed in a house belonging to the Empress, called Smolnoy Dvoretz. The
elder of the three sometimes made his guards drunk, and then went and
walked into town to his friends. One day, a Finnish wardrobe-maid, who
was in my service, and was engaged to be married to a servant belonging
to the court, a relation of Yevreinoff, brought me a letter from Andrew
Czernicheff, in which he asked me for several things. This girl had seen
him at the house of her intended, where they had spent the evening
together. I was at a loss where to conceal this letter when I got it,
for I did not like to burn it, as I wanted to remember what he asked
for. I had long been forbidden to write even to my mother. I purchased,
through this girl, a silver pen and an inkstand. During the day I had
the letter in my pocket; when I undressed, I slipped it under my garter,
into my stocking, and before going to bed I removed it, and placed it in
my sleeve. At last I answered it; sent him what he asked for through the
channel by which his letter had reached me, and then, at a favourable
moment, burned this letter which had occasioned me so much anxiety.

About the middle of December we set out for Moscow. The Grand Duke and I
occupied a large sledge, and the gentlemen in waiting sat in the front.
During the day the Grand Duke joined M. Tchoglokoff in a town sledge,
while I remained in the large one. As we never closed this, I conversed
with those who were seated in front. I remember that the Chamberlain,
Prince Alexander Jourievitch Troubetzkoy, told me, during this time,
that Count Lestocq, then a prisoner in the Fortress, wanted to starve
himself during the first eleven days of his detention, but that he had
been forced to take nourishment: he had been accused of having accepted
1,000 roubles from the King of Prussia to support his interests, and for
having had a person named Oettinger, who might have borne witness
against him, poisoned. He was subjected to the torture, and then exiled
to Siberia.

In this journey, the Empress passed us at Tver, and as the horses and
provisions intended for us were taken by her suite, we remained
twenty-four hours at Tver without horses, and without food. We were
dreadfully hungry. Towards night Tchoglokoff had prepared for us a
roasted sturgeon, which we thought delicious. We set off at night, and
reached Moscow two or three days before Christmas. The first thing we
heard there was, that the Chamberlain of our Court, Prince Alex. Mich.
Galitzine, had received, at the moment of our departure from St.
Petersburg, an order to repair to Hamburg as minister of Russia, with a
salary of 4,000 roubles. This was looked upon as another case of
banishment: his sister-in-law, Princess Gagarine, who was with me,
grieved very much, and we all regretted him.

We occupied at Moscow the apartments which I had inhabited with my
mother in 1744. To go to the great church of the court, it was necessary
to make the circuit of the house in a carriage. On Christmas-day, at the
hour for mass, we were on the point of descending to our carriage, and
were already on the stairs, during a frost of 29 degrees, when a message
came from the Empress to say that she dispensed with our going to church
on this occasion, on account of the extreme cold; it did, in fact,
pinch our noses. I was obliged to keep my room during the early portion
of our residence in Moscow, on account of the excessive quantity of
pimples which had come on my face: I was dreadfully afraid of having to
continue with a pimpled face. I called in the physician Boërhave, who
gave me sedatives, and all sorts of things to dispel these pimples. At
last, when nothing was of avail, he said to me one day, "I am going to
give you something which will drive them away." He drew from his pocket
a small phial of oil of Falk, and told me to put a drop in a cup of
water, and to wash my face with it from time to time, say, for instance,
once a-week. And really the oil of Falk did clear my face, and by the
end of some ten days I was able to appear. A short time after our
arrival in Moscow (1749), Madam Vladislava came to tell me that the
Empress had ordered the marriage of my Finnish wardrobe-maid to take
place as soon as possible. The only apparent reason for thus hastening
her marriage was, that I had shown some predilection for her; for she
was a merry creature, who from time to time made me laugh by mimicking
every one, Madame Tchoglokoff especially being hit off in a very amusing
manner. She was married, then, and no more said about her.

In the middle of the Carnival, during which there were no amusements
whatever, the Empress was seized with a violent cholic, which threatened
to be serious. Madame Vladislava and Timothy Yevreinoff each whispered
this in my ear, entreating me not to mention to any one who had told me.
Without naming them, I informed the Grand Duke of it, and he became very
much elated. One morning, Yevreinoff came to tell me that the Chancellor
Bestoujeff and General Apraxine had passed the previous night in the
apartment of M. and Madame Tchoglokoff, which seemed to imply that the
Empress was very ill. Tchoglokoff and his wife were more gruff than
ever; they came into our apartments, dined there, supped, but never
allowed a word to escape them relative to this illness. We did not speak
of it either, and consequently did not dare to send and inquire how her
Majesty was, because we should have been immediately asked, "How,
whence, by whom came you to learn, that she was ill?" and any one named,
or even suspected, would infallibly have been dismissed, exiled, or even
sent to the Secret Chancery, that state inquisition, more dreaded than
death itself. At last her Majesty, at the end of ten days, became
better, and the wedding of one of her maids of honour took place at
court. At table I was seated by the side of the Countess Schouvaloff,
the favourite of the Empress. She told me that her Majesty was still so
weak from the severe illness she had just had, that she had placed her
diamonds on the bride's head (an honour which she paid to all her maids
of honour) while seated in bed, her feet only being outside; and that it
was for this reason she was not present at the wedding-feast. As the
Countess Schouvaloff was the first to speak to me of this illness, I
expressed to her the pain which her Majesty's condition gave me, and the
interest I took in it. She said her Majesty would be pleased to learn
how much I felt for her. Two mornings after this, Madame Tchoglokoff
came to my room, and, in the presence of Madame Vladislava, told me that
the Empress was very angry with the Grand Duke and myself on account of
the little interest we had taken in her illness, even carrying our
indifference to such an extent as not once to send and inquire how she
was. I told Madame Tchoglokoff that I appealed to herself, that neither
she nor her husband had spoken a single word to us about the illness of
her Majesty, and that knowing nothing of it, we had not been able to
testify our interest in it. She replied, "How can you say that you knew
nothing of it, when the Countess Schouvaloff has informed her Majesty
that you spoke to her at table about it." I replied, "It is true that I
did so, because she told me her Majesty was still weak and could not
leave her room, and then I asked her the particulars of this illness."
Madame Tchoglokoff went away grumbling, and Madame Vladislava said it
was very strange to try and pick a quarrel with people about a matter of
which they were ignorant; that since the Tchoglokoffs alone had the
right to speak of it, and did not speak, the fault was theirs, not ours,
if we failed through ignorance. Some time afterwards, on a court-day,
the Empress approached me, and I found a favourable moment for telling
her that neither Tchoglokoff nor his wife had given us any intimation of
her illness, and that therefore it had not been in our power to express
to her the interest we had taken in it. She received this very well, and
it seemed to me that the credit of these people was diminishing.

The first week of Lent, M. Tchoglokoff wished to go to his duty. He
confessed, but the confessor of the Empress forbade him to communicate.
The whole court said it was by the order of her Majesty, on account of
his adventure with Mademoiselle Kocheleff. During a portion of our stay
at Moscow, M. Tchoglokoff appeared to be intimately connected with Count
Bestoujeff and his tool General Stephen Apraxine. He was continually
with them, and, to hear him speak, one would have supposed him to be the
intimate adviser of Count Bestoujeff--a thing that was quite impossible,
for Bestoujeff had far too much sense to allow himself to be guided by
such an arrogant fool as Tchoglokoff. But, at about half the period of
our stay, this intimacy suddenly ceased--I do not exactly know why--and
Tchoglokoff became the sworn enemy of those with whom he had been so
intimate a short time previously.

Shortly after my arrival in Moscow, I began, for want of other
amusement, to read the History of Germany, by le Père Barre, canon of
Ste. Geneviève, in nine volumes quarto. Every week I finished one, after
which I read the works of Plato. My rooms faced the street; the
corresponding ones were occupied by the Duke, whose windows opened upon
a small yard. When reading in my room, one of my maids usually came in,
and remained there standing as long as she wished; she then retired, and
another took her place when she thought it suitable. I made Madame
Vladislava see that this routine could serve no useful purpose, but was
merely an inconvenience; that, besides, I already had much to suffer
from the proximity of my apartments to those of the Grand Duke, by which
she, too, was equally discommoded, as she occupied a small cabinet at
the end of my rooms. She consented, therefore, to relieve my maids from
this species of etiquette. This is the kind of annoyance we had to put
up with, morning, noon and night, even to a late hour: The Grand Duke,
with rare perseverance, trained a pack of dogs, and with heavy blows of
his whip, and cries like those of the huntsmen, made them fly from one
end to the other of his two rooms, which were all he had. Such of the
dogs as became tired, or got out of rank, were severely punished, which
made them howl still more. When he got tired of this detestable
exercise, so painful to the ears and destructive to the repose of his
neighbours, he seized his violin, on which he rasped away with
extraordinary violence, and very badly, all the time walking up and
down his rooms. Then he recommenced the education and punishment of his
dogs, which to me seemed very cruel. On one occasion, hearing one of
these animals howl piteously and for a long time, I opened the door of
my bed-room, where I was seated, and which adjoined the apartment in
which this scene was enacted, and saw him holding this dog by the
collar, suspended in the air, while a boy who was in his service, a
Kalmuck by birth, held the animal by the tail. It was a poor little King
Charles's dog of English breed, and the Duke was beating him with all
his might with the heavy handle of a whip. I interceded for the poor
beast, but this only made him redouble his blows. Unable to bear so
cruel a scene, I returned to my room with tears in my eyes. In general,
tears and cries, instead of moving the Duke to pity, put him in a
passion. Pity was a feeling that was painful, and even insupportable in
his mind.

About this time, my valet Timothy Yevreinoff transmitted to me a letter
from his old comrade Andrew Czernicheff, who had at last been set at
liberty, and was passing near Moscow, to join the regiment in which he
had been placed as lieutenant. I managed with this letter as with the
former one, sent him all he asked for, and never mentioned a word about
the matter either to the Grand Duke or any one else.

In the spring, the Empress took us to Perova, where we spent some days
with her at the residence of Count Razoumowsky. The Grand Duke and M.
Tchoglokoff scoured the woods almost daily, accompanied by the master of
the house. I read in my room, or else Madame Tchoglokoff, when she was
not at cards, came and kept me company to dissipate her ennui. She
complained bitterly of the amusements of this place, and especially of
the constant indulgence of her husband in the sports of the chase, for
he had become a passionate sportsman since he had received at Moscow the
present of a beautiful English greyhound. I learned from others that he
was the laughing-stock of all the sportsmen, and that he fancied, and
was made to believe that his Circe (the name of his dog) caught all the
hares that were taken. In general, M. Tchoglokoff was very apt to
believe that everything belonging to him was of rare beauty and
excellence; his wife, his children, his servants, his house, his table,
his horses, his dogs--everything that was his, although in reality very
mediocre, participated in his self love, and, as belonging to him,
became in his eyes of incomparable value.

One day, while at Perova, I was seized with a headache so violent that I
do not remember ever having had anything like it in my life. The
excessive pain brought on violent sickness. I threw up repeatedly, and
every movement in my room made me worse. I remained in this state for
nearly four-and-twenty hours, and then fell asleep. The next day I felt
nothing but weakness. Madame Tchoglokoff took all possible care of me
during this severe attack. Generally speaking, all the persons who had
been placed about me by an ill-will the most unequivocal, began in a
short time to take an involuntary interest in me; and, when they were
not interfered with or stimulated anew, they used to act against the
principles of their employers, and yield to the impulse which attracted
them towards me, or rather to the interest with which I inspired them.
They never found me sulky or peevish, but always ready to meet the
slightest advance on their part. In all this my natural gaiety was of
great service to me, for all these Arguses were often amused with my
conversation, and relaxed in spite of themselves.

Her Majesty had a new attack of cholic at Perova. She was carried to
Moscow, and we went slowly to the palace, which is only four verstes
from there. This attack had no ill consequence, and shortly afterwards
she made a pilgrimage to the convent of Troïtza. She wished to make
these sixty verstes on foot, and for this purpose went to Pokrovskoe
House. We were ordered to take the Troïtza road, and we took up our
quarters on this road about eleven verstes from Moscow, at a very small
country-house called Rajova, belonging to Madame Tchoglokoff. The only
accommodations were a small saloon in the centre of the house, and two
very small rooms on each side of it. Tents were placed round the house
for the use of our suite. The Grand Duke had one; I occupied one of the
little rooms, Madame Vladislava another, the Tchoglokoffs the remainder.
We dined in the saloon. The Empress walked three or four verstes, then
rested some days. This journey lasted nearly the whole summer. We hunted
every day after dinner.

When her Majesty reached Taïninskoe, which is nearly opposite Rajova, on
the other side of the high road leading to the convent of Troïtza, the
Hetman, Count Razoumowsky, younger brother of the favourite--who was
residing at his country seat of Pokrovskoe, on the road to St.
Petersburg, on the other side of Moscow--took it into his head to come
and see us every day at Rajova. He was very gay, and nearly of our own
age. We liked him very much. As brother of the favourite, M. and Madame
Tchoglokoff willingly received him into their house. His assiduity
continued all the summer, and we were always pleased to see him. He
dined and supped with us, and after supper returned again to his estate;
he consequently travelled forty or fifty verstes a-day. Some twenty
years later, it occurred to me to ask him what it was that could then
induce him to come and share the dulness and insipidity of our life at
Rajova, while his own house was daily crowded with the best company at
Moscow. He replied, unhesitatingly, "Love." "But what on earth could you
have found to love at our house?" "What!" he said, "why, you." I burst
into a loud laugh, for the idea had never once crossed my mind; besides
he had been married for some years to a rich heiress of the house of
Narichkine, whom the Empress had made him marry, a little against his
will it is true, but with whom he seemed to live on good terms. Added to
this, it was well known that the handsomest women of the court and city
contended for his notice; and, indeed, he was a fine man, of an original
turn, very agreeable, and with far more intelligence than his brother,
who however equalled him in beauty, while surpassing him in generosity
and kindness. These two brothers were the most generally liked
favourites I have ever known.

About the Feast of St. Peter, the Empress sent us word to join her at
Bratovchina. We repaired thither immediately. As during the spring and a
part of the summer I had either been engaged in sporting, or otherwise
constantly in the open air, Rajova House being so small that we spent
the greater part of the day in the neighbouring woods, I arrived at
Bratovchina with my face very red and tanned. When the Empress saw me,
she exclaimed against this redness, and said she would send me a wash to
remove it, and she did so; she immediately sent a phial containing a
liquid composed of lemon-juice, white of egg, and French brandy, and
ordered that my maids should learn its composition, and the proper
proportions of its ingredients. At the end of a few days my sun-burns
had disappeared, and I have since used this composition, and recommended
it to others for similar purposes. When the skin is heated, I do not
know of a better remedy. It is also good for what they call in Russia
Tetters, and which is nothing but a heating of the skin, which causes it
to crack. I cannot at the moment recall the French term for this

We spent the Feast of St. Peter at the convent of Troïtza, and as the
Grand Duke could find nothing to do after dinner, he took it into his
head to have a ball in his own room, where, however, his only company
were his two valets and my two maids, one of whom was over fifty. From
the convent her Majesty went to Taïninskoe, while we returned to Rajova,
and resumed our former mode of life. We remained there till the middle
of August, when the Empress made a journey to Sophino, a place situated
at sixty or seventy verstes from Moscow. Here we encamped. On the
morning after our arrival we went to her Majesty's tent, and found her
scolding the person who had the management of this estate. She had come
here to hunt, and found no hares. The man was pale and trembling, and
there was nothing that she did not say to him; she was really furious.
Seeing that we had come to kiss her hand, she embraced us as usual, and
then went on with her scolding, bringing within the sphere of her
remarks every one she felt disposed to find fault with. This was done
gradually, and while speaking with extreme volubility. She said, among
other things, that she perfectly understood the management of land; that
the reign of the Empress Anne had taught her this; that having but
little, she took care to avoid extravagance; that had she gone in debt,
she would have been afraid of being damned: for if she had died in such
a condition no one would have paid her debts, and then her soul would
have gone to hell, and that she had no fancy for; that therefore, when
she was in the house, or not otherwise obliged to make an appearance,
she dressed very simply, her outside dress being of white taffeta and
the under of dark gray, and in this manner she economized, taking good
care not to wear expensive clothes in the country or when travelling.
This, of course, had reference to me, for I wore a dress of silvered
lilac. I took the hint. This dissertation--for such it was, no one
venturing to speak, seeing her flushed with passion--lasted more than
three-quarters of an hour. At last, a fool she had, named Aksakoff, put
a stop to it. He came in carrying a little porcupine, which he presented
to her, in his hat. She advanced to look at it, but the instant she saw
it she uttered a piercing cry, saying that it looked like a mouse, and
ran precipitately into the interior of the tent, for she had a mortal
antipathy to mice. We saw no more of her: she dined alone. After dinner
she went to the chase, took the Grand Duke with her, and ordered me to
return with Madame Tchoglokoff to Moscow, where the Grand Duke arrived
some hours afterwards, the chase having been but brief, in consequence
of the high wind that prevailed that day.

One Sunday the Empress sent for us to join her at Taïninskoe--we were
then at Rajova, whither we had returned--and we had the honour of dining
with her Majesty. She sat alone at the head of the table, the Grand Duke
at her right, I at her left, opposite to him. Near the Grand Duke was
Marshal Boutourline, near me the Countess Schouvaloff. The table was
very long and narrow. Thus seated between the Empress and the Marshal,
the Grand Duke, not a little aided by the Marshal, who was by no means
an enemy to wine himself, managed to get exceedingly intoxicated. He
neither knew what he said or did, stuttered in his speech, and made
himself so very disagreeable, that tears came into my eyes; for at that
time I concealed and palliated as much as possible all that was
reprehensible in him. The Empress was pleased with my sensibility, and
left the table earlier than usual. His Imperial Highness was to have
gone hunting in the afternoon with Count Razoumowsky, but he remained at
Taïninskoe, while I returned to Rajova. On the way I was seized with a
violent toothache. The weather began to be cold and wet, and we were but
badly sheltered at Rajova. The brother of Madame Tchoglokoff, Count
Hendrikoff, who was the chamberlain on duty with me, proposed to his
sister to cure me instantly. She spoke to me on the subject, and I
consented to try his remedy, which seemed to be nothing at all, or
rather a mere charlatanism. He went immediately into the other room, and
brought out a very small roll of paper, which he desired me to chew with
the aching tooth. Hardly had I done so when the pain became so extremely
violent that I was obliged to go to bed. I got into such a burning
fever, that I began to be delirious. Madame Tchoglokoff, terrified at my
condition, and attributing it to her brother's remedy, got very angry
and abused him. She remained at my bedside all the night, sent word to
the Empress that her house at Rajova was in no way fit for a person so
seriously ill as I appeared to be, and in fact made such a stir, that
the next day I was removed to Moscow very ill. I was ten or twelve days
in bed, and the toothache returned every afternoon at the same hour.

At the beginning of September, the Empress went to the convent of
Voskressensky, whither we were ordered to go for the feast of her name.
On that day M. Iran Ivanovitch Schouvaloff was declared a Gentleman of
the Bedchamber. This was an event at court. Every one whispered that a
new favourite had appeared. I was rejoiced at his promotion, for, while
he was a page, I had marked him out as a person of promise, on account
of his studiousness; he was always to be seen with a book in his hand.

Having returned from this excursion, I was seized with a sore throat
accompanied with much fever. The Empress came to see me during this
illness. When barely convalescent, and while still very weak, her
Majesty ordered me, through Madame Tchoglokoff, to assist at the wedding
and dress the hair of the niece of the Countess Roumianzoff, who was
about to be married to M. Alexander Narichkine, subsequently created
chief cupbearer. Madame Tchoglokoff, who saw that I was scarcely
convalescent, was a little pained in announcing to me this compliment, a
compliment which gave me but little pleasure, as it plainly showed how
little was cared for my health, perhaps even for my life. I spoke in
this view to Madame Vladislava, who seemed, like myself, but little
pleased with this order, an order evidently given without care or
consideration. I exerted myself, however, and on the day fixed the bride
was led to my room. I adorned her head with my diamonds, and she was
then conducted to the court church to be married. As for me, I had to go
to Narichkine House, accompanied by Madame Tchoglokoff and my own court.
Now, we were living at Moscow, in the palace at the end of the German
Sloboda. To reach the residence of the Narichkines it was necessary to
go right through Moscow, and travel at least seven verstes. It was in
the month of October, about nine o'clock at night. It froze excessively
hard, and the ground was so slippery that we had to travel very slowly.
We were at least two hours and a-half in going, and the same in
returning, and there was not a man or horse in my suite that had not one
or more falls. At last having reached the church of Kasansky, which was
near the gate called Troïtzkaja, we met with another impediment, for in
this church was married, at the very same hour, the sister of Ivan
Ivanovitch Schouvaloff. Her hair had been dressed by the Empress
herself, while I dressed that of Mademoiselle Roumianzoff. A great
crowding of carriages occurred at this gate. We had to stop at every
step; then the falls recommenced; not one of the horses had been rough
shod. At last we reached the house, and not in the best humour in the
world. We waited a long time for the bride and bridegroom, who had met
with the same impediments as ourselves. The Grand Duke accompanied the
bride. Then we waited for the Empress. At last we sat down to supper.
After supper, there were a few rounds of dancing in the ante-chamber as
a matter of ceremony, and then we were told to lead the bride and
bridegroom to their apartments. For this purpose we had to pass along
several cold corridors, mount staircases equally cold, and then traverse
long galleries hastily constructed of damp boards, from which the water
oozed in all directions. At last, having reached the apartments, we sat
down to a table spread with a dessert, remaining only long enough to
drink the health of the newly married. Then the bride was led to her
chamber, and we returned home. The next evening we had to repeat our
visit. Would any one have believed it? This turmoil, instead of injuring
my health, did not in the least retard my convalescence. The following
day I was better than the previous one.

At the beginning of winter, I saw that the Grand Duke was very much
disturbed. I did not know what was the matter. He no longer trained his
dogs. He came into my room twenty times a-day, looked anxious,
thoughtful, and absent. He bought German books, and such books! One
portion consisted of Lutheran prayer-books, the other of the history and
trial of some highway robbers who had been hung or broken on the wheel.
These he read by turns when not playing the violin. As he could not long
keep on his mind anything which tormented him, and as he had no one to
speak to but me, I waited patiently for his revelation.

At last he told me what it was that disturbed him, and I found the
matter far more serious than I had anticipated. During the whole summer
pretty nearly, at all events during our stay at Rajova, on the road to
the convent of Troïtza, I scarcely ever saw him, except at table or in
bed. He came to bed after I was asleep, and rose before I was awake. The
rest of his time was passed in hunting or in preparations for it.
Tchoglokoff had obtained, under pretext of amusing the Grand Duke, two
packs of dogs from the Master of the Hounds, the one of Russian dogs and
huntsmen, the other of French or German dogs. To the latter were
attached an old French whipper-in, a lad from Courland, and a German. As
M. Tchoglokoff took the direction of the Russian pack, the Grand Duke
undertook that of the foreign one, about which Tchoglokoff did not in
the least trouble himself. Each entered into the minutest details of his
own charge, and the Grand Duke therefore was constantly going to the
kennel of his pack, or the huntsmen were coming to him to inform him of
its condition, and of the wants and deeds of the dogs. In a word, if I
must speak plainly, he made himself the companion of these men, drinking
with them in the chase, and being constantly among them. The regiment
of Boutirsky was then at Moscow. In this regiment was a lieutenant named
Yakoff Batourine, a man overwhelmed with debt, a gambler, and well known
to be a worthless fellow, but a very determined one. I know not how this
man happened to get acquainted with the Grand Duke's huntsmen, but I
believe both had their quarters in or near the village of Moutistcha or
Alexeewsky. At last matters went on so far, that the huntsmen told the
Duke there was a lieutenant in the regiment of Boutirsky who manifested
a great attachment to his Imperial Highness, and who said, besides, that
the entire regiment entertained the same feelings as himself. The Grand
Duke listened to this recital with complacency, and made inquiries of
the huntsmen relative to this regiment. They spoke very disparagingly of
the superior officers, and very highly of the subalterns. At last
Batourine, still through the huntsmen, asked to be presented to the
Grand Duke, at the chase. To this the Duke was not altogether favourable
at first, but at last he consented. By little and little it was so
managed that the Duke, while hunting one day, met Batourine in a retired
spot. Batourine on seeing him, fell on his knees, and swore to
acknowledge no other master but him, and to do whatever he commanded.
The Grand Duke told me that on hearing this oath he became very much
alarmed, gave both spurs to his horse, and left Batourine on his knees
in the wood. The huntsmen, he said, were in advance, and did not hear
what had been said. He pretended that this was all the connection he had
had with the man, and that he had even advised the huntsmen to take care
that he did not get them into mischief. His present anxiety was
occasioned by his learning from the huntsmen that Batourine had been
arrested and transferred to Preobrajenskoe, where the Secret Chancery,
which took cognizance of crimes against the state, was established. His
Imperial Highness trembled for the huntsmen, and was very much afraid of
being himself compromised. As far as the former were concerned, his
fears were realized; for, a few days afterwards, they were arrested and
conducted to Preobrajenskoe. I endeavoured to diminish his distress by
representing to him, that if he really had not entered into any parley
beyond what he had mentioned, it appeared to me that, at the worst, he
had only been guilty of an imprudence, in mixing himself up with such
bad company. I cannot say whether he told me the truth. I have reason to
believe that he attenuated what there might be of parleying in the
affair, for even to me he spoke about the matter in broken sentences,
and as if unwillingly. However, the excessive fear he was in might also
have produced this same effect upon him. A short time afterwards he came
to tell me that some huntsmen had been set at liberty, but with an order
to be conveyed beyond the frontier, and that they had sent him word that
they had not mentioned his name. This information delighted him beyond
measure; his mind became at ease, and no more was heard of the matter.
As for Batourine, he was found very culpable. I have not since read or
seen the account of his examination, but I have learned that he
meditated nothing less than to kill the Empress, to set fire to the
palace, and in the horror and confusion to place the Grand Duke on the
throne. He was condemned, after being subjected to the torture, to pass
the remainder of his days shut up in the fortress of Schlusselburg.
Having, during my reign, endeavoured to make his escape from this
prison, he was sent to Kamtchatka, whence he fled with Benjousky, and
was killed while pillaging _en passant_ the island of Formosa, in the
Pacific Ocean.

On the 15th of December we left Moscow for St. Petersburg, travelling
night and day in an open sledge. About midway I was again seized with a
violent toothache. Notwithstanding this, the Grand Duke would not
consent to close the sledge: scarcely would he allow me to draw the
curtain a little, so as to shelter me from a cold and damp wind, blowing
right into my face. At last we reached Zarskoe-Selo, where the Empress
had already arrived, having passed us on the road, according to her
usual custom. As soon as I stepped out of the sledge I entered the
apartment destined for us, and sent for her Majesty's physician
Boërhave, the nephew of the celebrated Boërhave, requesting him to have
the tooth which had tormented me so much for the last four or five
months extracted. He consented with great reluctance, and only because I
absolutely insisted on it. At last he sent for Gyon, my surgeon: I sat
on the ground, Boërhave on one side, Tchoglokoff on the other, and Gyon
drew the tooth; but the moment he did so, my eyes, nose, and mouth
became fountains, whence poured out--from my mouth, blood, from my eyes
and nose water. Boërhave, who was a man of clear and sound judgment,
instantly exclaimed, "Clumsy!" and calling for the tooth, he added, "I
feared it would be so, and that was why I did not wish it to be drawn."
Gyon, in extracting the tooth, had carried away with it a portion of the
lower jaw, to which it was attached. At this moment the Empress came to
the door of my room, and I was afterwards told that she was moved even
to tears. I was put to bed, and suffered a great deal during four weeks,
even in the city, whither we went next day, notwithstanding all this,
and still in open sleighs. I did not leave my room till the middle of
January, 1750, for the lower part of my cheek still bore in blue and
yellow stains, the impression of the five fingers of M. Gyon. On
new-year's day this year wishing to have my hair dressed, I noticed that
the young man who was to do it, a Kalmuck whom I had trained for this
purpose, was excessively red, and his eyes very piercing. I asked what
was the matter, and learned that he had a very bad headache and great
heat. I sent him away, desiring him to go to bed, for indeed he was not
fit to do anything. He retired, and in the evening I was informed that
the small-pox had broken out upon him. I escaped with nothing worse than
the fright which this gave me, for I did not catch the disease, although
he had combed my hair.

The Empress remained at Zarskoe-Selo during a considerable portion of
the Carnival. Petersburg was nearly deserted, for most of its residents
lived there from necessity rather than choice. While the court was at
Moscow, and also when on its return to St. Petersburg, all the courtiers
were eager to obtain leave of absence for a year, six months, or even a
few weeks. The officials, such as senators, and others, did the same;
and when they were afraid of not succeeding, then came the illnesses,
real or feigned, of husbands, wives, fathers, brothers, mothers,
sisters, or children; or lawsuits, or other business which it was
indispensable to settle. In a word, it sometimes took six months, or
even more, before the court and the city became what they were
previously to one of these absences; and when the court was away, the
grass grew in the streets of St. Petersburg, for there were scarcely any
carriages in the city. In such a state of things, at the present moment,
there was not much company to be expected, especially by us who were so
much shut up. M. Tchoglokoff thought to amuse us during this time, or
rather to amuse himself and his wife, by inviting us to play at cards
with him in the apartments which he occupied at court, and which
consisted of four or five rather small rooms. He also invited there the
ladies and gentlemen in waiting, and the Princess of Courland, daughter
of Duke Ernest John Biren, the ancient favourite of the Empress Anne.
The Empress Elizabeth had recalled this Duke from Siberia, whither he
had been exiled under the regency of the Princess Anne. There, the Duke
was living with his wife, his sons, and his daughter. This daughter was
neither handsome nor pretty, nor well made, for she was humpbacked, and
rather small; but she had fine eyes, much intelligence, and a singular
talent for intrigue. Her parents were not very fond of her; she
pretended, indeed, that they constantly ill-treated her. One day she
fled from home, and took refuge with the wife of the Waiwode of
Yaroslav, Madame Pouchkine. This woman, delighted to have an opportunity
of giving herself importance at court, took her to Moscow, addressed
herself to Madame Schouvaloff, and the flight of the Princess of
Courland from her father's house was represented as the result of the
ill-treatment she had received from her parents, in consequence of her
having expressed a desire to embrace the religion of the Greek church.
In fact, the first thing she did at court was to make her profession of
faith. The Empress stood godmother for her, after which she received an
appointment among the maids of honour. M. Tchoglokoff made it a point to
show her attention, because her elder brother had laid the foundation of
his fortune, by taking him from the corps of cadets, where he was
receiving his education, removing him into the horse-guards, and keeping
him about himself as a messenger. The Princess of Courland thus brought
into our society, and playing daily for hours at trisset with the Grand
Duke, Tchoglokoff, and myself, conducted herself at first with great
discretion. She was insinuating, and her intelligence made one forget
what was disagreeable in her figure, especially when seated. She adapted
her conversation to the character of her auditors, speaking to each in
the manner most likely to be agreeable. Every one looked upon her as an
interesting orphan, and a person not likely to be in any one's way. In
the eyes of the Grand Duke she had another merit, and no slight one
either--she was a sort of foreign Princess, and, what was more, a
German; he therefore always spoke to her in German, and this gave her a
charm in his eyes. He began to pay her as much attention as he was
capable of doing. When she dined alone, he sent her wine, as well as
favourite dishes from his table, and when he got hold of some new
grenadier's cap or shoulder-belt, he sent them to her to look at. The
Princess of Courland, who at that time might be about four or five and
twenty, was not the only acquisition made by the court at Moscow. The
Empress had then taken the two Countesses Voronzoff, nieces of the
Vice-Chancellor, and daughters of Count Roman Voronzoff, his younger
brother. Mary, the elder, might be about fourteen; she was placed among
the Empress' maids of honour. The younger sister, Elizabeth, was only
eleven; she was given to me. She was a very ugly child, of an olive
complexion, and excessively slovenly. Towards the end of the Carnival,
her Majesty returned to town, and in the first week of Lent we began to
prepare for our duty. On the Wednesday evening I was to take a bath at
the house of Madame Tchoglokoff, but on Tuesday evening she came to my
room, and told the Grand Duke, who was with me, that it was her
Majesty's pleasure that he also should take a bath. Now the baths, and
all other Russian customs and habits, were not simply disagreeable to
the Duke, he had a mortal hatred for them. He therefore unceremoniously
declared that he would do nothing of the kind. She, who was equally
obstinate, and had no kind of reserve or ceremony in her speech, told
him that this was an act of disobedience to her Imperial Majesty. He
maintained that he ought not to be required to do what was repugnant to
his nature; that he knew that the bath, in which he had never been, was
unsuitable to his constitution; that he did not want to die; that life
was the thing he held most dear, and that her Majesty should never
compel him to go into the bath. Madame Tchoglokoff replied that her
Majesty would know how to punish his disobedience. At this he became
angry, and exclaimed, passionately, "I should like to see what she can
do; I am not a child." Madame Tchoglokoff threatened that the Empress
would send him to the Fortress. At this he cried bitterly; and they went
on answering each other in the most outrageous terms that passion could
dictate; in fact, they both acted as if they had not between them a
grain of common sense. At last, Madame Tchoglokoff departed, saying that
she would report the conversation to her Imperial Majesty word for word.
I know not what she did in the matter, but she returned presently with
an entirely different theme, for she came to inform us that her Imperial
Majesty was very angry that we had no children, and wished to know which
of us was in fault; that she would therefore send a midwife to me, and a
physician to the Grand Duke. To this she added various other outrageous
remarks--remarks which had neither head nor tail, and concluded by
saying that her Majesty had dispensed with our going to our duty this
week, because the Grand Duke said the bath was injurious to his health.
I must state that during these two conversations I never once opened my
lips; in the first place, because they both spoke with such vehemence
that I could find no chance of putting in a word; secondly, because I
saw that both of them were utterly unreasonable. I do not know what view
the Empress took of the matter, but, at all events, nothing more was
said on either topic.

About mid-Lent, her Majesty went to Gostilitza, to the residence of
Count Razoumowsky, to celebrate his feast, and we were sent, together
with her maids of honour and our ordinary suite, to Zarskoe-Selo. The
weather was wonderfully mild, even warm, so that, on the 17th of March,
instead of there being snow on the road, there was dust. Having
established ourselves at Zarskoe-Selo, the Grand Duke and Tchoglokoff
recommenced their hunting; I and the ladies walked or drove out as long
as we could, and in the evening we all played at various small games.
Here the Grand Duke manifested a decided partiality for the Princess of
Courland, especially when he had been drinking in the evening--a thing
which happened every day. He was always at her side, and spoke to no one
but her. At last this thing went on in the most glaring manner, before
my eyes, and before every one, so that my vanity and self-love began to
be shocked at finding myself slighted for the sake of a little, deformed
creature like this. One evening, on rising from table, Madame Vladislava
said to me that every one was disgusted to see this little hunchback
preferred to me. "It cannot be helped," I said, as the tears started to
my eyes. I went to bed; scarcely was I asleep when the Grand Duke also
came to bed. As he was tipsy, and knew not what he was doing, he spoke
to me for the purpose of expatiating on the eminent qualities of his
favourite. To check his garrulity as soon as possible, I pretended to be
fast asleep. He spoke still louder in order to wake me, but finding that
I still slept, he gave me two or three rather hard blows in the side
with his fist; then, growling at the heaviness of my slumbers, he turned
on his side and dropped asleep himself. I wept long and bitterly that
night, as well on account of the matter itself, and the blows he had
given me, as on that of my general situation, which was in all respects
as disagreeable as it was wearisome. In the morning, the Duke seemed
ashamed of what he had done; he did not speak of it, and I acted as if I
had not felt anything. Two days afterwards we returned to town. The last
week of Lent we recommenced our preparations for going to our duty.
Nothing more was said to the Duke about the bath.

Another occurrence took place this week which perplexed him a little.
While in his room he was nearly always in constant movement of one sort
or other. One afternoon he was exercising himself in cracking an immense
coachman's whip, which he had had made for him. He whipped about right
and left, and made his valets jump from one corner to another, fearing
to come in for a chance slash. At last he somehow contrived to give
himself a severe blow on the cheek. The mark extended all along the left
side of his face, and the blow was severe enough to make the blood
start. He was very much disturbed, fearing that he should not be able to
go out even by Easter; that the Empress should again forbid him to
communicate, as his face was bloody; and that when she came to learn the
cause of the accident, he should get some disagreeable reprimand for his
whipping amusements. He instantly ran to consult me, as he always did
in such emergencies. Seeing him enter with his cheek all bloody, I
exclaimed, "Good heavens! what has happened to you?" He told me. Having
thought a little, I said, "Well, perhaps I can manage the matter for
you; but, first of all, go to your room, and try if possible to prevent
your cheek from being seen by any one. I will come to you as soon as I
have got what I want, and I trust we shall so manage that no one will be
the wiser." He went off, and I recollected a preparation which had
served me some years before in a similar predicament. I had a fall in
the garden at Peterhoff, and took the skin off my face so that it bled;
my surgeon Gyon gave me some white lead in the form of pomade, and I
covered the wound with it, and went out as usual, without any one having
perceived that I had scratched myself. I now sent for this pomade, and
having received it, I went to the Grand Duke, and dressed his face so
well, that he could not detect anything himself by looking in the glass.
On the Thursday we received the communion, in company with the Empress,
in the great church of the court, and then returned to our places. The
light fell on the Grand Duke's cheek. Tchoglokoff approached for some
purpose or other, and looking at the Duke, said, "Wipe your cheek, there
is some pomatum on it." Instantly, as if in jest, I said to the Grand
Duke, "And I, who am your wife, forbid your doing it." The Grand Duke,
turning to Tchoglokoff, said, "See how these women treat us; we dare not
even wipe our faces, if they do not like it." Tchoglokoff laughed,
saying, "Well, this is indeed a woman's caprice!" The matter rested
there, and the Duke felt grateful to me as well for the pomade which had
spared him unpleasant results, as for my presence of mind, which had
prevented all suspicion even in the case of M. Tchoglokoff.

As I had to be up before daylight on Easter morning, I went to bed about
five o'clock in the afternoon of Holy Saturday, intending to sleep till
the time arrived for dressing. Scarcely had I got into bed when the Duke
came running in in a violent hurry, telling me to make haste and get up
to eat some fresh oysters, which had just been brought to him from
Holstein. This was a great and double treat for him; first, because he
was fond of oysters, and, secondly, because they came from Holstein, his
native country, for which he had a great love, though he did not govern
it any the better for that; for he both did, and was made to do,
terrible things in it, as will be seen in the sequel. Not to get up
would have been to disoblige him, and risk a serious quarrel; I
therefore rose, dressed myself, and went to his apartments, though I was
very much fatigued by the devotional exercises of the Holy Week. When I
reached his room, I found the oysters served. Having eaten a dozen of
them, I was allowed to return to bed, while he continued his repast.
Indeed, he was all the better pleased by my not eating too many, as
there were more left for himself, for he was excessively greedy in the
matter of oysters. At midnight I got up, and dressed myself for the
matins and mass of Easter Sunday; but I could not remain till the end of
the service, for I was seized with a violent cholic. I never remember
having had such severe pains. I returned to my room with no one but the
Princess Gagarine, all my people being in church. She assisted me to
undress and get into bed, and sent for the doctors. I took medicine, and
kept my bed during the first two days of the festival.

It was a little before this time that Count Bernis, Ambassador from the
Court of Vienna, Count Lynar, the Envoy of Denmark, and General Arnheim,
Envoy of Saxony, arrived in Russia. The latter brought with him his
wife, who was by birth of the family of Hoim. Count Bernis was a native
of Piedmont; he was intellectual, amiable, gay, and well educated, and
of such a disposition that, although more than fifty years of age, young
people preferred his society to that of persons of their own age. He was
generally loved and esteemed, and I have a thousand times said, that if
he, or some one like him, had been placed with the Grand Duke, the most
beneficial results would have followed, for the Duke as well as myself
had a very great regard and affection for him. In fact, the Duke said
himself, that with such a man near, a person would be ashamed of doing
anything wrong or foolish--an excellent remark, which I have never
forgotten. Count Bernis had with him, as attaché, Count Hamilton, a
Knight of Malta. One day, when I made inquiries of this gentleman about
the health of the Ambassador Count Bernis, who was indisposed, it
occurred to me to say that I had the highest opinion of Count Bathyani,
whom the Empress-Queen had just named tutor to her two elder sons, the
Archdukes Joseph and Charles, since she had preferred him for this
office to Count Bernis. In the year 1780, when I had my first interview
with the Emperor Joseph II. at Mohilev, his Imperial Majesty told me
that he was aware I had made this remark. I replied that he must have
learnt this from Count Hamilton, who had been placed with him on his
return from Russia. He then said that I had surmised correctly in the
case of Count Bathyani; for Count Bernis, whom he had not known, had
left the reputation of being better suited to the office than his old

Count Lynar, the Envoy of the King of Denmark, had been sent to Russia
to treat of the exchange of Holstein, which belonged to the Grand Duke,
for the country of Oldenburg. He was, according to report, a person of
much information, and of no less capacity. His appearance was that of a
most complete fop. He was tall and well made, his hair fair with a tinge
of red, and his complexion as delicately white as a woman's. It was said
that he took such care of his skin, that he never went to bed without
covering his face and hands with pomade, and also that he wore gloves
and a mask at night. He boasted of having eighteen children, and
pretended that he had always put the nurses of those children in the
condition of continuing their vocation. This white Count wore the white
order of Denmark, and dressed in the lightest colours; such as sky-blue,
apricot, lilac, flesh colour, &c., although such light shades were, at
that time, rarely worn by men. The High Chancellor, Count Bestoujeff,
and his wife, treated him with the most marked favour. He was received
at their house as one of the family, and greatly fêted. This, however,
did not shelter him from ridicule. There was also another point against
him, viz., that it was not forgotten that his brother had been more than
well-received by the Princess Anne, whose regency had been disapproved
of. The Count had hardly arrived when he announced the object of his
mission, which was, to negotiate an exchange of the duchy of Holstein
for the territory of Oldenburg. The High Chancellor sent for M. Pechlin,
minister of the Grand Duke for his duchy of Holstein, and told him the
purport of Count Lynar's mission. M. Pechlin made his report to the
Grand Duke. The Duke was passionately attached to his country of
Holstein. From the period of our stay in Moscow, it had been represented
to her Imperial Majesty as insolvent. He had asked her for money for it,
and she had given him a little, but it had never reached Holstein; it
went to pay the clamorous debts of his Imperial Highness in Russia. M.
Pechlin represented the affairs of Holstein, as far as pecuniary
considerations were concerned, as desperate. This was easy for him to
do, as the Grand Duke depended upon him for the administration, and gave
the matter but little or no attention himself; so that, on one occasion,
Pechlin, quite out of patience, said to him, in slow and measured
accents, "My Lord, it depends on a sovereign to give his attention to
the government of his country, or not to do so. If he does not attend to
it, the country governs itself, but it governs itself badly." This
Pechlin was a very short, fat man, wearing an immense wig, but he was
not deficient either in acquirements or capacity. This heavy and short
body enclosed a subtle and shrewd spirit; he was accused, however, of
not being over-delicate in his choice of means. The High Chancellor had
great confidence in him; indeed, he was one of the persons most in his
confidence. M. Pechlin represented to the Duke that to listen was not to
negotiate, and that negotiation, also, was a very different thing from
acceptance, and that he would always have it in his power to break off
the negotiation when he thought proper. At last, step by step, they got
him to consent that M. Pechlin should listen to the propositions of the
Danish minister, and thus the negotiation was opened. The Grand Duke was
distressed, and spoke to me on the subject. I, who had been brought up
in the ancient hatred of the house of Holstein against Denmark, and had
constantly heard it averred that the projects of Count Bestoujeff were
all directed against the interests of the Grand Duke and myself, I, of
course, could not hear of this project without impatience and anxiety. I
opposed it to the Grand Duke as much as I could. No one, however, except
himself, ever mentioned the subject to me, and to him the utmost secrecy
had been recommended, especially in regard to women. I believe this
caution had more reference to me than to any one else, but they were
deceived in their expectations; for the Duke was always eager to tell me
everything about it. The more the negotiations advanced, the more did
they endeavour to present the matter in an agreeable aspect to him. I
often found him delighted at the prospect of what he should have, but
then came revulsions of bitter regret for what he was going to lose.
When they saw him hesitating, they relaxed the conferences, and only
renewed them when they had invented some new bait for making him see
things in a favourable light.

In the beginning of the spring we moved to the Summer Garden, and
occupied the little house built by Peter I, the apartments of which are
on a level with the garden. The stone quay, and the bridge of the
Fontanka, had not then been built. In this house I had one of the most
painful annoyances which I experienced during the entire reign of the
Empress Elizabeth. One morning I was informed that the Empress had
removed from my service my old valet de chambre, Timothy Yevreinoff. The
pretext for this removal was, that Yevreinoff had had a quarrel, in a
wardrobe chamber, with a man who used to bring us in coffee. Of this
quarrel the Grand Duke had been in part a witness, having gone into the
room while they were arguing, and heard a portion of their mutual abuse.
The antagonist of Yevreinoff complained to M. Tchoglokoff, saying that
Yevreinoff, without regard to the presence of the Grand Duke, had used
most abusive language to him. M. Tchoglokoff immediately made his report
to the Empress, who ordered both of them to be dismissed from the court,
and Yevreinoff was sent off to Kasan, where he was subsequently made
master of police. The truth of the matter was, that both men were very
much attached to us, especially Yevreinoff, and this was but a pretext
for depriving me of him. He had charge of everything belonging to me.
The Empress ordered that a man named Skourine, whom he had taken in as
an assistant, should take his place. In this person I had, at the time,
no confidence.

After some stay in the house of Peter I, we were ordered to the Summer
Palace, which was built of wood. Here new apartments had been prepared
for us, one side of which faced the Fontanka, then a muddy marsh, while
the other opened on a miserable and narrow yard. On Whit-Sunday, the
Empress sent me word to invite Madame d'Arnheim, the wife of the Saxon
Envoy, to accompany me. She was a tall woman, very well made, about
five-and-twenty or six-and-twenty years of age, rather thin, and
anything but handsome, for she was much and deeply marked by the
small-pox; but, as she dressed well, she had, at some distance, a good
appearance, and looked tolerably fair. She arrived at about five o'clock
in the afternoon, dressed like a man, from head to foot, her coat being
of red cloth, bordered with gold lace, and her vest of green gros de
Tours, similarly trimmed. She did not seem to know what to do with her
hat or her hands, and appeared to us rather awkward. As I knew the
Empress did not like my riding as a man, I had had made for me a lady's
saddle, in the English style, and an English riding habit, of a rich
azure and silvered cloth, with crystal buttons, which admirably
imitated diamonds, while my black cap was surrounded with a string of
diamonds. I went down stairs to mount my horse. At this moment the
Empress came to our apartments to see us set off. As I was then very
active, and accustomed to this exercise, as soon as I reached my horse I
leaped into the saddle, my petticoat, which was open, falling on each
side. The Empress seeing me mount with such agility and address, cried
out in astonishment, and said it was impossible to have done better. She
asked what kind of saddle I was using, and having learned that it was a
side-saddle, she said, "One might have sworn it was a man's saddle."
When Madame d'Arnheim's turn came, her skill did not shine very
conspicuously in the eyes of her Imperial Majesty. Her own horse had
been led from her house. It was a large, heavy, black and ugly-looking
animal, and our courtiers pretended that it must have been one of the
leaders of her carriage. In order to mount, she was obliged to have the
aid of steps, and the ceremony was not effected without a deal of fuss,
and the assistance of several people. When mounted, the animal broke
into a rough trot, which considerably shook the lady, who was neither
firm in her seat nor in her stirrups, so that she had to hold on by the
saddle. Seeing her mounted, I took the lead, and then--let those follow
who could. I overtook the Duke, who was a-head of me, and Madame
d'Arnheim was left behind. I was told that the Empress laughed heartily,
and was not at all pleased with Madame d'Arnheim's mode of riding. At
last, after losing, now her hat and then her stirrups, she was picked
up, I believe, some distance from the court, by Madame Tchoglokoff, who
was in a carriage. Finally, she was brought to us at Catherinhoff; but
the adventure was not yet ended. It had rained during the day, up to
three o'clock in the afternoon, and the steps leading to Catherinhoff
House were covered with pools of water. After dismounting, I remained
for some time in the hall, where a good deal of company had assembled.
Then, wishing to reach the room where my women were, I thought I would
go by these open steps. Madame d'Arnheim must needs follow me, and as I
walked quickly, she was obliged to run. She thus stepped into these
puddles, lost her footing, slipped, and fell flat upon the ground,
amidst the laughter of the crowd of spectators gathered about the steps.
She got up, a little confused, laying the blame on the new boots she had
put on that afternoon. We returned from this excursion in a carriage,
and, on the way, Madame d'Arnheim entertained us with a detail of the
good qualities of her steed; we had to bite our lips to prevent a burst
of laughter. In a word, for many days she furnished a subject of
merriment to the whole court and town. My women asserted that she had
fallen from trying to imitate me, without being equally nimble; and
Madame Tchoglokoff, who was by no means given to mirth, used to laugh
till the tears came into her eyes, whenever any allusion was made to the
subject, and this for a long time afterwards.

From the Summer Palace we went to Peterhoff, where, this year, we
resided at Monplaisir. We regularly spent a portion of our afternoons at
the residence of Madame Tchoglokoff, where, as there was always company,
we were tolerably well amused. From Peterhoff we went to Oranienbaum,
where we hunted whenever the weather permitted, being sometimes thirteen
hours a-day in the saddle. The summer, however, was rather wet. I
remember one day, when returning home quite wet, that, as I was
dismounting, I met my tailor, who said to me, "When I see you in this
condition, I am not at all surprised that I can scarcely keep you in
riding habits, and that new ones are continually required." The only
material I wore for this purpose was silk camlet. The rain made it
split, the sun faded the colours, so that I was obliged to have a
constant succession of new habits. It was during this time that I
contrived for myself saddles on which I could sit in any way I pleased.
They had the English crook, and yet the leg could be passed over, so as
to ride like a man. Besides, the crook divided, and a second stirrup
could be let down or raised at pleasure. If the equeries were asked how
I was mounted, they said, "Upon a lady's saddle," according to the
wishes of the Empress. I never passed my leg over except I felt quite
sure of not being betrayed; and as I made no boast of my invention,
while, besides, my attendants were anxious to please me, no
inconvenience resulted. The Grand Duke cared very little how I was
mounted, while the equeries thought I ran less risk in riding astride,
especially as I was constantly in the chase, than I did in sitting on
the English saddles, which they detested, as they were always
apprehensive of some accident, the blame of which they would, in all
probability, have to bear. For myself, I cared little for the chase, but
I was passionately fond of riding; and the more violent the exercise,
the more I liked it, so that if a horse happened to run away, I was sure
to be after it and bring it back. At that period, also, I had always a
book in my pocket, and if I had a moment to myself, I spent it in

I noticed, in these huntings, that M. Tchoglokoff became a good deal
softened in his manners, especially towards me. This made me fear that
he might take it into his head to pay his court to me--a thing which
would not have suited me in any manner. In the first place, I did not
at all like him. He was fair and foppish, very stout, and as heavy in
mind as in body. He was universally hated, while he was in no respect
agreeable. His wife's jealousy and his own malignity were equally to be
feared, especially for one like me, who had nothing in the world to
depend on but myself and my merit, if I had any. I therefore evaded, and
very skilfully, I fancy, all the attentions of M. Tchoglokoff, without
ever giving him any room for charging me with a want of politeness. All
this was perfectly seen through by his wife, who felt grateful for it,
and subsequently became much attached to me, partly, as will be seen in
the sequel, from this cause.

There were in our court two chamberlains named Soltikoff, sons of the
Adjutant-General Vasili Teodorovitch Soltikoff, whose wife, Mary
Alexceëvna, born Princess Galitzine, the mother of these two young men,
was very much esteemed by the Empress, on account of the signal services
she had rendered her at the time of her accession to the throne, having
on that occasion given proofs of a rare fidelity and attachment.
Sergius, the younger of these sons, had been for some little time
married to one of the Empress' maids of honour, named Matrena Pavlovna
Balk. The elder brother was named Peter. He was a fool in the fullest
sense of the word. He had the most stupid physiognomy I have ever seen,
great staring eyes, a flat nose, and a mouth always half open; added to
which he was a notorious tale-bearer, and as such welcome to the
Tchoglokoffs, at whose house it was that Madame Vladislava, in virtue of
an old acquaintance with the mother of this sort of imbecile, suggested
to the Tchoglokoffs the idea of marrying him to the Princess of
Courland. In consequence, he placed himself in the ranks as a suitor,
proposed to her and obtained her consent, while his parents demanded
that of the Empress. The Grand Duke knew nothing of all this until
everything had been settled, that is, till our return to town. He was
very much annoyed, and very much out of humour with the Princess. I do
not know what excuse she gave him, but, although he disapproved of her
marriage, she continued for a long time to retain a portion of his
affection, and some degree of influence with him. As for me, I was
delighted with this marriage, and had a superb dress embroidered for the
intended. These court marriages, requiring the consent of the Empress,
never took place till after years of delay, because her Majesty herself
fixed the day, forgot it, often for a long time, and, when reminded of
it, put it off from time to time. This was the case in the present
instance. We returned then to town in autumn, and I had the satisfaction
of seeing the Princess of Courland and M. Soltikoff thank her Majesty
for the consent she had been graciously pleased to give to their union.
After all, the family of Soltikoff was one of the oldest and noblest in
the empire. It was even allied to the imperial family through the mother
of the Empress Anne, who was a Soltikoff, but of a different branch to
the one in question; while M. Biren, created Duke of Courland by the
favour of the Empress Anne, was the son of a petty farmer on the estate
of a gentleman in Courland. The name of this farmer was Biren; but the
favour enjoyed by the son in Russia induced the Birons of France, at the
persuasion of Cardinal Fleury, to acknowledge him; for Fleury, anxious
to gain over the court of Russia, favoured the views and vanity of
Biren, Duke of Courland.

On arriving in town, we learnt that besides the two days a-week set
apart for French plays, there would also be, twice a-week, a masquerade
ball. The Grand Duke added another day for concerts in his own
apartments, and on Sundays there was generally a court. One of these
masquerade days was for the court exclusively, and for those whom the
Empress thought proper to admit; the other was for all the titled people
who happened to be in the city, down to the rank of colonel, as well as
those who served as officers in the guards. Sometimes, also, the whole
of the nobility and the most considerable of the merchants were
admitted. The court balls did not exceed 160 to 200 people; those called
public received as many as 800.

When we were at Moscow, in the year 1744, the Empress took a fancy to
have the court masquerades so arranged that all the men should dress as
women, and all the women as men, no masks being worn. It was precisely a
court day metamorphosed. The men wore large whale-boned petticoats, with
women's gowns, and the head-dresses worn on court days, while the women
appeared in the court costume of men. The men did not like these
reversals of their sex, and the greater part of them were in the worst
possible humour on these occasions, because they felt themselves to be
hideous in such disguises. The women looked like scrubby little boys,
whilst the more aged amongst them had thick short legs, which were
anything but ornamental. The only woman who looked really well, and
completely a man, was the Empress herself. As she was very tall and
somewhat powerful, male attire suited her wonderfully well. She had the
handsomest leg I have ever seen with any man, and her foot was admirably
proportioned. She danced to perfection, and everything she did had a
special grace, equally so whether she dressed as a man or as a woman.
One always felt inclined to be looking at her, and turned away with
regret because there was no object that could replace her. At one of
these balls I watched her while dancing a minuet. After she had ended it
she came to me. I took the liberty of saying that it was very fortunate
for the women she was not a man, and that her portrait alone, painted as
she then was, would be enough to turn many a head. She received my
compliment in very good part, and answered me in the same style, saying,
in the most gracious manner possible, "That were she a man, it would be
to me that she would give the apple." I stooped to kiss her hand for a
compliment so unexpected. She embraced me, and every one was curious to
know what had passed between us. I made no secret of it to M.
Tchoglokoff, who whispered it to two or three others, and thus it passed
from mouth to mouth until, in about a quarter of an hour, everybody knew

During the last sojourn of the court at Moscow, Prince Youssoupoff,
Senator and Chief of the Corps of Cadets, had the command-in-chief of
the city of St. Petersburg, where he remained during the absence of the
court. For his amusement, and that of the principal persons about him,
he made his cadets play alternately the best tragedies; such as the
Russian ones which Soumarokoff was then composing, and the French dramas
of Voltaire. These latter were spoiled. On her return from Moscow, the
Empress ordered the dramas of Soumarokoff to be played at court by these
young men. She took pleasure in witnessing these representations, and it
was soon noticed that she seemed to view them with more interest than
could have been expected. The theatre, which was set up in one of the
halls of the palace, was now transported into her own private
apartments. She took pleasure in dressing up the actors, had magnificent
dresses made for them, and loaded them with her jewelry. It was
particularly noticed that the principal character, a rather handsome
young man of eighteen or nineteen, was the most superbly dressed, as was
natural. Out of the theatre, also, he was observed to wear diamond
buckles, rings, watches, very expensive lace and linen. Finally, he left
the corps of cadets, and the Master of the Hounds, Count Razoumowsky,
the old favourite of the Empress, immediately took him for his adjutant,
which office gave him the rank of captain. The courtiers at once drew
their own inferences in their usual way, and made it out that
Razoumowsky, in taking Beketoff as his adjutant, could have no other
motive than that of counterbalancing the favour enjoyed by M.
Schouvaloff, gentleman of the bedchamber, who was known to be on no good
terms with the Razoumowsky family; and, finally, it was concluded also,
from the same circumstances, that this young man was coming into great
favour with the Empress. It was farther known that Count Razoumowsky had
placed with his new adjutant another messenger, in his service, named
John Perfilievitch Yelagine, who was married to a former lady's-maid of
the Empress. She it was who had furnished the young man with the linen
and lace just spoken of, and, as she was anything but rich, it was easy
to believe that the money for this expenditure did not come from her own
purse. No one was more disturbed by the rising favour of this young man
than my maid of honour, the Princess Gagarine, who was no longer young,
and was anxious to make a suitable match. She had property of her own,
but was not handsome; she was, however, clever and manoeuvring. This
was the second time she had fixed her choice on a person who afterwards
attained to the favour of the Empress. The first was M. Schouvaloff; the
second, this Beketoff, of whom we are speaking. There were a number of
young and handsome women connected with the Princess Gagarine; and,
besides, she belonged to an extensive family. All these accused M.
Schouvaloff of being the secret cause of the constant reprimands which
the Princess received from her Majesty on the subject of dress, and the
prohibitions issued, both to her and other young ladies, against
wearing--sometimes one kind of dress, and sometimes another. In revenge
for all this, the Princess and all the prettiest women of the court said
everything that was bad of M. Schouvaloff, whom they all now hated,
although previously he had been a great favourite. He sought to mollify
them by showing them attentions, and saying pretty things to them,
through his most intimate friends; but this was looked upon as an
additional offence, and he was repelled and ill-received on all hands.
All these ladies shunned him as they would the pestilence.

Meanwhile the Grand Duke had given me a little English barbet, which I
had asked him for. I had in my service a stove-heater, named Ivan
Ouchakoff, and my people took it into their heads to name my little
spaniel after this man, calling him Ivan Ivanovitch. This barbet was a
most comical little creature; he walked upon his hind legs like a human
being, and was in general exceedingly playful, so that we dressed him up
in a different style every day, and the more he was bundled up the more
playful he became. He sat at table with us, had a napkin put round him,
and eat out of his plate with great propriety. Then he turned his head
around and asked for drink, by yelping to the person who stood behind
him. Sometimes he got upon the table to take something that suited him,
such as a little pâté, a biscuit, or the like, which made the company
laugh. As he was small, and incommoded no one, he was suffered to do
these things, for he did not abuse the liberty allowed him, and was,
too, very clean. This barbet amused us the whole of this winter. The
following summer we took him to Oranienbaum, and the Chamberlain
Soltikoff, junior, having come there with his wife, both she and the
other ladies of our court did nothing but sew and work for him, making
all sorts of clothes and head-dresses, and disputing with each other for
his possession. At last, Madame Soltikoff got so fond of him, and the
dog attached himself so much to her, that when she was going away he
would not leave her, and she was as little willing to leave him. She
entreated me so earnestly to allow him to go with her, that I made her a
present of him. She took him under her arm, and went straight to the
seat of her mother-in-law, who was then ill. This lady, seeing her
arrive with the dog, and noticing the antics which she made him play,
asked his name, and learning that it was Ivan Ivanovitch, she could not
help expressing her astonishment in the presence of many persons,
belonging to the court, who had come from Peterhoff to see her. These
returned to court, and, at the end of three or four days, the whole town
was filled with a marvellous story, to the effect that all the young
ladies who were hostile to M. Schouvaloff, had each a white barbet, to
which, in derision of the favourite of the Empress, they gave the name
of Ivan Ivanovitch, and which, also, they dressed in light colours, such
as Schouvaloff was fond of wearing. Matters went so far that the Empress
signified to the parents of the young ladies, that she considered it
impertinent of them to permit such things. The white barbet at once
changed its name, but it continued to be caressed as before, and
remained in the house of the Soltikoffs, cherished by its masters till
the day of its death, despite the imperial reprimand. In point of fact,
the whole story was a calumny. This one dog was the only one so named,
and, in giving him this name, M. Schouvaloff was not thought of. As for
Madame Tchoglokoff, who did not like the Schouvaloffs, she pretended not
to have noticed the name of the dog, although she was constantly hearing
it, and had herself given the animal many a little pâté, while laughing
at its gambols.

During the latter months of this winter, and the numerous balls and the
masquerades of the court, our two former gentlemen of the bedchamber,
Alexander Villebois and Zachar Czernicheff, who had been placed as
colonels in the army, again made their appearance. As they were
sincerely attached to me, I was very glad to see and receive them; while
they, on their part, neglected no opportunity of giving me evidences of
their affectionate devotion. I was at that time very fond of dancing. At
the public balls I generally changed my dress three times; my _parure_
was very _recherchée_, and if the masquerade dress which I wore happened
to attract general approbation, I was certain never to wear it again;
for it was a rule with me that if once it produced a great effect, it
could not fail to produce an inferior one on a second occasion. In the
court balls, at which the public did not assist, I dressed as simply as
I could, and in so doing pleased the Empress, who did not like too much
display on these occasions. However, when the ladies were ordered to
appear in male attire, I dressed magnificently, my clothes being richly
embroidered on every seam, or otherwise in very refined taste, and this
passed without criticism, nay, even pleased the Empress; why I do not
very well know. It must be confessed that at that period the efforts of
coquetry were pushed to the extreme at this court; it was a constant
struggle for distinction in splendour and elegance of dress. I remember,
on the occasion of one of those masked balls, that every one was
preparing new and most magnificent dresses, and, despairing of eclipsing
others in this respect, the idea occurred to me of taking an opposite
course. I put on a bodice of white gros de Tours (at that time I had a
very fine shape), with a petticoat of the same, over a very small hoop.
My hair, which was then very long, thick, and beautiful, was arranged
behind my head, and tied with a white ribbon, _en queue de renard_. A
single rose, with its bud and leaves, was the only ornament I wore in
it; another was placed in my corset; they imitated nature so perfectly
as scarcely to be distinguished from the real. Round my neck was a ruff
of very white gauze, which with cuffs and an apron of the same material,
completed my costume. Thus attired, I went to the ball, and the moment I
entered I saw plainly that all eyes were fixed on me. I crossed the
gallery without stopping, and entered the corresponding apartments
beyond it. Here I met the Empress, who instantly exclaimed, "Good God,
how simple! What, not even a patch!"[10] I laughed, and said I did not
wish to add to the weight of my dress. She drew from her pocket her box
of patches, and choosing one of moderate size, applied it to my face. On
leaving her I hastened to the gallery, where I pointed out my patch to
my more intimate friends. I did the same to the favourites of the
Empress, and, as I was in high spirits, I danced more than usual. I
never in my life remember to have been so highly complimented as on that
occasion. I was said to be beautiful as the day--dazzlingly brilliant. I
never, indeed, thought myself so very handsome, but I was pleasing; and
it was in this point, I think, that my forte lay. I returned home very
well satisfied with my plan of simplicity, while all the other costumes
were of rare magnificence.

It was in the midst of amusements like these that the year 1750 came to
a close. Madame d'Arnheim danced better than she rode; and I remember,
on one occasion, that we tried which of us would be soonest tired. It
turned out to be her. She was obliged to sit down, and acknowledge that
she could not hold out any longer, while I still went on.


FROM 1751, TO THE END OF 1758.

At the beginning of the year 1751 the Grand Duke, who, like myself, felt
great esteem and affection for the Count de Bernis, Ambassador from the
Court of Vienna, determined to consult him relative to the state of his
affairs in Holstein, to the debts which burdened that country, and the
negotiations opened by Denmark, to which he had consented to listen. He
desired me also to mention the subject to the Count. I said I would not
fail to do so, since it was his wish. On the occasion of the next
masquerade ball, therefore, I approached Count de Bernis, who was
standing near the balustrade, within which the dance was going on, and
told him that the Grand Duke had ordered me to speak to him respecting
the affairs of Holstein. The Count listened to me with great interest
and attention. I told him frankly that being young and without advisers,
having probably also but inaccurate notions of business affairs, and no
experience to advance in my favour, my ideas, such as they were, were my
own; that I might be very deficient in information, but that it appeared
to me, in the first place, that the affairs of Holstein were not so
desperate as some sought to represent them; that, besides, as to the
exchange itself, I could very well understand that it might be more
advantageous to Russia than to the Grand Duke personally; that
assuredly, as heir to the throne, the interests of the empire ought to
be dear to him; that if for these interests it was necessary to abandon
Holstein in order to put an end to interminable discussions with
Denmark, then the only question would be to choose, before giving it up,
a favourable moment for the surrender; that to me the present time did
not appear to be such, either as regarded the interest or personal
credit of the Grand Duke; that, however, a time might come when
circumstances would render this act more important and more creditable
to him, and, perhaps, also more advantageous for the empire of Russia
itself; but that at present the whole affair had a manifest air of
intrigue, which, if it proved successful, would give an impression of
feebleness on the part of the Grand Duke, from which he might suffer all
his life in the estimation of the public; that it was but a few days, so
to speak, since he had undertaken the management of that country; that
he was extremely fond of the country, and yet, notwithstanding all this,
he had been persuaded to exchange it, without very well knowing why, for
the territory of Oldenburg, with which he was not at all acquainted, and
which was still farther off from Russia; and that, besides, the port of
Kiel, if in the hands of the Grand Duke, might be important for Russian
navigation. The Count de Bernis entered into all my reasonings, and
said, in conclusion, "As Ambassador, I have no instructions on this
matter, but as Count Bernis, I think you are right." The Grand Duke told
me afterwards that the Ambassador said to him, "All I can say to you in
this matter is, that I think your wife is right, and that you will do
well to listen to her." The Grand Duke consequently cooled very much
upon the subject, and this, probably, was noticed, for it began to be
mentioned to him more rarely.

After Easter we went, as usual, for some time to the Summer Palace at
Peterhoff, where, year by year, our stay became abridged. This year an
occurrence took place which furnished the courtiers with matter for
gossip: it was caused by the intrigues of the Messieurs Schouvaloff.
Colonel Beketoff, of whom I have spoken above, not knowing what to do
with himself during the favour which he enjoyed, although it increased
to such a point that, from day to day, people were waiting to see which
of the two would yield his place to the other, that is to say, Beketoff
to John Schouvaloff, or the latter to Beketoff--not knowing, as I have
said, how to amuse himself, it occurred to him to have the Empress'
choir of singing boys perform at his own residence. In several of them
he took a special interest, on account of the beauty of their voices;
and as both himself and his friend Yelagine were versifiers, they
composed songs which the children sung. To this an odious interpretation
was given; for it was well known that nothing was more detested by the
Empress than vice of such a nature. Beketoff, in the innocence of his
heart, would walk in the garden with these children; this was imputed to
him as a crime. The Empress went away to Zarskoe-Selo for a couple of
days, and then returned to Peterhoff, where M. Beketoff received orders
to remain, under the plea of indisposition. He did, in fact, remain
there with Yelagine, caught there a violent fever, which threatened his
life, and in the ravings of his delirium, did nothing but talk about the
Empress, with whom he was thoroughly taken up. He recovered; but he
remained in disgrace, and retired, after which he was placed in the
army, where he was not successful. He was too effeminate for the
profession of arms.

In the meanwhile we proceeded to Oranienbaum, where we went hunting
every day. Towards autumn, in the month of September, we returned to the
city. The Empress placed at our court M. Leon Narichkine as gentleman of
the bedchamber. He immediately hastened from Moscow with his mother, his
brother, his brother's wife, and his three sisters. He was one of the
most singular persons I have ever known, and no one has ever made me
laugh so much as he has done. He was a born harlequin, and had he not
been by birth what he was, he might have gained a subsistence, and a
handsome one too, by his extraordinary talent for humour. He was not at
all wanting in understanding. He had heard of everything, and everything
arranged itself in his head after a fashion of his own. He could give a
dissertation on any art or science he chose. He would employ all the
technical terms belonging to his subject, and would talk to you for a
quarter of an hour or more without stopping; and at the end, neither
himself nor any one else would understand anything of the string of
words which had flowed so readily from his lips, and the whole, of
course, would finish with a general burst of laughter. Among other
things he said of history, that he did not like history in which there
were _histories_,[11] and that in order that a history should be good it
must be devoid of _history_, that otherwise history became mere rant.

But it was on politics that he was inimitable. When he began on this
subject, it was impossible for any one, however serious, to resist him.
He used to say, too, that of well-written plays the greater part were
very wearisome.

Scarcely had he been appointed to the court when the Empress sent
orders to his eldest sister to marry a M. Seniavine, who, for that
purpose, was placed in our court as gentleman of the bedchamber. This
was a thunderbolt for the young lady, who consented to this marriage
with the greatest repugnance. It was very ill received by the public
also, and all the blame of it was cast on M. Schouvaloff, the favourite
of the Empress, who, before his rise to favour, had been very partial to
this young lady, for whom they made up this bad match in order that he
might lose sight of her. This was a species of persecution truly
tyrannical. At last she married, became consumptive, and died.

By the end of September, we returned to the Winter Palace. The court was
at this time so badly off for furniture that the same mirrors, beds,
chairs, tables, and drawers which served us at the Winter Palace, passed
with us to the Summer Palace, and thence to Peterhoff, following us even
to Moscow. A good number were broken and cracked in these different
journeys, and, in this state of dilapidation, they were supplied to us;
so that it was difficult to make use of them, while to get others an
express order from the Empress was required. As she was almost always
very difficult of access, if not inaccessible, I resolved to buy, by
degrees, with my own money, chests of drawers and the other more
necessary articles of furniture, as well for the Winter as the Summer
Palace; so that when I passed from the one house to the other, I found
everything I wanted without difficulty and without the inconveniences of
transport. The Grand Duke was pleased with this arrangement, and he made
a similar one in his own apartments. As for Oranienbaum, which belonged
to the Grand Duke, we had, at my cost, everything we needed in my
private apartments. I procured all this at my own expense in order to
avoid all dispute and difficulty; for his Imperial Highness, although
very lavish where his own fancies were concerned, was not at all so in
anything that regarded me; and generally he was anything but liberal.
But as all I did in my own apartments and with my own purse served to
embellish his house, he was quite content with it.

During this summer Madame Tchoglokoff conceived such a special and real
affection for me, that on our return to the capital she could not do
without me, and was quite _ennuyée_ when I was not with her. The cause
of this affection arose from my not responding to the advances which it
had pleased her husband to make to me--a circumstance which gave me a
peculiar merit in the eyes of his wife. When we returned to the Winter
Palace, Madame Tchoglokoff invited me almost every evening to her rooms.
There were not many people there, but always more than in my room, where
I sat quite alone reading, except when the Grand Duke came in to walk up
and down at a rapid pace, talking about things which interested himself,
but which had no value in my eyes. These promenades would last one or
two hours, and were repeated several times a-day. I was obliged to walk
with him till my strength was quite exhausted, to listen with attention,
and to answer him, though, for the most part, what he said had neither
head nor tail; for he often gave the reins to his imagination. I
remember that, during one whole winter, he was taken up with a project
of building, near to Oranienbaum, a pleasure-house in the form of a
convent of Capuchins, where he and I and all his suite should be dressed
as Capuchins. This dress he thought charming and convenient. Every one
was to have a donkey, and, in his turn, take this donkey and fetch water
and bring provisions to the so-called convent. He used to laugh till he
was ready to drop at the idea of the admirable and amusing effects which
this invention was to produce. He made me draw a pencil-sketch of the
plan of this precious work, and every day I had to add or remove
something. However determined I was to comply with his humours, and bear
everything with patience, I frankly avow that I was very often worn out
with the annoyance of these visits, promenades, and conversations, which
were insipid beyond anything I have ever seen. When he was gone, the
most tiresome book appeared a delightful amusement.

Towards the end of autumn, the balls for the court and the public
recommenced, as did also the rage for splendour and refinement in
masquerade dresses. Count Zachar Czernicheff returned to St. Petersburg.
As, on the ground of old acquaintance, I always treated him very well,
it rested only with myself to give what interpretation I pleased to his
attentions this time. He began by telling me that I had grown much
handsomer. It was the first time in my life that anything of the kind
had been said to me. I did not take it ill. Nay, more; I was credulous
enough to believe that he spoke the truth. At every ball there was some
fresh remark of this kind. One day, the Princess Gagarine brought me a
device from him, and, on breaking it, I perceived that it had been
opened and gummed together again. The motto, as usual, was printed, but
it consisted of a couple of verses, very tender and full of sentiment.
After dinner, I had some devices brought to me. I looked for a motto
which might serve as an answer, without compromising myself. I found
one, put it into a device representing an orange, and gave it to the
Princess Gagarine, who delivered it to Count Czernicheff. Next morning
she brought me another from him; but this time I found a motto of some
lines, in his own hand. I answered it, and there we were in regular and
quite sentimental correspondence. At the next masquerade, while dancing
with him, he said he had a thousand things to tell me which he could not
trust to paper, nor put in a device, which the Princess Gagarine might
break in her pocket or lose on the way; and he entreated me to grant him
a moment's audience either in my chamber, or wherever I might deem
suitable. I told him that that was an utter impossibility, that my rooms
were inaccessible, and that it was also impossible for me to leave them.
He told me that he would, if necessary, disguise himself as a servant;
but I refused point-blank, and so the matter went no farther than this
secret correspondence by means of devices. At last the Princess Gagarine
began to suspect its character, scolded me for making use of her, and
would not receive any more of these missives.


Amid these occurrences the year 1751 came to a close, and 1752 began. At
the end of the Carnival, Count Czernicheff left to join his regiment. A
few days before his departure I required to be bled; it was on a
Saturday. The following Wednesday, M. Tchoglokoff invited me to his
island, at the mouth of the Neva. He had a house there, consisting of a
saloon in the centre and some chambers on the sides. Near this house he
had some slides prepared. On arriving, I found there the Count Roman
Voronzoff, who, on seeing me, said, "I have just the thing for you; I
have had an excellent little sledge made for the slides." As he had
often taken me before, I accepted his offer, and the sledge was at once
brought. In it was a kind of small fauteuil, on which I seated myself.
He placed himself behind me, and we began to descend; but about half-way
down the incline, the Count was no longer master of the sledge, and it
overturned. I fell, and the Count, who was heavy and clumsy, fell on me,
or rather on my left arm, in which I had been bled some four or five
days before. We got up, and walked towards one of the court sledges,
which was in waiting for those who descended to convey them back to the
point from which they had started, so that any who wished might
recommence the descent. While sitting in this sledge with the Princess
Gagarine, who, with Prince Ivan Czernicheff, had followed me, the
latter, together with Voronzoff, standing behind the sleigh, I felt a
sensation of warmth spreading over my left arm, the cause of which I
could not make out. I passed my right hand into the sleeve of my pelisse
to see what was the matter, and having withdrawn it, I found it covered
with blood. I told the Counts and the Princess that I thought my vein
had reopened. They made the sleigh move faster, and instead of going
again to the slides, we went to the house. There we found no one but a
butler. I took off my pelisse, the butler gave me some vinegar, and
Count Czernicheff performed the office of surgeon. We all agreed not to
say a word about this adventure. As soon as my arm was set to rights, we
returned to the slides. I danced the rest of the evening, then supped,
and we returned home very late, without any one having the least idea of
what had happened to me. However, the skin did not join smoothly for
nearly a month; but it got all right by degrees.

During Lent I had a violent altercation with Madame Tchoglokoff, the
cause of which was as follows: My mother had been for some time in
Paris. The eldest son of General Ivan Fedorovitch Gleboff, upon his
return from that capital, brought me, from her, two pieces of very rich
and very beautiful stuff. While looking at them in my dressing-room, in
the presence of Skourine, who unfolded them, I chanced to say that they
were so beautiful that I felt tempted to present them to the Empress;
and I really was watching an opportunity of speaking of them to her
Majesty, whom I saw but very rarely, and then, too, mostly in public. I
said nothing about them to Madame Tchoglokoff. It was a present I
reserved for myself to make. I forbade Skourine to mention to any one
what had fallen from my lips in his hearing. Skourine, however, went
instantly to Madame Tchoglokoff, and told her what I had said. A few
days afterwards, Madame Tchoglokoff came into my room and told me that
the Empress sent me her thanks for my stuffs; that she had kept one of
them and returned the other. I was thunderstruck on hearing this. I said
to her, "How is this, Madame Tchoglokoff?" Upon this she stated that she
had carried the stuffs to the Empress, having heard that I intended them
for her Majesty. For the moment I felt vexed beyond measure, more so
indeed than I ever remember to have been before. I stammered; I could
scarcely speak. However, I said that I had proposed to myself a treat in
presenting these things to the Empress myself, and that she had deprived
me of this pleasure by carrying them off without my knowledge, and
presenting them in that fashion to her Imperial Majesty; I reminded her
that she could not know my intentions, as I had never spoken of them to
her, or that if she was aware of them, it was only from the mouth of a
treacherous servant, who had betrayed his mistress, who daily loaded him
with kindness. Madame Tchoglokoff, who always had reasons of her own,
replied, and maintained that I ought never speak to the Empress myself
about anything; that she had signified to me the order of her Imperial
Majesty to this effect, and that my servants were in duty bound to
report to her all that I said; that, consequently, Skourine had only
done his duty, and she hers, in carrying, without my knowledge, to her
Majesty the stuffs I had destined for her, and that the whole matter was
quite in rule. I let her speak on, for rage stopped my utterance. At
last she went away. I then entered a small ante-chamber, where Skourine
generally remained in the morning, and where my clothes were kept, and
seeing him there, I gave him, with all my force, a well-aimed and heavy
box on the ear. I told him he was a traitor, and the most ungrateful of
men, for having dared to repeat to Madame Tchoglokoff what I had
forbidden him to speak about; that I had loaded him with kindnesses,
while he betrayed me even in such innocent words; that from that day
forward I would never give him anything more, but would get him
dismissed and well beaten. I asked him what he expected to gain by such
conduct, telling him that I should always remain what I was, while the
Tchoglokoffs, hated and detested by every one, would, in the end, get
themselves dismissed by the Empress herself, who most assuredly would
sooner or later discover their intense stupidity, and utter unfitness
for the position in which the intrigues of a wicked man had placed them;
that, if he chose, he might go and repeat to them all I had said; that
he could not injure me by so doing, while he would soon see what would
become of himself. The man fell at my feet crying bitterly, and begged
my pardon with a repentance which appeared to me sincere. I was touched
by it, and told him that his future conduct would show me what course I
must take with him, and that by his behaviour I would regulate my own.
He was an intelligent fellow, by no means deficient in character, and
one who never broke his word to me. On the contrary, I have had the best
proofs of his zeal and fidelity in the most difficult times. I
complained to every one I could of the trick Madame Tchoglokoff had
played me, in order that the matter might reach the Empress' ears. The
Empress, when she saw me, thanked me for my present, and I learned from
a third party, that she disapproved of the way in which Madame
Tchoglokoff had acted. And thus the matter ended.

After Easter we went to the Summer Palace. I had observed for some time
that the Chamberlain, Serge Soltikoff, was more assiduous than usual in
his attendance at court. He always came there in company with Leon
Narichkine, who amused every one by his originality, of which I have
already reported several traits. Serge Soltikoff was the aversion of the
Princess Gagarine, of whom I was very fond, and in whom I even reposed
confidence. Leon Narichkine was looked upon as a person of no sort of
consequence, but very original. Soltikoff insinuated himself as much as
possible into the good graces of the Tchoglokoffs. As these people were
neither amiable, nor clever, nor amusing, he must have had some secret
object in these attentions. Madame Tchoglokoff was at this time
pregnant, and frequently indisposed. As she pretended that I amused her
during the summer quite as much as in the winter, she often requested me
to visit her. Soltikoff, Leon Narichkine, the Princess Gagarine, and
some others, were generally at her apartments, whenever there was not a
concert at the Grand Duke's, or theatricals at court. The concerts were
very wearisome to M. Tchoglokoff, who always assisted at them; but
Soltikoff discovered a singular mode of keeping him occupied. I cannot
conceive how he contrived to excite in a man so dull, and so utterly
devoid of talent and imagination, a passion for versifying and composing
songs which had not even common sense. But having made this discovery,
whenever anyone wished to get rid of M. Tchoglokoff, it was only
necessary to ask him to make a new song. Then, with much _empressement_,
he would go and sit down in a corner of the room, generally near the
stove, and set to work upon his song--a business which took up the
evening. The song would be pronounced charming, and thus he was
continually encouraged to make new ones. Leon Narichkine used to set
them to music, and sing them with him; and while all this was going on,
we conversed without restraint. I once had a large book of these songs,
but I know not what has become of it.

During one of these concerts, Serge Soltikoff gave me to understand what
was the object of his assiduous attentions. I did not reply to him at
first. When he again returned to the subject, I asked him what it was he
wanted of me? Hereupon he drew a charming and passionate picture of the
happiness which he promised himself. I said to him, "But your wife, whom
you married for love only two years ago, and of whom you were supposed
to be passionately fond--and she, too, of you--what will she say to
this?" He replied that all was not gold that glitters, and that he was
paying dearly for a moment of infatuation. I did all I could to make him
change his mind--I really expected to succeed in this--I pitied him.
Unfortunately, I listened also. He was very handsome, and certainly had
not his equal at the Imperial court, still less at ours. He was not
wanting in mind, nor in that finish of accomplishments, manner, and
style which the great world gives, and especially a court. He was
twenty-six years old. Take him all in all, he was by birth, and by many
other qualities, a distinguished gentleman. As for his faults, he
managed to hide them. The greatest of all was a love of intrigue and a
want of principle. These were not unfolded to my eyes. I held out all
the spring, and a part of the autumn. I saw him almost every day, and
made no change in my conduct towards him. I was the same to him as I was
to all others, and never saw him but in the presence of the court, or of
a part of it. One day, to get rid of him, I made up my mind to tell him
that he was misdirecting his attentions. I added, "How do you know that
my heart is not engaged elsewhere?" This, however, instead of
discouraging him, only made his pursuit all the more ardent. In all this
there was no thought of the dear husband, for it was a known and
admitted fact, that he was not at all amiable, even to the objects with
whom he was in love; and he was always in love; in fact, he might be
said to pay court to every woman, except the one who bore the name of
his wife; she alone was excluded from all share of his attentions.

In the midst of all this, Tchoglokoff invited us to a hunting party on
his island, whither we went in a skiff, our horses being sent on before.
Immediately on our arrival I mounted my horse, and we went to find the
dogs. Soltikoff seized the moment when the rest were in pursuit of the
hares to approach me and speak of his favourite subject. I listened more
attentively than usual. He described to me the plan which he had
arranged for enshrouding, as he said, in profound mystery, the happiness
which might be enjoyed in such a case. I did not say a word. He took
advantage of my silence to persuade me that he loved me passionately,
and he begged that I would allow him to hope, at least, that he was not
wholly indifferent to me. I told him he might amuse himself with hoping
what he pleased, as I could not prevent his thoughts. Finally he drew
comparisons between himself and others at the court, and made me confess
that he was preferable to them. From that he concluded that he was
preferred. I laughed at all this, but I admitted that he was agreeable
to me. At the end of an hour and a-half's conversation, I desired him to
leave me, since so long a conversation might give rise to suspicion. He
said he would not go unless I told him that I consented. I answered,
"Yes, yes; but go away." He said, "Then it is settled," and put spurs to
his horse. I cried after him, "No, no;" but he repeated, "Yes, yes." And
thus we separated. On our return to the house, which was on the island,
we had supper, during which there sprung up such a heavy gale from the
sea, that the waves rose so high that they even reached the steps of the
house. In fact, the whole island was under water to the depth of several
feet. We were obliged to remain until the storm had abated, and the
waters retreated, which was not until between two and three in the
morning. During this time, Soltikoff told me that heaven itself had
favoured him that day, by enabling him to enjoy my presence for a longer
time, with many other things to the same effect. He thought himself
already quite happy. As for me, I was not at all so. A thousand
apprehensions troubled me, and I was unusually dull, and very much out
of conceit with myself. I had persuaded myself that I could easily
govern both his passions and my own, and I found that both tasks were
difficult, if not impossible.

Two days after this, Soltikoff informed me that one of the Grand Duke's
valets de chambre, Bressan, a Frenchman, had told him that his Imperial
Highness had said in his room, "Sergius Soltikoff and my wife deceive
Tchoglokoff, make him believe whatever they like, and then laugh at
him." To tell the truth, there was something of this kind, and the Grand
Duke had perceived it. I answered, by advising him to be more
circumspect for the future. Some days afterwards I caught a very bad
sore throat, which lasted more than three weeks, with a violent fever,
during which the Empress sent to me the Princess Kourakine, who was
about to be married to Prince Lobanoff. I was to dress her hair. For
this purpose she had to sit on my bed, in her court-dress and hooped
petticoats. I did my best; but Madame Tchoglokoff, seeing that it was
impossible for me to manage it, made her get off my bed, and finished
dressing her herself. I have never seen the lady since then.

The Grand Duke was at this period making love to Mademoiselle Martha
Isaevna Schafiroff, whom the Empress had recently placed with me, as
also her elder sister, Anna Isaevna. Serge Soltikoff, who was a devil
for intrigue, insinuated himself into the favour of these girls, in
order to learn anything the Grand Duke might say to them relative to
him. These young ladies were poor, rather silly, and very selfish, and,
in fact, they became wonderfully confidential in a very short time.

In the midst of all this we went to Oranienbaum, where again I was every
day on horseback, and wore no other than a man's dress, except on
Sundays. Tchoglokoff and his wife had become as gentle as lambs. In the
eyes of Madame Tchoglokoff I possessed a new merit; I fondled and
caressed a great deal one of her children, who was with her. I made
clothes for him, and gave him all sorts of playthings and dresses. Now
the mother was dotingly fond of this child, who subsequently became such
a scapegrace that, for his pranks, he was sentenced to confinement in a
fortress for fifteen years. Soltikoff had become the friend, the
confidant and the counsellor of M. and Madame Tchoglokoff. Assuredly no
person in his senses could ever have submitted to so hard a task as that
of listening to two proud, arrogant, and conceited fools, talking
nonsense all day long, without having some great object in view. Many,
therefore, were the guesses, many the suppositions, as to what this
object could be. These reached Peterhoff and the ears of the Empress.
Now at this period it often happened that when her Majesty wished to
scold any one, she did not scold for what she might well complain of,
but seized some pretext for finding fault about something which no one
would ever have thought she could object to. This is the remark of a
courtier; I have it from the lips of its author, Zachar Czernicheff. At
Oranienbaum, every one of our suite had agreed, men as well as women, to
have, for this summer, dresses of the same colour; the body gray, the
rest blue, with a collar of black velvet, and no trimmings. This
uniformity was convenient in more respects than one. It was on this
style of dress that she fixed, and more especially on the circumstance
that I always wore a riding habit, and rode like a man at Peterhoff. One
court day the Empress said to Madame Tchoglokoff that this fashion of
riding prevented my having children, and that my dress was not at all
becoming; that when she rode on horseback she changed her dress. Madame
Tchoglokoff replied, that as to having children, this had nothing to do
with the matter; that children could not come without a cause; and that,
although their Imperial Highnesses had been married ever since 1745, the
cause nevertheless did not exist. Thereupon her Imperial Majesty
scolded Madame Tchoglokoff, and told her she blamed her for this,
because she neglected to lecture, on this matter, the parties concerned;
and on the whole, she showed much ill-humour, and said that her husband
was a mere night-cap, who allowed himself to be worn by a set of
dirty-nosed brats (_des morveux_). All this, in four-and-twenty hours,
had reached their confidants. At this term of _morveux_, the _morveux_
wiped their noses; and, in a very special council held on the matter by
them, it was resolved and decreed that, in order to follow out strictly
the wishes of her Imperial Majesty, Sergius Soltikoff and Leon
Narichkine should incur a pretended disgrace at the hands of M.
Tchoglokoff, of which perhaps he himself would not be at all aware; that
under pretext of the illness of their relatives, they should retire to
their homes for three weeks or a month, in order to allow the rumours
which were current to die away. This was carried out to the letter, and
the next day they departed, to confine themselves to their own houses
for a month. As for me, I immediately changed my style of dress;
besides, the other had now become useless. The first idea of this
uniformity of attire had been suggested to us by the dress worn on
court-days at Peterhoff. The body was white, the rest green, and the
whole trimmed all over with silver lace. Soltikoff, who was of a dark
complexion, used to say that he looked like a fly in milk, in this dress
of white and silver. I continued to frequent the society of the
Tchoglokoffs as before, although it was now dreadfully wearisome. The
husband and wife were full of regrets for the absence of the chief
attractions of their society, in which most assuredly I did not
contradict them. The illness of Soltikoff prolonged his absence, and
during it the Empress sent us orders to come from Oranienbaum and join
her at Cronstadt, whither she was about to proceed, in order to admit
the waters into the canal of Peter I. That Emperor had commenced the
work, and just then it was completed. She arrived at Cronstadt before
us. The night following was very stormy, and, as immediately on her
arrival, she had sent us orders to join her, she supposed we must have
been caught in the storm, and was in great anxiety all night. She
fancied that a ship, which could be seen from her window, labouring in
the sea, might be the yacht in which we were to make the voyage. She had
recourse to the relics which she always kept by her bedside; carried
them to the window, and kept moving them in a direction opposite to the
ship which was tossing in the storm. She exclaimed repeatedly that we
should certainly be lost, and that it would be all her fault, because a
short time previously she had sent us a reprimand for not showing her
more prompt obedience, and she now supposed we must have set out
immediately on the arrival of the yacht. But, in fact, the yacht did not
reach Oranienbaum until after the storm, so that we did not go on board
until the afternoon of the next day. We remained three days at
Cronstadt, during which the blessing of the canal took place with very
great solemnity, and the waters were, for the first time, let into it.
After dinner there was a grand ball. The Empress wished to remain at
Cronstadt to see the waters let out again, but she left on the third day
without this having been effected. The canal was never dried from that
time, until, in my reign, I caused the steam-mill to be constructed
which empties it. Otherwise, the thing would have been impossible, the
bottom of the canal being lower than the sea; but this was not perceived
at that time.

From Cronstadt every one returned to his own quarters; the Empress went
to Peterhoff, and we to Oranienbaum. M. Tchoglokoff asked and obtained
leave to go for a month to one of his estates. During his absence Madame
Tchoglokoff gave herself a great deal of trouble to execute the Empress'
orders to the letter. At first she had many conferences with Bressan,
the Grand Duke's valet de chambre. Bressan found at Oranienbaum a pretty
woman named Madame Groot, the widow of a painter. It took several days
to persuade her, to promise her I know not what, and then to instruct
her in what they wanted of her, and to what she was to lend herself. At
last Bressan was charged with the duty of making this young and pretty
widow known to the Grand Duke. I clearly saw that Madame Tchoglokoff was
deep in some intrigue, but I knew not what. At last, Serge Soltikoff
returned from his voluntary exile, and told me pretty nearly how matters
stood. Finally, after much trouble, Madame Tchoglokoff gained her end,
and when she felt sure of this she informed the Empress that everything
was going on as she wished. She expected a great reward for her trouble;
but in this she was much mistaken, for nothing was given her; however,
she maintained that the Empire was in her debt. Immediately after this
we returned to the city.

It was at this time that I persuaded the Grand Duke to break off the
negotiations with Denmark. I reminded him of the advice of the Count de
Bernis, who had already departed for Vienna. He listened to me, and
ordered the negotiations to be closed without anything being concluded:
and this was done. After a short stay at the Summer Palace, we returned
to the Winter Palace.

It seemed to me that Serge Soltikoff was beginning to be relax in his
attentions; that he became absent, sometimes absurd, arrogant, and
dissipated. I was vexed at this, and spoke to him on the subject. He
gave me but poor excuses, and pretended that I did not understand the
extreme cleverness of his conduct. He was right, for I did think it
strange enough. We were told to get ready for the journey to Moscow,
which we did. We left St. Petersburg on the 14th of December, 1752.
Soltikoff remained behind, and did not follow us for several weeks
after. I left the city with some slight indications of pregnancy. We
travelled very rapidly day and night. At the last stage before reaching
Moscow, these signs disappeared with violent spasms. On our arrival, and
seeing the turn things were taking, I felt satisfied that I had had a
miscarriage. Madame Tchoglokoff also remained behind at St. Petersburg,
as she had just been delivered of her last child, which was a girl. This
was the seventh. On her recovery she joined us at Moscow.


Here we lodged in a wing built of wood, constructed only this autumn,
and in such a way that the water ran down the wainscoting, and all the
apartments were exceedingly damp. This wing consisted of two ranges of
apartments, each having five or six large rooms, of which those looking
to the street were for me, and those on the other side for the Grand
Duke. In the one intended for my toilet, my maids and ladies of the
bedchamber were lodged, together with their servants; so that there were
seventeen girls and women lodged in one room, which had, it is true,
three large windows, but no other outlet than my bed-room, through
which, for every kind of purpose, they were obliged to pass, a thing
neither pleasant for them nor for me. We were obliged to put up with
this inconvenience, of which I have never seen the like. Besides, the
room in which they took their meals was one of my ante-chambers. I was
ill when I arrived. To remedy this inconvenience, I had some very large
screens placed in my bed-room, by means of which I divided it into
three; but this was scarcely of any use, for the doors were opening and
shutting continually, as was unavoidable. At last, on the tenth day, the
Empress came to see me, and observing the continual passing to and fro,
she went into the other chamber, and said to my women, "I will have a
different outlet made for you than through the sleeping-room of the
Grand Duchess." But what did she do? She ordered a partition to be made,
which took away one of the windows of a room in which, even before this,
seventeen persons could hardly exist. Here, then, was the chamber made
smaller in order to gain a passage; the window was opened towards the
street, a flight of steps was led up to it, and thus my women were
obliged to pass and repass along the street. Under their window,
necessaries were placed for them; in going to dinner, they must again
pass along the street. In a word, this arrangement was worthless, and I
cannot tell how it was that these seventeen women, thus huddled up and
crowded together, did not catch a putrid fever; and all this, too, close
to my bed-room, which, in consequence, was so filled with vermin of
every kind that I could not sleep. At last, Madame Tchoglokoff, having
recovered after her accouchement, arrived at Moscow, as did, some days
later, Serge Soltikoff. As Moscow is very large, and people much
dispersed in it, he availed himself of this locality, so favourable to
the purpose, to conceal the decrease of his attentions, feigned or real,
at court. To tell the truth, I was grieved at this; however, he gave me
such good and specious reasons for it, that as soon as I had seen him
and spoken to him, my annoyance on the subject vanished. We agreed that,
in order to decrease the number of his enemies, I should get some remark
repeated to Count Bestoujeff which might lead him to hope that I was
less averse to him than in former days. With this message I charged a
person called Bremse, who was employed in the Holstein Chancery of M.
Pechline. This person, when not at court, frequently went to the
residence of the Chancellor Count Bestoujeff. He eagerly accepted the
commission, and brought me back word that the Chancellor was delighted,
and said that I might command him as often as I thought proper, and that
if, on his part, he could be of any use to me, he begged me to point out
to him some safe channel by which we might communicate with each other.
I perceived his drift, and I told Bremse that I would think of it. I
repeated this to Soltikoff, and it was immediately settled that he
should go to the Chancellor on the plea of a visit, as he had but just
arrived. The old man gave him a most cordial reception; took him aside,
spoke to him of the internal condition of our court, of the stupidity of
the Tchoglokoffs, saying, among other things, "I know, although you are
their intimate friends, that you understand them as well as I do, for
you are a young man of sense." Then he spoke of me, and of my situation,
just as if he had lived in my room; adding, "In gratitude for the
good-will which the Grand Duchess has so kindly evinced for me, I am
going to do her a little service, for which she will, I think, thank me.
I will make Madame Vladislava as gentle as a lamb for her, so that she
will be able to do with her whatever she pleases; she will see that I am
not such an ogre as I have been represented to her." Finally, Serge
Soltikoff returned, enchanted with his commission and his man. He gave
him some advice for himself, also, as wise as it was useful. All this
made him very intimate with us, without any one having the least
suspicion of the fact.

In the meanwhile Madame Tchoglokoff, who never lost sight of her
favourite project of watching over the succession, took me aside one day
and said, "Listen to me, I must speak to you with all sincerity." I
opened my eyes and ears, and not without cause. She began with a long
preamble, after her fashion, respecting her attachment to her husband,
her own prudent conduct, what was necessary and what was not necessary
for ensuring mutual love and facilitating conjugal ties; and then she
went on to say, that occasionally there were situations in which a
higher interest demanded an exception to the rule. I let her talk on
without interruption, not knowing what she was driving at, a good deal
astonished, and uncertain whether it was not a snare she was laying for
me, or whether she was speaking with sincerity. Just as I was making
these reflections in my own mind, she said to me, "You shall presently
see whether I love my country, and whether I am sincere; I do not doubt
but you have cast an eye of preference upon some one or other; I leave
you to choose between Sergius Soltikoff and Leon Narichkine--if I do not
mistake, it is the latter." Here I exclaimed, "No no! not at all."
"Well, then," she said, "if it be not Narichkine, it is Soltikoff." To
that I made no reply, and she went on saying, "You shall see that it
will not be I who will throw difficulties in your way." I played the
simpleton to such a degree, that she scolded me for it several times,
both in town and in the country, whither we went after Easter.

It was at that time, or thereabout, that the Empress gave to the Grand
Duke the lands of Liberitza, and several others, at a distance of
fourteen or fifteen verstes from Moscow. But before we went to reside on
these new possessions of his Imperial Highness, the Empress celebrated
the anniversary of her coronation at Moscow. This was the 25th of April.
It was announced to us that she had ordered the ceremony to be observed
exactly as it had been on the very day of her coronation. We were
curious to know how this would be. The evening before, she went to sleep
at the Kremlin. We stayed at the Sloboda, in the wooden palace, and
received orders to go to mass at the cathedral. At nine o'clock in the
morning we started from the wooden palace in the state carriage, our
servants walking on foot. We traversed the whole of Moscow, step by
step--the distance through the city being as much as seven verstes--and
we alighted at the cathedral. A few moments after the Empress arrived
with her retinue, wearing the small crown on her head, and the imperial
mantle, borne as usual by her chamberlains. She went to her ordinary
seat in the church, and in all this there was, as yet, nothing
unusual--nothing that was not practised at all the other fêtes of her
reign. The church was damp and cold to a degree that I had never before
felt. I was quite blue, and frozen in my court-dress and with bare neck.
The Empress sent me word to put on a sable tippet, but I had not one
with me. She ordered her own to be brought, took one, and put it on her
neck. I saw another in the box, and thought she was going to send it to
me, but I was mistaken--she sent it back. This I thought a pretty
evident sign of displeasure. Madame Tchoglokoff, who saw that I was
shivering, procured me, from some one, a silk kerchief, which I put
round my neck. When mass and the sermon were over, the Empress left the
church, and we were preparing to follow her, when she sent us word that
we might return home. It was then we learned that she was going to dine
alone on the throne, and that in this respect the ceremonial would be
observed just as it was on the day of her coronation, when she had dined
alone. Excluded from this dinner, we returned, as we had come, in great
state, our people on foot, making a journey of fourteen verstes, going
and returning, through the city of Moscow, and we benumbed with cold and
dying of hunger. If the Empress seemed to us in a very bad temper during
mass, this disagreeable evidence of want of attention, to say no more,
did not leave us in the best of humours either. At the other great
festivals, when she dined on the throne, we had the honour of dining
with her; this time she repelled us publicly. Returning alone in the
carriage with the Grand Duke, I told him what I thought of this, and he
said that he would complain of it. On reaching home, half dead with cold
and fatigue, I complained to Madame Tchoglokoff of having caught cold.
The next day there was a ball at the wooden palace; I said I was ill,
and did not go. The Grand Duke really did make some complaint or other
to the Schouvaloffs on the subject, and they sent him some answer, which
appeared satisfactory to him, and nothing more was said about the

About this time we learned that Zachar Czernicheff and Colonel Nicholas
Leontieff had had a quarrel, while at play, in the house of Roman
Voronzoff; that they had fought with swords, and that Zachar Czernicheff
had received a severe wound in the head. It was so serious that he could
not be removed from Count Voronzoff's house to his own. He remained
there, was very ill, and there was some talk of trepanning him. I was
very sorry for him, for I liked him very much. Leontieff was arrested
by order of the Empress. This combat set the whole city in a ferment, on
account of the extensive connections of both the champions. Leontieff
was the son-in-law of the Countess Roumianzoff, a very near relative of
the Panines and Kourakines. The other, also, had relatives, friends, and
protectors. The occurrence had taken place at the house of Count Roman
Voronzoff; the wounded man was still there. At last, when the danger was
over, the affair was hushed up, and matters went no farther.

In the course of the month of May, I again had indications of pregnancy.
We went to Liberitza, an estate of the Grand Duke, twelve or fourteen
verstes from Moscow. The stone house which was on it, had been built a
long time ago by Prince Menchikoff, and was now falling to decay, so
that we could not live in it. As a substitute, tents were set up in the
court, and every morning, at two or three o'clock, my sleep was broken
by the sound of the axe, and the noises made in building a wooden wing,
which was being hurriedly erected, within two paces, so to speak, of our
tents, in order that we might have a place to live in during the
remainder of the summer. The rest of our time we spent in hunting,
walking, or riding. I no longer went on horseback, but in a cabriolet.
About the Feast of St. Peter we returned to Moscow. I was seized with
such drowsiness that I slept every day till noon, and then it was only
with difficulty that I was awakened in time for dinner. The Feast of St.
Peter was kept in the usual way: I was present at Mass, at the dinner,
the ball, and the supper. Next morning I felt great pains in my loins.
Madame Tchoglokoff summoned a midwife, who predicted the miscarriage,
which actually occurred the following night. I might have been with
child two or three months. For thirteen days I was in great danger, as
it was suspected that a portion of the after-birth had remained behind.
This circumstance was kept a secret from me. At last, on the thirteenth
day, it came away of itself--without pain, or even a struggle. In
consequence of this accident I had to keep my room for six weeks, during
which the heat was insupportable. The Empress came to see me the day I
fell ill, and appeared to be affected by my state. During the six weeks
that I kept my room I was nearly tired to death. The only society I had
was Madame Tchoglokoff, who came but rarely, and a little Kalmuck girl,
whom I liked for her pretty, agreeable ways. I frequently cried from
ennui. As for the Grand Duke, he was mostly in his own room, where one
of his valets, a Ukrainian, named Karnovitch, a fool as well as a
drunkard, did his best to amuse him; furnishing him with toys, with
wine, and such other strong liquors as he could procure, without the
knowledge of M. Tchoglokoff, who, in fact, was deceived and made a fool
of by every one. But in these nocturnal and secret orgies with the
servants of the chamber, among whom were several young Kalmucks, the
Grand Duke often found himself ill-obeyed and ill-served; for, being
drunk, they knew not what they did, and forgot that they were with their
master, and that that master was the Grand Duke. Then his Imperial
Highness would have recourse to blows with his stick, or the blade of
his sword; but in spite of all this, he was ill-obeyed; and more than
once he had recourse to me, complaining of his people, and begging me to
make them listen to reason. On these occasions I used to go to his
rooms, give them a good scolding, and remind them of their duties, when
they would instantly resume their proper places. This made the Grand
Duke often say to me, and also to Bressan, that he could not conceive
how I managed those people; for, as for himself, though he belaboured
them soundly, yet he could not make them obedient, while I, with a
single word, could get them to do whatever I wished. One day when I went
for this purpose into the apartments of his Imperial Highness, I beheld
a great rat, which he had had hung--with all the paraphernalia of an
execution--in the middle of a cabinet, formed by means of a partition. I
asked him what all this meant. He told me that this rat had committed a
crime; one which, according to the laws of war, was deserving of capital
punishment; it had climbed over the ramparts of a fortress of cardboard
which he had on the table in his cabinet, and had eaten two sentinels,
made of pith, who were on duty at the bastions. He had had the criminal
tried by martial law, his setter having caught him, and he was
immediately hung, as I saw, and was to remain there exposed to the
public gaze for three days, as an example. I could not help bursting
into a loud laugh at the extreme folly of the thing; but this greatly
displeased him. Seeing the importance he attached to the matter, I
retired, excusing myself on account of my ignorance, as a woman, of
military law; but this did not prevent his being very much out of humour
with me on account of my laughter. In justification of the rat, however,
it may at least be said, that he was hung without having been questioned
or heard in his own defence.

During this stay of the court at Moscow, it happened that one of the
court footmen became insane, and violently so. The Empress gave orders
that her chief physician, Boërhave, should take charge of him. He was
placed in a chamber close to that of Boërhave, who resided at court.
Besides this case, it also happened that several other persons went out
of their mind this year. In proportion as these cases came under the
notice of the Empress, she had the persons brought to court and lodged
near Boërhave, so that they formed a sort of mad-house at court. I
remember that the principal persons among them was Tchedajeff, a major
of the Semenofsky guards; a Lieutenant-Colonel Lintrum; a Major
Tchoglokoff; a monk of the convent of Voskresensky, who emasculated
himself with a razor, and several others. The madness of Tchedajeff
consisted in his believing Nadir-Schah, otherwise Thamas-Kuli-Khan, the
usurper and tyrant of Persia, to be God. When the physicians could not
succeed in curing him of his delusion, they placed him in the hands of
the priests. These persuaded the Empress to have him exorcised. She
herself assisted at the ceremony; but Tchedajeff remained, to all
appearance, as mad as before. There were, however, people who had doubts
of his lunacy, as he was quite reasonable on every other point, but that
of Nadir-Schah; his friends even consulted him about their affairs, and
he gave them very sensible advice. Those who did not believe him mad,
gave as a reason for his affectation of madness his having had some
trouble on his hands, from which he extricated himself by this ruse. At
the beginning of the Empress' reign he had been supervisor of taxes, had
been accused of extortion, and was threatened with a trial, in dread of
which he took up this fancy, which extricated him from the difficulty.

In the middle of August, 1753, we returned to the country. To keep the
5th of September, the Feast of the Empress, she went to the convent of
Voskresensky. Whilst there, the church was struck with lightning;
fortunately her Imperial Majesty was in a chapel at the side of the
great church, and only learnt the fact through the terror of the
courtiers; however, there was no one either hurt or killed by the
accident. A little while afterwards she returned to Moscow, whither we
also repaired from Liberitza. Upon our return to the city, we saw the
Princess of Courland kiss the Empress' hand in public for the permission
which had been given her to marry Prince George Hovansky. She had
quarrelled with the object of her first engagement, Peter Soltikoff, who
immediately afterwards married a Princess Sonzoff. On the 1st of
November of this year, at three o'clock in the afternoon, I was in
Madame Tchoglokoff's room, when her husband, Serge Soltikoff, Leon
Narichkine, and several other gentlemen of the court, left us to go to
the apartments of the Chamberlain Schouvaloff, to congratulate him on
his birthday, which fell on that day. Madame Tchoglokoff, the Princess
Gagarine, and I were talking together, when, after hearing some noise in
a little chapel close by, a couple of these gentlemen ran in, telling us
that they had been prevented from passing through the halls of the
chateau, as it was on fire. I immediately went to my room, and, as I
passed through an ante-chamber, I saw that the balustrade at the corner
of the great hall was on fire. It was about twenty paces from our wing.
On entering my apartments, I found them already filled with soldiers and
servants, who were removing the furniture, and carrying off everything
they could. Madame Tchoglokoff followed me, and as there was nothing
more to be done but wait till it caught fire, we left. At the gate we
found the carriage of the chapel-master, Araga, who had come to attend a
concert given by the Grand Duke, whom I had already informed of the
accident. We entered the carriage: the streets were covered with mud, in
consequence of the previous heavy rains. Here we had a view of the fire
and of the way in which the people were carrying out the furniture from
every part of the house. I here saw a strange sight, viz: the
astonishing number of rats and mice which were descending the staircase
in file without over-much hurrying themselves. The want of engines
rendered it impossible to save this immense wooden structure, and,
besides, the few that were there were kept under the very staircase
which was on fire; this, too, occupied very nearly the centre of the
surrounding buildings, which covered a space of some two or three
verstes in circumference. The heat became so great that we could not
bear it, so that we were obliged to have the carriage driven some few
hundred paces outwards. At last M. Tchoglokoff and the Grand Duke came
and told us that the Empress was going to Pokrovsky House, and had given
orders that we should go to M. Tchoglokoff's, which formed the right
hand corner of the main street of the Sloboda. We at once repaired
thither. The house had a hall in the centre and four chambers on each
side. It was hardly possible to be more uncomfortable than we were here;
the wind blew in every direction, the windows and doors were all half
rotten, and the planks of the floor open to the breadth of three or four
inches; besides this, there was vermin everywhere. Here resided the
children and servants of M. Tchoglokoff. As we entered they were sent
out, and we were lodged in this horrible house, which was almost bare of

On the day after we took up our abode here, I saw what a Kalmuck's nose
could hold. The little girl whom I kept near me, on my waking, pointed
to her nose, and said, "I have a nut here." I felt her nose, but could
not find anything. All the morning, however, she kept repeating, over
and over again, that she had a nut in her nose. She was a child of from
four to five years old. No one could tell what she meant by a nut in
her nose. But about noon, as she was running along, she fell down, and
struck against the table. This made her cry; while crying, she took out
her pocket-handkerchief and wiped her nose, and in doing so the nut fell
from it. I saw this myself, and could then understand how a nut, which
could not be held in any European nose without being perceived, might be
held in the hollow of a Kalmuck nose, which is placed within the head
between two immense cheeks.

Our clothes, and everything else, had been left in the mud in front of
the burning palace, and were brought to us during the night and
following day. What I most regretted was my books. I was at this time
just finishing the fourth volume of Bayle's Dictionary: I had spent two
years in reading it, and got through a volume every six months. From
this one may judge of the solitude in which my life was passed. At last
my books were brought to me. My clothes were found, those of the
Countess Schouvaloff, etc. Madame Vladislava showed me, as a curiosity,
this lady's petticoats. They were lined behind with leather, as she was
unable to retain her water--an infirmity which had afflicted her ever
since her first accouchement. All her petticoats were impregnated with
the smell, and I sent them back in all haste to the owner. In this fire
the Empress lost all that had been brought to Moscow of her immense
wardrobe. She did me the honour of telling me that she had lost 4,000
dresses, and that of all these the only one that she regretted was the
one made from the piece of stuff which I had received from my mother.
She also lost, on this occasion, several other valuables; amongst them a
bowl covered with engraved stones, which Count Roumianzoff had purchased
at Constantinople, and for which he had paid 8,000 ducats. All those
effects had been placed in a wardrobe over the hall which had caught
fire. This hall served as a vestibule to the grand hall of the palace.
At ten o'clock in the morning, the men whose duty it was to light the
stoves had come to heat this entrance-hall. After putting the wood into
the stove, they lighted it as usual. This done, the room became filled
with smoke; they thought that it escaped by some imperceptible holes in
the stove, and set to work to cover with clay the interstices of the
tiles. The smoke increasing, they tried to find some chinks in the
stove, but not finding any, they perceived that the outlet must be
between the partitions of the apartment. These partitions were only of
wood. They got water, and put out the fire in the stove, but the smoke
still increased, and made its way into the ante-chamber, where there was
a sentinel of the horse-guards. The latter, expecting to be suffocated,
and not daring to move from his post, broke a pane of glass, and began
to cry out; but no one coming to his assistance, nor hearing him, he
fired his musket through the window. The report was heard by the main
guard, which was posted opposite the palace. They ran to him, and on
coming in, found the place filled with a dense smoke, out of which they
withdrew the sentinel. The stove heaters were put under arrest. They had
hoped to extinguish the fire, or at least prevent the smoke from
increasing without being obliged to give any alarm; and they had been
hard at work with this view for five hours.

This fire gave rise to a discovery on the part of M. Tchoglokoff. The
Grand Duke had in his apartments several very large chests of drawers.
As they were being carried out, some of the drawers, being either open
or badly fastened, disclosed to the spectators what they were filled
with. Who would have thought it? The drawers contained nothing but a
great quantity of bottles of wine and strong liquors. They served his
Imperial Highness for a cellar. Tchoglokoff spoke to me on the matter,
and I told him I was quite ignorant of the circumstance, which was the
truth; I knew nothing of it, but I was a frequent, indeed, almost a
daily witness of the Grand Duke's drunkenness.

After the fire we remained in Tchoglokoff's house for nearly six weeks.
While residing here, we often had to pass in front of a house, situated
in a garden near the Soltikoff Bridge. It belonged to the Empress, and
was called the Bishop's House, because she had bought it of a bishop.
The idea occurred to us of asking her Majesty, unknown to the
Tchoglokoffs, to allow us to occupy it, for it appeared to us, and we
were also told that it was, more habitable than the one we were in. We
received orders to go and take up our abode in the Bishop's House. It
was a very old wooden house, from which there was no view, but it was
built on stone vaults, and by this means was higher than the one we had
just quitted, which had only a ground floor. The stoves were so old,
that when lighted, one could see the fire through the furnace, so
numerous were the chinks and cracks, while the rooms were filled with
smoke. We all had headaches and sore eyes. In fact, we ran the risk of
being burnt alive in this house. There was only one wooden staircase,
and the windows were very high. The place actually did catch fire two or
three times while we were there, but we succeeded in extinguishing the
flames. I caught there a bad sore throat, with a great deal of fever.
The day I fell ill, M. de Breithardt, who had returned to Russia on the
part of the Austrian court, was to sup with us, previously to taking
leave. He found me with red and swollen eyes, and thought I had been
crying: nor was he mistaken: ennui, indisposition, and the physical and
moral discomforts of my position had given me much hypochondria. During
the whole day, which I passed with Madame Tchoglokoff, waiting for those
who never came, she kept saying every moment, "See how they desert us."
Her husband had dined out, and taken everybody with him. In spite of all
the promises which Serge Soltikoff had made us to steal away from this
dinner party, he only returned with M. Tchoglokoff. All this put me in a
very bad humour. At last, some days afterwards, we were allowed to go to
Liberitza. Here we thought ourselves in paradise; the house was quite
new, and tolerably well fitted up. We danced every evening, and all our
court was collected there. At one of these balls we saw the Grand Duke
occupied a long while in whispering to M. Tchoglokoff, who,
subsequently, appeared vexed, absent, and more close and scowling than
usual. Serge Soltikoff seeing this, and finding that Tchoglokoff treated
him with great coolness, went and sat down by the side of Mademoiselle
Martha Schafiroff, and tried to discover what could be the meaning of
this unusual intimacy between the Grand Duke and M. Tchoglokoff. She
told him that she did not know, but that the Grand Duke had on several
occasions said to her, "Serge Soltikoff and my wife deceive Tchoglokoff
in the most unheard-of way. He is in love with the Grand Duchess; but
she cannot endure him: Soltikoff is the confidant of Tchoglokoff, and
makes him believe that he is working for him with my wife, while instead
of that he is working for himself with her. She can very well endure
Soltikoff, for he is amusing: she makes use of him to manage Tchoglokoff
just as she pleases, and, in reality, she laughs at them both. I must
undeceive that poor devil Tchoglokoff, who excites my pity. I must tell
him the truth, and then he will see who is his true friend--my wife or
I." As soon as Soltikoff became aware of this dangerous dialogue, and of
his delicate position in consequence, he repeated it to me, and then
went and seated himself by the side of Tchoglokoff, and asked him what
was the matter with him. The latter at first was unwilling to enter into
any explanation, and merely sighed; then he began uttering jeremiads on
the difficulty of finding faithful friends. At last Soltikoff turned and
twisted him in so many different directions, that he drew from him an
avowal of the conversation which he had just had with the Grand Duke. No
one certainly could have formed any idea of what had passed between
them, without being told of it. The Grand Duke began by making great
protestations of friendship to Tchoglokoff, saying that it was only in
the most important circumstances of life that it was possible to
distinguish true friends from false; that to show the sincerity of his
own friendship, he was going to give him a very emphatic proof of his
frankness; that he knew, beyond doubt, that he was in love with me; that
he did not impute it to him as a crime that I should appear agreeable to
him, for that no one was master of his own heart; but that,
nevertheless, he ought to apprise him that he had made a bad choice of
confidants, and in his simplicity believed Serge Soltikoff to be his
friend, and working in his interest with me, whereas he was only working
for himself, and he suspected he was his rival; that, as for me, I
laughed at them both, but if M. Tchoglokoff would follow his advice and
trust in him then he would see that he was his only and true friend. M.
Tchoglokoff gave the Grand Duke many thanks for his friendship, and his
proffers of friendship; but in reality he considered all the rest as
mere chimeras and delusions on his part.

It may easily be believed that, in any case, he did not much wish for a
confidant who, both by his rank and character, was as little to be
trusted as he was able to be useful. This matter being once stated,
Soltikoff had but little trouble in restoring tranquillity to
Tchoglokoff's mind, for he was not in the habit of attaching much
importance nor paying much attention to the discourses of a person so
devoid of judgment, and so generally known to be so. When I learnt all
this, I must confess I was extremely indignant with the Grand Duke, and,
to prevent his returning to the subject, I told him that I was not
ignorant of what had passed between him and Tchoglokoff. He blushed,
said nothing, went off, sulked, and so the matter ended.

On returning to Moscow, we left the Bishop's House for apartments in
what was called the Empress' Summer House, which had not been burnt. The
Empress had had new apartments constructed in the space of six weeks.
For this purpose beams had been transported from Perova House, from
Count Hendrikoff's, and from the dwelling of the Princes of Georgia. At
last she took possession of these rooms about the beginning of the new


The Empress kept the new-year's day of 1754 in this palace, and the
Grand Duke and I had the honour of dining with her in public on the
throne. At table, her majesty seemed very lively and talkative. Around
the throne, tables were laid for several hundred persons of the highest
rank. At dinner the Empress asked who was that thin and ugly woman, with
a crane's neck, whom she saw seated there (pointing to the place); she
was told it was Mademoiselle Martha Schafiroff. She burst into a laugh,
and, turning to me, remarked that this reminded her of a Russian
proverb, which said, "A long neck is only good for hanging." I could not
but smile at the point of this imperial sarcasm, which did not fall
unheeded, for the courtiers passed it on from mouth to mouth, so that on
rising from table, I found several persons who already knew of it.
Whether the Grand Duke heard it, I know not, but at all events he did
not allude to it, and I took care not to mention it to him.

Never was a year more fertile in fires than that of 1753-54. I have
several times seen, from the windows of my apartments in the Summer
Palace, two, three, four, and even five fires at once in different parts
of Moscow. During the Carnival, the Empress gave orders for several
balls and masquerades to be given in her apartments, at one of which I
saw her engaged in a long conversation with the wife of General
Matiouchkine. This lady was unwilling that her son should marry the
Princess Gagarine. But the Empress persuaded her, and the Princess
Gagarine, who numbered a good thirty years, had permission to marry M.
Dmitri Matiouchkine. She was much pleased at this, and so was I. It was
a marriage of inclination. Matiouchkine was at this time very handsome.
Madame Tchoglokoff did not come with us to our summer apartments. Under
different pretexts she remained, with her children, in her own house,
which was very near the court. But the truth is, that, virtuous and
loving wife as she was, she had conceived a passion for Prince Peter
Repnine, and a marked aversion for her husband. She thought she could
not be happy without a confidant, and I appeared to her the most
trustworthy person. She showed me all the letters she received from her
lover. I kept her secret faithfully, with scrupulous exactitude and
prudence. Her interviews with the Prince were very secret; yet in spite
of this the husband had some suspicions. An officer of the horse-guards
named Kaminine, had given rise to them. This man was jealousy and
suspicion personified: it was his nature. He was an old friend of
Tchoglokoff. The latter opened his mind to Serge Soltikoff, who
endeavoured to tranquillize him. I was careful not to tell Soltikoff
anything I knew, for fear of some involuntary indiscretion on his part.
At last the husband also sounded me a little. I pretended ignorance and
astonishment, and held my tongue.

In the month of February I had some signs of pregnancy. On Easter
Sunday, during mass, Tchoglokoff fell ill of the dry cholic; they gave
him various remedies, but his disease only grew worse. During Easter
week, the Grand Duke, with the gentlemen of our court, went out riding.
Serge Soltikoff was of the number. I remained at home, for they were
afraid to let me go out in my present condition, especially as I had
twice miscarried. I was alone in my room when M. Tchoglokoff sent me a
request to come to him. I went, and found him in bed. He made a thousand
complaints of his wife; told me she saw Prince Repnine; that he went to
her house on foot; that, during the Carnival, he had gone there, one
courtball day, dressed as a harlequin; that Kaminine had had him
followed; in short, God only knows all the details he gave me.

Just as he was most excited, his wife arrived; whereupon he began, in my
presence, to load her with reproaches, telling her that she deserted him
in his sickness. They were both very suspicious and narrow-minded. I was
nearly frightened to death lest his wife should suspect that it was I
who had betrayed her, from the mass of details which he then went into
relative to her interviews. His wife, on the other hand, told him that
it was not strange if she punished him for his conduct towards her; that
neither he, nor any one else, could reproach her with having ever until
now failed in her duty towards him in any respect; and she ended with
saying that it ill became him to complain. Both appealed continually to
me as a witness of what they said. I held my tongue, fearing to offend
the one or the other, or compromise myself: my face was burning from
apprehension. I was alone with them. When the quarrel was at its
highest, Madame Vladislava came in to tell me that the Empress had just
entered my room. I ran back immediately. Madame Tchoglokoff left at the
same time, but, instead of following me, she stopped in a corridor,
where there was a staircase leading into the garden, and there, as I was
afterwards told, she sat down. As for myself, I reached my room quite
out of breath, and found the Empress there. As she saw that I was out of
breath and rather red, she asked where I had been. I told her that I was
just come from the apartments of M. Tchoglokoff, who was ill, and that I
had run in order to get back as quickly as possible, having been
informed that she had condescended to come to my rooms. She did not ask
me any more questions, but seemed to me to be dwelling upon what I had
said, as if it appeared strange to her. Nevertheless, she continued
speaking to me. She did not ask where the Grand Duke was, for she knew
he had gone out. Neither he nor I, during the whole of her reign, dared
to go out in the city or leave the house, without first sending to ask
her permission. Madame Vladislava was in the room: the Empress addressed
her several times, then spoke to me, and always of indifferent matters:
finally, after a visit of nearly half an hour, she went away, saying
that, in consequence of my pregnancy, she would dispense with my
appearing on the 21st and 25th of April. I was surprised that Madame
Tchoglokoff had not followed. When the Empress had gone, I asked Madame
Vladislava what had become of her. She informed me that she had sat down
on the stairs, and burst into tears. Upon the return of the Grand Duke,
I recounted to Serge Soltikoff what had occurred during their absence;
how Tchoglokoff had sent for me; my alarm at what had been said between
the husband and wife, and the visit which the Empress had paid me. His
answer was: "If that be the case, I am of opinion that the Empress must
have come to see what you do in the absence of your husband; and, in
order that it may be seen that you are perfectly alone, both in your own
apartments and in those of the Tchoglokoffs, I will be off, and take all
my comrades to the house of Ivan Schouvaloff, just as we are,
bespattered with mud up to our eyes." And, in fact, when the Grand Duke
retired, he went off with all those who had been riding with his
Imperial Highness to Ivan Schouvaloff, who had apartments at the court.
When they arrived there, Schouvaloff asked them questions about their
ride, and Soltikoff told me afterwards that, from these questions, it
seemed to him that he had been correct in his inference.

From this day the illness of Tchoglokoff grew worse and worse. On the
21st of April--my birth-day--the physicians pronounced him beyond hope
of recovery. The Empress was informed of this, and gave orders (as she
was accustomed to do) that he should be carried to his own house, in
order that he might not die at court, for she was afraid of the dead. I
was very much grieved on learning his condition. He died at the very
time when, after many years of trouble and pain, we had succeeded in
rendering him not only less ill-natured and mischievous, but even
tractable, and when, by dint of studying his character, we had acquired
the power of managing him as we pleased. As for his wife, she at this
time loved me sincerely, and, from a harsh and spiteful Argus, had
become a firm and attached friend. Tchoglokoff, after his removal to his
own house, lived until the afternoon of the 25th of April, the day of
the Empress' coronation, when he died. I was immediately informed of the
event, as I kept constantly sending to his house. I was truly sorry for
him, and wept a good deal. His wife, too, was confined to her bed during
the last days of her husband's illness; he was at one side of the house,
she in the other. Serge Soltikoff and Leon Narichkine happened to be in
her room at the moment of her husband's death; the windows being open, a
bird flew into the room, and alighted on the cornice of the ceiling,
right opposite to Madame Tchoglokoff's bed. Upon seeing this, she said,
"I am certain that my husband has just breathed his last; send and ask
how he is." She was informed that he was really dead. She said that that
bird was the soul of her husband. They tried to prove to her that the
bird was an ordinary bird; but then it could not be found. They said it
had flown away, but as no one had seen it, she remained convinced that
it was the soul of her husband who had come to find her.

As soon as the funeral was over, Madame Tchoglokoff wished to come to my
rooms. The Empress seeing her passing along the Yaousa bridge, sent her
word that she would dispense with her attendance on me, and that she
might return to her own house. Her Imperial Majesty took it ill that, as
a widow, she should have gone out so soon. The same day she named M.
Alexander Ivanovitch Schouvaloff to discharge the duties of the late M.
Tchoglokoff in the Grand Duke's court. Now this M. Schouvaloff, not so
much on his own account as from the place he held, was the terror of the
court, the city, and the whole empire. He was the chief of the tribunal
of the state inquisition, which was then called the Secret Chancery. His
functions, it was said, had given him a sort of convulsive movement,
which seized the whole of the right side of his face from the eye to the
jaw, whenever he was affected either with joy, anger, fear, or anxiety.
It was astonishing that such a man, with so hideous a grimace, should
ever have been chosen for a post which placed him continually in the
presence of a pregnant young woman. Had I been delivered of an infant
having that same wretched twitch, I think the Empress would have been
greatly vexed, and this might have happened, seeing him as I did
constantly, never with my own wish, and, for the greater part of the
time, with a shudder of involuntary repugnance, on account of his
personal appearance, his connections, and his office, by which, as may
easily be imagined, the pleasure of his society was not likely to be
augmented. But this was only a beginning of the "good times" they were
preparing for us, and especially for me. The next morning I was informed
that the Empress was going to place with me again the Countess
Roumianzoff. I knew that she was the sworn enemy of Serge Soltikoff,
that she bore no love to the Princess Gagarine, and that she had greatly
injured my mother in the estimation of the Empress. The moment I became
aware of this arrangement, I lost all patience. I wept bitterly, and
told Count Schouvaloff that if the Countess Roumianzoff was placed with
me I should look upon it as a great misfortune; that this lady had
already injured my mother, had blackened her in the eyes of the Empress,
and that now she would do the same with me; that she was feared as a
pest when she was formerly in our suite, and that there would be many
rendered miserable by the arrangement if he could not find means to
prevent it. He promised to do what he could, and tried to tranquillize
me. As, in my situation, he dreaded the effect of such excitement, he
went at once to the Empress, and on his return told me that he hoped the
Countess Roumianzoff would not be placed about my person. And, in fact,
I heard no more of the matter, and nothing was now thought of but our
departure for St. Petersburg. It was settled that we should be
twenty-nine days on the road; that is to say, that we should only travel
one post-station each day. I was frightened to death lest Serge
Soltikoff and Leon Narichkine should be left behind at Moscow; but I
know not how it was, they had the condescension to inscribe their names
in the list of our suite.

At last, on the 10th, or the 11th, we set out from the palace of Moscow.
I was in a carriage with the wife of Count Alexander Schouvaloff, the
most tiresome woman that it is possible to imagine. Madame Vladislava,
and the midwife, whom, as I was pregnant, they said I could not do
without, were with us. I was tired to death in that carriage, and did
nothing but cry. At last, the Princess Gagarine, who personally disliked
the Countess Schouvaloff, because her daughter, who was married to
Golofkine, a cousin of the Princess, made herself disagreeable to the
relatives of her husband, seized a moment when she could get near me to
say that she was working hard to make Madame Vladislava favourable to
me, as she feared, as did every one else, that the hypochondria which my
condition produced might do me harm, as well as injure my child.
Soltikoff, she said, dared not come near me, because of the restraint
and constant presence of the Schouvaloffs, both husband and wife. She
did, in fact, succeed in getting Madame Vladislava to listen to reason,
and condescend so far as to mitigate a little the state of perpetual
annoyance and restraint which gave rise to this hypochondria which I
found it impossible to control. All I wanted was the merest trifle--only
a few moments of conversation. At last she succeeded. After this tedious
journey of twenty-nine days, we reached St. Petersburg and the Summer
Palace. The Grand Duke at once re-established his concerts. This gave me
sometimes the opportunity of a little conversation; but my hypochondria
had become such that at every moment, and at every word, my eyes filled
with tears, and my mind was disturbed with apprehensions; in a word, I
could not get it out of my head that everything tended to the removal of
Serge Soltikoff.

We went to Peterhoff. I walked a great deal, but in spite of this my
melancholy followed me. In the month of August we returned to the city,
to occupy again the Summer Palace. It was a death-blow to me when I
learned that, for my accouchement, they were preparing apartments close
to, and forming part of those belonging to the Empress. Alexander
Schouvaloff took me to see them; I found two rooms, gloomy, and with
only one issue, like all those of the Summer Palace; the hangings were
of ugly crimson damask, there was scarcely any furniture, and no kind of
convenience. I saw that I should be isolated there, without any sort of
company, and thoroughly wretched. I said so to Soltikoff and to the
Princess Gagarine, who, though they bore no love to each other, had
nevertheless a point of union in their friendship for me. They saw the
matter as I did, but it was impossible to remedy it. I was to go on the
Wednesday to these apartments, which were far removed from those of the
Grand Duke. I went to bed on Tuesday evening, and in the night awoke
with labour-pains. I called Madame Vladislava, who went to fetch the
midwife. She pronounced that I was in labour. The Grand Duke, who was
sleeping in his own room, was awakened, as also Count Alexander
Schouvaloff. The latter sent word to the Empress, who was not long in
coming. It was about two o'clock in the morning. I was very ill. At
last, towards noon the next day, the 20th September, I gave birth to a
son. As soon as it was dressed the Empress called in her confessor, who
gave the child the name of Paul, after which the Empress immediately
bade the midwife take the child up and follow her. I remained on the bed
on which I had been confined. Now this bed was placed opposite a door
through which I could see the light; behind me were two large windows
which did not close properly, and on the right and left of this bed were
two doors, one of which opened into my dressing-room, and the other into
the room in which Madame Vladislava slept. As soon as the Empress left,
the Grand Duke also went away, as likewise did M. and Madame
Schouvaloff, and I saw no one again until three o'clock in the
afternoon. I had perspired a great deal, and begged Madame Vladislava to
change my linen, and put me into my own bed, but she told me that she
dared not. She sent several times to call the midwife, who, however, did
not come. I asked for something to drink, but still received the same
answer. At last, after three hours, the Countess Schouvaloff arrived,
very elaborately dressed. When she saw me lying just where she had left
me, she was very angry, and said it was enough to kill me. This was very
consolatory, certainly. I had been in tears from the time of my
delivery, pained by the neglect in which I was left, after a severe
labour; uncomfortably accommodated, lying between doors and windows,
which did not shut close, no one daring to lift me into my bed, which
was not two paces off, and to which I had not the strength to crawl.
Madame Schouvaloff departed immediately, and went, I think, to fetch the
midwife; for the latter came in about half an hour afterwards, and told
us that the Empress was so taken up with the child that she would not
let her go away for a moment. As for me no one gave me a thought. This
forgetfulness or neglect was not at all flattering. I was dying of
thirst. At last they placed me on my bed, and I did not see a living
soul for the rest of the day, nor did any one send even to ask after me.
The Grand Duke, for his part, did nothing but drink with all he could
find, and the Empress was taken up with the child. In the city and
throughout the empire the joy at this event was great. The next day I
began to feel an excruciating rheumatic pain, from the hip down the
thigh and left leg. This pain prevented me from sleeping, and this
brought on a violent fever. In spite of all this, the attentions I
received next day were just of the same character. I saw no one, and no
one inquired after me. The Grand Duke, indeed, did come into my room for
a moment, and then went away, saying, that he had not time to stop. I
did nothing but weep and moan in my bed. Nobody was in my room but
Madame Vladislava; in her heart she was sorry for me, but she had not
the power to remedy this state of things. Besides, I never liked to be
pitied nor to complain. I had too proud a spirit for that, and the very
idea of being unhappy, was insupportable to me. Hitherto I had done
whatever I could not to appear so. I might have seen Count Alexander
Schouvaloff and his wife, but they were such insipid and tiresome people
that I was always delighted when they were not present. On the third day
a messenger came from the Empress to Madame Vladislava to ask if a blue
satin mantelet which her Imperial Majesty had worn on the day of my
accouchement, had been left in my room. Madame Vladislava searched for
it everywhere in my rooms, and it was at last found in a corner of my
dressing-room, where it had not been noticed, as, since my confinement,
that room had seldom been entered. Having found it, she sent it off
immediately. This mantelet, as we afterwards learned, gave rise to a
somewhat singular occurrence. The Empress had no fixed hours either for
going to bed or getting up, for dinner, supper nor dressing. On one of
those three days she was lying, after dinner on a sofa on which she had
placed a mattress and pillows. While there, feeling cold, she asked for
this mantelet. It was sought for everywhere, but could not be found, as
it had been left in my room. The Empress then ordered that it should be
looked for under the pillows of her bed, believing that it would be
found there. The sister of Madame Krause, the Empress' favourite lady's
maid, passed her hand under the bolster of her Majesty's bed and drew it
back, saying, that there was no mantle there, but there was a packet of
hair there, or something like it, she did not know what. The Empress
immediately rose from her place, and had the mattress and the pillows
taken up, and under them was found, to their no small astonishment, a
paper in which was some hair twisted round the roots of some herbs. Upon
this her Majesty's maids, and the Empress herself, said that assuredly
it was some charm or witchcraft, and every one began guessing who it
could be that had the hardihood to place the packet under the Empress'
pillow. Suspicion lighted on one of those most in the favour of her
Imperial Majesty. She was known by the name of Anna Dmitrevna
Doumacheva. Not long since she had become a widow, and had married a
second time a valet de chambre in the service of the Empress. The
Schouvaloffs did not like this woman, who was in their way, as well by
the esteem in which she was held as by the confidence reposed in her by
the Empress ever since her youth. She was quite capable of playing them
some trick which might diminish their influence. As they were not
without their partisans, these began to view the matter in a criminal
light; to this view the Empress was of herself sufficiently disposed,
since she believed in charms and sorcery. Consequently, she gave orders
to Count Alexander Schouvaloff to have the woman arrested, together with
her husband and her two sons, one of whom was an officer of the guards,
and the other a page of the chamber to her Majesty. Her husband, two
days after his arrest, asked for a razor to shave with, and cut his
throat with it. As for the wife and her two children, they were a long
time under arrest, and she confessed that, with a view to prolong the
Empress' favour, she had made use of charms, and had on Holy Thursday
put some grains of burnt salt into a glass of Hungarian wine, which she
had presented to the Empress. The affair was concluded by banishing the
woman and her two sons to Moscow. A rumour was afterwards set afloat
that a fainting fit, which the Empress had a little time before my
accouchement, was caused by the drink which this woman had given to her.
It is certain, however, that she never gave her more than two or three
grains of burnt salt, which most assuredly could never have hurt her.
In all this there was nothing reprehensible, but the woman's rashness
and superstition.

At last the Grand Duke, growing weary of his evenings passed without my
ladies of honour, came and proposed to spend an evening in my room. At
this time he was courting the very ugliest of these ladies, Elizabeth
Voronzoff. On the sixth day my son's baptism took place. He had already
come near dying of the thrush. It was only by stealth that I could get
any account of him; for to have inquired about him would have passed for
a doubt of the Empress' care, and would have been very ill received.
Besides, she had taken him into her own room, and whenever he cried she
herself would run to him, and, through excess of care, they were
literally stifling him. He was kept in a room extremely warm, wrapped up
in flannel, and laid in a cradle, lined with black fox furs; over him
was a coverlet of quilted satin, lined with wadding, and above this one
of rose-coloured velvet, lined with black fox skins. I saw him myself,
many times afterwards, lying in this style, the perspiration running
from his face and whole body, and hence it was that, when older, the
least breath of air that reached him chilled him and made him ill.
Besides, he had in attendance on him a great number of aged matrons who,
by their ill-judged cares, and their want of common sense, did him
infinitely more harm than good, both physically and morally.

On the day of his baptism, after the ceremony, the Empress came into my
room, and brought me, on a golden salver, an order on her cabinet for
100,000 roubles. She had added to it a small casket, which I did not
open until she was gone. This money came very seasonably, for I had not
a sous, and was heavily in debt. As for the casket, when I opened it, I
was not greatly dazzled; it contained only a very poor necklace, with
ear-rings and two wretched rings, such as I should have been ashamed to
give to my maids. In the whole case there was not a jewel worth 100
roubles; neither was the taste nor workmanship any better. I said
nothing, but locked up the imperial casket. It would seem that the
meanness of the present was felt, for Count Alexander Schouvaloff was
ordered to inquire how I liked the jewel-case. I replied, that whatever
came from the hands of the Empress was always of inestimable value in my
eyes. With that compliment he went away apparently well pleased. He
returned to the charge when he saw that I never wore this beautiful
necklace, and especially those miserable ear-rings, telling me to put
them on. I said that on the Empress' fêtes I was accustomed to wear the
most beautiful things I possessed, and that this necklace and ear-rings
did not come within that category.

Four or five days after the money ordered by the Empress was brought to
me, Baron Tcherkassoff, her secretary of the cabinet, sent to beg of me,
for Heaven's sake, to lend it again to the cabinet, because the Empress
had asked for money, and there was not a sou left. I sent it back to
him, and he repaid me in the month of January. The Grand Duke having
heard of the present made me by the Empress, got into a terrible passion
because nothing had been given to him. He complained vehemently to Count
Alexander Schouvaloff. The latter told the Empress, who immediately sent
the Duke an order for a similar sum, and it was to meet this demand that
my money was borrowed. The truth is, the Schouvaloffs were very timid,
and it was by this weakness that they were to be led; but this trait had
not then been discovered.

After my son's baptism, there were fêtes, balls, illuminations, and
fireworks at court. As for me, I was all the while in bed, ill, and
suffering dreadfully from _ennui_. At last they chose the seventeenth
day after my confinement to announce to me two pieces of agreeable news
at once. First of all, that Serge Soltikoff had been selected to carry
the news of the birth of my son to Sweden; secondly, that the marriage
of the Princess Gagarine was fixed for the following week; that is to
say, in plain language, that I was about to be deprived, almost
immediately, of the two persons I most liked of all who were about me. I
buried myself more than ever in my bed, where I did nothing but grieve.
In order to be able to keep to it, I pretended an increase of the pains
in my thigh, which prevented my getting up; but the truth was, I neither
could nor would see anybody, I felt so miserable.

During my confinement, the Grand Duke had also a great affliction, for
he learned from Count Alexander Schouvaloff, that one of his old
huntsmen, named Bastien, whom the Empress a few years before had ordered
to marry Mademoiselle Schenck, my old lady's-maid, had come to give
information of his having heard, from some one or other, that Bressan
wished to give something or other to the Duke to drink. Now this Bastien
was a great scoundrel and drunkard, who from time to time used to drink
with his Imperial Highness, and having quarrelled with Bressan, whom he
supposed to stand higher in the Duke's favour than himself, thought to
do him an ill turn. The Duke was fond of them both. Bastien was sent to
the fortress; Bressan expected to be sent there also, but escaped with
nothing worse than the fright. The huntsman was banished the country,
and sent to Holstein with his wife, while Bressan retained his place
because he served as a general spy. Serge Soltikoff, after some delays,
occasioned by the usual dilatoriness of the Empress in signing papers,
at last took his departure. The Princess Gagarine, in the meanwhile, was
married at the time fixed.

When the forty days of my confinement were over, the Empress, on
occasion of the churching, came a second time into my chamber. I had
risen from my bed to receive her, but she saw that I was so weak and
exhausted, that she made me sit down during the prayers which were read
by her confessor. My child was brought into the room; it was the first
time I had seen him since his birth. I thought him very pretty, and the
sight of him raised my spirits a little; but the moment the prayers were
finished, the Empress had him carried away, and then left me. The 1st of
November was fixed by her Majesty for my receiving the customary
felicitations after the six weeks of my confinement. For this purpose,
the room next to mine was magnificently fitted up, and there, seated on
a couch of rose-colored velvet, embroidered with silver, everyone came
to kiss my hand. The Empress came also, and from my apartments she went
to the Winter Palace, and we received orders to follow her two or three
days after. We were lodged in the apartments formerly occupied by my
mother, and which properly formed a part of Yagoujisky House, and half
of Ragousinsky House; the other half being occupied by the Department of
Foreign Affairs. The Winter Palace was at this time in course of
erection near the great Square.

I passed from the Summer to the Winter Palace, with the firm resolution
of not quitting my room as long as I did not feel myself strong enough
to conquer my hypochondria. I read at this period the history of
Germany, and the Universal History of Voltaire. After these I read,
during this winter, as many Russian works as I could procure; among
others two immense volumes of Baronius, translated into Russian; next I
lit upon the Esprit des Lois of Montesquieu, after which I read the
annals of Tacitus, which caused a singular revolution in my brain, to
which, perhaps, the melancholy cast of my thoughts at this period
contributed not a little. I began to take gloomier views of things, and
to look for more hidden and interested motives in the occurrences around
me. I gathered all my strength in order to be able to go out at
Christmas, and, in fact, I was present at divine service; but while at
church I was seized with a shivering and with pains all over my body, so
that upon my return home I undressed and went to bed, my bed being
merely a pallet, which I had placed before a blocked-up door, through
which it seemed to me that no draughts could come, as in addition to a
curtain lined with woollen cloth, there was also before it a large
screen; but yet I believe it was the cause of all the colds which
afflicted me this winter. The day after Christmas, the violence of the
fever was so great that I became delirious. When I shut my eyes I saw
nothing but the ill-drawn figures of the tiles of the stove, which was
at the foot of my pallet, the room being small and narrow. As to my
bed-room, I never went into it at all, for it was very cold, as the
windows, on two sides, looked out upon the Neva, towards the east and
north. A second reason which banished me from it, was the proximity of
the Grand Duke's apartments, where all day long, and for a part of the
night, there was a noise and racket just like that of a guard-house.
Besides this, as he and all his associates smoked a great deal, the
disagreeable smoke and smell of tobacco was perceptible there. I
remained, therefore, all the winter in this poor little narrow chamber,
which had two windows and a pier between them, so that, in all, the area
may have been seven or eight archines in length, by four in breadth,
with three doors.


Thus commenced the year 1755. From Christmas-day to Lent there was
nothing but fêtes in the city and the court. It was still, in every
case, in honour of the birth of my son that they were given. Every one
in turn vied with his neighbour--all eager to give the most splendid
dinners, balls, masquerades, illuminations, and fireworks. Under the
plea of illness, I did not assist at any of them.

Towards the end of Lent, Serge Soltikoff returned from Sweden. During
his absence, the High Chancellor, Count Bestoujeff, sent me all the news
he received of him, as well as the despatches of Count Panine, at that
time Envoy of Russia to the Swedish Court. They reached me through
Madame Vladislava, who received them from her step-son, chief clerk to
the High Chancellor, and I sent them back by the same way. I further
learned by the same channel, that it was decided that on his return
Soltikoff should be sent to Hamburg as resident minister of Russia, in
place of Prince Alexander Galitzine, who was appointed to the army. This
new arrangement did not diminish my sadness.

On his arrival, Serge Soltikoff requested me, through Leon Narichkine,
to let him know if there was any possibility of his coming to see me. I
spoke to Madame Vladislava, who consented to our interview. He was to
come to her rooms, and thence to mine. I waited for him until three
o'clock in the morning, and was in deadly anxiety as to what could have
prevented his coming. I learned next day that he had been enticed by
Count Roman Voronzoff into a lodge of Free Masons, and he pretended that
he could not get away without giving rise to suspicions. But I
questioned and cross-questioned Leon Narichkine to such a degree, that I
saw as clear as the day that he had failed in his engagement from
carelessness and want of interest, regardless of all I had so long
suffered solely from my attachment to him. Leon Narichkine himself,
although his friend, did not offer much, if any excuse for him. To tell
the truth, I was greatly annoyed, and wrote him a letter, in which I
complained bitterly of his indifference. He answered it, and came to see
me. He had little difficulty in appeasing me, for I was only too well
disposed to accept his apologies. He recommended me to go into public: I
followed his advice, and made my appearance on the 10th of February, the
birthday of the Grand Duke, as well as Shrove Tuesday. I had prepared
for the occasion a superb dress of blue velvet, embroidered with gold.
As during my solitude, I had thought a great deal, I now determined
that, as far as depended on myself, I would make those who had
occasioned me so many and such various annoyances, feel that I was not
to be offended with impunity, and that it was not by ill-treatment they
could hope to gain either my affection or approbation. In consequence, I
neglected no opportunity of proving to the Schouvaloffs my feelings
towards them. I treated them with profound contempt, pointed out to
others their stupidity and ill-nature, turned them into ridicule
wherever I could, and had always some sarcasm ready to fling at them,
which afterwards flew through the city, and gratified malignity at their
expense: in a word, I took my revenge upon them in every way I could
think of, and, in their presence, never failed to distinguish, by my
attentions, those whom they disliked. As there were a great many people
who hated them, I was never at a loss for subjects. The Counts
Rasoumowsky, whom I had always liked, were caressed more than ever. I
redoubled my politeness and attention to every one except the
Schouvaloffs. In a word, I drew myself up, and, with head erect, stood
forth rather like the chief of a great party than a person humbled and
oppressed. The Schouvaloffs knew not what to make of me. They took
counsel, and had recourse to the tricks and intrigues of courtiers. At
this time there appeared in Russia, one Brockdorf, a gentleman from
Holstein, who, on a former visit, had been sent back over the frontiers,
by the party then in power, Brummer and Berkholz, because he was known
to be an intriguer, and a person of very bad character. This man came on
the scene quite opportunely for the Schouvaloffs. As he had a key, as
Chamberlain to the Grand Duke, in his character of Duke of Holstein,
this gave him the _entrée_ to his Imperial Highness, who, moreover, was
favourably disposed towards every fool who came from that country.
Brockdorf gained an introduction to Count Peter Schouvaloff, in the
following manner: In the inn where he lodged, he formed the acquaintance
of a man who never left the inns of St. Petersburg unless it were to
visit three young and rather pretty German girls, named Reifenstein, one
of whom enjoyed a pension allowed her by Count Peter Schouvaloff. This
man was called Braun; he was a kind of agent for all sorts of matters.
He introduced Brockdorf at the house of these girls, where he formed the
acquaintance of Count Peter Schouvaloff. The latter made great
protestations of affection for the Grand Duke, and by degrees complained
of me. All this M. Brockdorf reported to the Grand Duke, at the first
opportunity, and they stirred him up until he determined, as he
expressed it, to bring his wife to her senses. With this view, his
Imperial Highness came into my room one day after dinner, and told me
that I was becoming intolerably proud, but that he would bring me to my
senses. I asked him in what my pride consisted. He answered that I held
myself very erect. I asked whether, in order to please him, I must stoop
like the slaves of the Grand Seignior. He got angry, and said, he knew
how to bring me to reason. I inquired how this was to be done. Thereupon
he placed his back against the wall, and half unsheathing his sword,
showed it to me. I asked what he meant by that, for if he meant to fight
me, why then I must have one too. He replaced his half-drawn sword in
the scabbard, and told me that I had become dreadfully spiteful. "In
what respect?" I said. He replied, with a stammer, "Why, to the
Schouvaloffs." To this I answered that it was only tit for tat, and that
he had better not meddle with matters which he knew nothing about, and
could not understand. Upon this he exclaimed, "See what it is not to
trust one's true friends; one suffers for it. If you had confided in me,
it would have been well for you." "But in what should I have confided in
you?" I said. Then he began talking in a manner so utterly extravagant,
that finding it useless to reason with him, I let him go on without
interruption, and seized a favourable moment to advise him to go to bed,
for I saw clearly that wine had disturbed his reason and stupefied what
little sense he naturally possessed. He followed my advice, and retired.
At this time he began to have always about him an odour of wine mingled
with that of tobacco, which was really insupportable to all who came
close to him. The same evening, while I was playing at cards, Count
Alexander Schouvaloff came to me to signify, on behalf of the Empress,
that she had forbidden the ladies to use in their dress certain articles
of ornament specified in the announcement. To show him how far his
Imperial Highness had corrected me, I laughed at him to his face, and
told him he might have saved himself the trouble of notifying the order
to me, since I never wore any ornaments which were displeasing to her
Imperial Majesty; and that, besides, I did not make my merit consist in
beauty nor in ornament, for that when the one had faded, the other was
ridiculous, and that there was nothing permanent but character. He
listened to this to the end, winking his right eye, as was his custom,
and then went off with his grimaces. I called the attention of those who
were with me to this peculiarity, which I mimicked, making every one
laugh. A few days afterwards the Grand Duke told me he wished to ask the
Empress for money for his affairs in Holstein, which were getting worse
and worse every day, and that Brockdorf had advised him to do so. I saw
very clearly that they were but holding out a bait to him, to make him
hope for this money through the intervention of the Schouvaloffs. I
asked if there was no means of managing without it. He said he would
show me the representations which had been made to him from Holstein, on
that head. He did so, and after perusing the papers which he laid before
me, I said that it seemed to me he might manage without going begging to
his aunt, who, besides, might refuse him, as she had given him, not six
months ago, 100,000 roubles. However he kept to his own opinion, and I
to mine. For a long time he was buoyed up with hopes, but in the end he
got nothing.

After Easter we went to Oranienbaum. Before we set off, the Empress
allowed me to see my son for the third time since his birth. It was
necessary to go through all the apartments of her Imperial Majesty to
get to his chamber, where I found him in a stifling heat, as I have
already mentioned. On reaching the country we witnessed a phenomenon.
His Imperial Highness--though his Holstein subjects were continually
preaching to him of a deficit, while everybody was advising him to
diminish his useless retinue, which, after all, he could only see by
stealth and piecemeal--suddenly took the daring resolution of bringing
over an entire detachment. This again was a contrivance of that wretch
Brockdorf, who flattered the ruling passion of the Prince. To the
Schouvaloffs he represented that, by conniving at this hobby, they would
for ever ensure his favour, make him wholly theirs, and be certain of
his approbation in whatever they undertook. From the Empress, who
detested Holstein, and all that came from it, who had seen how similar
military crotchets had ruined the Grand Duke's father, the Duke Charles
Frederick, in the opinion of Peter I. and of the Russian public, it
would seem that the matter was so far concealed as to be represented to
her as a mere trifle, not worth speaking of; while, besides, the mere
presence of Count Schouvaloff was sufficient to prevent the affair from
assuming any consequence. Having embarked at Kiel, the detachment landed
at Cronstadt, and then marched to Oranienbaum. The Grand Duke, who in
Tchoglokoff's time had never worn the Holstein uniform, except in his
own room, and by stealth, as it were, now wore no other, except on court
days, although he was lieutenant-colonel of the Preobrajensky regiment,
and had besides a regiment of cuirassiers in Russia. From me, the Grand
Duke, by Brockdorf's advice, kept the transport of these troops a great
secret. I own that when I became aware of it, I shuddered at the
injurious effect which such a proceeding could not fail to have on the
minds of the Russian people, as well as in the opinion of the Empress,
of whose sentiments I was not at all ignorant. M. Alexander Schouvaloff
saw the detachment defile before the balcony at Oranienbaum, winking all
the while: I was by his side. In his heart he disapproved of what he and
his relations had agreed to tolerate. The guard of the Château of
Oranienbaum belonged to the regiment of Inguermanie, which alternated
with that of Astracan. I was informed that, when they saw the Holstein
troops pass, they muttered, "Those cursed Germans are all sold to the
King of Prussia; it is so many traitors they are bringing into Russia."
Generally speaking, the public was shocked at the apparition; the more
earnest shrugged their shoulders, the more moderate looked upon it as
simply ridiculous; in reality, it was a childish freak, but a very
imprudent one. As for me, I was silent, though, when the matter was
mentioned to me, I spoke my mind in such a manner as to show that I in
no way approved of a proceeding which, under every point of view, could
not but be injurious to the Grand Duke's interests. In fact, how was it
possible to arrive at any other conclusion? His mere pleasure could not
compensate for the injury which such a proceeding must do him in public
opinion. But the Duke, enchanted with his troop, took up his quarters in
the camp which he had prepared for it, where he was constantly employed
in exercising it. At last it required to be fed; but this had not been
thought of. The matter, however, was pressing, and there were some
debates with the Marshal of the Court, who was not prepared for such a
demand. At last he yielded, and the servants of the Court, with the
soldiers of the Inguermanie regiment, on guard at the château, were
employed in conveying provisions for the newly arrived, from the kitchen
of the château to the camp. The camp was at some distance from the
house; neither the servants nor the soldiers received anything for their
trouble; one may easily understand the effect of so sapient an
arrangement. The soldiers said, "They make us lackeys to those cursed
Germans." The servants said, "We have to wait upon a set of clowns."

When I saw and heard what was going on, I resolved to keep myself at as
great a distance as possible from this mischievous child's-play. The
gentlemen of our court, who were married, had their wives with them;
this made up a tolerably numerous company; no one, not even the
gentlemen, would have anything to do with this Holstein Camp, which the
Grand Duke never left. Thus, surrounded by these courtiers, I was out as
much as possible, but always on the side opposite to the camp, which we
never, by any chance, came near.

It was at this time that I took a fancy to form a garden at Oranienbaum,
and as I knew that the Grand Duke would not give me an inch of ground
for that purpose, I begged Prince Galitzine to sell or cede to me about
one hundred toises of some waste land which belonged to his family in
the immediate vicinity of Oranienbaum, and had been long since
abandoned. This land was owned by eight or ten members of the family,
but as it produced nothing, they willingly gave it up to me. I began
then to plan and plant, and as this was my first whim in the
constructive line, my plans assumed very grand proportions. My old
surgeon Gyon, seeing these things, said to me, "What is the good of all
this? Now, mark my words; I prophesy that you will one day abandon all
this." His prediction was verified. But I required some amusement at
the time, and this exercise of imagination was one. At first I employed,
in planting my garden, the gardener of Oranienbaum, whose name was
Lamberti. He had been in the service of the Empress, when she was
princess, on her estate at Zarskoe-Selo, whence he had been removed to
Oranienbaum. He was fond of predictions, and, among others, his
prediction relative to the Empress had been fulfilled. He had prophesied
that she would ascend the throne. He told me, and repeated it as often
as I was willing to listen to him, that I should become the Sovereign
Empress of Russia; that I should see sons, grandsons, and
great-grandsons; and that I should die at the advanced age of more than
fourscore years. He did more: he fixed the year of my accession to the
throne six years before the event. He was a very singular man, and one
who spoke with an assurance which nothing could disturb. He pretended
that the Empress was ill-disposed towards him, because he had foretold
to her what had come to pass, and that she had removed him from
Zarskoe-Selo to Oranienbaum in consequence of being afraid of him.

It was at Whitsuntide, I think, that we were recalled from Oranienbaum
to the city; and it was about the same time that the English Ambassador,
the Chevalier Williams,[12] came to Russia. He had in his suite Count
Poniatowsky, a Pole, the son of the one who had followed the fortunes of
Charles XII. of Sweden. After a short stay at the capital, we returned
to Oranienbaum, where the Empress ordered us to keep the Festival of St.
Peter. She did not come herself, because she did not wish to celebrate
the first _fête_ of my son Paul, which fell on the same day. She
remained at Peterhoff, and there placed herself at a window, where she
remained, it would seem, the whole day; for all who came to Oranienbaum
said they had seen her at that window. A very large company assembled.
The dance took place in the hall at the entrance of my garden, and we
afterwards supped there. The foreign ambassadors and ministers were
present. I remember that the English Ambassador, the Chevalier Williams,
sat near me at supper, and that we kept up a conversation as agreeable
as it was gay. As he was lively and well-informed, it was not difficult
to carry on a conversation with him. I afterwards learned that he had
been as much pleased as myself at this soirée and had spoken of me in
high terms. This, indeed, was what always happened when I chanced to be
with those who suited me in mind and character, and, as at that time, I
did not excite so much envy, I was generally well spoken of. I was
looked upon as a woman of mind; and many of those more intimately
acquainted with me, honoured me with their confidence, depended on me,
asked my advice, and found themselves the better for following it. The
Grand Duke had long since named me _Madame la Ressource_, and however
angry or sulky he might be, if he found himself at a loss on any point,
he would come running to me, in his usual style, to get my advice, and
then be off again as fast as he could. I likewise remember, at this same
feast of St. Peter, at Oranienbaum, seeing Count Poniatowsky dancing,
and I spoke to the Chevalier Williams about his father, and the mischief
he had done to Peter I. The English Ambassador spoke very favourably of
the son, and confirmed to me what I was already aware of, namely, that
his father and the Czartoriskys, his mother's family, then formed the
Russian party in Poland; that the son had been placed under his care,
and sent here in order to be brought up in the feelings of his family
towards Russia; and that they trusted he would succeed in this country.
He might then be about twenty-two or twenty-three years old. I replied
that, in general, I looked upon Russia as the stumbling-block of merit
for strangers, and considered that those who succeeded in Russia might
safely calculate upon success in every other part of Europe. This rule I
have always considered as infallible, for nowhere are people more quick
in detecting the weak points, absurdities, and defects of a stranger
than in Russia. A stranger may be sure that nothing will be overlooked,
for, naturally, no Russian really likes a foreigner.

About this time, I learned that the conduct of Sergius Soltikoff had
been anything but prudent, whether in Sweden or at Dresden. Besides, he
had made love to all the women he met. At first I would not believe
these reports; but at last they came from so many quarters, that even
his friends could not exculpate him. This year I became more than ever
attached to Anne Narichkine. Her brother-in-law, Leon, contributed much
to this. He always made a third with us, and there was no end to his
nonsense. He used sometimes to say to us, "I have a _bijou_, which I
mean to give to whichever of you two shall behave the best, and you will
be very much obliged to me for it." We let him talk on, without
troubling ourselves to inquire what this _bijou_ was.

In the autumn, the Holstein troops were sent off by sea, and we went to
occupy the Summer Palace. At this time Leon Narichkine fell ill of a
burning fever, during which he sent me letters, which I could easily see
were not his own. I replied to him. In these letters he asked me for
sweetmeats and such like trifles, and then returned thanks. The letters
were very well written, and very lively; he said he employed in them the
hand of his secretary. This secretary, I at last learned was Count
Poniatowsky, who never left him, and had become intimate with his
family. From the Summer Palace we removed, about the beginning of
winter, to the new Winter Palace which the Empress had just built. It
was of wood, and occupied the spot where the mansion of the
Tchitcherines now stands. It took up the whole quarter as far as the
residence of the Countess Matiouchkine, which then belonged to Naoumoff.
My windows faced this house, which was occupied by the maids of honour.
On entering the apartments destined for us, I was very much struck with
their size and loftiness. Four large ante-chambers and two chambers,
with a cabinet, were prepared for me, and the same number for the Grand
Duke. The rooms, too, were so disposed, that I was not incommoded by the
proximity of the Grand Duke's apartments. This was a great point gained.
Count Alexander Schouvaloff noticed my satisfaction, and immediately
informed the Empress that I was greatly delighted with the number and
size of my apartments. This he told me afterwards with a kind of
satisfaction, indicated by a smile and the winking of his eye.

At this period, and for a long time afterwards, the principal plaything
of the Grand Duke, while in town, consisted of an immense number of
little dolls, representing soldiers, formed of wood, lead, pith, and
wax. These he arranged on very narrow tables, which took up an entire
room, leaving scarcely space enough to pass between them. Along these
tables he had nailed narrow bands of brass, to which strings were
attached, and when he pulled these strings the brass bands made a noise
which, according to him, resembled the roll of musketry. He observed the
court festivals with great regularity, making these troops produce
their rolling fire; besides which he daily relieved guard, that is to
say, from every table was picked out the dolls that were assumed to be
on guard. He assisted at this parade in full uniform, boots, spurs,
gorget, and scarf. Such of his domestics as were admitted to this
precious exercise were obliged to appear in similar style.

Towards the winter of this year, I thought myself again pregnant. I was
bled. I had a cold, or, rather, I fancied I had one, in both sides of my
face; but after some days of suffering, four double teeth made their
appearance at the four extremities of my jaws. As our apartments were
very spacious, the Grand Duke had every week a ball and a concert. The
only persons who appeared at them were the maids of honour and the
gentlemen of our court, together with their wives. These balls were
thought interesting by those who assisted at them, who were never many.
The Narichkines were more companionable than the rest. Among them I
reckon Madame Siniavine and Madame Ismaïloff, Leon's sisters, together
with the wife of his elder brother, of whom I have already spoken. Leon,
more absurd than ever, and regarded by every one as a person of no sort
of consequence, as was indeed the case, had got into the habit of
running continually backwards and forwards between the Grand Duke's
apartments and mine, never stopping long anywhere. In order to gain
admittance into my room, he used to mew like a cat at my door, and when
I answered him, he would come in. On the 17th of December, between six
and seven o'clock in the evening, he announced himself in this fashion,
at my door; I desired him to come in. He began by presenting me with his
sister-in-law's compliments, saying that she was not well; and adding,
"but you ought to go and see her." I replied, "I would do so with
pleasure; but you know I cannot go out without permission, and they
will never give me permission to go to her house." "Oh! I will take you
there," he said. "Are you mad," I replied; "how can I go with you? You
would be sent to the Fortress, and God knows what trouble I should get
into." "Oh! but no one will know of it; we will take proper
precautions." "But how?" "Why, in this way: I will come and fetch you in
an hour or two's time. The Grand Duke will take supper" (for a long time
past, under the pretext of not wishing for supper, I had been in the
habit of staying in my own room); "he will remain at table for a
considerable part of the night, leave it very tipsy, and go to bed"
(since my confinement he generally slept in his own room); "for greater
security you can dress in man's clothes, and we will go together to Anna
Nikitichna Narichkine's." I began to feel tempted by the adventure, for
I was constantly in my room with my books, and without any company.
Finally, by dint of debating this mad project, for such it really was,
and such it appeared to me at first, I saw in it the possibility of
obtaining a moment's relaxation and amusement. He departed, and I called
a Kalmuck hair-dresser in my service, and desired him to bring me one of
my male dresses, and all belonging to it, as I wanted to make it a
present to some one. This young man was one of those persons who keep
their mouths closed; and it was more difficult to make him speak than it
was to make others hold their tongues. He executed his commission
promptly, and brought me everything I wanted. I feigned a headache, and
went to bed early. As soon as Madame Vladislava had undressed me and
retired, I got up and dressed myself from head to foot as a man,
arranging my hair in the best way I could. I was long in the habit of
doing this, and was by no means awkward at it. At the time appointed,
Narichkine made his appearance. He came through the apartments of the
Grand Duke, and mewed at my door. I opened it, and we passed through a
small ante-chamber into the hall, and entered his carriage without
having been seen by any one, laughing like a pair of fools at our
escapade. Leon lived in the same house with his brother and

On reaching it, we found there Anna Nikitichna, who suspected nothing,
and also Count Poniatowsky. Leon announced one of his friends, whom he
begged might be well received, and the evening passed in the wildest
gayety. After a visit of an hour and-a-half's duration, I took leave and
returned home without accident, and without having been met by any one.
The next day, which was the birthday of the Empress, both at court in
the morning, and at the ball in the evening, we could not look one
another in the face without being ready to burst out laughing at our
last night's folly. Some days later, Leon prepared a return visit, which
was to take place in my apartments; and, as before, he brought his
company into my room so skilfully, that no suspicion was excited. Thus
began the year 1756. We took a strange delight in these furtive
interviews. Not a week passed without one or two, and occasionally even
three of them taking place, sometimes at the residence of one party,
sometimes at that of another; and if any of us happened to be ill, the
visit was always to the invalid. Sometimes at the theatre, without
speaking, and simply by means of certain signs previously agreed on,
even although we might be in different boxes, and some of us, perhaps,
in the pit; yet, by a sign, each one knew where to go, and no mistake
ever occurred between us, except that on two occasions I had to return
home on foot, which, after all, was only a walk.


At this period, preparations were making for a war with Prussia. The
Empress, by her treaty with the house of Austria, was bound to furnish a
contingent of thirty thousand men. Such was the view taken by the High
Chancellor Count Bestoujeff; but Austria wanted Russia to aid her with
all her forces. Count Esterhazy, the Austrian Ambassador, was intriguing
for this object with all his skill, wherever he saw an opening, and
often in several different channels at once. The party opposed to
Bestoujeff consisted of the Vice-Chancellor Count Voronzoff and the
Schouvaloffs. England was at that time in alliance with Prussia, and
France with Austria. The Empress began to have frequent indispositions.
At first it was not known what was the matter with her. The Schouvaloffs
were often seen to be very much disturbed, and full of intrigues, and
from time to time they paid great attentions to the Grand Duke. The
courtiers whispered that these indispositions of her Imperial Majesty
were much more serious than was reported. Some called them hysterical
affections, others fainting fits, or convulsions, or nervous complaints.
This state of things lasted the whole winter of 1755-1756. Finally, in
the spring we learned that Marshal Apraxine was about to depart in
command of the army that was to enter Prussia. His lady came to take
leave of us, accompanied by her youngest daughter. I mentioned to her my
apprehensions relative to the health of the Empress, stating that I much
regretted the absence of her husband at a time in which I thought that
little reliance was to be placed upon the Schouvaloffs, whom I looked
upon as my personal enemies, and who were very ill-disposed towards me,
because I preferred their enemies to them, and especially the Counts
Razoumowsky. She repeated all this to her husband, who was much pleased
with my feelings towards him; so also was Count Bestoujeff, who disliked
the Schouvaloffs, and was connected with the Razoumowskys, his son
having married their niece. Marshal Apraxine might have been a useful
mediator between all interested, on account of the _liaison_ of his
daughter with Count Peter Schouvaloff: Leon pretended that this
_liaison_ was carried on with the knowledge of her parents. Besides
this, I saw clearly that the Schouvaloffs made more use than ever of M.
Brockdorf, for the purpose of estranging the Grand Duke from me as much
as possible. Notwithstanding all this, he had still an involuntary
confidence in me; this he always retained to a remarkable extent,
without being at all conscious of it himself. He had just then
quarrelled with the Countess Voronzoff, and was in love with Madame
Teploff, a niece of the Razoumowskys. When he wished to see this lady,
he consulted me as to the best mode of adorning his room so as to please
her, and made me observe that he had filled it with muskets, grenadier
caps, shoulder belts, etc., so that it looked like a portion of an
arsenal. I let him do as he pleased, and went away. Besides this lady,
he also kept a little German singing girl, called Leonora, who used to
come to him of an evening, and sup with him. It was the Princess of
Courland who had led to his quarrel with the Countess Voronzoff. Indeed,
I do not very well know how it was that this Princess of Courland
managed at that time to play a peculiar part at court. In the first
place, she was then nearly thirty years of age, little, ugly, and
humpbacked, as I have already said. She had contrived to secure the
protection of the confessor of the Empress, and of several old ladies of
her Majesty's bed-chamber, so that every thing she did was excused, and
she remained among the Empress' maids of honour. All these were under
the rod of a Madame Schmidt, the wife of one of the court trumpeters.
This Madame Schmidt was a native of Finland, prodigiously large and
massive, one who knew how to ensure obedience, but who still retained
the coarse and vulgar manners of her former condition. She was of some
consequence, however, at court, being under the immediate protection of
the Empress' old German and Swedish lady's-maids, and consequently also
under that of the Marshal of the Court, Sievers, who was himself a Fin,
and married to a daughter of Madame Krause, whose sister, as I have
already mentioned, was one of those lady's-maids, and one in special
favour with the Empress. Madame Schmidt ruled within the dwelling of the
maids of honour with more vigour than intelligence, but never appeared
at court. In public, the Princess of Courland was at their head, and
Madame Schmidt had tacitly confided to her their conduct at court. In
their own house, they all lodged in a row of chambers, which terminated
at one end in Madame Schmidt's room, and at the other in the one
occupied by the Princess of Courland. There were two, three, or four in
a room, each having a screen round her bed, and the only exits from
these rooms were through each other. At first sight, it would seem that
this arrangement made the residence of the maids of honour impenetrable,
for it could only be reached by passing through Madame Schmidt's, or the
Princess of Courland's room. But Madame Schmidt often suffered from the
indigestion occasioned by all the _pâtes gras_ and other dainties sent
to her by the relatives of these young ladies, and then the only
approach was by the Princess of Courland's chamber. Here scandal
reported that it was necessary for those who wished to pass to any of
the rooms beyond, to pay toll in some form or other. At all events, it
was certain that for many years the Princess of Courland made up matches
and broke them off again--promised and refused the Empress' maids of
honour just as she thought proper; and I have heard from the lips of
many persons, and among others from Leon Narichkine and Count
Boutourline, the history of this toll, which, they pretended had not in
their case been paid in money.

The Grand Duke's amours with Madame Teploff lasted until we went into
the country. Here they were interrupted, because his Imperial Highness
was insupportable during the summer. Not being able to see him, Madame
Teploff pretended that he must write to her at least once or twice
a-week, and to induce him to do so, she began by writing him a letter of
four pages. On receiving it, he came into my room much out of temper,
holding the letter in his hand, and said to me, in a tone of
considerable irritation, "Only fancy! she writes me a letter of four
whole pages, and expects that I should read it, and, what is more,
answer it also. I who have to go to parade (he had again brought his
troops from Holstein), then dine, then shoot, then attend the rehearsal
of an opera, and the ballet which the cadets will dance at it! I will
tell her plainly that I have not time, and if she is vexed, I will
quarrel with her till winter." I told him that would certainly be the
shortest way. These traits are, I think, characteristic, and they will
not therefore be out of place. Here is the explanation of the appearance
of the cadets at Oranienbaum. In the spring of 1756, the Schouvaloffs
thought, that with a view of detaching the Grand Duke from his Holstein
troops, it would be a good stroke of policy to persuade the Empress to
give his Imperial Highness the command of the corps of Land Cadets, the
only body of cadets then existing. Under him was placed A. P.
Melgounoff, the intimate friend and confidant of Ivan Ivanovitch
Schouvaloff. This person was married to one of the German lady's-maids,
a favourite of the Empress. In this way the Schouvaloffs had one of
their most intimate friends in the Grand Duke's chamber, and with the
opportunity of speaking to him at every moment. Under pretext of the
opera-ballets at Oranienbaum, they brought there some hundred cadets,
together with M. Melgounoff and the officers of the corps who were most
intimate with him. These were so many spies _à la Schouvaloff_. Among
the masters who came to Oranienbaum with the cadets was their
riding-master, Zimmerman, who was accounted the best horseman at that
time in Russia. As my supposed pregnancy of the last autumn had all
passed off, I thought I would take some lessons in horsemanship from
Zimmerman. I spoke on the subject to the Grand Duke, who made no
difficulty. For a long time past all the old rules introduced by the
Tchoglokoffs were forgotten, neglected by, or altogether unknown to
Alexander Schouvaloff, who, besides, was held in slight or no
consideration: we laughed at him, at his wife, his daughter, and his
son-in-law, almost to their faces. They gave abundant room for it; for
never were faces more ignoble or mean looking than theirs. I had applied
to Madame Schouvaloff the epithet of the "pillar of salt." She was thin,
and short, and stiff. Her avarice showed itself even in her dress. Her
petticoats were always too narrow, and had a breadth less than was
required, and than those of other ladies had. Her daughter, the Countess
Golofkine, was similarly dressed. Their head-dresses and ruffles were
mean, and had a look of stinginess about them, although these people
were very wealthy, and in all respects in easy circumstances. But they
naturally liked everything that was little and pinched--a true image of
their minds.

As soon as I came to take lessons in systematic riding, I again became
passionately fond of this exercise. I rose every morning at six, dressed
myself in male attire, and went off to my garden, where I had a place
prepared in the open air, which served me for a riding-school. I made
such rapid progress, that Zimmerman frequently came running up to me
with tears in his eyes, and kissed my foot with a sort of uncontrollable
enthusiasm. At other times he would exclaim, "Never in my life have I
had a pupil who did me such credit, or who made such rapid progress in
so short a time." At these lessons, there was no one present but my old
surgeon Gyon, a lady's-maid and some domestics. As I paid great
attention to these lessons, and took them regularly every morning except
Sundays, Zimmerman rewarded my diligence with the silver spurs, which he
gave me, according to the rules of the school. By the end of three weeks
I had passed through all the gradations of the school, and towards
autumn Zimmerman had a leaping-horse bought, after which he intended to
give me the stirrups. But the day before that fixed for my mounting, we
received orders to return to town; the matter was therefore put off till
the following spring.

During this summer Count Poniatowsky made a tour in Poland, from which
he returned with his credentials as minister of the King of Poland.
Before his departure he came to Oranienbaum, to take leave of us. He was
accompanied by Count Horn, whom the King of Sweden, under the pretext of
notifying the death of his mother, my grandmother, had sent to Russia,
in order to withdraw him from the persecutions of the French party,
otherwise called "The Hats," against that of Russia, or "The Caps."
This persecution became so fierce in Sweden at the diet of 1756, that
almost all the chiefs of the Russian party had their heads cut off this
year. Count Horn told me himself, that if he had not come to Russia, he
would certainly have been of the number.

Count Poniatowsky and Count Horn remained two days at Oranienbaum. The
first day the Grand Duke treated them very well, but on the second they
were in his way, for his thoughts were running on the wedding of one of
his huntsmen, at which he wished to be present for the purpose of
drinking. Finding that his guests still stayed, he left them there, and
I had to do the honours of the house.

After dinner, I took the company which had remained with us, and which
was not very numerous, to view the interior of the house. On reaching my
cabinet, a little Italian greyhound that I had there, ran to meet us,
and began to bark loudly at Count Horn, but when he perceived Count
Poniatowsky, he seemed wild with delight. As the cabinet was very small,
no one observed this but Leon Narichkine, his sister-in-law and myself.
But it did not escape the notice of Count Horn, and while I was going
through the apartments to return to the saloon, Count Horn took
Poniatowsky by the coat and said to him, "My friend, there is nothing so
terrible as a little Italian greyhound; the first thing I always do with
the ladies I am in love with is to give them one of these little dogs,
and by this means I can always discover whether there is any one more
favoured than myself. The rule is infallible. You see it. The dog
growled as if he would have eaten me, because I am a stranger, while he
was mad with joy when he saw you again, for most assuredly this is not
the first time he has seen you there." Count Poniatowsky treated all
this as an absurdity on his part, but he could not dissuade him. Count
Horn merely replied, "Fear nothing; you have to deal with a discreet
person." Next morning they departed. Count Horn used to say, that when
he went so far as to fall in love, it was always with three women at a
time. And we had an example of this under our eye at St. Petersburg,
where he courted three young ladies at once. Count Poniatowsky left two
days afterwards for Poland. During his absence the Chevalier Williams
sent me word, through Leon Narichkine, that the High Chancellor
Bestoujeff was caballing against the nomination of Count Poniatowsky,
and had, through him, endeavoured to dissuade Count Bruhl, at that time
the minister and favourite of the King of Poland, from making it. He
added that he took care not to fulfil this commission, although he had
not declined it, fearing it might be given to some one else, who would
probably discharge it more exactly, and thus prejudice his friend, who
wished, above all things, to return to Russia. The Chevalier suspected
that Count Bestoujeff, who for a long time had the Saxo-Polish ministers
at his disposal, wished to nominate to that post some person
particularly in his confidence. However, Count Poniatowsky obtained the
appointment, and returned, towards winter, as Envoy of Poland, while the
Saxon embassy remained under the immediate direction of Count

Some time before we quitted Oranienbaum, the Prince and Princess
Galitzine arrived there, accompanied by M. Betzky. They were going to
travel abroad on account of ill-health, especially Betzky, who needed
some distraction to relieve the deep melancholy into which he had been
plunged by the death of the Princess of Hesse Homburg--born Princess
Troubetzkoy, mother of the Princess Galitzine, who was the issue of the
first marriage of the Princess of Hesse with the Hospodar of Wallachia,
Prince Kantemir. As the Princess Galitzine and Betzky were old
acquaintances, I endeavoured to give them the best reception I could at
Oranienbaum, and after having shown them about a good deal, the Princess
Galitzine and I got into a cabriolet, which I guided myself, and we took
a drive in the neighbourhood of Oranienbaum. On our way, the Princess,
who was a very singular and narrow-minded person, gave me to understand
that she thought I entertained some ill-feeling against her. I assured
her that such was not the case, and that I did not know of anything
which could give occasion to any ill-feeling on my part, as I had never
had any disagreement with her. Thereupon she told me that she had feared
Count Poniatowsky might have injured her in my good opinion. I thought I
should have dropped at these words. I replied that she must certainly be
dreaming; that the person she spoke of was not in a position to
prejudice her in my opinion; that he had been gone some time; that I
only knew him by sight, and as a stranger; and that I could not
understand what could have put such an idea into her head. Upon my
return home, I sent for Leon Narichkine, and related to him this
conversation, which appeared to me as stupid as it was impertinent and
indiscreet. He told me that during last winter the Princess Galitzine
had moved heaven and earth to attract Count Poniatowsky to her house,
and that he out of politeness, and not to be wanting in respect, had
paid her some attention; that she had made all sort of advances to him,
to which it may easily be believed he did not much respond, as she was
old, ugly, stupid, and foolish--indeed, almost crazy; and that seeing
she could make no impression on him, her suspicions seemed to have been
excited by the fact that he was always with him, Narichkine, and at his
sister-in-law's house.

During the brief stay of the Countess Galitzine at Oranienbaum, I had a
dreadful quarrel with the Grand Duke about my maids of honour. I had
observed that these ladies, who were always either confidantes or
mistresses of the Grand Duke, had on several occasions been neglectful
of their duties, or even failed in the respect and deference which they
owed me. I went one afternoon into their apartment, and reproached them
with their conduct, reminding them of their duty, of what they owed me,
telling them if they went on in the same way I should complain to the
Empress. Some of them were alarmed, others got angry, and some wept; but
as soon as I was gone, they immediately hurried to the Grand Duke, and
told him what I had said to them. His Imperial Highness got furious, and
immediately running to my room, exclaimed that there was no living with
me; that every day I became more proud and haughty; that I demanded of
the maids of honour attentions and deferences which embittered their
lives; that I made them cry all day long; that they were ladies of rank,
whom I treated like servants; and if I complained of them to the
Empress, he would complain of me--of my pride, my arrogance, my
ill-nature, and God knows what besides. I listened to him, not without
agitation, and replied that he might say of me whatever he pleased; that
if the affair was carried before his aunt, she would be able to judge
whether it would not be well to dismiss from my service women of bad
conduct, who, by their tittle-tattle, caused dissension between her
nephew and niece; for that if she wished to restore peace between us,
and prevent her ears from being perpetually dinned with our quarrels,
she could not adopt any other course; and that, consequently, this would
certainly be the course she would adopt. At this he lowered his tone,
fancying (for he was very suspicious) that I knew more of the intentions
of the Empress with regard to these women than I allowed to appear, and
that in reality they might all be dismissed for this business. He
therefore said, "Tell me, then; do you know anything on this point? Has
any one spoken to her of them?" I replied that if matters went so far as
to come before the Empress, I had no doubt she would dispose of them in
a very summary manner. At this he began walking with hasty strides up
and down my room in a reverie; gradually cooled down; and then went
away, only half-sulky. The same evening, I related this conversation,
word for word, to one of these maids of honour, who appeared to me more
sensible than the rest, and described the scene which their imprudent
tattling had caused. This put them on their guard against carrying
matters to an extremity, of which, probably, they would become the

During the autumn we returned to town, and shortly afterwards the
Chevalier Williams left for England on leave. He had failed in his
object in Russia. The very next day after his audience of the Empress,
he had proposed a treaty of alliance between England and Russia. Count
Bestoujeff had orders and full authority to conclude this treaty. In
fact, the treaty was signed by him, and the Ambassador could scarcely
contain his joy at his success, but the following day Count Bestoujeff
communicated to him, by note, the accession of Russia to the convention
signed at Versailles between France and Austria. This was a thunderbolt
for the English Ambassador, who had been played with and deceived in
this affair by the High Chancellor, or appeared to have been so. But
Count Bestoujeff himself could no longer do as he pleased; his opponents
were beginning to get the upper hand of him, and they intrigued, or
rather others were intriguing with them, to gain them over to the
Franco-Austrian party, to which they were already much disposed. The
Schouvaloffs, and especially Ivan Ivanovitch, had a passion for France
and all that belonged to it, and in this they were seconded by the
Vice-Chancellor Voronzoff, for whom Louis XV. in return for this piece
of service, furnished the mansion which he had just built at St.
Petersburg, with old furniture which his mistress, Madame Pompadour, had
become tired of, and had sold to her lover, the King, at a good price.
But apart from all considerations of profit, the Vice-Chancellor had
another motive: he wished to lessen the credit of his rival, Count
Bestoujeff, and secure his place for Peter Schouvaloff. Besides, he
meditated a monopoly of the Russian trade in tobacco, in order to sell
the article in France.


Towards the end of the year, Count Poniatowsky returned to Russia as
minister of the King of Poland. In the early part of the year, the tenor
of our life was the same as in the previous winter; the same balls, the
same concerts, and the same coteries. Soon after our return to the city,
where I could observe things more closely, I perceived that M.
Brockdorf, with his intrigues, was making rapid progress in the good
graces of the Grand Duke. He was seconded in this by a considerable
number of Holstein officers whom he had encouraged his Highness to
retain this winter at St. Petersburg. The number amounted to at least
twenty, who were continually within the Grand Duke's circle, without
counting a couple of Holstein soldiers who did duty in his chamber as
messengers, valets-de-chambre--factotums, in a word. All these were, in
reality, so many spies in the service of Messrs. Brockdorf and Co. I
watched for a favourable moment during this winter to speak seriously to
the Grand Duke, and tell him exactly what I thought of those about him,
and of the intrigues which I saw going on. One presented itself, which I
did not neglect. The Grand Duke himself came one day into my cabinet, to
tell me that it had been represented to him as indispensably necessary
that he should send secret orders to Holstein for the arrest of a person
named Elendsheim, who, by his office and the personal consideration he
enjoyed, was one of the leading men of the country. He was of
_bourgeois_ extraction, but had risen by his learning and capacity to
his present post. I asked the Duke what complaints were made against
him, and what he had done to require his arrest. He replied, "Why, you
see, they tell me he is suspected of malversation." I inquired who were
his accusers. On this, he thought himself very reasonable in saying,
"Oh, as for accusers, there are none, for every one in the country fears
and respects him; and it is on this very account that I ought to have
him arrested, for as soon as this is done, there will be, I am assured,
accusers enough and to spare." I shuddered at this answer, and replied,
"But at this rate there will not be an innocent man in the world; it
will only be necessary for some envious person to set afloat any vague
rumour he pleases, and then any one whatever may be arrested on the
principle that accusations and crimes will come afterwards. It is, to
use the words of the song, '_à la façon de Barbari, mon ami_,' that
they are advising you to act, without regard to your reputation or your
sense of justice. Who is it that gives you such bad advice? if I may be
allowed to ask." My gentleman looked a little foolish at this question,
and said, "You are always wanting to know more than other people." I
replied, that it was not for the sake of knowing that I spoke, but
because I hated injustice, and could not believe that he wished to
commit such a wrong out of mere wantonness. Upon this he began to pace
up and down the room with hasty strides, and then went away more
agitated than displeased. A little while afterwards he came back,
saying, "Come to my room, Brockdorf will talk to you about the affair of
Elendsheim, and you will see and be convinced that I must have him
arrested." I replied, "Very well, I will follow you, and will hear what
he has to say, since you wish it." I did so, and as soon as we entered,
the Grand Duke said to Brockdorf, "Speak to the Grand Duchess."
Brockdorf, a little confused, bowed to the Duke, and said, "Since your
Highness commands me, I will speak to her Imperial Highness the Grand
Duchess." Here he paused, and then said, "This is an affair which
requires to be managed with much secrecy and prudence." I listened. "All
Holstein is full of rumours of the malversations and extortions of
Elendsheim. It is true he has no accusers, for he is feared; but when he
is arrested, there will be no difficulty in getting as many as may be
wished." I asked for some details of these malversations and extortions,
and learnt that as for embezzlement of the revenue, there could not be
any, since the Grand Duke had no money in hand there; but what was
looked upon as malversation was, that being at the head of the
administration of justice, whenever any cause was to be tried, there was
always some pleader or other who complained of injustice, and accused
the opposite party of having gained their cause by bribing the judges.
But M. Brockdorf displayed his eloquence and skill in vain; he did not
convince me. I still maintained to him, in presence of the Grand Duke,
that they were pushing on his Imperial Highness to commit an act of
crying injustice, by persuading him to despatch an order for the arrest
of a man against whom there existed no formal complaint or accusation. I
said to M. Brockdorf that after that fashion the Grand Duke might have
him locked up at any hour, and say that the crimes and accusations would
come afterwards; and that, as to lawsuits, it was easy to conceive that
he who lost his cause would always complain of having been wronged. I
added, too, that the Grand Duke, more than any other person, ought to be
on his guard against such things, as experience had already taught him,
to his cost, what persecution and party-spirit could do; for it was not
more than two or three years, at the utmost, since his Imperial
Highness, at my intercession, had ordered the release of M. de Holmer,
who had been kept in prison for six or eight years, in order to compel
him to give an account of affairs transacted during the Grand Duke's
minority, and under the administration of his guardian, the Prince Royal
of Sweden, to whom M. de Holmer had been attached, and whom he followed
to Sweden; whence he did not return until the Grand Duke had signed and
sent him a testimonial of approval, and a formal discharge for all that
had been done during his minority. And yet in spite of all this, the
Grand Duke had been induced to have M. de Holmer arrested, and a
commission of inquiry appointed, to examine into things which occurred
under the administration of the Prince Royal of Sweden. This
commission, after acting at first with much vigour, and offering a
clear stage to all informers, had, nevertheless, been able to discover
nothing, and had fallen into lethargy for want of aliment. Yet all this
time, M. de Holmer languished in close confinement, being allowed to see
neither wife, nor children, nor friends, nor relatives; until at last
the whole country cried out against the injustice and tyranny of this
business, which was in truth outrageous, and which would not even then
have been so soon brought to an end had I not advised the Grand Duke to
cut this Gordian knot by despatching an order for the release of M. de
Holmer, and the abolition of the commission, which, besides, cost no
trifling sum to the already nearly exhausted exchequer of the Grand
Duke's hereditary duchy. But it was to no purpose that I quoted this
striking example; the Grand Duke listened to me, thinking all the while,
I fancy, of something else, while M. Brockdorf, hardened in wickedness,
narrow in mind, and obstinate as a block, allowed me to talk on, having
no more reasons to produce. And when I was gone away, he told the Grand
Duke that all I had urged sprung from no other motive than the desire of
ruling; that I disapproved of every measure which I had not myself
advised; that I knew nothing of business; that women always liked to be
meddling in everything, and always spoilt whatever they did meddle with;
and that all vigorous measures especially were beyond their capacity; in
short, he managed to overrule my advice, and the Grand Duke, at his
persuasion, had an order for the arrest of Elendsheim drawn up, signed,
and immediately despatched. A person of the name of Zeitz, secretary to
the Grand Duke, who was in the interest of Pechlin, and was son-in-law
of the midwife who attended me, informed me of all this. The party of
Pechlin, generally, disapproved of this violent and unreasonable
measure, with which M. Brockdorf alarmed both them and the whole country
of Holstein. As soon as I learnt that the wiles of M. Brockdorf had
prevailed over my advice and earnest representations, in a case of such
crying injustice, I resolved to make M. Brockdorf feel my indignation to
the utmost. I told Zeitz, and I had Pechlin informed, that from that
moment I regarded M. Brockdorf as a pest, to be shunned and driven away
from the Grand Duke, if it could in any manner be accomplished; as for
myself, I would employ every means in my power for that end. And, in
fact, I made it a point to manifest, on every occasion, the disgust and
the horror with which the conduct of this man had inspired me. There was
no sort of ridicule with which he was not covered, and I did not allow
any one, whenever an occasion offered, to remain ignorant of what I
thought of him. Leon Narichkine, and other young people, amused
themselves in seconding me in this. Whenever M. Brockdorf passed through
the apartments, everyone cried out after him, Pelican--such was the
nickname we had given him. This bird was the most hideous that we knew
of, and as a man, M. Brockdorf was quite as hideous, both externally and
internally. He was tall, with a long neck, and a broad, flat head, and
withal red-haired. He wore a wire wig; his eyes were small, dull and
sunk in his head, and almost destitute of eyelashes and eyebrows, while
the corners of his month hung down towards his chin, giving him a
miserable as well as an evil look. As to his character I may refer to
what I have just said; but I will further add that he was so corrupt
that he took money from all who were willing to give it him, and in
order that his august master might not at some future time be able to
blame these extortions, and seeing him always in need of money, he
persuaded him to do the same, and in this way he procured him all he
could, as well by selling Holstein orders and titles to any one who
would pay for them, as by inducing him to solicit, and intrigue for, in
the different bureaux of the empire, as well as in the senate, all sorts
of things, many of them unjust, some even burdensome to the state, such
as monopolies and other privileges which could not otherwise be allowed,
since they were contrary to the laws of Peter I. Besides this, M.
Brockdorf led the Duke more than ever into drink and debauchery, having
surrounded him with a mob of adventurers, drawn from the barracks and
taverns, both of Germany and St. Petersburg, who had neither faith nor
principle, and did nothing but drink, eat, smoke, and talk disgusting

As I saw that, in spite of all I did and said to lessen the credit of M.
Brockdorf, he still maintained his position in the good opinion of the
Grand Duke, and was even more in favour than ever, I formed the
resolution of telling Count Schouvaloff what I thought of the man,
adding, that I looked upon him as one of the most dangerous persons it
was possible to have near a young prince, heir to a great empire, and
that I felt myself in conscience bound to speak to him in confidence, in
order that he might inform the Empress, or take what other measures he
might deem proper. He asked whether he might venture to mention my name.
I told him he might, and that if the Empress asked me about it I would
not mince the matter, but tell her what I knew and saw. Count Alexander
Schouvaloff winked his eye as he listened to me very seriously, but he
was not a person to act without the advice of his brother Peter and his
cousin Ivan. For a long time I heard nothing; at last he gave me to
understand that the Empress might speak to me on the subject. In the
interim, the Grand Duke bounced into my room one day, closely followed
by his secretary Zeitz, with a paper in his hand. The Duke, addressing
me, said, "Just look at this devil of a fellow! I drank too much
yesterday, and to-day my brain is still in a whirl, and he brings me a
whole sheet of paper, which, after all, is only a list of the matters
which he wishes me to finish; he follows me even into your room." Zeitz
said to me, "All that I have got here only requires a yes or a no, and
will not take up a quarter of an hour." "Well, let us see," I said,
"perhaps you will get through them easier than you think." Zeitz began
to read, and as he read on, I answered, 'yes' or 'no.' This pleased the
Grand Duke, and Zeitz said to him, "Look, my Lord, if you would only
consent to do thus twice a week, your affairs would not fall into
arrear. These things are but trifles, but they must be attended to, and
the Grand Duchess has finished the matter with six times 'yes,' and as
many times 'no.'" Thenceforward his Imperial Highness used to send Zeitz
to me whenever he had any "yeses" or "noes." After a time, I asked him
to give me a written order, stating what things I might settle, and what
I must not determine without his express direction, and this he did.
None but Pechlin, Zeitz, and myself were cognizant of this arrangement,
with which Pechlin and Zeitz were delighted. When a signature was
necessary, the Grand Duke signed what I had settled. The affair of
Elendsheim remained under the care of Brockdorf; but when once
Elendsheim was under arrest, M. Brockdorf was in no hurry to push the
business, for he had thus gained pretty nearly all he wanted, which was
to remove Elendsheim from public affairs, and to manifest in Holstein
his own influence with his master.

I seized, one day, a favourable opportunity for saying to the Grand
Duke, that since he found the affairs of Holstein so troublesome to
regulate, and regarded them as a sample of what he would have one day to
settle when the Empire of Russia fell to his lot, I thought he must look
forward to that charge as something more oppressive still; thereupon he
repeated what he had often said to me before--that he felt he was not
born for Russia; that he did not suit the Russians nor the Russians him;
and that he was persuaded he should perish in Russia. On this point I
said to him what I had also said to him many a time before, that he
ought not to allow himself to give way to so fatal an idea, but to do
his best to make himself liked by every one in Russia, and to ask the
Empress to allow him an opportunity of making himself acquainted with
the affairs of the empire. I induced him even to ask permission to be
present at the conferences which served as a council for the Empress. In
fact, he did speak of this to the Schouvaloffs, who induced the Empress
to admit him to these conferences whenever she was present at them
herself. This was pretty nearly the same thing as settling that he
should never be admitted, for after going with him once or twice,
neither of them again attended.

The advice which I gave to the Grand Duke was, in general, good and
salutary; but he who gives counsel can only do so in accordance with his
own cast of mind and turn of thought--his own mode of action and manner
of viewing things. But the great object of my counsels to the Grand Duke
consisted in the fact that his way of doing things was quite different
from mine, and the more we advanced in years the more marked did this
difference become. I made it a point, in all things, to keep as close to
truth as I possibly could, while he receded from it farther and farther
every day, until at last he became a determined liar. As the way in
which he became so is rather singular, I will state it, as it may
perhaps display the course of the human mind on this point, and so be
useful in showing how this vice may be prevented or corrected in those
who may evince a tendency towards it. The first falsehood invented by
the Grand Duke was told with a view of giving himself consequence in the
eyes of some young married woman or girl, on whose ignorance he could
count. He would tell her how, while still living with his father in
Holstein, his father had put him at the head of a detachment of his
guards and had sent him to seize a troop of gipsies who were prowling
about Kiel and committing, he said, frightful robberies. These he would
relate in detail, as also the several stratagems he had made use of to
surround them and to engage them in one or many battles, in which he
pretended to have performed prodigies of skill and valour, after which
he had taken them prisoners and carried them to Kiel. At first he took
care not to tell all this to any one but those who were ignorant of his
history. By degrees he grew bold enough to produce his composition
before those on whose discretion he could so far rely as not to fear a
contradiction from them; but when he ventured to relate this story to
me, I asked him how long before his father's death it had taken place.
He replied, without hesitation, "Three or four years." "Well," I said,
"you began very young to show your prowess; for, three or four years
before your father's death, you were not more than six or seven years
old, having been left, at the age of eleven, under the guardianship of
my uncle, the Prince Royal of Sweden. And what equally astonishes me," I
observed, "is that your father, of whom you were the only son, and one
too whose health, according to what I have been told, was always
delicate at that period, should have sent you to fight against brigands,
and that too at the early age of six or seven." The Grand Duke became
terribly angry at these remarks, saying that I disbelieved him and
wished to represent him as a liar in the eyes of the world. I told him
it was not I, but the almanac who threw discredit on his story; and that
I left it to himself to judge whether it was possible, in the nature of
things, that a child of six or seven, an only son, the heir-apparent of
a principality, and the only hope of his father, should be sent to catch
gipsies. He held his tongue, and I too; but he sulked with me for a long
while. When, however, he had forgotten my remonstrances, he still
continued to relate, even in my presence, this story, of which he gave
endless variations. He afterwards made up another far more disgraceful,
as well as more injurious to himself, which I will relate in its proper
place. It would be impossible for me at present to tell all the dreams
which he occasionally imagined and gave out as facts, but in which there
was not a shadow of truth. The illustration I have given, will, I think,
be sufficient for the present. One Thursday, towards the end of the
Carnival, there being a ball in our apartments, I was sitting between
the sister-in-law of Leon Narichkine and his sister, Madame Siniavine,
and we were looking at Marine Ossipovna Sakrefskaïa, Maid of Honour to
the Empress and niece of the Count Rasoumowsky, who was dancing a
minuet. She was at this time slight and active, and it was said that
Count Horn was very much in love with her. But as he was always in love
with three women at a time, he also paid his addresses to the Countess
Marie Romanovna Voronzoff and to Anne Alexievna Hitroff, who were
likewise Maids of Honour to her Imperial Majesty. We thought that the
first-mentioned danced well, and that she was rather pretty. She was
dancing with Leon Narichkine. While talking on this subject, his
sister-in-law and sister told me that his mother talked of marrying him
to Mademoiselle Hitroff, a niece of the Schouvaloffs, on the side of her
mother, who was the sister of Peter and Alexander Schouvaloff, and
married to the father of Mademoiselle Hitroff. This gentleman was often
at the Narichkines, and had so managed that Leon's mother had conceived
the idea of this marriage. Neither Madame Siniavine nor his
sister-in-law were at all anxious for a connection with the
Schouvaloffs, whom, as I have already said, they did not at all like,
and as for Leon, he was not even aware that his mother was thinking of
marrying him, while he was actually in love with the Countess Marie
Voronzoff just spoken of. On hearing this, I told Mesdames Siniavine and
Narichkine that we must not permit this marriage with Mademoiselle
Hitroff, who was a person very much disliked, was intriguing,
disagreeable, and boisterous, and that, to cut short all such ideas, we
ought to give Leon a wife of our own sort. For this purpose I suggested
the above-named niece of the Count Rasoumowsky, a lady of whom, besides,
they were both very fond, and who was always at their house. My two
friends greatly approved of my advice, and next day, as there was a
masquerade at court, I addressed myself to Marshal Rasoumowsky, who was
at that time Hetman of the Ukraine, and told him in plain terms that he
was doing very wrong to allow his niece to lose such a desirable husband
as Leon Narichkine; that his mother wished him to marry Mademoiselle
Hitroff, but that Madame Siniavine, his sister-in-law, and myself, were
agreed that his niece would be a more suitable person; and that
therefore he ought, without loss of time, to make the proposal to the
parties interested. The Marshal relished our project, spoke of it to his
then factotum, Teploff, who at once went and spoke of it to the elder
Count Rasoumowsky, who also gave his consent. The very next morning
Teploff went to the Bishop of St. Petersburg, and purchased for fifty
roubles the necessary dispensation. This being obtained, the Marshal and
his wife went to their aunt, the mother of Leon, and managed so well
that they gained her consent even against her own wishes. They were but
just in time, for that very day she was to give her decision to M.
Hitroff. This being done, Marshal Rasoumowsky, Mesdames Siniavine and
Narichkine, broke the matter to Leon, and persuaded him to marry one of
whom he had not even had a thought, while he was actually in love with
another. She, however, was as good as promised to Count Boutourline. As
for Madame Hitroff, he did not care for her at all. This consent being
gained, the Marshal sent for his niece, and she felt that the match was
too good to be refused. The next day, which was Sunday, the two Counts
Rasoumowsky asked the Empress' consent to the match, which she gave at
once. The Schouvaloffs were astonished at the manner in which M. Hitroff
and themselves also had been outwitted, for it was not until the consent
of the Empress had been obtained that they even heard of the matter.
However, the affair being settled, there was no help for it, and thus
Leon, in love with one woman, and his mother wishing him to marry
another, married a third, of whom neither he nor any one else had
thought three days before. This marriage of Leon Narichkine united me
still more closely than ever in friendship with the Counts Rasoumowsky,
who were really grateful to me for having procured so excellent and so
high a match for their niece, nor were they at all sorry at having got
the better of the Schouvaloffs, who could not even complain, but were
obliged to conceal their mortification. It was, moreover, an additional
distinction which I had thus procured for them.

The amours of the Grand Duke with Madame Teploff were now in rather a
languishing condition. One of the greatest obstacles in their way was
the difficulty of seeing one another, and this vexed his Imperial
Highness, who was no fonder of difficulties than he was of answering
letters. At the end of the Carnival, his amours began to be a matter of
party. The Princess of Courland informed me one day that Count Roman
Voronzoff, the father of the two young ladies who were at the court, and
who by the way was the horror of the Grand Duke, as were also his five
children, was in the habit of speaking of the Grand Duke with very
little respect or reserve.

Among other things, he said that if he thought proper he could easily
convert the Duke's antipathy into favour, it being only necessary to
give a dinner to Brockdorf, let him have plenty of English beer to
drink, and when going away, put six bottles of it into his pocket for
his Imperial Highness, and then he and his youngest daughter would at
once take the highest places in the Grand Duke's favour. At the ball the
same evening, I observed a good deal of whispering between his Imperial
Highness and the Countess Marie Voronzoff, the eldest daughter of Count
Roman, for this family had really become very intimate with the
Schouvaloffs, with whom Brockdorf was always welcome. It would have
given me anything but pleasure to have seen Mademoiselle Elizabeth
Voronzoff come again into favour, and therefore, to put an additional
obstacle in the way, I told the Grand Duke what the father had said,
and what I have just related. He became almost furious, and demanded in
great anger from whom I had heard this. For a long while I was unwilling
to tell him, but he said that as I could not name any one, he should
believe that I had myself made up this story in order to damage the
character of both the father and daughters. It was in vain that I told
him I had never in my life made up any such tale; I was obliged at last
to name the Princess of Courland. He told me that he should instantly
write her a note to London whether I had spoken the truth, and that
should there be the least variation between our accounts, he would
complain to the Empress of my intrigues and lies; and with these remarks
he left the room. Fearing that the answer of the Princess might be in
some degree equivocal, I wrote her a note saying, "In Heaven's name,
tell the truth purely and simply on the matter which you are going to be
asked about." My note was instantly despatched, and reached her in time,
for it got before the Grand Duke's. The Princess of Courland gave a
truthful answer to his Imperial Highness, and he found that I had not
told him a falsehood. This withheld him for some time from his
"liaisons" with these two daughters of a man who had but little esteem
for him, and whom besides he himself disliked. But in order to put an
additional obstacle in the way, Leon Narichkine persuaded Count
Rasoumowsky to invite the Duke to his house one or two evenings each
week, quite in private. It was almost a _partie quarrée_, for no one was
present at it but the Marshal, Marie Paolovna Narichkine, the Grand
Duke, Madame Teploff, and Leon Narichkine. This went on for a good part
of Lent, and gave rise to another idea. The Marshal's house was at this
time of wood. He received company in his wife's apartments, and as they
were both fond of play, there was always play there. The Marshal used to
go backwards and forwards, and in his private apartments he had his own
coterie, when the Grand Duke was not there. But as the Marshal had often
been at my rooms in my little furtive parties, he wished our caterer to
come in turn to his home. With this view, what he called his hermitage,
which consisted of two or three rooms on the ground-floor, was destined
for us. Every one was carefully concealed, because, as I have already
said, we dared not go out without permission. By this arrangement there
were three or four parties in the house; the Marshal went from one to
the other, and mine was the only one that knew all that was going on in
the house, whereas none knew that we were there.

Towards the spring M. Pechlin, minister of the Grand Duke for Holstein,
died. The Grand Chancellor, Count Bestoujeff, foreseeing his death, had
advised me to ask the Grand Duke to give the place to a certain M.
Stambke. At the commencement of spring we went to Oranienbaum. Here our
mode of life was the same as in previous years, with this exception,
that the number of Holstein troops, and of adventurers who were
appointed as officers over them, was augmented year by year; and as it
was impossible to find quarters for them in the little village of
Oranienbaum, where at the first there were no more than twenty-eight
cottages, tents were pitched for these troops, whose number never
exceeded 1300 men. The officers dined and supped at court; but as the
number of ladies belonging to the court, together with the wives of the
gentlemen, did not exceed fifteen or sixteen, and as his Imperial
Highness was passionately fond of grand entertainments, which he
frequently gave, both in his camp, and in every nook and corner of
Oranienbaum, he admitted to these entertainments, not only the female
singers and ballet-girls of his opera, but also a great many women of
the middle class, of very bad character, who were brought to him from
St. Petersburg. As soon as I was aware that these singing women, etc.,
were to be admitted, I abstained from attending, under pretext at first
that I was taking the waters, and the greater part of the time I took my
meals in my own rooms with two or three persons. I afterwards told the
Grand Duke that I was afraid the Empress would be displeased if I
appeared in so mixed a company; and, in fact, I never went when I knew
that the hospitality was general, and therefore, whenever the Grand Duke
wished me to come, none were admitted but the ladies of the court. At
the masquerades which the Grand Duke gave at Oranienbaum, I never
appeared otherwise than very simply dressed, without jewels or
ornaments. This, too, had a good effect with the Empress, who neither
liked nor approved of these _fêtes_ at Oranienbaum, which really became
orgies; and yet she tolerated them, or at least did not forbid them. I
was informed that her Imperial Highness said, "These _fêtes_ give no
more pleasure to the Grand Duchess than they do to me; she goes to them
dressed in the simplest manner possible, and never sups with the crowd
admitted to them." I occupied myself at this time at Oranienbaum in
building and planting what is there called my garden, and the rest of
the time I took exercise either in walking, riding, or driving, and in
my own room I read.

In the month of July we heard that Memel had surrendered on terms to the
Russian troops on the 24th of June, and in August the news arrived of
the Battle of Gross-Jægersdorf, won by the Russian army on the 19th of
that month. On the day of the _Te Deum_, I gave a grand entertainment in
my garden to the Grand Duke, and to all the most distinguished people at
Oranienbaum, at which the Grand Duke and all the company appeared very
gay, and very much pleased. This diminished for the moment the pain
which the Grand Duke felt at the war which had just broken out between
Russia and the King of Prussia, for which ever since his boyhood he had
felt a singular inclination. This at the first was natural enough, but
in the end it degenerated into madness. At this time the public joy at
the success of the arms of Russia obliged him to dissemble his real
sentiments, which were that he saw with regret the defeat of the
Prussian troops, which he regarded as invincible. On that day I had an
ox roasted for the masons and laborers at Oranienbaum.

A few days after this entertainment we returned to the capital, where we
occupied the Summer Palace. Here Count Alexander Schouvaloff came one
evening to tell me that the Empress was in his wife's room, and that she
had sent word to me to come there and speak to her, as I had desired
last winter. I went without delay to the apartment of the Count and
Countess Schouvaloff, which was at the end of my own apartments, and
found the Empress there quite alone. After kissing her hand and
receiving her embrace in return, she did me the honour to say, that
having been informed that I wanted to speak to her, she had come to-day
to know what it was I wanted. It was now eight months and more since my
conversation with Alexander Schouvaloff on the subject of Brockdorf. I
replied to her Imperial Majesty that last winter, seeing the way in
which M. Brockdorf acted, I had thought it necessary to speak of it to
Count Alexander Schouvaloff, in order that he might apprise her Imperial
Majesty of it; that he had asked if he might name me as his authority,
and that I had told him that, if her Imperial Majesty wished it, I would
repeat to her all that I knew. Thereupon I related the story of
Elendsheim as it had taken place. She seemed to listen to me very
coldly, then she asked me for details of the private life of the Grand
Duke and of his associates. I told her with the greatest truth all that
I knew of them, and when, with regard to the affairs of Holstein, I
entered into some details which showed her that I was well acquainted
with them, she said to me, "You seem to be well informed in regard to
that country." I said very simply that that was not a difficulty, as the
Grand Duke had ordered me to make myself acquainted with them. I saw
from her countenance that this confidence made a disagreeable impression
on her mind, and generally she appeared to me unusually close during
this conversation, in which she questioned me, and made me talk,
scarcely saying a word herself, so that this interview appeared to me
rather a kind of inquisition on her part, than a confidential
conversation. At last she dismissed me quite as coldly as she received
me, and I was very little pleased with my audience, which Alexander
Schouvaloff recommended me to keep quite secret, which I promised him to
do, and indeed there was nothing in it to boast of. On my return I
attributed the coldness of the Empress to the antipathy with which, as I
had long been informed, the Schouvaloffs had inspired her against me. It
will be seen as we proceed what a detestable use, if I may venture to
say so, they persuaded her to make of the private conversation.

Some time after this we learned that Marshal Apraxine, far from
profiting by his success after the capture of Memel and the victory of
Gross-Jægersdorf, to push onwards, was retiring with such
precipitation, that his retreat resembled a flight, for he threw away or
burned his carriages and spiked his guns. No one understood these
operations: his friends, even, could not justify him, and on that
account it was suspected that there must be some foul play. Although I
do not myself know to what exactly to attribute the precipitate and
inconsistent retreat of Marshal Apraxine, never having seen him since,
yet I think the cause of it may have been that he received from his
daughter, the Princess Kourakine, always connected by policy, though not
by inclination, with Peter Schouvaloff, from his son-in-law, Prince
Kourakine, and from his friends and relatives, very precise news of the
health of the Empress, which was constantly getting worse and worse. At
this time it began generally to be conceived that she had very violent
convulsions every month, regularly; that these convulsions visibly
enfeebled her faculties; that after every convulsion she was for three
or four days in a state of weakness and exhaustion which resembled
lethargy; and that during this period she could not be spoken to on any
subject whatsoever. Marshal Apraxine, perhaps thinking the danger more
urgent than it really was, did not judge it advisable to advance farther
into Prussia, but thought it best to make a retrograde movement, in
order to draw nearer to the frontiers of Russia, under pretext of want
of provisions, foreseeing that, in the event of the Empress' death, the
war would be brought at once to a close. It was difficult to justify the
proceedings of Marshal Apraxine. But such may have been his views, and
the more so as he believed his presence necessary in Russia, as I have
already mentioned, when speaking of his departure. Count Bestoujeff
informed me, through Stambke, of the turn which the conduct of Marshal
Apraxine had taken, and how the Imperial Ambassador, and that of
France, loudly complained of it. He begged me to write to the Marshal,
as being his friend, and join my persuasions to his, to induce him to
retrace his steps and put an end to a flight to which his enemies gave
an odious and injurious interpretation. I did write to him, and informed
him of the reports current at St. Petersburg, and of the difficulty
which his friends found in justifying the precipitancy of his retreat,
and begged him to retrace his steps and fulfil the orders he had
received from the Government. This letter was sent to him through
Bestoujeff, but I received no reply to it. Meanwhile General Fermor,
Director-General of Works to her Imperial Majesty, came to take leave of
us on his departure from St. Petersburg. We learned that he was
appointed to the army. He had formerly been Quarter-master-general to
Count Munich. The first thing which he asked for was to have with him
his _employés_ or superintendents, at the board of works, the Brigadiers
Reaznoff and Mordvinoff; and with them he set off for the army. These
were soldiers who had scarcely ever done anything but make contracts for
building. On his arrival he was ordered to take the command, in place of
Marshal Apraxine, who was recalled, and who, on his return, found at
Trihorsky an order to await there the commands of the Empress. These
were long in reaching him, because his friends, his daughter, and Peter
Schouvaloff moved heaven and earth to calm the anger of the Empress,
fomented as it was by Counts Voronzoff, Boutourline, John Schouvaloff,
and others, who were urged on by the ambassadors of the courts of Vienna
and Versailles, who were anxious to have the Marshal brought to trial.
At last, commissioners were named to examine him. After the first
interrogatory, the Marshal was seized with a fit of apoplexy, of which
he died in about twenty-four hours. In this trial, General Lieven would
assuredly have also been included. He was the friend and confidant of
Apraxine. I should have had an additional grief, for Lieven was
sincerely attached to me. But whatever friendship I may have had for
Apraxine and Lieven, I can swear that I was entirely ignorant of the
cause of their conduct, and even of their conduct itself, although a
good deal of trouble was taken to circulate a report that it was to
please the Grand Duke and me that they had retreated instead of
advancing. Lieven occasionally gave very singular proofs of his
attachment to me; among others, the following. The Ambassador of
Austria, Count Esterhazy, gave a masquerade, at which the Empress and
all the court were present. Lieven, seeing me pass the room where he
was, said to his neighbour, who was Count Poniatowsky, "There is a woman
for whom a fellow might take some blows of the knout without
complaining." I have this anecdote from Count Poniatowsky himself, since
King of Poland.

As soon as General Fermor had assumed the command, he hastened to fulfil
his instructions, which were precise. He instantly moved forward, in
spite of the rigour of the season, and occupied Königsberg, which sent
deputies to him on 18th January, 1758.

During this winter I suddenly perceived a great change in the behaviour
of Leon Narichkine. He began to be disrespectful and rude; no longer
visited me except unwillingly, and talked in a manner which made it
evident that some one was filling his head with prejudices against me,
his sister-in-law, his sister, Count Poniatowsky, and all who held to
me. I learned that he was constantly at the house of John Schouvaloff,
and I easily guessed that they were turning him against me, in order to
punish me for having prevented his marriage with Mademoiselle Hitroff,
and that they would certainly go on until they had led him into
indiscretions which might be injurious to me. His sister-in-law, his
sister, and his brother were equally angry with him on my account, and,
literally, he conducted himself like a fool, and took delight in
offending us as much as he could, and that, too, while I was furnishing,
at my own expense, the house in which he was to live when married. Every
one accused him of ingratitude, and told him that he had no interest in
what he was doing; in a word, that he had nothing whatever to complain
of. It was evident that he was a mere tool in the hands of those who had
got possession of him. He was more regular in paying court to the Grand
Duke, whom he amused as much as he could, leading him on more and more
to courses which he knew I disapproved of. He sometimes pushed his
incivility so far as not to reply when I spoke to him. To this very hour
I cannot conceive what could have offended him, for I had literally
loaded him with favours and friendship, as also all his family, from the
first moment I knew them. I fancy he was also induced to cajole the
Grand Duke, by the advice of the Schouvaloffs, who told him that the
Duke's favour would be more advantageous than mine, since I was in ill
odour both with him and the Empress, neither of whom liked me, and that
he would interfere with his own prospects if he did not detach himself
from me; that as soon as the Empress died, the Grand Duke would put me
into a convent; and other such like statements which the Schouvaloffs
made to him, and which were reported to me. Besides, they showed him in
perspective the order of St. Anne as the symbol of the Grand Duke's
favour. By these and such like reasonings and promises, they obtained
from this weak-minded young man, all the little treacheries they
wished; indeed, they made him go not only as far, but even farther than
they wished, although now and then, as will hereafter be seen, he had
his fits of repentance. He also endeavoured, as much as possible, to
alienate the Grand Duke from me, so that his Imperial Highness
manifested an almost continuous ill-humour towards me, while he again
renewed his connection with the Countess Elizabeth Voronzoff.

In the beginning of the spring of this year it was rumoured that Prince
Charles of Saxony, son of Augustus III, King of Poland, intended to
visit St. Petersburg. The prospect of this visit appeared no pleasure to
the Grand Duke, for many reasons. In the first place, he feared that it
would be an additional restraint upon him, as he did not like that the
course of life which he had traced out for himself should be in the
least disturbed. In the next place the house of Saxony stood opposed to
the King of Prussia, while a third reason may have been that he feared
to suffer by comparison; if so, this, at all events, was being very
modest, for the poor Prince of Saxony was a mere nonentity and wholly
devoid of education. Except hunting and dancing, he knew absolutely
nothing, and he told me himself that in the whole course of his life he
never had a book in his hand except the prayer-books given to him by his
mother, who was a great bigot. The Prince, in short, arrived at St.
Petersburg on the 5th of April, in this year. He was received with much
ceremony, and a great display of magnificence and splendour. His suite
was very numerous, and he was accompanied by many Poles and Saxons,
among whom there was a Lubomirsky, a Pototsky, a Rzevusky, who enjoyed
the appellation of "_the handsome_," two princes, Soulkowsky, a Count
Sapieha, the Count Branitsky, since Grand-General, a Count Einsiedel,
and many others, whose names do not now occur to me. He had a kind of
sub-governor or tutor with him, named Lachinal, who directed his conduct
and his correspondence. The Prince took up his residence in the house of
the chamberlain, John Schouvaloff, which was recently finished, and on
which its owner had exhausted his taste, notwithstanding which the house
was tasteless and inconveniently though richly furnished. There were
numerous paintings, but the greater part were only copies. One of the
rooms was ornamented with tchinar wood, but as this wood does not take a
polish it had been varnished; this turned it yellow, but of a very
disagreeable hue, and, this being pronounced ugly, they sought to remedy
it by covering it with very elaborate carvings, which they silvered.
Externally, this mansion, though imposing in itself, resembled in its
decorations, ruffles of Alençon lace, so loaded was it with ornament.
Count John Czernickeff was appointed to attend on Prince Charles, and
the Prince was provided with everything he required at the expense of
the court, and waited on by the servants of the court.

The night preceding the day of Prince Charles's visit to us, I suffered
so severely from a violent attack of cholic, with such looseness of the
bowels that they were moved more than thirty times. Notwithstanding
this, and the fever consequent upon it, I dressed the next morning to
receive the Prince of Saxony. He was presented to the Empress about two
o'clock in the afternoon, and, upon leaving her, was presented to me.
The Grand Duke was to enter a moment after him. Three arm-chairs had
been placed side by side along the same wall, the centre one was for me,
that on my right for the Grand Duke, and the one on my left for the
Prince of Saxony. The task of keeping up the conversation devolved
entirely upon me, for the Grand Duke had hardly a word to say, and the
Prince had no conversational powers. In short, after a brief interview
of a quarter of an hour's length, Prince Charles arose to present his
immense _suite_ to us. There were with him, I think, more than twenty
persons, to whom were added, upon this occasion, the Polish and Saxon
Envoys who resided at the Russian Court, together with their employés.
After half an hour's interview the Prince took leave, and I undressed
and went to bed, where I remained three or four days in a very violent
fever, at the end of which I showed some signs of pregnancy. At the end
of April we went to Oranienbaum. Before our departure we learnt that
Prince Charles of Saxony intended to join the Russian army as a
volunteer. Before leaving for the army, he went with the Empress to
Petershoff where he was _fêted_. We took no part in these festivities,
or in those given in the capital, but remained at our country-house,
where he came to take leave of us, and then departed on the 4th of July.

As the Grand Duke was almost always in very bad humour with me, for
which I could find no other reasons than my not receiving either M.
Brockdorf or the Countess Voronzoff, who again was becoming the reigning
favourite, it occurred to me to give a _fête_ to his Imperial Highness
in my garden at Oranienbaum, in order, if possible, to mitigate this
ill-feeling. A _fête_ was a thing always welcome to his Imperial
Highness. Accordingly, I ordered an Italian architect who was at that
time in my service, Antonio Renaldi, to construct, in a retired spot in
the wood a large car capable of containing an orchestra of sixty
persons, singers and instrumentalists. I had verses composed by the
Italian poet of the court, and set to music by the chapel-master,
Araja. In the large avenue of the garden was placed an illuminated
decoration with a curtain, opposite to which a table was laid out for
supper. On the 17th of July, at the close of day, his Imperial Highness,
and all who were at Oranienbaum and numerous spectators from St.
Petersburg and Cronstadt, assembled in the gardens which they found
illuminated. We sat down to table, and, after the first course, the
curtain which concealed the grand avenue was raised, and in the distance
the ambulatory orchestra was seen approaching, drawn by twenty oxen,
decorated with garlands and surrounded by all the dancers, male and
female, that I had been able to get together. The avenue was
illuminated, and so bright that everything could be plainly
distinguished. When the car stopped, it so happened that the moon stood
directly over it--a circumstance which produced an admirable effect and
took the company quite by surprise; the weather, besides, was most
delightful. The guests sprang from table, and advanced nearer to enjoy
more fully the beauty of the symphony and of the spectacle. When this
was ended the curtain dropped, and we sat down again to table for the
second course; after which a flourish of trumpets and cymbals was heard,
and then a mountebank cried out, "This way, ladies and gentlemen; walk
in here, and you will find lottery tickets for nothing." At each side of
the curtained decoration two small curtains were now raised, displaying
two small shops brightly illuminated, at one of which tickets were
distributed gratis for a lottery of the porcelain it contained; and, in
the other, for flowers, fans, combs, purses, ribbons, gloves,
sword-knots, and other similar trifles. When the stalls were empty
dessert was served, and afterwards came dancing, which was kept up till
six the next morning. For once in the way, no intrigue or ill-will
occurred to mar the effect of my _fête_, and his Imperial Highness and
every one besides was in ecstasies. Nothing was to be heard but
laudations of the Grand Duchess and her _fête_; and, indeed, I had
spared no expense. My wine was pronounced delicious; the repast the best
possible. All was at my own expense, and cost from 10,000 to 15,000
roubles; it must be remembered that I had 30,000 roubles a-year. But
this _fête_ was near costing me still more dearly; for, during the day
of the 17th of July, having gone in a cabriolet with Madame Narichkine
to see the preparations, and wishing to descend from the carriage, just
as I placed my foot on the step, a sudden movement of the horse threw me
on my knees on the ground. I was then four or five months advanced in
pregnancy. I pretended to make light of the accident, and remained the
last at the _fête_, doing the honours. However I was very much afraid of
a miscarriage, but no ill result occurred, and I escaped with nothing
worse than the fright.

The Grand Duke, and all his coterie, all his Holstein retainers, and
even my most rancorous enemies, for days afterwards, were never tired of
singing my praises, and those of my _fête_, there being no one, either
friend or foe, who did not carry off some trifle or other, as a
souvenir; and as at the _fête_, which was a masquerade, there was a
numerous assemblage of all ranks, and as the company in the garden was
very mixed, and as among them were a number of women who could not
elsewhere have appeared at court, or in my presence, all made a boast
and display of my presents, which were, in reality, mere trifles, none
of them, I believe, exceeding a hundred roubles in value; but they came
from me, and every one was delighted to be able to say, "I received that
from her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess; she is goodness itself;
she has made presents to every one; she is charming; she gave me a kind
smile, and took pleasure in making us all eat, dance, and divert
ourselves; she was always ready to find a place for those who had none,
and wished every one to see all that was to be seen. She was very
lively," etc.

In short, on that day I was found to possess qualities which had not
before been recognized, and I disarmed my enemies. This was what I
wanted; but it did not last long, as will shortly appear.

After this _fête_, Leon Narichkine renewed his visits to me. One day, on
entering my boudoir, I found him impertinently stretched on a couch
which was there, and singing an absurd song; seeing this, I went out,
closing the door after me, and immediately went in search of his
sister-in-law, whom I told that we must get a good bundle of nettles,
and with them chastise this fellow, who had for some time past behaved
so insolently towards us, and teach him to respect us. His sister-in-law
readily consented, and we forthwith had brought to us some good strong
rods, surrounded with nettles. We took along with us a widow, who was
with me, among my women, by name Tatiana Jourievna, and we all three
entered the cabinet, where we found Leon Narichkine singing his song at
the top of his voice. When he saw us he tried to make off, but we
whipped him so well with our rods and nettles, that his hands, legs, and
face were swollen for two or three days to such a degree that he could
not accompany us to Peterhoff on the morrow, which was a court day, but
was obliged to remain in his room. He took care, besides, not to boast
of what had occurred, because we assured him that on the least sign of
impoliteness, or ground of complaint from him, we would renew the
operation, seeing that there was no other means of managing him. All
this was done as mere joke, and without anger, but our hero felt it
sufficiently to recollect it, and did not again expose himself to it, at
least, not to the same extent as before.

In the month of August, while at Oranienbaum, we learnt that the battle
of Zorndorff, one of the most sanguinary of the century, had been fought
on the 14th of that month. The number of killed and wounded, on each
side, was calculated at upwards of 20,000. Our loss in officers was
considerable, and exceeded 1,200. This battle was announced to us as a
victory, but it was whispered that the loss was equal on both sides;
that for the space of three days neither army ventured to claim the
victory; that finally, on the third day, the King of Prussia, in his
camp, and the Count Fermor on the field of battle, had each caused the
_Te Deum_ to be sung. The vexation of the Empress and the consternation
of the city were extreme when they learned all the details of this
bloody day, in which so many people lost relatives, friends, or
acquaintances. For a long time all was sorrow; a great many generals
were slain or wounded or taken prisoners. At last, it was acknowledged,
that the conduct of Count Fermor was anything but soldierly and skilful.
He was recalled, and the command of the Russian forces in Prussia was
given to Count Peter Soltikoff. For this purpose he was summoned from
the Ukraine, where he commanded, and in the interim the command of the
army was given to General Froloff Bagreeff, but with secret instructions
to do nothing without the concurrence of the Lieutenant-Generals Count
Roumianzoff and Prince Alexander Galitzine, his brother-in-law. A charge
was brought, to the effect that Fermor, being at no great distance from
the field of battle, with a force of 10,000 men upon the heights,
whence he could hear the cannonade, might have rendered the action more
decisive, had he attacked the Prussian army in the rear while engaged
with ours. He neglected to do this, and when his brother-in-law, Prince
Galitzine, came to his camp after the battle, and detailed the butchery
that had taken place, he received him very ill, said many disagreeable
things to him, and refused to see him afterwards, treating him as a
coward, which Prince Galitzine by no means was, the entire army being
more convinced of his intrepidity than of that of Roumianzoff,
notwithstanding his present glory and victories. At the beginning of
September the Empress was at Zarskoe Selo, where, on the 8th of the
month, the day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, she went on foot
from the palace to the parish church to hear mass, the distance being
only a few steps towards the north from the palace-door to the church.
Scarcely had the service commenced, when, feeling unwell, she left the
church, and descended the little flight of steps which turns towards the
palace, and, on arriving at the re-entering angle of the side of the
church, she fell down insensible on the grass, in the midst of, or
rather surrounded by, a crowd of people who had come to hear mass from
all the neighbouring villages. None of her attendants had followed her
when she left the church; but being soon apprised of her condition, the
ladies of her suite, and her other intimate attendants, ran to her
assistance, and found her without consciousness or movement in the midst
of the crowd, who gazed upon her without daring to approach. The Empress
was tall and powerful, and could not fall down suddenly without doing
herself a good deal of injury by the mere fall. They covered her with a
white handkerchief, and went to fetch the physician and surgeon. The
latter arrived first, and instantly bled her, just as she lay on the
ground, and in the presence of all the crowd. But this did not bring her
to. The physician was a long time in coming, being himself ill, and
unable to walk. He was obliged to be carried in an arm-chair. The
physician was the late Condoijdij, a Greek by nation, and the surgeon,
Fouzadier, a French refugee. At last screens were brought from the
palace as well as a couch, on which she was placed, and by dint of care,
and the remedies applied, she began to revive a little; but, on opening
her eyes, she recognized no one, and asked, in a scarcely intelligible
manner, where she was. All this lasted above two hours, at the end of
which it was determined to carry her Majesty on the couch to the palace.
The consternation into which this event threw all who were attached to
the court may easily be imagined. The publicity of the affair added to
its unpleasantness. Hitherto the state of the Empress had been kept very
secret, but in this case the accident was public. The next morning I was
informed of the event at Oranienbaum by a note from Count Poniatowsky. I
immediately went and told the Grand Duke, who knew nothing of it;
because, generally speaking, every thing was carefully concealed from
us, and more especially all that concerned the Empress herself. Only
that it was customary, whenever we happened not to be in the same place
as her Majesty, to send every Sunday one of the gentlemen of our court
to make inquiries after her health. This we did not fail to do on the
following Sunday, and we learnt that for several days the Empress had
not recovered the free use of speech, and that even yet she articulated
with difficulty. It was asserted that during her swoon she had bitten
her tongue. All this gave reason for supposing that this weakness
partook more of the nature of convulsions than mere fainting.

At the end of September we returned to the capital, and as I began to
get large, I no longer appeared in public, believing that the period of
my confinement was much nearer than it really proved to be. This was a
source of annoyance to the Grand Duke, because, when I appeared in
public, he very often complained of indisposition, in order to be able
to remain in his own apartments, and, as the Empress also rarely
appeared, the burden of the reception days, the _fêtes_, and the balls
of the court devolved upon me, and when I could not be there, his
Imperial Highness was teased to be present, in order that some one might
represent her Majesty. He, therefore, began to be annoyed at my
pregnancy, and one day took it in his head to say, in his apartment,
before Leon Narichkine, and several others, "God knows where my wife
gets her pregnancies, I don't very well know whether this child is mine,
and whether I ought to take the responsibility of it." Leon Narichkine
came running to me with these words, fresh from the Duke's lips. I was
naturally enough alarmed at such a speech, and said to him, "How stupid
you all are. Go and ask him to swear that he has not slept with his
wife, and tell him if he will take this oath, you will go immediately
and give information of it to Alexander Schouvaloff as grand inquisitor
of the empire." Leon actually went to his Imperial Highness, and asked
him for this oath, but the answer he got was, "Go to the devil, and
don't talk to me any more about that." This speech of the Grand Duke,
made so indiscreetly, gave me great pain, and I saw from that moment
that three paths almost equally perilous presented themselves for my
choice: first, to share the fortunes of the Grand Duke, be they what
they might; secondly, to be exposed every moment to everything he chose
to do either for or against me; or, lastly, to take a path entirely
independent of all eventualities; to speak more plainly, I had to choose
the alternative of perishing with him, or by him, or to save myself, my
children, and perhaps the empire also, from the wreck of which all the
moral and physical qualities of this Prince made me foresee the danger.
This last choice appeared to me the safest. I resolved, therefore, to
the utmost of my power to continue to give him on all occasions the very
best advice I could for his benefit, but never to persist in this, as I
had hitherto done, so as to make him angry; to open his eyes to his true
interests on every opportunity that presented itself; and, during the
rest of the time, to maintain a gloomy silence; and, on the other hand,
to take care of my own interests with the public, so that in the time of
need they might see in me the saviour of the commonwealth. In the month
of October I was informed by the High Chancellor, Count Bestoujeff, that
the King of Poland had just sent Count Poniatowsky his letters of
recall. Count Bestoujeff had had a violent dispute upon this subject
with Count Brühl and the Cabinet of Saxony, and was annoyed that he had
not been consulted in the matter as heretofore. He learned at last that
the Vice-Chancellor, Count Voronzoff, and John Schouvaloff had, with the
assistance of Prasse, the resident minister of Saxony, secretly
manoeuvred the whole affair. This M. Prasse, moreover, often appeared
to be well informed of a number of secrets which it puzzled every one to
conjecture whence he had obtained them. Many years afterwards their
source was discovered. He carried on a love intrigue, though very
secretly and very discreetly, with the Vice-Chancellor's wife, the
Countess Anna Karlovna, whose maiden name was Scavronsky. This lady was
the intimate friend of the wife of Samarine, the master of the
ceremonies, and it was at the house of the latter that the Countess saw
M. Prasse. The Chancellor Bestoujeff had all the letters of recall
brought to him, and sent them back to Saxony under pretext of

In the night between the 8th and 9th of December, I began to feel the
pains of childbirth. I sent to inform the Grand Duke by Madame
Vladislava, and also Count Schouvaloff, that he might announce the fact
to her Imperial Majesty. In a short time the Grand Duke came into my
room, dressed in his Holstein uniform, booted and spurred, with his
scarf round his body, and an enormous sword at his side, having made an
elaborate toilet. It was about half-past two in the morning. Astonished
at his appearance, I inquired the reason of this grand dress. He replied
that it was only on an emergency that true friends could be discerned;
that in this garb he was ready to act as duty demanded; that the duty of
a Holstein officer was to defend, according to his oath, the ducal
palace against all its enemies, and that as I was ill he had hastened to
my assistance. One would have supposed him jesting; but not at all, he
was quite serious. I saw at once that he was intoxicated, and advised
him to go to bed, that the Empress when she came might not have the
double annoyance of seeing him in such a state, and armed _cap-a-pie_ in
the Holstein uniform, which I knew she detested. I had great difficulty
in getting him to leave; however, Madame Vladislava and myself finally
persuaded him, with the help of the midwife, who assured him that I
should not be delivered for some time yet. At length he went away, and
the Empress arrived. She asked where the Grand Duke was, and she was
informed that he had just quitted the room, and would not fail to
return. When she found that the pains abated, and that the midwife told
her I might not be confined for some hours yet, she returned to her
apartments, and I went to bed and slept till the next morning, when I
got up as usual, feeling however occasional pains, after which I
continued for hours together entirely free from them. Towards supper
time I felt hungry, and ordered some supper to be brought. The midwife
was sitting near me, and seeing me eat ravenously, she said, "Eat, eat:
this supper will bring you good luck." In fact, having finished my
supper, I rose from the table, and the moment I did so was seized with
such a pain, that I gave a loud scream. The midwife and Madame
Vladislava seized me under my arms, and placed me on the "bed of pain,"
and went to seek the Empress and the Grand Duke. Scarcely had they
arrived when I was delivered (between ten and eleven o'clock at night),
on the 9th of December, of a daughter, whom I begged the Empress to
allow me to name after her. But she decided that she should be named
after her eldest sister, Anne Petrovna, Duchess of Holstein, mother of
the Grand Duke. His Imperial Highness appeared much pleased at the birth
of this child; he made great rejoicings over it in his own apartments,
ordered rejoicings to be made in Holstein also, and received all the
compliments paid to him on the subject with great manifestations of
pleasure. On the sixth day the Empress stood godmother to the child, and
brought me an order on the cabinet for 60,000 roubles. A similar present
was sent to the Grand Duke, which added not a little to his
satisfaction. After the baptism the _fêtes_ commenced, which were very
magnificent, according to report. I saw none of them, but remained in my
bed, very delicate and quite alone, not a living soul to keep me
company; for no sooner was I delivered than the Empress not only carried
off the child to her own apartments as previously, but under the plea of
my requiring repose, I was left there and abandoned like any poor
wretch, no one entering my apartments to ask how I was, or even sending
to inquire. As on the former occasion, I had suffered a great deal from
this neglect. I had this time taken all possible precautions against
draughts, and the other inconveniences of the place; and as soon as I
was delivered I arose and went to my bed, and as no one dared to visit
me, unless secretly, I had also taken care to provide for this
contingency. My bed stood nearly in the middle of a rather long room,
the windows being on the right side of the bed. There was also a side
door, which opened into a kind of wardrobe, which served also as an
ante-chamber, and which was well barricaded with screens and trunks.
From the bed to this door I had placed an immense screen which concealed
the prettiest little boudoir I could devise, considering the locality
and the circumstances. In this boudoir were a couch, mirrors, moveable
tables, and some chairs. When the curtains of my bed on that side were
drawn, nothing could be seen; but when they were pulled aside, I could
see the boudoir, and those who happened to be in it. But any one
entering the room could only see the screens. If any one asked what was
behind the screen, the answer was, the commode; and this being within
the screen, no one was anxious to see it; or even if so, it could be
shown without getting into the boudoir, which the screen effectively


On the 1st of January, 1759, the court festivities terminated with a
grand display of fireworks between the ball and the supper. As I still
kept my room, I did not appear at court. Before the fireworks were let
off, Count Peter Schouvaloff took it into his head to present himself at
my door, to show me the plan of them before they were let off. Madame
Vladislava told him I was asleep, but however she would go and see. It
was not true that I was asleep; I was merely in bed, and had my usual
little party, which then, as formerly, consisted of Mesdames Narichkine,
Siniavine, Ismaïloff, and Count Poniatowsky. The latter, since his
recall, had given out that he was ill, but came to visit me, and these
ladies loved me sufficiently to prefer my company to the balls and
_fêtes_. Madame Vladislava did not exactly know who was with me, but she
was a great deal too shrewd not to suspect that there was some one. I
had told her early that I should go to bed, as I felt weary; and then
she did not afterwards disturb me. Upon the arrival of Count
Schouvaloff, she came and knocked at my door. I drew the curtain on the
side of the screen, and told her to enter. She came in, and brought me
the message of Count Peter Schouvaloff, and I ordered her to admit him.
While she went to execute this order, my friends behind the screen were
bursting with laughter at the extreme absurdity of the scene--my being
about to receive Count Schouvaloff, who would be able to swear that he
had found me alone, and in bed, while there was only a curtain which
separated my gay little party from this most important personage, who
was at that time the oracle of the court, and possessed the confidence
of the Empress to a very high degree. In, therefore, he came, and
brought me his plan for the fireworks. He was at the time Grand Master
of Artillery. I began by making apologies for keeping him waiting--only
having, I said, just awoke; I rubbed my eyes, saying that I was still
quite sleepy. I told a story, not to make Madame Vladislava out a
story-teller. After this, I entered into a rather long conversation with
him, so much so even, that he appeared anxious to leave, in order not to
keep the Empress waiting for the commencement of the fireworks. I then
dismissed him. He took his departure, and I again drew aside the
curtain. My company, from laughing so heartily, was beginning to feel
hungry and thirsty. "Very well," I said, "you shall have something to
eat and drink; it is only fair that while you are kind enough to give me
your company, you should not die of hunger or thirst." I closed the
curtain and rang; Madame Vladislava presented herself. I told her that I
was starving, and desired her to bring me some supper. I said I must
have at least six good dishes. When it was ready it was brought to me,
and I had it placed by the side of my bed, and told the servant not to
wait. Then my friends from behind the screen came out like so many
famished creatures to eat whatever they could find; the fun of the thing
increased their appetite. In fact, this evening was one of the merriest
I have ever passed in the whole course of my life. When the supper had
been devoured, I had the remains cleared away in the same manner as it
had been served. I fancy however the servants were a little surprised at
my appetite. About the time the court supper had concluded, my party
retired also very well pleased with their evening. Count Poniatowsky,
when going out, always wore a wig of fair hair and a cloak, and to the
question of the sentinels, "Who goes there?" was accustomed to answer
that he was a musician to the Grand Duke. This wig made us laugh a good
deal that day.

This time my churching, after the six weeks, took place in the Empress'
chapel; but no one assisted at it except Alexander Schouvaloff. Towards
the end of the Carnival, and when all the _fêtes_ of the city were
finished, three weddings took place at court: that of Count Alexander
Strogonoff with the Countess Anne Voronzoff, daughter of the
Vice-Chancellor, was the first; and, two days after, that of Leon
Narichkine with Mademoiselle Zakrefsky; and, on the same day, also, that
of Count Boutourline with the Countess Marie Voronzoff. These three
young ladies were Maids of Honour to the Empress. At the celebration of
these weddings, a bet was made at court between the Hetman Count
Rasoumowsky and the Minister of Denmark, Count d'Osten, as to which of
the three newly-made husbands should be first cuckolded, and it turned
out that those who had bet that it would be Strogonoff, whose bride
appeared the plainest of the three, and at the time the most innocent
and childlike, won the wager.

The evening preceding the day on which Leon Narichkine and Count
Boutourline were married, was an unfortunate one. For a long time, it
had been whispered that the credit of the Grand Chancellor was wavering,
and that his enemies were getting the upper hand of him. He had lost his
friend, General Apraxine. Count Rasoumowsky, the elder, had for a long
time supported him; but ever since the influence of the Schouvaloffs had
preponderated, he scarcely meddled with anything, except, when occasion
offered, to ask for some trifling favour for his friends or connections.
The hatred of Schouvaloff and Voronzoff against the Chancellor was still
further increased by the efforts of the Ambassadors of Austria and
France, Count Esterhazy, and Marshal de l'Hôpital. The latter thought
Count Bestoujeff more disposed for an alliance with England than with
France, and the Ambassador of Austria caballed against him, because,
while he wished Russia should adhere to her treaty of alliance with the
Court of Vienna, and give aid to Maria Theresa, he did not wish that she
should take a leading part in a war against the King of Prussia. The
views of Count Bestoujeff were those of a patriot, and he was not easily
led; whereas the Messrs. Voronzoff and John Schouvaloff were the tools
of the two ambassadors to such an extent that a fortnight before the
Grand Chancellor's disgrace, the Marquis de l'Hôpital, Ambassador of
France, went to Count Voronzoff, despatch in hand, and said to him,
"Monsieur le Comte, here is the despatch of my court, which I have just
received, and in which it is said that if, within a fortnight, the Grand
Chancellor is not displaced by you, I am to address myself to him, and
treat with no one but him." Then the Vice-Chancellor took fire, and went
to John Schouvaloff, and they represented to the Empress that her glory
was suffering from the credit which Count Bestoujeff enjoyed throughout
Europe. She ordered that a conference should be held that very evening,
and that the Grand Chancellor should be summoned to it. The latter sent
word that he was ill. This illness was represented as a disobedience,
and word was sent to him to come without delay. He went, and, on his
arrival, he was arrested in full conference. He was deprived of his
offices, his titles, and his orders, without any one being able to say
for what crimes or delinquencies; the first personage of the empire was
thus despoiled. He was sent back to his house a prisoner. As all this
was pre-arranged, a company of grenadiers of the guard was called out.
These, as they passed along the Moïka, where the Counts Alexander and
Peter Schouvaloff lived, said to one another, "Thank God, we are going
to arrest those cursed Schouvaloffs, who do nothing but invent
monopolies." But when the soldiers found that it was Count Bestoujeff
whom they had to arrest, they gave evident signs of displeasure, saying,
"It is not this man, it is the others, who trample on the people."

Though Count Bestoujeff had been arrested in the very palace of which we
occupied a wing, and not very far from our apartments, we heard nothing
of it that evening, so careful were they to keep from us all that was
going on. The next day (Sunday) I received, on waking, a note from Leon
Narichkine, which the Count Poniatowsky forwarded to me by this channel,
which had long since become of very questionable security. It commenced
with these words:--"Man is never without resources. I employ this means
of informing you, that last night, Count Bestoujeff was arrested and
deprived of his offices and dignities, and with him your jeweller
Bernardi, Teleguine, and Adadouroff." I was thunderstruck upon reading
these lines, and, having read them, I felt that I must by no means
flatter myself that this affair did not affect me more nearly than yet
appeared. Now, to make this understood, a few comments are necessary.
Bernardi was an Italian jeweller, not without talent, and whose business
gave him the _entrée_ to every house. I think that there was scarcely
one which did not owe him something, or to which he had not rendered
some little service or other, as he went continually to and fro
everywhere. He was also intrusted sometimes with commissions from one to
the other. A note sent through Bernardi always reached its destination
sooner and more safely than if sent by the servants. Now the arrest of
Bernardi interested the whole city, since he executed commissions for
everybody, and for me among the rest. Teleguine was the former Adjutant
of the Master of the Hounds, Count Rasoumowsky, who had had the
guardianship of Beketoff. He had remained attached to the house of
Rasoumowsky. He had also become the friend of Count Poniatowsky. He was
a man of integrity, and one who could be relied on; and when once his
affection was gained it was not easily lost. He had always shown a
predilection for me, and zeal in my interest. Adadouroff had been
formerly my master in the Russian language, and had remained much
attached to me. It was I who had recommended him to Count Bestoujeff,
who, within the last two or three years only, had begun to place
confidence in him. Formerly, he did not like him, because he held to the
party of the Procurator-General, Prince Nikita Youriewitch Troubetskoy,
the enemy of Bestoujeff.

After the perusal of the note, and the reflections which I have just
made, a crowd of ideas, one more disagreeable than another, presented
themselves to my mind. With the iron in my soul, so to speak, I dressed,
and went to mass, where it seemed to me that the greater part of those I
saw had faces as long as my own. No one made any remark to me during the
day; it was just as if every one was in total ignorance of what had
happened. I was silent also. The Grand Duke, who had never liked Count
Bestoujeff, appeared to be rather gay on this occasion, yet behaved
without affectation, though he rather kept away from me a good deal. In
the evening I was obliged to go to the wedding; I changed my dress, was
present at the benediction of the marriages of Count Boutourline and
Leon Narichkine, at the ball, and at the supper, during which I
approached the Marshal of the wedding, Prince Nikita Troubetskoy, and,
under pretence of examining the ribbons of his marshal's baton, I
whispered to him, "What do all these fine doings mean? Have you found
more crimes than criminals, or more criminals than crimes?" To which he
replied--"We have done what we were ordered; but as for crimes, they are
still to be discovered. Thus far, the search has not been successful."
Having finished with him, I approached Marshal Boutourline, who said to
me--"Bestoujeff is arrested, but we have yet to learn why he is so."
Thus spoke the two commissioners appointed by the Empress to investigate
the causes that had led to his arrest by Count Alexander Schouvaloff. I
also perceived Stambke at the ball, but at a distance, and I saw that
his countenance wore an expression of suffering and of despondency. The
Empress was not present at either of these two marriages, neither in
church nor at the feast. The next day, Stambke came to my apartments,
and told me that he had just received a note from Count Bestoujeff,
which begged that he would inform me that I need be under no
apprehension concerning what I knew; that he had had time to burn
everything, and that he would communicate to him (Stambke), by the same
channel, the interrogatories which might be put to him. I asked what
that channel was? He told me that it was by a horn-player in the Count's
service, who had brought him the note, and that it had been arranged,
that for the future, any communications it might be desirable to make
should be placed in a particular spot, among some bricks, not far from
the Count's house. I told Stambke to take care that this dangerous
correspondence was not discovered, though he appeared to be suffering
great anxiety himself. However, he and Count Poniatowsky still continued
it. As soon as Stambke had left, I called Madame Vladislava, and told
her to go to her brother-in-law, Pougowoschnikoff, and give him the note
I was writing to him. It contained only these words:--"You have nothing
to fear; there has been time to burn all." This tranquillized him; for,
it appears, that ever since the arrest of the High Chancellor, he had
been more dead than alive. This it is which occasioned his anxiety, and
what the Count Bestoujeff had had time to destroy.

The weak state of the Empress' health, and the convulsive fits to which
she was subject, very naturally made all eyes turn to the future. Count
Bestoujeff, both from his position and abilities, was certainly not one
of the last to do so. He knew well the antipathy that had long been
excited against him in the mind of the Grand Duke. He was also well
aware of the feeble capacity of this Prince, born heir to so many
crowns. It was only natural that this statesman, like every one else,
should wish to maintain himself in his position. For several years past
he had seen me laying aside my prejudices against him; perhaps, also, he
regarded me personally as the only one upon whom at that time the hopes
of the public could rest, in the event of the Empress' death.

These and such like reflections had induced him to form the plan that,
on the decease of the Empress, the Grand Duke should be proclaimed
Emperor of right, but that at the same time I should be declared a
participator with him in the administration; that all existing offices
should be continued, and that, for himself, he should receive the
lieutenant-colonelcy of the four regiments of guards, and the Presidency
of the three Colleges of the Empire, of that of foreign affairs, of War,
and of the Admiralty. His pretensions were consequently excessive. He
had forwarded me, through Count Poniatowsky, the draught of this
project, written by the hand of Pougowoschnikoff. I had agreed with the
former that I should thank him verbally for his good intentions towards
me, but that I regarded the plan as difficult of execution. He had had
this project written and re-written several times, had altered,
amplified, retrenched, and appeared to be quite absorbed by it. To speak
the truth, I looked upon it as the effect of mere dotage, and as a bait
which the old man was throwing out in order to obtain a firmer hold on
my friendship; but I did not catch at this bait, because I regarded it
as prejudicial to the Empire, that every quarrel between my husband (who
did not love me) and myself should convulse the state; but as the
occasion for such a course did not yet exist, I did not wish to oppose
an old man who, when once he took a thing into his head, was self-willed
and immovable. This, then, was the project which he had found time to
destroy, and concerning which he had sent me word, in order that I might
tranquillize those who had been privy to it.

In the mean time, my valet de chambre, Skourine, came to tell me that
the captain who guarded Count Bestoujeff was a man who had always been
his friend, and who dined with him every Sunday, when he left court and
went home. I said that if this were the case, and if he could be relied
on, he should endeavour to sound him, and see if he would allow any
communication with the prisoner. This had become the more necessary as
Count Bestoujeff had communicated to Stambke, by the mode already
mentioned, that he wished Bernardi to be told from him to speak the
simple truth when interrogated, and to let him know what were the
questions asked. When I perceived that Skourine willingly undertook to
discover some means of communicating with Count Bestoujeff, I told him
also to try and open some means of communication with Bernardi as well,
and see if he could not gain over the sergeant or some soldier who kept
guard in his quarter. On the evening of the same day, Skourine told me
that Bernardi was guarded by a sergeant of the guards named Kalichkine,
with whom he was to have an interview on the morrow; but that having
sent to his friend the captain, who was with the Count Bestoujeff, to
ask if he could see him, the latter had informed him that if he wished
to see him he must come to his house; but that one of his subalterns,
whom he also knew, and who was his relation, had cautioned him not to go
there, because if he did, the captain would arrest him, and would make a
merit of so doing at his expense, and that of this he had boasted to a
confidant. Skourine therefore kept away from his pretended friend.
However Kalichkine, whom I had ordered to be gained over in my name,
told Bernardi all that was necessary; besides, he was only asked to
speak the simple truth, and to this both willingly lent themselves.

At the end of a few days, very early one morning, Stambke came into my
room, very pale and greatly frightened, and told me that his
correspondence and that of Count Bestoujeff with Count Poniatowsky had
been discovered; that the little horn-player had been arrested, and that
there was every reason to fear that their last letters had fallen into
the hands of Count Bestoujeff's keepers; that he himself expected every
moment to be dismissed, if not arrested; and that he had come to tell me
this, and to take his leave of me. This information caused me no little
anxiety. However, I consoled him as well as I could, and sent him away,
not doubting but that his visit would tend to augment against me, if
that were possible, all kinds of ill-feeling, and that I should,
perhaps, be shunned as a person suspected by the Government. I was,
however, well satisfied in my own mind that I had nothing to reproach
myself with against the Government. With the exception of Michel
Voronzoff, John Schouvaloff, the two Ambassadors of Austria and France,
and those whom these parties made to believe whatever they wished, the
general public, every one in St. Petersburg, great and small, was
persuaded that Count Bestoujeff was innocent, and that there was neither
crime nor delinquency to be laid to his charge. It was known that the
day following the evening of his arrest, a manifesto had been concocted
in the chamber of Ivan Schouvaloff, which the Sieur Volkoff, formerly
first commissary of Count Bestoujeff, and who, in the year 1755, had
absconded from his house, and after wandering some time in the woods,
had allowed himself to be taken, and who was at this moment first
Secretary to the Conference, had to draw up, and which they intended to
publish, in order to make known the reasons which had constrained the
Empress to act towards the Grand Chancellor in the way she had done.
Now, in this secret conference, in which they had to torment their
brains to discover offences, they agreed to state that it was for the
crime of high treason, and because Bestoujeff had endeavoured to sow
dissension between her Imperial Majesty and their Imperial Highnesses;
and it was their wish, the very day after his arrest, to banish him to
one of his estates, and deprive him of the rest of his property, without
trial or judgment. But there were some who thought that it was going too
far to exile a man without crime or trial, and that it was, at least,
necessary to look about and see if some crime could not be laid to his
charge; and if not, that, in any case, it was indispensable to make the
prisoner--who, for some unknown reason, had been shorn of his offices,
dignities, and decorations--pass under the judgment of Commissioners.
Now, these Commissioners, as I have already stated, were Marshal
Boutourline, the Procurator-General Prince Troubetskoy, the General
Count Alexander Schouvaloff, and the Sieur Volkoff as Secretary. The
first thing these Commissioners did was to give directions, through the
department of foreign affairs, to the ambassadors, envoys, and
_employés_ of Russia at foreign courts, to send copies of the despatches
which Count Bestoujeff had written to them since he had been at the head
of affairs. The object of this was to discover in these despatches some
crime or other. It was alleged against him that he wrote just what he
pleased, and made statements opposed to the orders and wishes of the
Empress; but as her Majesty neither wrote nor signed anything, it was
difficult to act against her orders; and, as to verbal orders, she could
hardly have given any to the High Chancellor, who for whole years had no
occasion to see her; and, as for verbal orders delivered through a third
party, they might as easily be misapprehended, as they might be
imperfectly delivered, as well as imperfectly received and understood.
But nothing came of all this except the order I have mentioned, because
none of the _employés_ gave himself the trouble of examining papers
ranging over twenty years, and then copying them for the purpose of
discovering crimes committed by one whose instructions and orders he
himself had followed out, and with whom, therefore, however well meant
his efforts, he might become implicated in any faults which might be
traced in them. Besides, the mere transmission of these papers would put
the crown to a considerable expense; and when, after all, they reached
St. Petersburg, there would be enough in them to try the patience of
many persons for many years in their attempts to discover and unravel
something which, after all, they might contain. The order therefore was
never executed; nay, even those who sent it at last grew tired of the
business itself, and at the end of a year it was concluded by the
publication of the manifesto, which they had begun to compose the day
after the Chancellor's arrest.

On the afternoon of the day on which Stambke had come to take leave of
me, the Empress sent an order to the Grand Duke to dismiss him, and send
him back to Holstein, for that his correspondence with Bestoujeff had
been discovered, and that he deserved to be arrested, but that out of
consideration for his Imperial Highness, whose minister he was, he
should be left at liberty, provided he was immediately sent away.
Stambke was immediately sent off, and with his departure ended my
interference in the affairs of Holstein. The Grand Duke was given to
understand that the Empress was not pleased at my having to meddle with
them, and his Imperial Highness was himself inclined that way. I do not
well remember who it was that succeeded Stambke, but I rather think it
was a person named Wolff. In the next place, the Empress' ministry
formally demanded of the King of Poland, the recall of Count
Poniatowsky, as a letter of his, addressed to Count Bestoujeff, had been
discovered. It was innocent enough, in fact, but nevertheless was
addressed to a so-called prisoner of state. As soon as I heard of the
dismissal of Stambke, and the recall of Count Poniatowsky, I prepared
myself to expect nothing good, and this is what I did. I summoned my
valet de chambre, Skourine, and ordered him to collect and bring to me
all my account books, and everything among my effects which could in any
way be regarded as a paper. He executed my orders with zeal and
exactitude, and when all were brought into my room I dismissed him. As
soon as he left the room, I threw all the books into the fire, and when
I saw them half-consumed, I recalled Skourine, and said to him, "Look
here, and be witness that all my papers and accounts are burnt, in order
that if you are ever asked where they are, you may be able to swear that
you saw me burn them." He thanked me for the care I took of him, and
told me that a singular alteration had been made in the guard over the
prisoners. Since the discovery of Stambke's correspondence with Count
Bestoujeff, a stricter watch had been kept upon him, and with this
object they had taken from Bernardi the sergeant Kalichkine, and had
placed him in the chamber and near the person of the late High
Chancellor. When Kalichkine saw this, he asked to have some of the
trusty soldiers who were under him when he was on guard at Bernardi's.
Here, then, was the most reliable and intelligent man we had introduced
into the very apartment of Count Bestoujeff, without having lost all
means of communication with Bernardi. In the meantime the
interrogatories of the Count were going on. Kalichkine made himself
known to him as a man devoted to me, and, in fact, he rendered him a
thousand good offices. Like myself, he was convinced that the Chancellor
was innocent, and the victim of a powerful cabal--and such, also, was
the persuasion of the public. As for the Grand Duke, I saw that they had
frightened him, and had led him to suspect that I was aware of the
correspondence of Stambke with the state-prisoner. I perceived that his
Royal Highness was almost afraid to speak to me, and avoided entering my
apartment, where I remained for the time, quite alone, seeing no one. I
would not, in fact, allow any one to come to me, fearing to expose them
to some misfortune or inconvenience, and when at court, in order to be
avoided, I refrained from approaching any one I thought likely to be
compromised by my notice. On the last days of the Carnival there was to
be a Russian play at the court theatre, and Count Poniatowsky begged me
to be present, because rumours had been spread that it was intended to
send me back to my own country, to prevent my appearance in public, and
I know not what besides, and that every time I did not appear at court
or at the theatre, every one was anxious to know the reason of my
absence, as much perhaps from curiosity as from interest in me. I knew
that the Russian drama was one of the things his Imperial Highness least
liked, and even to talk of going there was enough to displease him
seriously. On this occasion, too, in addition to his dislike of the
national drama, he had another and more personal objection, namely, that
it would deprive him of the company of the Countess Elizabeth Voronzoff;
as she was in the ante-chamber along with the other maids of honour, it
was there that his Imperial Highness enjoyed her conversation or her
company at play. If I went to the theatre these ladies were obliged to
follow me--a circumstance which annoyed his Imperial Highness, who had
then no other resource than to retire to his own apartments to drink.
Notwithstanding all this, as I had promised to go to the play, I sent a
message to Count Alexander Schouvaloff, desiring him to order a carriage
for me, as I intended that day to go to the play. The Count came and
told me that my intention of going to the theatre was anything but
agreeable to the Grand Duke. I replied that as I formed no part of the
society of his Royal Highness, I thought it would be the same to him
whether I was alone in my room or in my box at the theatre. He went
away, winking his eyes, as he always did whenever anything disturbed
him. Some time afterwards, the Grand Duke came into my room. He was in a
fearful passion, screaming like an eagle; accusing me of taking pleasure
in enraging him, and saying that I had chosen to go to these plays
because I knew he disliked them; but I represented to him that he ought
not to dislike them. He told me that he would forbid my having a
carriage. I replied that if he did I should go on foot, and that I could
not imagine what pleasure he could find in compelling me to die of
_ennui_ in my rooms, with no other company but my dog and my parrot.
After a long and very angry dispute on both sides, he went away, in a
greater rage than ever, and I still persisted in my intention of going
to the play. When it got near the time for starting, I sent to ask Count
Schouvaloff if the carriages were ready; he came and told me that the
Grand Duke had forbidden any to be provided for me. Then I became really
angry, and told him that I would go on foot, and that if he forbade the
ladies and gentlemen from attending me I would go alone; and, besides,
that I would write and complain to the Empress, both of the Duke and of
him. "What will you say to her?" he asked. "I will tell her," I said,
"the manner in which I am treated, and that you, in order to secure for
the Grand Duke a rendezvous with my maids of honour, encourage him to
prevent my going to the theatre, where I might, perhaps, have the
pleasure of seeing her Imperial Majesty; and besides this, I will beg of
her to send me back to my mother, because I am weary of, and disgusted
with, the part I play here: left alone and deserted in my room, hated by
the Grand Duke, and not liked by the Empress, I want to be at rest, and
a burden to no one; I want to be freed from the necessity of making
every one who approaches me unhappy, and particularly my poor servants,
of whom so many have been exiled, because I was kind to them, or wished
to be so. It is thus that I shall write to her Imperial Majesty, and I
will see, moreover, whether you yourself will not be the bearer of my
letter." My gentleman got frightened at the determined tone I assumed;
he left me, and I sat down to write my letter to the Empress in Russian,
making it as pathetic as I could. I began by thanking her for the
kindness and favours with which she had loaded me ever since my arrival
in Russia, saying that, unfortunately, the event proved that I did not
deserve them, since I had only drawn upon myself the hatred of the Grand
Duke and the very marked displeasure of her Imperial Majesty; that as I
was unhappy and shut up in my own room, where I was deprived of even the
most innocent amusements, I begged her earnestly to put an end to my
sufferings, by sending me to my relations in any manner she judged
proper; that as for the children, as I never saw them, though living in
the same house with them, it made little difference to me whether I was
in the same place with them or some hundreds of leagues distant; that I
was well aware that she took better care of them than my poor powers
would enable me to do; that I ventured to entreat her to continue this
care of them; that confident of this, I would pass the rest of my time
with my relations, in praying for her, the Grand Duke, my children, and
all those who had done me either good or evil; but that my health was
reduced by grief to such a state, that I did what I could to preserve my
life, at least; and that with this object I addressed myself to her for
permission to go to the waters, and thence to my relations.

Having written this letter, I summoned Count Schouvaloff, who, on
entering, informed me that the carriages I had ordered were ready. I
told him, while handing him my letter for the Empress, that he might
inform the gentlemen and ladies who did not wish to accompany me to the
theatre, that I would dispense with their attendance. The Count received
my letter, winking his usual wink, but as it was addressed to her
Imperial Majesty, he dared not refuse it. He also gave my message to the
equerries and ladies, and it was his Imperial Highness who decided who
was to go with me, and who was to remain with him. I passed through the
ante-chamber, where I found him seated with the Countess Voronzoff,
playing at cards in a corner. He rose, and she also, when he saw me--a
thing which, on other occasions, he never did. In this ceremony I
replied by a low curtsey, and passed on. I went to the theatre, where
the Empress did not come on that occasion. I fancy it was my letter
which prevented her. On my return, Count Schouvaloff told me that her
Imperial Majesty would have an interview with me herself. The Count
would seem to have informed the Grand Duke of my letter and the reply of
the Empress, for, although from that time he never set foot in my room,
he used his utmost endeavours to be present at the interview which the
Empress was to have with me, and it was considered that this could not
well be refused. While waiting for this interview to take place, I kept
myself quiet, in my own apartments. I felt persuaded that if the
Schouvaloffs had had any idea of sending me home, or of frightening me
with the threats of doing so, I had taken the best method of
disconcerting the project; for nowhere were they likely to meet with
greater resistance to it than in the mind of the Empress herself, who
was not at all inclined to strong measures of this kind; besides, she
remembered the old misunderstandings in her own family, and certainly
would not wish to see them renewed in her time. Against me there could
be only one point of complaint, which was, that her worthy nephew did
not appear to me the most amiable of men, any more than I appeared to
him the most amiable of women; and, as regarded this nephew, her
opinions exactly coincided with my own. She knew him so well that for
many years past she could not spend a quarter of an hour in his society
without feeling disgust, or anger, or sorrow, and in her chamber, when
he happened to be the subject of conversation, she would either melt
into tears at the misfortune of having such a successor, or she would be
unable to speak of him without exhibiting her contempt, and often
applied to him epithets which he but too well merited. I have proofs of
this in my hands, having found among her papers two notes written by her
own hand, to whom I do not know, though one of them appears to have been
for John Schouvaloff, and the other for Count Rasoumowsky, in which she
curses her nephew, and wishes him at the devil. In one occurs this
expression, "_My damned nephew has greatly vexed me_;" and in another
she says, "_My nephew is a fool, the devil take him_." Besides, my mind
was made up, and I looked upon my being sent away, or not, with a very
philosophic eye. In whatever position it should please Providence to
place me, I should never be without those resources which talent and
determination give to each one according to his natural abilities, and I
felt myself possessed of sufficient courage either to mount or descend
without being carried away by undue pride on the one hand, or being
humbled and dispirited on the other. I knew that I was a human being,
and, therefore, of limited powers, and then incapable of perfection,
but my intentions had always been pure and good. If from the very
beginning I had perceived that to love a husband who was not amiable,
nor took any pains to be so, was a thing difficult, if not impossible;
yet, at least, I had devoted myself both to him and his interests with
all the attachment which a friend, and even a servant, could devote to
his friend and master. My counsel to him had always been the very best I
could devise for his welfare, and, if he did not choose to follow it,
the fault was not mine, but that of his own judgment, which was neither
sound nor just. When I came to Russia, and during the first years of our
union, had this Prince shown the least disposition to make himself
supportable, my heart would have been opened for him, but when I saw
that of all possible objects I was the one to whom he showed the least
possible attention, precisely because I was his wife, it is not
wonderful I should find my position neither agreeable nor to my taste,
or that I should consider it irksome, or even painful. This latter
feeling I suppressed more resolutely than any other; the pride and cast
of my disposition rendered the idea of being unhappy most repugnant to
me. I used to say to myself, happiness and misery depend on ourselves;
if you feel unhappy, raise yourself above unhappiness, and so act that
your happiness may be independent of all eventualities. With such a
disposition I was born with a great sensibility, and a face, to say the
least of it, interesting, and which pleased at first sight, without art
or effort. My disposition was naturally so conciliating, that no one
ever passed a quarter of an hour in my company without feeling perfectly
at ease, and conversing with me as if we had been old acquaintances.
Naturally indulgent, I won the confidence of those who had any relations
with me, because every one felt that the strictest probity and
good-will were the impulses which I most readily obeyed, and, if I may
be allowed the expression, I venture to assert, in my own behalf, that I
was a true gentleman, whose cast of mind was more male than female,
though, for all that, I was anything but masculine, for, joined to the
mind and character of a man, I possessed the charms of a very agreeable
woman. I trust I shall be pardoned for giving this candid expression of
my feelings, instead of seeking to throw around them a veil of false
modesty. Besides, this very writing must prove what I have asserted of
mind, disposition, and character.

I have just said that I was pleasing, consequently half the road of
temptation was already traversed, and it is in the very essence of human
nature that, in such cases, the other half should not remain untracked.
For to tempt, and to be tempted, are things very nearly allied, and, in
spite of the finest maxims of morality impressed upon the mind, whenever
feeling has anything to do in the matter, no sooner is it excited than
we have already gone vastly farther than we are aware of, and I have yet
to learn how it is possible to prevent its being excited. Flight alone
is, perhaps, the only remedy; but there are cases and circumstances in
which flight becomes impossible, for how is it possible to fly, shun, or
turn one's back in the midst of a court? The very attempt would give
rise to remarks. Now, if you do not fly, there is nothing, it seems to
me, so difficult as to escape from that which is essentially agreeable.
All that can be said in opposition to it will appear but a prudery quite
out of harmony with the natural instincts of the human heart; besides,
no one holds his heart in his hand, tightening or relaxing his grasp of
it at pleasure.

But to return to my narrative. The morning after the play, I gave out
that I was unwell, and kept my room, waiting patiently for the decision
of her Imperial Majesty upon my humble request. However, the first week
in Lent I judged it prudent to go to my duty, in order to show my
attachment to the Orthodox Church. The second or third week of Lent
brought me another bitter affliction. One morning after I had risen, my
servants informed me that Count Alexander Schouvaloff had sent for
Madame Vladislava. This I thought somewhat strange. I waited her return
anxiously, but in vain. About an hour after noon, Count Schouvaloff came
to apprise me that her Majesty the Empress had thought fit to remove
Madame Vladislava from me. I burst into tears, and said, that of course,
her Imperial Majesty had a right to remove or place with me whomsoever
she pleased, but that I was grieved to find, more and more, that all who
came near me were so many victims devoted to the displeasure of her
Imperial Majesty; and that in order that there might be fewer such
victims, I begged and entreated him to request her Majesty to send me
home to my relations as soon as possible, and thus put an end to a state
of things which compelled me to be continually making some one or other
miserable. I also assured him that the removal of Madame Vladislava
would not serve to throw any light upon anything whatever, because,
neither she nor any one else possessed any confidence. The Count was
about to reply, but hearing my sobs, he began to weep with me, and told
me that the Empress would herself speak to me on the subject. I
entreated him to hasten the moment, which he promised to do. I then went
to my attendants, related what had occurred, and added that if any
duenna I happened to dislike took the place of Madame Vladislava, she
might make up her mind to receive from me the worst possible treatment,
not even excepting blows; and I begged them to repeat this wherever they
pleased, so as to deter all who might wish to be placed about me from
being in too great haste to accept the charge, for that I was tired of
suffering, and as I saw that my mildness and patience had produced no
other result than that of making everything connected with me go from
bad to worse, I had made up my mind to change my conduct entirely. My
people did not fail to repeat all I wished.

The evening of this day, during which I had wept a great deal, walking
up and down my room, much agitated both in mind and body, one of my
maids, named Catherine Ivanovna Cheregorodskaya, came into my bed-room,
where I was quite alone, and said to me very affectionately, and with
many tears, "We are all very much afraid you will sink under these
afflictions; let me go to-day to my uncle--he is your own confessor as
well as the Empress'--I will talk to him, and tell him everything you
wish, and I promise you he will speak to the Empress in a manner that
will give you satisfaction." Perceiving her good disposition towards me,
I told her without reserve the state of matters; what I had written to
her Imperial Majesty, and everything else. She went to her uncle, and,
having talked the matter over, and disposed him to favour my cause, she
returned about eleven o'clock to tell me that her uncle advised me to
give out in the course of the night that I was ill, and wanted to
confess, and thus send for him, in order that he might be able to repeat
to the Empress what he should hear from my own lips. I very much
approved of this idea, and promised to carry it out, and then dismissed
her, thanking both herself and uncle for the attachment they displayed
for me. Accordingly, between two and three o'clock in the morning, I
rang my bell. One of my women entered. I told her I felt so unwell that
I wished to confess. In place of a confessor, Count Alexander
Schouvaloff came running to me. In a weak and broken voice I renewed my
request that my confessor should be sent to me. He sent for the doctors,
and to these I said that it was spiritual succour I stood in need of;
that I was choking. One felt my pulse, and said it was weak; I replied
that my soul was in danger, and that my body had no further need of
doctors. At length my confessor arrived, and we were left alone. I made
him sit by the side of my bed, and we had a conversation of at least an
hour and a-half in length. I described to him the state of things past
and present; the Grand Duke's conduct to me, and mine towards him; the
hatred of the Schouvaloffs, and the constant banishment, or dismissal,
of my people, and always of those who had grown most attached to me,
and, finally, the hatred of her Imperial Majesty, drawn upon me by the
Schouvaloffs; in short, the whole present position of affairs, and what
had led me to write to the Empress the letter in which I demanded to be
sent home, and I begged him to procure me a speedy reply to my prayer. I
found him with the best disposition possible for serving me, and by no
means such a fool as he was reported to be. He told me that my letter
did and would produce the effect I wished; that I must persist in my
demand to be sent home, a demand which most certainly would not be
complied with, because such a step could not be justified in the eyes of
the public, who had their attention directed towards me. He agreed that
I had been treated very cruelly; that the Empress, having chosen me at a
very tender age, had abandoned me to the mercy of my enemies; and that
she would do far better to banish my rivals, and especially Elizabeth
Voronzoff, and keep a check upon her favourites, who had become the
blood-suckers of the people, by means of the new monopolies which the
Schouvaloffs were every day devising, besides which, they were daily
giving the people cause to complain of their injustice, as witness the
affair of Count Bestoujeff, of whose innocence the public were
persuaded. He concluded by telling me that he would immediately proceed
to the Empress' apartments, where he would wait until she awoke, in
order to speak to her on the subject; and that he would then press for
the interview which she had promised me, and which ought to be decisive;
and that I would do well to keep my bed: he would add, he said, that
grief and affliction might cause my death, if some speedy remedy were
not applied, and I was not removed, by some means or other, from my
present condition where I was left, alone and abandoned by every one. He
kept his word, and painted so vividly to the Empress my unfortunate
state, that she summoned Count Alexander Schouvaloff, and ordered him to
inquire if my condition would allow me to come and speak to her the
following evening. Count Schouvaloff came to me with this message, and I
told him for such an object I would summon all the strength I had left.
Towards evening I rose, and Schouvaloff informed me that, after
midnight, he would accompany me to the apartments of her Imperial
Majesty. My confessor sent me word by his niece, that everything was
going on well, and that the Empress would speak to me that evening. I
therefore dressed myself about ten o'clock at night, and lay down fully
dressed upon a couch, where I fell asleep. About half-past one, Count
Schouvaloff entered the apartment, and told me that the Empress had
asked for me. I arose, and followed him. We passed through several
ante-chambers, entirely empty, and on arriving at the door of the
gallery, I saw the Grand Duke enter by the opposite door, and perceived
that he too was about to visit the Empress. I had never seen him since
the day of the play; even when I had given out that my life was in
danger, he neither came nor sent to inquire after my health. I
afterwards learned that on this very day he had promised Elizabeth
Voronzoff to marry her if I happened to die, and that both were
rejoicing greatly at my condition.

Having at last reached her Imperial Majesty's room, I there found the
Grand Duke. As soon as I perceived the Empress, I threw myself at her
feet, and begged her earnestly, and with tears, to send me back to my
relations. The Empress wished to raise me, but I remained at her feet;
she appeared more grieved than angry, and said to me, with tears in her
eyes, "Why do you wish me to send you home? Do you not remember that you
have children?" I replied, "My children are in your Majesty's hands, and
cannot be better placed, and I trust that you will not abandon them."
She then said to me, "But what excuse should I give to the public in
justification of this step?" "Your Imperial Majesty," I replied, "will
state, if you think fit, the causes which have brought upon me your
Majesty's displeasure, and the hatred of the Grand Duke." "But how will
you manage to live when you are with your relatives?" I replied, "As I
did before your Majesty did me the honour of bringing me here." To this
she answered, "Your mother is a fugitive; she has been compelled to
retire, and has gone to Paris." "I am aware of this," I said; "she was
thought to be too much attached to the interests of Russia, and the King
of Prussia has therefore persecuted her." The Empress again bid me rise,
which I did, and she walked away from me to some distance, musing.

The apartment in which we were was long, and had three windows between
which stood two tables, containing the gold toilet-service of the
Empress. No one was in the room but myself, the Empress, the Grand Duke,
and Alexander Schouvaloff. Opposite the Empress were some large screens,
in front of which was a couch. I suspected from the first that John
Schouvaloff certainly, and perhaps also his cousin Peter, were behind
these. I learnt afterwards that my conjecture was in part correct, and
that John Schouvaloff actually was there. I stood by the side of the
toilet-table, nearest to the door by which I entered, and noticed in the
toilet-basin some letters folded up. The Empress again approached me,
and said, "God is my witness how I wept when you were dangerously ill,
just after your arrival in Russia. If I had not liked you, I should not
have kept you." This I looked upon as an answer to what I had just said
in reference to my having incurred her displeasure. I replied by
thanking her Majesty for all the kindness and favour she had shown me
then and since, saying that the recollection of them would never be
effaced from my memory, and that I should always regard my having
incurred her displeasure as the greatest of my misfortunes. She then
drew still nearer to me, and said, "You are dreadfully haughty: do you
remember, that at the Summer Palace, I one day approached you, and asked
if you had a stiff neck, because I noticed that you hardly bowed to me,
and that it was from pride you merely saluted me with a nod." "Gracious
heavens! madame," I said, "how could your Majesty possibly suppose that
I should be haughty to you? I solemnly declare that it never once
occurred to me that this question, asked four years ago, could have
reference to any such thing." Upon this she said, "You fancy there is no
one so clever as yourself." "If I ever had any such conceit," I
replied, "nothing could be better calculated to undeceive me than my
present condition and this very conversation, since I see that I have
been stupid enough not to understand, till this moment, what you were
pleased to say to me four years ago." During my conversation with her
Majesty, the Grand Duke was whispering to Count Schouvaloff. She
perceived this, and went over to them. They were both standing near the
middle of the room. I could not very well hear what they were saying, as
they did not speak loud, and the room was large. At last I heard the
Grand Duke raise his voice and say, "She is dreadfully spiteful, and
very obstinate." I then perceived they were talking about me, and,
addressing the Grand Duke, I observed, "If it is of me you are speaking,
I am very glad to have this opportunity of telling you, in the presence
of her Imperial Majesty, that I am indeed spiteful to those who advise
you to commit injustice, and that I have become obstinate because I see
that I have gained nothing by yielding, but your hostility." He
immediately retorted, "Your Majesty can see how malicious she is by what
she says herself." But my words made a very different impression on the
Empress, who had infinitely more intellect than the Grand Duke. I could
plainly see as the conversation progressed, that although she had been
recommended, or had herself, perhaps, resolved to treat me with
severity, her feelings softened by degrees in spite of herself and her
resolutions. She, however, turned towards him, and said, "Oh, you do not
know all she has told me against your advisers, and against Brockdorff,
relative to the man you have had arrested." This must naturally have
appeared to the Duke a formal treason on my part. He did not know a word
of my conversation with the Empress, at the Summer Palace, and he saw
his dear Brockdorff, who had become so precious in his eyes, accused to
her Majesty, and that by me. This, therefore, was to put us on worse
terms than ever, and perhaps render us irreconcilable, as well as
deprive me, for the future, of all share in his confidence. I was
thunderstruck when I heard her relating to him, in my presence, what I
had told her, and, as I believed, for his own good, and found it thus
turned against me like a weapon of destruction. The Grand Duke, very
much astonished at this disclosure, said, "Ah! here is an anecdote quite
new to me; it is very interesting, and proves her spitefulness." I
thought to myself, "God knows whose spitefulness it proves." From
Brockdorff her Majesty passed abruptly to the connection discovered
between Stambke and Count Bestoujeff, and said to me, "I leave you to
imagine how it is possible to excuse him for having held communication
with a state-prisoner." As my name had not appeared in this affair, I
was silent, as if the matter did not concern me. Upon which the Empress
approached me, and said, "You meddle with many things which do not
concern you. I should not have dared to have done so in the time of the
Empress Anne. How, for instance, could you presume to send orders to
Marshal Apraxine?" I replied, "I, madame? Never has such an idea entered
my head." "What!" she said, "will you deny having written to him? There
are your letters in that basin," and she pointed to them as she spoke.
"You are forbidden to write." "True," I replied, "I have transgressed in
this respect, and I beg your pardon for it; but since my letters are
there, these three letters will prove to your Imperial Majesty that I
have never sent him any orders; but that in one of them I informed him
of what was said of his conduct." Here she interrupted me by saying,
"And why did you write this to him?" I replied simply, "Because I took a
great interest in the Marshal, whom I like very much. I begged him to
follow your orders. Of the two other letters, one contains only my
congratulations on the birth of his son; and in the other I merely
presented to him the compliments of the new-year." Upon this she said,
"Bestoujeff asserts that there were many others." I replied, "If
Bestoujeff says that, he lies." "Very well, then," she said, "since he
has told lies concerning you, I will have him put to the torture." She
thought by this to frighten me, but I answered that she could, of
course, act according to her sovereign pleasure, but that I had never
written more than those three letters to Apraxine. She was silent, and
appeared to be meditating.

I relate the most salient points of this conversation which have
remained in my memory; but it would be impossible for me to recollect
all that was said in the course of an interview which lasted an hour and
a-half at the least. The Empress walked to and fro in the apartment,
sometimes addressing herself to me, sometimes to her nephew, but more
frequently to Count Alexander Schouvaloff, with whom the Grand Duke
conversed the greater part of the time, while the Empress was speaking
to me. I have already said that I remarked in her Majesty's manner less
of anger than of anxiety. As to the Grand Duke, during the whole
interview he manifested much bitterness, animosity, and even passion
towards me. He endeavoured as much as he could to excite the anger of
her Majesty against me, but as he did it so stupidly, and displayed more
anger than justice, he failed in his object, and the penetration and
sagacity of the Empress disposed her rather to take my part. She
listened, with marked attention and a kind of involuntary approval, to
my firm and temperate replies to my husband's outrageous statements,
from which it was perfectly evident that his object was to clear out my
place, in order to establish in it the favourite of the moment. But this
might not be to the Empress' liking, neither might it suit the fancy of
the Messrs. Schouvaloff to give themselves Count Voronzoff for a master;
but all this transcended the judicial penetration of his Imperial
Highness, who always believed in what he wished, and never would listen
to anything which appeared the dominant idea of the moment; and on this
occasion he dwelt so much upon it that the Empress approached me and
said, in a low voice, "I have many other things to say to you, but I do
not wish you to be embroiled more than you are already." And with a look
and a movement of her head, she intimated that it was on account of the
presence of the others that she would not speak. Perceiving this mark of
sincere good-will at so critical a moment, my heart was moved, and I
said to her, in a similar tone, "And I also am prevented from speaking,
however earnest my desire to open to you my mind and heart." I saw that
this made a favourable impression on her. Tears came into her eyes, and
to conceal her emotion, and the extent to which she was moved, she
dismissed us, observing that it was very late; and, in fact, it was
nearly three o'clock in the morning. The Grand Duke went out first, I
followed, and just as Alexander Schouvaloff was passing out after me,
her Majesty called him back, and he remained with her. The Grand Duke
strode on rapidly, as usual, but on this occasion I did not hurry myself
to follow him. He entered his apartments, and I mine. I was beginning to
undress, in order to go to bed, when I heard some one knocking at the
door by which I had entered. On asking who was there, Schouvaloff
replied that it was he, and begged me to admit him, which I did. He
desired me to dismiss my maids. They left the room. He then told me that
the Empress had called him back, and that, after talking to him for some
time, she had charged him to bear to me her compliments, and to tell me
not to distress myself, and that she would have another conversation
with me quite alone. I made a low bow to the Count, and begged him to
present my most humble respects to her Imperial Majesty, and thank her
for her kindness, which had restored me to life. I told him that I
should look forward to this second interview with the utmost impatience,
and entreated him to hasten its time. He requested me not to speak of it
to any one whatever, especially the Grand Duke, who, her Majesty saw,
with regret, was greatly irritated against me. This I promised; though I
could not help thinking to myself, "But if she regrets his irritation,
why increase it by repeating our conversation at the Summer Palace,
concerning those people whose society was brutalizing him?"

This unexpected restoration of the favour and confidence of the Empress,
gave me, however, great pleasure. The next day I desired my confessor's
niece to thank her uncle from me, for the signal service he had rendered
me, by procuring for me this interview with her Majesty. On her return
she told me that her uncle had heard that the Empress had called her
nephew a fool, but said that the Grand Duchess had a great deal of
sense. This remark came to me from more quarters than one, as well as
that her Majesty, among her intimate associates, was constantly
extolling my talents, often adding, "She loves truth and justice; she is
a woman of great sense; but my nephew is a fool."

I still continued to keep my room, as before, under the pretext of bad
health. I recollect that I read at this time, with the map before me,
the first five volumes of the "Histoire des Voyages," and that I was
both amused and instructed by the perusal. When tired of these, I turned
over the early volumes of the "Encyclopedia," while waiting until it
should please her Majesty to admit me to a second interview. I renewed,
from time to time, my request to Count Schouvaloff, telling him that I
was very anxious to have my destiny decided. As to the Grand Duke, I
heard nothing more about him. I only knew that he was impatiently
waiting for my dismissal, and that he confidently calculated on
afterwards marrying Elizabeth Voronzoff. She came into his apartments,
and already did the honours there. It appeared that her uncle, the
Vice-Chancellor, who was a hypocrite, if ever there was one, had become
aware of the projects of his brother, perhaps, or rather, it may be, of
his nephews, who were then very young, the eldest being only twenty, or
thereabouts, and fearing that his newly-revived credit with her Majesty
might suffer by it, he intrigued for the commission of dissuading me
from demanding my dismissal; for this is what occurred.

One morning, it was announced to me, that the Vice-Chancellor Count
Voronzoff requested to speak to me on the part of the Empress. Surprised
at this extraordinary deputation, I ordered him to be admitted, though I
was not yet dressed. He began by kissing my hand, and pressing it
warmly, and then wiped his eyes, from which a few tears fell. As I was a
little prejudiced against him at that time, I did not put much faith in
this preamble, by which he intended to show his zeal, but allowed him to
go on with what I looked upon as a piece of buffoonery. I begged him to
be seated. He was a little out of breath, owing to a species of goitre
which troubled him. He sat down by me, and told me that the Empress had
charged him to speak to me, and dissuade me from insisting on my
dismissal; that her Majesty had even gone so far as to authorize him to
beg me, in her name, to renounce a wish to which she never would give
her consent, and that for his own part, especially, he conjured me to
promise him that I would never speak of it again; adding that the
project was a source of great grief to the Empress, and to all good men,
among whom, he begged to include himself. I replied that there was
nothing I would not willingly do to please her Majesty, and satisfy good
men; but that I believed my health and life were endangered by my
present mode of existence, and the treatment to which I was exposed;
that I made everybody miserable; that all who came near me were either
driven into exile or dismissed; that the Grand Duke was embittered
against me even to hatred, and that, besides, he had never loved me;
that her Imperial Majesty had shown me almost unceasing marks of her
displeasure, and that seeing myself a burden to everybody, and nearly
worn out with ennui and grief, I had asked to be sent back to my home,
in order to free them all from the presence of so troublesome a
personage. He spoke to me about my children; I told him I never saw
them, and that I had not seen the youngest since my confinement, nor
could I see them without an express permission from the Empress, as
their apartment was only two rooms distant from her own, and formed part
of her suite; that I had not the least doubt she took great care of
them, but that being deprived of the pleasure of seeing them, it was a
matter of indifference to me whether I was a hundred yards or a hundred
leagues away from them. He informed me that the Empress would have a
second conversation with me, and that it was greatly to be desired that
her Majesty should become reconciled to me. To this I replied by begging
him to accelerate this second interview, and that I for my part would
neglect nothing that could tend to realize his wishes. He remained more
than an hour with me, and spoke at great length upon a multitude of
things. I remarked that the increase of his influence had given him a
certain advantage in speech and deportment which he did not formerly
possess when I saw him in the crowd; and when discontented with the
Empress, with the state of affairs, and with those who possessed her
confidence and favour, he said to me one day at court, seeing the
Empress speaking for a long time to the Austrian Ambassador, while he
and I, and all besides, were kept standing, and tired to death, "What
will you wager that she is not talking mere fiddle-faddle to him?" "Good
heavens!" I replied laughing, "what is it you say?" He answered me in
Russian, in the characteristic words, "She is by nature...."[13] At
length he left me, assuring me of his zeal, and took his leave, again
kissing my hand.

For the present, then, I might feel sure of not being sent home, since I
was requested not even to speak of it; but I deemed it as well not to
quit my room, and to continue there as if I did not expect my fate to be
finally decided until the second audience which the Empress was to give.
For this I had to wait a long time. I remember that on the 21st of
April, 1759, my birth-day, I never went out. The Empress, at her
dinner-hour, sent me word by Count Alexander Schouvaloff that she drank
to my health. I requested my thanks to be given to her for her kind
remembrance of me upon this day of my unhappy birth, which, I added, I
would curse, were it not also the day of my baptism. When the Grand Duke
learned that the Empress had sent this message to me, he took it into
his head to do the same. When his message was announced to me, I rose,
and with a low courtesy expressed my thanks.

After the _fêtes_ in honour of my birth-day, and of the Empress'
coronation day, which occurred within four days of each other, I still
remained in my chamber, and never went out until Count Poniatowsky sent
me word that the French Ambassador, the Marquis de l'Hôpital, had been
eulogizing the firmness of my conduct, and observed that the resolution
I maintained of never leaving my room could not but be productive of
advantage to me. Taking this speech as the treacherous praise of an
enemy, I determined to do exactly the contrary to what he advised; and,
one Sunday, when it was least expected, I dressed, and came out of my
private room. The moment I entered the apartment occupied by the ladies
and gentlemen in waiting, I remarked their astonishment at seeing me.
Some minutes after my appearance, the Grand Duke also entered. He looked
equally astonished, and, while I was conversing with the company, he
joined in the conversation, and addressed some remarks to me, to which I
civilly replied.

About this time, Prince Charles of Saxony paid a second visit to St.
Petersburg. The Grand Duke had treated him cavalierly enough on the
first occasion, but this time his Imperial Highness thought himself
justified in observing no terms with him, and for this reason: It was no
secret in the Russian army that in the battle of Zorndorf Prince Charles
had been one of the first to fly; and it was even asserted that he had
fled without once stopping until he reached Landsberg. Now his Imperial
Highness having heard this, resolved that, as a proved coward, he would
not speak to him, nor have anything to do with him. There was every
reason to believe that the Princess of Courland, daughter of Biren, did
not a little contribute to this; for it had already begun to be
whispered that there was an intention of making Prince Charles Duke of
Courland. The father of the Princess of Courland was constantly retained
at Yaroslav. She communicated her hostility to the Grand Duke, over whom
she had always contrived to retain a kind of ascendancy. She was then
engaged for the third time to Baron Alexander Tcherkassoff, to whom she
was married the winter following.

At last, a few days before our going into the country, Count Alexander
Schouvaloff came to inform me, on the part of the Empress, that I was to
ask this afternoon, through him, permission to visit my children, and
that then, upon my leaving them, I should have that second audience with
her Majesty which had been so long promised. I did as I was directed,
and, in presence of a number of people, I begged Count Schouvaloff to
ask her Majesty's permission for me to see my children. He went away,
and on his return told me that I could see them at three o'clock. I was
punctual to the time, and remained with my children until Count
Schouvaloff came to tell me that her Imperial Majesty could be seen. I
went to her, and found her quite alone, and this time there were no
screens in the room, and consequently we were able to speak freely. I
began by thanking her for the audience she gave me, saying that her
gracious promise of it had restored me to life. Upon which she said, "I
expect you to reply with sincerity to all the questions that I may put
to you." I assured her that she should hear nothing but the strict truth
from me, and that there was nothing I desired more than to open my heart
to her without reserve. Then she again asked if there really had been no
more than three letters written to Apraxine. I solemnly assured her, and
with perfect truth, that such was the fact. Then she asked me for
details concerning the Grand Duke's mode of life....



[The following letters, by the Grand Duke Peter, were discovered at
Moscow about a year ago, and have been communicated by M. A. Herzen. We
take them from the second edition of these Memoirs, just issued, where
they appear in print for the first time. They are curious and
interesting, as illustrative of the defective education and low mental
condition of the writer, but it would be impossible to translate them
without depriving them of the very peculiarities which give them this
value; for to attempt to represent, by English equivalents, their
defects of style, and their grammatical and orthographical blunders,
would be simply to produce a ridiculous travesty. We, therefore, present
them in their original form, with their special orthography faithfully


_Lettre à la Grande-Duchesse Catherine._

MADAME,[14]--Je vous prie de ne point vous incommodes cette nuis de
dormir avec moi car il n'est plus tems de me trompes, le let a été trop
étroit, apres deux semaines de séparation de vous aujourd'hui apres

    tres infortuné
    mari qui vous ne
    daignez jamais de
    ce nom

Le . . . . . Xr


_Lettres à Jean Schouvaloff._

MONSIEUR,--Je vous aie fait prier par Lef Alexandritz pour que je puisse
aller a Oranienbaum, mais je vois que ca n'a point d'effet, je suis
malade et melancolique jusqu'au suppreme degré, je vous prie pour
l'amour de Dieu de faire ensorte aupres de sa Majesté pour que je puisse
partir bientot a Oranienbaum si je ne vient point dehors de cette belle
vie de cour pour être un peu dans ma volonté et jouir a mon aise l'air
de la campagne je creverai surement ici d'aneui et de deplaisir vous me
ferez revivre si vous ferez cela vous obligerez celui qui sera toute sa

Votre affectioné,


MONSIEUR,--Comme je suis assuré que vous ne cherchez autre chose qua me
faire plaisir, je suis donc assuré que vous le fairè dans l'affaire
d'Alexandre Iwanitz Narischkin pour prier sa Majesté de me faire la
grace de le faire gentilhomme de chambre aupres de moi pour la feste de
pacques, cest un parfait hoñette homme que je ne recommanderai pas si je
ne le conñoissois pour tel, pressé cette affaire je vous en seré bien
redevable et au rest je suis.

Votre affectioné,


MON CHER AMY,--Vous m'avez encore demonstré vostre amitié en faisant
aupres de sa Majesté imperiale qu'elle me donne dix mille ducats pour
pajer ma deste que jai faite aux jeux, je vous prie de remercier de ma
part sa Majesté de cette nouvelle grace qu'elle m'a faite et assuré la
que je tacherai toute ma vie de m'en rendre de plus en plus digne de
touts des graces dont elle m'a comblé. Pour vous Monsieur recevez les
remerciemens sincère d'un amy qui voudraint estre en etat de vous
pouvoir convaincre combien il souhaitairai de vous en pouvoir rendre la
pareille. Aureste en vous priant destre toujour de ses amis comme
auparavant je reste.

Vostre affectione amy,


MONSIEUR,--Je vous aie tant de fois prie de supplier de ma part Sa
Majesté impériale de me laisser voyager pour deux ans hors du pais, je
vous le repete encore une fois vous priant tres instament de faire
ensorte pour qu'on me l'accorde, ma santé sanfaiblissant de jour en jour
plus, faites moi pour l'amour le Dieu cette seule amitié de le faire et
de ne me laisser pas mourir de chagrin mon etat n'etant plus en etat de
soutenir mes chagrin et ma melancolie empirant de jour en jour, si vous
croyez quil est besoin de la montrer a Sa Majesté vous me ferez le plus
grand plaisir du monde et de plus je vous en prie. Au reste je suis

Vostre affectioné,


MONSIEUR,--Je vous prie comme je scais que vous estes de mes amis de me
faire le plasir d'aider le pere du porteur de cette lettre qui est le
lieutenant Gudowitz de mon regiment, sa fortune en depandt, il vous
instruira de bouche lui meme comment l'affaire est tout ce que je scai
se sont des intrigues de monsieur Teploff qui n'en a fait pas la
premiere, le hetman se laisse mener par cette homme par le nez et je ne
peut plus vous dire que ca n'est pas la premiere ni la derniere affaire
dont jaurai prie le hetmann, qui m'a refusé; jespere que vous fairez
cette affaire, vous me fairez plaisir par ca parceque jaime cet officier
encore je vous prie n'oubliez pas mes interest et moi je chercheré
toujours de vous convaincre que je suis de vos amis.

Vostre affectioné,


MONSIEUR,--J'ai esté extremement etonné que sa Majesté s'est faché de ce
que j'ai fait la mascarade et l'opera j'ai crue le faire de plus qu'à
Petersbourg Monsieur Locatelli l'a fait tout les semaines deux foix
encore je me resouviens tres bien que quant il y avait le doeuil pour
ma grand Mere nous avons fait le bal chez nous et trois jour que le
doeuil avoit commencé nous avons esté a la comedie au petit teatre, je
vous prie dont Monsieur d'avoir la bonté de prier Sa Majesté de me
permettre de me divertir à mon aise et sans que je sois empeché leté
vous savez assez combien ont sannuye dejà l'hiver de plus ajant dejà
fait la depense du nouvau opera je ne croi pas que Sa Majesté voudra me
faire faire une depense _inutile_ au reste je suis

Vostre affectioné,


_Lettre à M. le Baron de Shakelberg à Oranienbaum._

MON CHER FRERE ET AMY,--Je vous prie aujourd, hui de ne point oublier de
faire ma commission auprès de la personne en question et de l'assurer
que je suis pret à lui demontres mon parfait amour et que ce que je fait
dans l'eglise, de ne la pas parler est que je ne veux pas faire trop
devant les gens et assure lui encore que si elle voudra une fois
seulement venir chez moy que je lui demontreré que je l'aime baucoup, si
vous voulez mon cher et mon vray amy montrez luy la lettre et en croyant
que je ne peut estre mieux servis que d'un ami comme vous, je suis

Votre fidel et attaché amy,



Peter III had lost the small share of sense which naturally belonged to
him; he openly offended all parties; he wished to dismiss the guards,
and was on the point of leading them into the country for this purpose,
intending to replace them by his Holstein troops, who were to be
stationed in the city; he wished also to change the religion of the
country, marry Elizabeth Voronzoff, repudiate me, and place me in

On the occasion of the celebration of peace with the King of Prussia,
after having publicly insulted me at table, he gave, in the evening, an
order for my arrest. My uncle, Prince George, had the order retracted,
and it was only from this time that I listened to the proposals which
had been made to me since the death of the Empress Elizabeth. It was
intended to seize him in his room, and imprison him, as had formerly
been done in the case of the Princess Anne and her children. He went to
Oranienbaum. We had in our interest a great number of captains in the
regiments of the guards. The fate of the secret was in the hands of the
three brothers Orloff, the elder of whom Osten remembers to have seen
following me everywhere, and perpetrating a thousand follies; his
passion for me was notorious, and everything he has done has been
inspired by it. All three are men of great determination, and very much
beloved by the soldiery, as they have served in the guards. I am under
the greatest obligations to them, as all St. Petersburg can bear
witness. The minds of the guards were prepared, and, towards the end,
some thirty or forty officers and nearly ten thousand men were in the
secret. In this number there was not a single traitor during the space
of three weeks. There were four distinct parties, the chiefs of which
were united for the execution, and the true secret was in the hands of
the three brothers. Panin wished to have it in favour of my son, but
they would not listen to this. I was at Peterhoff; Peter III was
residing and carousing at Oranienbaum. It had been agreed that, in case
of treason, they would not await his return, but at once assemble the
guards and proclaim me. Their zeal for me did what treason would have
effected. A report was spread on the 27th that I had been arrested. The
soldiers became excited; one of our officers quieted them. Then came a
soldier to a captain, named Pacik, the head of a party, and told him
that I was certainly lost. Pacik assured him that he had just heard
from me. The man, still alarmed for my safety, went to another officer
and told him the same story. This person was not in the secret;
terrified at learning that an officer had dismissed the man without
arresting him, he went to the major; the latter had Pacik arrested, and
sent, during the night, a report of the arrest to Oranienbaum. Instantly
the whole regiment was in commotion, and our conspirators in alarm. It
was resolved, in the first instance, to send to me the second brother
Orloff, to bring me into the city, while the other two brothers went
about everywhere reporting that I had arrived there. The Hetman,
Volkonsky, and Panin, were in the secret.

I was almost alone, at Peterhoff, amongst my women, seemingly forgotten
by every one. My days, however, were much disturbed, for I was regularly
informed of all that was plotting both for and against me. At six
o'clock on the morning of the 28th, Alexis Orloff entered my room, awoke
me, and said very quietly, "It is time to get up; everything is prepared
for proclaiming you." I asked for details. He replied, "_Pacik has been
arrested_." I no longer hesitated, but dressed hastily, without waiting
to make any toilet, and entered the carriage which he had brought with
him. Another officer, disguised as a valet, was at the carriage-door; a
third met us at the distance of some verstes from Peterhoff. At five
verstes from the city, I met the elder Orloff with the younger Prince
Baratinsky. The latter gave me up his seat in his carriage, my horses
being tired out, and we drove to the barracks of the Ismaïlofsky
regiment. We found there only twelve men and a drummer, who instantly
beat the alarm. The soldiers came running in, embraced me, kissed my
feet, my hands, my dress, calling me their saviour. Two of them brought
in a priest between them, with the cross, and the oath was at once
administered. This done, I was requested to enter a carriage. The priest
walked in front, bearing the cross, and we proceeded to the regiment of
Simeonofsky, which advanced to meet us with shouts of _Vivat!_ We next
went to the church of Kasan, where I alighted. The regiment of
Preobrajensky came up with like shouts of _Vivat!_ at the same time
saying to me, "Pardon us for having come last, our officers detained us,
but here are four of them whom we have brought to you under arrest, to
show you our zeal, for we are of the same mind as our brethren." Then
came the horse-guards in a perfect delirium of delight. I have never
seen anything like it. They shouted, they wept for very joy at the
deliverance of their country. This scene took place between the garden
of the Hetman and the Kasanski. The horse-guards were in a body, with
their officers at their head. As I knew that my uncle Prince George, to
whom Peter III had given this regiment, was thoroughly hated by it, I
sent some footguards to him, begging him to remain at home for fear of
accident. But the guards had anticipated me, and had sent a detachment
to arrest him. His house was pillaged, and he himself ill-treated. I
went to the new Winter Palace, where the synod and senate had assembled.
The manifesto and oath were drawn up in haste. Thence I descended, and
made, on foot, the inspection of the troops; there were more than
fourteen thousand men, guards and country regiments. The instant I
appeared the air was rent with shouts of joy, which were caught up and
repeated by an innumerable multitude. I then proceeded to the old Winter
Palace, to take the necessary measures for completing our work. There a
council was held, and it was determined that I should go at the head of
the troops to Peterhoff, where Peter III was to dine. Posts were
stationed on all the roads, and we received information from moment to
moment. I sent Admiral Taliezsin to Cronstadt. Then came the Chancellor
Voronzoff to reprove me for having left Peterhoff. He was led to the
church to swear fealty to me; that was my answer. Next came Prince
Troubetzkoy and Count Alexander Schouvaloff, also from Peterhoff: they
came to assure themselves of the fidelity of the regiments, and put me
to death. They also were quietly led away to take the oath.

Having despatched all our couriers, and taken all our precautions, I
dressed, about ten o'clock at night, in the uniform of the guards, and
had myself proclaimed Colonel amid acclamations of inexpressible
enthusiasm. I mounted on horseback, and we left behind us only a small
detachment from every regiment for the protection of my son, who
remained in the city.

Thus I set out at the head of the troops, and we marched all night
towards Peterhoff. Having reached the little monastery, the
Vice-Chancellor Galitsin brought me a very flattering letter from Peter
III. I forgot to say that, on leaving the city, three soldiers, sent
from Peterhoff to distribute a manifesto among the people, brought it to
me, saying, "Here, this is what Peter III has charged us with; we give
it to you, and we are very glad to have this opportunity of joining our
brethren." After this first letter from Peter III, another was brought
to me by General Michael Ismaïloff, who, throwing himself at my feet,
said, "Do you take me for an honest man?" I replied, "Yes." "Well,
then," he said, "it is pleasant to have to deal with sensible people.
The Emperor offers to resign. I will bring him to you after his
resignation, which is entirely voluntary, and I shall save my country
from a civil war." I willingly charged him with this commission, and he
departed to fulfil it.

Peter III renounced the empire at Oranienbaum, in full liberty,
surrounded by fifteen hundred Holstein troops, and came to Peterhoff,
accompanied by Elizabeth Voronzoff, Godowitz, and Michael Ismaïloff.
There, as a guard, I assigned him five officers and some soldiers. This
was on the 29th of June, the Feast of St. Peter, at noon. While dinner
was being prepared for every one, the soldiers got it into their heads
that Peter III had been brought by the Field-Marshal Prince Troubetzkoy,
and that the latter was endeavouring to make peace between us. Instantly
they charged all the passers-by, among others the Hetman, the Orloffs,
and many others, saying that they had not seen me for three hours, and
that they were dying with fear lest that old rogue, Troubetzkoy, should
deceive me "by making," they said, "a pretended peace between your
husband and you, and thus ruining you and us also, but we will cut them
in pieces." These were their expressions. I went and spoke to
Troubetzkoy, and said to him, "Pray get into your carriage, while I
make, on foot, the tour of these troops." I related what had occurred;
he was much frightened, and instantly set off for the city, while I was
received by the soldiers with unbounded joy. After this, I placed the
deposed Emperor under the command of Alexis Orloff, with four chosen
officers, and a detachment of quiet and sober men, and sent him to a
distance of twenty-seven verstes from St. Petersburg, to a place called
Rapscha, very retired, but very pleasant, where he was to remain, while
decent and comfortable apartments were prepared for him at
Schlusselburg, and relays of horses placed on the road. But it pleased
God to dispose otherwise. Terror had brought on a dysentery, which
continued for three days, and stopped on the fourth. He drank to excess
on that day, for he had everything he wanted except his liberty. He
had, however, asked me for nothing but his mistress, big dog, his negro,
and his violin; but, for fear of scandal, and not wishing to increase
the general excitement, I sent him only the three last named. The
hemorrhoidal cholic again came on, accompanied by delirium; he was two
days in this condition, which was followed by excessive weakness, and,
notwithstanding the efforts of the physicians, he at last sunk,
demanding a Lutheran clergyman. I was afraid the officers might have
poisoned him, so much was he hated. I had him opened, but not a trace of
poison could be discovered. The stomach was very healthy, but the bowels
were inflamed, and he had been carried off by a stroke of apoplexy. His
heart was excessively small, and also dried up.

After his departure from Peterhoff, I was advised to go straight to the
city. I foresaw that the troops would be alarmed, and I therefore had
the report spread, under the pretext of ascertaining at what hour they
would be in a condition to march. After three days of such excessive
fatigue, they fixed the time for ten o'clock that night, "provided,"
they added, "that she comes with us." I departed, therefore, with them,
and midway stopped to rest at the country residence of Kourakin, where I
flung myself on a bed, dressed as I was. An officer took off my boots. I
slept two hours and a half, and then we resumed our march by the
Catherinoff road. I was on horseback; a regiment of hussars marched in
front; then my escort, which was the horse-guards; then immediately
after me came my court; behind which marched the regiments of the
guards, according to seniority, and three country regiments. I entered
the city amid loud acclamations, and proceeded thus to the Summer
Palace, where the court, the synod, my son, and all privileged to
approach me, were awaiting me. I went to mass; then the _Te Deum_ was
sung; then I had to receive felicitations--I who had scarcely eaten, or
drank, or slept since six o'clock on Friday morning. I was very glad to
be able to retire to rest on Sunday night.

Scarcely was I asleep, when, at midnight, Captain Pacik entered my room
and awoke me, saying, "Our people are horribly drunk: a hussar, in the
same condition, has gone among them crying, 'To arms! three thousand
Prussians are coming; they want to carry off our mother!' Upon this they
have seized their arms, and have come to inquire how you are, saying
that it is three hours since they have seen you, and that they will go
quietly home, provided they find that you are well. They will not listen
to their chiefs, nor even to the Orloffs." So I had to get up again;
and, not to alarm the guard of the court, which consisted of a
battalion, I first went to them, and explained the reason of my going
out at such an hour. I then entered my carriage with two officers, and
proceeded to the troops. I told them I was quite well, that they must go
home to bed, and allow me also to have some rest, as I had only just
laid down, having had no sleep for three nights, and that I trusted they
would in future listen to their officers. They replied that they had
been frightened with those cursed Prussians, and that they were ready to
die for me. "Very well, then," I said, "I am very much obliged to you,
but go to bed." Upon this they wished me good night and good health, and
went off like lambs, every now and then turning back to look at my
carriage as they went. The next day they sent me their apologies and
regrets for having broken my rest.

It would require a volume to describe the conduct of each of the chiefs.
The Orloffs have shone by their skill in guiding others, their prudent
daring, their great presence of mind, and the authority which this
conduct gave them. They have a great deal of good sense, a generous
courage, an enthusiastic patriotism, and an honourable mind. They are
passionately devoted to me, and united amongst each other to a degree
that I have never before seen in brothers. There are five of them, but
only three were here. Captain Pacik has greatly distinguished himself by
remaining for twelve hours under arrest, although the soldiers opened
doors and windows for him; and this he did in order not to alarm his
regiment before my arrival, although he expected every moment to be led
to Oranienbaum, and put to the question. Fortunately this order from
Peter III did not arrive until I had entered St. Petersburg. The
Princess Dashkoff, the youngest sister of Elizabeth Voronzoff, although
she wishes to arrogate to herself all the honour of this revolution, was
in very bad odour on account of her connections, while her age, which is
only nineteen, was not calculated to inspire confidence. She pretends
that everything passed through her to reach me, yet I was in
communication with all the chiefs for six months before she even knew
one of their names. It is quite true that she has great talent, but it
is spoilt by her excessive ostentation and her naturally quarrelsome
disposition. She is hated by the chiefs, and liked by the giddy and
rash, who communicated to her all they knew, which was only the minor
details. Ivan Schouvaloff, the basest and most cowardly of men, has
written, I am told, to Voltaire, that a woman of nineteen had overturned
the government of this empire. Pray undeceive this distinguished writer.
It was necessary to conceal from the Princess Dashkoff the channels
through which others reached me, five months before she knew anything;
and, during the last four weeks, no more was told her than was
absolutely unavoidable. The strength of mind of Prince Baratinsky, who
concealed this secret from a beloved brother, adjutant to the late
Emperor, simply because a disclosure would have been in this case
useless, also deserves great commendation. In the horse-guards an
officer named Chitron(?), only twenty-two years old, and an inferior
officer of seventeen, named Potemkin, directed everything with great
courage and activity.

Such, pretty nearly, is our history. The whole was managed, I confess,
under my immediate direction, and towards the end I had to check its
progress, as our departure for the country prevented the execution;
everything, in fact, was more than ripe a fortnight beforehand. The late
Emperor, when he heard of the tumult in the city, was hindered by the
women about him from following the counsel of old Field-Marshal Munich,
who advised him to throw himself into Cronstadt, or proceed with a small
retinue to the army; and when, finally, he went in a galley to
Cronstadt, the place was in our hands by the good management of Admiral
Talieszin, who disarmed General Lievers, previously sent there on the
part of the Emperor. After the arrival of Talieszin, an officer of the
port, on his own responsibility, threatened to open fire on the galley
of the unfortunate Prince if he attempted a landing. In a word, God has
brought everything about in his own good pleasure, and the whole is more
of a miracle than a merely human contrivance, for assuredly nothing but
the Divine will could have produced so many felicitous combinations.

_We will close this letter of Catherine II. by a short extract from a
dispatch of M. Bérenger, Chargé d'Affaires of France, dated the 23d of
June, and bearing on these occurrences:_

     "What a sight for the nation itself, a calm spectator of these
     events! On one side, the grandson of Peter I dethroned and put to
     death; on the other, the grandson of the Czar Ivan languishing in
     fetters; while a Princess of Anhalt usurps the throne of their
     ancestors, clearing her way to it by a regicide."

                               THE END.

                    *       *       *       *       *

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 [1] See Memoirs of the Princess Daschkaw. London. 1840.

 [2] Du Développement des idées révolutionnaires en Russie. 2 Ed.,
 London, 1853.

 [3] Official?--ED.

 [4] Diplomatic?--ED.

 [5] That is, went to confession and communion.--TR.

 [6] Devierre?--ED.

 [7] That is, from meat.--TR.

 [8] Montagnes russes.--ED.

 [9] Probably _Dartres_.--ED.

 [10] "Quoi, pas une mouche!" Je me mis à rire et lui répondis que
 c'était pour être plus légèrement habillée.--The English word fails to
 convey the playfulness of the reply.--TR.

 [11] To make a history of a thing is a common Russian phrase for "to
 season it with scandal and exaggeration."--TR.

 [12] Sir Charles Hanbury Williams.--TR.

 [13] A fool (DOURA, in Russian).--ED.

 [14] This letter was sent by one of the Grand Duke's servants, named
 André, but it was intercepted by Steholin, and the Grand Duchess never
 received it.

 [15] After the perusal of the foregoing Memoirs, it will be
 interesting to turn to the account which Catherine has given of the
 revolution which placed her on the throne. It is in the form of a
 letter, written or dictated by the Empress herself, and appears to
 have been addressed to Poniatowsky. Although already printed, it is
 but little known, and the reader, we doubt not, will be glad to have
 it in this place. We take it from a most interesting work, published
 at Berlin in 1843, by Schneider, _La Cour de la Russie, il y cent ans_
 (The Court of Russia, a hundred years ago).

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

I told hiin=> I told him {pg 31}

I bey your pardon=> I beg your pardon {pg 64}

placed with me bebause=> placed with me because {pg 66}

Pepnine=> Repnine {pg 75}

the Prineess Repnine=> the Princess Repnine {pg 75}

Yevrienoff entreated me=> Yevreinoff entreated me {pg 79}

seven vertses=> seven verstes {pg 110}

The fits thing=> The first thing {pg 243}

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