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Title: Memoirs of the Empress Catherine II.

Author: Empress of Russia Catherine II

Translator: Aleksandr Herzen

Release date: July 25, 2014 [eBook #46407]
Most recently updated: December 13, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Chuck Greif and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team


Every attempt has been made to replicate the original as printed.

No attempt has been made to correct or normalize the spelling of non-English words.

Some typographical errors have been corrected; a list follows the text.

PART I.: 1744.
PART II.: 1752. 1753. 1754. 1755. 1756. 1757. 1759.

(etext transcriber's note)








346 & 348 BROADWAY.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Passing to the Memoirs themselves, what do we find?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They parted friends.

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

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

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

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

The coup d’état was accomplished. But something stranger still was soon to follow.

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

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

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

Once again is the old scene repeated.

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

Again is the coup d’état accomplished.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One word before I close.

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

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

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

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

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

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


London, November 15th, 1858.




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

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

Qualities and character shall form the major

Conduct, the minor;

Good or evil fortune, the conclusion.

Here are two striking illustrations:

Peter III.
Catherine II.
Peter III, his Father and Mother.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Feast of St. Peter, the Empress sent us word to join her at Bratovchina. We repaired thither immediately. As during the spring and a part of the summer I had either been engaged in sporting, or otherwise constantly in the open air, Rajova House being so small that we spent the greater part of the day in the neighbouring woods, I arrived at Bratovchina with my face very red and tanned. When the Empress saw me, she exclaimed against this redness, and said she would send me a wash to remove it, and she did so; she immediately sent a phial containing a liquid composed of lemon-juice, white of egg, and French brandy, and ordered that my maids should learn its composition, and the proper proportions of its ingredients. At the end of a few days my sun-burns had disappeared, and I have since used this composition, and recommended it to others for similar purposes. When the skin is heated, I do not know of a better remedy. It is also good for what they call in Russia Tetters, and which is nothing but a heating of the skin, which causes it to crack. I cannot at the moment recall the French term for this complaint.[9]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


FROM 1751, TO THE END OF 1758.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


Lettre à la Grande-Duchesse Catherine.

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

tres infortuné
mari qui vous ne
daignez jamais de
ce nom

Le . . . . . Xr


Lettres à Jean Schouvaloff.

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

Votre affectioné,


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

Votre affectioné,


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

Vostre affectione amy,


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

Vostre affectioné,


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

Vostre affectioné,


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

Vostre affectioné,


Lettre à M. le Baron de Shakelberg à Oranienbaum.

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

Votre fidel et attaché amy,



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

[3] Official?—Ed.

[4] Diplomatic?—Ed.

[5] That is, went to confession and communion.—Tr.

[6] Devierre?—Ed.

[7] That is, from meat.—Tr.

[8] Montagnes russes.—Ed.

[9] Probably Dartres.—Ed.

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

[11] To make a history of a thing is a common Russian phrase for “to season it with scandal and exaggeration.”—Tr.

[12] Sir Charles Hanbury Williams.—Tr.

[13] A fool (Doura, in Russian).—Ed.

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

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

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:
I told hiin=> I told him {pg 31}
I bey your pardon=> I beg your pardon {pg 64}
placed with me bebause=> placed with me because {pg 66}
Pepnine=> Repnine {pg 75}
the Prineess Repnine=> the Princess Repnine {pg 75}
Yevrienoff entreated me=> Yevreinoff entreated me {pg 79}
seven vertses=> seven verstes {pg 110}
The fits thing=> The first thing {pg 243}