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CHAPTER XXXVI. - Gouverneur Morris, The Diary and Letters of Gouverneur Morris, vol. 2 
The Diary and Letters of Gouverneur Morris, Minister of the United States to France; Member of the Constitutional Convention, ed. Anne Cary Morris (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1888). 2 vols. Vol. 2.
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Dresden. French emigrants fill the streets. Letter to Lady Sutherland. Manners and customs of Dresden. Goes to Court. Dines with the Duchess of Cumberland. Countess Loos. Leaves Dresden. Vienna. Baron Thugut. Sir Morton Eden. Is presented to the Emperor. News from the army. Letter to Lord Grenville. The Duke of Würtemberg. Is presented to the Archduchess. Madame of France. M. Rassoomousky. An evening at Madame Pergin’s. The French Directory answers Lord Malmesbury. Affairs in Italy. Death of the Empress of Russia. Accounts of the event. Conversation with Baron Thugut. Letter to Lord Grenville apropos of Lafayette’s release. Morris’s arrival at Dresden occasions inquiry. Madame de Colorath’s assembly. A little prince’s observations. Musicale at Mrs. Peploe’s. The levee. Prince Esterhazy. Tea with Sir Morton Eden.
Arrived at Dresden (August 19th), Morris made himself known to the various ministers to whom he had letters. The Hanoverian ambassador made arrangements to present him the next day at Court, and in the mean time sent out “half a hundred cards to the different ministers.” The number of French emigrants “which seemed to fill the streets of the town” painfully attracted Morris’s attention. Speaking of them, he says: “They are travelling eastward to avoid their countrymen. They are allowed to stay only three days. Unhappy people! Yet they are employed in seeing everything curious which they can get at; are serene, even gay. So great a calamity could never light on shoulders which could bear it so well; but, alas! the weight is not diminished by the graceful manner of supporting it. The sense, however, is less by all that spleen and ill-humor could add to torment the afflicted. Doubtless there are many among them who have a consciousness of rectitude to support them. This ground of hope in the kindness of that Being who is to all his creatures an indulgent father, with the cheerfulness of temper which nature has given to some of her favored children, may make their hearts beat lightly in their bosoms while those of their more fortunate oppressors shall sink and sicken; for surely the oppressor can never be happy. I flatter myself with the belief that a great majority of those in France would rejoice at an opportunity to call home their brethren wandering in proscribed wretchedness through a world which is to them almost a wilderness. But the day is yet perhaps at a distance.”
“We have to-day [August 20th], at the table d’hôte, a physician of the Electress Dowager of Bavaria, who takes refuge here. After dinner the Baron de Mestmacher calls on me. He says he believes his Court will interfere to support the Germanic body. Qu.: If he be not a German, and if his ideas are not tinctured by the prejudices of his birth? He gives, however, a reason which has some weight, viz., that the German mass, disunited as it is, can never be formidable to Russia, which it might be if united, or any part of it united, under one head. After he leaves me (by the by, he mentions a report that my friend Woronzow is to be transferred to Vienna) I go to walk; my route lies to the westward of the town, and at length sit down on the grass, in one of the finest situations I ever beheld. On my right, up the river, is the bridge; on one side of the river, the handsome Catholic church, on the other, the new Electoral Palace, are prominent features of the town-view, beyond which tower the hills, covered with forest, and that interspersed with villas and villages. In front I have the Elbe, and three large barges, deeply laden, which are sailing against the stream, and men on shore towing them; on the opposite side a continuation of the hills in amphitheatre, which stretch round to the left, and are there covered with vineyards; the extreme point to the left, at the termination of an avenue of trees, is a palace built by one of the Electors for a favorite mistress. At the foot of the hill on which it stands is the river, which makes a large bend round to my left. Take tea with M. de Schomberg, a nephew of Dumouriez, whom I had known at Paris. He testified much joy at seeing me, and gives me all he knows of the manner and manners of this place. The Elector is regularity itself, and a great economist. His Court copy him, the bourgeoisie copy the Court; a deep hue of religious superstition is cast over the whole, and, of course, much hypocrisy, for all cannot be religious; no gallantry, or very little, because there are no opportunities; but the girls are, he says, loose and lascivious and take up after they are married. They are especially venal, so that two or three ducats may obtain their favors. This he vouches only from hearsay, as they are thus free only to strangers by whom they are not known. I conclude, therefore, that it is a falsehood, and that women of the town, by way of getting a better price, personate to strangers young women of family.”
“This morning [August 21st] I go dressed to Mr. Grey’s and thence to Court, where I am presented to the Elector of Trèves, and afterwards to the Elector of Saxony. Dine with His Highness, who has an excellent table, very good wines, and I think the best tea I ever partook of. After dinner Mr. Grey presents me to Madame de Loos, and then to the Duchess of Cumberland.∗ Return home and change my dress. Mr. Grey comes, and takes me to a kind of club or société which is in the same house with me, l’Hôtel de Bavière.”
To Lady Sutherland Morris wrote on the 22d to tell her that he had received her letter “of the 1st as I was stepping into my carriage at Berlin, and have not had time to write before. I do it now,” he continues, “by deferring till to-morrow my visit to the picture-gallery; I always preferred originals. I am very much obliged to you for everything you say about yourself and your lord, but you have forgotten the children. My plans have been greatly deranged by the progress of the French armies, for I did intend going into Switzerland, thence to Vienna, and finally to Naples. But I cannot get either into Switzerland or out of it without crossing the line of march of the armies, and I had rather be in a battle. But, what is worse, I should not, I believe, be able to get my horses through at all, so I shall go on to Vienna direct unless they stop me again upon that tack. Everything in this quarter of the world is à la débandade, and unless the Empress of Russia takes the thing in hand I see not what is to come of it. Intrigue and faction supply, as I am told, the place of that golden chain which was let down from the throne of Jupiter—to bind in orderly connection the different parts of creation. And thus the affairs of imperial Jove are sadly out of order. The Chevalier de Boufflers, however, has set everything to rights by a wretched pun: ‘Les affaires de l’Empire doivent être excellentes, car elles s’empirent toujours.’
“I will fold up in this a press copy of my last, because the original may have been drowned. Yesterday I dined with the Elector, and the conversation turned on your ladyship. You will not easily guess why; so I will tell you that a person sat opposite to me who had travelled with you in Italy, known you in Paris, and who introduced himself by talking of you to me, and that because he had heard me mention to M. Quimones that I had seen him in your house. You remember this M. Quimones, who seemed so well pleased with himself while in transit at Paris, and who used to play at hazard. He has been here en grand état, and, if one may judge from appearances, verily believes himself to be très spirituel et fort aimable, in which, by the by, he has the misfortune to be of a different opinion with his acquaintance. Well, your fellowtraveller spoke of you in such high terms that I began to feel an attachment to him, and the Elector was induced to inquire after you. We talked of you in Berlin because Lord Elgin, you know, is, quoad a part of his regiment, your protégé. Adieu, dear lady. Remember me to your lord, and believe me, ever yours.”
“To-day [August 22d] I dine with the Baron de Mestmacher, Minister of Russia. He takes pains to justify his Court, and lay on Austria the blame of what has happened. It is not my business to contest the matter. He is led into an explanation of the defensive powers of the Prussian monarchy which I cannot comprehend, but rather see from his explanations how it can be invaded with great facility. On the whole, I see that this jargon might impose upon a person totally ignorant of affairs, and that the Prussian Cabinet may yet find dupes.”
“Dine to-day [August 23d] with the Duchess of Cumberland, after visiting the notable collection of paintings in the Gallery. The Comtesse de Loos dines with us; she is a Danish lady, educated here, who is pretty and pleasing. There is a Polish princess, whose daughters come in after dinner, and these perform together a dance of their country which has infinite grace. I compliment the mother on it in such way that if I should see her in Poland I think she would receive me hospitably.”
“See to-day [August 26th] the Cabinet of Antiquities, and pass the evening at the Comte de Loos’s. He was formerly Minister to France. A very splendid party at a supper given to the Duchess of Cumberland. I am seated between the elder Comtesse, who has yet fine remains, and her daughter-in-law, whose husband seems already afflicted by jealousy, anticipating perhaps upon a fate which seems to await him, and in which, unfortunately, I shall not be an instrument. The Comtesse has already the impression of a sentiment which M. le mari could not, I am sure, excite.”
“We have news to-day [August 27th] of an important victory gained by the Austrians over the French in our neighborhood. If it be as it is represented and they follow up the blow, the French will find their retreat difficult.”
“Go to Court this morning [August 28th]. Dine with the Prussian minister, and as I express some doubts respecting the extent of the Austrian victory he magnifies it greatly, whereupon, after pushing him beyond the truth by my apparent infidelity, I remind him that he had assured me the other evening the Austrian army was so completely routed that they could not again make head against the French. This puts him to the blush deservedly, for he had wilfully exaggerated, with a view to deceive me, and although (being well informed) I was not the dupe it is but common justice to mark my remembrance. He gives an excellent dinner and very good wine. After dinner I visit the elder Comtesse de Loos, which is a thing en régle. The young one comes in, and in the shiftings from a new visitor I am seated next her, while the old lady is going over the routine of civilities to a decrepit sire. As they are seated on the sofa together I can say only indifferent things, but these being expressed in a gentle tone of voice and accompanied with a look in which extreme tenderness is mingled with humble respect, she utters, to my great surprise [erasure]. The old lady turns round with astonishment, and a tint of indignation which her good breeding cannot quite suppress. If I may trust to these indications, there is somewhat pleasant in the secret history of the family. At the club I learn some further details of the late battle, which, it seems, lasted three days. The French lost thirty-five pieces of cannon, which circumstance makes me believe in the success, and induces me to suppose that my way into Switzerland may be opened. Nous verrons.
“A Swedish gentleman calls on me, to whom I said the other day at Court that the King, at Petersburg, was in a good situation to learn the manner in which his minister has been treated at Paris. He tells me that he understood and could have answered me, but that he is adjoined by his Court in the Legation here, and therefore, being a public man, anything he might have said would have been misinterpreted. He goes on to tell me that he presumes I am acquainted with a number of circumstances which he recapitulates and which are, indeed, of public notoriety, and from thence he concludes that the situation of his Court is difficult and consequently that of its servants delicate, wherefore he thought my observation rather unkind, and wishes I would in future spare him upon such subjects. This expostulation proves to me that he is of the Gallican party in Sweden, and I thereupon enter into the situation of his unfortunate country, sacrificed ever since Charles XII. to the selfish policy of other courts—played off against Russia, to the annoyance, indeed, of that empire, but to their own ruin. Suggest to him that a much safer policy would be that of an alliance with so powerful a neighbor, and the cession of Finland for a valuable consideration to be obtained elsewhere, and instance Norway. He remains (though trying to conceal it) stanch to the French alliance, which, if persisted in, must at length render Sweden a province of Russia. He has taken up an idea which is, I find, pretty general, viz., that England fomented the French Revolution. This idea is strongly inculcated by the partisans of France and works well for them.”
“The post came in from Bayreuth, and we learn [August 31st] that the French have indeed been soundly beaten, but their retreat is not as yet so great as might be wished. They commit great excesses and the peasants destroy them. The details of the battle cannot be had, as the French stop all travellers. I dine with the Duchess of Cumberland.”
“To-day [September 1st] at the table d’hôte we have a gentleman from Amberg who saw from the steeple of that town the action of the 24th. He says that if Wartensleben had done his duty all the army of Jourdan would have been made prisoners. By his account this army is in such total rout that it must retreat to Düsseldorf. The advices from Frankfort are a sortie from Mayence which has done great mischief to the besieging army, and an assault, without success, upon the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein; also a note in the Leipsic gazette that there circulated a report on the Main that the magazines were to be removed from Frankfort to Wetzlaer.”
“Dine at the table d’hôte [September 2d], where our yesterday’s informant tells me he has received an estafette which announces the advance of the Austrians in every direction, and the defeat of General Moreau.”
Leaving Dresden on September 2d, Morris continued his journey to Vienna by the way of Pilnitz. “The château of the Prince, beautifully situated,” he says, “will long be memorable for the treaty signed between the King of Prussia and the Emperor Leopold, which has been the pretext (but according to the advocates of the French cause the motive), to the present war, whose consequences tend to change the political systems of Europe after laying waste a considerable part of it.” The slavery and poverty of the people in this region strongly impressed Morris, who mentions a conversation with the landlady of the house at Toplitz respecting the civil state of the inhabitants who are serfs. “She tells me (she being one of them, or, at least, her parents) that by the edicts of Joseph they may, if they please, pay to the lord twelve kreuzers per day in winter and fifteen in summer for the labor they owe, and that in general, by precedent conventions, this does not extend to above two days in the week, so that twenty-seven kreuzers is the average payment; and this, for the year, may amount to about fifty shillings sterling, for which they have as much land as will support their families. If so, their service, like that of the righteous, is perfect freedom. I must inquire a little further into this matter.
“From M. de Callenberg I collect that the situation of the serfs in the Electorate is still deplorable, although he thinks it quite simple and natural, for some of them belong to him. It is, however, a consolation to know that these miserable beings—at least, according to our conceptions—are better off than they were, and it seems probable that they will by degrees be all emancipated. Joseph did much towards it, and even established magistrates to hear their plaints and decide on them. What he could not do was to render such tribunals useful to the poor in contending with the rich. I know not any means of producing that effect except the temper and spirit of society, which is more the result than the cause of freedom. The progress towards freedom must necessarily be slow. The French nation jumped at once from a mild monarchy to a wild anarchy, and are now in subjection to men whom they despise. I think they will end by a military despotism.”
Prague was the next stopping-place, where the library was interesting, and the “young damsel of the house, Mademoiselle Lisette, sups with me and endeavors, with all the affectation of a coquette, to persuade me to make love to her. I do not care to do it, though she is very handsome, for she takes snuff.”
“The custom and military officers detain me outside the gate at Vienna [September 15th], and I have to get up two pair of stairs into a wretched room at the Three Axes Hotel. Go to see M. de Thugut,∗ who gives me a very civil reception. His eye denotes a little, sparkling mind, better fitted to please the Prince than to conduct his affairs. Ride to the Prater, and walking there I see the Princess Potoska, with whom I take tea, and am then presented to the Prince de Nassau. Madame Potoska tells me that the Chevalier Eden is more attentive to whist than he is to his countrymen, who complain of his neglect. The next day, dining at Sir Morton Eden’s,† where there is company, the dinner is scarcely swallowed before he sits down to whist, which seems wholly to engross his attention. J’ennuie myself looking on at the game, in the expectation that at last some moment might be left for conversation, but it is in vain. Walk to the Prater, which is, on the whole, a charming spot—superior to anything I have seen of the kind near a large city. It might be made celestial. It is very full of people. Walking there I meet M. Huë, the valet-de-chambre of Louis XVI., who is mentioned affectionately in the will of that unfortunate prince. I have a good deal of conversation with him. He is highly discontented with the treatment he meets with here, and thence disposed to view with a jaundiced eye the conduct of the Cabinet. With a false mysteriousness he lets me know that he conceives they have the idea of marrying the young princess to one of her cousins, brother to the Emperor, and setting up in that way a claim to the throne of France. This may be, but it is a very remote speculation, and, if I were to guess, such marriage would form an insuperable bar to her success. He speaks very highly of her, and I see her passing by. She is much improved in her appearance since I last saw her in France.”
“This morning [September 24th] Sir M. Eden calls, and we go to Court. He presents me to the Emperor, who is ready in conversation. He is in very good spirits, having received favorable advices from the Rhine. The Archduke has driven the French back beyond the Lahn, and relieved the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein. A body of Imperial troops is already up as high as Rastadt, in the view of cutting off the supplies of Moreau, who is still at Neuburg, on the Danube. The Emperor gives us his news, and expresses at the same time his hope that Moreau will not be able to effect his retreat. Indeed, this hope amounts almost to expectation. He tells me that in a month’s time my way will be opened into Switzerland, but observes that it will then be cold travelling. The ton of the young women here is to be men-haters. Lady Eden says the men are so peu aimable that they may in some sort be justified. Messrs. Huë and Thierry, the anciens valets de-chambre of Louis XVI. call on me. In the evening I go to the Prater to see the fireworks, which are indeed very fine.
“See here, among others, M. Marschal, who seems to be on the pick-up plan. Ask him if that be true which I heard, namely, that the women here profess to be menhaters. He says it is, because the young men are not amiable, and are very inattentive, preferring the easy pleasures to be had among women of inferior class to connections of gallantry. In the reign of Marie Therese things were on a different footing, for then women of the town were closely looked after and persecuted, so that men were obliged to attach themselves to women of quality. This may be a philosophic account of the matter, but I think it would not satisfy the fair sex in general, and for my own part I am apt to suspect that the existing system may depend on a want of sentiment among the men.
“I hear at the English minister’s, where I spend the evening, that General Moreau has left his position at Neuburg, where he had intrenched himself, and is on the retreat. On the 22d General Latour was to cross the Leck in pursuit of him. General Nauendorf is on the left side of the Danube, so that I think M. Moreau will be catched up near the sources of the Danube. Later, I hear that the French army under Moreau is retreating, and the peasants arm to pursue him, so that Germany is pretty well cured of the maladie française.”
“Spend the evening [September 28th] at the British minister’s. He tells me the latest advices, and shows me Jourdan’s account of his battles; tells me that he is recalled, and Beurnonville appointed in his stead. This bodes no good to France. Another insurrection lately in Paris by the Jacobins. The route will, I think, be soon open to Switzerland.”
“Spend the evening [October 3d] at the British minister’s, where everybody is dressed, having been to dine with the Marquis del Gallo. I find from Sir M. Eden that this dinner was intended for me, but I did not accept the invitation, and tell him why. He assures me that I was mistaken, and so I am now convinced; but no matter. M. de St. Priest this evening mentioned to me a plan which he proposed to the Archbishop of Sens. By the accounts rendered of M. de Calonne and of M. Necker, it appeared, speaking in round numbers, that the debt of France, quoad the annual payments, consisted of one hundred millions of rentes perpétuelles and one hundred millions of rentes viagères (life-interest). Changing these last, which arose from capital advanced for a life-rent of ten per cent., some at nine, into the capitals and then putting all those capitals on a four per cent. interest, would have reduced the yearly interest on a redeemable debt to about forty millions; and a similar reduction of the rentes perpétuelles would have reduced them to eighty millions, together one hundred and twenty, saving, on the whole, eighty, from which, deducting the deficit of about sixty, there would have remained a sinking fund of twenty. It is very certain that this plan would have produced the effect, but it is also certain that the same effect might have been produced by a system of economy more quietly; and it is also clear that when once the revenue had been made equal to the expenditure the rentes perpètuelles might have been reduced to four per cent. with the consent of the creditors, which would have left a sinking fund of twenty millions for that debt, to be increased by the falling of the viagères, which must have determined in half a century of themselves. A fair operation on church property would have given an immense domain. In ten years the Minister might have proposed and carried plans for simplifying the taxes, lessening the expense of collection, etc., and then France would have been indisputably the dominating power of Europe. But Providence had willed it otherwise.”
In a letter to Lord Grenville, written from Vienna on October 5th, Morris says:
“I can venture to offer my congratulations that appearances have mended since I last took the liberty of troubling your lordship, and also on the success of the campaign. It is not, however, my object to conjecture probable events, or consider what has been done, but to communicate an observation I have frequently had occasion to make. Your enemies spread everywhere the idea that you oppose a pacification with a view to aggrandize yourselves in the two Indias, regardless of the blood lavished on the Continent of Europe. This, as you will easily suppose, excites ill-will; but yet from the nature of your government you are led to insist in Parliament on the advantages gained by the British nation, and to show that these result from diversions made by its allies. Such arguments are turned against you abroad, and become the excuse of those who have abandoned you. They are made use of here to render the war unpopular, and with such success that if public opinion were of much weight the Court would have been greatly embarrassed. You best can judge, my lord, whether it be prudent, after insisting that the war in its prosecution, as in its origin, has been defensive, to declare that the principal object of it now is to protect the German Empire and the Low Countries; that the dearest interests of Britain are eventually connected with that defence and protection; that, far from ambitious views, you look only to the security of yourselves as the result of that security you seek for others; that a faction, aided by French armies, having turned against you the resources of Holland, you had been compelled, for the defence of your Oriental possessions, to seize those posts from whence they would otherwise have been annoyed; that in like manner you had been obliged to attack the French islands for the purpose of saving your own, not merely from capture but from utter devastation. Such declarations would have a good effect through Germany, already undeceived with respect to the French professions. Moreover, should you be embroiled with Spain it would strengthen you in the North to declare, after dwelling on the unprovoked oppression of his Catholic Majesty, that it justifies you in demanding (as a condition of peace) that he open his American dominions to the commerce of all who now are or hereafter may be joined with you in the war against him. This kind of crusade will not, indeed, be so wonderful as that which was produced by the preaching of Peter the Hermit, but it may answer better purposes.”
“I visit at the Prince Coloredo’s [October 16th], and on my return home I find that I have been out, full-dressed, with a stocking wrong side outward. I remember to have heard, when young, that this portended good luck, and I remember also that, having gone out one morning early I broke my shin before I got back, and in taking down the stocking to look at it found it was wrong side outward. I bear the mark of that misfortune to this hour, a memento not to believe in such sayings.
“Spend the evening at Madame de Castelalfieri’s, where I meet the Baron de Groshlaer. The Marquis de Lucchesini says there is no instance of an army of forty thousand men laying down their arms, and thence concludes that Moreau will escape with the loss of his baggage and artillery. If, however, the defiles are properly occupied, he may still find it impracticable to get through. Those who wish well to Austria think he will be made prisoner, for thus it is that our wishes always lead our judgments, unless, indeed, our fears supersede our wishes. In both cases we may be misled, but the former, in taking us out of our road, gives us at least a more pleasant path.”
“To-day [October 20th] I dine at the English minister’s. A large dinner to the Duke heir apparent of Würtemberg, who is to espouse the Princess Royal of England. He has a monstrous belly, but seems to be pleasant. His pale-faced, dancing brother is here, whose want of ability or attention, or both, caused no little mischief to the Allies. There are six of them, of which one-half, including the eldest, were in the Prussian service, and the other half in the Austrian service.”
“It seems to be confirmed [October 21st] that Bonaparte has been obliged to raise the blockade of Mantua. He has, it is said, retired to Verona. If this be true he must speedily be placed in a most perilous situation. The fate of Moreau’s army is, I suppose, by this time decided.
“While I was at the Baron de Groshlaer’s a gentleman came in who, the Baron tells me, is one of the most intelligent men in Vienna. Shortly after I turned the conversation on Hungarian wines, expressing my wish to get some of the different kinds. He told me that it was extremely difficult, and mentioned, among other things, to show the want of good faith among the Hungarian nobles in their commercial dealings, that they had made formerly large consignments of wine which they called Tokay, to Vienna, but it was put into casks under size, contained a great many pebbles, and consisted in general of wines from the neighborhood of Tokay of inferior quality. On the whole, it seems unlikely that I shall be able to accomplish my object in that respect, which is to me of no consequence; but it is of much consequence to the country whose immorality has deprived it of a great resource.
“Call in the evening on M. de Thugut, and mention some things to him which had occurred to me. He tells me that the Emperor has left the conduct of military affairs to the Archduke, wherefore he declines entering into the consideration of some points, but says in general that the Prince de Condé would not, he thinks, go at the head of a forlorn hope into Franche Comté. He acknowledges that the Low Countries may be repossessed this winter, but is apprehensive of Maestricht. He does not duly consider that this citadel would, from the moment the Imperial army should arrive at Liège, be in the middle of an enemy’s country. He is looking forward to another campaign, and seems to think that the Directory, grounding themselves on their former declaration, will insist on holding the annexed territory and so justify Great Britain in continuing the war. I think he will be mistaken, and, pressed by the incumbent danger, they will at last make such offers as will perplex greatly the British administration should they be rejected.”
“After dinner [October 23d] I visit at the English minister’s. Here I see several of my acquaintance. The Prince of Würtemberg makes up to me, and from what he says I conclude that his agent or envoy for making the match between him and the Princess Royal of England has told him that I was well received at St. James’s. I learn at Madame Arnstein’s that Monsignor Alberoni is expected in a day or two. He brings, they say, the declaration of a religious war by the Pope against France. Visit the Baronne de Groshlaer. The Baron carelessly says that he thinks the world must take refuge in America. I understand much more than is expressed, but may be mistaken; answer as carelessly that it is a very good country, but afterwards we are a little more particular, he in questions, I in giving information, mais il n’y a rien encore qui tire à conséquence. The Sardinian minister sends word that his supper is postponed for this evening. I learn afterwards that it is on account of the King of Sardinia’s death; an apoplectic fit has taken him out of all worldly trouble.”
“This morning [October 26th] Sir M. Eden presents me to the Empress. She speaks a little to Colonel Hope, who is presented at the same time, a few words to me, and has a long conversation with Sir M. Eden, who leans quietly against the wall. She seems to be a good sort of little woman, but in the course of her conversation she shows about the eyebrow something which bespeaks high spirit. She has the Austrian countenance a little. I visit Madame Oudenarde, who asks me if it be true that I am charged here with a mission from Congress to ask the liberty of Lafayette. I laugh at this a little, and then, assuring her there is no truth in that suggestion, say that it is a piece of folly keeping him prisoner. This brings her out violently against him, and to the same effect Count Dietrichstein, who, indeed, is as much prompted to defend the Austrian administration as to side with his friend. We examine the matter as coolly as their prejudices will admit, and on the point of right he takes the only tenable ground, viz., that the public safety being the supreme law of princes, the Emperor, conceiving it dangerous to leave Lafayette & Co. at large, had arrested them and keeps them still prisoners for the same reason. Lavaupalliere, who comes in during the conversation, shows still more ill-will to this unfortunate man than anyone else. He seems to flatter himself that there is still some chance of getting him hanged. He treats him not only as having been deficient in abilities, but as having been most ungrateful to the King and Queen, from which last charge I defend him, in order to see what may be the amount of the inculpation, and it resolves itself into two favors received from the Court: First, pardon for having gone to America notwithstanding orders given him to the contrary; and, next, promotion to the rank of maréchal de camp over the heads of several who were many of them men of family. To crown all, he accuses him of the want of courage, and declares that he has seen him contumeliously treated without resenting it. To this I give as peremptory a negative as good breeding will permit, and he feels it. Indeed, the conversation of these gentlemen, who have the virtue and good fortune of their grandfathers to recommend them, leads me almost to forget the crimes of the French Revolution; and often the unforgiving temper and sanguinary wishes which they exhibit make me almost believe that the assertion of their enemies is true, viz., that it is success alone which has determined on whose side should be the crimes and on whose the misery.”
“Sir M. Eden takes me [October 29th] to see the Archduchess, who is quite in alt, from the success of the Archduke Charles, who has had some sharp work lately with the French under Moreau. This last has, it is said, been driven back with great loss; but it might be called driven forward, because he was undoubtedly on the retreat.”
Among the letters to women which came from Morris’s pen (and there were not a few of them), those to the Countess of Sutherland most truthfully show the character of the man. More than any of his correspondents, she possessed the gift of drawing out his vivacity and causing him to betray his innate kindliness in most graceful and sprightly fashion. It is unfortunate that there only remains among the papers one short note from her ladyship, of no particular importance; but, however brilliant her letters may have been, to answer them was certainly to Morris a thoroughly congenial occupation, in which he frequently indulged himself.
“Your letter, dear lady,” he wrote from Vienna, November 2d, “has been long on its way; it is dated the 15th September, and reached me the 31st October. How can you ever make it a question whether it is worth while to read what you write? I am tempted to say, with the late King of France (when one of his brothers wanted to send off his cara sposa): ‘Ma foi, si nous étions tous aussi difficiles.’ I do better; without asking you whether it may please you to read, I sit down in the consciousness that it will please me to write to you. Well, here I am, in a country full of ‘state and ancientry’—how congenial to my taste and feelings you well know. In the daily commission of lèse décorum, I expect to be cut off from society and thrown into Gehenna. Think of this master Page obliged to live with people who, in the simplicity of their hearts, know not duly to estimate the differing dignities of a sofa and an elbow-chair. Think of that! and then to herd with the dull dogs who prefer conversation to cards and irreverently prize genius and good humor beyond stars and ribbons. You say you envy me my tour—while I only wish that you were here, and envy more those who had the good sense not to leave you. It would delight me to see your observations, for I think you would make them intelligible without speaking. I can sometimes see you, with that arch yet modest mien. I, alas! am like Noah’s dove. She fluttered over the face of the waters, not knowing where to set her feet, poor bird. I am still farther from the ark than she, yet no one pities me, though ‘I have nobody by me but myself.’
“You will not be visited by the bandes noires, and I am glad of it. Yet I believe that such an electric shock might purify the humors of the nation; but it would occasion great and various mischiefs, for England, swollen with dropsy-credit, is not so athletic as in earlier life. Would it be useful to tap the old lady? That is a question to be decided by her State surgeons. The thirst for foreign dominions is perhaps the worst symptom of her disease, but all this in your ear. You know I never liked your St. Dominique expedition. ‘Gold,’ says the proverb, ‘may be bought too dear,’ and sugar should lose its sweetness when bought with the price of blood. Moreover—but I spare you the ‘moreover,’ because I will not write either a system or a criticism. I long ago gave you my opinion that, if the French were checked in front and a body of troops thrown on their left flank, they would be driven out of Germany or be made prisoners in it. This, at least, was the idea, and how nearly realized it is needless to mention. That Moreau was not captured is not his fault, for he lingered long enough on the Danube. Neither is it the fault of the Archduke. Perhaps Madam Fortune was to blame, but, be that as it may, there is, I fear, all the difference between a good, speedy peace and another bloody, expensive campaign; should you persist, you must succeed most indisputably. But John Bull seems to grow restive, and his humor may cost him dear. I have remarked, also, that when a Minister is appointed he is apt to wish too warmly that his negotiation may succeed, whereby it happens that treaties are sometimes onerous, from the eagerness of those who make them. And now, dear lady, I bid you adieu, entreating my remembrances to your lord, and adding the I think-unnecessary assurance that I am, yours.
“P. S. Should Lady Louisa Macdonald see that compound epithet she may imagine I am making some progress in the German language. Truth is, I took a master this morning.”
“It seems generally believed,” says the diary for November 3d “that the King of Naples has made peace with France. Moreau has gone over the Rhine, after another sharp action with the Archduke Charles. He has done everything possible and his retreat does him great honor. Dine at Madame Arnstein’s with a good deal of good male company; for here as in Holland it is, I find, understood that men may visit a Jew of good character, but women would consider it a derogation. All the world is in raptures with the Archduke.”
“There is a procession this day [November 6th] of an image said to have shed tears of blood a century ago. The Emperor assists at it. Qu.: Is this bigotry or policy? Visit at Coloredo’s where the heir apparent of Würtemberg gives me an anecdote of Canning, the under-secretary in Lord Grenville’s office, which falls a little heavy on His Highness, who had a courier waiting in London to bring despatches respecting his marriage with the Princess Royal of England. These were made up, but, by a qui pro quo, after Lord Grenville had gone to his house at Dropmoor, Mr. Canning sent the despatches God knows where, (probably to Mr. Wickham in Switzerland) and gave the Duke’s courier some letters for somebody else. He is not at all pleased at this piece of negligence, and, indeed, I am not surprised at his discontent. He tells me that he has intelligence late and direct from Paris which assures him the Directory will not be able to obtain either the men or the money they have asked for, and therefore he thinks a better peace can be made with France next March than at present. It is said that the troops are in full march for Italy, etc. M. de Gnostiz tells me the Emperor is to have sixty thousand Russians next campaign in the pay of England, who has undertaken to provide for them as soon as they come to a spot where they can be useful to the Allies.”
The letter written to Lord Grenville on October 5th for lack of a suitable opportunity had never been sent, but again writing to him on November 6th, and enclosing at the same time the former letter, Morris says:
“My letter to you, my lord, written a month ago, might now be suppressed, since a change of circumstances renders the greater part, if not the whole of it, impertinent; but it will serve to prove that I have not been unmindful of my promise. Were it evident that peace would take place what I am going to say might well be spared, but I believe in another campaign. In that case Spain will become a party against you, and the everlasting bone of contention, Gibraltar,∗ may perhaps be her object of attack, unless she should adopt the plan proposed last year of conquering it in the West Indies. You will probably endeavor, on the other hand, to make serious impressions on her American dominions, and in so doing must contend with a climate more dangerous than your enemy. Two modes have presented themselves to my mind. One, which I mentioned cursorily to Sir Morton Eden, has probably occurred to your lordship, viz., transporting some Lascars from India to Mexico. These would indeed find an open country, but the extent of it and other causes would render the impression less permanent than you would desire. The other mode is more simple. The Emperor might furnish some troops from Croatia and other unhealthy places, who are inured from infancy to baneful exhalations. These, under the pretext of garrisoning Gibraltar and attacking Cadiz, would keep your enemy in alarm. But, once beyond the straits, they would rapidly run down the longitude and arrive at such point of attack as should be deemed most advisable. If, as is said, the Pope means to declare a holy war against France and her allies, he might give you a detachment of monks, supplied with the due quantity of bulls and such like ammunition from the Vatican. These, in the bigoted country you have to deal with, would produce great effect; and this, my lord, appears to me the cheapest and best mode of opening to yourselves the direct commerce of Mexico and Peru, which, added to the acquisitions already made, would fully indemnify you for the expenses incurred and to be incurred in the course of the contest. Before I close this letter I must testify the pleasure I felt in reading the King’s speech. It is excellent. I am, my lord, very truly yours.”
“To-day [November 7th], on my return from a walk, I find my valet-de-chambre in trouble; he has been summoned by the police, and thinks they mean to make a soldier of him. I write to the English minister and to the Minister of the Police, and finally give him a certificate, and all is settled. Mr. Scott tells me, de science certaine, that Sir M. Eden has received advices from Lord Mallory at Paris by a messenger. This thing is in itself indifferent, but Sir M. Eden takes pains to keep it a secret, which is an affectation of mystery much misplaced; for it is one of those things which cannot be concealed, and which the enemy must have known much earlier than he did. He has received this day, and wishes to circulate, the news that the evacuation of Corsica is countermanded.
“The courier whose arrival is to be kept secret walks about the town conversing with the English of his acquaintance. I visit after dinner the Count de Pergin, Minister of the Police, to thank him for not committing an act of outrageous oppression; for such it would have been to have taken up a stranger, the servant of a stranger, and forced him into military service. He has, however, made a very polite (though magisterial) answer to my letter, and this it is which induces me to leave a card at his door, for he is not at home.”
“Having begun this month with the study of German—a difficult enterprise especially at my time of life—I appropriate my mornings to it. Dine [November 12th] at M. de Schoenfeldt’s, whose cook was taken ill two days ago, when I was to have tasted the productions of his art. He is since dead, but the dinner seems not to have suffered by the demise of his authority and jurisdiction to a female successor. I learn that M. Pellin, who was the faiseur of Mirabeau, dines every day with M. Thugut. This M. Pellin has been painted to me as one of the most corrnpt men living. Voilà beau jeu pour les Français. I presume that, when Mirabeau came over to the Court, Pellin was so much let into the secret as that now they are obliged to treat him with attention.”
“This morning [November 13th] Sir M. Eden presents me to the Archduchesses, sisters of the Emperor, and Madame of France. The elder Archduchess, who is betrothed to the heir apparent of Naples, has a striking resemblance to the Queen of France, which I mention to her, and she tells me that others have observed it. God send she may not experience a similar fate; but she seems, at any rate, destined to a wretched life, if that be true which is reported, viz., that her intended husband is but just above idiocy. Madame of France strikes me by the strong resemblance she bears to her father, Louis XVI., and I cannot help observing, when we leave her presence, on the malignity which pursued her poor mother, and would have persuaded the world that this was an offspring produced by her gallantries. Every trait gives the lie to that aspersion.”
“Yesterday [November 14th] brought the account that the Austrian armies had advanced towards Italy, and this day two couriers arrive, one of which brings news that Davidovitch had beaten the French on the 7th, after an obstinate contest, a little beyond Trent, and taken a thousand prisoners, with five pieces of cannon. The other announces the advance of Alvinzi on the 7th, (after the repulse of the French on the 6th, which was announced yesterday) to Vicenza, which the enemy had abandoned, retreating to Montebello, which is, I understand, a very important post, and where, probably, M. Bonaparte will make his stand. If, as is most likely, his forces be already much diminished by disease, he will probably now meet the usual fate of French armies east of the Alps. Go to Madame Arnstein’s. Here I am told some anecdotes of M. Rassoomovsky,∗ and his amour with the Queen of Naples, with whom he had been the predecessor of M. d’Alton; her asking then his recall, etc.; also a history of his preceding amour with the Grand Duchess; the discovery of it to the Duke, by way of consoling him for her death, which last was supposed necessary to the peace and quiet of the Russian Empire. The manner of it supposes the imperial Catherine to be superior to what are called the finer feelings. With this is connected a story how the King of Naples, a good sort of man, prevailed, after much entreaty, on the Grand Duke to see Rassoomovsky, then ambassador at his Court, to which he at length consented, but upon his entering turned his back upon him. The other, en vrai Russe, fell on his knees, and in that humble manner followed him about the apartment. Yet this man is considered here as haughty. There may be reason for it, too, because hauteur and bassesse are too frequently allied.”
“I learn to-day [November 16th] that Spain has declared war against Great Britain, and that Admiral Mann, flying from a superior force, took shelter under the guns of Gibraltar. This does not look like peace.”
“At Madame Pergin’s, to-night [November 20th], I happen to sit next to Madame Haften, a Marseillaise amie of M. del Gallo. The Cardinal Alberoni, who comes in and makes a trio with us, maintains a most liberal, or, as precise folks might not miscall it, a libertine conversation. He is said here to be très aimable, but he has un ton de beaucoup trop libre pour ce qu’on appelle, en France, la bonne société. This leads to conclusions on the taste of Vienna which I certainly shall not draw without further observation. Madame is assez gaie, but from that no unfavorable deductions can be made. The Prince Sapeiha comes in, and, in a general conversation on the beauty of a certain lady, it is inquired whether she be belle or jolie; and different persons opine different ways, till at length, the voices being equal, the Prince brings forward, to instance his distinctions, Madame Mostoska on one side, Mesdames Liniouski and Kinski on the other, giving decided preference to the two latter, who are certainly fine forms and figures. The former, with an open, ingenuous countenance and lively sweetness of expression, has pleased me much for the few times I have seen her, which Madame Haften has observed, and cites me as her advocate. Upon this I seize the occasion, and, addressing myself to him: ‘Mon prince, je ne me donne pas pour défendeur de Madame Mostoska, car elle n’en a pas besoin; encore moins me permettrai-je de faire des comparaisons, puisqu’il s’y trouve toujours quelque chose d’odieuse. Je ne ferai qu’une seule observation: que m’importe le plus beau palais du monde, si toutes les portes en sont toujours fermées?’ Should this saying circulate I should not be sorry, because it will strike someone whose stiff manner I might be offended at if anything of this sort could offend, but which I pity, because it is truly ‘pitoyable.’ The Prince is completely silenced, saying only he is glad the unhappy Poles have been able to preserve something in their general misfortune. He, as well as Madame Mostoska, is of that ci-devant nation.”
“News is received [November 21st] that Commodore Elphinstone has taken, in Saldanha Bay, the Dutch fleet, consisting of three ships, five frigates, and transports with four thousand troops, without firing a shot. This is very important, in that it secures the whole of the East Indies, of which the Cape of Good Hope is an essential out-work.
“Spend part of the evening at Madame Castelalfieri’s, whence I depart before supper, but having had, the rare thing for this country, some pleasant conversation. In speaking with Monseigneur Albani on the state of public affairs, my freedom brings forward his, and he tells me that his Court is so extremely feeble that nothing can be hoped from them. He acknowledges the ultimate apprehensions of Italy from the House of Austria, and, as to the present views of the French, says very justly that the temporalities of the Church are menaced, which, once gone, no moral force now remains by which to recover them.”
“There has been some severe fighting in Italy, and, to judge by the government account [November 26th], Alvinzi has been sadly beaten and his army dispersed. Bonaparte attacked him the 16th and 17th. The loss is said to have been great on both sides, which seems probaable, but it appears to me that, if great and unknown obstacles did not prevent it, Alvinzi should have marched to the right of Verona and formed a junction with Davidovitch, instead of marching to the left and increasing, by that means, the distance between the two armies, so as to render a co-operation impracticable. Davidovitch has, however, gained a considerable advantage, on the 18th having taken a thousand prisoners and some cannon, which last article proves that he has gained a complete victory. I conclude that Bonaparte fights thus obstinately in the hope of taking Mantua before it can be relieved. On that point seems to turn the fate of Italy. Sir M. Eden assures me that the loss of the French under Bonaparte was equal to that of the Austrians under Alvinzi.”
“To-day [November 29th] I see an English newspaper containing the address of the President of the United States to his fellow-citizens on occasion of the ensuing election, in which he declines being a candidate. This gives me very great pain. There are said to be news from Italy of a very unpleasant nature. The garrison of Mantua is in want of everything but bread. It will, I fear, be found that man liveth not by bread alone. M. de St. Priest assures me that the Empress of Russia is determined now to send troops against France. He says that Great Britain offered last year a million sterling as a subsidy to the Empress, who would not accept it then. He tells me that Lord Malmesbury is treated contemptuously at Paris, which conduct is, in his opinion, very absurd. I remember that my friend Woronzow rejoiced to the King of Great Britain over the haughty answer of the Directory to the propositions made through Mr. Wickham last year, considering it as the only false step which they had made in politics. He did not then, neither does M. de St. Priest, consider both sides of the question. The Directory consider the temper of their own nation, and, being determined to reject treaty, they do it in the way which can best raise the spirits of the French and give, at the same time, an air of éclat to their proceedings which may dazzle other nations. At present they count, I believe, on an alliance with the Turks as well as with Spain, and, if the Turks make an irruption into Hungary, the force of this Empire will be greatly shaken. The fate of the war seems to depend much on the relative marine forces in the Mediterranean. Will Great Britain be able to preserve the superiority there? This is a serious question for the Emperor. Mr. Scott lends me Burke’s pamphlet,∗ which is strongly thought and in general well expressed, but the coloring too high. There was in the Frankfort paper an answer of the British Cabinet through Lord Malmesbury to the French Directory. This answer is well drawn, but the Directory, who answer with contemptuous brevity, have, however, the advantage in reserve of being able to say that Britain, though called upon, has not specified the conditions of peace which she means to propose, but only brought forward a vague, abstract proposition which, denied, would lead to long investigation and which, admitted, brings the questions to be agitated in concluding a peace to no nearer decision than before. It is evident, however, by the high tone of the Directory, that they wish to avoid treaty, otherwise they would have made this simple observation, and it is evident also that the British administration do not consider matters as ripe, or they would not direct the discussion of moot points. In effect, this Court is not yet, I believe, decided as to its object. Conversing with Sir M. Eden about general affairs, I express the idea that the misfortunes in Italy should induce this government to abandon it. He acknowledges that there is a kind of spell upon everything there, but thinks that, if Italy be abandoned, everything there will go to ruin. I fully agree with him, but insist that the Emperor had better leave the Italians to their fate than ruin himself in trying to save them. I find, however, that other ideas prevail here. Quem deus vult perdere, etc. I mention to him Lafayette’s detention, and find from what he says that there is not much likelihood that he will speedily be liberated. I state to him what has occurred to me on Lord M.’s negotiation at Paris, and he feels but tries to color the objections.
“The Marquis de Salinés dines with me [December 5th]. He mentions with some indignation the wretched conduct of his Court, but adds that nothing is left for an individual but silent concern. It seems clear that all Italy will be at the mercy of the French, and he thinks Naples will follow the example of Spain, and become the ally of France. I am inclined to the same opinion. This evening the Venetian ambassador tells me that Alvinzi has retired, and Davidovitch is beaten. The affairs of Italy seem to be very bad for this Court, to which it would appear that the French Court are still making overtures of peace. Madame Rassoomovsky, with whom I spend the evening, entertains much by the naïf histories which she gives of herself in her presentation here as ambassadress, and her reception at Moscow by her father-in-law. She admires much the Empress of Russia, not merely as a great sovereign but as a pleasant woman, and tells, among other things, a story of a sleighing party in which her coachman overset her and excused himself by saying that he had tried for an hour to overturn the sleigh of a page without effect, and could not have succeeded if he had not seized that opportunity, in doing which he had gone further than he had intended. She smiled, and begged him in future to play such tricks when there was nobody in the carriage. This woman is, however, accused, and I believe justly, of many acts of a most serious complexion. But such is human nature. Malcolm, I think, says, ‘A good and virtuous nature may recoil in an imperial charge.’ The nuncio tells me that the King of Naples, in rectifying his treaty with France, has included the Pope, but in such way as to leave a part of the papal dominions at their mercy; that the French have, indeed, retracted those articles which gave most uneasiness to the people of Rome in regard to the religious rights of His Holiness, but have left enough to destroy all his ghostly authority. The Venetian ambassador tells me that things go badly yet in Italy. It is said, however, that Würmser in a late sortie has taken some cattle and gained considerable advantage.”
“The news arrives this day [December 10th] that the Empress of Russia is dead. She felt an unusual heat in her head, to remedy which she put her feet in ice, and died instantly of an apoplectic fit. She certainly took the direct road to apoplexy. The new Emperor∗ immediately discharged the life-guards, and sent for his own regiment to perform that duty. This event may contribute to change the face of Europe. He may perhaps find it for his interest to let the Emperor of Germany and England be reduced by France, while he applies balsams to the wounded population and finance of his immense dominions. On the other hand, it seems to me that so soon as Russia abandons her plans of conquest she risks being divided in her turn. I presume that, among the great effects to result from this sudden change, a small one will be to lower the tone of self-sufficiency and intolerable hauteur of M. l’Ambassadeur, which has, I find, greatly disgusted the people here.”
“It is said this day [December 11th] that the Empress of Russia lived thirty hours after the attack, but was speechless all the time; that it was in sea-water, not in ice, that she put her feet; that it was by advice of an Arminian physician in whom she had great confidence, and was to cure a swelling in her legs. It is said, also, that advices of several days subsequent to her decease announce that no changes had taken place at Court. A general expectation is raised that this sudden death will produce extensive consequences.”
“Spend the evening [December 12th] at Sir M. Eden’s. M. de St. Priest tells me here the accounts he has received from Petersburg of the late event. The old lady was, on the evening of November 15th, in very high spirits and retired at her usual hour. The morning of the 16th she, as usual, breakfasted, and employed herself in writing. M. le Prince Zubow (her favorite) came in as usual, and after some conversation retired to his apartment, and she went to the garde-robe. As she stayed a very long time her women became at last alarmed, and one of them ventured to go in. She was found lying on the floor. They got a mattress, laid her on it, and sent for medical assistance. She was bled repeatedly and vomits given, but she remained speechless, and died on the evening of the 17th at half-past nine, just six and thirty hours from the time of the attack. Her bowels, it appears, were mortified, supposed to arise from the sharpness of humors thrown back on the system by the use of a marine bath to her feet. Zubow sent off for her son, the present Emperor, then at his country-seat, who came immediately to town, etc. He has not only preserved to this favorite a place, but made him a marshal. He has given the regiment of guards to his sons. He has sent for the Princes Repsin and Romanzow, to consult them on the military affairs, in which he projects considerable changes. He told the Imperial envoy that he would strictly perform all his engagements to this Court. He gave a similar assurance to the English minister in presence of the Prussian minister, and then, turning to the latter, told him he should equally perform his engagements to the Court of Berlin. As all these engagements do not well consist together, under present circumstances, his professions amount to little or nothing, and leave him at liberty to shape his conduct according to his convenience. The mother had taken her measures to send a considerable force against France, and among them was the new levy of one hundred thousand recruits, but as he has counter-manded the order given for that purpose, it seems likely that the engagements made with the Emperor and England are not to be performed in that respect. It is, moreover, usual for sovereigns to adopt different measures from those pursued by their predecessors, and in all probability his début will be favorable to Prussia—perhaps to peace.”
“Spend the evening [December 17th] at Madame Potoska’s. Nothing new, only that the new Emperor of Russia has declared he will give audience twice a week to all his subjects, has abolished a little tax which was laid on them and which fell chiefly on the poor, spends three hours a day in exercising his guards, and courts the more potent nobles by bestowing great places on them; among others, that of marshal to a man who is paralytic. It is whispered at Petersburg that he means to make Moscow his residence, and this seems to accord with his veneration for the memory of his father, who was, it is said, disposed to throw Russia back to barbarism, from which Peter the Great had raised her. He has, it seems, ordered six months’ mourning for his father. The weather is as cold here today as man need wish, and would not greatly disparage Petersburg.”
“This morning [December 18th] I go by appointment to Baron de Thugut’s, and begin by announcing to him my departure, with the usual offer of service, and add that before I go it seemed proper that I should trouble him with some ideas on the present state of affairs. I premise the conviction that nothing is to be expected from the new Emperor of Russia, and then state what may be done if a victory in Italy be vigorously followed up without those ménagements which, in a war of this sort, must ever prove injurious. Mention what may be effected by forcing Spain to cede commercial privileges, and how that would tend to invigorate the finances, more especially if the communication by canals be effected; and on this head mention the kind of canal which appears to me best calculated for this country, with some reasons of policy, both civil and military, for adopting it. I state to him the reasons why, especially in the present moment, it is important to bring over the Prussian Cabinet—which point we discuss a little—and calm his apprehensions from the increased power of that monarch in case such ideas should be adopted. I state to him the certitude that Russia must sooner or later be the enemy of Prussia from geographical reasons, and add that Prussia is far from being formidable when compared with a country of real resources, such as the Austrian monarchy. I tell him that I am persuaded the French will, if they secure Italy, stimulate the Turk to war and break into Hungary in order to restore Poland. He smiles at this and tells me, first, that the Prussians, who in the case supposed would be allies of the Turk, cannot wish for the re-establishment of Poland; and, secondly, that the Turks, far from attending to an object which so nearly concerns them, view the fate of Poland with perfect indifference; that he was in Constantinople at the time of the first partition, and found them totally inattentive to it. I do not choose to observe to him, as I might, that the situation of Europe is now materially different, and that they will not want counsellors to point out the importance of the present moment. After having said as much as was proper, and received his thanks for the communication, I take out a letter I had received from Madame la Marquise de la Montague, sister of Madame de Lafayette. M. de Thugut contradicts the account of ill-treatment, expresses the wish that they had never had anything to do with him, and assures me that Madame de Lafayette may leave the prison whenever she pleases, but that she must not be permitted to go backwards and forwards. I solicit his release, but find it is in vain. He says that probably he will be discharged at the peace; to which I reply that I never had any doubt of that and had taken upon me long ago to give such assurances, but that I wish it were done sooner, and add that I am sure it would have a good effect in England, giving my reasons. He says that if England will ask for him they will be very glad to get rid of him in that way, and they may, if they please, turn him loose in London.”
“Spend the evening [December 19th] at Sir M. Eden’s, where there is a large company. The Duke of Würtemberg goes off to-morrow for Hamburg and London, to espouse the Princess Royal, on which subject we have a little badinage. They say he is ill-tempered, but he certainly has a good understanding. She also is said to be ill-tempered, and in that case they will have a rare ménage. Mr. Bacon, who is just arrived from London, says that the nation is still in good spirits, and fears little from the Spanish war. M. de St. Priest tells me his news from Petersburg. The Emperor took his son to the apartment where Kosciusko∗ lay ill. He told the prisoner that he saw in him a man of honor who had done his duty, and from whom he asked no other security but his word that he would never act against him. Kosciusko attempted to rise, but the Emperor forbade him; sat half an hour and conversed with him, told his son to esteem the unhappy prisoner, who was immediately released—the guard taken away. At the same time expresses were sent off into Siberia, and ten thousand Poles confined there received passports and money to bring them home. This story is afterwards told to me by M. Lanskorenski, a Pole, who can scarcely restrain his tears as he relates it. They are all of them in ecstasy, and that single trait does more (in my opinion) towards securing the Russian part of Poland than an army of 20,000 men. But yet the character of the Poles is not such as may securely be trusted; the great are too corrupt, and the body of the people too much abased. M. de St. Priest tells me another thing which he says he is assured of; viz., that Spain has entered into the war with a view (from overtures made by the French Directory) of placing the King’s second son on the throne of France. I tell him, hereupon, that I have long suspected something still more important to the peace of Europe; viz., that the heir of the Spanish monarchy should be placed on the French throne. This would necessarily overturn Portugal, and, with the possession of the territory now in the hands of France, added to the greater part of America, go near towards that universal monarchy so long apprehended, though, indeed, in a different shape—a general influence instead of a general domination. This idea I was always cautious not to publish, and only mentioned it to one or two people whose discretion I could rely on. When the young Duke of Orleans and his brethren were invited to go to America, I considered it as a part of that system, and am still in the expectation that it will be somehow or other effected. To consolidate it, they should contrive to get the French princess here for his wife.”
In a letter to Lord Grenville, December 21st, written after his interview with Baron de Thugut, Morris says, à propos of Lafayette and the willingness of the government to liberate him if England should ask for his release:
“Now, my lord, I wish you to consider that when peace takes place he will, of course, be liberated, and go to America. He will have more or less influence there. I believe he will have a good deal. You may, if you please, send him thither under such a weight of notorious obligation that he shall be incapable of disserving you. And if you take him now, there are two supposable cases in which, if he were twenty times a Frenchman, he would be inclined to serve you, viz., a restoration of the titular monarch, or the full establishment of the present rulers of his country. In all cases, you would do an act agreeable to America which would cost you nothing; and I am sure you are not to learn that such things propitiate more the minds of men than more solid services, which, however they may promote the interests, seldom fail to wound the pride of the obliged party. Should you incline to this measure, the least hint would induce the American minister to request it on the part of the United States, unless, which I should deem the better mode, you did it of your own motive. The effect would then be great, even in France. For though he is now of no importance there, that nation is highly sensible to every act of nobleness and generosity.”
“To-day [December 21st] I visit many of my friends, and announce my departure. In the evening go to M. de Trautmansdorfe’s assembly. I have here an interesting conversation with the Cardinal Albani, or, rather, Monsignor Albani, for I believe he is not yet a cardinal. He tells me he is laboring to bring about an intimate connection between his Court and this. He has stated fairly that they have no longer any apprehensions from Austria, but, being compelled to choose between France, who menaces the rights of property, and Austria, who can only attempt changes in the political system, they naturally prefer the latter from the weightier danger to be feared from the other side. I suggest to him another idea, which he seizes and promises to make use of, thanking me for it; that the spiritual arms of the Pope—of little avail in times of tranquillity—may become dangerous in supposable circumstances; that the ignorance of the people, which forms here a principal support of the sovereign, is in some considerable degree to be attributed to the influence of religion, and that the Pope may find himself under a necessity of tearing that veil of prejudice which is now stretched before the eyes of the vulgar. These expressions, I observe, are too strong to fall from his lips, but I use them to a man of the world to avoid circumlocution, and he will convey the ideas in his own way. I also state to him what effect may be produced, according to my conception of it, in Spain by the papal thunders, should an invasion of the country take place. Mention to the Prince de Reusse, who is an intelligent man, brother to the Imperial Minister at Berlin, the conduct which strikes me as advisable in Italy, and which, indeed, I had suggested to M. de Thugut. The Prince tells me that he thinks something very like it will be pursued, and laments that it had not been adopted in the Empire; this would expose (for the present) to some difficulties, but will come forward in due season if the war continue, and more especially if it be attended with success. Ask Lucchesini if it be true that the King of Prussia is dropsical. He assures me of the contrary, from letters recently received which particularly mention His Majesty’s health—from which I infer that he has indeed received letters which relate to the object; they prove that some question exists respecting it, and then his known veracity leads me to believe that they contain about the reverse of what he announces. He enjoys that happy reputation that, in order to lie, he need only speak the truth. The nuncio tells me that the Imperial Court has given them General Colli to command the armies of His Holiness, and seems well pleased with the choice. M. Galitzin is arrived to announce the accession of the Russian Emperor. He is running amuck at popularity, and while all the badauds se pâment d’admiration, I cannot but reflect that such conduct marks more vanity than greatness. The Baron de Groshlaer comes to see me. He tells me that my arrival here occasioned much inquiry. People attributed to me different objects, and, finding none plausible, at last set my journey down to the account of M. de Lafayette. I understand that all this arises from what has passed respecting M. de Lafayette between M. Thugut and me. I finally tell him that the only difference between me and the young Englishmen of whom there is a swarm here is, that I seek instruction with gray hairs, and they with brown.
“Visit Madame de Stahremberg, where I meet the Russian ambassador, who is gravely disserting to the ladies on weepers—their different kinds, uses, origin, etc., all which is important and suitable to his situation, and, of course, becoming. Madame de Shoenfeldt catches my eye, and looks as if she thought it comical. M. Lanskorenski tells me that the new Emperor of Russia has made a great reform; he has separated the civil from the military power. I take him a little aside, and say, ‘Qu’il prenne garde à lui. Le despote quis’avise de remédier aux abus, doit se persuader, d’abord, qu’il en est lui-même le plus grand de son empire, et si une fois on se met à raisonner sur les abus, on monte facilement à la source de tout.’ Urge M. de St. Priest, who agrees with me in opinion that nothing is to be expected from this Emperor, who seems to have taken Joseph (ubicunque Secundus) for his model, to endeavor to reconcile the Courts of Vienna and Berlin as the only probable means of restoring peace to Europe. He seems to have no disposition for this, though he is obliged to acknowledge that it is the only resource. He mentions insurrections at Breslau, and a proclamation from the King of Prussia which proves that he is fully aware of the danger of certain principles in his dominions.
“The Bishop of Nancy calls on me, and I give him, as fully as I may, the statement of a concern in which the French Princess is interested. At Madame Colorath’s assembly I see the Prince de Reusse, and enter into conversation with him and an acquaintance of his whom I don’t know. He attributes the ill-success in Italy to the bad generalship in some degree, and also to the want of officers in that army and the consequent bad composition of the troops. The deficiency of officers he traces up to a system adopted at the close of the Seven Years’ War, by which the purchase of commissions was permitted. This brought into the army a great number of people who possessed nothing but money, and these, during a long peace, learnt only to manœuvre their troops on the parade. Time, however, naturally brought them on to the rank of general officers, and now they feel the want of those men of rank who, having made war a profession, would have sought knowledge and experience in foreign service while their own country was at peace. He tells me that Alvinzi, a brave, good officer, is crippled by the gout, and, of course, unequal in activity to his opponent. He says that Würmser’s misfortune, when he entered Italy, was owing to Quasdanowitch, who scattered his troops about so as to expose them to what happened, viz., being cut off in detail. I observe that this was in some measure the fault of Würmser, who, in digesting his plan, ought to have foreseen at least the case of success, and to have given orders for the conduct which was in that case to be pursued. He tells me that such orders as I suppose were actually given but not complied with. I reply that, if so, Quasdanowitch ought to have been punished. He says one of their great faults here is neither to put the guilty or negligent in the way of punishment, nor afford to others the means of exculpating themselves. He mentions the hard case of General —, who lost Italy, and assigns that loss to a very trifling incident. He had an inferior force to the enemy, being at most in the proportion of two to three. He determined to take possession of a river near Genoa, and, while he kept the enemy in check there, he gave orders to General — to attack them on the 14th. He made his dispositions accordingly on the 13th, and gave the proper orders to General —; but one of his aidesde-camp, not having finished copying the orders till twelve o’clock at night, thought it most regular to date them on the 14th, as, in fact, they were not sent off till the 14th. As they contained orders for the morrow, of course General — prepared himself to fight on the 15th. Attacked on the 14th, he was overpowered by numbers, but — on the 15th obtained the most brilliant victory, taking away, among other things, twenty pieces of cannon; but new troops coming on continually against him, he was at length overpowered by numbers, and beaten also. Thus Italy was overrun by the French armies because a stupid aide-de-camp misdated an order. I express to the gentlemen my surprise that Colonel Mack, who is, I find, considered here by professional men as being the best among them, is not sent to Italy. He says the Emperor has not so good an opinion of him, being surrounded by a very small circle who are Mack’s enemies; that the Council of War has recommended him, but the recommendation was not noticed. This reminds me of what Madame Arnstein told me last night; viz., that the government is in the hands of a very few persons devoted to the Empress, who keep her husband secluded from everybody who would give him useful information. People, I find, differ very much upon all these subjects. My friend the Baron de Groshlaer told me that M. de Lehrbach was by no means of so much ability as I supposed; had been educated to the magistracy, and is of an impetuous temper, which runs away with him. I pass a part of the evening with Madame Potoska, and go afterwards with the Prince de Reusse to the midnight mass. He is a Protestant and, of course, not diverted by any conscientious motive from observing with me the scene. A great number of women of the town are here; also some of higher rank, and lower principles. The principal object of a great part of the congregation seems to be the arranging of occasion for sensuality. The music is good, but I own that this mode of employing an edifice dedicated to sacred purposes does not accord with my feelings.”
“At the Archduchess’s to-night [December 25th] one of the little princes, brother to the Emperor, and who is truly an Archduke, asks me to explain to him the different uniforms worn by the young English—of whom there are a great number here, all in regimentals. Some of these belong to no corps at all, and the others to yeomanry fencibles, etc., all of which purport to be raised for the defence of their country, in case she should be invaded; but now, when the invasion seems most imminent, they are abroad and cannot be made to feel the ridiculous indecency of appearing in regimentals. Sir M. Eden and others have given them the broadest hints, without the least effect. One of them told me all the world should not laugh him out of his regimentals. I bowed, and told him the greatest monarch in Europe was not strong enough to brave public opinion. I see him, however, this afternoon in his uniform. I tell the Prince that I really am not able to answer his question, but that, in general, I believe these dresses are worn for convenience in travelling. He smiles at this, and asks what can be the meaning of a blue coat worn by Lord Cowper, with gold lace and a red cape. ‘That,’ says he, laughing, ‘is, I suppose, a Court uniform.’ If I were an Englishman I should be hurt at these exhibitions, and, as it is, I am sorry for it. I observe, however, on this occasion, what has often struck me before. They cite as incontrovertible authority in England the general conduct of young men, from whence I am led to suppose that old men are in the habit of admitting the validity of such authority. And now I find that here they assume it as unquestionable that the young men of England have a right to adjust the ceremonial of Vienna. The political relations of the two countries induce the good company here to treat them with politeness, but nothing prevents their being laughed at, as I found the other evening at Madame Groshlaer’s, where the young women, as well as the girls, were very merry at the expense of these young men.”
“To-day [December 26th] I dine at the Archduchess Christine’s. They are very attentive to their guests, and do the honors of their house well. We have an odd ragout made of a bear’s paws, which are esteemed here as a great delicacy and would, I believe, be very good if the cook had done less for them. There is one plate of them in salad, and one in a kind of stew. Madame de Lita is here, and says I must not go away. I ask M. de Lita to present me to his wife, observing that I had never been presented. He does this, but has something in his air which looks as if by instinct he were informed that the introduction were quite unnecessary and our acquaintance already well made. Go to the Russian ambassador’s, and make my bow. I find that he is a little humanized by the idea that he may soon lose his place, a circumstance which occasions triumph to all around him, and which thereby inspires me with pity. It is not well done to insult the fallen, even in idea. After sitting a little while, go to Sir M. Eden’s. In conversation I mention to him the observations of the little Archduke. He tells me that this mania of his countrymen for wearing regimentals has long given him concern and now much pain; that he has told them how improper it is, how indecent, etc., but without effect. It originated, he thinks, in the economical views of their parents. He tells me that while at Berlin four Englishmen who appeared in that dress (not being officers) were turned away from Potsdam, and complained to him, but he told them they were rightly served; that they would not have presumed to appear in that way at St. James’s, and could not expect that a foreign prince would indulge them in greater liberties than their own monarch. Leave Sir M. Eden and go to Mrs. Peploe’s to a musical meeting which might well be called a screaming party, for a Madame de Hasfeldt, who resembles more a Wapping landlady than anything human, pours forth such yells as would little disparage a chief of the Mohawks. A Comtesse de Zoes plays to show her graces, I presume, certainly not her science, while poor Madame Peploe, boiling with vexation at the murder of her music, labors, but in vain, to harmonize these discordants. I am thrown into a violent convulsion of laughter which, without being noisy, is apparent in spite of my utmost efforts. Mrs. Scott catches the infection, and conceals as well as she may the effects of it by coughing, while the Prince de Reusse, whose good heart is alike solicitous for the singing and laughing parties, that one may not give or the other take offence, renders by his air, manner, and efforts the whole scene completely theatrical. After the company are gone and Mrs. Peploe has had a few moments to vent the expressions of her just indignation, she is so kind as to soothe my tingling ears (which feel as if something were scratching them) by a delicious air most sweetly sung.”
“Prepare to-day [December 31st] for my departure from Vienna. Visit Madame Arnstein, and send my carriage to pay visits. While I am at Madame Arnstein’s the Duc de — comes in and says, laughing, that Madame de Lita is very sorry I am going away. Madame Arnstein tells me I ought to delay my journey. ‘Huit jours suffiront pour commencer et finir le roman.’ ‘Comment, madame, huit jours?’ They are highly diverted at the surprise, amounting almost to astonishment, which is expressed in my countenance, and are far from supposing that the time they prescribe is just seven days more than was necessary. Go to Madame Potoska’s and see there a Saxon delicacy, viz., cockchafers (des hannetons) preserved in sugar (confits). These animals resemble in some respects what in America they call the locust, but are not so large, and have, besides, the hard cover of a bug to their wings, which cover is a bright brick-colored brown. How it should enter into people’s heads to eat them, unless driven to it by famine, one could hardly conceive, and the making them into sweetmeats is utterly inconceivable.”
“This morning [January 1st], immediately after breakfast, dress and go to Court. The levee is oddly arranged, all the males being in one apartment, through which the Emperor passes in going to chapel, and returns the same way (with the Empress and imperial family), after which they go through their own rooms to the ladies, assembled on the other side. The most brilliant thing here is the noble Hungarian Guard, a body (not numerous) of handsome, tall men, on fine fiery steeds, magnificently caparisoned. The captain of this guard, the Prince Esterhazy, who is but of medium size or, rather, under it, is in a Hungarian dress of scarlet with fur cape and cuffs, but the whole coat embroidered with pearls, as are also the cap, pantaloons, and boots of yellow morocco leather—four hundred and seventy large pearls and many thousands of inferior size. Notwithstanding this profusion, it is done in good taste, and cost but one hundred guineas for the workmanship. A collar of large diamonds, a very large solitaire in a ring, another in the head of his cane, a plume of diamonds, the hilt and scabbard of his sword set with diamonds, and even his spurs—in short, he and his horse, who is bejewelled also (though I did not see him), are estimated at a value of half a million guilders, or about fifty thousand pounds sterling. His revenue (for he is the richest subject in Europe) amounts to from sixty to seventy thousand pounds, and has, during the Turkish War, gone up to a million of guilders. He lives in great magnificence, but without that useful part of it—hospitality. Has now above one hundred and fifty horses in Vienna, but had run out considerably before he came to his estate, and his father had also been in debt. This last, in six weeks’ residence in Frankfort, where he was ambassador, during an imperial coronation, spent eighty thousand pounds. In short, the estate is now dipped to the tune of between six and seven millions of guilders; so that it is in the hands of creditors, who pay him a net two hundred thousand for his expenses, with which income he runs annually deeper in debt. Here is the history of the feudal system in its decline. Most of the great families are doing, as I am told, the same foolish thing, and the government rejoices at the consequent humiliation of a haughty nobility, without considering that the power which is to spring up in their stead—and which, being novel to the constitution, has, of course, no counterpoise provided, and is, moreover, increased by the impetus of progressing force—must at length, if it do not overturn the throne, give it at least the severest shocks. But who cares for posterity? If the minister of the day can but live through his day all is well with him, and throughout human life the pressure of the moment forces men out of all the line of prudence. Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor is a motto which might be annexed to almost all escutcheons.
“M. Mazenski, a Pole, and grandson to Augustus of Saxony, was at Court to-day with diamond epaulettes of very large stones. It is said that he has the finest diamonds of any subject in Europe. But a finer thing than his jewels, or those of any other man, was the conduct of his servant, who, when his master was made prisoner, during the late troubles in that miserable country, possessed himself of his valuables and whispered to him, ‘If you escape you will find me at Leipsic.’ Mazenski was under the gallows, and saved himself by haranguing the populace. At Leipsic he found the servant and the treasure. I pass the evening with Madame Arnstein, and she tells me that the Emperor and Empress are not only weak but also malicious; that he envies the glory acquired by his brother the Archduke, and, as I appear astonished, she gives me as a proof that when the people here were going to illuminate their houses in honor of Prince Charles it was forbidden by the police, and that Brown, Director of the Theatres, and a creature of the Empress, gave that night such a play as left the audience no room to applaud their favorite, who received, indeed, the honors of the faubourgs when the theatres were under no such control; whereas in the city they had no other mode left of expressing their sentiments but a dangerously joyful reception of the Archduchess Christine, who is known to be the particular protectress of the Archduke, and to have adopted him as her son. Another proof she gives is that when Prince Esterhazy, who went to congratulate the Archduke on the part of Hungary, returned, he told the Emperor that the army endured their extreme fatigue and distress only out of affection to the Archduke, at which His Majesty was much enraged. The Prince added that, as a faithful subject, he found himself bound in duty, both to His Majesty and the State, to entreat that he would command the Archduke not to expose his person so much. To this the Emperor answered coldly that he would write to him on the subject. She tells me as soon as Kehl is taken the Archduke is to come to Vienna, from whence she is persuaded he will not again go to the army. All this may be overcharged, but the old proverb, ‘No smoke without some fire,’ is perhaps not to be disregarded on this occasion.”
“I take tea with Sir M. Eden [January 4th], and he tells me it is true that the French Directory have ordered Lord Malmesbury to quit Paris in eight and forty hours. He gave in his proposals very fairly, and was told that they would listen to none which were incompatible with the laws and constitution of the Republic. I conclude that Prussia is to come forward next spring, unless means can be discovered to change the views of that Court. General Alvinzi is, it is said, advancing again. I discuss with him, a little, the French Constitution, maintaining a principle advanced by Mr. Pitt and Lord Grenville, viz., that it is so far from preventing a cession of territory by the Directory that it by strong implication gives that power expressly, besides the general grant of powers, in which it is clearly included. He holds a different opinion, and I find at last that he grounds it on the circumstance that his brother, Lord Auckland, did not take notice of any such power in his pamphlet, but seemed to accede to the doctrine afterwards set up by the Directory. I walked out to-day to see the trousseau of the Archduchess. The crowd was very great, and the thing is good of its kind, said to cost about thirty thousand guineas.”
[∗]Honorable Anne Horton, Duchess of Cumberland, wife of Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, brother of George III.
[∗]Baron de Thugut, born in 1739, a man of no family, was created a baron by Maria Theresa for diplomatic services. He succeeded Prince Kaunitz in 1794 as First Minister, was accused of always separating Austrian interests from those of the Allies, but was distinguished by the energy and courage with which, in 1795, he persisted in resisting the progress of the French arms after Prussia and Spain had signed a separate peace. In 1800, just before Marengo, he signed a treaty of subsidy with England, and finally retired after the Peace of Lunéville, in 1801.
[†]British ambassador at the Court of Vienna.
[∗]In 1782 Admiral Rodney, when England seemed on the brink of ruin, saved her honor by a decisive repulse of the allied armament before Gibraltar, thus securing to England that valuable possession. In April of the same year Rodney defeated and dispersed the French fleet in the West Indies.
[∗]Rassoomovsky, a Russian nobleman, best known as the friend and patron of Beethoven, who dedicated to him, among other works, the famous Rassoomovsky Quartets.
[∗]Letters on a Regicide Peace, which denounced Pitt’s attempt to negotiate with France.
[∗]Catherine II, was succeeded by her more or less insane son Paul, who was murdered in 1801.
[∗]Thaddeus Kosciusko, a Polish patriot and general, went to America in 1777, fought at Yorktown, and was the friend of Washington. He defended Warsaw in 1794, was overpowered, wounded, and taken prisoner. The Emperor Paul released him after two years’ imprisonment, and offered him his sword, which Kosciusko refused, saying he “had no need of a sword since he had no longer a country.” He died in Switzerland in 1817, having abolished serfdom on his Polish domains.