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Title: Anecdotal Recollections of the Congress of Vienna
Author: Charles, Auguste Louis, Garde-Chambonas, compte de la
Language: English
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  ANECDOTAL RECOLLECTIONS
  OF THE
  CONGRESS OF VIENNA


[Illustration: FRANCIS I, EMPEROR OF AUSTRIA.]



  ANECDOTAL RECOLLECTIONS
  OF THE
  CONGRESS OF VIENNA

  BY THE
  COMTE A. DE LA GARDE-CHAMBONAS

  WITH
  _INTRODUCTION AND NOTES BY THE_
  COMTE FLEURY


  Translated
  BY THE AUTHOR OF
  ‘AN ENGLISHMAN IN PARIS’


  WITH PORTRAITS


  LONDON
  CHAPMAN & HALL, LIMITED
  1902



Edinburgh: T. and A. CONSTABLE, (late) Printers to Her Majesty



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE
  BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE OF THE COMTE AUGUSTE DE LA GARDE-CHAMBONAS    xiii


  INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER

  Introduction--A Glance at the Congress--Arrival of the
      Sovereigns--The First Night in Vienna,                           1


  CHAPTER I

  The Prince de Ligne--His Wit and his Urbanity--Robinson
      Crusoe--The Masked Ball and Rout--Sovereigns in Dominos
      --The Emperor of Russia and Prince Eugène--Kings and
      Princes--Zibin--General Tettenborn--A Glance at his
      Military Career--Grand Military Fête in Honour of Peace--
      The Footing of Intimacy of the Sovereigns at the Congress
      --The Imperial Palace--Death of Queen Maria Carolina of
      Naples--Emperor Alexander--Anecdotes--Sovereign Gifts
      --Politics and Diplomacy--The Grand Rout--The Waltz,            11


  CHAPTER II

  The Drawing-Rooms of the Comtesse de Fuchs--The Prince Philip
      of Hesse-Homburg--George Sinclair--The Announcement of
      a Military Tournament--The Comtesse Edmond de Périgord
      General Comte de Witt--Letters of Recommendation--The
      Princesse Pauline--The Poet-Functionary and Fouché,             41


  CHAPTER III

  Reception at M. de Talleyrand’s--His Attitude at the Congress
      --The Duc de Dalberg--The Duc de Richelieu--Mme. Edmond
      de Périgord--M. Pozzo di Borgo--Parallel between the
      Prince de Ligne and M. de Talleyrand--A Monster Concert,        55


  CHAPTER IV

  The Prince de Ligne’s Study--A Swimming Exploit--Travelling
      by Post--A Reminiscence of Madame de Staël--Schönbrunn--
      The Son of Napoleon--His Portrait--Mme. de Montesquiou--
      Anecdotes--Isabey--The Manœuvring-Ground--The People’s
      Fête at Augarten,                                               70


  CHAPTER V

  The Prater--The Carriages--The Crowd and the Sovereigns
      --The Sovereigns’ Incognito--Alexander Ypsilanti--
      The Vienna Drawing-Rooms--Princesse Bagration--The
      Narischkine Family--A Lottery,                                  87


  CHAPTER VI

  The Castle of Laxemburg--Heron-Hawking--The Empress of
      Austria--A Royal Hunt--Fête at the Ritterburg--A
      Recollection of Christina of Sweden--Constance and
      Theodore, or the Blind Husband--Poland--Scheme for her
      Independence--The Comte Arthur Potocki--The Prince de
      Ligne and Isabey--The Prince de Ligne’s House on the
      Kalemberg--Confidential Chats and Recollections--The
      Empress Catherine II.--Queen Marie-Antoinette--Mme. de
      Staël--Casanova,                                               105


  CHAPTER VII

  A Court Function--The Empress of Austria--The Troubadours
      --Amateur Theatricals--The Empress of Russia--The
      Prince Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg--Tableaux-Vivants--Queen
      Hortense’s Songs--The Moustaches of the Comte de Wurbna--
      Songs in Action--The Orphan of the Prisons--Diplomacy and
      Dancing--A Ball and a Supper at Court,                         137


  CHAPTER VIII

  Prince Eugène de Beauharnais--Recollections of the Prince de
      Ligne--The Theatre of the ‘Ermitage’ and of Trianon--The
      Baron Ompteda--Some Portraits--The Imperial _Carrousel_
      --The Four-and-Twenty Paladins--Reminiscences of Mediæval
      Tournaments--The Prowess of the Champion--Fête and Supper
      at the Imperial Palace--The Table of the Sovereigns,           152


  CHAPTER IX

  Recollections of the Military Tournament of Stockholm in 1800--
      The Comte de Fersen--King Gustavus IV.--The Challenge of
      the Unknown Knight--The Games on the Bridge at Pisa,           174


  CHAPTER X

  The Prince de Ligne’s Song of the Congress--Life on the Graben
      --The Chronicle of the Congress--Echoes of the Congress--
      A Companion Story to the Death of Vatel--Brie, the King of
      Cheese--Fête at Arnstein the Banker’s--The Prince Royal
      of Würtemberg--Russian Dances--The Poet Carpani and the
      Prince de Ligne,                                               193


  CHAPTER XI

  The Last Love-Tryst of the Prince de Ligne--A Glance at the
      Past--Z---- or the Consequences of Gaming--Gambling in
      Poland and in Russia--The Biter Bit--Masked Ball--The
      Prince de Ligne and a Domino--More Living Pictures--The
      Pasha of Surêne--Two Masked Ladies--A Recollection of the
      Prince de Talleyrand,                                          218


  CHAPTER XII

  Illness of the Prince de Ligne--The Comte de Witt--Ambassador
      Golowkin--Doctor Malfati--The Prince gets worse--Last
      Sallies of the Moribund--General Grief--Portrait of the
      Prince de Ligne--His Funeral,                                  244


  CHAPTER XIII

  The Fire at the Razumowski Palace--The Prince’s Great Wealth
      --The Vicissitudes of Court Favour in Russia--Prince
      Koslowski--A Reminiscence of the Duc d’Orléans--A
      Re-mark of Talleyrand--Fête at the Comtesse Zichy’s--
      Emperor Alexander and his Ardent Wishes for Peace--New
      Year’s Day, 1815--Grand Ball and Rout--Sir Sidney Smith’s
      Dinner-Party at the Augarten--His Chequered Life, his
      Missions and his Projects at the Congress--The King of
      Bavaria without Money--Departure and Anger of the King of
      Würtemberg--The Queen of Westphalia--The Announcement of
      a Sleighing-Party--A Ball at Lord Castlereagh’s,               256


  CHAPTER XIV

  Some Original Types at the Congress--M. Aïdé--A Witticism of
      the Prince de Ligne--Mme. Pratazoff--Mr. Foneron--The
      Old Jew--His Noblesse and his Moral Code--Mr. Raily--
      His Dinners and his Companions--The Two Dukes--The End of
      a Gambler--The Sovereigns’ Incognito--Mr. O’Bearn--Ball
      at the Apollo--Zibin and the King of Prussia--Charles de
      Rechberg and the King of Bavaria--The Minuet--The King
      of Denmark--Story of the Bombardment of Copenhagen--The
      German Lesson,                                                 282


  CHAPTER XV

  Religious Ceremony for the Anniversary of the Death of Louis
      XVI.--Reception at Talleyrand’s--Discussion on the
      Subject of Saxony and Poland--The Order of the Day of the
      Grand-Duke Constantine--A Factum of Pozzo di Borgo--A
      Sleighing-Party--Entertainment and Fête at Schönbrunn--
      Prince Eugène--Recollections of Queen Hortense--The
      Empress Marie-Louise at the Valley of St. Helena--Second
      Sleighing-Party--A Funeral,                                    309


  CHAPTER XVI

  Reception at Madame de Fuchs’s--Prince Philippe
      d’Hesse-Hombourg--The Journalists and Newsmongers of
      Vienna--The French Village in Germany--Prince Eugène--
      Recollection of the Consulate--Tribulations of M. Denville
      --Mme. Récamier--The Return of the _Émigré_--Childhood’s
      Friend, or the Magic of a Name--Ball at Lord Stewart’s--
      Alexander proclaimed King of Poland--The Prince Czartoryski
      --Confidence of the Poles--Count Arthur Potocki--The
      Revolutions of Poland--Slavery--Vandar--Ivan, or the
      Polish Serf,                                                   328


  CHAPTER XVII

  The Emperor Alexander, the King of Prussia, and the Naval Officer
      --Surprise to the Empress of Russia--More Fêtes--A Ball
      at M. de Stackelberg’s--Paul Kisseleff--Brozin--Fête
      offered by M. de Metternich--The Ball-Room catches Fire--
      Fêtes and Banquet at the Court--Ompteda--Chronicle of the
      Congress--The Tell-tale Perfume--Recollection of Empress
      Josephine and Madame Tallien--A Romantic Court Story,          346


  CHAPTER XVIII

  The Comte de Rechberg’s Work on the Governments of the Russian
      Empire--The King of Bavaria--Polish Poem of Sophiowka--
      Madame Potocka, or the Handsome Fanariote--Her Infancy--
      Particulars of Her Life--A Glance at the Park of Sophiowka
      --Subscription of the Sovereigns--Actual State of
      Sophiowka,                                                     364


  CHAPTER XIX

  A Luncheon at M. de Talleyrand’s on his Birthday--M. de
      Talleyrand and the MS.--The Princesse-Maréchale Lubomirska
      --New Arrivals--Chaos of Claims--The Indemnities of the
      King of Denmark--Rumours of the Congress--Arrival of
      Wellington at Vienna--The Carnival--Fête of the Emperor
      of Austria--A Masked Rout--The Diadem, or Vanity Punished
      --A Million--Gambling and Slavery: a Russian Anecdote,         375


  CHAPTER XX

  Isabey’s Study--His Drawing of the Plenipotentiaries at the
      Congress of Vienna--The Imperial Sepulchre at the Capuchins
      --Recollections of the Tombs of Cracow--Preacher Werner
      --St. Stephen’s Cathedral--Children’s Ball at Princesse
      Marie Esterhazy’s--The Empress Elizabeth of Russia--
      The Picture-Gallery of the Duc de Saxe-Teschen--Emperor
      Alexander and Prince Eugène--The Pictures of the Belvedere
      --The King of Bavaria--Anecdotes,                              394

  CHAPTER XXI

  Ypsilanti--Promenade on the Prater--First Rumour of the
      Escape of Napoleon--Projects for the Deliverance of Greece
      --Comte Capo d’Istria--The Hétairites--Meeting with
      Ypsilanti in 1820--His Projects and Reverses,                  406


  CONCLUSION

  Napoleon has left Elba--Aspect of Vienna--Theatricals at
      the Court--Mme. Edmond de Périgord and the Rehearsal--
      Napoleon’s Landing at Cannes--The Interrupted Dance--Able
      Conduct of M. de Talleyrand--Declaration of the 13th March
      --Fauche Borel--The Congress is Dissolved,                     410


  INDEX,                                                             421



PORTRAITS


  FRANCIS I., EMPEROR OF AUSTRIA,      _Frontispiece_.
                                                               _at page_
  COUNT NESSELRODE,                                                   36

  MARIE-LOUISE, ARCHDUCHESS OF AUSTRIA,                               76

  ALEXANDER I.,                                                      142

  MARIE, DOWAGER-EMPRESS OF RUSSIA,                                  211

  ROBERT, VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH, MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY,             281

  PRINCE DE METTERNICH,                                              353

  M. MAURICE DE TALLEYRAND,                                          376



BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE OF THE COMTE AUGUSTE DE LA GARDE-CHAMBONAS


Auguste-Louis-Charles de La Garde,[1] a man of letters and a poet of
some repute in his time, was born in Paris in 1783. The following is a
copy of his certificate of baptism:--

   THE OLD PARISH OF        On Wednesday, the fifth day of March of
                          the year seventeen hundred and eighty-three,
    SAINT-EUSTACHE,       there was baptized Auguste-Louis-Charles,
                          born on the previous day but one, the son of
       ANNO 1783.         Messire le Comte Scipion-Auguste de La
                          Garde, chevalier, captain of Dragoons, and
  (REGISTRY OF PARIS.)    of Dame Catherine-Françoise Voudu, his wife,
                          domiciled in the Rue de Richelieu. Godfather
                          --Messire Jean de la Croix, captain of
                          Dragoons; Godmother-- Dame Elisabeth
                          Vingtrinien, wife of M. Etienne-Antoine
                          Barryals, Bourgeois of Paris.[2]

The child’s mother died in giving it birth. The father only survived
the beloved young wife for a little while, and feeling his end to be
near, confided the orphan to the head of his family, the Marquis de
Chambonas (Scipion-Charles-Victor Auguste de La Garde), camp-marshal
(equivalent to the present grade of general of brigade), and
subsequently a minister of Louis XVI.[3]

M. de Chambonas took charge of the infant, looking upon it as a second
son, and treating it with the most constant affection. Consequently
in all his works, and in his _Unpublished Notes_, Auguste de La Garde
always refers by the name of ‘father’ to the relative who had replaced
his dead parents.[4]

During his early childhood, he was often entrusted to his godmother,
Mme. de Villers.[5] She was the friend of Mme. Bernard, the wife of
the Lyons banker, whose daughter was to attain such great celebrity
under the name of Mme. Récamier. Brought up together, as it were,
these two children conceived for each other a sincere affection, which
neither time nor distance ever cooled. When, on his return from foreign
parts, Auguste de La Garde came to Paris in 1801, he at once took up
his abode at Mme. Récamier’s, who, moreover, gave him the support so
necessary to the youthful wanderer who possessed no resources of his
own. Hence, it will cause no surprise to meet in the _Recollections
of the Congress of Vienna_ with pages breathing a profound sense of
gratitude to Mme. Récamier.

Young La Garde began his studies under the guidance of the Abbé B----,
after which he was sent to the College of Sens. (His ‘father’ had been
governor of the town in 1789, and its mayor in 1791.) M. de Chambonas,
after having commanded the 17th division of the army of Paris for a
very short time, was called to the ministry of Foreign Affairs, the
17th June 1792, to replace Dumouriez, who had resigned. His stay there
was also very short. Having been denounced publicly in the Legislative
Assembly for having withheld information with regard to the movements
of the Prussian troops, and becoming more and more suspect every day,
he quickly abandoned the post.

On the 10th August he was among those who endeavoured to defend the
Tuileries, and was even left for dead on the spot. It was only towards
the end of 1792 that M. de Chambonas made up his mind to quit Paris. He
did not cross the frontier, but managed to reach Sens; where, in safe
hiding, he succeeded in spending unmolested the years of the Reign of
Terror. He had taken with him his son, who subsequently married Mlle.
de la Vernade, at Sens (and who was the grandfather of the present
Marquis de Chambonas), and also his adopted son.

How did the erewhile minister of Louis XVI. succeed in passing
unmolested through the Terror? It seems almost incredible. This was one
of the exceptions the particulars of which have been traced by memoirs
that have recently come to light.[6]

During the Directory, in fact, M. de Chambonas floated absolutely to
the top, and at one time there was talk of sending him to Spain as
ambassador. The plan fell through, and after the _coup d’état_ on the
18th Fructidor (4th September 1797), M. de Chambonas, considering
himself no longer safe, hurriedly left Paris to avoid arrest.

Behold our wanderers at Hamburg, and afterwards in Sweden and Denmark.
Auguste de La Garde in his somewhat florid style will tell us many
amusing anecdotes; on the other hand, the bombardment of Copenhagen by
the English fleet in 1801 affected him sadly.

A few months later, the lad of eighteen is sent to France by M. de
Chambonas in order to obtain the removal of the sender’s name from
the list of _émigrés_--he had been considered as such while he was in
hiding at Sens--and to claim the estates the nation had confiscated.
Auguste de La Garde is hospitably received by Mme. Récamier, who, while
bestirring herself in behalf of the ‘father,’ takes the son in hand
with regard to his education. Through her influence, La Harpe assists
him with his counsels, and the best professors direct his further
studies. As for the property the restitution of which is claimed by his
‘father,’ by that time established in England, all idea of it had to be
abandoned; and young La Garde himself, his mind precociously ripened by
his exile, was compelled to look to his own independent future.[7]

His personal charm, his natural gifts, and, in short, the useful
connections he rapidly made for himself, soon procured him employment
and a start in life. At the outset, he obtained through the goodwill of
Prince Eugène missions to Italy, to Marmont in Dalmatia, to the Court
of King Joseph at Naples, and finally to Rome, where he was cordially
received by Lucien Bonaparte and his family. The pages, whether in
his _Recollections of the Congress of Vienna_ or in his _Unpublished
Notes_, referring to his primary benefactors, go far to exonerate him
from the charge of ingratitude, for he lavishes upon those benefactors
all the ornaments of his rhetoric; at any rate, nearly all, for the
greater part of the acknowledgment of his indebtedness goes mainly to
Field-Marshal Prince de Ligne, who was his protector, his beneficent
and ... very useful relative, a member of the Chambonas family, having,
as we already stated, married a Princesse de Ligne.

La Garde first met with the Prince de Ligne in the Eternal City. He
soon became a familiar visitor to the octogenarian prince, who, like
the generous Mæcenas that he was, gave him a pressing invitation to
come and settle near him in Vienna. The young fellow was too sensible
to make light of an offer insuring material welfare and a regular
existence after years of uncertainty. He, therefore, settled in Vienna
near to his benefactor, yielding for the matter of that to the spell
exercised over every one by that very superior specimen of manhood,
and requiting his kindness with an affectionate veneration increasing
as time went on. The whole of the first part of the _Recollections_
attests a boundless gratitude; and if on the one hand that work
constitutes the brightest ornament of our author’s literary crown, it
constitutes on the other the most complete panegyric of the prince who
had become ‘his idol.’

From Vienna, the Comte de La Garde passed into Russia, where he met
with a cordial welcome from the elegant society of St. Petersburg. In
1810 he published there a volume of poems, which obtained a most signal
success. Subsequently invited to Poland by the Comte Félix Potocki, and
treated with the most generous hospitality, he was enabled to devote
himself to numerous literary works; and as a mark of gratitude to his
hosts, he translated into French Trembecki’s poem dedicated to the
cherished wife of Comte Félix, the celebrated Sophie Potocka.

The _Recollections of the Congress of Vienna_ contains frequent
references to the ‘superb Sophie,’ who was born in the Fanariote
quarter in Constantinople, and whose singular career was solely owing
to her beauty. She married in the first place the Comte de Witt (of
the family of the Dutch Great State-Councillor, whose descendants had
entered the service of Russia). The Comte de Witt enticed her away
from a secretary of the French Embassy in Constantinople; Comte Félix
Potocki, in his turn, eloped with her while she was Comtesse de Witt,
and married her, thanks to an amicable arrangement nullifying the
first marriage. Comtesse Sophie, celebrated throughout Europe--her
loveliness had even compelled admiration from the Court circle at
Versailles--lived on a regal footing on her estate of Tulczim,
and dispensed her hospitality to the French _émigrés_ in a manner
calculated to dazzle many of them. The _Mémoires_ of General Comte de
Rochechouart and the present _Recollections_ are specially interesting
on the subject. The success of the poem, ‘Sophiowka,’ was such as
to gain for its adapter the honorary membership respectively of the
Academies of Warsaw, Cracow, Munich, London, and Naples.

The Comte de La Garde was to receive another flattering testimonial in
Poland, many years later, on the occasion of the appearance of his poem
on the ‘Funérailles de Kosciusko’ (Treuttel & Wurtz: Paris, 1830). Its
several editions by no means exhausted its success; the senate of the
republic of Cracow conferred upon him the Polish citizenship, while the
kings of Bavaria, Prussia, and Saxony complimented him by autograph
letters.

La Garde was the author of a great number of songs; and the most
renowned composers of the period competed for the honour of setting
them to music. Many of these romances were dedicated to Queen Hortense,
whose acquaintance he made at Augsburg in 1819. This led to his
collaboration in ‘Loi d’Exil,’ and ‘Partant pour la Syrie’--the latter
of which became the national hymn during the Second Empire. In 1853,
there appeared _L’Album artistique de la Reine Hortense_, a much prized
collection of the then unpublished songs of the Comte de La Garde,
with their music by the queen, and charming reproductions of tiny
paintings, which were also her work.[8]

This was the last time the name of the Comte de La Garde appeared
in print. A short time afterwards his wandering life came to an end
in Paris, which during the latter years of his life he inhabited
alternately with Angers. He had adopted as his motto: ‘My life is a
battle’; he could have added, ‘and a never-ending journey’; for his
constitutional restlessness prevented him from settling permanently,
no matter where. He never married. The few documents he left behind,
including some momentoes, represented the whole of his property, and
went to his cousin, M. de La Garde, Marquis de Chambonas.

In addition to the afore-mentioned works and the present one,
_Recollections of the Congress of Vienna_, which originally appeared
in Paris in 1820 (?), M. de la Garde was the author of the following:
_Une traduction de Dmitry Donskoy_ (Moscow, 1811); _Coup d’œil sur le
Royaume de Pologne_ (Varsovie, 1818); _Coup d’œil sur Alexander-Bad_
(Bavière, 1819); _Laure Bourg: roman dédié au Roi de Bavière_ (Munich,
1820); _Les Monuments grecs de la Sicile_ (Munich, 1820); _Traduction
des Mélodies de Thomas Moore_ (Londres, 1826); _Voyage dans quelques
parties de l’Europe_ (Londres, 1828); _Brighton, Voyage en Angleterre_,
(1830); _Tableau de Bruxelles (prose et vers), dédié à la Reine_;
_Projet pour la formation d’une Colonie belge à la Nouvelle Zélande_,
etc.

In all those works, and notably in the most important, namely:
_Brighton_, and _Souvenirs du Congrès_ _de Vienne_, M. de La Garde
shows himself to be endowed with the faculty of observation and with
tact. Unfortunately his matchless kindliness prevents his criticisms
from departing from the laudatory gamut.

We must not look in these _Recollections_ for important revelations
concerning the diplomatic conferences which engaged the attention
of the whole of Europe in 1815; we shall only meet with delightful
anecdotes and portraits of _grandes dames_ and illustrious personages.
There will be many silhouettes of figures that have been forgotten
since, but which, while they belonged to this world, were worthy of
notice. To appreciate them we should bring to the perusal of this
volume the quality which presided at its composition: namely, the
kindliness of an observant man of the world.

Since their appearance in 1820, these _Recollections_ had been
absolutely forgotten. It seemed to us and to M. le Marquis de Chambonas
La Garde, to whom we owe the principal facts of this notice, that the
chapters were worthy of being resuscitated. Though we have omitted from
these _Recollections_ some dissertations more or less obsolete, which
would be of no interest to-day, we have throughout respected the style
and the ideas of the author; only adding to his narrative the necessary
notes on the principal personages of the action.

            FLEURY.



ANECDOTAL RECOLLECTIONS



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER

  Introduction--A Glance at the Congress--Arrival of the Sovereigns--
      The First Night in Vienna.


The Congress of Vienna, considered as a political gathering, has not
lacked historians, but they were so intent upon recording its phases
of high diplomacy as to have bestowed no thought upon its piquant and
lighter social features.

No doubt they feared that triviality of detail might impair the
general effect of so imposing a picture, and they were satisfied with
reproducing and judging results, without caring to retrace the diverse
and animated scenes where these results were obtained. Nevertheless,
it would have been curious to go more or less deeply into the personal
lives of the actors called upon to settle the future interests of
Europe. At the Vienna Congress, hearts hitherto closed, nay, wholly
inaccessible, to the observation of the outer world, were often laid
open. Amidst the confusion of all ranks, their most transient movements
revealed themselves, and lent themselves to being watched, as if taken
off their guard in the irresistible whirl of uninterrupted pleasures.

Doubtless, at no time of the world’s history had more grave and complex
interests been discussed amidst so many fêtes. A kingdom was cut into
bits or enlarged at a ball: an indemnity was granted in the course of
a dinner; a constitution was planned during a hunt; now and again
a cleverly-placed word or a happy and pertinent remark cemented a
treaty the conclusion of which, under different circumstances, would
probably have been achieved only with difficulty, and by dint of many
conferences and much correspondence. Acrimonious discussions and
‘dry-as-dust’ statements were replaced for the time being, as if by
magic, by the most polite forms in any and every transaction; and also
by the promptitude which is a still more important form of politeness,
unfortunately too neglected.

The Congress had assumed the character of a grand fête in honour of
the general pacification. Ostensibly it was a feast of rest after the
storm, but, curiously enough, it offered a programme providing for life
in its most varied movements. Doubtless, the forgathering of those
sovereigns, ministers, and generals who for nearly a quarter of a
century had been the actors in a grand drama supposed to have run its
course, besides the pomp and circumstance of the unique scene itself,
showed plainly enough that they were there to decide the destinies
of nations. The mind, dominated by the gravity of the questions at
issue, could not altogether escape from the serious thoughts now and
again obtruding themselves: but immediately afterwards the sounds of
universal rejoicing brought a welcome diversion. Everyone was engrossed
with pleasure. The love-passion also hovered over this assembly of
kings, and had the effect of prolonging a state of abandonment and a
neglect of affairs, both really inconceivable when taken in conjunction
with upheavals the shock of which was still felt, and immediately
before a thunderbolt which was soon to produce a singular awakening.
The people themselves, apparently forgetting that when their rulers are
at play, the subjects are doomed to pay in a short time the bills of
such royal follies, seemed to be grateful for foibles that drew their
masters down to their level.

Meanwhile, the man of Titanic catastrophes is not far distant. Napoleon
steps forth to spread fire and flame once more; to make an end of
all those dreams, and to invest with a wholly different aspect those
voluptuous scenes, the diversity of which could not even save their
participants from the weariness of satiety.[9]

I arrived in Vienna towards the end of September 1814, when the
Congress, though it had been announced for several months, was not yet
officially opened. The fêtes had, however, already commenced. In the
abstract of the proceedings, it had been said that the conferences
would be of very short duration. Business according to some, pleasure
according to others, and probably both these causes combined, decided
things otherwise. Several weeks, several months, went by without the
question of dissolution being broached. Negotiating as from brother to
brother, in a manner that would have rejoiced the heart of Catherine
the Great, the sovereigns amicably and without the least hurry arranged
‘their little affairs’; they gave one the impression of wishing to
realise the philosophic dream of the Abbé de Saint-Pierre.[10]

The number of strangers attracted to Vienna by the Congress was
estimated at close upon a hundred thousand. It ought to be said that
for this memorable gathering no other city would have answered so
well. Vienna is in reality the centre of Europe; at that time it was
its capital. A Viennese who had happened to leave the city a few
months before would have had some difficulty in identifying himself
and his familiar surroundings amidst that new, gilded, and titled
population which crowded the place at the time of the Congress. All the
sovereigns of the North had come thither; the West and the East had
sent their most notable representatives. The Emperor Alexander, still
young and brilliant; the Empress Elizabeth, with her winning though
somewhat melancholy grace, and the Grand-Duke Constantine represented
Russia. Behind these were grouped a mass of ministers, princes, and
generals, especially conspicuous among them the Comtes de Nesselrode,
Capo d’Istria, Pozzo di Borgo, and Stackelberg, all of whom were marked
out from that hour to play important parts in the political debates of
Europe. These statesmen must be passed over in silence. I must not be
equally silent with regard to the friends whom I met once more, and who
during my wanderings in Germany, Poland, and Russia, had entertained
me with such cordial affection. There was Tettenborn, as devoted and
warm-hearted after many years of separation as if we had never parted;
the Comte de Witt, the Prince Koslowski, both of whom were to die
prematurely; and Alexander Ypsilanti, fervent and generous as of old,
and fated to meet with such a cruel end in the prisons of Montgatz and
of Theresienstadt.

The King of Prussia was accompanied by the Princes Guillaume and
Auguste. Baron de Humboldt[11] and the Prince d’Hardemberg presided
at his councils. The beautiful queen who in the negotiations of 1807
employed in vain all her seductive grace and resources of mind against
the will of Napoleon, was no more.

The King of Denmark, Frédéric VI., the son of the ill-fated Caroline
Mathilde,[12] also repaired to the Congress, which, luckily for him,
he was enabled to leave without his modest possessions having aroused
the cupidity of this or that ambitious neighbour.

The Kings of Bavaria and Würtemberg, the Dukes of Saxe-Coburg,
Hesse-Darmstadt, and Hesse-Cassel--in short, all the heads and princes
of the reigning houses of Germany--were there. They also wished to
take part in the political festival, and were anxious to know how the
supreme tribunal would trim and shape the borders of their small States.

The King of Saxony, so ardently worshipped by his subjects, had at
that time retired into Prussia, while the Allied Armies occupied his
kingdom. That excellent prince, whom Napoleon called ‘le plus honnête
homme qui ait occupé le trône,’[13] was only represented at the
Congress by his plenipotentiaries.

The representatives of France were the Duc de Dalberg, the Comte Alexis
de Noailles, M. de la Tour-du-Pin, and the Prince de Talleyrand. The
last-named maintained his high reputation with great dignity under
difficult circumstances, and perhaps conspicuous justice has never been
done to him. The English plenipotentiaries were Lords Clancarty and
Stewart, and Viscount Castlereagh.

Among these notable men it would be ingratitude on my part not to name
the Prince de Ligne, of whom frequent mention will be made in these
_Recollections_; and the reigning Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg [1814]. A
brave soldier, the latter prince earned his grade of field-marshal on
the battlefield itself, and moreover proved his talent as a remarkable
administrator by promoting in many ways the happiness of his subjects.

The whole of this royal company met in the capital of Austria with a
hospitality worthy of it, and worthy also of that memorable gathering.
The Kings of Würtemberg and Denmark arrived before any of the others.
The Emperor Franz proceeded as far as Schönbrunn to welcome each of
them. The interview between those princes was exceedingly cordial, and
free from diplomatic reserve; but the ceremony which by its pomp and
splendour was evidently intended to crown the series of wonders of the
Congress was the solemn entry of Emperor Alexander and the King of
Prussia.

Numerous detachments of guards of honour had been posted on the routes
these two monarchs were to traverse. The whole of the garrison was
under arms at the approaches to and within the capital. The emperor,
attended by his grand officers of state, both military and civil, the
archdukes, and other princes of the blood, proceeded for some distance
to meet his hosts. The meeting took place on the left bank of the
Danube, at the further extremity of the Tabor bridge. There was an
exchange of most affectionate and apparently most sincere greetings,
and the three rulers held each other’s hands for a long while.

An immense crowd lined the banks of the stream, and rent the air with
cheers. Undoubtedly it was a sight as remarkable as it was unheard-of,
that gathering of sovereigns tried by severe misfortune for twenty
years, and who, having vanquished him who had been for such a long
time victorious, seemed astonished at a triumph so dearly bought, so
unexpectedly obtained.

The three monarchs, in full-dress uniforms, meanwhile mounted their
horses and rode slowly on amidst the booming of the artillery. The
infinite number of generals, belonging to all the nations of Europe,
riding behind them, their brilliant costumes glittering in the sun,
the joyous cries of the crowds, the clanging of the bells of all the
steeples, the air resounding with the firing of the cannon, the sight
of that population frantically hailing the return of peace--in fact,
the whole scene, even the cordial demeanour of those sovereigns,
constituted the most imposing and eloquent spectacle.

The welcome to the Empress of Russia on the following day was marked by
a ceremonial of a less grandiose but more graceful nature. The Empress
of Austria, surrounded by the whole of her Court, went to meet her a
long distance out of the capital. A short time after she started, the
two emperors proceeded in the same direction, and the two processions
joined hands, as it were, close to the church of Maria-Brunn. An open
calèche was in waiting to convey the empresses; their august husbands
took their seats with them. A detachment of the Hungarian Guards,
another of Uhlans, and a great number of pages made up the escort. The
carriage, on reaching the outer gates of the court, was met by young
girls dressed in white, offering baskets of flowers. A dense crowd
lined the avenues leading to the palace, and everybody admired the
spontaneous cordiality, the good-will altogether without etiquette,
lighting up the faces of all those grand personages, so little adapted
to manifestations of equality.

From that moment Vienna assumed an aspect which was as bright as it was
animated. Numberless magnificent carriages traversed the city in all
directions, and, in consequence of the restricted size of the capital,
constantly reappeared. Most of them were preceded by those agile
forerunners, in their brilliant liveries, who are no longer to be seen
anywhere except in Vienna, and who, swinging their large silver-knobbed
canes, seemed to fly in front of the horses. The promenades and squares
teemed with soldiers of all grades, dressed in the varied uniforms
of all the European armies. Added to these were the swarms of the
servants of the aristocracy in their gorgeous liveries, and the people
crowding at all points of vantage to catch a momentary glimpse of the
military, sovereign, and diplomatic celebrities constantly shifting
within the permanent frame of the varying picture. Then, when night
came, the theatres, the cafés, the public resorts were filled with
animated crowds, apparently bent on pleasure only, while sumptuous
carriages rolled hither and thither, lighted up by torches borne by
footmen perched behind, or still preceded by runners, who had, however,
exchanged their canes for flambeaux. In almost every big thoroughfare
there was the sound of musical instruments discoursing joyous tunes.
Noise and bustle everywhere.

Such, for over five months, was the picture represented by the city, a
picture of which only a poor idea can be conveyed by my feeble attempts
to reproduce some of its features.

The immense number of strangers had soon invaded every available hotel
and private lodging. Many notabilities were obliged to take up their
quarters in the outskirts. Prices ruled exorbitantly high; in order to
judge of this I need only state that the rent of Lord Castlereagh’s
apartments was £500 per month--an unheard-of price in Vienna. It
was calculated that if the Congress lasted only four months, the
value of many houses would be paid to their proprietors in rent. I
should, perhaps, have been deprived of witnessing a scene which only
a chain of extraordinary circumstances could have brought about, and
which probably will not be renewed for many centuries to come; but
my intimate friend, Mr. Julius Griffiths, who had lived in Vienna
for several years, had anticipated my coming, and in his magnificent
residence on the Jaeger-Zeill, I found all the _comfort_ which he
had transported thither from his own country; both the word and the
condition of things it represented being little known throughout the
rest of Europe.

Mr. Julius Griffiths, who ranks among the best educated of Englishmen,
has made himself widely known in the world of letters by works of
acknowledged merit. He has travelled all over the globe, and deserves
to be proclaimed the greatest traveller of his time. His social
qualities and his lofty sentiments have conferred the greatest honour
on the English character outside his native country. His friendship has
been for many years the source of my sweetest happiness. I am enabled
to confess with gratitude that he was instrumental in convincing me of
the mendacity of the precept, ‘not to try one’s friends if one wishes
to keep them.’

The thing I stood most in need of, after the first greetings of such
a sincere friend, was rest and quietude; hence, at the moment I did
not in the least resemble the ‘inquisitorial traveller’ mentioned by
Sterne, and I retired to enjoy that rest, most intensely conscious of
the delight of having reached port. In spite of this, sleep failed to
come. Too many thoughts came crowding in upon me; my mind was divided
between the pleasure of meeting once more with so dear a friend and
others scarcely less precious to me, and the hope of being a witness
of a scene which hitherto was without a precedent. Were I possessed of
the talent with which Dupaty has described his ‘Première nuit à Rome,’
I should endeavour to paint the stirring emotions of this ‘first night’
in Vienna.

A volume of Shakespeare lay close at hand; I opened it at random and
read: ‘You who have not seen those feasts, you have lost the sight of
what is most brilliant of earthly glory. Those perfectly magnificent
scenes surpassed all that the imagination can invent. Each day outvied
the previous one, each morrow shamed the pomp of its eve. One day those
demi-gods on earth resplendent with precious stones and silken stuffs;
the next the same pomp more oriental than the orient itself. You should
have seen each world-ruler dazzling like a statue wrought of gold;
and the courtiers resplendent like their masters; and those dames so
delicate and so slight bend beneath the twofold burden of their pride
and their ornaments; those sovereigns, stars of like magnitude, mingle
their rays by their presence. No calumnious tongue dared wag, no eye
that was not dazzled by those sights. You should have witnessed also
the tournament and the heralds of arms, and the prowess of chivalry
displayed. The old history of our story-tellers has ceased to be
fabulous. Yes, henceforth I shall believe all that those story-tellers
have told us.’[14]

Those lines from an immortal poet, I read again and again; and swayed
by those powerful impressions, I owed to them the conception of noting
down my recollections, convinced that in times to come, _i.e._ at a
period to which I looked forward courageously, I should be delighted to
refer to them as the sole food for my thoughts.



CHAPTER I

  The Prince de Ligne--His Wit and his Urbanity--Robinson Crusoe
      --The Masked Ball and Rout--Sovereigns in Dominos--The
      Emperor of Russia and the Prince Eugène--Kings and Princes
      --Zibin--General Tettenborn--A Glance at his Military
      Career--Grand Military Fête in Honour of Peace--The Footing
      of Intimacy of the Sovereigns at the Congress--The Imperial
      Palace--Death of Queen Maria Carolina of Naples--Emperor
      Alexander--Anecdotes--Sovereign Gifts--Politics and
      Diplomacy--The Grand Rout--The Waltz.


Speaking of the Great Wall of China, the famous Dr. Johnson said
somewhere that the grandson of a man who had caught a mere glimpse of
it might still be proud of the opportunity vouchsafed to his grandsire.
The exaggeration, Oriental like its subject, might strike me as
excusable if the drift of it were applied, not to a monument capable
of standing the test of ages, but to one of those men who appear at
long intervals, or in connection with events that change the face of
the world. Personally, I may confess to remaining more or less proud of
my presence at the Congress of Vienna, and of having been privileged
to see the many celebrities that forgathered there. But the most
gratifying recollection, and also the one dearest to my heart, is that
of the goodwill incessantly shown to me by the Prince de Ligne. For
over two months I had the happiness of being admitted to his greatest
intimacy, seeing him every day and at all hours, gathering from his
lips the clever sentences and spontaneous sallies which he so lavishly
dispensed. To-day, after many years, the indelible impression of his
personality tends to reanimate my recollections, and lends life to the
scenes I am endeavouring to reproduce.

The Prince de Ligne[15] was then in his eightieth year; in spite of
this there is no exaggeration in saying that he had remained young. He
had preserved the amiable character and the fascinating urbanity which
had lent so much charm to his society. Hence the title of ‘the last of
French knights’ was unanimously accorded to him.

At that period all the strangers, whether most celebrated in virtue
of their rank or of their mental qualities, nay, the sovereigns
themselves, made it a point, as it were, to show their reverence
for him. He was still possessed of that freshness of imagination
and inexhaustible, exquisite gaiety which had always distinguished
him. His humour, kindly withal, though somewhat satirical, was
principally directed at the really strange aspect the Congress began
to assume, pleasure being seemingly the most important business.
Amidst this general intoxication, amidst this uninterrupted series of
entertainments, banquets, and balls, it was certainly not the least
curious and interesting contrast to behold the imposing figure of the
old marshal, occupying no official position, yet eagerly welcomed
everywhere, and often painting the situation by an epigram, by a clever
and pertinent remark, which went the round in no time.

The French were above all most eager for his society, and, in their
turn, could reckon on the most cordial welcome. His journey to the
French Court a few years previous to the Revolution had left the most
heartfelt recollections; and his letters to the Marquise de Coigny[16]
at that period show in every line his regret at being compelled to live
away from a country and a people that had inspired him with such an
ardent sympathy. In a word, the Prince de Ligne belonged to France both
by the nature of his worth and by the quality of his mind.

My family having the honour of being allied to that of the Prince,
he presented me on my first visit to Vienna in 1807 at the Court
and everywhere as his cousin. From that moment until his death, his
courtesy and goodwill never failed me at any succeeding visit. I was
never tired of listening to him, and especially when his thoughts
reverted to bygone times, which he had so long and so closely observed.
He took delight in improving my mind with the treasures of his own,
and in enlightening my youthful inexperience with the counsels and
fruits of his own observation. Hence, to speak of the Prince de Ligne
is simply, on my part, the acquittal of a debt. As a matter of course,
my first call was due to him, and on the morrow of my arrival I made my
way to his home.

‘You are just in time to see great doings,’ he said. ‘The whole of
Europe is in Vienna. The tissue of politics is embroidered with fêtes,
and inasmuch as at your age one is fond of joyous gatherings, balls,
and pleasure, I can assure you beforehand of a series of them, because
the Congress does not march to its goal; it dances. It is a royal
mob. From all sides there are cries of peace, justice, equilibrium,
indemnity; the last word being the new contribution of the Prince de
Bénévent to the diplomatic vocabulary. Heaven alone knows who shall
reduce this chaos to some semblance of order, and provide dams for the
torrent of various pretensions. As for me, I am only a well-meaning
and friendly spectator of the show. I shall claim nothing, unless
it be a hat to replace the one I am wearing out in saluting the
sovereigns I meet at every street-corner. Nevertheless, in spite of
Robinson Crusoe,[17] a general and lasting peace will no doubt be
concluded, for a feeling of concord has at length united the nations
which were so long inimical towards each other. Their most illustrious
representatives are already setting the example of it. We shall witness
a thing hitherto unheard of: pleasure will bring in its wake peace,
instead of strife.’

After this, he started asking me, with all the impetuosity of youth,
a series of questions with reference to Paris, my travels, and my own
plans, until he was interrupted by his servant informing him that his
carriage was at the door.

‘You’ll come and dine with me to-morrow,’ he said; ‘and then we’ll go
to the grand rout and ball. You’ll see the most practical common-sense
of Europe wearing the motley of folly. When there I’ll explain to you
in a few moments the curiosities of that grand piece of living tapestry
composed of the most notable personages.’

The prince had kept to his habit of dining early: it was four o’clock
when I reached his pretty house on the Bastion. It contained but one
room on each story, hence he called it jocularly his ‘perch.’ His
friends knew it by the name of ‘L’hôtel de Ligne.’ Shortly after my
arrival he sat down to dinner, surrounded by his charming family.[18]
Candidly speaking, the repast, like the well-known suppers of Madame
de Maintenon, when she was still Widow Scarron, stood in need of the
magic of his conversation to make up for its more than scanty fare. And
although he himself ate nearly all the little dishes that were served,
his guests were so thoroughly engrossed and delighted as to be rendered
oblivious of the unsubstantial nature of the entertainment--until the
end of it.

In the drawing-room we found some visitors; they were strangers of
distinction, who, called to Vienna from every coign and nook of Europe,
had craved an introduction to this living marvel of the previous
century. Their number also contained several ‘lion-hunters,’ obtruding
their presence from sheer curiosity, and for the sake of being enabled
to say: ‘I have seen the Prince de Ligne,’ or else for the purpose of
‘rubbing minds with him,’ by carefully picking up his anecdotes and his
sallies, which they afterwards hawked about, considerably disfigured,
among their own sets.

Having quickly paid his voluntary toll in the shape of some witty or
polite remark to each of those groups, he left them, as if his task had
been fulfilled, and came up to his grandson, the Comte de Clary, with
whom I happened to be chatting. ‘I remember,’ he said, ‘having begun
one of my letters to Jean-Jacques Rousseau with a--“As you do not care,
Monsieur, either for demonstrative people or for demonstrations....”
A few notes couched in similar terms would not be out of place among
some of the notable people here this evening; but they are so inflated
with their own merit as to be unable to decipher their own addresses.
And as, moreover, they are most obstinate and difficult to shake off,
let us go and have a look at others where there will be a little more
elbow-room. The ball is waiting for us. Come along, my lads, I’ll give
you a lesson in taking your leave in French fashion.’ And this man,
extraordinary in every relation of life, flitting away with the light
step of a mere youth, suited the action to the word and positively
ran to his carriage, laughing all the while at the boyish trick and
at the disappointment of all those insipid talkers who merely courted
his society to make him listen to their vapid utterances. It was nine
o’clock when we reached the imperial palace, better known as the
Hofburg.

That ancient residence had been specially chosen for those ingenious
_momons_, character-masques in which the incognito of the domino often
lent itself to political combinations in themselves masterpieces
of intrigue and conception. The principal hall was magnificently
lighted up, and running around it, there was a circular gallery giving
access to huge rooms arranged for supper. On seats, disposed like an
amphitheatre, there were crowds of ladies, some of whom merely wore
dominos, while the majority represented this or that character. It
would be difficult to imagine a scene more dazzling than this gathering
of women, all young and beautiful, and each attired in a style most
becoming to her beauty. All the centuries of the past, all the regions
of the inhabited globe seemed to have appointed to meet in that
graceful circle.

Several orchestras executed at regular intervals valses and polonaises:
in adjoining galleries or rooms minuets were danced with particularly
Teutonic gravity, which feature did not constitute the least comic
part of the picture.

The prince had spoken the truth. Vienna at that time presented an
abridged panorama of Europe, and the rout was an abridged panorama of
Vienna. There could be no more curious spectacle than those masked
or non-masked people, among whom, absolutely lost in the crowd, and
practically defying identification, circulated all the sovereigns at
that moment participating in the Congress.

The prince had a story or anecdote about each. ‘There goes Emperor
Alexander. The man on whose arm he is leaning is Prince Eugène
Beauharnais, for whom he has a sincere affection. When Eugène arrived
here with his father-in-law, the King of Bavaria, the Court hesitated
about the rank to be accorded to him. The emperor spoke so positively
on the subject as to secure for Eugène all the honours due to his
generous character. Alexander, as you are aware, is worthy of inspiring
and of extending the deepest friendship.

‘Do you know the tall and noble-looking personage whom that beautiful
Neapolitan girl is holding round the waist? It is the King of Prussia,
whose gravity appears in no wise disturbed by the fact. For all that
the clever mask may be an empress, on the other hand it is quite on the
cards that she is merely a grisette who has been smuggled in.

‘That colossus in the black domino, which neither disguises nor
decreases his stature, is the King of Würtemberg.[19] The man close
to him is his son, the Crown Prince. His love for the Duchesse
d’Oldenbourg, Emperor Alexander’s sister, is the cause of his stay at
the Congress, rather than a concern for the grave interests which one
day will be his. It is a romantic story, the _dénouement_ of which we
may witness before long.

‘The two young fellows who just brushed past us are the Crown Prince
of Bavaria and his brother, Prince Charles.[20] The latter’s face
would dispute the palm with that of Antinous. The crowd of people of
different kind and garb who are disporting themselves, in every sense
of the word, are, some, reigning princes, others archdukes, others
again grand dignitaries of this or that empire. For, except a few
Englishmen, easily picked out by their careful dress, I do not think
there is a single personage here without a “handle” to his name.

‘This room in particular only represents a picture of pleasure, my dear
boy....’

The moment the prince left me to myself I began to wander about, and
if I had made a series of appointments, I could not have met with more
acquaintances hailing from Naples to St. Petersburg, and from Stockholm
to Constantinople. The variety of costume and languages was truly
astonishing. It was like a bazaar of all the nations of the world.
Honestly, I felt that for the first time in my life I was experiencing
the intoxication of a masked ball. My brain seemed to reel under the
spell of the incessant music, the secrecy of disguise, the atmosphere
of mystery by which it was surrounded, the general state of incognito,
the uncurbed and boundless gaiety, the force of circumstances, and the
irresistible seductiveness of the picture before me. I feel certain
that older and stronger heads than mine would have proved equally weak.

In a short time I had quite a group of friends around me.

Taking advantage of a moment when the Prince de Ligne was less hemmed
in, I begged of him not to worry about me for that evening, and flung
myself headlong into the whirl of gaiety, freedom from care, and
happiness, which seemed the normal condition of this extraordinary
gathering.

By and by I met with more friends, and between us we ‘improved the
shining hours’ preceding the supper, when we sat down, about a score
in all, to wind up the joyous evening. As a matter of course, during
the first part of the repast I was plied with questions about my
doings since we had met, and I was scarcely less eager to question the
questioners. This or that one from whom I parted as a sub-lieutenant
had become a general; another who was an attaché when last I saw
him was now himself ambassador, and the majority were covered with
orders, conferred for their courage or their talent. And amidst the
general animation produced by the champagne, they took to recounting,
‘harum-scarum’ fashion, the happy circumstances to which they owed
their rapid promotion.

Among those rapid and brilliant careers there was, however, none
that caused me greater surprise than that of Zibin. In 1812, when,
yielding to a desire for travel, I quitted Moscow to visit the Crimea,
Ukraine, and Turkey,[21] Zibin had been my companion. In that long
course across the steppes of Russia, his constant gaiety and his clever
sallies did much to beguile the tedium of the journey, and to revive
my courage. Eighteen months had scarcely gone by since our return from
Tauris and our parting at Tulczim, he to follow Countess Potocka to
St. Petersburg, I to make my way to the Duc de Richelieu at Odessa,
and thence to Constantinople. At that period, Zibin had not joined the
army; in spite of this, he was now a lieutenant-colonel, aide-de-camp
to General Ojarowski, and on his breast glittered several orders.

Zibin had not been in St. Petersburg many days without becoming
aware that an idle life in society would not be conducive either to
consideration or glory; hence, he changed his civilian clothes for the
uniform of a non-commissioned officer of hussars. At the beginning of
the campaign he was made an ensign; a short time afterwards he got his
company. One day, his general commanded him to make a reconnaissance
with fifty Cossacks in order to bring back some malingerers. At a
couple of miles distance from the encampment, Zibin notices a black
mass hidden among the reeds. They turn out to be guns left by the enemy
before retreating. There were sixteen of them. The troops dismount,
the horses are put to the gun-carriages, and a few hours later Captain
Zibin returns in possession of a small but complete artillery park,
practically fished out of the marshes.

The Emperor was not far away, and Zibin himself was instructed to
convey the particulars of his capture. Alexander read the report, and,
giving the young hussar the credit of a success solely due to chance,
conferred upon him there and then the rank of major, at the same time
taking from his own breast the Cross of St. George and fastening it
into the buttonhole of the freshly promoted officer. The rest was
mainly the natural consequence of this first piece of luck: new orders
were added to that one, and as it never rains but it pours, Zibin,
during the many leisure hours in camp, had gambled, and won not less
than four hundred thousand roubles. The Prince de Ligne was not far
wrong in saying that glory was a courtesan who gets hold of you when
you least expect it.

Towards the end of the evening another lucky chance made me run up
against my excellent friend, General Tettenborn. ‘We have got a good
deal to tell each other,’ he said. ‘It’s of no use starting here. Let
us go and dine to-morrow by ourselves at the Augarten; it is the only
means of not being interrupted.’

Naturally, I accepted, and Tettenborn was punctual to the minute.

‘Though as a rule, the Viennese restaurateurs do not give you a good
dinner,’ he began, ‘I happen to have been in their good books here for
many years, and Yan has promised to do his best.’ And in fact, quantity
made up for quality. When we got to the dessert, and some Tokay was put
before us, my friend at once began his interesting story.

‘Since I saw you last, the events of my life have followed each other
in as quick a succession as the circumstances that gave them birth. You
are aware of my having accompanied Prince Schwartzenberg on his mission
to Paris. I was still there when the King of Rome was born, and I was
selected to carry the news to our emperor.’

‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘and I read in all the newspapers that you made that
journey of three hundred and twenty leagues [about nine hundred and
sixty miles] in four days and a half.’

‘That’s easily explained. As far as Strasburg, I had the race-horses
of the prince, and from the Austrian frontier I had the horses of his
brother, Prince Joseph, from stage to stage, as far as Vienna.

‘I’ll spare you the particulars of my stay in Paris. It was a
perfect whirl of excitement from beginning to end. Society was the
brilliant reflex of the astounding prosperity of France, of her
numerous victories, and her enthusiasm for everything pertaining to
art. Our Austrian legation met with a specially cordial welcome. It
was a succession of entertainments similar to those you are seeing
here, but with different capitals for their _locale_. After having
accompanied Prince Schwartzenberg a second time, but on that occasion
to St. Petersburg, I exchanged the delightful life of society and
drawing-rooms for that of the barracks of my regiment, then quartered
at Buda. The transition could not have been more startling if I had
retired into a Trappist monastery, when suddenly the whole of Europe
breathed fire and flame.

‘I was thirty-four years old, and although the first days of my youth
were not idly spent, chance has done more for me during the latter
period than I had reason to expect. My mind was soon made up. I decided
to go to the spot where the fire raged most fiercely, to embark upon
a life so entirely at variance with my former habits. I was living
with Baron de ----, a friend of my childhood, who was a major in my
regiment, and who like myself was calculating the few chances of rapid
promotion in the Austrian service.

‘“This,” I said to him one morning, “is a unique opportunity to provide
for the future. Let us go to the Russians and offer them our swords as
partisans. This bids fair to be an easy and lucrative campaign, likely
to lead to many things by its quickly succeeding phases. Besides, it
is sometimes sweet to embark in adventures, and to trust everything to
fate. As for me, I have made up my mind to go. Will you, too, come?”[22]

‘The decision of a moment in one’s life often shapes the rest of it. My
friend hesitated and left me to go alone. Alas, his regrets proved too
much for him.’[23]

‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘I know he regretted it. The regret was intensified
by the news of your success, which the papers published in all its
detail. He practically lost his head over it, for on no other theory
can one account for his suicide, which, curiously enough, happened
while I was at Pesth, on my return from Constantinople. He blew out his
brains in a room next to my own at the inn where I was staying, and I
was told that despair and tardy regret had led him to commit the deed.’

‘No one has regretted this more than I,’ said Tettenborn, ‘for he was a
devoted friend as well as a distinguished officer. I have not the least
doubt that circumstances would have served him as well as they did me,
but one must go with the tide in order that the tide may carry you.
When I reached the Russian headquarters, I received orders to raise
a regiment. That was soon done, and they gave me the command of it.
Three months after I left Buda, I was a general, and empowered to grant
commissions equal in grade to that which I held when I turned my back
upon my garrison. The papers, perhaps, informed you how I got hold of
the private chest of Napoleon. A part of that immense loot came to my
share. An attempt to take Berlin by surprise, though it failed, brought
my name to the front. At the head of four regiments of cavalry, of two
squadrons of hussars, and of an equal number of dragoons, with only two
pieces of artillery, I marched on Hamburg. After several engagements,
the city surrendered on the 18th March 1813. The inhabitants received
me with the greatest enthusiasm, and I was, as others had been before
me, the hero of the hour. When appointed military governor of the
place, I rescinded the severe orders Marshal Davoust had deemed fit to
impose. The grateful Hamburgers conferred upon me the freedom of their
city, and sent me the document to that effect in a magnificent golden
casket.

‘Events have marched very rapidly, and by their side strode glory and
rewards. I have had most of the military orders bestowed upon me, and
now the allied sovereigns have still further shown their good-will by
presenting me with an estate consisting of two convents in Westphalia,
the rent-roll of which will certainly amount to no less than forty
thousand florins. Those various bits of success have had the happy
result of reducing my affairs to something like order; and, inasmuch
as there comes in every man’s life a period for settling down, I, my
friend, am going to get married. I simply worship my future wife. There
are no regrets about the past, there is no fear about the future, and
as far as I can foresee, I’ll let fate take care henceforth of my
existence. And albeit the _dénouement_ may appear somewhat abrupt to
you, you will admit, I feel certain, that the story promises to be none
the less happy.’

‘At which happiness, my dear general, all your friends will rejoice.’

The narrative, which I have abridged here, was, however, recounted at
much greater length, and in yielding to the fascination of this cordial
and confidential talk we had let the time slip by, and the clock struck
nine when we reached the Carlenthor theatre. The performance consisted
of Haydn’s celebrated oratorio ‘The Creation.’ The house, lighted up
by countless wax candles, and the private boxes sumptuously draped,
presented a magnificent sight. Several of these boxes had been set
apart for the sovereigns, others were filled with the members of the
Corps Diplomatique. As for the floor of the house (_le parterre_), it
was crowded to such an extent with people blazing with orders that
it might safely have been described as a parterre of knights, just
as the floor of the theatre at Erfurt had been called a parterre of
kings and princes. ‘In the presence of such a number of ribands,’ said
Tettenborn, ‘it would be hazardous to conclude that they are all due to
merit.’

‘Signal distinctions, my dear general,’ I replied, ‘are like the
Pyramids; only two species can attain them, reptiles and eagles.’

‘I’ll be with you to-morrow at ten,’ said General Tettenborn when we
parted, ‘and we’ll go together to the grand military fête in honour of
the peace. Before laying down their arms, the sovereigns wish to offer
their thanks to Providence for the great favours vouchsafed to them.’

Sharp to the minute, like an Austrian _Rittmeister_ (cavalry-captain),
Tettenborn was at my door. It was a bright and mild October morning,
and shortly afterwards we were galloping towards the gentle slope
between the New and the Burg Gates. On our way we fell in with some
acquaintances, attracted thither, like myself, by curiosity. Tettenborn
wore his general’s brilliant uniform; a profusion of military orders
on his breast certainly attested the kindness of Dame Fortune, but
also her discrimination in having favoured him. Immediately on our
reaching the ground, he was obliged to leave us in order to join the
suite of Emperor Alexander, but I remained surrounded by friends, and
advantageously placed to observe all the particulars of that beautiful
function. Although in an essentially military epoch similar solemnities
had often been seen, I doubt if that one was ever equalled with regard
to its _ensemble_ and its majestic pomp. The war, the terrible struggle
the relentlessness and duration of which had astounded the world, was
just at an end. The glory-compelling giant was, if not vanquished, at
any rate overcome by numbers; and the intoxication and the enthusiasm
consequent upon the success were sufficient to prove the strength of
the adversary and the unexpected joy of the triumph.

Several battalions of infantry, many regiments of cavalry, among others
the Schwartzenberg Uhlans, and the cuirassiers of the Grand-Duke
Constantine, the brother of Alexander and the sometime Viceroy of
Poland, were massed on an immense field. All these troops wore most
brilliant uniforms.

The sovereigns came on the ground on horseback, and the soldiery formed
a huge double square, in the centre of which stood a vast tent, or
rather a temple erected in honour of the general pacification. The
columns supporting the structure were decorated with panoplies of arms,
and with standards fluttering in the breeze. The lawn immediately
around was strewn with flowers and foliage. In the middle of the tent
there was an altar covered with rich cloths, and set out with all the
ornaments of the Roman Catholic ritual, magnificently chased, either in
gold or silver. Countless wax tapers shed their light, somewhat subdued
by the rays of the sun standing brilliantly in the sky. Red Damascus
carpets covered the steps of the altar.

Shortly afterwards there was a long string of open court carriages,
each drawn by four horses, and containing the empresses, queens, and
archduchesses, who on alighting seated themselves in velvet-covered
chairs. When everybody had taken up the position assigned to them--the
crowd of military, courtiers, equerries and pages constituting
a matchless spectacle--the venerable Archbishop of Vienna, who,
notwithstanding his great age, had insisted upon officiating, performed
High Mass. Practically the whole of the Vienna population had repaired
to the spot to enjoy the spectacle.

At the moment of blessing the Bread and the Wine, the guns thundered
forth a salute to the God of Hosts. Simultaneously, all those warriors,
princes, kings, soldiers, and generals fell on their knees, prostrating
themselves before Him in whose hands rests victory or defeat. The
feeling of reverence had evidently communicated itself to the huge mass
of spectators, who spontaneously bared their heads and also knelt in
the dust. The cannons became once more silent, and their thunder was
succeeded by a solemn hush, amidst which the high priest of the Lord
raised the sign of the Redemption, and turned towards the army to
confer the supreme benediction. The religious ceremony was at an end.
Amidst the clanking of swords and the rattling of muskets, the huge
gathering rose to its feet; and then a choir intoned in German the hymn
of peace, which was accompanied by an orchestra of wind instruments.
Without any pre-meditation the strains were taken up by the voices
of the numberless spectators. No human ear ever heard anything more
imposing than this spontaneous and harmonic praise of peace and the
glory of the Highest. That hymn of gratitude and adoration rising upon
the air amidst the smoking incense, the thunder of the artillery,
the ringing of the bells of all the churches; the princes surrounded
by their resplendent staffs, the multi-coloured uniforms, the arms,
glittering breastplates, and sombre bronze of the cannons lighted up
by the brilliant sun; the white-haired priest blessing from before
his altar the prostrate crowd; the mingling of the symbols of war and
peace--constituted a unique picture not likely to be seen again, and
which no painter’s brush, however powerful, could adequately reproduce.
It constituted a poetical and sublime sight, baffling description.

After the religious ceremony, the sovereigns and all the princesses
took up a position on a knoll near the Burg Gate, the troops marched
past, the Grand-Duke Constantine and the other princes at the head of
their own regiments. The air rang; with unanimous cheers and wishes
for the consolidation of peace, that first and foremost necessity
of peoples. Such, sketched in brief, was the fête invested with
a particular character and fitting in so well with the series of
magnificent pageants and dazzling entertainments. The Austrian Court,
in fact, dispensed the hospitality of its capital to its guests with
truly fabulous pomp. Memory almost fails to recall, for the purpose of
recording, all the brilliant details. The imagination is virtually
powerless to reconstruct the dazzling splendour of the picture as a
whole.

To beguile the leisure of those kings who, it would be thought, ought
to have been surfeited with the counterfeits of battles, twenty
thousand picked grenadiers had been quartered at Vienna. There was,
moreover, the announcement of a camp to be formed of sixty thousand
troops with a view of having grand manœuvres. The superb ‘nobiliary
guards’ had been considerably increased by the joining of young men
belonging to the most distinguished families of the monarchy. The whole
of the troops had been provided with new uniforms: there was an evident
desire to remove all traces of warfare, so as not to sadden those
participating in the feasts and entertainments exclusively designed to
celebrate peace and to promote pleasure.

All the stud farms of Germany had been requested to send their most
magnificent horses. The grand dignitaries of the crown held ‘open
house’ each day for the eminent personages of the suites of the various
sovereigns. The Court had invited the Paris Opera dancers of both
sexes to come to Vienna; and the Austrian Imperial Company had also
been reinforced. The most celebrated actors of Germany had likewise
been ‘commanded,’ and they appeared in new pieces, appropriate to the
universal rejoicing, and calculated to prevent that joy from getting
fagged.

Emperor Franz had thrown open his palace to his illustrious guests. At
a rough calculation, the imperial residence held, at that particular
moment, two emperors, a similar number of empresses, four kings, one
queen, two heirs to thrones (one royal, the other imperial), two
grand-duchesses, and three princes. The young family of the emperor had
to be relegated to Schönbrunn. Attracted by the novelty of all this,
an immense crowd surrounded the palace at all hours, eager to catch a
glimpse of the members of a gathering unique in the annals of history.

The Viennese seemed justly proud of having had their city selected
for the holding of these grandiose states-general. In fact, the
forgathering in the self-same capital of the first powers of Europe
constituted one of the most extraordinary events of all the ages.
The Congresses of Münster, of Ryswick, and Utrecht had only been
plenipotentiary conferences. One had to go back for three centuries, as
far as 1515, to find a similar assembly of crowned heads, when in that
same city of Vienna Maximilian had entertained the Kings of Hungary,
Bohemia, and Poland. And it was remembered that the presence of these
monarchs had been attended with the most salutary results to the
grandeur of Germany.

In order to convey an idea of the expenses of the Austrian Court, it
will suffice to say that the imperial table cost fifty thousand florins
per day. This was keeping ‘open table’ with a vengeance. Hence, it is
not surprising that the extraordinary expenses of the fêtes of the
Congress, during the five months of its duration, amounted to forty
millions of francs. It remains to be asked whether the purport of that
great gathering, and the gravity of the circumstances, justified such
joyous lavishness immediately after the termination of a war which had
lasted for a quarter of a century and which seemed to have dried up the
sources of wealth and of pleasure?

If we add to the expenses of the Court those of more than seven hundred
envoys, we may get something like an accurate idea of the extraordinary
consumption of all things in Vienna, and of the immense quantity of
money put into circulation. In fact, the influx of strangers was such
as to increase the prices of all commodities, and especially of wood
for fuel, to an incredible degree. As a consequence, the Austrian
Government was obliged to grant supplementary salaries to all its
employés.

In the long run, the imagination was at fault in projecting new
entertainments for each day: banquets, concerts, shooting parties,
masked balls and musical rides. Following the example of the head of
their noble family, the princes of the House of Austria had distributed
among themselves the various parts of hosts, in order to entertain
their company of illustrious guests with becoming pomp and dignity.
There was such a dread of an interruption of those pleasures as to
prevent the Court from going into mourning for Queen Maria-Caroline
of Naples.[24] It should be said, though, that this last daughter of
Maria-Theresa ended her life before the arrival of the sovereigns.
To save appearances, they avoided notifying her demise officially,
lest the sombre hues of mourning should cast a sad note on gatherings
devoted exclusively to joy and freedom from care.

The intercourse of the sovereigns was marked by a condition of
unparalleled intimacy. They vied in showing reciprocal friendliness,
attentions, and in anticipating each other’s wishes. Not a day went
by without interviews conducted with a cordial frankness worthy of
the age of chivalry. Were they bent upon disproving all that had been
said about the want of mutual understanding, the ambitious views, the
motives of personal interest which generally distinguish a congress of
crowned heads? Or did they yield to the novelty and charm of a mode of
living and a feeling of brotherhood contrasting so forcibly with the
frigid etiquette of their Courts?

In order to avoid the restraint of a rigorous ceremonial and of
questions of precedence, it had been arranged between them that age
alone should decide points of priority in everything, at their entering
and leaving apartments, at the promenades on horseback, and in their
carriage drives. The decision, it was said, was due to the initiative
of Emperor Alexander. The following are the ranks as they were settled
according to age:--

    1. The King of Würtemberg, born in 1754.
    2. The King of Bavaria, born in 1756.
    3. The King of Denmark, born in 1768.
    4. The Emperor of Austria, born in 1768.
    5. The King of Prussia, born in 1770.
    6. The Emperor of Russia, born in 1777.

This precedence was, however, only observed in the pleasure parties. As
for the official deliberations of the Congress, the sovereigns did not
attend any.

One of their first acts of courtesy was the reciprocal bestowal of the
badges and stars of their Orders. Those various decorations of all
shapes and denominations became a positive puzzle, for besides a long
list of the saints of the calendar, there were some of the strangest
names, like _the Elephant_, _the Phœnix_, _the Black, Red, and White
Eagles_, _the Sword_, _the Star_, _the Lion_, _the Fleece_, _the Bath_,
etc. This exchange was the prelude to others somewhat more important,
such as the presents of kingdoms, provinces, or a certain number
of inhabitants. One of the ceremonies of that kind most frequently
referred to was the investment by Lord Castlereagh, on behalf of his
sovereign, of the Emperor of Austria with the Order of the Garter. The
Prince de Ligne, who was one of the eyewitnesses, told me that this
solemnity was conducted with much pomp and circumstance. Sir Isaac
Heard, Garter Principal King of Arms, came expressly from London.
It was he who invested the Emperor with the dress of the Order, and
attached that much coveted insignia; after which Lord Castlereagh
presented the latest recipient with the statutes of the Order. As a fit
acknowledgment of the courtesy, the Emperor conferred on the Prince
Regent and the Duke of York, his brother, the rank of field-marshal.

After having exhausted the series of their decorations, the sovereigns
began bestowing upon each other the colonelcies of the various
regiments of their armies. When the honour had been bestowed, the
recipient made it a point of appearing almost immediately in the
uniform of his regiment. Models were produced in hot haste, for it was
essential that not a button should be wanting. Tailors, escorted by
favourite aides-de-camp, immediately reconnoitred the ground, called
upon the possessors of those precious regimentals, and took note of
the minutest details in connection with them; after which the work
commenced--a pacific labour, notwithstanding its bellicose appearance,
to be terminated by the production of a complete dress from the spur of
the boot to the obligatory plume of feathers.

In accordance with these prescriptions, the Emperor of Austria
conferred upon his ‘good brother’ the Emperor of Russia, the Hiller
Regiment, and upon the Crown Prince of Würtemberg that of the
Blankenstein Hussars. Alexander returned the compliment by the bestowal
of one of his regiments of the Russian Imperial Guards; and to show
the importance he attached to the gift he had received, he desired
personally to present his new soldiers with their standard. This
standard had been magnificently embroidered by the Empress of Austria.
It displayed the words: ‘Indissoluble Union between the Emperors
Alexander and Franz.’ The regiment was drawn up in battle order on one
of the lawns of the Prater; a great crowd had gathered to witness the
ceremony, and Alexander, after receiving the colour from the hands of
the Empress of Austria, advanced towards the troops and presented it.
‘Soldiers,’ he said, ‘remember that it is your duty to die in defence
of this and in defence of your Emperor and of your colonel, Alexander
of Russia.’ It will be easily understood that words like these from
the lips of the Czar, who at that period was as handsome as he was
chivalrous, were calculated to arouse the enthusiasm of the soldiers to
whom they were addressed and of the numerous spectators privileged to
listen to them.

On the morning after this ceremony Alexander went on foot to
Field-Marshal Prince de Schwartzenberg’s, dressed in his new
regimentals, the only decoration on his breast being the metal cross of
the Military Order of the Austrian Army. To please General Hiller, his
new titular chief, he made him a present of ten thousand florins, and
in addition sent a thousand florins to each of his officers.

The habits of the sovereigns were those of private individuals. It was
evident that they were only too pleased to shake off the burden of
etiquette. Very often the Emperor of Austria and the King of Prussia
were to be seen strolling about the streets arm-in-arm and dressed in
mufti. Emperor Alexander similarly often took walks with Prince Eugène.

They paid each other visits and prepared surprises for one another
like cordial friends of old standing; in a word, royal good-fellowship
reigned throughout. On Emperor Franz’s fête-day[25] Emperor Alexander
and the King of Prussia bethought themselves of surprising him as he
left his bed, and made him a present, the one of a dressing-gown lined
with Russian sable, the other of a handsome silver basin and ewer
of exquisite workmanship and made in Berlin. The accounts of those
cordially intimate scenes found their way to the public and formed the
subject of general conversation.

Foremost among those sovereigns shone the King of Bavaria, the King
of Denmark, and the Emperor of Russia: the first in virtue of his
kindness, the second in virtue of his brilliant and subtle repartees,
the third in virtue of his courtesy and affable manners. Of all the
foreign princes, Frederick[26] was the most assiduous visitor to the
monuments and public institutions of the capital; and wherever he went,
he left traces of his liberality. As for Alexander, he never missed an
opportunity of showing the delightful grace of manner which at that
time won all hearts.

During a promenade on horseback in the Prater, the Emperor of Austria,
wishing to dismount for a moment, looked round in vain for some one of
his suite, from which he had got separated by the crowd. Alexander,
guessing his intention, nimbly jumped off his horse and held out his
hand to his fellow-sovereign, just as on a memorable occasion the
Great Frederick held the stirrup of Joseph II. As a matter of course,
the little scene drew unanimous cheers from all sides, showing the
appreciation of the crowd for the gracious impromptu.

On another occasion, at a review, a number of people pressed around
Alexander, eager to catch a glimpse of his face. A countryman seemed
even more anxious than the rest, trying to elbow his way through the
serried mass. Alexander caught sight of him. ‘Friend,’ he said, ‘you
wished to see the Emperor of Russia; now you can say that you have
spoken to him.’

To the foreign visitors, an easy life like this, constantly enhanced
by entertainments, really constituted a delightful existence. In
order fitly to celebrate that memorable gathering, Vienna appeared
determined to increase the programme of recreations it generally
afforded. Situated in the centre of Southern Germany, the city
provided, as it were, an oasis of delightful calm and ‘happy-go-lucky’
leisure amidst the grave, scientific, and philosophical occupations
of the neighbouring countries. Wholly given up to the pleasure of the
senses, its existence was composed of fêtes, banquets, dances, and
above all, music. It had pressed into its service as an auxiliary
that excellent wine of Hungary, calculated to give an extra zest to
rejoicings of all kinds. Thus provided, it glided smoothly on, allowing
itself to be governed with the gentle impassiveness bred of material
satisfaction.

Strangers are generally well treated in Vienna. The inhabitants are
cordially hospitable; the authorities conciliatory and frank. In return
for this, strangers are only asked to abstain from speaking or acting
against the Government. On those conditions the welcome never fails;
but woe to the stranger who transgresses those laws of prudence. He
immediately gets a little note inviting him to present himself next
morning before the magistrate entrusted with the police supervision of
the capital. In the sweetest tones imaginable he receives a hint of his
passport ‘not being quite in order’ and that by this time the business
which brought him to the city must be terminated. In vain does he
remonstrate, and protest his loyalty to all constituted authorities. In
vain does he insist upon his simple wish to enjoy the sweet life of the
capital. It is all ineffectual, he is bound to depart.

This, at normal periods, is the method of the Vienna police. It is,
however, easy to understand that at the time of the Congress, and amid
so many questions of intense interest, it would have been difficult
to prevent political speculation and conversation. Fortunately, the
Austrian Government found a powerful auxiliary in the general pursuit
of pleasure. In reality, little or no attention was paid to diplomatic
discussions. With the exception of some idlers or journalists who
had selected the Graben for their meeting-place and rostrum, society
was engrossed with the pleasures of the fête of the hour, or with
preparations for that of the next day.

[Illustration: COUNT NESSELRODE.]

The utmost secrecy was observed with regard to the deliberations taking
place at the official residence of the Chancellor of State. M. de
Metternich presided at these. His colleagues had wished to bestow that
honour upon him in recognition of the gracious hospitality accorded
to them. It had been agreed, however, that the chairmanship implied
no supremacy in favour of the Austrian crown. The plenipotentiaries
were: for Russia, the Comte de Nesselrode[27] and the Baron de Stein;
for France, the Prince de Talleyrand and the Duc de Dalberg; for
Prussia, the Prince d’Hardemberg; for Austria, M. de Metternich; for
Würtemberg, the Comte de Wintzingerode; for Bavaria, the Prince de
Wrède; for Spain, the Chevalier de Labrador; for Portugal, the Duc
de Palmella; for Sicily, the Commandeur Alvaro Ruffo; and for Naples,
the Duc de Campochiaro. What happened at those most secret sittings of
these famous diplomatists? It is not my province to speculate upon the
subject; it belongs to posterity to appreciate the grave results.

Meanwhile the sovereigns generally spent their mornings in reviewing
the troops at parades, and at shooting-parties, either at the Prater
or at this or that royal demesne. On the other hand, they forgathered
every day for an hour before dinner, and were supposed to discuss the
subjects that had occupied the attention of their plenipotentiaries.
The carping outside world maintained, however, that politics were
the thing least talked of in that august Olympian assembly, and that
the announcement of a forthcoming pleasure party more often than not
monopolised the conversation. Business was ousted and the gods became
simple mortals.

Of all the entertainments at the Austrian Court, the most brilliant
were unquestionably the grand routs at the Imperial Palace. Thanks to
the Prince de Ligne, I was privileged to see the smaller masked rout on
the occasion of the arrival of the Emperor of Russia and the King of
Prussia. At the latter kind of reception, the sovereigns either wore
masks or remained nominally incognito by other means. At the grand
routs, on the contrary, they appeared in all their brilliancy and
displaying all their orders, while the princesses blazed with diamonds.

I was unable to witness the first of those grand routs, hence I became
most anxious not to miss the second. The excellent Prince de Ligne
once more undertook to introduce me and to be my guide; and together
we made our way to the Burg. The sovereigns had as yet not made their
appearance. I had therefore ample time to feast my eyes upon the
unique sight before me, which after many years I still consider the
most dazzling _ensemble_ I ever saw, in the matchless splendour of
its decorations, the richness and variety of the dresses, and the
illustrious conditions of the personages. To the grand hall had been
added two adjacent smaller ones, connected by a gallery. The hall
originally set apart for the smaller routs had also been thrown open.
Finally, the Imperial Riding-school, a masterpiece of architecture, had
been transformed into a ball-room. To enumerate all the particulars
of the interior decorations would be practically an impossible task.
The staircases and the galleries were positively covered with a
profusion of flowers and plants, the latter of the rarest description.
The principal drawing-room was reached by an avenue of orange-trees;
immense candelabra, holding wax tapers and placed between the boxes,
lustres, with thousands of crystal drops, shed a fantastic light
amidst the foliage of those splendid trees, throwing into relief their
branches and blossoms. The small hall was decorated with huge baskets
of flowers, the blending of whose colours invested the whole with the
appearance of a fairy garden. The hangings were of some silk material
of the purest white, set off by silver ornaments. The seats were
upholstered in velvet and gold. From seven to eight thousand wax tapers
shed a light more brilliant than that of day. Finally, the strains of
several bands heightened the effect of that marvellous spectacle.

In the riding-school a platform had been prepared for the sovereigns.
It was decorated with panoplies and standards, and, as in the grand
hall, its hangings were of white silk fringed with silver.

The diversity of uniforms, the profusion of orders and decorations
were, however, as nothing to the gathering of charming women. If it was
true that at the particular moment Europe was represented at Vienna
by her celebrities in every walk of life, it was equally certain that
female beauty had not been excluded in deference to fame. Never did a
city hold within its walls as many remarkable women as did the capital
of Austria during the six months of the Congress.

Suddenly there was a blast of trumpets; the sovereigns made their
entrance conducting the empresses, queens, and archduchesses. After
having made the round of the hall amidst general acclamations, they
proceeded to the riding-school and took their seats on the platform.
In the first row there were the Empresses of Austria and Russia, the
Queen of Bavaria and the Grande-Duchesse d’Oldenbourg, the well-beloved
sister of Alexander, whose likeness to Alexander was so striking. Then
came the Archduchess Beatrice, Grand-Duchess of Saxe-Weimar.

The seats on the right and left were occupied by the galaxy of women
who at that moment disputed the palm of beauty and elegance with each
other: the Princesse de la Tour et Taxis, the Comtesse de Bernsdorff,
the Princesse de Hesse-Philippstal, in all the splendour of her
imposing and statuesque loveliness; her two daughters, bidding fair
to rival their mother; the Comtesse d’Apponyi, tall and lithe, with
most expressive eyes; the Princesses Sapieha and Lichtenstein, whose
beauty was of a more regular and gentler cast; the Comtesse Cohari,
the Princesses Paul Esterhazy and Bagration; the daughters of Admiral
Sidney Smith;[28] the Comtesse Zamoyska, _née_ Czartoryska, tall, fair,
with a skin of dazzling whiteness, who in herself virtually represented
every kind of Polish female beauty. There were many more whose names
and portraits will often recur in these _Recollections_.

Meanwhile, to the sound of inspiriting dance strains, there entered
a group of masked children in fancy dress, who performed a Venetian
pantomime, followed by an extensive ballet. The expressive attitudes,
the varied evolutions and steps of those youthful performers seemed to
afford great enjoyment to the illustrious spectators.

After the departure of the sovereigns the bands struck up a series of
waltz tunes, and immediately an electric current seemed to run through
the immense gathering. Germany is the country that gave birth to the
waltz; it is there, and above all in Vienna, that, thanks to the
musical ear of the inhabitants, that dance has acquired all the charm
inherent in it. It is there that one ought to watch the apparently
whirl-like course, though in reality regulated by the beat of the
music, in which the man sustains and carries away his companion, while
she yields to the spell with a vague expression of happiness tending
to enhance her beauty. It is difficult to conceive elsewhere the
fascination of the waltz. As soon as its strains rise upon the air, the
features relax, the eyes become animated, and a thrill of delight runs
through the company. The graceful gyrations of the dancers, at first
somewhat confused, gradually assume accurately timed movements, while
the spectators whom age condemns to immobility beat time and rhythm,
mentally joining in the pleasure which is bodily denied to them.

The pen fails to reproduce that enchanting scene of beauteous women
covered with flowers and diamonds, yielding to the irresistible strains
of the harmony, and being carried away in the strong arms of their
partners until sheer fatigue compelled them to pause. The pen fails to
reproduce the magnificent sight, to which daylight streaming through
the windows put an end.



CHAPTER II

  The Drawing-rooms of the Comtesse de Fuchs--The Prince Philip
      of Hesse-Homburg--George Sinclair--The Announcement of
      a Military Tournament--The Comtesse Edmond de Périgord--
      General Comte de Witt--Letters of Recommendation--The
      Princesse Pauline--The Poet-functionary and Fouché.


Among the most distinguished women of Austrian society was the Comtesse
Laure de Fuchs, of whom the numerous visitors to Vienna during the
Congress have preserved the most delightful recollection. Graceful
and witty, she conveyed the highest idea in her own person of the
courtesy of her country. Foreigners considered it a signal honour to be
admitted to her receptions. In 1808 and 1812, I, and the few Frenchmen
who were in Vienna at this period, met with the most cordial welcome
on her part. Among those who composed her most intimate circle, all
the members of which were friends, special mention ought to be made
of the Comtesse Pletemberg, her sister, the wife of the reigning
comte of that name; the Duchesses de Sagan and d’Exerenza, and Madame
Edmond de Périgord,[29] a niece, by marriage, of Prince de Talleyrand.
They were all three born Princesses de Courlande, and were called the
Three Graces. In addition to these, there were the Chanoinesse Kinski,
belonging to one of the most illustrious families of Hungary; the Duc
de Dalberg, one of the French plenipotentiaries; Marshal Walmoden, the
three Comtes de Pahlen,[30] the Prince Philip of Hesse-Homburg, the
Prince Paul Esterhazy, subsequently Austrian ambassador to the Court of
St. James; the Prince Eugène de Beauharnais, the Russian general Comte
de Witt,[31] M. de Gentz,[32] the secretary of the Congress, and the
intimate friend of M. de Metternich; General Nostiltz, the clever man
of letters; Varnhagen (von Ense), the poet Carpani, Doctor Koreff, the
Baron d’Ompteda, former minister of Westphalia at Vienna, whom the fall
of his sovereign had left without an embassy, and who attended this
great diplomatic Sanhedrim as a simple amateur.

A sweet and gentle animation pervaded those gatherings, which were
never interrupted by irritating political discussions. With her
charming grace, the countess imposed on all her friends a law of mutual
intimacy; consequently, they unanimously bestowed on her the title of
their _queen_, a title she had accepted, and which she bore with a kind
of serious dignity.

Her family as well as the number of her friends had increased during
my absence from Vienna. The former were growing into beautiful beings,
the latter, of whom she gave me some short biographical sketches, were
as devoted as ever. Fortune, thanks to the rapidly succeeding events
of the last few years, had forgotten none of them. All had become
generals, ambassadors, or ministers.

The one to whom I felt most attracted was the Prince of Hesse-Homburg,
then occupying a rank far distant from his exalted position of to-day.
Parity of age, of tastes and of ideas drew me towards him. Like many
of the princes of German sovereign houses, his fame was solely due to
himself.

Having joined the army at fifteen, he became a prisoner of the French
in one of the first wars of the Revolution, and was taken to Paris,
where he was confined in the Luxembourg. He had the luck to have his
life spared. Some time afterwards there was an exchange of prisoners,
and he resumed his military career. All his grades were conferred upon
him for distinguished services in the field, and at the period of which
I am treating he was numbered among the most meritorious generals of
the Austrian army.

When, subsequently, he became a field-marshal, he was sent to the
Emperor of Russia, during the latter’s campaign against the Turks
in 1828. To-day (1820) as Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg, Prince Philip
is respected and worshipped by his subjects, whose happiness is his
foremost thought.

Mme. de Fuchs asked me if I had seen anything more of George Sinclair,
the young Englishman whose adventure with the Emperor Napoleon had at
first drawn attention to him in Vienna, a few days before the battle of
Jena. Mr. George Sinclair, who was on his way to Austria, was arrested
by French scouts, and taken to headquarters on the suspicion of being a
spy.

‘Whence came you, and whither are you going?’ asked the Emperor in a
tone which foreshadowed a death-sentence. Sinclair, who spoke French
with great facility, answered as briefly. ‘I have come from the
University of Jena, and am going to Vienna, where letters and orders
from my father, Sir John Sinclair, are awaiting me.’

‘Sir John Sinclair who has written frequently on agricultural
questions?‘[33]

‘Yes, sire.’

The Emperor said a few words to Duroc, and continued his interrogatory
in a kindlier tone. Mr. Sinclair, who was barely eighteen, was
exceedingly well versed in geography and history. His conversation
fairly astonished Napoleon, who, after talking with him for a couple of
hours, ordered Duroc to give him an escort as far as the outposts, and
to let him resume his journey. It was altogether an unexpected favour,
and wholly due to his own worth.

I had practically lost sight of him altogether, but I knew that after
a journey through Italy he had entered Parliament, where he had become
one of the followers of his friend Sir Francis Burdett, and had gained
a brilliant reputation as a speaker in the Opposition.

Two events of a wholly different order occupied people’s minds at
that moment: the future destiny of the kingdom of Saxony, and the
announcement of a musical ride, a fête of knightly prowess which was
contemplated from the very first days of the Congress, and was to
take place in the Imperial Riding-school. Saxony came in for a scant
part of the conversation, but the preparations for the tournament
were discussed at great length. It was to be one of the most
magnificent entertainments hitherto projected, and there were frequent
consultations of the printed and engraved descriptions of the famous
_carrousels_ of Louis XIV., which were to be eclipsed in splendour.

The Comtesse Edmond de Périgord, one of the twenty-four ladies who were
to preside at the fête, told us that the dresses which were being
prepared for it would surpass in richness everything that had been
handed down concerning the elegance and the splendour of the Court
ladies of the Grand Monarque.

‘I really believe that we shall be able to display all the pearls and
diamonds of Hungary, Bohemia, and Austria combined,’ she said. ‘There
is not a relative or friend of these ladies whose jewel-case has not
been laid under contribution; and this or that heirloom in the way of
precious stones, which has not seen the light of day for a century,
will glitter on the dress of one of us.’

‘As for the knights,’ said the young Comte de Woyna, ‘in default of
gorgeous dresses, they’ll certainly have magnificent horses. You’ll
behold them go through evolutions and dance minuets with as much grace
as the most nimble gentlemen of the Court.’

After this there was some animated conversation about the colours of
the different quadrilles, and the supposed skill of the champions.
Mottoes were quoted, and the ladies tried to get at their hidden
meaning. The excellent King of Saxony and his states were absolutely
forgotten; their cause had to make way for the more important
discussion.

On leaving Mme. de Fuchs’s, I caught sight on the Graben of General
Comte de Witt--a piece of luck, for the meeting reminded me of those
happy and delightful days I had spent in Ukraine, at the hospitable and
magnificent domain of Tulczim, the home of the Comtesse Potocka, the
comte’s mother.

The only son of the first marriage of his handsome mother with General
Comte de Witt, the descendant of the Grand Referendary of Holland,
Comte de Witt’s military career was as rapid as it was brilliant.
A soldier from his childhood, he was a colonel at sixteen, and at
eighteen commanded one of the most splendid regiments in Europe,
namely, the cuirassiers of the Empress. The campaigns of the last
three years had given him excellent opportunities of distinguishing
himself. In six weeks he had raised and equipped at his own cost, and
on his mother’s property, four regiments of Cossacks, which he had
taken to the Emperor, who made him a lieutenant-general, and entrusted
him with the organisation of the military colonies. In 1828, in the war
against the Turks, he re-entered the service and commanded the army
of reserve. After the Peace of Varna, there was every prospect of his
happiness, when death removed him unexpectedly and at an early age.

Comte de Witt had married the Princesse Josephine Lubomirska, one
of the most distinguished women of Europe. Charming and graceful,
her quick and well-read intellect only equalled by her inexhaustible
kindness--such was the portrait of the Comtesse de Witt traced by all
those who had the privilege of coming in contact with her.

Mme. de Fuchs had kept up the habit of supping, a habit so dear to our
fathers, and the disappearance of which is so much regretted by those
who are fond of joyous, frank, and unrestrained conversation, inspired
by the gaiety of the moment.

At one of those gatherings I had been placed close to the Comte de Witt.

That same morning I had had a strange visit. I was just stepping out
of bed when told that a young Frenchman wished to speak to me. The
caller turns out to be a man of good appearance, who presents me with a
small parcel he is carrying. ‘This,’ he says, ‘is a letter M. Rey, the
advocate with whom you dined at M. de Bondy’s, the Prefect at Lyons,
has asked me to hand you.’ While I motion him to be seated I open the
epistle, in which M. Rey, after the usual greetings, asks me, supposing
I should be in Vienna, to interest myself for the bearer, M. Cast ...
in order to get him some employment.

‘By the date of the letter, monsieur, you must have left Lyons some
time.’

‘Yes,’ replies the visitor, ‘having the whole of the world thrown open
to me to choose a _habitat_, I made my way to the present one on foot.’

‘You have no doubt other recommendations?’

‘None whatever.’

‘Allow me to compliment you on your courage. To do three hundred
leagues on foot simply on the strength of a letter from a person whom
I have only seen once, and without even the certainty of finding
me--assuredly you ought to succeed! In spite of this, I can give you
but little hope. If you came to the Congress to claim a kingdom, a
province, an indemnity, you would probably be listened to, but a post
for a Frenchman in the Austrian States--that, I am afraid, will be a
difficult thing to get. Nevertheless, I will do all I can for you. What
have you done up to the present?’

‘I have served in the Guards of Honour.’

‘What sort of post have you in view?’

‘I am not at all particular. I can be a secretary, or pretty well fill
any kind of post, whether it be civil or military.’

‘You are certainly determined to make the best of things,’ I could not
help saying, for that particular aptitude for making the foot fit the
boot in a cheerful and intelligent way is unquestionably French. I felt
decidedly interested in my young compatriot, and I asked him to give me
a few days to look round for him. Meanwhile I took his address, though
with considerable doubt about the final result of his bold journey.

At supper the conversation happened to turn on the sudden resolutions
and the unhoped-for and unexpected bits of daring that often determine
a man’s whole existence. As a matter of course, instances were quoted,
and notably that of General Tettenborn, who, in something like four
months had worked his way from major to general-in-chief.

‘I could mention a trait of courage and a reliance on luck which,
save for the favourable results to come, is worth all those we have
mentioned.’

On being questioned, I told them all about my visitor of that morning,
about his economical journey with nothing at the end of it but a simple
letter of introduction, and about the coincidence of his reaching
Vienna but a couple of days after my own arrival. The Comte de Witt had
listened very attentively.

‘Your young man’s courage is worthy of consideration,’ he said, ‘and
inasmuch as he has been in the Guards of Honour, he is probably at home
on horseback. Send him to me to-morrow morning; I’ll find him something
to do.’

I thanked the comte; then, turning to the other guests: ‘This is my
countryman’s second step on the road of chance in one day,’ I said,
‘You’ll admit that if a letter of recommendation is often addressed at
random, it now and again happens to get into the hands of Dame Fortune.’

‘Yes,’ remarked the young Comte de Saint-Marsan, ‘a letter of
recommendation sometimes constitutes a whole fortune. Would you like to
have an instance of this?’

And without further ado he told us with his habitual grace and
sprightliness the following anecdote in connection with a period which
already seemed far removed from us in the past, although the actors had
scarcely left the stage.

‘A young Parisian poet,’ began Marsan, ‘named Dubois, who was probably
as poor in wit as he was in money, had exhausted all his faculties
in singing the powers that were without getting the smallest favour.
As a forlorn hope, he addressed an ode to Princesse Pauline, the
favourite sister of Napoleon. In his poetical confusion, and without
reflecting upon the fate of Racine when the latter presented to Louis
XIV. his _Memoir on the Wretched Condition of Peoples_, Dubois mingled
with his praises of the princess counsels to Mars, embroidered on a
philanthropic dream of universal peace. The greatest effects are
often due to the most trivial causes. It so happened that one of the
princess’s waiting-maids was a distant relative of the poet, and she
seized a favourable opportunity of presenting the epistle to her
highness, who only read the rhymes of “Pauline” and “divine,” recurring
at almost every strophe, and promised her influence to the author of
such beautiful and kind sentiments. “But where is he?” asked Princesse
Pauline. “There,” said the relative, pointing to the ante-chamber. “In
that case let him come in,” remarked the princess, and in less time
than it takes to tell, the poet enters the perfumed boudoir of Pauline,
and finds himself _tête-à-tête_ with his future Providence. “Well, what
can I do for you?” asked the princess, after having listened to the
usual compliments. “If Madame by her influence could get me some small
post in this or that government office, I should for ever be grateful
to her.” “A letter of recommendation to Fouché may do the thing. Not
later than yesterday he said that I never asked for any favours. I’ll
put him to the test. Do you think that this would suit you?” Naturally
the poet replied that such a letter could not fail in its effect,
and that it would make him the happiest of mortals. Handsome Pauline
Borghese immediately opened her escritoire, and being in one of the
happy moods when sentences shape themselves on paper, in her petition
to his Grace of Otranto she spoke of M. Dubois as a man of superior
gifts, apt at many things, and in whom she took the greatest interest.

‘An hour afterwards the protégé was at the door of the dispenser of
favours, but being unknown to the ushers, and not specially recommended
to them, it may easily be imagined that he got no further than the
ministerial ante-chamber, and that he was obliged to remit his letter
to the hands of those who did not care a jot. As a matter of course,
it was flung with many others into the basket set apart for such
epistles, which as often as not went straight from the receptacle into
the stove of the ante-chamber. Nevertheless, when Fouché returned that
evening from the Council of Ministers, and the basket was, as usual,
set in front of him, by the merest accident his eye fell on the paper
displaying the imperial arms. Naturally, he opened it at once, read it
from the first line to the last, and immediately ordered four gendarmes
to accompany his carriage at nine in the morning. Among his _entourage_
it was taken for granted that he was proceeding to Saint-Cloud for some
communication of great importance; hence the surprise of his servants
was intense when they were ordered to take him to a mean street in the
neighbourhood of the Halles. It was there that our favourite of the
Muses had established his aerial quarters on the sixth floor.

‘There was neither porter nor number to the entrance of that residence,
and inquiries had to be made of the baker of the quarter as to the
domicile of M. Dubois, a man of letters.

‘“There is,” answered the baker’s wife, “a person of that name, very
poor, who inhabits an attic in the place. I do not know whether he is a
public scribe, but he owes me two quarters’ rent.”

‘And issuing from her shop, she begins to bawl out the name at the top
of her voice. The poor poet puts his head out of the window of his
garret, and espying below a carriage escorted by gendarmes, comes there
and then to the conclusion that the boldness of his remarks with regard
to a universal peace has been badly received by Jupiter the Thunderer,
and that they have come to arrest him in order to make him expiate his
audacity at Bicêtre.

‘Prompted by his fear only, Dubois considers it most prudent to hide
under his bed. Fouché, receiving no answer to the summons of the
baker’s wife, makes up his mind to mount the six flights. A courtier
does not stop at that when it becomes a question of proving his zeal
to those in power. It would want the facetious genius of Beaumarchais
or Lesage, or the comic talent of Potier, to paint the originality of
the scene, and of the Minister finally discovering the protégé under
the worm-eaten wooden structure that served him as a couch. Hence I
abridge the particulars. Fouché reassures Dubois, and induces him to
come forth from his improvised hiding-place. Regardless of the poet’s
very profound _négligé_, he places him by his side in the carriage,
which takes its way to the Ministry, where luncheon is soon served.

‘“What would you like to be, M. Dubois?” asks his Excellency in the
interval between a dish of cutlets _à la Soubise_, made short work of
by the famished poet, and a _salmis de perdreaux_ equally appreciated,
at any rate ocularly. “Now tell me what can I do for you?”

‘“I’ll be whatever your Excellency likes; and I shall be grateful for
any kind of post.”

‘“Well, would you like to go to the island of Elba? I can give you the
appointment of commissary general of police.”

‘“I’ll go to the end of the world in order to please your Excellency,”
replies the poet, not quite sure whether for the last hour or so he has
been awake or dreaming.

‘“Very well then, I’ll go and make out your nomination, and you’ll
start to-morrow. On reaching Porto-Ferrajo you’ll find further
instructions. Meanwhile take this on account of your stipend.” Saying
which, Fouché presses a roll of napoleons into the poet’s hand. The
latter’s luggage was the reverse of voluminous; it would have filled a
big snuff-box, and did not take long to pack. Dubois engaged a place
in the diligence, and, in imitation of the awakened sleeper, departed,
like Sancho, for his island, which he reached without any further
adventures.

‘It so happened that at that identical moment, two competitors were
endeavouring to get the concession of the iron-ore mines of the
island of Elba, the yield of which is very considerable. The new
commissary-general of police seemed to enjoy immense credit in Paris.
He was entrusted with an important charge in the administration of the
island, and each of the competitors tried to secure his goodwill. One
of these offered him an interest in his enterprise in return for his
influence. The new functionary, who perceived himself to be on the
high road to fortune, took particular care not to refuse the offer.
He promised everything, and wrote to Paris whatever the speculator
directed. Whether it was sheer accident or his recommendation that
finally procured the concession for his partner will, perhaps,
never be known, but the merit of it was attributed to the child of
the Muses. He was, however, sharp enough to be aware of his utter
ignorance with regard to the working of mines in no way connected with
those of Parnassus, and sold his interest in them for three hundred
thousand francs, which with equal good sense he invested in government
securities, thus making his newly acquired wealth safe against all
vicissitudes.

‘Meanwhile the Princesse Borghese went to Bagnères to take the waters,
and it was some time before Fouché met with her at the Tuileries.

‘“I trust your Highness is pleased with the manner in which I have been
able to provide for your protégé;” said the minister. “What protégé,
M. le Duc?” answered Pauline. “I am afraid I do not understand.” “But,
madame, I mean M. Dubois.” “M. Dubois? I don’t think I know any one
of that name.” “Does not your Highness recollect a letter sent to me
about three months ago, most pressingly recommending a M. Dubois, a man
of letters, in whom your Highness took the greatest interest?” “One
moment,” said the princess, and then a smile overspread her beautiful
features. “My protégé, M. le Duc, was a poor poet, a relative of one of
my maids, who sent me an ode. What have you done with him? Have you
given him a stool in one of your departments?”

‘The minister, nettled at having been duped in that way, took
particular care to suppress the fact of his having made a grand
functionary of Dubois. Unfortunately, Fouché’s friends at Court got
wind of the thing, and there was an end of the secret. Napoleon himself
was vastly amused at it, and bantered his minister, whose habits, as
every one knows, were not of the bantering kind.

‘Naturally, Dubois’s order of recall was despatched with the same
promptitude as that for his departure. Our poet fell from his
commissaryship-general as Sancho had fallen from the governorship of
his island, and become a nonentity as before. But the three hundred
thousand francs had been paid to him and properly invested, and on his
return to Paris, he was enabled to pursue in peace his cultivation of
the Muses, and we may be sure did not lack for parasites to applaud
his verses and share his dinners, which were amply defrayed by the
iron-mines of Elba.’

Thus far the narrative of the Comte de Marsan, to whom I leave the
responsibility for the story, although I have no doubt of its veracity,
for Fouché, the Terrorist of old, was an excellent courtier.

M. Cast***‘s progress on the road to fortune was not as rapid as that,
yet sufficiently rapid for him to look back with satisfaction on his
pluck, as exemplified in his journey to Vienna. His interview with
Comte de Witt resulted in his appointment as his secretary. He came to
tell me of his wonderful piece of luck, and that same night went to
the Leopoldstadt theatre and was arrested by the police, who in Vienna
were very severe with foreigners. He showed fight, received several
blows, was bound hand and foot, and flung into a cell pending inquiry.
When brought before a magistrate next morning, he referred to his new
patron, the Comte de Witt, belonging to the suite of the Emperor of
Russia, and on the deposition of the general, was set at liberty. Not
being provided with a passport, he would, had this happened one day
earlier, have been taken as a vagrant to the Austrian frontier.

Subsequently, I was told by the Abbé Chalenton, the tutor of the young
Polignacs, that M. Cast***, having accompanied the Comte de Witt to
Russia, married at Tulczim a Dutch girl of excellent birth, with an
income of two thousand Dutch ducats, and on that occasion the abbé,
at that time the tutor of Comtesse Potocka’s children, gave the bride
away. M. Cast*** returned afterwards to Lyons in a different condition
from that in which he had left it three years previously.

The moral of all this is that, thanks to a plucky resolve, he also
had his share in the good things which were going at the Congress
of Vienna. Who after this shall deny the workings of chance on our
destinies and the usefulness of letters of introduction?



CHAPTER III

  Reception at M. de Talleyrand’s--His attitude at the Congress--
      The Duc de Dalberg--The Duc de Richelieu--Mme. Edmond de
      Périgord--M. Pozzo di Borgo--Parallel between the Prince de
      Ligne and M. de Talleyrand--A Monster Concert.


Since my arrival in Vienna, I had given myself up so wholly to the
pleasure of meeting with old friends that I had only been able to pay
a ‘duty’ call at the French Legation. Although several friends, among
others MM. Boigne de Faye and Achille Rouen, formed part of it in
different capacities, I had not been able to have a confidential chat
with any. I had begun sincerely to regret having missed the opportunity
of going to M. de Talleyrand’s receptions, when he divined my wishes,
and with his well-known and exquisite courtesy sent me an invitation to
dinner. As may be imagined, I did not fail to respond to it, impatient
as I was to observe from near at hand a man whom I had not seen since
my early manhood, and who had been so largely mixed up with the chief
events of the time. It is a memorable thing in a man’s life to be able
to approach closely to an actor who has played a principal part on
the world’s stage. It makes an impression which only ceases with life
or with the loss of memory. I reached the embassy early, and from M.
Rouen’s private apartments made my way to the reception-rooms. There
was no one there but M. de Talleyrand, the Duc de Dalberg, and Madame
Edmond de Périgord, whom I had already met at Mme. de Fuchs’s. The
prince bade me welcome with the exquisite grace which had become a
second nature to him, and taking hold of my hand with the kindliness
reminiscent of a bygone period, he said: ‘I had to come to Vienna,
then, Monsieur, in order to have the pleasure of seeing you at my
home?’ I may have been mistaken, but at that moment he certainly belied
the axiom so long ascribed to him, namely: That words were given to
man to enable him to disguise his thought. Without awaiting my answer,
which, judging from my embarrassed look, he fancied would not be
quickly forthcoming, he presented me to the Duc de Dalberg with a few
flattering and gracious words.

I had not seen M. de Talleyrand since 1806; but I was struck once
more with the intellectual subtlety of the look, the imperturbable
calm of the features, the demeanour of the pre-eminent man whom I, in
common with all those forgathered in Vienna, considered the foremost
diplomatist of his time. There were also the same grave and deep
tone of voice, the same easy and natural manners, the same ingrained
familiarity with the usages of the best society--a belated reflex, as
it were, of a state of things which existed no longer, and of which one
beheld in him one of the last representatives. In that room, and face
to face with such a man, one could not help yielding to an irresistible
feeling of timidity and awe.

The panegyric of the French plenipotentiaries at the Congress is
practically contained in their names; nevertheless, M. de Talleyrand,
in particular, seemed to dominate that illustrious assembly by the
charm of his mind and the ascendency of his genius. Always the same,
he treated diplomacy as he treated it formerly in his drawing-room
in Paris and at Neuilly. Yet, France’s _rôle_ was rendered not less
difficult by the circumstances from without than by the confusion from
within. Hedged, as it were, by numberless obstacles, the inevitable
consequences of a new organisation, and of the little harmony such an
organisation is likely to command, France was virtually incapable of
showing any _virile disposition_. It was an open secret that such a
display was beyond the power and beyond the will of her government.
The great European states, the arbiters of the Congress, proceeded
with a common accord of which hitherto there had been no instance in
diplomatic annals. It seemed as if nothing could either break or detach
a single link of the chain. Hence, the representatives of France were
bound to make up, either by the resources of their genius or by talent
of the first order, for the obstacles opposed to them by a quadruple
alliance applying to the deliberations the whole weight of its actual
importance and of its unassailable union.

The force he could not look for from his government, M. de Talleyrand
found in himself; for it is no exaggeration to say that the whole of
the French mission at the Congress seemed personified in him, whatever
may have been the merit of his colleagues and the consideration
attached to their personality. With the marvellous intuition which was
the particular dower of his intellect, and which seemed not only to
foresee events but to dominate them, he soon recovered the position
belonging to France. Admitted to the directing committee, composed
of the four great Powers, he completely changed its ideas and its
tendency. ‘I bring to you more than you possess, I bring to you the
idea of “right.”’ He divided those Powers, hitherto so united; he,
as it were, raised the spectre of a disproportionately aggrandised
Russian weight on the rest of Europe, and the necessity of edging
her back to the north. He caused Austria and England to share that
conviction. Hence, Emperor Alexander, who under the influence and
in the drawing-room of M. de Talleyrand had, six months previously,
decided upon the restoration of the House of Bourbon, saw, not without
annoyance, his projects stopped by the representative of a state which
owed its existence to him. ‘Talleyrand enacts the part here of Louis
XIV.’s minister,’ he said more than once with a show of bad humour.

I have no intention of enumerating the labours of M. de Talleyrand at
the Congress of Vienna, or the important acts in which he took a part.
Still less do I intend to trace a portrait of that celebrated man.
Apart from the consideration that such a task would entail infinite
developments, M. de Talleyrand henceforth belongs to history; and
history alone, with inflexible truth, can describe and make known one
of the most historical personages of modern times. But, having been
an eyewitness at that trying period of his often successful efforts
at raising and reinstating the nation which he represented, I find
it difficult to resist the temptation to record the vivid impression
produced by his imperturbable calm, his attitude, and the whole of his
personality.

It has been said often, and with considerable truth, that at no period
did Talleyrand appear more conspicuously great than at the moment of
France’s disasters in 1814. I had seen him eight years previously as
Minister of France, then all-powerful, and dictating his laws to the
whole of Continental Europe. At Vienna, as the plenipotentiary of a
vanquished people, he was the same man, and as absolutely confident of
himself. There was the same noble dignity, perhaps with an additional
shade of pride, the same confidence essential to the representative
of a nation which though vanquished was necessary to the maintenance
of the European equilibrium--of a nation which might gather strength
from the very consciousness of her defeat. His demeanour was, in one
word, the most eloquent expression of the grandeur of our country. In
watching the look which adverse fortune had been unable to disturb, the
impassiveness which nothing could disconcert, one could not but feel
that this man had still behind him a strong and powerful nation.

Just as his high renown, and the authority attached to his name and
experience, made themselves felt in the deliberations of European
politics, so did his noble manners, the manners of the grand seigneur,
and his urbanity stamp his private receptions and his daily life with
a character of gravity wholly in harmony with his diplomatic rôle.
At no moment in Vienna did he deviate from the habits contracted in
Paris and in the century that lay behind. Every morning while he was
dressing, visitors were admitted, and often during the operation of
shaving and attending to his hair by his valet, discussions of the
utmost gravity, though in the guise of mere talk, were engaged in.
I have frequently seen him in his drawing-room seated on a couch by
the side of the beautiful Comtesse Edmond de Perigord, and surrounded
by bearers of the most eminent political names, the ministers of
the victorious Powers, who, standing, conversed with him, or rather
listened, as to the lessons of a teacher. In our century, M, de
Talleyrand is perhaps the only man who constantly obtained such a
triumph.

M. le Duc de Dalberg was well worthy of figuring by the side of M.
de Talleyrand. Sprung from one of the oldest and noblest families of
Germany, he contributed powerfully on the 31st March to the resolution
which brought back the Bourbons to the throne; at the same time, he had
pronounced in favour of constitutional measures calculated to reassure
public opinion, and to make France rally to the restored régime.
Sharing the views and wishes of M. de Talleyrand at the time of the
Restoration, the same bond of union drew them together at the Congress.
The heartfelt aim of both was to restore to France the rank of which
her misfortunes had deprived her among the Powers.[34]

M. de Talleyrand, before proceeding to Vienna, had drawn up his own
instructions. It was said on excellent authority that he strictly
adhered to them, and that the various phases of the negotiations had
been foreseen and indicated by him with marvellous sagacity. What is
not generally known is the existence of two different sets of private
correspondence addressed to Paris by the French plenipotentiaries;
one, partly from the pen of and edited by M. de la Besnadière, and
exclusively anecdotal, was sent to King Louis XVIII. M. de Talleyrand
positively besprinkled it with those witty and original sallies,
those subtle and profound remarks, characteristic of him. The other,
exclusively political and principally indited by the Duc de Dalberg,
went straight to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[35]

On the day in question, there were few guests to dinner at M. de
Talleyrand’s. This afforded me the opportunity of observing more
attentively and of listening more carefully: each figure of such a
picture could be studied separately and with greater advantage.

In addition to the members of the French Mission, there were only a few
strangers, namely, the Comte Razumowski, General Pozzo di Borgo, and
the Duc de Richelieu. When I parted from the last at Odessa in 1812,
he was in a position most trying to a governor-general.[36] The plague
was ravaging his provinces of the Chersonese and the Taurida, and it
required all his energy to get rid of such an importunate visitor. In
those cruel circumstances he displayed the most admirable courage.

My questions followed each other most rapidly, as my pleasure at seeing
him again was great. I was seated between him and M. de la Besnadière,
and we went back with great interest to the days of our past dangers;
we chatted about the ravages of the plague as sailors preserved from
shipwreck would have spoken of the hidden rocks on which their craft
might have gone to pieces.

All those who have known the Duc de Richelieu are aware of the sincere
friendship he was apt to inspire. Few men in their public capacity have
shown a nobler character, and in their eminent functions a stricter
disinterestedness. The esteem of all parties was his reward.

It is to him Russia owes, in the founding of Odessa, one of her most
precious commercial centres. Up to that period, the duke was only
distinguished for his military exploits. Having been sent to the
shores of the Black Sea by Emperor Alexander, who understood all the
importance of the site, Richelieu displayed in his fresh sphere of
activity the greatest talent, from an administrative standpoint. In a
few years, a harbour without life, and a few houses without tenants,
were replaced by an accessible and spacious port and a rich and elegant
town. The loyalty of his character contributed to draw around him
merchants and colonisers. In spite of the plague and of the suspension
of all commercial operations, Odessa, under his firm and enlightened
administration, instead of declining, increased each day in prosperity.
At present it is one of the most important points of the East.

Thereafter, M. de Richelieu passed from the government of the Taurida
to that of his own country. He hesitated for a long while before
assuming a burden he fancied to be beyond his strength, and only
yielded at the repeated instances of Emperor Alexander. Obliged, in
virtue of his office, to sign the disastrous treaties of 1815, he bore
with patriotic fortitude their odious consequences. Students of history
will remember his efforts at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818),
and the happy results which crowned them. History may not, perhaps,
acquiesce in his sufficient knowledge of the men and places which he
had governed, but she will always refer with grateful remembrance to
his sterling virtues and his exalted patriotism.

The conversation became general, and followed the direction given to
it by the personages, interesting in so many respects, taking part in
it. M. Pozzo di Borgo, whom I saw on that occasion for the first time,
seemed to me to unite the finesse, the liveliness of intellect, and the
imagination of his countrymen. An avowed enemy of Bonaparte since the
beginning of his career, he had never disguised his joy at the latter’s
fall. In a few words he summed up all the causes which were inevitably
to lead to the acceleration of that great catastrophe.[37]

At that time a simple general of infantry in the Russian service, M.
Pozzo di Borgo never deviated from the line of conduct which led him
subsequently to exercise such a great influence on the destinies of
Europe. Born in Corsica, and deputy for the island in the Legislative
Assembly, he held the same ardent opinions which had made him
conspicuous in his own country. It was he who in July 1792 induced
the Assembly to declare war against the German Emperor. After the
revolution of August 10th, his name was found mentioned in the papers
of Louis XVI. A fellow-deputy for Corsica, one of the commissaries
entrusted with the examination of those papers, informed him, it
was said, of the danger he might be running, and prevailed upon him
to leave Paris. On his return to Corsica, he changed his colours.
Resolved to support the designs for rendering the island independent,
he joined the party of Paoli, and in 1793, the Convention summoned
him, as well as the general, to its bar, to account for his conduct.
Neither obeyed the summons: the English army occupied the island, and
M. Pozzo di Borgo was appointed president of the Council of State
under Eliot, who was raised to the dignity of viceroy. Nevertheless,
during his tenure of office there arose so many complaints against
him that Eliot advised him to retire, at the request of Paoli, who
had become afraid of the number of enemies his protégé had managed to
array against himself. M. Pozzo di Borgo then went to London, where he
was employed by the government in the secret diplomatic service. The
British Government itself subsequently admitted that, thanks to the
influence of Prince Czartoryski, Pozzo di Borgo had passed into the
secret political service of Russia. The same good fortune that attended
him in his political functions remained by his side on the battlefield:
he obtained rapid promotion, and at Leipzig he fought as major-general
under the orders of another Frenchman, to-day King of Sweden.[38] It
was Pozzo di Borgo who in 1814 settled the question of the Allied
Powers marching upon Paris, and who in their deliberations removed
all apprehension on the subject. Every one remembers the dignities
with which he was subsequently invested, and the various phases of
his political career. Already at the Congress he was credited with
a sentence which he never denied, and which laid bare his thoughts.
‘France,’ he said, ‘is a seething saucepan; whatever comes out of it
ought to be flung back into it.’ M. Pozzo di Borgo’s conversation did
not lack piquancy; nevertheless, it did not take long to find out that
the learning he somewhat ostentatiously displayed was neither solid
nor extensive, nor profound. He had a mania for quoting, but not the
talent of varying his quotations. For instance, at M. de Talleyrand’s,
he supported an argument by a passage from Dante, a phrase of Tacitus,
and shreds from English orators. M. de la Besnadière told me that every
one of those citations had already done duty two days previously at the
Prince de Hardenberg’s.

When we went into the drawing-room, a good many distinguished
personages were already there. In fact, to see this forgathering of the
majority of the members of the Corps Diplomatique grouping themselves
around M. de Talleyrand, the supposition would have been pardonable
that his residence was the _locale_ of the Congress.

Mme. la Comtesse de Périgord received her relative’s guests with
a charming grace. Her brilliant and playful intellect tempered
from time to time the gravity of the political matter gliding into
the conversation. There was, however, this difference: under M. de
Talleyrand’s roof the discussion was ever serious, and never deviated
from its aim; while in the other drawing-rooms of Vienna, politics
were treated as an accessory, and in an airy fashion, during the rare
intervals not devoted to pleasure.

On the evening in question, Saxony was once more the subject of the
conversation. Louis XVIII. had declared himself strongly opposed to the
maintenance of Frederick-Augustus on its throne. He wished that prince
to be punished with the loss of his kingdom for his faithful support of
Napoleon. The utmost Louis would concede was the restricted sovereignty
of Frederick-Augustus over some small patch of territory on the left
bank of the Rhine. The execution of that plan would have involved
the incorporation of the whole of the Saxon States with Prussia. The
latter Power claimed them energetically as a compensation guaranteed to
it by the Treaty of Kalisch. Alexander, who at that time was nursing
the idea of a kingdom of Poland comprising the Polish provinces that
had formerly lapsed to Prussia, had pronounced in favour of that
incorporation. Austria, however, looked askance at this scheme of
aggrandisement, while the minor German princes were positively afraid
of such a spoliation, which seemed to them the precursor of their
destruction. M. de Talleyrand, on the other hand, sided with Saxony,
sustaining its rights on every possible opportunity with as much
dignity as healthy logic.

There was a very lively discussion between Lord Castlereagh[39] and the
French envoys. England at that time, though having no direct interest
in the question, seemed inclined to favour Prussia’s pretensions. A
few months later, there was a reversal of her policy. But however
interesting King Frederick-Augustus’s cause might be to me personally,
it seemed to me that the atmosphere in which I had hitherto lived at
Vienna excluded all political affairs, and I had drawn aside with the
Duc de Richelieu. He gave me some particulars of the brilliant military
career of his nephew, the Comte de Rochechouart, with whom I had spent
so many happy moments at Odessa;[40] and then talked to me about the
handsome Mme. Davidoff,[41] and of her famous friend Mme. la Comtesse
Potocka. Surrounded by all that was most brilliant and accomplished in
European civilisation, our thoughts yet went back to the deserts of the
Yeddisen, and when we returned to the group of diplomatists, the prince
had vanquished the grand sophist, and equity had scored a triumph over
arbitrariness.

Although M. de Talleyrand was both in bearing and in temperament
naturally cold and indifferent, his great reputation and his
uncontested merit caused him to be assiduously courted. That apparent
coldness, in fact, still further enhanced the special marks of his
interest or of his affection. The words falling from his lips, a
benevolent smile, a sign of approval--in short, everything emanating
from him was calculated to fascinate. His was the flexible intellect
which without effort and without pedantry can, on notable occasions,
show itself the master of the situation, and which, in more familiar
intercourse, knows how to lend itself with inimitable grace to the
lightest banter. Full justice has never been done to his goodness
of heart. He repaid hatred and slander by clever sallies; he never
emphasised or paraded the services he rendered; and in general his kind
actions were performed with such simplicity as to make him easily lose
the recollection of them.[42]

At that period I often tried to establish a parallel between the
two men who, even in that gathering of so many illustrious people,
powerfully attracted and captivated everybody’s attention, namely, the
Prince de Ligne and M. de Talleyrand. Both, having lived in contact
with the celebrities of the eighteenth century, seemed to have been
bequeathed to the new generation as models and ornaments; both were
representatives, though in different styles, of that witty society--the
one of its lighter and more sparkling phase, the other of its easy,
graceful, and noble phase; both had the secret of pleasing by the charm
of intellect: the first was more brilliant, the second more profound.
M. de Talleyrand seemed born, as it were, to captivate his fellow-men
by the strength of an ever-direct and luminous reason; the Prince de
Ligne fascinated and dazzled them by the sparkle of an inexhaustible
imagination: the latter bringing to bear upon the different branches
of literature the subtlety, sparkle, and gracefulness of the _habitué_
of Courts; the former dominating over the most important concerns with
the easy calm of a grand seigneur and the imperturbable moderation
of a superior intellect; the one and the other lavishly scattering
around them clever sentences, happy sallies, original and piquant
traits, graver and more individual in the case of the statesman, more
spontaneous and brilliant in the case of the soldier:--both, in fine,
animated with the sympathetic benevolence which is the appanage of the
well-born man, and which was more contained with the first and more
expansive with the second. ‘Happy ought the man to be who finds himself
placed near the Prince de Ligne in the morning, and in the evening near
M. de Talleyrand,’ I said to myself. ‘If the one be apt to enlighten
his mind by the lessons of a long experience and a succession of true
pictures, the other may purify his taste by the never-failing tact, the
judicious observation which takes in everything, and the magic charm
of a conversation which has the faculty of subjugating listeners even
where it fails in convincing them.’

The reception on the evening in question did not last as long as usual,
Mme. de Périgord, like the majority of us, being due at the Burg, to
attend a monster concert. Nothing, it was said, could convey a better
idea of the marvellous results of the practice of music in Vienna. We
left the prince engaged in his game of whist, in which he indulged
every night with a particular fondness and with superior skill, and
made our way to the Imperial Palace.

In one of the vastest halls, that of the States, there were a hundred
pianos on which professors and amateurs performed a concert. Salieri,
the composer of the _Danaïdes_, was the conductor of that gigantic
orchestra. To tell the truth, however, save for the general scene,
which in all these fêtes was always dazzling, that matchless charivari,
in spite of the superior talent of the maestro directing it, was more
like a huge display of strength and skill than a concert of good taste.
This new surprise was, nevertheless, such as might have been expected
from a committee appointed by the Court. To justify the confidence
placed in it, it had ransacked its imagination for something unforeseen
and unprecedented, something altogether out of the ordinary. It had
succeeded to perfection.



CHAPTER IV

  The Prince de Ligne’s Study--A Swimming Exploit--Travelling
      by Post--A Reminiscence of Mme. de Staël--Schönbrunn--
      The Son of Napoleon--His Portrait--Mme. de Montesquiou--
      Anecdotes--Isabey--The Manœuvring-Ground--The People’s
      Fête at Augarten.


When I went to pay my daily visit to the prince, he was still in
bed, and I made my way to his library, where they had placed his
couch. The room in which a famous man spends the greater part of his
time is always interesting. The signs of his particular tastes are
everywhere; the special character of his genius reveals itself in the
smallest details; and the objects surrounding him supply food for our
curiosity or attract our attention. With his books and manuscripts
scattered here, there, and everywhere, the Prince de Ligne gave one the
impression of a general in his tent among the trophies of his victories
and the weapons worn in everyday life.

Abusing somewhat the licence accorded to poets, with whom ‘a beautiful
disorder’ is accounted an artistic effect, the prince lived amidst a
kind of litter which was not altogether devoid of gracefulness. Here,
Rousseau and Montesquieu lying open beside a batch of love-letters;
there, scraps of paper covered with verses close to a couple of
military volumes of Archduke Charles; further on, letters just begun,
and poems and works of strategy in a similarly initial condition. An
admirable amalgam of the grand seigneur, the soldier, and the man of
wit, the Prince de Ligne presented a type the like of which we shall
not see again; now captivating the most distinguished women by the
charms of a most brilliant conversation, then astounding the most
consummate generals by the justness of his conceptions; and again
delighting the greatest intellects by the subtlety and the truth of his
comments.

He had a writing-desk before him when I came in. His intellect,
aglow with a wholly youthful imagination, just as his heart was
aglow with kindness, seemed to live against time; hence, no day ever
passed without his throwing on to paper some judicious or playful,
some brilliant or profound remarks, such as those with which his
conversation was studded.

‘I’m going to Schönbrunn to-day,’ he said, ‘and I should like you to
accompany me. I am performing _ad honores_ the office of introducer to
the little duke who was born a king. I only want to finish this chapter
on the events of the moment, and then I am at your disposal.

‘I’m throwing my thoughts on to paper anyhow lest they should escape my
memory,’ he added. ‘The grand picture we constantly have before us has
the faculty of inspiring me; I fancy that amidst all these delirious
joys a thought may now and again strike me which in days to come will
either give pleasure or be productive of some good. Though yielding to
this whirl of phantasms, I have not ceased to observe. Though an actor
in the piece which is being played, I consider the whole of what is
passing around me a simple kick in an ant-hill.’

Saying which he resumed writing. All of a sudden, being apparently in
want of a reference of some kind, he looked up. ‘Be kind enough to give
me that manuscript volume on the third shelf.’ I got up, but uncertain
which volume to take, I hesitated for a moment. Thereupon he jumped out
of bed and hauled himself up by the cornice of the bookcase, got hold
of the book, and was back again between the sheets in less time than it
takes to tell; I looking on in sheer surprise at the agility of a man
of his years. ‘The fact is,’ he said, ‘I have been most nimble all my
life, and my nimbleness has been exceedingly useful. During that kind
of fairy journey when I accompanied the great Catherine to the Taurida,
the imperial yacht was doubling the promontory of Parthenizza, where,
according to tradition, the Temple of Iphigenia formerly stood. We were
discussing the greater or lesser probability of that tradition, when
Catherine, stretching forth her arms towards the coast, said: “Prince
de Ligne, I’ll bestow upon you that contested territory.” No sooner
had the words dropped from her lips than I was in the water, in full
uniform, my hat on my head, and in a few moments I stood on _terra
firma_. “Majesty,” I cried, drawing my sword, “I am taking possession.”
Since then that Taurida rock is named after me, and I keep the land.

‘This, my young friend, shows that bodily agility may be attended
with excellent results, and that there is nothing in life like prompt
resolution. A few years before the outbreak of the Revolution, I
happened to be in Paris. In the happiness of the hour, and with
the carelessness of youth, I had committed a few excesses; I had,
moreover, forgotten the state of my finances, and my purse was as
empty of coin as my heart was full of joy and my mind of illusion.
Nevertheless, I was expected in Brussels the next day to dine with the
archduchess-governess of the Southern Netherlands. A total stranger in
the vast city, I felt sorely embarrassed. I was on terms of intimate
friendship with Prince Max, the present King of Bavaria, at that time
a colonel in the French service.[43] You are aware of his generous
and devoted disposition. During the whole of his life he was willing
to share with his friends whatever he possessed. Naturally I went to
him, but our excellent Max was not at that period a king, and had no
minister of finances to direct and to take care of his savings. It just
happened that his purse was as light as mine. What was to be done? A
post-boy is the most inexorable of men, and at each stage he comes
pitilessly, though hat in hand, to claim his salary. I was told that my
cousin, the Duc d’Aremberg, much more sober in conduct, was starting
that same evening for Brussels. I immediately made up my mind what
to do. “I shall be there before him,” I said; and without a moment’s
delay I transformed myself into a forerunner, and, booted and spurred,
presented myself at the posting-office. I told them to give me a horse,
and set off at a gallop to the next stage to order relays. In that way
I performed the journey to Brussels, always a few minutes in advance
of him, and seeing to the providing of his horses all along the route.
My cousin, who had not despatched a forerunner, was unable to make out
the providential arrangement to which was due the promptitude that thus
shortened his journey. At his arrival I told him the ruse, at which we
both laughed heartily, and thanks to which I managed to dine with the
archduchess.’

While talking, he had dressed himself. When he had finished putting
on his uniform of colonel of trabans, and had hung half-a-dozen grand
crosses and ribands of various orders upon his breast, he suddenly
stopped.

‘If illusion could provide me to-day with its mirror,’ he said, ‘how
gladly would I exchange all this splendour for the simple dress of an
ensign in my father’s regiment! I was only sixteen when I donned that
dress for the first time; I imagined then that at thirty one must be
very old. Time changes everything. To-day, at eighty, I think myself
still young, although some cavillers say that I am too young. It
does not matter, I am doing all I can to prove that I am still young
enough. After all, my career has been a happy one, and neither remorse
nor ambition, nor jealousy has troubled its course. I have steered my
barque pretty evenly, and until I enter that of Charon I shall continue
to fancy myself, in spite of those who insist upon considering me as
old.’

Even while bantering himself in that way, there was a charm about his
words of which it is difficult to convey an idea. I kept telling him
that age had glided off him without leaving a mark, and that time
honoured him by forgetting him. He believed my words, and his handsome
face was lighted up with happiness.

On going downstairs we found some of the savants who constantly worried
him, and his features lost their happy expression, although he managed
to dismiss the intruders with a few polite remarks, and went on his
way. ‘How I detest those savants of verbosity, those gatherers of
clever sayings, those walking dictionaries, whose sole stock-in-trade
in the matter of genius is their memory! The best book to study is the
world itself, but that book will always be a closed one to them,’ he
said.

In a few moments we were rumbling in the direction of Schönbrunn.
Unfortunately, the prince’s carriage did not deserve the compliment I
had just addressed to the prince himself. It was impossible to believe
that the vehicle had ever been young, and its springs piteously cried
out to be exchanged for a set more elastic and in keeping with the
requirements of our own time. I can still picture the cumbrous, grey
conveyance drawn by two bony white horses. The panels displayed the
prince’s scutcheon, surmounted by the motto of the House of Egmont,
whence the prince sprung:

      ‘_Quô res cumque cadunt, semper stat linea recta._’

Behind this ancient coach stood a kind of footman, an old Turk, six
feet high, a present from Prince Potemkin at the assault of Ismaël,
and who bore the name of the conquered town. The marshal, however, had
the art of abridging distances, just as he had the art of supplying
the scantiness of his dinner-entertainments, by his conversation. The
journey of nearly an hour seemed very short, and it was with some
surprise that I beheld the gates of the imperial country-seat.

Schönbrunn, the building of which was begun by the princes of the House
of Austria, was the object of Maria-Theresa’s particular affection. It
was she who completed it, and, in order to accelerate the work, part
of it was done by torchlight. The castle is delightfully situated on
the right bank of the Wien. The majestic _ensemble_ of its architecture
proclaims it at once to be a royal residence. The gardens, nobly
and most gracefully planned, interspersed with sheets of limpid
water skilfully disposed, planted with trees of the most luxuriant
vegetation, and studded with most precious marble and bronze statuary,
harmonise most imposingly with the magnificence of the palace itself.
The park is alive with deer of all kinds, the peaceful tenants of those
beautiful spots, and they, as it were, seem to invite the approach of
the visitors. Every day and at all hours these glades and avenues are
open to the public. Numberless carriages and horsemen are constantly
there. The park is surrounded by pleasaunces, the inmates of which in
the milder season are the eye-witnesses of a succession of fêtes and
rejoicings. The sound of those rejoicings pierces the walls of the
imperial habitation, and adds by its animation to the charms of the
noble pile.

The apartments of the palace are spacious and furnished with exquisite
taste. There are several rooms entirely draped with black: they have
remained in that condition since the death of Maria-Theresa’s husband.
A small study is decorated with drawings by the various archduchesses.
This is the room where Napoleon, during his sojourn at Schönbrunn,
retired to work. It is there he beheld for the first time the portrait
of Marie-Louise, and perhaps conceived the idea of a union which had
such an influence on his destiny.[44]

A staircase leads from that room into the garden. On a wooded height
stands a charming pavilion built by Maria-Theresa, and called ‘La
Gloriette’; that elegant structure of fairy-like design, composed of
arcades, colonnades, and trophies, bounds the vista and constitutes
one of the most delightful pieces of decorative architecture. It is at
the same time a palace and a triumphal arch. It is reached by a double
staircase. The view from the principal drawing-room defies description:
there are immense masses of green as far as the eye can reach, and
at the horizon are the city of Vienna, the course of the Danube, and
finally the high mountains whose outlines constitute the background of
the magnificent landscape. It is difficult to imagine a more splendid
panorama.

The greenhouses of Schönbrunn are perhaps the most beautiful in Europe.
They contain precious samples of the vegetation of the universe. It was
there that Emperor Francis, who had a particular liking for botanical
pursuits, himself attended to the rarest plants.

[Illustration: MARIA LOUISA, ARCHDUCHESS OF AUSTRIA.]

Not far from there is the zoological collection, disposed in a circle
around a pavilion forming the centre, as it were, of the various
sheltered enclosures for the animals. Each species has its _habitat_
and its garden, with the plants and trees proper to the country of its
birth. There, though prisoners, the animals apparently enjoy their
liberty.

Close to the castle there was a small railed-off plot, carefully
tended, which was the garden of the son of Napoleon. It was there that
the young prince cultivated the flowers which each morning he gathered
into bouquets for his mother[45] and his governess.

While crossing the courts, which are very spacious, the prince pointed
out the spot where, while Napoleon was inspecting some troops, a young
fanatic attempted to kill him about the time of the battle of Wagram.
If a crime of that nature is calculated to inspire anything but a
feeling of indignation, that young fellow might have been pitied in
virtue of the courage and fortitude he showed at the moment of his
death.

It was in those courts that, at the same period, Napoleon gave orders
to his ordnance-officer, the Prince de Salm, to put through its drill
a regiment of the Germanic Confederation, and to give the command in
German. The Viennese came down in shoals, this little amenity on the
part of the victor having made them forget that their capital was in
the hands of the enemy.

In the hall a French servant, still wearing the Napoleonic livery, came
towards us. He knew the marshal, and immediately went to inform Mme. de
Montesquiou of his arrival.

‘I trust we’ll not have to wait,’ said my companion, ‘for, as I
have told you, I am almost like the Comte de Ségur of Schönbrunn.’
He alluded to the position of grand-master of the ceremonies that
nobleman, whom he had known at the Court of Catherine, had occupied
near the person of Napoleon.

A few moments later Mme. de Montesquiou came to apologise for being
unable to introduce us immediately. ‘The little prince,’ she said, ‘is
sitting for his portrait to Isabey, which is intended for the Empress
Marie-Louise. As he is very fond of the marshal, the sight of him
would only make him restless. I’ll see that the sitting is as short as
possible.’

‘You know what happened at my first visit?’ remarked the prince, after
Mme. de Montesquiou had left us. ‘When they told the child that Marshal
Prince de Ligne had come to see him, he exclaimed: “Is it one of the
marshals who deserted papa? Don’t let him come in.” They had a good
deal of trouble in making him understand that France is not the only
country where they have marshals.’

A short while afterwards Mme. de Montesquiou took us to the apartments.
When young Napoleon caught sight of the Prince de Ligne he slid off
his chair, and flung himself into the arms of the old soldier. He
was indeed as handsome a child as one could wish to see, and the
likeness to his ancestress Maria-Theresa was positively striking. The
cherub-like shape of his face, the dazzling whiteness of the skin, the
eyes full of fire, and the pretty fair curls drooping on his shoulders,
made up one of the most graceful models ever offered to Isabey. He was
dressed in a richly embroidered uniform of hussars, and wore on his
dolman the star of the Legion of Honour, ‘_Bon jour, monsieur_,’ said
the little lad, ‘I like the French very much.’

Remembering the words of Rousseau to the effect that people do not like
to be questioned, and least of all children, I stooped down and kissed
him.

The son of Napoleon is no more; pitiless Death cut short at twenty-two
a life begun on a throne; and at the moment when the brilliant
qualities of the prince bade fair to make that life illustrious, and
when his noble sentiments had begun to win all hearts. Everything
connected with this offspring of so much glory, a victim from his
cradle of a fatal and unprecedented destiny, only presents itself to
the memory with a deep respect mingled with a tender pity.

His intellect was quick and precocious; all his words struck the
listener by their justness. Both his memory and his faculty for
acquiring knowledge were astounding; he learned German in a short time,
and after that spoke it with the same ease as French. His character was
firm, and his resolutions, only arrived at after serious reflection,
were unshakable; his slightest movements were stamped with grace; his
gestures, when he wished to emphasise his words, were already grave
and solemn. His liking for the science of warfare showed itself both
in his eyes and in his speech. ‘I want to be a soldier,’ he said,
‘I’ll lead the charge.’ They suggested that bayonets might oppose his
progress. ‘But surely,’ was the answer, ‘I’ll have a sword to put aside
the bayonets.’ His curiosity with regard to the history of his father
was extreme; the Emperor, his grandfather, convinced that truth must
constitute the basis of every education, and notably that of a prince,
determined not to leave him in ignorance upon any subject.[46] The
child listened eagerly to the story of a life which, in the space of
twenty years, seemed to have exceeded the measure of both belief and of
history. The exuberance of his joys, his impatience at being baulked of
his wishes and of all opposition to his will, were those of a child,
while his intense anxiety to learn, his habitual calm and reflection,
attested a more advanced age. Everything in him led to the belief in
the theory of hereditary genius.

His instinct, as is well known, showed itself under memorable
circumstances. On the 29th March, 1814, when the Empress Marie-Louise
abandoned the Tuileries for Rambouillet, and when they wished to take
the child to his mother, who was waiting for him, he opposed a stout
resistance to being removed; shouted that they were betraying his papa,
and refused to stir. Mme. de Montesquiou’s moral influence over the lad
was brought to bear in vain; she only succeeded by force, and even then
she had to promise to bring him back soon. The poor lad guessed, as it
were, that he would never more behold the Tuileries.

His quickness of intellect showed itself in everything connected with
his illustrious and ill-fated sire. On the day before our visit, the
English commodore, Sir Neil Campbell, who accompanied Napoleon to
Elba, was presented to his son. ‘Are you not pleased, prince, to see
this gentleman, who left your father only a few days ago?’ asked Mme,
de Montesquiou, presenting the officer. ‘Yes,’ was the answer, ‘I am
pleased.’ Then, putting his finger to his lips, he added, ‘But we must
not say so.’

The commodore took the child into his arms. ‘Your papa has told me to
kiss you for him,’ he said, suiting the action to the word, after which
he gently put him down. The child had a German top in his hands. He
flung it down with such force as to break it to pieces. ‘Poor papa!’ he
gasped, bursting into tears.[47]

What were the thoughts that moved him, and how, at his tender age,
could he grasp the whole extent of the ambiguous and false position
of the son of Napoleon being a prisoner, as it were, in the Austrian
palace of Schönbrunn!

With regard to the loss of the sovereignty bestowed upon him at his
birth, he expressed himself with a melancholy and touching resignation.
‘I see very well that I am no longer a king,’ he repeated during his
journey from Rambouillet to Vienna; ‘I have no longer any pages.’[48]
The Prince de Ligne having shown him some medals struck on the occasion
of his birth, he remarked, ‘I remember them; they were made when I was
king.’

This plucky resignation, which was the most conspicuous trait of his
character, abided with him up to his last moments. When, at the age
of twenty-two, undermined by a most painful malady, he was dying at
that same palace of Schönbrunn, and beheld Death advancing slowly but
surely, he, handsome, young, talented, and the offspring of a great
man, talked of his impending end with those surrounding him, taking, as
it were, a cruel pleasure in dispelling all the illusions of hope.

We stepped up to Isabey, who had just put the finishing touches to
the portrait of the young prince. It was a striking likeness, and, in
common with all his works, pervaded by an exquisite grace. It was the
identical picture he presented to Napoleon on the latter’s return from
Elba in the following year. ‘What I like best in this portrait is its
wonderful resemblance to that of Joseph II. when he was a child, which
was given to me by Maria-Theresa. After all, this resemblance to a
great man is a happy augury for the future.’

Then the prince complimented the painter on the perfect finish of his
work, adding a few happily-chosen words on his European reputation.

‘I came to Vienna, M. le Maréchal,’ replied Isabey, ‘with the hope of
being allowed to reproduce the features of all the celebrities that are
here, and without doubt I ought to have started with yours.’

‘Assuredly, seeing that, in virtue of my age, I am the dean.’

‘No,’ retorted Isabey, who was also known for his ready wit, ‘not in
virtue of your age, but as the model of all that is illustrious in this
century.’

Meanwhile, young Napoleon had gone to a corner of the room in search
of a regiment of wooden Uhlans which his grand-uncle Archduke Charles
had sent him a few days previously. Set in motion by a piece of simple
mechanism, the troopers, stuck on movable pins, imitated every military
evolution, breaking the ranks, deploying into line, forming into
columns, etc.

‘Time to begin our manœuvres, prince!’ shouted the marshal in a tone of
command. Immediately the Uhlans were taken from their box and disposed
in battle order. ‘Attention,’ cried the marshal, drawing his sword and
assuming the attitude of a general on parade.

Stolidly attentive and grave, like a Russian grenadier, the child took
up his position to the right of his troop, his hand on the spring.
No sooner has the word of command left the old soldier’s lips than
the movement is carried out with the utmost precision. A second order
meets with similarly prompt obedience; the chief and the subaltern are
equally grave. To watch the charming face of the child lighting up at
this mimic piece of drill, and, on the other hand, to watch the aged
and illustrious relic of the wars of the past becoming animated at the
child’s grave demeanour, was a sight never to be forgotten. It looked
as if the one had inherited the irresistible passion of his sire for
the science of warfare; as if the other, suddenly growing younger by
a couple of decades, was going to recommence his glorious campaigns.
It was a delicious contrast, fit to inspire the genius of our greatest
painters.

The grand manœuvres were interrupted by the announcement of the
empress’s coming. She liked to be alone with her son, whose education
she superintended.[49] Hence we retired, leaving Isabey to show her
his work.

No sooner were we seated in our carriage, still deeply moved by what
we had seen, than the Prince de Ligne said: ‘When Vienna surrendered
to Napoleon at Schönbrunn, when he planned his memorable campaign of
Wagram there, when in those spacious courts he reviewed his victorious
phalanxes in the presence of the astounded Viennese, little did he
foresee that in this same palace the son of the victor and the daughter
of the vanquished would be held as hostages by one whose fate was
then in his hands. In my long career I have seen many instances of
extraordinary glory, and nearly as many of crushing reverses, but
nothing to compare to the history of which we have just witnessed a
chapter.’

As we were crossing the glacis between the faubourgs and the city, we
espied an open carriage, very low on its wheels. There seemed scarcely
room enough in it to hold its one huge occupant.

‘Let us stop and perform our salutations,’ said the prince. ‘There goes
another majesty by the grace of God and of Robinson Crusoe (Napoleon).
There goes the King of Würtemberg.

‘Up to the present,’ he went on, ‘you have only seen royal fêtes.
To-morrow I mean to take you to an entertainment for the people. So
much has been accomplished through the people that they can well afford
to do something for it. I’ll see you to-morrow.’

The people’s fête is one of the most brilliant solemnities of Vienna.
It had been eagerly looked forward to for some time.

Anxious to profit by the invitation of my illustrious guide, I was
at his place before midday. Shortly afterwards we set out for the
Augarten, where the fête was to take place.

The Augarten is situated on the same island of the Danube as the
Prater, by which it is bound on the east. The park, with its
thickly-wooded retreats and clumps of trees, presented the most varied
and beautiful vegetation, interspersed in all directions by magnificent
avenues. The palace, due to Joseph II., is a specimen of simple and
elegant architecture. An inscription over the front entrance tells the
fact that this amiable prince-philosopher gave up the building for the
amusement of the nation.

There was an immense crowd; the weather was splendid; the stands
erected for the sovereigns and the celebrities of the Congress were
filled with most elegantly dressed spectators of both sexes. The Prince
de Ligne preferred to mingle with the crowd, and I was glad of it.

The Austrian veterans, to the number of four thousand, had been invited
to the fête. To the strains of military music they marched past the
stand of the sovereigns, and afterwards took possession of a number of
spacious tents, set apart for their special use. There were military
sports at frequent intervals throughout the day.

They opened with foot races, after which came races with small Eastern
horses, after the manner of the Barbary horses that contest for speed
in the Corso in Rome. In an open-air circus, the trick-riders and
acrobats of Bach, who are the rivals of Franconi and Astley of London,
performed all kinds of exercises on foot and on horseback. Further
on, the Turnplatz was occupied by young men who, to the delight of
the spectators, went through a series of gymnastics. To the left of
the palace, on a magnificent greensward, there stood a pole a hundred
feet high, surmounted by a huge wooden bird with outspread wings. It
served as a target to a company of Tyrolese archers, experts with the
cross-bow. The prize was a beautiful silver-gilt vase. It was hotly
contested for, and finally fell to a son of the celebrated Tyrolese
Hofer.

Finally, an enormous balloon rose in the air. The aeronaut’s name
was Kraskowitz, and he proved a worthy emulator of Garnerin and
Blanchard, for a short time after his ascent he soared majestically
above the crowd, waving a number of flags of the various nations whose
representatives had forgathered in Vienna.

An hour later, the aeronaut, after a unique view of a splendid scene,
came gently down in the island of Lobau, the spot connected with one of
the remarkable military feats of modern history.

Then there was an interruption of the games. Sixteen large tables
were spread on a vast lawn, the four thousand veterans sat down to a
profusely served repast, while from several bandstands, decorated with
standards and panoplies of war, there uprose the strains of military
symphonies. In another part of the park, four elegantly decorated tents
in which companies of Bohemians, Hungarians, Austrians, and Tyrolese
respectively, in the picturesque dresses of their countries, performed
national dances to the sound of their own particular instruments,
diversified by their patriotic songs.

The sovereigns during the whole of the time wandered about, unescorted,
taking stock of everything, and chatting familiarly with the veterans,
many of whose faces were absolutely riddled with scars. There was
something patriarchal in their thus mingling with the crowd, which eyed
them curiously, respectfully following them everywhere.

When night fell, a hundred thousand lamps converted the Augarten
into a blaze of light, and then there were magnificent fireworks in
front of the palace. The principal pieces represented the monuments
of Milan, Berlin, and St. Petersburg. There was an immense crowd in
the avenues of the Augarten, but at no moment was order disturbed in
the slightest. This popular rejoicing was marked by a serious and
thoughtful calm, for which the German character alone, perhaps, can
offer a model.

At the termination of the fireworks, the sovereigns strolled through
the streets, and were everywhere hailed with unanimous cheers. Then the
entire Court repaired to the theatre of the Carinthian Gate to witness
the performance of the ballet _Flore et Zéphire_. All the palaces,
mansions, and private dwellings were most brilliantly illuminated; and
‘transparencies,’ bearing enthusiastic mottoes, had not been spared.
Dancing and music went on throughout the whole of the night; it was,
in fact, an uninterrupted scene of magnificence and happiness. Joy
prevailed everywhere, a joy due less perhaps to the fête that had been
offered to the people than to the hope of a durable peace, the price of
which had been paid by many years of constant sacrifices.



CHAPTER V

  The Prater--The Carriages--The Crowd and the Sovereigns--The
      Sovereigns’ Incognito--Alexander Ypsilanti--The Vienna
      Drawing-Rooms--Princesse Bagration--The Narischkine Family
      --A Lottery.


I had promised to meet Alexander Ypsilanti in the grand avenue of the
Prater, and at the appointed time I was there. To me the beautiful spot
teemed with delightful recollections; each scene reminded me of a fête,
of a love-tryst, or of a meeting with friends, of dreams, of hopes, of
illusions, perhaps gone for ever.

During a long pilgrimage in my younger days, I have seen all the
renowned public promenades of Europe, and everywhere the people
maintained that the one adorning their own capital was superior to
any other. I have always preferred the Vienna Prater to the Bois de
Boulogne, to Kensington Gardens, to the Wood at the Hague, to the
Cascines of Florence, and to all the other vaunted resorts whether at
Moscow, Petersburg, or Constantinople; for in the first-named spot are
united the beauties of nature that delight the eye, and the sight of a
happy condition, comforting and refreshing to the soul.

The Prater abuts on the faubourgs of Vienna. It is situated on one of
the islands of the Danube, which virtually constitutes its boundary.
It is throughout planted with century-old trees, affording a majestic
shade, and preventing the huge greensward from being scorched by the
sun. It is crossed in every direction by imposing avenues. As at
Schönbrunn, and at the majority of like resorts in Germany, herds
of deer browse peacefully on the heights or disport themselves in
the flatter parts, thus imparting life and motion to the delicious
solitude. These are properly the aspects of a mild and virgin nature,
but at the same time they are embellished by all the resources of
cultivation and art. To the left of the Prater, on entering it from the
city, there is an immense lawn, set apart for the display of fireworks;
to the right there is a circus capable of accommodating several
thousands of spectators; facing one, a large avenue of chestnuts,
bordered on each side by elegant constructions, including a number
of shops, cafés, and casinos where the Viennese can indulge to their
hearts’ content in their well-known love for music.

In the avenue of chestnuts, constantly filled with sumptuous carriages
and with riders managing their mounts of all breeds with that peculiar
Hungarian skill, the wealth and display of all the neighbour-states
of Austria seem to have forgathered. The emperor himself drives an
unpretending ‘turn-out’ with the simplicity of a well-to-do tradesman
bent upon an airing; while a hackney-cab, taken by the hour, and
fearing no competition, gets right into his imperial majesty’s road,
and is itself overtaken by the vehicle of a Bohemian magnate or by
a Hungarian palatine tooling a four-in-hand. In a lightly-built
_calèche_, drawn by horses with manes streaming in the breeze, are
seated women with complexions like lilies and roses, and presenting the
appearance of baskets of flowers. The constant variety of the scenes,
the animation of the pedestrians, the general bustle, increased by the
presence of numberless strangers, but tempered by the constitutional
gravity of the Germans themselves, constitute a most lovely and
stirring picture; it is a scene by Teniers, framed in a landscape by
Ruysdael.

The life of the Viennese in the Prater is a pretty faithful image of
their own government, a despotic government, no doubt, but which, for
all that, has only one aim--the welfare and material prosperity of the
country. Differing from other states, and notably from France, whose
administration, constantly libelled and insulted, takes its revenge by
making the ‘governed’ its enemy, the public powers in Austria, subject
to no control, assiduously endeavour to be the protector and the guide
of the people. That protection is accepted with joy; and if despotism
is now and again constrained to show its teeth, its dictates are, as it
were, carried out in the family circle and with the lesser or greater
consent of the calm and thoughtful people itself. Consequently, the
alien, watching them under those magnificently umbrageous pleasure
resorts, and beholding the emperor, his family, and his ministers
mingling with the crowd, unprotected either by guards or escorts, is
tempted to envy them such a genuine and solid happiness.

During the period of the Congress the Prater became more brilliant than
it had ever been before. Vienna was so full of strangers, coming from
all countries to be the eyewitnesses of an assembly supposed to be the
fitting termination to an epoch replete with prodigious events, that
the number of carriages had incredibly increased. There was an infinite
variety of dresses, Hungarian, Polish, and Oriental, an infinite number
of uniforms whose wearers hailed from every part of Europe, and who
dazzled the sight with their splendour. Masses of people, driving,
riding, and walking under the still warm rays of an autumn sun,
imparted to the beautiful spot even more than its ordinary animation.

What struck me most, at the first sight, was the great number of
carriages of the same shape and colour, and all drawn by two or four
horses. It was simply the result of another exquisitely courteous
attention of the emperor, who made it a point that the sovereigns and
the members of their suites should be provided solely from the imperial
stables, and as such ordered three hundred conveyances of an identical
form to be built and to be held, day and night, at the disposal of his
guests.

This living panorama enabled me to review, in the space of a few
minutes, all the sovereigns and celebrities contained within the walls
of Vienna. A prominent figure among these was Lord Stewart, the English
ambassador, himself driving a team of four horses which would have won
the approval of the _habitués_ of Hyde Park. Almost immediately behind
him, in an elegant chaise, came the Emperor Alexander, his charming
sister the Duchess of Oldenburg seated next to him; while on one side
of the conveyance Prince Eugène de Beauharnais, and on the other the
Crown Prince of Würtemberg, both on horseback, pay their court, though
for different motives, to the illustrious pair. Alexander had dispensed
with all his decorations, except one, that of ‘l’Épée’ of Sweden,
which, to speak the truth, shone with great elegance and brilliancy
on his dark green uniform. A little further on, in an open _calèche_,
I caught sight of Alexander’s second sister, the Grand-Duchess of
Saxe-Weimar, no less charming and graceful than her elder. Following
these comes Emperor Francis in an unpretending phaeton, accompanied
by his young and sweet consort, his third wife, Marie Louise of
Austria-Este, her comely features beaming with happiness.

At that moment, the crowd of pedestrians instinctively stops with a
feeling of pride and respect to watch Prince Charles (of Bavaria)
himself driving his family in an unpretentious conveyance.

Zibin, dressed in his brilliant uniform of hussars, is borne along
swiftly on a Ukrainian charger; his hat is surmounted by a plume
of feathers which might easily be mistaken for the tail of a
hirsute comet. The grand berline, with its panels decorated with
large--somewhat too large--scutcheons, contains Sir Sidney Smith,
conspicuous by the liberal display of his quarterings amidst this
very modest company. The King of Prussia gallops with a solitary
aide-de-camp, and close to him come the Prince of Hesse-Homburg and
Tettenborn, to both of whom I send a fraternal salute.

Lord Castlereagh showed his long-drawn face, with _ennui_ stamped on
every line of it, from a _coupé_. It did not even light up when a
hackney-cab ran into the _calèche_ of the Pasha of Widin. After this
came the carriages of the archdukes, keeping religiously in line, and,
as far as their amusements went, claiming no privileges beyond those of
simple private individuals. ‘Only using their rights when discharging
the duties attached to them,’ as Mme. de Staël expressed it.

At the turning of an avenue, I caught sight of Alexander Ypsilanti.
Five years had gone by since our parting at St. Petersburg, when he was
only an ensign in the regiment of the ‘Chevaliers Gardes,’ and now he
was a major-general, covered with well-earned orders, but minus an arm
lost at the battle of Bautzen. We strolled away from the crowd, the
better to enjoy the pleasure of our re-union. His good fortune had not
changed the qualities of his heart, ever open to noble feelings and
ever responsive to the words ‘friendship’ and ‘country.’ He was the son
of the Hospodar of Moldavia and Wallachia.[50] His father, overthrown
by one of those palace revolutions so frequent in Turkey, was obliged
to fly. Alexander, who was only sixteen, placed himself at the head of
a troop of Arnauts of eight hundred men, escorted his father across
the Carpathian mountains, and saved his life when escaping from the
eunuchs of the seraglio. He came to seek refuge in Russia. Educated
and brought up under the care and through the generosity of Emperor
Alexander, the young prince entered his service, and in a short time
opened a brilliant career for himself. His generous disposition, his
bold and enterprising mind, his open character strongly appealed to
me, and we became close friends. As a matter of course, we wished to
prolong the pleasure of this, practically our first meeting after many
years, so we went to dine at the tavern named the ‘Empress of Austria.’
This was the usual resort of most of the strangers who were not on
the budget of the Court or who wished to avoid the etiquette almost
inseparable from its hospitality. This gathering, almost unnoticed
at first, became soon afterwards a kind of debating centre, and had,
if not a voice in the deliberations of the Congress, at any rate, a
certain importance.

We took our seats at a table, already occupied by at least a score of
diners belonging to various nations. In spite of the difference of
interest and of position in a country distant from their own, strangers
were most eager to associate with each other: generals, diplomatists,
and simple travellers were mingled together at this impromptu banquet.
Some were ordnance officers of the sovereigns that had come to shear;
others, advocates of those who were being shorn. The first part of
the repast was, as usual, rather serious; people were taking stock of
each other, and the music of an excellent band made up for the lack of
conversation. They all seemed bent upon a diplomatic reserve.

I was seated near young Luchesini, who had arrived a few days
previously, and who was sent to Vienna by the Grand-Duchess of Tuscany
to concert measures with M. Aldini on the subject of Mme. Bacciochi’s
claims on the grand-duchy and of the principality of Lucca.[51] I had
seen M. Luchesini when he was very young at his mother’s in Paris;
but for the moment I did not recognise him. The notable changes, both
in his fortunes and in his person, were sufficient to justify my
lapse of memory. His father, the Marquis de Luchesini, for many years
the Prussian ambassador at the Court of Napoleon, had enjoyed great
consideration in Paris,[52] a consideration well deserved in virtue of
his conspicuous diplomatic talent and his intellectual attainments as a
private individual. He had paid great attention to the education of his
son, who, endowed with all the advantages calculated to ensure success,
started in life under the most auspicious circumstances. Presented
by his family at the new Court of Tuscany, and attracting the notice
of the sovereign of the hour, he was appointed grand equerry. It was
said that love, which abridges social distances, had made the young
favourite the happiest of mortals. I soon discovered that his delicate
position somewhat tied his tongue in his conversation with me. He
informed me that his family was living on their beautiful estate near
Lucca, and after a few general observations, we exchanged addresses,
promising to meet again.

To the hundred thousand strangers in Vienna, the Congress was rather
an immense pleasure-gathering than a political assembly. Truly, each
sovereign had his ambassadors and ministers, but each country had
also sent representatives of its best society. Upon the first-named
devolved the discussions of international interest and the settlement
of international problems; upon the second the more pleasant duty
of giving fêtes, entertainments, and holding receptions. Among the
plenipotentiaries of this drawing-room diplomacy stood foremost the
Comtesse Edmond de Périgord for France; for Prussia, the Princesse de
la Tour et Taxis (Thurn und Taxis); for England, Lady Castlereagh; for
Denmark, Comtesse de Bernstorff.

The upper stratum of German society was divided into several factions
or circles, and each had its particular shade and physiognomy. At the
Princesses Marie Esterhazy’s, de Colloredo’s, de Lichtenstein’s, and
at the Comtesse de Zichy’s, great courtesy and grace were added to the
minutest and numberless details of an ever-watchful hospitality. At
Mme. de Fuchs’s, the whole was on a less ceremonious footing; while,
on the contrary, the acme of ceremoniousness was attained at the
Princesse de Fürstenberg’s. Distinguished both for her learning and
for her energy, the princess’s habitual guests were princes many of
whom had become subjects. The handsome Duchesse de Sagan’s receptions
were eagerly attended. She was a most intellectual woman, and could
have exercised great influence on all serious affairs, inasmuch as her
judgment was considered in the light of an authority, but she rarely
made use of her advantages. The diplomatic celebrities forgathered
at M. de Humboldt’s or at M. de Metternich’s, the latter of whom,
undoubtedly, ought to have been named first. In fact, though his
residence was the central point of affairs, he still found it possible
to welcome strangers with the most indefatigable politeness.

The Russian drawing-room _par excellence_ was that of the Princesse
Bagration, the wife of the field-marshal of that name. She, as it
were, enacted, though informally, the part of principal hostess to
her countrymen who happened to be in Vienna. She was one of the most
brilliant stars in that number of constellations the Congress had
attracted. She seemed to have been singled out by the charm and the
distinction of her manners to transfer thither the polished form
and the aristocratic ease which at that time made the drawing-rooms
of St. Petersburg the foremost of Europe. In that respect no
minister-plenipotentiary would have used his opportunities to better
purpose.

The Princesse Bagration, who since then has been much admired in Paris,
was at that period in the zenith of her beauty. A young face, white
like alabaster and slightly tinted with pink, small features, a sweet,
though very feeling expression, to which her short-sightedness gave an
air of timidity and uncertainty; of average height though exquisitely
proportioned, and the whole of her personality pervaded by a kind of
Oriental languor joined to an Andalusian grace--such was, without
exaggeration, the charming hostess entrusted that evening with the
amusement of those illustrious personages often as much bored as the
‘unamusable’ lover of Mme. de Maintenon.

When Prince Koslowski and I entered the drawing-rooms, the Emperor
Alexander, the Kings of Prussia and of Bavaria, several other princes
and sovereigns, and a considerable number of strangers of distinction
had already arrived. The whole of the Russian aristocracy and the
Russian celebrities at that moment forgathered in Vienna seemed to have
appointed to meet there. MM. de Nesselrode, Pozzo di Borgo, the Comte
Razumowski, Russian ambassador to the Austrian Court, and the Prince
Volkonski were simply a trifle more conspicuous than the rest; but
among this crowd of familiar faces I might well have fancied myself
transferred to one of the hospitable palaces of St. Petersburg four
years previously.

Among this crowd of notabilities, special mention should be made, in
virtue of their high position and their intellectual charm, of the
various members of the Narischkine family.

The Narischkines are closely related to the Imperial House of Russia.
The mother of Peter the Great was a Narischkine; hence they consider
themselves of an origin too noble to have any need of titles. In fact,
that of ‘prince’ is so common in Russia as scarcely to constitute
a distinction. The elder of the two brothers enjoyed the reputation
of being the wittiest man at the Court of Emperor Alexander. His
conversation was as varied as it was amusing, and a collection of his
witticisms and epigrams would make a bulky volume, though they were
neither as subtle nor as brilliant as those of the Prince de Ligne,
not to mention those of Talleyrand; but when by chance, during the
Congress, these three men were together, then, unquestionably, there
was a real display of intellectual fireworks.

His daughter, the Princesse Hélène, had, in addition to great physical
beauty, a naturally brilliant intellect and a noble, sympathetic heart.
She married the son of the famous General Souvaroff, but her husband
was drowned during a journey in Wallachia. In spite of the warning of
his post-boy, he insisted upon crossing the little river Rimnik when
it was swollen by the rains and had become a downright torrent. He was
carried away by the current, without the slightest possibility of any
one coming to his aid. At the time of Paul I.‘s death, the princess’s
father occupied an apartment exactly under that of the emperor; she
herself was a mere babe. Awakened by the noise and tumult that followed
the assassination of Catherine the Great’s son, her nurse took her
into her arms, and in her fear hid her in an isolated and disused
sentry-box, where she was only found next morning.

The grand-chamberlain had been a favourite with Paul and managed to
preserve the favour of his son Alexander. The footing on which he
lived baffles description: he literally kept open house, the stir and
bustle of which never ceased; one could have called it a caravanserai
of princes. The plants, the flowers, the constant song of birds,
conveyed the impression, even in mid-winter, of a spring day in Italy.
He was as generous as he was lavish, and his prodigality often reduced
him to sore straits. The following is one instance among many.
Emperor Alexander had given him the star of the Order of St. Andrew,
magnificently set in diamonds. Being pressed for money, he had raised a
considerable sum upon it; and when the empress’s fête-day came round,
he felt in a terrible predicament, for he was unable to redeem his
pledge and he could not appear without it in full dress at the palace.
The only ‘plaque’ like it was that of the emperor himself. At an utter
loss to get out of the difficulty, he got hold of the emperor’s valet,
and by dint of promises, cajoling and the like, prevailed upon the
servant to lend him his master’s decoration. The man got frightened,
however, at the possible consequences of what he had done and informed
the sovereign.

Alexander did not breathe a single word, but as a punishment did
not take his eyes off the ‘plaque’ during the whole of the evening,
examining it minutely through his glasses whenever his chamberlain drew
near.

M. Narischkine accompanied Empress Elisabeth on her journey from St.
Petersburg to Vienna. When Alexander entrusted him with the mission,
fifty thousand roubles in paper were handed to his chamberlain,
together with directions for the route to be followed. A few days
later, the emperor took Narischkine aside. ‘You had the parcel I sent
you, cousin mine?’ asked the emperor.

‘Yes, sire, I received and read the first volume of the Itinerary.’

‘Already? And you are waiting for the second?’

‘A second edition, sire, rather than a second volume.’

‘I see what you mean. A second edition, revised and augmented.’

The second edition was handed to him a couple of hours afterwards.

His brother, the ‘grand veneur’ (say, ‘Master of the Buck Hounds’),
was the husband of that magnificent Marie Antonia, _née_ Princesse
Czerwertinska, one of the loveliest women in Europe, who for such a
long period held captive the heart of the handsome autocrat. Though
not endowed with as much wit as his elder, the younger Narischkine was
by no means devoid of it. He proved it by the philosophic manner with
which he bore his conjugal misfortunes. Often, in his replies to the
emperor, he put them in a naïve and diverting light. It was not the
grovelling acquiescence of a man who glories in his dishonour, but the
resignation to an evil which he could neither prevent nor mend.

One day Alexander was asking him for news of his children. ‘Of mine,
sire, or of those of the Crown?’ was the counter-query.

On another occasion, there was a similar inquiry about his family and
about his two daughters. The emperor, meeting him, made some kindly
reference to them. ‘But, sire, the second is yours,’ replied the ‘grand
veneur.’ Alexander’s sole retort was a smile.

Of course, the satire of the elder, which spared nobody, was not
particularly lenient with regard to the younger. The latter took
great pains with his hair, which was always dressed and curled with
the utmost care. Some one having made a remark to that effect in the
hearing of the grand-chamberlain, got his answer pat. ‘It is not
surprising; my brother’s head is arranged by the hands of a master.’[53]

During this long liaison, and notwithstanding the sway handsome Mme.
Narischkine exercised over her illustrious lover, the latter was
ever careful to save appearances. Amidst those quickly succeeding
entertainments and receptions at the period of the Congress, during
that daily and hourly existence of often relaxed etiquette. Empress
Elisabeth would have been necessarily and frequently brought face to
face with her rival, and would naturally have felt the slight. Mme.
Narischkine did not appear at the Congress.

Close by the Emperor of Russia sat the Princesse de la Tour et Taxis,
_née_ Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and sister-in-law to the King of Prussia.
That sovereign had practically transferred to her all the affection he
bore to his lost wife: the princess had a remarkable influence over
him, and she never requested a favour in vain. Gifted with a superior
intellect, and a beauty that had become proverbial, though it did not
equal that of her dead sister, the princess, by her charming manners,
even more than her stately bearing, compelled instantaneous admiration
and genuine respect. Among the many distinguished personages assembled
in Vienna, she shone with unusual brilliancy in virtue of her combining
every good quality.

I was placed close to Prince Koslowski and the Baron Ompteda, and felt
confident that among so numerous a company ample material would be
afforded to them for their faculties of clever observation.

‘Just cast your eye behind the chair of Emperor Alexander,’
remarked the Baron to me; ‘and look at his brother, the Grand-duke
Constantine. He is the third personage of the empire, and probably
the heir-presumptive to the throne. Nevertheless, observe his servile
attitude, and the affectation with which, as it were, he proclaims
himself the Czar’s first subject. One would think him permeated
with the sentiment of submission as others are with the feeling of
liberty. Personally, I fail to understand this voluptuous enjoyment
of obedience. And now,’ he went on, ‘glance at that other personage
close to him; that is the young Prince de Reuss, the twenty-ninth of
the name. In his case, it’s a horse of a different colour. He has
tumbled or drifted into the dreamland of I do not know what kind of
German sect or school, and has become imbued with a sort of affected
sentimentalism calculated to spoil the most sterling and happiest gifts
of nature. This vague sentimentality, which he professes in and out of
season, inspires him with the strangest ideas. A few days ago, he wrote
to a lady, seated not far away from us: “Hope constantly renewed and
equally constantly destroyed only keeps one alive to languish suspended
like Mahomet’s coffin between heaven and earth. It is for you to decide
... it is a question of your love or my death.” He has not had the
one given to him, and he has taken good care not to inflict the other
upon himself. And thus, from sheer lightness of heart, people adopt
ridiculous fads, far often less pardoned by the world at large than
real faults. His uncle, Henri XV. or Henri XVI., the actual civil and
military governor of Vienna, is somewhat more positive. Frederick the
Great one day asked him if the princes of his house were numbered like
hackney-carriages. “No, sire, not like hackney-carriages, but like
kings,” was the answer. Frederick must have been somewhat embarrassed
at the reply; nevertheless it pleased him, as everything witty and
spontaneous did, and from that moment Prince Henri always enjoyed his
favour and goodwill.’

Shortly afterwards Prince Koslowski drew my attention to a lady placed
near Empress Elisabeth. It was the Comtesse Tolstoy, _née_ Princesse
Baratynski, the wife of the grand-marshal. Her mother belonged to the
Holstein family, and was a cousin once removed of Catherine II.

‘You are probably aware,’ he said, ‘that the marshal is in disgrace?’

‘Yes, prince,’ I answered; ‘but I do not know the cause.’

‘The cause is this. Tolstoy, emboldened by the emperor’s indulgent
manner towards him, thought fit now and again to adopt a tone of
remonstrance which few sovereigns would have tolerated. He opposed
him in almost everything. Alexander often laughed at his fretful
remarks; at rare intervals he got angry, and retaliated in his own way.
When both happened to be travelling in an open sledge and Tolstoy’s
cavilling put the czar out of patience, he simply gave him a push which
sent him sprawling in the snow, and left him to run for a few minutes
after the light conveyance. When he considered that the punishment had
lasted long enough, he pulled up his horses, and the marshal, grumbling
all the while, resumed his seat by the side of his master, and the
matter was at an end. Convinced that things would go on for ever in
that way, Tolstoy raised an opposition to Alexander’s appearance at
the Congress. According to him, the emperor’s rôle there would not be
consistent with his dignity. Weary at last, the emperor this time took
the matter seriously and parted with his grand-marshal, who, it is
said, will not be comforted in his disgrace. The moral of all this is:
“Put not your trust in the friendship of princes.”’

In fact, a little while afterwards, the Comte Tolstoy, unable to
survive the loss of his sovereign’s favour, died at Dresden, whither he
had retired.

All at once a great silence fell upon the room. A young French
actress, Mme. L----, a pupil of Talma, and a protégée of the Princesse
Bagration, was going to recite. She had only recently arrived from
Paris. Though French tragic poetry stands essentially in need of the
illusion of the stage and the advantage of costume, that kind of
entertainment was not indulged in so lavishly as it is to-day; hence,
the handsome actress commanded great attention. She recited with much
feeling some strophes from _Zaïre_, and did great credit to her tutor
in the beautiful scene of the ‘_Songe d’Athalie_.’ She was cordially
applauded and complimented, and never had a _débutante_ such an
audience to judge her.

After this, the guests crowded round a table set out with rich
and elegant objects. There was to be a lottery, a kind of elegant
diversion revived from the Court of Louis XIV., whose love for Mlle.
de la Vallière had first suggested it to him. Then, as now, it was
a favourite recreation with women. Each sovereign contributed to
these lotteries one or more presents, which, falling to the lot of
the lucky ones, afforded these an opportunity of presenting them to
the ladies of their thought. That kind of amusement was frequently
repeated during the Congress. The most remarkable lotteries were those
drawn at the Princesse Marie Esterhazy’s and at Mme. Bruce’s, _née_
Moushkin-Poushkine. The mania for them spread from the drawing-rooms
to less distinguished places, and subsequently became the cause of an
adventure which aroused much excitement.

Some of the prizes were magnificent, the Grand-duke Constantine won two
magnificent vases contributed by the King of Prussia from the royal
porcelain works at Berlin. He offered them to our charming hostess.
The King of Bavaria won a handsome box in mosaic, which he begged
Princesse Marie Esterhazy to accept; and the Comte Capo d’Istria
drew a casket beautifully worked in steel, which he presented to the
Princesse Volkonski. Two small bronze candlesticks fell to the share
of Emperor Alexander. He gave them to Mlle. L----, to whom, it was
said, he had become very attentive. ‘His majesty’s love affairs are not
likely to entail any considerable draft on the imperial treasury,’ some
one whispered close to me. ‘He had just made Mlle. L---- a present,
by means of the candlesticks, of a few louis. This must be accounted
as a piece of tremendous generosity, for as a rule he receives more
than he gives. All the linen he wears is from the deft needle of Mme.
Narischkine; he not only accepts the workmanship, but he always forgets
to refund to her the cost of the material. The charming favourite makes
no secret of it. Louis XIV. frequently crops up in conversation in
connection with his fêtes at Versailles. Our sovereigns would do well
to imitate them. However artistically chased those candlesticks may
be, Mlle. L---- will not be prepared to think them as valuable as the
diamond bracelets the Grand Monarque won at Madame’s lottery and which
he offered in such an exquisite manner to La Vallière.’[54]

‘All this,’ said Prince Koslowski to me, ‘is certainly in excellent
taste, but these fêtes are absolutely nothing in comparison with those
given by Potemkin to Catherine in the Taurida and after the taking of
Oczakoff. Our mothers are never tired of talking of them. There was
also a kind of lottery, but skill instead of chance presided at it. In
the ball-room there was a long row of marble columns, positively hung
with garlands composed of jewels and trinkets. The dances were arranged
so that every gentleman passing near these columns could detach from
them some precious ornament which he offered to his partner. As you
may imagine, that courtly fashion of offering presents was intensely
relished by the fair sex, and Catherine herself discharged their debt
of gratitude by heaping still greater riches on her favourite. That’s
what I should call amusements fit for sovereigns. After all, we are
becoming very mean.’

A great many prizes of minor importance were subsequently drawn for,
and there was a kind of mild ‘give and take’ in connection with them.
The room was so crowded that I only caught sight of Ypsilanti when he
came forward to receive a sable cape which he offered to the Princesse
Souvaroff. Taking advantage of a momentary thinning of the crowd, I
drew up to them to say a few words to Princesse Hélène, whom I was
sincerely pleased to meet again. ‘I dare say we have a lot to tell each
other,’ she said. ‘Come with Ypsilanti to luncheon to-morrow. We’ll be
more at our ease than here, and by ourselves. We’ll have a talk about
bygone days.’ I accepted gladly, confident that her conversation would
remind me of my stay in Russia, which constituted one of the best
periods of my life.

When the sovereigns had retired, there were some music and dancing,
followed by an elegant supper, without restraint and during which one
could gossip to one’s heart’s content. It was, in short, one of those
series of fleeting hours which at Vienna seemed to be woven of gold and
silk by fairies in the loom of pleasure.



CHAPTER VI

  The Castle of Laxemburg--Heron-Hawking--The Empress of Austria
      --A Royal Hunt--Fête at the Ritterburg--A Recollection
      of Christina of Sweden--Constance and Theodore, or the
      Blind Husband--Poland--Scheme for her Independence--The
      Comte Arthur Potocki--The Prince de Ligne and Isabey--
      The Prince de Ligne’s House on the Kalemberg--Confidential
      Chats and Recollections--The Empress Catherine II.--Queen
      Marie-Antoinette--Mme. de Staël--Casanova.


‘These sovereigns on their holidays,’ as the Prince de Ligne called
them, had to be constantly amused, or at any rate prevented at all cost
from being bored. The committee appointed by the emperor, and composed
of the most eminent personages of the Austrian Court, cudgelled their
brains to devise a new diversion for each day. They were, above all,
very busy with the preparations for the great imperial tournament
which, it was intended, should constitute a never-to-be-forgotten
feature of the brilliant functions of the Congress. The cut, the
shape, and the colour of the dresses were matters of incessant study;
the horses were drilled every day; the champions spent many hours
rehearsing the various movements and passes which were to remind all of
us of the ancient days of chivalry; the ladies tried on the magnificent
gowns and ornaments, the historical accuracy of which was to carry the
suffrages of everybody by pleasing the eye. But pending the termination
of those busy preparations, a big hunt had been organised in the woods
and park of the imperial residence, Laxemburg, and numerous invitations
issued.

Laxemburg is about six miles from Schönbrunn. The park is laid out
on English models. There are densely-wooded plantations at irregular
intervals, further on vast lawns leading to thick and sombre forests;
swelling tracts of ground ingeniously arranged, and masses of rocks;
everywhere the most varied and unexpected vistas. In one word, art has
combined in a restricted space the different beauties of nature. The
most conspicuous feature, though, is a magnificent piece of water, one
might call it a lake, the aspect of which reminds one of the landscapes
of Switzerland. On its limpid surface there lay at that period a
miniature frigate with its cannon, masts and rigging, and other small
craft, the brilliant bunting of which imparted life and colour to the
rippling, dancing wavelets.

Schönbrunn had been the object of Maria-Theresa’s predilection,
consequently Laxemburg had suffered as a residence at the cost of its
neighbour. Emperor Francis made up for the undeserved neglect. On a
slope some short distance from the lake, he erected the ‘Ritterburg,’
which has become one of the principal sights of Austria. It is an
exact imitation of one of the sombre castles or forbidding manors of
mediæval feudalism. The massive walls, flanked by crenellated towers,
are surrounded by a deep moat filled with water. The inner court, with
its pavilions, its barriers, the whole arranged for single combats and
tournaments, forms the lists. The halls are in keeping with the court;
they are filled with stands of arms, coats of mail, breastplates,
lances, etc. From its Gothic pillars hang panoplies; from its ogival
arches are suspended banners, their staffs adjusted amidst turbans,
richly embroidered, Oriental vestments, the spoil wrested from the
infidels; in short, the relics of the victories that saved Christianity.

In another hall are preserved weapons, dresses, and other venerable
remains of the heroes whose prowess founded the German Empire, of
Rudolph of Hapsburg, of Maximilian I., and of Charles V.

Still further on, there is a hall hung with the cloaks of the first
Knights of the Golden Fleece. In a hall leading out of that one stand
the white marble effigies of the emperors sprung from the House of
Austria. These are succeeded by a series of vast reception rooms,
several of which are most admirable in virtue of their decoration.
There is no longer an attempt at imitating the Gothic style; they are
filled with the marvels of art of the period itself--that is, the
masterpieces spared by the hand of time, most exquisite specimens
of sculpture, delicately-worked panels, whole ceilings. All these
precious relics were collected from the convents suppressed at the
period of the building of the ‘Ritterburg.’ Everything calculated to
heighten the illusion was conveyed to the ‘Ritterburg.’ In one spot
there is a narrow winding stair, leading to a dungeon, or rather a
torture-chamber, with its massive doors, its irons and chains, and even
its instruments of torture. Crouching against the further wall, there
is the figure of an ill-fated prisoner, dressed as a Knight Templar and
bending beneath the weight of his fetters. By some ingenious mechanism,
he slowly and painfully drags himself with an effort from his sitting
posture to hold out his arms to the spectator. The gruesome imitation
is so perfect as to produce a shudder in the beholder.

The topmost story of that tower is a spacious room called the Hall of
Judgment. Narrow ogival windows admit only a sparse light. Twelve stone
seats are ranged in a circle along the walls. In the centre there is
a round table with a circular hole in it, big enough to admit a human
head and no more. On the day of his trial the accused man was bound to
a chair; by means of a contrivance consisting of ropes and pulleys, he
was quickly raised to the summit of the tower, and suddenly his head
emerged from the hole in the board. Before the interrogatory, he was
asked the whole truth; he replied, knowing that at the slightest sign
from his judges the rope attached to his chair could be cut and he
himself be flung from a height of two hundred feet on to the stones of
his dungeon. Nothing could give a more striking idea of the terrible
‘proceedings’ of feudal justice in the Middle Ages than this mechanism.

The committee entrusted with the programme of the fêtes had, it was
said, entertained the idea of giving a representation of a judiciary
ascension as described; the scene had even been cast. The Empress of
Austria was, however, of opinion that such a picture of anguish and
torture would only mar the brightness of the fête she was preparing for
her guests.

The chapel of the ‘Ritterburg’ is not the least of its curiosities. It
is the same which was constructed by St. Leopold in the twelfth century
at Kloster-Neuburg. The materials were transferred piecemeal to its
present site, and the monument is in perfect keeping with all those
relics of past days.

Among the many works of art in the Castle of Laxemburg itself, there
are several paintings by Canaletto; amongst others views of Schönbrunn,
of the Graben, and the Church of the Capuchins.

Maria-Theresa came now and again to Laxemburg to exchange the cares of
state for the relaxations of hawking. The ‘Ritterburg’ had not been
built then.

When, amidst the difficulties of finding new recreations, the fêtes
committee conceived the project of bringing the guests of the Congress
to Laxemburg and entertaining them there, the idea of ‘flying’ the
hawk naturally presented itself. In the vicinity of that Gothic castle
nothing could be more in harmony with the style of its construction
than an amusement borrowed from the traditions and manners of the
feudal ages.

The place of meeting was on the banks of the lake, not far from a
marshy spot tenanted by numerous flocks of water-birds. Foremost among
the company was the lovely Empress of Austria, famed for her love of
sport and her marvellous skill, the graceful Elizabeth, Empress of
Russia, Queen Caroline of Bavaria, her sister, and a number of ladies,
several of whom wore the elegant costume of the sixteenth century.
At the head of the sovereigns on horseback was Emperor Francis,
unflaggingly hospitable. Amidst them, in a low-wheeled _calèche_, is
the enormous King of Würtemberg, famed for his former hunts and hunting
exploits, and anxious to witness tranquil amusement, altogether unlike
the fatigues and perils he was wont to court.

The huntsmen in their handsome uniforms, holding their dogs in leash,
come first; then come the falconers with their hooded birds on their
wrists, and behind these the eager mass of spectators.

At a spot where the reeds and rushes impede the view of the lake, there
is a halt, and the dogs’ leashes are slipped to start the birds. The
air rings with barking, and all eyes are strained upward in expectation
of the struggle, somewhat novel to the majority. All of a sudden, a
grey-plumaged heron takes its flight, at first slowly, heavily, and
with listless movement; then spreading its wings it rises rapidly. At
the sight of the bird, promising not an easy victory but a protracted
struggle, the falconers get ready, encouraging _their_ birds with their
cries, awaiting a signal from the empress to give the first pursuer
flight.

The signal is given, and in the twinkling of an eye the hood is removed
from one of the hawks and it is set free. The falconer points to the
fleeing heron, the impatient hawk shakes its pinions, utters a cry, and
quick as lightning soars aloft. The affrighted heron tries in vain to
rise higher than his pursuer, but the latter directs its flight in such
a manner as to be constantly hovering above its quarry. Each attempt of
the heron meets with a counter-move on the part of the hawk, compelling
its victim to descend. If the heron shows signs of returning to the
starting-point where the hunters are, the hawk, swift as a flash, bars
its progress in that direction and forces it to take the opposite one;
it keeps worrying the other bird, tiring it and practically dazzling it
by the repeated beating of its pinions, until it finally brings it back
to the point within an easy view of the spectators of the struggle.
The heron at length determines upon resistance. Steadily pursuing its
course, and apparently motionless, it presents its long bill, sharp
like a sword, to its foe. The hawk, on its part, decides upon attack.
Rapidly wheeling round and round the heron, it lowers its flight, then
re-ascends and all at once grips the flanks of its victim. Then begins
a veritable struggle at close quarters, with all its fury and all its
rapidly changing incidents.

The heron has the first advantage; it aims a terrible stroke at its
adversary, piercing it between the neck and one of its pinions as
if with a dagger. The hawk, nevertheless, clings to the heron and
rends the latter’s flesh with its beak. The heron quickly follows up
its strokes; compelled to fight and at the same time to carry the
weight of its foe, it multiplies its attack without getting rid of
its assailant, and the blood of both stains their plumage crimson. In
spite of this, the hawk looks like getting the worse of it. There is a
longer interval between its attacks, which are neither as fierce nor
as sure as heretofore, and the victory bids fair to remain with the
heron, when the falconer despatches a second hawk from among those
which, though hooded up to now, seem aware of the struggle going on,
to judge by the flapping of their wings and the sudden stiffening of
their feathers. The freshly-despatched combatant is a hen-bird, easily
recognised by its beautiful brown plumage, for it is noteworthy that
among this species the females are bigger, stronger, and bolder than
the males. No sooner is the hood removed than the female rises into the
air and, disdaining all preliminary evolutions, fastens its beak into
the neck of the heron. The air is rent by the cries of the hunters,
the barking of the dogs, and the braying of the horns. The heron’s
resistance is, from that moment, useless. The new assailant virtually
smothers it, and, moreover, digs its claws into the heron’s back, while
the male, its strength revived by the timely aid of the female, renews
its attacks. It becomes merely a question of seconds with the ill-fated
heron. After a few spasmodic movements, rendered uncertain by the loss
of blood, it finally closes its eyes and drops to the earth. The two
hawks utter screeches of victory, tear their victim’s eyes out, and
without letting go of it for a moment, drag it to the falconer’s feet.

According to the ancient usages of the chase, a huntsman stepped
forward at that moment, and, plucking from the heron’s neck its fine
and elegant plumage, constituting as it were a natural aigrette, he
handed it to Emperor Alexander, who, in his turn, immediately offered
it to the lovely Empress of Austria. The horns sounded ‘the death,’
while the birds devoured their quarry, and the illustrious guests
crowded round the falconers to compliment them.

This, after all, was only the prelude to a more important sporting item
of the programme. Every care had been taken to ensure its success. The
signal for a new start was given, and we moved towards another part of
the park, where on an immense lawn surrounded by trees a vast arena
had been arranged for the guns. At one side there was a circular stand
for the guests of the Court. The sovereigns and the high personages in
whose honour the entertainment was given took up their positions, each
one provided with four pages charged with loading the guns, in order to
spare the principals the slightest fatigue.

The general beating-up had taken place on the previous night. At the
word of command from the empress the circle of beaters drew in, and
at the same moment from all the outlets of the wood, there emerged a
numberless quantity of wild-boars, deer, hares, and game of all kind,
which in a few moments were killed by the privileged marksmen, amidst
the general applause of the lookers-on.

My friends and I had taken up our positions a little distance away
from the Empress of Austria, who was using only a musket, loaded with
ball, and who aimed exclusively at hares or small game, which she never
missed.

This file-firing, or rather this kind of slaughter, only ceased when
the number of animals killed amounted to several thousands. Once
more the forest rang with the barking of the dogs, the cries of the
spectators, mingled with the sound of hunting-horns. The ground
literally disappeared under the heaped-up game, its blood still
trickling. Truly, after the noble struggle we had just witnessed, it
became difficult not to admit that the amusements of our fathers were
superior to ours.

Ypsilanti seemed surprised at the remarkable skill of the Empress
of Austria, and at the steadiness of her aim. Without for a moment
wishing to detract from either, I told him what I had seen in the
arsenal at Stockholm, namely, a long carabine which was loaded with a
single pellet of the smallest shot, and with which, it is said, Queen
Christina amused herself by bringing down the flies on the walls of her
rooms without ever missing one.

Soon after the termination of the sport, night set in rapidly.
Suddenly, as if at the touch of a magic wand, the lawn and the avenues
of the park were lighted up by enormous ‘pitch-pots,’ known in Turkey
as _machala_, the blaze of which carries very far. At the same
moment, the inside of the ‘Ritterburg’ was illuminated from roof to
basement for the reception of the illustrious guests who were going
to assemble there. When Emperor Francis constructed the castle as an
exact illustration of the ideas prevailing during the feudal era, he
certainly did not foresee the forgathering under its roof in one day
of such a number of illustrious personages, from emperors to knights.
Though only those provided with invitations had been admitted to
Laxemburg, their number was so great as to make perambulation in the
various halls and reception rooms exceedingly difficult. The animated
crowd, and the profusion of light constituted the strangest and most
striking contrast to the sombre arches, the panoplies, the dresses and
the ornaments of mediæval times.

The lovely imperial hostess did the honours of the feudal manor with
her usual grace. A magnificent collation was served, to which succeeded
a concert of a peculiar kind. In a corner of the principal hall
there was an enormous organ; its construction, sound, and ornaments
faithfully recalling the machines with brass pipes and bellows with
which the piety of our forefathers provided the cathedrals of the
Middle Ages. The deep tones of the organ were accompanied by a band
of wind instruments, played by musicians expressly brought from
Bohemia, where instrumental music appears to have reached perfection.
To complete the illusion, they had selected some of the old national
melodies, the traditions of which have been preserved for centuries.
In the intervals, huntsmen, placed on a tower overlooking the castle,
played hunting tunes that sounded like an echo coming from the skies.

On several occasions during previous concerts, I had noticed a young
man whose eyes were covered with a black bandage, and who was guided
through the crowd by a young lady with an elegant figure, but whose
face was hidden by a thick veil. This time they were close to the
organ, and they evidently enjoyed the music greatly. I asked the Comte
François de Palfi who were these young people, imparting an air of
sadness to a fête rather than partaking of its joys.

‘That young man,’ he answered, ‘is the Comte Hadick, the young woman is
his wife, and their story is most interesting.

‘Bound by a very close friendship, additionally cemented by long and
important services to each other, the Comtes Hadick and Amady made up
their minds to tighten these bonds still further by uniting in marriage
their children, who were about the same age. Théodore Hadick, the
only offspring of the illustrious family, was in consequence brought
up with young Constance, who from her infancy bade fair to be as kind
in disposition as she was beautiful in face and figure. At fifteen
the feelings of these two young people were already what they would
continue to be all their lives. The castles of the two magnates were
practically adjacent to each other. Constance, by being present at
the lessons of her young friend, easily learned all those exercises
calculated to impart both bodily and mental gracefulness without being
hurtful to beauty. What united them still more was their passionate
fondness for music, which passion appears innate with the Hungarians.
They were held up everywhere as models of perfection and virtue, and
their fathers were already discussing the time of their wedding, when
the war broke out.

‘As you are aware, the laws of Hungary compel every noble personally
to fight for his country; and in the periods of great danger, when
the whole of the nation rushes to arms, the magnates march with their
banners at the head of their vassals. The Comte Hadick, jealous for
the honour of his house, was very anxious for his son to share the
forthcoming campaign. Constance, hiding her grief, and solely occupied
with the future and the glory of her betrothed, watched with great
courage the preparations for a parting which the chances of war might
prolong and render eternal.

‘Theodore, impatient to devote himself to his country, hurried the
moment that was to afford him the chance of showing himself still
more worthy of the girl whom he loved, and the day of his departure
was finally fixed upon. The previous evening, though, the betrothal
took place at the castle, and it was with the certainty of Constance’s
hand that the young count at the head of his vassals went to join the
Hungarian army at Pesth. You know the result of the campaign. The
Hungarians kept up their reputation for brilliant valour. Théodore, in
virtue of several signal actions, deserved the cross conferred upon him
by the chapter of the Order of Maria-Theresa, a distinction considered
one of the foremost in the annals of chivalry.

‘But while the young man supped full with glory, Constance had been
carried to the brink of the grave by a cruel illness. Stricken down
by an attack of most virulent smallpox, she hovered for a long time
between life and death. The doctors, while saving her, could not
prevent the face which had been one of the most beautiful from becoming
almost hideous. She was only allowed to look at herself when she was on
the high road to recovery.

‘The sight, as you may imagine, filled her with despair, and, convinced
that Théodore could no longer love her under such conditions, she
ardently prayed for death.

‘In vain her father and the Comte Hadick tried to reassure her. Haunted
by the horrible dread of being no longer worthy of her betrothed,
she refused to be comforted, and the young girl was simply dying of
despair, there being not the faintest hope left.

‘Nevertheless, one morning, when she was nestling in the arms of
her father, who bade her live at least for him, the servant who had
accompanied Théodore to the war suddenly rushed into the apartment,
announcing the immediate coming of his master, whose voice, a moment
afterwards, was heard outside.

‘“Constance, Constance, where art thou?”

‘At that voice so dear to her, the young girl, lacking the courage to
fly, covered her face with her handkerchief and her hands.

‘“Do not come near me, Théodore, I have lost my beauty. I have no
longer anything to offer thee but my heart.”

‘“What do I hear? But look at me, Constance!”

‘“No, no, thou wouldst only recoil at seeing me.”

‘“What does it matter, if thy love is the same, Constance. Constance, I
can no longer see thee.”

‘She raises her eyes and looks. Théodore was blind. The charge of a
musket had deprived him of his sight.

‘“God be praised!” exclaimed Constance, falling on her knees.
“Théodore, we shall be united, for thou canst still love me. I shall be
thy guide; yes, I shall be to thee as I was in the first moments of our
love, and thou shalt be able to love me still.”

‘Shortly after that they were married. Never was there a couple so
deserving of happiness more really happy than they. The comtesse takes
her husband everywhere, never leaving his side for a moment. He is
the object of her most delicate attentions; her love for him seems
increased by his terrible affliction. She does not wear that veil to
hide her scarred features, but because she is afraid that the remarks
of the crowd on her vanished beauty may sadden the heart of the husband
whom she worships.

‘The young comte’s passion for music appears to have increased since he
lost his sight. He regularly attends every concert; and his faithful
companion, who appears only to live for him, is always at his side.’

The concert came to an end just as the comte finished his touching
story. Then the windows were opened and magnificent fireworks let
off on the lake. The sheaves of fire crossing each other and being
reflected in the water; the numerous craft, illuminated and streaming
with bunting; the masses of light standing in relief against the sombre
background of the forest; the sound of the horns mingling with the
shells and fusees--all this combined produced a truly magical effect.

Finally, after this well-spent day we began to think of getting back
to Vienna, probably to recommence next morning the pursuit of the
apparently inexhaustible round of pleasure.

The next day, however, I had promised to spend with the Prince de Ligne
at his house on the Kalemberg. When I got there, I found the prince in
company with M. Nowosilitzoff, a Russian statesman of great ability
and a trusty adviser of Emperor Alexander, who, it was said at the
time, was deeply interested in the future of Poland. The constitution
of that country, its organisation and its institutions, which were
to reinstate her in her former rank among the European nations--in
short, her destiny--was one of the gravest questions submitted to
the deliberations of the Congress. A most confidential councillor of
the czar and a member of the provisional government of Warsaw, M.
Nowosilitzoff was at that period engaged in drawing up the constitution
intended by the czar for his new kingdom.

The Prince de Ligne professed an ardent sympathy for Poland. He admired
her chivalrous and hospitable customs, and above all that frankness
which forms the chief trait of the Polish character. Added to this
admiration was his gratitude to a nation which had formerly admitted
him among the ranks of its nobility. Consequently, he sat listening
attentively to the projects of Alexander, projects which just then
inspired a certain belief. As for me, the subject appealed to me like
everything connected with the country in which I spent some of the best
years of my youth.

‘After so many unprecedented efforts, after so many disappointed hopes
and useless sacrifices, Poland bids fair to breathe at last,’ said
M. Nowosilitzoff. ‘Deceived for many years by the man who had the
misfortune to consider his will as a ruling principle, his power as
a proof of his statesmanship, and his success as a reason for it, the
Poles were not altogether unjustified in believing in promises tending
to reinstate them as a nation.’

‘There is no nation on the face of the earth who would not have made
the same sacrifices for so noble an illusion,’ remarked the prince.

‘No doubt, but constantly letting their thoughts run back, as they do,
to the brilliant periods of their history, they would fain see their
country assume the proud and independent attitude it adopted under the
Bathoris, the Sigismunds, and the Sobieskis; and in this beautiful
dream of the past, and, moreover, deceived by the actual state of
politics in Europe, they will not stop their ambition at the point
imposed by their geographical position. They will only find a country
in the strictest sense through us and with us,’ the councillor went
on. ‘Poland, completely independent and organised on the very risky
basis of its erewhile constitutions, would only secure an ephemeral
existence; she would carry her own germ of destruction. Is she to form
a permanent camp in the centre of pacified Europe, or shall she arm all
her nomadic sons like the Sarmatians of old, in order to make up by
living ramparts for the natural frontiers and fortresses she lacks? She
must have a support in order to insure her independence. Truth, I know,
can only triumph slowly over the power of prejudice; but what is there
to oppose the fact which henceforth is only too palpable? The hope
of a better future, a hope which can only be indulged by unthinking
creatures whom the disasters of their country have failed to restore to
reason and coolness of mind.’

‘Burke has said somewhere,’ replied the prince, ‘that the division of
Poland would cost its authors very dear; he might have said the same of
the defenders of the nation, for it is probable that the active share
of Napoleon in the affairs of Poland has contributed in no small degree
to his downfall. May the projects of Alexander remain exempt from a
similar fatality! Everything will depend upon the guarantees given
for the maintenance of the Polish nationality! A people may resign
itself to having been vanquished; it will never resign itself to being
humiliated.’

‘The solicitude of the emperor for his new subjects admits of no
discussion,’ observed M. Nowosilitzoff. ‘To be convinced of this,
you have only to glance at this manuscript. It is the draught of the
Constitution of the Kingdom of Poland, and it is corrected by the
hands of Alexander himself. If it be true that great thoughts proceed
direct from the heart, there is ample evidence here of the nobleness of
Alexander’s. The laws and the constitution of the kingdom will be the
keystone of the peace of Europe.’

In fact, the few pages he read to us from the manuscript redounded as
much to the honour of the statesman as to that of the philanthropist.
Poland would indeed have been a happy country, if an erroneous policy
had not struck all those dreams of a moment with utter barrenness.[55]

The commentary of M. Nowosilitzoff, which followed upon the reading
of the document, was interrupted by the arrival of the Comte Arthur
Potocki, the youthful friend of the Prince de Ligne. Though a Pole,
and animated by the most generous feelings towards his country, his
presence vexed the privy councillor to such an extent as to cause him
instantly to roll up his manuscript without adding another word, and to
leave us shortly afterwards.

The Comte Arthur Potocki, son of the Comte Jean of the illustrious
family of that name, and one of the best educated men in Europe, had a
noble face, an elegant figure, and a cultivated mind. At an age when
most men spend their time in pleasure and frivolous pursuits, he was
conspicuous for a sterling judgment, a wide knowledge, and the most
exquisite politeness. It is not surprising then that he was one of
the most notable men in Vienna society, and eminently fit to occupy
a similar position everywhere. The Prince de Ligne was very fond of
Arthur, whom he called his Alcibiades, and who in his turn worshipped
the bright and witty octogenarian, so indulgent to young men.

‘Everything has been finally arranged for the imperial _carrousel_
(musical ride), which is irrevocably fixed for next week,’ said
the young comte, ‘and I have brought you the tickets which the
Grand-Marshal Trauttmansdorff has told me to remit to you. It will be
one of the most brilliant spectacles ever witnessed. To-morrow night
everybody in Vienna laying claim to be somebody is going to the Court
to see the “living pictures” arranged by Isabey. They will be followed
by romances sung and enacted by the handsomest women of the Court, the
lovely Duchesse de Sagan, the Princesse Paul Esterhazy, the Comtesse
Zichy, and several of our most elegant fair ones. Do not fail to
come, gentlemen; you had better take advantage of the joyous hours.
It is rumoured that the Congress will terminate on the 15th December.
Good-bye, until to-morrow. Let the thought of the closing of the
Congress be with you every moment, as it is with me.’ Saying which, he
took his departure.

The prince reminded me that I had promised to spend a few hours with
him on that day at his house on the Kalemberg. Before going thither he
wished to go to Isabey’s to sit for his portrait, and he asked me to
accompany him.

‘During that hour of torture to me,’ he laughed, ‘you will have an
opportunity of looking at a series of portraits from his brush. Isabey
is the recorder of the Congress in pigments. And inasmuch as he is
almost as clever with his tongue as with his brush, you’ll not waste
your time.’

In a short time we reached the artist’s quarters in the Leopoldstadt.
The front of the house was provided with a barrier to prevent the
deadlock of the visitors’ carriages. Isabey’s arrival at Vienna had
been preceded by his deserved reputation.[56]

Presented by the Duc de Sérent to Marie-Antoinette, Isabey, at the age
of twenty, painted the portrait of the lovely and ill-fated queen,
who treated him with the utmost kindness, and always called him her
little Lorrain. Subsequently, having become the painter-in-ordinary of
Napoleon, he reproduced the features of all the celebrated men and all
the handsome women of the Empire. It was he who superintended the fêtes
of that brilliant and short-lived era.

At Vienna, all the European celebrities solicited the distinction
of reproduction by his brush, and he could scarcely comply with all
their requests. The number of portraits he painted at that period
is positively surprising, and supplies a proof of his talent having
been as fertile as it is graceful. Whenever there was a question of
organising this or that entertainment for which the Congress was the
pretext, the artist who had drawn the designs for Napoleon’s coronation
was, as may be imagined, considered in the light of a ‘God-send.’
Nothing was done without consulting him.

According to Isabey himself, it was M. de Talleyrand who had prompted
the idea of his going to Vienna; and art is indebted to that journey
for his remarkable and historical drawing of a ‘Sitting of the
Plenipotentiaries at the Congress.’

The fall of Napoleon deprived Isabey of nearly all his functions.
One day, in the study of the statesman who at that time was supposed
to have mainly contributed to that catastrophe, the artist spoke
regretfully of a restoration which, as far as he was concerned, spelt
ruin. On one of the walls of the room hung an engraving of the ‘Peace
of Munster,’ after Terburg. Pointing to it, Talleyrand said, ‘A
Congress is to be held at Vienna. Why not go there?’ The few words were
as a ray of light in the darkness to Isabey, and from that moment his
mind was made up. Talleyrand did more than give a hint. He gave him a
most cordial welcome, and proved a kindly and appreciative patron.

On Prince Eugène’s arrival in Vienna, one of his first calls was
upon Isabey. In his equivocal position, he felt only too glad to see
somebody reminding him of his younger days. The painter by his bright
recollections often dispelled the sadness of the prince. It was Eugène
who shortly afterwards took Isabey to Emperor Alexander. Isabey’s
conversation was always interesting, but it became positively sparkling
and historically valuable when recounting the marvellous details of the
coronation, which, as has been said, were arranged by him. Isabey was
not less delightful when recalling the familiar and every-day life at
Malmaison.

Already in 1812, during a tour through Germany, Isabey, being in
Prague, had made a sketch of the Prince de Ligne, which sketch he
carefully preserved and which hangs to this day (1830) in his studio.
Notwithstanding the seventy-and-eight years of the model, the sketch
shows the noble and delicately cut features which to the end were the
object of everybody’s admiration. At that period the Prince de Ligne
only knew Isabey by reputation. One morning he called upon the artist,
who happened to be out. But his album lay open near his easel. Instead
of leaving his card, the prince took up a pen and wrote a dozen
tripping and sparkling lines, describing Isabey’s talent, finishing up
with:

     ‘He constitutes as great an honour to art as to his country;
      And in virtue of this impromptu, I also am a painter.’

This tribute to Isabey’s talent on the part of the Prince de Ligne is
only one of the valuable testimonies contained in Isabey’s album. Every
important personage in Europe, ministers, generals, artists, ladies of
high degree, have equally considered it a pleasure to testify to their
admiration and their esteem.

Isabey had been quartered magnificently, like Benvenuto Cellini in
days of yore, at the Louvre. His studio, hung from floor to ceiling
with sketches, drawings, and portraits in a more or less advanced
stage of completion, impressed one with the idea of a magic lantern,
representing in turns all the notable personages who at that moment had
forgathered in Vienna.

The hour taken up with the prince’s sitting seemed short to me. Every
now and again the work was interrupted by this or that subtle remark
or lively reminiscence. The conversation ran principally on a little
adventure in connection with the game of ‘leap-frog,’ which caused
such a stir in Paris at the period of the Consulate, and which was
obstinately believed in, in spite of Isabey’s denials. Here it is in
its original version.

Bonaparte, as is well known, was in the habit of walking with his arms
crossed upon his chest, and his head slightly bent forward. Isabey was
at Malmaison, and he and some of the First Consul’s aides-de-camp were
having a game of leap-frog on the lawn. Isabey had already jumped over
the heads of most of them, when, at the turning of a path, he espied
the last player who, in the requisite position, seemed to be waiting
for the ordeal. Isabey pursued his course without looking, but took his
flight so badly as only to reach the other’s shoulders, and both rolled
over and over in the sand, and to Isabey’s consternation, his supposed
fellow-player turned out to be Bonaparte. At that period, Bonaparte
had probably not pondered the possibility of a ‘fall’; hence, it was
said, refractory at this first lesson, he got up, foaming at the mouth
with anger, and drawing his sword, pounced upon the unfortunate leaper.
Isabey, luckily for himself better at running than at leaping, took to
his heels, and jumping the ditches dividing the property from the high
road, got over the wall and never stopped until, breathless, he reached
the gates of the Tuileries. Isabey, it was added, went immediately
to Mme. Bonaparte’s apartments, and she, after having laughed at the
mishap, advised him to lie low for a little while. It was still further
reported that it wanted all Josephine’s angelic goodness of heart and
cleverness, besides her usual influence over Bonaparte, to appease
the latter’s anger and to obtain the painter’s pardon. Bonaparte at
that moment was only ‘Consul for Life,’ but people already foresaw the
Empire, and the section of Paris society which was not too well pleased
at the prospect of a possible return to former ideas naturally made the
most of the anecdote of Malmaison. The denials of Isabey, who took good
care to make short work of all the detailed rumours, found little or no
belief; the adventure was considered extremely diverting, and Isabey’s
contradiction of it had no effect.

In the course of our conversation with Isabey, the Prince de Ligne
pressed him very closely on the subject, as if the _definitive_ fall of
Napoleon sufficed to restore to Isabey all his freedom of speech and
all his frankness on the matter. Isabey, on the other hand, kept on
defending himself with no less energy.

‘That adventure of Malmaison,’ he said, ‘is an invention from
beginning to end. It is ridiculous, and one of those semi-historical
exaggerations which have grieved me more than I can tell. Napoleon
was made to play a part utterly at variance with his character. When
that story was bruited in Paris, I had not set eyes upon him for more
than six weeks. The moment I heard of it, and of the particulars with
which it was embellished, I went to St. Cloud. As soon as he saw me,
he came up to me, and I had no difficulty in convincing him that I had
no share in the matter; it really seemed to aim at ruining me for ever
in his estimation. He was exceedingly kind, and reminded me of the
well-known rejoinder of Turenne, when his valet struck him by mistake,
and apologised by saying he fancied it was a fellow-servant (called
George). “And supposing it had been George, there was no need to strike
so hard,” said Turenne. But,’ observed Isabey, ‘refuted or not, the
stories that pander to people’s spitefulness are repeated, and finally
remain as quasi-truths.’

‘Had I been in your place,’ said the prince, ‘I should not have taken
the trouble to refute the fable. If it had been attributed to me, I
should have accepted the part. It would have been rather interesting to
jump like that on the shoulders of him who so unceremoniously jumped so
well on the shoulders of others.’

Afterwards the conversation drifted to young Napoleon, whose portrait
we had admired a few days previously at Schönbrunn.

‘That child,’ said Isabey, ‘has only one thought occupying his mind,
the recollection of his father. One morning as he was sitting to me,
there was the sound of bugles; the Hungarian Guards were passing down
one of the courts. He immediately glides off his chair, runs to the
window, comes back, and taking my hand, says, “Here are papa’s lancers
going by.”’

The portrait of the Prince de Ligne was already sufficiently advanced
to enable one to judge of the likeness, and I complimented Isabey upon
it. All those who knew the admirable old man were struck with the
marvellously faithful reproduction of him as a whole.

In a few moments we gaily resumed the course of our little pilgrimage.
The Kalemberg is a hill overlooking Vienna, and offering a most
picturesque birdseye view of the city. The prince had established
his summer quarters there some years ago, dividing his time in the
delicious retreat between art, pleasure, and the delightful society his
fame constantly attracted thither.

On our way we chatted about the pastimes and diversions of Vienna, and
he gave me a rapid picture of them, for it could be said absolutely of
him what he said of Casanova: ‘Each word is a sketch, and each thought
is a book.’

‘Fitly to describe the fairy scenes succeeding each other here without
interruption would want an Ariosto, that magician of poesy,’ he said.
‘In fact, I shall not be surprised at the festal committee shortly
issuing a proclamation, to the sound of trumpets and through all the
towns and villages of the monarchy, promising a prize to the fortunate
man devising a new pleasure for the assembled sovereigns.’

‘Thoroughly to enjoy oneself in Vienna, prince, one ought to know
German somewhat better than foreigners as a rule know it,’ I answered.
‘Their want of familiarity with the language prevents them from
catching the subtle shades of the joys and manners of a class of the
population which, though not the foremost, is unquestionably not the
least interesting to study and to observe. In connection with this, I
may be permitted to quote the reply of Bacon to a young man, who, not
knowing any foreign language, consulted him on his plan of travels. “Go
to school, young friend, and don’t go travelling,” remarked Bacon.’

‘What would he have said to Metastasio, who, after living for twenty
years in Vienna, had not mastered as many words of German, which
quantity he considered sufficient to save his life in case of need?’
laughed the prince. ‘Besides, you find your own tongue the only one
adopted here, not only in society and at all the festive gatherings,
but also at all the conferences of the Congress. That much, indeed,
was due to its precision and its universal use. It was necessary to
establish a general means of communication between so many strangers;
without this the Congress would have become a Babel.’

‘And also, prince, because no language lends itself more easily to the
biting epigrams and sparkling repartees which are, as it were, like a
bottle of champagne that’s being “uncorked,”’ I replied. ‘The proof
of it is in your recent answer to the Baron de ----, when he told you
that the emperor had made him a general. “He has appointed you to be a
general, he could not make you one,” is a fair sample of the pliability
of French.’

Chatting like this about many trifles, which on his lips became
interesting subjects, the prince rapidly reviewed the foremost figures
of society, generals, statesmen, elegant women, etc.

‘This Congress, with its intrigues of all kinds hidden by fêtes, is
decidedly like Beaumarchais’ _La Folle Journée_. It is an imbroglio
with ever so many Almavivas and Figaros. As for the Basilios, one runs
against them at every turning. I sincerely trust people may not be
compelled to exclaim by and by with the joyous barber: “Whom, after
all, are they leading by the nose?”’

We soon got to the courtyard of his modest residence. The house was
small, but comfortable, and the prince might have easily realised the
wish of Socrates by filling it with true friends. It had been built on
the site of a monastery founded in 1628: Leopold rebuilt it after the
siege of Vienna; Joseph I. enlarged it; Joseph II. suppressed it. Since
then, the prince had bought it. On the front door was engraved his
favourite sentence:--_Quò res cumque cadunt, semper stat linea recta_.

‘I so thoroughly feel the barrenness of everything,’ he often said,
‘that there is no merit in my being neither envious nor spiteful, nor
vainglorious.’

He began by taking me into his garden. ‘I should fail in all the
traditions of ownership if I did not start by making you acquainted
with all the details of my principality. Inasmuch as my house with its
enclosure is scarcely more spacious than the domain allotted by the
people to the president of the loftily perched republic of San-Martino,
we’ll go the round of it in less time than an act of mental contrition
would take. Nevertheless, such as it is, the place enables me to escape
from the bustle of fêtes, from the fatigue of pleasure, and from the
crowd of majesties and highnesses. Here, and here alone, I am enabled
to enjoy my own society. I come here to get the fresh air, and to
recruit the strength I spend every evening on the incessant festivities
of the Congress.’

At the end of the garden, he opened the door of a pavilion, positively
suspended over the Danube, and from which the whole of Vienna could be
taken in at a glance.

‘This,’ he said, ‘is the spot whence John Sobieski started at the
head of his brave Poles, and with less than thirty thousand men saved
the empire by routing all the Ottoman forces of the Grand-Vizir
Kara-Mustapha. Sobieski’s faculty of instantly perceiving a situation
was so sure and so thorough that at the sight of the enemy’s
dispositions, he coolly said to the generals surrounding him that those
dispositions were defective, and that infallibly he would beat his
foes. It was impossible to say of him what is commonly said of kings,
namely, that they have won a battle personally, when they have only
looked at it from afar. They may have won the battle personally, but
not by their presence. Sobieski won his battles in person, and by his
presence.

‘I like the letter he wrote to the queen, his wife, on the day after
the victory, which was dated from the tent of the grand-vizir himself.
There is genuine greatness without the slightest admixture of false
modesty in the following words: “Let Christendom rejoice and give
thanks to the Lord; the infidels can no longer insult us by saying:
‘Where is now your God?’”

‘Sobieski had one of the greatest gifts ever vouchsafed to a
commander--the faculty of inspiring confidence in his troops. The
Polish cavalry which came to the rescue of Vienna had no doubt a most
martial look; they were mounted on the handsomest horses, and their
arms were magnificent. This was by no means the case with the infantry;
one regiment in particular was in such a sorry plight that Prince
Lubomirski advised their crossing the Danube at night, for the sake
of the nation’s honour. Sobieski simply smiled. “As you see them,” he
said, “they are invincible: they have sworn not to change their clothes
except for those taken from the enemy. In the last war they only wore
the Turkish uniform.” Sobieski’s remark did not, perhaps, provide his
soldiers with clothes; it did better than that: it ran from mouth to
mouth, and the regiment performed deeds of unsurpassed valour. You are
aware that after that brilliant feat of arms which was the signal for
the relief of Vienna, they applied to the Polish hero the words of Pius
V. with regard to Don Juan of Austria, after the battle of Lepanto:
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” What an admirable
quotation!’ wound up the prince.

‘Austria had no doubt forgotten the application of that sentence of
gratitude when, later on, she effaced from the rank of European nations
the country of her deliverers!’ I remarked.

‘Go and remind her of it, and see what you’ll get for your pains.
Furthermore, you must expect her to answer in the way of a set-off to
the advocates of Poland: “You take care to remind us of your saving
Vienna in 1683. We are certainly very grateful to you, but each time
you mention it, we are bound to tell you that Austria delivered you
out of the hand of Sweden, which had conquered you in the reign of
Charles-Gustavus; hence, we are quits.”’

‘To this, prince, Poland could reply both in virtue of priority of age
and of the number of her services, that the aid she lent to Austria,
notably to her founder, Rudolph of Hapsburg, largely contributed to
place Austria among the most powerful monarchies of Europe. Be that as
it may, in this iniquitous proceeding, Austria plays the part of the
dog in La Fontaine’s fable, who carries his master’s dinner round his
neck: she interfered in order to take her share of the spoil; it would
have been more noble to prevent the spoliation.’

By that time it was three o’clock, and we partook, in a small room
adjoining the library, of the provisions which we had brought with us
in the prince’s carriage. It was one of the most delightful collations
I remember. The prince was fond of telling stories; his way of
narrating them was so delightful and admirable that I was only too
pleased to listen. This added to his own enjoyment, and his well-stored
memory poured out tale after tale without the slightest effort.

‘One of my sweetest recollections,’ he said, ‘was my first journey
to France as the bearer of the happy news of the battle of Maxen.
My entrance upon the scene was entirely to my taste. I was received
everywhere, in Paris, Versailles, and at the Trianon, by the Baron de
Bezenval, the Comte de Vaudreuil, the Comte d’Adhémar, the Princesse de
Lamballe, the fascinating Mme. Jules de Polignac; then at the beginning
I was presented to La Harpe at Mme. du Barry’s, to D’Alembert at Mme.
Geoffrin’s, to Voltaire at Mme. du Deffand’s. Mme. du Deffand was
probably gifted with more natural grace and power of fascination than
any woman of her time.’

After this he gave me some brilliant sketches of many of the
celebrities who, during his long career, had honoured him with their
friendship. Empress Catherine, whom he called ‘his living glory’;
Emperor Joseph II., ‘his visible providence’; Frederick the Great, ‘his
claim to immortality,’ and finally Marie-Antoinette, of whom he related
many charming traits, always ‘harking back’ with the greatest delight
to the Court of France, where he had met with such a distinguished
welcome.

‘The love of pleasure and the attractions of society took me to
Versailles,’ he said; ‘gratitude brought me back to it. My lad, judge
for yourself how far I was justified in yielding to illusion, that
ruler of the world. Presented to the Comte d’Artois, I naturally
began by treating him like the king’s brother, and we finished up
by his treating me as if I were his brother. Later on, I happened
to be present at the meeting of Joseph II. and Frederick II. The
latter notices my liking for great men, and he invites me to Berlin.
My son Charles marries a Polish girl;[57] knowing that I am in the
good books of Catherine, they imagine, perhaps, that I might make a
King of Poland, and they confer the honour of Polish citizenship upon
me. I arrive in Russia, and the grandeur and simplicity of Catherine
win my heart. She selects me to accompany her to the Taurida, during
that journey which seems to belong to fable rather than to history.
In consequence of my taste for the “Iphigenias” of literature, she
gives me the site of the temple where Agamemnon’s daughter officiated
as priestess. Finally there is the paternal kindness of Emperor
Francis I.; the maternal kindness of that grand Maria-Theresa, and
the sometimes fraternal kindness of immortal Joseph II. There are
the confidence and friendship of Landon and of Lasey; the familiar
intercourse with Marie-Antoinette; the cordial intimacy of Catherine
the Great; the goodwill of the great Frederick; my conversations with
Jean-Jacques Rousseau; my stay at Ferney with Voltaire, and, fitly and
gaily to wind up, after the great events of the last twenty years, the
marvels and diversions of the Congress. Such in brief is my life. My
memoirs would be most interesting. During the whole of that time I have
seen calumny, ingratitude, and injustice assail everything I loved and
admired.’

He seemed buried in thought for a few moments. ‘No,’ he said at
last, ‘men’s idiocy and ill-nature respect nothing. In Catherine’s
case these two have endeavoured to sully the grandeur one admires;
in Marie-Antoinette the grace and beauty one worships. France has
a few pages in her annals which one day she will wish to tear up.
After having most grossly slandered the most beautiful and the most
sympathetic of queens, whose goodness of heart, which was that of an
angel, no one could appreciate better than I, and whose soul without
reproach was as pure and as white as her face, the cannibals immolated
her as an offering to their bloodthirsty liberty.’

At these words his voice grew low, and his eyes filled with tears. The
tears of such a friend, of an old man and a wise one, were the most
eloquent tribute to Marie-Antoinette’s memory.

‘This is my study,’ he said, opening another door, ‘and here I am free
from the intrusion of all those parrots who besiege me in my little
house on the wall. Here I let my pen wander as my imagination and whim
prompt me.’ He showed me a great many works completed, and a number of
unfinished manuscripts.

‘All this has been written for myself, to satisfy the cravings of my
own heart. They are what actors would call “my asides.”’

I asked him if the world at large was not to benefit by his lessons of
experience.

‘No, no,’ he replied, ‘I have too often had proof that here below a
man’s reputation depends upon those who have none. And what, when all
is said and done, is this glory before which one bows down, and which
one pursues with all one’s might? The same day witnesses its birth
and its death, so short, after all, is life. Ypsilanti, about whom we
have chatted so often, has gloriously lost his arm. When at present he
makes his appearance in a drawing-room, he is surrounded, he is pointed
out to public curiosity, and people tell of the battle in which he
distinguished himself. To-day he is a young hero; before many springs
pass over our heads, and they pass very quickly, people will call him
the old cripple.

‘Never had a woman a more glorious welcome than that accorded to Mme.
de Staël in Vienna six years ago. Her arrival and her stay constituted,
as it were, a date, for people still say--“When Mme. de Staël was
here.” Well, the enthusiasm was soon succeeded by a spirit of criticism
the reverse of good-natured. Nevertheless, if there be anything in this
world which is _not_ all vanity, assuredly it is the admiration one
inspires; but how long does that admiration last? At the outset Mme. de
Staël carried all hearts, and conquered all minds.’

‘Not in virtue of her personal attractions, for even in her portraits
she did not seem to me sufficiently good-looking to please.’

‘That’s true, she could never have possessed a pleasing face; her mouth
and nose were ugly. But her magnificent eyes marvellously expressed
everything that went on successively in that brain so rich in lofty or
virile thoughts; her hands were beautifully shaped, hence the care she
took to direct attention to them by her habit of constantly fingering
a branch of poplar provided with a few leaves, the shaking of which,
according to herself, was the necessary accompaniment to her words. Her
conversation was simply dazzling; she discussed every subject with a
marvellous facility; she expressed herself in an animated, brilliant
and poetical manner. The larger her audience, the loftier did her
genius soar. She was only at her ease with men capable of judging her,
but on such occasions she was truly great.

‘Well, all those titles to admiration were soon made light of. The
human mind, by an inevitable reaction, passes from enthusiasm to
carping. In a short time people laid stress on Mme. de Staël’s defects;
her brilliant qualities were no longer taken into account. In general
conversation, it was said, she showed herself more anxious to dazzle
than to please; her monologues reduced her interlocutors to the roles
of complacent listeners; when she addressed a question to some one, she
rarely waited for the answer. She was fond of society in which she was
calculated to shine, but she did not care for the society of women,
which, as a rule, affords fewer resources to an intellect like hers
than that of men. And the women have not forgiven her, however much her
genius may have conferred honour on her own sex.

‘Hence, she gradually saw a diminution of her celebrity, a celebrity
which had become necessary to her, and which, nevertheless, was not
to her the road to happiness. She constantly regretted France, from
which she was irrevocably exiled, in consequence of her opposition
to the government; she had designated Bonaparte as Robespierre on
horseback. It may therefore be said that she served her own cause when
endeavouring to overtopple the obstacle to her return to Paris; and
on the task she set herself, she brought to bear all the energy of a
genius, stimulated by the hatred of a woman.

‘I have much admired Mme. de Staël; I still admire her, and I strongly
suspect that the author of the _Dialogue sur l’enthousiasme_ wanted
to paint me in the character of Cleon.’ The prince, when uttering
those last words, glanced at me smiling. ‘She felt much vexed at some
one daring to question merit which at that time everybody agreed in
pronouncing incontestable. That little bit of criticism was the first.
The author particularly censures her novel _Corinne_. In that respect
he was wrong. Wishing to attack her, he had no business to attack her
writings. That, assuredly, was not her vulnerable side. But he would
have been justified in blaming the pretension to refer everything to
herself, the inconstancy of opinion which was so dangerous to her
friends who took her at her word, the pedagogic and biting tone,
the histrionic elation, in the manner of Corinne, her neologism in
intellectual matters, which was so utterly antipathetic to me, and the
craving to appear on the boards, where she displayed not the slightest
talent, inasmuch as her true vocation lay in acting in real life. On
all those points he would have been justified in venting his spite
either in prose or in verse. You are aware that we were within an ace
of falling out for ever in consequence of a spiteful remark which was
told to her as coming from me. After the performance of her tragedy,
_Agar dans le Désert_, in which, to be frank, she seemed more ugly
than usual, some one, who was not the Prince de Ligne, is reported to
have said that the proper title of the piece ought to have been _La
Justification d’Abraham_. She sulked for a long time, and I had much
difficulty in convincing her of my innocence.’

After that the prince showed me a small manuscript, which has been
published since, and which he had then just finished. Its subject
was the Venetian Casanova. When that famous adventurer was tired
of hawking about Europe his projects, his magic secrets, and his
striking personality; when, in fact, he felt old age creeping over
him and poverty staring him in the face, he applied to the Prince de
Ligne. Almost as a matter of course, the latter made him welcome,
bestirred himself on his behalf, and got him the post of librarian to
his nephew, the Prince de Wallstein. Casanova’s curiously chequered
career appealed to the imagination of the old marshal. He also had
had many adventures during his existence. He liked the ready and
biting wit of the Venetian, his profound and varied learning, and his
philosophically-turned and ever fresh comments.

‘Yes,’ said the prince, ‘Casanova was the most diverting individual
I have ever met with. It was he who said that a woman is never older
than her lover fancies her to be. His inexhaustible recollections,
his imagination, which was as vivid as it had been at twenty, his
enthusiasm with regard to myself, won my heart. He often read his
memoirs to me. They partake of the nature of those of a knight-errant
and of the “Wandering Jew”; unfortunately they’ll never see the
light.’[58]

His writing-table was littered with verses, the greater part unfinished.

‘You are looking at those sketches,’ he said. ‘It is because I am
unable to work like the majority of poets. There are two dictionaries
at their disposal, the dictionary of the heart and the rhyming
dictionary. When there is no longer anything in the first, or when they
can no longer read it, they open the second. When my heart no longer
dictates, I leave off writing.’

We spent a little more time in examining several charming portraits of
women with whom he had been in love, and a rich collection of letters
written by the sovereigns and the most illustrious personages of Europe
during half a century.

The hour for returning struck, and we left the delightful retreat
which, one day, will become historical. But amidst those brilliant
reminiscences of the Vienna Congress, my grateful memory could not omit
that day wholly passed in familiar conversation with the Prince de
Ligne.



CHAPTER VII

  A Court Function--The Empress of Austria--The Troubadours--
      Amateur Theatricals--The Empress of Russia--The Prince
      Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg--Tableaux-Vivants--Queen Hortense’s
      Songs--The Moustaches of the Comte de Wurbna--Songs in
      Action--The Orphan of the Prisons--Diplomacy and Dancing--
      A Ball and a Supper at Court.


The fêtes succeeded each other uninterruptedly; the time not given
to pleasure was looked upon as wasted. Every week there was a grand
reception and ball at the Court. Taking their cue from highest
quarters, the foremost members of Austrian society also had their
appointed days for welcoming in their drawing-rooms the numberless
strangers whom business or pleasure had brought to Vienna. On Mondays
the Princesse de Metternich threw open her house; on Thursdays the
Master of the Horse, the Prince de Trauttmansdorff, did the same, and
on Saturdays, the beautiful Comtesse Zichy followed suit. As a return
for this gracious hospitality, the ambassadors and representatives of
the great Powers on their side gave most brilliant entertainments. In
virtue of this constant exchange of magnificent functions, the days
went by without counting, and everybody appeared to have adopted the
maxim--the first necessity of mankind is to be happy.

The Empress of Austria was practically the soul of that succession of
balls, banquets, receptions and masques. Born in Italy, and sprung from
that illustrious House of Este, sung by Ariosto and by Tasso, she had,
as it were, inherited from her ancestors the taste and the instinctive
feeling for everything pertaining to art. Her goodness of heart was
beyond compare, her youthful and fresh imagination took a delight in
the arrangement of all those joyous details. She was admirably seconded
by two French artists, M. Isabey and M. Moreau--the latter a most
talented architect--who were her usual auxiliaries. She invented and
ordained; their task consisted in faithfully reproducing and carrying
out her bright ideas.

One of her favourite pleasures was the giving of theatrical
performances in her apartments. Defying the difficulties attached
to the rôle of _impresario_, she had succeeded in recruiting and
composing a company of amateur actors. Some among these would have
done credit to any stage, no matter where. In this company figured the
most aristocratic names: the Comtes Ojarowski, Stanislas Potocki, de
Wallstein, Woyna, Mmes. Edmond de Périgord and Flora Wurbna, shone in
comedy; opera had its interpreters in the Prince Antoine Radziwill, the
Marquis de Salvox, the Comtes Petersen de Bombelles,[59] the Comtesses
d’Apponyi, Charles Zichy, de Woyna, and the Princesse Yblonowska;
while German tragedy fell to the lot of the Comtesse Julie Zichy, the
Comtesse Esterhazy and the Comte Zichy. Our theatrical literature,
so rich in all genius, was especially laid under contribution; often
there was a mixed performance of German and French pieces. At one of
those performances, Schiller’s _Wallenstein_ and the charming comedy of
_Rivaux d’eux-mêmes_ were played with really remarkable casts.

Some young men, as a relief from the arid labours of diplomacy,
which at that period, it was said, constituted by no means a lively
pursuit, had organised among themselves an artistic gathering, which
was called the ‘company of Troubadours.’ Foremost among these were
the Prince Radziwill, the Comtes Batthyani, Zichy, and the Prince
Leopold de Saxe-Cobourg. It was a graceful revival of the chivalrous
and poetic customs of the Middle Ages. There was, furthermore, the
‘Festal Committee,’ appointed by the emperor, and composed of the
foremost personages of the Court. It really did appear as if the whole
of society was wrapped round by a vast association, the bright network
of which spread everywhere, and which had but one aim--the pursuit of
pleasure.

The entertainment offered by the Court on that particular evening was
of an entirely novel kind as far as the majority of the spectators
were concerned. It consisted of the representation of pictures and of
songs put into action by living personages. The Prince de Ligne and
I went early to the Imperial Palace. Though the performance had not
commenced, the rooms were full. Thanks to the Comte Arthur Potocki,
we were enabled to get to the seats he had reserved for us between
the Princesse Marie Esterhazy and the Prince Leopold de Saxe-Cobourg.
It was the first time I met this young man in society; he was known
to the Prince de Ligne, who soon made us acquainted with each other.
At that time, he seemed to me as timid as he was handsome. Never did
noble birth and blood show themselves more conspicuously than in the
distinguished air and easy bearing of this scion of an illustrious
house. At that period he was doubtlessly far from foreseeing the
fortunate position destiny had in store for him, by uniting him at
first to a great princess, by placing him afterwards on the throne
of regenerated Belgium, and finally by giving him as consort an
accomplished princess from the blood royal of France. To-day the future
happiness of two families, of perhaps two peoples, is centred in
him.[60]

After having exchanged a few courteous words, Prince Leopold left us
to prepare for his part in one of the tableaux; we remained with the
Princesse Esterhazy.

The illustrious and princely House of Esterhazy has so often been
described as to render the task of adding anything fresh to those
descriptions a difficult one. Everybody knows that its noble origin
is virtually lost in the mist of ages, and that its power equals that
of kings. Its magnificence, its wealth, and the splendour of its
establishment are such as to convey but a faint idea to those who have
not seen them, and those who have are tempted to consider them as so
many parts of a fairy dream induced by the reading of some fabulous
story. Its territorial possessions comprise more than a hundred
villages and burghs, something like forty townships and over thirty
castles and fortresses.[61] The country seats which constitute, as
it were, the capitals of those veritable states comprise an enormous
number of apartments, picture-galleries and theatres. The Hungarian
hussar’s dress, entirely embroidered with pearls, which is transmitted
in the family from father to son, is estimated at four millions of
florins, and costs twelve thousand florins to repair each time it is
worn. On those vast domains the Esterhazys exercise the power of life
and death; they have troops and guards in their own pay. Moreover, an
imperial decree, dating from 1687, conferred upon them the right to
mint their own money and to grant patents of nobility. Many sovereigns
would be tempted to exchange their crowns for the lot of such subjects.

The Princesse Marie Esterhazy, _née_ Princesse de Lichtenstein, though
at that period no longer in the flush of youth, was still possessed of
a charming grace. She was above all endowed with that winning kindness
which imparts a charm to women who physically are least attractive. Her
equable temperament and her fascinating kindness induced me to seek
her society on all possible occasions. Some years before I had met her
husband, the Prince Nicolas,[62] in Paris, at Mme. Récamier’s, that
friend of my childhood, the most beautiful of women and the most worthy
of admiration and respect. An enthusiastic and enlightened amateur of
every branch of art, and above all of music, the prince was the Mæcenas
of literary men and artists. He treated them as a connoisseur and
rewarded them like a king.

I was very fond of the society of Prince Paul, their son, whose senior
I was by a few years. Our tastes and habits were pretty well the same.
I often met him at the house of Mme. de Fuchs, who was the friend of
both. Since then called in virtue of his name and his solid attainments
to most important diplomatic positions. Prince Paul[63] has shown a
constant moderation and a rectitude of thought and judgment which only
belong to a noble disposition and a superior intellect. He is one of
the men who during the recent negotiations have contributed most to the
preservation of peace in Europe.

Our conversation with the Princesse Marie turned on the kind of
amusement the Court of Austria was providing for us that evening. She
told us that she had often organised similar tableaux at Eisenstadt
in a rotunda constructed for the purpose in the midst of a lake,
and that during the performances Haydn, the director of her private
band, improvised on the organ some pieces in keeping with the optical
effects, and which added marvellously to the illusion.

The sovereigns gradually made their appearance and took the seats
reserved for them, the Emperor of Russia being as usual by the side
of the Empress of Austria. By a curious freak of nature, both were
somewhat hard of hearing, the emperor on one side, the empress on
the opposite side. Etiquette required their being seated side by side
in such a manner as not to be able to hear each other; consequently,
they always seemed to be playing at ‘cross purposes.’ Alexander at
that period was remarkable for the beauty of his face and the elegance
of his figure; and he was by no means indifferent to the flattering
remarks addressed to him on the subject. On the other hand, it would
have argued an inexperience of Courts to betray either by word or sign
the knowledge of his auricular infirmity.

By the Emperor of Austria’s side sat the Empress Elizabeth of Russia.
That angel on earth had everything calculated to insure her husband’s
happiness and hers.[64] She was endowed with a charming face, her eyes
reflecting the purity of her soul. She had magnificent auburn hair,
which, as a rule, was allowed to fall loose on her shoulders. Her
figure was elegant, lithe, and supple, and even when she wore a mask,
her walk revealed her identity in a moment. No woman realised more
thoroughly the line of Virgil:

      ‘Incessu patuit Dea....’

To a most delightful disposition there were added a cultivated and
quick intellect, a passionate love of art, and a boundless liberality
in money matters. The graceful elegance of her person, her noble
bearing, and her inexhaustible kindness won her all hearts. Neglected
almost from the first hour of her union by a husband whom she
worshipped, her solitude and grief had bred a kind of melancholy.
Stamped on every feature, that feeling lent to the accents of her voice
and to her slightest movements an irresistible charm.

[Illustration: ALEXANDER I.]

A symphony for horns and harps preceded the rise of the curtain.
The candles in the house were extinguished in order to give greater
brilliancy to the light thrown on to the stage. The first picture
was the reproduction of a subject painted by a young Viennese
artist, ‘Louis XIV. kneeling at Mme. de la Vallière’s feet.’ The
actors of that scene were the young Comte de Trauttmansdorff, son of
the grand-marshal, and the charming Comtesse de Zichy. Both were so
eminently attractive, there was such an ardent expression of love on
the face of the young noble, and so much modesty, fear, and innocence
on the delicious face of the comtesse, as to make the illusion complete.

The second picture was a reproduction of Guérin’s beautiful
composition, ‘Hippolytus refuting Phedra’s accusation before Theseus.’
The Princesse Yblonowska represented the daughter of Minos, and the
young Comte Woyna, Hippolytus. The eyes and features of the one
were stamped with ardent passion struggling against remorse, while
the other, by his calm and classical attitude, by the signs of his
respectful grief, only seemed to invoke for his defence the purity
of his heart. Though shorn of the charm of its magnificent poetry,
Racine’s conception had never more eloquent interpreters than these two.

The subjects of these pictures, reproduced by the most distinguished
personages of the Court, the brilliant and accurate dresses, the
perfectly arranged light, the whole of the _ensemble_ so artistically
arranged, produced the most lively admiration on the part of the
spectators.

After this, the stage was got ready for the songs to be enacted; an
orchestra, composed of the most celebrated instrumentalists of Germany,
played symphonies by Haydn and Mozart.

The first song was the ‘Partant pour la Syrie,’ the charming music
of which, by Queen Hortense, has become popular throughout Europe.
Mlle. Goubault, a young Belgian, who to an agreeable face added a
charming and expressive voice, sang the words, while the Princesse
de Hesse-Philipstadt and the young Comte de Schönfeldt represented
the characters. At the verse of the marriage, a chorus of the most
beautiful personages of the Court grouped themselves around the
principal actors. This profusion of delicious faces, the perfect
unison of the voices, and the expressive pantomimic action of the two
lovers--in short, the whole tableau, was enthusiastically applauded.

I was too far away from Emperor Alexander to hear what he said
to Prince Eugène, who was seated close to him by the side of his
father-in-law, the King of Bavaria. I could, however, easily perceive
by the face of Eugène, beaming with pleasure and gratitude, that
the praise bestowed by the emperor on the musical composition was
accompanied by flattering and kindly expressions concerning his sister.

The second song was that of Coupigny, a ‘Young Troubadour singing and
making war.’ It was represented by the Comte de Schönborn and the
Comtesse Marassi. The third song was again one of Queen Hortense’s,
‘Do what you ought, let come what may.’ It was as well sung as ably
mimed by the handsome Comtesse Zamoyska, a daughter of Marshal
Czartoryski, and by the young Prince Radziwill. Like the first, it was
enthusiastically listened to and greatly praised. The author’s name
was on the lips of every one, and vociferous applause frequently broke
forth.

‘This is a sceptre which will not be broken in the hands of Mlle.
de Beauharnais,’ said the Prince de Ligne. ‘She is still a queen in
virtue of her talent and her charm when she has ceased to be one by the
grace of God. I confess to a liking for women who are fond of music,
and above all for those who compose music, as she does. Music is a
universal language, harmoniously recounting to all of us the sensations
of our lives. Only the malicious and spiteful could have said evil of
the sometime Queen of Holland, and only imbeciles could have attached
any belief to what they said. As for me, I am always glad to applaud
and to give homage to fallen greatness, especially if the fallen ones
have done honour to the rank in which fate placed them.’

‘I cordially agree with you, prince,’ I said. ‘I often had the
opportunity of seeing Queen Hortense at the beginning of her grandeur.
During the rapid advances of her fortunes she did not change, and
amidst all the imperial pomp and splendour she remained natural and
unaffected. She seems to have been born with an instinctive feeling
for art and with the germs of talent; she sings and plays on several
instruments the charming music of her own composition. She draws with
rare perfection. More precious than all this, though, is her sprightly
kindness, which her mother appears to have transmitted to her. Both,
while attaining the highest positions it is given to mortals to reach,
lost none of the qualities which compel affection in the most obscure
conditions.’

‘I am pleased to hear you speak like that. I am of opinion that the
most admirable quality of mankind is the faculty for admiring. I detest
people who are always looking for the interest underlying a good
action. Bear this in mind: only grovelling natures seek to disparage
talent; and fools only applaud the envious.’

The curtain had been lowered to set the final picture which was to
conclude the whole of the spectacle in a most brilliant manner. It was
to represent Olympus with all the mythological divinities. Nothing had
been neglected to make the execution worthy of the grandeur of the
subject. There had, nevertheless, been a temporary apprehension with
regard to the smooth progress of its course. There had been for two
whole days negotiations far more difficult and delicate in their nature
than those usually pending between diplomatic celebrities; and it
wanted nothing less than an intervention from high quarters to settle a
question which the sapient assembly would probably have failed to bring
to a satisfactory conclusion.

The facts were as follows: All the rôles of the tenants on Olympus had
been distributed. Prince Leopold de Saxe-Cobourg, in consequence of his
remarkably handsome presence, had been cast for the part of Jupiter.
Comte Zichy was to represent Mars.

The company was, however, short of Apollo; and among the troubadours
the young Comte de Wurbna was the only one who could efficiently
fill the part. It had been offered to him and accepted. But the
Comte, who combined in every respect the requisite qualities for the
brilliant impersonation allotted to him, had unfortunately something
not contemplated in the programme. His upper lip was ornamented by a
delightful pair of moustachios, and he valued them as one values things
that do not detract from one’s appearance. It was very certain, though,
that whether taken in connection with his luminous chariot or in the
simple guise of a shepherd, no one could conceive the god of day with
this hirsute ornament of a captain of hussars.

The stage manager entrusted with the carrying out of the tableau
bore the name of Omer, which lent itself marvellously to all kind of
witticisms. Omer, then, was deputed to enter into negotiations with the
young Comte and to induce him to part with the inconvenient ornament.
In spite of his poetical name (irrespective of its orthography), Omer
found but an indifferent listener in the young man. In vain did he
cajole, argue, and supplicate. In vain did he point out to the young
man the impossibility of representing the tableau. His words did not
produce the slightest effect. Inexorable, like Achilles sulking in his
tent, young Wurbna seemed to have taken an oath not to part with his
moustachios while alive.

The rumour of this curious obstinacy spread with the rapidity of bad
tidings; there is great agitation and anxiety, people are inquiring of
each other the latest particulars of the affair, every other pleasure
is forgotten; the Congress, too, would have been forgotten if any one
had thought it worth while to remember that there was a Congress.
Those moustachios have become the subject of every conversation and of
universal concern.

Finally, in view of the gravity of the circumstances, recourse is
being had to a supreme appeal: the empress is informed of the affair.
Entering frankly into the plot, the charming princess, on the very
evening, so effectively cajoled the young recalcitrant Comte that,
vanquished, or rather won over, he absented himself for a moment, to
reappear with a clean and smooth upper lip like that of a young girl.
Thus fell, at a single word from Louis XIV., the woods interrupting the
view from the seat of Petit-Bourg. Truly, sovereigns, and especially
female sovereigns, have for the purpose of upraising or cutting down
magic and powerful words, denied to other mortals.

The sacrifice was consummated, and we knew that, thanks to the happy
conclusion of that negotiation, Omer had been enabled to carry out to
the best of purposes his Olympian production. At last the curtain rose,
and the assembly of the gods met the eager gaze of the spectators. The
queen of the gods was represented by the daughter of Admiral Sir Sidney
Smith, Venus by Mme. de Wilhem, a lady of honour to the Princesse de la
Tour et Taxis, and Minerva by the lovely Comtesse Rosalie Rzewuska. The
eyes of the spectators, delighted at first by the matchless beauty of
the picture, finally contemplate nobody but Apollo, standing forth in
all his glory, and well rewarded for his obedience by sweet and august
smiles.

During the representation of that tableau, a young Frenchman, the Baron
Thierry, attached to the Portuguese Legation, played a solo on the
harp. The young fellow, who was brought up in England, whither he had
accompanied his parents at the time of the emigration, had assiduously
practised that instrument, and attained a degree of perfection on
it which at that period was very rare. He was well built, with an
interesting face, and one of the most admired of strangers in Viennese
society. His solo, played with all the perfection his instrument would
permit, produced the greatest effect, and was cordially applauded,
the signal for the applause coming from the royalties themselves. Even
Olympus itself appeared to be moved by it. Finally the curtain fell
amidst unanimous signs of approval; the sovereigns rose, and we passed
into an adjoining hall sumptuously arranged for the ball.

‘You probably do not know the story of the beautiful Comtesse Rzewuska,
whom you have just admired in the character of Minerva. She is the
daughter of the Princesse Rosalie Lubomirska, who was guillotined
during the Terror. The child, after the death of her mother, on the
12th Messidor of the Year II. (30th June 1794), was taken home and
brought up by a laundress, and by the merest accident discovered by her
uncle, the Comte Chodkïewicz, who had been in search of her for many
years, and finally taken back to Poland. It is the most startling drama
in real life.’[65]

Meanwhile dancing had commenced, and I went to offer my arm to the
Princesse Esterhazy, whom I had the honour to escort during part of
the evening. She conversed about art with the greatest facility, her
remarks being emphasised by eminently just quotations altogether exempt
from the slightest pedantry. Her comments on society were marked by a
similar justness of observation, none the less just for being tempered
by great forbearance. Her beautiful features bore the unmistakable
signs of her being an irreproachable wife, a most affectionate
mother, and a most devoted and sincere friend. As a consequence,
her conversation seemed to me infinitely preferable to the somewhat
boisterous amusements of that evening.

All those who had taken part in the tableaux and in the illustrations
of the songs had retained their costumes. There was a considerable
number of them. They organised quadrilles which lent a new attraction
to that fête, namely, that of variety. It seemed as if grace, that
divine part of beauty, had been equally divided, though under different
forms, among the dwellers in every climate. Never was this fact more
pertinently felt than at those fêtes of the Congress, at which the most
remarkable women of the various countries of Europe shone with equal,
though distinct, splendour.

We, the Prince de Ligne and I, wandered through those drawing-rooms,
ablaze with light, passing in review those delicious faces,
representing all kinds of beauty as they successively went by. The
Princesse Marie de Metternich and the Comtesse Batthyani, with wistful
and somewhat melancholy features, tall, slight, and flexible like
reeds; the two charming sisters Eléonore and Pauline de Schwartzenberg,
beaming with youth and freshness; the Princesse Yblonowska, the
Comtesses Sophie de Woyna and Louise de Durkeim, both distinguished by
their slightly dreamy looks; the Comtesse Julie Zichy, captivatingly
graceful; the Comtesses de Marassi, d’Urgate, de Schönborn, and the
Princesse Hélène Souvaroff, whose portrait I have already sketched;
and the Comtesse de Paar. In short, we feasted our eyes on delightful
faces, lighted up every now and again by rapid smiles, or positively
basking in the full light of careless joy and happiness--faces that
soothed the mind and captivated all glances.

Emperor Alexander had opened the ball with the Empress of Austria
with a ‘polonaise,’ a kind of dancing march, the regular preamble
to every Court ball. In an adjoining room some members of the corps
diplomatique were gravely engaged at whist, a recreation which also
seemed an indispensable part of the European transactions in progress.
The ‘polonaise,’ though, soon interfered with the silence necessary
to the game. The band had given the signal and, too cramped in the
principal room, the long file of dancers marched along under the
guidance of the czar, invaded the whole of the palace, and twined round
and round the serious quartets of the players, and by an enormously
round-about way returned to its starting-point in perfect order, never
ceasing the course of its graceful evolutions. Towards the end of the
evening, the guests formed themselves here and there into groups. Some
young men arranged pleasure parties for the next morning, while the
representatives of Europe gravely discussed the burning questions of
the moment.

In one part of the room, M. de Talleyrand, ensconced in an armchair,
is talking to the Prince Leopold of Naples, while M. de Labrador,
the Chevalier de Los Rios and the Cardinal Gonzalvi, the Marquis de
Marialva, the young Comte de Luchesini and Charles de Rechberg, in a
circle, are standing around. The conversation runs on King Murat. With
his habitual phlegm, M. de Talleyrand drops some of those grave and
prophetic sentences which, rightly interpreted, might be considered the
forerunner of that improvised sovereign’s fall.[66]

M. de la Tour du Pin, the ambassador of France, was the centre of
another group, composed of his colleague, M. Alexis de Noailles, MM. de
Wintzingerode, Pozzo di Borgo, the Marquis de Saint Marsan, the Comte
de Rossi, etc.

Lord Castlereagh, erect and leaning against a mantelpiece, seems to
listen with a glacial air to the King of ----. The crowd has retired to
a respectful distance. His majesty, on the other hand, appears to speak
with a certain warmth, although his attitude is that of a petitioner,
or rather a pleader, intent upon convincing his judge. One can catch
the words, ‘Poland--indemnity--Treaty of Kalitsch.’ His lordship
vouchsafes only few words in reply to his august interlocutor. Looking
at them, one is reminded that if the Coalition has had the victory, it
was England who paid the soldiers.

Lord Stewart wanders listlessly from one room to another. He is simply
anxious to be seen, and they have bestowed on him the sobriquet of ‘the
golden peacock.’

At midnight a magnificent supper was served. Of course, the sovereigns
occupied the table set apart for them, but the other guests seated
themselves wherever they liked, without the slightest ceremony or
considerations of etiquette. The gaiety of that collation, absolutely
free from restraint, afforded greater facilities for confidential
and familiar talk. All those banquets were alike. Always the same
display of apparently inexhaustible wealth and the same magnificence;
consequently, although the Congress was but a few days old, people had
ceased to estimate the expenses of the Court.

To make up for that, they freely spoke of the number of strangers who,
either on business or pleasure, were located in Vienna. We know the
means by which Colbert filled the empty coffers of his master. But
what, after all, were the _carrousels_ of Louis XIV. compared to this
magnificent series of fêtes?

The hour for retiring struck at last, and people went home to recruit
their strength for the next day by much-needed sleep.



CHAPTER VIII

  Prince Eugène de Beauharnais--Recollections of the Prince
      de Ligne--The Theatre of the ‘Ermitage’ and of Trianon
      --The Baron Ompteda--some Portraits--The Imperial
      _Carrousel_--The Four-and-twenty Paladins--Reminiscences of
      Mediæval Tournaments--The Prowess of the Champion--Fête and
      Supper at the Imperial Palace--The Table of the Sovereigns.


One morning, a few days after the last-described event, I called upon
Prince Eugène de Beauharnais. Our acquaintance dated from my youth,
and whenever circumstances brought us together either in Paris, Milan,
or Vienna, I, like all his other friends, had ever found him kind,
helpful and sympathetic. The bonds of sympathy so quickly contracted in
youth had never been severed by the difference in rank. It had not been
his fault that his rule in Italy had been fruitless to me as far as a
brilliant administrative career went. And these proofs of his affection
had made me deeply grateful to him.

On the occasion of my visit he was slightly ill, and it did not take me
long to discover that the cause of his indisposition was mental rather
than physical. It was not surprising, considering the misfortunes that
had accumulated around him. There were the disasters of France, the
fall of Napoleon, the loss of a brilliant position, and, to fill his
cup of grief, the death of his mother, whom he worshipped.

His position at Vienna was constrained and more or less false. His
reception there had been the subject of diplomatic discussions; but
for the persistence of his father-in-law, the King of Bavaria, and the
affection of Emperor Alexander, he would probably have been excluded.
In spite of this, the fact of his being the adopted son of Napoleon
could not be forgotten. It was, moreover, well known that his noble
character would never belie itself, and that he would bring all his
influence to bear in favour of the man who had been his benefactor.
Between the Powers celebrating France’s reverses with fêtes and the
representatives of the government of the Bourbons, he seemed isolated
amidst that crowd and in that whirlpool of pleasure.

He welcomed me in his cordial and amicable way. Glad to find somebody
with whom he could talk about his recollections, he referred to his
past, which was so brilliant and glorious. His attitude and the
expression of his face were stamped with a melancholy that could
not fail to win one’s heart. We went over the various phases of his
military career, when all at once he became most animated. Yielding
to a strong emotion, he carried me with him to Egypt, and began
to describe the loss of his first friend, killed by his side by a
cannon ball at the battle of the Pyramids. At the last words of that
mournful story I noticed his eyes filling with tears, which he vainly
endeavoured to repress. In order to divert his thoughts to brighter
subjects, I spoke to him of our first meeting at a luncheon given
by Mme. Récamier during the short-lived Peace of Amiens, a luncheon
graced by the presence of all the celebrities of France and England.
As a matter of course, our conversation drifted to all the gay doings
of Vienna during the last few weeks, and also of those to come. I
soon noticed, though, that all those functions, so intoxicating to
the majority of both actors and spectators, constantly reminded him
of the sad cause nearest to his heart. I was not sorry, then, when we
were interrupted by the servant announcing the Emperor of Russia, who,
according to his custom, came to take him, without any ceremony, for
a walk in the Prater. I took my leave of him, after he had made me
promise to come and see him often. I need not say that I gladly acceded
to his request, and that the duty really became a pleasure.

On leaving him, I went to pay my daily visit to the Prince de Ligne.
I delighted in giving him an account of my previous day’s doings.
Although at that happy period my occupations mainly consisted of a life
spent away from my own quarters and in consorting with my young friends
in the pursuit of pleasure, it was like a lullaby to me to go to him to
gather from his lips some of his witty and subtle sallies, and to study
in a familiar way a small section of that living panorama.

The little house was as full as it could hold, and the amiable
host was, as usual, dispensing large doses of wit and wisdom to
his visitors. His never-failing spirits and the brightness of his
recollections reminded his listeners that though the body might be
tottering, he prevented it from collapsing. No one conveyed a more
accurate idea of the sparkle and the almost indefinable grace of the
French intellectual qualities of former days. Hearing the Prince de
Ligne talk, I always fancied I was going back a century in the history
of French society.

The prince’s visitors were repeating to him some of the rumours with
which the amateur politicians of the Graben kept public curiosity
alive. After having distributed crowns and allotted states, the
quidnuncs and newsmongers had taken it into their heads to try their
hand at match-making. According to them, the King of Prussia was
reported one day to be betrothed to the Grand-Duchess of Oldenburg, the
next to one of the Austrian arch-duchesses.

‘Those gentlemen strangely put our credulity to the test,’ remarked
the Comte de Witt. ‘Nothing less will satisfy them than the divorce of
Marie-Louise, so that she may be joined in matrimony to his Majesty of
Prussia.’

‘Mirabeau was in the habit of saying that there is no piece of idiocy,
however crude, that may not find acceptance on the part of a clever
man, provided one gets his valet to repeat it to him every day for a
month,’ laughed the prince. ‘I am afraid, though, that the Viennese
journalists credit us with a somewhat too robust faith. I am not at all
certain how “Robinson” on his island of Elba would appreciate the joke?’

The conversation drifted to the theatrical performances the Empress of
Austria was offering at the Imperial Palace.

‘No stage can dispute the palm with yours,’ said the prince, turning
to me. ‘I have seen your pieces played everywhere. In Prussia before
the great Frederick they only performed the masterpieces of the French
stage; in Russia at the “Ermitage” theatre [the palace and museum of
the Hermitage at St. Petersburg] I have seen _Le Philosophe Marié_ and
_Annette et Lubin_ performed before Empress Catherine, whom nature
had eminently fitted to appreciate grace and subtlety as well as
grandeur and brilliancy. I well remember the select company of that
most brilliant Court when Ségur’s _Crispin Duègne_ was produced, and
Cobentzel gave his admirable interpretation. Then there was my own
play, _L’Amant Ridicule_, whose author, I am afraid, was, perhaps, more
ridiculous than the lover. The most amusing part of the entertainment,
however, was enacted in the house itself with its throng of cranks,
faddists, and eccentric characters, each of whom had supplied me with
a kind of model, and who, as everywhere, applauded like mad without
recognising themselves. Most vivid to my mind is the theatre at Ferney,
where Voltaire himself played before us the most comic scenes from
Molière, and was convulsed with laughter, which rather spoilt the
effect he aimed at. Then came Trianon, “Trianon with an angelic queen
playing royally badly before a crowd of courtiers intoxicated with her
beauty.”’

After that, with his essentially eighteenth century grace, he recounted
to us some of the conversations of Versailles, redolent of wit and
cleverness.

‘These are admirable recollections, prince,’ said the Comte de Witt.

‘Yes,’ was the reply, ‘I have opened my eyes and ears a great deal, and
I have an excellent memory. My stories are only reproductions.’

That day was spent delightfully among friends. In the evening I went
to admire the expressive pantomime of Bigottini in _Nina_, and I wound
up by going to the Comtesse de Fuchs’s. Her drawing-room was crowded
as usual; fortunately I managed to find a seat near the Baron Ompteda.
With the serious face of an ancient augur, Ompteda was one of the most
originally clever men I have ever met. No one could sketch a portrait
in a few words better than he. People dreaded his tongue as much as his
sketches. But a staunch friend withal, whose epigrams were due to a
twist of the intellect rather than to a deficiency of heart.

While the crowd was buzzing around us on every side, Ompteda took to
reviewing some of our acquaintances that were there and also those who
entered subsequently.

‘Since you were last in Vienna,’ he said, ‘the capital has suffered a
siege and a foreign occupation; nevertheless, you’ll find few changes.
Matters lending themselves to ridicule are as plentiful as ever; they
are practically the image of the immobility of the Austrian government.
Only, they are becoming more apparent, in consequence of the century’s
progress.

‘The drawing-rooms of society are just as you left them. The one in
which we are seated has not ceased to be the special resort of the
friends of our charming _queen_. Never was a title more deserved, and
her subjects have never revolted against her yoke. I have seen few
women who have as many friends as she; but, what is more rare, she
has the talent of binding them so closely together that in spite of
events and absence they never become strangers to each other. A common
affection for her seems to be the basis of her government; our union is
its strength, and our happiness a guarantee of its duration. Honestly,
I do not think there is a more easy despotism than hers, or a code more
gentle to observe. In her empire, you’ll find, as always, politeness
without sham, frankness without abruptness, mutual regard without
flattery, and willingness to oblige without constraint.

‘There is, on the foremost plane, dear Major Fuchs, the happy and
peaceful possessor of this treasure. We all envy him. He continues, as
of old, the enthusiastic champion of the organisation of the Vienna
Militia, to which he owes his grade, and on which, he maintains, depend
the glory and the salvation of the Austrian monarchy.

‘Next comes the Comtesse Laure, his wife, ever the same, kind and good,
and wholly unaffected. Her girlish face seems to be the mirror of her
excellent heart. There are women whose features are more regularly
beautiful, but hers are stamped with a sweet and animated expression
which the mere art of pleasing would vainly endeavour to imitate. And
the real secret of keeping her friends attached to her for all time
lies probably in her conciliatory disposition, which, however, is not
marked by any weakness where firmness is required.

‘Here is the Chanoinesse Kinsky, whose expression of unaffected
kindness imparts a charm to her face to such a degree as to hide the
ravages of gradually advancing years.

‘Here are the Princesses de Courland. In the first place, the beautiful
Duchesse de Sagan, with her ardent admiration for everything that
is grand and heroic. Her exceeding loveliness is only the least of
her qualifications. Her sister, the Comtesse Edmond de Périgord,
presents an indefinable but charming whole by reason of her gait,
movements, bearing, and voice. Both her face and her figure possess the
irresistible charm without which the most perfect beauty is practically
powerless. It is a flower seemingly ignorant of the perfume it emits.
Finally, there is the third of the Courland Graces, the delightful
Duchesse d’Exerenza, in whose person are united all the admirable
attributes of the other two.

‘On the second plane stands Walmoden, who in spite of his being a
field-marshal to-day, has remained the simple and good-natured creature
of former times. The same may be said of the Prince de Hesse-Hombourg.
Military glory has not induced pride; his noble and stately manners
are altogether tempered by a sweet and affectionate disposition.
Prince Philippe is one of those men whom neither spite nor sarcasm can
touch. In his familiar intercourse with his fellow-mortals, he is as
distinguished for the noble impulses of his heart as he is famed on the
battle-field for his brilliant valour and his promptness of perception.

‘Reuss is always in the clouds; I do not pretend to follow him thither.
Not having travelled, he has had little opportunity of seeing things;
consequently, he mistakes the effects of his imagination for the
results of learning, his desire to know for the elements of science,
vagueness for tact. In short, he is the living proof that with much
cleverness and the germ of talent, a man may make himself unbearable in
society by the constant display of small defects calculated to irritate
those around him.

‘Just cast your eye in the direction of the Courland princesses,
to the Prince de Lichtenstein seated near them, who is as much at
home in the drawing-room as on the battle-field. They call him the
“monster-prince,” but I can assure you he is an Azor who has captivated
many Zémires.[67] He counts as many successes with the fair sex as
mentions in the “orders of the day.”

‘The Duc d’Exerenza, the happy husband of a charming woman, is one of
the mortals who, as Figaro has it, “gave themselves the trouble to be
born.” All things considered, he is not a “bad sort.”

‘De Gentz is the custodian of all the secrets of Europe, just as in a
short time he’ll possess all the orders of it. One of the many voices
of that silent being constitutes the Austrian government; what with his
manifestoes, his newspapers, and his proclamations, he has, perhaps,
been as formidable an opponent to Napoleon as the snow-bound steppes of
Russia. The honours and the ribands are, however, not exclusively the
things he wants. The sovereigns are also aware of his love of money,
and they simply gorge him with it. Overwhelmed with work and business,
satiated with pleasure, he has, nevertheless, flung himself into the
maëlstrom of society in the hope of finding some excitement which will
take him “out of himself.” It is most doubtful whether his road to
happiness lies in that direction.

‘Ferdinand de Palfi is as sprightly as a fairy figure: his cousin is a
living Pactolus. The first gambles, wins much money, and with his gains
has built himself a magnificent mansion, which people call “a house
of cards.” He welcomes his friends there with the happy face he wears
to-night, and his friends are legion. François is handsome among the
handsome, very lavish with women, who simply worship him. Both, it is
no exaggeration to say, are under a lucky star.

‘Prince Paul Esterhazy is kind and affectionate, but somewhat distant
in manner. He also has only to let life glide by without taking
trouble. Assuredly, he has a unique future before him. I asked Malfati
yesterday how Paul’s father, Prince Nicolas, who is no longer young,
can keep up with all these gay doings without impairing his health. “It
is his happiness that keeps him up,” replied the physician. Happiness
considered in that light is, unfortunately, not as yet a medical
prescription.’

Just as the baron had finished his portraits, supper was served.

The principal topic of conversation was the imperial _carrousel_ which
was to take place the next day. The young Comte de Woyna, who was to
be one of the twenty-four knights, gave us all the particulars of
the preparations, and was eagerly listened to, for the interest and
curiosity of the moment centred there. Even business and pleasure paled
before that memorable fête, which in itself was to condense all the
splendour of the Congress.

The day so much longed for broke at last. The preparations had
occupied so many weeks as to leave no doubt about the intentions of
the Court to display all the marvels of its pomp and the resources of
its wealth. The fête was to conjure up all the brilliant and poetical
traditions of the past. The last traces of the recreations of ancient
chivalry were effaced before the last vestiges of feudalism. Our age,
wholly practical in war as in love, no longer lends itself to those
ingenious and delightful theories of mediævalism. The enthusiasm of
the heart, the elevation of thought, and the abnegation of passion
have disappeared from our manners and customs, and been replaced by a
serious and polished selfishness. One is no longer the chosen knight
of this or that fair one. One no longer maintains, lance in hand, the
superiority of her charms against all comers; one no longer risks one’s
life for a scarf embroidered by her fingers. Love nowadays avoids
attracting attention; it is only an accessory of life, and its first
care is to wrap itself round as if with some mysterious veil.

The manners and customs of ancient chivalry are, nevertheless,
deserving of regret. Love, thus understood and openly professed, was
not only the life of the heart but the source of great thoughts and
noble passions. It must have been grand to proclaim one’s disinterested
courage, one’s contempt of danger, when the sole recompense hoped for
was a word or a smile from the woman beloved.

The fair sex especially must regret those changes in our social habits.
Ever since the levelling tendency of general civilisation lowered the
standard of our feelings, women have lost that ideal empire in which
they reigned as sovereigns; they have descended from a throne to be
confounded with the crowd. It is not difficult, then, to imagine their
interest in the preparations for a fête the object of which was to
bring back to the mind, and to revive, as it were, the forms and spirit
of the age of chivalry.

The Prince de Ligne had presented me with one of the tickets sent to
him by the great Marshal Trauttmansdorff. At seven we were on our way
together to the Burg.

‘Do not imagine,’ said the prince while we were trundling along, ‘that
you are going to witness a combat to the death. It will be neither a
_pas d’armes_ [the disputing of a passage by one or several knights],
nor, least of all, an appeal to “the judgment of God,” in which the
vanquished could only redeem his life by entering a monastery. Those
serious contests have been replaced by more graceful and less violent
exercises. Our modern redressers of wrongs in their tournaments uphold
the incomparable beauty of their lady by the power of their lances in
as peaceable a manner as the champions of old defended a thesis at the
“Courts of Love.” Hence, we need apprehend no fatal accident like that
which put an end to the life of Henri II., and caused the abolition of
the lists of the Middle Ages.’

Several officers, under the orders of the grand-master of the
ceremonies, the Comte de Wurmbrandt, were ready at the doors to conduct
the guests to their seats. General curiosity had reached so high as
to lead, it was said, to the forging of tickets, which were sold at
an enormous price. In consequence of this the police of Vienna had
been compelled to institute the most minute researches. The imperial
riding-school, constructed by Charles V., and ever since called the
‘Hall of the Carrousel,’ had been set apart for the function. The
structure, the vast interior of which is as spacious as an ordinary
church, has the form of a long parallelogram. All around it there runs
a circular gallery communicating with the apartments of the palace.
Seats for twelve hundred spectators rose in a magnificent sweep of
tiers. The gallery was divided into four-and-twenty sections by as
many Corinthian columns, against which were hung the scutcheons of the
knights with their arms and mottoes.

At each end of the vast arena two stands, occupying the whole length
of the building, had been erected. They were draped with the most
gorgeous textile stuffs; the one set apart for the sovereigns,
empresses, queens, and reigning princes; the other, exactly facing it,
intended for the ladies of the twenty-four paladins about to prove
that they were the fairest among the fair. Above these stands were the
orchestras, in which forgathered all that Vienna could boast in the way
of distinguished musicians.

One of the lateral galleries was reserved for the ambassadors, the
ministers, and the plenipotentiaries of Europe, for the military
celebrities, and for the illustrious foreign families. The Austrian,
Hungarian, and Polish nobles occupied the other gallery. Immediately
under the imperial stand was the row of rings to be carried away by
the competitors at full tilt. Ranged round the arena on pillars
were Turkish and Moorish heads with the traditional turban, equally
intended to serve as targets for the combatants. No doubt the hatred
of the Teuton warriors for their invaders and implacable foes was
kept up in days of yore by similar devices. Finally, in order to
prevent accidents, the floor of the riding-school was hidden beneath
a layer of fine sand, half-a-foot deep. At the door of the hall there
was a barrier, marking the entrance to the lists. Behind that door
were posted the heralds-of-arms with their trumpets and in gorgeous
costumes. Numberless lustres and candelabra holding wax candles shed
through this huge interior a light scarcely inferior to that of day.

We were seated between Field-marshal Walmoden and the Prince Philippe
de Hesse-Hombourg. Near us was the Prince Nicolas Esterhazy in his
uniform of the Hungarian hussars, the magnificent embroidery of
which was in itself sufficient to excite the greatest curiosity. The
first row of our gallery was occupied by the handsomest and most
eminent women of Viennese society: the Princesses Marie Esterhazy,
de Wallstein, Jean de Lichtenstein, de Stahremberg, de Colloredo, de
Metternich, de Schwartzenberg, the Comtesses Batthyani, de Durkeim,
etc. The opposite gallery held the foreign ladies. In the back rows,
the ‘highnesses,’ the diplomatic ‘excellencies’ of every country,
of every degree of importance, constituted an almost unbroken line
of glittering gold and diamonds in their Court dresses and uniforms
disappearing beneath their orders and embroideries. A relief was
afforded by the red of Cardinal Gonzalvi’s dress; and a little further
on by the turban of the Pasha of Widdin, the caftan of Mauroyeny[68]
and the colpack of Prince Manug, Bey of Murza. These seemed to supply a
kind of variant to this incomparable splendour.

‘Just look at Lady Castlereagh, close to the stand of the sovereigns,’
said the Prince de Ligne. ‘She is wearing her husband’s Garter in
diamonds as a kind of tiara. That is a little bit of facetious vanity,
not contemplated by courteous Edward III. when he picked up the blue
ribbon that fastened the stocking of the handsome Alice of Salisbury.
Pride, when it wishes to make itself conspicuous, often plays us some
scurvy tricks.’

At eight to the minute a blast of trumpets by the heralds announced the
arrival of the twenty-four ladies, escorted by their valiant champions.
They took their seats in the first row of their stand.

All, in virtue of their grace and beauty, deserved the name of ‘belles
d’amour’ that had been given to them. They were the Princesses Paul
Esterhazy, Marie de Metternich, the Comtesses de Périgord, Rzewuska,
Marassi, Sophie Zichy, etc. It is impossible to imagine a more gorgeous
and at the same time graceful spectacle. These ladies were divided into
four quadrilles, each distinguished by the colour of their dresses,
namely, emerald green, crimson, blue, and black. All their dresses were
made of velvet, trimmed with priceless lace and sparkling with precious
stones.

The whole of their costumes had been copied in the minutest details
from those of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The quadrille
that had adopted emerald green wore the Hungarian national dress.
It consisted of a long open tunic over a petticoat of white satin,
fastened from the bust to the knees with diamond pins. Placed at
regular intervals, the openings between these pins disclosed the satin,
the dazzling white and glimmer of which presented a most delicious
contrast to the rich green of the velvet. Other diamond hooks likewise
marked openings from the waist to the shoulder. The bodice itself,
flat-busted, was covered with valuable gems. A principal wide and
floating sleeve of velvet, opening from the shoulder, fell along the
arm; beneath was another ample sleeve of white satin, embroidered
like the bodice, but in gold and coloured jewels. On their heads they
wore velvet toques, entirely covered with precious stones. Finally, a
long gossamer veil, picked out with gold, fastened to the head-dress,
and descending as far as the feet, enwrapped the wearer in a kind of
beautiful haze.

The other quadrilles had chosen respectively the Polish, Austrian, and
French costumes of the Louis XIII. period. A glance at them easily
induced the belief that all the trinket-caskets of the Austrian
monarchy had been ransacked. The ornaments worn on that evening by
these two dozen fair ones were estimated at thirty millions of francs.
Those of the Princesse Esterhazy, _née_ Tour et Taxis, figured in that
estimate for about six millions.

As soon as the ‘love beauties’ had taken their seats, presenting, as
it were, a line of angelic faces, all eyes were turned towards them.
Motionless, and enveloped in their long, transparent veils, they seemed
to await with the utmost calm the moment of their triumph. A second
blast of trumpets announced the arrival of the sovereigns. At their
entrance everybody rose, the four-and-twenty ladies flung back their
veils, and stood forth revealed in all their beauty, and were greeted
with unanimous applause, mingled with the acclamations due to the
presence of the monarchs.

The Emperor of Austria took his seat in the centre of the stand, with
the two empresses by his side; the other sovereigns and reigning
princes being placed according to their precedence. The seats,
upholstered in velvet, were resplendent with gold and embroidery. The
Emperor of Russia, confined to his apartments through indisposition,
was not present at this fête, but another was given in his honour a
few days later, at which the details of the first were reproduced with
mathematical precision.

The illustrious guests of the Austrian Court in their most brilliant
uniforms, or with their most magnificent ornaments, constituted
an imposing sight. In the front row of the imperial stand, to the
right and to the left of the empresses, were the Queen of Bavaria,
the Duchesse Béatrice d’Este, the Grande-Duchesse d’Oldenbourg, and
her sister, Marie de Weimar; behind them sat the Kings of Prussia,
Würtemberg, and Denmark; the Princes of Prussia, Würtemberg, and
Bavaria, the Prince Eugène de Beauharnais, and finally the Arch-Dukes
Charles, Albert, Ferdinand, Maximilien d’Este, Jean, and Regnier.

There had been whispers to the effect that Marie-Louise and her young
son would be present at these fêtes, but they neither came to this
one nor to the other. Marie-Louise, in fact, was in such a false
position as to have considered it simply consistent with her dignity in
misfortune to live in retirement.[69] Consequently she rarely left the
Palace of Schönbrunn. The Prince de Ligne told me, however, that in the
company of her father and of her young sisters she had been present at
several of the rehearsals.

The sovereigns and the spectators being seated, the building
immediately rang with stirring military music, and the twenty-four
champions appeared at the barrier. They were the pick of the nobility
of Europe. The majority had gained their spurs elsewhere during the
recent wars. If all shone in virtue of their personal glory and their
illustrious birth, they were not less distinguished by their physical
advantages. It was said that there had been rivalry in earnest in
pursuit of the honour of filling a rôle in the scenes imitated from
ancient times. Finally the choice, which was tantamount to a patent of
elegance and grace, was fixed on the youngest and handsomest. Foremost
among them were the Princes Vincent Esterhazy, Antoine Kadziwill,
Leopold de Saxe-Cobourg, the Comtes Felix Woyna, Petersen, the Vicomte
de Wargemont, the Prince Charles de Lichtenstein, Louis de Schenye,
Louis de Schönfeldt, and young Trauttmansdorff, the son of the Master
of the Horse.

The dresses of these knights had been exactly modelled on those of the
reign of François I., _i.e._ of the period when ‘chivalry,’ after a
last short blaze, was extinguished for ever. Like their fair dames, the
knights were divided into four quadrilles, each being marked by the
colour adopted by the corresponding feminine quadrille. The dress was
composed of a velvet doublet, tight at the waist, with puffed sleeves,
and lappets lined with satin. The front of the doublet was fastened
with buttons and laces of gold; below this came the close-fitting hose
and trunks, with yellow boots reaching to the calves, and provided
with gilt spurs. The hands were cased in gloves of a similar colour,
embroidered with gold, and ending in gauntlets; while on their heads
they wore large hats turned up in front, with the plume of feathers
drooping from the side and fastened with a diamond buckle. The swords
were suspended from baldricks encrusted with precious stones. Each fair
one had presented her knight with an ample band of stuff embroidered
in silk and gold. The scarf was tied in a bow at the side of the
sword-hand. The knights bestrode Hungarian horses of the rarest beauty,
and remarkable for their quickness of movement and their perfect
training. Their sleek coats, black as ebony, were almost entirely
hidden beneath their rich caparisons. Each knight carried a long lance
‘in rest’ on his knee. Four-and-twenty pages with banners displayed
preceded them, while in their wake came an equal number of squires,
dressed Spanish fashion, their bucklers inscribed with emblems and
mottoes.

The pages and squires drew up in line on each side of the arena. The
four-and-twenty knights, two abreast, rode up first to the stand of
the sovereigns, and lowered their lances in sign of salutation and
obedience before the queens and empresses; the latter graciously
responded with a wave of their hands. Retracing their steps, the
knights direct their horses to the other stand, and offer similar
homage to their ladies, who, however, rise in response, and thus give
the spectators an opportunity of judging the beauty of their features,
the elegance of their figures, and the richness of their dresses. After
riding twice round the arena, all the paladins retire, awaiting a new
signal.

The heralds soon sound a joyous blast, which is answered by the
musicians in the orchestras. The lists are open, and the different
games intended to show the skill and strength of the competitors begin.
Six knights, followed by their pages and squires, appear. They begin
with the _pas de lance_ (tilting at the ring); the horses are put to
the gallop, and each knight, rapidly borne along, removes at the point
of his lance one of the rings suspended before the imperial stand. Each
quadrille repeats the same movement three times, until the rings have
mostly disappeared, and the dexterity of the competitors has been put
to a severe test. At the end of this first exercise the lances with
the rings carried by each upon them are handed to the squires, and the
second game begins. Each champion, armed with a short dart, flings it
with consummate skill at the Saracens’ heads, and without slackening
his pace picks from the ground, by means of a second curved javelin,
the dart he has just flung. After that, drawing their swords, and
bent on the necks of their cattle, the knights gallop towards their
motionless adversaries, and strike them, endeavouring, however, to cut
them down altogether.

Half-a-dozen different games followed, and the whole was wound up by a
cleverly simulated combat between the knights--so cleverly simulated
that the Prince de Lichtenstein bit the dust, and was carried away
unconscious. It was an accident which, but for the cries from the
ladies’ stand, would have passed unnoticed, for though the knights
endeavoured, as in the jousts of old, to dismount their rivals, certain
regulations strictly limiting the bounds of attack and defence had
been fixed, and the moment there was the faintest sign of their being
exceeded by this or that combatant, the heralds-of-arms interfered,
suspended the offender, and a new knight took his place.

The shrieks of the _belles d’amour_ were altogether spontaneous, for
they did not imitate their ancestresses, who in the tourneys of old
encouraged their champions by their cries to do battle for their renown
to the last; the modern dames and damsels confined themselves to the
bestowal of expressive looks and sweet smiles. Perhaps these contained
as much encouragement as the more noisy demonstrations of approval,
although the Prince de Ligne, to judge from his remarks, would have
fain seen the fair ones revert to the ancient customs, ‘What delights
me above all in these revivals of chivalric practices is the image
of valour and skill inspired by love,’ he said. ‘Unquestionably,
our ancestors understood the love-passion better than we do. They
introduced it into everything--into their games and into their combats.
The love-passion in those days must have been a grand and noble
feeling; it was the twin-sister of glory. With us, love is only a
matter of pleasure. Instead of making it, as of old, an incentive to
the dangers of war or to the splendid perils of the lists, our poets
and novelists have relegated it to a cottage. But “love in a cottage,”
as has been aptly said, “soon becomes a cottage without love.” The
modern taste for tournaments,’ he went on, ‘is no new thing. I did
not see the jousts organised by the great Catherine at St. Petersburg
in the first years of her reign, but I have often been told the
particulars. Their most remarkable feature was the active participation
of women. They competed as well as the men. The celebrated Marshal
Münnich[70] was principal umpire. The favourite, Gregory Orloff, and
his brother Alexis were at the heads of the quadrilles. The first prize
for skill and grace was won by the handsome Comtesse Bouturlin, the
daughter of the great Chancellor Woronzoff. When handing it to her,
the old marshal decided that she should distribute the rest of the
wreaths to the dames and knights. It really seemed as if Catherine had
exhausted all kinds of pleasure and splendour, but there is, after all,
something left.’

While the prince was talking the four-and-twenty knights, this time
actively assisted by their pages and squires, executed several
difficult evolutions, attesting their skill and perfect horsemanship,
and the whole was wound up by a kind of equine set-dance, in which the
quadrupeds disputed the palm with their riders. Then the knights made
the round of the arena, saluted the sovereigns and their own dames, and
disappeared in the same order as they had come.

The sovereigns themselves intimated by rising that the entertainment
was at an end, while the knights made their appearance in the stand
allotted to their dames, escorting them to the huge rooms of the
palace set apart for the ball and the supper. These rooms were filled
with flowers, and decorated with exquisite taste; a flood of light as
brilliant as the orb of day showed the women in all their resplendent
beauty; they and their champions became the centre of general
admiration, the sovereigns having resumed the incognito, some of them,
by the aid of dominos, disappearing altogether in the crowd.

In the principal room there was a chief table with its service entirely
of gold. It stood on a kind of platform a few feet from the ground, and
was reserved exclusively for the royal guests of the Congress. To its
left there was another table almost equally magnificent, set apart
for the princes, the archdukes, the chiefs of reigning houses, and the
ministers of the great Powers. To the right there was a third table of
forty-eight covers for the actors of the tournament. Around the room
and in the adjoining ones smaller tables were spread, at which the
guests took their seats without distinction of rank. The perfume of the
baskets of flowers, the glitter of the ornaments worn, the brilliancy
of the diamonds, mingling with the colours of the floral decorations,
and constituting, as it were, ever so many shifting rainbows, the
sheen of the golden fruit-baskets--in short, the whole presented the
most magnificent sight hitherto witnessed anywhere. The magic of that
picture transported the spectator to one of the fairy scenes created
by a poetic imagination. During the collation minstrels sang, to the
accompaniment of their harps, lays to the beauty of the dames and to
the valour of their knights.

At the royal board the Empress of Austria was seated between the Kings
of Prussia and Denmark. Emperor Francis had by his side respectively
the Empress Elizabeth and the Grande-Duchesse d’Oldenbourg. A little
further on was the charming Marie, Duchesse de Weimar, and by her
side the Prince Guillaume de Prusse [the future Wilhelm I. King of
Prussia and German Emperor]. The ‘immense’ King of Würtemberg looks,
as usual, pre-occupied. The table, in front of him, has been cut
away to accommodate his portly person. A glance at him causes one to
speculate upon the potentiality of nature in stretching the human
skin. King Frederick of Denmark supplies an instance to the contrary;
but his intellect, his never-failing animation, his tact and the rest
of his admirable qualities, which would have transformed an ordinary
individual into a remarkable man, have made of this monarch a being
worshipped by everybody. Excellent Maximilian of Bavaria shows on his
open face the genuine expression of satisfaction and kindness.

At the table occupied by the paladins, Mme. Edmond de Périgord is
seated by the young Comte de Trauttmansdorff, her knight. As remarkable
for her beauty as for her tasteful dress, she captivates everybody
by the charm of her remarks, both animated and clever. The other
feminine glories of the tournament vie with each other in keeping the
conversational ball rolling. After the banquet a move was made to the
ball-room. More than three thousand invitations had been issued. All
that Vienna contained in the shape of illustrious personages, whether
in virtue of their birth, rank, or functions were there forgathered.
No memory could recall so many names celebrated in this or that
respect. No pen could adequately describe all those statesmen to whom
Europe had confided the interests of her destiny. Here, the Comte de
Loevenhielm, M. de Bernstorff, and the Prince d’Hardemberg[71] calmly
discussing the claim submitted to the Congress by the deposed King
Gustavus-Adolphus--a claim supported by Admiral Sir Sidney Smith with
more perseverance than success. There, M. de Humboldt, the Duc de
Dalberg, the Baron de Wessemberg, familiarly debating the problems
connected with Saxony and Poland. Further on, the Commandeur Alvaro
Ruffo and M. de Palmella speculating upon the fate reserved for Italy.
Still further on, M. de Metternich and M. de Nesselrode in lively
conversation with Lord Castlereagh, and, to judge from the seriousness
of their faces, not commenting on the joke just perpetrated by the
Englishman [Irishman?] in connection with the temporary transformation
of the Garter into a tiara. While the fate of Naples, Sweden, and
Poland is apparently hanging in the balance, waltzing and dancing are
going on, without the least concern about all these questions. The
quadrilles had been arranged beforehand. In the centre of the principal
ball-room, the quadrilles of the ‘forty-eight’ notable figures formed
the chief attraction. The sun had appeared on the horizon before the
last guests left the Burg.



CHAPTER IX

  Recollections of the Military Tournament of Stockholm in 1800--
      The Comte de Fersen--King Gustavus IV.--The Challenge of the
      Unknown Knight--The Games on the Bridge at Pisa.


During the next four days the whole of Vienna seemed engrossed with
the accounts of the magnificence of the _carrousel_. Every particular
was eagerly caught up, the names of the knights and their dames were
on everybody’s lips. There were frequent allusions to the accident to
Prince Lichtenstein, whose life had for some time been in danger. In
short, the _carrousel_ was the inevitable subject of every conversation.

At a reception at the Princesse Jean de Lichtenstein’s, the whole of
the programme was minutely reviewed; some praised and others criticised
the knights and their dames, the feats accomplished, the horses, the
evolutions, etc. Nevertheless, the upshot of all the remarks was that,
in respect of splendour, nothing like it had ever been seen in Europe,
and that no fête of that kind had ever been attended by an equal number
of spectators.[72]

‘It is perfectly natural that Germany, which is the birthplace of
tournaments, should endeavour to revive their glory on such a solemn
occasion,’ said Prince Philippe de Hesse-Hombourg. ‘I do not think that
anything of the kind has ever been attempted since Louis XIV.‘s time,’
said the hostess. ‘If Colbert had seen our knights and their fair ones,
he would probably have admitted being beaten.’

I reminded them that the first years of the nineteenth century had
been marked by several of those tournaments; and that I myself had
witnessed one in Stockholm given by Gustavus-Adolphus IV. At the
commencement of his reign that prince endeavoured to preserve in
Sweden the brilliant valour and the elegant and courtly manners of
which the Court of Gustavus III. had afforded such perfect models. He
was passionately fond of those warlike exercises, and they generally
took place at his summer residence of Drotningholm. ‘Assuredly,’ I
remarked, ‘the Vienna _carrousel_ has been admirable throughout from
a spectacular point of view. But that which I saw in 1800 could vie
with it, not in respect of its pomp and splendour, or by reason of the
eminent rank of its spectators, but through its faithful adherence to,
and accurate reproduction of, ancient traditions. It was, moreover,
marked by an incident which recalled the chivalric and often bloody
encounters of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.’ As a matter of
course, I was pressed to give further particulars, and this, as far as
my memory serves me, is what I told them.

       *       *       *       *       *

The tournament was given in honour of the queen’s birthday, and for
several months beforehand the northern Courts had been apprised of it.
The young king was to figure among the champions, and the queen, one of
the handsomest women of her time, was to crown the victor and present
to him in the presence of the whole Court the reward of his skill,
which consisted of a scarf wholly embroidered by her own hands. Nothing
had been left undone to invest this fête with all the prestige that
formerly marked those of Louis XIV., the accounts of which had fairly
astonished the whole of Europe.

The Comte de Fersen,[73] whose physical advantages and lucky star had
placed him in such high favour at the Court of France, came to fetch
us, ‘my father’ [the Marquis de Chambonas, who had adopted the author]
and me, to escort us to Drotningholm. Before proceeding thither, he
had to take on his way the Comte de Paar, his fellow-umpire at the
tournament, who, in virtue of being a ‘Gentleman of the Chamber,’ had
been present at the rehearsal of a ballet to be given on that very
evening for the first time at the opera. No sooner had we reached the
doors of the magnificent structure, due to Gustavus III.‘s love of
art, than we were conducted to a room preceding the royal box, where a
collation was awaiting us. It was there that Gustavus-Adolphus supped
when he came to the theatre, and that, divesting himself of all his
royal prerogatives, he became the equal of his friends. In tragic
contrast with the rest of the magnificent and sumptuous furniture,
with all those gold, silken, and alabaster decorations, one could not
help noticing a crimson velvet couch with stains all over it. It was
on this couch that Gustavus-Adolphus III. had been laid during the
night of the 16th March 1792, after the exploit of Ankarstroem. The
blood from his wound had practically soaked the material. Though it
would have been extremely simple to remove the piece of furniture, thus
effacing the trace of a crime committed in a place devoted to pleasure,
the king, from motives it was not easy to guess, had insisted upon
the couch remaining there, perhaps as an object lesson or merely as a
remembrance.[74]

The Comte de Paar soon joined us, and shortly afterwards we were on our
way to the Queen’s demesne, about four leagues from Stockholm. Numerous
carriages were performing the same journey, and they rendered the
picturesque Swedish country road more animated than usual.

A dense crowd had gathered since early morning around the castle,
blocking up every approach to it. They were on foot, on horseback,
and in every kind of conveyance; nevertheless, most admirable order
prevailed throughout. Two Uhlans of the Guards and an equerry were
waiting for the Comte de Fersen, who, in virtue of his functions as an
umpire, was to preside at the fête.

At a little distance from the castle, in a pretty valley overlooked
by wooded heights, a circus had been erected, with galleries capable
of holding about four thousand spectators. Its floor had disappeared
beneath a thick layer of the finest sand, and high and strong palisades
surrounded it on every side. The women, in their richest apparel,
were almost without exception remarkable for the beauty peculiar to
their sisters of northern climes. The men were in uniform or in Court
dress. A cloak of black silk lined with crimson satin was considered
tantamount to gala vesture. The grandees of the kingdom had all
donned the dresses connected with their functions. Stands, draped
with satin, and displaying the three crowns of Sweden, were set apart
for the ambassadors. The ring was hung with Swedish standards. At one
end of the building was the pavilion for the queen and her ladies of
honour, particularly noticeable for the coquettish mingling of its
decorations, consisting of flowers, weapons, and flags, intertwined
with simple and genuine elegance. Dupré, the French architect, one of
the most celebrated decorators of Europe, had superintended all the
arrangements.

At regular distances there were columns, from some of which were
suspended the rings for the games, while others supported the Turks’
heads to be slashed at by the competitors. The banners of the knights
selected to dispute the prize were first borne in procession around the
arena, then fixed against the different barriers of the ring.

Before leaving us Comte de Fersen had introduced us to his friend, M.
de Rozen, a young man who had taken part in the previous _carrousel_,
and who was, therefore, in a position to give us full particulars of
the present one. The various emblems and mottoes of the banners and
scutcheons were as ingenious as they were instructive in the true
spirit of chivalry. Among many I cite the following:--

      A sword on a field azure.

      Motto--‘Je pars, je brille, je frappe.’
      (I go, I shine, I strike.)

      A lion on a field starred.

     ‘La valeur soumet les astres.’
      (Valour subjugates the stars.)

      A fire burning on an altar.

     ‘Ce qui est pur est éternel.’
      (The pure lasts for ever.)

      An ermine climbing a steep height.

     ‘Tâche sans tache.’
      (Try but keep stainless.)

Finally, another shield, checkered red and yellow, was that of Tonin,
the jester of the late king. His motto, though, would have given no
clue to that effect.

It ran:

     ‘Tout par raison,
      Raison par tout,
      Partout raison.’
      (Every thing through reason,
      Reason in every thing,
      Everywhere reason.)

Tonin only jousted with witticisms, biting remarks and wholesome
truths, brought home to his hearers with a laugh; on all these points
he could make sure of the victory, for he varied them like his motto.
Among all these banners, resplendent with colour and embroidery, there
hung a black one without a squire to guard it. We asked M. de Rozen to
whom this mournful standard belonged.

‘Do you not know?’ he replied. ‘Have you not read in the papers that
a knight who wishes to remain unknown has challenged to single combat
the champion sufficiently bold to dispute with him the prize of the
tournament? The prize, as you are aware, is a scarf embroidered by the
queen. At the time fixed for calling the roll of the knights they found
his glove lying in the middle of the ring, and his black banner planted
where it is now; attached to it was his buckler, with the following
words on a star-spangled blue ground:

     ‘Tra tanti una.’
      (Only one among all.)

‘To add to the strangeness of the challenge is his choice of the
battle-axe, which went out of use long ago. The most curious stories
are going the round in connection with the challenge of that mysterious
Amadis. Among the different versions the most implicitly believed in is
the following:

‘A young noble, sprung from one of the most illustrious families of
Great Britain, saw the Queen at Baden when she was only Princess
Dorothée-Wilhelmine. He fell deeply in love with her. Considering his
rank and his immense fortune, he might possibly have aspired to her
hand with success. But the two sisters of our queen having married
respectively the Emperor of Russia and Maximilien de Bavière, reasons
of state and the fitness of things carried her to the throne of Sweden.
The young lord, unable to conquer a feeling which from that moment was
shorn of all hope, was mad enough to gain admission surreptitiously to
our Court, and always under a fresh disguise. He was recognised by the
ladies-in-waiting of our queen, and narrowly escaped the punishment
due to his foolhardiness. The rumour went that he had gone to America.
Informed, no doubt, with the rest of Europe of the preparations for
this tournament, he wished to make an attempt to conquer or to die
under the very eyes of the woman he loves. It is even said that,
knowing the chivalric spirit of Gustavus-Adolphus, he conceived the
flattering hope of having a royal adversary to contend with, with the
possible chance of succeeding him who, as he probably thought, robbed
him at first.

‘The Comte de Torstenson, son of the field-marshal, has offered to take
up the challenge. He has practised for some time with the battle-axe,
and acquired marvellous skill with it.’

At that moment the harmonious strains of a hundred instruments
announced the arrival of the queen, and every eye was turned towards
her.

Her perfect beauty and the stateliness of her person would have
revealed the sovereign under the humblest dress. Surrounded by her
Court ladies, she took her seat under the canopy prepared for her.
Immediately the king at the head of his nobles entered the ring and
rode round it, saluting with his lance all the ladies, who had risen at
his coming.

Gustavus-Adolphus IV. was at that time in his twenty-second year.
He was well built, had a martial bearing, and a noble and frank
countenance. He was anxious to copy Charles XII., and, to enhance
the likeness, he wore, as a rule, a blue coat, buttoned to the chin,
and had his hair brushed up from the roots. But with the sword that
performed such wonders at Bender, he lacked the strong arm that had so
often made the sword victorious, and the genius that had directed it.

When he passed before the queen, in his magnificent costume, with head
erect and proud mien, and holding his lance with a firm grip, his
horse reared. Gustavus tried to quiet it, but an accidental touch of
the spurs made matters worse, and he was within an ace of being thrown.
It was the same animal he had ridden on the day of his coronation at
Upsala, and which had nearly killed him--an accident that, as a matter
of course, had furnished the superstitious among his subjects with a
thousand conjectures regarding the future of his reign. The cause of
the mishap was, however, sufficiently simple. The groom or equerry
entrusted with the training of the animal for the ceremony stopped
every day before the shop of a shoemaker, whose wife, a young Finnish
woman, amused herself by giving it a piece of bread and salt. The
handsome charger got thoroughly used to stopping at the hospitable
door, and when Gustavus, the crown on his head and sceptre in hand,
proceeded to the cathedral, it refused to pass the shop without its
usual ration. The king, thinking it was a mere whim on the animal’s
part, put the rowels into its flesh; the horse reared, crown and
sceptre rolled into the dust, and without the prompt assistance of
a page walking by the monarch’s side, who by clutching at his boot
restored his equilibrium, Gustavus would have gone the way of the royal
insignia. At the news of the accident, the fortune-teller, Arvidson,
exclaimed, it was said, with tears coursing down her cheeks: ‘The race
of Wasa has ceased to reign in Sweden.’[75] At the slightest uncommon
event of that reign, the prediction of the fortune-teller was ‘trotted
out’; as a matter of course the spectators at the tournament at once
added this omen to the rest.

Meanwhile, the barrier was thrown open to the knights in their
magnificent dresses. Divided into quadrilles, they rode around the
lists, and in passing before the queen they saluted by lowering their
lances. All wore the colours of their dames in the form of a scarf, a
veil, a knot of ribbons, or a buckle. After that, they put their horses
through the boldest and most graceful evolutions. When that warlike
procession was concluded, to the sound of blasts from the combined
bands of the regiments of the Guards and the cheering of the crowd,
they retired to await the signal for the jousts.

A herald-of-arms, taking his stand in the centre of the arena,
announced the opening of the tournament, and added in a loud voice:
‘In the name of the king, and according to the laws of the kingdom, it
is forbidden to any subject or alien to give or to accept a challenge
to single combat under no matter what pretext. It would be senseless
to imagine that an enclosure intended for the display of games of
skill could with impunity serve for the shedding of blood in the very
presence of the queen.’

The proclamation was received with signs of general approval. The
black banner of the unknown champion was torn down, and contemptuously
flung over the barrier. After which, Gustavus rode up to the Comte
de Torstenson, who had taken up his position at the entrance to the
lists, and who wore a brilliant suit of armour, with a magnificent
breastplate, inlaid with gold, over a coat of double mail, and whose
hand grasped a heavy battle-axe, which was lowered as his king drew
near.

‘Comte de Torstenson,’ said Gustavus, holding out his hand, ‘we
appreciate your courage, and we thank you for it, but we reserve it for
a more noble opportunity.’

The lists were declared open. The king said in a loud voice, ‘Let every
one do his duty.’ Comte Fersen in his capacity of judge replied: ‘Go.’
Then the different games commenced and were kept up for four hours. As
at the Vienna _carrousel_, the knights vied with each other in showing
their skill, their valour, and agility. The weather was magnificent;
its beauty seemed to enhance the general enthusiasm. Scarfs fluttered
in the air, joyous applause and murmurs of praise broke forth at every
moment from lips as red as the rose, while flowers were flung by hands
trembling with emotion and fell at the competitors’ feet.

The contest was a long one; the champions vying with each other in
skill. Finally, Comte Piper was adjudged the victor. The judge and the
heralds proclaimed his name and conducted him to the feet of the queen,
who, while complimenting him, vested him with the scarf, the reward
of his skill, and held out the hand that embroidered the ornament for
him to kiss. The trumpets sounded a joyous blast, while cheers broke
forth greeting the victorious young champion, who was moreover pelted
with flowers. His banner was hung upon a car drawn by two milk-white
reindeer richly caparisoned: Comte Fersen had sent for them to his
estate in Lapland to offer them to the king. The car was escorted by
the whole of the Court across the park to the banqueting hall at the
castle. Several tables had been spread; the king presided over that
occupied by his family and the victorious knight; the chancellor and
the grand officers of the crown presided over the others. Refreshments
were served to the people in the garden, and when night set in, the
gaiety that prevailed on the immense lawn and in the bosky dells
glittering with lights invested the fête with the air of a family
gathering.

After the banquet we went to the beautiful opera-house to hear the
lyrical drama of _Gustave Wasa_, the music of which was by Piccini,
and the libretto by the late king. Finally, a general illumination of
the gardens, a torchlight procession, and enormous fireworks fitly
wound up the day, which doubtless was among the small number of happy
ones reserved by fate for Gustavus-Adolphus IV.

       *       *       *       *       *

The guests of the Princesse Jean de Lichtenstein had listened
attentively to the particulars of a fête which apparently did not
belong to our own times. The listeners, and especially the fair sex,
had probably expected a sequel to the challenge of the knight of
the black banner, which sequel, of course, was to take the form of
a ‘combat to the death.’ The pacific termination of the tournament
seemed to cause more or less of a disappointment. I ventured to remark
that neither the tournament at Stockholm nor the _carrousel_ in Vienna
could compare with the games enacted on the bridge of Pisa, which,
from the standpoint of danger and tenacity of purpose, presented the
most perfect image of the old wars in Italy of the Middle Ages. No one
present but myself had ever witnessed these games, and I was asked to
convey an idea of them.

       *       *       *       *       *

The last of those games, at which I happened to be present, took place
during the short-lived existence of the kingdom of Etruria.[76] They
had been abolished long ago on account of the accidents to which they
gave rise. The queen’s consent to their revival was obtained with
great difficulty. The origin of this struggle cannot be fixed with
any degree of certainty, for though it was called ‘a game’ it was in
reality a battle. It is more than probable that they dated from the
long distant past; according to some, they were Greek and almost as
old as the Olympic Games. The Pisans maintain that in the ancient
chronicles of their town there is a mention of the names of some
champions of Sainte-Marie who formed part of the contingent despatched
by their republic to the Crusades. In our days Alfieri has given us a
poetical picture of those chivalric contests, with all their perils and
the passions they aroused.

Pisa is traversed by the Arno; and a handsome marble bridge connects
the two quarters of the town. One quarter has its patroness in the
Virgin Mary, the other is placed under the protection of St. Anthony.
When they celebrated those games in days of old, each side chose three
hundred champions to proclaim and maintain the pre-eminence of their
patron’s banner against all comers. Those improvised defenders were
always selected from among the strongest, the bravest, and most agile
young fellows of their quarter.

They were clad in armour similar to that worn by their ancestors in
the palmy days of the republic. Trained and drilled long beforehand by
experienced leaders, they stoutly prepared themselves both for attack
and defence. A massive breastplate, a helmet, armlets, and cuish of
steel constituted their means of defence; their weapon of offence
consisted of a kind of club of hard wood, three feet long; one blow
dealt with force and precision was sufficient to disable an adversary.

A lowered barrier in the centre of the bridge separated the combatants.
At the stroke of three from the cathedral towers, a cannon shot gave
the signal, and immediately the barrier was raised. Amidst a furious
blast of trumpets, the struggle began, and the blows from the heavy
clubs rang on the steel of the breastplates and helmets. That game,
almost as barbarous as the times that gave it birth, lasted for
three-quarters of an hour. At the discharge of a second shot, the
barrier was lowered, and the party which had driven back the other from
its position, if but the length of a foot, was proclaimed the victor.
Cries of joy rang on the bank that had gained the victory, while a
mournful silence attested the defeat and the disgrace of the opposite
bank.

In 1805 I happened to be in Pisa, and thanks to some friends and the
kindness of M. Aubusson de la Feuillade, the French ambassador, I was
enabled to witness that extraordinary fête. It had been announced
throughout the length and breadth of Italy some weeks before its
celebration. At the news of the forthcoming contest offered to strength
and dexterity, there was a rush from all parts of combatants who had
acquired a reputation for bravery or herculean strength. There was,
according to report, one from Calabria, others from Ancona and Geneva;
Rome had sent a couple of Transteverinos, and, wonderful to relate, the
learned University of Padua added to the contingent with a professor
reputed to be the strongest man of Italy. Personages belonging to the
highest classes of Italian society had inscribed themselves under the
name of some of their retainers: assured of preserving their incognito,
thanks to the visors of their helmets, they intended taking part in
the struggle, the pugilistic fever having become general. Constant
practice had familiarised the athletes with the use of their clubs to
such a degree as to enable them to handle these as their forefathers
handled the double-edged sword in the Middle Ages. The professor from
Padua talked of challenging four men armed with sabres and swords, and
of vanquishing them with the sole aid of his club. The enthusiasm had
turned all heads. No doubt it is a very extraordinary thing that,
in an enlightened age like ours, such an amusement, with all its
inevitable and perhaps fatal consequences, should have been allowed.
It is, moreover, most probable that the danger involved in the whole
affair added to people’s curiosity. Certain is it, however, that Pisa
was invaded by more than a hundred thousand strangers--an enormous
number for a town the population of which did not exceed twelve
thousand inhabitants.

The week preceding the struggle was spent in warlike exercises, and
the eve of the day itself in pious practices and meditation. All the
combatants scrupulously kept their vigil in prayers like the knights of
old, went to confession, and took the Sacrament. The bishop publicly
blessed the standards, richly embroidered by the ladies of the foremost
families of the land. In short, everything calculated to sustain the
combatants’ courage was resorted to in honour of either the patron
or patroness whose banner they defended. Those who had laid wagers
on the event--and their number and the amount of their bets were
considerable--spared neither promises nor encouragement. During that
week, each combatant was fed like a podesta; but the use of strong
liquors was strictly forbidden: like Richelieu at the siege of Mahon,
the chiefs intimated in the ‘orders for the day’ that any champion
guilty of inebriety should not have the honour of competing.

From six in the morning, all the windows overlooking the Arno at that
point were occupied by elegantly dressed women; these windows had
been let at enormous prices. There were, moreover, stands on both
banks of the river intended for spectators. The quays were absolutely
black with people from the rural districts. The excursion, in their
minds, was invested with the solemnity of a pilgrimage. Their varied
and picturesque dresses offered a unique sight. A large stand,
richly draped, had been erected for the queen, the court, the corps
diplomatique, and foreigners of distinction who had come from all the
Italian Courts.

Craft of all dimensions, displaying bunting from prow to stern,
and provided with elegant tents, crowded the river. They had bands
on board, and a glance showed the preparations for cold collations
everywhere. This flotilla alone was a delightful sight. On both sides
of the bridge there were other craft: they, as it were, constituted
the riparian police, and were charged with keeping both boats and
spectators at a distance. Their second mission consisted in affording
aid to the combatants who from some cause or other might tumble into
the stream. Such accidents, to judge from a picture at the town hall,
painted more than two centuries before, were by no means improbable.
The canvas represented, among other phases of the struggle, two knights
clinging tightly to each other, and continuing the contest, while
dropping into the river.

The living picture that day was scarcely less curious, with the noise,
bustle, and stir of the spectators, the constant movement on both banks
of the stream, the diversity of Italian dialects, and the innumerable
incidents of that outdoor life which in this sunny clime seems the most
natural.

At twelve o’clock the combatants donned their armour; their trainers
and chiefs crowd around them and renew their counsels and instructions.
To watch the excitement of their wives and their womankind one might
have taken them for so many Spartan matrons handing their bucklers to
their sons and saying: ‘With it or on it.’

Thus armed, the combatants repair to their respective encampments;
refreshments are served out to them under tents, and this time the
solids are washed down with wine from the best cellars of the town.
At the bugle-call they emerge from their encampments and form in line
of battle; then, preceded by their military bands and with banners
unfurled, they slowly gain the side of the bridge they have sworn
to defend. The banners were attached outside the parapets. On each
side plans of attack and defence had been prepared, and so carefully
elaborated as to elicit the admiration of a most competent judge in
military matters, namely, the General of Division Duchesne. He had
made the campaigns of Italy, Holland, and Egypt, and considered them
(the plans) samples of strategical skill, from the manner in which the
forces were disposed for an engagement in which everything depended on
physical strength.

Meanwhile the two parties had been pressing against the barrier for
some minutes. Three struck from the cathedral clock; at the same time
the air rings with the firing of the cannon, the signal so impatiently
waited for. The obstacle dividing the two contingents is lifted, and
the attack commences with a tenacity of which none but an eyewitness
can conceive an approximate idea. All kinds of cries fall upon the
ear. To the majority of the spectators the interest of the whole is
heightened by the promptings of greed, of pride, and even of love. Each
sign of success is greeted with deafening applause. The bravery of the
combatants rises into frenzy, and the hand-to-hand struggle becomes a
real battle with its fury and its alternating incidents.

While the two troops assail each other with equal fury, each side
flings long ropes with iron crooks attached to them into their
adversaries’ ranks. The crook catches a leg, a man is down, and he
is dragged away captive. It is simply a modification of the lasso
practised by the Tartars on the Yedissen steppes: the running knot is
thrown around the necks of the wild horses and they are checked in
their stampede.

The half-hour after three had struck, and the two contingents, pressed
tightly against each other, seemed so many athletes who, unable to make
their opponents budge, spend their strength in protracted efforts. Not
an inch of ground had been gained; another ten minutes, and Victory
herself, in her indecisive mood, would have claimed, as in days of old,
her share of the glory.

The two masses were so tightly wedged against each other as to make
fighting impossible. They were simply like the waves of two meeting
streams. In order to give further weight to the men, each leader
ordered his band of musicians to advance, which movement again only
equalised the power of resistance. On the two banks a mournful silence
followed the joyous acclamations of the previous half-hour; the
general deadlock left little or no hope of a decisive result. At last
two champions of the hindmost ranks of Sainte-Marie hit upon a most
audacious movement. In spite of the weight of their armour, they climb
on to the shoulders of their comrades, and for a few moments remain
erect on the flooring of brass and steel; in other words, the large
helmets so closely serried as to leave little or no space between them.
Advancing carefully from helmet to helmet, they reach the first rows
of their own contingent. From the height of that living fortress, as
from the height of a war-chariot, they shower tremendous blows with
their clubs on the heads of their adversaries. The latter, though
protected by the metal covering their skulls, finally reel and fall
down. The breach is made, a thousand cries of victory from the side of
Sainte-Marie are heard, and its mass advances. In a short time it has
over-stepped its own line of demarcation, and the banner of St. Anthony
is carried away by the two aerial champions.

The leader of the opposite forces in vain attempts a defence similar
to the attack. Some St. Anthony champions also climb on to their
fellows’ shoulders. There is positively a second combat on the heads
of the combatants, without, however, detracting in the slightest from
the fury of the onslaught of those who are on _terra firma_. It was
indeed something marvellous to see those two stages of warriors dealing
each other blows and using all the combined resources of strength. The
struggle was both violent and intense; at one moment it seemed that the
banner of St. Anthony was going to be recovered. One of the champions
of Sainte-Marie, the nearest to the parapet, took his club in both
hands, and with a swing brought it down on the head of the adversary
facing him. The latter reels, loses his balance, and drops into the
Arno. Frenzied clamour from both sides rends the air. The army of the
Holy Virgin redoubles its efforts and stands like a rock on the ground
it has gained. Joshua was not there to stop the sun in its course. The
third quarter of the hour has struck, the cannon gives the signal and
the barrier is lowered. The army of the Holy Virgin remains the victor;
the honour of the day belongs incontestably to it.

Immediately the victorious quarter rang with joy and inspiriting
blasts of trumpets, while a mournful silence and a feeling of disgrace
fell upon that of the vanquished. It is a true saying that men derive
the energy of their feelings from the sky under which they were
born. Hence, while the champions of the Holy Virgin were loaded with
caresses, praise, and gifts, carried in triumph and enthusiastically
welcomed by their families, those of St. Anthony silently regained
their domiciles, where sarcasm and reproaches awaited them, and where
they perhaps deemed themselves fortunate if, for balm to their wounds,
they did not get additional blows from their own flesh and blood.

At night the victorious quarter was agog with balls, concerts, music,
the tooting of horns, the whole of it only ceasing with morn. On the
bank opposite everything remained pitch dark. The quarter conveyed the
impression of being inhabited by ghosts.

Nothing, I fancy, can be compared to that scene. For more than
a century, Europe had not witnessed a similar spectacle, where
everything, arms as well as wounds, was altogether serious. And he
who had not seen a real battle might have well believed that he was
witnessing one by going back in his imagination to an epoch when cannon
was not as yet the last argument of kings.



CHAPTER X

  The Prince de Ligne’s Song of the Congress--Life on the Graben
      --The Chronicle of the Congress--Echoes of the Congress--
      A Companion Story to the Death of Vatel--Brie, the King of
      Cheese--Fête at Arnstein the Banker’s--The Fête at Prince
      Razumowski’s--The Prince Royal of Würtemberg--Russian
      Dances--Retrospection.


The smaller ball-room usually reserved for the masked routs was filled
to overflowing. That gathering, like all those that had preceded it,
was the living image of a society devoted to pleasure, to flirting, and
seductive pastimes of every description.

‘We have got a new guest, and, moreover, one who’ll be by no means
welcome at the Congress,’ remarked the Prince de Ligne.

‘Some deposed sovereign, prince?’ I asked.

‘No; a guest who means to have his share of all these rejoicings;
not to mince words, the plague. At this moment it is raging in
Servia, and threatens to make its entrance here in proper person and
without plenipotentiaries. You may, however, make your mind easy;
all precautions are taken, and we shall want neither conferences nor
treaties against the unwelcome visitor.

‘Since yesterday,’ he went on, ‘this important assembly of the greatest
monarchs and their august deliberations have inspired me to write,
not a philosophical treatise or a serious work of any kind, either
political or otherwise, but a song. At any rate, it will be a song to
some, though it may be a lesson to others. It’s a popular ditty without
the least pretension; I wrote it in a quarter of an hour. We may add
that it was written with one of the pens of the great Frederick, the
only thing I brought away with me from Sans-Souci. The quill possesses
the further merit of having traced some plans of battle, and some
verses which were no better than mine.’

I complimented him, laughing.

‘Don’t laugh,’ he rejoined. ‘The history of the Congress is not unlike
the history of France, which, as Ménage averred, might be written with
a collection of light comedies interspersed with song, to guide the
author.’

Then, after a few moments of silence, ‘I’ll not admit the paternity of
this trifle, except to my friends. I have not forgotten the Duchesse de
Boufflers’ reward of the cocksure vanity of the Comte de Tressan.[77] I
have nothing to oppose to the thousands of bayonets of the occupants of
thrones but so many words marshalled in line. The struggle would not be
equal.’

‘But to whom, prince, if not to you, should belong the privilege of
telling the truth?’

‘You mean in virtue of my age?’

I quickly changed the subject. This excellent prince always came back
to his regrets at being more or less put into the shade by men who
had only recently made good their names, and his comments on current
events, though devoid of all bitterness, were stamped with a kind of
sadness. I began talking to him about his military writings, which he
liked best of all, and to which he attached the greatest importance.
Posterity has judged differently. It has allotted the foremost place
to his clever witticisms, to his remarks on the society, the manners
and customs, and the artistic questions of his time, in the writing of
which his imagination found full play. The soldier is almost entirely
forgotten, but the sprightly and pungent literary man, the impartial
and quick observer, is admired as much as ever.

‘I have left my works to my company of Trabans. They are the
reflections of an old soldier whose experience has been deemed
superfluous. At any rate, people will profit by it after my death.’

It was evident that the prince was in one of the fretful moods that
now and again assailed him as a set-off to his youthful gaiety. His
features became clouded, he took my arm; we had a short stroll round
the rooms, then went out and walked silently to his little house on the
rampart.

Next morning when I called I found him, contrary to his custom, out of
bed and seated in his library, which was at the same time his bed- and
reception-room, and which, smiling, he had named the last bar of his
perch.

‘You have come for the song. Just listen to it.’ And in a by no means
feeble voice he began to sing the trifle which was soon taken up by all
classes of society, including the sovereigns themselves.[78]

‘Take this copy with you,’ said the prince; ‘my heirs will be none
the worse for this liberality on my part. It is different with regard
to these two manuscripts which I am just touching up. One deals with
considerations on the disastrous Austrian campaigns during the first
years of the French Revolution; the other treats of the campaigns in
Italy up to Marengo. Both are not without interest. But,’ interrupting
himself, ‘while I am making songs on the Congress, what becomes of it?
Have you got any news?’

‘None, prince, not a syllable of what transpires leaks out. To tell
the truth, people do not appear to concern themselves much with regard
to it. There is, however, a great deal of talk about a ball Emperor
Alexander proposes to give to the sovereigns at Prince Razumowski’s
mansion on St. Catherine’s night, the fête-day of the Grand-Duchess of
Oldenburg.’

‘That’s right, those poor kings ought to have a holiday. I am not
certain, though, that at the end of all these entertainments any of the
monarchs will be able to say to himself what my dear Joseph II. said.
When he had worked the whole of the day at the reforms which, while
immortalising his name, contributed to the happiness of the empire,
he said, lightly tapping his cheek, “And now, go to bed, Joseph, I am
pleased with your day’s work.”

‘Amidst this cross-fire of different pretensions, have you heard
anything of a claim of another kind? Trifling though it may be, it
is calculated to provide some occupation for the archons of the
Congress. It is a note presented by Louis Buon-Compagni, Prince of
Lucca and Piombino, claiming sovereign rights over the island of
Elba. He considers the investment of Napoleon with that sovereignty
out of order and out of place. His claim is supported by a document,
in which Emperor Ferdinand acknowledges to have received from one of
his ancestors, Nicolas Ludovisi, Duc de Venosa, more than a million
of florins for the investiture of Elba and Piombino, granted to him
and his descendants. Here’s a pretty business--the man who ruled
the world threatened with ejectment by another Robinson Crusoe! If
Louis [Ludovico] Buon-Compagni would come down to the rôle of Friday,
matters might be arranged. But he wants his island, and wants it all to
himself. Trifling as the incident may appear, it would lend itself to
a very curious chapter. It would be the height of absurdity to see the
man who distributed crowns without a stone on which to put his heroic
head in an unknown island.’

Coming back to his favourite topic, the prince referred once more
to warlike matters, and in a manner as enthusiastic as if he were
twenty. At such moments his tall and beautiful figure drew itself up
to its full height, his features became animated, his eyes positively
brilliant. ‘Don’t imagine, my dear boy, that during two days I have
done nothing but concoct rhymes or epigrams on the Congress. You see
these two volumes; well, I have spent the night in reading them.’

He pointed to a military work entitled _Principes de Stratégie
appliqués aux Campagnes de 1796 en Allemagne_. Its author, Arch-Duke
Charles, had sent them to him.

‘In this book, full of curious details and profound views,’ he
said, ‘there is only one mistake as far as I can judge. The author
is too severe upon himself. There is not the faintest doubt about
the transcendent military worth of Prince Charles, but it is marked
by so much modesty and such simplicity of manner as to seem scarcely
reconcilable with his reputation. He is not only the greatest captain
of Austria, but more than once he has proved himself a counter-balance
to the genius of your Napoleon. In his valour, in his faculty of
inspiring both respect and obedience in his soldiers, he is like
Frederick; in his virtues, his strict integrity, and his unalterable
love of duty, he is the living image of the Prince Charles of Lorraine.
The frankness of his soul is reflected in his face. Some time ago I
attempted to draw his portrait in verse. I sent it to him anonymously,
knowing as I did that direct praise was apt to displease him. In some
way, I do not know how, he guessed the authorship. No doubt my feelings
got the better of my style, and I presume that the books he sent me are
intended as a reply. I have just finished reading them. I feel certain
of their becoming classical, for admiration instinctively follows a
public man admitted, as he is, to be possessed of a grand and noble
character.’

Then he drifted to the famous captains of his time and to their
notable exploits; and gradually I felt his enthusiasm gaining upon
me. His own genius was discernible in his looks, and electrified
me. The conversation of such men as he is more apt to enlighten one
and to speak louder than their books. Inasmuch as I had made up my
mind religiously to garner every literary scrap from the pen of this
encyclopedic man, I asked him to give me his verses on Prince Charles,
and I added them to my precious collection.

‘We’ll meet at Razumowski’s,’ he said, ‘seeing that, guided by pleasure
only, we are evidently advancing towards the great result of this
sapient assembly amidst balls, fêtes, _carrousels_, and games. No
doubt the day will come when we shall be allowed to know the fate of
Europe. Manifestly, though, experience does not appear to convey any
valuable lesson either to men’s passions or to their ambition; and our
era seems to have quickly forgotten a very recent past.

‘I must leave you, to preside at a chapter of the Order of
Maria-Theresa;[79] the Commandeur-Général, Ouwaroff, is to be invested
to-day. From there I am going to dine with your great diplomatist.’

Since the cold weather had set in, making the Prater somewhat too
chilly for idlers and loungers on foot, the latter foregathered on
the Graben. The newspaper writers thronged the public resort, and,
in default of genuine particulars of the Congress, retailed their
so-called political information and Court stories, as devoid of
probability, not to say of truth, as the rest. Outdoor life had assumed
such proportions that one might have safely said to one’s friends
in the evening, ‘I looked for you on the Graben to-day. I failed
to find you, so I left my card.’ The Graben was to the majority of
strangers what the Square of St. Mark is to the Venetians. They spent
the greater part of their time there. It was a kind of open-air club;
everybody received and returned calls there; the life of the capital
was practically regulated on that spot; folk appointed to meet there
to discuss their future movements, and to organise pleasure parties
for the evening. Hence, it would be no exaggeration to say that people
lived in common on the Graben, amidst an immense group of ‘loafers,’
idlers, ‘spouters,’ and disputants.

There was another kind of store-house for news, epigrams, witty
sallies, and satirical observation; a kind of ‘lion’s mouth’ _à la
Vénitienne_, less the secret denunciations. Or rather, the place was
like the Marforio in Rome, I mean the statue at the foot of which there
was a constant flow of criticism both on the governors and on the
governed. The second spot was the big room of the ‘Empress of Austria’
tavern, which I have already mentioned. Every day, at the dinner-hour,
the place was thronged with illustrious and important personages,
anxious to escape from the magnificent but somewhat solemn banquets of
the Austrian Court. At a ‘round table’ the occupants vied with each
other in challenges--not like those of the ancient knights of King
Arthur, but in wit-combats, sarcastic lunges, and epigrams, all of them
tempered by the perfect tone of Courts and of the best society.

The constant variety of its patrons invested this improvised club with
the greatest interest. Among the _habitués_ were the Chevalier de Los
Rios, Ypsilanti, Tettenborn, MM. Achille Rouen, Koreff, Danilewski,
the Prince Koslowski, Gentz, the secretary of the Congress, the Comte
de Witt, Carpani, the poet, ever so many generals, ambassadors, and
very often some royal highnesses. Narischkine, the great-chamberlain,
came now and again, treating the company to his biting and dreaded
sallies. In short, there was a never-failing muster of all that Vienna
held within its walls in the way of political, artistic, and social
celebrities.

The stories told there could have rightly been called the ‘Chronicle of
the Congress,’ and even the ‘Chronicles of Europe’; everybody of note,
or of erewhile renown, being apparently responsible for his doings and
sayings to the jurisdiction of the caustic Areopagus of that tavern.

Although the fare was in keeping with the company and the conversation,
prices were comparatively modest. In spite of the number of strangers
in Vienna at that moment, in spite of their rank and their wealth,
the cost of most things, except of lodgings, was moderate. The Dutch
ducat was worth twelve florins in paper, which fact, doubling its
value in money, increased the resources of a stranger in that ratio.
The whole may be judged from the fact that meals, profusely served and
supplemented with several kinds of wine, were supplied at the rate of
five florins per head.

Griffiths and I took our seats at one of the tables. They were talking
about the preparations for the fête next day at Razumowski’s, and of
the honour the emperor had bestowed upon him by creating him a prince.

‘He deserved the distinction,’ said Koslowski. ‘The new prince, since
he has been our ambassador at Vienna, has made many valuable friends.
In the recent discussions on Poland, he was instrumental in restoring
harmony, and in putting an end to the little pecking which threatened
to become serious.’

‘Added to this,’ remarked the representative of a German princelet,
‘there is a prerogative attached to his new title. Henceforth, when
going out at night he can have torch-bearers running in front of him.’

The new prince having become the momentary target for the remarks of
everybody, there were, of course, many references to his enormous
fortune, which, when all was said and done, was only a fraction of the
wealth of his father, the marshal, who, greatly favoured by Empress
Elizabeth, became the wealthiest private individual of Europe.[80] He
and Frederick had a curious little scene one day. When the marshal was
in Berlin the king held in his honour a review of the troops who had
gone through a score of campaigns. In Russia all the dignities and
functions are assimilated to corresponding military grades, from the
lowest to the topmost rung of the ladder; nevertheless, the marshal
had never seen a battlefield.

‘I trust you are pleased, marshal,’ said the King of Prussia at the
termination of the manœuvres.

‘Much pleased indeed, sire, although the whole of it is altogether
beyond my competence; I am only a civil marshal.’

‘You are indeed very civil, marshal; unfortunately we have no such
grades in our army,’ replied Frederick.

Political gossip formed the main item of our conversation that evening.
‘The intervention of Razumowski,’ remarked one of a group, ‘and his
conciliatory efforts throughout have by no means been rewarded too
highly. The quarrel was getting envenomed, I have been told. One of
the most eminent of European plenipotentiaries expressed himself in
the course of the discussion with great firmness upon Alexander’s
pretensions to the throne of Poland. The Grand-Duke Constantine got
angry, and showed his anger by a somewhat too energetic gesture, after
which he left in hot haste. According to well-informed people, the
diplomatist is meditating a piece of revenge. Considering that he is a
man of wit, we may expect something odd.’

‘No,’ replied another, ‘that’s not the cause of the grand-duke’s abrupt
departure. The minister in question wrote to Prince Hardenberg some
sentences calculated to displease the Russian monarch. By a strange
fatality the document fell into the hands of Alexander, and this led to
very lively explanations. Lord Castlereagh sided with Austria. Matters
reached such a point that one of the monarchs, forgetting his usual
reserve, flung his glove on the table.

‘“Would your majesty wish for war?” asked the English plenipotentiary.

‘“Perhaps, monsieur.”

‘“I was not aware,” Castlereagh replied, “that any war was to be
undertaken without English guineas.” And appeasement,’ added the
speaker, ‘has not progressed an inch, in spite of the kindly efforts of
our new prince.’[81]

‘Will the King of Saxony be reinstated in his kingdom in spite of
Prussia, which covets it? King Friedrich-Wilhelm is very angry with
M. de Talleyrand,’ said a third interlocutor. ‘The king lately
remonstrated with M. de Talleyrand for too warmly espousing the cause
of the Saxon monarch, that sole traitor, as he put it, to the cause of
Europe.

‘“Traitor!” echoed Talleyrand. “And from what date, sire?” Honestly,
Frederick-Augustus ought to be forgiven everything, if there be
anything to forgive, if for no other reason than the justice of the
repartee.’

‘That excellent prince has done much better than that,’ replied an
interlocutor. ‘Lest some untoward event should happen, he has taken
care to make a little purse for himself, from which he has detached a
few millions for the benefit of two personages disposing of a great
deal of influence in Vienna. This golden key will open the doors of his
kingdom much more quickly than all the protocols of the Congress.’

All at once, and without the least transition, the talk turned on
Lord Stewart and on some mishaps due to his overweening conceit. ‘For
the last four days,’ said some one, ‘his lordship has not been seen
on foot or in his magnificent carriage. According to rumour, his face
has been more or less damaged. He had a quarrel on the Danube bridge
with a couple of hackney drivers, and immediately jumping off his
seat, his excellency, waving his arms like the sails of a windmill,
challenged his adversaries to an English boxing match. The Vienna
coachman, however, knows nothing, either theoretically or practically
of “fisticuffs,” and consequently our two Automédons’ [the French
equivalent for our ‘Jehu,’ and an allusion to Achilles’ charioteer]
‘bravely grasped their whips, and first with the thongs and afterwards
with the handles, belaboured his lordship with blows, without the least
respect for his “pretty” face. They left him lying on the ground,
bruised all over, and disappeared as quickly as their horses would take
them.

‘Milord has bad luck, but his conceit seems incorrigible. Lately, on
leaving the theatre, he happened to be behind the daughter of the
Comtesse Co---- on the grand staircase. There was a great crush, and,
taking advantage of it, his lordship was guilty of an act of impudent
familiarity, which he might have found to his cost could only be washed
out with blood. Without being in the least disconcerted, the young,
handsome, and innocent girl quietly turned round and gave him a sound
box on the ears, as a warning to leave innocence and beauty alone.
Naturally, his lordship has been the laughing-stock of everybody, as he
often is, for nothing waits so surely upon conceit and fatuous vanity
as derision.’

‘Have the Genoese envoys obtained an audience at last?’ asked some one,
‘Or have they been driven away from all the diplomatic doors at which
they knocked for a hearing.’

‘They ought to be well pleased,’ was the answer. ‘Weaned with their
applications, M. de Metternich has given them the desired interview
and overwhelmed them with his politeness. They wish to constitute
themselves into an independent State. The minister listened to every
word they said, and when they left off speaking, told them that Genoa
would be incorporated with Piedmont. Our Genoese objected violently.
M. de Metternich told them that the affair was settled, irrevocably
settled, and bowed them out even more politely than he “bowed them in.”
He might have saved them their breath.’

‘The Duchesse de ----, not to be behindhand with the Princesse de ----,
who has made her lover an ambassador, has made hers a general, though
he has never seen a battle. It’s of no consequence, seeing that the
Congress, in virtue of its wisdom, is to put an end to all war both in
the immediate and distant future.’

‘Love turns other heads besides these,’ chimed in the first speaker. ‘A
great personage happened to see a Viennese work-girl somewhere on the
ramparts, and has fallen a victim to her rosy face and elegant figure.
There’s no doubt about it; he is thoroughly in love; he lavishes
presents on his very easy conquest, and altogether forgetting his rôle
of sovereign, he has thrown all reserve to the winds, and given her his
portrait set with diamonds. In days gone by the Court ladies would have
objected to such a _mésalliance_.’

Some one threw in a word about the balls given by Lady Castlereagh,
and this led to remarks on his lordship’s pronounced love for dancing.
‘The taste is easily explained, it belongs to all times and all ages,’
was the comment. ‘Aspasia taught Socrates to dance; and when he was
fifty-six years old Cato the Censor danced even more often than
his lordship. It is doubtful whether either of these made himself
as ridiculous as that lank body of his lordship dancing a jig, and
lifting his long spindle-shanks, keeping time to the music. It is
indeed a diverting spectacle. What a windfall this would be to those
clever English caricaturists, if one could only get them to come to
Vienna! At any rate, the dancing master of his lordship, in case of
his becoming prime minister, will have no occasion to repeat what the
dancing master of the [Earl?] of Oxford said on learning that Elizabeth
had made his pupil her great-chancellor: “Truly, I fail to see what
merit the queen could find in this Barclay? I had him in hand for two
years, and was unable to make anything of him.”’

‘In spite of the express declaration of the sovereigns, who have
settled among themselves the questions of rank and precedence in
accordance with their age, disagreements on the subject crop up every
day,’ said somebody who had hitherto been silent. ‘The bickering
between the minister of Würtemberg and the Hanoverian minister is
without importance; nothing has come of it save the retirement of the
Würtemberger and the appointment of the Comte de Wintzingerode in his
stead. But the quarrel between the Princesse de Lichtenstein and the
Princesse Esterhazy is not so trivial. The one claims precedence over
the other in virtue of her husband being the most ancient prince of the
empire.’

‘It would be easy enough to settle that matter,’ was the reply from
the other side of the table. ‘Let them apply to those ladies the rule
adopted by the sovereigns; in other words, let age rule precedence, and
you may be sure that neither of them will want to go first.’

‘Here is a strange pendant to the adventure of the too conscientious
Vatel, whose disappointment and death have been immortalised by Mme. de
Sévigné. The _chef_ at Chantilly killed himself because the fish for
the dinner failed him; the Baron de ---- killed himself through having
eaten too much fish.’

‘What’s the good of joking about such a sad event?’

‘I am not joking, I am telling you the unvarnished truth. The poor
deceased was a slave to etiquette, and having partaken too freely of
some delicious fish, he felt thoroughly uncomfortable in consequence.
He was invited to make a fourth at a rubber of whist with the
Grand-Duke of Baden, a Princesse de C----, and his Majesty of Bavaria;
and in spite of his bodily and moral agony, he dared not refuse. But
the ordeal proved too much, and when concealment of the situation
was no longer possible he rushed away, went home, and shot himself.
Everybody regrets his death, because he was a general favorite.’[82]

‘Your great diplomatist, this time in thorough agreement with the
majority of the plenipotentiaries, made another king yesterday,’ said
an opposite neighbour, addressing me directly.

‘Is it Prince Eugène?’ I exclaimed spontaneously.

‘Not exactly; it’s the cheese called “Brie.”’

‘You are trying to mystify me.’

‘I should not presume to do so on so slight an acquaintance, but I can
assure you that it is a fact. M. de Talleyrand gave a dinner party,
and at the dessert, all the political questions were pretty well
exhausted. When the cheese was on the table, the conversation drifted
in the direction of that dainty. Lord Castlereagh was loud in praise
of Stilton; Aldini was equally loud in praise of the Strachino of
Milan; Zeltner naturally gave battle for his native Gruyère, and Baron
de Falck, the Dutch minister, could not say enough for the product
of Limburg, of which Peter the Great was so fond as to dole himself
a certain quantity measured with his compasses, lest he should take
too much. Talleyrand’s guests were as undecided as they are on the
question of the throne of Naples, which, according to some, will be
taken from Murat, while, according to others, he’ll be allowed to keep
it. At that moment a servant entered the room to inform the ambassador
of the arrival of a courier from France. “What has he brought?” asked
Talleyrand. “Despatches from the Court, your excellency, and Brie
cheeses.” “Send the despatches to the chancellerie, and bring in the
cheeses at once.”

‘The cheese was brought in. “Gentlemen,” said M. de Talleyrand, “I
abstained just now from breaking a lance in favour of a product of the
French soil, but I leave you to judge for yourselves.” The cheese is
handed round, tasted, and the question of its superiority is put to the
vote, with the result I have told you: Brie is proclaimed to be the
king of cheeses.’

The clever little story was the last, and the company dispersed.
Griffiths and I were due at the Baron Arnstein’s, who gave a fête in
his magnificent mansion on the Melgrub.

At that period, the principal Austrian bankers would not be behindhand
with the Court in their hospitality to the illustrious strangers at
the Congress. Of course, the enormous influx of these brought into
the bankers’ hands large sums of money, a considerable percentage of
which remained with them. Among those princely houses of finance there
were, besides Baron Arnstein, the Gey-Mullers, the Eskeleses, and the
Comte de Fries. They practically kept open house to strangers. The
splendour of their hospitality was only equalled by its cordiality. The
mansion of the Comte de Fries, on the Joseph-Platz, was one of the most
beautiful in Vienna, and in no way inferior to the most magnificent
palaces. Its owner himself was as famed for his personal elegance
and his charming manners as for his immense wealth. The fêtes that
were given in those mansions were remarkable even among those of the
Congress; and on the evening in question, the scene at Baron Arnstein’s
was positively fairy-like. The rarest flowers from every clime hung in
profusion about the staircases and the rooms, including the ball-room,
and spread their exquisite perfumes, while their tints mingled
harmoniously with the thousands of wax candles in crystal sconces,
and the silk and gold of the hangings. The music of a band such as at
that time only Vienna could produce fell gratefully upon the ear. In
short, the whole presented one of those incomparable results only to be
obtained by great wealth seconded by taste.

The best society of Vienna had forgathered there: all the influential
personages of the Congress, all the strangers of distinction, all the
heads of the princely houses made a point of being present; only the
sovereigns themselves were absent. As a matter of course, all the
charming women of which Vienna boasted at that period had responded
to the invitation, and among these aristocratic beauties the hostess
herself, the Baronne Fanny d’Arnstein, and Mme. Gey-Muller, whom people
had named ‘la fille de l’air,’ on account of her ethereal face and
tall, slight figure, carried off the palm for attractiveness.

The entertainment began with a concert by the foremost artists of
Vienna; the concert was followed by a ball, and the ball by a supper,
in the providing for which the host seemed to have made it a point
to defy both distance and season. He had positively brought together
the products of every country and of every climate. The supper rooms
were decorated with trees bearing ripe fruit, and it was really a
curious experience, in the middle of the winter, to watch people pluck
cherries, peaches, and apricots as in an orchard in Provence. It was
the first attempt of the kind that had ever been made, and we went
home, less astonished perhaps at the ingenuity displayed than at the
constant craving for the entirely unprecedented in the way of enjoyment.

The palace of Prince Razumowski was blazing with light; every room was
crowded with guests. Emperor Alexander had borrowed his ambassador’s
residence for a fête offered to the sovereigns in honour of his
sister’s birthday. The utmost interest was always evinced in the
charming Catherine of Oldenburg, and perhaps the more because the
Prince Royal of Würtemberg was constantly by her side. At every
gathering, these two young people, rarely far apart, reminded one of
the couple figuring so conspicuously in the opening pages of Mme. de
Genlis’s novel _Mademoiselle de Clermont_.

[Illustration: MARIE DOWAGER EMPRESS OF RUSSIA.]

Love unquestionably owed a good turn to this sweet, pretty, and
graceful young woman, to indemnify her for the very unpleasant
episodes of her first marriage. In 1809, there had been a question
of an alliance between France and Russia, an alliance which would
have consolidated peace in Europe. The young sister of the Czar was
to be the pledge of that alliance. Napoleon, who at that period was
justified in looking upon Alexander as a friend, caused diplomatic
overtures to be made. The Russian monarch freely gave his consent,[83]
but all at once a hitherto unthought-of obstacle arose, in the shape
of the invincible repugnance of the dowager-empress to Napoleon, a
repugnance that ought to have been removed by Napoleon’s magnanimous
conduct to her son. When Alexander wished to sound his mother on that
marriage by evincing a kind of partiality for it, she replied that it
was henceforth out of the question, that two days previously she had
given her word to the Grand-Duke of Oldenburg, to whom Catherine’s hand
was promised. Alexander was a most respectful and submissive son. He
offered no objections; negotiations were broken off; the marriage of
Napoleon with an Austrian arch-duchess was concluded, and there was a
prospective sovereign for the island of Elba.

Sacrificed to a feeling of political repugnance, Catherine became
Grand-Duchess of Oldenburg and established her Court at Tiver, a pretty
town between Moscow and St. Petersburg--a small Court, recalling
those of Ferrara and Florence during the most brilliant days of
their artistic glory. Art, however, does not invariably contribute
to a woman’s happiness. United to a man whom she could not love, the
grand-duchess fretted under her lot. At first people sympathised with
her, finally they took no heed of, or became used to, her grief. Then,
as if to realise sweeter dreams, came on the one hand the death of her
husband, and on the other the love of a prince, young, handsome, brave,
and amiable--a prince placed on the steps of a throne.

By a strange coincidence, the Prince Royal of Würtemberg had been
similarly compelled to contract a marriage against his inclination.
Napoleon’s will, all-powerful at that time over the king’s mind, united
the son, in spite of himself, to a Bavarian princess, a political
alliance intended to make an end of all dissensions between the two
states. From the first day of their union an unconquerable estrangement
and a constant coolness had sprung up between the young couple, and
consequently, at the fall of Napoleon, they were divorced. The Princess
Charlotte of Bavaria returned to her father’s Court. Unappreciated by a
husband whose affection she had been unable to gain, she never uttered
a word of reproach; her angelic temper and her unalterable kindness
never failed her. Later on, the imperial crown of Austria was offered
to her,[84] and eventually she shared one of the most powerful thrones
of Europe. When her first husband learnt the news of the unexpected
elevation of the woman he had neglected, but whose noble heart he had
never misjudged, he exclaimed, ‘I’ll have, at any rate, one more friend
at the Court of Vienna.’

Catherine of Russia and Wilhelm of Würtemberg both became free. From
that moment a mutual and strong affection took possession of their
hearts, which, constrained so long by the will of others, had learnt to
appreciate the delights of natural attraction. How often in the shady
glades of the Prater, or on the banks of the majestic stream flowing
at its foot, have I seen them, emancipated for a little while from the
etiquette of Courts, and yielding like ordinary mortals to the feeling
that animated them. Far from the pomp and splendour of their ordinary
surroundings, they perhaps confidentially made plans for the future,
in the hope of a union which bade fair to be happy--the prince, young,
manly, with a noble disposition and reputed for his brilliant courage;
the grand-duchess conspicuous for her intellectual and physical grace.
Now and again a third came to interrupt this ‘dual solitude’; but his
presence evidently made no difference; for the third comer was not only
a brother, but a friend--no less a personage than Alexander himself,
who appeared to be supping full with glory and happiness.

The fête given by the czar in honour of his charming sister was worthy
in every respect of his brotherly affection and of its object. All the
sovereigns, all the illustrious guests of the Congress, had repaired to
it, and with him had come all the Russians of distinction: Nesselrode,
Gagarine, Dolgorouki, Galitzin, Capo d’Istria, Narischkine, Souvaroff,
Troubetzkoy, the two Volkonskis, Princesses Souvaroff, Bagration,
Gagarine, and many others equally remarkable for their birth, wealth,
beauty, and their distinguished manners. Practically, I found myself
among all those magnificent Muscovite beings who had compelled my
admiration at Moscow, St. Petersburg, and at Tulczim, at the Comtesse
Potocka’s, where the year seemed to be made up of three hundred and
sixty-five fêtes.

The rooms at Prince Razumowski’s were lighted with a profusion that
reminded one of the resplendent rays of the sun. A vast riding-school
had been converted into a ball-room; and to impart variety to the
entertainment, the _corps de ballet_ of the Imperial Theatre had
organised a Muscovite _divertissement_, the minutest details of which
were carried out with scrupulous exactness. Towards the middle of the
ball, they made their appearance dressed as gipsies, and performed
dances with which those supposed descendants of the Pharaohs enhance
the fêtes of the rich and sensuous boyards. These dances, in virtue of
their graceful movements and the picturesqueness of the postures, are,
according to that great traveller Griffiths, much superior to those of
the bayadères of India.

The ball was opened by the inevitable and methodical polonaise. The
fête was, however, marked in particular by a Russian dance, by one of
the Court ladies of Empress Elizabeth and General Comte Orloff, one
of the aides-de-camp of Emperor Alexander.[85] Both wore the Russian
dress, the comte that of a young Muscovite, namely, a close-fitting
caftan, tied round the waist by a cashmere scarf, a broad-brimmed hat,
and gloves like those of the ancient knights; his partner was dressed
like the women of Southern Russia, whose costumes vie in richness with
those of all other nations. On her head, the hair arranged in flat
bands in front and falling in long plaits behind, she wore a tiara of
pearls and precious stones. The ornament harmonised perfectly with the
rest of the costume, composed, as usual, of exceedingly bright-coloured
material.

This Russian dance is absolutely delightful, representing as it does
the pantomimic action of a somewhat impassioned courtship. It is like
the Galatea of Virgil. The performers acquitted themselves in the most
delightful manner, and were amply rewarded by the enthusiastic applause
of the spectators.

The Russian dance was followed by mazurkas, a kind of quadrille,
originally hailing from Massow. Among ball-room dances none demand
greater agility and none lend themselves to more statuesque movements.
In order that nothing might be wanting to the magnificence of this
fête, there was, in accordance with the latest fashion in Vienna, a
lottery. The prizes were many and handsome to a degree. An apparently
trivial circumstance lent an unexpected interest to the proceedings.
Custom had decreed that each cavalier, if favoured by luck, should
offer his prize to a lady. A rich sable cape fell to the lot of the
Prince of Würtemberg: he immediately offered it to her in whose honour
the entertainment was given. Verily, he had his reward. Handsome
Grand-Duchess Catherine wore in her bosom a posy of flowers, fastened
by a ribbon. She unfastened it, and presented it to the donor of the
cape. The whole scene, which practically emphasised in public the
existence of a quasi-secret attachment, elicited murmurs of approval
and wishes for the young people’s happiness. ‘Hail to the future Queen
of Würtemberg,’ remarked Prince Koslowski to me; ‘queen when it shall
please the crowned Nimrod to vacate the place. In reality, no crown
will have ever graced a more beautiful brow.’ The episode, and the
conjectures to which it gave rise, added another charm to this fête
marked by so many.

The dancing had ceased, and the prince and I strolled through the
vast rooms of the palace, which might easily have been mistaken for
a temple erected to art, so numerous were the masterpieces collected
there by its owner. Here pictures by the greatest painters of every
school: Raphaels by the side of Rubenses, Van Dycks in juxtaposition to
Correggios; there, a library filled to overflowing with most precious
books and rare manuscripts; in a third spot a cabinet containing most
exquisite specimens of ancient art and modern carving. The majority
of the guests, however, seemed to prefer a gallery set apart for the
marvels of the sculptor’s chisel, among which was some of the best
handiwork of Canova. The gallery was lighted by alabaster lamps, the
soft glow of which seemed to throw into relief the perfection of those
statues apparently endowed with life.

About two in the morning they threw open the huge supper-room, lighted
by thousands of wax candles. It contained fifty tables, and by that
alone the number of guests might be estimated. Amidst banks of flowers
was displayed all that Italy, Germany, France, and Russia had to offer
in the way of rare fruit and other edibles: such as sturgeon from
the Volga, oysters from Ostend and Cancale, truffles from Périgord,
oranges from Sicily. Worthy of note was a pyramid of pine-apples,
such as had never before been served on any board, and which had come
direct from the imperial hothouses at Moscow for the czar’s guests.
There were strawberries all the way from England, grapes from France,
looking as if they had just been cut from the trailing vine. Still
more remarkable, on each of the fifty tables there stood a dish of
cherries, despatched from St. Petersburg, notwithstanding the December
cold, but at the cost of a silver rouble apiece. Regarding these events
many years after their occurrence, I am often tempted to mistrust to a
certain extent my recollections of all this lavish display.

This fête, which really deserved precedence among all the daily
pomp and splendour of the Congress, was prolonged till dawn, when a
breakfast was served and dancing was resumed. Only the need of rest
made us regretfully bend our steps homeward and leave that magnificent
palace where so many fair women and brave men had forgathered in the
pursuit of pleasure.

Many years have gone by since that memorable night. The charming woman
in whose honour the fête was given became the Queen of Würtemberg.
Death claimed her prematurely as his victim. The Prince Koslowski, who
had been, like myself, an eye-witness of that charming love-episode
at Vienna, and who was subsequently despatched as ambassador to her
Court, saw her die of the same disease that carried away her brother,
the emperor. And only a short time ago the son of Marie-Louise and the
Comte de Neipperg[86] married the daughter of this Catherine of Russia
who had been asked in marriage by Napoleon. How very truly Shakespeare
exclaims: ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are
dreamt of in your philosophy.’

As for me, when my thoughts go back to that period of happiness and
freedom from care called the Congress of Vienna, I always picture to
myself sweet Catherine, not amidst all those fêtes, but strolling in
the dusky glades of the Prater, where I so often saw her, proud of her
love for the Prince Royal of Würtemberg and of her tender affection for
her brother.



CHAPTER XI

  The Last Love-Tryst of the Prince de Ligne--A Glance at the Past
      --Z----or the Consequences of Gaming--Gambling in Poland
      and in Russia--The Biter Bit--Masked Ball--The Prince
      de Ligne and a Domino--More Living Pictures--The Pasha of
      Surêne--Two Masked Ladies--Recollections of the Prince de
      Talleyrand.


I had spent the evening at the theatre of the Carinthian Gate, and
was returning home by way of the ramparts, confident of meeting no
one whom I knew; for on that night, in spite of the many strangers in
Vienna and the multitude of fêtes, everything was unusually quiet long
before midnight. It was magnificent weather for the time of the year.
In the recess of a bastion jutting over the dry moat, I noticed a lank
figure wrapped in a white cloak, which might easily have passed for
that of Hamlet. Impelled by curiosity, I drew nearer, and to my utter
astonishment recognised the Prince de Ligne.

‘What in Heaven’s name are you doing here, prince, at this hour of the
night and in the biting cold?’

‘In love affairs the beginning only is delightful; consequently, I
always find great delight in recommencing. At your age, though, it was
I who kept them waiting; at mine they keep me waiting; and, what’s
worse, they don’t come.

‘I am keeping an appointment, but as you can see for yourself, I am
keeping it alone. Well, people forgive hunchbacks the exuberance of
their dorsal excrescence; why, at my age, should not people forgive my
exuberance?’

‘If it be true that woman’s happiness consists in the reflection of a
man’s glory, where is the woman who would not be proud to owe hers to
you?’

The prince shook his head, and declaimed mock-tragically:

     ‘“No, no; all things flee as age approaches,
      All things go, illusion too:
      Nature would have done much better
      To keep that until the last.”’

‘I’ll leave you to your appointment, prince,’ I said.

‘No, I’ll wait no longer; lend me your arm and take me home.’

We slowly went in the direction of his house, and on the way his
conversation betrayed the feeling of slighted pride; his words were
marked by a tinge of melancholy which was new to me.

‘I am inclined to believe that in life reflection comes as a last
misfortune,’ he said. ‘Up to the present I have not been among those
who think that growing old is in itself a merit. At the dawn of life
love’s dream balances its illusions on the spring within us. One
carries the cup of pleasure to one’s lips; one imagines it’s going to
last for ever, but years come, time flies and delivers its Parthian
darts; from that moment disenchantment attends everything, the colours
fade out of one’s existence. Ah me, I must get used to the idea.’

‘But, prince, you attach too much importance to a trifling
disappointment. You must put it down to the exactions of society, which
those who are in it cannot always disregard.’

‘No, no, there’s an end of my illusions; everything warns me of the
years accumulating behind me. I am no longer considered good for
anything. In days gone by, at Versailles, I was consulted on this,
that, and the other, on balls, fêtes, theatres, and so forth. At
present my advice is dispensed with. My time is past, _my world_ is
dead. You’ll tell me that no man is a prophet in his own country. A
company of comedians has invaded the stage to drive me from it, or to
hiss should I persist in remaining. My prophecies miss fire on account
of the prophet’s age. Tell me honestly, what is the worth of young men
nowadays to justify the world in lavishing its favours on them? Envy
has never entered my heart until this moment.’ Then he harked back to
his past, impelled by the kind of melancholy pleasure we all experience
in retracing our road through life, even if it is beset with thorns.

‘I had an intense admiration and passionate love for the science of
warfare,’ he added, ‘and I may safely say that from the day I joined
the regiment of dragoons from Ligne, I have won all my grades at the
point of my sword. That science has been the occupation of my life; my
labours have gained me many sterling friends. As a soldier and as a
general I have done my duty.’

‘History will forget neither the taking of Belgrade nor the battle
of Maxen, and your glorious share in both. It will also remember the
brilliant welcome you received at Versailles when Maria-Theresa sent
you thither bearing the news.’

‘Yes, these are memories of which no one will be able to deprive me,
and henceforth I’ll exclusively wrap myself up in them. When the body
threatens ruin, memory alone supports the structure, but merely as a
hint of our being still alive. To my last moments, as a compensation
for the vicissitudes of my own existence I shall be proud of having
been on terms of intimate friendship with men upon whom the eyes of
the universe were fixed. I may confess to having always been fond of
glory; indifference to it is a mere pretence. Well, every succeeding
day I become more and more convinced of the emptiness of what people
conventionally call celebrity.’ Then he drifted to the happy moments of
his life.

‘I have also passed through that delicious period of life when youth
gets intoxicated with all kinds of flattering promises, which a riper
age rarely keeps, and which old age altogether disperses. At that
period, days fly like moments, and the moments are worth centuries.
Happy he who knows how to profit by them! Life is a limpid cup which
becomes troubled while one drinks from it; the first drops are like
ambrosia; but the lees are at the bottom; the more agitated one’s life
is, the more bitter does the draught become at last. The loss, when all
is said and done, is perhaps not so great. Man gets to his grave as the
absent-minded get to their house. Here’s the door of mine. Good-night,
my dear lad. You, who are beginning your career, take care to employ
every minute to the greatest advantage, and don’t forget that the
saddest days of our lives are counted in the tale of our years just as
much as the happiest. Delille was right when he said, “Our best days go
first.”’

And I took my leave of this excellent prince, of this extraordinary
man, whose only weakness consisted in not making his pleasures fit in
with his age, and in persisting in keeping up a struggle with time,
that invincible athlete whom, as yet, no one has conquered. Alas, he
believed in the fable of Anacreon, whose love-affairs still provided
wreaths of roses for his hoary locks at eighty.

This love-tryst of the Prince de Ligne was to be his last. When he
talked thus of man’s arriving at the brink of the grave without
thinking of it, he was far from perceiving that he himself already had
one foot therein. Since then I have often reflected on the melancholy
sadness of all his words, but the Prince de Ligne never seriously
considered the idea of death. Not that he was afraid of it. At no time
of his life did fear approach within an arm’s length of him. If now and
again he spoke of old age with a kind of melancholy, it was because he
dreaded the idea of not being in unison with the new generations around
him, as he had been in unison with the friends of his youth. Thinking
of all this, I continued my nocturnal stroll by myself, repeating the
verses the prince had improvised on the subject, and I reached the
hotel, the ‘Roman Emperor,’ just as the Comte Z---- was going in. To
dispel the sad thoughts induced by the prince’s remarks, I accepted
Count Z----‘s offer of a glass of punch and accompanied him to his
apartments.

Z----,[87] the son of a favourite minister of Catherine II., had
recently lost his father, who left him a considerable fortune,
estimated at more than thirty thousand serfs. I had seen a great deal
of him while I was in St. Petersburg, where his birth, his gentle
disposition, and his extensive attainments, much beyond his years, had
made him a favourite in the highest circles. Having been appointed
only a short time before a ‘gentleman of the chambers,’ he proposed
to improve his education by travel, and he began at Vienna. It was
starting with a most interesting preface the book of life, which, as he
said, he wished to read from the first page to the last.

‘I have spent the evening at Prince Razumowski’s, who, as you know, is
a relative. His palace is still littered with furniture, draperies,
and flowers, the remains of the brilliant fête. Truly, the ruins of a
ball are as interesting to contemplate as the ruins of monuments and
empires.’

I, in my turn, told him of my meeting, and, the punch gradually
dissipating my fit of melancholy, we began, like the selfish and
unthinking young men we were, to joke about old men who, with the
snows of many winters upon them, pretend to melt them in the sunny
rays of love. I told him the adventure of the Comte de Maurepas which
had so highly diverted the Court of Versailles at the period of his
last ministry. Like the Prince de Ligne, M. de Maurepas, at eighty,
had preserved the habits of extreme attentiveness to the fair sex
which ought only to be indulged in by young men. The witty and handsome
Marquise de ---- was the object of those octogenarian attentions.
Worried by Maurepas’ assiduities, to which there could be no possible
sequel, she determined to put an end to them. The superannuated
Lovelace was seated one day near her in her boudoir, and was commenting
upon his unhappiness, caused by the want of feeling of the woman
he adored. The marquise appeared touched by the recital; the lover
became more pressing, the marquise apparently more yielding. At last
she murmured a faint consent, adding, however, ‘First go and bolt the
door.’ Maurepas went to bolt it, not on the inside, but on the outside,
and stole away on tiptoe without saying good-bye to the malicious fair
one. The _dénouement_ met with our full approval.

I was expecting next morning two Hungarian horses, which I had been
assured were the best trotters in Vienna. Being anxious to try them at
once, I asked Z---- if he would come with me to the Prater to do so. He
promised. While talking about trotters, none of which in Europe come
up, to my thinking, to those harnessed to the sledges at Moscow for the
runs on the frozen Moskowa, the comte got into bed, being tired by the
mazurkas in which he had the night before been compelled to initiate
some German ladies, who experienced great difficulties in their
transition from the stiff German minuet to the graceful elasticity of
the Polish dance.

‘Good-night, comte, I’ll leave you to your well-earned rest. I’ll put
the lights out, and give one candle to your servant, I hope you’ll
have a good sleep, so that you may be ready to-morrow at twelve.’ With
this I left him. Next morning at twelve the horses were put to the
cabriolet, and I went upstairs to fetch Z----; but when I got to his
door, his servant told me he was asleep. ‘What! asleep at twelve, when
he went to bed before midnight. I think I’ll wake him,’ I said, and
made my way into the room, where the curtains were drawn to exclude the
daylight.

‘Up, up!’ I shouted, ‘the horses are waiting for us. Or are you ill?’

He woke up, sat upright in bed, and began to rub his eyes, as if to
suppress his tears. ‘My dear father; why have I lost my father?’ he
exclaimed.

‘Have you had a nightmare, dear comte? What has the memory of your
father to do with the horses we are going to try?’

‘Alas, my friend, it’s not a dream, but a horrible reality. I lost two
millions of roubles last night.’

‘Are you mad or joking? You are in bed as I left you when I put out the
lights. Do you walk in your sleep, or are you not awake?’

‘No, friend, but I’m awaking from a sleep which I wish had been my last
one. S---- and the Comte B---- entered the room immediately after you
left it. They relighted the candles which you extinguished: we played
all night, and I have lost two millions of roubles, for which I gave
them my bills. Here, look for yourself.’

I stepped to the window and drew the curtains aside: the floor was
littered with cards, which they must have got in the hotel, and the
ruin of the young fellow had been accomplished before daylight.

‘This can only be a joke on their part, dear comte; make your mind
easy. They could not possibly harbour the thought of despoiling a
friend in that manner. They are also my friends, although I should
certainly cease to consider them as such if they hesitated for a moment
to destroy every trace of such a disgraceful night.’ Having said this,
I immediately left him, to go to S----, to whom I submitted the same
argument in order to persuade him to waive his claim. I said much more;
I pointed out the consequences to himself if such a story came to the
ears of the Emperor Alexander. Referring to the sovereign’s well-known
dislike of any kind of gaming, I did not disguise from him the
possibility of the emperor taking up the matter personally, with a view
of preventing such deplorable transactions in the future, and that he,
S----, might be selected, not without some justification, as an example
for the sake of enforcing the lesson. All my efforts to bring him to
reason and to arouse a feeling of equity were in vain. He positively
derided what he was pleased to call my sentimental pathos, and ended
up by proposing a game for my cabriolet and horses, so that I might be
enabled to preach from experience. I felt disgusted, and left him.

From the military man I proceeded to the diplomatist, who proved to
be much more frigid than the other. With many fine phrases he tried
to convince me that it was not disloyal or dishonourable to wake up
a young man of twenty-one at midnight in order to despoil him of his
fortune in a couple of hours.

‘Is it worth while to make so much ado about the loss of a few
_boumashkis-boumashkis?_‘--being the name of Russian paper money--he
said. ‘We have only to look around us to find the same thing going on
every day in another shape. You have merely to count the claimants to
thrones they lost because the game went against them. Do you think
people pay any heed to them? You may have noticed a gentleman who left
when you came in. That’s the Marquis de Brignoli. He came to Vienna to
claim the independence of Genoa. The ambassador of a republic which
is at its last gasp, he has treated the Congress to a most energetic
protest, which you may read if you like, for I have it here. In spite
of his logic, M. de Metternich politely bowed him out, and Genoa is to
be given to Piedmont, which has won it, and means to keep it. Venice
disappears in spite of its ancient wisdom. Is it being swallowed up
by the Adriatic? Not at all. It’s Austria that has won it, and means
to keep it. Malta only claims from the Congress its rock and arms to
defend itself against all comers: England, it is told, has won it, and
means to keep it. Prussia gains Saxony; Sweden gains Norway; Russia
gains Poland. Europe in Vienna sits round a table covered with a green
cloth; she is gambling for states, and a cast of the diplomatic dice
involves the loss or the gain of a hundred thousand, nay, of a million,
of heads.[88] Why should not I win a few bits of paper when luck
favours me?’

‘But from your friend, Monsieur le Comte?’

‘They are very scrupulous about relatives here, not to say about
friends, when it comes to the appropriation of thrones, aren’t they.
No, no, all this is so much nonsense. Figaro resolved the problem long
ago: “What’s worth taking, is worth keeping.”’

What answer could I make to such maxims, except to treat them with
contempt? I left him and went back to Z---- to inform him of the
failure of my efforts.

‘I felt certain it would be so,’ he said. ‘The sting of a serpent is
less cruel than the ingratitude of a friend. There is but one way with
people like this, and I’ll employ it.’

He was quite himself now; he dressed and went out to call upon the
grand-chamberlain, Narischkine, who was his superior in virtue of
his Court charge. He intended to inform him of the disaster that had
befallen him, and the means he meant to use for redress. He would not
allow me to go with him; and I tried my horses by myself. I could have
wished them, in their rapid course, to carry me right away from the
painful impressions of the last few hours.

Such episodes were by no means rare in Russia and in Poland. The fatal
passion of gambling was carried to excess. It had become a frenzy, a
positive madness. Russian and Polish society teemed with victims, the
whole of whose fortunes had been lost at the gaming table in a dozen
hours.

I remember that after Potocki’s death at Tulczim, the children of his
first marriage came into possession of his immense fortune. Two of
these, educated at Leipzig, received during the life of their father
only a few ducats per week for pocket-money. The moment they were the
masters of their inheritance, they went headlong into all the excesses
of gaming, and the elder of the two lost thirty millions of florins in
three years by playing at faro with his own land-stewards. A short time
after that his friend, M. de Fontenay, who had clung to him through
good and evil fortune, had to borrow a hundred louis to have him buried
at Aix-la-Chapelle, where he died.

Sometimes the incidents of those terrible gaming parties presented the
most wonderful reversals of luck. Here is an instance. Prince Galitzin,
one of the richest of Russian nobles, was playing on one occasion with
the most persistent bad luck. Estates, serfs, revenues, town-houses,
furniture, jewels, everything had been swallowed up. He had nothing
left but his carriage. That was waiting for him outside; he staked it,
and lost that in a few throws of the dice. A few minutes afterwards the
horses were also gone. ‘I did not stake the harness,’ he said; ‘it is
all in silver, and has just come from St. Petersburg.’

His adversary nodded, and a game was begun for the harness. At
that moment, though, the luck turned as completely in the Prince’s
favour as a few moments previously it had been against him. In a few
hours he not only won back the horses, the carriage, and the family
jewels, but everything else he had lost so rapidly, and that, thanks
to the harness, which literally seemed to be attached to the wheel
of fortune. It is absolutely astounding to find that men are not
positively shattered by those shocks of fortune. Galitzin was not
ungrateful in his worship of the harness. In his palace at Moscow I
have looked at it--in fact, it was pointed out to me, suspended in the
most conspicuous spot of the building, and protected from the tiniest
speck of dust by a framework of glass, like a precious relic, and as a
tangible proof of the strange vicissitudes of gaming.

During my stay in Russia, that same Prince Galitzin was the victim
of probably the cleverest piece of fraud ever perpetrated, in which
his luck forsook him. He was a great amateur of diamonds and precious
stones, and also claimed to be a judge. One day, in the card-room of
the English club at Moscow, he noticed an Italian wearing a ring with a
diamond of the first water, and of extraordinary size. The prince went
up to the wearer of this magnificent jewel, and asked to be allowed to
look at it. ‘And you also, prince, are taken in by it,’ replied the
Italian. ‘What looks to you like a diamond is only a bit of paste, very
beautiful paste, but after all, paste.’

The prince shook his head. ‘No paste ever sparkled like that. Will you
mind confiding it to me for a few hours?’ he asked. ‘I wish to show it
to the emperor’s jeweller, in order to prove to him the rare degree of
perfection imitation can attain.’

The Italian made not the least difficulty in granting the request. The
prince ran to the jeweller to ask him the value of the magnificent
single stone. The dealer examined, weighed, and tested the thing,
admitting that he had rarely seen so perfect a specimen of petrified
carbon. ‘But it’s a bit of paste,’ exclaimed the prince with glee. The
dealer examined and weighed again, subjected the stone to more tests,
and finally pronounced the gem to be a diamond, a diamond of the first
water, which in the trade would fetch at the lowest estimate a hundred
thousand roubles, and for which he, if it was to be disposed of, would
be willing to give eighty thousand. Galitzin makes the dealer repeat
his words again and again, and finally returns to the card-room, where
the Italian is engaged in a quiet game of piquet. The prince gives him
his ring, asking him to sell it; to which the Italian replies that he
is not in want of money, and that in any case the ring has not the
slightest value. Galitzin will not take no for an answer, but cannot
get the Italian to budge. He sets great store by the bauble, not
because of its worth, because it has none, but for the associations
attached to it, inasmuch as his mother gave it to him, exacting his
promise never to part with it. Seduced by the prospect of an enormous
bargain, Galitzin would take no refusal, offered ten thousand roubles,
increased his offer to thirty thousand, and finally proposed fifty
thousand.’

‘Very well, prince,’ said the Italian, as if weary of the struggle,
‘fifty thousand be it then; and you, gentlemen--’ this, turning to the
lookers-on--‘you can bear witness that the prince compels me to sell
him for fifty thousand roubles a mere bit of paste.’

‘Never mind, give me the ring,’ exclaimed Galitzin impatiently; ‘I know
what I am doing.’ Thereupon the Italian took the ring off his finger
and handed it to the prince, who, delighted with his purchase, gave
him there and then a voucher for fifty thousand roubles, to be paid at
sight by his business-manager. An hour afterwards the money was in the
Italian’s pocket, and the next morning Galitzin repaired once more to
the jeweller’s, telling him of his success in obtaining the diamond,
and holding it up for his inspection.

‘But this is only a bit of paste,’ exclaims the dealer; ‘a splendid bit
of paste, but after all, paste. It’s wonderful, though, how closely it
resembles the single stone you showed me yesterday. It’s the same size,
the same cut, the same shape. It’s calculated to deceive better judges
than your excellency.’

His consternation notwithstanding, Galitzin soon perceived that he had
been duped by an adroit scoundrel, who at the moment of handing him the
ring had cleverly substituted a paste imitation of it, but an imitation
calculated to impose upon all but the most expert. A hue-and-cry was
raised after the Italian in Moscow, but immediately after securing the
amount of his voucher, he had left. As for the prince, in addition to
the loss of his money, he had the mortification of being pitied by no
one; he was simply looked upon as ‘the biter bit.’

The affair of Z---- made a great noise in Vienna. The enormous amount
of his loss, the circumstances under which it was sustained, the
place itself of the gambling transaction, everything pointed to a
diabolically conceived combination, scarcely to be reconciled with the
age of the gamblers, the oldest of whom was only three-and-twenty.
The sequel fully confirmed my prediction to S----. Alexander had the
deepest aversion to gamblers and gambling. From that moment he withdrew
his favour from S----, and eight months afterwards in Paris, in the
private room of the Emperor at the Elysée Bourbon, S---- was forced
to admit that he would willingly part with half of his fortune if the
affair had never occurred, or if he had taken my advice about hushing
it up.

Z---- and the Comte B---- fought a duel with swords, in which the
latter was worsted, and the sum paid in settlement of his winnings was
comparatively a modest one. The Emperor Alexander would neither forgive
nor forget the affair. A few years later the young comte, knowing
that in Russia it is not sufficient to be somebody, but that it is
necessary to be also something, wrote to the emperor to be attached to
the legation at Florence; but Alexander sent a refusal in the following
terms:

‘In consideration of the services rendered to our august mother by the
Comte B----, your father, I excuse the glaring presumption of your
request.’

Under the painful impression of that scene in the morning, I spent a
sad day, full of depressing thoughts. The rapid ruin of Z----, the
callousness of his two adversaries, the inevitable consequences of such
a startling affair, did not make me feel disposed to enjoy any of the
daily gaieties of the Congress. The arrival of Ypsilanti put an end to
my serious mood. He came to take me to the masked ball given by the
Court in the small hall set apart for routs, which was to be preceded
by ‘living pictures.’ I at first refused, but was finally persuaded to
accompany him.

The entertainment differed but little from similar ones that had gone
before; at that period there was one almost every week. After a few
turns through the magnificent rooms, which, as usual, afforded the most
complete and animated example of everything that wealth could procure
and the constant craving for pleasure could relish, we went into
the room arranged for ‘the living pictures.’ In the front rows, the
emperors, the sovereigns, and queens, had already taken their seats;
behind them were the political celebrities of the Congress. In a few
minutes the curtain rose.

The first picture was ‘la Conversation Espagnole,’ and the second
‘la Famille de Darius aux pieds d’Alexandre,’ after the handsome
painting of Lebrun. The Comte de Schönfeldt represented Alexander,
and the charming Sophie Zichy impersonated Statira. The features
of the male character were stamped with the gentle pride of the
victor, still further tempered by the kindness and modesty of the
hero; the comtesse, even more beautiful than the figure of Lebrun’s
painting, expressed both admiration and grief. The youngest and most
charming women of the Court represented the daughters of Darius and
the attendants of Statira. The heroic and touching expression of the
principal personages, the numerous delightful figures, the fidelity
of the attitudes, the arrangement of the light--in short, everything
gave to the picture a completeness both elevated and sensuous, and it
was not surprising to hear it unanimously applauded. It was followed
by a performance of the sparkling comedy _Le Pacha de Surêne_, by M.
Etienne. The principal parts were played by the Comtesses Zichy and
Marassi, the Princesses Marie de Metternich and Thérèse Esterhazy,
the Comte de Wallstein, the Prince Antoine Radziwill, and a few other
distinguished personages. This pretty piece, interpreted with the
ability of experienced actors, was greatly applauded.

After that we went to the ball-room. One of the first persons that
caught my eye on entering was the Prince de Ligne. He was beaming with
happiness, and his step was as elastic and graceful as that of any
young man. It was not the same man who had confided his griefs to me
on the previous night. On his arm hung a woman in a blue domino. Her
figure, her voice, and the whole of her bearing fully explained the
disappointment and regret of the prince at finding himself alone at the
love-tryst. I brushed gently past him, and whispered in his ear: ‘It
appears that you were lacking in patience last night.’ ‘You are right,’
was the answer. ‘The great art of life is the exercise of patience.’

I went away, but I fancied I recognised the prince’s companion. It
was, unless I made a mistake, Mme. A---- P----, the young and charming
Greek, who was attracting so much attention in Vienna. An unhappy
love affair, of which the Prince de C---- was the hero, had aroused
the interest of the fair and most impressionable half of the Austrian
aristocracy; her great beauty had easily obtained for her many friends
among the other half of the European celebrities. Her romantic story,
which was told in whispers, was simple and touching. Having fallen a
victim to the Prince de C----‘s blandishments when she was still very
young, she almost immediately became a mother. Both her existence
and her heart were broken by desertion. There was no lack of would-be
consolers; but doubtless her experience had taught her that a first
lapse is only condoned on condition of its not being repeated. Unable
to dispense with a protector, she judiciously chose the Prince de
Ligne, whose great age, she probably thought, would silence all adverse
comment. The liaison, it was said, remained strictly within the limits
of a platonic correspondence; the young Greek contributing her share
by epistles such as all women of all countries and conditions know how
to write; the illustrious old man replying with effusions of which he
alone had preserved the secret. The latter contained the expression of
a sentiment more intense, perhaps, than that of mere friendship, but
tempered by the gentle logic of a wholly paternal affection.

Contrary to the invariable etiquette prevailing at state balls, where
only the polonaise was danced, quadrilles were speedily organised. A
few moments later I caught sight once more of the Prince de Ligne, but
this time he was alone. As a matter of course, I went up to him. ‘Just
watch that pretty bayadère figuring in the quadrille close to us,’ he
said. ‘Would you not take her for one of the most tantalizing girls
at the ball? Well, before she had spoken three words I guessed her
identity. It’s young Alfred, the Comte de Woyna’s brother.’

‘A young man, prince?’

‘A young man dressed as a girl. There’s nothing surprising in that.
Your celebrated dancer Duport came all the way from Paris to Vienna in
woman’s clothes. He alighted from his post-chaise at the Princesse Jean
de Lichtenstein’s, where he danced the whole of the evening, still in
woman’s clothes, and to the admiration of that circle of admirers, all
of whom went to applaud him next evening at the theatre at the Court,
where, still in female attire, he danced in the ballet of _Achille à
Scyros_. Look you here, my boy: there are disguises elsewhere than at
routs, and inasmuch as you have taken to collect the trifles I wrote
during the spring of my life, as well as in its fall, I’ll read you
to-morrow one of the transgressions of my youth, entitled, _Le Roman
d’une Nuit_. Only my extreme youth can be the excuse for that.’

He referred once more to society; to the society he had bitterly
stigmatised as ungrateful. ‘I shall always consider myself fortunate
in having been a witness of that unique spectacle, the Congress. In
that varied crowd I look upon each individual as a separate page of the
great book of society. Believe me, man is not as bad as he is painted.
Woe to the misanthropic moralists who care to look only at the sombre
side of him. They are the painters who only study nature at night.’

Amidst this boisterous, bustling throng, where people looked for their
friends without finding them, though they might be elbowing each other,
two female dominos came up to me and drew me away from the prince. One
took my hand. ‘Why were you in such a hurry to leave us?’ she asked.
The voice, which sounded altogether natural, was entirely unfamiliar
to me. ‘When a man addresses verses to a woman,’ she went on, ‘he
assuredly does not expect her to travel three hundred leagues for the
sake of thanking the author.’

‘Gentle mask, Vienna is three hundred leagues from Paris, an equal
distance from Naples, and as much from St. Petersburg, and in all
these places I have unfortunately addressed verses to ladies. I must
therefore ask you to be more explicit, for unless you are, I shall be
travelling a long while in search of my unknown heroine.’

‘Very well, let us say it was at St. Petersburg, and that Lafont set
them to music.’

‘In that case I should not be sufficiently conceited to aspire to
thanks from the object of my poetry.’

‘Why not, if the verses bestowed caused pleasure?’

‘Or,’ added her companion, who had hitherto been silent, ‘if the proof
of the pleasure is the thanks offered.’

It has been said with truth that the whole destiny of a life is decided
in an instant. I immediately recognised the voice, which I had only
heard once before. The strange and brilliant dream of a night was about
to be reproduced a second time with all its former illusions. I did not
know what to say; the liberty of speech, tacitly admitted under cover
of a mask, only added to my confusion. ‘Have you nothing to say?’ asked
the same voice. ‘Sweet mask,’ I replied, ‘the timid bird may sing at
sunrise, only the eagle dare fixedly look at the sun in its zenith.’

Thereupon I endeavoured to get my two interlocutors out of the crowd,
in order to be more free in the interview, which I felt was to decide
the whole of my life, but Grand-Chamberlain Narischkine came up to
us, recognised the ladies, took their arms and led them away. I had
no longer any doubt. I had met once more the angel of a dream the
realisation of which would not occur on earth.

I remained rooted to the spot, then rushed after the dominos like a
madman. I saw nothing, I heard nothing except the magic words that had
gone to the core of my heart. My pursuit was in vain, the crowd had
parted us for evermore.

In one of the quadrangular rooms I came upon the Prince Cariati talking
very animatedly to a lady disguised as a gipsy, who immediately
revealed her _incognita_. It was the Comtesse Zamoyska, our neighbour
on the Jaeger Zeill.

‘I wish you to join our plot,’ she said; ‘it ‘s a complicated piece of
mystification, the sequel to an intrigue begun at one of these balls,
which has lasted now for several weeks. The personage I wish to mystify
is worthy of my attempt.’ Without knowing or caring much what I did, I
fell in with the wish of the comtesse, who left us, laughing.

I was getting weary of it all, when I noticed my friend M. Achille
Rouen occupying a rout seat all by himself, and apparently as bored as
I was. I asked him if he had seen the dominos of whom I was in search.
‘If you mean the two who were with Narischkine,’ he replied, giving me
an exact description of them, ‘they left the ball a quarter of an hour
ago.’

From that moment the charm of the evening seemed to have vanished, as
far as I was concerned. We began chatting about the Congress and the
current news, and as a matter of course the name of M. de Talleyrand
cropped up. No other name was so often mentioned in people’s comments
on the difficult and critical questions of the moment. Achille Rouen,
who never missed a day without seeing him, was sincerely attached to
him.

‘It’s impossible to know M. de Talleyrand thoroughly without liking
him,’ he said. ‘All those who have come in close contact with him judge
him as I do. He is an inexplicable, I might say indefinable, amalgam
of simplicity and lofty thoughts, of grace and logic, of critical
faculty and courteous tolerance. In one’s intercourse with him, one
learns almost unconsciously the history and politics of all times, and
thousands of stories in connection with every Court; his company is
practically a guide through an enormous gallery, where events are as
instructively depicted as personages.’

‘And in spite of this, my dear Achille, how people have rent him to
pieces! Is mediocrity always to exact such a heavy toll from talent for
the latter’s success? For, if such be the case, the only happy people
are those whose obscurity does not breed envy in others.’

‘History will reward M. de Talleyrand for the evil his contemporaries
have said of him. When, in the course of a long and difficult career, a
statesman has preserved a great number of faithful friends, and counts
but few enemies, one feels bound to credit him with having been wise
and moderate, honourable and thoroughly able. In the prince’s case, the
heart is even better than the ability. Not long ago, M. de R---- came
to borrow twenty thousand francs of him. M. de Talleyrand lent them. A
month later the news came that in consequence of business reverses, M.
de R---- had blown his brains out. “I am glad I did not refuse him the
money,” exclaimed M. de Talleyrand, and one sentence like this suffices
to paint the man.

‘But,’ Rouen went on, ‘what is the circumstance to which he lately
referred during a conversation, and which he said might have
considerably influenced your life?’

‘That circumstance, my dear Achille, never presents itself to my mind
without reviving my regret at having allowed to escape one of the rare
opportunities which offered themselves in one’s young days. Everything
in the way of creating for oneself a career, of making a friend, even
a female friend, depends upon a moment. The goddess of chance must be
caught by the forelock as she rushes past; our regrets have no effect
upon her when we have neglected her momentary proximity to us, I shall
tell you how it happened. I had been living for something like two
months at Raincy, where M. Ouvrard,[89] then at the height of his
fortune, had offered me a couple of rooms in the building belonging
to the fire engine. I was only seventeen; you are acquainted with
the circumstances which at that period brought me into contact at
such a youthful age with the whole of the society of what I must call
“rejuvenated France.” I had received an invitation to a dinner given
by M. Davencourt, the newly appointed “Captain-General of the Hunt,”
in honour of his new functions. It took place in a kind of Russian hut
built in the park, and at the end of a hunt. The other guests were MM.
de Talleyrand, de Montrond,[90] Ouvrard; Admiral Bruix; Generals Lannes
and Berthier. The only woman present was Mme. Grant, who subsequently
married the Prince de Talleyrand. In spite of the many elements of
interest and the clever guests, the conversation slackened; to give it
a fillip, Ouvrard asked me how I had managed on the previous day to get
back to Paris, my horse having got hurt while out hunting, and there
being by a strange coincidence no other animal left in the stable.

       *       *       *       *       *

‘In a very simple way,’ I replied. ‘As you said just now, there was
not a horse to be had for love or money, and I had to be in Paris at
three to meet Mme. Récamier, whom I would not have missed for anything,
inasmuch as she was about to leave the capital immediately. When
there is no chance of a horse or a carriage, the simplest means is to
walk, so I made up my mind to foot it. It was very hot, but at twelve
o’clock I got into the plain about midway between Bondy and Pantin. I
felt thoroughly knocked up, and, moreover, literally as hungry as a
hunter; I stopped at a mill near the high road, and asked them to get
me some breakfast. While it was being prepared, I began to think of
my second want, and asked the miller if there was no means of getting
a horse. “There is mine,” he replied, “and for a crown of six francs
it’s at your service. It will take you very comfortably, and to-morrow,
when I get to Paris, I’ll come and fetch it from your house.” The
courser was brought to the door; it was about as high as an ass, and
in fact performed the duties of one; it had no other equipment than a
pack-saddle.

‘“How am I to get on to that?” I said to the miller. “Haven’t you got a
riding-saddle? But there is one hanging on the wall.”

‘“Oh, that’s my own saddle, my brand-new English saddle, and I don’t
let it out for hire, monsieur.”

‘In vain did I insist, and beg, and persuade. The miller was obstinate,
and I might have saved my breath. I beheld myself riding through the
streets of Paris perched on that lamentable pack-saddle, which had
never carried anything but flour or manure. Assuredly the horse was of
no use to me without the saddle. “Now, gentlemen,” I said, interrupting
my story and addressing my fellow-guests, “what would you have done in
view of the miller’s obstinacy?” Then I appealed to each in particular.
“You, Monsieur Ouvrard, who, in virtue of your administrative
capacities, admired by everybody, sustain our military glory by looking
to the inner comforts of our soldiers? You, Davencourt, who, in spite
of all the ruses of the fox, put on its scent a dozen packs after they
have lost it? You, Monsieur l’Amiral, who brave both the storm and the
guns of the enemy? You, Generals Berthier and Lannes, who in Italy and
in Egypt proved yourselves the Parmenios of the new Alexander? And
finally you, Monsieur de Talleyrand, who as our Minister of Foreign
Affairs have shown and continue to show your profound observation of
men and things:--what would you have done to get hold of the saddle
the miller refused to lend at any price?” There was no answer, they
only laughed. “May I remind you,” I said, “that laughter scarcely
contributes a reply. I have, however, already discovered the master of
all of you,” I went on, turning to Mme. Grant. “Her smile shows me that
she has guessed my last resource. Yes, madame, you guessed rightly; I
appealed to the miller’s wife, and with a few carefully chosen words,
managed to enlist her sympathy. The new saddle, the horse, and the mill
if I had been in need of it, were finally at my disposal. Such, in the
cottage as in the palace, is the power of feminine influence.”

       *       *       *       *       *

‘No sooner had I finished my break-neck story than loud applause broke
forth, followed by the drinking of my health and to the result of my
negotiation. Encouraged by everybody’s approval, I began to talk, like
the boy I was, right and left, and my remarks were evidently relished
by Mme. Grant. M. de Talleyrand, who at that period was very much in
love with her, because, as he said, she had everything that completed
the charm of a woman, namely, a soft skin, a sweet breath, and a sweet
temper--M. de Talleyrand seemed equally pleased with me. The rest
of the guests followed his lead, considering it easier to adopt the
opinion of a clever man than to go to the trouble of making one for
themselves.

‘When we left the table, M. de Talleyrand beckoned me to a corner of
the room and talked to me for a considerable time. He seemed to enjoy
the account of my travels in Sweden and in Denmark. The description of
the shelling of Copenhagen, at which I was present, interested him. My
remarks on all those countries, on the _émigrés_ in Hamburg, and on
Hamburg itself, he qualified as exceedingly just. “Come and see me in
Paris to-morrow,” he said. “I’ll expect you. But you are very young,
and perhaps you’ll forget. Promise me that you’ll not fail to come.”
Saying which he grasped my hands very affectionately. Mme. Grant, who
had joined us, was equally pressing. I promised, and I ought to have
kept my promise, for it was one of those lucky opportunities which
often decide the whole of a man’s life and which the great Frederick
called “His Majesty, Accident.”

‘But, my dear Achille, happiness is a ball after which we constantly
run and then push with our feet when we have come up with it. I did
not keep my appointment with M. de Talleyrand. That unfortunate
shyness which too often paralyses youth had once more got the upper
hand. I’ll not go as far as to say that I was practically frightened
at the possible consequences of this good-will towards me. But I did
ask myself what people could offer me in exchange for that constant
succession of happiness, of maddening joys which at that moment made up
my existence? I dreaded the end of a dream which my thoughtlessness,
my ignorance of all serious things, sought to prolong. The contact
with, the goodwill of, such a man, his influence, would have given a
different direction to my ideas and to my career; in short, would have
finally created for me a different life. Yes, friend, the goddess of
chance absolutely stood in my path, and I was foolish enough not to
catch hold of her. I learnt too late that her favour has wings, as
desire is said to have.’

‘I am not surprised at the prince’s recollection of the incident. His
memory is excellent.’

‘Since then I have often thought the matter over, and always regretted
my neglect to let M. de Talleyrand know the causes of my apparent lack
of gratitude.’

‘Your story reminds me of one I heard recently in Rome in connection
with the banker Torlonia, whose enormous fortune is, again, a
consequence of one of those inspirations that decide the fate of a man.

‘Torlonia, who sprang from very humble people, began by a small
traffic of jewellery between Paris and Rome. A short time afterwards
he established himself as a banker, and then an unhoped-for and
altogether unexpected circumstance brought him in contact in a very
strange manner with Cardinal Chiaramonti. At the death of Pius VI. the
conclave for the election of a new Pope was obliged to assemble at
Venice. Chiaramonti positively had not the money to pay his travelling
expenses, and Torlonia advanced him three or four hundred crowns
without much thought as to the small risk involved, and certainly
without foreseeing the consequences. Chiaramonti proceeded to Venice,
where, in the church of St. George’s (?), he was elected to the papacy.
As a proof of his gratitude, the new Sovereign Pontiff appointed
him Court Banker, then made him a marquis and finally a duke.
To-day, thanks to that small loan, Torlonia is one of the wealthiest
capitalists of Europe.’

These last words had just been spoken when Ypsilanti, Tettenborn, and
some other friends came to tell us that supper was being served. We
followed them to the supper-room, where the conversation turned once
more on the subject of M. de Talleyrand and his remarkable influence
on the deliberations of the Congress. Everybody was agreed that
this preponderance was not due either to mere chance or to the just
appreciation of his political knowledge, but to his character, which
had laid it down as a principle that the first and foremost essential
of all diplomatic negotiations was an impenetrable discretion; and
to the fact of his having imbued all those whom he employed with the
same reserve. In connection with this, some one cited the recent reply
of M. D---- in a gathering of friends where M. de Talleyrand and the
particulars of his life were being discussed.

M. D----, who had been with M. de Talleyrand for twenty years,
accompanied him to the Congress. People naturally concluded that this
long intimacy had made M. D---- familiar with a number of particulars
of the minister’s life, and bearing also upon the events with which he
had been mixed up. Worried with questions, M. D---- invariably replied
that he knew nothing; but the questioners would not be satisfied, and
returned to the charge. ‘Very well,’ finally said M. D----, ‘I’ll
tell you a peculiar and altogether unknown fact in connection with
M. de Talleyrand. Since Louis XV. he’s the only man who can open a
soft-boiled egg with one backward stroke of his knife without spilling
a drop of the contents of the shell. That’s the only peculiarity I know
in connection with him.’ Discretion had scored a decisive victory. From
that moment the questions ceased.

The topic of M. de Talleyrand seemed really inexhaustible. More stories
about him were told, and then the Prince de Reuss came up to our
table, said a few words to M. Rouen, and once more left us.

‘It was his father, the reigning prince,’ said one of our friends,
‘who at the time of the Directory began an official despatch in the
following terms: “The Prince de Reuss begs to acknowledge the existence
of the French Republic.” M. de Talleyrand, who in his capacity of
Minister of Foreign Affairs had to reply to the missive, began his
document with: “The French Republic feels most flattered at making the
acquaintance of the Prince de Reuss.”’

On leaving my friends, I could not help reflecting with regret upon
my adventure at Raincy, the recollection of which had so unexpectedly
cropped up a few hours previously. I kept thinking of the chance
offered to me by M. de Talleyrand, which my lack of foresight had
caused me to disdain.



CHAPTER XII

  Illness of the Prince de Ligne--The Comte de Witt--Ambassador
      Golowkin--Doctor Malfati--The Prince gets worse--Last
      Sallies of the Moribund--General Grief--Portrait of the
      Prince de Ligne--His Funeral.


One of the most painful events of my life, namely, the death of the
Prince de Ligne, also damped the gaieties of the Congress. The event
affected me so deeply, and it was so unexpected by me, that, after many
years, I still vividly remember the particulars. I was on my way to pay
my quasi-daily visit when, not far from the prince’s residence, I met
the Comte de Witt, who wished to accompany me. The prince was in bed
and ailing. He had caught a chill at that ill-fated appointment on the
rampart; and on the previous evening at the ball, where he appeared so
thoroughly consoled, he had been rash enough to go out without a cloak
in the bitter cold in order to take some ladies to their carriage. As
yet there were no grave symptoms; he was only feverish, and had passed
a very restless night.

Nevertheless, he welcomed us with the cordial grace that never failed
him, and we chatted about the crowd of strangers in Vienna and the
latest rumours of the Congress; and finally we got to military matters,
the favourite subject of the octogenarian marshal and of the young
Russian general. To judge by his spirited remarks, there seemed no
cause for anxiety, and the Comte de Witt as a parting sentence said how
sorry Vienna would feel at the news of its brightest ornament being
ill. He answered with a particularly atrocious pun, attributed to the
Marquis de Bièvre, which seemed to afford him great amusement, and
expressed the intention of getting well again in a short time if only
to spite the gossip-mongers of the capital.

When the Comte de Witt was gone, the prince referred to the comte’s
mother, to ‘his exquisitely beautiful mother,’ as he expressed it,
‘whose image rises before me the moment I catch a glimpse of her son
and reminds me of the best years of my life. That type of beauty is
lost,’ he went on. ‘It was a combination of Eastern loveliness and
Western grace. You ought to have seen her, that Comtesse de Witt, when
for the first time she appeared at the Court of France. No words of
mine can convey an idea of the effect she produced, of the universal
enthusiasm she aroused. I remember that, hearing her beautiful
eyes--which were, in fact, the most beautiful conceivable--constantly
mentioned, she imagined that the adjective and the substantive were
inseparable. One day Marie-Antoinette said to her; “What’s the matter,
comtesse, you do not appear to be well?” “Madame,” was the answer,
“I have got a pain in my beautiful eyes.” As you may imagine, this
ingenuous, delightfully naïve reply went the round, and justly applied
to the lovely creature.’

I noticed that talking seemed to tire him, and I left, not without a
vague feeling of sadness and anxiety. I felt depressed all day, and in
order to verify my apprehensions of the morning I went back at night.
Doctor Malfati[91] and the Comte Golowkin, known in connection with
his unsuccessful mission to China, were with him, and the former was
warning him against his want of care, which might be attended with
serious consequences. Since the morning violent erysipelas had set
in; the patient seemed much weaker. Golowkin, who had no more faith
than Molière in doctors and the art of healing, was trying to dispel
his uneasiness. ‘With all due deference to the faculty,’ replied the
charming old man, ‘I have always belonged to the sect of unbelievers
where medicine was concerned. You know the remedies I employed during
the famous journey with the great Catherine in Taurida. She was very
anxious that I should submit to some of the dictates of Hippocrates. “I
have got a peculiar way of treating myself,” I replied. “When I am ill,
I send for my two friends, Ségur and Cobentzel: I purge the one and
bleed the other; and that as a rule cures me.”’

‘Times are changed, prince,’ said the doctor, somewhat nettled; ‘and
if my memory does not mislead me, six lustres have gone by since
then. Just let us count the years a bit. They make, as far as I can
reckon----’

‘Stay, stay, doctor,’ exclaimed the patient in a lively tone, ‘don’t
let’s count anything; I have never counted my enemies. And you, a
clever man, you are telling me “times are changed.” Who in the world
could persuade himself that age changes one’s face. Is it not the same
in the morning when we get up as it was the previous evening when we
went to bed? People here imagine, perhaps, that having exhausted all
kinds of pleasure, I am going to relieve their monotony by giving them
the spectacle of a field-marshal’s funeral. No, I am not a sufficiently
good courtier to be the complacent actor in such an entertainment. I
have no wish to divert the royal pit of the Congress Theatre in that
way.’

These well-known words of the Prince de Ligne have always been
strangely misquoted. Historians have lent to them a kind of philosophy,
desirable, no doubt, but altogether unintended by the speaker.
All have made him say: ‘I keep for these kings the spectacle of a
field-marshal’s funeral.’

Not one of those historians heard him as I did; not one of them knew
or even suspected the real character of that illustrious old man.

The prince went on. ‘I do not intend using the epitaph of my friend the
Marquis de Bonnay for a long time to come. I’ll defer the business of
cutting his clever lines into marble for a while.’[92]

Malfati, though strongly recommending great care, made it a point to
reassure him, and to dismiss all idea of death.

‘It will have to come to that after all, I know. I was seriously
thinking of it all night. Death suits many people. I once had the fancy
of proving this in several articles I wrote hurriedly. I’ll touch them
up and complete them later on. As for you,’ turning to us, ‘listen and
look, in order to find out if you happen to belong to these categories;
don’t worry about me. As for the doctor, it will serve him as a text
when he wishes to preach resignation to his patients.’ Saying which, he
took from under his pillow a book and began to read to us. Some of his
reflections, apart from their original and piquant style, had also the
merit of a comforting and gentle philosophic teaching.

After that short moral lecture, Malfati left us. Golowkin, in order to
amuse the invalid, told him some of the incidents of his mission to
China; the variety of the pictures seemed to brighten him. Gradually
dismissing the possibility of any danger, he began to refer cheerfully
to some of the circumstances of his young days.

‘When I was a child,’ he said, ‘the dragoons of the Ligne regiment
carried me in turns in their arms. My fondness for soldiers dates from
that period. It’s a kind of affection which, contrary to the other,
has often been repaid to me in coin of sterling devotion.’

In spite of his cheerfulness, six or eight hours had sufficed to make
him look gaunt and wan. He could no longer smile without an effort;
there seemed to be a short but terrible struggle going on between him
and bodily pain. Finally his courage and energy got the upper hand;
pain was for the moment vanquished.

His daughter, the Comtesse Palfi, came in to administer the potions
prescribed by Malfati; we left them. When Golowkin and I were outside
on the ramparts, we did not pretend to disguise our uneasiness from
each other. Golowkin was sincerely attached to the prince.

At eight the next morning I was at the prince’s with Griffiths, who,
having all his life made the science of healing a particular study,
felt only too pleased to assist one he liked so well. The prince was
very depressed; the presentiment of his end made him sad. ‘I know,’ he
said, ‘nature will not be balked. We must vacate the space we occupy
in this world for some other people. We must make up our minds to it.
Nevertheless, I feel this: the greatest sting of death is the fact of
leaving those whom we love.’ I felt the tears getting into my eyes.
‘Come, come,’ he said, ‘don’t be afraid, the “camarde” will be mistaken
once more.[93] To-morrow my pain will be gone like the dream of a
night.’

Then he was silent for a few moments, as if pondering. ‘What a sad
thing is the past,’ he remarked at last. ‘The recollection of it is
horrid; if it has been a happy past, it’s hard to say to oneself,
“I have been happy.” When one falls to thinking of one’s moments of
glory and of happiness, of one’s first attempts, even of the games of
childhood, the thoughts are sufficient to kill one there and then with
regret. Nevertheless, if I could have my time over again, or could
return on earth after my death, I should do almost everything I have
already done. My poetry and my love-affairs are the greatest sins I
have committed, and Heaven has never withheld its forgiveness for such
errors. The only thing I should endeavour to do would be not to give
the same persons a chance of being ungrateful to me. After all, I would
only give others a chance....’

Throughout the day the greatest personages of Vienna, all the political
and military celebrities and the sovereigns, sent at frequent intervals
for news. The report of his illness had spread among all classes; the
anxiety was general, and a large crowd gathered before his house, so
intense was the interest in the remarkable man about to disappear.
During the night, between the second and third day, his condition
became rapidly and alarmingly worse. His family, bowed down with grief
and dumb with despair, stood around his bed when Malfati came in. ‘I
did not think,’ said the patient, ‘that I should make so much fuss at
going. Truly, the uncertainty and briefness of our days are not worth
the trouble of waiting.’ Then he began to talk with the greatest gaiety
about the bequests he had made. ‘The inheritance will not be difficult
to divide; yet, it was necessary to proceed in orderly fashion. In
accordance with an ancient custom, I must leave something to my company
of trabans. Well, I have left them my posthumous works; the gift is
worth a hundred thousand florins.’

They tried to change the conversation in order to divert his thoughts
from the subject of death, but he constantly returned to it. ‘I have
always liked the end of Petronius,’ he said. ‘Bent upon dying as he
had lived, in the lap of luxury, he made them play some charming music
and recite some beautiful verses. I’ll do better than that: surrounded
by those whom I love, I’ll breathe my last in the arms of friendship.
Don’t be sad,’ he said a few moments later, ‘perhaps we’ll not part
yet. One illness sometimes prevents a more serious one. Take heart;
doubt is a most precious gift from nature. Besides, I am by no means
convinced that the prophecy of Etrella is to be realised so soon.’

‘What prophecy, prince?’ asked Malfati.

‘It dates from my last journeys to Paris. The Duc d’Orléans, to whom I
was much attached, for he could be a staunch friend, took me one day
on leaving the Palais-Royal to a sorcerer, a fortune-teller, whom they
called the “Great Etrella.” This Parisian gipsy was perched in a fifth
floor in the Rue de Froid-manteau. He foretold to the Duc d’Orléans
some surprising things to which my want of faith prevented me from
paying much attention. As for me, he told me that I should die seven
days after having heard a great noise. Since then I have heard the
noise of two sieges, I have heard two powder-magazines blown up; and I
did not die of the noise. I fancy that during the present week there
has been no great noise, except about small things--rumours, balls,
fêtes, and intrigues. Many people live by them and through them. I have
not heard it stated that anybody died of them.’ He tried to smile.
Suddenly, there was an access of great weakness, which frightened us.
In a short time, though, he rallied once more. ‘I feel it,’ he said,
‘the soul has worn out its dress. The strength to live is gone; the
strength to love you all remains.’

At these words, all his children flung themselves on the bed, kissing
his hands and bedewing them with tears. ‘What are you doing?’ he said,
drawing his hands away. ‘I am not a saint yet, children; or are you
mistaking me for a relic?’

The joke produced a more painful sensation than the most agonising cry
could have done. The doctor prevailed upon him to take a draught, which
gave him some hours of peaceful sleep. When he awoke he had recovered
his cheerfulness; the idea of death had vanished. He began even to jest
about the terrible prognostics which, in spite of his weakness, he had
overheard in the morning. ‘Malfati, the “camarde’s” messenger has given
you to understand that she might pay me a visit this evening,’[94] he
said. ‘A truce to that kind of gallant diversion. I have never broken
my appointments, but I mean to break this one. Yes, I have adjourned
the writing of the verses which, like Hadrian, I intend to address to
my soul about to leave my body.’

There was a lighted candle on a piece of furniture near the window.
‘Blow that candle out,’ he said to his servant: ‘people can see it from
the rampart; they’ll mistake it for a wax taper, and they’ll think I am
dead.

‘Did not I tell you,’ he said, addressing himself to us, ‘that the
verdicts of the faculty are not invariably without appeal. Decidedly,
the newsmongers and idlers of the Graben will have to postpone their
comments on my demise, at any rate this time. I hear that to keep their
tongues and pens going they are spreading the rumour of the Empress of
Russia’s pregnancy.’

He went on in the same tone, interrupting himself to discuss the plans
of his journeys for the coming spring, and the travels he wished to
complete. We, alas, were far from sharing his opinion, the ravages
of the disease were too plainly discernible; practically there was
no hope. Malfati when leaving had pronounced the situation to be
exceedingly grave.

Towards the middle of the night the doctor’s apprehensions were
fast being realised. The improvement of a few hours was all at once
succeeded by a thorough prostration. Suddenly his strength seemed to
revive; he sat up in bed and assumed a fighting attitude; his eyes
were wide open, and shone with unusual brilliancy, he gesticulated
violently and shouted: ‘Shut the door, put her outside, “la camarde,”
the hideous hag.’ He was manifestly struggling with all his might
against the ‘hideous hag’s’ grip, and gasping forth incoherent words,
while we, standing by terror-stricken and paralysed with grief, could
only answer him with sobs. This last effort exhausted him completely;
he fell back unconscious. An hour later, God received his soul. It was
the 13th December 1814.

His daughter, the Princesse de Clary, bent over him and closed his
eyes.[95] His face no longer wore the expression of terror and anger
that had contracted it a moment before his death. His features had
recovered their ordinary and placid expression, and the look of youth
which had been theirs so long in virtue of his peace of mind and
soul. A smile hovered on his lips, and the man, so extraordinary in
everything, even after his death was perhaps handsomer than he had ever
been at any period of his life. His noble face might have served as a
model to the brush of Lesueur for his sublime heads of Heaven’s elect.
In default of the halo which is the pictorial symbol of everlasting
happiness, there were the beams of genius and goodness. His immortality
had commenced.

At the foot of the bed an old soldier was convulsed with sobs. It was
the Major Docteur whom I had often met at the house. His affection for
the illustrious old man partook of the nature of fanatical worship. It
was said that there were ties of close blood relationship, but whether
the tears coursing down that noble, scarred face were due to gratitude
or admiration, or kinship, they plainly showed the extent of his loss
and the bitterness of his grief.

The princess cut a few locks of her father’s white hair and distributed
them among us. We received them silently, bedewing them with our tears.
I doubt whether they were ever parted with by any of the recipients.

The Prince de Ligne was in his eightieth year. With him disappeared one
of the most brilliant lights of his century.[96]

He was the veteran of European elegance, and at eighty had preserved
the vigour of a man in his prime added to the grace of youth. He
also had the tastes of the young without ever becoming ridiculous in
the slightest degree in consequence. Animated as he was by the most
cordial good-will towards them, young men, whom he treated as ‘chums,’
worshipped him and were never so happy as in his company.

His was a genuine and unostentatious philosophy. The revolution in
Belgium deprived him of a great part of his wealth. He bore his losses
with the utmost fortitude. Lavish like most men endowed with great
imagination, he had left portions of his remaining fortune in every
capital of Europe, and, in spite of his extravagance, had scattered
even more wit than money.

The idea of death had perhaps never presented itself to him: the extent
of his knowledge, the fantasy displayed in his taste, his fondness for
the worldly life led by a society of which he might rightly claim to be
an ornament--all this had provided him with a freshness of imagination,
a vivacity of affection, and a kind of unfailing youth, the source
of which resided in his mind and in his heart. He in every respect
justified the saying of Maupertuis: ‘The body is a green fruit; it only
becomes ripe at the moment of death.’

The Prince de Ligne was a field-marshal, the proprietor of a regiment
of infantry (raised and subsequently maintained at his own expense),
captain of the trabans and the guards of the Imperial Palace, a member
of most of the European Orders, and a Knight of the Golden Fleece. He
took a legitimate pride in reminding people that one of his ancestors,
Jean de Ligne, Marshal of Hainault, had received that knighthood at the
same time as Philip, the father of Charles V.

No official mourning was ordered for the illustrious deceased,
nevertheless mourning was general, inasmuch as it was in everybody’s
heart. For a great number of years, the Viennese had come to look upon
the Prince de Ligne as an object of respect and admiration, a feeling
which was, perhaps, still further increased by the reverence shown him
by foreigners. The Viennese no doubt also remembered the friendship
that had bound him to their Emperor Joseph, and the ‘fraternity of
glory’ that had subsisted between the prince and their most famous
warriors; they could not forget the familiar footing on which he had
lived with them and with all the celebrities of the previous century.
To part with the man who spoke so admirably of all these, and reminded
them so vividly of their heroes, was like losing them a second time.

The funeral of the Prince de Ligne took place with all the honours
due to his rank, and with a pomp hitherto unknown at the burial of a
private individual. The procession left his house at midday. It was
composed of eight thousand infantry, several squadrons of cavalry,
and four batteries of artillery. His company of trabans surrounded
the funeral car; its officers carried the insignia of mourning. A
herald-of-arms, on horseback, in black armour, wearing a black crape
scarf, baldrick-fashion, and holding a drawn sword lowered, followed
immediately afterwards; and then came the prince’s own battle-charger,
caparisoned in black spangled with silver stars. Behind the charger,
and by the side of the family, came a great number of marshals,
admirals, generals, belonging to nearly all the armies and navies of
Europe. Among them, the Prince Eugène, Generals Tettenborn, Philippe de
Hesse-Hombourg, Walmoden, Ouwaroff, de Witt, Ypsilanti, the Prince de
Lorraine, the Duc de Richelieu, and all the notable personages who at
that moment had forgathered in Vienna. Some of those captains, who had
come expressly to pay their last tribute to the man who had been their
model, were on horseback and carried their swords bare.

The procession traversed part of the city on its way to the parish
church, called the ‘Scottish Church.’ After the religious ceremony,
the funeral continued its route to the Kalemberg, where the prince had
requested to be buried.

The funeral procession of the field-marshal passed before the
sovereigns, some of whom, like the Emperor of Russia and the King of
Prussia, had taken up their position on the site of the ramparts razed
by the French. There was unaffected grief on their faces. Alexander,
for instance, could not help remembering the admiration of his
grandmother for the illustrious dead.

When the coffin was lowered into the vault, the sun shone out at full
strength, and ‘it seemed,’ as Gentz said, ‘as though he would salute
for the last time the favourite of God and men.’



CHAPTER XIII

  The Fire at the Razumowski Palace--The Prince’s Great Wealth
      --The Vicissitudes of Court Favour in Russia--Prince
      Koslowski--A Reminiscence of the Duc d’Orléans--A Remark of
      Talleyrand--Fête at the Comtesse Zichy’s--Emperor Alexander
      and his Ardent Wishes for Peace--New Year’s Day, 1815--
      Grand Ball and Rout--Sir Sidney Smith’s Dinner-Party at the
      Augarten--His Chequered Life, his Missions and his Projects
      at the Congress--The King of Bavaria without Money--
      Departure and Anger of the King of Würtemberg--The Queen of
      Westphalia--The Announcement of a Sleighing-Party--A Ball
      at Lord Castlereagh’s.


It seemed as if every species of amusement had been exhausted for the
gratification of the illustrious gathering at Vienna. Balls, hunts,
banquets, _carrousels_ were only a few of the forms pleasure had
adopted in its pursuit. The new year was drawing near, and in order
to inaugurate it under similar auspices of gaiety and happy freedom
from care, the Austrian Court had announced sixteen grand fêtes or
new assemblies for the forthcoming month of January. Suddenly, on a
moonless night, the palace of Prince Razumowski caught fire, and in
consequence of a rather stiff breeze the mischief spread rapidly, and
in a short time looked like Vesuvius in full blast. The excitement
spread in due proportion, and everybody wished to catch a glimpse of
the spectacle, worthy of the brush of a great artist. In a short time
the roads leading to the structure were simply black with people.

At daybreak I also repaired to the spot. The Emperor of Austria had
gone thither at the first news of the disaster. Several battalions
of infantry, animated by his presence, preserved order, and did all
they could to check the progress of the flames, without much apparent
success. From amidst the snow-covered roofs arose dense clouds of
smoke, which in turns hid and lighted up the burning building itself.
Every now and again an explosion more violent than the rest literally
caused burning beams to drop from on high. A shower of smaller flames
threatened the various parts of the pile with total destruction. The
yawning walls suddenly disclosed vast rooms, superb galleries crammed
with precious furniture and art-treasures, which almost immediately
became a prey to the fast-advancing monster. The pictures and the
statues were flung headlong into the gardens and into the courts. If
they escaped destruction by fire, they were shattered to pieces on the
flagstones or saturated with the jets of water and the molten snow,
which had converted the ground into a kind of quagmire. One magnificent
gallery, decorated with a number of statues by Canova, could not
be saved. Its floor had given way; and at that moment a feeling of
profound consternation seemed to have taken possession of the enormous
crowd. It was not surprising, for the Razumowski Palace constituted one
of the sights of Vienna. It had taken twenty years to build it. Several
times since the opening of the Congress, Emperor Alexander had borrowed
it of his ambassador. It was in these vast apartments that he had given
some of the fêtes rivalling in pomp and splendour those of the Austrian
Court; it was at the Razumowski Palace that he had gathered around a
table of seven hundred covers all the political celebrities of Europe;
it was at the Razumowski Palace that, but three weeks previously, he
had so fitly celebrated the birthday of his sister, the Grand-Duchess
of Oldenburg. Such, in short, were the splendour and charm of this
magnificent palace that Empress Elizabeth had, it was said, seriously
thought of renting it during the spring as her private residence.

For many, many years Razumowski had made a point of embellishing
the place with every art-treasure that wealth could buy. The rooms
themselves were decorated with as much taste as sumptuousness. Side by
side with galleries containing masterpieces of pictorial and statuary
art, there was a library, perhaps matchless anywhere, inasmuch as
the rarest manuscripts and books were collected there. In short, the
building was a unique specimen of Asiatic magnificence, carefully toned
down by European taste.

In the costly ornamentation of that palace, Razumowski had spent a
considerable part of his fortune: it was even said that his fortune had
been impaired by it. That wealth, which was enormous, came to him from
his father, Cyril Razumowski, the field-marshal, and the brother of
that famous Alexis who was the favourite and subsequently the husband
of Empress Elizabeth, who secretly married him at Perowo, near Moscow.
The vagaries of luck, which has played so important a part in the
history of Russia, were for Cyril what they were for the brother of
Catherine I. When the erewhile chorister-lad of the imperial chapel,
Alexis Razumowski, had sprouted into the lover and minister of Empress
Elizabeth, it all at once recurred to him that he had a brother. Alexis
decided upon having him sent for, in order to give him a share of some
of the good things that had come to himself. The brother herded flocks
somewhere in Little Russia, and had no presentiment of the marvellous
destiny in store for him. On the contrary, he was inclined to look
upon the imperial emissaries who had come in search of him as so many
recruiting-sergeants bent on converting him into a soldier. In his
opinion, the wallet in which he carried his bread while tending his
flock was a thousand times preferable to the grenadier’s knapsack;
hence, at the approach of the men in quest of him, he escaped, and
hid himself in the woods. As a matter of course, they were on his
track in a few days, and after a most obstinate resistance, he was
bound and laden with fetters, and in that condition he made his first
appearance at the Imperial Palace, whence he issued very soon, laden
with wealth and favours, a field-marshal, and invested with the
restored commandership of the Cossacks, a rank abolished by Peter
the Great in consequence of the Mazeppa conspiracy. In addition to
the most extensive powers, the latter office conferred upon him the
right of levying tithes upon all the revenues of the provinces of his
government; and this naturally became the source of one of the most
enormous fortunes of Europe.

Exceedingly tactful and devoid of prejudice, Cyril Razumowski
succeeded in maintaining himself in his great position during the
reign of Catherine II., to whose elevation he was supposed to have
contributed in no mean degree. The pomp and splendour with which he
surrounded himself, as well as his personal kindness of heart, seemed
to have rendered him fully worthy of such unprecedented favours.
Many traits are recorded of him proving his generosity as well as
his nobleness of character. He had a steward, who for many years had
managed his affairs, and who had acquired great influence over him. A
poor gentleman of Little Russia, a neighbour of the marshal, was at
loggerheads with the business man about some land, which, though of
little or no importance to the wealthy Court dignitary, practically
constituted the whole of the other’s patrimony. The steward insisted
upon the surrender of the property. The gentleman was thoroughly
aware of Razumowski’s inherent sense of right and justice, and,
instead of trusting his all to the chances of a lawsuit--always
uncertain in Russia, and notably where one’s opponent happens to be
very powerful--he made up his mind to go and find the marshal at St.
Petersburg, and to plead his cause with him. The steward, having got
wind of the affair, is beforehand, and on his arrival in the capital
stigmatises the claim of the gentleman as an utterly unfounded
pretension, and extracts from his master a promise to yield neither to
solicitations nor prayers, but to remain firm. A short time afterwards
the poor gentleman arrives upon the scene and explains his case, and
succeeds in convincing the marshal so completely of the justice of his
claim as thoroughly to move him. The picture of the other’s total ruin
is by no means to his taste; the promise to his steward is forgotten,
and without saying a syllable he leaves the room for a small one
adjoining it, and there in a few lines he draws up a document granting
the contested land to his adversary. At the sight of the paper, the
latter drops on his knees, where the steward, entering at the same
moment by another door, finds him. ‘You see,’ said Razumowski smiling,
‘where I have brought him to.’ The scene is worthy to figure by the
side of that of Sully and Henri IV. at Fontainebleau, when the king
said to his friend the minister, ‘Rise, Rosny, these people might
imagine that I was granting you a pardon for something.’

André Razumowski, his son, who had only received his princely title
some short time before from Alexander as a reward for important
services, had inherited several of those qualities which seem such
dignified accompaniments to great wealth. He also had a remarkable and
enlightened taste for art. The genuine type of the grand seigneur, he
was at the same time wholly familiar with the less redundant graces
of diplomatic courtesy. Most expensive in his taste and grandiose in
his projects, he noticed one day that he might shorten the distance
separating him from the Prater, and had a bridge thrown over an arm of
the Danube. As the ambassador to the Austrian Court, he was on the most
confidential footing with Prince de Metternich, the presiding spirit;
and more than once, Razumowski, by his cleverness, had dissipated the
clouds gathering over the discussions of the Congress.

The fire had meanwhile been got under, but that part of the palace
looking out upon the gardens was irrevocably gone. Among the crowd of
lookers-on, I noticed the Prince Koslowski. After the death of the
Prince de Ligne, an instinctive feeling of friendship, and perhaps
sympathy also, seemed to draw me nearer to that other friend. If, in
the case of the old marshal, I had admired the treasures of experience
and reason and that subtle and delicate appreciation of society, in
the case of the Russian prince I found a loftiness of views, an entire
independence of judgment and expression about men and political events,
too rare, perhaps, among diplomatists. His sprightly conversation bound
many people to him, while at the same time his frankness commanded
affection.

‘This,’ he said, when I got up to him, ‘is a chapter to add to the
vicissitudes of courtly favour and disgrace in Russia. Razumowski
may consider himself fortunate to be quits at the cost of a palace
half burnt down. He also has known the ups and downs of favour and
disgrace; he also has known the sweets of power and the bitterness
of exile. The history of my country could indeed be made into a
most philosophical novel; it would, above all, provide a series of
excellent moral lectures on the danger of vainglory and the frequency
of revolutions. The last century has offered any number of examples.
There is Menschikoff, a pastry cook’s lad, who becomes a prince and a
general, and is suddenly exiled, dying a couple of years after, without
individually recovering his position. Biren, a servant, is raised to
sovereign rank, and is practically master of the empire for nine years,
until the day that Münnich, his rival, claps the fetters on him in
the presence of his own guards, petrified with fear. Biren, however,
regains favour, while Münnich himself expiates his sudden rise with
twenty years’ banishment to Siberia. Surgeon Lestocq, after having
overthrown the Regent Anne, practically puts the crown on Elizabeth’s
head, and remains one of her principal advisers during her reign. He
is, nevertheless, flung into prison, then set free, and finally almost
entirely forgotten. The Princesse Daschkoff, the supposed soul of the
plot that dragged Peter III. from his throne to place his wife there,
is soon misjudged by her whose plans she imprudently boasted to have
inspired, and to whose grandeur she professed to have contributed.
Finally, the plotters who took Paul I.‘s life and crown are treated
with the utmost harshness by him who owes his present power to them.

‘Well,’ he went on, after we had left the scene of the fire, ‘the
elevations are often as strange in their causes as the catastrophes are
terrible in their effects. Judge for yourself. In consequence of my
relationship to Prince Kourakine, I began my career in the secretarial
department of the great chancellor Romanzoff. One day the latter was
dictating an important despatch to me. I do not know how I managed it,
but in my hurry, instead of emptying the pounce over the document, I
emptied the inkstand over the beautiful white kerseymeres of the chief.
That inkpot, so indiscriminately emptied, decided my fate. Romanzoff,
as you may imagine, did not care to keep near him a secretary with such
a distinct tendency to spoil his clothes, so he gave him a position
as a state-councillor, where there was a good deal to control, but
little to write. But for this trifling circumstance, I’d probably be
vegetating now among the subalterns.’

Few men combined like the Prince Koslowski the liking for work, and
the intelligent appreciation of it, joined to a remarkable and fiery
eloquence. His learning was very varied and extensive, his memory most
admirable. History had no secrets for him; he had mastered all the
diplomatic transactions which for many centuries had regulated the
fate of Europe. His manner of judging men was that of a philosophic
statesman. All the political questions so often twisted out of their
natural shape by private interest he regarded in the light of a friend
of humanity. A staunch partisan of all progress, he was fond of telling
how he, like another illustrious personage already mentioned, had
received equally deserved chastisement at the hands of an Austrian
postillion. While travelling, when very young, on the frontiers of
Prussia, he had struck the driver, whose horses did not keep pace with
the traveller’s impatience. The driver vigorously applied his whip to
the back of the ’prentice diplomatist. ‘Well, it was that Austrian who
gave me my first lesson in liberalism,’ said the prince, laughing, a
decade later.

Koslowski quickly climbed the first rungs of the diplomatic ladder.
Minister-plenipotentiary to the King of Sardinia, he had the good
fortune to save the lives of several shipwrecked Frenchmen who had been
made prisoners. Napoleon immediately sent the Legion of Honour to the
representative of a sovereign with whom at that very moment he happened
to be at war. The reward redounded as much to the honour of the Russian
ambassador as to that of the French Emperor. It was at Cagliari, about
the same period, that the Prince Koslowski became acquainted with the
Duc d’Orléans, afterwards the King of the French. A similar love of
knowledge, a similar desire for fathoming most things, drew these two
together. Both had spent their earlier years in serious and assiduous
studies. The chequered and adventurous life of the French prince had
strengthened the studies with the experience derived from misfortune.
These two took long walks by the sea-shore, and passed in review the
gigantic events of which practically they were the eye-witnesses.
Sometimes they read Shakespeare, whose language and whose beauties were
equally familiar to them; and those readings were rarely interrupted
except by the cries of admiration of the Russian diplomatist or the
subtle and learned comments of the French exile.

Very often during the Congress I heard Koslowski refer to the
particulars of that familiar intercourse, of which, despite the
difference in their years--for that difference consisted of a
decade--he cherished a lively recollection. ‘The learning of the Duc
d’Orléans surprises and confounds me; on no matter what subject,
whether it be a scientific, an historical, or a politico-economical
one, he not only holds his own with me, but beats me. What, however,
I admire most in him is his courage in misfortune, and his profound
knowledge of men. He sees them as they are; nevertheless, he judges
them without the slightest bitterness. Proscribed from his country, he
constantly has his eyes turned towards it, and has steadfastly refused
to join those who would reconquer it by force of arms. The saying:
“They have learnt nothing; they have forgotten nothing,” does not apply
to him. Both as a man and as a prince, he belongs to his time.’

The Comtesse Zichy gave a grand ball, which was to be honoured by the
presence of the sovereigns. The sole topic of conversation in the
capital was the fire of the previous night, which had robbed the city
of one of its handsomest ornaments. The damage, estimated at several
millions, was absolutely irreparable from the point of view of art.
But oblivion came quickly in those days, and by evening the excitement
had largely subsided, and the courtiers’ greatest interest seemed to
be the study of the sovereigns’ faces, inasmuch as the rumour ran
that the most important questions had been settled, that the sweetest
accord reigned between those rulers of the world, and that the opening
of the new year would be signalised by the proclamation of some great
decisions and the declaration of a general peace.

Among the crowd of notabilities grouped around the celebrities, such
as M. de Metternich and the Field-Marshal Prince de Schwartzenberg,
was the young Prince C---- de F----, the son of a king, the brother of
a king to-be, yet who, nevertheless, was as simple and unaffected as
he was handsome and clever. A circumstance most trifling in appearance
had made him for the last few days the subject of all comments and the
object of all observation. In the shape of a floral decoration, he wore
simply a daisy in his buttonhole and nothing else. Of course, renewed
each day, the modest village flower was a proof of careful search at
a season when the snow-covered fields had none to offer to the rustic
swain. No doubt some tender recollection, some thought proceeding
direct from the heart, was hidden under this humble emblem. It was
one of the many love-stories enacted while the Congress was supposed
to be unravelling the tangled skein of Europe’s diplomacy. The air of
Vienna seemed positively teeming with them, and their secrets were
not difficult to read. The latest was no exception to the others. It
was soon known that the modest flower of the field reminded the young
prince of a cherished name, that of the Comtesse de ----. One day these
two were strolling through the imperial hot-houses, and, love being
superstitious, they hit upon the idea of consulting the future with
regard to the duration and the depth of a feeling constituting their
happiness. The comtesse plucked a daisy, interrogated it according
to usage, and the last petal brings the ardently wished-for word
‘passionately.’ Naturally the word is welcomed by a mutual smile, there
is an exchange of significant glances--of those glances that say as
plainly as words, ‘You’re understood.’ The prince plucks another flower
and fastens it into his buttonhole. The matter, however, did not end
there; the oracle had been believed; heaven had received the pledges,
while the head-gardener at Schönbrunn had received something more
substantial in the shape of a hundred florins for the fortunate pot of
daisies. A flower placed each morning near his heart reminded the lover
of a pledge which, as a rule, is kept more faithfully in cottages than
in Courts.

The band had struck up the usual polonaise, and Alexander, as was his
habit, marched at the head of the line of dancers. His partner was
the Comtesse de Paar, as distinguished by the graces of her person as
by the accomplishments of her mind. Midnight struck and the new year
had commenced. In Austria, as is well known, the delightful custom of
our fathers of celebrating the first hour of January amidst mutual
good wishes had been piously preserved. At the sound of the clock,
the comtesse stopped, and, turning towards the emperor, said, ‘I am
very happy, sire, to be the first to offer such a great sovereign the
good wishes for the new year. Allow me also to be with your majesty
the spokeswoman of all Europe for the maintenance of the peace and the
union of peoples.’

Such wishes, expressed by such lips, could not fail to meet with an
enthusiastic welcome. Alexander, then, accepted with much grace both
the compliment and the request. He replied that all his hopes, and all
his wishes tended in the direction of that much desired aim, and that
no sacrifice would be considered too great by him to consolidate a
peace which was the first need of humanity.

The guests had formed themselves into a large circle, and at the last
words of the imperial reply, there were slight feminine cheers from all
parts; a kind of ovation which did not seem to displease Alexander.
For to some of the great qualities of the Grand Louis, he made it his
constant study to add nobleness of manner and ever-watchful courtesy
to the fair sex. The interlude being over, the orchestra took up the
interrupted strain, and the polonaise was concluded amidst joyous
murmurs and mild applause.

It was thus that commenced under the most happy auspices that year 1815
which a few months later was to witness a struggle more relentless
than ever, terminating in the catastrophe of Waterloo. From early
morn, and in spite of the biting cold, a considerable crowd had
gathered on the Graben and on other public places. Every one seemed
to be waiting for the announcement of that general peace, of that
general reconciliation, which, according to certain newsmongers, was
to mark the advent of the new year. People kept interrogating each
other with an anxiety mixed with a constantly growing incredulity. All
that could be gathered was the decision of the Austrian Court, which
had suppressed the customary official receptions in order to save its
guests the worry of new year’s compliments and the embarrassment of
mendacious gratulations. As for the decisions of the Congress, they
continued to be enveloped in as much secrecy as ever, and people
remained free to pursue the daily comment on the dissensions of the
Powers and the lukewarmness they were likely to impart to the fêtes
announced for the month of January.

A great number of carriages traversed the city in all directions,
and that of Lord Stewart, the English ambassador, eclipsed all the
others in virtue of its elegance and its appointments. At an early
hour Empress Marie-Louise had come from Schönbrunn to offer her good
wishes to her august father. Standing aloof from everything that
happened at Vienna, she never attended any entertainment, Court fête,
or public ceremony. Nevertheless, the greatest deference was shown her
everywhere. During the first months after her arrival at Schönbrunn,
she had kept the imperial arms of France on the panels of her carriage,
on the scutcheons of her harness, and on the buttons of her liveries.
On the occasion of a famous visit to her father, some people in the
street had loudly expressed themselves on what they chose to regard as
a blunder in the matter of etiquette. Marie-Louise had heard the words,
and from that day she had been careful to efface the last traces of
her presence on the throne of France; and when we caught a glimpse of
the conveyance we noticed a new monogram instead of the Napoleonic one,
and a livery not only brand-new, but altogether different in colour
from the old.

Nevertheless, in spite of the unfavourable predictions current on the
Graben with regard to the turn of the discussions of the Congress, the
Imperial Palace from nine that evening was scarcely able to hold the
enormous crowd seeking admittance. The sovereigns, the political and
diplomatic notabilities, had forgathered in what was called the Hall of
the Ceremonies, where the Austrian Court was giving a state ball. Not
far from there the big hall usually set apart for the large routs was
filled with masks and dominos. Griffiths and I had repaired thither. It
presented, as always, the most animated picture of all, and only one
purpose seemed paramount, the pursuit of pleasure. After a few turns
Griffiths and I left, surprised at such a total absence of care so
rapidly succeeding and ousting most important preoccupations.

One of the most curious gatherings of the Congress and of Vienna was
no doubt the ‘pic-nic dinner’ to which Admiral Sidney Smith invited
the sovereigns and the political and other celebrities then within the
walls of the capital. The idea of bringing together so many eminent
personages, and of making each pay his share of the entertainment,
could not fail to please them by its very sincerity amidst the constant
gaiety which was gratuitously offered to them. Consequently, a great
many had responded to the appeal.

Sir Sidney Smith had not been attracted to the Congress from simple
motives of curiosity. His aim was political as well as philanthropic.
And though not invested with any official mission, he had created for
himself as many occupations as had the representative of the most
influential Power. His projects in no way belied his adventurous life,
the episodes of which savoured as much of a novel as of history.

A sailor from his boyhood, and without occupation after the American
War, he passed into the service of Sweden, In consequence of the
glorious naval engagement of 1791, he got the Grand Cross of the
Order of the Sword, and shortly afterwards he offered his services to
Turkey. Recalled after a few months by a proclamation of the King of
England, he found himself, together with Lord Hood, at the siege of
Toulon. In the course of 1796, while lying before Havre, he boarded a
French corsair, which only a dead calm prevented him from taking in
his wake. A sailor having secretly cut the cable of the craft, manned
by English sailors in replacement of the French, the rising tide drove
it into the Seine, where it was attacked by superior forces and was
obliged to surrender. Taken to Paris, Smith was at first confined in
the prison of l’Abbaye, then in that of the Temple. It was from the
latter that his friends, by means of a forged order of the minister of
the police, managed to effect his escape, a circumstance apparently
very simple in itself, but which later on, under the walls of St. Jean
d’Acre, contributed to frustrate most gigantic projects, and perhaps
effectually prevented the revolution of the East. After that it becomes
rather difficult to assign great causes to great events.

On his return to England, Sidney Smith got the command of the _Tiger_,
four-and-twenty guns, and was instructed to watch the coast of Egypt.
After having bombarded Alexandria, he set sail for Syria, where his
presence and his advice induced the pasha to defend St. Jean d’Acre.
It was owing to his aid and obstinate resistance that the siege had to
be raised. It was on that occasion that he was presented by the sultan
with an aigrette of great price, and received from Napoleon the not
less flattering remark: ‘This devil of a Sidney Smith has made me miss
my fortune.’

On his return to London he received the freedom of the City, in
addition to a magnificent sword of honour. Elected to the Commons,
he kept his seat up to the Peace of Amiens, when he obtained a new
command, and in 1805 took Capri after a siege of a few hours. When, in
1807, Napoleon had deposed the House of Braganza, he took the Prince
Regent of Portugal and his family to the Brazils. Since then he had
remained inactive, though, as may be easily imagined, inactivity
did not suit his temperament. The Congress of Vienna offered him a
magnificent opportunity for displaying his mental energy, and, as a
consequence, he was one of the first to arrive. He represented himself
as being vested with full powers by the former King of Sweden, Gustavus
IV., who, under the title of the Duc de Holstein, had entrusted him
with a claim relative to the throne he had lost. That very honourable
mission had been bestowed upon him in virtue of his being a former
Swedish naval officer and a knight of the ‘Order of the Sword.’

At the very opening of the conferences, Sir Sidney Smith had submitted
to the supreme tribunal of Europe the declaration of his august client.
The moment seemed well chosen. Justice, reparation, legitimacy,
were religiously invoked watchwords in Vienna. In appealing to the
conscience of sovereigns, the deposed monarch brought their own
arguments to bear upon them. In his note, Gustavus-Adolphus reminded
them that he had been deposed only by the influence of Napoleon, with
whom he had declined all relationship, especially since the death of
the Duc d’Enghien. He furthermore pointed out that the Swedish nation,
in excluding him from the throne, had only yielded to a political
necessity and to the threats of the great Powers; that at the moment of
his abdication he was a prisoner; that since then he had always refused
to renounce the rights of his son; that he felt confident of this
prince, when he arrived at his majority, proving himself worthy of his
birth, of the Swedish nation, and of his illustrious forefathers; and
that, finally, he did not claim the throne on his own account.

In politics, however, the most logical arguments are not always the
most valid ones. The days and months went by without there being the
slightest question of restoring his sceptre to the deposed monarch.
Practically sent away without having produced the least impression as
far as his embassy was concerned, Sidney Smith was, however, not at all
discouraged. ‘If, contrary to all possibility, I fail with this august
tribunal,’ he said, ‘I’ll bring it without the slightest fear before
the tribunal of my own country. As long as we have a Parliament in
England, there will be a court of justice for the whole of Europe. I’ll
ask why a legitimate king comes to be deprived of his rights; I’ll ask
to know the reason of the most relentless enemy of Bonaparte falling a
victim to his intrigues; of the abandoning to misfortune of the man who
was the first to attack the Colossus with all the ardour of a knight of
olden times. Do not people know that Napoleon never forgave Gustavus
for having reproached him with the murder of the Duc d’Enghien, and for
having sent back to the King of Prussia the Order of the Black Eagle,
which he, Gustavus, declined to wear in common with Bonaparte?

‘If it be objected that Gustavus signed his abdication, I’ll answer
that he was not a free man, that a father cannot sign away the rights
of his son, that a sovereign cannot depose his dynasty. Ought not this
descendant of the great Gustavus, of Charles XII., to inspire in this
spot the interest inseparable from such magnificent memories? When
on every side the principles of equity are loudly evoked, will they
dare by the strangest contradiction to reject the most sacred, those
of an inheritance founded on glory and hallowed by ages? In fine, if
history is henceforth to be the sole judge of arbitrary acts, it
is to history that Gustavus-Adolphus shall appeal. Posterity, more
equitable than this Congress of kings, shall say of the prince that if
certain brilliant peculiarities made him, perhaps, an object of envy
and enmity, it is very rarely that vice does not avenge itself upon
a brilliant destiny with calumny. As for myself,’ added the admiral,
‘a constant courtier to fallen grandeur, I shall remain true to my
affections and to my principles, and defend until the end the rights of
legitimacy and evil fortune.’

In vain they told him that the interest of the nations themselves, the
pledges given, and the need for peace, had also to be considered; that
Europe could not annul solemn acts, and perhaps least of all those
secret treaties that assured to Bernadotte and his dynasty the peaceful
possession of the throne of Sweden; that Europe would never reward the
eminent services he had rendered to the common cause by a spoliation;
that Europe would not expel him from the prominent place of honour to
which the general wish of the Swedes had lifted him in order to impose
upon them the monarch they had rejected; that the sad position of
Gustavus-Adolphus rendered it imperative in him to bear his misfortunes
with dignity; and that, finally, when a monarch is deposed, he could
only arouse compassion by avoiding to draw attention to his case. In
spite of the indifference of the Congress and of the public, Sidney
Smith, nevertheless, did not leave a stone unturned in favour of a
cause henceforth lost.

The negotiations with regard to his pic-nic dinner had met with fewer
obstacles. In Vienna, it was easier to organise a pleasure-party
than to obtain the restitution of a throne in an assembly which had
seemingly taken it as a principle to despoil the feeble in favour of
the strong. The aim of this general convocation was a subscription, at
the head of which the admiral had placed his name. The proceeds, it
was said, were to be devoted to the purchase of an immense silver lamp
for the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. But it was also soon known that
the sums Sidney Smith hoped to collect would be used for the repurchase
of the Christians kept prisoners in Barbary. He had already proposed
to the Congress a naval expedition for the purpose of annihilating
those Barbary powers, of putting an end to their brigandage, and of
destroying the disgraceful white-slave traffic in Africa for ever.
Naturally, he was to take the command of this anti-piratic army.
The Congress had, however, other things to think about than the
organisation of a crusade, and this new Peter the Hermit had fain to
be content with the simpler means of redeeming the slaves with the
gold taken from the purses of the votaries of pleasure. Transplanting
English usages into Austria, a dinner seemed to him the suitable bond
for this humanitarian work.

A great number of tickets were sold and the day was fixed. The
Augarten, eminently suited for such a function, had been chosen. Yan,
the _restaurateur par excellence_, had undertaken all the culinary
details of that philanthropic gala fête. The price of the tickets had
been fixed at three Dutch ducats, that for the ball to follow at ten
florins. The dinner was to be on the table at five o’clock in the
beautiful hall so often used by Maria-Theresa and Joseph II. The
table itself was in the shape of an elongated horse-shoe; the walls
of the apartments had practically disappeared under the standards of
all nations. An orchestra had been erected at each end. The sovereigns
had not only approved, but approved with great alacrity. The grand
personages of the Congress, ministers, generals, and ambassadors, had
been equally eager to contribute their ducats. Among the hundred and
fifty guests there were as many highnesses as semi-sovereigns, great
captains, and illustrious statesmen. Trumpeters on horseback, posted
at intervals, announced the monarchs’ arrival by loud blasts. Those
‘glorious entrances’ as they are practised on the English stage proved
that the admiral had not forgotten the theatre of Shakespeare.

Yan had done his best, and though that best was good, and Bohemia,
Hungary, and the Hereditary States had provided their most delicate
edibles, a dinner at the Court would no doubt have been more perfect in
every respect. It was, however, a tavern repast, where every one paid
his own share; and that novelty had seemed so strange to the crowned
heads, or to the heads fated to wear a crown, that no one was absent.
It was, indeed, a strange and curious spectacle.

Every one remembers the banquet where Voltaire made Candide dine with
seven deposed kings at Venice. Since then, no one had ever seen so
many forgathered in a tavern or restaurant. If the number of those who
sat down at the Augarten was not absolutely the same, at least they
were not deposed, but crowned in real earnest, and very resplendent.
The inverse comparison, in fact, presented itself to everybody’s mind.
Involuntarily also, the mind reverted to some of those functions where
the kings pressed around Napoleon the victorious; a few spoke about it,
but in nothing louder than a whisper.

During the first part of the repast, the music played the national
airs of the different countries. At the second course, the admiral,
like the good Englishman he was, and faithful to the traditions of
his country, got on his legs, and spared neither the toasts nor the
speeches. The subject of his own was, naturally, in connection with the
object of the gathering; and though it dragged, no member of the ‘Order
of Mercy’ could have preached with greater unction the redemption of
the slaves. The result of his eloquence was calculated to flatter him,
for it amounted to several thousands of ducats. The emperors had each
subscribed a thousand, and the others according to their fortunes or
their philanthropy.

Sidney Smith had concluded his speech, the dishes had run their course,
the wines of Hungary, the Rhine, and Italy had been tasted, sipped, and
lauded, according to their merit, and we were about to rise from the
table, when suddenly there appeared the manager of Yan, who, between
two symphonies of Haydn, claims of each of the guests the sum of three
golden ducats, the price fixed for the banquet, the music, and the
lights, the total amounting to about five thousand four hundred francs.

Some months later, I happened to be in London at the dinner offered to
the sovereigns by the City. The number of guests, truth to tell, was
somewhat more considerable; the ball may also have been somewhat more
numerously attended. The expense, though the fête was in nearly every
respect similar, came to twenty thousand pounds. A different spot, a
different total.

A trivial circumstance which lent some gaiety to the banquet in the
Augarten was entirely lacking in London. It was an episode which, in
itself, was worth a whole book, and recalls that so facetiously told by
Voltaire. Not that it deals with a king tracked by bailiffs like the
poor, ill-fated Theodore of Corsica, but with that most charming and
most delightful of reigning kings, Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria.

Yan’s manager had begun his collection, and had put the money of
the Emperor Alexander and the King of Denmark in the silver dish
he was carrying. When he got to his Bavarian majesty, Boniface’s
representative boldly presented the dish, already ornamented with the
six ducats in question. The excellent Maximilian carried his hand to
one waistcoat pocket, then to the other, then to the pocket of his
coat. The search is absolutely fruitless--pockets, fobs, receptacles
are as completely empty of money as in the days when joyous Prince
Max failed to find any money-lender in Paris to line those pockets
with gold. It is more than probable that this king, this very model
king, had emptied the contents of his purse into some hand stretched
out to him, as invariably happened at Munich, where some unhappy
wretches always posted themselves on his route. At any rate, a second
examination of the pockets brought the unalterable conviction that his
majesty of Bavaria had not a red cent upon him.

Rather embarrassed by the situation, the king began to scan the whole
length of the board, and caught sight of his chamberlain, the Comte
Charles de Rechberg, at the very end of it. He felt sure that his
embarrassment was at an end. Rechberg, who was there on his own account
and for his own money, had not the remotest intention of attending upon
his royal master in this kind of ‘Liberty Hall,’ and was, moreover,
deeply engaged in conversation with M. de Humboldt. Rechberg had
just published an important book upon Russia, which publication,
he fain hoped, would give him a foremost rank among distinguished
_littérateurs_, and, naturally, he was talking enthusiastically about
it to the great savant. Consequently, he did not see the signals of
distress from his sovereign, and equally, as a matter of course, failed
to answer them. The head-waiter, meanwhile, did not budge, holding out
the silver dish for the money due to him. The king kept one eye on the
collector, the other on Rechberg, and his confusion gradually became
such as to attract the notice of those around him. In a little while
a kind of titter was running round the table like an electric spark.
To give the scene a somewhat complete likeness to the royal banquet at
Venice, it only wanted a few bailiff’s officers at the door, watching
King Theodore. How King Maximilian would have got out of his quandary
without the help of his neighbours, it would be difficult to say, for
the stolid head-waiter refused to budge. A far better money-collector
than courtier, he kept jingling his money against the dish, till Prince
Eugène, who had been the last to get an inkling of the situation, was
about to satisfy his claim. He was, however, forestalled by Alexander,
who, recalling the inexorable creditor, about to move at a sign from
the prince, emptied his purse into the dish, shaking, meanwhile,
with uncontrollable laughter, in which the others joined. Good King
Maximilian continued to look confused for a few moments, but, finally,
was as amused as the others at an episode which perhaps reminded him of
his youth.

At the conclusion of the dinner, and the subscriptions having been
settled, we passed into the ball-room. It was a real pell-mell, less
animated than a rout, less solemn than a Court ball, but infinitely
more curious to the ordinary observer. There were few ladies of high
degree; they were already satiated with fêtes; on the other hand,
there were a great many dames of the bourgeoisie who counted upon
nothing less than a highness or an ambassador for a minuet or a waltz.
Unfortunately, nearly all had spoilt their fresh and charming looks by
ornaments the reverse of tasteful. Though, unquestionably, bought at
a high price, these ornaments suited their charming figures far less
than the classic golden cap of Phrygian shape. The sovereigns retired
almost immediately after the ball opened, and the most illustrious
guests followed their example very shortly. As a consequence, the young
bourgeoises waited in vain for the hoped-for aristocratic partners,
and they had to be content with the new arrivals in that capacity.
They did not seem to mind it, for they had the full value of their
ticket: daylight was streaming in before they made up their minds to
leave. The whole expense of the dinner and ball combined was reported
not to have exceeded fifteen thousand florins. Eight months later,
the fête given by the London merchants to the sovereigns, to which I
have already referred, cost twenty thousand pounds. And yet people
complained about the excessive dearness of everything in Vienna! What
would it have been if the Congress had been held in London? This was
the fête which enabled Sidney Smith to make a long speech and to add
to his titles, already more or less showy, that of President of the
Noble Knights. In reality, it was a pity to see a man with real claims
to distinction constantly seeking opportunities of no value as far as
he was concerned and often altogether insignificant.[97] It was said
that, as an auxiliary to the pursuit of his humanitarian object, he had
solicited and obtained a brief from the Pope authorising him to found
a society for the purpose of abolishing slavery for evermore. What was
something more practical was the aid of the Powers and their money.
All the sovereigns had promptly proclaimed their adhesion to these
philanthropic projects by their subscriptions and their presence at his
picnic; all but two, the Emperor Francis and the King of Würtemberg.
The first, confined to his room by a somewhat serious indisposition,
had sent a donation of a thousand ducats; the second had, two days
previously, left Vienna, and his abrupt departure formed the subject of
every conversation.

Naturally imperious and irascible, the very corpulent King Frederick
chafed and fretted against the slowness of the diplomatic discussions.
In the state-gatherings, he always seemed to be grumbling or devoured
with care. He was not the only one, for it was generally felt that the
ordinary passions were pursuing their course under all those floral
ornaments and decorations. There came an opportunity, however, for
his impetuous character to show itself in all its violence. Among the
many conflicting claims submitted to the Congress, the landed nobility
of Germany herself had deemed it advisable to join the petitioners,
and it had sent its deputies entrusted with the claim for recovering
its ancient position and rights. During a conference attended by his
majesty of Würtemberg, that claim was discussed, and there was also a
good deal of desultory talk about the restoration of the Holy Roman
Empire. The king was scarcely able to contain himself, and when it
became a question of measures that might restrict the prerogatives of
sovereigns, he rose in great anger. Before him there was a table which,
unlike the boards at the imperial banquets, had not been scooped out to
accommodate his majesty’s enormous corpulence. In his sudden movement
the abdominal prominence of the king lifted the table off its legs and
it fell with a crash. The mishap naturally aggravated the temper of
the king, who quickly regained his own apartments, and in the evening
left the capital of Austria, after having strenuously recommended his
plenipotentiaries systematically to reject every demand on the part of
the nobles. As for his son Wilhelm, he remained much more concerned
with the handsome eyes of the Grande-Duchesse d’Oldenbourg than with
the questions of the Congress.

This overbearing character the King of Würtemberg showed just as much
in his relations with his family as in the exercise of his royal power.
There was an instance of it when he forced his son into a marriage
against his will. He acted in a similar manner with regard to his
daughter when he made her marry Jérôme, King of Westphalia, the brother
of Napoleon. No sooner had the latter fallen than Frederick wished
the marriage to be dissolved. Attached by a sincere affection to her
husband, and at any rate to her child, the Queen of Westphalia opposed
a stubborn refusal to her father’s demands. ‘United by bonds due to
politics,’ she wrote to him, ‘I am not going to recount the happiness
of seven years; but if he had been the worst of husbands, you, my
dear father, by consulting the real principles of honour, could only
command me not to leave him now that misfortune has overtaken him, and
considering that this misfortune is not of his own making. My first
idea, my first impulse, was to go and fling myself into your arms,
but accompanied by him, the father of my child. Where, in fact, would
be my tranquillity if I did not share it now with him to whom are
due more than ever all my powers of consolation?’ In another letter,
she expressed herself as follows: ‘Though I married for political
reasons, it seemed ordained that I should become the happiest woman in
existence. I bear my husband three feelings combined, love, tenderness,
and esteem. A time will come, I trust, when you will be convinced of
having judged him wrongly; and when that time arrives you shall find in
him and in me the most respectful and affectionate children.’ Such a
noble resistance ended by disarming the father, whose children had both
been forced by him into unions which were in the end to prove happy in
the case of his daughter, the reverse in the case of his son.

This departure of the King of Würtemberg put an end to all the hopes
of the German noblesse. A few days afterwards, the deputies, tired of
being deluded with promises that had no prospect of realisation, did
not wait until they were positively bowed out, but left the Austrian
capital of their own accord. As a matter of course, the epigrams which
generally accompany failure were not spared to them; their going was
attributed to their exhausted finances, and the next morning they were
forgotten.

People were merely talking about a new entertainment, namely, a
sleighing party. The snow, which lay thick, and the sharp frost, which
seemed to have set in for good during the last few days, favoured that
kind of amusement, borrowed from the stern climate of St. Petersburg
and Moscow. The Austrian Court made immense preparations, and the
magnificence to be displayed was to rival that of the imperial
_carrousel_.

[Illustration: ROBERT LORD VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH, MARQUESS OF
LONDONDERRY.]

Pending those preparations, the fêtes and amusements announced for
the month of January suffered no interruption. The fêtes which, on
account of the serious turns of the discussions, were to languish,
seemed, on the contrary, to be more brilliant than ever. At that
period Lord Castlereagh gave a great gala-ball. At Vienna, all the
entertainments bore their particular stamp. Generally the private balls
given by the illustrious diplomatic personages, though apparently
modelled on the same pattern, were dissimilar in their general
physiognomy or in their minute details. One might have called Lord
Castlereagh’s a ‘vanity ball,’ for if on the one hand it was very
sumptuous, on the other it was serious, like pride itself, and cold,
like overweening pretension. Yes, one really felt inclined to say that
the pride and the pretension which Lady Castlereagh had displayed in
attaching to her brow the Garter of her husband had followed her into
the gilded and brilliant halls of her residence, redolent with the
scent of many flowers. The sumptuousness of the supper failed to thaw
the iciness of the affair. As for the host, according to his habit
amidst all those animated fêtes where everything was given over to
pleasure, he seemed pre-occupied and smitten with care. Even when his
lordship danced, he seemed to be bent upon giving his serious thoughts
the slip by the accelerated movement of his legs, disporting himself in
an Irish jig or a Scotch reel. Did Lord Castlereagh really endeavour
to get away from the disappointments of an insidious and miscarried
policy? Did he already ponder the last scene of the political drama of
his life, when the stoicism of Cato, added to the sombre results of
his spleen, made him escape by suicide from tardy and by then useless
regrets? History has as yet not given the key to that enigma.



CHAPTER XIV

  Some Original Types at the Congress--M. Aïdé--A Witticism of
      the Prince de Ligne--Mme. Pratazoff--Mr. Foneron--The
      Old Jew--His Noblesse and his Moral Code--Mr. Raily--His
      Dinners and his Companions--The Two Dukes--The End of a
      Gambler--The Sovereigns’ Incognito--Mr. O’Bearn--Ball
      at the Apollo--Zibin and the King of Prussia--Charles de
      Rechberg and the King of Bavaria--The Minuet--The King of
      Denmark--Story of the Bombardment of Copenhagen--The German
      Lesson.


This unique scene of the Congress seemed a composition of thousands of
pictures forming a general view. Each separate actor was a complete
novel, and the lives of most of them would have offered material for
long poems. As may be easily imagined, extraordinary personalities were
not wanting in this motley gathering; their presence did not constitute
the least conspicuous singularity.

Among the types not easily forgotten by the visitors to Vienna
in 1814-15 stood first and foremost M. Aïdé. He was one of those
cosmopolitans who make up for the lack of genuine credentials and
ascertained pedigree by an overweening amount of assurance. His career
was a problem and his fortune an enigma. Born at Smyrna, he came to
Vienna years before the Congress and while very young. His Eastern
costume and the title of Prince du Liban, which he flourished somewhat
ostentatiously about then, attracted some notice. At the time of the
Congress he had become more modest; he had discarded both the Mussulman
dress and the princely title. He was to be met with everywhere; no
drawing-room or reception seemed complete without him. Very amiable and
obliging, he apparently belonged to no camp or party, though perfectly
at home in every one. It was, nevertheless, noticed that he was a
guest at Lord Castlereagh’s more frequently than elsewhere, and it was
tacitly admitted that his lordship favoured him for the sake of his
private secretary, between whom and M. Aïdé there had formerly existed
some commercial relations at Smyrna.

The particular mania of M. Aïdé was to obtain presentations to any and
every one. The moment a new drawing-room was opened, M. Aïdé’s fixed
idea was to find an introducer to facilitate his admission to it. He
often addressed himself to that effect to people with whom he could
scarcely claim acquaintance; and it was exceedingly difficult to shake
him off. The Prince de Ligne, whose kindness he had often laid under
contribution in this way, finally got tired of the thing, and one
day, when badgered as usual, he introduced the obstinate Greek in the
following words: ‘I present to you a man very much presented and very
little presentable.’

The excellent prince often said that he was sorry for what he had done,
for the sentence was repeated, and drew still greater attraction to M.
Aïdé without curing him of his mania. Some years afterwards, while he
was travelling in England, the elegant manners he had acquired in his
constant intercourse with good society captivated, during his stay at
Cheltenham, a young and exceedingly rich girl, whom he married. The
uncertainty of his existence seemed, as it were, at an end, when he got
involved in a quarrel with the young Marquis of B---- at a ball at Mr.
Hope’s. The cause, it was said, was most trifling--an introduction. A
duel was the result, and M. Aïdé was killed on the spot.

A not less curious individuality, notably for the memories she
recalled, was the old Comtesse Pratazoff, the favourite of Catherine
II., near whom she had occupied a most intimate if not most important
position. In Vienna she was accounted a celebrity. I was indebted
for a glimpse of that relic of the past to the Prince de Ligne. ‘Our
acquaintance dates from very long ago,’ he said, while taking me to
her temporary residence one day. ‘She also belonged to the company
during that famous Crimean journey, not because she had any particular
functions, but because the empress had got so used to talk to her,
especially in the morning and in the evening, as to be unable to
dispense with her. Royal favour often springs from nothing more than a
mere habit on the part of the sovereign of seeing a certain person near
him. In the Comtesse Pratazoff’s case it was, however, something more
than that.’

Catherine the Great’s intimate friend had taken up her quarters at the
inn. On entering the room I saw, seated on a couch, a voluminous mass
filling the whole of its space. To judge from the quantity of jewels
she wore, she might have passed muster as an Indian idol. From the top
of her head to her waist, she was literally covered with necklets,
diadems, bracelets, pendants, brooches, earrings, etc. This jeweller’s
shop seemed to me about seventy.

On our entering the apartment, she made an attempt to rise, but fell
back into her original position, trying, not, however, without great
difficulty, to find room for the prince on the sofa beside her. Having
become aware of my presence, she welcomed me with some of those
ultra-polished, not to say finical, phrases the whole vocabulary of
which was a very open book to the educated Russians of her time. Then
the conversation drifted on to the halcyon days of the fêtes of the
Hermitage. The past was dignified and the present vilified. The most
curious feature of this hour’s visit was the prince’s seeming oblivion
of the thirty years that had passed since that journey to the Crimea,
and his persistent effort to treat this enormous dowager as a young and
skittish thing, calling her ‘my dear’ and ‘my little girl’; and her
absolutely serious acceptance of this kind of flirting by mincing and
mouthing in a most ridiculous, though to her evidently natural, manner.

When we left her, I promptly repaired home to inscribe on my notes the
portrait of that puppet who had come to show Europe in Vienna the sight
of her decrepit old person, her ancient jewels, and her superannuated
pretensions.

Another ‘character’ was an Englishman named Foneron. He had been for a
long time a banker at Leghorn, and had amassed a great fortune there,
after which he migrated to Austria. As humpbacked as Æsop, as careful
as the Phrygian, and nevertheless endowed with a sensitive heart, he
had strenuously calculated the discomforts of a union with a fair one
of any thing like Circassian stature. With admirable foresight, he had
looked for and found a young girl with a most charming face, but more
deformed than he. He offered his hand, which was accepted, for the girl
was poor. The marriage took place secretly, but there were still too
many witnesses, for never assuredly was there a more strangely assorted
marriage. A host with an excellent wine-cellar and an almost matchless
cook is sure to meet with indulgence from every one. Mr. Foneron had
both, and in spite of the far from good-natured remarks about himself
and his wife, made a point during the Congress of giving the most
exquisite dinners. Few strangers admitted to his sumptuous board have
forgotten the Friday’s fare, and the classic beefsteaks forming part
of it. They might have called Mr. Foneron the cook of the Congress.
Amidst that crowd of pretenders and petitioners, he asked for nothing,
claimed neither indemnity nor titles, nor orders. His titles and orders
were his dinners. His sole ambition might have been to preside at the
Beefsteak Club of London.

At one of those receptions I met M. Ank----, a Jew by birth, who did
not belie the instinct of his race for gold. He had a great quantity
of it, he was literally bursting with it; but his reputation for
avarice at least equalled his reputation for wealth. He took it into
his head to invite me to breakfast. Curious to verify the proverb to
the effect that there is nothing more lavish than a miser, I accepted
the invitation. Both the size and the tidiness of the whole of his
apartment produced as it were a cold shiver. There was scarcely any
fire, few carpets, and some hard-worn furniture. As a kind of penance,
no doubt, for the many glorious banquets I had partaken of during the
preceding months, he offered me a little dubious black liquid which he
called chocolate. When I had courageously swallowed the Lacedemonian
broth, he took to showing me his artistic treasures. M. Ank---- was a
numismatist; he had one of the richest and most complete collections
of medals in Vienna, rivalling that most celebrated one of the Comte
Vitzay. After this he showed me some rather good pictures and then
a heap of bric-à-brac, collected less for the love of art than from
the wish for gain, for he put a madly exaggerated price on all that
old rubbish. I had accepted the chocolate, I had drunk it, and I
swallowed the rest of the bitter cup. When he had shown me everything,
he drew from an iron chest a portfolio full of drafts to order, bills
of exchange, and bills at sight. They represented an immense amount
of money. ‘These are no family parchments,’ he said, ‘or emblazoned
scutcheons, but patents of nobility calculated to blanch the cheeks of
the world’s aristocracies, and patents of nobility which shall never
derogate. There are neither misalliances nor hereditary stains of gold
in that book. Gold, from the day it was first purified by fire, is the
only pure genealogy, the only one retaining its pride, the only one
whose brightness cannot be dimmed. Find me an aristocracy capable of
vying in multiplicity of quarterings and services rendered with that
one, and I’ll kneel down and worship.’

And he stroked the bills of exchange, and waved the flimsy bits of
paper in the air, to prove to me the enormous total of those patents of
nobility of his imagination. ‘With all this,’ he went on, ‘the world
is an immense Garden of Eden, where no fruit is forbidden. Whatever
the moralists of the school of Seneca may pretend, here you behold
the motive of all virtue, and also the motive of all pleasure. I hold
the whole of it in this hand without trouble, without confusion,
without remorse--the whole of it, from the most sumptuous palace, the
most exquisitely appointed carriages, the most exquisitely prepared
banquets, to the most divinely beautiful woman.’ Saying which, he
strained his ‘bill case’ to his heart with more fervour than the old
man hugs his purse in the ‘Scène du Déluge’ of Girodet.

‘I think I have heard enough, M. Ank----,’ I said; ‘you not only make
an end of all virtue, but you would justify crime. Why should not a
brigand adopt your plea after killing you, by saying that he also
wishes to judge whether the reality your gold would procure could not
weigh up against all your illusions?’

As may be imagined, I had had enough, and more than enough, of the man,
of his breakfast, of his code of morals, and of his bill-book, and I
bade him good-bye with the firm intention of never seeing him again.

Another Englishman who at that time contended with Mr. Foneron for
the honour of entertaining both strangers and his countrymen was Mr.
Raily. Thanks to his enormous expenditure, he was, according to some,
soon enabled to beat the exquisite comfort of the family dinners of
his rival. Not feeling particularly anxious to swell the number of
Mr. Raily’s guests, I had persistently neglected every opportunity of
procuring for myself invitations, of which Mr. Raily was not sparing.

‘I wish you to make his acquaintance,’ Griffiths said to me one day:
‘an observer must see everything and study everything. Mr. Raily, as
well as several other “characters,” will figure very well in your
recollections; at any rate, there will be the merit of variety.’

I let Griffiths have his way, only asking him a few questions on the
personage we were going to visit.

‘Mr. Raily,’ answered Griffiths, ‘seems to me one of those mysterious
and strange individuals, like the Comte de Saint Germain[98] and
Cagliostro, who appear to me to live upon everything except their
incomes. When you have seen him, I’ll give you a more detailed
biography. In all my journeys I have invariably met him living upon a
footing either implying the possession of great wealth or the clever
means of getting it. The first time I met him was at Lord Cornwallis’s
in India; since then I have seen him in Hamburg, in Sweden, in Moscow,
in Paris at the period of the Peace of Amiens, when he told me he
had just arrived from Spain. And now, he is here in Vienna, where
he outshines the most opulent. One is almost tempted to say that he
seeks to forget or to hide the origin of his wealth. His dinners are
much run after; his guests are of the highest rank, for he seems to
set particular store upon their quality and titles. A duke seated at
his board fills him with joy, an excellency produces merely a glowing
sensation of comfort; but a royal highness produces a kind of feeling
no mortal pen can describe. If etiquette permitted their majesties to
visit him, Mr. Raily would in a few days be bereft of his reason. You
shall judge of it for yourself, for I dare say he’ll invite us, if only
from sheer ostentation.’

Mr. Raily had taken up his temporary quarters in the magnificent
mansion of the Comte de Rosenberg. He welcomed us with the exaggerated
courtesy common to all those who are not affable either by instinct or
constant habit. He was very important about his house, the furniture,
his horses and carriages and the servants, which provided, as it were,
the conversational transition to the dinners, and became a bore to
the guests. He enumerated the highnesses and the celebrities that had
partaken of his hospitality, or were about to do so, and, as Griffiths
had foreseen, wound up by saying:

‘If you do not mind an invitation at such a short notice, gentlemen, I
shall be delighted if you’ll dine with me to-day with the hereditary
princes of Bavaria and Würtemberg, the Grand-Duke of Baden, Admiral Sir
Sidney Smith, several ambassadors and _chargés_ and other personages of
distinction whom you doubtless know.’

Feeling that the gathering would present a piquant picture, Griffiths
promptly accepted; and we left the happy master of the house
superintending the preparations for his _serenissimo_ banquet. At six
o’clock we were once more in the magnificent apartments, and dinner was
served shortly after. The table had been laid in a long gallery, at the
end of which there was a kind of English sideboard, _i.e._ a buffet in
tiers. The plate, both gold and silver, and the crystal on it attested
wealth rather than taste. The host, positively beaming, had the Prince
Royal of Bavaria on his right, and the Prince Royal of Würtemberg on
his left; the rest, highnesses, generals, ministers, etc., took their
seats according to their own sweet pleasure. A lucky chance placed me
next to Admiral Sidney Smith, and his interesting conversation, ranging
over a period of ever so many years, opportunely broke the monotony of
the banquet. For though it is difficult to imagine a more sumptuous
banquet than that, the hours went wearily, and, in spite of the
abundance and the delicacy of the dishes, the aroma of the wines, and
the profusion of everything, the guests seemed anxious to come to the
end of it all. No one tried to enliven the conversation, or to make
it general. The majority of the eminent personages whom curiosity or
the importunity of their host had gathered round the table seemed, as
it were, more or less embarrassed by their position. As for Mr. Raily
himself, he felt convinced that a repast graced almost exclusively by
princes, diplomatists, and grand seigneurs must necessarily be one of
the finest things the world had to offer. The coffee and ices were
served in one of the great drawing-rooms, and, according to a Russian
custom, which Mr. Raily had no doubt brought back with him from Moscow,
several tables were covered with jewels, precious objects, and trifles
from the many lands Mr. Raily had visited. As it happened, the display
caused the impression of a bazaar rather than that of a drawing-room
of good society. Nor did the music of a well-selected and numerous
band succeed in checking the _ennui_ and removing the constraint which
had manifestly fallen upon everybody. It was nine o’clock when we rose
from the table; at ten all these noble guests had left Mr. Raily’s.
In an adjoining drawing-room, the host had put up some whist tables,
which kept in countenance those most bored. A small group had gathered
round a tall, upright old man, with a pair of bright eyes and a skin
as dry as a chip. It was Mr. O’Bearn, who bore the reputation of being
the oldest, and was probably still the foremost, gambler in Europe.
He had made gaming the occupation of his life, his sole study; he had
lived by it, and was still living by it. He was fond of recounting
some of his gambling stories, and even his hopeless Irish accent could
not rob them of their charm. ‘For many years,’ he said, ‘the Duke of
H---- was anxious to pit himself against me. Personally, I was willing
enough to give him that little gratification. He chose piquet; we
began our game at nine in the evening, and the next morning when the
sun streamed through the windows I had gained more gold off his grace
than his father had ever gathered during his Governor-Generalship of
India. After the last hand, which was for an enormous stake, and which,
like the rest, he lost, the duke got up and said: “Mr. O’Bearn, I am
afraid the whole of my fortune will not be sufficient to pay you. I’ll
send you my steward, he’ll settle with you and hand you the titles to
my estates.” “Very well, sir,” I answered, “these are the words of an
honourable man. But do not for a moment imagine that I am going to
let you ruin yourself in that way. It shall not be said of me that I
reduced the bearer of one of our most historic names in the House of
Lords to beggary. On the other hand, as I do not wish to have wasted my
night, a thing I am not in the habit of doing, I’ll ask you to send for
a priest and for a solicitor. Before the priest you shall take an oath
never to touch another card in your life; the solicitor shall draw up
a settlement giving me a thousand pounds sterling annually for life.”
I need scarcely tell you,’ added the old gambler, ‘that my conditions
were accepted and strictly carried out. The Duke of H---- has never
touched a card since, and for nearly half a century I have been
enjoying my income.’

Then the veteran gamester told us another story, not less
characteristic. ‘Shortly before the Revolution, I came to Paris, and
as usual took up my quarters at the Hôtel d’Angleterre. The play was
very high there in those days. On the evening of my arrival, I went
to the drawing-room. The tables were set out, and I sat down to one
of them. Two gentlemen were playing piquet. The Duc de Gramont, who
was then the king of fashion, the type of everything that was elegant
and extravagant, took a seat opposite me. He looked very fixedly at
me, and then, intentionally or not, he said: “We hear a great deal of
Englishmen who risk enormous sums either at cards or betting. Here we
never catch sight of them.” I did not answer, and a few moments later
the game took an unexpected turn. “I’d bet on monsieur’s hands,” said
the duc, pointing to one of the players. “Very well,” I replied, “I’ll
take the other side for eight thousand pounds sterling.” “How much,
monsieur, did you say?” asked the duc. I repeated the sum in French
money, and the duc felt that he could not draw back. “I take the bet,”
he said. In another moment I was the winner: the duc rose and came
towards me, saying, “Milord----” “My name is Mr. O’Bearn,” I said; “I
have no title. What is your pleasure?” “I may not be able to discharge
this considerable sum at a moment’s notice.” “Pray do not mention
it, your grace, take your own time. But please to remember that when
I play, I always have the money handy in my valise.” A little while
afterwards, he paid me,’ Mr. O’Bearn went on, ‘and from that moment
he was perhaps a little less hasty in giving his opinions about the
English. As for me, it has always been a delightful recollection, this
deserved lesson to the Duc de Gramont.’

While Mr. O’Bearn was telling us his stories, the tables had gradually
become deserted, and now the small group of his listeners took their
leave on this or that pretext. We went away endeavouring to attract
no notice, asking ourselves how people could take so much trouble and
lavish so much money to arrive at a result absolutely _nil_. Each
member of this gathering had appeared to ask himself during and after
the dinner: ‘How and why am I here?’

‘Well, have you got the key to the puzzle?’ said Griffiths, as we were
leaving the house. ‘This man, whose opulence causes surprise even here,
where everything is pomp and splendour and extravagance--this man is
simply a gambler. We have still got in England some samples of those
characters of the bygone century. After Charles II. left to his people
the terrible gambling mania, to be a gamester became, as it were, an
avowable profession. You know all that has been said of the youth of
the Prince of Wales, of his passion for gambling, which for him had
such terrible consequences. The most deplorable effect of this passion
was to gather around his royal highness a set of people whose bow it
would have taken some courage to acknowledge outside the precincts of
Carlton House. It was sufficient to be a gambler, and what they called
a magnificent gambler, to have the doors of the royal residence thrown
open to you. These gentlemen, after the journeys they made annually
through England, much as the magistrates went on circuit each session,
as a rule took their flight thence for their European tours. They
brought back immense harvests. Mr. Raily and his guest, Mr. O’Bearn,
belong to the number.

‘Mr. Raily was born at Bath, that city enjoying the foremost reputation
among our celebrities of fashion. Having started life with small
means, he modelled himself upon a certain Mr. Nash, his predecessor in
that career. That personage, who was called Beau Nash, was for forty
years the arbiter of all that was elegant at Bath. His authority in
that respect was boundless, and his verdicts without appeal. They
finally gave him the sobriquet of ‘the King of Bath.’ In imitation
of his master, Mr. Raily posed as the prince of the drawing-rooms
and boudoirs. He, however, soon grew weary of more or less romantic
love-adventures, and began to cast about for something more profitable.
From his native city, he went to the capitals of the United Kingdom
and then to those of Europe. He exploited them very cleverly and very
luckily. At present, he has just returned from St. Petersburg. He
has brought back from it all the gold plate you saw, the profusion
of pearls and diamonds which convey the impression of his being a
jeweller, and in addition to all this, it is said, a credit of a
million of florins at the banker Arnstein’s. All this seems, indeed,
most fabulous. Let us trust that there will not be a verification
of the old proverb: “He who wants to make a fortune in a month is
generally hanged during the first week.”’

Mr. Raily had a somewhat longer shrift than that, because it was fully
three years before I met with him again, and then it was in Paris. But
all his wealth was gone, and all the brilliant illusions, if ever he
fostered any, were replaced by the most sombre reality. When he called
upon me, there was no longer the confidence resulting from well-filled
pockets, but the saddening humility of an empty stomach. I had scarcely
time to question him; he forestalled my queries by telling me that
everything was gone.

‘Furniture, plate, diamonds, your infernal “Salon des Étrangers”
has swallowed every bit of them,’ he said, and then he gave me a
description of the quickly following phases of the life of a gambler.
‘I have exhausted everything,’ he wound up; ‘look at that bracelet,
it is made of the hair of my wife; it would have gone the road of the
rest, if your pawnbrokers would have condescended to lend me a crown on
it.’

‘But, Mr. Raily, why did you not apply to all those celebrities you
entertained so right royally at Vienna?’

‘I have written to all; I have not had an answer from any.’

I offered him some pecuniary assistance, and a few years later I learnt
that this man whose lavishness had astonished Vienna itself at the
period of the Congress, and at whose board royalty had sat, had died of
starvation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since his gambling adventure I had often seen Z----ki. The disaster
and my attempts to minimise the consequences had undoubtedly drawn
us closer together. After a dinner at the ‘Empress of Austria,’ he
proposed to take me to a ball which had recently been established in a
newly-erected, magnificent building, called the Apollo Hall. In a few
moments we were on our way thither.

Everything projected at that period in Vienna bore the grand stamp
worthy of the time and of the guests intended to be honoured. In spite
of this, to convey anything like an accurate idea of the beauty of the
new establishment would require a writer capable of reproducing some of
the chapters of the _Arabian Nights_, which delighted our youth. The
Apollo Hall, the work of M. Moreau, the French architect, is, no doubt
one of the most curious constructions of the capital of Austria. The
interior, occupying an enormous space, contained sumptuous galleries
and halls like those of a palace, and was practically in keeping with
the noble and tasteful proportions of the outside. Emerging from these
galleries, one came gently upon the rustic arbours of a garden, and
from these upon a Turkish kiosk, and further on still upon a Lapland
hut. Gravelled walks, bordered by magnificent greensward planted with
roses and fragrant plants, lent throughout a most charming variety. In
the centre of the huge supper-room, there was an immense rock, whence,
from among flowers, there sprang a fall of natural water into basins
teeming with various kinds of fish. Every style of architecture had its
ordained part in this huge space, and everything calculated to please
the eye had been brought to bear upon the enhancing of these styles;
such as, for instance, the glint of innumerable candles on thousands
of different-coloured crystal sconces. Farther on, the whole became
chastened by alabaster lamps shedding their gentle light, and inviting
the more reposeful guests. And while without the snow covered the
earth, within spring seemed to have come once more, bringing the most
delightful scent of its earliest harbingers.

There was already a considerable crowd when we entered; it was said
there were between nine and ten thousand persons. I am bound to admit
that at no festive gathering during the Congress had I seen a more
brilliant, and at the same time a stranger throng; it was a truly
unique spectacle, a world in miniature. Gradually, every one seemed to
settle down in his wished-for place, and circulation grew more or less
easy. The first person whom I caught sight of was Zibin, promenading
with the King of Prussia. Zibin was treated in that familiar fashion by
his Majesty in virtue of his height. As he happened to be very short,
and his Majesty very tall, Zibin’s head came exactly under the king’s
arm. In spite of the discomfort of the position, my young courtier
seemed to be so thoroughly delighted with it as to have preferred it
to one on the most luxurious Eastern divan. Z----ki had left me for
some friends he had met immediately after he came in, and who were
evidently expecting him. I was looking out for some one to replace him,
when I ran up against General Tettenborn and the Prince Philippe de
Hesse-Hombourg. I always felt much at home with them. We went the round
of the whole place, and afterwards sat down at the entrance of the big
ball-room to watch at our ease the new arrivals, comprising nearly
all the sovereigns. The latter relished the liberty attached to their
_incognito_, and immeasurably preferred it to the ceremonious etiquette
of the Court entertainments of that description. In fact, in all those
public gatherings the monarchs dropped their reserve, and seemed
practically grateful to those who within certain limits would follow
their example.

The King of Bavaria was one of the last arrivals. He was accompanied by
his two sons, and his chamberlain, the Comte Charles de Rechberg, was
in attendance. The last caught a glimpse of us, and leaving his Majesty
for a moment, came towards us. But as his duties did not allow him to
keep away for long, he pressed us to sup with him when the king should
have retired. Naturally, he used every argument he could think of, and
finally gave us a peroration which was, however, cut short by some one
pinching his ear. ‘Come along, gadabout,’ said Maximilian Joseph, and
as a matter of course, on perceiving him, we rose. ‘Don’t, gentlemen,’
he said in his kindest voice; ‘but wherever I go I have to look after
him, while, unless I am mistaken, it’s his duty to look after me.’

Rechberg pleaded our unexpected meeting, and from the tone in which
the plea was allowed, it was not difficult to guess the affection
subsisting between these two men. Immediately after he had gone, Comte
de Witt appeared on the scene. ‘You can be our guide,’ he exclaimed on
seeing me. ‘You know all about the place, for you have been here at
least an hour.’ We wandered about, talking of his mother’s place in the
Ukraine, and finally landed into a kind of Chinese pagoda, where there
was a billiard table occupied by the King of Denmark and a chamberlain.
Ypsilanti hailed me as we came in, and the king on hearing my name
turned round and recognised me at once, although I had not seen him
since his accession to the throne. ‘Have you learned German since your
departure from Copenhagen?’ he asked me with a smile.

‘No, sire, but I have not forgotten the brief lesson you were good
enough to give me.’ The king then inquired with the greatest interest
after my family, questioning me as to their whereabouts, and showing by
each of his questions that the cultivation of a good memory is one of
the foremost requisites of an amiable ruler.

Frederick VI. was a pattern of amiability and frankness combined. He
was hail-fellow-well-met with the humblest without ever losing his
dignity, and his learning was manifold and solid. He took greater
trouble to please people than the most obtrusive courtier. Advancing
age had produced no change outwardly. He was then, as he always had
been, very slight, with a pale face, a very long nose, and hair
almost bordering on white, though in reality fair, which militated
against his appearance. It was, in fact, the same figure which some
years previously had aroused both my mirth and my fear. But while his
features reminded me of a painful circumstance of my life, they also
recalled a memorable episode, and an act of generosity and indulgence
on his part, both of which will sketch him better than a volume of
praise could do.

‘What did you mean by talking to the king about your first German
lesson?’ asked the Comte de Witt, when his Majesty had gone. ‘I am not
surprised at his recognising you as if he had left you a week ago; as
a rule, sovereigns have excellent memories, but what about that German
lesson?’

‘The king has just reminded me of a circumstance the story of which
would be somewhat long. Allow me to postpone the telling of it until
to-morrow.’

After this we went into the great ball-room, where, mingling with
the crowd, there were kings, generals, ordinary individuals of the
middle class, and statesmen, rubbing shoulders with working men,
flirting with little shop-girls, but all seemingly very happy, notably
the illustrious personages playing at Almavivas, and evidently more
flattered by the preference of some ingenuous Rosinas than by the
studied glances of admiration from the most expert Court beauties.

Zibin, who had succeeded in getting his head out of the royal hug of
his Majesty of Prussia, soon joined us, and I complimented him upon
the particular attention of which he had been the object. In order to
swell his pride, and give him the opportunity of having the delicate
juxtaposition renewed, I cited some of the recommendations of the
Prince de Ligne, our common master. ‘Be moderate in your praise. Kings
are no longer caught with words. The only thing to which they are not
absolutely proof is a peculiar kind of look of admiration. But that’s
all. The sort of praise so lavishly used by Lauzun would not seduce our
modern Louis XIV.’

In company with several ‘majesties’ we stood watching some of the
worthy knights of Vienna going through the traditional minuet. ‘Who
would believe,’ said Zibin, ‘that this dance saw the light in a
village? To watch its ponderous monotony no one would imagine that
in principle it was exceedingly bright and gay. Introduced to the
Court, its sprightliness has been changed into gravity, and now it is
sufficiently doleful to make people ill with melancholy.’

‘If that incomparable Prince de Ligne had not been taken away from us,
he would recall for us the minuets he danced at the Grand Trianon with
the charming Marquise de Coigny,’ said the Comte de Witt.

‘The Prince de Ligne himself voted the minuet a bit of _stupid_
gracefulness,’ replied Zibin.

‘His qualification dated from the period previous to his having danced
it himself,’ I remarked. ‘I am inclined to think, with you, that they
acquitted themselves somewhat better at it at the Court of France than
they do to-day in Vienna. But be assured that the old traditions of
stately dances are not lost beyond redemption.’

‘But where is one to look for the traditions?’ was the general cry
around me.

‘Well, if it will afford you any pleasure, I shall enable you to
judge’; saying which, I took a few steps to the young Princesse de
Hesse-Philippstadt, of whom I had just caught sight, accompanied by her
mother. ‘Princess,’ I said, walking up to her and holding out my hand,
‘will you do me the honour to convince these gentlemen that the Court
minuet is not altogether a lost art?’

The princess accepting, Zibin lent me his hat, and, mindful of the
lessons of Abraham, who had been her teacher as well as mine, we
went through the figures of that character-dance with a good deal of
precision. As for my charming partner, the suppleness and grace of her
steps might have tempted another Juan of Austria to come _incognito_
all the way from Brussels to see her perform them, as the original one
came all the way to the Louvre for Marguerite de Bourgogne. Our critics
were not sparing in their praise, and were obliged to acknowledge that
the much-abused minuet was not as yet dethroned.

Meanwhile, the Comte de Rechberg, who was trying to find his
supper-guests, had no idea of my upholding in the centre of the
principal ball-room the prestige of classic dancing. When I had taken
the young princess back to her mother, he, so to speak, dragged us to
the supper-room. At the table next to us were the Prince Koslowski,
Alfred and Stanislas Potocki, some Russians from Emperor Alexander’s
suite, and a little further on, Nostiltz, Borel, Palfi, and the Prince
Esterhazy. There were many toasts and many clever sallies, wit sparkled
on the lips as champagne sparkled in the glasses.

The two princes of Bavaria supped with us. Chance had placed me near
the younger, Prince Charles, who, as a youth, had the most charming
face imaginable, although he evidently set little store on this
physiognomical advantage, and seemed rather inclined to place his trust
in the mental powers with which he was liberally endowed. Thanks to my
former stay at Munich, I was enabled to converse with him about men
and things interesting to both of us. I reminded him of that terrible
disaster of the Isar bridge being carried away by the stream, and in
which he himself under my very eyes had played so glorious a part.
Then we began talking about Vienna, its pleasures, and the charming
women gracing it at that moment, although I knew that there was a girl
of sixteen at Munich whose image could not be ousted from the young
prince’s heart.

The Prince Royal of Bavaria, the present king, was seated next to his
father’s chamberlain. Though he was less handsome and less brilliant
than his brother, his knowledge was very profound and varied, and he
also cultivated the Muses.[99]

With such auxiliaries, Rechberg found no difficulty in making his
supper-party very lively. Before breaking up, our company was
reinforced by the two tables next to us, and the fresh supply of liquor
being decidedly in proportion to the number of the recruits, the
retreat was not sounded until three in the morning.

Z----ki and I got separated from each other in the crowd. As I was
crossing the by no means deserted ball-room, I caught a glimpse of
him and of a companion, a tall, slight, and elegant woman. Their
conversation seemed most animated. I waved my hand to him from the
distance, wishing him all the compensations love is supposed to reserve
for unlucky gamblers.

In the morning, the Comte de Witt was true to his appointment. ‘You
promised to explain to me,’ he said, ‘the meaning of his Majesty
of Denmark’s words about your progress in the German language.’
‘You know,’ I replied, ‘that often a word, a movement, or a simple
inflection of a voice suddenly recalls scenes of our life which had
practically vanished from our memory. The past starts up vividly with
all its colours; the impressions that had gone to sleep awaken there
and then, and their power is such as to give a kind of voluptuous or
sensuous delight in retracing the most painful episodes and the most
cruel losses. Nay, the very tears caused by these seem sweet. That’s
what I felt yesterday.

‘During the course of the French Revolution, my father, or the one who
stood me in stead, had constantly refused to emigrate. Proscribed for
being guilty of (the wrong) patriotism and devotion, he only managed
to save his head from the guillotine by hiding in a friend’s house.
When the delirium of blood was over, he considered himself justified
in claiming his nationality, which he had never forsaken by abandoning
his country. But placed once more on the fatal lists of _émigrés_,
pursued by blind and relentless hatred, once more proscribed after 18th
Fructidor, he was obliged to fly in order to escape an equally horrible
death. We managed to get as far as Hamburg, where we experienced
all the privations attached to that kind of voluntary and hurriedly
projected exile. Invited by the Comte de Fersen to come to Sweden, we
left the Hanseatic city, and made our way on foot across the flats of
Holstein to Copenhagen. Our exceedingly restricted resources did not
admit of any other mode of travelling.

‘My “father,” at the period of his tenure of the portfolio of Foreign
Affairs, had been most intimate with the Comte de Lowendahl in
Paris, and he welcomed us with every mark of goodwill. In his former
diplomatic relations with Denmark my “father” had been enabled to make
himself particularly agreeable to that Court, and on the strength
of this he ventured to request from the prince royal some pecuniary
assistance, urgently needed in consequence of our precarious position.
The comte offered to present me to his royal highness and to second
our petition as far as lay in his power. On the day previous to the
promised audience, I was strolling by myself in the park of the royal
residence, Fredericksborg. At the bend of a path, I suddenly caught
sight of a young man dressed in light grey, skipping about rather than
walking, carrying an umbrella under one arm, the other being held by a
very pretty young woman. The face of the young man seemed so peculiar
to me that, my French levity and my schoolboy gaiety getting the better
of me, I stopped to contemplate him at my case, and immediately a
fit of uncontrollable laughter ringing out loud informed him of the
result of my examination. His angry look ought to have told me of his
resentment of this impertinent scrutiny on my part, but the angrier he
got the more ridiculous his face became to me, and my insolent laughter
did not cease until the couple were fairly out of sight.

‘Next morning, on the recommendation of the Comte de Lowendahl, I was
to have my audience at the palace. The guards let me pass, and in a
little while, crossing a series of resplendent galleries, I reached a
velvet curtain giving access to a drawing-room. A page-in-waiting led
me into the throne-room, adjoining the private audience-chamber of the
prince, and then, my petition in my hand, I waited to be admitted to
his royal highness’s presence. In a few moments the doors were thrown
open, and a chamberlain called out my name and beckoned me across the
threshold. All at once, at the end of the apartment, I beheld, standing
upright, the young man I had so grossly insulted the previous day.
There could be no mistake about it. It was the same face, the same
grey Court dress, but the embroidered star on his breast and his wide
blue sash left no doubt about his being the Prince Royal of Denmark.
I need not try to depict my feelings to you. Struck with terror, as
if I had stepped on a serpent, I recalled both my unseemly laughter
and the anger it had aroused. Standing stock-still, and undecided
whether I ought to advance or retreat, I was almost expecting immediate
punishment for my ill-timed levity of the previous day. I cannot say
how long I should have remained in this position, notwithstanding the
repeated signals of the chamberlain to draw closer to his highness.
Luckily, the young girl to whom the prince had given his arm the
previous day, and who was none other than his charming sister, the
Princesse d’Augustembourg, just then crossed the room on her way to the
inner apartments of her brother. More or less reassured by her angelic
face. I practically followed in her footsteps, trusting to make her, as
it were, a shield against a stern reprisal, which, in our condition,
would have absolutely filled the cup of our misfortunes.

‘Crimson with confusion and with drooping eyes, I tremblingly held out
the petition given to me by my “father.” The prince looked fixedly
at me and undoubtedly recognised me, but not a muscle of his face
testified as much. On the contrary, he attentively read the document,
then handing it to his sister he said, “One more victim of that French
Revolution.”

‘After that he asked for some particulars about our situation, and
equally kindly inquired about our resources and plans. Emboldened by
his kind tone, I told him all we had suffered since our departure from
France, our painful pilgrimage across Germany, our intention to get to
Sweden, and our hope of securing the goodwill of the Comte de Fersen in
my “father’s” behalf.

‘The princess had listened with the utmost attention to the recital
of our misfortunes. When I came to the description of the journey on
foot and to the enumeration of all our privations, the prince asked me,
“But, no doubt, you know German?” “Alas, no,” I was obliged to answer,
“and that’s what made our travels so terrible.” “Poor child,” said the
princess, “you are somewhat too young to have suffered so much, and
those dreary roads across our sandy plains must have seemed wellnigh
endless to you.”

‘There were tears in her voice as she asked me other questions about
my family, my education, and recollections of my country. The prince
himself had meanwhile written some words on my petition. “I’ll reply
to-morrow to your father,” he said, returning the document to me. “If
you will go from here to my ‘privy purse office,’ they’ll give you a
hundred golden Fredericks, which will enable you to proceed a little
more comfortably.” “And I, monsieur,” added the princess, “I wish you
every happiness; but should you fail to find some of it in Sweden,
return to Denmark for an asylum, and you will, at any rate, find rest.”

‘The prince called his chamberlain to intimate that the interview was
at an end, and told him to take me to his treasury. You may imagine
that this lesson of a prince thus avenging himself for the impertinence
of a stranger was not lost upon me. Young though I was, I promised
myself never to give way again to such exhibitions of offensive
hilarity, and I have kept my word.’

‘I can see the lesson in politeness,’ said the Comte de Witt, ‘but I
fail to see the lesson in German.’

‘I am coming to it. A few days later, my “father” booked our passage
for Stockholm, but contrary winds delayed our departure. In the night
of the 2nd April 1802, we were suddenly awakened by the noise of a
well-sustained bombardment. Naturally, we all got out of bed and
went on deck to make inquiries. The slowly-coming dawn confirmed our
uncertainty. The whole of the English fleet, under the command of
Admirals Parker and Nelson, and favoured by the wind and tide, had
defied the batteries of Kronenburg and forced the passage of the Sound,
an enterprise hitherto deemed impossible. The formidable squadron,
perfectly visible from the city which it could shatter to pieces, came
to summon Denmark to give up her fleet or to dissolve there and then
her treaty with Sweden and Russia.

‘Consternation became general among us; it only wanted a sign from the
English admiral to capture or to sink us. Nelson scorned such a cheap
victory, and during the _pourparlers_ sloops were sent to tug in the
merchant craft. A few moments later we were in port, and immediately
afterwards the naval engagement began. If the attack was headlong and
well-directed, the defence was not less heroic. Every inhabitant rushed
to arms to repulse the odious aggression; all ranks commingled; there
seemed no difference between noble and artisan, merchant and ordinary
burgher. They were full of zeal; their hats displayed the motto: “All
for one; one for all.” The royal prince showed the greatest courage
during this bloody struggle, a struggle so little expected by him. A
descendant in a direct line from the English sovereign, his capital and
fleet were suddenly threatened by the orders of his uncle without there
having been anything hostile to lead up to this catastrophe. As far as
the peace of states is concerned, there does not seem much to be gained
by family alliances and ties of blood.

‘It would have been dangerous not to take part in this enthusiastic
resistance, and the moment we had regained our inn I asked my “father”
to let me have my share of the fighting, to which proposal he offered
not the slightest objection. Armed with a sword which might well have
dated from the period of King Knut, which had been lent to me by our
hostess, I repaired to the jetty. It was from that point I beheld a
naval battle in port, the most horrible spectacle, I should say, the
imagination could conceive.

‘Never had Denmark been engaged in such a murderous struggle; never,
perhaps, had the Danes an occasion to display their national courage
more nobly. Ardent and indefatigable, to judge by the enthusiasm that
animated them, they might easily have been mistaken for a population of
heroes. As for me, standing stock-still at the far end of the jetty,
my long sword, which might well have served as a lance, balanced on
my shoulder, I felt that I was doing outpost duty. No one seemed
surprised. Younger lads than I contended for the honour of being
entrusted with such perilous positions.

‘The city was in flames; it rained shells everywhere. The Danish
war-sloops answered bravely to the fire of the English vessels.
Suddenly a shell struck the Danish craft _Indfoedstretten_, and blew it
up. A horrid, lurid light illuminated the sky, and immediately both the
sea and the shore were covered with human and different wreckage, the
blood of the former tinging the green waves. Had the explosion occurred
a few moments earlier we also should have been victims of it, for while
they were towing our Dutch vessel into port, we had been compelled to
go on board the _Indfoedstretten_ to have our passports examined.

‘Meanwhile, the fighting became more terrible and relentless, and
I, scarcely more than a lad, stood looking on, rooted to the spot
and spell-bound, when suddenly some one tapped me on the shoulder,
addressing me in German at the same time. I looked round and beheld the
prince royal, who, in the confusion of the moment, had got separated
from his suite. He still had his grey dress on. When he recognised me,
he addressed me in French. “What are you doing here?” he asked. “I
am trying to acquit part of my debt, monseigneur,” I answered. “Very
well,” he retorted; “try to get this paper to Captain Albert Turach.
Look, follow my finger. He is standing there on the shore, ready to
take the command of a floating battery. Run as fast as you can, and
remember the word _Augenblicklich_.”

‘“How did you say it, prince?”’

‘“_Augenblicklich._ It signifies instanter. You’ll simply tell him the
word, and hand him my order.”’

‘I was already on the run. Turach received the order, and flung himself
into a skiff whose men were only waiting for a leader to push off.
When I came back to my former vantage-point, the prince royal was
gone. I noticed him on a floating battery, whence he contemplated the
action and animated by his presence and example the proud and generous
populace ready to give their lives under his eyes. To me personally,
the sight of this young and valiant prince was practically a second
expiation of my mocking laughter in the park of Fredericksborg.

‘I need not remind you of the results of that action; the Danes covered
themselves with glory, but the slaughter was terrible. More than six
thousand men perished in it. The city was burning in ever so many
places. Burghers, soldiers, students harnessed themselves to the pumps,
carried barrels of water, and unsuccessfully tried to extinguish the
flames. Finally, Nelson, to stop the bloodshed, and to prevent the
wholesale destruction of Copenhagen, sent a _parlementaire_ to the
prince royal.

‘The prince promptly sent his reply, and at once the sanguinary drama,
which had the port and the city as its _locale_, ceased. Nelson came on
shore, and repaired to the palace between two lines of an exasperated
populace. Calm and proud, he walked along as if he were still on his
own battleship. Following in his footsteps, I managed to elbow my
way through the crowd, and succeeded in getting inside the private
apartments. The prince royal took Nelson to his father, whose mental
state, however, prevented him from knowing and from appreciating the
disasters of the capital.

‘There was no alternative but to accept the conditions imposed by
England. The offensive and defensive treaty between Denmark, Sweden,
and Russia was rescinded. The prince royal showed himself as noble and
dignified during the conferences as he had shown himself courageous and
resourceful during the battle.

‘Since then Frederick has ascended the throne, and though, by the side
of the vast kingdoms that have sprung up, Denmark can scarcely claim to
be more than a magnificent, lordly domain, enhanced by a royal crown,
all these various events have not impaired the excellent prince’s
memory. You noticed for yourself how he remembered an apparently
frivolous circumstance, but one which remains indelible in my mind.’



CHAPTER XV

  Religious Ceremony for the Anniversary of the Death of Louis
      XVI.--Reception at Talleyrand’s--Discussion on the Subject
      of Saxony and Poland--The Order of the Day of the Grand-Duke
      Constantine--A Factum of Pozzo di Borgo--A Sleighing-Party
      --Entertainment and Fête at Schönbrunn--Prince Eugène--
      Recollections of Queen Hortense--The Empress Marie-Louise at
      the Valley of St. Helena--Second Sleighing-Party--A Funeral.


An important ceremony put a stop to all these entertainments.
Twenty-two years had gone by since the ill-fated Louis XVI. lost his
head on the scaffold, and his memory had not as yet received the
expiation of a solemn and public mourning. At the moment when all those
kings were working in unison for the pacification of Europe, they could
scarcely refrain from protesting by a ceremonious manifestation against
a fact which, causing all their thrones to shake on their bases,
seems to have been virtually the signal of all these disastrous wars.
Consequently, when Talleyrand, as the head of the French Legation,
invited the consent of the Austrian government to a memorial service
on the anniversary of the fatal twenty-first of January, his request
was granted with a kind of melancholy zeal. Nay, more, Emperor Francis
made a point of having the service celebrated in the Cathedral of St.
Stephen, so that it might be marked by extraordinary pomp, and that its
expenses should devolve upon the imperial treasury.

MM. Isabey and Moreau were entrusted with the plans and preparations
for the ceremony. In accordance with the emperor’s wish, the former
displayed the greatest magnificence, and that funereal pomp inseparable
from the obsequies of kings. In the centre of the old Basilica there
stood a baldachin sixty feet high, and ornamented with all the insignia
of royalty. Four colossal statues, placed at the four corners of a
cenotaph, represented respectively France, dissolved in tears; Europe,
contributing its meed of regret; Hope, guiding the soul of the virtuous
monarch to the abode of everlasting bliss; and Religion, holding in
her hand that last will, the sublime model of charity and pardon. The
nave of the cathedral was entirely covered with one immense hanging of
black, richly embroidered with silver. From each pillar was suspended
the scutcheon of the House of France. Numberless wax candles and tapers
shed a dazzling light across those sombre walls, closed to the orb of
day.

A stand, entirely draped with black velvet, embellished with silver
fringe, had been prepared for the sovereigns. The nave and the choir
were reserved for the specially invited guests, and the lateral parts
of the sacred building for the public.

Long before the hour fixed for the ceremony an immense crowd blocked
up the approaches to the Gothic fane. Every Frenchman in Vienna, no
matter what his rank, had received an invitation, and not one failed.
The Knights of the Golden Fleece and the ambassadors in full Court
dress occupied the foremost rows of the choir. Behind them were all the
notabilities, all the princely guests, and the authorities of the city
of Vienna. A detachment of the regiments of the Guards and another of
the Hungarian Nobiliary Guard were on duty round the catafalque, as
at the funeral of emperors. Emperor Francis himself intended this as
the highest expression of his personal sentiments. In the nave stood a
considerable number of ladies attired in mourning and wrapped in long
crape veils.

At eleven o’clock a blast of trumpets heralded the arrival of the
Emperor Francis, the Emperor of Russia, the Kings of Prussia, Bavaria
and Denmark; of the Queen and of the Empress of Russia. The Empress
of Austria, confined to the palace by ill-health, was the only one
absent from the ceremony. The Prince Léopold de Sicile, as the only
member of the House of Bourbon, and M. de la Tour du Pin stood at the
portals of the cathedral and conducted the sovereigns to the imperial
stand. Immediately afterwards, the celebration began. In spite of
his eighty-four years, the venerable Archbishop of Vienna, Prince de
Hohenwarth, had made it a point to officiate. A profound respect, an
intense and reverent emotion, pervaded the immense assembly at the
sight of the royal sarcophagus and of the white-haired priest praying
for divine pity on the virtuous monarch. It would be difficult to guess
the feelings of all those monarchs, reverently prostrated not far from
the catafalque, recalling such a great misfortune and such a great
event in the history of France. All were more or less related to the
illustrious house of France, the most ancient of Europe.

M. Zaiguelius, vicar of Sainte-Anne in Vienna, and of French origin,
delivered an address in French, noticeable for its many beauties, and
some people pretended that M. Talleyrand was not altogether a stranger
to its composition. The text was, ‘Let the earth know the fear of
the name of the Lord.’ In this very remarkable address, the speaker
was particularly anxious to show the hand of God, which raises up
and overthrows thrones. Then, after the prayers for Louis XVI. and
Marie-Antoinette, he concluded by reciting the principal passages
of the will, which has rightly been called the most heroic code of
charity. This was, in fact, the most beautiful funeral oration of Louis
XVI., and when M. Zaiguelius descended from the pulpit there was not a
dry eye in the place. After this, two hundred and fifty voices sang,
without accompaniment, the ‘Requiem,’ composed by Neukomm, a pupil of
Haydn. The musicians had been reinforced by amateurs; they constituted
two separate choirs, of which one was conducted by Salieri, the
Director of the Imperial Music. Its effect was admirable. Listened to
with the most reverential silence, the hymn of sorrow seemed less a
prayer addressed to Heaven for a virtuous victim than a sequel to the
sublime words of pardon to which we had just listened. The cost of this
funereal solemnity amounted to nearly a hundred thousand florins, and
was entirely defrayed by the Austrian Court.

An express order of the emperor had suspended for that day all the
ordinary entertainments. During the evening there was positively a
crowd in M. de Talleyrand’s drawing-rooms. Everything was most sedate,
as usual, for political discussions were the order of the day there
rather than those connected with fêtes and gaiety. The Polish question
was more than ever to the fore, and apparently as far as ever from
being settled. The incorporation of Poland with his empire had been
the ardent aspiration of Alexander from the very beginning of the
Congress of Vienna. Supported in that claim by the King of Prussia,
to whom, as a set-off, he sacrificed and abandoned Saxony, he had not
reckoned upon any particular resistance; but it became manifest at the
very outset of the discussions that there would be a lively opposition
to this dual spoliation and the kind of bargain it involved. In the
matter of Saxony, both Metternich and Talleyrand strenuously opposed
the overthrow of a prince sincerely beloved by his subjects, and who
during forty years had honoured the throne by his uprightness and by
a combination of many virtues. These two statesmen fostered the hope
that by denying Saxony to Prussia they would contribute to a rupture
between the czar and King Frederick William; and that in consequence of
this the Congress would be enabled to cut an independent Polish kingdom
out of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. England, which in principle seemed
favourable to the pretensions of Russia and Prussia, had, however, been
persuaded by the arguments of the Austrian Minister and his French
colleague, and had taken sides with them. The discussion became very
envenomed, in spite of the kindly efforts of Prince Razumowski. It was
during one of those stormy conferences that the Grand-Duke Constantine
became very angry with M. de ----. Finally, during another sitting,
Alexander, addressing Lord Castlereagh, had not scrupled to affirm that
at his voice eight millions of Poles would not hesitate to arise in
order to sustain the independence of their country.[100]

Behind this question of Poland there loomed, however, another question
much more important and far-reaching for European equilibrium. Napoleon
had as yet not uttered the famous words, that before fifty years Europe
would be French or Cossack. But already many far-seeing minds had
become alarmed, and not without reason, at seeing Russia assuming the
mastership on the Vistula. With the object of ‘forcing her back towards
her inhospitable climate,’ and of plucking Poland from her domination,
Austria, France, and England made a secret treaty on the 10th of
January 1815. Talleyrand’s influence had determined that compact, for
he already inclined towards an English alliance, to the realisation
of which he looked so hard fifteen years later. That self-same treaty
which the ministers of Louis XVIII. left behind them at the time of
their flight on the 26th March 1815, and which Napoleon promptly
sent to Alexander, was the cause of Alexander’s resentment against
Talleyrand, which was never overcome. It was one of the causes which,
after the second Restoration, kept the French diplomatist away from the
ministry and from public affairs.

Nevertheless, it was supposed that the Grand-Duke Constantine, who had
left Vienna in deference to his brother and master’s will, was only
occupied with reviews and manœuvres, the supposedly exclusive objects
of his passion. Nobody thought of war, and everybody ardently desired
peace. Suddenly there came to Vienna a proclamation addressed by the
Grand-duke to the Polish nation, which was tantamount to an appeal to
arms. This strange manifesto was composed as follows:--

  ‘To the Polish Army.--His Majesty the Emperor Alexander, your
  powerful protector, appeals to you by this. Gather round your
  standards, take up arms to defend your country and to maintain
  your political existence. While this august monarch prepares the
  happy future of your country, show the world that you are ready
  to sustain his whole efforts with the price of your blood. The
  same chiefs who during the last twenty years have led you on the
  road to glory will know how to lead you thither once more. The
  emperor is fully cognisant of your valour; amidst many disasters
  of a most fatal war he has seen your honour survive events which
  in no wise depended upon you. Signal feats of arms conferred
  distinction upon you in a struggle the motive of which was foreign
  to you; at present, when your efforts are directly devoted to
  your country, you will be invincible. Soldiers and warriors of
  all arms, be ye the first to give the example of all the virtues
  which should inspire your countrymen. A boundless devotion to the
  emperor, who has no other aim than the welfare of your country,
  an unalterable love for his august person; obedience, discipline,
  and courage--these are the means to ensure the prosperity of your
  country, which is under the ægis of the emperor. It is only by
  those means that you can attain the happy situation which others
  may promise you, but which he alone can bestow. His power and his
  virtues will be the guarantee of it to you.’

Two points in this document, more than any other, aroused profound
astonishment. The Grand-duke, in inciting the Poles to rally around
his brother the emperor, in soliciting their devotion to his person,
forestalled, as it were, the supreme decision of the Congress. The
question was practically pending before the sovereign tribunal, no
decision whatsoever had been taken, nevertheless Constantine virtually
proclaimed his brother the Protector of Poland. Secondly, what
construction was to be placed on those threats of war, on that appeal
to arms, when the whole of Europe was ostentatiously looking at the
consolidation of a general appeasement? Against whom, then, were the
Poles, guided by the Russians, to take up arms? Against the other
Powers, who refused them their independence? Did Constantine in reality
flatter himself that he was imposing upon the Poles and hoodwinking
them by garbling the truth? Could she (Poland) be blinded by those
protestations in favour of her nationality?

Since the proclamation, denied for a moment, had acquired the stamp
of authenticity, the discussion provoked by it stifled all others. In
Talleyrand’s drawing-room it was the subject of all conversations. He
was known to be a partisan of Saxony and Poland. It was also known
that, together with Metternich, he was the soul of that far-seeing and
imperturbable resistance to Russian projects.

‘Have you read a statement drawn up by M. Pozzo di Borgo in connection
with Poland?’ said M. L---- to a group surrounding him. ‘The political
world is very much concerned about it. The author aims to show that,
for many reasons, this country must not be granted its independence,
but must be entirely incorporated with Russia.’

‘It is but natural,’ was the answer, ‘that M. Pozzo di Borgo should
have posed as the enemy of both the principles and the person of
Napoleon. This is easily conceivable and easily explicable by allowing
for the poison of the Corsican vendetta, which becomes an heirloom
from generation to generation. In his country hatred is a family
inheritance: God alone knows how far it goes back and where it will
end. But what has that ill-fated nation done to M. Pozzo that he should
oppose the good-will shown towards her here?’

‘M. Pozzo defends the cause of the country which adopted him. Employed
by Russia, he has become a Russian.’

‘But is not this carrying devotion to ingratitude? Is it possible,
then, that the recollection of past benefits is denied to the political
writer to such a degree as to make M. Pozzo forget that Prince Adam
Czartoryski virtually “picked him up” on his arrival in Russia; that
he took him and, as it were, guided him to that temple the first
steps of which he aspired to ascend? When M. Pozzo came back from
Constantinople, where his efforts to ingratiate himself with Admiral
Siniavin had been paralysed either by the intrigues or by the real
merit of M. le Comte Capo d’Istria, he was bound to make up at St.
Petersburg for the check he had received at the Bosphorus by a fresh
attempt. Prince Adam was, for the travelling diplomatic apprentice,
a veritable godsend. To write a diatribe against the country of the
prince is tantamount to attacking his own star. From a political point
of view it is, perhaps, very clever. I scarcely care to ask what it is
from an ethical point.’

‘You know that M. Pozzo claims the priority of the idea of having
directed the march of the allied armies on Paris?’

‘Yes; but it is also said that after the event the claim was preferred
by the other prophets. If it had failed, there would doubtless be fewer
oracles to-day.’

‘Well, it is probable that M. Pozzo will go very far before we have
finished with him. To succeed in politics, one must forget family and
country, tread underfoot gratitude, stifle the dearest affections, deny
the principles of one’s life, and at that price only glory and success
come within one’s grasp.’

An untoward fate seemed to dog the sleighing-party projected by the
Austrian Court. It had been postponed several times in consequence
of a change of temperature. One day the cold seemed to promise for
the next the hard and polished surface necessary to those northern
chariots, then a thaw would set in and soften the layer of ice spread
on the earth. Finally, a downright frost began, preceded by an abundant
snowfall, and the imperial promenade was once more fixed. From early
morning an immense crowd gathered on the Josef Platz, where the
sleighs were to meet. Nearly all had been refurbished; those intended
for the emperors and sovereigns were in the form of a _calèche_, and
were decorated with a taste and lavishness productive of the happiest
results. They sparkled with the brightest colours, enhanced with
gold. The cushions, of emerald-coloured velvet, were trimmed with
fringe of the same metal. The harness, displaying the scutcheon of the
imperial house, was hung with silver bells. The sleighs of the high
personages of the Congress and of the Austrian nobility vied both in
richness and elegance with those of the sovereigns: silk, velvet, and
gilding everywhere, while every sleigh was drawn by horses of price,
caparisoned with tiger skins and rich furs, their flowing manes plaited
with knots and ribbons. They were with difficulty kept in hand, the
tinkling of the bells rendering them more spirited than usual, and
anxious to get away with the light loads behind them.

While awaiting the signal to start, the privileged promenaders had
forgathered within the Imperial Palace. At two o’clock the order was
given, and the illustrious company came down, taking their seats,
the sovereigns in accordance with the rule of precedence prevailing
in their case, the others according to the rank determined by mere
chance. To each cavalier a lady is assigned by lot as his companion on
the road. A blast of trumpets is heard, and the procession begins its
march.

A detachment of cavalry comes forward, preceding the sergeants and
sergeants’ caterers of the Court, mounted on richly caparisoned
cattle. They are followed by an immense sleigh drawn by six horses and
containing an orchestra of kettledrums and trumpets. The grand equerry,
Trauttmansdorff, on horseback, and followed by his men-at-arms, comes
afterwards, then immediately after that, the sleighs of the sovereigns.
The first sleigh is that of the Emperor of Austria, piloting the
charming Elizabeth of Russia. In the second was Emperor Alexander with
the Princesse d’Auersberg; then came the King of Prussia with the
Comtesse Julie Zichy, the King of Denmark with the Grande-Duchesse de
Saxe-Weimar, and the Grand-Duke of Baden with the grand-mistress of the
Court, the Comtesse Lazanski. Twenty-four young pages, richly dressed
in mediæval costumes, and a squadron of the Hungarian Nobiliary Guards
provided the escort for the sovereigns’ sledges.

The Empress of Russia was wrapped in a large coat of green velvet
lined with ermine; on her head she wore a toque of the same colour
with an aigrette of diamonds similar to that usually worn by the great
Catherine. The other ladies were equally provided against the cold with
velvet coats of the richest colours; the Grande-Duchesse de Weimar’s
being pink, also trimmed with ermine, a fur which in Austria is
exclusively reserved for personages of royal blood. The other colours
such as purple and amaranth were all relieved by the rarest and most
elegant furs.

Then came the other sledges, to the number of thirty, holding the
principal Court personages and the princely guests for whom this
entertainment had been projected. The procession crossed the city
at only a walking pace, thus enabling the crowd to recognise and to
salute those who in a little while will be carried away at a gallop.
The Archeduc Palatine has by his side the Grande-Duchesse d’Oldenbourg
wrapped in a blue velvet mantle, the shade of which blends most
happily with her charming face. Behind these the Prince Royal of
Würtemberg has for his companion the Princesse de Lichtenstein.
Handsome though his companion is, he does not take his eyes off the
sleigh containing the woman he worships, and he looks as if inclined
to quarrel with fate for having served him so niggardly. Our charming
‘queen,’ as we call the Comtesse Fuchs, has fallen to the lot of the
Prince Guillaume de Prusse. The Prince Léopold de Sicile is with the
Princesse Lubomirska, the Prince Eugène with Mme. Apponyi, the Prince
Royal de Bavière with the Comtesse Sophie Zichy, the Archeduc Charles
with the Comtesse Esterhazy, the Prince Auguste de Prusse with the
Comtesse Batthyany, the Comte François Zichy with Lady Castlereagh, the
Comte de Wurbna with the Comtesse Walluzen, the Duc de Saxe-Cobourg
with the handsome Rosalie Rzewuska. The dresses of all those ladies
were elegant beyond description; the men wore Polish coats trimmed with
the most beautiful fur.

After that followed a squadron of grooms wearing the imperial livery;
then the procession was closed by several reserve sleighs and another
huge six-horsed sledge carrying a band dressed in Turkish uniforms and
playing warlike tunes. After having slowly traversed the principal
streets of Vienna, the procession ranges itself in two lines, and at a
signal the horses start at a gallop on the road to Schönbrunn.

In a few moments, the magnificent line of sleighs reaches its first
stage. As, however, there had been some slight contretemps with
those frail ‘turn-outs,’ there was a half-way halt near the monument
erected to King John Sobieski for his deliverance of Austria. It is a
triangular pyramid constructed on the very spot where the Grand Vizier
Kara-Mustapha had erected his tent during the siege. When the brilliant
string of sleighs had vanished from our eyes, there was a unanimous
cry of admiration from the numerous spectators at the unique beauty of
the sight. The fact of so many illustrious personages being brought
to the spot was considered as worthy of admiration as the magnificence
and pomp displayed by the Austrian Court and noblesse. Of course it
required a solemn function like the Congress to rally so many crowned
heads, celebrities of all kinds, and remarkable women. It was, indeed,
a picture which for many centuries will not be repeated.

The Empress of Austria, the King and Queen of Bavaria, besides several
other personages in far from robust health, who feared the cold, had
gone to Schönbrunn in closed carriages. A magnificent fête had been
prepared and many invitations issued. The return was to take place
at night and by torchlight. After the banquet to which all those who
made up the sleighing party were invited, the principal Viennese
actors presented one of the prettiest pieces of the French stage, the
_Cendrillon_ of M. Étienne, which had been translated into German. A
grand ball was to wind up the entertainment. The Prince Koslowski, the
Comte de Witt, and I repaired betimes to Schönbrunn.

The sleighs on their arrival formed into a circle around the frozen
lake of Schönbrunn, which was like a polished mirror, and was covered
by skaters in the most elegant costumes of the various countries of
Northern Europe. The scene was very animated, with the various sledges
in the shape of swans, gondolas, etc., and reminded one of a Dutch
kermesse, especially in respect to the itinerant vendors of fortifying
drinks patronised by the energetic performers. The picture was in
reality unique in virtue of the various servants in livery, both on
foot and on horseback, and the sleighs of the Court itself, not to
mention the enormous crowds of spectators who had come all the way from
Vienna.

A young man attached to the English embassy, Sir Edward W----, a member
of the London skating-club, and accustomed to astonish the promenaders
in Hyde Park on the Serpentine, executed some wonderful feats in the
way of figures, pirouettes, and single and double curling. Like the
Chevalier de St. George, who on the pond at Versailles traced the name
of Marie-Antoinette, Sir Edward traced the monograms of the queens,
the empresses, and other female celebrities, who left their sleighs
to admire his skill. Others, less perfect than he, no doubt, but very
skilful nevertheless, performed Chinese and European dances, including
a waltz. The latter was danced by two Dutch ladies in the picturesque
dresses of Saardam milkmaids, to the applause and admiration of
everybody.

I may dispense with a description of the theatre: it was dazzling as
usual, but the aspect of the adjacent rooms was truly delightful. The
rarest plants of the imperial green-houses--myrtles, orange-trees in
full bloom--hid the walls of the staircases, the vestibules, and the
ball-rooms; it was a decoration all the more appreciated in virtue
of the temperature outside. After the performance of _Cendrillon_,
to which some gracefully designed ballets had been added, the crowd
repaired to those drawing-rooms, where the perfume and the variety of
the flowers reminded us of the most clement season of the year. They
only went through a few polonaises.

‘I am bound to admit,’ said Comte de Witt, ‘that this sleighing party
has been a beautiful, marvellous, and elegant affair, even to us
Russians, who are accustomed to that kind of magnificence. I also admit
that this fête, recalling as it does the spring, is equally worthy of
the rest. In truth, at the pace we are proceeding with our amusements,
it will not be surprising if surfeit breed disgust. Nevertheless, in
order to add something new to all that has been offered to us, and
to complete this winter fête, they ought to have constructed on the
Schönbrunn lake a palace of ice to receive and entertain our royal
company.’

‘Entirely of ice, general?’

‘Yes, like that which Empress Anne constructed on the Neva. But you,
who have lived in St. Petersburg, did you never hear of that fête?’

‘No.’

‘There was at Anne’s Court a Prince de G----, who had practically
become its jester. The empress wished to get him married, and they
chose him a wife more or less likely to fall in with his eccentric
habits. In order fitly to celebrate the nuptials, they constructed, as
I told you, a palace of ice on the Neva. The columns, the walls, the
wainscoting, the furniture in the interior, such as the tables, the
lustres, and even the bed of the newly-married couple, was absolutely
of frozen water, shaped by cunning artificers. In order to give
more variety to this extraordinary construction, blocks of coloured
chiselled ice had been employed in the ornamentation of the structure.
When sumptuous carpets had been spread in the apartments, and thousands
of wax tapers had been lighted, the Court repaired in sleighs to
this fantastic place, and the fête commenced. Cossack dances to the
strangest music were performed, then there was a supper, partaken of by
ever so many guests. In the midst of the banquet four Cossacks brought
in with great pomp a whole ox with gilded horns, which had been roasted
on the ice in the court of the palace. After having made the round of
the table, this monstrous roast was given to the servants. Then came
the moment for putting the newly-married couple to bed; the signal was
given with a salvo of artillery from ordnance made of ice.

‘Up to that moment everything had gone well with poor G---- and his
wife. But when they had been undressed and put to bed, and the ice
began to melt around them, their gestures and countenances were not in
the least expressive of the tender passion, whether hallowed or not.
And as, according to ancient usage, all this was taking place in the
presence of the Court, they did not dare to leave their couch, and
were by no means pleased with this bit of imperial recreation. Save
the wedding-ceremony, however, the tradition of this extraordinary and
magnificent palace has been kept up to the present day, and I am sorry
the members of the fêtes-committee did not revive the spectacle of an
immense castle built of ice.’

While Comte de Witt was telling me all this, I had caught sight
of Prince Eugène by himself, and I went up to him. With his usual
kindness, he reminded me of my not having been to see him for a long
while, although we had frequently met at our friend Comtesse Laura’s.
Wherever Prince Eugène was compelled to appear, his calm dignity
never forsook him; and in spite of his equivocal situation at Vienna,
he made many, many friends. I have already touched upon Emperor
Alexander’s sincere affection for him, a friendship redounding to the
honour of the deposed prince and the powerful emperor. This friendship
and interest of the czar extended to Queen Hortense. Knowing her
impulsive disposition, and how much she stood in need now and again of
disinterested advice, Alexander had despatched to Paris a diplomatic
agent, named Boutiakine, with the mission to take care of her, and to
guide her in all things.

Eugène had just received some letters from this cherished sister, who
appeared to have inherited all the feminine graces of her mother.
Hortense fully unbosomed her griefs, which at that moment were very
poignant. The family dissensions, the death of her mother, the threat
of being deprived of her children, everything seemed to aggravate the
loss of her brilliant position. The prince, in mentioning all these,
could scarcely restrain his emotion; and from that moment I promised
myself to make those confidences a passport to the friendship of the
woman to whom the loss of a crown seemed the least of sorrows. My wish
was realised later on, not in Paris, as I had hoped, but in the spot
which at the time served her as an asylum. It was in 1819, when she was
in exile. I had just returned from Poland, where I had spent several
years, and was preparing to go back to France. Being at Augsburg, I was
informed that she, who no longer bore any other title than that of the
Duchesse de Saint-Leu, was living there. In days gone by she had set
some of my romances to music. The latter circumstance, together with
the good-will shown to me by her brother during the Congress of Vienna,
emboldened me to request the honour of being presented to her; her
immediate answer virtually enhanced the favour accorded.

At that time I only knew Queen Hortense by repute, and from the
frequent allusions to her made by her brother; but from the very first
it seemed to me that I was meeting with an old friend after a long
absence, and that I was indebted for her cordial welcome to the bonds
of an old friendship. Everything in her harmonised perfectly--the sweet
expression of her features, her conversation, the gentleness of her
voice and of her character. Every kind and affectionate word that fell
from her lips was all the more precious, inasmuch as it was dictated
solely by her heart; she imparted such animation to her pictures as to
imbue the spectator with the idea of being an actor in, or at least
a looker-on at, the real scene. She had a kind of personal magic in
communicating information and in fascinating those with whom she came
in contact, and that artless power of seduction took deep root in
people’s hearts.

It was during the short moments of a confidential conversation that
I was enabled to judge of her absolutely genuine qualities. She was
deeply moved at all the memories of the past, but one idea--the
insatiable craving for another glimpse of France, seemed uppermost.

During the evening tea was served. ‘It’s a custom I brought back with
me from Holland,’ she said, ‘but do not suppose that it is in order to
remind me of that brilliant and, alas, so far distant period.’

Several visitors came from the immediate neighbourhood, others from
Munich. They were cordially welcomed, and she felt, no doubt, flattered
by the consideration with which she was treated, inasmuch as that
consideration could be due to esteem only, and not to intrigues or
adulation, of which she felt so weary both at Saint Cloud and at the
Hague. During the evening she showed me some good pictures by painters
of the various schools, and a collection of art objects which had
been considerably increased by that left by her mother. The majority
of those brilliant trifles were connected with certain periods and
celebrated people, and they might well have been called a summary of
modern history. After that we had some music. The duchesse sang to
her own accompaniment, and she put as much soul into her singing as
into the compositions themselves. She had just finished a series of
drawings for her ballads, and the next morning she sent me the pretty
collection, which time will render all the more precious.

At midnight I took my leave, without much hope of seeing her again.
But that particular day will for ever be stamped on my memory. It is a
pleasure to pay one’s homage of respect to fallen grandeur, when, as in
Hortense’s case, natural and amiable genius is added to the fascination
of a kindly nature.

Meanwhile the sleighing-fête was over, and a blast of trumpets gave the
signal for the return to Vienna. Wrapt in their cloaks, the illustrious
guests proceeded towards the court of the palace. Ranged in two lines,
their sleighs were waiting for them. Everybody resumed the position of
the morning. A martial strain gave the signal for the start, and the
vehicles disappeared at a gallop, leaving on the horizon a trail of
light across the snow and the hoar frost of the trees.

While the palace of Schönbrunn was the scene of these intoxicating
pleasures, how were those occupied to whom it represented only a
prison? Avoiding all contact with the joyous guests of the Congress,
Marie-Louise and her son preferred to get away from a pleasure party
which could only awaken sad recollections. Early in the morning,
they departed in sleighs to the smiling valley of St. Helena, near
Schönbrunn, where they passed the day--the empress offering dinner
to her small Court--and returned to Schönbrunn in the evening. A
strange coincidence of names between the valley of St. Helena where
Marie-Louise went to hide her grief, and that famous island, also
called St. Helena, where her husband, a few months later, buried both
his glory and his disasters.

The next morning the Emperor of Austria made a present to Alexander
of the gilded sleigh in which the latter had ridden. To show his
appreciation of the gift, the czar had it carefully packed and sent
to St. Petersburg. The expenses of that sleighing-party and the fête
following it were estimated at three hundred thousand florins. Many
years have passed since that joyous period of the Congress of Vienna.
Many of those whom I saw so gaily carried away by the tinkling-belled
coursers have been pitilessly carried away since then by relentless
death. How many perished before their time! Emperor Alexander, whose
courtesy and youthful spirit were the life of all those parties; the
Emperor of Austria; the Kings of Prussia and Bavaria; Prince Eugène,
so kind and cordial--all are lying in their graves. The Empress
of Austria, so graceful, and such a beneficent friend to art; the
charming Elizabeth of Russia; her sister-in-law, the Grande Duchesse
d’Oldenbourg; the Comtesse Julie Zichy; Madame de Fuchs--all were
taken away as prematurely as unexpectedly. How many other women in the
zenith of their beauty, whose grace enhanced those gatherings, followed
them when their life was scarcely more than half run! And among
the political or military notabilities, de Wrède, Schwartzenberg,
Talleyrand, Castlereagh, Dalberg, Capo d’Istria, besides the friends so
dear to my affection, such as Koslowski, Ypsilanti, de Witt! In truth,
the almost imperceptible track of the sleigh gliding on the polished
snow was the image of our rapid passage, or rather of our short-lived
apparition, on this earth.



CHAPTER XVI

  Reception at Madame de Fuchs’s--Prince Philippe d’Hesse-Hombourg
      --The Journalists and Newsmongers of Vienna--The French
      Village in Germany--Prince Eugène--Recollection of the
      Consulate--Tribulations of M. Denville--Mme. Récamier--
      The Return of the _Émigré_--Childhood’s Friend, or the Magic of
      a Name--Ball at Lord Stewart’s--Alexander proclaimed King
      of Poland--The Prince Czartoryski--Confidence of the Poles
      --Count Arthur Potocki--The Revolutions of Poland--Slavery
      --Vandar--Ivan, or the Polish Serf.


At one of the _soirées_ at the Comtesse de Fuchs’s, the whole of the
coterie had gathered round her--for she also had her coterie. In
default of diplomatic treaties, her grace and friendship constituted
its bond. The conversation had turned on some news which, it was said,
had leaked out from the high deliberations of the Congress.

They were asking Prince Philippe d’Hesse-Hombourg if the fate of his
family’s Landgravate had been fixed, either by the decisions on the
Graben or by those of the more serious Congress.

‘Nothing as yet has transpired,’ he answered, ‘but it is generally
expected that the Principality will receive a slight increase.’

Thereupon he gave us some particulars as to the origin of his house,
one of the most illustrious in Germany, both in virtue of its age and
of its alliances; though he himself had probably no idea of being one
day called upon to play the part of its ruler.

‘The Principality of Hesse-Hombourg,’ he said, ‘presents one of the
most curious freaks of modern times. It is a small colony of French
Huguenots, which settled there at the time of the Revocation of the
Edict of Nantes. The Landgraf Frederick cordially welcomed those
unhappy victims of their king’s intolerance. He gave them land to till,
and sold his silver to come to their aid. They founded a village to
which they gave the name Friedrichsdorf. The most curious thing is
that for more than a hundred years they have preserved, without the
slightest alteration, the language, the manners, the costume, in fact
everything connected with their country and their century. It is a kind
of republic, governed by their minister. Isolated in their valley in
the centre of Germany, these men, though practically at the door of
their country, appear to have had no part or parcel in the great events
that have just been accomplished. They have simply ignored the French
Revolution, or if not that, have heard little or nothing of it. Though
French at heart by habits, traditions, and origin, they no longer think
of the country which in days gone by expelled their fathers.’

‘In my travels,’ I said, ‘I likewise found a similar colony, but one
that pushed further on than the other. It carried its household gods as
far as Macarief in Russia, It, also, preserved the language and customs
of its time, without even omitting the voluminous wig which everybody
knows.’

I had drawn close to Prince Eugène. Most cruelly upset by the events in
course of completion, he, as it were, instinctively turned to the past.
His memory striding, so to speak, across the decade of Empire, went
back with a sort of melancholy regret to the period of the Consulate,
which to him was a period of happiness, for it had been that of hope.
In truth, those four years constituted a remarkable period; everything
seemed eager for a new birth, to emerge altered, if not purified, from
the confusion into which the saturnalia of the Directorate had plunged
it. At that moment nothing had acquired any stability, but those who
had eyes to see perceived well enough that they were advancing with
giant steps towards a social regeneration. There was a general, an
irresistible, yielding to pleasure. It was not the licence which had
preceded it; it was like the distant and expiring sound of that licence
assuming a regular cadence day after day. Lavishness was extreme; gold
seemed, as it were, to flow; military and administrative fortunes had
been made so rapidly as to leave people virtually in doubt as to the
real price which had been paid for them. Numberless _émigrés_ setting
foot once more in their country, and finding their property practically
unimpaired, made up by constant enjoyment for the cruel privations
they had experienced in an alien land; others, happy to have escaped
either that or proscription, followed suit, and freely scattered
their fortunes, which they had been within an ace of losing for ever.
Finally, as if everything conspired to the glorifying of that period,
consider this further: that it counted, perhaps, the largest number of
celebrated beauties. Not that chance had absolutely provided a most
remarkable type of woman, but gold flung about by handfuls brought to
the fore women who, if they had remained in an obscure position, would
have probably passed unperceived; placed on pedestals, they borrowed
from the world by which they were surrounded part of the brilliancy
which dazzled the beholder. We reviewed all the joys of that remarkable
period, and we naturally came to the recollection of the woman who was
_the queen then_--Mme. Récamier. It was at her house that forgathered
the best society of the time, and all that Paris held in the way of
illustrious strangers. In her seemed incarnated the elegance and
pomp of the moment. Prince Eugène had often been a guest at those
receptions, which Europe has not yet forgotten.

‘That period,’ I said to the prince, ‘will always remain stamped on
my memory, not only in virtue of the brilliance of its fêtes or the
glamour of our military glory, but in virtue of a circumstance which
formed an epoch in my existence. You know, prince, there are moments
when fortune, weary as it were of taking you for its play-ball,
suddenly lifts you from the depths of despair to the heaven of glory.
At that time I had a very curious experience.’

‘Which is the circumstance?’ promptly exclaimed the Comtesse Laura.
‘You must tell us.’

‘It is a very long episode; nevertheless, if you will grant me your
attention for a while, I will obey.

       *       *       *       *       *

The most unforeseen resolutions are often due to the most trifling
causes: it was perhaps one word, a single word, which decided my
future. Everybody knows the awkwardness of those pet names that one
gives to children, which continue up to a time when what was once
pretty and graceful becomes intensely ridiculous. It was formerly
the fashion in France, as it was here, and for the matter of that
everywhere, to confer upon the very young that second baptism of
friendship. Of course it seems the most natural thing in the world
to do to-day what we did yesterday. Consequently, in Paris as in
Vienna, they called tall, grown-up men, Fanfan, Dédé, Lolo, and other
sobriquets, very sweet, but utterly unsuited to the men themselves.
I ought to be a good special pleader of that cause, for I also have
been called by one of those pet names, and I made a fine thing of it
by remembering it on one of the most eventful days of my life. Yes,
that rather ridiculous name was for me a talisman worth all the charms
of the fairies. Napoleon had overthrown the contemned government of
the Directorate. Sufficiently strong to be merciful, he allowed all
those who had abandoned their country in order to save their heads to
come back again. I had just left my ‘father’ in Amsterdam, he having
resolved to send me to Paris in order to see his business man, and to
find resources which were absolutely lacking in the alien land. He
confided me to one of our countrymen, M. Clément, whose acquaintance
we had made in Holland, and who was going back to France. We started
together for Paris. We took up our quarters at the Hôtel de Paris in
the Rue Coquillière. M. Clément found letters from his family, who
had a few days previously left for Dijon, bidding him to follow them
instantly. On leaving me, he entrusted me to the care of the manager,
M. Chandeau, a pastry-cook by trade, who was willing to keep me there,
though my appearance by no means promised a profitable customer, or
even one able to settle a little bill. Nevertheless, I had a modest
room on the fifth floor at a rental of twelve francs per month, and
as for my meals, I arranged them very much in accordance with the
slenderness of my purse. I prefer not to dwell upon this more than
precarious existence.

Nevertheless, at the first going off, I thoroughly felt the
intoxication of being once more in my native land. I had saluted Paris
with the enthusiasm that causes the sailor to shout ‘Land, land!’ after
a long absence. I was very young, but I had lived a good deal in a few
years. Storms and hurricanes, privation and struggle, even hair-breadth
escapes from death--I had known them all. And yet it seemed to me that
as recently as the night before I had wandered under the chestnut-trees
of the Tuileries, and in the galleries of the Palais-Royal, where I
now found myself after a three years’ exile. I was very excited while
traversing the Passages, the Places, the bridges, and I ran along them
quickly as if in deadly fear of their escaping me once more. I looked
at the Seine as if she were an old friend, and still everything was new
to me, everything touched a chord of tenderness--even the discordant
cries of the itinerant vendors with whom the streets of Paris swarmed.
I felt as if I were taking possession of it once more. At sixteen there
seems to be such a very long future before one. All that is probable
seems possible. One feels unconsciously that by the right of one’s
youth the command of the world must devolve upon one. The awakening
from this dream was indeed very sombre.

I began by calling upon the business people whose addresses my ‘father’
had given me. Some were absent, others pretended to have lost all
recollection of us. I took care not to call upon my school-fellows in
order to arouse their pity, for I remembered the words Colville had
constantly repeated to me at Hamburg: ‘Try to dispense with everything
rather than ask a service of the man whom you consider your best
friend.’ Consequently, as a rule, I ascended to my perch dead with
fatigue, and not at all disposed to say with Pope ‘Whatever is, is
right.’ It is true that I got some sympathy from our poor servant,
Marie, to dispel the dejection plainly visible on my face. The
excellent creature always chose stories calculated to make my blood
curdle. ‘A few months ago,’ she said to me, ‘a young and handsome
boy, named Denville, lived in this very room. From morn to night he
wrote--he was a savant--and then, in order to get a little recreation,
he sang, accompanying himself on the guitar. Besides being a savant he
was an artist. All this was very well, but though he spent very little,
the poor boy never settled his bill, and during the seven months he
lodged at the hotel no one had ever seen the colour of his money. He
promised well enough, but he wrote in vain to his family, who lived in
Rheims. There is none so deaf as those who won’t hear, and not a cent
came from Champagne. There are some very hard-hearted parents--very
hard-hearted indeed. And that’s why the young fellow so often repeated
that no parent comes up to a louis d’or, and that the staunchest friend
is the pawnshop.

‘M. Chandeau, furious at getting nothing but promises, lost patience,
and only waited a favourable opportunity to cease being made a dupe
of, as he said. One evening, when M. Denville had gone downstairs
in dressing-gown and slippers to buy some trifling thing at the
stationer’s opposite, M. Chandeau promptly mounted the stairs, put a
padlock on the door, and practically sequestrated in that way the
whole of his lodger’s luggage. When the latter came back, purchase in
hand, he found on the landing his pitiless creditor, telling him to
seek shelter elsewhere.

‘It’s inhuman, isn’t it, monsieur, to send one’s debtor away like
that, practically naked? Prayers, promises, threats were not of the
slightest use. The young fellow was obliged to make the best of it, to
go down into the street, to promenade up and down like a ghost, with
the additional chance of perishing with cold, for it was the middle
of November. It struck ten o’clock, and the shops began to close. The
poor young man did not know where to look for a shelter, the only hope
of such presenting itself to him being the arch of a bridge, or the
guard-room of a military post. When he got as far as the Point St.
Eustache he was accosted by a poor woman--a working woman--who, touched
by the story of his deplorable situation, took him to her room, gave
him some supper, and kept him like this for a month, sharing everything
with him. But the most surprising part of the story is the end. The
lover of this poor girl was the servant of a general. The general was
looking out for a secretary. The servant was sufficiently interested in
this protégé of Providence to share his clothes with him, just as the
poor girl had shared her crust of bread, after which he presented M.
Denville to his master. The general took a fancy to M. Denville’s face,
and engaged him, and took him to the army in Italy, in which he was to
command a division.

‘You must know, monsieur, that everybody who goes to Italy and doesn’t
happen to be killed, comes back rich. That’s what happened to M.
Denville. On his return, he was absolutely bursting with gold. He paid
everything he owed to M. Chandeau. Better still, he bought, exactly
opposite the hotel, a little mercer’s shop to make a present to the
young girl who had so charitably picked him up.’

As may easily be imagined, that kind of picture did not give a
particularly agreeable tinge to my dreams. This great man, expelled
from the room that I was living in, and promenading down below in the
street in white, grasping his roll of paper, appeared to me like the
statue of the Commander to Don Juan. In my anxiety I now and again
substituted the face and figure of my landlord, holding in one hand
his little bill, and the padlock in the other. I no longer slept, and
I scarcely ate. The mind was killing the body, and I was certainly
getting the worst of this terrible struggle, of which I failed to see
the end.

I had been to the Hôtel Choiseul, which had been inhabited by my
family, and had been transformed into an auction-mart. I wandered
through its rooms, every one of which was crowded with furniture and
goods offered to the highest bidder. (Subsequently, part of the Opéra
was built on the site.) Alas, throughout my wandering I did not find a
stick that belonged to us; even the porter had changed, and, however
improbable and romantic it may seem, my only friend of old was Castor,
the poor watch-dog, who still occupied his kennel. Pricking up his ears
and wagging his tail, Castor licked my hands when I began to stroke him.

Perhaps Castor’s friendliness directed my thoughts to the old friends
of my family. Among them I had heard M. Récamier cited as the richest
banker of his time, and his wife as the foremost woman of fashion.
I knew Mme. Récamier before her marriage, and when she first came
to Paris. When we both were children our parents lived in the same
house. Our games and our studies were often interrupted by the scenes
of the Revolution. I remembered the incidents of those first years
most vividly; but would she remember them? I had lost sight of her
completely during those six years so crowded with events. A kind of
false shame kept me back. I could not make up my mind to go and see
her, amidst all her opulence, in a condition bordering so closely
upon a state of poverty as mine. The days went by meanwhile, and I had
practically exhausted my last resources. In vain had I tried to borrow
money on the portrait of Louis XVI., the last gift of the ill-fated
prince to my ‘father,’ his faithful and devoted minister. What interest
had those money-changers in a prince who was only great by his virtues,
and who already belonged to history?

I informed my ‘father’ of my position; told him of my various
unsuccessful attempts, and asked him for fresh instructions. I received
in reply a letter dated from Holland. He told me to remain for a little
longer in Paris, but if I did not succeed, to come back to Amsterdam,
where M. Vandenberg, the landlord of our inn, would procure me the
means to join him, my ‘father,’ in England, whither important affairs
compelled him to proceed immediately.

I shall never forget the night I spent after that letter. There are
situations too painful for description, griefs that may be conceived,
but cannot be expressed. I already beheld myself without the slightest
resources in Paris; without a mother, without relations or friends, and
like those who seek but do not find, who cry and who are made sport of,
who would fain attach themselves to some one, and are despised. I was
told to start for Amsterdam. How could I? I could imagine what it must
have cost my ‘father’ to write that letter. Perhaps he believed that
experience had already given me the wisdom which, as a rule, only comes
with years, and that the journey of a thousand leagues which I had made
with him had taught me to vanquish obstacles. On that occasion, though,
I was not alone: his courage sustained mine. In the present instance,
his absence left me no other support than the future and God.

My sleep was disturbed and agitated; it was not rest, it was simply the
temporary forgetfulness of my trouble. I was looking forward to the
cruel struggle with the world; I beheld myself flung amidst the crowd
to dispute for a crust of bread with the rest of mankind. The days went
by like centuries, for if it be true, as the Prince de Ligne said,
that happiness has wings, misfortune has legs of lead. Poor misguided
creatures that we are! at fifteen we fancy that we have exhausted fate;
at the slightest storm we bend our heads and say, ‘There’s no longer
any hope.’ And at sixty we still go on hoping.

One resolution came from all those conflicting ideas. It was high time;
for I no longer saw the faintest chance of staving off the crisis, or
of temporising with M. Chandeau, whose face became more sour every day.
I resolved to go to Mme. Récamier, whom I knew to be at her country
house at Clichy-la-Garenne. I made up my mind to go and implore her
help, as one implores that of an angel from heaven when everything on
earth has failed.

One fine May morning, I started from the Rue Coquillière for Clichy. On
my way, I tried to screw my courage to the sticking-point by recalling
the happy times of my early youth, and in the conjuring up of those
pictures, the image of Mme. Récamier, who had been the companion of my
liveliest joys and of my short-lived griefs, re-appeared continually.
Recalling, one by one, the proofs of her genuine affection, always
so lavishly bestowed, I dismissed all fear that her immense fortune,
her high social position, would cause her to deny the friend of her
childhood, coming to her homeless, proscribed, and unhappy.

When I had reached the barrier which majestically dominates Paris,
I continued my route between some sparse and poverty-stricken sheds
across the fields. I little dreamt that in a comparatively few years
there would arise on the spot a pretty town of fifteen thousand
inhabitants, with its cafés, its baths, and its theatre, that would
dispute with Passy the advantages of being the Tibur of the literary
men and artists of Paris, frightened at the hubbub of the city. At the
other side of the hill which I had slowly mounted, the soft and gently
sloping greensward landed me in the Avenue de Clichy. I felt as light
of heart under those century-old trees as if I were returning to the
paternal manor after a morning’s sport, but at the sight of the gate of
the mansion, my assurance forsook me.

Will she receive me? Will she recognise me? My blood, overheated by my
rapid march, froze in my veins at the question. I should probably have
turned back, but for the knowledge that to advance was the only chance
of finding an asylum.

When I got to the porter’s lodge I pulled the chain, producing but a
faint tinkling of the bell. It had, nevertheless, been heard, for a
voice from inside told Laurette to open the gate. ‘Laurette,’ I said
to myself; ‘that name, no doubt, belongs to a young girl, and the
sympathy between our ages will probably get me a favourable reception.’
The illusion vanished almost immediately, and I should have been the
first to laugh at my blunder if at that moment my poor heart had
been at all susceptible to any kind of joy. Instead of the little
Laurette I expected--namely, a kind of _opéra-comique_ shepherdess,
with a beflowered and beribboned crook--I beheld an old peasant woman,
wrinkled and bent down with years. Laurette was dressed in a black and
white striped kirtle, and her crook was represented by the ponderous
key of the gate. In answer to my inquiries, she pointed to the door
of the hall; but her second reply convinced me that she was deaf, for
she kept gently shaking her head and softly slapping her ears with her
fore-finger.

Trembling and uncertain, I stood rooted to the spot, dreading to
advance; for it is a cruel thing to come to a friend’s door in the
guise of a suppliant. But the massive gate had turned on its hinges and
closed once more while Laurette re-entered her pavilion, and I was thus
compelled to advance.

Hence, I took my courage in both hands and slowly crossed the court,
still further slackening my pace in ascending the steps of the ancient
residence of the Ducs de Lévis, both fearing and dreading to reach
the top. I rang the bell, and in answer a servant appeared. Doffing
my tri-cornered hat, considerably too big for me, with that air of
humility which renders the man down on his luck so awkward, I asked
him, in a voice which I tried in vain to steady, if I might see Mme.
Récamier. From the way in which he began to ‘take stock’ of me, I
imagined that he was in the habit of seeing many needy creatures steer
for this haven, and that, naturally, he classed me among the crowd of
the wretched which each day solicited the inexhaustible charity of his
mistress. ‘I’ll see if madame is at home,’ he said; ‘but what name
shall I say?’ I gave him mine, and, apparently satisfied on that point,
he bade me take a seat. A few moments passed, and Joseph--that was the
name of the domestic--did not return. Devoured with anxiety, I rose
from the seat, which offered no rest, and strode up and down the large
hall, paved with marble and hung with sombre portraits, paintings of
another age, worn out like the past, forgotten like the past, and on
the faces of which I tried in vain to catch a favourable smile.

Every one knows with what minute attention a man coming to ask a favour
scans the spot where he awaits his fate. At last Joseph came back;
but it was no longer the semi-benevolent face that welcomed me on my
entrance.

‘Madame is very sorry not to be able to see you to-day, monsieur. Not
having the honour of your acquaintance, she would ask you to write to
her about the motive of your visit.’

‘Not know me!’ my lips painfully murmured, stupefied. I felt like
one suddenly blinded. Everything in this world seemed to fail me at
once--the present, the future, friendship, and my courage withal.
Tears, but badly hidden by the brim of my hat, coursed down my cheeks.
At sixteen one does still shed tears. One has not acquired the courage
which is only learned in the school of adversity.

Though distressed beyond measure at my own weakness, I could not
make up my mind to leave the place. In fact, by that same wonderful
process of the imagination which in a few moments of sleep shows
you a long series of diverse objects, my imagination pictured to me
spontaneously the steep and winding staircase leading to the attics
of the Hôtel de Calais, and my relentless landlord waiting there, my
bill in his hand, in order to bar further progress, as he had barred
it to my expelled predecessor. There was more than this, however. Some
horrid words had in reality fallen upon my ear. Juliet, the friend and
companion of my infancy, no longer remembered even my name. During
this mental colloquy, Joseph, rigid, motionless, constantly watching
a curtain in the hall, showed but too plainly his impatience to close
the door upon me for ever. In spite of his looks, I did not budge. I
felt it impossible to abandon my last hope. All at once, by one of
the spontaneous inspirations often due to desperate positions, it
flashed upon me that during my infancy I bore only a pet name, and that
Mme. Récamier never called me by any other. That was enough. Tightly
grasping Joseph’s arm, I exclaimed:

‘Please, monsieur, go back to Mme. Récamier, and tell her that it’s
Lolo who has come back from Sweden, who begs of her to see him for one
moment.’

To judge by Joseph’s face at this new request, I felt certain that
he considered me bereft of my senses. The man was, no doubt, asking
himself what possible connection there could possibly be between Lolo,
Sweden, and his mistress. Consequently, he did not seem disposed to
attempt this new message, but I begged so hard that finally he decided
in my favour, just as one grants to a patient whose physician has
given him up the last whim from which he expects his cure.

Behold me alone once more, striding up and down the huge hall, not
even trying to restrain my fears now that there is no stranger to
witness them, and recommending myself to that Providence which hovered
over our vessel in the storm-tossed Baltic, which had protected me at
Copenhagen, and from Whom at that moment I seemed to request a miracle
not less decisive than any of the former to which I owed my life.

‘It often takes no more than a minute to settle a man’s destiny,’ says
an Arab poet, just as it suffices for one ray of light from heaven to
disperse a cloud. At the most exciting part of my mental soliloquy I
heard in the distance a concert of feminine voices shouting in all
keys. One, however, dominated the rest; and such a voice! That of
the heavenly spirits painted by Milton never made a more charming
impression. I recognised it at once. Then, immediately afterwards, the
door was flung open, and Mme. Récamier, surrounded by three young girls
as beautiful as herself, rushed towards me, crying, ‘My friend, my poor
Lolo, so it’s you!’ and her eyes, fixed on mine, grew moist, while
the most grateful and refreshing tears I ever shed in my life coursed
freely down my cheeks. ‘Yes, it is I,’ I said.

This, ladies, is one of the chapters in my chequered life. You wished
to hear it, and fashion alone must be the excuse for telling it.

This little story wound up the evening.

       *       *       *       *       *

Next day the majority of us met once more at a fête the dazzling
pomp of which did not come up to the more intimate happiness of
the small circle at the Comtesse de Fuchs’s. Lord Stewart, the
English ambassador, gave a grand ball at the magnificent Stahremberg
mansion, his residence, to celebrate the birthday of his sovereign.
Nothing had been neglected to make the entertainment worthy of the
memorable circumstances, and of the power represented by his lordship.
Lord Stewart displayed a magnificence--or, to speak correctly, a
profusion--of which few fêtes offered an example. His excellency,
however, who loved to be eccentric in everything, and whose
eccentricities were not always successful, had hit upon the idea to
add to his invitation a courteous injunction to come to his ball in
the costume of the time of Elizabeth. His countrymen understood him
easily enough, and they were numerous in Vienna. The remainder of the
guests had not complied with the request, but those who had adopted
the costume were sufficiently numerous to produce a very remarkable
effect. As to his excellency himself, he wore his uniform of colonel
of hussars, the scarlet of which was covered with embroideries, and a
great number of orders, civil and military, to such a degree as to have
led one easily to mistake him for a living book of heraldry. Save for
that singularity the ball was like any other: a great many sovereigns,
princes, ‘grandes dames,’ political celebrities; a marvellous supper; a
charming lottery of English trifles, which a lady dressed exactly like
Queen Elizabeth distributed to the guests. After which we danced until
daylight, a proceeding becoming rarer and rarer every day in Vienna,
where the Court balls were seldom prolonged beyond midnight.

While all this was going on, the uncertainties of the Polish question
had ceased. The result of the conferences of the Congress, which both
Europe and Vienna awaited with equal impatience, was at last known.
Alexander had been proclaimed King of Poland. During four months this
had been the exclusive aim of his thoughts. His efforts, the ability
of his ministers, the profound correctness of their views, had been
crowned with success. The Duchy of Warsaw and the handsomest part of
the Polish territory were definitely incorporated with his empire.
The gate of the West was open to him. Among the various phases of
that negotiation, two things could not fail to strike the mind--the
clever diplomacy of the Russian Government, and the confidence of the
Poles. When the fall of Napoleon dispelled the last hopes of the Poles,
they instinctively turned their regard towards Alexander. Persuaded
that he would restore to them their ancient position, that he would
reconstitute in Poland an independent kingdom, they transferred to
him their affection and their hopes. Neither the recollections of the
past nor the lessons of history, nor the warnings of some sagacious
minds had succeeded in opening their eyes. Alexander and his ministry,
it should be said, had carefully exploited that disposition. A great
parade was made of moderation. The most seductive promises were
lavished on the Polish nation. Their dreams of independence, their
ideas of a free constitution, were constantly flattered. The Russian
officers in Poland received orders to show the utmost deference
to the civil and military authorities. Finally, in the month of
September 1814, even before Alexander crossed Poland to appear at the
Congress, when General Krazinski entered Warsaw with his division, the
Field-Marshal Barclay de Tolly at the head of his staff had been the
first to congratulate him. The most cordial union apparently existed
between the generals of the two nations.

But from the first conferences of the plenipotentiaries, and in spite
of the protestations of the czar in favour of the Polish nation,
Alexander’s system of aggrandisement was soon discovered.

In vain did the King of Prussia, in close agreement with him, support
all his demands. The Congress resisted a long while before giving its
assent. France, Austria, and England opposed an absolute refusal.
We have already seen how Alexander declared one day that he would
maintain, arms in hand, his pretensions regarding the freedom of
Poland. Finally, thoroughly tired out, the Congress gave way, and the
country of the Jagellons and the Sobieskis was united to Russia. The
decision had scarcely been made public when Alexander announced it to
the government of Warsaw. In an autograph letter to Comte Ostrowski,
President of the Senate, the czar expressed himself as follows:

‘In assuming the title of King of Poland, I desire to satisfy the wish
of the nation. The Kingdom of Poland will be united to the empire
by the bonds of its own constitution. If the supreme interest of a
general peace has made it impossible for all the Poles to be united
under one sceptre, I have made it a point to soften the rigours of that
separation, and to secure for them everywhere a peaceful enjoyment of
their nationality.’

Faithful to his system, Alexander shouted very loudly from the
house-tops the word ‘nationality’ at the very moment when was
accomplished and consecrated the division which was to make havoc
of the word itself. Among the Polish notabilities in Vienna who had
defended the cause with most intelligence and courage, one must
mention in the first rank the Prince Adam Czartoryski. The passionate
defender of the independence of his country, he for one moment fostered
the illusion of having found the regenerator in Alexander. When the
emperor, during his voyage from Russia to Vienna, stopped at Pulawi,
the residence of this ancient family, the princess-dowager, her two
sons, Adam and Constantine; her two daughters, the Princesse de
Würtemberg and the Comtesse Zamoyska, had prepared the most brilliant
reception. In their eyes it was Alexander whose hand was to raise
their country from its ruin. Alexander, on his side, professed a great
esteem for the character of Prince Adam. Even at the Congress the
rumour ran for a moment that he was going to appoint him his Minister
of Foreign Affairs, instead of M. de Nesselrode, and that he reserved
the vice-royalty of Poland for him later on. It was never known how
far those rumours could be substantiated. Was it a tribute to the
loyalty and talent of Prince Adam? Was it a means of leading people
astray? Afterwards Europe learned how that prince became the martyr of
the cause to which he had devoted the whole of his life. What, in the
future, was to be the upshot of that decision of the Congress? Placed
under the sceptre of the Russian autocrat, would Poland once more find
her level among the rank of nations, or, like the streams which lose
both their name and their substance, was Poland to be swallowed up in
the immense boundaries? Such were the questions discussed one day in
the most lively manner at Princesse Sapieha’s. Around her were the
Comte Arthur Potocki, the Comte Komar, the Prince Radziwill, the Prince
Paul Sapieha, the Princesse Lubomirska, the Comtesse Lanskarouska, and
several other ladies. Illusion is nowhere so thoroughly permitted as
when it becomes a question of country; in that gathering, all hearts
were generally open to the hopes of a political restoration, all minds
believed in the realisation of Alexander’s promises.



CHAPTER XVII

  The Emperor Alexander, the King of Prussia, and the Naval Officer
      --Surprise to the Empress of Russia--More Fêtes--A Ball at
      M. de Stackelberg’s--Paul Kisseleff--Brozin--Fête offered
      by M. de Metternich--The Ball-room Catches Fire--Fêtes and
      Banquet at the Court--Ompteda--Chronicle of the Congress--
      The Tell-tale Perfume--Recollection of Empress Josephine and
      Madame de Tallien--A Romantic Court Story.


One morning the Comte de Witt burst into my rooms holding his sides
with laughter. He scarcely waited for me to ask him the reason.

‘It’s a story just told to me by Ouwaroff. It’s very funny, but though
he got it direct from Emperor Alexander, it is scarcely credible. A
protégé of the Comte de Nesselrode, a young sailor, who, curiously
enough, had never been to St. Petersburg and did not know the emperor,
had been sent with important despatches to Vienna. Alexander, here as
well as in his capital, loves to wander about the streets. This morning
his Majesty, dressed in a simple military great-coat, on leaving the
palace caught sight of a young naval officer, booted and spurred,
apparently trying to find his way, and examining the entrance of the
imperial residence, totally at a loss how to set his helm. “You seem to
be looking for something,” said the emperor. “That’s true,” answered
the sailor. “I have got a despatch to remit personally to the Emperor
of Russia. They told me to go to the Burg, and here I am; but as I
am a stranger in Vienna, I haven’t got a soul either to guide or to
introduce me.” Alexander was delighted with the frank and open face of
the young fellow, and just for the fun of the thing thought he would
keep up his _incognito_ a little longer. “You’ll not find the emperor
now,” he said. “He’s not at the palace, but at two o’clock he is sure
to receive you.” The conversation went on in the same amicable and
familiar tone for several minutes, the czar interrogating the officer
on his family, his career, and his prospects. The young fellow tells
him that, having entered the service when he was very young, he has
never been to Court and has never seen his sovereign. Finally, after
half an hour’s walking about in conversation, Alexander, turning to the
young salt, says in an affectionate tone, “You can give me your letter,
sir, I am Alexander.” “That’s a clever joke,” replies the other,
laughing, “but you don’t expect me to believe it.” “You may believe
it or not, but I am the Emperor of Russia.” “I dare say--just as I am
the Emperor of China.” “Why shouldn’t you be the Emperor of China?”
Alexander, getting thoroughly amused with an adventure which promises
to become very comic, makes up his mind to continue it a little longer.
In a short time they reach the fortifications, and Alexander espies the
King of Prussia coming towards him. “Do you know German?” he asks of
his companion. “Not a word,” replies the other. Immediately Alexander
takes a few steps in front of him, and says a couple of words in German
to Frederick-William, then he comes back to the young sailor, and takes
him by the hand. “Here’s an excellent opportunity of presenting you
to the King of Prussia,” he remarks. “Sire, an officer of my fleet,
whom I have the honour to present to your Majesty.” “We are getting
on rapidly,” says the young fellow. “This gentleman is the King of
Prussia, you are the Emperor of Russia, and I am the Emperor of China.
Three sovereigns. After all, why not, seeing that my captain says that
after God he is king on board his ship? Oh, by the by, how are things
in Prussia? Everybody all right in Berlin? In truth that _was_ a hero,
and no mistake, your predecessor, the great Frederick. Just like your
ancestor, Peter the First, of glorious memory,” he said, bowing to
Alexander. “But great though they may have been, I doubt whether they
would have imitated my grandfather, who at the battle of Tchesmè blew
up his vessel and himself rather than surrender to the Turks.”

‘Although the talk savoured somewhat of insolence, it was delivered by
the sailor with that frankness and gaiety which seem almost inseparable
from his profession. Not only were the two sovereigns unoffended, but
their laughter showed that they were highly amused at it.

‘Meanwhile, they had arrived at a little drinking-shop. The officer
most politely invited his companions to sit down and to continue the
conversation glass in hand. Yielding to the fascination of the moment,
the two sovereigns accepted. Refreshments were served. They sat down,
and clinked glasses familiarly, continuing their conversation without
the slightest restraint, and absolutely with the _abandon_ of a royal
freak, in such a place. “To your health, brother,” says Wilhelm of
Prussia to Alexander of Russia. “‘Pon my word,” is the latter’s answer,
“it only wants the usual salute from the batteries of our capitals
to complete the ceremony of that toast.” “So be it, then,” says the
sailor, taking hold of his pistol, and preparing to load it. He was
going to fire, and thus draw a crowd, which would have transformed a
comic adventure into a scandal. They had a great deal of trouble to
prevent the danger of such a noisy demonstration. Finally, they leave
the place, but the sailor obstinately insists on paying the expenses,
and they are bound to give in. At last they get outside the tavern.

‘Scarcely have they advanced a few steps on the ramparts, when the
crowd begins to surround the two monarchs, with their accustomed marks
of deference. M. de Richelieu advances hat in hand, and addresses
Alexander as “your Majesty.” The young officer, who had served under
the Duke of Odessa, recognises him at once. He goes very pale and
confused, for he begins clearly to perceive that he has been the victim
of a royal mystification. He is, however, soon reassured by the kindly
look of Alexander, and he promptly remits his despatches to him. The
emperor takes them with a gracious and significant smile, and with the
most kindly gesture dismisses the young sailor, after having given him
an invitation to dine for that day. One thing is very certain--this bit
of royal pastime will push the other a great deal further than twenty
years of service, or the most signal action on board his ship. He will
have no need to go and seek his recompense in heaven by the aid of a
barrel of gunpowder.

‘But while our kings amuse themselves,’ the general went on, ‘the
empresses and queens refuse to remain behind. You know that to-day
is the birthday of the Empress of Russia? Now, it has been written
that all the birthdays and all the holidays of the calendar should be
converted into opportunities for pleasure; and pleasure seems to take
good care that none shall be overlooked. Yesterday morning the Empress
of Austria, the Grandes-Duchesses d’Oldenbourg and Saxe-Weimar, dressed
out in the strangest manner, requested an audience, under assumed
names, of the Empress Elizabeth. After a little hesitation, there was a
mutual recognition, a great deal of laughter, a great many magnificent
presents were offered, and, like the surprise, were accepted with the
utmost grace.’

‘The Prince de Ligne, my dear general, in talking of all those
sovereigns, who appeared to be so thoroughly intoxicated with
pleasure, called them “kings on their holidays.” In truth, seeing them
play pranks like children, we might call them “schoolboys on their
holidays.”’

The comte was anxious that I should accompany him that evening to a
grand ball at M. de Stackelberg’s, the Russian Ambassador, in honour
of his sovereign’s birthday. I promised to do so, as it was said that
this was to be the last Russian fête; for according to rumour the
whole of the business of the Congress would be finished before the
carnival. Several sovereigns were already thinking of leaving Vienna,
and Lord Castlereagh was called to London by the opening of the English
Parliament.

Although similar rumours had run almost from the very outset of the
Congress, this time they were invested with a kind of probability.
Four months had gone by since pleasure had thrown open to the
representatives of Europe the doors of the sanctuary in which her fate
was going to be decided. Peace, and a durable equilibrium, would most
likely be the result of this long gestation. There remains nothing to
be said of M. de Stackelberg’s ball which has not been said of any of
the others. It really seemed as if the representatives of the great
Powers were determined upon a contest in good taste and magnificence.

One of the first persons I noticed in this dazzling crowd was General
Ouwaroff, standing stock-still and rigid according to his habit. He
wore on his finger that mysterious ring, which never quitted him, and
on which a death’s head was engraved. Was it a reminder of the death
of the Princesse S----, who had poisoned herself for love of him? I
have never been able to discover. Close to him were Colonel Brozin and
the Comte Paul Kisseleff, both aides-de-camp of Emperor Alexander. The
first, a handsome and brave soldier, had later on the dangerous honour
of succeeding his master in the heart of La Belle Narischkine, for it
was only given to Louis XIV. to be beloved by a La Vallière, by a woman
who gave herself to God when she ceased to belong to her king. The
second, a soldier of the highest distinction, has since then won for
himself a well-deserved reputation as an administrator of Wallachia
and Moldavia. He at once evoked one’s sympathy for his intrepid and
brilliant character. Enthusiastic for everything which was grand and
noble, he had really a god-like reverence for Alexander, whom he loved
as a benefactor, and whom he cherished in consequence of the natural
attraction which attaches two souls apt to understand each other.
General Paul Kisseleff has married since the eldest daughter of the
celebrated Sophie Potocka. He is entrusted to-day with one of the most
important portfolios of the Russian empire.

Here was the Prince Dolgorouki, the son of that handsome Princesse
Dolgorouki, to please whom Potemkin had the fortress of Oczakoff
shelled for a whole night. He was surrounded by a numerous circle,
among whom one might easily distinguish the Princes Gagarin and
Troubastköy; the aide-de-camp Pankratieff, etc.

A little further on, Talleyrand is calmly conversing with MM. de
Wintzingerode and d’Hardemberg. Amidst the noise and the animation of
all this pleasure his impassive features preserve the same calm visible
thereon in the Congress-room.

Many waltzes and polonaises had been danced when they asked the
Princesse B---- to dance the tarantella, that pretty Neapolitan dance
which, in her infancy, her young companions of the Parthenope danced
with her under the beauteous sky where she was born. Acquiescing in a
general wish, she placed herself in the middle of the ball-room, made
one or two graceful bows, then seizing a tambourine, gave the signal
for the music to begin; and then performed those voluptuous, light, and
animated movements so thoroughly in harmony with the air of Naples.

Very often, when my recollections brought me back to those fêtes in
which I have seen the Russian nobility at St. Petersburg, Moscow, and
Vienna display so much wealth and elegance, I have been reminded of
what my friend Count Tolstoy told me about the difficulties of Peter
the First to make his Boyards amuse themselves in a European fashion.
The opposition was so violent that he could only get the better of it
by publishing a long regulation, and whosoever deviated from it exposed
himself to the most severe punishments. Although his inflexible will
had decided that those fêtes should have a European character, they
were too near to barbaric times not to be tainted with their spirit.
It was to the sound of the drum that the Court balls were announced in
the city. The ladies repaired to them at five o’clock in the evening.
They had to be dressed in the fashion prevailing in the Courts of
Europe. Only the empress, who was a Narischkine, was exempt from the
general law, and permitted to keep to the dress of the Russian ladies.
Peter, who never tried to avoid the orders he imposed on others,
stood sentry at the door of the palace, a partisan in his hand. Thus
did Louis XIV. stand guard at the door of the St. Cyr Theatre on the
occasion of the performances of _Esther_. The grandes-duchesses offered
refreshments to the guests: French wines, hydromel, and strong beer. At
the entrance door, facing the emperor, stood a chamberlain, holding two
urns containing a great many numbered tickets. Each cavalier and each
lady, on entering the ball-room, drew one, and willy-nilly found him-
or herself associated with the corresponding number, as in days gone
by the athletes of the pugilistic exercises in the Olympic Games. The
masked balls were still more extraordinary. Disguise was resorted to by
way of the most curious costumes, and the rejoicing and the dances were
in harmony with the costumes.

Only a very few years went by, and the tactics of the illustrious
reformer began to bear ample fruit. Under Catherine I. and under
Elizabeth, pleasure followed the same direction as Russian influence
and power. The latter princess was especially fond of masked balls.
She gave a magnificent one on each New Year’s Day. The ladies were
bound to appear as men, and the men as women. The Empress, who looked
very well in male attire, was particularly fond of that disguise. Then
came the reign of Catherine II. which seemed fated to exhaust all kind
of glories and pleasures. Apart from her magnificent carousals, one is
reminded of her receptions and balls at Tzarskoë-Selo, and of the fêtes
of Potemkin in the Palace of the Taurus. Beyond these, imagination
cannot go. Finally, during the first years of this century, and at the
period of the Congress of Vienna, there was no nation which understood
pleasure better than the Russians, and stamped that pleasure with such
extreme politeness and grandeur.

[Illustration: PRINCE METTERNICH.]

Consequently, each day saw a new fête succeed to that of yesterday,
without this continuation appearing to bring satiety. While M. de
Stackelberg celebrated the birthday of his sovereign, Emperor Francis
invited for the same purpose the crowned heads, the princes, and
the other political or military notabilities in one of the great
halls of the imperial residence. A splendid dinner had preceded the
concert. Two days before, the Prince de Metternich had also given a
great ball at which the majority of the guests of the Austrian Court
had been present. It has just struck me that I am nearing the end
of my course, and that as yet I have not spoken of one of the most
conspicuous personages of our epoch. Almost everybody has tried to
portray M. de Metternich. Like M. de Talleyrand, he has had all the
honours of history bestowed upon him during his lifetime, but although
his portrait has been traced more than once by more skilful hands
than mine, I cannot resist the desire to show him as I was enabled to
judge him--behind the glamour of power and political reserve in which
he has lived since his youth. At that period M. de Metternich might
still pass muster as a young man. His features were perfectly regular
and handsome, his smile was full of graciousness, his face expressed
both benevolence and the most delicate intelligence. He was of average
height, and of elegant proportions. Both his gait and demeanour were
marked by much nobleness. It is, above all, from the handsome design of
Isabey, representing the plenipotentiaries at the Congress, that one
may gain a more or less exact idea of all those outward advantages of
which he himself was by no means insensible. At the first glance, one
felt delighted at seeing one of those men to whom nature had vouchsafed
her most seductive gifts, and whom nature, as a rule, seems to take
a delight in calling only to the frivolous successes of a society
life. It was when attentively scanning his physiognomy, at once supple
and firm, and carefully scrutinising Metternich’s looks, that the
superiority of his political genius at once became manifest to even the
superficial observer. ‘The society man’ disappeared, and there remained
nothing but the statesman, accustomed to rule men and to decide
important affairs. Mixed up for twenty-five years with the gigantic
commotions that disturbed Europe, M. de Metternich showed the lofty
aptitude of his mind, and that rare penetration and sagacity which can
foresee and direct events. His decision, the result of long meditation,
was immovable. His words were incisive, as they ought to be from the
lips of a statesman sure of the drift of everything he says. I may add
to this that M. de Metternich is one of the most charming story-tellers
of our epoch. In politics he has been reproached with his subserviency
to the Law of Immobility; certainly a lofty mind like his understood
well enough that it is impossible for man to remain stationary,
and that, in our age, to remain stationary would be tantamount to
retrogression. But he also knew that sudden shocks do not constitute
progress, and that, in the government of man one ought to take count
of their habits and of their real wants. If it be true that the moment
has not yet come to judge M. de Metternich definitely, contemporary
history will be bound to admit the calm and cloudless happiness which
his immobile and silent government has succeeded in imparting to the
hereditary states of Austria. That happiness, which seems to suffice
them, is already a title of glory one cannot easily deny.

The fêtes of M. de Metternich during the Congress bore a peculiar
stamp, altogether in harmony with his personality, if one may express
it in that way. To the most thoroughly experienced lavishness, to an
extreme minuteness of detail, there was added a grandeur absolutely
without embarrassment. It was towards the end of January that this fête
took place. The _locale_ chosen was M. de Metternich’s country estate,
a short distance from Vienna. Though the cold was excessive, the number
of guests was immense, and, as usual, comprised all the illustrious
personages of Europe and the handsomest women of the moment. The prince
and princess discharged their social duties with a certain coquettish
grace--a grace which tends to disappear now that people believe they
have done everything by throwing open their drawing-rooms. Truly,
watching this illustrious host, and the pains he took to please his
guests, one could but remember how, at the beginning of his career in
Paris, he had shone by the brilliancy of his manners. And, though his
position had become immeasurably greater since then, it had made no
difference to a courtesy which must always be a powerful auxiliary in
the hands of such a man. A magnificent ball-room had been constructed
for that fête in the garden itself, and had been decorated with all
the pomp and lavishness that had really become a matter of course. The
stands were tenanted by women dazzling in youth and elegance, who vied
with the masses of colour supplied by the uniforms, decorations, and
embroideries occupying the middle of the floor.

Next morning an alarming rumour spread that this elegant ball-room had
been partially ruined during the night by a fire. Vienna is quite as
prolific in superstitious people as other places, and the untoward
event served as a text for several prophecies. They recalled the
accidents that had marked the marriage of Louis XVI.; they recalled
the fire at the mansion of the Prince de Schwartzenberg at Paris at
the moment of the union of Napoleon with the daughter of the Cæsars--a
sad analogy with the fates occasioned by his fall in the capital of
his father-in-law, and not far distant from the place of exile of his
wife and his son. The high position of M. de Metternich in the debates
of Europe; the presidency which his colleagues had spontaneously and
simultaneously conferred upon him--all this was calculated to give
still greater consistency to all those lugubrious conjectures.

A few days later, without taking the slightest notice of any of the
predictions of the Viennese Nostradamuses, the Austrian Court joyfully
celebrated the birthday of the King of Denmark, of the Queen of
Bavaria, of the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, and of the Grand-Duke of Baden,
all happening on the same day. A grand state-fête, to which the public
were admitted as spectators, united all the crowned heads. I followed
the crowd, anxious to witness a sight which was not likely to renew
itself within my days. It was in reality something very important, that
banquet, both by the number and rank of its guests.

‘Sire,’ ‘your majesty,’ might be heard at each corner of every table;
royal highnesses, imperial highnesses, grand dukes, dukes, etc., were
practically speaking, so many small-fry. If one added to all this the
rank of the officers in attendance, equerries, cup-bearers, pantlers,
most of these holding high rank; if one still further adds thousands
of wax candles, causing the crystals to glint and to sparkle, and
reflecting their light in the massive gold plate; if we still add
the perfume of flowers mingling with the harmony of the instruments,
the sweet familiarity, the intimacy of those masters of the world
tempering the majesty of their gathering--if we consider all this, it
will be admitted that the spectacle was likely to remain a unique one.

It was during these gala-fêtes that they served those famous Tokay
wines, the exorbitant price of which is estimated at between a
hundred and twenty and a hundred and fifty florins a bottle. The
emperor had some in his cellars which was more than a century old;
the precious nectar was only brought forth on solemn occasions, when
it was necessary to drink the health of this or that sovereign, or to
celebrate this or that grand anniversary. Chance had placed me not far
away from the Baron Ompteda. We left together to go to the theatre of
the Carinthian Gate. The main attraction was _Flore et Zéphire_, a
ballet performed by the dancers of the Paris Opéra. The house was full,
as usual. Indifferent to the entrechats and the pirouettes, I strolled
about with Ompteda, pretty well certain that, if he were in the mood,
I should soon be posted in all the particulars of the Congress, no one
being more capable than he of attractively dishing up both the news of
the Graben and of the drawing-rooms.

‘What is the news?’ I asked of my sprightly companion.

‘Everything is over or nearly over. All the clouds are dispersed.
Europe owes the happy issue of the negotiations to the departure of
Lord Castlereagh.’

‘Was Milord, then, the only obstacle to peace?’

‘No, you are wrong. It is not that. For the last four months they
have been debating without coming to an agreement. All at once Lord
Castlereagh is called to England for the opening of Parliament. You
may easily conceive that he couldn’t return empty-handed; consequently
he put some life into the deliberations, and hurried the conclusion of
affairs, in order to show some results. What a pity it is the other
nations haven’t some parliaments to be opened!

‘The Austrian Court is right enough,’ the Baron went on. ‘The European
Areopagus has decided upon the fate of Naples and its imprisoned King
Joachim. Its throne is going to be restored to the Bourbon branch.
You are aware that the Imperial Chancellery decided not to notify
officially the death of Queen Caroline, not knowing what title to give
her. That bit of awkwardness has disappeared too.’

‘Yes, I remember that they took hold of a very honest pretext. The
Court, it was said, would not cast a damper on the fêtes of the
Congress by shedding official tears for the daughter of Maria-Theresa.
In reality, the Court did not dare, or did not want, to decide the
question of etiquette reserved for diplomacy, and now they are going
to assume mourning for the poor queen at the moment when it would be
more sensible to sing a _Te Deum_ for the return of her husband to the
throne of his fathers.’

‘One of your influential diplomatists here has a sweet trick of his
own to get news from Paris to Vienna for the purpose of dishing it up
in a peculiar fashion. He sends to his wife, Madame la Duchesse, the
draught of a despatch. The docile secretary transcribes it, and a week
after the carrier brings it back. Then they show, under the seal of the
greatest confidence, notes from the Court of the Tuileries which have
neither been dictated nor put in cypher there. In reality, they might
save them the jolting of the journey.

‘Oh, by the by, have you heard of the duel which has just been fought
between the Prince de ----, and the Comte ----?’

‘Yes, I have heard that the two champions were both wounded, but were
so little hurt that their friends are not in the least uneasy.’

‘The Vienna public,’ remarked Ompteda, ‘would indeed be surprised if
it knew the cause of the quarrel. The wife of one of these gentlemen
has an unfortunate mania for scents, or rather for one scent of which
she claims to be the inventor. It’s a mixture of rose-water and musk,
sufficiently strong to set all the Italian women troubled with vapours
running. Inasmuch as the lady, who is still very good-looking, though
by no means in the first flush of youth, goes out a great deal, that
undesirable perfume is so well known that she couldn’t enter a room
without her presence being betrayed by it. It so happened that one
fine morning her husband, the Prince ---- walks into the rooms of his
friend the Comte ----. In less than a second his nostrils are assailed
by a scent which he knows but too well, and he exclaims, “My wife has
been here.” “Your wife,” replies the comte. “Not at all.” “You deny
it! Well, then, she is still here, and if I begin to look for her, the
scent will do the rest for me very shortly.” In consequence of this
violent explanation, in which the one denies and the other affirms, the
two friends draw their swords in the room itself, and while each wounds
the other, the lady escapes by a back staircase. The mishap ought to
have cured her. She continues, nevertheless, to drench herself with
that damnable perfume, which might well be called the Tell-tale Scent.’

‘People are very sorry about the accident which cost the young Duc
Louis d’Aremberg his life. You know that he was thrown from his horse
on the flagstones of the Josef Platz, and when they lifted him up he
was dead. It appears that birth is no guarantee against the thunders
of the gods. The father of the young duke lost his life out hunting.
His mother was guillotined in France. His brother was exiled in
consequence of a duel in which he killed his adversary; his sister
perished in the historic ball given by Prince Schwartzenberg in Paris.
Was it worth while to call oneself d’Aremberg to be a prey to all these
misfortunes?’

‘You were not at the last ball of Gey-Müller, the banker?’

‘No, but I was at the similar fête at Arnstein’s, and it was really a
curious sight to me to see the financial world rivalling the Austrian
Court in display, and perhaps surpassing it.’

‘The most particular feature of the Gey-Müller ball was not so much its
profusion, its elegance, its exquisite supper, as a fall--not the fall
of an empire, to which people are pretty well used by now--but the fall
of the handsome Madame Pereyra, the daughter of Baron Arnstein. She
was waltzing with Prince Dietrichstein. Carried away by the rapidity
of that Russian waltz, which is like a whirlwind, and getting caught
in the folds of her dress, she fell with her partner, and both rolled
amidst the crowd. You may imagine their confusion. Truly, princes with
the name of Maurice seem to be pursued by a kind of fatality. At the
imperial _carrousel_ you saw Maurice Lichtenstein flung into the middle
of the arena with his horse, and now there is this other Maurice who
gyrates on his back instead of turning round on his legs. However,
there is no accounting for taste.’

‘Don’t joke about it, dear baron, for you are unwittingly stoning
me. A similar adventure happened to me in the Salon des Étrangers at
Paris. Fortunately, my pretty partner was masked, which saved her the
trouble of blushing. I, moreover, owed to this fall the overhearing of
a conversation which, at that period, had all the interest of a scene
from a drama.

‘It was during the first years of the Consulate. The best society of
Europe flocked to Paris. France, probably anxious to get as much joy
out of life as she could after the bloody scenes of the Revolution,
seemed to do everything to forget. The rooms at Frascati were the
resort, or rather the temple, of pleasure. In one part of the building
people of every rank and of both sexes came to risk, under the
disguise of a domino, the fruits of twenty years’ work, or the product
of more ingenious speculations. In another spot, screened by a slight
surface of cardboard and a silk wrap, the most piquant, political, or
amorous intrigues went on. Further on, quadrilles, in which figured
Vestris, Bigottini, and Millière, displayed all their grace and
suppleness. I was waltzing with Madame R----. The crowd surrounding
us was immense. Getting caught in the folds of her domino, my partner
stumbles, falls, and bears me down with her. We were immediately on our
legs again, but, somewhat excited by the accident, Madame R---- asked
me to take her outside the room. Fortunately for us, we ran against the
Marquis de l’Ivry, who had us taken to his own apartments higher up.
The purer air and some stimulant soon got the better of the discomfort
of Madame R----. We were just getting ready to go down to the ball-room
again when we heard a lively conversation in the adjacent apartment.
Beaumarchais has said that in order to hear, you must make up your
mind to listen. Persuaded that it was nothing but a ball intrigue,
we got nearer to the partition, and through its very thin substance
we distinguished two female voices. We were about to draw back
disappointed, when the name of Bonaparte struck our ear. That name,
the talisman of the period, having attracted our attention once more,
we heard one of the ladies say--“I give you my word, my dear Teresina,
that I have done everything friendship could expect of me, but that
it’s all in vain. This morning I made a new attempt, but he will not
listen to anything. In fact, I have been asking myself what could
have prejudiced him so strongly against you. You are the only woman
whose name he has struck off the list of those admitted to my familiar
intercourse. Being afraid of his affronting you personally--a thing for
which I would never console myself--I ventured to come here alone with
my son. At the Château they think I am in bed, but I wanted to see you
to quiet your own mind, and to justify myself.”

‘“I have never doubted either your heart or your affection, Josephine,”
replied the other lady. “Their loss would be a thousand times more
painful to me than Bonaparte’s prejudices. My conduct has been
sufficiently dignified to make my visits appreciated, and certainly I
shall pay you none without his knowledge. But does he not remember that
the first step of Tallien after the 10th Thermidor was to open for us
the cell where we were both awaiting our death sentence? Can he forget
that the man whose name I bear provided for your children throughout
your captivity? Those children--his own now--were, without doubt, not
consulted before he forbade you my company. He was not Consul when I
shared with you--but pardon me, Josephine, O, forgive me!”

‘Here there was a burst of sobs, preventing me hearing every word.

‘“Calm yourself, my dear Teresina. Let us allow the first storm to go
by, and everything will turn out for the best. But above all, don’t let
us irritate him still further. He is very incensed with Ouvrard, and
people say he is at your house, or expected.”

‘“Oh!” replied Teresina, indignant, “is that it? Does he pretend to
tyrannise over our hearths because he happens to govern France? Must
one sacrifice even one’s dearest and closest affections?”

‘As she spoke these words there was a knock at the door. It was Eugène
de Beauharnais, who came to fetch one of these ladies.

‘“Let us go,” he said. “You have been here more than an hour. The
Council is perhaps finished, and what would the First Consul say if he
failed to find you at home?”

‘We stole away on tiptoe, Madame R---- and I.

‘“Let’s leave the ball,” I said, going down. “Whatever we may see
there is not worth what we have just heard.”

‘One of these ladies was Josephine, she who in a short time was to
be Empress. The other was Madame Tallien, as famous for her striking
beauty as for her energetic character; to whom France owed the
overthrow of Robespierre.’



CHAPTER XVIII

  The Comte de Rechberg’s Work on the Governments of the Russian
      Empire--The King of Bavaria--Polish Poem of Sophiowka--
      Madame Potocka, or the Handsome Fanariote--Her Infancy--
      Particulars of her Life--A Glance at the Park of Sophiowka--
      Subscription of the Sovereigns--Actual State of Sophiowka.


The Comte Charles de Rechberg had written an interesting work on the
fifty-two governments of the Russian Empire. The book, both historical
and picturesque, deals with the ethnology of the peoples from the
Great Wall to the Baltic, and from the Crimea to the Pole. It contains
an exact description of the various provinces considered in their
political and commercial aspects, and researches on the archæological
curiosities still to be found there, which study is calculated to
elucidate some migrations of the primitive peoples. The greatest
lavishness had been displayed in this publication, which was enhanced
by magnificent coloured engravings. The price, which varied from 1800
to 2500 francs, might have been an obstacle to the success of the work;
fortunately Rechberg found one of the most powerful auxiliaries in his
sovereign, the King of Bavaria. From having been the patron of the
Altar, that excellent prince wanted to become the patron of the Book.
He recommended it everywhere, with that particularly happy-go-lucky
and paternal unaffectedness which made him positively worshipped by
every one. He solicited subscriptions, and thanks to this benevolent
intervention, the comte disposed of a great number of copies. Such a
success, obtained in a gathering of so many diverse personages, gave
me the idea of likewise printing a work, inspired by the Muse of
Poetry. In 1811 I had spent at Tulczim, the seat of Comtesse Sophie
Potocka, a twelvemonth which was practically tantamount to a whole
lifetime if counted by the happiness vouchsafed to me then. Very often
I accompanied the countess to Sophiowka, a garden situated close to
Humeng, and one of the most charming creations the mind could conceive.
The Comte Félix Potocki, in order to immortalise the woman whom he
worshipped, had given proof of a magnificence in taste which surpassed
everything Europe had to show of that kind. Trembecki, the most
celebrated poet of Poland, had at the age of seventy recovered all the
fire of his youth, and composed on that garden a poem which practically
passes for a masterpiece. There are, in fact, few educated Poles who do
not know some fragments of that poem by heart.

This double claim to immortality was worthy of the woman whose beauty
was proverbial, and whom fortune had been pleased to guide from an
obscure position to the summit of the most opulent and conspicuous
nobility of Europe. Her history would constitute a remarkable episode
of her own time if there were nothing in her life but the extraordinary
fact of having been sold twice--in the first place by her mother, in
the second by her husband. But when one has seen, as I have, the pomp
of her fêtes, the unprecedented value of her precious ornaments, the
grandeur of her palaces, and the extent of her power, then one becomes
confounded at those elevations of fortune due to love--to nothing
but love, that magician without a rival. Madame Potocka was born at
Constantinople. It is well known that the great Greek families residing
in that city have experienced all the vicissitudes of fortune as a
consequence of revolutions. It is not surprising, therefore, to see in
the Fanariote quarter the members of those ancient and princely races
pass, at one fell stroke, from extreme opulence to extreme poverty,
and often be obliged to engage in this or that profession, if not
in a downright trade. In a small street, not far from the palace
of Sweden, there lived a poor artisan, though he was an undoubted
descendant of the Commenius family. He had several children, and among
these a girl whose nascent beauty was the admiration of the whole of
the neighbourhood, and the envy of all her companions. M. de B----, a
French gentleman, secretary to the embassy, was one day slowly riding
through the streets of Pera, accompanied by a janissary of the Palais
de France. Near the tomb of the Comte de Bonneval, who became a Turkish
subject, the rider perceived a group of children, and among them a
young girl, between thirteen and fourteen, such as only the beautiful
race of Greece can produce. Struck by her beauty, he gives her a sign
to come up to him, and, a diplomatic functionary being a kind of power
at Pera, the child obeys. The marquis gets off his horse, asks the
child’s name, and begins to inquire about her family. ‘My name is
Sophie,’ replies the child. ‘We are Greeks by origin, and from what my
mother says, well born, but a series of misfortunes has reduced us to
work for our living. My father is a baker.’ The marquis is absolutely
dazzled by the child’s beauty, he is touched by the sound of her voice,
he admires her mind, at once innocent and precocious. After a few other
questions, he leaves Sophie, telling her, however, that he will expect
her mother at the French Embassy. Next morning the poor woman is true
to the appointment. Interrogated about her position, she confesses,
amid bitter tears, that they are very poor, and that their labour is
insufficient to keep the relentless creditors from the door. Thereupon
the marquis proposes to take care of her daughter, to take her to
France, and winds up by offering the mother fifteen hundred piastres to
provide for her most pressing needs. The mother at first refuses. There
is, however, to begin with, the money which would put an end to their
difficulties; and, moreover, the brilliant future for her well-beloved
daughter. Finally, after many tears, hesitations, and heart-burnings,
she gives her consent to the great sacrifice. The document surrendering
her daughter duly signed and sealed, she receives in exchange the
fifteen hundred piastres--a very feeble compensation for the treasure
she was handing over: a monstrous transaction from our point of view no
doubt, but less surprising in a country where one is accustomed to see
a woman become an article of barter. Invested with paternal rights, M.
de B---- scrupulously discharged them. He improved Sophie’s education,
which, as may be easily imagined, had been more than neglected.
He lavished all his care upon her, gave her professors, and, art
seconding nature, Sophie at sixteen had grown into a model of beauty
and perfection in every _genre_. At that time he was recalled by his
Court, and, to spare his pupil the dangers of a sea-voyage, he intended
to come back by way of Poland and Germany. After traversing European
Turkey, he reached Kaminiek Podolski, the first fortress of the Russian
frontier.

The Comte Jean de Witt, the descendant of the great Dutch Pensionary,
was its governor. He welcomed the noble traveller with the utmost
courtesy and attention, and induced him to stay for some little
time at Kaminiek; but the desire for the marquis’s company and the
consideration due to his rank were not the only causes of the comte’s
pressing invitation. The general had not been proof against Sophie’s
charms, and had become passionately enamoured of her. Informed by
her of her real position, knowing that she was neither servant nor
mistress, but simply a kind of chattel for fifteen hundred piastres,
he did not scruple to follow up his love-declaration by an offer of
marriage. The comte, a very handsome man, and barely thirty, was
already lieutenant-general, and in great favour with Catherine the
Second. The far-seeing Greek girl was sensible enough not to refuse
this first chance, and without a moment’s hesitation she accepted the
hand offered to her.

Nevertheless, it was perfectly plain to both that the diplomatist would
not willingly part with a possession on which he set so much store. The
general-governor therefore bided his time until his excellency took a
solitary ride outside the fortress. To guard against surprise, he had
the drawbridges raised, then repaired to the church with Sophie, and
a priest gave the young couple his blessing. While the ceremony was
drawing to an end, to the ringing of all the steeples of Kaminiek, his
excellency presented himself before the moat of the place, asking to be
let in. He was informed of what had happened, and to corroborate the
story they showed him the marriage-certificate duly signed and sealed,
and in accordance with the _dénouement_ of every well-constructed
comedy.

And in order to spare the handsome delinquent the severe reproaches
which in reality her ingratitude and her hurried desertion would
have fully justified, the general sent word to the members of his
excellency’s suite to pack up their traps and to join their chief
without the walls. They were also to take back all the gifts Sophie
had received from the marquis, not even excepting the fifteen hundred
piastres of the primary contract; and the young bride added a letter
full of excuses for having disposed of her hand and heart without the
permission of her second father. M. de B---- could only give vent to
his anger, not unjustified, by imprecations on and reproaches to those
who were not to blame. Perfectly convinced, though, that he could
not remain all his life contemplating the walls of the fortress, and
that there was no probability of the two Courts suspending amicable
relations to revenge an affront without a remedy, and to enforce
restitution of another Helen to another Menelaus, the marquis pursued
his journey, determined not to be caught a second time trafficking
with a merchandise no doubt precious in its way, but only precious when
it is given and not sold.

After a honeymoon which lasted several years, and during which a
son was born to him, the Comte de Witt obtained leave of absence,
and journeyed to all the Courts of Europe with his beautiful Greek.
Practically, theirs was a triumphal procession. The wondrous beauty
of the girl, enhanced by all the sensuous and piquant charms of the
East, transformed the tour into a kind of series of fairy tales. It
was at that period that the Prince de Ligne, who at first gave me all
those particulars, afterwards confirmed by Sophie herself, saw her at
the Court of France. He subsequently saw her at the siege of Ismaël,
where she was particularly distinguished by Prince Potemkin. Kings,
statesmen, warriors, philosophers--all gave one the idea, in their
intercourse with the beauteous Sophie, of Socrates, Pericles, and
Alcibiades crowding around Aspasia to purify their taste and to sharpen
the edge of their oratory.

The second period of her life was practically a marvellously fit
completion of the first. The Comte Félix Potocki, at the commencement
of the troubles in Poland, had, by the influence of his rank and his
immense fortune, gathered around him a great party. Momentarily absent
from his Court, he was on his way back from Italy when, at Hamburg, he
fell in with Comte and Comtesse de Witt. He became ardently enamoured
of Sophie, and without entering into the details of a story which,
though short enough, was full of incidents, I pass to the _dénouement_,
which he accelerated in a novel fashion. Nothing is easier in Poland
than a divorce. The abuse of the law is carried to such an extent that
I have known a M. Wortzel who had no fewer than four living wives
bearing his name. The Comte Potocki took advantage of this state of
things. Having taken all the necessary measures beforehand, he went to
see the Comte de Witt one morning.

‘I can no longer live without your wife,’ he said. ‘I am certain that
I am not indifferent to her. I prefer to owe my happiness to you, and
to preserve an eternal gratitude. Here are two documents. The one is an
act of divorce, and only wanting your signature; your wife’s is already
there. The other is a voucher for two millions of florins to be paid
by my banker this morning. Let us terminate this affair in an amicable
way, or in another way if you like, but let’s terminate it.’

The husband, no doubt, remembered the drawbridges of Kaminiek. He made
the best of a bad business, like the French embassy-secretary, and
signed; and handsome Sophie, from Comtesse de Witt as she was, became
that same day Comtesse Potocka, this time adding to the prestige of her
beauty the advantage of a wealth which had not its equal in Europe. At
one moment there seemed even a higher destiny in store for her, when in
1791 the majority of the grandees of Poland had agreed to sacrifice a
part of their privileges to procure the appeasement of their country.
Catherine, to give more importance to this confederation, decided that
Potocki should be its chief. To induce him to accept the position,
she even dangled the crown before his eyes. One day, at the end of a
solemnity, she took her diadem from her brow and placed it on the head
of Potocki, saying, ‘This would suit you admirably well, comte.’

Everybody knows the sequel of this comedy, and how the pledges were
kept. When that dream was over, Potocki simply studied to make the
woman he idolised thoroughly happy. The art, the talent, the pomp
and splendour of various parts of the world were all called into
requisition to add to her happiness. To satisfy her desires and her
slightest fancies, he absolutely realised all that the imagination may
conceive in the way of fairy tales. One day she expressed a wish for a
set of pearl ornaments. The count asked for a twelvemonth to offer one
worthy of her. He sent to every capital of Europe and Asia the drawing
of a pearl, and informed the jewellers that he would pay a thousand
louis for each one that equalled the model in size and brilliancy. They
gathered a hundred, and at the next St. Sophia’s day he clasped round
the charming neck of his wife a necklace worth a hundred thousand louis.

At the death of Comte Potocki, Sophie practically found herself at the
head of his colossal fortune, either in virtue of direct personal gift
or as the trustee of the children born of her second marriage. It was
shortly after this that I made her acquaintance at St. Petersburg,
and accompanied her to her estate at Tulczim. Even at that period the
celebrated Sophie was a most ravishing creature. Her beauty was really
marvellous, and reminded me of nothing so much as the models the Greek
statuaries of old must have employed to create their divinities.

It would require volumes to convey an idea of the life led at Tulczim.
Sophie saw life from so high a point that she no longer seemed to
belong to the world surrounding her, which her beauty kept incessantly
at her feet. It was not that she was vain or imperious, but she was
beautiful, and she knew it. This never-ceasing worship had made an
idol of her, and from the altar on which they had placed her, she
paid the incense with a look and the praise with a smile. Queen in
virtue of her beauty, she seemed to say, ‘The world--I am the world!’
Her palace was the temple of hospitality. The stranger who came to
ask an asylum was royally put up for a fortnight: horses, carriages,
and servants were placed at his disposal, without his being obliged
to show himself to his hostess, but on the sixteenth day he was to
present himself, if only in order to take his leave. And that sort of
thing, be it remembered, was practised, not under the tent of the Arab
of the desert, nor in the hut of a Laplander, but in an enchanted
palace of which Sophie was the Fairy Queen. No wonder that she often
said, ‘People have paid me visits at Tulczim which have lasted for
three years.’ I remember, among others, a fête she gave to Madame
Narischkine, Alexander the First’s friend. It lasted for three days.
About the same period I accompanied her on a journey to the Crimea, to
take possession of some territory which had been granted to her by an
imperial favour, and on the site of which she wished to found a town
named Sophiopolis.

At the eastern point of the Crimea there uprises a double promontory.
On that spot stood the temple whose priestess was Iphigenia. Between
those two promontories lies the delightful valley where reigns eternal
spring. The olive- and orange-trees grow wild. The Greeks, fitly to
render homage to the beauty of the spot, called it Kaloslimen. It was
there that Sophiopolis was to be erected. We got to the summit of Cape
Laspi. The countess built a pavilion there whence she could inspect
the works. It was on the same spot that Catherine II. was struck with
admiration at the sight of the picture unfolded before her, regretting
that the Euxine, which rose to the horizon, hid Constantinople from her.

Wishing to perpetuate the memory of the woman whom he had so deeply
loved, Comte Potocki decided that the gardens should bear the name
of Sophie, and should surpass in magnificence, as well as in taste,
all that antiquity and modern times had that was most remarkable. To
realise this project he chose a vast space, where savage nature could
lend itself to the embellishments of art. He employed two thousand
peasants as navvies for ten years, and spent twenty millions. Enormous
masses of rock were transported and rivers turned out of their courses.
Finally, near a spot which is only known by the exile of Ovid, he
realised among the steppes of Yedissen what the imagination of Tasso
could lend to the gardens of Armida.

During my stay at Tulczim, I often visited that beautiful garden, and
I always remained in ecstasies before that unique creation. I did
not wonder that it had revived the septuagenarian muse of Trembecki.
Seduced by the hope of acquitting towards that noble family of Potocki
a debt of gratitude, I attempted, during my stay at Tulczim, to
translate into French verse the beautiful inspirations of the Polish
bard. When my task was finished, I desired to enhance the work, by
investing it with a splendour that might complement its literary merit.
The Comte Jean Potocki came to my aid with his profound knowledge, and
Mr. William Allan, an English landscape-painter, to-day the President
of the Royal Academy of Painting in Edinburgh, lent me the magic of
his brush. I intended to publish the work in France, when the desire
to witness in Vienna the unique scenes being enacted there brought me
to the capital of Austria. Having witnessed the success obtained by
the Comte de Rechberg, thanks to the assistance of King Maximilian,
surrounded by all the masters of art grouping themselves around this
gathering of sovereigns, I bethought myself of placing my verses
under the patronage of the European celebrities whom the Congress
had brought together. I began to take steps, and to solicit, with
the hope of inscribing them at the head of my translation, names of
celebrity which should serve it as an ægis. The familiar footing on
which everybody was living with every one else in Vienna obviated much
of the difficulty which my efforts would have cost elsewhere. With
nearly all the sovereigns it was sufficient to present oneself to be
received, without asking for a special interview. In a few days my
subscription list was full. The Emperor and Empress of Russia were the
first to put their names down for several copies. The Kings of Prussia,
Denmark, Bavaria, and, in short, every illustrious personage in Vienna,
followed suit. I had Polish type cast. The printing was confided to
the presses of the celebrated Strauss. Krudner did the engravings.
Nothing was spared to invest the publication with all the beauty to
which it could lend itself. The first copies had just been ‘pulled’
when the news reached us of the landing of Napoleon at Cannes. From
that moment people troubled very little about literature and poetry,
but there were a great many diplomatic conferences, declarations, and
preparations for war. Nearly all the subscribers left Vienna without
taking their copies. I myself left the city a little while afterwards
to go to Paris; and of the whole of my attempt there only remained the
recollection of the gracious reception of the sovereigns, and one of
the most curious collections of autographs in the hands of any author.
Men in Vienna--Russians and Poles--without distinction subscribed
for the publication of the songs of Trembecki. People little dreamt
that, fifty years later, that beautiful garden would be taken away
from the family of its founder, confiscated in consequence of the last
revolution of Poland. Sophieowka has been added to the domains of the
Emperor of Russia. They have even taken away its name, which it owed to
love. To-day it is called Czaritzine-Gad (the garden of the Czarina).
There is, however, something more powerful than arms, than conquests,
than the decrees of kings. It is the empire of memory and of poesy. The
beautiful verses of Trembecki will endure, and in ages to come people
will always pronounce the name, and the only name of Sophieowka.



CHAPTER XIX

  A Luncheon at M. de Talleyrand’s on his Birthday--M. de
      Talleyrand and the MS.--The Princesse-Maréchale Lubomirska
      --The New Arrivals--Chaos of Claims--The Indemnities of
      the King of Denmark--Rumours of the Congress--Arrival of
      Wellington at Vienna--The Carnival--Fête of the Emperor of
      Austria--A Masked Rout--The Diadem, or Vanity Punished--A
      Million--Gambling and Slavery: a Russian Anecdote.


Among the memories of the Congress which I recall with the utmost
gratitude is that of a very familiar--I might almost say a family-fête
at M. de Talleyrand’s. It was a luncheon, partaken of solely by his
ambassadorial staff, a few of his intimate friends, and a still
smaller number of notable Frenchmen, then in Vienna. This matutinal
entertainment was given in honour of his birthday; the prince was
entering on his sixty-first year. Those who are fond of collecting
the smallest particulars about a celebrated man have not forgotten
to note the minute details of the Prince de Talleyrand’s toilet,
and the ‘coquettishness’ of his rising. In fact, it partook of the
peculiarities both of Mazarin’s and of Madame de Pompadour’s. Somewhat
anxious to study its details, I followed to the great man’s bedroom MM.
Boyne de Faye and Rouen, who were going to present their good wishes to
their illustrious patron.

At that moment the model diplomatist pushed his head between the heavy
curtains of his bed. A small number of the most privileged were already
assembled. Wrapped in a plaited and goffered muslin _peignoir_, the
prince proceeded to attend to his luxuriant hair, which he surrendered,
not like the man in La Fontaine’s fable, to two women, but to two
hairdressers, who, after a great deal of brandishing of arms and combs,
ended by producing the _ensemble_ of wavy hair with which everybody is
familiar. Then came the barber’s turn, dispensing at the end a cloud of
powder; the head and the hands being finished, they proceeded to the
toilet of the feet, a somewhat less recreative detail, considering the
by no means pleasant smell of the Barège Water employed to strengthen
his lame leg. When all this was accomplished with the greatest care,
we, though not valets, were enabled to judge the hero of diplomacy
in his dressing-gown. To me personally, he looked better than in his
ministerial court-dress. He looked the natural man: the model of that
noble and courteous manner is no longer anything but a memory. When all
those ablutions of water and perfume were terminated, his head servant,
whose only function consisted in superintending the whole, came forward
to tie his stock into a very smart knot. Then came the other parts of
the adjustment. I am bound to say that all these transformations were
carried out with the ease of a grand seigneur, and a nonchalance never
over-stepping the good form which only permitted us to see the man,
without having to trouble about his metamorphosis. At table, M. de
Talleyrand not only showed his customary grace and urbanity, but he was
in reality more amiable than in his reception-rooms, where, in spite
of his free and easy demeanour, one always felt conscious that he kept
a check upon himself. It was no longer that habitual silence which, as
has been said, he had transformed into the art of eloquence, just as he
had transformed his experience into a kind of divination. Though less
profound, his talk was perhaps all the more charming. It came straight
from the heart, and flowed without restraint.

[Illustration: Ch. Maurice de Talleyrand]

Although Madame de Périgord was present, the duties of the table
entirely devolved upon the prince. He served all the dishes,
suggested all the wines, addressing each guest in a few sprightly
and kindly words. If, perchance, some one attempted to turn the
conversation into the channel of politics, which in Vienna is a very
habitual weakness, at that very moment he began to talk of this or that
thing so utterly foreign to the question just broached as to cause one
to think that diplomacy was altogether antipathetic to him. He told
us that he was so fond of receiving birthday wishes that, as a rule,
he kept up two days, the Saint Charles and the Saint Maurice, without
forgetting his real birthday.

‘Those two saints,’ he added, ‘would always prove the best landmarks in
my recollections, if ever the fancy took me to write my own life. With
their aid I could co-ordinate all my years, happy or sad, and I should
be able to say where I was on the days of their appearance in the
calendar.’

Madame de Périgord told us that she had received that very morning a
Latin manuscript on the history of Courland. It was dedicated by the
author to Prince Louis, the husband of her mother.

‘A manuscript!’ interrupted the prince, somewhat excitedly. ‘That
reminds me of one of the most curious circumstances of my life. When,
after my return from America, I was in Hamburg, I made the acquaintance
of a gentleman who, like myself, lodged at the inn of the Römische
Kaiser. We had met at the _table d’hôte_, and he had asked me to read
the manuscript of a work of his--I no longer remember the subject. I
accepted the ordeal, and went to my room. It so happened that on that
same day I had been to MM. de Chapeau-Rouge, my bankers, and taken from
the remains of a very small credit about fifteen louis. When I got to
my room, I opened the manuscript to read it, and between its leaves I
deposited my small treasure, wrapped in a sheet of paper. At six in the
morning there was a violent knocking at my door, and my author rushed
in to inform me that he was going to take ship at that very moment for
London, and that he would be pleased to have his manuscript. Half awake
and half asleep, I made him a sign to take his manuscript, which was
lying on his table, and half sarcastically called to him, “A pleasant
journey.” Then I turned round in my bed and fell asleep again. Alas,
the wretch took my money with him, and chance did for him what no
publisher would have done for his manuscript. I never saw him again,
or my fifteen louis, and was obliged to return to my bankers in a sad
frame of mind to withdraw the rest left to me, promising myself that
they would not catch me examining manuscripts again.’

We went into a small drawing-room, where on a table were all the
presents that had been sent from Paris. There were some from the
Duchesse de Luynes, from the Princesse de Vaudémont, from Mme.
Jyskewicz, and from many other ladies, who, knowing his fondness for
those delicate attentions, never failed to send them at the three
periods to which he had referred during luncheon. On a couch were laid
out all his orders, and there were enough and to spare. Odd to relate,
the most brilliant ones in the way of precious stones had been given by
the minor princes.

M. de Talleyrand went on chatting to us for a little while, his most
casual sentences being marked by a graceful unaffectedness, so strongly
contrasting with his diplomatic reputation. His expressions were,
however, always simple; they, as it were, derived their value from the
attitude and the courtesy of the grand seigneur, which were not at
fault.

When he finally left us to go to M. de Metternich’s, I was not at
all in agreement with what was said about him. People pretended that
M. de Talleyrand in his dressing-gown was, as far as intellectual
conversation went, a different man from M. de Talleyrand in Court
dress; in a word, that the latter was practically indispensable to him.
Personally, I have seen him in the political drawing-rooms of Paris,
London, and Vienna, and only once was I received amidst his nearest
and dearest. Well, among my recollections of that celebrated man, the
last-mentioned is unquestionably the most constantly present to my
mind, and also the most vivid.

Among the drawing-rooms capable of vying with that of M. de Talleyrand
in the matter of ‘exquisite form,’ elegance, and delicate observance of
society’s unwritten code, one was bound to name, first of all, that of
the Princesse-Maréchale Lubomirska.[101] Having taken up her residence
in Vienna, she appears to have accepted the task of keeping open house
for all the strangers who wished to be presented to her. No one could
convey a more exact idea of the fabulous existence of all those Polish
grandees in their most splendid days. She, as it were, combined within
herself all that was known about the grandeur of the Potockis and the
Czartoryskis, the magnificence of the Radziwills, the noble splendour
of the Lubomirskis, and of all the others, the recollection of whom
has become imperishable. Her palace situated near the fortifications,
her servants, the footing of her establishment, in fact everything,
represented a partly European, partly Asiatic whole. Being particularly
intimate with her grandson Frederick, I had been welcomed as an old
acquaintance.

The month of February, which had brought us back a few rays of
sunshine, had also brought back to the Graben the swarm of idlers and
newsmongers who had been dislodged by the cold and the snow. Added
to this, there was a considerable influx of newcomers, more numerous
perhaps than in the first days of the Congress. These had been
attracted to Vienna by the carnival. The promenades, the public places,
and the fortifications were positively swarming with people, and the
theatres, balls and entertainments, somewhat neglected during the few
previous weeks, had recovered all their former favour. It was a revival
of pleasure, and as if the whole of Europe had made it a point to send
representatives to this joyous pilgrimage at Vienna, there was no
longer a mention of the termination of the Congress, so often foretold
and so often denied.

It was really the realisation of the Prince de Ligne’s words: ‘The
Congress does not march along; it dances along’; and they might easily
have written up the words they painted in large characters on the site
of the dismantled Bastille, ‘Dancing going on here.’

Prince Koslowski kept me posted in all the particulars of the endless
sittings. ‘Are the other arbiters agreed?’ he said, in answer to my
question. ‘Not in the least. The Polish question has been settled;
but all the others are as far as ever from being settled. The fate of
Saxony and of its king is by no means decided. Prussia asks for the
ancient Belgian provinces, the territory of Treves and Cologne. France,
who is not at all anxious for that neighbour, does not want Prussia on
the left bank of the Rhine. On the other hand, she insists upon the
throne of Naples being restored to the Bourbon branch. Take it all in
all, it is nothing but a tangled skein. And to crown it all, the King
of Denmark is joining the throng, and is asking for what each sovereign
is pleased to call his indemnities.’

‘That is certainly an imprudent request. Frederick ought to think
himself very lucky to have passed unperceived amidst this chaos of
pretensions.’

In fact, among all those sovereigns who were to leave Vienna with the
spoils of some of their neighbours, the King of Denmark alone was fated
to remain strictly within his old territorial limits. Consequently
everybody repeated his reply to Alexander when they parted. ‘Sire,’
said the czar, ‘you carry all hearts away with you.’ ‘All hearts
possibly, but not a single soul,’ answered the king, with a significant
smile. To understand the witty allusion of the word, I must again
remind the reader that the word ‘soul’ means ‘subject,’ and that all
the decisions of the Congress were based upon the number of inhabitants
of the countries that changed rulers. From that point of view, the King
of Denmark had been the least well treated.

‘And now the Duke of Wellington has come to Vienna. He arrived
yesterday, and the diplomatists depend much upon his co-operation. They
hope that the esteem in which the sovereigns hold him will remove many
difficulties retarding the progress of the deliberations, and that he
will be able to obtain sacrifices which seem beyond the power of Lord
Castlereagh.

‘Milord, it is said, takes his departure loaded, not with diplomatic
trophies, but with presents. To the orders which he still lacked, and
which the sovereigns, large and small, have now promptly sent him, the
Empress of Austria has added two magnificent vases from the porcelain
works. My lady will be very pleased with this imperial gift.

‘Are you going to the rout to-night?’ asked the prince, leaving me.
‘Wellington is going, and of course all Vienna will be there.’

Odd to relate, in a town at that moment sheltering all the illustrious
men of Europe, the arrival of Wellington had set both the Court and the
diplomatic centres agog--the Court, because it supplied something new,
for which they were really at a loss; diplomacy, because it was assured
that he came to replace Castlereagh, whose policy was generally
blamed, and because it was no small thing to have to treat with a new
colleague. Mr. Wellesley-Pole, a member of the House of Commons and a
relative of the duke, arrived at the same time. He was one of the most
brilliant Englishmen in Vienna, the owner of an immense rent-roll,
and endowed with a varied and deep knowledge. He was an honour to the
nation he represented. Curiosity, therefore, was excited to the highest
degree. Everybody wished to know a man to whom the fortunes of war had
been so constantly favourable, who, by his doggedness and perseverance,
had been able to hold in check the genius of Napoleon. The sovereigns
called upon him, and he was literally loaded with honours. In the
evening, when the rumour ran that he was going to the rout, between
seven and eight thousand spectators rushed into the place. When he
made his appearance, accompanied by Lord Castlereagh, a masked lady,
supposed to be Lady Castlereagh, hanging on his arm, the whole of
the crowd rushed towards them. They were probably accustomed to that
kind of reception, and must have felt flattered at such a proof of
popularity. Finally, not the least curious result of his arrival was
the fluctuation in the public securities, which caused a loss and gain
of several millions in a few days; for in Vienna as elsewhere, stock
gambling seized the slightest occasion to bring about those rapid
fluctuations.

       *       *       *       *       *

The birthday fête of the Emperor of Austria, which happened to
come amidst all these rejoicings, was spent in the privacy of his
family. His health did not permit it to be celebrated with all the
pomp generally displayed. The reception, in spite of its being less
numerous, nevertheless presented a most rare spectacle. Nearly all its
members called each other ‘brother’ or ‘cousin,’ and those brothers
were the most powerful sovereigns of Europe. In the morning, Emperor
Alexander had preceded them all, wearing the uniform of an Austrian
general, and giving his arm to his charming wife. He tendered his
wishes and offered his bouquet with that cordial simplicity that adds
so delightfully to the expressions of friendship. For some time those
monarchs had each adopted a particular society in which they lived on a
most familiar footing. Nevertheless, when they assembled together their
affectionate familiarity was very genuine.

The masked routs were more numerously attended than ever. Griffiths and
I went one evening to one of those gatherings, which might fitly be
termed the magic-lanterns of the Congress, in virtue of the number and
variety of the personages present. The crowd was so considerable that,
after having opened all the rooms, they were obliged to shut the outer
doors and to refuse admission to a great number. Nothing could convey
an idea of the happy-go-lucky animation presiding at this gathering
of so many diverse elements. In the crowd I ran up against Prince
Koslowski.

‘To watch on all sides this exchange of sweet smiles and sweet looks,
and hand-pressures sweeter still, one might call the Vienna rout an
exchange for the traffic of amorous assets.’

‘Beaumarchais said that before you about the Opéra of Paris, but you
could add, as an appendix, that all such kinds of assets are marketable
on all the dancing exchanges of Europe.

‘Just watch that young woman, so simply disguised as a Calabrian
peasant,’ the prince went on. ‘She seems to remember how dearly her
mother once paid for an impulse of vanity. That mother, who was
distantly related to my family, found out that an imperial diadem may
often cruelly hurt the head, even if politics are altogether foreign to
the attempt to wear it.’

The lady was pretty, the anecdote promised to be interesting. I asked
my bright interlocutor to tell it to me. He complied with my wish.

‘One day Empress Catherine made up her mind to clean the enormous mass
of jewels of all kinds buried in the coffers that, since the reign of
Peter the Great, had swallowed up enormous treasures of which there
seem to be scarcely any knowledge in the palace. Dreading some theft
during that general overhaul, the emperor appointed two captains of the
guards to superintend the work. The father of our pretty mask was one
of them. The view of all this wealth produced such a fascination in the
eyes and the minds of the two inspectors that they also conceived the
fatal idea of robbery. They agreed to abstract part of those treasures,
hoping that the theft would pass unperceived. The spoil was divided
between them. The one to whom came a lot of pearls lost no time in
sending them to Amsterdam by a man in his trust. There, sold secretly,
the money he received was employed by him in the repurchase of some
family estates, which, however, he had the prudence to settle on his
son. The other, whose share consisted of diamonds, waited for spring
to proceed to England, promising himself to dispose of them to greater
advantage than through the intermediary of an agent.

‘Among the number of stolen objects there was a diadem whose value
exceeded a hundred thousand roubles. All these objects had been
carefully hidden in the remotest corner of his apartments. Fatality,
however, always dogs crime, and his wife discovered the hiding-place.
In vain did her husband swear to her that the diadem did not belong to
him, and that it was entrusted to his honour to keep for awhile. She
begged of him, not to give it to her, but to let her wear it, if only
for a moment, at one of the Court balls. He resisted, but she worried,
begged, and wept to that extent that the captain, madly in love with
his wife, unhappily gave in, trusting that the jewel, which had not
seen daylight for perhaps a hundred years, would escape recognition by
a person of the new generation. The young woman, who did not perceive
that this diadem was metaphorically searing her forehead, got as far
as the ball-room of the Hermitage. I need scarcely tell you of the
looks of admiration and envy that marked her appearance. Up till then
everything had gone well, but just amidst her greatest triumph old Mme.
Pratazoff, standing behind the chair of the empress, hears Catherine go
into raptures about the brilliancy of those stones.

‘“Madame,” says her confidante, bending over her, “there is no occasion
for your majesty to be astonished. That diadem belonged to your
majesty’s aunt, the empress. I have seen her wear it a score of times.”

‘The words supplied, as it were, a flash of light to Catherine, who got
up, drew near to the young woman, who, delighted with her triumph, had,
like Cinderella, forgotten her promise only to wear the jewel for a
moment.

‘“May I ask you, madame,” said the empress, “who is the jeweller who
mounted these stones?”

‘The young woman, in her confusion, names the first jeweller she can
think of. The empress, after a few insignificant remarks, leaves her,
and meanwhile the young woman continues to dance with the ill-fated
diadem fastened to her head, more threatening than the sword of
Damocles, The empress at once sends an aide-de-camp to inquire of the
jeweller in question since when, and for whom, he had mounted that
diadem. The jeweller of course denies all knowledge of the affair. The
reply comes back immediately. Once more the empress interrogates the
young woman.

‘“You have played the fool with me. Your jeweller denies having sold
you this diadem. I am determined to know whence it came to you.”

‘The severe tone put an end to the young woman’s faint show of
confidence. She stammered and stuttered, and Catherine’s suspicions
were soon changed into certainties. The order was immediately given to
arrest the two unworthy inspectors. Both, judged and proved guilty,
were sent to Siberia; but by a strange freak, he who had sold the
pearls in Holland, and transmitted their proceeds to his son, was left
in possession, while the diamonds found in the house of the other were
carefully brought back to the treasury. When, after some years of
expiation the empress pardoned the two culprits, the first might well
lay the flattering unction to his soul that justice was, after all,
only a fable. The other would for ever curse his want of firmness,
which had cost him his reputation and his future career. As for the
young woman, she dearly paid for the short-lived satisfaction of her
vanity, and the momentary gratification of outvying her rivals.’

After having made the round of the rooms once or twice, Griffiths and I
left the Burg early. It was a beautiful evening, and we walked back to
the Jaeger-Zeil. Passing before the mansion of the Comte de Rosenberg,
we noticed that it was ablaze with light. Servants in resplendent
livery crossed the courts carrying salvers with ices and fruits, while
from the inside arose the strains of a harmonious band and the sound of
many joyous voices.

‘It seems to me,’ I said to my companion, ‘that your countryman, Mr.
Raily, treats his royal guest more sumptuously than usual to-day. If he
goes on in that way his credit of a million at Arnstein’s won’t go far.’

‘When that’s gone there will be more,’ replied Griffiths. ‘The career
of professional gamesters is so thoroughly made up of unforeseen events
and strange episodes, fortune comes so often to their aid, that the
words “ruin,” “chance,” “audacity,” “opulence” are practically present
in every line of their biography. Sometimes among all this there is
also a flash of generosity, of devotion, and of downright magnanimity
on their part. If the common observer had the clue to the enigma of
these existences, then assuredly would vanish the fantastic prestige he
fancies he sees in the fate of those Bohemians of Courts, of gambling
hells, and palaces.

‘The origin of that credit of a million of florins is connected with
a fact which Mr. Rally has told me since our last visit to him,--a
fact which marvellously characterises the infinite possibilities
of gambling. One morning, an elegant carriage, with four superbly
caparisoned horses, their manes flowing in the wind, stopped at the
door of Mr. Rally’s temporary residence in Moscow. A man of about
thirty, with a frank and open countenance, alighted from it. He sends
in his name, and presents himself, with those easy manners which are
always a passport for a man who has no other recommendation. “Pray
excuse my visit,” he said to Mr. Rally in very pure French, “but I
have had the advantage of meeting you now and again in public, and
I have presumed upon the circumstance to call upon you. I hope you
will excuse the liberty.” When he had seated himself he went on. “The
matter I wish to speak to you about is of the highest importance to
me, but allow me to ask you for a promise that, whether you consent
or refuse to render me the service I have come to ask, you will keep
the secret.” Mr. Rally promised at once, and the young man went on.
“My name is Soueskof-Feodorowich. I am a merchant of the first class.
You are no doubt aware of the rank we occupy among the bourgeoisie.
I live in your neighbourhood, but my business house and my habitual
home are at Toula. You are, I have been told, an English gentleman who
has taken up his quarters for a few months in Moscow, and, like most
of your distinguished countrymen, you play heavily and in the noblest
manner. That is what is done in Russia, and, for the matter of that,
everywhere. But I have been told moreover, monsieur, that you play
carefully, and allow me to congratulate you on the fact, for this
gives you a great guarantee against being duped. You’ll excuse me if
I add that this reputation induced me to present myself to you.” Mr.
Rally was somewhat surprised at this preamble, but before he could
translate his surprise into words his visitor resumed, “I, monsieur,
never gamble. I do not even know a game, but I come in furtherance
of an attempt, the success of which will depend upon you, in which
gambling will play a part. I have heard you praised for your noble
character; I have perfect faith in it, and I have come to place in
your hands a possession prized highly by every Englishman--namely,
liberty. That word, from my lips, may seem strange to you. The first
gift of God after life is liberty. Well, sir, that liberty, without
which life is nothing, I am for ever deprived of. I speak of it as the
blind hankers after the light. I am a serf, and perhaps it is reserved
for you to efface from my forehead that ignominious stigma, that mark
of opprobrium which the law compels us to engrave on our doors, that
scutcheon of infamy which we inherit from generation to generation,
like the sign that God’s finger set on the brow of Cain. My request
to you is this. In this vortex which one calls grand society you no
doubt meet now and again the Comte K----, an ensign in the regiment
of Chevalier Guards. He is one of the young men most in renown at the
English Club. He astonishes by his audacity, his display, and his
arrogance the most adventurous gamblers!”

‘“It is true,” said Raily, “ours is a very intimate acquaintance.”

‘“Oh, it is, after all, without importance, I dare say, for the real
basis of it--esteem--is wanting. You cannot possibly esteem the comte,
and in this you are only following common opinion. His vanity, which he
mistakes for pride, his impertinence, which he mistakes for courage,
his cackle, which he mistakes for learning, are all he possesses.
Beyond that he has absolutely nothing: neither heart nor soul, nor
bowels. Such creatures may become acquaintances, they can never be our
friends.” “Your portrait is the reverse of flattering,” said Raily;
“but what does it all amount to?” “It amounts to this, monsieur; I am
bound to tell you with shame on my face and hell in my heart that I am
that man’s slave, that he is my master.” His excitement got the better
of him for a moment, then he went on. “The comte’s father lived on one
of his estates near Orel. My father, who while very young had become
attached to him personally, served him most faithfully--so faithfully,
in fact, that the old man at his death left him a considerable sum
of money, without, however, giving him his liberty. Like many other
serfs, my father employed the money in trafficking in furs and skins
with Eastern Russia. Having been very successful in trade, his fortune
increased rapidly; and as a matter of course, his establishment assumed
a proportionate footing. While I was still a mere lad, my father gave
shelter to a victim of the French Revolution, many of whom exile had
brought to our country. M. de B----, a man of great parts, looked to
my education. He was like a second father to me, and whatever I am, I
practically owe to him. Being aware of our position, he often suggested
to me to put an end to it, by accompanying him to some foreign land. I
should, however, have had to leave my own country; my father would have
been responsible for my doings; and the least punishment that he would
have suffered would have been to leave his magnificent home in order to
resume his labour as a serf. Another cause, based upon something more
powerful than reason, bound me to this ignominious vassalage--love.
I loved, monsieur, and was beloved; and though I recoiled from the
thought of associating with my fate a young and well-born woman, who
in uniting herself to me would have ceased to be free, I cherished
the flattering hope that time would abolish those iniquitous laws,
that sooner or later Emperor Alexander, the moral regenerator of
his country--as his illustrious ancestor Peter the Great was the
regenerator of his people--that Alexander would break our iron yoke,
that he would treat us like the peasants living on the shores of the
Baltic, or like the serfs on some of his own imperial domains; that,
in fact, ere long the country would be indebted to him for the moral
emancipation of forty millions of thinking beings, whose intelligence
is crushed in the vice of an arbitrary power. Our masters, however,
would sooner forgive him the greatest excesses of that arbitrary power
than the exercise of that same power in favour of the humbler class of
his subjects. In short, I hoped that, free at last, I should be able
to lead Eudoxia to the altar, not sullied with the woollen band of the
slave, but beaming beneath the white and pure wreath attached to the
head of the free wife. Up to this day, I have hoped in vain. My father
died; I not only continued his commerce, but extended it to the East;
and in a few years doubled the very considerable fortune he left me.”

‘“Why not propose to the comte to buy your freedom?” remarked Mr. Raily.

‘“He would refuse. He is not one of the owners who would support a
rational system of emancipation,” was the answer, followed by a most
sombre picture of the condition of the serfs; and he finally added,
“Well, monsieur, the end of all this wretchedness, the possession of
the woman I worship, who’ll die of grief if we cannot be united--in
short, liberty, all this I may possibly owe to you; and in that case
you will have been to me more than a man, more than a friend, you
will have been nothing less than a god.” “What am I to do?” asked Mr.
Raily. “I am disposed to help you, but you must explain?” “You are fond
of gaming, monsieur. What’s merely a pastime with you, is a frantic
passion with the Comte K----. He sacrifices everything to it; and it
will infallibly lead to his ruin. Nothing, therefore, will be easier
than to get him to play with you. Get him to stake a small estate he
has on the banks of the Volga; it’s a village counting no more than
fifty households, and the industry of which consists in making nails.
That estate he’ll not sell at any price; but for that, it would have
been mine long ago. But in the feverish excitement of the game, he
may be brought to stake it, he may lose it, and all my hope is there.
If that village, where my father and I were born, where the rest of
my relations are living--if that estate becomes mine, we shall all be
free. And now, monsieur, you have my secret, and you are the arbiter of
my fate. If you consent to come to my aid, your word will be sufficient
for me, and you may raise your stakes to any amount, double them,
increase them fourfold, as long as you get your final triumph. You have
got an unlimited credit on my bank, and I wish you to make use of it
unreservedly. Whatever may be your luck, if it remained persistently
contrary--even if it ruined me--I should still be eternally grateful to
you for having understood me, for having listened to my prayer, and for
having attempted to make me happy and free.”

‘Raily promised everything, and the two men parted, and that will
explain to you how he and the Comte K---- soon confronted each other
at the gaming table. Manœuvring very cleverly, the Englishman at
the outset suffered defeat upon defeat. His adversary, intoxicated
by his success, literally clung to him like his shadow. He followed
him everywhere--at the hunt, at the ball, at the promenade: he never
left him. No courtier of Versailles or St. James’s was more exact at
the rising and retiring of a sovereign. The game of faro, then very
fashionable at Moscow, was, as a matter of course, that selected by
the two antagonists. The comte held the bank. The sum lost by Raily
already amounted to fifty thousand roubles. The Russian had tasted
blood and liked it, but at last it came to the other one to deal the
cards, and from that moment the luck turned. One day after dinner the
game went so much in Mr. Raily’s favour that he won everything the
Comte K---- possessed in roubles, in paper-money, in objects of art,
even to the holy images, richly chased in gold and precious stones, on
which Russians set such store. Raily won everything; and when daylight
appeared the heap of riches lay around the table which had served for
their game. Nevertheless, the comte proposed to continue the game, but
only in ‘white money’; that is, figures serving as stakes drawn in
chalk on the cloth, and in reality meaning credit. Mr. Raily pretended
to have had enough of the game, and to ring for his servants to take
to his carriage all that was portable of his rich and extensive loot.
Seeing which, the comte renewed his insistences to persuade him to
stay. He prayed so humbly, then so passionately, for his revenge, that
Raily judged the occasion favourable and the moment decisive to carry
out the promise he had given to his young protégé. Gold, jewels, and
bank notes, everything was placed on the table. Then Raily turned to
his adversary. “You see, comte,” he said, “that I play the game in no
niggardly spirit, and I will give you a new proof of it. I have taken
a fancy to be a Russian landowner, if only for the strangeness of the
fact. You have got a small estate on the banks of the Volga. If you
like, I will stake all that’s there against it.” If at that moment
Lucifer had offered the comte to stake his soul against a ducat, he
would not have hesitated to accept. Without replying, the comte rushes
to his writing-table, takes from it the title-deeds of his property,
and flings them with a kind of feverish joy on the gold covering
the table. The chances still remained in favour of Mr. Raily. The
game had not been resumed ten minutes ere he was the master of that
Promised Land, and the much desired aim had been attained. Taking up
the contract which entitled him to the property and the fifty thousand
roubles he had lost previously, he said, “Now, comte, I’ll play you
double or quits for the rest.” The comte named the colour, and was
right this time. “Take back all this,” said the Englishmen; “my night
has been sufficiently well paid.” Then they parted the best friends in
the world, the Russian enchanted with his prompt and generous revenge,
Raily delighted at the prospect of the happiness he was to confer
on his new friend. That very day the lucky gambler wrote to Féodor,
sending him back his fifty thousand roubles, and informing him that he
held at his disposal the title-deeds of the estate on the Volga. A few
hours later Féodor stood in his presence, holding by the hand a young
girl, beautiful, fresh, fair, like all the girls of the north, whom he
presented to him. It was Eudoxia, she who loved him, she whom he had
loved so much. Both fell at Mr. Raily’s feet. “You are our master, our
father,” they said. “Give us your blessing, and finish your sublime
work of regeneration.” Raily extends his hands, takes them in his arms,
he himself surprised at the tears coursing freely down his cheeks.
“Let him owe his happiness to you alone,” he said, addressing Eudoxia,
and handing her the title-deeds of the property. “An iniquitous law,
a law iniquitous even in its foresight, forbids an emancipated slave
to possess property. But you are free, madame, and noble, and the same
law nevertheless permits that the serf of your lands, raised to the
rank of your husband, becomes also freed from this unjust exclusion.
You are now a landowner in virtue of these title-deeds--take Féodor to
the altar; henceforth he will bear no chains but yours.” “Monsieur,”
said the young merchant, “she and I will never be strong enough to
remain under the burden of such a gratitude all our lives. You must,
therefore, accept some feeble tribute of our feelings towards you, for
it is only on that condition that you can really make us happy.” Mr.
Raily a few days before leaving Moscow received a pocket-book, which
contained a million roubles, with the following words inscribed upon
it: “To the free man who has made me a free man.”



CHAPTER XX

  Isabey’s Study--His Picture of the Plenipotentiaries at the
      Congress of Vienna--The Imperial Sepulchre at the Capuchins
      --Recollections of the Tombs of Cracow--Preacher Werner
      --St. Stephen’s Cathedral--Children’s Ball at Princesse
      Marie Esterhazy’s--The Empress Elizabeth of Russia--The
      Picture-Gallery of the Duc de Saxe-Teschen--Emperor Alexander
      and Prince Eugène--The Pictures of the Belvedere--The King
      of Bavaria--Anecdotes.


One of the memorabilia of the Congress of Vienna which had the
advantage of uniting all suffrages, a privilege not generally granted
to all the transactions of that august Areopagus, is the historical
and beautiful drawing of Isabey representing a sitting of the
plenipotentiaries. The artist was then putting the last touches to
it. One morning, Griffiths and I went to his house. His gallery of
portraits, which contained all the celebrated personages of Europe,
was already very considerable, but our attention was attracted at once
by the drawing which, under the title of ‘The Congress of Vienna,’
will connect his name with the illustrious men he has portrayed there.
Everybody knows that composition, representing the room of the Congress
at the moment Prince de Metternich introduced Wellington.

Theoretically, Lord Wellington had no right to figure in that
production, inasmuch as he only arrived in Vienna in February 1815, and
then it was to replace Lord Castlereagh. His arrival necessitated an
important change in the picture--the introduction of a new personage.
That was the motive which made Isabey choose that particular moment,
inasmuch as it enabled him to leave all the other figures in their
original places. Isabey explained to us very charmingly the discontent
of the new arrival at finding himself relegated to a corner of the
composition, where he can only be seen sideways. The clever artist had
ingeniously explained the situation to the English general, apparently
with great satisfaction to both. Another particular incident had
marked the preliminaries. Among the number of European celebrities
Baron Humboldt was necessarily a figure. They had told Isabey that
he would meet with great resistance on the part of this statesman,
who had a thorough aversion to having his portrait taken. He had even
refused that favour to Princesse Louisa Radziwill, the sister of Prince
Ferdinand of Prussia. Warned of this singularity, and even somewhat
intimidated by it, Isabey presented himself at the diplomatist’s. His
real or simulated embarrassment increased the partial good humour of
the baron, who, fixing his large, blue-goggled eyes on him, replied,
‘Have a good look at me, and then you’ll be bound to admit that
nature has given me too ugly a face ever to spend a penny on it for
its reproduction. Nature would in reality have the laugh of me if she
could convict me of such foolish vanity. She ought to be aware that
I fully recognise the trick she has played me.’ Struck by the reply,
the painter looked with stupefaction at the extraordinary face of the
minister, but immediately resuming his gaiety and quickness of wit,
he retorted, ‘But I am not going to ask your excellency the slightest
recompense for the pleasant trouble I am going to take. I am only going
to ask the favour of a few sittings.’

‘Oh, is that all? You can have as many sittings as you like. You need
not stint yourself in that respect, but I cannot abandon my principle
of not spending a penny on my ugly face.’

In fact, the witty diplomatist sat as many times to the painter as he
wished. When the engraving appeared, his was found the most striking
likeness of all, and he often said, ‘I have not paid a penny for my
portrait by Isabey. No doubt he wanted to avenge himself, and he has
made an excellent likeness of me.’

Leaving the painter’s study, we went citywards, and on the bridge
over the Danube we fell in with Princesse Hélène Souvaroff, General
Tettenborn, and Alexander Ypsilanti. They were going in the same
direction, and told us that they were making for the church of the
Capuchins to see the tombs of the imperial family. They proposed that
we should accompany them, and we accepted.

When we got to the chapel, a monk, after having lighted a large torch,
preceded us to the crypts. There were nine tombs of emperors, thirteen
of empresses, and in all about eighty of the members of the imperial
race. ‘It was in this subterranean chapel,’ said our guide, ‘that every
day during thirty years Maria-Theresa heard Mass before the sepulchre
she had erected for herself by the side of that of her husband.’

‘This trait of Maria-Theresa,’ said Tettenborn, ‘reminds me of one
of the clever answers of Joseph II. When he had granted the public
admission to the Augarten, a lady complained that she could no longer
stroll about there among her equals. “If everybody were restricted to
the society of his equals,” replied the emperor, “I should be reduced
for a bit of air to the crypt of the Capuchins, inasmuch as it is only
there that I should find mine.”’

After contemplating for a few moments those magnificent monuments of
marble and brass, we slowly ascended the steps of the crypt, when the
light of several torches told us of the arrival of a numerous company;
and it would appear that these excursions had all been postponed to the
end of February on account of the weather, for soon Messrs. Nesselrode
and Pozzo di Borgo, the Duc de Richelieu, and M. Amstedt passed us on
their way. Then we went to the ramparts. The conversation had taken
a serious turn, in accordance with the objects we had just left. The
Princesse Hélène compared these crypts with those of the monastery of
Petchersky at Kion, where most of the saints of the convent are placed
in open coffins. Those precious relics draw to the ancient capital of
Moscow a number of pilgrims, who proceed on foot from Casan and other
towns close to Italy.

‘There is no greater proof of the strength of religious feeling than
that,’ said Princesse Hélène. ‘It is at the bottom of all those distant
pilgrimages, which, without it, would seem impossible. But,’ she added,
‘the hope of future recompense assuages present evils.’

‘When I was at Cracow,’ I said, ‘I also paid a visit to the
subterranean vaults of the cathedral, where the Kings of Poland rest.
The coffins are similarly open, and the bodies are embalmed. Time
seems to have respected their forms, and they are still vested with
all the attributes of royalty. The ermine cloak, the sceptre, the
diadem sparkling with precious stones, all those baubles of a vanished
power present a striking contrast to the relentless aspect of death.
Nevertheless, such images of the past are less terrible when brass
or marble disguises, as it does here, the visible effects of death,
or when the monuments are inscribed with a line recalling a glorious
reminiscence, like that of the Narischkine family in the Church of the
Annunciation at St. Petersburg.’

It was a holiday, and the streets were filled with a great crowd,
mainly of artisans, apparently very happy and prosperous.

‘Truly,’ said Griffiths, as I pointed this out, ‘one rarely meets with
a beggar in Vienna. The charitable institutions are administered with
much order and much liberality. Public benevolence in particular seems
to be directed with a great sense of justice. The people, having in
general more industrial aptitude and commercial intelligence than the
other populations of Germany, seem to conduct their own affairs very
well, and it may safely be said there is no capital in Europe which
can be compared with Vienna for its sights, and the happy-go-lucky
existence of its inhabitants.’

The spire of the cathedral was standing against the cloudless sky.

‘Don’t you feel tempted,’ said I to Princesse Souvaroff, ‘to be present
at one of the spectacles which just now seem to cause, rightly or
wrongly, a great excitement--I mean a sermon by the Rev. M. Werner?’

The princess had heard the name, and she fell in with my view, anxious,
like ourselves, to know this simple priest, who, amid so many great
interests and varied amusements, had still found a means of arousing
the enthusiasm of the crowd.

Before he had followed in the footsteps of Massillon and Bossuet, M.
Werner had been a Lutheran and a dramatic poet. He was the author of
several successful tragedies, which he had treated in the most romantic
way. Importing into his theatrical compositions all the energy of his
religious convictions, he had made it a point to paint the commencement
of Lutheranism in the most seductive colours. A circumstance both
poetical and romantic marked the history of his conversion to
Catholicism. One evening he was strolling in the Cathedral Square in
Vienna, a prey to one of those sombre reveries so peculiar to German
poets. In his emotion, he stood contemplating that imposing mass and
the Gothic towers, the summits of which are lost in the clouds. All
at once the door opened, and a venerable priest, dressed in white,
and escorted by two young children, appeared on its threshold, and
started for the couch of a moribund to administer the supreme rites of
his faith. A torch left a trembling but luminous trace behind. Struck
by the spectacle, the Lutheran poet stops and wistfully looks after
the vanishing procession. His imagination has been fired, the inmost
recesses of his heart are moved; the grandeur and sublimity of the
Catholic religion are revealed to him by the very simple fact of an
old priest carrying the last sacrament to a man on his deathbed. From
that moment, M. Werner practically became a Catholic. He left Vienna,
went to Rome, and abjured his errors in the Basilica of St. Peter. Then
after having lived for some two years in a monastery at the foot of
Vesuvius, he came back to Germany, and, discarding the theatre for the
pulpit, began to preach. The peculiar nature of his conversion, his
talent as a preacher, apart from his diction, which still showed the
lofty thoughts and the alternately brilliant and sombre colours of his
former poesy--everything, in fact, combined to bring him into relief.
Whenever he was announced to preach, the church could scarcely hold
the crowd of both pious and merely curious. The theatrical directors,
seeing the success of the preacher, conceived the idea of reviving
the tragedies of the poet, and made an excellent thing out of them.
In the morning the public hurried to listen to the words of the new
St. Paul, and in the evening, with minds still full of quotations from
Holy Writ and the Fathers, the same audiences went to applaud _Attila_,
_Luther_, and other works of the converted heretic. Sorely grieved at
this applause, M. Werner felt compelled to denounce from the pulpit his
former errors, which he would fain have destroyed altogether. But the
more he fulminated, the more piquant seemed the contrast, and his dual
success as an author and as a preacher hourly increased.

The crowd in the cathedral was so dense as to make it difficult for us
to find room. There were princes, generals, ‘grandes dames,’ and, what
was not less strange, people belonging to every Christian community.
After a while the apostle appeared, and delivered a long sermon in
German, of which I did not understand a word, though I was probably
not singular in that respect among that particular audience that
morning. In spite of this, the effect seemed no less satisfactory.
The hollow voice of the speaker, his tall, lean, and wan figure, his
deep-set eyes, all seemed to accord with the fane, whose interior
he caused to resound with his voice. The cathedral of St. Stephen,
in fact, artistically sculptured outside, is dark within, and that
obscurity, itself so favourable to meditation, seemed to add something
sepulchral to the utterances of the preacher.

‘Well,’ said the Princesse Hélène to me when we were coming out, ‘what
do you think of the preacher?’

‘I have only been able to judge partly of his eloquence, and I should
think there would be little fault to find with the moral drift of
his discourse, inasmuch as his dogma is no doubt irreproachable.
Nevertheless, his violent tone and gestures do not inspire me with a
desire to see his theatrical works. If you’ll follow my advice, we’ll
go to the theatre of the Court to see _Cinna_ or _Le Misanthrope_.’

At parting, we said a few words about soon meeting again at the
Princesse Marie Esterhazy’s, who was about to give a children’s ball,
which after the many splendid receptions of grown-up people could not
fail to excite great curiosity. Expectation was thoroughly realised,
for the princess’s rooms presented the most animated and graceful
picture. All the young offshoots of the aristocracy had been invited to
take part in the entertainments projected for their edification. The
crowned guests at Vienna (reduced this time to the rôle of spectators),
all the illustrious political and military personages, followed suit
and gathered round the young ones, endeavouring, perhaps, to snatch
an imaginary glimpse of their own youth in the contemplation of the
unaffected gaiety and games. The apartments of the palace had been
so cunningly arranged as to lead the young guests from surprise to
surprise. Jugglers’ _fantoccini_, magic-lanterns succeeded each other.
And when all those joyous pastimes were exhausted, they finally came
upon the big ball-room, where the dancing immediately commenced, not
with strict adherence, perhaps, to the programme, but with all the more
gracefulness and absence from constraint. The costumes, which, as may
easily be imagined, were all magnificent--Turks, knights, Albanians,
mediæval, Louis XIV., Russian, Polish--were worn with comic importance
by those Liliputian highnesses. Amidst all these little angels it was
easy to perceive that the demon of Pride had exercised his dangerous
seductions. One of those female highnesses got into a great rage with a
companion of inferior rank. The quarrel became so embittered, neither
of them being willing to give in, that it occasioned some trouble at
the ball. It reminded me of the anecdote told me by Lord Stair, which
a few years before had vastly amused all England. It was during the
infancy of the Princess of Wales(?). They had given her as a companion
the daughter of a musician who had acquired a great reputation by
playing the organ at St. Paul’s. The children quarrelled about a toy,
of which each wanted to get possession. The small wranglers claimed
privilege in identical terms. ‘How dare you resist me?’ said the
princess. ‘Don’t you know that I am the daughter of the Prince of
Wales?’ ‘What’s that to me? Don’t you know, yourself, that I am the
daughter of the organist of St. Paul’s?’

Dancing was interrupted by the arrival of the Tyrolese singers, who
were then causing a great sensation in Vienna. They were seven fine men
and ten women, and wore the picturesque costume of their mountains. A
few years before, they had come from the Tyrol as simple journeymen
watchmakers, and in the evening they met together to sing their
national songs. The effect was such as to cause immense crowds to
follow them through the streets. The police were obliged to give them
an escort to prevent disorder. The directors of the Wieden Theatre
engaged them to sing on their stage. The enthusiasm was such as to
make them repeat the same airs half-a-dozen times: the highest society
engaged them for their evening parties, and everywhere they were
equally applauded. During the Congress they had returned to the scene
of their first glory.

After that the children went into a room which till then had been
closed to them. A big tree with golden branches was bending beneath all
kinds of toys; amongst others those pretty boxes made out of Vienna
paving-stones. A lottery was drawn. Before the little ones retired,
they danced a waltz. The sovereigns and the whole of the Court seemed
to share those childish joys, and to forget for the moment their own
agitated existence at the sight of so much innocent happiness. Only the
Empress Elizabeth of Russia preserved an appearance of melancholy. One
could perceive that she envied the joys of maternity. Her affection for
the emperor was such that, when she met with the daughter he had had by
Madame Narischkine, she smothered the child with caresses, trying to
cheat her own aspirations as wife and mother.

To whatever political opinion one may belong, one is always glad to
be able to speak of those who have occupied the world’s stage. Thanks
to the Congress of Vienna, it has been vouchsafed to me to approach
some of the men who have left their names on the pages of contemporary
history; hence the anecdotes which follow.

One bright February day, Zibin, Luchesini, and I were wandering through
the residence of the Duc de Saxe-Teschen. Among the mass of precious
objects there is a collection of about twelve thousand original
drawings, and a hundred and thirty thousand engravings after artists
of various countries. We were courteously received by M. Lefèvre, the
custodian of these treasures, of which, he told us, he was going to
publish a description in chronological order, according to the schools.
At the end of a gallery arranged to hold these rarities, we caught
sight of the Archduke Albert, who was doing the honours to Emperor
Alexander, accompanied by General Ouwaroff and Prince Eugène. We drew
near as they were examining a collection of military maps, the most
complete in Europe.

‘Cities have been destroyed,’ said Archduke Albert. ‘Empires have
toppled over. Tactics have changed, but military positions remain the
same.’ He added: ‘Several comparisons prove that the same chances have
often produced the same results.’ Nevertheless, it was on the scene
of the last war that the attention of his guests seemed particularly
riveted. Nothing equals in interest the remarks of Emperor Alexander on
inspecting those plans of battles.

‘There,’ he said, placing his finger on a certain spot, ‘this or that
corps made this or that mistake. This or that battery took up a wrong
position--this or that charge decided the action. Here, at Austerlitz,
we might have retrieved the game, but Kutusoff stopped too far away
from Mortier, and those frozen lakes of Augezd and of Monitz, in giving
way under twenty thousand men and fifty pieces of artillery, completed
our disaster.’

‘Nevertheless,’ said Prince Eugène, ‘we should perhaps have lost the
battle if the emperor had attacked a few hours earlier. The chances of
war are determined by very small incidents.’

‘There, at Friedland,’ Alexander went on, everything was lost by a
false cavalry manœuvre, of which they took advantage, and by the
retreat of Korsakoff on Friedland. Consequently, the whole of his
_corps d’armée_ was surrounded, and in endeavouring to find an issue
across the waters of the Alle, it found its death. Take it all in all,
we fought well, but we had to deal with cleverer players than we were.’

He passed from the campaigns of Italy to those of Germany, tactfully
avoiding speaking of the disastrous Russian war.

The emperor and Prince Eugène vied with each other in courtesy; the
archduke put an end to the subject by showing them a descriptive
catalogue compiled by himself, which, despite his great age, he
continually revised. To enumerate the treasures contained in this
gallery, one ought to have copied that catalogue from beginning to end.
Some of the drawings dated from the year 1420: there were more than
a hundred and fifty, many of them by Albert Dürer, and the majority
drawn with the pen, the figures richly coloured, especially some birds
of an admirable finish. A still more particular interest attached
to the engravings of this illustrious master, inasmuch as they once
constituted his own collection. The duke pointed out to us several
drawings by Raphael, and fifty sketches by Claude Lorrain.

The emperor came up to us, and spoke very kindly to Zibin, and
presented him to Prince Eugène as the youngest Knight of the Order of
St. George. Having overheard the name of Luchesini, he asked him if it
was his father who had been plenipotentiary at the celebrated Congress
of Sistow under Frederick II.

‘Yes, sire.’

‘And where is he now?’

‘On his estates at Lucca.’

‘If he writes his recollections,’ remarked Alexander, ‘they will be
very interesting, for he has seen and observed much.’

We afterwards paid a visit to the sumptuously decorated apartments.
In one of these a pan-harmonium, composed of a hundred and fifty
wind-instruments, played symphonies and marches, accompanied with
admirable precision by an automatic trumpet. We left the archduke with
his illustrious visitors and went to the Belvedere in order to see a
collection of pictures which had been largely increased by Joseph II.
at the suppression of some convents. The palace of Belvedere requires
no description. Its curator, M. Fugger, was kind enough to serve as
guide, and specially pointed out to us the Titians, Rubenses, and
Vandykes. In the evening we went as usual to the Comtesse Fuchs’s.
There I met Prince Eugène, and the conversation turned on the treasures
collected at Malmaison, which were thoroughly appreciated by Prince
Gargarine and Colonel Brozin, who had become acquainted with them
during Alexander’s several visits to Josephine.



CHAPTER XXI

  Ypsilanti--Promenade on the Prater--First Rumour of the Escape
      of Napoleon--Projects for the Deliverance of Greece--Comte
      Capo d’Istria--The Hétairites--Meeting with Ypsilanti in
      1820--His Projects and Reverses.


I had missed Ypsilanti from his usual haunts for a considerable time,
and on the rare occasions that I caught a glimpse of him, melancholy
seemed to have taken him for its prey. I attributed this to a more
than usually serious love affair, but I had no idea that his projects
for the deliverance of Greece were the cause of his constant absence.
At the moment when the Congress laboured at the consolidation of a
general peace, the realisation of his generous plan seemed to recede
further into the distance. It was improbable that Europe, even in the
interests of Miltiades and Themistocles, would allow the equilibrium
to be disturbed and risk once more the world’s repose. One morning I
was riding through the Prater, after a stormy night which had burst
over Vienna and occasioned much damage. The sky was bright, and the sun
glinted through the trees. I saw Ypsilanti close to a path where I had
seen him just five months previously, dawdling along, the reins on his
horse’s neck, and, as usual, his face overcast with care. Thinking the
moment opportune to ask him the cause of an estrangement I regretted, I
rode up to him.

‘My mind,’ he said, ‘is occupied entirely by something which, as yet,
is a secret that does not belong to me alone. I know your affection
for me, and I will not hesitate to tell you my thoughts the moment I
can do so without damage to a sacred cause, or without breaking my
pledge.’

His solemn tone surprised me, and I asked him to speak plainly, but
he opposed a determined silence. His head hung on his breast; his
thoughts were engrossed by something he could not shake off. Suddenly,
he beckoned to his attendant, jumped off his horse, and invited me to
do the same. We strolled down a solitary avenue, and after a few steps
stopped short. He fixed his piercing eyes on me, violently clutching my
arm.

‘Napoleon has left Elba,’ he said.

‘Dear prince!’ I exclaimed. ‘Are you sure?’

‘Absolutely!’ was the answer. ‘A courier despatched from Florence to
the English Embassy brought the news this morning. Emperor Alexander
and M. de Nesselrode were informed immediately. There were no further
particulars.’

‘But this means Europe on fire once more, and a struggle more terrible
than ever.’

‘Yes. We are about to quit opera for tragedy. The moment has come in
which I feel bound to act. I have spoken to you of my plan to free
Greece. Henceforth, favoured by this tremendous event, it will be my
business to break her fetters, and to replace her in her former rank
among the nations.’

‘A noble project. One might call it sublime. But have you calculated
the means necessary to ensure success?’

‘I have no doubt about them. That dream of my very youth, that dream
of my early years, will soon be a reality. War will set Europe again
in a blaze; faithful friends as well as myself are only awaiting that
signal.’

‘Dear Alexander! Your enthusiasm is nothing new to me, nor your
military talents, nor your patriotic devotion, but I feel bound to
point out to you the dangers of your project, and the impossibility of
its success.’

I spoke to him for fully half an hour, without shaking his decision in
the least, when suddenly at the winding of the path, we perceived two
men on horseback. I fancied one of these was the Comte Capo d’Istria.

‘Oh!’ he exclaimed, ‘they have kept their word!’ and without another
syllable he ran to his horse, flung himself on it, and disappeared.
Returning to Vienna, I went to Prince Koslowski, naturally impatient to
know the particulars of the news which was soon to engross the world’s
attention--the departure of Napoleon from the island of Elba. Amidst
the grave interests which were then paramount, the Greek question
passed unperceived. But when it assumed the grand proportions it did
assume, and aroused the sympathies of the whole of the civilised
world, history carefully collected every particular connected with
this glorious emancipation. History has revealed the secrets which
Ypsilanti could not entrust to one of his dearest friends, and later
on I knew the men on whom he counted to second his efforts. ‘We shall
meet again,’ Ypsilanti had shouted as he disappeared. Alas! we were
only to meet once more, five years later. It was in 1820, on my return
from Carlsbad, when I was on my way to Louiseburg, near Alexanderbad,
in Bavaria. I had been wandering at random for several hours about the
somewhat melancholy spot, and had reached the summit of Louiseburg with
its famous cross, when at the foot of the monument I perceived, seated,
a fellow-wayfarer, wrapt in an ample cloak. He was writing in a book,
which he closed as I drew near. He had, no doubt, been warned by the
sound of my footsteps, for he turned round, and I recognised Ypsilanti.
The five years that had gone by since that memorable morning towards
the end of the Congress had left profound traces on his features. He
was no longer the young and brilliant soldier, the life and soul of
every drawing-room. But although the face was deeply lined, and the
eyes were hollow set, there was still the lofty animation pervading
the handsome physiognomy. He explained to me that his wounds had
necessitated a journey to Carlsbad, and that while waiting for some
friends, he had pushed as far as Louiseburg, at the recommendation of
the King of Prussia. In a few moments, the subject ever present to his
thoughts was on his lips. This time, for delivering his country from
the foreign yoke, he counted on the sympathy of Alexander. I asked him
if he had considered what would happen in the event of a reverse, and
endeavoured to point out to him the improbability of Russia’s allowing
an independent state to be carved out of some of the most beautiful
provinces of the Turkish Empire. Nothing that I could say would induce
him--not to abandon his enterprise, I had no sanguine expectations to
that effect, but to postpone it until a more favourable moment. All he
would do was to confide to me a manuscript setting forth the principal
events of his life, but the narration of which does not come within the
scope of this work.



CONCLUSION

  Napoleon has left Elba--Aspect of Vienna--Theatricals at
      the Court--Mme. Edmond de Périgord and the Rehearsal--
      Napoleon’s Landing at Cannes--The Interrupted Dance--Able
      Conduct of M. de Talleyrand--Declaration of the 13th March--
      Fauche Borel--The Congress is Dissolved.


My task is nearly at an end. Five-and-twenty years have gone by since
the occurrence of the magic scenes part of which I have endeavoured to
reproduce. There only remains to sketch the last one.

Prince Koslowski, to whom I went after Ypsilanti bade me such a hurried
farewell in the Prater by jumping on his horse, confirmed the news told
me by the latter. Napoleon had indeed left Elba. ‘The master and the
prisoner of Europe in one,’ as he had been energetically called, had
left his prison armed with nothing but his own glory, and, like Cæsar,
had entrusted himself and his fortunes to a frail barque.

‘The news,’ said Koslowski, ‘was brought here by a courier despatched
by the English ambassador in Florence to Lord Stewart. The English
consul at Leghorn had in the first instance transmitted it. Lord
Stewart, who naturally was the first to open the despatch, informed M.
de Metternich and the sovereigns. The ministers of the great Powers
were told immediately afterwards. It is not known which road Napoleon
has taken. Is he coming to France, or does he wish, as has been stated,
to get to the United States? For the moment there is nothing but
conjecture. But who shall preserve him from the storm rumbling and
gathering over his head? Will fortune be able to place on his brow
the lightning-conductor to avert the course of that storm? The high
and mighty arbiters of the Congress desire that the news shall not be
spread before they are able to take measures dictated by the gravity of
the circumstances.’

Whether the secret had been carefully kept, or whether the intoxication
consequent upon the many months of festivities had not altogether worn
off, it is impossible to say; but the capital preserved its usual
aspect. The ramparts and the Leopoldstadt faubourg leading to the
Prater were teeming with strollers, evidently anxious to profit by the
first rays of the spring sun. There was no sign of the thunderbolt
having produced its echo: joy and careless gaiety everywhere.

In the evening the company of amateur comedians was to give a
performance in the palace of the _Barbier de Seville_ and of a
vaudeville very popular at that time, entitled _La Danse Interrompue_.
The Prince Koslowski had offered to accompany me to the imperial
residence. Anxious to study the general physiognomy of the illustrious
gathering, and also hoping to gather some fresh news in connection with
the great event, I had accepted. The gathering was as brilliant and as
numerous as usual. There was, however, no longer the careless calm of
the morning. Slight clouds, but clouds for all that, darkened their
brows. The company stood chatting in groups, and here and there the
probable consequences of Napoleon’s departure were discussed with more
than ordinary warmth. ‘He cannot elude the English cruisers,’ said one.
‘M. Pozzo di Borgo maintains,’ replied another, ‘that if he sets foot
in France, he’ll be hanged on the nearest tree.’[102]

Everybody, it seemed, wished to shirk the reality of the awakening.
‘We ought to think ourselves very lucky,’ said some partisans of the
Bourbons of Sicily. ‘Truly Bonaparte is playing our game admirably. He
may set his helm for Naples; and if so, the Congress will be obliged to
take measures for the expulsion of that usurper and intruder, Murat.’

Suddenly the conversations ceased. The Empress of Austria had entered
the room and taken her seat, and at a signal from her the curtain
rose. ‘We’ll just see,’ I said to Prince Koslowski, ‘if this event,
apparently so unforeseen, has not bred confusion in the illustrious
company of players.’

‘You may spare yourself such a mistake,’ was the answer. ‘It would
need the enemy at the gates of Vienna and the thunder of the cannon to
rouse them from their obstinate sleep. When the news came this morning
to M. de Talleyrand, he was still in bed. Mme. Edmond de Périgord was
seated by his pillow and brightly conversing with him when a letter
was brought in from M. de Metternich. “This is to tell me the hour
fixed for the Congress to-day,” said the prince, leaving the handsome
comtesse to open the epistle, which, as a matter of course, she does
mechanically. In a moment or so, though, she opens her eyes very wide
and reads the big tidings. She also had to go during the day to M. de
Metternich’s, but it was merely to rehearse a farce--_Le Sourd, ou
l’Auberge pleine_. “Bonaparte has left Elba,” she exclaims. “Oh, uncle,
and my rehearsal!” “Your rehearsal, madame,” is the quiet reply, “will
take place all the same.” And the prince was right; the rehearsal
took place just the same. Europe is, perhaps, on the verge of a
general conflagration, but the confidence of our comedians will not be
disturbed by so small a matter as that.’

Everybody was studying the faces of the political notabilities, as a
rule so very impassive; people scanned their looks and tried to read
their thoughts. They all affected a confidence probably far removed
from the reality. The absence of M. de Talleyrand was noticed, and the
preoccupation of Emperor Alexander.

What had caused this supreme resolution on the part of Napoleon, the
consequences of which were so fatal to France? Did he expect, in spite
of the enfeebled condition of France, to hold his own once more against
coalesced Europe? Was he so blind as to entertain the possibility of
henceforth living in peace with all those sovereigns to whom he had
formerly dictated, and whom he had taught the road to Paris? Or was not
his flight from Elba an act of despair in order to escape a captivity
which, six years later, was to make an end of him on the rock of St.
Helena?

Certain was it that the presence of the Emperor of the French in the
midst of the Mediterranean, and the independence, nay, the shadow of
power which was left to him, had aroused the alarm of the Congress.
It was well known that there existed in Paris a centre of intrigues
and correspondence having for its aim the restoration of the imperial
_régime_. Queen Hortense was the soul of that conspiracy, which was
known to everybody except the blind Bourbons. During the stay of Queen
Hortense there, in August 1814, Madame de Krüdener, so celebrated
subsequently in consequence of her mystic connection with Emperor
Alexander, had foretold to her the return of Napoleon. Hence, from the
beginning of the conferences, the question of choosing another place of
exile, or rather of transportation, was broached, though the strictest
secrecy was kept about the matter. Nevertheless, it was only towards
the end of January that St. Helena was mentioned by M. Pozzo di Borgo,
who professed to have received letters informing him of the arrest at
Genoa, at Florence, and on the whole of the coast, of the emissaries of
Napoleon. ‘Europe,’ Pozzo had said, ‘would not be at rest until she had
put the ocean between herself and that man.’

It was asserted that Prince Eugène owed the revelation of that
important secret to his intimacy with Emperor Alexander, and that he
lost no time in informing Napoleon. The latter no longer hesitated,
and made up his mind to return to France. From that moment, Alexander
became most cool and distant towards Eugène.

Vienna remained without further news for nearly five days, during which
the receptions and entertainments went on as if nothing had happened,
the general concern apparently becoming less and less. Finally, though,
there was no possibility of denying the truth; the thunderclap came:
Napoleon was in France. The adventurer, as Pozzo di Borgo dared to call
him, was welcomed everywhere by frantically enthusiastic populations.
The soldiers rushed to meet their general; there was no obstacle to
his triumphal march. The fall of the Colossus, which had appeared
incomprehensible, was less surprising than the resurrection of his
power.

The news of Napoleon’s landing at Cannes came while the ball at M.
de Metternich’s was at its height. The tidings had the effect of
the stroke of the wand or the whistle of the stage-carpenter, which
transforms the gardens of Armida into a wilderness. In fact, the
thousands of candles seemed to have gone out simultaneously. The news
spread with the rapidity of an electric current. In vain did the
orchestra continue the strains of a waltz just begun; the dancers
stopped of their own accord, looking at and interrogating each other;
the four words, ‘He is in France,’ were like the shield of Ubaldo
which, presented to the gaze of Rinaldo, suddenly destroyed all the
charms of Armida.

Emperor Alexander took a few steps towards the Prince de Talleyrand. ‘I
told you that it would not last,’ he said. The French plenipotentiary
did not move a muscle of his face, and simply bowed without replying.
The King of Prussia gave a sign to the Duke of Wellington, and both
left the ball-room together, followed almost immediately by Emperors
Alexander and Francis and M. de Metternich. The majority of the guests
seemed bent upon disappearing unnoticed, so that finally the place
became deserted save for a few apparently terror-stricken talkers.

The Prince Koslowski, whom I saw during the evening, was unable to add
anything to the news already current among the public. ‘This is an
excellent opportunity for the players to give us a second performance
of that charming vaudeville _La Danse Interrompue_. Comte Palfi, who
played the part of Wasner so brightly, might well sing:

     ‘“Enfin voilà la danse interrompue;
      Comment tenir à cet incident-là?”

The chorus, I am afraid, will probably be accompanied in a short time
by the thunder of a hundred thousand firearms. This news,’ he went
on, ‘will no doubt remind you of the tidings of the taking of Amiens
by the Spaniards, told to Henri IV. in the midst of a ballet in which
both he and Sully were dancing, though it is difficult to imagine Sully
disporting himself in that way: he was certainly not famed for that
kind of thing. “Mistress mine,” said the king to “la belle Gabrielle”
(d’Estrées), taking her hand, “we are bound to give up our dancing and
our games; we must to horse, and recommence another war. There’s a
truce to the joys of love.” It would be well, perhaps, to translate the
phrase into several languages for the benefit of some of the would-be
Henri Quatres assembled here.’

It would be impossible to depict the aspect of the Austrian capital
from that moment. Vienna was like an individual who, lulled to sleep by
dreams of love and ambition, suddenly found himself violently awakened
by the rattle of the watchman or the clanging of the belfry warning him
that his house was on fire. The various guests from all parts of Europe
could not recall without dread the phases of the period that had just
gone by. The constantly renewed disasters of a quarter of a century of
war; the invaded capitals; the battlefields bestrewn with the dead;
commerce and industry paralysed; whole families, nay, whole nations, in
mourning--all this presented itself simultaneously to their minds; and
the recollection of the lurid flames of Moscow lent additional terror
to the picture. No doubt there had been recent reprisals on their part;
and the presence of the Allied Armies in Paris proved to a certain
extent that the terms ‘unvanquished’ and ‘invincible’ were by no means
synonymous. This, however, rendered their anxiety all the greater.
To fell the Colossus to the ground, it had required a conjunction
of circumstances, and, moreover, an accord of sentiments and ideas,
which had increased the strength of each individual nation tenfold. At
present those nations had assumed an observant attitude towards each
other; the stern reality only showed the certainty of evils which had
been considered as dispelled for ever.

Under those grave circumstances, M. de Talleyrand gave proof of an
ability and a strength of will that had the effect of carrying all
before it. Never was there a more difficult rôle than his. He was, as
it were, the buffer betwixt the government he represented and France,
whose interest he wished to save, and the inimical Powers, which
confounded in the self-same ban Napoleon and the country which once
more had welcomed him. I was not in Paris at the time of the first
Restoration; Talleyrand’s conduct, therefore, only came to me through
contemporary accounts, not always to be depended on for their veracity.
But having been an eye-witness of what he did in March 1815 for his
country and for the Bourbons, I have no hesitation in saying that the
latter were indebted to him a second time for their crown; and that
France, perhaps, owed to him her existence as a nation. He understood,
with marvellous intuition, that these two facts were narrowly bound up
with and emanated from each other. Hence his attitude, and his efforts
to obtain the declaration of the 13th March.

That famous act, so differently appreciated, claims its mention here.
The irritation in Vienna was at its height, and kept up by the prospect
of a relentless war. The enthusiasm aroused by Napoleon’s presence, the
welcome given to him by the various populations, the rallying around
him of the army--all these things combined caused the French nation to
be looked upon as an accomplice to the breaking of the much desired
peace. There was, moreover, the dread of a revival of the Revolutionary
ideas, the delirium of which had struck terror throughout Europe. The
Emperor of Austria, addressing the czar, had said ‘Behold, sire, the
result of your holding your hand over your Paris Jacobins.’ ‘That’s
true, sire,’ was the answer, ‘but to repair the wrong, I hold myself
and my armies at your Majesty’s disposal.’

The quarrel on the point of breaking out was, therefore, between
France on the one side, and the whole of Europe on the other; a duel
to the bitter end, which could only cease with the death of one of
the combatants. I also heard the word ‘partition’ mentioned, and the
example of Poland was there to prove that a nation may be struck off
the European family register.

M. de Talleyrand, on the contrary, laid down the principle that in
1815, as in the previous year, Europe could be at war with Napoleon
only and not with France. He manœuvred with so much skill or so much
luck as to overcome all obstacles and entirely to change the intentions
hostile to France, and finally to obtain the acceptance of his
principle. A score of times the Congress was about to separate without
having made up its mind to anything save a blind and relentless war;
a score of times he rallied around him opinions fundamentally opposed
to each other. I am aware of the repugnance of certain dogmatic minds
to these compromises inspired by prudence. Over and again it has been
said that it would have been better for France to accept a declaration
of war--a threat of extermination addressed to herself. In her hour of
despair, the country would have found a supernatural force; she would
have perished in the struggle or obtained a glorious triumph.

M. de Talleyrand was swayed by too much moderation to risk this; he
had too correct a notion of the enfeebled condition of France to fling
her once more into violent and desperate adventures. He himself beheld
Europe ready to rise as one man; he directed the rise against an
individual instead of against a people. And in this he acted rightly.
His conduct was appreciated and admired in Vienna as the triumph of
reason and of an enlightened patriotism. More than once he returned
from the Congress to his residence utterly discouraged. On the morning
of the 13th March, the day appointed for the signing of this important
act, he was by no means sure of his success. Meanwhile, everything
depended on it. When he was ready to go to M. de Metternich, his
_entourage_ could not refrain from showing a natural anxiety. ‘Wait for
me here,’ he said, ‘and in order not to try your patience by as much as
a minute, watch for my return at the windows. If I have succeeded, I’ll
show you from the carriage the treaty on which shall depend the fate of
Europe and of France.’

A few hours later, when coming back, he waved the roll containing the
signatures of the arbiters of peace who had become the arbiters of war.
For a moment, though, the accord obtained with so much labour was on
the point of being broken. It was when the Congress heard of the flight
of Louis XVIII. from the Tuileries without an attempt at striking
a blow, and of Napoleon’s taking possession of the palace. Emperor
Alexander, in particular, failed to understand the tame submission of
the Bourbon family and the absence of a single defender.

One morning I ran up against General Ouwaroff. ‘The czar,’ he said,
‘has not recovered from his surprise. He is tired of war, and just now
he repeated to me at least a dozen times, “Never shall I draw the sword
for them.”’

M. de Talleyrand, in addition to this, performed wonders of skill
and patience in the retying of the loosened ‘Congress bundle’ and in
directing the various wills of which it was composed towards one common
aim. If, on the one hand, the masses beheld with terror the horizon
becoming once more dark with threatening clouds, the men devoured with
ambition rejoiced at the probable revival of a time of glory. For,
disguise it as one will, the intrigues which were already set on foot
to overthrow or to support Napoleon offered a prospect of a prompt
result in the way of grandeur and riches. Among the many ambitious
ones of various ranks who rushed in crowds to Vienna, the ubiquitous
Fauche-Borel, the secret agent of the Bourbon princes during the
emigration, was foremost. He came once more to offer his fortune, his
devotion, and even the blood of his family for a cause in which he had
sacrificed everything. No one had a greater right than he to call kings
‘the illustriously ungrateful.’ His adventurous life, his expensive
tastes, had promptly swallowed all the sums he received from the house
of Bourbon and from the British Government. His was indeed a strange
destiny. The crowning of his efforts turned out to be a disaster to his
personal fortune. For twenty years his numberless creditors had awaited
patiently the day of his success. Scarcely were the Bourbons seated
on the throne, the access to which had been facilitated by him, than
everybody imagined the ill-fated bookseller of Neufchâtel to be loaded
with gold and honours. Pressed on all sides and but meanly remunerated,
his position was a thousand times harder than it had been before.
Hence, he was going to resume his life of intriguing and hopes. If a
warning were needed for the ambitious against their all-engrossing
craving to be somebody or to appear to be somebody, no more striking
example could be advanced than that of Fauche-Borel putting an end to
his disappointed ambition by committing suicide, and by that death
setting the seal on everything that has been said about the ingratitude
of princes.

‘The Congress is dissolved,’ Napoleon had said, on setting his foot on
French soil at Cannes. Meanwhile, on the 11th March, in the midst of
the general consternation, a company of amateurs still played in the
Redotto hall _Le Calife de Bagdad_ and _Les Rivaux d’eux-mêmes_, and,
strange though it may appear, there was a larger audience than might
have been expected. It was, however, the final flicker of the expiring
lamp; the last feeble sound of the broken instrument. Pleasure took
flight. ‘The Congress is dissolved.’


THE END



FOOTNOTES


[1] Throughout this translation I have left many of the nobiliary
titles and names of the Continental aristocracy in their French garb;
those of the English personages mentioned I have reduced to their
original expression.

[2] Bourgeois was then, as now, the appellation commonly bestowed upon
the members of the middle classes.--Transl.

[3] The marquisate was created in 1663, and was registered in the
Parliament of Languedoc. It was bestowed upon Louis-François de La
Garde, chevalier seigneur de Chambonas, son of Antoine de La Garde,
married to Charlotte de la Beaume de Suze. The title passed to his
nephew, Scipion-Louis-Joseph, who was brigadier in the king’s armies in
1744, and who died 27th February 1765. He married: First, Claire-Marie,
Princesse de Ligne; second, Louise-Victoire-Marie de Grimoard de
Beauvoir du Roure, daughter of the Comte du Roure, lieutenant-general
in the king’s armies, and of Marie-Antoinette-Victoire de Gontaut
Biron. The issue of the second marriage was two boys, one of whom
was Scipion-Charles-Victor-Auguste, Marquis de Chambonas, Baron de
Saint-Félix and d’Auberque, Comte de Saint-Julien, who married on
the 2nd April 1774, Mlle. de Lespinasse de Langeac. (_Administrative
Archives of the Dépôt_ (Ministry of War and La Chesnaye des Bois), 3rd
edition, Article ‘La Garde.’)

[4] In the few passages of the _Recollections of the Congress of
Vienna_, where the author refers to his childhood and his family, he
deliberately throws a veil over both subjects. Without the _Unpublished
Notes_, the pages of which bearing upon the present publication were
kindly communicated to us by the present head of the family, M. le
Marquis de Chambonas, we should have failed to pierce the darkness in
which certain parts of our writer’s life are wrapped.

[5] I can only follow the original. This is not the name of the
godmother mentioned in the certificate of baptism; but Mme. Barryals
had probably contracted a second marriage.--Transl.

[6] I am preparing for publication the _Mémoires du Général le Marquis
d’ Hautpoul_, who, as a child, spent the whole of the Terror in the
neighbourhood of Versailles with his relatives, including his father,
a former colonel. It should be said, though, that a member of the
Convention had made them adopt the disguise of gardeners.

[7] From that moment, M. de La Garde’s information about the Marquis
de Chambonas becomes very scant. In his _Unpublished Notes_ there are
a couple of grateful references to his ‘father,’ but that is all. We
are left in ignorance about the disparities of character which appear
to have parted them for ever. All that is known about M. de Chambonas
is due to the documents (_dossier_) relating to him, preserved in the
Archives of the Ministry of War. He seems to have settled definitely in
England. Wrecked in health, and even paralysed, it is from there that
he petitions in 1816. Finally, he obtained a modest pension with the
superior grade of lieutenant-general. He died in Paris, not in 1807, as
is stated by one biographer, but in February 1830.

[8] The _Album_ contains, moreover, a short biography of the queen,
some of her letters to M. de La Garde, and a facsimile of his
handwriting; the whole on vellum-made paper, with gilt ornamental
borders. The book is very rare. M. le Marquis de Chambonas has a copy
of it belonging to his uncle. I have the good fortune to possess
another.

[9] It is well known that the first words of Napoleon on setting foot
on French soil in 1815, were: ‘The Congress is dissolved.’

[10] Not to be confounded with Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, the author
of _Paul et Virginie_. The Abbé de Saint-Pierre’s literary fame mainly
rests on a book entitled _Projet de Paix Perpétuelle_. M. Bloch, the
Russian Utopist of to-day, has invented nothing.--Transl.

[11] Baron Wilhelm von Humboldt, eminent diplomatist and statesman,
celebrated philologist, born at Potsdam in 1767, died in 1835. He took
part in the Conferences of Prague, Châtillon, Paris, and Vienna. He
left valued works on the primitive dwellers in Spain, on the Chinese
language (letters written in French to M. A. de Rémusat), and a
collection of studies on æsthetics, etc. 6 Volumes. Berlin 1841-48.

[12] She was the sister of George III., and became involved in a
love-affair with Struensee, her husband’s prime minister. Struensee was
beheaded, and she was sentenced to divorce and exile.

[13] The sentence may be interpreted in two ways. The absolutely modern
version would be ‘the most honest man’; the Molièresque sense, ‘the
most accomplished man of the world.’--Transl.

[14] I have re-translated the passage as closely as possible, although
perfectly aware of its being neither a faithful French rendering nor
even a passably brilliant paraphrase of the original in _Henry VIII._,
Act I. I had no choice in the matter. It does not transpire whether
M. de La Garde was responsible for it, or whether he copied it from a
French version of the play.--Transl.

[15] Charles Joseph, Prince de Ligne, whom the Comte de la Garde
mentions so frequently, and always in terms of the deepest veneration,
was indeed a grandiose figure. Born in Brussels in 1735, he entered
the service of Austria, and distinguished himself in the Seven Years’
War. He was made a major-general in 1766, a lieutenant-general in
1771, and the campaign of 1778 only increased his military reputation.
Subsequently he travelled in Italy, in Switzerland, and in France;
at Versailles he was thoroughly appreciated as a very able, amiable,
and witty grand seigneur. In Russia, whither he was sent in 1782 on
a mission, he became _persona gratissima_ with Catherine the Great,
who bestowed upon him an estate in the Crimea. He was present, as a
general, at the siege of Oklakoff, directed by Potemkin, and at some
of the actions of Laudon. In consequence of the part borne by his son
in the insurrection of the Netherlands (the provinces now constituting
the kingdom of Belgium), against Austria, he was removed from public
life, and, though a field-marshal in 1808, he had no longer a command.
The Prince de Ligne was an able and profound tactician. He left a
great number of writings both in German and in French. They are
replete with witty and pungent remarks, but the style is incorrect
and diffuse. Under the title of _Mélanges militaires, littéraires et
sentimentaires_, there are thirty volumes (1798-1809). His _Journal des
Guerres_ and _l’Essai sur les Jardins_ are worth keeping. In addition
to these he published in 1809 a _Vie du Prince Eugène de Savoie_.
Madame de Staël, Malte-Brun, and Lacroix, have published either
_Lettres_ or _Fragments_, which were well worthy of being preserved,
and which have practically become classics. His _Lettres de Russie à
la Marquise de Coigny_ have been published by Lescure, Librairie des
Bibliophiles, and M. Lucien Percy has just published his _Lettres à
Catherine II._

[16] _Née_ de Conflans d’Armentières, perhaps the only woman who
succeeded in being _platonically_ beloved by Lauzun. Paul Lacroix
published these letters in a strictly limited edition of a hundred
copies. The Marquise’s daughter married the well-known General
Sebastiani, and died in giving birth to the future Duchesse de Praslin,
who met with such a tragic end.

[17] The Prince de Ligne had bestowed the sobriquet on Napoleon, in
allusion to his departure for Elba, and not from scorn, for nobody
professed a greater admiration and more genuine sympathy than he for
the most illustrious and most ill-fated figure of modern times.--Note
of the Comte de la Garde.

[18] The Prince de Ligne had three daughters--the Princess Clary, the
Comtesse Palfi, and the Baronne Spiegel; and two sons, Charles and
Louis, of whom the former married the exquisitely sweet and pretty
Hélène Massalska, and the latter, whence sprung the present Princes de
Ligne, died prematurely.

[19] Frederick I., Duke, afterwards King, of Würtemberg, became in
1805 the ally of Napoleon, who created his royal title and gained his
admission into the Confederation of the Rhine. In 1813 he joined the
Allied Powers against France. After a somewhat despotic reign, he
granted his subjects a constitution in 1815. One of his daughters,
Catherine, married Jérôme Bonaparte, some time King of Westphalia, and
proved herself a woman of exemplary moral worth and courage under most
trying circumstances.

[20] See _infra_, the biographical notes on these princes.

[21] M. de la Garde published an account of that journey.

[22] Tettenborn was to the last very outspoken. At the time of his stay
in Paris, court dress was _de rigueur_ at the Tuileries for civilians
and military, even if the latter belonged to foreign armies. Tettenborn
was a superior officer of hussars; nevertheless he complied with the
regulations, but he did not shave his moustache. Napoleon remarked
upon this in a bantering tone. ‘You’ll admit,’ he said, ‘that a pair
of moustachios goes badly with this costume.’ ‘Pardon me, sire, it’s
the dress which looks ridiculous with a pair of moustachios,’ was the
prompt answer.

[23] The Comte de Las-Cases, in his _Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène_,
reports another case of the freaks of fate. ‘Serrurier and the younger
Hédouville,’ said Napoleon, ‘were marching in company with the
intention of making their way into Spain, when they met with a patrol.
Hédouville, younger and more nimble than his companion, managed to
cross the frontier, and considering himself lucky, vegetated for a long
time in Spain. Serrurier, compelled to turn back, became a marshal of
France.’--_Author’s Note._

[24] She was, nevertheless, an aunt (by blood) of Emperor Franz, and
one of his mothers-in-law. Students of history know the adventures of
the sister of Marie-Antoinette, of her compromising relations with
Nelson, and her strange affection for Lady Hamilton. King Ferdinand had
just been restored to his throne when the queen died (7th September
1814).

[25] In Roman Catholic countries the day of the saint after whom the
person is named, rather than the birthday, is kept.--Transl.

[26] Frederick VI., King of Denmark, born in 1768, died in 1839. His
father, Christian VII., became impaired in intellect, and the Queen
Dowager took the reins of government. Frederick deprived her of the
Regency in 1784 and ascended the throne in 1808. In the following year,
he imposed upon the Swedes, who wished to dispossess him of Norway, the
Treaty of Jongkopping. He contracted a durable alliance with France,
which was made a pretext by the European Coalition for punishing
him by giving Norway to Sweden (Treaty of Kiel). But he received in
compensation Rügen and Swedish Pomerania, which in 1816 he exchanged
for the Duchy of Lauenburg.

[27] Charles Robert, Comte de Nesselrode, born in 1780, died in 1862;
a most able Russian diplomatist. After having filled several posts in
Germany and at the Hague, he was Councillor of Embassy in Paris in
1807. As early as 1810 he was enabled to warn his sovereign with regard
to the secret armaments of Napoleon in view of a rupture with Russia,
and from that moment his credit with Alexander I. grew immensely.
Nesselrode was called to the Chancellorship of State, and subsequently
shared with Capo d’Istria the direction of Foreign Affairs. It was
he who inspired the Coalition against France in 1813, and signed the
Convention of Breslau, the Treaty of Subsidies with England, and the
League of Toeplitz. In 1814, he accompanied the Czar to France, signed
the Treaty of Chaumont, and negotiated the capitulation with Marmont.
He played an important part at the Congress of Vienna. Subsequently
at Aix-la-Chapelle (1818), at Laybach (1821), and at Vienna (1822) he
exercised a preponderant influence. Under Nicholas I., who maintained
him in his functions, Nesselrode practically established Russia’s
influence on ‘young’ Greece, and was the author of two treaties
humiliating to Turkey, viz., that of Adrianople (1829) and that of
Unkiar-Skelessi (1833). In 1840 his diplomatic skill kept France
excluded from the European Concert. He succeeded in preventing the
European Powers from intervening in the affairs of Poland (1830-31),
and in 1848, after for some time merely preserving a watchful attitude
in Hungarian affairs, he finally flung Russia’s power in the balance in
Austria’s favour, and increased his master’s influence in the East. He
was a partisan of a peaceful settlement of the difficulties cropping
up in 1854, and endeavoured to avoid a conflict between France and
Russia. His last political act was the conclusion of peace and the
Treaty of Paris, after which he retired, though preserving the titular
Chancellorship of the Empire. His despatches are models of conciseness.

[28] The defender of Saint Jean d’Acre against Bonaparte, and one of
the signatories of the Convention of El-Arish; Kleber being the other.
He assisted the King of Portugal in his departure for Brazil in 1807,
and accompanied him thither. He retired from the service in 1810, and
spent his time mainly in philanthropic work. Admiral in 1821, died in
Paris, 1840.

[29] Subsequently known as the Duchesse de Dino, and afterwards
de Talleyrand. She was supposed to be the Egeria of the Prince de
Talleyrand, and kept house for him, either at Valençay, Paris, or
London, during his embassy in the latter capital in 1830. She was a
pre-eminent and exceedingly cultivated woman.

[30] The name of Pahlen recalls the conspiracy of March 1801, which put
an end to the days of Emperor Paul I.

[31] The son of Comtesse Sophie Potocka by her first husband.

[32] Frédéric de Gentz (1764-1832) author and diplomatist, the
principal projector of the Coalition of the Holy Alliance. He was the
defender from conviction of all the absolute monarchies; pensioned by
Pitt during the Revolution; Aulic Councillor in 1805 at Vienna, and in
the interval staunchly devoted to the interests of Prussia. It was he
who was entrusted with the drawing-up of the manifesto of the Powers in
1813. From that moment he exercised great influence on the diplomacy
of Europe, and was present, in one or the other capacity, at all the
Congresses. He published several political works, one of which was
written in French, viz., _Journal de ce qui est arrivé dans le Voyage
que j’ai fait au Quartier Général de S. M. le Roi de Prusse_, Oct.
1806. Mention should also be made of a series of brochures on _The
Rights of Man_, _The European Equilibrium_, a _Life of Marie Stuart_,
etc. Comte Prokesch-Osten (the son of the friend and confidant of
the Duc de Reichstadt), published with Plon in 1870 _The Unpublished
Despatches of the Chevalier de Gentz to the Hospodars of Wallachia_.

[33] Sir John Sinclair was the president of the Agricultural Society of
Edinburgh. The story of young Sinclair is in all the _Memoirs_ of the
First Empire. See, above all, an account of the whole affair written by
young Sinclair himself in the _Edinburgh Review_ of 1826.

[34] Emeric Joseph, Duc de Dalberg, was the nephew of the Bishop of
Constance, who was Elector of Mainz and Prince-Primate and Grand
Duke of Frankfurt-on-the-Main, and in his various dignities gave
such startling proofs of his honesty in private life and his high
intellectual culture. The nephew, at first Baron de Dalberg, after
having represented the Margraviate of Baden in Paris, became a great
friend of Talleyrand, married the Marquise de Brignole, lady of honour
to the Empress Josephine, took out letters of naturalisation and
obtained the title of duc with a counsellorship of State. He was one of
the negotiators of the marriage of Napoleon with Marie-Louise, but in
1814 promptly deserted the fortunes of Napoleon. He was one of the five
members of the Provisional Government, and took part in the Congress
of Vienna as a plenipotentiary. Subsequently he was created a peer
of France and appointed to the ambassadorship at Turin. Born in 1773
at Mainz, he died at Hernsheim in 1833. His ducal title went to his
nephew, the Comte de Tascher de la Pagerie.

[35] This correspondence has been annotated and published by M.
Pallain, (Plon, 1888). The correspondence of M. de Talleyrand with
Louis XVIII. forms part of the third volume of the Talleyrand _Memoirs_.

[36] Known at first as the Comte de Chinon, and subsequently, up to the
death of his father in 1791, as the Duc de Fronsac, Armand Emmanuel
Sophie Septimanie, Duc de Richelieu, and grandson of the famous
marshal, was born in 1776, and died in 1822. He was the First Gentleman
of the Chamber of Louis XVI. at the moment the Revolution broke out. He
emigrated and entered the service of Catherine II., and distinguished
himself under Suvaroff at the siege of Ismaël, and subsequently
commanded an army corps under Condé before Valenciennes in 1793. Having
returned to Russia, where they gave him a cavalry regiment, he fell
into disgrace during the reign of Paul I., and went back to France
in 1801. He declined, however, to renounce foreign military service,
and was compelled to leave; when he placed himself at the disposal of
Alexander I., who appointed him Governor of Odessa. His services to New
Russia in general, and to Odessa in particular, are well known; but
on the restoration of the Bourbons in 1814, he re-entered France with
them and had a peerage conferred upon him, while at the same time he
was appointed First Gentleman of the Chamber. During the Hundred Days
he followed Louis XVIII. to Ghent, then at the second Restoration was
given the Presidency of the Council (Premiership) with the portfolio
of Foreign Affairs. He rendered eminent services, in using his credit
with Alexander I., by reducing the War Indemnity, and the occupation of
France by foreign troops from seven years to five. When he resigned the
Ministry in 1818, the Chambers voted him an income of fifty thousand
francs as a national reward; he employed those sums for the foundation
of an asylum for the aged at Bordeaux. In 1820, after the assassination
of the Duc de Berry and the disgrace of Decazes, he once more accepted
the Presidency of the Council, but his difficulties with the Chambers
made him resign in 1821. He died in the following year, universally
esteemed and regretted. He had been a member of the Académie Française
since 1816. Several memoirs of recent works have contributed much
to bring his figure into relief: the _Mémoires of General Comte de
Rochechouart; Le Duc de Richelieu_, by M. R. de Cisternes; _Louis
XVIII. et le Duc Decazes_, by M. Ernest Daudet, etc.

[37] Charles André, Comte Pozzo di Borgo, born in Corsica in 1764,
died in Paris in 1842. He began his career as an advocate at Pisa,
and was secretary to Paoli, member of the Corsican Directory in 1790,
deputy in 1791 of the Legislative Assembly. At his return, he openly
declared himself the enemy of the Bonaparte family, and seconded
Paoli, who wished to deliver Corsica to the English. Having become the
creature of Lord Eliot, the viceroy, he was the cause of the recall of
Paoli to London. He himself was bound to fly before the hatred of his
countrymen. As a secret diplomatic agent, he served in turns Prussia,
England, Austria, and Russia. Expelled from Russia in 1807 at the
demand of Napoleon, he was obliged to retire to Constantinople. In 1813
he was recalled to Russia, and in the following year was sent to Louis
XVIII. as ambassador. He took part in all the Congresses of the Holy
Alliance, and in 1823 was entrusted with the surveillance of the French
army in Spain. In 1835 he was the Russian ambassador in London, and
retired from public life in 1839.

[38] Written about 1830. Charles XIV. (Bernadotte), who died in 1844.

[39] Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, afterwards Marquis of
Londonderry, English statesman, born in 1769, died in 1822. In the
Commons he supported the policy of Pitt; sent to Ireland in 1797, his
administration was marked by extreme violence. He joined one of the
Cabinets of Fox as Minister of War and of the Colonies, resigned his
portfolio in 1806, resumed office in the following year, and became the
directing power of England’s policy. He was the relentless enemy of the
Revolution and of Napoleon, and granted subsidies to all the powers
arrayed against him. At the Congress of Vienna, where he sacrificed
Poland, Saxony and Belgium, he incurred great hatred, and his acts were
strenuously opposed in Parliament itself. His anti-liberal government
rendered him unpopular, and besides his weakness for the Holy Alliance,
his malignant persecution of Caroline of Brunswick, the Consort of
George IV., and his brutality towards the poorer classes made him
generally disliked. He killed himself in a fit of insanity. Castlereagh
had a great reputation as a political orator, but though more fluent
than Canning (with whom he fought a duel in 1806), his speeches lacked
the charm of the latter’s. His son, the Marquis of Londonderry,
ambassador and political writer, distinguished himself in the House of
Lords by a violent Toryism and his hatred of France.

[40] See the _Mémoires du Général Comte de Rochechouart_ (Plon, 1895).

[41] Mme. Davidoff was a daughter of the Duc de Gramont and of the
Duchesse, _née_ de Polignac.

[42] It is difficult to take this panegyric at its own estimate.
M. de La Garde had been well treated by M. de Talleyrand, and his
rare gratitude does him infinite credit; but to lay stress on M. de
Talleyrand’s heart is a dubious piece of flattery.

[43] Maximilian-Joseph, Elector, and subsequently King, of Bavaria,
under the title of Maximilian I., son of Frederick, Prince des
Deux-Ponts Berkenfeld. He was born in 1756, and died in 1825. He at
first served in the French army, became colonel of the regiment of
Alsace, and remained at Strasburg from 1782 to 1789. He succeeded his
brother, Charles II., in the dukedom of Deux-Ponts, and his uncle,
Charles Theodore, as Elector of Bavaria, and as Duke of Berg and
Juliers in 1799. In 1805 he threw in his lot with the Confederation of
the Rhine, and at the Peace of Presburg received the title of king.
In 1806 he married one of his daughters to Eugène de Beauharnais,
and the other to the Emperor Francis of Austria. In 1813 he joined
the coalition against France. In 1818 he gave a Constitution to his
subjects; he made some salutary reforms in the administration, and
greatly encouraged art and science.

[44] At nine o’clock on the evening of the 10th May 1809, shells are
thrown into the city of Vienna. At that moment the young Archduchess
Marie-Louise was lying stricken down with illness in the paternal
palace. The circumstance having been brought to Napoleon’s knowledge,
the direction of the projectiles was immediately changed and the
palace respected. Oh, the happy day! Who would have told Marie-Louise
then that in a few months’ time those same hands that caused Vienna
to shake would be weaving crowns for her brow, that at the palace of
the Tuileries she would reign over those Frenchmen who inspired such
fear.--Las Cases, _Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène_.

[45] A couple of years often went by without his mother seeing him and
scarcely concerning herself about him. The Comte de La Garde Chambonas
sometimes out-Herods Herod as a courtier.--Transl.

[46] Those are not exactly the bases of M. Rostand’s _Aiglon_. He
supports the contrary thesis. It would be well to strike an average
with the chapters of Prokesch-Osten on the Duc de Reichstadt and with
the book of Montbel on the same subject. The latter work is in turns
inspired by Metternich and Prokesch.

[47] Sir Neil was one of the eye-witnesses of the heart-stirring scene
at Fontainebleau when Napoleon, straining the imperial eagles to his
breast, yielded to his own emotion and waved his hat, crying like the
rest, ‘Long live the Emperor!’ The _Revue Britannique_ published in
1894 Sir Neil Campbell’s narrative.

[48] The words are historical. See _Recollections of Méneval_, vol. iii.

[49] This is another statement of the author in direct contradiction
to absolutely authenticated facts. The scene described must have taken
place at the beginning of October. Napoleon abdicated at the latter end
of April, and during that interval she made a journey of more than two
months, visiting Aix, the Righi, Berne, in the latter of which places
she fell in with George IV.‘s wife. The greater part of that time was
spent in the society of Neipperg.--Transl.

[50] Constantine Ypsilanti was a Greek, of a family originally hailing
from Trebizond, whose members performed the functions of dragoman at
the court of the Sultans. Alexander entered the Russian service. He
subsequently took part in the Greek insurrection and was compelled to
take refuge in Transylvania (1783-1828). His son (younger brother?),
Demetrius, was for a short time generalissimo of the insurgents of
Morea.

[51] Two separate works have lately appeared within a short time of
each other on Elisa Bacciochi, Princess of Lucca and Grand-Duchess of
Tuscany. One is by M. Paul Marmottan (Champion) and the other by M.
Rodocanachi (Flammarion).

[52] M. de Luchesini by his charming conversation enhanced that of the
King of Prussia. He knew the subjects on which the king liked to be
drawn out, and he also possessed the art of listening, an art never
possessed by a fool. M. de Pinto advised the king to make an ambassador
of M. de Luchesini, ‘because,’ as he expressed it, ‘Luchesini was a man
of wit.’ ‘That’s why I keep him with me,’ was the answer.--Author’s
Note.

[53] The sentence in French runs: ‘Mon frère est coiffé de main de
maitre. It is impossible to give an English equivalent for this, except
at the risk of making it coarse and spoiling it into the bargain. The
deceived husband is said to be ‘coiffé’ by his wife’s lover.--Transl.

[54] It was, in fact, the fashion at Versailles and at Saint-Cloud.
The most brilliant of all the lotteries was that offered by Monsieur
(the king’s brother), on the 9th August 1689, on the occasion of the
reception of the Venetian ambassador. The Court ladies had some most
magnificent presents.

[55] In a memoir, written twenty-six years previously, _i.e._, in 1788,
the Prince de Ligne had weighed with great sagacity the questions
which were from that moment inseparable from the fate of Poland. The
preamble describes in delightful and rare terms the Polish character,
and conveys a lofty idea of the author’s charm of expression in
dealing with his brilliant pictures. ‘Who,’ he exclaims, ‘can fail
to love Poland, the Poles, and, above all, Polish women, the mental
qualities and courage of the men, the grace and beauty of their fair
companions?‘--Author’s note.

[56] M. Edmond Taigny, Isabey’s nephew, published in the _Revue
Européenne_ in 1858 some interesting particulars of the early life
of the great artist, from the latter’s manuscript notes. The period
dealing with Isabey’s sojourn at Vienna during the Congress contains
several references to the present work.

[57] Hélène Massalska, whose interesting correspondence was published
by M. Lucien Perey under the title of _Histoire d’une Grande Dame au
XVIII^e Siècle_ (Lévy, 2 vols.).

[58] _Les Mémoires de Casanova de Seingalt_, edited by Henri Beyle,
were published at Leipsig in 1826, and in Paris in 1843 (5 vols.). Some
years ago, Flammarion brought out a new edition.

[59] Son of the Marquise de Bombelles, _née_ Mackau, the friend of
Madame Élisabeth and of the marquis who was ambassador at Venice at the
outbreak of the Revolution. He had his children educated in Austria,
and took holy orders after the death of his wife. He became Bishop of
Amiens. The Bombelles have remained Austrian. The brother of the Comte
de Bombelles in question was the third husband of Marie-Louise.

[60] Princess Charlotte, daughter of the Prince Regent, died a
twelve-month after her marriage, 1817. Princesse Louise d’Orléans, died
in 1850. Leopold I., King of the Belgians, died 1865.

[61] The forty townships are an exaggeration, but the head of the
Esterhazy had twenty manorial lordships, sixty burghs with market
places and four hundred and fourteen villages.

[62] The Prince Nicolas Esterhazy (1765-1833) was an enlightened
patron of art, and founded the picture-gallery of the Garten-Palace at
Vienna. It was he who offered Haydn the hospitality of his estate at
Eisenstadt. In 1809, he refused the crown of Hungary, offered to him by
Napoleon.

[63] Prince Paul-Antoine Esterhazy (1786-1866) was ambassador in
Dresden and in London.

[64] She was the daughter of the Margrave of Baden.

[65] It would be, but for the fact that, as the French editor, Comte
Fleury, remarks, there is scarcely a word of truth in it except the
beheading of the mother. Comte Fleury gets very angry with the author,
dead though he is, for foisting such a fantastic tale on the Prince de
Ligne. The child was handed over, six or seven weeks after her mother’s
execution, _i.e._, on the 2nd Fructidor, Year II. (corresponding to the
19th August 1794), to a relative, Isabel Leczinska, who took her with
her to Poland, where subsequently she married her cousin, the Comte
Rzewuski. Long before the publication of the books whence M. Fleury
obtained his information, the truth was known to most students of
history.--Transl.

[66] At the Congress, M. de Talleyrand perseveringly supported the
claims of the King of Naples against the partisans of Murat. The
grateful monarch, in 1817, offered him the dukedom of Dino. M. de
Talleyrand requested its transference to his nephew, the Comte Edmond
de Périgord, who since then has borne the title.--Author.

[67] Two characters of Grétry’s opera _Zémire et Azor_. It is doubtful,
however, whether the sobriquet is applied in that sense here. The
French frequently bestow the name on dogs; and, in that case, the
meaning is plain enough.--Transl.

[68] The son or the grandson of Nicholas Mauroyeny, Hospodar of
Wallachia, who was executed in 1790 at Constantinople.--Transl.

[69] Her liaison with Neipperg had already begun, and she had ceased
to write to Elba. See Ernesto Masi, _Li Due Moglie di Napoleone I._
Bologna, 1889.--Transl.

[70] Burchard-Christopher, Comte de Münnich, 1683-1767, officer of
engineers under Peter I., marshal under Anne, fell into disgrace under
Joan VI., recovered favour under Catherine II.

[71] Hardemberg (Prince d’), 1750-1822, Prussian statesman and
diplomatist. He held the premier’s portfolio several times, but in 1804
he was replaced for a short time by the Comte de Haugwitz. When he
returned to power he greatly contributed to sustain Friedrich-Wilhelm
III.‘s courage. He fell into disgrace in consequence of Napoleon’s
objections to him after Tilsitt, but he returned to power in 1810 for
good. He was very relentless with regard to France, and at the Congress
of Vienna demanded her dismemberment. He was also present at the
Congresses of Aix-la-Chapelle, Verona, and Laybach. He left important
papers, a portion of which were published in thirteen volumes in 1838
under the title of _Mémoires Tirés des Papiers d’un Homme d’Etat_.

[72] This latter statement is only true with regard to indoor
_carrousels_ up to the beginning of the nineteenth century. There are
records of three open-air _carrousels_ in Paris during the seventeenth
century, at which the spectators numbered thousands.--Transl.

[73] The Comte Jean Axel de Fersen, the commander in France of his own
regiment, the ‘Royal Suédois,’ distinguished himself by his devotion
to the royal family, which he served as a guide during the fatal
journey to Varennes. Having escaped from the storm-tossed events of the
Revolution, he perished a victim to the agitation which prevailed in
Stockholm in 1800. The people, irritated against him, assailed him with
stones during the funeral procession of Prince Charles of Augustenburg,
and finally killed him amidst the most horrible tortures--Author’s Note.

The political and private correspondence of Fersen was published by
Colonel Klinkowström in Paris under the title of _Le Comte de Fersen et
la Cour de France_ (2 vols.)--Firmin Didot. It is also interesting to
consult M. Paul Gavlot’s _Un Ami de la Reine_--Ollendorf. On the death
of the grand-marshal, read the introduction to the first-named work.

[74] Gustavus III., most friendly disposed towards monarchical France,
had declared himself violently opposed to the Revolution. He was about
to despatch troops to the French frontier when he was assassinated
during a masked ball at Stockholm on the evening of the 16th March
1792, as a result of a conspiracy among the nobles of his Court. See
Geffroy, _Gustave III. et la Cour de France_ and the _Memoirs_ of the
Duc Cesdars, who at the time of the death of King Gustavus was the
envoy of the princes at Stockholm.

[75] The prediction was realised. Gustavus IV., son of Gustavus
III., at first reigned under the guardianship of his uncle, the Duc
de Sudermanie (Sudermanland). During his reign Sweden was despoiled
of Finland by Russia, and threatened with war by Denmark. The
dissatisfaction of his subjects led to a conspiracy against the king,
which succeeded. Gustavus was imprisoned, and then exiled for ever
in 1809; the Duc de Sudermanie was proclaimed king with the title of
Charles XIII. Being without issue, he at first adopted the Prince
Christian Augustus of Holstein-Augustenburg. After the sudden death
of that young prince, Charles XIII. hit upon the strange idea to
appoint the French Marshal Bernadotte. Under the title of Charles Jean,
Bernadotte reigned from 1818 to 1844; the present king, Oscar II., is
his grandson. There are no more male Wasas; Queen Caroline of Saxony is
the granddaughter of Gustavus IV.

[76] In consequence of the Treaty of Luneville in 1801, the Grand-Duchy
of Tuscany was taken away from Ferdinand III., and, under the title
of the kingdom of Etruria, bestowed on the Spanish branch of Parma,
whose states were united to the French domains in Piedmont. King Louis
having died in 1803, his widow, Marie-Louise of Spain, took up the
reins of government for her son Louis II. In December 1807, Etruria
was given up in exchange for the newly-created kingdom of Lusitania
(Portugal); a few months later it constituted three French departments,
under the government of Elisa Napoleon Bonaparte, who had become
Grand-Duchess of Tuscany. See the excellent work of M. Marmottan, _Le
Royaume d’Etrurie_, Ollendorf, 1896; _Elisa Napoléon en Italie_, by
M. E. Rodocanachi, Flammarion, 1900; and the _Carnet Historique et
Littéraire_, 1900.

[77] Some one had written a song about the Duchesse de Boufflers,
subsequently the wife of Marshal de Luxembourg. Suspecting the Comte de
Tressan to be the author, she said to him: ‘Do you know this song? It
is so well written that not only would I forgive the author, but I’d
even embrace him.’ ‘Well,’ said Tressan, tempted like the crow in the
fable, ‘I wrote it, madame,’ Thereupon she slapped his face.

[78] Here is the song, composed by the old man a fortnight before his
death:--

      1ST VERSE.

      Après une longue guerre
      L’enfant ailé de Cythère
      Voulut, en donnant la paix,
      Tenir à Vienne un Congrès.
      Il convoque en diligence
      Les dieux qu’on put retenir,
      Et par une contredanse
      On vit le Congrès s’ouvrir.

_Translation of 1st Verse._--After a long war, the winged child of
Cytherea wished, in bestowing peace, to hold a Congress at Vienna. He
summoned in hot haste every god that could be had, and, with a Roger de
Coverley, the world beheld the Congress opened.

      2ND VERSE.

      Au bureau de Terpsichore,
      Dès le soir, jusqu’à l’aurore,
      On agitait des débats
      Sur l’importance d’un pas.
      Minerve dit en colère:
     ‘Cessez, au moins un instant,
      Si vous ne voulez pas faire
      A Vienne un Congrès dansant.’

_Translation._--At Terpsichore’s quarters, from night until dawn,
debates were regulated on the importance of a step. Minerva got angry
and cried, ‘At any rate, stop for a moment, unless you wish to hold a
dancing Congress at Vienna.’

      3RD VERSE.

      Vénus et la Jouissance,
      Qui savaient bien que la danse
      Ajoutait a leurs appas,
      Voulaient qu’on ne cessât pas.
     ‘La Sagesse doit se taire,’
      Dit en riant le Plaisir,
     ‘A Vienne l’unique affaire
      Est de traiter le plaisir.’

_Translation._--Venus and the Goddess of Indulgence, who knew very well
that dancing enhanced their charms, made up their minds that there
should be no cessation. ‘Wisdom must hold its tongue,’ said Pleasure,
laughing. ‘The sole business at Vienna is to devise about enjoyment.’

      4TH VERSE.

      A ces mots on recommence,
      Les masques entrent en danse;
      Mars, Hercule, et Jupiter
      Valsent un nouveau landler.
      Soudain Minerve en furie,
      Dit dans son courroux: ‘Je crois
      Qu’à ce Congrès la Folie
      Présiderait mieux que moi.’

_Translation._--The words were the signal for recommencing. The masks
resume the dance; Mars, Hercules, and Jupiter whirl round in a new
landler. Suddenly Minerva got furious, and in her anger cried, ‘I
believe that at this Congress Folly would better preside than I.’

      5TH VERSE.

     ‘Taisez-vous, Mademoiselle,’
      Lui dit l’enfant infidèle;
     ‘Laissez ces propos oiseux,
      Et livrez vous à nos jeux:
      Assez longtemps sur la terre
      Votre sœur nous fit gémir,
      Laissez-nous après la guerre
      Respirer pour le plaisir.’

_Translation._--‘Hold your tongue. Mademoiselle,’ said the recalcitrant
child; ‘stop your useless chatter, and join us in our games. Your
sister has left us long enough to moan on this earth. And now after the
war, let us get back our breath for enjoyment.’

      6TH VERSE.

      A l’instant à la barrière,
      Pour entrer dans la carrière,
      S’offrent trente chevaliers
      Le front couvert de lauriers.
      On lisait sur leurs bannières.
      Ces mots: _Loyal et fidel_.
      Ce sont les chargés d’affaires
      Du Congrès au Carrousel.

_Translation._--In a moment at the barrier, thirty knights present
themselves, their brows encircled by wreaths, and eager to enter upon
the career. (This is imitated from a strophe of the ‘Marseillaise.’)
Their banners displayed the words: ‘Loyal and staunch.’ They are the
chargés d’affaires of the Congress at the _carrousel_.

      7TH VERSE.

      Enfin de tout on se lasse:
      Les bals, les jeux et la chasse
      Avaient été discutés
      Et résumés en traités.
     ‘Que ferons-nous d’avantage?’
      Dit l’Amour. ‘Donnons la paix,
      Et cessons ce badinage
      En terminant le Congrès.’

_Translation._--People get tired of everything. The balls, the games,
and the chase had been discussed and embodied in treaties. ‘What else
remains to be done?’ said Cupid. ‘Let us proclaim peace and cease this
trifling by winding up the Congress.’

The reader will kindly excuse this bald translation. I have simply
aimed at giving a literal one.

[79] To obtain the Order of Maria-Theresa, one of the first among the
military orders of Europe, the recipient must, by his own initiative,
have gained a battle or carried to a successful issue some state affair
without previous instruction from his superiors. After that, his claim
is submitted to the chapter of the order, which discusses it, grants
the claim after discussion, or dismisses it.--Author.

[80] His fortune yielded an income of 17,000,000 francs. See _infra_
the particulars of Razumowski, the favourite of Elizabeth, and the
father of the ambassador.

[81] The official despatch of the ambassadors of the French King at the
Congress of Vienna reports the incident as follows:--

_The Emperor of Russia._--‘I have pledged my word and I shall keep it.
I promised Saxony to the King of Prussia the moment we joined each
other.’

_Talleyrand._--‘Your Majesty has promised to the King of Prussia
between nine and ten millions of souls. Your Majesty can give them
without destroying Saxony.’

_The Emperor._--‘The King of Saxony is a traitor.’

_Talleyrand._--‘Sire, the qualification of traitor can never be applied
to a king; and it is important that there shall never be any necessity
for applying it.’

After a few moments of silence the czar resumed:

‘The King of Prussia shall be King of Prussia and of Saxony, just as I
am Emperor of Russia and King of Poland.’--_Mémoires de Talleyrand_,
vol. ii.

Finally, the interests of Saxony and Prussia were settled, ‘not to the
satisfaction of the one and the other, but by agreement between them,’
_i.e._ Prussia acquired the two Lusatias, part of Thuringia, and Torgau
and Wittemberg (Treaty of 18th May 1815).

[82] I have suppressed the particulars of the story, which I considered
unfit for publication.--Transl.

[83] La Garde exaggerates. Napoleon merely expressed a desire,
and overtures were eventually made at Erfurth. The veto of the
dowager-empress nipped the affair in the bud. Later on, there was an
attempt to reopen the question, but the Emperor of Austria had almost
immediately replied to Talleyrand’s _pourparlers_, and arrangements
were concluded at the moment when Russia seemed inclined to yield.
See on those long hesitations the first volume of M. Albert Vandal’s
_Napoléon et Alexandre_, vol. I. ch. xii.--French Editor.

M. Vandal is as misleading as La Garde, and for the truth of that
episode no French author of any kind should be consulted, and least of
all those who have written on Russia during the last twenty years. The
German works are much more trustworthy, for the refusal of Napoleon’s
hand was inspired by Germany.--Transl.

[84] She became, in fact, the fourth wife of Emperor Francis.

[85] Alexis Orloff, born in 1786, grand-nephew of the famous favourite
of Catherine II., had a magnificent military record. He had specially
distinguished himself during the campaign in Russia, having been
wounded in seven different places at Borodino, and during the campaign
in France. After that he performed many remarkable feats of courage in
the Turkish war, fulfilled several missions, and, in 1830, negotiated
the marriage of Alexander II. with a princess of the House of Hesse. He
died in 1861.

[86] Transformed into a Prince de Monte-Nuovo.

[87] This must be the son of Zawadouski, who was the favourite in 1776
and 1777.

[88] The word ‘heads’ was invariably used in all the stipulation of
exchanges, divisions of territory, and dismemberment of states.

[89] The famous speculator.

[90] The Comte de Montrond, the inseparable companion of Talleyrand.

[91] The same Malfati who left some notes on the death and post-mortem
examination of the Duc de Reichstadt, which were published in _Le
Carnet Historique_ during 1900.

[92] Here is the epitaph in question, which it is practically
impossible to translate into English that would sound like sense:--

     ‘Ci-gît le Prince de Ligne,
      Il est tout de son long couché,
      Jadis il a beaucoup péché,
      Mais ce n’était pas a la ligne.’

‘Pêcher à la ligne’ means angling with a rod or with a line. The
prince’s name, literally translated, means ‘the prince of line’; a
change of accent on the verb would make it mean ‘transgressing.’

[93] ‘Camarde,’ death. The word has passed into thieves’ slang now,
but in former centuries it was used by poets: Scarron used it. It
derives its origin from _camus_, flat, to denote the flat nose of a
skeleton.--Transl.

[94] The words are historical. ‘Camarde’ is feminine.--Transl.

[95] The Prince de Ligne left three daughters, the Princesse de
Clary, the Comtesse Palfi, and the Baronne Spiegel, all of whom
founded families in Austria. His eldest son, Charles, who married
the beautiful Hélène Massalska, whose _Mémoires_ have been published
by M. Lucien Percy, was killed by a cannon-ball at the passage of
la Croix-aux-Bois in the Argonne in September 1792. A daughter,
Sidonie, was born of that marriage. His second son, Louis, who also
preceded his father to the grave, had by his wife, Louise de Duros,
Eugène-François-Lamoral-Charles, Prince de Ligne, d’Amblise, d’Epinay,
who was Belgian ambassador-in-extraordinary in England and in France.
By his first wife, the daughter of the Marquis de Conflans, the Prince
de Ligne had a son, whence sprang the actual Prince de Ligne and the
Prince Ernest de Ligne. By his second wife, the daughter of the Marquis
de Trazegnies, he had a daughter, who became Duchesse de Beaufort. By
his third wife, a Princesse Lubomirska, he had the Princes Charles and
Édouard de Ligne and the Duchesse de Doudeauville.

[96] ‘With him went the last flower of the age of chivalry,’ wrote
Franz Gaeffer in his _Memoirs_--Kleinen Wiener.

[97] Sidney Smith’s conversation did not exactly shine by its
conciseness. As may be imagined, the defence of Acre was one of its
ever-recurring topics. The Prince de Ligne, who had been compelled
to listen to Smith’s prolix recital more than once, called him ‘Long
Acre,’ which the author defines as one of the longest streets of London.

[98] The Comte de Saint Germain pretended to be two thousand years old,
and many people believed him.

[99] Louis I. (1825-1848), when he abdicated in favour of his son
Maximilian II. King Louis, who was an enlightened patron of art,
frequently came to Paris. He died in 1868.

[100] Finally, the Grand Duchy of Warsaw became the Kingdom of Poland,
under the protection of Emperor Alexander, with the Grand-Duke
Constantine as its Viceroy.

[101] The memoirs of the time often mention this Princess Lubomirska,
whose title was Princesse-Maréchale. Elizabeth Czartoryska, Princesse
Lubomirska, was a cousin of King Stanislas-Augustus, who often mentions
her in his correspondence, and constantly deplores her restlessness.
From recent publications, it would appear that, though endowed with
many superior qualities, she was also profoundly disagreeable. She
loved neither her children nor her country, and from sheer _ennui_ she
was always ‘on the move.’ She disliked everything save the traditions
of the French Court during Louis XIV.‘s reign, which traditions she
knew better even than the events which had so profoundly disturbed her
country. She detested every new idea, and her hatred of Napoleon was
intense. To the _émigrés_ she was most charitable.

[102] When the Duc de Dalberg heard what Pozzo di Borgo had said, he
shook his head. ‘M. Pozzo is not a prophet. In a short time Napoleon
will be in Paris,’ he remarked.--Author.



INDEX

_Throughout this translation I have left many of the nobiliary titles
and names of the Continental aristocracy in their French garb; those
of the English personages mentioned I have reduced to their original
expression._


  ADHÉMAR, COMTE D’, 130.

  Albert of Austria, Archduke, 166, 403, 404.

  Alembert, D’, 130.

  Alexander I., Emperor of Russia, 4, 6, 17-20, 25, 31-37,
          43, 54, 57, 61-65, 90, 92, 95, 96-101, 111, 117, 119, 122,
          141, 142, 144, 149, 153, 165, 197, 203, 204, 210-217, 225,
          230, 255, 257, 266, 275, 277, 310, 313, 314, 323, 326, 342,
          344, 346-349, 372, 374, 381, 382, 389, 402-407, 414, 417, 418.

  ---- II., Emperor of Russia, 214.

  Alfieri, Comte, 185.

  Ankarstroem, 176.

  Anne Ivanowna, Empress of Russia, 170, 261, 322.

  Apponyi, Comtesse Thérèse d’, 39, 138, 319.

  Aremberg, Duc Louis d’, 73, 359.

  ---- Prince d’, 359.

  Ariosto, 126, 137.

  Arnstein, Baron d’, 209, 293, 360, 386.

  ---- Baronne Fanny d’, 210.

  Aubusson de la Feuillade, d’, ambassador, 186.

  Auesberg, Princesse d’, 318.

  Auguste of Prussia, Prince, 4, 319.

  Augustembourg, Princesse d’, 303, 304.


  Bacon, Francis, 126.

  Bagration, Prince de, Field-Marshal, 94.

  ---- Princesse de, 39, 94, 101, 213.

  Barclay, John, 207.

  Barclay de Tolly, Field-Marshal, 343.

  Barry, Comtesse du, 130.

  Batthyany, Comte, 139.

  Batthyany, Comtesse, 149, 163, 319.

  Béatrix d’Este, Arch-duchess, 39, 166.

  Beaufort, Duchesse de, 252.

  Beauharnais, Prince Eugène de, 17, 33, 42, 73, 90, 122, 144, 152,
          166, 208, 255, 276, 319, 323, 326, 329, 330, 362, 403,
          404, 413.

  Beaumarchais, Baron de, 51, 361, 383.

  Bernsdorff, Comte de, 172.

  ---- Comtesse de, 39, 94.

  Berry, Duc de, 61.

  Berthier, Marshal, 238, 239.

  Besnadiére, de la, 60, 61, 64.

  Beyle, Henri, 136.

  Bezenval, Baron de, 130.

  Bièvre, Marquis de, 245.

  Bigottini, 156, 361.

  Blanchard, aeronaut, 85.

  Boigne de Faye, 55, 375.

  Bombelles, Comte de, 138.

  ---- Marquis and Marquise de, 138.

  Bonaparte, Princesse, Baciocchi, Elisa, 92, 184.

  ---- Princesse Borghèse, Pauline, 48, 49, 52.

  ---- King of Westphalia, Jérôme, 17, 278.

  Bondy de, prefect, 46.

  Bonnay, Marquis de, 247.

  Bonneval, Comte de, 366.

  Bossuet, 398.

  Boufflers, Duchesse de, 194.

  Bouturlin, Comtesse, 170.

  Brignole, Marquis de, 225.

  Brozin, Colonel, 350, 405.

  Bruce, Mme., 102.

  Bruix, Admiral, 238, 239.

  Bühren, Duc le Courlande, 261.

  Burdett, Sir Francis, 44.

  Burke, Edmund, 118.


  Cagliostro, Comte de, 288.

  Campochiaro, Duc de, 37.

  Canning, George, 66.

  Canova, 216, 257.

  Capo d’Istria, Comte, 4, 36, 102, 213, 316, 327, 408.

  Cariati, Prince, 235.

  Caroline of Bavaria, Queen, 109, 166, 179, 208, 310, 356.

  ---- of Brunswick, Queen of England, 66.

  ---- of Saxony, Queen, 181.

  ---- Mathilde, Queen of Denmark, 4, 7.

  Carpani, poet, 42, 201.

  Casanova, 126, 135.

  Castlereagh, Lady, 94, 164, 206, 281, 319, 381, 382.

  ---- Lord, 5, 8, 31, 65, 91, 150, 164, 172, 203, 208, 281, 283, 313,
          327, 350, 357, 381, 382, 394.

  Catherine I., Empress of Russia, 258, 352.

  ---- II., Empress of Russia, 3, 12, 60, 72, 78, 100, 103,
          131, 132, 155, 169, 214, 217, 222, 246, 255, 259, 283, 284,
          318, 353, 367, 370, 372, 383, 385, 386.

  ---- d’Oldenbourg, Queen of Würtemberg, 17, 39, 90, 154, 166, 171,
          197, 211-217, 279, 318, 326, 349.

  ---- of Würtemberg, Queen of Westphalia, 17, 279.

  Cellini, Benvenuto, 123.

  Cesdars, Duc, 176.

  Chalanton, the Abbé, 54.

  Chambonas, Marquis de, 302-306.

  Charles, Archduke, 70, 82, 90, 166, 198, 319.

  Charles II., Duc des Deux-Ponts, 72, 292.

  ---- XII., King of Sweden, 180, 271.

  ---- XIII., King of Sweden, 181.

  ---- XIV., Bernadotte, King of Sweden, 64, 181, 272.

  ---- d’Augustenbourg, Prince, 176.

  ---- of Bavaria, Prince, 18, 296, 300.

  ---- of Lorraine, Prince, 199, 255.

  Charles-Gustavus, King of Sweden, 130.

  ---- Louis-Frédéric, Grand-Duke of Baden, 289, 318, 356.

  Charles V., 106, 162, 254.

  Charles-Théodore, Elector of Bavaria, 72.

  Charlotte of Bavaria, Empress of Austria, 212.

  ---- of Saxe-Cobourg, Princess, 139.

  Chodkïewïcz, Comte, 148.

  Christian VII., King of Denmark, 34.

  ---- d’Augustenbourg, Prince, 181.

  Christiana of Sweden, Queen, 112.

  Cisternes, R. de, 61.

  Clancarty, Lord, 5.

  Clary, Comte de, 15.

  ---- Princesse, 14, 252, 253.

  Cobentzel, Comte de, 155, 246.

  Cohari, Comtesse de, 39.

  Coigny, Marquise de, 12, 13, 299.

  Colbert, 151, 174.

  Colloredo, Princesse de, 94, 163.

  Conflans, Marquis de, 252.

  Constantin-Paulowitz, Grand-Duke, 4, 25, 27, 99, 102, 203, 313, 314.

  Cornwallis, General, 288.

  Corregio, 215.

  Coupigny, 144.

  Czartoryski, Prince, 64, 144.

  ---- Prince Adam, 316, 344, 345, 379.

  Czerwertinska, Mme. Narischkine, Princesse, 97, 98, 102, 350, 372,
        402.


  Dalberg, Duc de, 5, 36, 41, 55, 56, 59, 60, 172, 327, 411.

  ---- Duchesse de, 59.

  Danilewski, 201.

  Dante, 64.

  Daschkoff, Princesse, 262.

  Daudet, Ernest, 61.

  Davencourt, 237, 239.

  Davidoff, Mme., 66.

  Davoust, Marshal, 23.

  Decazes, Duc, 61.

  Deffand, Mme. du, 130.

  Delille, 221.

  Dietrichstein, Prince Maurice, 360.

  Dolgorouki, Prince, 213, 351.

  ---- Princesse, 351.

  Dorothée Wilhelmine of Baden, Queen of Sweden, 175-183, 184, 187.

  Doudeauville, Duchesse de, 252.

  Dubois (poet), 48-53.

  Duchesne, General, 189.

  Dupaty, J. B., 9.

  Duport, dancer, 233.

  Dupré, architect, 177.

  Dürer, Albert, 404.

  Durkeim, Comtesse Louise de, 149, 163.

  Duroc, General, 44.


  Edward III., King of England, 164.

  Elizabeth, Empress of Russia, 4, 7, 97, 98, 100, 109, 142, 171,
          179, 202, 214, 251, 257, 310, 318, 326, 349, 353, 373,
          383, 402.

  ---- Madame, 138.

  ---- Queen of England, 207, 342.

  Elliot, Lord, 63.

  Enghien, Duc d’, 270, 271.

  Exerenza, Duchesse d’, 41, 158, 159.

  Eskeles, banker, 209.

  Esterhazy, Prince Nicolas, 141, 160, 163.

  ---- Prince Paul, 42, 141, 159.

  ---- Prince Vincent, 166.

  ---- Princesse Marie, 94, 102, 139, 140, 141, 148, 163, 400.

  ---- Princesse Paul, 39, 120, 164, 165, 207.

  ---- Princesse Thérèse, 232.

  Estrées, Gabrielle d’, 415.

  Etienne, Charles-Guillaume, 232, 320.

  Eugène de Savoie, Prince, 12.


  Falk, Baron de, 208.

  Fauche-Borel, 300, 420.

  Ferdinand I., King of the Two Sicilies, 30, 150.

  ---- II., Emperor of Germany, 198.

  ---- III., Grand-Duke of Tuscany, 166, 184.

  ---- of Prussia, Prince, 395.

  Fersen, Comte Jean-Axel de, 175, 177, 178, 183, 302, 304.

  Foneron, banker, 285, 287.

  Fontenay, de, 227.

  Fouché, Duc d’Otrante, 49-53.

  Fox, Charles, 65.

  Francis I., 167.

  ---- I., Emperor of Austria, 6, 28-34, 73, 76, 79, 88, 89,
          90, 105, 106, 109, 112, 131, 139, 142, 165, 171, 202, 211,
          212, 256, 267, 278, 309-312, 318, 326, 353, 356, 381, 382,
          415, 417.

  Frederic I., King of Würtemberg, 5, 17, 31, 83, 109, 166,
          171, 212, 278, 279, 280.

  ---- II., King of Prussia, 33, 100, 131, 132, 155, 194, 199,
          240, 347, 404.

  ---- III., Emperor of Germany, 348.

  ---- VI., King of Denmark, 31, 33, 34, 166, 171, 275, 297,
          298, 308, 310, 318, 373, 380, 381.

  Frederic-Augustus I., King of Saxony, 5, 45, 65, 66, 204.

  Frederic-William III., King of Prussia, 4, 6, 17, 33, 37,
          42, 91, 93, 95, 99, 102, 155, 166, 171, 172, 202, 204, 254,
          271, 296, 298, 310, 312, 318, 326, 343, 347, 348, 373, 409,
          414.

  ---- ---- IV., King of Prussia, 4, 319.

  Frïes, Comte de, 209.

  Fuchs, Comte de, 157.

  ---- Comtesse Laure de, 41, 42, 43, 46, 55, 94, 141, 156, 157, 319,
          323, 326, 328, 331, 341, 405.

  Fürstenberg, Princesse de, 94.


  Gagarin, Prince, 213, 351, 405.

  ---- Princesse, 213.

  Galitzin, Prince, 213, 227, 228-230.

  Garnerin, aeronaut, 85.

  Gaulot, Paul, 176.

  Geffroy, 176.

  Genlis, Comtesse de, 211.

  Gentz, Frederic de, 42, 158, 201, 255.

  Geoffrin, Mme., 130.

  George II., King of England, 306.

  ---- III., King of England, 4, 306.

  ---- IV., King of England, 31, 66, 292.

  Gey-Muller, banker, 209, 360.

  Golowkin, Comte, 245-248.

  Gonzalvi, Cardinal, 150, 163.

  Goubault, Mlle., 143.

  Gramont, Duc de, 291.

  Graeffer, Frantz, 253.

  Griffiths, Julius, 8, 9, 202, 209, 214, 248, 268, 287, 288, 292,
          383, 386, 394, 397.

  Guérin, Pierre. 143.

  Gustavus III., King of Sweden, 175, 176, 181.

  Gustavus-Adolphus II., King of Sweden, 271.

  ---- IV., King of Sweden, 172-184, 270-272.


  Hadick, Comte, 113-116.

  ---- Comtesse Constance, 113-116.

  Hamilton, Lady, 30.

  Hardenberg, Prince de, 4, 36, 64, 172, 203, 351.

  Haugwitz, Comte de, 172.

  Haydn, 24, 141, 143, 275, 311.

  Hédouville, 22.

  Henri II., 162.

  ---- IV., 260, 415.

  Hesse-Philipstadt, Princess of, 143, 299, 300.

  Hiller, General, 33.

  Hohenwarth, Archbishop Prince de, 311.

  Hood, Admiral, 269.

  Hortense, Queen, 143, 144, 323-325, 413.

  Humboldt, Baron Wilhelm von, 4, 94, 172, 276, 395.


  Isabey, 78-83, 120-125, 138, 309, 354, 394-396.

  Ivan VI., Emperor of Russia, 170.


  Jean VI., King of Portugal, 39.

  ---- of Austria, Archduke, 166.

  Johnson, Samuel, 11.

  Joseph I., Emperor of Germany, 127.

  ---- II., Emperor of Germany, 34, 81, 84, 127, 131, 197,
          254, 273, 396, 404.

  Josephine, Empress, 59, 124, 361, 363, 405.

  Juan of Austria, Don, 129, 300.


  Kara-Mustapha, Grand Vizir, 128, 319.

  Kinsky, Chanoinesse, 41, 157.

  Kisseleff, Comte Paul, 350, 351.

  Kleber, General, 39.

  Klinkowström, Colonel, 176.

  Komar, Comte, 345.

  Koreff, Doctor, 42, 201.

  Korsakoff, General, 403.

  Koslowski, Prince, 4, 95, 99, 100, 103, 201, 215, 217, 261, 262-264,
          300, 320, 327, 380, 381, 383, 408, 410, 411, 412, 415.

  Kourakin, Prince, 262.

  Kraskowitz, aeronaut, 85.

  Krazinski, General, 343.

  Krüdner, 347.

  ---- Baronne de, 412.

  Kutusoff, Field-Marshal, 403.


  Labrador, Chevalier de, 37, 150.

  Lacroix, Paul, 12, 13.

  Lafont, de, 234.

  La Fontaine, Jean de, 130, 375.

  La Garde, Comte de, 10, 14, 19, 67, 77, 211.

  La Harpe, 130.

  Lamballe, Princesse de, 130.

  Lannes, Marshal, 238, 239.

  Lanskarowska, Comtesse, 345.

  Las-Cases, Comte de, 22, 76.

  Lascy, Marshal Comte de, 131.

  La Tour-du-Pin, de, 5, 150, 311.

  Laudon, General Baron de, 131.

  Lauzun, Armand de Biron, Duc de, 13.

  La Vallière, Duchesse de, 101, 103, 143, 350.

  Lazanski, Comtesse, 318.

  Lebrun, Charles, 231.

  Leopold I., Emperor of Germany, 127.

  ---- I., King of the Belgians, 139, 145, 166.

  ---- of Naples, Prince, 150, 311, 319.

  Le Sage, 51.

  Lestocq, Comte de, 261.

  Lesueur, Eustache, 252.

  Lezenska, Isabel, 148.

  Lichtenstein, Prince Charles de, 167.

  ---- Prince Jean de, 163, 185.

  ---- Prince Maurice de, 168, 174, 360.

  ---- Princesse Jean de, 39, 94, 163, 174, 207, 233, 319.

  Ligne, Hélène Massalska, Princesse de, 15, 131, 252.

  ---- Louise de Duras, Princesse de, 252.

  ---- Marshal Jean de, 254.

  ---- Marshal Prince Charles-Joseph de, 5, 11-19, 31, 37, 67-84, 96,
          105, 117-136, 139, 144, 149, 154-156, 161, 164, 166, 169,
          190-200, 218-221, 232, 233, 244-255, 261, 283, 284, 298,
          299, 337, 349, 369, 380.

  Ligne, Prince Charles de, 15, 131, 252.

  ---- Prince Édouard de, 252.

  ---- Prince Ernest de, 252.

  ---- Prince Eugene-François Lamoral-Charles de, 252.

  ---- Prince Louis de, 15, 252.

  Livry, Marquis de, 361.

  Loevenhielm, Comte de, 172.

  Londonderry, Marquis of, 65.

  Lorrain, Claude de, 404.

  Louis I., King of Bavaria, 18, 289, 300, 319.

  ---- I., King of Etruria, 184.

  ---- II., King of Etruria, 184.

  ---- X., Grand-Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt, 5.

  ---- XIII., 165.

  ---- XIV., 44, 48, 57, 101, 102, 143, 147, 151, 174, 175,
          266, 298, 350, 352, 379.

  ---- XV., 42.

  ---- XVI., 60, 63, 309, 311, 336, 356.

  ---- XVIII., 60, 61, 63, 65, 313, 418.

  Louis-Philippe I., 250, 263, 264.

  Louise of Prussia, Queen, 4, 99.

  Lowendahl, Comte de, 302.

  Lubomirska, Princesse Rosalie, 148, 164, 319, 345.

  Lubomirski, Prince, 129.

  Luchesini, Comte de, 150, 402, 404.

  ---- Marquis de, 93, 404.

  Luynes, Duchesse de, 378.


  Maintenon, Marquise de, 15, 95.

  Malfati, Doctor, 160, 245-251.

  Malte-Brun, 12.

  Manug, Prince, 163.

  Marassi, Comtesse, 144, 149, 164, 232.

  Marguerite de Bourgogne, 300.

  Marialva, Marquis de, 150.

  Maria-Theresa, Empress of Austria, 30, 76, 78, 81, 106, 108, 115,
          131, 200, 220, 273, 358, 396.

  Marie-Antoinette, Queen. 30, 121, 131, 132, 156, 245, 311, 321.

  Marie-Caroline, Queen of Naples, 30, 358.

  Marie Louise, Empress, 59, 76, 77, 78, 80, 82, 138, 154, 166, 217,
          267, 326, 356.

  ---- ---- Queen of Etruria, 184.

  Marie-Louise d’Este, Empress of Austria, 7, 32, 39, 90, 108, 109,
          111, 112, 113, 136, 141, 142, 147, 149, 155, 171, 311, 320,
          326, 349, 412.

  Marie Stuart, Queen, 42.

  Marmont, Marshal, 36.

  Marmottan, Paul, 92, 184.

  Massillon, 398.

  Maupertuis, 254.

  Maurepas, Comte de, 222, 223.

  Maximilian I., Emperor of Germany, 29, 106.

  ---- II., King of Bavaria, 301.

  ---- d’Este, Archduke, 166.

  Maximilian-Joseph I., King of Bavaria, 5, 17, 31, 33, 72,
          95, 102, 144, 152, 166, 171, 179, 212, 275, 276, 296, 297,
          310, 320, 326, 364, 373.

  Mazarin, Cardinal de, 374.

  Mazeppa, 259.

  Ménage, Gilles, 194.

  Méneval, Baron de, 81.

  Menzikoff, General Prince, 261.

  Metastasio, 126.

  Metternich, Prince de, 36, 42, 79, 94, 172, 205, 225, 260, 265, 312,
          313, 353-356, 378, 394, 410, 412, 414, 418.

  Metternich, Princesse de, 137, 149, 163, 232, 355, 412.

  Milton, 341.

  Mirabeau, Marquis de, 155.

  Molière, 155, 246.

  Montbel, Comte de, 79.

  Monte-Nuovo, Prince de, 217.

  Montesquiou, 70.

  Montesquiou, Mme de, 77, 78, 80.

  Montrond, Comte de, 238.

  Moreau, architect, 138, 295, 309.

  Mortier, Marshal, 403.

  Mozart, 143.

  Münnich, Marshal Comte de, 170, 261.

  Murat, King, 150, 208, 358, 412.


  Napoleon I., 3, 4, 14, 17, 22, 23, 36, 39, 43, 44, 48, 53,
          59, 62, 65, 66, 76-83, 93, 118-125, 134, 141, 152, 159, 172,
          198, 199, 211, 212, 217, 263, 267-271, 274, 279, 313, 315,
          326, 331, 343, 356, 361, 362, 374, 379, 383, 403, 407, 408,
          410, 420.

  Narischkine, Alexander, 95, 97, 201, 213, 226, 235, 236.

  Neil Campbell, Sir, 80.

  Neipperg, Comte de, 83, 166, 217.

  Nelson, Admiral, 30, 305, 308.

  Nesselrode, Comte de, 4, 36, 95, 172, 213, 345, 346, 396, 407.

  Neukomm, 311.

  Ney, Marshal, 403.

  Nicolas I., Emperor of Russia, 36, 43.

  Noailles, Comte Alexis de, 5, 150.

  Nostiltz, General, 42, 300.

  Nowosilitzoff, 117, 119.


  O’Béarn, 290-293.

  Ojarowski, General Comte, 19, 138.

  Oldenbourg, Grand duc d’, 211.

  Ompteda, Baron d’, 42, 99, 156, 357, 358.

  Orléans, Princesse Louise d’, Queen of the Belgians, 139.

  Orloff, Alexis, 170, 214.

  ---- General Compte, 214.

  ---- Gregory, 170.

  Oscar II., King of Sweden, 181.

  Ostrowski, Comte, 344.

  Ouvrard, Julien, 238, 239, 362.

  Ouwaroff, General, 200, 255, 346, 350, 403, 419.

  Oxford, Earl of, 207.


  Pahlen, Comte de, 42, 262.

  Palfi, Comte François, 113, 159, 300.

  ---- Comtesse, 15, 248, 252.

  ---- Ferdinand de, 159.

  Pallain, G., 60.

  Palmella, Duc de, 37, 172.

  Pankratieff, General, 351.

  Paoli, General Pascal, 62, 63.

  Parker, Admiral, 305.

  Paar, Comte de, 176, 177.

  ---- Comtesse de, 149, 266.

  Paul I., Emperor of Russia, 42, 61, 96, 262.

  Percy, Lucien, 12, 131, 252.

  Pereyra, Mme., 360.

  Périgord, Comte Edmond de, 150.

  ---- Comtesse Edmond de, 41, 44, 55, 59, 64, 68, 93, 138, 158, 164,
          172, 376, 377, 412.

  Peter I., Emperor of Russia, 95, 170, 208, 259, 348, 352,
          384, 389.

  ---- III., Emperor of Russia, 262.

  Petersen, Comte, 138, 166.

  Petronius, 249.

  Philip I., King of Spain, 254.

  Philip of Hesse-Hombourg, Prince, 5, 42, 43, 91, 158, 163, 174, 255,
          296, 329.

  Piccini, Nicolo, 183.

  Pinto, de, 93.

  Piper, Comte, 183.

  Pitt, William, 42, 65.

  Pius V., Pope, 129.

  ---- VI., Pope, 241.

  ---- VII., 241.

  Pletemberg, Comte, 41.

  ---- Comtesse, 41.

  Polignac, Duchesse Jules de, 130.

  Pompadour, Marquise de, 375.

  Potemkin, Prince, 12, 75, 103, 351, 353, 369.

  Potier, Ch., 51.

  Potocka, Comtesse Sophie, 19, 42, 45, 54, 66, 213, 245, 351, 365-374.

  Potocki, Comte Alfred, 300.

  ---- Comte Arthur, 119, 139, 345.

  ---- Comte Felix, 227, 365, 369-370, 371, 372.

  ---- Comte Jean, 119, 373.

  ---- Comte Stanislas, 138, 300.

  Pozzo di Borgo, General Comte, 4, 60, 62, 63, 64, 95, 150, 315, 316,
          396, 411, 413, 414.

  Praslin, Duchesse de, 13.

  Pratazoff, Comtesse, 283, 284, 385.

  Prokesch Osten, Comte de, 42, 79.


  Racine, Jean, 48, 143.

  Radzivill, Prince Antoine, 138, 144, 166, 232, 345.

  ---- Princesse Louise, 395.

  Raily, 287-290, 292-294, 386-388, 393.

  Raphael, Sanzio, 215, 404.

  Razumowski, Comte Alexia, 258.

  ---- Field-Marshal Cyril, 202, 258-260.

  ---- Alexis, Minister, 258.

  ---- Prince André, 60, 95, 199, 202, 203, 210, 213, 222, 256-261, 313.

  Récamier, banker, 335.

  ---- Mme., 141, 153, 238, 330, 335-341.

  Rechberg, Comte Charles de, 150, 276, 296, 297, 300, 301, 364, 373.

  Régnier, Archduke of Austria, 166.

  Reichstadt, Duc de, 21, 42, 71, 77-83, 125, 166, 245, 326, 356.

  Rémusat, A. de, 4.

  Reuss, Prince de, 99, 100, 158, 243.

  Richelieu, Duc de, 19, 60, 61, 66, 255, 348, 396.

  ---- Marshal de, 60, 187.

  Rios, Chevalier de Los, 150, 201.

  Robespierre, Maximilien, 363.

  Rochechouart, General Comte de, 61, 66.

  Rodocanachi, Emmanuel, 92, 184.

  Rodolphe of Hapsbourg, Emperor of Germany, 106, 130.

  Rohan, Prince Louis de, 377.

  Romanzoff, Grand Chancellor, 262.

  Rosemberg, Prince, 288, 386.

  Rossi, Comte de, 150.

  Rostand, Edmond, 79.

  Rouen, Achille, 54, 201, 236, 237, 240, 241, 243, 375.

  Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 15, 70, 78, 132.

  Rozen, Comte de, 178, 179.

  Rubens, 205, 405.

  Ruffo, Commander Alvaro, 37, 172.

  Ruysdael, 88.

  Rzewuska, Comtesse Rosalie, 147, 148, 164, 319.

  Rzewuski, Comte, 148.


  Sagan, Duchesse de, 40, 94, 120, 157.

  Saint-Germain, Comte de, 288.

  Saint-Marsan, Comte de, 48, 53, 150.

  Salieri, 68, 311.

  Salisbury, Alice of, 104.

  Salm, Prince de, 77.

  Salvox, Marquis de, 133.

  Sapieha, Prince Paul, 345.

  ---- Princesse Paul, 39, 345.

  Saxe-Teschen, Duc de, 402.

  Saxe-Weimar, Grand-Duchess Marie of, 90, 166, 171, 318, 349.

  Schenye, Louis de, 167.

  Schiller, 138.

  Schönborn, Comte de, 144.

  ---- Comtesse de, 149.

  Schönfeldt, Comte de, 143, 107, 231.

  Schwartzenberg, Eléonore de, 149.

  ---- Marshal Prince de, 21, 25, 33, 265, 327, 356, 359.

  ---- Pauline de, 149.

  ---- Prince Joseph de, 21.

  ---- Princesse de, 163.

  Sebastiani, Marshal, 13.

  ---- Maréchale, 13.

  Ségur, Marshal de, 231, 246.

  Serent, Duc de, 121.

  Serrurier, Marshal, 22.

  Sévigné, Marquise de, 207.

  Shakespeare, William, 9, 263, 274.

  Sidney Smith, Admiral, 39, 91, 147, 172, 268-275, 278, 289.

  Sigismond, Emperor of Germany, 118.

  Sinclair, George, 43, 44.

  ---- Sir John, 44.

  Siniavin, Admiral, 316.

  Sobieski, John, 118, 128, 129, 319.

  Souvaroff, General, 60, 96, 213.

  ---- Princesse Hélène, 96, 103, 149, 213, 396-400.

  Spiegel, Baronne, 15, 252.

  Stackelberg, Comte de, 4, 350, 353.

  Staël, Baronne de, 12, 91, 133, 134, 135.

  Stahrenberg, Princesse de, 163.

  Stair, Lord, 401.

  Stanislas-Augustus, King of Poland, 379.

  Stein, Baron de, 36.

  Sterne, Lawrence, 9.

  Struenzée, J.-F., 4.

  Stewart, Lord. English Ambassador, 90, 151, 205, 267, 341, 410.

  Sully, Duc de, 260, 415.


  Taigny, Edmond, 121.

  Talleyrand, Mme. Grant, Princesse de, 238, 239, 240.

  ---- Prince de Bénévent, 5, 14, 36, 40, 55-60, 64-65, 96, 121, 150,
          204, 208, 211, 236-243, 309, 311, 312, 313, 315, 327, 351,
          353, 375-379, 412, 414, 416-419.

  Tallien, 362.

  ---- Mme., 362, 363.

  Talma, 101.

  Tascher de la Pagerie, Comte de, 60.

  Tasso, 137, 372.

  Teniers, David, 88.

  Tettenborn, General, 4, 20-25, 47, 91, 201, 242, 255, 290, 396.

  Theodore I., King of Corsica, 275, 276.

  Thierry, Baron, 147.

  Titians, 405.

  Tolstoy, Comtesse, 100.

  ---- Marshal Comte, 100, 101, 351.

  Torlonia, Duc de, 241, 242.

  Torstenson, Comte de, 180, 182.

  ---- Field-Marshal, 180.

  Tour-et-Taxis, Princesse de la, 39, 94, 99, 147.

  Trauttmansdorff, Comte de, 143, 167, 172.

  ---- Marshal Prince de, 120, 137, 143, 161, 318.

  Trazegnies, Marquis de, 252.

  Trembecki, poet, 373, 374.

  Tressan, Comte de, 194.

  Troubetzkoi, Prince, 213, 351.

  Turach, Captain Albert, 307.

  Turenne, Marshal de, 125.

  Tyskewiez, Mme., 378.


  Urgate, Comtesse d’, 149.


  Vandal, Albert, 211.

  Van Dyck, 215, 405.

  Varnhagen, 42.

  Vatel, 207.

  Vaudémont, Princess de, 378.

  Vaudreuil, Comte de, 130.

  Vestris, 381.

  Vitzay, Comte, 286.

  Volkonski, Prince, 95, 213.

  ---- Princesse, 102.

  Voltaire, 130, 132, 155, 274, 275.


  Walluzen, Comtesse, 319.

  Walmoden, Field-Marshal, 42, 158, 163, 255.

  Wallstein, Comte de, 138, 232.

  ---- Prince de, 135.

  ---- Princesse de, 163.

  Wargemont, Viscomte de, 167.

  Wellesley Pole, 382.

  Wellington, General Duke of, 381, 394, 414.

  Werner, Zacharie, 398, 399.

  Wessemberg, Baron de, 172.

  Wilhem, Mlle. de, 147.

  William, Duke of Hesse-Cassel, 5.

  ---- I., King of Würtemberg, 5, 17, 32, 98, 211, 212, 213,
          215-279, 289, 319.

  Wintzingerode, Comte de, 36, 150, 207, 351.

  Witt, Comte Jean de, 45, 367-370.

  ---- General Comte de, 4, 42, 45, 46, 48, 53, 54, 154, 156, 201,
          244, 245, 255, 297, 298, 301, 305, 320, 321, 327, 346, 369.

  ---- Princesse Lubomirska, Comtesse de, 45.

  Woronzoff, Chancellor, 170.

  Wortzel, 369.

  Woyna, Comte Alfred de, 233.

  ---- Comte Félix de, 45, 138, 143, 160, 166, 233.

  ---- Comtesse Sophie de, 138, 149.

  Wrède, Marshal Prince de, 36, 326.

  Wurbna, Comte de, 146, 147.

  ---- Comtesse Flore de, 138.

  Wurmbrandt, Comte de, 162.


  Yblonowska, Princesse, 138, 143, 149.

  York, Duke of, 32.

  Ypsilanti, Alexandre, 4, 87, 91, 92, 103, 112, 133, 201, 231, 242,
          255, 297, 327, 396, 406-409.

  ---- Constantin, 91.

  ---- Demetrius, 91.


  Zaiguelius, the Abbé, 311.

  Zamoyska, Comtesse, 39, 144, 235, 344.

  Zawadowski, 222, 294, 296, 301.

  Zohny, Comte, 138.

  Zibin, Colonel, 19, 20, 90, 285, 296, 298, 402, 404.

  Zichy, Comte Charles, 138, 145.

  ---- ---- François, 319.

  ---- Comtesse Julie, 94, 120, 137, 138, 143, 149, 264, 318, 326.

  ---- ---- Sophie, 164, 231, 319.


  Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE, (late) Printers to Her Majesty
  at the Edinburgh University Press



Transcriber’s Notes


Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not
changed. Accent marks in non-English words were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
single and double quotation marks retained unless the correction was
unambiguous.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Index not systematically checked for proper alphabetization or correct
page references; many entries in the Index are spelled or accented
differently than on the pages they reference.

Page 118: “oppose the fact” was printed as “oppose to fact”; changed
here.

Footnote 57: “^e” indicates a superscripted “e”.





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