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EMPBESS OF BUSSIA. 



VOL. II. a ' - 



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EDMONBTON AND DOUOLAS. 

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EMPRESS OP RUSSIA. 



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TRANSLATED BY LADY WALLACE. 




VOLUME 8BC0ND. 



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CONTENTS OF VOL. IL 



CHAPTER L 

THB mPXRIAL OOUBT. 



PAOl 



Winter Palace— Dignitaries and Ministera^Social circle of 
the Emprese — The Imperial Family in town and country 
— F6te8 in Petersburg— Zarskoe-Seld—Peterhof— First 
of July in Peterhof — Great national festiyal, . 1 

CHAPTEE n. 

NATIONAL XNTXBPBI8S. 

f Polish War— Cholera-— Grand Duke Constantino Pawlo- 
witsch — Jealousy between Russians and Germans-— 
National education — Foreign schools replaced by 
Russian ones— School of Laws founded by Prince Peter 
of Oldenburg— Diplomatic organs, .58 

CHAPTER III. 

YAHILT LUTE (1834-39). 

Majority of the heir-apparent — Completion of his education 
— Grand Duke Constantino Nikolaewitsch — ^Female 
friends of the Empress — ^Princess lieven — ^Baroness 
Erttdener — Review and f dtes in Kalisch — Accident to 
the Emperor at Tschembar, .88 



VI CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER IV. 

PETERHOF. 



FAQK 



Peterhof daring the reign of Nicholas — ^Alexandria, the 
private residence of the Emperor — Its gardens — Summer 
evenings in Peterhof — Peasant's hut — Imperial physi- 
cians — Journey to the South — ^The Crimea — ^Moscow 
in 1837 — Conflagration of the Winter Palace— ^Betum 
to the Anitschkow Palace— Private occupations of the 
Empress— Journey to Berlin and Munich — Kreuth — 
Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaewna — Duke of Leuchten- 
berg— New Winter Palace, . 126 



CHAPTER V. 

ART AND SOCIBTT. 

Prophetic speech of the Empress— Aristocratic union — Love 
of the Empress for singing — Patriotic concerts — Coun- 
tess Rossi— Death of King Frederick William the Third 1 
— ^The Empress in Ems — Amateur theatre at Court 
— Betrothal of the heir-apparent to the Grand Duchess 
Maria Alexandrowna — Liszt in Petersburg — Silver 
wedding of Nicholas and Alexandra — ^Eing Frederick 
William the Fourth in Petersbuig, .194 



- CHAPTER VL 

THK ORAND DUCHESS ALEXANDRA NIKOLAKWNA. 

Education — ^Disposition of this Princess — Her splendid voice 

— First symptoms of illness — Her betrothal — ^Marriage ( 

f6tes— Journey of the Emperor to England — Death of i 

his daughter, and of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth 
Michaelowna in Wiesbaden, .... 222 



CONTENTS. Vll 

CHAPTER VII. 

PALERMO. 

PAQX 

Melancholy condition of the Empress's health — Olivuzza — 
Villa Butera— Society of the Empress — ^Betrothal of the 
Grand Duchess Olga — Occupations and intercourse in 
Palermo— The Carnival — Serious illness of the Empress 
in Naples — Royal Court — The Empress prevented 
visiting Rome— Easter in Naples — Stay in Florence, . 251 



CHAPTER VIII. 

PITKBaBURO IS 1847-52. 

Public opinion on the Empresses journey — Character of Olga 
Nikolaewna — ^Betrothal and journey to Stuttgart — 
Princess Alezandrina of Saxe-Altenburg — Death of the 
Grand Duchess Maria Michaleowna — lUness of the 
Emperor and Empress — Close of the education of the 
Grand Duke Constantino — Tidings of the February and 
March revolutions — ^Impression in Petersburg of Court 
and city — Betrothal of the Grand Duke Constantino — 
Quiet life in Zarskoe-Seld — ^Demise of the oldest servants 
of the Empress — ^Death of the Grand Duke Michael 
Pawlowitsch — His character — Grand Duchess Helene 
Pawlowna — ^The Emperor's rule of five-and-twenty 
years — Traits in his life^His sense of justice, . 302 



CHAPTER IX. 

CLOSB OF THE XHPEROR's LITX. 

Weakened health of Nicholas — What he has done for Peters- 
burg — ^The Empress in Schlangenbad — ^Eastern war — 
The Emperor's illness and death— His last will and 
testament, ...... 345 



VIU CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 

PAGE 

Alexandra the head of the family— ^The cstpital after the 
death of Nicholas — Alexandra in foreign conntries, at 
the coronation ill Moscow, at Nice, and in Home- 
Betrothal of the young Graod Duke Michael Nikolae- 
witsch — Last journey of Alexandra — Her death-^-Her 
last will and testament, .... 381 



|j 



MEMOIRS 



OF 



ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 



CHAPTEE I. 

THE IMPEBIAL COURT. 

Sn^CE the accession of the race of Bomanow to the 
throne till Nicholas the First, the Russian Court had 
undergone more changes than any other in Europe. It 
had been transferred from the confined Terema of the 
Kremlin to the Winter Palace, on the banks of the 
glorious Neva, where the European spirit that now 
prevailed had banished all stiff Asiatic forms. A glance 
at the Tnileries, or St James's, or the Winter Palace, 
in the year 1829, would have displayed no greater 
difference than that of uniforms ; indeed, the Winter 
Palace, in every respect, could boast of greater riches in 
art-treasures and regal pomp than either of the palaces 
we have referred to ; it was accessible to more Classes 
of society than the Burg in Vienna ; and its denizens 
moved at Court without the constraint that prevails in 
petty Grerman Courts. In the midst of these transfor- 

VOL. II. A 



2 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

mations, however, the people still r^arded their Em- I 
peror and his Court as the seat of earthly power, the | 
source of all prosperity, — approaching him with a de- 
gree of reverence bordering on idolatry. The proverb, 
" Alas ! God is so high, and the Emperor so {ai" seems 
to be felt by the whole kingdom ; for the richest and 
the poorest alike regard the Czar with the same eyes. 
Good fortune, honour, distinction, favour, are expected 
by all from him alone; while the evil star of each 
is also written there, as if in the book of fate. In 
the city, he who served or lived at Court was con- 
sidered a chosen vessel; and when any opportunity 
offered to enter the palace, in the vicinity of the Im- 
perial family, or, possibly, the cabinet of the Empress, 
it was considered the proudest moment of a man's life. 
The Winter Palace is likewise the personification of all 
power and pomp in the kingdom. Here are the throne, 
the sceptre, and crown, with their brilliant jewels ; 
here the high church, and various chapels, where the 
Imperial family perform their devotions; a summer 
and a winter garden run parallel to each other; the 
most splendid rooms and corridors; apartments deco- 
rated with gold for the reception of foreign princes and 
ambassadors, and also for balls, and banquets, and par- 
ties. The greatest festivals of the current year, and 
those of private life also, are here celebrated with im- 
perial brilliancy ; and the baptism as well as the mar- 
riage of any imperial personage is here solemnized^ 
An invited guest may wander about for hours, nay, 
days, in the interminable passages, halls, and apartj,- 
ments of this palace, discovering in every fresh room 

i 



THE DfFEBIAL COURT. 3 

that he enters new treasures of art, or splendour, or 
some sacred object A spacious hall is here dedicated 
to the memory of Field-Marshals; another to the 
valiant Glenerals of the years 1812-14. The porta^alts 
of the Bomanow family decorate the Hermitage, which 
forms the second portion of the Winter Palace, con- 
taining all the art-treasures of the realm, — ^pictures, 
antiques, gems, engravings, forming one of the richest 
galleries in the world. In less than fifty years were 
deposited here seven or eight collections, from Paris, 
Genoa, England, Holland, Dresden, Warsaw, and Cassel; 
and to the European schools of the last four hundred 
years Alexander the First added that of Bussia^ thus 
arousing both the talents and the emulation of the 
nation. In such a display of riches a Court theatre 
was indispensable, which, indeed, closes the long suite 
of rooms. This collection of objects of art is certainly 
accessible to the people, but not with the ease of other 
great cities, where they do not form part of the princely 
mansion. This zeal for art was but slowly developed 
in the public at large, and in the course of tt year the 
Hermitage could not boast of more visitors than Dres- 
den during the Whitsuntide holidays alone. In fBct^ 
these precious objects are rather the property of the 
Imperial family than of the State. The exterior, how- 
ever, of this palace does not make that impression on 
the eye that its circimiference would lead us to expect 
It is in the form of a long quadrangle, with a flat roof, 
and round its ledge are placed statues ; the outer walls 
are decorated with columns, and a variety of sculpture, 
which impart a heavy appearance rather than an im- 



4 ALEXANDRA SMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

pressive one. Neither its grandeur nor height strike 
the eye as surprising ; the space that surrounds it ex- 
ceeds that of whole German squares, and the other adja- 
cent buildings tend rather to weaken than to strengthen 
this impression. The Imperial family, among the 
various entraiices to these apartments, have chosen the 
most modest of all They inhabit the west side of 
the palace, opposite the Admiralty, with a limited view 
of the small square ; but from both the comer rooms 
the eye embraces a wider range. One of these over- 
looks the Admiralty Square, the other the river, the 
Wilhelm's Island, the Wassili Ostrow, the stately Ex- 
change, and, further towards Petersburg, the Gulf of 
Finland and its shorea The aspect of this building 
gives rise to different thoughts and feelings in each 
spectator. The Bussian serf sees in it the source of 
unbounded wealth; the petty official, of favour; the 
higher bom, disfavour; while the thoughtful man is re- 
minded by it that the mler over seventy-four millions 
of souls dwells there, whose power extends over the 
seventh part of the inhabited earth. 

The society that constitutes the actual Court is 
modelled on that of other European ones, although 
the military character is hei'e predominant. The Em- 
peror is exclusively attended by generals and adjutants, 
whereas equerries and chamberlains only appear on. 
grand festive occasions. The most illustrious Court 
dignitaries are alone to be seen in the vicinity of the 
Emperor. Twelve ladies of State, whose rank is equal 
to that of the first class of State officials, wait on the 
Empress ; they are chiefly wives of the highest digni- 



THE IMPEBIAL COTJBT. 5 

taries of the kingdom, and are decorated with the Order 
of Catherine, and with the portrait of the Empress. 
The maids of honour are in constant attendance on 
their illustrious mistress, being her daily companions. 
The greatness of the kingdom is manifest in this 
gigantic palace, and the enormous Court retinue, as 
well as in the budget, which probably exceeds in 
amount that of all other great Courts. The Court 
Ministers are highest in rank, and the chief of these 
under Nicholas was Prince Peter Wolkonsky. We 
must here more particularly sketch those who were 
attached to the Court, and whose firequent appearance 
there brought them into close social contact with 
Alexandra. 

Prince Wolkonsk/s office caused him daily to ap- 
pear in the presence of the Empress, but seldom in the 
social evening circle. He had been a friend of Alex- 
ander's, and accompanied him in all his campaigns 
and journeys, and in his capacity of General organized 
the Emperor's staft Nicholas appointed him Court 
Minister, a newly created office, in which the Prince 
displayed unusual energy in the management of various 
departments, and in the conscientious application of 
the sums intrusted to him, and in this way acquired 
the reputation of a hard man in the city (Prince de 
Pierre, instead of Prince Pierre), but won the implicit 
confidence of the Imperial family. He was seldom seen 
by them, except on business matters, which he settled 
with laconic brevity, and on that account appeared dry 
and harsL But he was highly cultivated, and only re- 
quired opportunity to prove this. His children were 



6 ALEXANDBA EMPRESS OF BUSSU. 

educated and trained by Baupach, and his son Gregor 
was eveiywhere conspicuous by his talents and moral 
conduct Another of Alexander's personal friends was 
Prince A. H. Galitzin, who had formed part of Cathe- 
rine's Court, and endeavouied to introduce the refined 
courteous tone of that day into the present time. 
Although his exterior was not pleasing, he was a 
most finished courtier ; full of consideration for others, 
kind towards the young, and, for the Court, a chronicle 
of wisdom and experience that he had collected from 
the days of Catherine to those of Nicholas. His con- 
versation never flagged and never wearied; the most 
insignificant as well as the most important object ac- 
quired interest from his Ups. To younger people who 
frequented the Court he used playfully to give the 
well-intended advice, to seat themselves in good time 
while a seat was still to be had, and never to lose the 
opportunity of asking for anything. His high rank 
and his tried fidelity, that had stood the test of many 
long years, made him a true and familiar friend of the 
Imperial family, to whom at all times he had easy ac- 
cess. In the absence of the Emperor he was considered 
the guardian of his children, whom he visited and dined 
with daily, and whose sports and recreations he gladly 
witnessed in the evening. 

Another friend of Alexander's, Count Araktscheef, did 
not revisit the Court or' the city during the reign of 
Nicholaa He was an energetic man, inspired with 
sincere zeal, but reproached by the public with two 
faults — ^want of moral culture and political integrity. 
His opinions were the exact opposite of those of Alex- 



THE DCFEBIAL COURT. 7 

ander. This foe to all enlightenment lived, according 
to ancient Bossian usages, in a wooden house, and 
sought relaxation from his official labours in the society 
of a low nnprincipled woman, who ruled him, and 
was herself ruled hj others. Alexander enjoyed the 
undivided love and respect of all, whereas Greneral 
Araktscheef was hated by the whole nation. Eussia 
had him to thank for founding military colonies, to' 
insure soldiers in their old age a peaceful and honour- 
able existence, and thus relieving the State from the 
burden of pensions. The result did not fulfil the 
hopes entertained, and Araktscheef himself admitted 
that he had been in error. At the time of the Em- 
Perot's last jonmey. he was at his country-pkce. 
Grusino, plunged in grief from his beloved having 
been murdered by a maid, and vowing vengeance 
against all whom he suspected of a share in the deed. 
After the death of Alexander, he went abroad for a 
short time, and passed the remainder of his life in 
solitude in Grusino, with the Emperor's bust always 
before his eyes, and a clock that struck only once a 
day — ^viz., the hour when Alexander died. The cadet 
corps of Novgorod inherited his estates, and several 
millions of franca 

The oldest friend of Alexajider's youth, Prince Vic- 
tor Kotschubei, Minister of the Interior, survived the 
Emperor several years, and was one of the first per- 
sons who repaired to the new Court and Government. 
When heir-apparent, Alexander opened his whole heart 
to this man, even revealing to him his secret project to 
renounce the throne ; and no one seemed more deserv- 



8 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

ing of such confidence. Noble benevolence beamed 
in Ms countenance, and refinement marked his every 
action; he therefore enjoyed the esteem of all offi- 
cials, and was received at the Court of Nicholas with 
the highest distinction. 

But all these men, in intellect, renown, and merit, 
were fairly eclipsed by another friend of Alexander's — 
Michael Speransky. Few characters in Russian history 
equalled him either in influence or in the vicissitudes 
of destiny. He shines in all the lustre of the noblest 
man in our century, and was especially remarkable in 
the first half of Alexander's reign. The career of this 
notable personage commenced with the accession of the 
Emperor Alexander in 1 801. He won xiniversal admira- 
tion by his talents, but the envy and iU-wiU of all by 
his birth. So far as we know, he is the only one of the 
many rapidly risen into greatness who was of priestly 
descent. Little as Russia cares about a man's birth, 
the more do they object to those who spring from the 
priestly casta The name of Speransky was first giv^n 
to him, it is said, at school, on account of his abilities. 
He was intended for the priesthood, and completed his 
education in the Ecclesiastical College at Petersburg, 
where he was appointed teacher of the exact sciences. 
He was promoted to an office in the State by Prince 
Kurakin, where his energies soon raised him to the 
highest rank ; for In his thirtieth year he was already a 
Secretary of State in the Imperial Council, and became 
by degrees a personal friend of the young Emperor. It 
would have been hardly possible to find at that time 
any one in Russia who better understood or more ener- 



TH£ IMPERIAL COURT. 9 

getically supported the monarch who was to rule as a 
man over men. Speransky's activitj as a statesman 
extended to every different branch of government, law- 
giving, and public education. His zeal in regulating 
everything for the best advantage of the nation and the 
State, recalls Pombal and Struensee, although neither 
possessing the obstinate tyranny of the former, nor the 
subtle levity of the latter. But the reforms of these 
three men came too suddenly, and Struensee, Hke 
Speransky, both sons of inferior priests, was considered 
an upstart, devoid of the ancient hereditary dignity that 
protected the fallen Marquis from a degrading punish- 
ment In the very midst of his restless energies for the 
benefit of his fatherland, Speransky was banished from 
Petersburg to Nischni-Novgorod, Perm, and at length 
to Siberia^ although indeed as Governor-General; he did 
not return thence to Petersburg till 1821, and passed 
the last years of Alexander's reign in quiet retirement ; 
but with Nicholas's accession his active career began 
again ; old jealousies were dead, and he was now con- 
spicuous as the intimate friend and adviser of thiB 
Emperor. SUveiy haii; by this time adorned his hand- 
some head, and in his frank, mild expression of coun- 
tenance, the grave, dry statesman was less perceptible 
than the apostle of human progress. His honoured 
name sounded loud and pure as a beU through every 
rank of society, and in all the provinces of the kingdom ; 
he had atoned for his too early good fortune, and his 
merits were in every mouth. The Bussian nation was 
proud of possessing a man sprung from the lower class 
of society, ajid yet so renowned. His manner was gentle 



10 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

and modest in public, his conversation rich in substance 
and intellect, without being particularly animated. Not- 
withstanding his polished address, he never left the 
impression of being a mere courtier. 

General Hilarion Wassiltschikof eiyoyed similar re- 
spect, both at Court and in the city, being known as 
a hero during the French campaigns, and held in high 
consideration from his upright character. He could not 
vie with any of those we have just named either in 
intellect or activity, but he possessed the best of all 
qualities for a man — courage to impress his convictions 
on others, and to carry them out in the most decided 
way, though in the most considerate manner. Superior 
to all petty jealousy and pride of birth, he addressed 
the Emperor, as well as the poorest who sought his 
house or his heart, with the same free independence. 
He was a jewel among the men of that day, especially 
in Nicholas's reign, who once declared that means failed 
him worthily to reward such a treasure ; with his can- 
did, clear understanding, and his warm, upright heart, 
he did more real service to the extensive realms and 
reign of his Emperor than many of his juniors whose 
Kps were always overflowing with the good of their 
fatherland. He was a chevalier sans peur et sans 
reproche. 

The Minister of War, subsequently Prince Tscher- 
nitschef, was equally esteemed in Nicholas's reign, as 
renowned by his French campaigns and his previous 
stay in Paris, as those we have named. He was elegant 
and attractive, particularly in the eyes of ladies, and 
contrived to diffuse a gay spirit into every company 



THE IMPERIAL COUBT. 11 

that he entered As Minister of War, he was the busiest 
man in the kingdom, and, contrary to all the usages of 
Petersburg, he rose every morning at five o'clock, and 
appeared before the Emperor at nine o'clock, often receiv- 
ing officials at dinner and conversing with them, and yet 
snatching an hour for enjoyment in the evening. 

We must add to this series the Lord High Chamberlain, 
Count Golowkin, the last scion of a &mily banished 
from Eussia in the eighteenth century, who had been 
converted in England to the Beformed Church. At 
fifty years of age he learned Latin, and at a still more 
advanced period of life found amusement in the Annals 
of Tacitus, and after leaving Court solaced himself by 
his labours as Curator of the Charkow University. All 
these men were not only props to the new reign, but 
also ornaments of the evening social circles at Court ; 
a good example, which these ministers strove to dif- 
fuse through the whole city. All, with the exception 
of Prince Galitzin, were men of business, whose days 
being occupied in troublesome labours, could not con- 
tribute much to the enlivenment of society at night, 
but still they appreciated the intellectual tone that 
prevailed in the Empress's immediate circle. 

One of the most steady supporters of the new govern- 
ment, and the most fruitful source of social pleasures 
at the Court of the Empress, was Count Nesselrode, 
Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Vice- Chancellor. His 
statesmanlike qualities he shared with his contempo- 
raries Talleyrand, Metternich, and Pozzo di Borgo ; but 
in the sense of the Aristippian philosophy, he was not 
only the most accomplished, but one of the wisest 



12 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

men of any time ; he understood the art of living, as 
Horace recommends in his Epistles. Equally removed 
from arrogance and from obsequious servility, his 
manner was conciliatory and propitiatory, and the most 
benevolent expression beamed from his large clear 
eyes ; no oflfensive word ever escaped his lips, and even 
under the most trying circumstances he could always 
control himself and the words he uttered. Whether 
important affairs of State or merely a soir^ required 
his presence in the palace, his quick firm step was the 
same ; no one better knew how to combine aristocratic 
dignity with simplicity and modesty. Superior to the 
inevitable intrigues of a Court, his appearance was 
everywhere hailed with almost the same reverence as 
that of the Emperor himself His house was a model 
of domestic order and aristocratic arrangement in every 
comer, and adorned with aU that can ennoble the charm 
of life : the scholar found a large, well-chosen library in 
every branch of knowledge, and the artist the master- 
pieces of every school of painting dispersed in his 
salons; the musician the best instruments, and culti- 
vated ears to listen ; the number of guests at his richly- 
famished table on common occasions was never under 
that of the Graces, and never exceeded that of the 
Muses; the conversation was easy, unrestrained, and all 
opinions had free scope. It was not experience and 
loyalty alone that made him the first statesman in the 
kingdom, but still more his profound insight into the 
connection of events, while the repose of character with 
which he examined every subject, and the mildness of 
his manners, especially caused the Empress to invite 



THE mPEBIAL COURT. 1 3 

him to her soirfes. The family ako of Count Wielhor- 
sky deserves more particular mention hera Although 
of Polish origin, they had been bom and educated in 
Bussia, and in the Greek Church ; the eldest brother 
married a Princess Biron from Courland, and was till his 
death one of the most conspicuous courtiers, endowed 
with all the agreeable qualities suitable to social inter- 
course. Their high birth and great wealth, as well as 
their rare accomplishments, caused both brothers to 
become favourites of the Impericd family, who admitted 
them at all times into their society; they left some 
interesting records of the hours they passed at Court 
The eldest brother, Michael, was likewise the musical 
oracle of Sussia^ and his voice was decisive on all points 
connected with art or musical undertakings. He intro- 
duced all foreign artists at Court, suggesting to them 
their course when there. By his means the Bussian 
Court remained in connection with the foreign world of 
art, and whoever was celebrated in Paris, Vienna, or 
Berlin, was shortly after heard in the Winter Palace. 
Michael Wielhorsky was not only the greatest con- 
noisseur and lover of music in the Imperial realm, 
but himself a composer of songs, and as such not less 
appreciated in foreign countries than Prince Badziwill 
in Berlin. Both brothers were entirely devoid of the 
mere ambition of office, nor did they indeed interfere 
with grave State affairs, but by their devotion to art, 
they left more visible traces in the country than many 
men in other spheres who busied themselves for years 
with papers ; they fostered art, and cultivated it on a 
grand scale. The house of Count Nesselrode offered a 



14 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

greater variety of attractions than that of Count Wiel- 
horsky, where art predominated Countess Wielhorsky 
was 8tm more admired, for she combined with all the 
charm of a woman the deep earnestness and knowledge 
of a man, as well as the watchful care of a mother. 
Her eldest son, Joseph, was the same whom we men- 
tioned as the comrade of the heir-apparent. The politics 
of the day were as attractive to her as to Princess 
lieven; it was even said at the time in Petersburg 
that her political views were not without influence over 
the Emperor. She seldom came to Court, and then 
appeared only in the most intimate and confidential 
circles ; but her powers of conversation, by their variety, 
supplied the place of a larger society. The health of 
her youngest son compelled her to take frequent jour- 
neys into foreign countries, where she lived only for 
her maternal duties, but never failed to cultivate the 
society of those distinguished in art and science. In 
her were united the brightest qualities of a nearly extinct 
aristocratic world, with the simplicity of the modem 
burgher community; her conversation left the same 
profound impression on the philosopher Schelling and 
the historian Sismondi, as on a Soman cardinal and 
Prince Talleyrand. She visited in Konigsberg Kant's 
former dwelling with as deep interest as the Coliseum 
at Bome, and she could converse with a merchant with 
as much facility and good-nature, dignity, and intellect, 
as in the presence of a King. But both at home and 
in her travels, much of her time was devoted to the 
education of her daughters, who never left their mother^s 
side ; for she thought this the fairest vocation of woman. 



THE TMFKKTATi COUBT. 15 

and one never to be intrusted to strangers. The pre- 
cious time that other ladies of equally high rank devote 
to dress, and what is called the duties of society, she 
devoted to her home. It is true that the splendour of 
many other princely houses was not to be found there, 
but music invariably enlivened the circle, and an intro- 
duction there was granted chiefly to those recommended 
by the Muses. Here the master- works of our German 
musical composers were profoundly interpreted, not 
only by the first artists of the capital, but also by 
amateurs, among whom the younger Count Mathieu 
and General Lwoff shone with the greatest lustre. The 
German felt as if restored to his country when listening 
to the strains of his fatherland, while the hospitality he 
received, so unusual with us, made him at once feel at 
home. 

A man whose character was most singular, and much 
discussed by both the people and the city, whose energy 
and fame were diffused over the whole of Nicholas's 
government, was Prince Alexander Menschikoff. All 
the attributes peculiar to the enlightened Slavonian 
were combined in him : ease in acquiring foreign tongues 
and foreign knowledge, quickly fathoming new cir- 
cumstances, and mastering them; cool equanimity in 
reverses, winning men in office by kindness and bene- 
volence, making himself popular with all his aristocratic 
pride, giving full scope to his unsparing brilliant wit, 
and thus gaining over to his side mockers and sneerers 
— these qualities distinguished the Prince from those 
we have already sketched. His sarcasm was not less 
dreaded than the wrath of the Emperor ; but the Prince 



16 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

himself feared no man, and spared no man. He had 
the less cause to do so, as his energy was accompanied 
by a princely fortune (of 14,000 serfs), and his position 
assured by his high birth. His manner was amiable 
and polite, his conversation as attractive when serious 
as when witty ; the inferior official could rely on his 
favour and intercession, while his sharp arrows, justly 
or unjustly, always hit the lucky upstart, and hit sure 
too. On Nicholas's accession he was called to the man- 
agement of the navy, a branch of the administration 
quite novel to him. After having given himself two 
months to learn all that was. essential in his new sphere, 
he entered on his duties, and continued at the head of 
that branch of government the greater part of his life. 
He never lost an opportunity of obliging any ona The 
city became so accustomed to his witticisms that they 
were looked for every week as regularly as the news- 
papers. When one of the ministers was at the point of 
death, the Duke of Leuchtenberg met Menschikoff, with 
the words — 

" Have you heard the sad news ? " 

" What is it V answered the Prince. 

"The minister — is dying," said the Duke, with 
emotion. 

" My news is far worse," rejoined the Prince. 

'* How ? Is he dead ? " said the agitated Duke. 

The Prince's cool reply being, "Alas! no: on the 
contrary ; he is much better 1 " 

His unfortunate campaign in the Crimea, which he 
undertook in his old age, in no degree blunted his 
malicious wit. When, after its close, he appeared for 



THE IMPERIAL COURT. 1 7 

a short time in Petersburg, he filled the city afresh 
with his sarcasms, thus almost making people forget 
his defeat in war. Such was the impression that the 
Prince made on the society at large of the capital ; but 
in more confined and intimate circles his character was 
depicted as heartless and impatient of the merits of 
other& We dose this list with Count Paul Kisselew, 
known to all Sussia by his administration of Moldavia 
and Wallachia, as well as by his humanity and liberal 
principlea If tin Prince Menschikoff the ancient 
Muscovite Boyar nature peeped out, in spite of all his 
superiority, in Count Eisselew the same benevolence 
was at once recognised, first manifested by him in the 
time of Alexander the Second, when, as Minister of the 
Crown domains, he sought to prepare the way for the 
great work of the manumission of the serfs, and to 
alleviate their future fate. This great statesman was 
appreciated by few, and his administration often 
severely censured. But no amount of public opinion 
made him falter in his work. He remained in con* 
nection with enlightened foreigners to accomplish his 
object, persuaded Alexander von Haxthausen to come 
to Bussia, and to travel through that enormous kingdom, 
and thus succeeded in bringing to the universal know- 
ledge of Europe many portions of a country so little ^ 
known there, or indeed within Bussia itself. Count 
Kisselew was a patriot in the antique sense of the 
word, who closely and clearly apprehended the present 
wants of his fatherland without losing sight of the 
future; with him, love of his country did not mean, 
as with too many at that tiDQ.e, hatred and persecu- 
VOL. n. B 



1 8 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

tion of other lands, but carefully dierishing the spirit 
appropriate to the tima In all periods of his fruitful 
life, he sought instruction and recreation in history, 
literature, and philosophy, and thus his mood was 
always equally fresh and cheerful. Almost all those to 
whom we have alluded were painted in Nicholas's time 
by the Berlin Court painter, Kruger ; these admirable 
likenesses decorate an anteroom in the Winter Palace 
adjoining the cabinet of the present Emperor. The suc- 
cession of individuals however, who cqntributed to the 
brilliancy of the government and court of Nicholas, are 
by no means exhausted by the preceding names. Many 
were detained by their offices at the other end of the 
kingdom, and rarely came to Petersburg ; but we must 
make special mention of two of these : Prince Seigei 
Michaelowitsch Golitzyn, and Field-Marshal Prince 
Woronzow. The first resided in Moscow, the second 
in South Bussia, and both were perfect models of high 
aristocratic natures. Many others passed most of their 
time in foreign lands as ambassadors, while some 
during the whole of Nicholas's reign did not enjoy a 
good reputation. Ambition is half the life of Russians ; 
they are not satisfied with high rank and high class 
orders; admittance into the evening circle of the 
Empress, into the little Court theatre of the Hermitage, 
to the Imperial table — these are their first most eager 
aims ; and one evening of distinction like this remains 
with many as a happy reminiscence' for life — often, 
however, inducing the Empress to resolve never a 
second time to subject herself to such a weary task. 
When she was once showing to a worthy but totally 



THE IMPERIAL COUBT. 19 

rnicultiyated man, a master work of Domenichino's in 
her cabinet — *' St. John," — he said, "A fine picture, but 
not very like your Majesty." The soirees of the 
Empress were, in her earlier years, usually passed by 
her guests in dancing, petits jeux, and cards. She did 
not herseK, however, take any part in these, but selected 
some persons from the circle we have described to 
converse with her. She displayed to few the treasures 
of her intellect and spirit ; so these were only appre^ 
dated by a few. She especially honoured those whose 
pure minds were devoid of all courtly qualities, who 
addressed her with open hearts, politely, but imsullied 
by hypocrisy, and whose frank and lively conversation 
excited her sympathy. At a time wheh the imposing 
personality of Nicholas, like his system of government, 
checked all free exchange of thought, Alexandra was 
ever accessible to other views; and in this consists 
the most admirable attribute of woman, that she rises 
superior to all one-sided party feeling. Many a novel 
or alien idea found its way through her to her husband. 
Those to whom we have specially alluded, although far 
from always agreeing with the Emperor, did not place 
themselves in direct opposition to him, but merely 
waited for a favourable moment of good humour 
to win him over to their projects; indeed, the 
greater number were of the opinion of Kleinmichel, 
who openly declared, that the sole law in Bussia was 
the will of the Emperor. Very diflferent, however, were 
the sentiments of Count Alexei and Countess Sophie 
Bobrinsky. The Countess, rUe Samoilof, had formerly 
been maid of honour to Maria Feodorowna; and in 



20 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

associating with her had become one of the most 
finished specimens of female excellence of her day. 
The young Empress and the Countess soon discovered 
the afi&nity of their principles, while their mutual 
sympathies led to friendship. These sentiments were 
the more heartfelt and enduring, from the Countess 
giving up her Court office on her marriage, and thus she 
could no longer be influenced by any selfish interests. 
She frequented Alexandra's cabinet as, much as the 
Empress did that of the Countess. It was the inter- 
course of two friends who felt the need of detailing to 
each other all that occurred on the days when they 
were separated. If any annoyance stole into the heart 
of Alexandra, she invariably confided it at once to 
her friend, and every happy incident likewise of her 
domestic life was repeated to this amiable and superior 
woman. The Countess appeared as rarely in the society 
of the capital as at Court; for the education of her 
two sons engrossed her whole time : her salon was not 
much frequented, but those who did go there were all 
people of the highest distinction. Count Alexei too 
was an exception among the men of his time, and of his 
position. Devoid of ambition, he appeared at Court 
for a succession of years, without any outward dis- 
tinction or any official service. And yet his under- 
takings in the branch of industry made him more 
serviceable to his country than most other men. He 
risked his whole property to construct the first railway 
between Zarskoe-Selo and the capital ; and his sugar 
manufactories were on so vast a scale that they pro- 
duced a ninth part of all the sugar consumed in Eussia. 



THE DfPEBIAL COURT. 21 

He was incessantly occupied in ascertaining the dis- 
coveries of every kind made in Europe^ and introducing 
them into Eussia, so far as the state of the country 
would admit of it. During his journey in Germany 
and France, he visited all those in his own sphere, and 
avoided Courts and large societies. He even made 
known his views in evening circles to the Emperor, 
and with such an air of profound conviction, that, 
though Nicholas seldom agreed with his opinions, still 
he rarely contradicted them. Count Bobrinsky pos- 
sessed an independence of character not so rare in 
Moscow among the old Eussian nobility as in the 
Court of Petersburg ; his manner resembled the simple 
bearing of the English aristocracy, and in true amia- 
bility and refinement few could be compared with 
him. 

Count Kankrin, called the Colbert of Eussian finance, 
was equally independent in mind; but, unlike Bo- 
brinsky, Kankrin was neither courtly nor courteous, 
but gifted with a downright, thoroughly German 
solidity. His zeal, his stores of knowledge, his pure 
integrity and fidelity, were acknowledged by the whole 
kingdom ; but we cannot deny that in evening society 
he seemed to think himself among German students. 
Prince Menschikoff shot his sharp witty arrows from a 
sure distance; whereas Kankrin with his truths hit 
every one right in the face as if with stones, and even 
brought his provincial German habits and his pipe 
into the Winter Palace. In the Council of the Empire 
itself his opponents were forced to listen to speeches 
that would have entailed a duel in German Universities. 



22 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

But his merits were too great and too universally 
admitted for any one to attempt to polish his sharp 
angles. Even the Empress sometimes liked to listen 
to his conversation, which was pithy and intellectual, 
and formed a striking but not whoUy unwelcome con- 
trast to the usual tone of the Court 

Count Benkendorf, well known to fame in the French 
campaigns, and in Nicholas's day one of the most effi- 
cient and benevolent of men, as Minister of Police, had at 
all hours the most imceremonious access to the Imperial 
family. He enjoyed universal esteem, as he conducted 
himself in his difficult office with much consideration and 
forbearance. The sad circumstances under which Nicho- 
las ascended the throne demanded a watchful eye on the 
part of the Government over aU portions and societies 
of the kingdom. The Count seemed peculiarly calcu- 
lated for such an employment, for he was enlightened, 
good-hearted, unselfish, and his manners in society 
most pleasing. A man in such an office, though indis- 
pensable in the early years of Nicholas's reign, must 
appear in the eyes of every society, however well dis- 
posed he may be, as a terrific spectre. The Emperor 
reposed confidence in him, and the Count justified this 
trust in the face of the country ; and the public voice 
never accused him either of severity or too great in- 
dulgence, still less of indolence in action. He died in 
a steamboat, after a journey to some baths, shortly 
before reaching his country seat. Fall in Esthonia, 
in which he had scarcely resided as many days as he 
had possessed it for years ; and now it became his last 
resting-place. 



THE IMPERIAL COURT. 23 

Count Pahlen too, son of a celebrated governor-general 
under Paul the First, was one of the military Mends of 
the Imperial family. His taU form, his frank counten • 
ance, his firm stately step, indicated a knight of an 
earlier century, whose life was wholly absorbed by war. 
He was unmarried, and spent all his spare time in 
reading. He was well acquainted with the circum- 
stances of States and societies ; thus his conversation 
was instructive and interesting, and his opinion and 
his advice highly prized by all The Emperor subse- 
quently appointed him his ambassador to Fans. It is 
very remarkable that many of the most noted men in 
Alexander's reign died in 1826, one year later than their 
master. Since December Hth the health of Karamsin 
could not rally. Nicholas gave up to the celebrated his- 
torian a wing in the Taurus Falace, built by Potemkin, 
situated in the healthiest part of the city, surrounded 
by a splendid garden ; he also placed a frigate at his 
disposal to convey him to the south of France, for the 
restoration of his health, and 50,000 rubles to defray 
his expenses. If in Germany such a magnificent sum 
should excite astonishment, it will cause stiU greater 
surprise to be told, that when Karamsin died, in June 
1826, the same pension was continued for life to his 
remaining family. This was the Emperor'^ doing. The 
nation, however, placed his name among the first in 
the whole land. Alexander honoured Karamsin with 
his personal friendship; Nicholas endowed his family 
munificently; and the nation honoured him so highly 
that they never named his name without pride. The 
European nations, most renowned for their literature. 



24 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF BUSSIA. 

can bring forward no example of any of their great 
men being thoa distinguished both by Prince and 
people. 

In the same year died Chancellor Count Bumanzof, 
a veritable Bussian Maecenas. His palace, under the 
name of the Bumanzof Museum, was always open to 
the public. Alexander Narischkin also died, whose 
han-^mots were as numerous and as often quoted in the 
capital as Prince Menschikoff's witticisms ; but a fresh 
succession of names came to light in Nicholas's reign, 
that continued to shine during his whole government. 
We specially name those afterwards raised by the Em- 
peror to the rank of Counts — Orlof, Adlerbeig, and 
Bludol The two former were familiar friends of the 
Grand Duke Nicholas in the Anitschkow Palace, and 
gloriously proved their devotion and true courage on 
December 14th. Both had easy, pleasing manners, 
lively in conversation, and welcome to the Imperial 
family at all hours of the day. The mother of Count 
Adlerberg, Directress of the first Female Educational 
Institution, placed him, when very young, at Court, 
where he made acquaintance with the Grand Dukes, 
and stood as a fiiend beside Nicholas, who in his testa- 
ment named him as the one friend he had possessed 
through his whole life. Count Bludof was, next to 
Speransky, the most practical and best-informed man 
to be found. His conversation was instructive, com- 
prehensive, and intellectual, but apt to be wearisome. 
Nicholas when Grand Duke commenced his service un- 
der General Baron Karl J. Bistram, who treated all his 
subordinates with equally impartial justice, and by no 



TH£ IMPERIAL COURT. 26 

means showed any preference for Nicholas, as brother 
to the Emperor. The General therefore, on Nicholas's 
accession^ requested to be allowed to resign. The Em- 
peror, however, refased this request, thanking his former 
chief for his strict discipline, appointing him also Ad- 
jutant-General, and, later, Commander-in-Chief of the 
Guards. After the Polish campaign, the General, and 
also Count Sumarakow, were brought into more social 
intercourse with the Court The latter had long been 
considered a brave officer and distinguished artillery- 
man, but, independent of his professional merits, he was 
attractive in his demeanour, weU versed in European 
literature, and a great connoisseur in classical music. 
In his salon, like that of Count Wielhorsky, the 
masterpieces of German instrumental music were per- 
formed, varied by« singing and dancing. Notwithstand- 
ing the extraordinary events that occurred during the 
four first years of Nicholas's reign, the Court, and family 
life connected with it, assumed a settled form, which, 
with few changes, continued the same for nearly thirty 
years. The Court stayed only the six winter months 
in Petersburg, and passed the summer in their various 
country palaces. Two of these six winter months were 
regularly spent by Nicholas in Anitschkow, as if in 
remembrance of the bright, free days of his youth, and 
the first happy years of his marriage. The family arrived 
in the city, and lived in the utmost domestic retirement 
in Anitschkow till December 5th. The Emperor was in 
the habit of driving through the town in a little one- 
horse sledge, Alexandra in a carriage-and-four, with 
two Cossacks in attendance ; and she invariably drove 



26 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

first to the female schools, where the pupils received 
her almost like a divinity. 

On such occasions the Imperial banner floated over 
the Winter Palace, and every one knew what this signi- 
fied. The capital, especially its principal street, the 
Perspective, assumed quite a different physiognomy on 
a day of this kind. All crowded towards that palace 
as the heart of the city, and the most brilliant equipages 
drove about ; but the lower orders also wished again to 
see Father Czar and the lovely face of the Czarina. 
The public had indeed cause for gladness, for greater 
order was introduced into all public traCBc ; the police 
took care to provide tolerable pavements, and to enforce 
cleanliness in the most distant quarters of the town ; 
people crowded to the theatre, far more to see the Im- 
perial family than the play. During these first weeks, 
the Empress was in the habit of visiting her own inti- 
mate friends, and one of her first drives was to see 
Countess Bobrinsky. The arrival of the Court was wel- 
comed as a festival in the capital, not only by the rich 
and the happy, but also by the sick and needy, and all 
who required aid and comfort ; for the Imperial couple 
never neglected visiting the Poorhouse and the Laza- 
rethe, to cheer the broken-hearted by their presence, to 
point out any deficiencies, and to supply immediate 
succour. The illustrious lady whom we last saw at the 
fSte of the White Eose in Potsdam in the month of 
November this same year, accompanied the Emperor 
to a poorhouse in Wassiliostrow. The happy usually 
avoid places where the miseries of life in every form, 
both in old and young, present themselves to the eye 



THE IMPERIAL COURT. 27 

in SO heaxtrending a maimer. Their Majesties were 
conducted through those chambers of sorrow, where 
decaying age and forsaken children alternated with 
sufferers from infirmities and maladies of every descrip- 
tion. Their visit, however, had a cheering influence on 
the inmates, and any real want was at once discerned 
by their quick eyes. Some days afterwards they sent 
fifty iron bedsteads to the chief of the Institution. 
During their visit one room remained closed, which 
seemed to be intended for servants. When the Em- 
peror ordered that this should also be opened, the 
Director whispered to the monarch that he had avoided 
opening it in the presence of the Empress, as it was 
occupied by lunatics. But Alexandra had the courage to 
witness such a spectacle. Her sympathy, her unosten- 
tatious, touching goodness of heart, only increased with 
the depths of distress, and those present felt greater 
reverence on seeing her there than in all the brilliancy 
of her throne. It was a religious principle with the 
Empress to visit the miserable after grand Court fStes, 
where in the pomp of majesty she had only external 
duties to perform to an ambitious throng, her angelic 
goodness being brought into contact with heeurts har- 
dened by good fortune. In the former case, an act of 
benevolence, however small, was received with tenfold 
thanks, whereas the greatest gifts to the latter did not 
always cause satisfaction. 

On December 5th the whole family took up their 
quarters in the Winter Palace, the 6th of that month, 
Nicholas Day, being the name-day of the Emperor, and 
one of the most momentous of the year. We have 



28 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

akeady noticed the importance of a name-day in Eussia. 
The Winter Palace on this day throws open all its rooms 
for the purpose of friendly hospitality. The servants of 
State, who are near the persons of the monarch, expect 
much on such an occasion from the bounty of the Czar. 
All who, under any title, have been presented at Court, as- 
semble on this day in the Winter Palace, in order to con- 
gratulate and pay their respects to the Emperor, when, 
accompanied by his whole family, he passes through 
the rooms on his way to church. This felicity alone, 
however, by no means sufl&ces. Gifts of all sorts 
are expected from the generosity of the sovereign by 
those nearest his person, and by the most meritorious ; 
and their ruler, in virtue of his absolute power, makes 
them happy by promotions, orders, and gratuities. It 
is by no means unusual to see thirty to forty generals 
made on this day, blue and red ribbons bestowed, and 
many raised to the rank of counts and princes ; while 
the titles of Maids of Honour are conferred on the elder 
ladies of the Order of Catherine, and on the daughters 
of deserving men ; boxes and rings with brilliants and 
Imperial portraits are distributed, and the Emperor^s 
own family loaded with every kind of present The 
lower orders wait before the gates of the palace, in the 
streets, in twenty degrees of cold, merely to catch a 
distant glimpse of Father Czar, and throng the lighted- 
up streets at night in closely-wedged crowds, to gape at 
the illuminations. The congratulations, however, of the 
Imperial relatives and the Officers of State nearest the 
EmperoT^s person take place on the previous evening, in 
a small familiar circle, for all these brilliant fetes are 



THB DiPEBIAL COUBT. 29 

exhanstdng to their Majesties^ and devoid of all real 
satiafjELction. Even this rich horn of plenty, with 
its generous gifts, leaves far more people discon- 
tented than grateful, the latter frequently finding the 
Imperial mark of favour beneath their merits. This 
festival bears rather a serious than a cheerful character, 
less owing to the season of the year than to its inner 
signification. The Court procession from their apart- 
ments to the Court church, the stately high mass connect- 
ed with it, and a banquet to which only the three high- 
est classes in rank are invited ; a Court ball, consisting 
only of a Polonaise by the Imperial family ; a promenade 
through the illuminated streets in severe cold : all these 
are fatiguing duties and formalities, but ceremonies in- 
cumbent on the Czar and Czarina. The stranger, on 
such occasions, seeing a splendour of bright uniforms 
and dresses, ladies in the stately national costume, 
toilettes of fairy-like magnificence, often displaying all 
the wealth of diamonds and jewels in the whole realm, 
is filled with the most unbounded astonishment. Though 
the first four weeks are devoted by the Empress to her 
charitable duties, the succeeding ones are allotted to 
brilliant society and its obligations. The capital com- 
prised at that period a number of wealthy families, who 
coveted the honour of receiving their illustrious rulqrs 
for an evening in their apartments. So long as the 
Empress continued to dance, such invitations were 
gladly accepted, and Bussians know how to receive 
worthily such guests. Not unfrequently, the whole 
way from the Winter Palace to the house they were 
about to visit was lit up with lamps. The outer flight 



30 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

of steps, and the stairs within, fonned a garden of bloom* 
ing flowers ; and it was the same in all the salons ; for 
the Empress herself a bower of camellias was usually 
prepared, and the most costly carpets spread at her feet 
Certain families, after receiving their Majesties on an 
evening like this, reckoned in their yearly accounts an 
addition of 20,000 rubles to their usual expenditure. If 
it chanced that the Empress was prevented coming by 
indisposition, her non-appearance was attributed to 
pride, and thus she was compelled to perform this duty 
under all circumstances, especially as she saw that this 
hospitality was offered in the most cordial and sincere 
spirit ; although sometimes a burden to her, at least she 
knew that, on her appearance, the entire success of the 
f^te depended. Many of these houses are equal in size 
to the palaces of German capitals, and, in addition to 
other apartments, contain one hall so spacious that the 
whole of the numerous guests can sit down together to 
supper. 

In the midst of this succession of f^tes, the family 
however reserve Christmas evening exclusively for 
themselves. In accordance with our German custom, 
Christmas-trees are lit up for the members of the Im- 
perial House, and all are provided with gifts and sur- 
prises. On this evening the Empress appears as the 
mother of her children, and their playmates are sum- 
moned from all the different circles in the city, though 
indeed many are supplied with gifts who are not 
present The parents feel the most true delight 
in the games of the young people, and thus cause 
the taste for domestic life to be diffused in the city. 



THE IMPEBIAL GOUBT. 31 

New Year's Day is also a festival of rich gifts for 
the higher authorities. In the first years of Nicholas's 
reign, the evening of that day was a fSte for the whole 
town. The palace on these occasions is not only open 
to the higher classes, but to the entire populace. On 
such evenings the Emperor becomes " Father Czar" to 
his subjects, and, as in days of old, all, without dis- 
tinction of birth or rank, are hospitably welcomed. 
More than 30,000 are to be seen on that evening 
crowding to the palace, each returning home happy, 
though many bear tokens on their torn clothes of the 
enormous crowd. This evening offers a miniature re- 
presentation not only of the whole Bussian realm, but 
also of Europe. All European costumes are represented 
by the Diplomatic Corps. The splendours of the Eus- 
sian kingdom by the high dignitaries, Adjutant-Generals 
and Chamberlains; the black coat by foreigners and 
petty officials; the Oriental caftan and the venerable 
beard by Eussian merchants, and scanty clothing by 
serfs and fiacre- drivers ; while the riches of nature are 
displayed by the finest pearls and diamonds, and every 
kind of jewels down to turquoises ; the rarest French 
stuffs, and the furs of Siberia and the Crimea ; and the 
most precious wines, as well as beer, meth, and quass. 

Nicholas in later years allowed this festival to 
lapse, out of consideration for the health of his 
wife, as the religious services in the forenoon and 
the congratulations connected with the occasion alone 
required great strength. This day, so far as we know, 
was kept for the last time in 1835. In after years the 
celebration was transferred to the Anitschkow Palace, to 



32 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

escape the tremendoas crush of people, who, independent 
of the evening, press round the Imperial family in the 
morning. The servants of the family, the palace, the 
gardens, and the various Chancery Offices, down to the 
coachmen and outriders of the Empress, all maintain 
their right to bring their New Yearns good wishes in 
person to the palace, and appear in gold-embroidered 
uniforms, filling the long gloomy corridors from one end 
to the other. Alexandra several times endeavoured 
to introduce fancy pageants, like those in Berlin, into 
the Petersburg Court, but with little success. FStes of 
such a nature require another society and other sym- 
pathies to contribute to the charm of life. 

During the ensuing weeks, up to the close of the 
Carnival, their Majesties are still greater slaves to social 
duties. In this reign an exclusive aristocratic society 
was formed, who gave several baUs in the course of the 
Carnival, at which Nicholas and Alexandra appeared 
and opened the fSte with a Polonaise. Many other 
briUiant private balls were given, and the Court, even 
amid all the gravity of public affairs, could not close 
the Winter Palace to a society so devoted to dancing. 
The greater part of the seven quiet weeks of Lent were 
spent by the Court in the Anitschkow Palace, where 
they went for confession and communion. During this 
interval all theatres and baUs are at an end, and the 
latter are very imusual even in small private circles ; 
but for five weeks concerts of every kind prevail — 
indeed, in as great abundance as balls previously. A 
more quiet time, however, now began. Those foreign 
artists who appeared in the capital were invited to the 



THE IMPERIAL COimT. 33 

smaller evening Court circles, and handsomely rewarded. 
During those five weeks, too, occurred the examinations 
and dismissals in the female schools nnder the patronage 
of the Empress, who was invariably present on these 
occasions, distributing with her own hands the prizes, 
consisting of the Imperial cypher. The last evening of 
these examinations bore quite a festive character. The 
scholars displayed their prc^ess in singing, pianoforte- 
playing, and dancing, and, besides the Court, other per- 
sons competent to judge were invited in the town. 
After Easter, Alexandra paid farewell visits to the 
different institutions we have named, and also to the 
neighbouring families, and, by the end of April, or at 
latest the beginning of May, the Court took up its 
abode in secluded Zarskoe-Sel6. 

We see from these details that the winter months in 
Petersburg pass in the most feverish state of excite- 
ment, and are very trying to health and strengtL The 
continuous cold and the long nights are little calculated 
to fortify the vital powers. Every one regards with 
satisfaction the prospect of a more retired life and the 
advent of another season, which however only in name, 
alas ! bears the name of Spring, — ^the sole charm it offers 
being bright evenings and twilight nights, but scarcely 
any of the cheerful variety of a German spring, even in 
the north of Germany. 

Zar8koe-Sel6, three German miles south of Peters- 
burg, lies higher than that city, and can boast of purer 
air. Thirty years ago the little town bore the aspect of 
a neat village, consisting chiefly of small wooden houses 
with gardens. Not till Nicholas's reign were stone 

VOL. n. c 



34 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF BUSSU. 

houses built, inns established, and since then it has 
become a fieivourite resort in summer of many of the 
inhabitants of the capital Its charm lies in the two 
palaces and the truly beautiful gardens that surround 
them. The road thither from the capital passes along 
a marshy plain, scarcely even producing dwarf birches 
and wild grasses, and where Will-of-the-Wisps alone 
accompany the traveUer at night. The more surprising, 
therefore, are these truly Imperial palaces, while the 
parks, by their noble timber, transplant the traveller 
into another and more southern region. The finest oaks 
and limes, elms and ash-trees, stand, in their gay variety 
of foliage, beside the maple, the birch, and the northern 
pine, while during the short journey thither we seem to 
be in the region of Archangel ; the climate, the gardens, 
seem to be that of Southern Germany. A person may 
wander about there for hours, always discovering fresh 
beauties in the grouping of the trees, the vivid green 
sw£uxl, and the dark thickets in the forest, while the 
fine fountains and their architecture cause even more 
surprise than the skilful training of Natura The origin 
of this spot and garden dates from the first year after 
the foundation of Petersburg, but the fedry-like palace 
was not built till the days of the Empress Elisabeth. 
It gained its fame in Europe owing to Catherine's abode 
there. The gardens, with their superb lime-trees, ex- 
tend on the south side up to the very walls of the 
palace, giving shade in the morning to most of the 
rooms. The exterior of the palace was formerly richly 
gilt, and in the evenings, by the light of the setting 
sun, looked at a distance like a palace in flames. The 



THE DfPEBIAL COUKT. 35 

• 

interior contains more valuables than works of art. 
The walls of one room are entirely of amber, a second 
of lapis-lazuli, a third adorned with pillars of porphyiy, 
and a side wing furnished entirely in the Chinese fashion. 
The centre storey consists whoUy of grand State recep- 
tion-rooms. Catherine the Second formerly inhabited 
the comer wing, and made Cameron add to it a gallery, 
by which she could reach the open air from her own 
apartments without going down into the gardens. She 
enlivened this unfrequented corridor by antique Grecian 
busts, and sought and found in the features of Plato and 
Demosthenes the expression of the same thoughts that 
she had read in their works. From this gallery the eye 
looks down on the most beautiful portion of the gardens, 
an artificial lake with islands, one of which is adorned 
by a rostral column to the memory of Count Orlof 
Small boats and vessels and a company of stately swans 
traverse the stiU surface of the water, and various 
temples decorate its banks. A terrace leads &om this 
elevation gently down into the garden, where Catherine, 
in her old age, used to walk alone in a simple morning 
dress, a warm cap on her head, and a stick in her hand, 
only accompanied by her pet greyhounds. Following 
the lake to the end, where a brook supplies it with 
water, and crossing a marble bridge with pillars, you 
come to a pyramid, an exact imitation of that of Cestius 
in Some, and beside it two blocks of stone bearing 
French inscriptions. Here are interred both the grey- 
hounds of the Empress, celebrated by S^gur in verse 
after their death. Catherine's presence is recalled in 
this part of the gardens, at every step, by a monument. 



86 ALEXAia)RA EMPRESS OF BUSSIA. 

From the pyramid beside the lake the path runs past 
an artificial hillock, on which is a counterfeit castel- 
lated ruin, to a chaiming meadow, bounded by another 
acclivity, and traversed by a patL Beyond this the 
pilgrim in the new park perceives a Chinese village of 
about twelve houses, with a pagoda and a theatre. 
Each of these houses consists of a well-fumished family 
residence and a garden. It is however by no means 
inhabited by Chinese, but by families who everywhere 
accompany the Court The pagoda^ especially in the 
autumn, is used for evening parties and baUs. In the 
environs of Petersburg, and in Zarskoe-Selo itself, it 
would be difficult to find a more charming summer 
dwelling than each of these houses. From thence you 
may wander among spacious beds of flowers, orchards, 
and orangeries, and suddenly find yourself in &ont of 
another artificial ruin, — a copy of the Temple of the 
Besurrection at Jerusalem. A narrow outside flight of 
steps leads through these apparent ruins to a height, 
where, in a closed chapel, stands Dannecker^s " Christy" 
tender and loving, like the conceptions of the painter 
Carlo Dolca This masterpiece is seldom visited, and it 
may be numbered among the many comparatively un- 
known treasures shut up in Petersburg. Adjoining this 
ruin is a fir- wood, in which, in spite of its nimierous 
paths, the stranger is apt to lose his way, and to be 
startled by its gloom, and the cawing of innumerable 
rooks. The gardens extend even beyond this ancient 
wood, and contain many different objects worthy of 
inspection, such as a flock of lamas, two elephants, and 
a farm kept quite in imperial style. The gardens are 



THE mPEBIAL COUET. 37 

enclosed on all sides by hedges^ and every access to them 
guarded, the cleanliness and oider within being enforced 
by strict military discipline. It would require a hun- 
dred thousand men at least to £01 the space. The 
whole population of the small town, and the Court in- 
cluded, seem lost, and leave scarcely a trace of their pre- 
sence. Thus we feel solitary, nay, deserted, in the midst 
of aU this pomp, and rather repulsed than attracted by 
its vast extent The inhabitants of Zarskoe-Sel6, there- 
fore, usually shun it, and only the summer guests of the 
capital go there, in the hope of, at certain times, meet- 
ing the Imperial family. In Nicholas's reign they lived 
in the new Alexander Palace, the simple style of which 
is as characteristic of Petersburg as the old palace of Mos- 
cow. The front next the city is ornamented by a range 
of pillars, and the interior contains only enormous halls. 
The two side- wings, of vast circiqnference, are occupied 
by the Court ; the Czar, the Empress^ and their three 
daughters^ inhabit the right wing; and the four sons, 
with their suites, the left. All the living>rooms are as 
simple as possible ; the cabinet of the Empress is in 
immediate connection with the airy halls of the centre 
space, enabling her to walk there, when rain renders 
it impossible to go to the gardens. From her oriel 
window a flight of steps leads down into the adjoining 
small private garden, well fenced round — ^the only spot 
in this vast space that she can call her own. 

This palace granted the illustrious lady the rest she 
required, and which, in the Winter Palace, was every 
moment broken in upon by the rolling of carriages 
and the bustle of the city. Here, unobserved, and 



38 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF BUSSIA. 

without the escort of a tiresome group of attendants, she 
could feast her eyes on the flowers that sprung up into 
bloom under her fostering care. In the morning she 
wrote letters and her diary on the balcony, and often 
came in to hear the readings held for the benefit of her 
sons and daughters, frequently inviting one of her 
friends, or some superior person, to converse with her. 
The first half of a Northern May is much the same as 
the first half of a German March, so often at this time 
Alexandra was confined to her apartments, wanned 
by stoves ; but even under the -influence of a troubled 
sky and rough weather, the pure air of the gardens was 
invigorating, and in the course of a few days the pallid 
town faces brightened. The Emperor daily drove his 
family in an open char-ii-banc far beyond the gardens, 
when his joy was evident at being able, even for a few 
hours, once more to be the domestic father, and exempt 
from all the serious affairs that burdened him. He 
never invited men of busiQess to his table at Zarskoe- 
Sel6, but only those familiar friends with whom he could 
converse at his ease ; but stiU more frequently he was 
alone with his wife and children, who dined an hour 
earlier, and now found their best recreation in surround- 
ing the table in all the frolic and gaiety of youtL The 
mother related to these young creatures, according to 
the age and comprehension of each, anecdotes con- 
nected with foreign countries, Berlin and Potsdam, and 
of her honoured father, and her brothers and sisters, 
and the Emperor not unfrequently, on gloomy evenings, 
shared the innocent games of his children in the 
spacious apartments, while his greatest delight was 



THE IMPERIAL C0T7RT. 39 

to devote a few minutes to painting, his favourite 
pursuit 

The presence of the Court, however, enlivened the 
immense pleasure-grounds in the vicinity of the new 
palace, especially towards evening. Alexandra intro- 
duced the custom of two military bands playing by 
turns before her windows every evening, their strains 
attracting the pleasure-loving pubUa Music is the 
mainspring of all elevated and noble culture, and the 
Greek poets, not without good reason, celebrated in 
verse Amphion and Orpheus, who set in motion stones 
and trees, and tamed wild animals. In the first years 
these bands played only simple parade marches, of no 
great musical value, still they attracted the public of 
the little country town, to whom they were something 
quite new. Gradually their repertoires changed into 
the most popular dances, and airs from new operas, 
then into classical overtures, and, thirty years later, 
every one stood still and listened, when grander and 
more intellectual music was performed. So great is 
the cultivating power that music exercises over the 
human mind. 

These were the most peaceful six weeks of the whole 
year for the Court No fatiguing fetes occurred at this 
period, except the great May parade, which brought 
them to Petersburg for a day, although the same 
evening they returned to the quiet of their country 
residence. The Emperor walked every morning regu- 
larly from eight till nine, quite alone, in the gardens, 
and the Empress herself had an opportunity of going 
beyond the precincts of her own parterre without being 



40 ALEXAKBBA EMPBESS OF BUSSL/L 

annoyed by petitioners or by the curiosity of the lower 
orders. Zar8koe-Sel6 had likewise another chann for 
Alexandra : she found leisure there for reading, and 
conversing with men who shared her tastes^ and kept 
her regularly informed of the progress and discoveries 
of the day. No French or German work of importance 
escaped her attention — ^indeed, many were read by her 
in Zarskoe-Sel6 before being circulated in foreign 
countries. This period of comparative retirement, 
however, only lasted till the jniddle of June, when the 
Court went to Peterhof, where life was in every respect 
different 

This palace too, as its name denotes, dates from the 
time of Peter the Great, and offers to an observant* eye 
a glimpse into the progress and development of Bussian 
life within the last century. Here, still unchanged, stand 
the two small houses of the great Czar, in their primi • 
tive simplicity ; the one called '' Hon Plaisir," with a 
kitchen and aU its appurtenances, situated close to the 
sea, the other " Marly," further on in the garden, beside 
a little laka The few rooms in each still display the 
same tables and chairs that Peter the Great used, and 
by their peculiar make and fashion transport the 
thoughts to Saardam, or to the beginning of the 
eighteenth century. In Peter's day, no doubt, the 
novelty and originality of this style of furniture caused 
surprise, whereas now they are scarcely noticed. Prom 
the days of Peter to those of Nicholas, Peterhof has 
been regularly visited by the Court, but never for any 
lengthened period ; in the beginning of Nicholas's reign 
not a single inn was to be found in this little town in 



THE IMFEBUL COUBT. 41 

which a traveller could find shelter, and even the 
gentlemen's houses in the vicinity of the palace were 
in a poor condition, and more in accordance with the 
time of Peter than with that of Nicholas ; the latter has 
entirely remodelled it, and by this creation bequeathed 
to his country the finest monument of his reign. It 
was the favourite abode of Nicholas and Alexandra, 
and Imperial magnificence was not less shown here 
during the short summer than in the Winter Palace 
at Petersbuig — indeed, their stay in Peterhof offers a 
far more characteristic feature of Nicholas's reign than 
even Petersburg. Peterhof possesses one immense 
advantage over Zarskoe-Selo : it is situated by the sea, 
which at this point is miles broad, and extends to the 
coast of Finland, likewise offering fine views of Cron- 
stadt and Petersburg. The warm days, the bright 
nights, the gardens fragrant with lime blossoms, the 
splendid fountains, enchant even the strangers who at 
this season visit Peterhol The palace, situated on an 
accUvity, the road running paraUel with the sea for 
several versts, has neither the majesty of the old nor 
the noble simplicity of the new palace of Zarskoe-Sel6; 
the interior is not remarkable either for splendour or 
works of art ; many portions are old and crumbling ; 
the front overlooks a charming garden, enclosed by 
hedges, limes, and lilacs, and masses of fiower-beds 
abound. In the centre stands a fountain, with a 
bronze statue of Neptime, surrounded by many other 
mythical figures, while jet8 d^eau murmur in every direc- 
tion, and enliven the garden. 
This spot has not the majesty of Zarskoe-Sel6, but 



42 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

it produces a more magical effect on the mind than the 
formal grandeur of the former. Is it the fragrant 
limes, the clusters of lilacs, the flower-beds, the rushing 
waters? We cannot say; but above all, it is the 
lovely season of the year in which people visit it, the 
bright evenings, when military bands enliven this spot 
with the most beautiful melodies of other lands, 
diffusing, in conjunction with the blossoms and flowers, 
a gay spirit through the gardens, inhaled by those who 
linger there. " The pure sky, looking down on the spot 
at that season, makes everything appear in a more 
beautiful light, and pilgrims from the city, who visit 
the country for a day, or an evening, leave at home all 
their graver business. The back of the palace looks 
on gardens beneath, and towards the sea beyond, and 
the Finnish coast The terrace leading down to the 
gardens forms the chief ornament of Peterhof, being 
the centre of all the water- works and all the fountains ; 
in the abundance of water, in the height and power 
of the cascades, in the diversity of the animal forms 
from which they spring, and in the pomp of gold and 
marble, this spot is certainly the most remarkable in 
the world. All the running waters are collected in a 
marble basin, from the centre of which rises the highest 
jet d!eau out of the mouth of a prostrate gilt lion, whom 
the colossal form of Samson strives to subdue. This 
splendid group is an allegorical monument of the battle 
of Poltawa, gained by the Bussians over the Swedes on 
Samson's Day, June 27tL The Empire of the Czar is 
typified by the figure of Samson, that of Sweden in 
the prostrate lion (the Swedish arms). These water- 



THE IMPERIAL COUKT. 43 

works play day and nighty for weeks and months, 
during the presence of the Court Fountains are 
scattered all through this lower garden, and surprise 
and amuse the visitor by their singular shapes — some 
in the form of a wreath, a sheaf, or a nosegay, and 
some imitating fiery flames. 

Until Nicholas's accession the environs of this palace 
were dead and deserted, in fact only an immense dusty 
expanse ; the little town that stretches in two wings 
from each side of the palace resembled a common 
Bussian village, but now transformed by the Emperor 
into a Paradise. The Imperial family live far from the 
palace (which they give up to Court officials and foreign 
guests), in another garden, once little better than a 
marshy *meadow. One of the advantages of this park 
for them is this very severance &om the other 
portions of the palace and the little town, and the 
impossibility of any stranger entering it. Here 
Nicholas built for himself a small burgher house, 
where he and all his. family could just contrive to live 
together. It bore the name of " Alexandria," or " The 
Cottaga" But soon it did not suffice for the increas- 
ing number of their sons, for whom little wooden villas 
were built close by, while Alexandra remained with 
her daughters in this pleasant little dwelling, that had 
not sufficient space even to accommodate the requisite 
servants, far less did it contain a cabinet where the 
Emperor could receive his ministers and adjutant- 
generals; he therefore drove every morning to the 
old palace, where the ministers awaited him, while 
all those in attendance in their turn left the old 



44 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

palace for the garden, the entrance of which was well 
guarded by gens d'aimes. 

The Empress was not sufficiently protected in Zar- 
8koe-Sel6 from importunate visitors^ but in this country 
residence she enjoyed the rest' her health rendered 
necessary. The little dwelling was half hidden by 
flowers, and seats placed outside, commanding the 
most beautiful sea viewa The garden itseK offered 
little shade, so an avenue of trees was planted on both 
sides of a rivulet, that runs through the recesses of the 
garden. The Empress was thus insensibly reminded 
of the poetical landscapes of ^Matthisson, like the 
pictures of Buysdael, scarcely offering more' than a 
quiet brook, enclosed by willows and maples — a bit of 
nature, modest though it be, that has the most pleasing 
effect on the mind in the immeasurable space of 
Northern plains. Here Alexandra was wont to linger 
alone in the early morning, or with one of her children; 
the more secluded the spot in so richly endowed a 
place as Peterhof, the dearer it was to her. Within 
the house everything breathed of quiet domestic life ; 
the dining-room could only receive three or four guests 
in addition to the family, those being exclusively 
famiUar friends, in the strictest sense of the word. 
The Greek Church, however, accompanies its followers 
into the greatest seclusion, and as the Imperial dwelling 
could not contain a chapel, one was built dose to the 
entrance of the garden, in the new Gothic style, small 
but elegant, and thus the garden now included all that 
was required for the happiness of the Imperial couple. 
The environs of Petersburg in every direction are flat, 



THE IMFEBUL COURT. 45 

saiidy or boggy, like those of Berlin, so nowhere is there 
a question of any beautiful landscapes, and even did 
they exist, the aborigines of the North would not know 
how to appreciate them; to them the finest forest is ^ 
only fire-wood for future use — a romantic valley, accus- 
tomed to extensive plains, only stifling in their eyes. 
But with all this poverty of nature, Petersburg has the 
rare charm of a fine river, its mouth as broad as a ses^ 
extending to Cronstadt, thus outweighing in charm 
both hill and valley. The most beautiful scenery 
seems poor without water, and therefore Zarskoe-Sel6 
is very inferior to Peterhof, with its lovely watery 
mirror. 

In this latter place the grandest festival of the year 
is commemorated on the Ist July, the day of the 
Emperor's birth and marriage, and, like the name-day 
of the Czar, a fSte for the whole of the peopla So long 
as the Empress-mother lived, this f^te took place on 
Mary's Day, July 22d; but during the course of. 
Nicholas's reign the 1st of July was the most splendidly 
celebrated. A familiar family festival and the people's 
ii^te on the largest scale were kept at the same time. We 
believe it took place for the first time in 1830, a short 
time before the July tumults in France. In that year 
Peterhof was exactly in the same condition in which it 
had been left by Alexander, the only addition being the 
modest cottage we have described, erected by Nicholas. 
But through this very deficiency in town organization, 
the f8te acquired its quaint peculiar character. The 
processions of the townspeople hither bear a nomadic 
aq)ect, and the accommodation for travellers recalls 



46 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

that of a warlike camp. From early dawn on this day 
about 4000 heavily-laden carriages are to be seen on 
the Petersburg high-road, so that in the capital only a 
few one-horse droschkys are left for the purposes of 
traffic ; besides these trains of carriages, probably about 
50,000 foot-passengers hurry forwards in every costume, 
from the most elegant Parisian surtout to the caitan 
and sheepskin. Those who are unable to come by the 
highway try their luck by sea, either in a steamer, very 
few of which however were in use at that time, or in 
common boats and wherries. Many of the great families 
repairing hither are received in the large palace or in 
the various houses of the nobility, but very small space 
can be allotted even to the ladies and gentlemen of the 
Court But if the city cohsisted entirely of hotels, as 
in the frequented pilgrimages in Switzerland, it could 
not lodge a fourth part of the compajiy. The few houses 
that can receive guests are let for weeks previously, and 
at prices that enable the proprietors to sit rent-free for 
the rest of the year. The town and the gardens present 
the spectacle of a vast camp, a bivouac, a mass of 
carriages, of large and small tents with refreshments, 
cook-shops, rapidly run-up booths and beer-houses, 
while the interior of every carriage is used by the 
fashionable world as a dressing-room. This bright and 
motley crowd dazzles the foreign spectator even more 
than the gorgeous illuminations at night. Thousands 
are still busy in the gardens preparing for the evening, 
while whole alleys are filled with tents which must dis- 
appear before the beginning of the evening splendours ; 
curious spectators promenade in all directions, and 



THE IMFEBIAL CX)nRT. 47 

• 

the water- works especially are snrronnded by crowds. 
The secluded dwelling of the Imperial family remains 
nninvaded by all this turmoil; they hear the distant roll- 
ing of carriage- wheels, but they continue in the utmost 
privacy during the early morning hours. According to 
the Emperor's own command, the same military band 
that formerly welcomed the Empress on her first arrival 
at the boundaries of Bussia takes up its place silently 
under her windows. As soon as she awakes she hears 
her first morning greeting, then a succession of her 
favourite pieces of music, the overture to the"Freischutz," 
and, as a finale, the valse that the Emperor first danced 
with Princess Charlotte in Berlin. During the music 
the Empress finishes her toilette, and enters her salon, 
where the Emperor and all her children receive her. 
Here await her gifts, surprises, tokens of afiection of 
every kind, not only from the Emperor and her sons 
and daughters, but pieces of work from the schools 
under her care, and from their relatives. After an hour 
of pleasant conversation she goes to the garden, where 
meanwhile all her household petty ofi&cials are assembled, 
and one Mendly acknowledgment on her part makes 
them all happy for the day. The kindest cordiality 
beams from the Empress's gentle eyes — indeed, her ser- 
vants never see her otherwise than indulgent, even 
towards their faults; her magnanimous noble spirit 
is incapable of either anger or rancour, and there- 
fore the congratulations of her domestics are sincere. 
But with the beginning of this day's celebration begins 
also the burden of the august lady ; she is no longer 
simply a wife and mother ; she is the orthodox, " bright 



48 ' ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

and lustrous" mother of the whole country; all the 
people insist on seeing her in her Imperial grandeur, 
and in the sanctuary of the churcL Those who cannot 
obtain admittance into the temple at all events catch a 
glimpse of her driving thither. After adorning herself 
with all her jewels, she steps into an open carriage, and 
drives firom the secluded Alexandria cottage to the 
palace churcL As soon as the outriders emerge from 
the garden into the high-road, all press forward, and the 
genuine orthodox Bussian probably £ei11s on his knees 
as she drives past ; but those in the throng who meet 
her benevolent glance shed tears of joy, saying that the 
object of their pilgrimage is accomplished All the 
halls and passages in the palace leading to the church 
are crowded like the Winter Palace, and while she 
passes along on her husband's arm through the throng, 
adorned with gold embroidery and stars, every look 
of hers is as eagerly sought as by the multitude out- 
sida The priests, too, who celebrate High Mass, are 
glittering on this occasion in their festive robes, and not 
unfrequently heaven sheds the warmest and purest 
sunny rays of the whole year on Peterhof. After High 
Mass, the grand dignitaries and all who enjoy the 
privilege of appearing at Court, draw near to kiss hands 
and to congratulate, and then the Empress appears on 
the balcony of the palace that overlooks the gardens, 
where the multitude are surging like a tempestuous 
sea. 

All eyes are presently attracted to the spot beneath 
the balcony, for one of the yoimg Grand Dukes, dressed 
as a soldier, is placed there as a sentinel, and presents 



THE IMPERIAL COUBT. 49 

arms to the Empress with military precision.^ A drive 
follows in a state carriage through the grounds and the 
little town, and back to Alexandria. 

The hosts of people from the city continue to crowd 
in, both by water and land. Ladies and gentlemen in 
closed carriages or in steamers arrive in grand gala, 
having no place where they can dress. The guests 
invited to dinner go direct to the palace, where all the 
gold and silver plate in the royal treasury is displayed. 
Thousands of guests of high rank are invited, and it 
costs much time and labour to decorate the tables with 
skill and splendour, and to arrange the places properly. 
The handsome liveries of the retinue of servants vie on 
this occasion with the uniforms of the guests. The 
Fowrriera are dressed in red, not unlike the costxune of the 
Senators, the Jdgers in green, the Moors in their oriental 
attire, the running footmen with singular head-gear and 
black feathers, and the lackeys in gold-embroidered 
coats. Servants are summoned for the occasion from all 
the palaces, both in town and country, but although 
their number is legion stiU for this day additional at- 
tendants are required. This splendid banquet however 
does not boast of the presence of the Imperial family, 
who dine quietly in Alexandria with a few chosen friends. 
While on the table of the Czar, like a horn of plenty, 
everything is lavished that the most fastidious taste can 
desire, the palace is besieged by thousands, who wish to 
see and hear, yet in many places the booths arc besieged 
to get hold of a roll,' or a loaf of bread, or a glass of beer 
or meth, and many are only too glad to snatch sufficient 

food to enable them to wait patiently till the evening. 
VOL. n. i> 



50 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

By five o'clock the banquet is over, and by sevens the 
gigantic banqueting-hall and the adjacent rooms must 
be prepared for the balL Little time or rest is there 
for those who, after the feast, must change their dresses. 
About seven o'clock the diplomatic corps arrive, who 
have been previously received with great distinction in 
a stately palace in the English Park. The invited 
guests wear Venetian cloaks over their uniforms, as at a 
masked ball, but the actual populace throng towards the 
spot in national costumes; patricians are distinguished 
from plebeians by being devoid of all ornaments. Shortly 
all countenances are lit up with expectation and delight. 
As soon as the Imperial family appear the band plays 
the National Hymn, followed by a Polonaise, after 
which the illustrious family linger for an hour in the 
dififerent apartments amid the moUey crowd, but 
suddenly disappear, as they must open the promenade 
through the illuminated gardens in a very difiTerent 
costume. On the 1st July, by nine o'clock, the sun is 
already set, and though even at midnight actual dark- 
ness has not yet set in, still the lofty trees in the 
gardens cast such dark shadows that the illuminations 
cannot fail to be successful About 2000 workmen are 
in readiness at a given signal to transform, in the course 
of five minutes, the garden, the palace, and the foun- 
tains into a sea of living fire and diamonds. Looking 
down from the balcony of the palace into the gardens 
beneath, the water- works seem divided in a straight 
line by a canal into two portions ; three bridges traverse 
the canals at certain distances, and on each of these 
stands a scafTolding, lit up with thousands of lamps. 



THE IMFEBIAL GOUBT. 51 

The most siDguIar shapes are displayed in the light ; 
obelisks, pyramids, sun-flowers, stars, fieuis, pillars, all 
illuminated by lamps. On the third bridge over the 
canal, the name of Alexandra is blazing in dazzling 
white fire on a pyramid seventy feet high, while the 
other lights, sapphire blue, emerald green, and ruby 
red, form the frame- work of this solar brilliancy. Be- 
yond the canal, a number of small ships lie on the sea» 
luminous with every colour of the rainbow, forming a 
background to this glowing perspective. A simple 
peasant gazing in wonder at all this splendour may well 
be puzzled to know whether it emanates from heaven 
or firom the Czar ! Twelve military bands are scattered 
through the gardens, who, with all their merits, attract 
little attention firom the public About ten o'clock 
begins the promenade of the Court from the palace, 
through every portion of the illuminated gardens; above 
a hundred invited guests follow in their train in open 
chars-k-banc, and now throng hither those who have 
been prevented during the day, by the want of a fitting 
costume, from entering the palace. Three great avenues 
intersect the length of the gardens in straight lines, and 
ten more the breadth at right angles. Looking down 
the central and widest avenue from one end to the 
other, it bears the aspect of a street, constructed solely 
of light and splendour, and in the midst of which foun- 
tains of fire rear their heads. Each of the intermediate 
sides and cross paths offers a surprise — pure astonish- 
ment scarcely permitting the spectator to fed that he is 
shoved about, pushed here and there, and impeded by a 
perfect stream of htunan beings. The principal charm 



52 ALEXANDRA SliPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

Ues in the manifold variety of the fiery meteors, and 
the dark background of the wood behind ; in the waving 
of the tops of the trees, their leaves seeming to be turned 
in curiosity towards the light of the fiery fountains dis- 
persed through the gardens ; and lastly we honour the 
intellect of man that can thus command fire and water^ 
light and darkness, in such fantastic forms, uniting the 
most conflicting elements ; and for some hours at least 
constructing such singular palaces by their means. It 
seems a luminous city, its streets enlivened by throngs 
of people, whose gay inhabitants have taken refuge in 
the rustling obscurity of the wood; at midnight the 
masses of fire are gradually extinguished, the crowds dis- 
perse, and many seek shelter and a sleeping-place in their 
carriages ; while others remain enveloped in their caftans 
or sheepskins, and lie about in the now dark garden, 
but the chief portion of the spectators return on foot, 
or by sea, or in carriages, to Petersburg. This festival 
is not only attended by Bussians, both from the city 
and the interior of the country, but very frequently by 
Englishmen, who arrive in steamers, land at Peters- 
burg, quitting it on the ensuing day. It is possible to 
collect more vast crowds in London and Paris, in Vienna 
and Berlin, but nowhere else can such a motley mani- 
fold spectacle be seen, embracing every phase; the 
Emperor, as the father of his people and the chivalrous 
husband of his wife ; the splendour of his riches, and 
the revival of the ancient Boyars in all their brilliancy, 
form a striking contrast to the primitive poverty of 
the peasants ; it is as if the characteristics of a previous 
age placed themselves side by side with the grandeurs 



THE IMPEBUL COUKT. 53 

of the nineteentli century. " Next day Peterhof still 
harbours an nnusual number of guests, admiring the 
various beauties of the gardens, and enjoying the 
beauties of the different spots, but the lower orders 
are ahnost all gone, and yet the object of the greatest 
curiosity is only accessible on this day : the garden of 
Alexandria, and the Emperor's private dwelling. Here, 
however, strictly speaking, there is nothing remarkable 
to be seen, and the public themselves, like the Doge of 
Genoa in Versailles, form the most noteworthy object 
The retirement is enlivened by music &om four o'clock, 
but all are thronging towards the house. The Imperial 
family come out after dinner into the open air, and are 
gazed at by the public in silent devotion, as something 
sacred. They Beat themselves, still in bright daylight, at 
a circular table in the garden before the house. Father 
Czar at their head, round the familiar Samowars, while 
the crowd look on, and see how the Empress makes and 
pours out tea. If the pressure of the curious is too 
great or annoying, at the least sign from the all- 
potent Father Czar, the whole flood retreats. Sometimes 
Nicholas rises, and talks with one of the most insigni- 
ficant in the crowd, or Alexandra invites some one to 
draw near the tea-table. Thus the greatest simplicity 
succeeds the utmost magnificence ; yesterday the Em- 
press of all the Eussias was admired, but to-day the 
family of the Czar is honoured, the wife, the mother, in 
their quiet domestic life. The illuminations of the 
garden surpass those of St. Peter's dome in Some and 
the mosques of Constantinople during the time of 
Beiram, but neither fireworks nor illuminations ever 



54 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF BUSSIA. 

leave any lasting impression. Those who on the second 
evening are near the HEtmily group have more to say on 
that subject than about the grandeur of the gardens ; 
the sweet bright eyes of the children^ the dignified 
gravity of the Czar, on this occasion transformed into 
pleasing courtesy, the grace and elegance of the Em- 
press, and her kindness, are never forgotten by the 
spectator. 

Even after this fgte, Peterhof through the whole 
month affords a curious spectacle, owing to the cadet 
camp that arrives at the same time as the Court, and 
continues pitched there for four more weeks. The 
Emperor's time and strength are also claimed by a 
second camp — that of the Guards ; the latter encamp- 
ment is about ten versts &om Peterhof, at Krasnoe- 
Sel6, and has been frequently alliided to in these pages. 
The Empress occupies this time of excitement by 
reading, correspondence, and many favourite pursuits, 
denied to her too often by circumstances, and in fine 
weather she is constantly in the open air. The Court 
seldom remains later than the middle of August in 
this enchanting spot. From that date the nights sud- 
denly become dark and cold; the troops by instalments 
march back to the capital, and when the Court departs, 
the water- works and fountains cease playing, Peterhof 
becomes silent as death, and the Court returns to 
quiet Zarskoe-Sel6. At all events the brief summer 
has been thoroughly enjoyed. Autumn in itself de- 
mands retired domestic life, for in that latitude it 
brings only mournful feelings. With the exception of 
the imperial orangeries, nowhere are the trees decorated 



THE IMPERIAL COURT. 55 

with fruit; on the contraiy, they are all stripped of their 
leaves by the middle of September. The little town 
seems dead in the evening, scantily lighted, and a 
band plays only in the day-time for an hour, without 
attracting any one to the gardens, and very soon the 
stormy weather no longer permits even this recreation. 
The summer inmates of Zarskoe-Sel6 have also retreated 
into the capital, and if State affairs do not compel them 
to appear at Court, they rarely indeed visit this little 
provincial town for pleasure at this time of the year. 
Thus Alexandra coidd enjoy quiet evenings in small 
circles, which not only quickly banished all the melan- 
choly of the season, but collected together the whole 
family, even to the youngest child. The Empress on 
those evenings introduced peHts jetix, in which both 
old and young gladly take part, reviving in the heart 
and spirit the innocent mirth we so imperceptibly lose 
in the graver course of life. The sons and daughters 
often acted tableaux m^w7», while their father and mother 
and some ladies and gentlemen of the Court formed 
the spectators; another time they played at forfeits 
and charades in various forms ; or else grave or amus- 
ing readings occupied the evening, and also singing and 
pianoforte-playing, as the whole family had a taste for 
music, and several in fact showed a certain degree of 
talent in that art Thus the youthful Olga, when 
scarcely fourteen years of age, took part in the trios 
of Hummel and Beethoven; the two elder sisters 
played symphonies arranged as pianoforte duets ; and 
the youngest, Alexandra, was also endowed with a voice 
of rare beauty. The Emperor liked to sing sacred 



56 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

melodies with his children ; he playfully appointed his 
youngest daughter chief Court-singer^ and desired the 
Minister Wolkonsky to prepare her proper uniform for 
that ofi&ce. 

The year 1830, of which we are speaking, conferred 
on the Court, and the northern capital, an incom- 
parable artistic enjoyment — the presence of the 
world-renowned Henrietta Sontag. Her appearance 
in Petersburg was also her farewell for a number of 
years to the world of art, where, indeed, till within a 
few years, she shone with glorious and memorable 
lustre. Paganini, the second brilliant star of that 
epoch, disdained to come to the Neva firom the dread 
of catching cold, yet the enchanting Sontag arrived, 
devoid of all such alarms, towards the end of August, 
in Petersburg, attractin]; people from the most distant 
provinces to the capital Petersburg at that time 
possessed indeed an Italian opera, but only second-rate, 
and the first appearance of Sontag was well calculated 
to convince the public how inferior this company was 
to that of Paris. The town could only admire her 
talents as a concert singer ; whereas the Court wished 
to see her on the stage, as Bosina in the '' Barber of 
Seville," and as Desdemona in ** Othello." A theatre 
was therefore rapidly erected in the palace of Zarskoe- 
Sel6, the best talents of the Italian troop were put into 
requisition, and the above-mentioned operas were per- 
formed. The reception the fair songstress met with, 
both from the Court and the city, excited in her the 
wish to make a more permanent stay in Bussici, which 
was afterwards accomplished, though only for a few 



THE IMPERIAL COURT. 5 7 

years. Mme. Sontag made a deeper impression on the 
Empress than by the mere charm .of artistic talent, 
inspiring her with the most kindly interest; she re- 
ceived the great singer as a lady of her society and her 
Court, in a similar spirit to thatof Peter and Catherine, 
who not only conferred an honourable position in their 
own circle on persons of high birth, but also of genius. 
The Empress invited her to her soiytes, where this 
enchanting artist developed her whole heart, and her 
profound German feelings, awakening the closest sym- 
pathy in Alexandra. The talent of this highly endowed 
lady was enhanced by her feminine virtues; such a 
rare combination investing her with inestimable value. 
With the return of Henrietta Sontag to Germany 
closed also for the Petersburg Court the year 1830, 
so rich in brilliant fStes and enjoyments. In the month 
of November the Imperial family repaired to the capital 
as usual, perhaps not wholly devoid of a presentiment 
of some troubled years awaiting them. 



CHAPTER II. 



NATIONAL ENTERPRISE. 



The tidings of the July revolution in France did not 
permit the society of Petersburg to continue in the 
same cheerful mood that prevaUed during the July 
festivities. The Emperor saw in it the same elements 
aroused, that four years previously had obstructed his 
way to the throne. People involuntarily recurred to 
the greatness of soid manifested by Nicholas to- 
wards the rebels on the 14th December, comparing 
his conduct with the infatuated blindness of Charles 
the Tenth, who, though remote from the dangers 
of war, by the advice of his minister was stating the 
throne of the Bourbons on a rubber of whist, and with 
difficulty saving his own person, which he looked on 
as so dear to the majority of the French nation. His 
minister, Polignac, in his eleventh year, swore hatred to 
revolutionists before a crucifix, but both were deficient 
in the spirit and courage of the common French 
soldiery. The July Eevolution showed the intelligent 
public of Petersburg the true greatness of Nicholas, 
as they had seen him on December 14th ; but although 
the conspiracy of 1825 no longer left any visible traces, 
still this triumph of the French Revolution found a 



NATIONAL ENTERPRISE. 59 

secret response in many classes in Bossia, as the Poles 
likewise excited some apprehensions. It was said in 
the capital that immediately on the arrival of this 
intelligence, the Emperor had summoned the heir- 
apparent to his presence, and related the facts himself, 
adding the warning, that no monarch has a right to set 
at defiance the laws of the land. The news of the 
insurrection of the Poles in Warsaw, and the peril of 
the Grand Duke Constantine, made a strong impression 
both on the city and the Cotirt. At first it was treated 
as a mystery, and only whispered in intimate circles, 
but in the course of a few days it became a public 
spectre, terrifying by its presence many families, and 
scaring away for this winter all social amusements. 
Many ladies and gentlemen, both of the society and 
the Court, originally sprang from the Polish nation; 
such as Lubomirsky, Potocki, Branicki, Tschetwer- 
tinsky, etc., and were thus in a very critical position. 
Scarcely had the Guards returned home from the 
Turkish war, when they were again called on to engage 
in a conflict within the boundaries of the Empire. The 
Emperor gave notice of this new campaign to his 
assembled Generals in the public square, and in pre- 
sence of the Guards, when all the tried veterans of the 
Turkish war pressed near their Czar, kissing his hands, 
and swearing to die for him. How many families in 
Petersburg were mourning for fathers or sons who had 
gone with the army! But all departed, not only 
courageously, but indignant at the reckless ingratitude 
of the Poles, in endeavouring to deprive the Emperor 
of the throne, and the hope was loudly expressed in 



60 ALEXANDRA EBIPRESS OF BU8SIA. 

the capital that this insurrection would be shortly 
quelled. But decisive tidings of victory were long 
vainly expected, and the winter passed in uneasiness 
and mourning, to which was soon added a still greater 
dread. Asiatic cholera seemed to be making its way 
direct to Petersburg ; many families therefore quitted 
the capital at the end of April, and went to the 
country, and others, by sea, to Germany and France ; 
for in Moscow, in spite of all preqautionary measures, the 
malady had broken out* and made great ravages, giving 
rise to the dread of scenes such as Ihat city had wit- 
nessed during the days of the plague in 1771. For, like 
the Athenians during the plague in the time of the 
Doric war, the inhabitants of the Moscow of that day 
thronged into the churches, expecting succour from their 
saints, and especially from the Virgin of Iberia, a sacred 
picture at the door of the Kremlin. The people col- 
lected there in vast crowds, and thus spread the malady. 
Ambrosius, the Archbishop of Moscow, fell a victim to 
the &natical mob, and Catherine the Second at that 
dreadful period despatched Count Gregor Orlof to pre- 
vent, by wise regulations, the dissemination of the pesti- 
lence. He succeeded in checking the malady, and Cathe- 
rine did homage to his courage by the erection of a 
triumphal.marble arch in Zarskoe-Sel6 as a tribute to 
her favourite. 

Nicholas conveyed his family to retired Zarskoe-Seli 
(the Empress was again shortly to be confined), drew 
a cordon round the place, and himself went to Mos- 
cow, to bring consolation by his presence and regula- 
tions in the hospitals to the xmhappy sufferers. It was 



NATIONAL ENTERPRISE. 61 

a noble trait in Nicholas to expose himself to a danger 
usually shunned by all Thus on his arrival in Moscow, 
the Metropolitan addressed him in these words, '^ The 
Czars usually come to this town from Petersburg to 
enjoy happy flStes with their people, but you come in 
the time of need, to bring us succour; may a bless- 
ing attend you for this !" While Catherine q^rected a 
monument to Orlof for his journey to plague-stricken 
Moscow, this act of the Emperor's has scarcely been 
noticed He introduced more order, as he did where- 
ever he appeared ; but the pestilence, in spite of every 
effort, carried off one- third of the population. Mean- 
while, the Empress remained in an anguish of anxiety 
with her children in Zarskoe-Sel6, eagerly expecting 
the return of her husband. Petersburg was spared till 
the middle of June ; a singularly bright sky and un- 
usual heat seemed likely entirely to avert the arrival 
of this dreaded guest and its devastations ; nevertheless 
all sanitary measures were already carried out, but a 
gloom brooded over the town, which at this season of 
the year displays little of its usual street gaieties, lliose 
who are not constrained to remain in the city by their 
offices have long quitted it, and many men of business 
spend their afternoons in the islands, or outside the 
city. The traffic in the principal streets is not less, but 
no splendid equipages with four horses and liveried 

* 

servants are to be seen. In June especially, Peters- 
burg seems quite a commercial town; a number of 
merchantmen enliven the Neva, and sail backwards and 
forwards to the custom-house ; in the streets, hundreds 
of freighted wagons are daily to be seen succeeding 



62 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

each other in long^ straight processions, often entirely 
obstructing all traffic ; the fashionable world, absent in 
the country, is replaced by strangers of all nations, and 
in fact the streets are as crowded as in winter. Although 
the cholera had been talked about for the last half year, 
no anxiety had hitherto seized the working and lower 
orders. At the very time when the higher classes emi- 
grated to the country, workmen, plasterers, waggoners, 
coachmen, and sailors, were to be seen carelessly loiter- 
ing about the streets, singing, or sleeping on their sheep- 
skins spread on the street, eating black bread and onions, 
and drinking quass, little knowing that their usual 
mode of living was the infallible means of insuring the 
presence of that destroying angel — cholera. When the 
manifold rumours at last reached the populace, they 
pictured to themselves the cholera as a spectral female 
fury, who stalked along through towns and villages, 
terrifying every one, startling horses, and strangling 
men in their sleep ; but of a devastating malady they 
had no conception whatever. Some attacks of illness 
occurred, which proved, however, the first symptoms of 
the dreadful malady; but the physicians were wise 
enough to give them another nama Just as in Athens, 
the plague first broke out in the Piraeus, so here the 
cholera first appeared in Cronstadt ; this was, however, 
scarcely attended to. 

At length it was but too certain that cholera was 
in the town, and the populace were seized with a 
great panic of fear, especially as, in the first days of 
its outbreak, it einatched away, in many houses, in the 
course of one day, a fourth part of the inmates. Just 



NATIONAL ISNTEBPRISE. 63 

at the same time arrived the most imfavourable iximours 
about the war in Poland, and the common people 
could only account for all these sudden and mysterious 
deaths by poisoning on the part of the enemy. Ig- 
norance and wickedness often go hand in hand, and 
thus the prejudices of the lower orders against the 
Poles were made use of to incite them to the most 
detestable deeds. Among the physicians were several 
with Polish names, and it was not difficult to persuade 
the credulous people that these had been sent as 
poisoners by the Polea The more deadly grew the 
disease, the more settled was the belief in Polish poison- 
ings, and of course most prevalent in those parts of the 
town where the greater number of victims fell a prey 
to the malady. In the eastern quarter of the city, 
which lies rather higher than the western, at the mouth 
of the Neva, debouching into the Gulf of Finland, the 
sickness was milder, and also in the streets occupied by 
the higher classes of society, but most deadly among 
servants and the peasantry, as their mode of Uving was 
no protection; the disease raged worst of all in the 
great Grarten Strasse and the Hay Market. There the 
lowest class of people are crowded together at every 
hour of the day in little booths ; a blind man could scent 
out the public there ; the Hay Market offers a still more 
repulsive spectacle, — ^the country people collected there, 
rendering it a matter of difficulty for a respectable man 
to go near it at any hour of the day. In that quarter 
especially the populace were firmly persuaded that 
their food and drink were poisoned by the Poles, so the 
infatuated people resolved to revenge themselves on the 



G4 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

doctors. They rushed, therefore, into a house in the 
Hay Market, where a doctor lived whose name was not 
a Bussian one, seized the unhappy man and flung him 
from a window on the third storey into the street ; they 
also plundered his house, and set about despatching all 
those who were said to be Poles. The police tried to 
interfere, but lost courage, were useless, and had only 
the selfish good sense, when the attack began on the 
public square, to apprise the Emperor of the tumult, 
who was at that moment entering the city. This brave 
man and father of his people drove instantly to the 
spot, where he alone could bring succour. He appeared 
in an open caltehe, accompanied by his physician, in the 
midst of the band of murderers ; his wrathful look, his 
thundering voice, made a very different impression from 
that of the timid poUce, and in an instant transformed 
those furious wild beasts into humble and obedient serfs. 
"Down on your knees and pray to Grod for pardon!" 
cried he, on which all knelt down, and tremblingly 
listened to his words. Probably very few in this mul- 
titude had ever seen the Emperor near, as this quarter 
is so distant &om the more civilized parts; but his 
figure was that of a ruler, his glance that of a com- 
mander, who imposes submission at first sight He 
sent the criminals into the nearest church, there to im- 
plore the forgiveness of God for the blood they had shed. 
The silent crowd began to sneak away, and soon the 
square was deserted ; the report of the Emperor's pre- 
sence flew through the city, inspiring as much terror in 
the minds of the turbulent as the cholera itsel£ His pre- 
sence worked as many miracles as in Moscow ; not only 



KATIOKAL ENTERPBI8E. 65 

was secority restored to the streets, but order introduced 
into the already infested hospitals. The Czar did not 
venture to inform his delicate wife of what he had gone 
through in the city ; she only saw it mentioned a few 
days later in a newspaper. The tender consideration 
of Nicholas, in similar cases, to spare her painful im- 
pressions or bad news, seemed a sacred duty, and she 
was to him an object of the most devoted reverence. 

After this scene the town bore indeed a sad aspect: the 
public disappeared, and also the working classes, fiacre- 
drivers, public criers, petty hawkers ; the long streets 
seemed dead. The bureaus of the authorities, of schools^ 
and public institutions were closed, and all traffic 
stopped ; only a few solitary individuals at most, coming 
in from the country from time to time, were to be seen 
crawling timidly through the streets. At this distress- 
ing period, in addition to the unfavourable intelligence 
from Poland, news arrived of the death of the Grand 
Duke Constantino, and shortly after, of that of General 
Diebitsch; about the same time as the gradual dis- 
appearance of the cholera, on the 27th July (August 8, 
K.8.) Alexandra gave birth to her third son, Nicholas. 
The delicate health of the Empress was severely 
tried, as the unhappy state of things in Poland could 
not be concealed from her, and still less could they 
prevent her hearing of the death of her brother-in-law 
Constantino. 

Nature has seldom produced in two brothers such 
striking contrasts as in Alexander and Gonstantine 
Fawlowitsch, and yet both were bom of the same 
mother, and educated together. While Alexander, by 

voL.n. E 



66 ALEXAKDBA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

hia amiability and enlightenment, seemed made to 
delight and to conquer the world, Constantine's rugged 
and uncontrolled nature was only prone to demolish 
what the other constructed They appeared to have 
sprung from some far distant century and country : 
Alexander in advance of his time and his king- 
dom; Constantine centuries in arrear in the culture 
of the present day. And yet this Grand Duke, not- 
withstanding all the reproaches justly heaped on him, 
was not devoid of kindly feeling, nor of nobility of dis- 
position; his courage bordered on foolhardiness, his 
generosity on unbounded extravagance, his love for 
Alexander, and his brothers and sisters, on idolatry. 
By his renunciation of the throne in favour of his 
younger brother, and by his magnanimous persistence 
in his promise, he has won for himself a great and noble 
monument, in a land that in earlier yesu^ was rent 
asunder by civil wars; to his elder and his younger 
brothers, Alexander and Nicholas, he became only the 
first of their subjects, — strict and severe, even to a pain- 
ful degiee, in performing the duties he had undertaken. 
He was beloved by the soldiery, feared by the ofl&cers, 
and by another portion of the public hated and shunned, 
especially by ladies. 

And yet it was a lady — Princess Lowicz — ^who ex- 
ercised the greatest influence over this arrogant char- 
acter, curbing the wild outbursts of his pa3sion, before 
whose loving glances all the harshness of Ms demean- 
our softened, for whose sake he probably renounced 
the throne, and who conferred on him that domestic 
happiness, which his brother Alexander sought in vain. 



NATIONAL ENTERPRISE. 67 

The influence of tUs lady controlled, softened, and 
humanized his nature. After her husband's death 
she came to Zarskoe- Sel6, where she died a few months 
later: 

In addition to the universal depression produced this 
year by war, cholera, and insurrections, a fresh source 
of dissatisfaction took possession of society and the 
Court The laurels won by General Diebitsch in Turkey, 
in spite of considerable silent envy, obtained a certain 
public recognition ; but his disasters in Poland caused 
universal discontent, not only with regard to the un- 
happy Commander-in-Chief himself, but also as to the 
number of German generals in this war, and this feeling 
extended to all the Germans in Bussia. The ancient 
jealousy between the two nationalities was violently, 
revived, and found vent in expressions of open hatred 
of the Germans by t^e Bussians. All the names of 
those commanders of the different carps d!arm4es who 
acquired lustre in the Polish campaign were German, 
such as Fahlen, Toll, Bosen, Geismar, Sacken, Btidiger, 
Kreuz ; whereas the names of the old Bussian Princes 
seemed to have utterly vanished in Nicholas's reign, 
or reduced to subordinate positions. A calm examina- 
tion into the course of events proves that less blame 
attached to the hero of the Balkan as the author 
of these disasters, than to a succession of mischances, 
and probably secret enemies working against him. 
This blind hatred, when once awakened, caused it to be 
quite forgotten that the army set out intoxicated with 
victory ; that in this state of arrogant excitement, they 
thought Poland overthrown, even before they entered the 



68 ALEXANBBA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

country ; so much so, that many officers declared they 
would not write to their relations and friends till they 
arrived in Paris. Depression closely follows presump- 
tion. How great the hatred was of a powerful Court 
party against this unfortunate foreigner, we can gather 
from an incident that occurred twenty years after his 
death. One of his most deadly foes was dining with 
the Imperial Court-chamberlain, when he was observed 
not to drink his glass of champagne; when asked the 
reason, he answered, with a bitter smile, " I only drink 
champc^e once a year, — on the anniversary of Field- 
Marshal Diebitsch's death." This hatred, once awakened, 
was carefully cherished, and brought to the Emperor's 
ears, but without any result, as at that time he had not 
yet declared his subsequent theory, — "one language, 
one church, and one law." But even later, the feelings 
of the Sovereign were always superior to petty con- 
siderations and party spirit ; in all he only saw his 
subjects, and rewarded them according to their merits, 
without' inquiring as to their origin or confession of 
&ith. It cannot, however, be denied that after Die- 
bitsch's death, when succeeded by Faskewitsch, the 
national hatred was more decidedly manifested, and 
what is called the old Bussian party seemed triumph- 
antly to take root at Court The public forgot what 
good service Prussia, under the Empress's influence with 
her father, had performed in the war; they did not 
remember that German doctors, during the campaign, 
shielded and saved whole regiments from the cholera. 

At Court, indeed, everything remained the same as 
before ; there the predilection of Nicholas for German 



KATIOKAL ENTEBPBI8E. 69 

officials and German physicians could neither be denied 
nor prevented. What tuni events might have taken 
at that time, but for the universally beloved Alexandra^ 
we leave to the penetration of the reader. Had the 
detestation of the lower classes towards foreign phy- 
sicians, and their suspicions as to poison, been allowed 
to spi^ad, the scenes in the Hay Market might have 
recurred in various parts of the town; but all other 
quarters remained quiet, and the populace showed entire 
confidence in the German doctors. The Empress con- 
sidered this the most unhappy year of her life, but she 
endured it with her wonted fortitude ; the rage of party 
never attacked her, although in the course of the sum- 
mer it penetrated even into her own schools. Many 
families in the capital had to deplore the loss of rela- 
tions, and, in spite of the pacification of Poland, the 
ensuing winter was passed in universal depression and 
sorrow. The cholera caused the same devastation in 
Berlin, and scenes occurred as terrible as those in the 
Hay Market, thus Alexandra was in a state of perpetual 
anxiety and excitement 

A plan was at that time gradually matured to call 
forth, by means of better education, national knowledge 
and national enlightenment Whether this idea first 
emanated from the Emperor alone, or was suggested by 
others, cannot be positively decided The July Eevo- 
lution was, at any rate, the first exciting cause of hatred 
towards foreigners. Tlie Government, only five years 
before, with difficulty rescued the State from a widely 
spread conspiracy, and now it was to be feared that 
French ideas of a similar kind were about to strike 



70 ALEXANDBA EMPRESS OF BTJSSIA. 

fresh roots in Bossian soil, by the numbere of French 
tutors in aristocratic mansions. Nicholas, besides, re- 
marked with displeasure that many of the young men 
who came on Sundays to the heir-apparent had much 
the air of native Frenchmen, treating their mother- 
tongue with infinite contempt in his presence, and 
seeming scarcely to know sufficient Russian for 
the purposes of conversation; in fact, there were 
several who could not even speak it at alL The just 
wrath that he loudly expressed on this point had one 
good result, that of all aristocratic families henceforth 
attaching more value to learning thoroughly their 
mother tongue. Nicholas's design was thus completely 
fulfilled, namely, that all who wished to enter the 
service of the State should be complete masters of 
the language of their own country. In Petersburg 
were to be found distinguished professors of all Ori- 
ental and Western tongues, but teachers of Russian 
were wanting, and an intelligent man declared to the 
Emperor that it was easier to find a good teacher of 
Chinese than of Russian, the best being exclusively of 
German extraction. 

But a thorough knowledge of Russian, and introducing 
it into society, by no means produced national enlighten- 
ment, a work that in all countries and periods has cost 
centuries of efforts and perseverance. In many frivo- 
lous heads, however, especially in the capital, the 
opinion was obstinately maintained, that by studying 
the mother tongue, especially by scientific lectures, in 
Russian, at schools and imiversities, the work of national 
education and culture would be accomplished. So abso- 



NATIONAL ENTERPRISE. 71 

lute a form of government as that of Russia has ever 
been could scarcely develop a free national spirit and 
promote self-dependeht cultivation, and yet quite as 
little wholly suppress its existing peculiarities. Up to 
the time of Bomanow the Russian people were edu- 
cated solely by their Church, which stamped on them 
an impress deviating widely from that of all other Euro- 
pean nations ; although, since Peter the Great, many of 
the ancient usages had been swept away, still these were 
replaced by European forms, though only in the capital 
But at all times the progress made by other nations in 
scientific and national development remained unknown 
to the Bussians. We allude to the progress made by 
means of the ancient classics. For the last three centu- 
ries, Italians, Frenchmen, Germans, and Britons^ have 
appropriated the collected stores of ancient lore by the 
study of both the classical tongues, examining into the 
departments of science, and extending it, exercising their 
skill in every phase of art, reaping many laurels, like 
the Greeks and Bomans, in eloquence and poetry, 
establishing a number of new discoveries, and thus 
gradually succeeded in acquiring an independent na- 
tional literature, and attaining a degree of national 
enlightenment peculiar to themselves. But even at 
the time when the ancients were surpassed in most 
arts, and in all sciences, by later races, still classical lore 
formed the basis of education in the four great nations. 
In Bussia, or rather in Petersburg, many were to be 
found familiar with Virgil and Horace, but only through 
French and German translations ; and though they thus 
acquired a species of dilettante knowledge of antiquity, 



72 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF BUSSI^ 

not a single classic work of the Greeks or Bomans had 
been carefully studied, critically examined, and ex- 
plained by a Bussian, or adapted to the use of the 
young in schools, although, accordmg to the precedent 
of German gymnasiums, Boman prose-Mnriters and poets 
were specially studied. 

In the course of the next few years about twenty 
foreign places of education were closed in Petersburg 
alone, and the pupils sent to Bussian Crown insti- 
tutions. All scientific pursuits were here taught in 
Bussian, and foreign languages, though still retained, 
were but little regarded It was found possible to 
procure the most indispensable staff of teachers for the 
capital, but for the enormous extent of the interior of 
the country the resources of the two capitals were 
wholly inadequate, especially as a Bussian seldom 
adopts the profession of teaching. A particular es- 
tablishment was therefore founded in Petersburg, in 
which Bussian gymnasium teachers alone were to 
receive instruction, for the interior of the country, and 
yet the Director himself was a German, Counsellor 
Middendor^ and several other professors were obliged 
to be procured &om foreign countries. We do not 
venture to pronounce whether the results of these well- 
intended efforts of the Government were successful, 
but we cannot conceal the fact that the institution was 
abolished at the end of fifteen years. Of much greater 
importance to the whole State was the foundation of a 
school of Law, by Prince Peter of Oldenbui^, the Em- 
peroi^s nephew. He was a son of the Grand Duchess 
Katharina, later Queen of Wurtemberg, and had been 



NATIONAL ENTEBPBISE. 73 

educated abroad, but with the view of entering the 
service of Bussia. The Sussian language was therefore 
as familiar to him as German ; his former education was, 
however, thoroughly German, and was thus founded on 
classical studies; being a prince, and so nearly related to 
the Imperial family, he was compelled to choose the mili- 
tary profession, or at least to wear a military uniform, 
without which, in Bussia, no prince of the blood could 
for one moment appear; but the Prince's disposition 
was not warlike, and he was desirous of seeking an 
efficient sphere in a peaceful field His German relatives 
and teachers had not neglected to develop and to main- 
tain in him independent views and noble thoughts, 
because, beiog a nephew of the £mperor,he coidd venture 
to express more liberal opinions than the highest autho- 
rities. The Prince's disposition was modest and rather 
shy, full of goodness and benevolence, but being then a 
novice, not so efficient as his talents entitled him to be 
when in contact with the despotic character of the 
Emperor. After observing the country minutely for 
some years he proposed to Nicholas to establish a 
school of Law, as on every side he found the adminis- 
tration of justice shamefully neglected It was neither 
the laws nor judicial proceedings that were to be 
changed or improved by this measure, but those in 
authority who admiidstered them, as they were not 
only devoid of any erudite knowledge of law, but still 
more deficient in that purity and incorruptibility of 
character without which justice can never prevail 
After great ill-will and opposition, the Institute was at 
last established, and is still flourishing at the end of 



74 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

five-and-twenty years. The chief lawyers have been 
educated in this institution when boys^ and at all 
events have grown to manhood in a purer atmosphere, 
and besides, are themselves sprung from the most irre- 
proachable families. A vast amount of officials have 
been educated for the Government in this way, and are 
distinguished &om the rest by their moral conduct 
The chief pursuit of this noble prince since that period 
has been universal education ; various other schools were 
given into his charge, the female ones, without excep- 
tion, and in these, by his careful superintendence of 
music and singing, he awakened a refined taste, and in 
boys* schools he succeeded in the furtherance of clas- 
sical studies. Although the prince, as a nephew of 
Nicholas and a member of the reigning family, subser 
quently enjoyed the title of " Imperial Highness," still 
his life was more that of a private individual, especially 
after his marriage with a Princess of Nassau, who, for 
the sake of love, exchanged the beautiful Khine for the 
cold Ne\a. This Prince of Oldenburg and his family 
lived in a palace of his own, the interior of which was 
handsomely arranged, and contained within its walls 
one of the happiest families we have ever known. The 
Princess, though well calculated by her intellect, dis- 
position, and high culture, to play the brilliant part of 
a great lady, preferred devoting all her time to the 
education of her children, rarely seeking the world, and 
enjoying life exclusively at home, with her family and 
her friends. Here the father and mother and children 
dined at one table, with the aides-de-camp, tutors, 
and governesses, and a few invited guests, occupying 



NATIONAL ENTERPRISE. 75 

the evenings chiefly with music, the one favourite 
amusement of the Prince. He often invited his law- 
students to his domestic circle, inspiring them with 
his taste for art and family affection, as one of the 
most precious legacies for their subsequent career. 
By the founding of this Law school, by his paternal 
* anxiety for the culture of upright officials, the Prince 
has gained a memorable monument, and proved one 
of the greatest benefactors of his country. The Court, 
however, was quite unaffected by these national im- 
pulses and movements, and many branches of State 
administration and organization remained, as before, 
in the ^ands of Germans ; even the Oermaji com- 
manders of corps were not so easily replaced by 
Bussians, as Diebitsch had been by Paskewitsch. The 
organs of Bussian diplomacy in Europe belonged to the 
most dissimilar nations, and the Bussians were repre- 
sented only in individual cases. ^ At the head of Foreign 
affairs stood Count Nesselrode, whom we have already 
aUuded to as one of the props of Nicholas's reigiL A 
German name, so ancient, in such a high position, and 
of such wide- spreading influence, excited perpetual 
malevolence and suspicion in the natives of the king- 
dom and the national party, therefore the value of this 
minister as a statesman has never been sufficiently 
acknowledged. Had he been without any special 
talents, or much diversity of information, profound 
knowledge of European cabinets, and above all, devoid 
of the refined tact skilfully to oppose the iron will of 
the Czar, to yield to him at the proper moment, in order 
to accomplish his objecton some other occasion the more 



76 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

successfully, this minister, as a German, never could 
have succeeded in acquiring the title and rank of a 
Chancellor. He can be compared neither with Tallej* 
rand nor Mettemich; he was more true to his views and 
principles than the former, but his efficiency was more 
limited in Bussia than that of the latter in Austria ; 
with the affairs of the interior of Russia he never inter- 
meddled ; to him his high position was a conciliatory 
vocation, and peaceful mediation, and during his stay 
in office nothing ever occurred derogatory to the dignity 
of the Emperor and the kingdom. He was a man of 
sound understanding, and of calm deliberation, who 
carried out his plans surely and steadily. With all his 
German solidity he was devoid of punctilious pedantry^ 
and with all his true modesty he had the moral courage 
to defend his views against many enemies ; he knew 
how to select the right man for his work, and also the 
fitting time and place. The national movement did not 
alter his views, and more than ever, since his day, do 
we find Bussian diplomacy in the hands of Germans. 

In London, Prince Lieven and his intellectual wife 
(so skilled in politics), were of German origin ; next to 
them, the Polish Count Matusiewitsch was probably 
the most esteemed among the Bussian diplomatists of 
that day. He was a proof of the varied information 
classical studies bestow on a man, while the ease with 
which he put down his thoughts on paper in different 
languages, the perseverance and solidity of his labours, 
combined with great natural talents, fully proved the 
rare value of this young nobleman. He had been 
educated in Paris, and from his youth upwards as 



NATIONAL ENTERPBISE. 77* 

familiar witli ancient as with modern tongues, — as well 
yersed in Horace and Tacitus as in Shakespeare and 
Schiller. To hear him, in serious moments, discussing 
histoiy and philosophy, it seemed as if these two . 
branches of knowledge had been the main study of 
his life. If, on the other hand, he was out with the 
hounds in England, or interested in a race, he seemed 
to forget all other occupations in order to spend his life 
in the English style. Too severe a strain both on mind 
and body caused his death in his fortieth year. Like 
all Russian diplomatists, Matusiewitsch was seldom in 
Petersburg ; the interests of the interior of the country 
were disregarded by all ; indeed, several of these never 
saw Bussia under the rule of Nicholas, while others 
could not speak a word of Bussian, so any attempt at 
conversation by their countrymen would have perplexed 
them exceedingly. The Due de Bichelieu, at the royal 
table in Paris, often conversed with his neighbour in 
Bussian, in order that Pozzo di Borgo, the Bussian 
ambassador, might not understand him. The Emperor, 
nevertheless, knew how to appreciate the rare merits 
of such men, and did not consider that any profound 
knowledge of the Bussian literature of that period would 
have added much to their influence. Since the time of 
Catherine, European States and their relations had as- 
sumed so strange an aspect to a Bussian eye that both 
European enlightenment and great experience were 
requisite to comprehend them, and to disentangle the 
threads that connected the Bussian Court with those 
of Europe, and to sustain amicable relations with them. 
Fox Paris and the restored Bourbons, a happier choice 



78 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. . 

could scarely have been made than that of Count Pozzo 
di Borgo — ^a Gorsican by birth, an advocate by profes- 
sion, and, from the commencement of the Sevolution 
in France, a deputy from his fatherland in the National 
Assembly. His political views veered round with the 
various phases of that great State revolution, his hatred 
to Buonaparte alone remained the same in all his subse- 
quent posts, and indeed bore somewhat the character 
of a Corsican vendetta. 

From the year 1798 he had been successively in the 
Austrian, English, and Bussian service, where Buona- 
parte was hated, persecuted, and made war against; 
after Waterloo, Pozzo di Borgo could with truth say, — 
" Though I was not so fortunate as alone to cause his 
downfall, I have at least thrown the last shovelful of 
earth on his grave/' He was not so consummate a master 
of the French language in conversation as in writing. 
Without a fatherland, without a family, without any 
private interests, this man recalls the Legates of the 
middle ages, who, however, were the purest and most 
efficient tools in the hands of the Pope. He considered 
the European State system not as an organization, but 
as a machine, that must be made subservient to the 
purposes of rulera The State was to him only a piece 
of dead greatness, and, had such been really the fact, 
Pozzo di Borgo would have formed the most correct 
estimation, of its powers, and been its surest guide. He 
was the most finished specimen of a vassal in the hands 
of a despotic master. Bussian ministers and ambas- 
sadors are provided with munificent sums, in order 
everywhere properly to sustain the dignity of their 



NATIONAL ENTKEPRISB. 79 

countiy, and the house of this diplomatist in Paris' 
was of the most brilliant discription ; Bussian hospi- 
tality towards friends and foes, diplomatists and laymen, 
was here exercised in the most lavish manner. This 
enabled him thoroughly to study the whole society, and 
to win the confidence of many who usually avoid 
diplomatic houses. The despatches of the Count are 
masterpieces inform and substance, in profound insight, 
in perfect circumspection, in brevity, and clearness of 
description ; many of these are now known to the public 
from the " Portofoglio." We are struck with the means 
selected by a clear-sighted Government, and cannot 
refuse our high approbation. 

In addition to the two we have named (a Pole and a 
Corsican), was a third, of equal importance — Greneral 
Peter von Suchtelen, a Dutchman, the diplomatic organ 
of Bussia at the Swedish Court. Pozzo di Borgo was a 
stately person, whose appearance was imposing wherever 
he went; whereas Suchtelen was little, thin, and in- 
significant, indeed somewhat bent, as if from sheer polite- 
ness. Faithful to the traditions of Catherine's day, the 
little man never showed himself in the streets of Stock- 
holm but in a carriage drawn by six horses, and gained 
the good opinion of the public by his kindly greetings. 
Many Bussian diplomatists observe the custom of driving 
with four horses, even in the most petty capitals, where 
the native minister goes about chiefly on foot. Suchtelen 
had been educated in Holland at a time when classical 
antiquity was looked on as the Evangdium of all en- 
lightenment. Although intended for the militaiy pro- 
fession, he remained faithful for life to his humanistic 



80 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

tendencies, and expended large sums on collections of 
every kind, particularly on a library, which eventually 
contributed great treasures to the Imperial one in 
Petersburg. His house was, for Swedes, a museum of 
pictures, sketches, engravings, and coins ; and his fine 
park always open to the public. His presence tempted 
the Swedes almost to forget what they had lost through 
Bussia. In Ids house appeared the Soyal family, the 
whole of the diplomatic corps, the elegant Stockholm 
world, native artists, and literary men, and the few 
strangers whose destiny brought them into these distant 
northern latitudes. 

The Eussian ambassador in Berlin, Herr von Bibeau- 
pierre, though bom in Bussia, was French by descent 
and in character ; one of the most refined and agreeable 
men in a scdon, and endowed with the French gift of 
conversation to an extent seldom to be met with in this 
century, even in Paris itself. He had been a page at 
the Court of Catherine, and a friend of Nesselrode's 
from his sixteenth year. Constantinople had been the 
chief scene of his diplomatic career, after extorting the 
treaty of Akjerman. His influence in Berlin was not 
so univeisal as that of Suchtelen in Stockholm, but 
much greater with the fair sex, over whom Bibeau- 
pierre's manner exercised vast sway. Becalled to 
Petersburg, he lived at Court as a Chamberlain, the 
only one of the diplomatic class who did so, and was 
always welcome to the Emperor and Empress, by his 
talent for social conversation ; he was seldom absent 
from the soirees of the latter, and his presence, if not 
always amusing, was at least never wearying. 



NATIONAL ENTERPRISE. 81 ' 

Baron Nicolay, in Copenhagen, must also be inclujied 
in tliis succession of diplomatists with foreign names. 
His post was cerfcainly not so difficult as those we have 
already discussed. He was the son of the well-known 
writer of fables, KTicolay, who, even when secretary to 
the Emperor Paul, did not abandon his Muse. Also 
Herr von Oubril in Spain, Baron Maltitz in Holland, 
Count Stackelberg in Naples, Baron Kriidener, etc., etc. 
In fact, only one old Eussian name is to be found among 
the diplomatists of that day, Herr von Tatistchef, in 
Vienna, who was, however, replaced by Count Medem. 
Count Nesselrode has been reproached with hsiving 
bestowed all these important posts on foreigners, but 
this is imjust. Most of these names appear in Alex- 
ander's time, and more recent ones could as little have 
been appointed on his own responsibility as without 
Nicholas's approval Alexander's personality and 
sympathy exercised the greatest influence on the 
course of Bussian politics, and likewise on diplomacy. 
Nicholas had no occasion to change either the 
state of matters or the appointed organs ; in fact, he 
might well regard this portion of his government as 
the best inheritance bequeathed to him by his brother. 
Foreign countries had cause to envy the Bussian system 
of government, and also to admire and dread it, for it 
had the power of selecting out of all nations the best 
tedents, and placing each in his right position. The 
great success of Bussian diplomacy at the Peace of 
Adrianople, and the treaty of Hunkiar-Skelessi, fully 
substantiates this, when compared with other States, 
limited in the choice of their diplomatists to a particular 

VOL. n. F 



82 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

class of society. Enlightened, right-thinking Russians, 
who had impartially examined the inner springs of State 
life, were in the habit of declaring that the greatness 
of the country consisted in eveiy void being at once 
filled up, and the best man found for the post. Such 
men felt neither envy nor jealousy of foreigners, but 
rejoiced, with a certain degree of pride, that talent 
should find ample recognition in Sussia. Count Alexei, 
afterwards Prince Orlof, was often employed by the 
Emperor in difficult diplomatic missions, although 
neither his own sphere of work nor natural vocation 
ought to have numbered him among this class, for he 
was more a man of the sword than the pen, with which 
all those we have previously named so highly distin- 
guished themselves. True to the spirit of his family, 
his nature was enterprising, and rapid in carrying out 
his plans. On December 14th, he appeared first with 
his regiment in the Isaac Flatz to defend Nicholas, and 
during the whole of that sovereign's reign he continued 
his most chivalrous friend, with almost the same enthu- 
siasm for his person that Ali felt for that of the Prophet 
He appeared in Adrianople, Berlin, Vienna, Hunkiar- 
Skelessi, and at last in Pans, as an embodiment of the 
Emperor's final and immoveable wilL His deportment 
was remarkable for its military bearing, his countenance 
kindly, but dignified, more smiling than grave; his 
manners those of a man of high degree, rather im- 
perious on the whole, the type of Slavonic-Kussian 
nature, chiefly resembling Prince MenschikofiT, without, 
however, his sarcastic malice, but also witliout the 
profound knowledge and diversity of the Minister of 



- NATIONAL ENTERPRISE. 83 

Marine. He was the faiihfiil companion of Nicholas 
in his journeys, on whose shoulder the weary Autocrat 
often rested his head in the carriage, and he had suffi- 
cient tact to charm away his master's ill-humour by 
some playful remark, and considerate enough never to 
offend the most insignificant person, or even to overlook 
them. 

Orlof is the first of those politicians who acquired 
importance under and through Nicholas, and especially 
adorned his reign. Until his appointment as Director 
of the Third Division of the Imperial Court of Chancery, 
we find him only employed in special and extraordinary 
missions, living in a small unpretentious house in the 
town, without the pomp and splendour to which his 
great wealth entitled him. While his own interest did 
not extend beyond the ambition of his present service, 
he caused his only son to be educated with extraordi- 
nary care, and in another spirit. It was the life-long 
mission of this young man's mother, r^ Sherebzof, to 
make her son's views assume another direction than the 
limited national one, so constantly pursued at that time. 
He was gifted with a brilliant capacity, to which he 
united steady industry. He passed the days and nights 
that other yoimg Bussians devote to pleasure, in studies 
of every kind ; and, when afterwards his father became 
Director of the Secret Police, he was the most en- 
lightened and liberal, the most scientific and well- 
informed young man in the metropolis. 

Bussia's power, and the estimation in which she was 
held in Europe, visibly increased, and the national char- 
acter was consequently elevated. The Bussian national 



84 ALEXANDRA. EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

costume for ladies became the fashion at the same 
period as the Bussian language and literature, painting 
and music. National efforts shortly assumed a bolder 
character ; when Brlilow's celebrated picture, " The Last 
Days of Pompeii," after having travelled through all 
Europe, at length reached Petersburg, Bussian pens and 
voices proclaimed him the first painter in the world 
The genius of this artist, developed under an Italian 
sky, went to wreck and ruin on the banks of the Keva ; 
but many Bussians even thought his works crude 
and unfinished. This national impetus^ so suddenly 
awakened, was specially fostered by certain indivi- 
duals, and of these we must first name Count Uwarof^ 
who succeeded Prince Lieven at the head of the admin- 
istration of popular enlightenment with as important 
a result as Paskewitsch when he replaced Diebitsch. 
Uwarof was a man of dazzling and manifold accom- 
plishments. He spoke and wrote modem languages 
with the utmost facility. He was in connection with 
all the scientific notabilities of foreign countries, and, 
by his erudition and acquirements, seemed peculiarly 
fitted to guide the national development. Seldom has 
this important branch of the State been in the hands 
of so finished a man of the world, and so accomplished 
a courtier as Uwarof. How far his zeal was genliine 
and beneficial to the great cause, we do not take it 
upon ourselves to pronounce, nor even suggest whether 
it proceeded from the pure impulses of an old Bussian 
heart, or in order to direct the attention of the Court 
towards the Minister. Although promoted in rank and 
adorned with orders, and finally made a Count, he never 



NATIONAL ENTERPRISE. 85 

seems to have attained the full confidence of the Em- 
peror to the same degree as many others ; at all events, 
he was less in the society of the Imperial family than 
he had hoped He raised the war-cry of the new fac- 
tion, — "Autocracy, Orthodoxy, National Spirit," to the 
level of a principle, nay, a dogma, without hearkening 
to many another voice that would gladly have seen 
autocracy backed by the laws, orthodoxy by toleration, 
and national spirit by cultivation and enlightenment 
Many contemporaries of Uwarof endeavoured to set 
to work in a similar spirit, but being devoid of his 
tact and knowledge, they did more harm than good to 
the great cause by their blind zeaL The most promi- 
nent of these was Count Dmitri Bludo£ Less of a 
courtier than Uwai'of, and far less of a gallant cavalier 
than that minister, he possessed, however, knowledge 
equally profound. He first turned the Emperor's atten- 
tion on him by his Report on the Commission of Inquiry 
on the conspirators, and thenceforward he was intrusted 
through life with the most weighty affairs and offices. 
His character had something honest, modest, and free 
from all hypocrisy, which gained him the confidence of 
high and low. 

In the midst of this national movement the public 
voice was impartially sUent, but in no degree concealed 
its recognition of foreign elements as often as the choice 
lay between the two. Although Russian pens placed 
Briilow, the portrait-painter, beside, or even above, 
Raphael, still the great authorities of the realm all 
aspired to the houpur of seeing themselves portrayed 
by the Berlin painter, Kriiger. Highly as some Rus- 



86 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

sians were commended as portrait-painters, still the 
Emperor's portrait on horseback was intrusted to the 
latter, while his old family friend, Sauerweid, remained 
a Cabinet painter. The Eussian merchant in Gostid- 
nodwor boasted of his wares as being German ; the old 
Bussian horn-music gradually gave way to foreign 
orchestras, and a European spirit was specially intro- 
duced along with music, although the censorship pro- 
hibited entire works of history on account of particular 
passages, and the secret police exercised the most rigid 
surveillance over conversation in every society, ^to- 
gether, it was proved that the national spirit was quite 
compatible with foreign enlightenment, the latter, how- 
ever, having awakened earnest emulation in the nation. 
Circumstances caused the years 1830 to 1834 to be 
less stirring and brilliant both for the Court and the 
city. War, cholera, and their results, were in them- 
selves a sufficient reason for this, but other cscuses also 
contributed towards it In October 1832 the Empress's 
fourth and last son was bom, and a conflagration that 
reduced to ashes in this year a certain quarter of the 
capital, induced the Emperor to apply the large sums 
intended for the festivities in Feterhof to the benefit of 
the sufferers by the fire. The Italian opera was closed, 
and the German theatre, though possessing an admirable 
company of actors, was seldom visited by the fashion- 
able world. The health of Alexandra, who had pre- 
sented the kingdom with seven living children, was 
materially weakened, and required a degree of care 
that she could not always herself bestow. The Russian 
Court, more than any other, lives for the kingdom, and 



NATIONAL ENTERPRISE. 87 

more especially for the capital, and the Empiess is the 
soul of Court life. 

A considerable change took place at this time in the 
education of the heir-apparent : General Morder had 
been so alarmed at a fall of his pupil from his horse, 
that it caused a permanent affection of the heart He 
therefore, after a time, left Petersburg, in the hope that 
his health might be restored in Italy ; but he died in 
the year 1833, in Bome, the first severe loss for the 
young man. Morder was replaced by General Kawelin, 
Director of the Page Corps, a man of eager zeal and 
upright ideas, and one of the first to show his devotion 
to the monarch on December 14th, who rewarded his 
loyalty by the most unlimited confidence. 



CHAPTER III. 

FAMILT LIFE (1834-1839.) 

With the year 1834 began for the Imperial family 
the period that, according to Alexandra's own declara- 
tion, was the happiest of her life, but did not last much 
beyond the year 1839. The Emperor was held in the 
most incontestable respect as a monarch by aU Europe, 
both by friend and foe, even by the refractory Poles ; 
and, in his own kingdom, from the most insignificant 
serf up to the highest authorities in the realm, he was 
an object of almost sacred veneration. Before his acces- 
sion, the public scarcely knew by sight the haggard, 
pale Grand Duke Nicholas. His face was without 
expression, his attitude fitiff, his name scarcely ever 
alluded to between Gonstantine and Alexander, though 
his wife was distinguished by her beauty and amia- 
bility. Now his name had a place in history, beside 
the greatest heroes of past ages and the rulers of the 
present day, as one of the most energetic and powerful 
of them all; and he was also acknowledged to be 
the handsomest man in Europe. His consort was 
equally majestic in demeanour, though the fascinating 
expression of her countenance, during the stormy years 
of her reign, had gradually changed, whereas the Em- 
peror seemed to have become younger and more vigor- 



FAMILY LIFE (1834-1839.) 89 

ous. But even in fading health Alexandra shone in the 
lustre of inimitable grace ; and if Nicholas, throughout 
the kingdom, was considered the man of action and 
enei^, the Empress was thought the impersonation of 
goodness, amiability, .and kindly conciliation. In her 
seven children she had been almost as richly endowed 
by Heaven as the wife of Paul, and in her four sons 
were repeated the names of the four sons of that £m^ 
peror. This year was to proclaim the majority of the 
heir-apparent, now sixteen, and a grand fete was to be 
given to the family and the country on the occasion. 
We believe that, among all European States, Eussia 
alone declares the heir-apj)arent of age at sixteen. 
This Act was at that period of greater importance, as it 
protected the kingdom from complications such as we 
have seen on the death of Alexander. The fSte took 
place on April 1 7th, the Prince's birth-day. The Council 
of the Empire and the Holy Synod, the Ministers, the 
Senate, the Diplomatic Corps, the Court Marshals, the 
Officers of the Guards, the Admirals and Captains of the 
Fleet, the Generals and Colonels of the Army, the Di'- 
rectors of Departments, one and all, assembled in the 
Winter Palace, while art and science, commerce, finance, 
and industiy were represented by deputies. Thus, in 
the presence of the whole kingdom, the heir to the 
throne takes the oath of fidelity on the cross and the 
gospels, surrounded by the highest ecclesiastical powers. 
When all are assembled in the church, as well as in the 
interminable corridors and apartments of the Palace, 
the ceremony begins with high mass when the Imperial 
feunily enter the church ; the heir-apparent, conducted 



90 ALEXANDRA. EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

by the Emperor, advances to the reading-desk, on which 
lie the cross and the gospels. The Metropolitan pre- 
sents the heir to the throne with the formulary of the 
oath, which he takes in his left hand, and, raising his 
right, he swears loyally to serve his ruler and father, to 
maintain all the rights of autocracy, and to defend them 
with his life and his blood, and to preserve the inviola- 
bility of the whole kingdom in every part He also 
vows to guard the order of succession, so that he may 
be able hereafter to give account to Providence, on the 
day of judgment, of his actions. " Lord God ! King of 
Kings !" he adds, " teach, enlighten, and guide me by 
Thy wisdom ; send down Thy Holy Ghost from heaven 
above, that I may understand what is pleasing in Thine 
eyes and right in Thy sight. My heart is in Thine 
hands. Amen !" 

The heir-apparent signs the document, and turns to 
the Emperor, who embraces him, and to the Empress, 
whose hand he kisses. Not only the hearts of his 
family, but those of all present, wese visibly touched on 
hearing this young voice, in deep emotion, pronounce 
such solemn vows, the full importance of which pos- 
sibly his youthful mind could scarcely grasp. The State 
Chancellor, Coimt Nesselrode, receives the signed docu- 
ment, and places it among the State archives along with 
other Acts. After a Te Deum, the Emperor and Empress 
and the heir- apparent having received the congratula- 
tions of the highest orders of the priesthood, the pro- 
cession betakes itself to the George Hall, where, on the 
steps of the throne, the confessor of the Imperial family 
reads aloud the oath, which the heir-apparent repeats 



FAMILY LIFE (1 834- 1 839.) 9 1 

after him word by word. It refers to the Emperor and 
the country, and designates the heir-apparent as the 
future ruler and defender of his Fatherland. Only the 
great authorities are present during the first vow taken 
in the church, whereas, in the Hall, the throne is deco- 
rated with banners and military weapons, and encom- 
passed with pages, cavaliers, land, marine, and artillery 
cadets — the future defenders of the kingdom. The 
procession proceeds hence to the Imperial apartments, 
where the congratulations of the secular authorities of 
the highest rank are offered. In addition to this eccle- 
siastical and military act, the city of Petersburg did 
honour to the occasion by an illumination, and the 
nobility by a brilliant ball in the Narischkin House, 
where the young man made his first ietppearande in the 
society of the capital Colonel Lwoff presented the Bus- 
sian people with the celebrated national hymn, which, 
through Benkendorf, was quickly diffused through the 
city and country on eveiy barrel-organ, and in a short 
time acquired European fame. Seldom had any Peters- 
burg fSte been attended by such cheerfulness as the 
majority of this heir-apparent, who was now closely 
seen and observed by many thousands. His charming 
youthful appearance, his clear eyes, with the gentle 
expression of his mother, and his chivalrous bearing, 
proclaimed to his people the benevolence that filled his 
heart, and which every step of his reign has confirmed. 
On his countenance was to be read another epoch, — 
when the father^s sternness would be happily replaced 
by more unrestraint, and tlius it has in truth proved. 
It was the family fSte of the nation. 



92 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

This event did not, however, terminate the education 
of the heir-apparent, but only for a few days inter- 
rupted it ; and it was followed by another and a more 
practical result. Nicholas was well aware of what he 
had lost by the interruption of his education in 
1812, when only sixteen, and sought to supply to his 
son that in which he was himself deficient. When he 
quitted the pedantic schoolroom of Gatschina, in the 
next few years previous to his travels, his whole society 
consisted' entirely of some young officers, and he not 
only remained ignorant of those branches of knowledge 
peculiarly incumbent on sovereigns, but also of such 
as adorn the life of every cultivated man. Now 
persons of the greatest distinction, both in instruction 
and social intercourse, were invited to the table and 
soirees of the heir-apparent. Bussian law appoints a 
curator for the Prince after attaining his majority, 
whose office i& nominally that of House Comptroller 
and Privy Purse, but the real purpose is to accustom 
the young man to refined society, and to initiate him 
into the forms and usages of foreign Courts, even before 
his travels commence, and for this end a happier choice 
could scarcely have been made than of P^uce lieven. 
His mother, the highly esteemed Princess Lieven, had 
taken charge in the previous century under Catherine 
the Second, of the Grand Duchesses, Paul's daughters. 
So the Prince had been acquainted with the Court from 
his childhood, and likewise for a generation had been 
Bussian Minister in Berlin and in London. By simply 
relating his own actions during this century, Prince 
Lieven made his pupil acquainted with the spirit of all 



FAMILY UFB (1834-39). 93 

European cabinets, the fonus of courts, and the most 
hidden springs of events. This was a worthy close to 
his brilliant career, and the happiest application of his 
manifold experiences. His wife, nSe Benkendorf, was 
probably of still greater influence, but we intend to 
dedicate a separate chapter to her hereafter. 

The appointment of Prince lieven to so prominent 
and influential a position was a proof of the little value 
attached by the Emperor to the recently awakened 
national voice. Segarding solely the improvement of 
his son, he selected Count Speransky, not only that he 
might keep alive, as much as possible, feelings of 
justice in the future ruler, but also enlighten him as 
to the legitimate claims on him in this respect^ by the 
exigencies of the country and the period. Speransky 
at that date, 1834, was universally honoured; a year 
previously, in the Council of the Empire, he delivered 
the new code of laws to the Emperor, when the 
monarch, in presence of aU the membei's of that aristo- 
cratic assemblage, took the star of St. Andrew off his 
own head to decorate that of this Bussian Trebonian. 
Speransky's humane and liberal views as to a constitu- 
tion, justice, public education, had been long recognised 
by all ; and in the young heir to the throne, he found a 
frank spirit, well fitted to profit by his wise teaching. 
The great reforms with which Alexander the Second 
commenced his reign were chiefly suggested by Spe- 
ransky; without taking any share in the spurious 
national movement, he procured greater advantages for 
the country than any other patriot, and himself -re- 
mained its brightest ornament. While Speransky in- 



94 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

culcated on his pupil the requirements of the present 
and the future of Bussia, a third person showed him 
the relations in which the country stood towards the 
rest of Europe since the time of Peter the Great We 
allude to Baron Brunnow, at that time the wisest head 
in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. He possessed 
equally with the others German culture, which he 
acquired chiefly at the University of Leipzig. He was 
first remarked by the Eussian Government, owing to a 
little pamphlet, " On the Spirit of German Universities 
and Secret Associations " — he entered their service, and 
became an indispensable assistant in the Chancery 
OflRce of Count Nesselrode. His exterior was homely, 
his conversation intellectual, witty, and varied, his 
knowledge profound, and extending over many phases. 

These clever men were invited as often as possible 
to the table of the Prince, and not less so ministers, 
adjutant-generals, and those distinguished in art and 
science, so that by degrees the whole machinery of his 
father's government was made known to him. A year 
after his coming of age, the last examination on his 
studies took place in the presence of his own family, 
the staff of teachers, and many persons invited by the 
Emperor ; and a year after ensued his journey through 
Bussia and Europe. Nothing was omitted that could 
form a noble-minded man and an enlightened sovereign. 
The same fate befel Prince Lieven as that of the heir- 
apparent's first governor — ^he died in Borne. 

In the year 1834 also began the education of the 
Emperor's second son, Constantine. Till their seventh 
year is completed, all the Imperial children remain 



FAMILY LIFE (1834-39). 95 

under female auspices, generally under the care of 
elderly English ladies. But when this second son was 
only five, the Emperor gave him a tutor, as he not only 
showed great buoyancy of spirit, but a very decided 
wilL Nicholas intended this son to be Grand- Admiral 
of the Eussian Meet, so the naval profession was to be 
specially considered in his education. For this pur> 
pose also the right man was found in Frederick von 
Liitke, subsequently an admiral, but at that time the 
youngest ciroumnavigator of the globe, who, since 
Behring, had contributed to the knowledge of various 
countries. Liitke, when a young officer of twenty, 
made a voyage round the world, and ten years after- 
wards a second, as chief of a special enterprise; he 
also sailed to Nova Zembla, so he was well versed in 
his profession, and, in short, more at home at sea than 
on land. His long stay at sea, his almost exclusive 
pursuit of the exact sciences, had given his character 
something peremptory and decided; his manner was 
straightforward, blunt, apparently even harsh ; but he 
was a man of feeling, and indeed, to a certain degree, 
cheerful and joviaL The Imperial family discovered and 
valued the varied instruction and character of this man, 
when, in the year 1832, he escorted the Grand Duchesses 
by sea to EeveL The tales he told, and his lively con- 
versation, delighted the youthful Constantine, and awoke 
in him love for a seafaring life, for which his nature 
did not seem fitted. 'When the boy was seven years 
old, he was almost too early developed, by intercourse 
with Liitke ; he showed eager interest in the histories 
and discoveries of all circumnavigators. 



96' ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

At the commencement of the year 1834, Liitke, ajid 
also Joukowsky, communicated to me that I was to 
be appointed the guide and instructor of young Con- 
stantine, Joukowsky's time being so much monopolized 
by the heir-apparent; I had been long familiar with 
this idea, first suggested to me by Speransky, and for 
which purpose he introduced me to Joukowsky. My 
nomination followed on December 14th, the date of 
my first entrance into the Imperial family. Till then I 
had never attended any Court whatsoever, the greater, 
therefore, was my embarassment on my way to the 
Winter Palaca But all anxiety as to my first appear- 
ance proved wholly unnecessary, as Constantine re- 
ceived me with a degree of cordiality far greater than 
I had met with in other families. As I had just 
come from Italy, the hours of my first interview with 
the animated boy passed as quick as lightning, in tales 
about Vesuvius, Eome, and sea voyages, and I at once 
felt that my undertaking was likely to bring forth good 
fruits. A few days afterwards followed my presenta- 
tion to the Emperor and the Empress, but my timidity 
was now considerably diminished. In a hall where all 
the Imperial children practised gymnastic exercises, 
the Emperor came in just at the moment when I least 
expected him. His personal appearance had too an 
imposing an effect on all strangers for any one to 
maintain his usual State of self-possession; and yet 
my excitement was caused not so much by timidity, 
as by joy at seeing so renowned a man. He was him- 
self well aware of the effect of his glance on many 
persons, and therefore it seemed rather to be his wish 



/ 



FAMILY LIFE (1834-39). 97 

to awsiken confidence and security in me. The tone of 
liis voice had certainly nothing imperious, and soon 
became even confidential He mentioned that he had 
previously remarked me, and wished to know me, as his 
son Constantine had rendered him desirous to make my 
acquaintance; he hoped for a good result from so 
happy a commencement. He then left the room with 
a courteous bow. Some days afterwards I wa^ com- 
manded to wait on the Empress, and conduct-ed to 
her by my young pupil himself. The cabinet of 
the mustrioTis lady was splendidly fomished, and I 
scarcely knew on what to rest my eyes, when, in a far 
comer of the room, I saw the Empress, who rose, and 
in a sweet gentle voice invited me to come nearer. 
Her youngest child was in her arms, and another play- 
ing at her feet, and at a little distance stood two ladies. 
I approached her with a profound bow. "You have 
succeeded in making this boy like you very much ; I 
am glad of it for both your sakes," sdd she.. " How do 
you propose to occupy him during the next four years, 
that these agreeable relations may continue between 
you V I explained my views as far as possible, and 
the conversation soon turned from the schoolroom 
to Berlin, Germany, and Italy; at length a person 
was mentioned whom we had both known well, the 
Chancellor of the Halle University, Niemeyer, who 
frequented the Eussian Court in her time. The con- 
versation about him and his system continued for a 
time, the Empress repeatedly glancing at me with 
grave observant eyes, so that it seemed to me as if the 
shyness I at first felt had perhaps been replaced by 

VOL, IL G 



98 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

too great freedom. With all her reserve, there was 
more 'cordiality than animation in her mode of address, 
encouraging me to speak with the greatest unreserve. 
She imderstood the grave nature of the task that 
Lutke and I had undertaken, and expressed the hope 
that we should work together with energy and in 
harmony. The interview lasted about three-quarters 
of an hour, the young Constantino being delighted 
that his mother had given me so gracious a recep- 
tion, and I really trusted that I had not at least 
left any unfavourable impression, so I went to work 
with a glad heart. We fully agreed that during the 
next few years the education of the boy should not 
essentially differ from that of others of his age ; the 
man must be fashioned and cu^ivated earlier than the 
Prince, the Grand Duke, or the Lord High AdmiraL 
In our intercourse therefore all formal titles were dis- 
missed, and in short everything that particularly applied 
to a prince, the only privilege accorded him being that 
dishes were handed to him first. His table was simple 
and nourishing; he was not permitted to use the 
slightest harsh word to the servants, of which people in 
Bussia are only too lavish. His day was strictly por- 
tioned out ; he had only three hours of actual study, | 
but a number of bodily and gymnastic exercises. All j 
our conversations at dinner, and during our walks and 
hours of recreation, aimed at making the young man 
acquainted with burgher life in all its gradations and 
requirements; the views imparted by the palace and I 
its seclusion beiag too often mistaken ones. It is 
possible to live with prince3 day by day for years, and 



FAMILY LIFE (1834-39). 99 

yet at last to find them imbued with the most singular 
errors. The story of a queen once asking why poor 
people, during a bread £amine, could not eat cakes, 
plays, alas ! too true a part in some palaces. It is cer- 
tainly no invention that the Grand Duke Constantino 
Paulowitsch thought 1500 francs much too large a sum 
to give to an invalid officer for a journey to some baths, 
declaring that he would only give him 1000 ducats ! 
This circumstance is particularly unfortimate, because 
dishonest people take advantage of such ignorance for 
their own selfish purposes ; indeed there are those who 
purposely seek to maintain this want of intelligence. 
The Empress, in the course of the above conversation, 
several times repeated that the happiness of childhood 
must not be destroyed by premature gravity ; and how 
true is this ! The privileges of childhood, if repressed, 
are sure to be asserted at an unreasonable time. More- 
over, royal children are too often presented with the 
most valuable objects, pictures and other rarities, which 
neither suit their inclinations nor their comprehension, 
and, instead of awakening a taste for art, produce entire 
indifference towards it They are accustomed to be 
surrounded by works of art, and regard them as common 
household furniture, and feel neither joy nor gratitude 
when bestowed on them. I myself have observed that 
even when rare and costly objects are within their 
reach, they eagerly seize the most ordinary toys, like 
Achilles grasping his weapons. The Empress arranged 
that another young man should be educated with her 
son Constantine, who went through life with him like 
a brother. One very happy circumstance in his educa- 



100 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

tion was his being the younger brother of three sisters, 
in whose society he passed some of his hours of recrea- 
tion in the evening. Female society entails, even on 
the most impetuous boy, a certain deference and con- 
sideration which are invaluable in future life. 

As yet Gonstantine spoke only two languages, Eussian 
and English, German and French being equally un- 
known to him ; to learn these two languages in a prac- 
tical way, by conversing, reading, and writing, formed 
the commencement of our occupations, and in about 
eight months the boy read a German prose transla- 
tion of the Odyssey for his own amusement, and with 
the liveliest interest. He made equal progress in 
French. He lived and breathed in the Homeric age, 
and both sought and found in the Hermitage all those 
pictures that represented Homeric or other mythical 

• 

objects, repeating with the greatest animation what he 
had learned to his playfellows on Sundays, and urging 
them, in their plays, to perform scenes from the Trojan 
war. When we went to the country after Easter, 
another practical study began; we learned to distin- 
guish the trees and wild plants around us, and to name 
them in three languages. What chiefly promoted his 
' study of languages, and German in particular, was 
being destined to accompany his father and mother 
on their visit to Germany in 1635 ; his great ambition 
was to speak German with the Boyal Family, his rela- 
tions. There he made the acquaintance of Princess 
Mary, daughter of Prince William of Prussia, subse- 
quently Queen of Bavaria, and oflFered to write to her 
from time to time in German. The Emperor expressly 



FAMILY LIFE (1834-39). 101 

prohibited classical studies being included in this 
Prince's education ; he thought of the time when he 
was tormented by pedants to learn the Latin grammar 
instead of that of his own language, and wished to 
save his children from such an infliction. In &ct 
Nicholas was less to be blamed for this than those 
instructors who had inspired him with such a horror of 
these studies ; he was irritated the moment any one 
alluded to the subject 

Constantine, in the . course of this summer, was 
gradually to be inured to the sea, and the Emperor^s 
favourite abode, Peterhof^ was admirably suited for 
that purpose. A small English yacht was presented to 
the boy, and named after him, which conveyed him 
backwards and forwards from Peterhof to Cronstadt, 
or to the shores of Finland, where he received on 
board the vessel his afternoon's instruction, and dined, 
and thus got a slight idea of sea lifa Nothing 
further was attempted in 1835, but in the ensuing 
summer a frigate was manned for him, and the com- 
mand of a squadron given to Admiral LUtke, who 
escorted the young voyager to Bevel, HeMngfors, and 
HangoUdd. This was beginning in earnest, and although 
the little expedition scarcely occupied three weeks^ 
the young Constantine made sufficient acquaintance 
with the faithless ocean ; the different vessels did not 
arrive at the same time at Bevel, being damaged by 
gales ; and another was obliged to retrace its way to 
Cronstadt, thus causing serious alarm in the com-- 
mander^ who remained long without any news of the 
missing vessel The sea also imposes certain privations 



102 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

in eating and drinking quite unknown on land, and 
especially in a palace, and the monotony of a voyage 
leads to voluntary occupation to prevent the most 
deadly ennui. But above all, a sea life accustoms every 
one to order — ^that is, to the proper distribution and 
use of space and time, and naval men, even on land, 
are admitted to possess these important qualities. As 
these voyages succeeded each other every summer, from 
the Gulf of Finland into the Bothnian Gulf, and 
thence into the Baltic itself, the young seaman soon be- 
came acquainted with various countries and towns, and 
their peculiarities. Kevel bears quite the physiognomy 
of our Hanseatic towns; Helsingfors, reached in the 
course of a few hours, is more a transcript of modem 
Petersburg. 

As Constantino was accustomed to keep a diary from 
the time he was eight years old, his talent for ob- 
servation was amply exercised. Tiresome as these sea 
excursions were for his tutor, they were useful and im- 
proving to the youth himself. The small spot Hango- 
Udd, where Peter the Great gained a naval battle, had 
a powerful effect on his imagination. He was far from 
indifferent even to short absences from his parents, 
and during these few weeks he repeatedly wrote to 
them, though briefly and in an unfinished style, and 
these letters were no mere school exercises, but faithful 
descriptions of what he had seen. From his tenth year 
his duties on board became more serious; he went 
through all the work of a naval cadet, kept watch at 
midnight in rain and storm, and yet, when exempt from 
service, he continued his lessons. As the Latin tongue 



FAMILY LIFE (1834-39). 103 

was prohibited, the exact sciences were zealously 
studied, and much time and trouble bestowed on French 
in particular, in order that it might replace LatiiL 
Constantine very early showed much inclination for the 
Fine Arts, music and drawing being cultivated with 
peculiar talent and success. The taste openly mani- 
fested by the Empress for painting and music upheld 
both pupil and teacher in these pursuits ; her three 
daughters showed talent for both arts, which created 
a certain degree of emulation among the young 
people. 

But a core was wanting to this instruction, a central . 
point, which in our German schools is given by the 
ancient languages. Instead of this the boy was made 
acquainted with Nature in her various productions 
and phenomena, taught a thorough knowledge of the 
surface of the earth, to an extent, in fact, rarely 
reached in our schools, except in the most advanced 
classes, His information was greater than he could 
have acquired by the study of ancient languages, but 
it cannot be denied that the acquirement of the classics, 
when not conducted by one-sided pedants, cultivates 
the mind infinitely more, and accustoms youth to a 
certain degree of independence in work ; awakening 
ideas more than natural history, and to the persever- 
ing student disclosing that world whose cultivation 
became the basis of our own. To the Bussian nation 
especially the Latin tongue would be the key to the 
whole of Western Europe ; the further development of 
the people at large in art and science, in society and 
politics, would raise them more rapidly to the level of 



101 ALEXANDBA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

the enlightenment of the day, and emancipate them in 
many cases from being in thraldom to foreign countries. 
The Latin tongue is deeply interwoven with the course 
of our lives, and all scientific education, whether 
medicine, law, or theology, closely connected with it; 
nor is it excluded from the physical sciences either. At 
the end of three years the Emperor wished to examine 
the boy's progress ; for this purpose he named the even- 
ings of the next fortnight. The first evening was de* 
voted to religion, taught by the Priest Bashanof ; one 
evening was appointed for each language ; and two for 
a short course of natural history ; two for arithmetic 
and geometry ; another for naval science and ship- 
building, in all of which the youth gained the approval 
of their Majesties, who, with a select society of the 
city, attended these examinations. Although this 
beginning differed widely from the European mode of 
instruction, stiU the original plan had been strictly 
followed out All that could make the youth in after 
life a distinguished man was developed, and all that 
could call forth his interest in pure humanity, whUe 
neither the Piince nor the seaman were neglected ; love 
for work was awakened, and a course of serious study 
not only wished for by him, but ardently desired. 
Intercourse also with the lower orders of society, a 
knowledge of the requirements of daily life were equally 
familiar to Constantine ; he learned turning, planing, 
and cabinet work ; he visited the workshops of tanners 
and printers, glass and china warehouses, beer and 
vinegar breweries, and by his questions endeavoured to 
gain information as to the nature and progress of their 



FAMILY LIFE (1834-39). 105 

work, A stay of three weeks in Moscow was chiefly 
devoted to a doser knowledge of the industrial products 
of that city, and it was not these alone that the young 
man tried to investigate in his thirst for knowledge ; he 
also sought to become acquainted with the community 
of this ancient city of the Czar, the condition of the 
working classes and of the serfs; his heart was as 
deeply affected as his understanding occupied by this 
subject. He saw people who, in order to gain their 
daily bread, exposed themselves hourly to lose their 
lives by the preparation of arsenic, and at the same 
time he made acquaintance with families whose landed 
property and manufactories supplied them with regal 
wealth. He also saw other families whose head, bom 
a serf, had begun life with a petty business and 
devoid of all education, but endowed with a sound 
understanding, whose accomplished sons had acquired 
importance, and whose grandsons had become of Euro- 
pean reputation. Already this boy of ten years of age 
comprehended what an impetus would be given to the 
whole land by the personal freedom of its peasantry. 
The boy sketched such an interesting picture of all 
he had seen in writing to his mother, that she re- 
quested her daughters to visit some of the workshops 
of Eussian industry. The proprietors of manufactories 
honoured by their presence, vied with each other in 
receiving such guests, not only with cordiality, but 
with splendour. The best that the land or labour 
could produce accompanied them home ; and the pro- 
prietors themselves declared that by this attention of 
the illustrious family their business was promoted in 



106 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

the country. A year previously, the life of man appeared 
under a very different aspect to the youthful Constan- 
tine. He was one evening listening with the greatest 
sympathy to the history of the misfortunes of a merchant, 
and burst into tears on hearing that at length, in order 
not to (lie of hunger, the latter was obliged to sell his 
favourite dog, his last possession. " What !" exclaimed 
he suddenly, " could none of his chamberlains, or other 
people, give him any money ?" He now, after his stay 
in Moscow, understood the childish nature of his ques- 
tion. These expeditions were conducted in the hap- 
piest manner by the most profound connoisseur on 
Russian industry, the Academician von HameL Twenty 
years previously, he accompanied the Grand Dukes 
Nicholas and Michael through England, and in later 
years, in spite of his residing in Moscow, was favour- 
ably remembered by the Emperor. His extensive 
knowledge had been of importance even to Russian 
industry, which was munificently protected at that time 
by the Governor-General of Moscow, Prince Dmitri 
W. Golizyn, brother-in-law of Prince Wassiltschikof, 
another ornament to his country. The Empress had 
hitherto paid more attention to the education of her 
three daughters than to that of her sons ; but the even- 
ing regularly brought them together, and her maternal 
eye discerned the progress of all her children, as well 
as the development of their characters. Nicholas, over- 
* burdened with work, did not desire that her consort 
should become the governess of her daughters; but 
though he strictly followed the course of their edu- 
cation, still he wished that the hours granted to him 



FAMILY LIFE (1834-39). 107 

from the burden of work, for amusement after dinner, 
and later in the evening, should be brightened and 
sweetened by the charm of his wife. A reigning 
family, and, above aU, that of Eussia, belongs to the 
whole kingdom, and only for a few rare moments to 
each other. While the Empress is not spared fatigues 
that far exceed the strength given her by nature, a 
portion of the public insisted on seeing her at every 
Court ball, and at the head of every society in the 
town, and also in the theatre and at promenades ; and 
she complied with these demands so long as she had 
sufficient strength to support her amiable wish to 
pleasa 

Although by this kind condescension she gained the 
admiration and praise of many, stiU there were others 
who blamed her as being incapable of a certain degree 
of solidity and earnestness ; and yet, when her delicate 
health compelled her for weeks and months to renounce 
all participation in public amusements, people com- 
plained of her seclusion. It was no slight task for 
Alexandra to find suitable people to be near her person, 
for these so constantly change at Court Her maids of 
honour, in the course of a year or two, left her invari- 
ably owing to their marriage, — an event that fre- 
quently not only removed them from Court, but also 
from Petersburg. The Empress herself lived wholly 
for the happiness of others, which she very often pro- 
moted by her own self-deniaL Since the year 1834, 
however, a change took place in her immediate suite 
that entirely accorded with her wishes. Countess 
Katharina Tiesenhausen was appointed her lady of 



108 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

honour and companion, and continued till her death 
in this situation. Nor was there ever any change in 
her sentiments. By her similarity of age she had in 
some degree more sympathy with her illustrious mis- 
tress than the others, and also by the varied acquire- 
ments she had stored up in travelling, but which she 
as modestly concealed from the world at large as 
Alexandra herself did her own acquirements. The 
sister of this lady, Countess Ficquelmont, wife of the 
Austrian Ambassador, assumed the highest position 
among the diplomatic corps of that period. 

Countess liesenhausen was strict in principle with-^ 
out being narrow-minded, entertaining, eager to acquire 
information, and well acquainted with the world. She 
had the talent quickly to appropriate the substance of 
a book, and to impart its most essential portion to her 
royal mistress. She was acute in judging^a person ac- 
cording to their real value, and a wise adviser of the 
Empress, controlling her good-natured generosity. She 
knew how to cheer her on a sick-bed, to amuse her in 
the carriage when travelling, and to share both her 
joys and sorrows. She served her with true devotion, 
and obtained access for those who wished to have an 
interview with the Imperial lady. 

A young lady was at this time placed about the 
Empress — ^Pauline von Barthenief, who did not belong 
to any great Bussian family, and could in no degree 
emulate Countess Tiesenhausen in diversity of know* 
ledge ; but her beautiful voice paved the way for her 
to Imperial favour, which she continued to enjoy till the 
death of Alexandra. The Empress took delight in re- 



FAMILY LIPE (1 834-39). 109 

calling those evenings when Madame Sontag appeared 
as Desdemona in the Court theatre, and still more 
those occasions when her wondrous voice was heard, in 
the presence of her limited family circle, in the cabinet 
of the Empress, who was as susceptible to good music 
and singing as to painting. Her cabinet was adorned 
with many valuables that dazzled the eye; but the 
greatest of all her treasures were the St. John of 
Domenichino and a Holy Family by Murillo, which 
caused connoisseurs to foi^et aU elsa In her youthful 
as well as in her later years, it seemed indispensable 
to her to pass a little time at the piano, in order to 
gain that repose of mind that music alone confers; 
but above all she was susceptible to the charm of sing- 
ing, that seems to make its way from heart to heart. 
Madame Sontag, therefore, remained in her memory as 
a meteor she could never forget, and Pauline Barthenief 
now replaced her. Any deficiency in musical skill or 
execution wsjs atoned for by the incomparable sweet- 
ness of her rare voice, which surpassed even that of 
Madame Sontag. This young lady was therefore ap- 
pointed Lady of the Palace, — a position inferior to that 
of the Court ladies, but giving her access to the cabinet 
of the Empress, whose approval she not only gained by 
her talent, but also by the genuine feminine modesty 
which she always displayed. In this case, as in a 
hundred others, their Majesties proved how little value 
they attached to forms and ceremonies. In a short 
time she was appointed Maid of Honour, with all the 
privileges of that position. 

A third lady who, since 1834^ frequented the Court, 



110 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

and formed the ornament of the small Court soirees, 
was Princess Lieven. Both in rank and talent of every 
kind she immeasurably surpassed the two ladies we 
have named as heing in the personal service of the 
Empress. She had been for nearly thirty years wife of 
the Bussian Minister in London, and come into contact 
with the whole of European diplomacy ; and both by 
her pen and her conversation, as well as by her great 
personal influence, acquired a distinguished name as 
the first political star of her day. No comparison can, 
therefore, be drawn between her and the other ladies 
of the Empress, in whose presence she appeared with the 
most perfect self-possession. It seemed as if she wished 
to assume the place of her late mother-in-law at Court, 
that ^me old Princess lieven, who never made an enemy, 
and hevev lost a &iend« Although of a very different 
nature from the latter, she won the same consideration 
and the same respect; indeed, her appearance, both 
in society and at Court, was heralded by great fame. 
But the Princess had lived too long in foreign coun- 
tries, and not having from nature a single drop of 
Bussian blood in her veins, she did not enjoy this 
novel atmosphere as she had done that of London. 
Her liberal views were not so appreciated as in other 
countries, and her immediate society did not pay her 
the homage she had been accustomed to receive in 
other parts of Europe. Those, in particular, who, by 
their rank and position, ought to have been most inti- 
mate with her, remained estranged : and circumstances 
did not permit her to have so brilliant a salon as for- 
merly in London, and more recently in Paris. Her 



FAMILY LIFE (1834-39). 1 1 1 

conversation was exclusively political, and in Peters- 
bnig, in this field, she neither found eager opponents 
nor satellites of her opinions, as in other countries. 
The society of the capital did not seem fully to under- 
stand her, and, in spite of her many attractions, her 
house was called " the Political Exchange," where poli- 
tical scions of the third class, without importance or 
business, resorted. She therefore frequented the Court 
itiore than the capital, and assumed a higher position 
there than her husband. 

The conversation of the Princess was most fascinat- 
ing; she discussed the inner social condition of England 
and Prance, the secret springs of individual Cabinets 
and their members, the course of negotiations, and those 
appointed to conduct them. Scarcely any diplomatist 
could vie with her in information, nor in masterly ex- 
positions, both in speaking and writing. Her mode 
of conversing was adapted to men of mature thought^-— 
to diplomatists, and, above all, politicians, who listened 
to her as devoutly as formerly King Numa to Egeiia. 
But, for genuinely feminine natures, her conversation 
became rather fatiguing, for with much intellect she was 
devoid of sociability, and certainly not free from a cer- 
tain degree of ostentation that made her unpopular with 
many. The Empress was never devoid of sympathy 
for the politics of the day, but this arose more from 
that feeling of pure interest in humanity which bene- 
volence imposes on us all ; but besides the goodness of 
her heart, her historical knowledge also contributed to 
this, — a branch of study in which the illustrious lady 
was better versed than people were aware o£ The 



112 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

infonDation of Princess lieven embraced the present 
in all its extent, but she had no historical depth, while 
Alexandra was interested in all historical investiga- 
tions, at however remote a period. She read with the 
most lively sympathy the defence of Wallenstein, by 
Forster, and also the lives of the Queens Elizabeth and 
Mary Stuart, by Baumer; and she was anxious to learn 
what fame Niebuhr had acquired by his Soman His- 
tory. She was well acquainted with the recent his- 
torical works of France and Geilnany, and profound 
was her knowledge of the genealogical connection be- 
tween the reigning families of Grermany and Europe. 
The inner nature of these two ladies was, therefore, 
very differently constituted ; but a truly feminine de- 
portment, and the charm that accompanies every word, 
imparting greater dignity even to mature age, were 
possessed by both in the highest degree. Any sub- 
ordinate part was utterly out of the question for the 
Princess, and in the absence of the Court she became a 
female viceroy, like Prince Golizyn, only infinitely 
more energetic. Conspicuous as was the intellect of 
the Princess, still, after prolonged intercourse with her, 
the one-sidedness was to be lamented that excluded 
her from all conversation not political, — the result of 
her eager and undivided sympathy with diplomatic 
affairs, for she was more richly gifted by nature than 
most people, and in the period of her youthful beauty, 
her musical talent was as much admired as subsequently 
the flow of her conversation. Princess lieven only re- 
mained one year in Petersburg, and left it with rooted 
grief of heart Not only did her husband die in Rome, 



FAMILY LIFE (1834-39). • 113 

but two of her sons were also buried in Petersburg, and 
from that day she never more saw the capital. 

In the year 1833, a young German lady was pre- 
sented to Alexandra^ who, from her beauty and intel- 
lect, was an object of nniversal admiration in Bavaria, 
her fatherland — Baroness Kriidener, 7i& Lerchenfeld, 
whose brother was Bavarian Minister at the Neva. 
Baron Krtidener, at that time only Secretary to the 
Bussian Embassy in Munich^ was an unpretending man, 
and his character rather induced him to shim than to 
seek the Court, and, indeed, his subordinate position by 
no means entitled him to such an honour. The Baroness, 
however, was far too striking a person not to be re- 
marked; their Majesties both remarked her,andexpressed 
a wish to become acquainted with her. A closer know- 
ledge of the Baroness showed how well she was fitted 
for the society of the Empress, while her conversation 
fascinated and attracted even the Emperor himself. In 
the height of the highest regions the gravity of life is 
too apt to brood in dark clouds over the furrowed 
brows ; the kindly home life that, with all its charm, 
confers happiness on a simple burgher family, often dis- 
appears in that of high dignitaries and ministers, and 
in the vicinity of majesty deadly ennui often prevails. 
A lady, therefore, who, in the midst of such brilliant 
splendours, never lost her self-possession, and developed 
all her fascinations in an easy and unembarrassed man- 
ner, was indeed a boon to be highly estimated. But 
the charming Baroness had only come to Petersburg 
to visit her brother; thus she remained only a short 
time, and her sole claim to enter the most select Court 

VOL. n. H 



114 ALEXANDRA. EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

circle was her amiability. When the Baroness shortly 
afterwards returned to Bavaria^ both their Majesties 
very much missed her society. On this occasion the 
Emperor was obliged to allow the wish of his consort, 
and indeed his own also, to remain unfulfilled ; the sym- 
pathies of both were usually identical in such mattera 
Two years later, however, by a happy chance, they 
met the Baroness in Prague, and this time the in- 
valid Empress declared that the permanent society of 
this lady was indispensable to her. Means were thought 
of to appoint the Baron to some post in Petersburg, that 
would also confer on his wife the entr^ to the Imperial 
apartments. Baron Kriidener became a Chamberlain, 
and a Counsellor in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and 
was so richly endowed by the Emperor, that he could 
entertain on equal terms with other persons attached 
to the Court, while his wife was always admitted by 
Alexandra on the footing of a friend. Beauty is one 
of the gifts of God, recognised by every one as a most 
efficient power, to which every age does homage. But, 
besides her natural charm, the Baroness possessed the 
most rare amiability, social elegance, and feminine 
gentleness ; there was something delightful even in her 
voice, and with such gifts she could not fail to win the 
hearts of aU. She appeared in Petersburg in the year 
1826, and remained on the most intimate terms with 
the Empress for about eight years. Such a position 
drew many eyes upon her, not excluding those envious 
ones too apt to pursue a foreigner ; on the other hand, 
her goodness and mediation were often appealed to, 
and the many marks of homage she received were, per- 






FAMILY LIFE (1834-39). 115 

haps, caused fully as much by her power as by her 
beauty. Her son, the same age as the Grand Duke 
Constantine, was appointed his comrade in the navy, 
and spent all his time for several years with the Im- 
perial Princes. There was no society at that time in 
which the Baroness did not shine with surpassing lustre. 
The military profession, however, and its duties, 
parades, and manoeuvres, claimed special consideration 
from the Empress. Born in a military state, educated 
amid the clash of weapons, such spectacles were 
neither strange nor unpleasing to her, and, as Em> 
press, she was Chief of the Chevalier Begiment of 
Guards. She appeared at the grand May reviews at 
Marsfeld in Petersburg, in a gala gold carriage, with her 
whole Court retinue ; and on her birthday, July 1st, in 
Peterhof, she herself distributed to her regiment the 
decorations she intended for them ; and the reader may 
remember that, when Grand Duchess, she lived in the 
camp of Krasnoe-Selo with her husband. But, even 
when engaged in distant military duties, Nicholas could 
not bear to be absent from his wife, and her magic 
influenca As soon as her strength permitted, she 
accompanied her husband, and in 1828 passed the 
summer in Odessa, close to the seat of war. In the 
year 1835, she went with her son Constantino and 
her daughter Olga to the great reviews at Kalisch, 
the most singular spectacle of our century, and her 
task was the most difficult and varied of all. From 
Peterhof, where she passed the summer, in lovely 
weather, on the 1st July, her birthday, after witness- 
ing the celebrated illumination of the gardens, she went 



1 16 ALEXAKDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

with both her children, in the middle of August, to 
Fischbach, in Silesia, where her large circle of relations 
received her with open aims. But her rest did not long 
continue, for, after a very few days, the whole of the 
Imperial and Boyal Courts repcdred to Leignitz, in the 
environs of wl)ich one of the grandest manoeuvres was 
to be held. Princes had come thither from most Grer- 
man States, and in order to receive them worthily, all the 
palaces and country seats in the vicinity were put under 
contribution. The Emperor and King went from here 
to Krieblowitz, to visit the monument of Field-Marshal 
Prince Blucher. The time of the illustrious Alexandra 
was not only claimed by family ties, but still more by 
the sincere homage shown her by the inhabitants, both 
of the country and the towns, who exhausted their re- 
sources in heaping attentions on her. These balls, con- 
certs, serenades, illuminations, and fireworks could not 
delight the inhabitants of these petty towns more than 
the Empress, who, in spite of fatigue, appeared where- 
ever she was expected. Similar festivities were re- 
peated in Breslau, and yet Alexandra's most cherished 
wish was to pass a few happy hours with her relations, 
after so long a severance, and to enjoy beautiful nature 
in Silesia, in all its peculiar forms. The mode of life 
in Silesia was indeed simple, compared to that in 
Kalisch, where the Emperor and Empress arrived before 
the other royal guests. For, in accordance with ancient 
usages, they were obliged to go to meet the King, and 
receive him sumptuously in the palace at Kalisch. 
The regiment called **The King of Prussia" was stationed 
there, besides a corp of 1600 miisicians, to greet the 



FAMILY LIFE (1834-39). 117 

ruler of Prussia in a fitting manner. What a spec- 
tcuile (lid the environs present ; as far tus the eye could 
reach^ a city was to be seen, constructed of canvas 
tents^ enlivened by the varied and vast tumult of a 
camp. A Belvidere was erected, from which this surging 
sea could be contemplated. The day occupied and 
amused the eye, and the evening the ear ; for as soon as 
these motley splendours had vanished in the darkness, 
the tones of a military band resounded, 1600 in number, 
rockets rose in the air, and a cannon gave the signal for 
prayer to an army corps of 60,000 men. Even strangers 
heard with reverence and emotion the well-known 
touching melody by Bartnjansky, recalling Mozart, and 
also the old Italian school But, at the close of these 
solemn strains, on every side was heard the national 
Bussian hymn, in all its purity, very often accompanied 
by clarionets and tambourines. An expedition through 
the camp in the day-time was not less amusing than the 
Coronation in Moscow. Here were to be seen Cossacks 
of the line, Circassians, Grusimans, Tscherkessen, and 
Mussulmans, in every imaginable costume, primitive- 
looking splendid forms, mth sunburnt faces, and glossy 
black hair and beards, armed with scimitars, pistols, and 
daggers, their heads covered by turbans or fur caps, 
others wore glittering silver helmets, and coats-of-mail 
made of links of steel, and while some invoked Allah, 
from the lips of others resounded hurrahs. The little 
horses carried their riders with the speed of gazelles 
over the plain, and the skill of the mountaineers aston- 
ished the spectators even more than European feats of 
dexterity in horsemanship. For the entertainment of 



118 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

the illustrious guests present, and also foreign generals 
and inquisitive travellers, a sham fight was got up, the 
standard to be captured being planted at Ezerum, till 
the battle became so serious that the Padischah (the 
Emperor) was obliged to separate the troops. Most of 
these had never seen the Czar, but he was at once recog- 
nised by his stately figure, majestic bearing, and despotic 
glance, as he approached them on foot, and by a motion 
of his hand checked their advance. The multifarious 
races, and the singular foreign countenances, involun- 
tarily reminded the spectator of Xerxes' vast army. On 
fSte-days in the camp, the Empress felt bound to appear^ 
so she arrived on horseback at the head of her regiment, 
in a green riding-habit and a white Bussian cap, lead- 
ing the troops past their Majesties, and saluting them. 
The fair leader of this regiment, after changing her dress, 
had still a variety of parts to perform ; she owed filial 
duty to the King, which she always fulfilled with the 
utmost tenderness ; she was also the mother of her 
children, whom her eye carefully watched in these stir- 
ring days ; the wife of the Czar, at whose summons this 
army had assembled, and also the hostess of numbers of 
illustrious guests. 

While the god of war displayed so much pomp and 
splendour, and such various nationalities, the peaceful 
arts of Europe also hastened hither, and built their 
temple near the tents. After fatiguing dusty days, the 
most illustrious guests, as well as the officers of both 
camps, assembled in the theatre in the evening, and the 
best comic actors of the Berlin stage cast peaceful 
squibs, and jests and gibes into the pit, crowded with 



FAMILY LIFE (1 834-39). 1 1 9 

soldiers. Spanish and Polish national dancers enchanted 
by their ease and grace, as much as during the day the 
little horses of the Caucasus^ darting along with the 
speed of an arrow, while the most charming voices vied 
with each other and with the nightingalea On many 
evenings the theatre was closed, and a select portion of 
the society assembled in the salon of Alexandra to 
enjoy pleasant conversation. The Russian and Prussian 
Courts, by the connecting link of the Empress, were 
well adapted to introduce a more elevated tone into this 
society, and wholly to banish the frigid stiffness of earlier 
times. On the other hand, the Bussian and Prussian 
armies not only made closer acquaintance with each 
other, showing proper respect for their mutual national 
peculiarities, but they both learned in the midst of 
a camp how to enjoy those higher charms of life 
that peace alone can bestow. The close of these war- 
like spectacles was not devoid of significance and 
importance ; on the last day they stormed the Palace 
of Kalisch, and at the moment when, after the vic- 
tory, plunder and rapine were about to ensue, the 
Empress appeared on the balcony of the Palace, in 
her brightest mission — that of an Angel of Peace. 
Thus Alexandra introduced, in many outward forms, 
closely connected with Court life, intellect, life, and 
significance. 

The Imperial family arrived again in Zarskoe-Sel6 late 
in the autumn, well and happy ; the health of Alexan- 
dra remained unafTected during the ensuing winter and 
summer ; the happiness of domestic life was now yearly 
interrupted by the journeys of the Emperor into the 



120 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

interior of his kiiigdom, but the autumn of 1836 was 
sadly disturbed by the alarming intelligence of an 
accident that had befallen him. He quitted his 
summer ^residence at the beginning of August, and 
was hurrying forward by Moscow, Nischnei-Novgorod, 
Kasan, Limbirsk, and Pensa^ in order to reach War- 
saw from thence by the middle of September. All 
went on well till he arrived at Pensa, on August 25 th, 
although every one who saw the Czar travelling in 
the interior of the kingdom trembled for his Hfe. On a 
dark night in August (26th), he continued hia journey 
beyond Pensa in a cal^he, when the weaiy and almost 
exhausted Emperor, as well as Count Benkendorf, fell 
sound asleep. About one o'clock in the morning they 
were startled by cries of teiror from the coachman and 
outriders ; the horses having run away in defiance of all 
human strength, till at last the cal^he, coming in con- 
tact with a heap of stones on the road, was upset with 
a crash ; Count Benkendorf was flung on the high road 
unhurt, but the Emperor remained still and mute, the 
coachman and valet lying close to the carriage, under 
the fallen horses. 

"Get out, your Majesty," said Benkendorf to 
Nicholas, who, however, to the horror of his fellow- 
traveller, made no answer. The Count shuddered, and 
seizing his hand, discovered that he was lying in a 
swoon, or nearly so. At length he recovered conscious- 
ness, and was led by the Count to a ditch on the road- 
side, where he seated himself, wrapped in his cloak, and 
after a long pause, said, — 

"I feel sure that my collar-bone is broken; but/' 



FAMILY LIFE (1 834-39). 121 

added he, "let us do nothing further till we haye 
implored the aid of God." 

The Count would fain have stayed with the Emperor, 
but the cries of terror and anguish of the valet were 
heartieading, and as Benkendorf waa hurrying to his 
assistance, there came past, as if sent by Providence, a 
discharged soldier, his breast covered with medals, who 
asked in alarm who had been upset 

"Your Emperor," said Benkendorf; "stay with him 
tiU I return." 

The coachman lay without any sign of life ; the valet 
was covered with blood The Count had never been in 
so distressing a position, but he did not lose his presence 
of mind. He sent off the groom who accompanied the 
imperial cal^he in a telega to the nearest station, five 
versts distant, the little town of Tschembar, to procure 
another carriage and to fetch a doctor. Meanwhile 
Nicholas revived, and eagerly desired the veteran soldier 
by his side to go and assist the groaning valet But in 
a few minutes he fainted again, and remained lying on 
the damp bare ground. 

What a melancholy spectacle of human weakness ! 
The mightiest of all rulers, at whose glance innumerable 
people bowed down, lies powerless, in the gloom of 
night, in a desolate corner of his kingdom, watched 
over by one of the poorest of his subjects ; his will is 
now as weak as his limbs, while he feels and shares the 
power of fate with his servants ; his commands are 
reduced to the most simple wishes, yet he must wait 
with patience even for their fulfilment; but though 
helpless and stretched on the cold ground, he remains 



122 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

true to his character, and thinks more of the unfor- 
tunate servant than of himself, and waits for help with 
Christian resignation. After an hour of painful expec- 
tation, the groom returned with the carriage and the 
surgeon from Tschembar ; the Emperor ordered him to 
go to the assistance of the valet and coachman, and 
entering the caliche drove on to the little town. But 
in a few minutes the motion of the carriage caused him 
such intolerable pain, that he preferred going the rest 
of the way on foot At the gates he was met by the 
principal magistrate, in deep concern to see the mighty 
Czar for the first time in his life under such melancholy 
circumstances, and at such an unusual hour, and to be 
compelled to receive him in a place devoid of all comfort 
and convenience for travellers — no inn, no town -hall, 
no senate-house ! the only building that he could oflFer 
as a refuge being the school. Benkendorf had already 
preceded them, and after removing the benches, lit up 
the lowly room. 

The Czar arrived quite exhausted in this wooden 
building ; first wrote a long amusing letter to his 
wife, gave all the most pressing orders to Adjutant- 
General Adlerberg, who had meanwhile arrived with a 
doctor, and not till all business was completed did he 
turn to Amdt, saying, — " Now it is your turn ; here is 
my arm, examine it, and do what is necessary." The 
two surgeons found the left collar-bone broken, but 
not till afterwards discovered that a rib was also 
broken. While they were bandaging him, he began to 
jest with those standing round about his new abode, 
and his own disaster. Next morning the house was 



FAMILY LIFE (1834-39). 123 

thronged with the whole population of the little town, 
and continued to be so day and night during the Em- 
peror's stay there; a few days afterwards came pour- 
ing in from the environs all that could serve for the 
invalid's personal use — fruit, flowers, even furniture and 
provisions ; for everything was wanting, so everything 
was welcome. The soldiers on leave left their villages, 
wishing to be allowed to offer their services to the 
Emperor, who discovered that though his realm was 
poor in convenient towns, his people were richer than 
all the rest of Europe in the capability of self-sacrifice. 
Nicholas's state of health became in a few days 
serious and critical ; besides broken bones, he had 
another source of severe sufferiilg, his good-humour 
gradually subsided into a morose mood, increased by 
the total want of every necessary comfort He began 
to work as if in his own cabinet, read through all the 
papers forwarded to him, summoned to his presence 
several chiefs of corps of the Southern Army, Admiral 
Lazaref, and Count Witt, skimmed some novels, and 
closely studied all the news in the papers, but his 
depression daily increased ; for the heat of this nook, 
under a straw -covered roof, where every current of. air 
must be carefully avoided, became quite intolerable, 
and he seemed to himself to be a prisoner in chains, 
and did not begin to revive till the surgeons allowed 
him to take a walk in the court. As the cure proceeded 
more slowly than he wished, his ill-humour was first 
vented on his doctors, but latterly on his whole suite. 
The medical men therefore agreed to allow their patient 
to set out on his journey before the three weeks had 



124 ALEXANDRA EliPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

» 

elapsed which the cure reqtdred, in the hopes of tran- 
quillizing him. He was informed of their decision, 
and of the day fixed for his journey, but even this 
appeared to him too long deferred, and he declared to 
Count Benkendorf, " I intend to set oflf to-morrow early, 
at nine o'clock, and if the doctors oppose me, I will go 
alone on foot." After this resolve, he occupied his last 
day in Tschembar by rewarding all those who had been 
of service to him. 

Six days after the accident, the Empress in Zarskoe- 
Sel6 and the capital were apprised of it. What terror ! 
What a new and difficult task for the illustrious lady ! 
Although Nicholas had written to her in the most 
cheerful spirit, still he had cause to fear that the 
tenderness of his wife would bring her to Tschembar; 
but such a journey would have thrown the whole 
kingdom into confusion, and made the state of her 
health more alarming than that of the Emperor him- 
self. With rare self-command, Alexandra contrived to 
conceal &om the population her terrible alarm; she 
appeared in the city the day after as friendly as ever ; 
she invited a number of persons to Zarskoe-Sel6, 
declaring the reports to be more favourable than in 
truth they were ; indeed she subsequently heard from 
her husband himself that on the sixth or seventh day 
of his illness he had been nrepared for death by a priest. 
At that epoch telegraph^ did not convey intelligence 
with lightning speed from one end of the kingdom to 
the other, and no express messenger could travel faster 
than the Emperor; his appearance, therefore, in his 
autumn residence was sudden and unexpected, and the 



FAMILY LIFE (1834-39). 125 

joy of the people loud and sincere; but now, in his 
secluded country Palace, he allowed himself twenty 
days of entire f est to complete his cure, and appeared 
for the first time in his capital on the 8th October, 
without any trace of the accident he had met with. 



CHAPTER IV. 

PETERHOP. 

In none of the many palaces in the city or in the 
country was the splendour of the Imperial Court so 
closely combined with the most simple and retired 
domestic life as in this little town. We must there- 
fore describe it more minutely, without, however, dwell- 
ing at too great length on the many objects it .contains. 
Much as the Grand Duchess Alexandra had been en- 
chanted with the view of the sea, of the gardens and 
fountains, quite as much was the Empress's eye offended 
by much that she saw. The immediate vicinity of the 
palace, the gardens, and the magnificent little town of 
Peterhof, were a desolate wilderness, in which on hot 
summer days the wind blew clouds of dust mountains 
high; the wooden houses of the gentry formed the 
most painful contrast to the palace, and beside the 
most brilliant Court equipages were to be seen coach- 
men in rags driving the different officials, and even the 
ministers were obliged to occupy miserable dwellings. 
The Russians are inured to such things, and do not 
heed them, but they revolt the stranger, so Alexandra 
prevailed on her husband to introduce more harmony 
into the whola After thirty years of toilsome labour^ 



PETEKHOF. 127 

Peterhof in this maimer became the most enchanting 
spot perhaps in the whole of Bussia, so we shall try to 
make a pilgrimage with our reader through this courtly 
residence, in its latest development. 

Three ways lead to it — by water, by rail, and by the 
old highway. We choose the latter. This road offers 
all the way from the capital to Peterhof a succession of 
fine country-houses and gardens, with no other species 
of tree, however, than birches and pines. The sea to the 
right hand appears and is hidden by turns, and at last 
we reach the barrier and the guard-house that mark the 
commencement of the Emperor^s property; the road 
runs straight through the centre of the place, about a 
league in length, but we turn to the left on reaching 
the barrier into a park of gloomy aspect, resembling, 
with its ancient trees, a primeval forest, through which 
walks have been cut Some stray individuals seek 
shade and coolness here on hot days, otherwise it is 
generally solitary and deserted, serving only as the 
abode of falcons, kites, and crows ; at some considerable 
distance we arrive at a pleasant lake, with islands, cot- 
tages, and Swiss ch&lets ; otherwise cultivation has done 
nothing for the spot : it is like a reminiscence of the 
olden time, when this wood was inhabited solely by 
wolves and foxes. From the water a road leads to the 
lower part of the petty town, which only within the 
last few years has been adorned with a church and gilt 
dome, and some houses built of stone. The space before 
the church is dead and deserted, and the adjoining 
streets also, so we pass along with indifference to the 
left of the high-road, and enter a second garden. At 



128 ALEXANDRA EBIFRESS OF RUSSU. 

first sight we feel as if transported a hundred miles 
towards the south ; it is ornamented hy deciduous trees^ 
traversed by flowing waters, on which are islands 
adorned with pretty little palaces, and a succession 
of columns and Belvideres. The most lovely flowers 
seem to grow wild here, reminding us of the Bor- 
romean Islands. In these winding paths, the aris- 
tocratic world of the Court are to be seen driving, 
at every hour of the day^ in open caltehes. To resist 
a visit to one of these islands is impossible, and a 
boat conveys us quickly across. The interior of this 
little palace is intended for one family only, as the 
largest room cannot hold more than ten people : it 
owes its origin to the domestic inclinations of the Em- 
peror and the Empress, who in the morning or evening 
wish to enjoy each other's society exclusively for half- 
an-hour. We climb the Belvidere, and behold with 
astonishment the singular mixture of town and country, 
of palaces and villages, woods and gardens, lakes and 
islands, that bear the name of Peterhof When our 
eyes stray beyond it, we perceive the most dismal plains 
close by, and are amazed at what the will of Nicholas 
and the taste of Alexandra have created here, as if by 
witchcraft. From this garden we cross over a brook, 
and enter the Cadet Camp, a town of tents — erected 
for the summer, enlivened by the most motley variety 
of uniforms. When the Czar appears among these 
martial youths, he is no longer the stern Autocrat of 
all the Bussias, he is the father of a numerous family 
of soldiers, and these cadets spring forward to meet 
him with more confidence and cordiality than perhaps 



PETEBHOF. 129. 

his own kindred at home. He takes part in their 
exercises and their sports, visits their tents, tastes the 
food at their table, and summons a certain number 
to measure their strength against his. A grand stately 
park adjoins the Cadet Camp, justly called the English 
garden ; its palace, its avenues of trees, the whole 
arrangements, with a pack of hounds and a pheasantry, 
transport the wanderer far away from the Bussian 
camp, and gloomy primeval forests, into England. This 
spot offers the same shade and coolness as those ancient 
woods; but its aspect is pleasing and romantia In 
June especially it is filled with the songs of innumer- 
able nightingales, and the bright summer nights here 
have an inexpressible charm. It is of so great an 
extent that it might adorn one of the larger German 
capitals; so it looks rather deserted. Philosophers, 
poets, and artists seldom visit this spot; but in the 
twilight of a Sussian night it is the scene of many an 
adventura The inquiring stranger is anxious above 
all to visit the palace, which offers both amusement 
and instruction, by means of its spacious picture-gallery, 
affording hours of amusemeut. It is not the artistic 
but the historical interest of the portraits that bestows 
value on this collection. Catherine the Second caused 
all her crowned contemporaries to send her their por- 
traits ; and thus we find here historical treasures, in the 
shape of portraits, dating seventy years before the close 
of the last century. Here we see Frederick William 
the Third as a child, with his father and Frederick the 
Great, Maria Theresa and Joseph the Second, Caroline 
Matilda of Denmark, the younger brothers of Louis the 

VOL. IL I 



130 ALfflULNDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

Sixteenth, and even the Sultan and the Pope. Those 
who do not feel at home among those forms of other 
days may visit the menagerie, where, among other 
animals, a herd of wolves gnash their teeth at the 
stranger, but start back timidly as soon as the Jager 
appears with his stick At the back of this park is an 
alder wood, traversed by a brook, which flows through 
the grounda By following its course out of the garden, 
we come into a small hollow, or rather dell, across 
which a bridge is thrown, connecting the upper and I 
lower town. The Empress never drove over this bridge | 
without pausing here to admire the alders by the < 
brook. By her desire the whole of this dell, above and ' 
below, is adorned with the most beautiful turf, and 
groups of trees and flowers, and intersected by paths 
in all directions. Thus was completed an embellish- 
ment that would scarcely have been remarked in 
German towns, but proved most ornamental to this 
desolate village. We find ourselves on the side where 
the palace stands, and drive- along a good high-road, 
past the Imperial dwelling up a gentle acclivity. To 
our left, the old Dutch garden slopes down to the sea. 
It is the work of Peter the Great's own hands, and 
none of his successors have ventured to make any 
change. The straight avenues were marked out by 
himself, the oaks and elms planted by his own hands. 
Here we perceive a modest Dutch cottage close to a 
square pond. At twelve o'clock at noon a bell rings, 
summoidng its inhabitants — carps — to the shore to be 
fed, and people assemble on the opposite bank to see this 
spectacle. The greatest object of interest is certainly 



PETEBHOF. 131 

the small house adjoining, once inhabited by Peter 
himself, when he gave np his palace to his Court at- 
tendants. All this seems to lead us back to the first 
ten years of the eighteenth century ; and we are also 
shown the clumsy chairs, tables, benches, and beds 
that the great man manufactured; the simple clothes 
he wore are also preserved here like sacred relics. 
Straight-cut avenues, traversed by others at right 
angles, divide the garden into a number of little quad- 
rangles, to its furthest extremity, marked by a stone 
walL After crossing the canal leading down from the 
palace, we draw near a second favourite resort of Peter 
the Great, called Mon Plaisir, assuredly the most 
charming spot in the whole place. It is a garden en- 
compassed by strong hedges overtopped by high shady 
oaks and other trees, without any turf, but adorned 
with innumerable flower-beds and several fountains, 
while a number of seats invite the wanderer to peace- 
ful repose. It is as if the North and the South here 
united their best gifts. In the background of this 
garden stands a lowly Dutch house, with the furniture 
of the period and day of this great and unpretending 
man, and adjoining it a kitchen with Dutch utensils, 
all denoting burgher simplicity. Peter the First passed 
through every social gradation in rank; he was a 
carpenter and a sailor, a soldier and an officer, up to 
the Imperial dignity; and these experiences were in 
him the source of his creative power. At the back of 
this house we find ourselves close by the shore of the 
Finland 6uK, miles broad; stone benches under spread- 
ing lime-trees offer us great enjoyment of the marvel- 



132 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

lou8 view, which Peter dreamed of, but did not live to 
witness. To the right lies the giant city, with its 

■ 

golden and sky-blue domes ; to the left is Cronstadt, 
where a forest of masts seems swimming on the sea ; 
opposite lies the coast of Finland, bearing the same 
aspect as in Peter's day; but on its watery surface 
steamboats now ply between Cronstadt, Peterhof, and 
Petersburg. An evening in June, in the longest sum- 
mer days on this shore, is incomparably lovely. We 
see the sim dip into the sea before our eyes, but we 
expect night in vain. Even at midnight, the pure clear 
light of day, a cloudless but starless sky above, shines 
faintly on the watery mirror, and keeps the weary eyes 
waking. The inhabitants of the north find the greatest 
charm of the whole year in these bright nights, and 
even to a stranger this extraordinary spectacle is an 
object of interest. The Imperial family seldom visit 
this little paradise, for they would be besieged by the 
population. It is magnanimous enough in them to give 
up such a spot to the multitude. 

A short path leads us from here to the wall that 
divides the old Dutch gardens from Alexandria^ the 
abode of Nicholas and his wife. We already men- 
tioned that, on the day before her journey to Taganrog, 
Alexander presented his brother with this property. 
At that time it was little more than a marshy meadow, 
which, with its gentle. |U3clivity, extended down to the 
sea, the lower part forming a willow plEmtation, and 
the upper without any buildings. Here the Emperor 
Nicholas first caused a simple house of two storeys to 
be built, and lived in it for the next few years with his 



PETEBHOF. 133 

five children. There was no room even for servants, 
who were obliged to come from the old palace every 
morning. The rooms are small, and even the mlan 
where they receive cannot conveniently hold twenty 
persons. Compared with Peter^s abode, it is indeed a 
comfortable house, suited to a family in good circum- 
stances, charmingly furnished in accordance mth the 
ideas of the nineteenth century, and the requirements 
of a private gentleman, but it does not go beyond this ; 
and the stranger who sees it in the absence of the 
Court, can scarcely imagine that it is intended for the 
ruler of seventy millions of people; but it gave the 
Emperor an opportunity of being alone with his family 
for a short time during his busy day, and in the 
morning to breathe fresh sea-breezes on the Uttle 
height, and not to be tormented during the day by 
burdensome affairs. With the exception of the tutors ^ 
of the Imperial children, and physicians, no one found 
admission on business; the gates were guarded by 
sentries, and only ladies who came to visit the Empress 
were admitted When, however, owing to the increase 
of their family, the house became too small, an adjacent 
farm was metamorphosed into an abode for the heir- 
apparent ; while another house at the entrance of the 
garden was made use of for the second son Con- 
stantine, and others were built for the younger branches. 
The plantation throve, and at the end of Nicholas's 
reign it had become a beautiful garden, with several 
&mily dwellings. A Greek chapel, in the Gothic 
style, had been long since built at the entrance of the 
garden, where religious services were held when the 



134 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

delicate Alexandra had not strength to drive to the 
distant large palace. It is only a few steps from the 
Imperial abode to the gate and barrier of Peterhof, and 
the wanderer again finds himseK on the line whence he 
first diverged from the highway. The pleasure-grounds 
that we have described are at most from three to four 
versts in length, and scarcely two versts in breadth. 
But by Nicholas it was extended on every side, and 
embellished, so that its whole circumference was not 
inferior to that of the German principality of Lichten- 
stein. From Alexandria^ a good road leads through 
the garden to the old palace ; and we must also pursue 
this way in order to see what Nicholas has accom- 
plished in the vicinity. 

Between Alexandria and the old palace, in Alex- 
ander's time, a desolate waste existed, dotted over with 
little wooden houses for the suite, insignificant both in 
their exterior and interior. Now we see by the side of 
the road a succession of Gothic buildings, destined for 
the accommodation of Court ladies and gentlemen 
and Court officials. It must be confessed that the 
Emperor has done more for his guests than for himself 
and his family. These dwellings contain every com- 
fort that a family can desire — ^balconies with flowers, 
verandahs, and a little garden before each entrance. 
Here a large house is set apart for the reception of 
ministers, another for adjutants, as well as for the High- 
Chamberlain, and the highest Court dignitaries. The 
old palace, with its appendages, is a town in itself, 
chiefly inhabited by Excellencies, and Serene and Boyal 
Highnesses. When the Emperor's love for the Gothic 



P£TERHOF. 135 

was perceived, in a short time a mass of country-houses 
in that style sprang up round the palace — many in- 
deed built of wood, that they might be inhabited as 
quickly as possible And this singular whimsical taste 
prevailed in Petersburg at the very time when the 
national spirit was striving to abolish all that was 
foreign ; but on the aboriginal iohabitants of Peterhof this 
had not the smallest influence. The citizens. continued 
on both sides of the paleu^ in their one-storeyed log- 
houses, and adhered faithfully and honestly to their 
national peculiarities, which the higher classes of the 
nobility only affected to do. The lavish generosity of 
the Court was seen in its highest lustre in Beterhof ; 
the entire suite, and indeed several hundreds of persons 
besides, being not only comfortably and luxuriously 
lodged, but an Imperial equipage placed at the disposal 
of each, and also the necessary attendants ; and besides 
being supplied with provisions in their own houses, 
there was also a Lord Marshal's table, provided like 
that of Lucullus, which on high festivals, or particiQar 
occasions, included from three to four hundred persons. 
The Imperial family did not participate in these splen- 
dours, but remained in the seclusion of Alexandria. 

The Court provides its guests and suite with a 
singular kind of equipage for excursions, which is un- 
known to the rest of Europe. They are called Lines, 
and consist of benches with cushions, four wheels, with 
a back in the middle, so that on each side four pei^ons 
can sit in a row beside each other. It is used for 
evening drives in the lower garden. The Emperor 
contributed most liberally to those Court retainers who 



136 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

wished to build in Peterhof, as he not only gave them 
the ground to build on, but a field for a large garden ; 
all were to have a share in his favourite creation, and 
a couple of months' residence in Peterhof in summer 
was to atone for the privations imposed by the late 
spring and the damp cold autumn. The weather was 
generally favourable during the stay at Peterhof, as if 
invited to this courtly circle, and wishing to appear in 
the best light. Nicholas therefore used to call fine 
weather, a Peterhof sky. Nowhere was he in a more 
cheerful mood, and his brow at Peterhof was as differ- 
ent from that in the Winter Palace as summer and 
winter. But Peterhof was not only embellished and 
remodelled, it was also enlarged and extended in every 
direction. 

A private garden adjoined that of Alexandria, be- 
longing to the Mjatlef family, adorned with a stately 
palace and a beautifully laid out park; the Emperor 
Alexander had already proposed to buy it for his 
brother, but gave up the idea from the high price. 
Nicholas purchased it^ and presented it to his wife. 
When the heir-apparent and his sister Marie were both 
married, Alexandria, with its small adjacent houses, 
no longer sufficed, so they bought for the Grand 
Duchess Marie and her husband (the Duke of Leuch- 
tenberg) a charming garden at the other end of Peterhof, 
belonging to the Narischkin family, and there the Em- 
pieror built for his daughter a spacious house, with a 
lovely view of the sea. Between Peterhof and this 
viUa, called Sergiefskoe, stood a charming small dwell- 
ing, Nicholas's own special country residence. They 



PETERHOP. 137 

went there sometimes to drink tea in the evening, or 
gave it up to one of the families who always followed 
in their train. The extent of Imperial Peterhof along 
the sea was neariy double what it had formeriy been, 
but all this did not suffice for the Emperor; on the 
land side also the pleasure-grounds were to be 
widened. From the old palace garden a road lay 
between the Cadet Camp and the islands, which led 
to a gentle rising ground, several versts in width ; a 
rivulet lends a peculiar charm to this path, and on it 
two villas were built, at a little distance from each 
other, in the Italian style; both small, and destined 
for the reception of the highest members of the Imperial 
family. Groups of fine trees met the pilgrim's eye, and 
like a reminiscence of German meadows, a mill or a 
brook surprised the spectator, more, however, as pleas- 
ing objects than for any practical purposa Beside the 

• 

largest of the two villas, the brook widens into a little 
lake, and its banks are surrounded by forest trees. 
Between the lake and the house are banks of flowers, 
which can be arranged as seats of a theatre, of course 
for a limited society. Here Nicholas once had the 
ballet of " Ondine " performed on the water for Alex- 
andra. During the longest days of the year, after 
sunset, in the singular light of a Korthem sky, woods 
and waters were the stage of the ballet, and the dis- 
tance of the spectators such, that the boats in which 
the nymphs appeared were invisible, and the whole 
dance seemed to hover over the water. On the summit 
of the accUvity stands a handsome villa, also much 
frequented by the people. It commands the finest and 



138 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

most extensive prospect over land and sea, scarcely 
to be equalled in all Europe. The coast of Finland 
stretches before the eyes of the spectator from Peters- 
burg to far beyond Cronstadt, in an expansion of many' 
versts, without any variety, like the wooden frame of 
a long, broad mirror ; Peterhof itself, which lies con- 
tiguous, is hidden in the gardens, and the golden 
cupolas of the palace and town churches alone betray 
its vicinity. The coast of Finland, in its vast extent, 
without any rising grounds, without either towns or 
church spires, looks most desolate. On a similar plain 
in Grermany or France, hundreds of different villages 
might be counted; here are only Petersburg at one end, 
and Cronstadt at the other, and in the centre lurks 
Peterhof. The inhabitants of these plains are en- 
chanted that their eyes are unshackled by any object, 
whereas mountaineers stand in amazement, but cold 
and dissatisfied. It is again the bright nights, that by 
their indescribable light lend such a marvellous charm 
to this boundless prospect. If any one takes the 
trouble to pass five hours in the pleasant villa on this 
height, he will see the sun dip down at a late hour into 
the sea, and then rise over the city of Petersburg. The 
hours that intervene pass as if in a dream, which trans- 
ports the wearied soul into an unknown land. He may 
listen to the subdued distant thunder of cannon, that 
from the ramparts of Cronstadt announces the close of 
day ; he can hear the tattoo of drums, enlivening the 
pretty garden of the old palace ; the stillness of night 
surrounds him on every side, but the light does not fade 
away, and at last all life seems dead, except the songs 



PETEBHOF. 139 

of the distant nightingales in the English garden. 
Towards midnight^ when the light grows rather dimmer, 
the view is even more wonderful In the spot of the 
' horizon where the sun sank to rest, a fiery red glow is 
TLsible, like a distant and terrihle conflagration, to 
which the silvery-white mirror of the sea forms a 
striking contrast The Northern daylight seems poor 
in comparison with the night pictures, that Peterhof 
displays more than any other place near the capital 
The whole of Bussia, with its boundless distant views, 
offers the most marked difference &om England, where 
the eye seldom reaches any great distance, and the aspect 
of the country becomes wearisome by the monotony of 
its cultivation. 

Descending from this height towards the English 
garden, we reach the willow plantation at the back of 
the wood; but we must first cross a desolate space; 
we traverse the modest little thicket by the side of 
the rivulet that ripples gaily through it. When 
Alexandra was driving, in the year 1836, with her 
husband, in this secluded spot, she expressed a wish 
that the place should also be adorned with a cot- 
tage, — indeed, with a Bussian peasant's hut Nicholas 
promised it for the ensuing year; but his greatest 
delight was to surprise his wife by the fulfilment of 
her wishes. Three weeks after, the Emperor, one 
Sunday morning, declared that after mass, he was 
obliged, with his children, to visit the Cadet Gamp, 
and requested his consort to await his return in the 
old palace, or till he sent for her; accordingly, after 
m&ss, he and all the children disappeared. In the 



1 40 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

course of an hour an aid-de-camp arrived, to show 
the Empress the way to the place where the Emperor 
was expecting her, beyond the Cadet Camp. She drove 
with one of her ladies in an open carriage and four, to 
the spot whither the aide-de-camp conducted her, and 
stopped at last on the same ground where, a few weeks 
previously, she had wished for a cottage. By the 
Czar^s all-potent will a house now stood there, to her 
amazement, and from the door came forward a porter, 
generally in Bussia a discharged soldier, in a long 
grey greatcoat, the jcollar embroidered in gold lace, 
and three gold chevrons on his left sleeve. Contraiy 
to the Bussian usage, he was no bald-headed old grey- 
beard, but a tall, fine -looking man, in the prime of life.* 
He opened the door of the carriage, and begged her 
Majesty, with every token of respect, to enter his 
house for a few minutes. Not until he spoke did the 
illustrious lady recognise in this handsome veteran 
her own husband, who nevertheless played out his 
part with perfect gravity. Accompanied by him she 
went into the house, where she found her seven 
children awaiting her. "Permit me, your Majesty," 
continued the veteran, " to tell you the names of my 
children, and to recommend them to the powerful pro- 
tection of the Czarina. My eldest son is already an 
aide-de-camp, though scarcely nineteen years of age, 
and I trust he may pursue a fortunate career. I have 
a petition, however, to make to your Majesty, in favour 
of my three other sons, and my three daughters. My 
ten-years-old boy, Constantine, is intended for the 
navy, my seven-years-old, Nicholas, for the Engineers, 



PETEBHOP. 141 

and the youngest, Michael, for the Artillery. My 
eldest daughter, Marie, I shoiQd wish to place in 
Smolna, the second, Olga, in the Catherine Institution, 
and^the third, Alexandrina, in the Patriotic Institution." 
The Empress promised the worthy Swiss to do all that 
lay in her power for these children, and, speechless 
with emotion, embraced her husband. She now noticed 
the arrangement of the interior, that contained every- 
thing usually to be found in a Eussian peasant's hut, 
in the shape of wooden stools and benches, tables, and 
kitchen utensils. The hut was called Nikolskoe. 

During the time of* their stay in Feterhof, from the 
beginning of June to the middle of August, good 
fortune caused a succession of family fStes to become 
due. June 25th was Nicholas's birthday, which was, 
however, very quietly celebrated Jidy 1st, Alexandra's 
birthday, was considered the most important domestic 
and popular fSte of the year. July 22d, Lady Day, 
was also the King of Prussia's birthday; in former 
years it was the name-day of the venerable Empress- 
mother, and more recently, that of the wife of the heir- 
apparent (now reigning Empress), the Grand Duchess 
Maria Pawlowna of Saxe Weimar. June 26th was 
the birthday of the Grand Duchess, Alexandra Joseph- 
own& July 27th, that of the Grand Duke Nicholas ; 
and in the beginning of August was the f dte of Alex- 
andra's eldest daughter Marie. A summer seldom 
passed without some foreign guests or members of 
the reigning German families being received at Feter- 
hof, and sharing in the splendours of the Court there. 
A special steamboat was employed, solely for the 



142 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF BUSSDL 

purpose of fetching foreign guests from Stettin or 
Kiel, and taking them back again; and in order to 
do honour to his foreign visitors, the Emperor re~ 
ceived them both in the old and new palace, and in 
the Gothic houses in the vicinity, besides erecting a 
number of splendid family dwellings for their benefit. 
But Peterhof was accessible to foreign artists also, who 
thus not only became acquainted with Imperial pomp 
and power, but also with their domestic life. Two of 
these were specially noticed by the Emperor, Horace 
Vemet and Gudin ; they helped to decorate the cabinet 
of the Czar, and found many a picturesque point of 
view in the vicinity of Peterhof, that might perhaps 
have been overlooked by native eyes. They generally 
departed in autumn, with fresh laurels and substantial 
gold, leaving the hospitable land many a beautiful and 
artistic souvenir. There Horace Vemet painted the 
Imperial family at a tournament, a masterpiece in com- 
position, but deficient in the likeness of the individuals. 
The facade of the palace itself is long, but simple, and 
only distinguished by the golden cupola of the church 
to the right, and to the left by a gold eagle; there is much 
splendour in the interior, but few objects of art We must 
specify, however, the pictures of Hackert, that represent 
the naval battle of Tschesme. It is well known that Orlof 
caused a ship of war to be blown up at Leghorn, in 
order that the artist might depict the incident from his 
own observation ; but these paintings are cold and un- 
interesting, and generally overlooked by visitors to the 
palace. During the thirty years of Nicholas's reign, no 
alteration has been made on the palace itself, although 



r 



PETERHOF. 143 

all around eveiything is new ; persons who had not 
visited this spot since the year 1827 till the death of 
Nicholas, believed that they saw an entirely new town. 
While the shores of Petersburg, as far as Oranien- 
baum, are adorned with all the art and taste, the luxury 
and nature that the nineteenth century in Europe can 
supply, in the shape of palaces, country-seats, gardens, 
churches, cloisters, the whole presenting a refreshing 
spectacle to the eye, the opposite Finland shore lies 
arid and desolate, precisely as in the days of Peter. 
By merely crossing the river between the two coasts, 
the one side is indicative of a fruitful present, and 
the other of a desolate past What in the beauteous 
Eheingau has been the work of many centuries, the 
reigns of Peter and Nicholas alone have here produced, 
as if by magic ; barren nature has been embellished by 
the skill and industry of man, and enriched and beauti- 
fied by human means. To Petersburg, that Imperial 
capital) adorned with palaces, columns, and golden 
cupolas, this shore forms a fitting western boundary, 
and as far as Peterhof and Oranienbaum, is in the 
same connection with the capital as the shores of the 
Bosporus do from Stamboul to Bojukdere. The palace 
and gardens of Zarskoe-Sel6 are solemn, quiet, and 
majestic ; we divine that here the most powerful ruler 
on earth dwells in unapproachable seclusion, where 
all is measured ; we even shrink from careless move- 
ments on the well-kept, orderly paths, and feel as if an 
Imperial foot alone ought to tread them ; Horace's line 
would have formed an admirable inscription over the 
entrance : Odi profanum vulgvs et arceo. Peterhof, on 



144 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

the contraiy, is calciQated to attract and to entertain the 
most motley crowd. Beside the fountains, we see tlie 
most refined aristocrats standing in astonishment, and 
in the shady paths a Finland peasant, l}dng down^ 
cheerfully eating dry bread, seasoned with salt; in 
Zarskoe-Sel6 such a scene would be an anachronism. 
If we wished to define both places by a German 
word, we must call the one Kaisergi^vJie and the other 
Kaiserdust, 

Here at least there were evening hours when the 
Imperial femily could breathe fresh air undisturbed. 
When towards evening the ever-busy Nicholas had 
finished his affairs, and read all papers and petitions, 
his children, especially in earlier years, assembled round 
him, and for an occasional half-hour he used to share 
their games; then the whole family, with or without 
any retinue, got into an open char-d-banc, the Emperor 
on the front seat acting as coachman ; they drove slowly 
along those avenues nearest the sea, still brightened 
by the rays of the declining sun, and suddenly appeared 
in the upper gardens, where two military bands were 
playing under fragrant limes, attracting a vast throng 
of peopla The carriage stopped ; their Majesties de- 
sired some persons in the crowd to approach, and 
conversed with them, but wished to avoid receiving 
any special marks of respect — ^indeed, they much pre- 
ferred remaining imnoticed. On fiine summer evenings 
this select Imperial circle drank tea at one of the twenty 
different resorts that the Emperor had erected for his 
wife, hurrying back to the secluded Alexandria before 
the damp nigbt-air could injure the Empress, whose 



PCTERHOF. 145 

health, since the year 1836, was so seriously affected that 
its complete restoration was no longer possible. This 
is, not surprising, when we cast a backward glance at 
the last ten years of the Empire. 

The life of both their Majesties, when we study it 
more closely, consists of obligations, engagements, and 
weighty duties, offering little enjoyment, with the ex- 
ception of the few moments devoted to domestic life. 
The nervous system of the Empress since December 
14th had been severely shaken, and a convulsive spasm 
in the face, as well as a tremulous motion of her head, 
often disturbed the beautiful repose of her expression. 
It cost her both much trouble and effort to master these 
attacks, and even with the greatest endurance of which 
the female sex is capable, she was not always able to 
overcome every token of this sudden pain. The reader 
is already aware of the physical fatigues she was sub- 
jected to during the first year of her accession; the 
two interments so quickly succeeding each other, the 
coronation in Moscow, the Turkish war, the death of 
the Empress-mother, the Polish revolution, the terrible 
year of the cholera — aU this would have sufficed to 
affect the strongest nature.* Notwithstanding the un- 
constraint and independence of her character, her 
Imperial dignity, church, and society compelled her 
to encounter a number of inevitable obligations, which 
kept her in a state of constant excitement No day 
passed without the arrival of petitions that she had not 
the means of satisfying, some of which indeed were 
quite laughable, not to say shameless, but under every 
circumstance they exacted much time and strength ; no 
VOL. n. « 



146 ALEXANDBA EMPBESS OF SUSSIA. 

day passed without official presentations, without visits 
from ladies of high degree, utterly indifferent to Alex- 
andra herself, though far from being so to her visi- 
tors. If any one was not invited to Court for a few 
weeks he immediately suspected disgrace or want of 
proper consideration, and wished to convince himself 
on what grounds he had been forgotten. The Empress 
often received persons of this kind — ^indeed, almost 
invariably, — in order that the public might be thus 
convinced of the deUcacy of her health. None of the 
higher classes of society in Petersburg left the capital 
to travel without taking leave of her in person; 
no one came back without presenting themselves 
before her. In the course of the year, she received 
many thousands of persons, solely from established 
etiquette. The minutes she passed with real satisfac- 
tion might have been counted. In fifteen years she 
had been the mother of seven children, one being bom 
in the dreadful cholera year of anguish and sorrow. 
From the year 1835 she could rarely appear in society, 
and her appearance at great Court ceremonies on festive 
occasions was prohibited. The Court and the city, since 
Nicholas's accession, were accustomed to see the Imperial 
couple together every day; so it made a bad impression 
when a Court reception was suddenly put off, and the 
public became impatient. For a good many years 
Nicholas dispensed with the popidar festival on New 
Year's Day, out of consideration for his invalid wife, 
and various other Court entertainments were abolished. 
The Emperor anticipated that his consort would not 
be able to appear at Christmas, and not wishing to 



PBTEKHOF. 147 

expose her and himself to the gossip of the town, he 
asked the physicians, in the middle of December, 
whether the Empress could be churched at Christmas. 
The doctors answered in the negative, to his infinite 
annoyanca The oft-recurring illness of Alexandra 
was laid to the charge of her two body physicians 
by the public, and the opinion that they ought to be 
replaced by others suggested itself to her husband also. 
One of these had been body physician to the family 
ever since Nicholas's marriage; he was English by 
birth, learned, and highly cultivated, and possessed the 
entire confidence of both their Majesties. Physicians 
in families of distinction are too apt to give up their 
town practice, and thus lose theoretical knowledge 
and acute insight into maladies. For this reason Dr. 
Crichton had been given a colleague for many years, 
who enjoyed a great reputation in the capital, and uni- 
versal confidence there. This was a German, Eauch 
by name, in those days considered an infallible 
oracle in the city, and excelling all his colleagues 
in erudition. But this man also was deficient in two 
qualifications, without which a physician cannot be 
entirely trustworthy — a quick eye and a quick ear; 
moreover, he became nervous the moment he breathed 
the atmosphere of a Court, which indeed he rather 
shunned than sought The Emperor himself therefore 
resolved to consult a third physician about the state 
of his wife, for which purpose a young German, Dr. 
Mandt, was highly recommended. He had studied in 
Berlin under Bust, Horn, and Hufeland, had under- 
taken scientific journeys, and after having been a short 



^ I 



148 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

time in Petersburg had become the object of universal 
attention, although he had accompanied the Grand 
Duchess Hel&ne to the capital only to spend one winter 
there, for he was a professor in the University of 
Greifswalde. About ten days before Christmas Mandt 
made his appearance in the Winter Palace, and inves- 
tigated the condition of the Empress in the presence of 
the Emperor and the two physicians, when he declared 
plainly and decidedly that he would restore her 
to health in a few days, and that . she might be 
present at the fStes. Nicholas now committed the 
treatment of the Empress wholly to this young phy- 
sician, and in fact, in the course of eight days, she could 
appear in public and at the fSte, to the universal joy 
of all in the city. Their M^esties showed the most 
absolute reliance on the new doctor, and endeavoured 
to secure him for their Court. A violent storm arose 
in Petersburg against the lucky foreigner, especially on 
the part of the other doctors, who all felt themselves 
injured by this occurrence, particularly as in those years 
the national element was so highly favoured at Court 
The appearance of the young man was far from unin- 
teresting. A tall and slender figure, a massive bi*ow, 
an eagle nose, piercing eyes, a well- shaped mouth, and 
a proud firm step, invested him with peculiar and 
almost priestly dignity ; he either attracted with irre- 
sistible force or was felt to be harshly repellent. Many 
of his colleagues coiQd perhaps vie with him in learn- 
ing, but not one possessed such insight into the depths 
of the soul, into the most profound recesses of the 
whole being, and no one exercised such power over 






PETERHOF. 149 

&e human, and more especially the female, heart 
From that moment the town was divided into two 
parties — ^his warmest admirers and most implacable 
foes ; and it seemed as if the Court, for the first time, 
had to contend against public opinion. From the time of 
this incident Mandt remained the winter in Petersburg, 
in the vicinity of the Grand Duchess Helfene, resolved 
himself -to dictate the conditions on which he would 
remain as body physician in the Imperial Court* pro- 
vided the Emperor expressed a wish that he should 
do so. 

At the same period a negotiation was commenced with 
another physician, Markus, as it woiQd have been setting 
public opinion too grossly at defiance to have intrusted 
the Imperial family to the care of a foreigner. Markus 
was bom and educated in Eussia, had gone through the 
French campaign as a young doctor, and considered 
a medical oracle in Moscow. He possessed the love 
and esteem of all his colleagues, so that they also pro- 
posed him to the Court; for in Petersburg no one 
expressed any desire to share so difficult an office with 
Mandt, who even in the smallest circles could not 
conceal his dictatorial disposition. Alexandra, how- 
ever, continued well all through the winter, and had 
strength enough to visit her schools and to enter into 
society occasionally, and often to go to the theatre, so 
that Mandf s quick perception and skill coiQd not be 
denied. He seemed as if bom and trained at Court, 
though when in Germany he had never been brought 
into contact with the most petty prince. His manners 
were versatile and easy, his demeanour assured and 



150 ALEXANDRA EBIPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

steady, his speech frank and plain ; he gave his opinion 
to Nicholas briefly and clearly. The obsequiousness 
with which a Bussian physician presents himself before 
his superiors was quite foreign to his custom — ^in short, 
he was the man for the Emperor and the Empress. 

In the course of the ensuing spring Markus appeared 
&om Moscow, and made his first acquaintance with the 
Court and the perplexing circumstances in which he 
was placed. His appearance was totally different from 
that of Mandt in every respect — ^indeed, he had nothing 
in common with him except his position. His exterior 
was that of a benevolent clever man ; his conversation 
betokened varied acquirements ; he was as well versed 
in classical literature as in the more recent discoveries 
in physical science, and assuredly the most intellectual 
of all the physicians in Bussia. Markus found many 
old acquaintances and patrons at the Imperial Court, 
and his agreeable demeanour would certainly speedily 
have gained him friends had he been as complete a 
stranger as Mandt, who by his arrogance had made 
enemies of the whole medical corps. The two men did 
not at all suit each other, and only respect for their 
high vocation and for the Emperor could induce them 
to act together. The treatment of the Empress was for 
the present confided to Dr. Markus. Mandt remained 
in Bussia, with the title of consulting doctor to the 
Grand Duchess Helfene ; but he frequently saw the 
Empress and observed her organization. She was better 
this summer than any one had expected, and able to 
undertake a journey to Southern Bussia. The Emperor 
held a grand review of troops at Wosnesensk, to which 



PETEBHOF. 151 

many foreign princes were invited, among others the 
young Duke Maximilian of Leuchtenberg ; after this it 
was settled to pay a visit to the southern shores of the 
Crimea. 

We regret that space will not admit of our giving a 
detailed account of that wonderful country, but we refer 
our readers to our own work, A Pilgrimage to the SatUh- 
£cL$t, the first part of which, " The Peninsula of the 
Taurus," contains minute descriptions of the regions 
and towns visited in that year by the Empress. A 
journey firom Petersburg to the Crimea, &om the home 
of the birch and the pine, to that of the olive and the 
fig, was in those days very troublesome, and, notwith- 
standing all the preparations made for her comfort, 
proved very fatiguing for her. The monotonous plains 
from Petersburg to the Black Sea are enlivened by 
streams that excite surprise by their width, so unusual 
with us. Bivers like the Oder, Elbe, and Weser, beside 
the Don and the Dneiper, would be considered only 
tributary streama If we reach the same latitude in 
which the Alps rise in the centre of Europe, there also 
begin the steppes of Southern Bussia, the first impres- 
sion being that this is the end of the world. The more 
surprising, therefore, is the Crimea, and its picturesque 
mountain-chains, and the Black Sea, with its ancient 
Greek traditions. The Empress's delight in the enjoy- 
ment of such unequalled scenery made her forget her 
delicate health, the only drawback being that she could 
not entirely lay aside her Imperial prestige, and that 
difficult, nay fatiguing, duties, awaited her towards the 
stranger population of this boundless kingdom. Her 



152 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

taste for the beauties of nature was as highly cultivated 
as for literature, painting, and music. After reading 
Jean Paul's Titan, she cherished an eager wish to see 
the Borromean Islands, and in every profound mind a 
desire springs up to see foreign scenes. This longing is 
the greater in the inhabitants of the North, &om art 
causing the poverty of reality to be all the more oppres- 
siva The reader knows that Alexandra was obliged 
to rest contented with a view of the Gulf of Finland 
from Peterhof, and with the small brooks and lakes of 
that country palace ; she had already felt pleasure at 
sight of the little acclivities of Duderhof and Oranien- 
baum; the Khine exhilarated her whole soul; but 
everything she had as yet seen, when compared to the 
Crimea, was like the pleasant landscapes of Buysdael 
and Hobbima in comparison with the splendid paint- 
ings of Claude Lorraine. 

From Wosnesensk the Emperor and Empress, and 
their eldest son and daughter, proceeded to Odessa, and 
thence by the steamer ** North Star" to SebastopoL 
From this steel-clad fortress, which in that year little 
dreamt of its future celebrity, their first expedition was 
to the George Cloister, about two miles from the city, 
situated on the rugged brow of steep banks 400 feet 
above the Pontus. After service in the Cloister, Alex- 
andra examined the environs, where, according to 
tradition, the Temple of Iphigenia once stood. " What 
were my sensations," said she herself afterwards, " in 
standing on the very spot where stood, a thousand 
years ago, our poet's highest ideal of woman ! Although 
enchanted in our youthful years by Greek legends, we 



PETERHOP. 153 

neither inquire as to their locality nor date, and still 
less does the possibility suggest itself of ourselves 
' making a pilgrimage to the identical spot ! It seemed 
to me as if a loug-forgotten dream had been revived in 
my memoiy and become a reality." 

But in addition to Gi:ecian and Christian traditions, 
the Crimea is also rich in objects of present interest, 
which, to the cxdtivated European, border on the mar- 
vellous. On the ensuing day the Empress drove with 
her daughter Marie to Baktschiserai, the capital of Khan 
Tatary, which transports the spectator from the Greek 
world into the land of the ''Thousand>and-one Nights.'' 
The uncouth Taurians of their day can scarcely have 
gazed with greater curiosity at Grecian Iphigenia than 
these equally uncouth Tatars at the two august ladies. 
What could those inofTensive aborigines offer as a re- 
ception worthy of an Empress ? They galloped to meet 
her on their swift little horses, darting roimd her open 
carriage, performing feats of horsemanship like swallows 
on the wing. In order to see all this novel world better, 
the ladies stood up in the carriage to have an uninter- 
rupted view all around. The insignificant houses in 
the town, which lies deeip in the valley, hemmed in by 
a narrow ravine, were freshly painted with fantastic 
figures, intended to express the joy that Asiatic speech 
could not interpret to a European. In the evening 
the city looked still more festive, being adorned with 
thousands of lamps and lights, and the flaming minarets 
and illuminated old trees in the garden were certainly 
a new and surprising spectacle to the illustrious guests. 
Kext morning the Emperor and the heir-apparent 



154 ALEXAin)RA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

arrived, when the youthful Marie received them in 
princely Tatar costume. As Padischah of this nation, 
the Emperor could not decline attending with his 
family a religious service of the howling dervises, and 
also a Tatar wedding in the palace ; but these exhausted 
all the resources of this poor Uttle town for their enter- 
tainment. On the following day the Empress visited 
Tschufut Kaleh (a town of the Karaite Jews) situated 
on a mountain-peak above the narrow gorge of the 
Tatar capital The path to this rocky town is only 
accessible on foot, and the Karaites brought, for their 
august guests, two milk-white horses, the saddles de- 
corated with red and green velvet, and gold, silver, and 
pearls. These horses remained at the disposal of the 
ladies during their whole journey on the Southern 
shores. In the midst of the valley between the Karaite 
town and that of the Tatars, is a Greek chapel in the 
cavity of a rock, the only access to it being a fragile 
wooden fabric. To the astonishment of their strange 
escort, the ladies also visited this cloister, called " The 
Ascension." After reaching the summit they first rode 
to the valley of Jehosaphat, the burial-ground of the 
Karaites. Here the Empress first rested under the 
shade of the oaks, that number almost as many years 
as the history of Europe, and then entered the town of 
the Karaites, which, according to the assertions of the 
people, existed in this comer of the peninsula long before 
the birth of Christ The whole community, the higher 
orders of the priesthood at their head, in old Oriental 
Church costume, received her with songs and prayers for 
the preservation of the Imperial family. In this small 



PETERHOF. 155 

but cleanly temple Alexandra saw the parchments of 
the Old Testament, and conferred the honour on a pri- 
yate fietmily of partaking of a breakfast prepared for her 
there in the old Asiatic style. When the two ladies 
again descended into the gorge of the valley/ the Em- 
peror and the heir-apparent received them at the en- 
trance of the Palace of BaktschiseraL Next morning 
they followed the mountain-paths to Simferopol, and 
were amused by a camel race, certainly a novel sight 
to a European, but not a picturesque ona This capital 
of the Taurid Peninsula offered almost nothing to the 
illustrious travellers but necessary rest The house 
where they lodged was adorned by the Tatars, within 
and without, by garlands of the finest Crimean grasses, 
according to the old Greek custom. Next day they 
drove slowly past the Tschadir-Dagh down to the sea, 
and left to the gentlemen of their suite the pleasure of 
climbing this mountain. The ensuing few days were 
among the most enjoyable of their whole lives. The 
novel style of the landscapes on the southern shore, the 
strong impression they made on such cultivated and 
profound spirits, the delight and cordiality with which 
the Empress was received in their different palaces by 
Potemkin, Karischkin, and Potocki, deserve a more 
minute description, but our space will not admit of it. 
Erom Aluschka^ along the shore to Alupka, they took 
three days to reach the celebrated palace of Prince 
Woronzow ; but these supplied them with the fairest 
reminiscences during their future life. The first three 
days Alexandra passed secluded ficom society in this 
paradise, not owing to physical fatigue and exhaustion 



156 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

alone, but from the too great excitement of her soul, 
which absolutely required rest and repose. Amid this 
beautiful scenery she was peculiarly susceptible to 
religious feelings. In such moments she liked to be 
alone in quiet prayer. It was not her senses that were 
occupied and amused, but rather her mind, which was 
overflowing with warm feeling. She felt the nothing- 
ness of all earthly splendour before the majesty of 
Kature, and the greatness of the human intellect capable 
of comprehending and appreciating such grandeur. 
She also felt that a life devoid of splendour and form, 
but spent with Nature, must excel the artificial pomp 
of a Court, and how little a man of noble disposition 
requires in order to rise beyond the commonplace. But 
the great of the earth are connected by a thousand 
threads, bands, nay, chains, to the most burdensome 
duties, and such links cannot be rent asunder. Happy 
they who are set free from them, even occasionally, for 
a short space. 

The Emperor travelled from Alupka to the Caucasus, 
and thus his consort could remain in the tranquillity 
of Prince Worouzow's palace. Alupka and Orianda^ the 
subsequent palace of Alexandra on the same southern 
shore, are undoubtedly the most picturesque portions of 
that region, and even vie with the island of Chios, so 
highly celebmted by the ancients. Prince Woronzow 
embellished these marvels of nature by the charm of 
social life. During the day he conducted his illustrious 
guests on horseback in eveiy direction in the neighbour*, 
hood, and in the evening agreeably surprised them by 
music, illuminations, and even by an improvised French 



r 



PETERHOP. 157 

theatre. The populace of these Tatar villages sur- 
loonded the palace day and night, in the hopes of 
seeing the Empress of that realm, of which they formed 
the smallest portion. They assisted in transforming the 
largest hall in the palace into a stage, bringing stones, 
blocks of rock, trees, and flowers. The actors, the Bus- 
sian inhabitants and land-proprietors on the southern 
shores, spent their evenings with the Imperial guests in 
the palace, and drove out with them in the forenoons. 
The day before the departure of Alexandra all the 
Tatar women, with their children, were placed in pic- 
turesque groups in the vineyard, and she spoke to 
many of them through an interpreter ; when the festi- 
vities closed by the usual oily Tatar dinner for them 
aU. They prayed loudly for the welfare of the Imperial 
family, and earnestly uttered a wish that '' they might 
soon see again the beautiful bright eyes of the Empres&" 
In the cabinet of Alexandra, after her departure, a paper 
was found on the table with the following words, writ- 
ten by her own hand : — " With ineffaceable impressions 
and memories I bid th^e farewell, fair Alupka ! Shall I 
ever see thee again ? This question suggests itself irre- 
sistibly to me, and makes my leave-taking sorrowful 
What a vast distance between the Black Sea and the 
Baltic r 

From here she went to Orianda, where Nicholas 
caused a fine palace to be built for her ; but even the 
wishes of the mightiest on earth are often powerless. 
In twelve years the structure was finished, but never 
more was Alexandra to see the Crimea I Her stay in 
that magic land was brightened and embellished by the 



158 ALEXANDRA. EMPfiESS OF BUSSIA. 

constant presence of her daughter Marie, at that time 
eighteen years of age. The disposition of this, her 
eldest daughter, was more lively than that of her mother ; 
youth, and her remarkable beanty under such auspi- 
cious circumstances, made her really an incomparable 
being, and heightened the happiness of her mother. 
Earnest feeling, and a taste for art and nature, were 
strongly developed in the daughter as well as in the 
mother, without, however, impairing her youthful cheer- 
fulness and ingenuousness. The faithful companion of 
the Empress, Countess Catherine Tiesenhausen, increased 
their enjoyment by her sympathy. The climate of the 
southern coast of the Crimea resembles in some degree 
that of Nice, without the scorching south winds, aud is 
equally sheltered from the north* It seemed made for 
the health of the Empress. Subsequently, however, this 
country, instead of a peaceful resort for the august lady» 
became the seat of a devastating war. By the middle 
of October the Imperial family returned to Moscow, in 
order to pass their time there together till December 6th. 
Moscow in the year 1837 was no longer the same 
city as at the time of the Empress's coronation. With 
aristocratic pride Moscow had arisen from her ashes, 
like a Phoenix, without the help of any fire insurance, 
and was now adorned with numerous palaces, which, 
indeed, were very brilliant, but their inmates were no 
longer mere princely Boyars, as they had been twenty 
years before, but very often men who, after laying 
aside their uniforms, either devoted themselves to some 
branch of commerce, or gave up their palaces to others 
for that purpose. That swarthy soul of the present 



PBTEBHOF. 159 

day. Steam, ascended in lofty columns from many 
places, and the large market-place was filled with a 
YBziety of inland productions. A novel life prevailed 
in the whole city. Court ambition had yielded to mer- 
cantile industry, and as all development in Bussia 
takes place suddenly and violently, much here was in 
foil bloom at the end of fifteen years that in Grermany 
could not have flourished under a century. The Em- 
peror and Empress thought it right to make their 
children acquainted with these new impulses of the 
town, and therefore visited the different manufactories 
constructed by human energy. The citizens of Moscow 
were highly gratified by such attentions ; they received 
their eminent guests with respectful deference, and 
took leave of them with presents and specimens of 
their productions. Two very remarkable men stood at 
that time at the he€ui of the society — the Governor- 
General of Moscow, Prince Dmetri W. Golizyn, and 
Prince Sergei K. Golizyn« Both dated from the time of 
Catherine, and were distinguished by the refinement of 
their manners. The former, since the revolt of Poland 
in 1794, had taken part in all the Bussian wars down 
to the expedition to Paris, and his chivalrous figure, 
adorned with every Bussian order, denoted a man 
of the utmost independence, but who won the con- 
fidence of every one who approached him. The city of 
Moscow had looked up to him as to a father for three- 
and-twenty years, and this city alone of all the great 
capitals of Europe could boast, that by the precautions 
of Prince Golizyn, when cholera appeared, it passed away 
without giving rise to the popular scenes of horror that 



1 60 ALEXANDRA ElfPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

had disgraced so many other towns. The house of this 
Prince was as easy of access to those who sought relief, 
as- his salon to meritorious servants of the State, authors, 
and artists. The rapid development of commerce in 
Moscow was chiefly his work, his principal adviser in 
these matters being the academician Joseph Hamel, 
who travelled for some years in England at the 
Prince's expense, and brought home with him any new 
discoveries suitable to Bussia. The other, Prince S. N. 
Golizyn, was a grandee in the most consummate sense 
of the word ; rich, amiable, amusing, benevolent, in- 
tellectual, and entirely devoid of pride and egotism. 
These two enlivened the evenings of the Emperor and 
Empress, and vied with each other in arranging amuse- 
ments, rare in Moscow — ^for after a lengthened abode 
there no one can help feeling how far removed it is 
from the centre of Europe : the theatres are inferior to 
those of Petersburg, other public amusements are wholly 
wanting, and, more especially in winter and autumn, 
the town after seven o'clock seems dead. And yet the 
society was large enough, and intellectual enough, not 
only to improvise quickly Italian operas given by 
amateurs of the highest class, but to perform them in 
so masterly a manner that neither London with all its 
noblfemen, nor Paris with its " Quartier yXrermain," 
could equal them. In truth the highest circles in 
Bussia, especially of both capitals, are provided with 
many musical dilettanti, and they willingly contribute 
their mite towards the enUvenment and improvement 
of society, and public objects also. 
Neither princely dignity nor the highest rank deter 



r 



PETEBHOF. ICl 

any one from taking part both in public and private 
concerts ; the enthusiasm of the Bnssians for music is 
unaffected and sincere, in other countries very often 
only assumed But the minor gentry and citizens in 
Moscow, who neither appear at Court nor could receive 
Imperial guests, opened their salons to the Imperial 
suite, and made a favourable impression on them by 
their Lucullus banquets. The lower orders thronged 
round the small house inhabited by the Imperial family 
in the Kremlin, and did honour to the festivities by their 
thousandfold loud hurrahs. The Emperor and Empress 
showed themselves often publicly in the town; they not 
only visited all the institutions, of which the Foundling 
Hospital is by far the most remarkable, but also the 
public squares and the environs. At that period the 
Elremlin was still unchanged, and just as the French 
had left it in 1812. The Czar and Czarina and their 
seven children inhabited the Tschudow Palace, once 
the abode of the Patriarchs and Metropolitans. No 
one from the exterio'Jr of this house could possibly 
divine that the most mighty of the riders of this world 
lived there; the interior also is devoid of ornament, and 
so confined in space that Alexandra's three daughters, 
like those of citizens, slept in one room. Another palace 
called " Alexander " still stood opposite the Terema, 
distinguished neither by pomp nor style, but well 
worthy of notice from Napoleon having inhabited five 
adjoining rooms in it. From here he looked out on 
the conflagration. 

While Napoleon himself was contented with five 
rooms, the Imperial' kitchen at that time was estab- 

VOL. n. . L 



162 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

lished in the very holiest church in all Bussia, in the 
church of the Ascension and Coronation. The sacred 
floor was desecrated by being turned into shambles, 
the pictures of the saints used as boards for kitchen 
purposes, and instead of church incense arose the 
odours of cooking. No wonder that the Imperial family 
seldom or never entered this palace, the abode of Napo- 
leon ; but this historical sufte of rooms was allowed to 
be shown to the inquisitive. During the presence of 
the Court this palace served as a dwelling for the higher 
authorities, and Napoleon's room was on this occasion 
prepared for Count Nesselrode. 

The Court remained in Moscow till December 6, 
and celebrated Nicholas's name-day there. At last, 
after the close of this festival, the whole Court now 
set off, in nearly a hundred carriages, in a degree of 
cold that recalled Napoleon's time ; the Czar last of 
all drove off in a sledge with three horses, and reached 
Petersburg first in thirty- six hours. The health of the 
Empress was as good as could even be wished, and a 
happy and gay winter was looked forward to by every 
one. No one anticipated that in the course of a 
few days the Winter Palace was to be burned down, 
and thus the fStes and all the winter gaieties disturbed. 
Nicholas, while in Moscow, designed, with the aid 
of several architects, the plan of a magnificent new 
palace, to replace what was formerly called the Alex- 
andra Palace, and already they had begun to pull 
down the old building when the Winter Palace in 
Petersburg also became a prey to the flames, placing the 
Imperial family in some embarrassment. The Winter 



PETERHOF. 163 

Palace had not been built a hundred years, for it was 
begnn in the last y^ars of the Empress Elisabeth, and 
eompleted at the commencement of Catherine's reign ; 
it was the largest building in Europe, and the most richly 
stored within. The wing inhabited by the Imperial 
family was the most simply furnished of all ; a long dark 
corridor divided those apartments opposite the Admiralty 
from those that overlooked the large court of the palace ; 
this corridor was obliged to be lighted even in broad 
daylight, and was not only obscure but most disagree- 
able, from the smell of lamp-oil ; the uninhabited rooms 
were the brightest. The fire was caused by the ex- 
plosion of a pipe, and first laid hold of a beam, from 
which it spread to the Field-Marshal's halL Some 
days previously a curious smell of fire pervaded the 
palace ; no one liked to mention it to their superiors, 
or even to give a casual hint on the subject ; so few 
had then the courage to express their opinions. The 
fire burst forth on December 17th, at nine o'clock in the 
evening, in the above-named hall, and also in a wing 
at a considerable distance from the Imperial apart- 
ments. A conflagration in this mighty building, 
inhabited and watched by thousands, seemed as im- 
probable as a fire on the Neva. When in the palace 
itself the first intelligence of the fact was carried to 
the Imperial wing, such an incredible event was treated 
with derision. For the first time since their return to 
the capital, their Majesties were in the theatre; an 
adjutant brought the news to the Emperor alone, for 
all had the strictest orders never to give any informa- 
tion in the Empress's presence that could alarm her. 



164 ALEXAKDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

Nicholas^ with infinite self-command, requested his wife 
to remain to the end of the play, and then to go 
straight to the Anitschkow Palace ;* after which he 
hurried off to the Winter Palace, where he found 
some preparations already made for extinguishing 
the fire, but a still greater amount of anxious tre- 
pidation. The Neva was firozen four inches thick, and 
offered only a very scanty supply of water, that, with 20 
degrees of cold, froze at once in the hose of the fire- 
engines. The Emperor^s first care was to convey all 
his children in safety to the Anitschkow Palace; the 
youngest was so fast asleep that the English nurses 
carried him into the carriage, wrapped in blankets, and 
reached the distant palace before the crowd blocked up 
every street. The presence of the Czar produced order 
in the assistance that could be offered ; for to put oat 
the fire was simply impossible. In a short time it 
seized the roof of the wing beside the Neva, which 
about ten o'clock fell in with a tremendous crash into 
the great White Hall, which fortunately contained 
nothing but a vast number of valuable chandeliers. 
Owing to the fire having taken this direction, the 
Hermitage was spared, — ^indeed, entirely separated £rom 
it, — with its precious art treasures, cro^n jewels, fine 
library, and the Imperial archives. 

The sad news, however, had flown through the town 
for an hour past, and many court and palace officials 
hurried thither in time to save the objects under their 
charge. A suite of rooms forming the Court Crown 
offices was first exposed to the fire, and yet both the 
money and books were saved. Both the adjacent 



PETERHOF. 165 

Crown buildings, the Wax Office and the Admiralty, 
were selected by the Emperor himself to receive all 
the valuables that could be rescued ; the Minister of 
War, Prince Tschemitschef, formed a line by two bat- 
talions of soldiers in the midst of the sympathizing 
spectators, and to a third battalion was allotted the 
doty to convey away the objects under the superin- 
tendence of their officers. All this took place in 
feverish haste ; for the fire, mocking every eflTort, raged 
destructively in the half empty-rooms, and in the 
course of half an hour demolished the whole length 
of the Neva wing. It reached at the same moment 
the Emperoi^s cabinet, and that of the Empress a storey 
beneath, bursting open the entrance-doors just as the 
masterwork of Domenichino, " St. John," and Murillo's 
loveliest " Madonna" were taken down from the walls : 
for what is most valuable is often overlooked ; all the 
tables and footstools worked by the Empress had been 
long saved, but these masterpieces forgotten. The wing 
inhabited by the family now caught fire, but its contents 
also were almost entirely rescued. One of the next 
rooms was the library and the modelling-room of the 
Emperor and the heir-apparent; as no key could be 
found the doors were broken open by grenadiers, and 
the locked presses carried out. The flames now towered 
to such a height that they lit up half the city, and bore 
the tidings of the misfortune to the most distant dwell- 
ings. In spite of the bitter cold, the heat in the square 
actually scorched the spectators the moment a current 
of air conveyed the flames towards the crowds, who 
in masses closely packed together in all the squares, 



166 AI.EXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

exposed at once to the most cutting cold and to the 
most fiery heat, were not so much astonished as horri- 
fied, and only from time to time were heard sobbing 
and lamenting. It seemed less a disaster in the eyes 
of the populace than an imheard-of crime, that could 
only have been produced by human malice and rebellion 
to God's will and protection. Sacrilege, blasphemy, and 
a transgression against the Imperial family, at that time, 
were. regarded by the people as equal crimes, and this 
their kindly hearts saw in the conflagration of the palace. 
The perplexity, the distress, the anguish, the screams 
within, became every instant louder and more terrible, 
as the space for the inhabitants, those who came to 
the rescue and those who implored help, became less 
and less. When the fire was only blazing in the 
vicinity of the Court-offices thousands were still safe in 
the Neva wing ; but when this caught fire also, and the 
ceiling of the White Hall feU in, aU fled to the Admir- 
alty wing, which the Imperial family inhabited. Al- 
ready here the confusion and crush were tremendous ; 
the soldiers who had come to the rescue rushed reck- 
lessly along over everybody and everything that formed 
an obstacle to their zeal ; as in such a disaster all defer- 
ence is at an end, maids of honour and ladies' maids^ 
housemaids and State ladies, were all to be seen striving 
to push their way through the lines of the weather- 
beaten grenadiers of the palace^ carrying some favourite 
object that they wished to save. When at length the 
front wing began to bum, from the square could be seen 
a number of heads like shadows on a wall hunying along 
to the last egress. Already burning torches and beams 



r 



PETERHOF. 167 

came flying among the crowd in the nearest streets and 
palaces, a noise like thunder following at short intervals 
the crash of falling buildings. 

By midnight the whole of the front wing was in 
flames, and beyond all help. It was frightful to see 
the human beings left in the palace all eagerly crowd- 
ing out of the last door. In the front centre of this 
wing was a clock, visible to the whole town, sur- 
mounted by the Imperial crown. A death-like silence 
reigned in the square, thronged with people, when it 
struck twelve; but scarcely had the last stroke re- 
sounded, when the whole building, including the clock 
and the crown, fell in, stunning all the spectators by 
the crash. At this moment of destruction all fell on 
their knees and made the sign of the cross, and in a 
few seconds universal groans and sobs were heard from 
hundreds of thousands. The Emperor was one of the 
last to leave the palace ; to his presence and self-pos- 
session in giving directions was owing the rescue of all 
valuable objects. At the very first glance he perceived 
the impossibility of subduing the fire, and in all humi- 
lity declared his readiness to submit to the inevitable. 
Just as he had done on December 14th, twelve years 
ago, he stood undaunted in the midst of the raging 
conflagration ; and all, from his minister to the veteran 
grenadier, saw his glance calm and clear. Amid the 
severity of this misfortune, notwithstanding his anxious 
brow, a smile came to his lips when his dog, that had 
been missing for a long time, came up to him, wagging 
its tail, as if seeking its master as the sole refuge in 
danger, and trusting itself to him. The faithful ani- 



168 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

mal did not again leave its master's side, not even in 
the crowd swaxming in the interminable length of the 
square, lit up by the fire with the brightness of day. 

In spite of the precautions of her husband, the 
burning of the palace was a new terror which affected 
the Empress's failing health. Scarcely heui the intelli- 
gence reached Nicholas in the theatre than the public, 
curious to know the cause of his sudden disappearance, 
made inquiries, and shortly after left the theatre, so 
that Alexandra in her box was seized by a presenti- 
ment of eviL "When, by the Emperor's desire, she was 
proceeding to the Anitschkow Palace, it was no longer 
a mystery to her what had called away her husband 
so suddenly. She drove towards the Winter Palace, 
and already saw from afar the bright flames soaring 
upwards and flickering over the roof; but the front 
wing was as yet untouched. With that singular calm- 
ness exhibited in every moment of trial through life, 
she arrived at the entrance, where the carriage wcis 
waiting to convey away her two younger children, both 
fast asleep. She entered the palace, kissed and blessed 
the unconcerned chUdren, an4 proceeded to her cabinet, 
when it suddenly occurred to her that one of her Court 
ladies, Mdlle. Kutusow, was very ill in bed. She 
turned and first went to the invalid, giving orders 
tihat she should be removed, with the same care as 
her own children, to the Anitschkow Palace ; and not 
tUl then did she make her way through the noisy 
tumult to her cabinet, selecting her most valuable cor- 
respondence and other papers, herself packing up all 
that was of importance, and commanding her retinue 



r 



PETERHOF. 169 

and servants to save 'what was most precious. She 
bade farewell to the cabinet that had harboured her 
as Empress during twelve years, In the certainty never 
to see it again, and then repaired to the empty nur- 
sery of her children. Its windows overlooked the 
laige inner Palace Court, and the burning rooms oppo- 
site offered a terrific but grand spectacle. One of her 
ladies came in and said, " What a misfortune has be- 
fallen your Majesty !" " "What good fortune," rejoined 
the Empress, "that my children are saved, and that 
probably no life will be lost ! Let us first thank God 
for this happiness in the midst of disaster, and let 
us bow to His wiU." When the Emperor himself 
brought the tidings of the safety of the invalid Mdlle. 
Kutusow^ Alexandra entered her carriage and drove 
first to Count Nesselrode's, where she watched the 
progress of the fire from his windows, and at last pro- 
ceeded in a state of great exhaustion to the Anitsch- 
kow Palace. Here she remained awake, in feverish 
excitement, till at length the wearied Emperor arrived. 
All that care and solicitude had effected for the benefit 
of her health within the past year vanished in an 
instants And yet the dilemma of the other inhabi- 
tants of the Winter Palace was still more trying than 
that of the Imperial family, who found everything ar- 
ranged for them in the Anitschkow Palace. 

Several thousand persons,. the inferior oflicials, ser- 
vants, and even those of higher degree, were for the 
next few days without a rocrf to shelter their heads. 
A place of refuge near Anitschkow was provided for 
many, while others durst not even let it be known that 



» - ^ 



170 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

they had hitherto found a home in the Winter Palace. 
Next morning, a grey December sky, with its cold 
northern light, looked down on the walls of the stately 
palace, blackened by fire, and gazed at by hundreds 
and thousands of weeping eyes. Some solitary tongues 
of flame still shot up like Will-of-the-wisps from 
among the rubbish, and then vanished. Thousands ^ 
were to be seen busied in seeking valuables among 
the ruins, while others were carrying lost goods out of 
the street : for Imperial property, in the eyes of an 
orthodox Bussian, is as sacred as that of the Church, 
and the sympathy of this people in misfortune amounts 
to self-sacrifice. The most munificent offers were 
quickly made to the Emperor by his loyal people. 
One merchant besought the favour of being allowed 
to rebuild the Winter Palace at his own cost ; another 
offered to bear half the expense ; and a number pro- 
mised to furnish materials for the purposa The Em- 
peror refused them all, and, a few days after the 
conflagration, summoned a committee, to whom was 
intrusted the speedy restoration of the palace, and a 
calculation of the expense. 

The Christmas festivities and New Year's Day, as 
well as the whole of the ensuing winter, passed very 
quietly, both in the Court and in the city. In the 
course of a few weeks all was again brought together 
that had been given up as lost in the fire. The 
Bussian people displayed an honesty and conscien- 
tiousness in restoring the objects they found that was 
quite touching. The cabinet of the Empress in the 
Anitschkow Palace was arranged and decorated exactly 



PETEEHOF. 171 

as it had been in the Winter Palace. The entire 
library of both the Emperw and his children was col- 
lected together in a few weeks, with the exception 
of some stray volumes ; and these too were eventually 
brought back by antiquarian merchants, to whom they 
had been in ignorance offered for sale. The whole 
^ family were together in Anitschkow, as they had been 
fifty years previously. The palace had remained in 
every respect the same, but the family was now very 
different The haggard, pale Nicholas of twenty years 
ago had become the strongest and handson^st man in 
Europe; the once so insignificant Brigadier was now the 
mightiest ruler in the world; and although the care 
of the greatest empire on earth rested on his shoulders, 
and although malignant fate had played him many a 
trick, still at this moment, in the midst of misfortune, 
he was calm, and, indeed, in the bosom of his family, 
cheerful The memories of this palace awoke within 
him a certain degree of youthful feeling, combining 
the best qualities of the father, the husband, and the 
chivalrous gentleman, with those of the Autocrat. 
But his charming wife, too, was no longer the same. 
Her demeanour, her movements, her dignity, were in- 
deed more majestic than twenty years ago; but the 
year of terror had blanched her face, and the burden of 
high rank robbed her of her youthful attractions. Deep 
suffering lurked in her featuies, only occasionally be- 
trayed by the sadness of her countenance. This last 
disaster had a most prejudicial effect on her. She 
seldom left the palace, the cradle of her married happi- 
ness. Her expeditions were solely to the institutions 



1 72 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA* 

for female education ; but her strength was already so 
exhausted that she was obliged to devote more time to 
repose than to the endeavour to rally her energies. At 
home she had her children constantly with her, inspir- 
ing them with the same amiable tone in society that 
all her own words and actions displayed. 

The city gradually acquired the conviction that her 
sufferings were real, and demanded a certain degree of 
indulgence from the public. The physicians prohibited 
her appearing at innumerable visits, often devoid of 
every object save that of etiquette. The more the 
public were deprived of seeing her, by her weak and 
invalid condition, the closer did her children assemble 
round her, and the more attention and interest did she 
show in their instruction. The heir-apparent, now 
twenty years of age, shared the duties of his father ; 
after his years of study commenced his years of travel 
through the vast realm that he was one day to rule, 
and through Europe also. He was a handsome youth, 
his figure tall and stately, his features displaying 
rather the gentle expression of his mother than the 
resolute look of his father. Little was known of him 
in public, and, indeed, at that period, no one permitted 
themselves to pronounce any public opinion with re- 
gard to any member of the Imperial family. • The heir- 
apparent, at the close of hi j education, however, was en- 
dowed with noble ideas, as well as with the knowledge 
that our epoch demands. During his travels in the in- 
terior of Bussia, and in foreign countries, he was accom- 
panied by men who enlightened his mind and imparted 
warmth to his heart. Within the next few years he 



PETERHOF. 173 

visited distant Siberia and the inhospitable steppes, wit- 
nessed the froitfulness of German States and the trea- 
sures of Italy, the majesty of nature in the Alps, and the 
commercial industry of England. He eagerly wrote the 
impressions of these new scenes, not only to his 
parents and brothers and sisters, but also to several 
of his former teachers. The Emperor's second son 
also, Constantine, was growing up to the satisfieu^tion 
of his parents. - During this winter, in presence of 
the Court and many invited guests, he underwent his 
examination for twelve evenings in succession, and 
sorprised every one by the ease with which he ex- 
pressed himself in four modem languages. 

The Empress revived, so far as time and circumstances 
permitted, the quiet domestic life of twenty years ago. 
In this seclusion she found some opportunities for solid 
reading, and followed with peculiar interest the historical 
studies of her children. She considered it her duty to 
become familiar with the researches of Kiebuhr, having 
been acquainted with him when tutor to her brother, 
the Crown Prince. But as his work on Bome is not 

ft 

accessible to any lady, she made those who understood 
it interpret the spirit of that author, without however 
placing entire faith in all his conclusions. With all her 
weakness, she felt happier in this retired life than when 
in the possession of her full strength, in the whirlpool 
of the world, for her nature was far more serious than 
it appeared, and she herself more energetic than people 
gave her credit for; she conversed most with those 
whose intellect interested her mind, and with whom her 
heart sympathized Her equanimity in misfortune, 



174 ALEXANDRA. EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

combined with the highest female dignity, and also her 
goodness of heart, were universally acknowledged ; but 
the versatility of her talent was hidden firom the greater 
number, for she only displayed the treasures .of her 
intellect to those by whom she was certain to be under- 
stood. Eoyal personages, however, must all share this 
fate ; they are compeUed to see so many people, and, 
coming in contact with them merely in passing, can 
only show the surface of their being; those who are 
called to Court on business usually avoid every other 
subject, but the immediate Court circle are guided by 
other motives. Those who read much feel the impylse 
to speak to others, and to listen to them on these sub> 
jects. There was only one among all the ladies of 
the Court who thoroughly understood the Empress — 
Countess Catharine Tiesenhausen ; she had gained a 
knowledge of the world in her travels, and her conver- 
sation became an absolute necessity to the Empress. 
She possessed the most finished elegance of a Court 
lady, and resembled Alexandra in that apparent calm- 
ness of character which, veiled by a certain degree 
of reserve, often conceals the utmost susceptibility. 
Countess Catharine came early every morning as a 
much-loved friend to visit the illustrious invalid ; for 
she alone had sufficient tact to charm away ennui by 
litde notes, visits, and other attentions. Mma Pauline 
Barthenief enlivened many evening hours by her en* 
chanting singing and her unselfish attentions. Prin- 
cesses are not always so fortunate as to find in their 
suites true self-sacrificing devotion such as Countess 
Tiesenhausen displayed; indeed, all are not endowed 



PETERHOF. 1 75 

with the instinct to select the right friends, or to cul- 
tivate and retain them. Alexandra had quick, acute 
perceptions, and the tact to attach to herself those 
whom she had chosen, and by her wondrous kindness 
to win their attachment The dismissal we already 
named, of one High Chamberlain many years ago, is, 
we believe, the only instance of change during her 
whole life, except where death intervened. Another 
lady who cheered the evenings of the Empress was 
Baroness Kriidener, younger and in better health than 
the august lady, and with all her extreme vivacity 
possessing the same tranquillity as Catharine Tiesen- 
liausen; inexhaustible in agreeable conversation, and 
the soul of pleasant social intercourse. The oldest 
of all her friends too, Cecilia, remained from the force 
of old habit in the vicinity of the Empress, and in every 
hour of suffering was absolutely indispensable to her. 

But Imperial power, allied to friendship, ddvouement, 
and zeal, could not suffice to impart strength to the 
sufferer, and the physicians recommended German air 
for the summer, and German baths. The time when 
the Neva breaks up in April is dangerous for a chronic 
sufferer ; they would fain have spared the Empress this, 
but the sea at that time is not as yet navigable, the 
roads of the country were in a dreadful condition, so 
that, even with every despotic appliance, the invalid 
could not avoid those two weeks. She suffered pitiably 
during April, and could not begin her journey to Ger- 
many for change of air till the very end of that month. 
The Emperor and Empress, and their third daughter, 
and their two young sons, Nicholas and Michael, arrived 



176 ALEXANDRA. EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

« 

together in Berlin on May 19tL Their reception was 
never more brilliant than on this occasion, for the 
Boyal Family, accompanied by some distiDgoished 
guests, then at Berlin, went as far as Dessau to meet 
the Empress, and the Mecklenburgs to Friedrichsfelda 
The Berliners were- so faipiliarly acquainted with these 
princely Northern guests, that they always spoke of 
the Emperor as "our son-in-law," and of the Empress 
as "our Princess Charlotta" And in truth the Em- 
peror of all the Eussias was so popular in Berlin, and 
so universally beloved, that on this occasion a mark 
of distinction was to be conferred on him, such as in 
old fabulous times had been bestowed on Hercules, and 
in later days on Alexander the Oreat of Macedon in 
Corinth. He was made a burgess of the city on June 
Ist. When his brother Michael was told of the circum- 
stance, he exclaimed, " If my brother ever abdicates his 
Imperial throne, no one can prevent his becoming a 
chimney-sweep in Berlin." As a burgher of the city, 
however, Nicholas built the beautiful hotel "unter den 
Linden" for the Bussian embassy, which was also in- 
tended to receive the Imperial family when they visited 
Berlin on their journeys. The Emperor also made the 
town a present of a considerable sum of money, after- 
wards devoted to the erection of the Nicholas Burgher 
Hospital Art and learning vied with each other in 
doing honour to the Empress, without consulting the 
physical powers of the invalid lady. The "Welt 
Gericht" of Schneider was given in honour of her, and 
people were surprised that she was obliged to spare 
her strength, which scarcely sufficed to endure to 



PETEKHOF. 177 



r 

I the end this sacred work of art She denied herself 
* the theatre, the hallet, and the opera, which would 
certainly have tended more to enliven her. Quiet 
pleasant domestic life without Court etiquette, a happy 
reunion with her father and her brothers and sisters, 
in kindly Sans Souci, was the best tonic for the gentle 
sufferer. Expeditions thence to GUenicke, to Babels- 
berg, to her brother's, to her uncle William's, and his 
intellectual wife, were the best preparatives for the 
course of baths she was to take in Silesia, and after- 
wards in Bavaria. Her enjoyable domestic life with 
the King and her brothers, lasted for about a month in 
Silesia, partly in Erdmannsdorf and Fischbach, and the 
health of the Empress visibly improved; it was not only 
the air and the baths, but also the society that restored 
to her youth and strength. 

The journey to Munich and the Bavarian highlands 
formed an epoch in the life of Alexandra. She saw 
Anspach and Baireuth, celebrated in the history of her 
famOy for its ancestral connection with her House, and 
also by the Margravine of Baireuth, and notorious by 
the legend of the White Lady. A tradition so closely 
interwoven with the family annals as that of the White 
Lady could not be indifferent to the Empress; she traced 
the origin and diffusion of this tradition with the most 
Hvely interest, but seemed rather to avoid all conversation 
on the subject, or even any allusion to it, although she 
placed no faith in the appantion« Indeed, she passed the 
night in the very palace where popular superstition de- 
clares that the White Lady nightly wanders about. This 
legend not only belongs to the Prussian reigning famOy, 

VOL. II. M 



1 78 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

but has taken root in many others. Baireuth interested 
the Empress most, from being the abode of Jean Paul, 
to whom we have frequently alluded as one of her 
favourite authors. She inquired with the greatest sym- 
pathy about all the circumstances of the great humourist, 
and as she drove past saw the house in which he lived. 
The further journey thence by Erlangen and Niimberg 
to Munich, was a source of great enjoyment to her. 
She inscribed Nurnberg in her diary as "the heart of 
Germany/' but she knew that it was also the cradle of 
the HohenzoUems. Her enthusiasm was fuUy shared 
by her daughter Alexandra^ about thirteen years old at 
that time, and the mother was reminded by the presence 
of this truly charming child, of the time when she used 
to travel with her own father. Delight in the medieval 
ages and its splendours was quite as great on the part 
of the daughter as of the mother, and both passed a 
memorable day in Niimberg. The Munich of the pre- 
sent day presents a striking contrast to this, the finest 
relic of the middle ages in all Germany. The artistic 
tendencies of King Louis of Bavaria were not at that 
time so universally acknowledged and appreciated as 
they now are, but Alexandra perfectly comprehended 
that a petty State could win for itself the highest im- 
portance, through the peaceful arts, and indeed a great 
Empire, that must always be prepared for war, might 
well envy such a State its tranquil happiness. The 
Empress was received in the hotel of the Eussian Em- 
bassy by M. V. Severin, who proved a most amiable 
host. Here also she was compelled to sacrifice her zeal 
for Munich, and its art treasures, to the advice of her 



PETERHOF. 179 

physicians, to limit herself to very few expeditions, 
and to defer satisfying her curiosity till her return from 
the. baths. She passed one day on the lovely Tegemsee 
Jbefore arriving at Kreuth ; the route through the Bava- 
rian highlands was, however, the most remarkable in 
her whole journey, as here for the first time the chain 
of the Alps became visible at a ceitain distance, and the 
impression made on mother and daughter was equally 
profound. 

The life of royal personages is more monotonous and 
burdensome than that of all other men ; they belong so 
little to themselves, consideration for othei-s and various 
duties claiming the greatest share of their time and 
strength. The Empress, during the short journey from 
Munich to Kreuth, became stronger in these new scenes 
of nature, and in this brief period of independence. 
Imperial majesty and pomp vanish before the grandeurs 
and riches of nature, and in the enjoyment of the 
pure charms of fine scenery^ man must feel greater and 
more free than when encompassed by the splendours of 
a throne. The wish to see the Alps had been cherished 
by Alexandra from her youth upwards, and now she 
enjoyed the fulfilment of this dream with that religious 
emotion which we know she possessed. The little 
village of Kreuth, where she was to undergo a milk 
cure, had on this occasion the honour, which so far 
as we know no European capital has ever yet enjoyed, 
of receiving three Empresses at the same time. The 
widow of the Emperor Francis the First, daughter of 
King Maximilian of Bavaria, only six years older than 
Alexandra, had arrived there, and also the widowed 



180 ALEXANDRA EMPKGS8 OF BUSSDL 

Empress of the Brazils, daughter of Duke Eugene of 
Leuchtenberg, both members of the Bavarian royal 
family. The widowed Empress Charlotte was the same 
who made Francis the First so thoroughly happy at his 
advanced age, that he declared her to have been his 
only true wife, and his three first wives only formal 
Empresses. All these ladies thoroughly understood 
that every vestige of formal Court ceremony was to be 
banished, and that a loyal adherence to nature was 
their sole mission. But the mother of the Empress of 
the Brazils, the widowed Duchess of Leuchtenberg, also 
belonged to this charming and rare circle, and embel- 
lished the visit by her presence. The first Napoleon 
was constrained to admit that this Princess was the 
most beautiful and virtuous in Europe, and to her 
belongs the merit, like the Empresses of Bussia 
and of Austria, of practising virtue and domestic 
affection on the throne, combiuiog the strictest mola- 
lity and purity of heart with the utmost charm and 
dignity 

The three last-named ladies inhabited Tegernsee, 
belonging to Queen Caroline, the second wife of King 
Maximilian, and sister of the Empress Elisabeth of 
Sussia. Kreuth, consisting almost solely of a bath- 
house and the little royal palace, could not have 
lodged so many personages of degree and their numer- 
ous suites, but the party met alternately at Tegernsee 
and KreutL The Empress, during the milk cure, 
was ordered to walk in the woods and mountains, 
and she hoped in this way to regain her youthful 
vigour, besides enjoying the charms of nature that she 



PETERHOF. 181 

always so longed for. Every time that she read Voss's 
Louise, she accompanied in thought the happy people 
who live in rural districts, seeking strawberries or fuel 
to prepare their primitive meal, and she sometimes 
breathed a sigh, because the most simple and natural 
pleasures are forbidden the throne — ^indeed, she felt 
even the difference between an Empress and a Grand 
I>uches& Now when she laid aside, with the purple and 
the crown, all Imperial trammels, her strength failed, 
and, in order to breathe the fresh mountain air she was 
obliged to be carried in a chair ; but she had the hap- 
piness of seeing her lovely young daughter springing 
round her like a gazeUe. Although only thirteen years 
old, she had a great love of scenery, and a decided turn 
for botany, and was quite happy in the wealth of new 
wild-flowers imknown to the north. The two gardens 
of Zarskoe-Sel6 and Peterhof could furnish no novel 
object for her zeal ; with the industry of a bee she col- 
lected every species of plant, accompanied by her 
governess, and broughtthem home to the palace. The 
Emperoi^s daughter, unknown by any one,, in a simple 
dress and straw bonnet, rambled through the meadows 
and woods of the pleasure-grounds, often incurring the 
reproof of some precise garden overseer, laughing instead 
of answering him. and then playfnUy saying she had 
her father's permission. On the other hand, she was 
also exposed to the remarks of courtiers in this occupa- 
tion, and when she was once met by one of these gentle- 
men in the garden, loaded with flowers, on his saying 
that it was too great an honour for a Princess to confer 
on wild-flowers, she answered coldly, " If God is not 



182 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

ashamed to create them, why should I be ashamed to 
collect them ?" 

But in the pleasant valley of Kreuth there was no 
strict garden overseer, nor formal chamberlains, but a 
luxuriance of flowers that delighted this charming girl, 
and awakened pleasure in the heart of her mother also. 
A German song, " das Alpen Horn/' was at that time 
very popular, and made its way into the Imperial apart- 
ments, becoming the faithful companion of this distin- 
guished party in the solitary paths of the valley. Alex- 
andra rejoiced truly to see her daughter's fine talent 
for singing awaking within her, as both her health and 
position had so long deprived her of it, and yet in by- 
gone days it had been one of the greatest consolations 
of her own mother's Ufe in the darkest hours of sorrow. 
After the days had been spent in the invigorating air of 
the mountains, a social circle of guests assembled 
in the evening in the salon of the Empress, where 
the violoncello of Count Mathieu Wielhorsky touched 
every heart, or gay petits Jeux, singing and danc- 
ing, amused the younger branches of the society 
for a few hours. According to the prescription of 
the physicians, the invalid retired soon to rest, 
and rose at an early hour — this strict discipline 
in addition to a simple mode of life, being beneficial to 
her. The immediate results of an apparent recovery 
perhaps deceived her as to the real condition of her 
powers, and she enjoyed four weeks of life almost as free 
and idyllic as Yoss's rustic characters in Louise. At 
the end of these happy days she gave in gratitude a 
rural f6te to the Tyrol marksmen. They assembled 



PETEKHOF. 183 

with their rifles, and shot at the target in the presence 
of the little Imperial Court, and the Empress gave with 
her own hands a prize to each of the victors, as a costly 
remembrance of the time she had passed in their high- 
lands. Nicholas himseK appeared to escort her back, 
and to make acquaintance with new art-loving Munich. 
His astonishment was not small when he convinced 
himself that the Ludwigs Strasse, in length and width, 
and in the number and splendour of its palaces, could 
vie with the Perspective in Petersburg, without indeed 
the stirring life of the northern capital, as the streets 
of Munich could scarcely count as many pedestrians 
as the former carriages and four. He was peculiarly 
desirous to learn how so small a State could furnish the 
means for such buildings, and for the purchase of so 
many art treasures ; for it was clear that here as much 
was accomplished with a tenth part of the enormous 
sums lavished in Petersburg, and that the Isaac Church, 
built by the Emperor, cost more than the whole of 
Munich. Count Benkendorf, at that time Nicholas's 
faithful travelliug companion, himself educated in Ger- 
many, advised his master to inspect the different studios 
and workshops, and to ascertain the moderate means 
necessary for such results. Among many others he 
visited Schwanthaler, and saw the casting of some 
master work. In fact he found here, instead of a splen- 
did Crown building, a mere wooden scaffolding ; instead 
of a number of high officials, only homely artists, and 
their subordinates ; and discovered that his munificence 
encouraged and provided for many who were rather 
detrimental than beneficial to creative art. The Em- 



184 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

peror also made the acqaintance of Klenze, the accom- 
plished architect of new Munich, and settled with 
him the plan of the new Hermitage adjoining the 
new Winter Palace. Short as was Nicholas's stay in 
Munich, it had a salutary effect, under the guidance of 
Elenze, on the monarch, excited and wearied as he was 
by burdensome affairs, his warm and eager taste for 
art having been nearly smothered under the repetition 
of the everlasting monotony of daily reports and 8ur\'ey8. 
He bestowed the most earnest sympathy on all that 
he saw, and formed the resolution that the Hermitage 
should be transformed by Klenze into a spacious temple 
of art, worthy of the kingdom. 

The Imperial family was also destined not only to be 
. connected by art with Munich, but also by nearer and 
more lasting ties. Their eldest daughter, Marie, was now 
nineteen, and her whole heart as yet devoted to her 
^paternal home. It was her wish, even in the event of 
her having a home of her own, not to leave Petersburg 
or the vicinity of her parents. She agreed with them 
in resolving that she would only give her hand to one 
whom her heart had already chosen. Having the most 
elevating example of family life before her eyes, the 
Autocrat Nicholas did not require to strengthen his 
political power by bestowing the hand of a daughter, 
and he was incapable of doing so, even had circum- 
stances seemed to render it imperative. The many 
anxious considerations that prevail, especially in petty 
Courts on similar occasions, were entirely foreign to the 
Princess's lively feelings of independence, and her stately 
fascinations, combined with the most sparkling wit, had 



r 



PETERHOR 185 

something despotic, like the majesty of her father, and 
also of her grandfather, FauL The first emotions of 
her heart were awakened by a young man, who, in an 
assemblage of Imperial and Boyal Highnesses, was less 
conspicuous by his hereditary dignities than by his 
handsome figure — the young Duke Maximilian of 
Leachtenberg. His father, Napoleon's adopted son. 
Viceroy of Italy, after the downfall of the French Em- 
peror^ met with an honourable and friendly reception in 
Bavaria from King Maximilian the First, his father- in-law, 
who created him Duke of Leuchtenberg, and bestowed 
on him the Principality of Eichstadt The new Duke 
in this way founded the first princely House of the 
Bavarian monarchy, enjoyed great political privileges, 
and took precedence immediately after the Boyal 
Family. This noble Prince died in Munich in 1821, 
bequeathing his title and dignities to his eldest son, 
Augustus, who by his marriage with the Queen of 
Portugal, Donna Maria, became a royal Prince of that 
country. Italy, in 1810, greeted the birth of this Prince 
in Milan with great rejoicings, recognising in him their 
future King. The child himself could hardly be de- 
ceived by such illusions, for in his seventh year his 
education commenced in Munich, where subsequently, 
after Engine's death, he entered the University with- 
out any marks of princely rank, and then accompanied 
his sister, Am^lie, to the Brazils, where he acquired the 
friendship of his brother-in-law, Don Pedro. After his 
return home he learned his inilitaiy duties in every 
grade, and his zeal was by no means slackened by the 
tidings that the Belgians intended to offer him a royal 



186 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

Crown, The dyii^ Don Pedro bequeathed to the 
Prince the sword that had conquered the throne of 
Portugal for Donna Maria, expressing a wish that 
Prince Augustus should marry the Queen of PortugaL 
The Prince came to Lisbon, and died a few months 
after his marriage, universally regretted. The ducal 
dignity now devolved on the younger brother of the 
deceased, Prince Maximilian. After his studies were 
finished he occupied himself in learning military duties 
practically. The inclination to see foreign countries 
induced him to visit the Courts of Dresden, Copen- 
hagen, and Stockholm ; he also bestowed particular 
attention on the interior of those lands. The sphere of 
his knowledge was enlarged, and his views enlightened; 
his frank unassuming demeanour pleased every one ; 
his acquirements were appreciated, while his handsome 
chivalrous appearance met with universal acknowledg- 
ment In the year 1837 he was despatched by his 
uncle, King Ludwig; of Bavaria, to the cavalry camp . 
assembled by the Emperor Nicholas in Wosnesensk. 
Here the young Prince found himself not only in the 
midst of the greatest and most brilliant European 
Court, but also came in contact with other Princes 
from various countries. The Russian Generals had all 
gone through the fire of the Turkish and Polish wars, 
and many among them could date even from the 
French campaign. 

It must have made a singular impression on 
Maximilian to find himself so far from home, in an 
inimical camp, consisting almost exclusively of former 
opponents of his father. The greater was his surprise 



PETERHOF. 187 

to leam that the memory of the Viceroy of Italy was 
held in such high esteem by his fonner foes, that 
Archduke John of Austria, in a confidential moment, 
exhorted the youthful Prince never to lose sight of the 
example of his noble father, and whatever path was 
opened to him, to pursue it with fidelity and honour. 
This distinguished circle, consisting of almost all Euro- 
pean uniforms, assembled not only in the camp and at 
the Imx>erial table, but also appeared in those intimate 
family evenings, when the Empress displayed her 
almost unprecedented fascination, diffusing, even in the 
moat simple c^iversation, cordiality and good feeling. 
Her eldest daughter now stood by her side, and among 
the noble guests quickly distinguished the handsome 
chivalrous Prince, who scarcely dared to lift his eyes to 
an Imperial Grand Duchess. But the advances made 
to him on every side soon loosened the fetters of his 
natural timidity, and his conversation attracted more 
interest and sympathy than he had himself any idea of. 
When the Imperial Court, with its guests, exchanged 
the camp of Wosnesensk for pleasant Odessa, many 
cheerful domestic evenings ensued, in which the young 
Maximilian took part as an old acquaintance. From 
here he visited Constantinople with several German 
Princes, and certainly did not divine that the Grand 
Duchess Marie cherished a lively remembrance of him. 
On his return to Munich in August he entered on his 
military duties, from those of a common dragoon up to 
the chief of a squadron, and in this last grade the Em- 
press now found him, and she was also much pleased by 
his mother's personal charm. Their mutual relations 



188 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

became closer and more intimate, and while in public it 
was rumoured that a connection was about to take 
place between the Grand Duchess Marie and Dake 
Majc, this question was also seriously discussed by both 
families. It was a cause of deep sorrow to the mother 
to see her only remaining son removed so far away 
from her, one of her daughters being married in the 
Brazils, and another to the then Crown Prince of 
Sweden. The mother had also another scruple. It 
was not indeed indispensable that her son, as the 
husband of a Bussian Grand Duchess, should adopt 
another faith, but the issue of the marriage must be 
baptized in the Greek Church ; and the royal House 
of Bavaria is well known to be strictly Boman Catholia 
The presence of the Emperor in Munich overcame all 
these difficulties. The young Duke attained his majo- 
rity on the 2d October of this year ; from that time he 
administered his own large property in Bavaria and in 
Italy, and oil October 16th set off for Petersburg. His 
handsome, gallant bearing, and his noble pleasmg 
features, excited much approbation in society, although 
the genuine old Russian society took grievously to 
heart the fact that a Prince of a non-reigning House, 
and of subordinate military rank, should become the 
son-in-law of their great Emperor. In Moscow, the 
intelligence was at first received as>a fable, till at length 
Nicholas himself appeared with the young Duke, and 
thus obtained belief in his scheme. The Viceroy of 
Italy, Eugfene Beauhamais, on his entry into Moscow 
six-and-twenty years previously, little anticipated the 
fearful catastrophe that befell the Emperor Napoleon 



PETERHOF. 189 

and his army, but still less did he dream that his 
second son was one day, as son-in-law of the Emperor, 
to enter the same brilliant Moscow that his father had 
left desolate. The change in human sentiments from 
one generation to another is far greater, and sometimes 
more inexplicable than even the vicissitudes of the 
atmosphere. There was now another Sussia, another 
France, another Grermany — in fact^ another world ; but 
the human heart, with all its enigmas, pretensions, 
and contradictions remained the same. On the 4th 
November followed the betrothal of the Grand Duchess 
Marie with the Duke of Leuchtenberg ; it was the 
anniversary of the day when, three-and-twenty years 
ago, Nicholas celebrated his own betrothal in Berlin. 
The Emperor commanded the deputies of different de- 
nominations to consider the Duke as his fifth son. 

Their Majesties returned to Petersburg in a very 
cheerful mood, for the health of the latter had evi- 
dently improved, and she could iook forward without 
uneasiness to the winter, which must now be passed in 
the Anitschkow Palace. This might be esteemed a 
fortunate circumstance for Alexandra^ as she was there 
nearer her seven children than in the Winter Palace, 
and the claims of the town on the Court were naturally 
diminished, as there was only accommodation for one 
family, and very limited society. 

More than ever, the Empress now interested herself 
in the education of her children; she listened to the 
historical lectures read to them, and remarked, to her 
own astonishment, how views had altered even within 
one generation. In order to learn .the spirit and the 



190 ALEXAl^DRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

light in which the youth of the present day regard the 
great historical periods of modem times, she read with 
great eagerness some recent works on histoiy, such as 
Princes and People, the Roman Popes of the Sixteenth 
and Seventeenth Century, by Leopold Banke; various 
extracts from Raumer's Historical Diary, the Lives of 
the Queens Elizabeth and Mary Stuart, by the same 
author; Forster's Defence of Wallenstein, and Thiers' 
French Revolution. Learned men with whom she 
conversed were amazed not only at her zeal, but at the 
extensive knowledge she possessed of the family rela- 
tions between the European reigning Houses. 

The rebuilding of the Winter Palace was meanwhile 
progressing with giant strides, and it was already 

rumoured in the city that the nuptials of the Grand 

« 

Duchess with the Duke of Leuchtenberg were to ini- 
tiate the new structure. The President of the Board 
of Works was Greneral Kleinmichel, a man of singular 
energy, as soon as the question was to complete any 
project He had once been Araktscheef s assistant in 
the government of military colonies, where he attracted 
Nicholas's attention by his zeal, and gained his entire 
confidence, while as a De jour general he displayed the 
most marvellous activity. The Imperial will was to 
him the most sacred law, and all means to accomplish 
it were equally indifferent to him. The Emperor had 
hoped to see the building finished in two years : Elein- 
michel compelled its completion within eighteen months. 
The foundation walls indeed remained, and very little 
change was introduced in the distribution of the rooms, 
but the arrangements of the whole were made with the 



r 



PETERHOF. 191 

most lavish and unexampled outlay, to which the whole 
kingdom contributed its productions. There were to 
be seen the most splendid pillars, malachite chimney- 
pieces and rare marbles ; the old dark* corridor was now 
lighted from above, and greater comfort and order dis- 
tinguished the new building. The number of workmen, 
the natiye and foreign artists, employed by Kleinmichel, 
cannot be reckoned up here, and as little the sums of 
money swallowed up by the new palace. It was thought 
that a material improvement had been effected by 
heating it with pipes ; the capital old Russian stoves 
were dismissed from the new palace, and in their stead 
high chimney-pieces substituted. The air in the palace, 
owing to this, was both dry and unhealthy. The exterior 
of the building was in no respect different from the 
former one ; indeed, any one who had been two years 
absent could not possibly have conceived the palace to 
be a new one. 

The Duke of Leuchtenberg, who, during the last six 
months had been absent, and occupied in managing his 
vast possessions, especiaUy in Italy, appeared at. the end 
of May 1839 once more in . Petersburg, and jBnally 
settled there with the Grand Duchess Marie, as son-in- 
law of the Emperor. The marriage took place on the 
2d of July, in the church of the new palace, with 
the same pomp and ceremonies that we have already 
described at the nuptials of Alexandra. It was a 
very hot summer day, and a storm burst forth dur- 
ing the Church ceremony, the thunder and lightning 
terrifying the people, hundreds of thousands having 
besieged the palace, who interpreted this omen in 



192 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

their own way. The Austrian and Prussian Courts 
did not seem quite satisfied with this union; it 
was said that Princess Mettemich blamed the alliance 
loudly, even in the presence of Eussians of high degree. 
An event of the kind was by no means unprecedented 
at the Court of Russia> which could recall the marriage 
of a Prussian Princess with the PoUsh Prince Eadzi- 
will, who became very popular and dear to the Ber- 
lin publia The Swedish Court alone despatched an 
ambassador-extraordinary, whereas Prussia only sent a 
major. In addition to the new Winter Palace, another 
had also been built for the young married couple, called 
"Marien Palast/' a fresh ornament to the city. The 
Duke became an " Imperial Highness,'' and Adjutant- 
General Scarcely has there been any instance of such 
rapid promotion ; from a Bavarian chief of a squadron 
to an adjutant-general, and from a " Highness" to an 
"Imperial Highness." The Master of the Works of 
the Winter Palace too was not forgotten ; General 
Kleinmichel was raised to the rank of a Count, with 
the privilege of quartering the Winter Palace in his 
arms; medals were distributed to all those who had 
assisted in the building of the palace. The Duke of 
Leuchtenberg was particularly devoted to natur£d 
science, and, as chief of the Russian mines, and of the 
educational institution for that branch of knowledge, he 
now acquired an extensive field for his activity. Hence- 
forth, too, his special uniform was that of an engineer 
of mines. Meanwhile, it was by no means easy for 
In'm to conform to the fashions of the Bussian Court, 
and the mass of petty formalities practised at that 



PETERHOF. 193 

period Nicholas surpassed every one in his kingdom 
in the strict observance of all prescribed formulae, and 
therefore his eye was the more offended by the devia- 
tions practised by some at Court. The Duke, like all 
German princes, was a passionate lover of the chase, 
and to the Emperor that recreation was totally im- 
known. To one who has taken root in Germany 
for the first twenty years of his life, it is by no means 
easy to feel at home in Eussia, or (aa many a foreigner 
has done) he must sacrifice his own individuality, yet 
-without thus becoming a native Bussian, or even if he 
does so, is never regarded in that light 



VOL. IL K 



CHAPTER V. 

AET AND SOCIETY. 

After the marriage of her eldest daughter, instead 
of a happy expression of countenance, a certain shade 
of gravity was visible in Alexandra, which indeed she 
never strove to conceal when she appeared in public, 
but which now also pervaded her inner domestic life. 
Although this might escape the world at laige, it was 
very evident to those near her person, and at last she 
herself alluded to it, saying, " Deep regret, indeed even 
melancholy steals over me, when I see my family circle, 
in the Winter Palace, deprived of one of its members ; 
I cannot conceal from myself that the heir-JBipparent 
will also soon leave us to form a home of his own, and 
shortly both my other daughters will follow the same 
course. The new Palace marke the close of the happiest 
period of my life ; the brightest time I have hitherto 
passed, both as a wife and a mother, is irrevocably gone 
with the old Palace ; just as my health is now deprived 
of youthful vigour, so does my domestic happiness seem 
likely soon to be broken up." And in truth fluctua- 
tions and changes are foes to happiness, and Alexandra 
was not deceived in thinking that she had entered on 
another stage of her existence. At that time, a life- 



f 



ART AND SOCIETT. 195 

sized portrait of her was painted for the new Palace, by 
an English lady, Mrs. Sobertson, still, indeed, in all her 
loveliness and the charm of her womanly nature, but 
her sorrowful mood was shown by a white rose that she 
held in her hand, the leaves of which were beginning to 
&1L This portrait does not emulate, either in design 
or colour, those master- works displayed in the Bomanow 
Gallery of the great Catherine and of Maria Feodorowna ; 
it IB not flattered, and still less idealized, and yet it 
shows Alexandra in that calm, happy mood in which 
she was so often seen by the public in latter years. 
Another portrait, by the English artist Dow, the same 
who painted the Bussian Generals of the French war, 
is in the Bomanow Gallery : it represents the happy 
Grand Duchess of the Anitschkow Palace, the mother 
of two children — the heir -apparent and his sister Marie ; 
the terrors of the 1 4th December and the cholera 
have not as yet blighted youthful freshness, it is the 
natural expression of an ingenuous princess. In Mrs. 
Bobertson's portrait, the Imperial Majesty is fully 
attained, and traces of many and great experienQes in 
life are manifest in it. Far happier than either of these 
English portraits, is that of the Emperor on horseback, 
surrounded by his staff, by the Berlin painter Kriiger. 
Successful as this artist was in his male portraits, 
particularly in black and white crayons, he scarcely 
ever succeeded in a female face; the Empress, and 
her daughter Marie, by his hand, are female heads 
with a masculine expression. The new Winter Palace 
was adorned with life-sized portraits of the three Grand 
Duchesses, also by Mrs. Bobertson ; but these likewise 



196 ALEXANDBA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

did not fulfil just expectations. Sometimes^ in the 
Imperial cabinet, an unassuming but successful portrait 
of the Empress was to be seen, by some insignificant 
artist ; unfortunately, these have never been multiplied 
and given to the public. 

It seems as if the Imperial family had hitherto cher- 
ished a greater preference for painting than for music, for 
the Emperor decorated a succession of apartments vb. the 
new Palace with battle-pieces taken firom the Sussian 
history of Peter the Great's time up to the present day, 
in which he insisted on strict historical fidelity. The 
cabinet painter, Sauerweid, studied for years the battle 
of Culm, and all his details were verified by living eye- 
witnesses. Nicholas himself occupied his few spare 
moments in painting battle-pieces, and liked to share 
this pursuit with his daughters in ZaT8koe-Sel6 and 
Peterhof. In the Winter Palace, neither the pressure 
of business nor the light admitted of this ; it was annoy- 
ing to him not to be able to visit the master- works of 
the adjacent Hermitage, which, after the rebuilding of 
the Palace, were scattered about without any plan. 
The Empress too seldom found sufficient time or strength 
' to venture on a visit to these masterpieces of all schools ; 
every expedition of the kind entailed a chill, and in 
those years she was so weak that she could not be too 
careful of her health. She therefore frequently caused 
her special favourites of the Italian and Spanish masters 
to be hung up in her cabinet, and a " Holy Family," by 
Murillo, remained beside her till her deatL 

Since the conflagration of the Winter Palace, how- 
ever, a stiU greater love of music, and especially of 



ART AND SOCIETY. 197 

singing, operas, and chamber music, awoke in the whole 
Imperial family. The brilliant assemblage of thou- 
sands, formerly to be seen in the apartments of the 
Winter Palace, was impossible during the two succes- 
sive years passed at Anitschkow, owing to the small 
space. The society of the town was so accustomed to 
the Court, that any entertainment without them seemed 
out of the question ; so, as the society could not go to 
Court, they sought to induce the Court to go to them ; 
the former being considered the head of a large family 
of noblea Indeed, an aristocratic society at that time 
sprung up, by which all clubs and coteries were extin- 
guished, excluding only those ofiScials destitute both 
of means and cultivation. Following the example of 
Moscow, an aristocratic club house was built in the 
new Michael Street, with a magnificent ball-room and 
concert room, and a great number of adjoining apart- 
ments, which were inaugurated by a succession of balls, 
masquerades, and concerts, of course not without the 
presence of the Court. Those persons whose position 
excluded them from Court, found here an opportunity to 
see more closely the Imperial family. Movement was 
freer than in the Winter Palace, while undress uniforms, 
and later even a black coat, sufficed. The balls bore a 
certain resemblance to those in the opera-house in 
Berlin, where all the Soyal Family appear, opening 
the evening by a Polonaise, and remaining quietly 
as spectators, without by their presence casting any 
^ne on the public. The masquerades that took place 
in the hall are scarcely worth mentioning. It was 
far more remarkable by the concerts given there, not 



198 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

only by the presence of foreign artists and the Phil- 
harmonic Society, but more particularly by what were 
called patriotic concerts, which developed their greatest 
brilliancy at that period. Singing seemed to form part 
of the very life of Alexandra ; and since Pauline von 
Barthenief, with her singularly charming voice, had 
become a maid of honour at Court, few days passed 
without this enjoyment An accomplishment so highly 
prized by the Empress soon awakened a love for it 
in others, or caused existing talent to come to light 
in musical unions. The desire quickly became uni- 
versal, to contribute to the amusement of the Court 
by Inusical talent, or to render it profitable in public 
for. benevolent purposes, and thus patriotic bodies 
made use of the powers of amateurs, by giving 
one or more concerts during Lent for the benefit of 
invalids. The orchestra on these occasions was that 
of the Imperial Theatre, but supported and strength- 
ened by amateurs from the highest classes. Beside 
stringed instruments were to be seen the epaulettes 
of generals and colonels ; indeed some of these were 
scattered among the wind instruments; and excel- 
lencies, highnesses, and chamberlains in black coats, 
became eager sympathizers. Beside the Dioscuri of 
the Petersburg muse, the two Counts Wielhorsky, was 
the all-respected Alexis LwofT, at that time a colonel 
and adjutant The undertaking soon attracted a num- 
ber of amateurs of merit, whose talents had hitherto 
shone in retirement, and far from Court ; others were 
deterred by modesty from allowing themselves to be 
heard with those of universally recognised talent To 



ART AND SOCIETY. 1 99 

the latter belonged a young colonel, Modest von Beswoj, 
clever by nature, but unfortunately, as is too often the 
case in Bussia, too diversified in his pursuits. He was 
the best engineer, painter, and draughtsman of his day, 
and also the best historian and littArcUeur, and master of 
almost every instrument His star had never led him 
into immediate contact with the Court, where he would 
assuredly have eclipsed many. A young officer of the 
Guards, Bachmetief, might well be entitled to place 
himself by LwofT's sida In short, Petersburg could 
^^^7 say, that she had only just discovered how 
musical she was. Among the ladies of the Court were 
many pianoforte virtuosi, chiefly instructed by Henselt, 
who caused astonishment by their playing; the choir 
of singers was formed entirely of amateurs of the Court 
and the highest circles; and many made a brilliant 
efPect, if not by their beautiful voices, at all events by 
their ^ce and rich toilettes. The participation of the 
public in these concerts was during the first years 
limited by the small size of the hall in which they took 
place. In it a side box was reserved for the Imperial 
family but not sufficiently large, so that the Emperor 
often chose to stand among the rest of the audience in 
the hall — a striking spectacle, for he appeared there 
like a father among his children, without any token of 
his rank. The new hall in the club house could hold 
about four thousand, besides the larger Imperial box 
and the space assigned to the diplomatic corps. For a 
year past, the most celebrated of European singers, 
Mademoiselle Henriette Sontag, had come to Petersburg 
as the wiTe of the Sardinian Ambassador, Count BossL 



200 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

Since her fiist fleeting appearance she had been cher- 
ished as a pleasing memory by the Court and the 
public, and now met with a cordial and respectful 
reception, which unfortunately had not been accorded 
to her in Turin ;' for the marriage of this Count with a 
German singer seemed, to the proud nobiUty on the 
banks of the Po, a crime against the aristocracy never 
to be forgiven. The Count was excluded from all em- 
plo}mient for several years, and it even appeared a 
mark of pectdiar favour wheu the happy pair were sent 
off to the Brazils on a diplomatic mission. In the 
course of time, the Count became Ambassador to Hol- 
land, and then to the German alliance, and the 
charming Countess sought opportunities, especially in 
Germany, to prevent her fine ^ts becoming impaired ; 
for the Countess and Ambassadress could not wholly 
conceal the enchanting singer. Her new position did 
not indeed prevent her singing in small private circles, 
but even all the. homage entailed by her rank did not 
atone for the want of that enchanting murmur of 
applause that raises the artist for the moment from the 
boards to the skies. The wives of the diplomatic corps 
at that period were exclusively aristocratic ladies ; and 
many of its fair members, especially in old-fashioned 
punctilious Germany, were so unmerciful as to make 
the new Countess feel that her position was false. 
Once on a time the horses had been taken from the 
carriage of the fascinating songstress, whUe she was 
drawn along by enthusiastic admirers over flowers, 
whereas now many a secretary of an embassy hesitated 
whether to pay her a visit. 



ART AND SOCIETY. 201 

Very different was the spirit and the tone of society 
in PetersbuTg in the days of Nicholas and Alexandra. 
We know that art was the soul of many aristocratic 
houses, and that talent sufficed to secure a place in the 
very first of these. Many virtuosi, therefore, in latter 
years took up their abode by the Neva, and frequented 
the best society in the capital Leopold Meyer and 
Dohler married into great Bussian families, and Adolf 
Henselt was sought and honoured. Thalberg, who only 
stayed a few months at Petersburg, was everywhere 
received with the utmost distinction. Countess Bossi, 
who in artistic fiEtme, in culture and charm, surpassed 
all whom we have named, could not fail to be greeted 
with universal enthusiasm, both at Court and in the 
capital, where all houses and hearts were open to 
her. Shortly after her presentation at Court, she was 
invited by Alexandra to one of her small evening 
parties, where the cabinet of the illustrious lady was 
laige enough to receive a few guests. The Empress 
accosted her with the same affability that she had 
shown eight years ago to the singer Henriette Sontag ; 
but as Countess, she marked the distinction, by con- 
versing with her in a manner weU merited by the 
accomplishments of this charming woman. The secret 
wish of Countess Bossi to display her talents was en- 
couraged by the Empress, who found her singing in 
spite of her no longer being on the stage, or perhaps on 
that very account, now cultivated to the most ideal 
perfection. It was no longer the youthful Henriette 
of the Konigstadt theatre, who by the charm of her 
acting and the enchantment of her voice intoxicated all 



202 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

Berlin, — another state of feeling, another view of the 
world, had taken possession of her being ; it was the 
mother of four children, whose tenderness and passion 
were poured out in song with the same artistic abilitj 
that formerly acquired for her fix)m the Emperor's lips 
the name of Mademoiselle Rossignol. The Empress and 
her few guests were elevated into a sublime religious 
mood by the " Ave Maria " of Schubert The Countess 
too did not disdain to let herself be heard in other 
musical scUom, such as Count Wielhorsk/s and General 
LwofiTs ; but the whole town wished to hear her, and 
every day the inquiries became more eager as to 
whether she would take part in the patriotic concert: 
Henriette Sontag, the artist, hastened to fulfil tlus wish 
of the public; but Countess Eossi met with great 
obstacles in its fulfilment. The Court of Turin was 
unwilling that she should sing even in a select circle, 
but could not of course prohibit an amateur perform- 
ance ; but her appearance in public was peremptorily 
interdicted. The Emperor, not accustomed to see his 
will frustrated by such narrow-minded prejudices, 
desired the Turin Court to be informed, that the 
dignity of the Embassy could not be impaired by the 
Countess lending her talents in aid of a society to 
which the first and oldest families of his Imperial 
Court were eager to belong. And now followed the 
oflScial consent. Unluckily the concerts in that year 
took place in the Engelhardt Hall, where a small por- 
tion of the public only were permitted to hear this 
highly admired lady, although the performance, under 
the pretext of a general rehearsal, was repeated three or 



ABT AND SOCIETY. 203 

four times. Madame Sossi, however, moved more freely 
in her own salon and in other private houses, and a 
number of musical societies were formed which she 
inspired by her talent. In the following year, when 
the new nobility's hall was to be inaugurated by the 
patriotic concert, the Countess was as indispensable as 
those whose talents had been cultivated and trained 
by herself — and how great was the number ! By the 
side of this singer of European fame stood Baroness 
Krudener, hitherto only known by her beauty and 
intellect, but she now supported the association by 
her incomparable contralto voice and profound musical 
acquirements. Prince Gregor Wolkonsky, Herr von 
Paschkow, and Countess Benkendorf gave the great 
finale firom "Don Juan" and the "Huguenots" in a 
degree of perfection scarcely to be heard even in the 
Italian Opera at Paris. But both the Court and the 
town wished to hear the Countess shine alone in all 
her artistic lustre, so she sang her most beautiful 
German, French, and Italian cavatinas, and roused the 
same storm of applause as formerly in Paris, when in 
^'Tancred" she and Malibran moved thousands to 
tears. The patriotic concert with such attractions 
eclipsed for the moment another musical association — 
the Philhannonic, established at the beginning of the 
century by the musicians of the Imperial orchestra, for 
the benefit of their widows and orphans, which had 
the merit of making the inhabitants of the northern 
capital acquainted with classical music of another kind. 
They regularly gave in public during Easter the 
grandest oratorios of ancient and modem times, as well 



204 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

as symphonies of Beethoven and Mozart, and the great 
pianoforte concerto^ of the fonner master. But this 
sphere was too quickly exhausted, and even their best 
performances were not attended by large audiences. 
The patriotic concert attracted all who had musical 
ears; among the audience, beside adjutant-generals 
and the most elegant ladies, appeared also the Eusaian 
merchant, with his beard and kaftan, who saw with 
pride Bussian names prominent on the programme. 
Meanwhile, Countess Eossi gladly accepted an invitation 
from the Philharmonic, not to permit this society to 
be thrust into the background, and to comply with the 
wishes of the pubUc, by singing there, and thus the 
hall was once more crowded. From that time, how- 
ever, she was obliged to set limits to her amiability 
and kindness, to prevent undue advantage being taken 
of her goodness. For every poor concert-giver hoped 
by her sympathy to acquire honour and a well-filled 
pursa Although her co-operation in the patriotic 
concert was universally approved of, still some voices 
were raised in opposition to her too great zeal for the 
Philharmonic, while others declaimed against her sing- 
ing in private circles. 

On the 8th November the Imperial family took posses- 
sion of the new Winter Palace, more splendid than before, 
in every respect ; but the health of Alexandra, in spite 
of home and foreign doctors, was still weak and fluctu- 
ating, so the largest apartments were to remain empty 
for the present. A quieter mode of life could alone in- 
sure tolerable health for the invalid, and therefore 
during this winter the new Palace was devoted to 



ART AND SOCIETY. 205 

retired domestic life. But a positive order ensued, that 
on Sunday evenings small concerts were to be given, 
always conducted by the two Counts Wielhorsky, assisted 
by Lwo£ In this way all native and foreign artists 
-were gradually heard by the Empress, and these 
generally carried away with them a deeper impression 
of that illustrious lady than they made on her, for an 
artist rarely caught the exact tone which suited her 
musical feeUngs. The extraordinary facility of execu- 
tion so prevalent at that time, on all instruments, was 
quite indifferent to her ; the little ''songs without words" 
of Henselt, played with tenderness by the composer 
himself, charmed her most, and she also liked to hear 
her daughters play them. But the technical skill of 
Ole Bull, the passionate strains of Servai, did not touch 
her heart. 

The life and soul of these musical evenings in the 
cabinet of the Empress was always Countess Bossi, 
whose singing sunk deep into Alexandra's souL We 
have already observed that, owing to the gravity of years 
and change of circumstances, and constant delicacy of 
health, Alexandra was very much altered; but the 
tones so full of soul of Countess Bossi, to which her 
heart so thoroughly responded, revived in her the 
feelings of her slowly vanishing youth. The other 
evenings of the week were passed in a still more retired 
manner. Count Bibeaupierre returned at that time 
from his post as Ambassador in Berlin, and accepted the 
position of a High Chamberlain, which often brought 
him into the vicinity of the Empress ; he was one of her 
oldest acquaintances, and she liked his refinement of 



206 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

manner, and indefatigable flow of conversation, as lie 
contrived to cast a gay hue over the most solid subjects, 
and his diplomatic experiences were inexhaustible. 
As a reader, too, at that period of French works, he 
especially won the approbation of Alexandra, enabling 
her thus to continue in close connection with French 
literature. 

The presentiment of the Empress, that with her 
entrance into the new Winter Palace, her domestic 
happiness would begin to vanish, seemed likely to be 
realized. Her state of health, notwithstanding the re- 
pose she had enjoyed during the winter, was far from 
satisfactory ; the physicians recommended a return to 
Ems in the summer of 1840, and by the month of May 
all preparations for her journey were completed. But 
the reports of her beloved father, the King of Prussia's 
state of health, were so unsatisfactory, that filial duty 
would have called her to Berlin, even had she not been 
going to Ems. The King was considered by Alexandra 
not only the head of her family in Prussia, but he 
was equally revered with filial love by Nichola& His 
death might cause a change, both in political and 
family relations. The anxiety of his daughter increased, 
and she hastened once more to embrace her suffering 
father. In the February of this year, news of a death 
arrived, which was, however, indifferent to her — Princess 
Elizabeth of Brunswick, the former divorced wife of 
Frederick- William n., died. It was, in fact, only by 
her death that Alexandra was reminded of her exist- 
ence, but it also recalled to her that the Eling had en- 
tered his seventieth year. She had lived in Stettin for 



ART AND SOCIETY. 207 

more than fifty yeais, almost forgotten by the whole 
world, and died at the age of ninety-four. Alexandra 
knew also that 1640 was the year when the great Elec- 
tor's leign began, and in 1740 Frederick n. ascended the 
throne, and that this year might possibly be marked for 
her by sorrowful changes. The King felt a decided de- 
crease of strength, and he no longer placed confidence 
in his body physicians, so the most celebrated patho- 
logist in Germany — ^Dr. Schonlein, of Wiirzburg — was 
called in. He came in April, and declared that he 
knew of no means to prevent the decay of nature taking 
its course. At that period Berlin possessed no monu- 
ment of Frederick the Great, and Frederick-WiUiam hl 
did not wish to die without acquitting this debt. On 
the 1st June, therefore, at his own express suggestion, 
the foundation-stone was laid, in the presence of all the 
princes, and many veterans of Frederick's day, but the 
infirm King could only stand for a few minutes, to look 
on from the distant window of his simple house. The 
state of her father had not been concealed from Alex- 
andra, although herself an invalid; she therefore left 
Warsaw, where she had just arrived from Petersburg, 
in all haste with her second daughter, Olga, and on June 
the 3d was beside her father's sick-bed. When the 
Emperor also came on the 7th June, the first day of 
Whitsuntide, his dying father-in-law scarcely recognised 
him. Shortly afterwards, in the afternoon, the eyes of 
the King closed for ever. It is needless here painfully 
to dwell on the greatness of this loss, especially to the 
Empress, for it not only afTected one great country, but 
all diplomatic relations of the present day. It was a 



208 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

new shock for the sorrowing daughter, and people re- 
called her prophetic words of the previous year, that 
an evil presentiment, more surely than the apparition 
of the white lady, had extorted from her. 

Frederick-William was the last monarch of the Trium- 
virate who entered Paris victoriously a generation ago ; 
he had succeeded in accomplishing what his ally, Alex- 
ander, failed in — ^to animate his people with a n&w 
spirit. Not only the Prussian State, but the whole of 
Germany, owes to his summons the deliverance from 
slavery ; he is the founder of the model State of Prussia 
as it now is, of the Prussian Commercial League, and of 
the new life that animates the people of that country. 
No prince was ever so thoroughly identified with his 
subjects, or ever gained such universal confidence as 
Frederick- William. One of our greatest European 
statesmen said at his death, " He might even have in- 
spired his people with veneration for a despotic govern- 
ment*' When, on the 11th June, at midnight, the 
mortal remains of the deceased were borne from the 
Dome, through the Linden, to Charlottenburg, the town 
was not lit up with gas, as a token of mourning, and the 
pale moon alone shone down from the sky, in which 
light clouds were drifting, on the silent procession. 

After these funeral obsequies, Alexandra went straight 
to the Bhine, which now appeared to her in a very 
different light from that of years gone by, when she 
first saw it by the side of her father and her hus- 
band. She was escorted by only a small suite, who 
understood and participated in her grief. Her stay in 
Ems was not without good effects on her health. Her 



ABT AND SOCIETY. 209 

daughter Olga shared her monotonous solitude, and to 
lier surprise and delight, her husband sent her second 
son, Constantine, to Ems for a week She also re'ceiyed 
into her quiet circle two of the most celebrated men in 
!Eniope of that day, — the author of " The Huguenots " 
Meyerbeer, and that master of the piano, Franz liszt. 
She highly esteemed the composer of "Sobert," an 
opera that she had often heard in Petersburg, though 
the Sussian irov/pe there could only give a very indif- 
ferent representation of it; "The Huguenots" and its 
author was yet equally unknown to her, although he 
-was her countryman. Meyerbeer was as much a master 
of the tone of good society as of music, well informed 
and amusing, devoid of arrogance, and full of tact in his 
intercourse with the great world, so he could not fail to 
suit the Empress in the highest degree. In his twelfth 
year he was as celebrated a pianist as laszt and Thai- 
berg now are ; he played a sonata of Seethoven's, in 
Schiller's presence, at his father's house, and^on the 
applause of that prince of poets. Although favoured 
from his cradle by fortune, and at that time enjoying 
the greatest fame, he remaiued always modest, and now 
approached the illustrious Alexandra in the most unas- 
suming manner. He himself made her acquainted with 
some of the best portion^ of "The Huguenots," so far as 
a pianoforte could effect this, and thus contributed to 
make her hours of mourning pass more quickly. Idszt 
surprised her more by his genius than pleased her by 
his person and manner, which so singularly distin- 
guished him from all other artists. 

The Empress first learned with certainty in Ems, that 
VOL. n. 



210 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

after the loss of her father in Prussia, her own family 
circle in Petersburg was to be increased by a new mem- 
ber. The heir to the throne, within the last few years, 
had visited the greater part of Europe, and, of course, 
also most of the Grerman Courts. In Darmstadt, where 
he only intended to make a short stay, his heart was 
captivated. The only daughter of the Grand Duke 
Ludwig IL, Princess Marie, sixteen years of age, capti- 
vated the young mau, both by her beauty and her intel- 
ligence, and he applied for the consent and blessing of 
his parents on a imion with her. This princely family 
is not so distantly connected with Bussia as may at first 
sight appear. The first wife of the Emperor Paul (at 
that time Grand Duke) was Katalie, Landgravine of 
Hesse Darmstadt ; she died in the course of a year how- 
ever, and so the two Courts remained without any 
further connection. But the second wife of Frederick- 
William XL, grandmother of the Empress Alexandra^ was 
sister of that Bussian Grand Duchess who was daughter 
of the Landgrave Ludwig ix., and held in high esteem 
by the whole of the Imperial family, although, un- 
acquainted with her. It could not then be otherwise 

ft 

than pleasing to his mother to know that the bride of 
her son had been chosen from so distinguished a fiunily. 
In autumn, therefore, the Empress returned home with 
the yoimg bride, six months being granted her to pre- 
pare for her marriage, to learn the language, and to 
make acquaintance with the customs of the country and 
the Court. As she had so suddenly decided to become 
the bride of the heir-apparent, the impression made on 
her by such novel scenes must have been far greater 



ABT AND SOCIETY. 211 

and more startling than formerly on Princess Charlotte, 
especially as the Hessian Court was inferior to that of 
Berlin. In her suite, besides her governess. Mademoiselle 
von Grancy, was her brother, Prince Alexander of Hesse, 
who at the same time entered the Eussian service. Since 
the inauguration of the Winter Palace, many changes 
had occmied in the Imperial family, but one thing 
remained the same, — ^the love, and mutual esteem of 
Nicholas and his consort, and also the tenderness with 
which all their seven children were devoted to their 
father and mother ; the confidence placed by the whole 
Bnssian realm in their Czar, and the genuine happiness 
enjoyed in Petersburg, 

Countess Bossi still occupied, during that winter, 
one of the first places in society. Many a great noble- 
man sacrificed a ball or a rout to the honour of hearing 
her sing in her own salon, Besides the houses of the 
Counts Wielhorsky, Lwoff, and Count Nesselrode, she 
sang her choicest songs on Sundays in the cabinet of 
the Empress, and established regularly in her own 
house musical evenings, to which people crowded as 
eagerly as to Court. Her abode, both in town and 
country, was always remarkable for a succession of 
carriages-and-four waiting for their masters in firont of 
her house. The mature Pasta also came to Peters- 
burg, perhaps in the delusive hope of gaining even 
greater triumphs than the still youthful and fascinating 
Countesa The little band who arrayed themselves on 
her side, in opposition to Bossi, were animated rather 
by jealousy of the latter than by admiration for the 
former. Her now precarious voice could no longer 



2] 2 ALEXANDBA EMPRESS OF BUSSIA. 

enchant as it had done years ago, which was indeed evi- 
dent to herselt She, however, again sought the scene 
of her former fame, the opera; cCnd, at all events, 
by her dramatic representation of '*Tancr6d" and 
"Norma," excited universal admiration. People forgot 
her defective singing in her masterly acting. But at 
Court she by no means met with the applause and 
sympathy accorded to Countess SossL She therefore 
left Petersburg the following winter, without carrying 
out her plan of establishing an Italian opera on the 
banks of the Keva. But Pasta's acting excited in the 
Empress the wish once more to see Countess Bossi in 
one of her far-famed parts ; for the greatest singers of 
the Italian opera, Malibran, Lablache, Tamburini, had 
hitherto disdained to come to Petersburg, fearing to 
injure their voices. Though this wish met with an 
eager response at Court, it found only morose faces 
in the diplomatic corps, who indeed received Coun- 
tess Bossi silently in their circle as their equal, but 
by no means wished her to derogate &om her 
present position by recalling her former one. But 
the Austrian Minister, Count Ficquelmoht, was well 
inclined towards the plan, and having married a sister 
of Countess Catherina Tiesenhausen, so highly re- 
spected and esteemed at Court, his opinion easily 
overruled that of the other diplomatists, who even 
accepted with the most amiable fcu^es an invitation to 
this entertainment. The concert hall of the Winter 
Palace was transformed into a stage, and only room 
left for about two hundred spectators. Among those 
who co-operated was Pauline von Barthenief, whom 



ABT AND SOCIETY. 213 

we already know as singer and maid of honour to the 
Empress, and Ivan M. Tolstoi, the friend and travelling 
companion of the heir-apparent, who had an admirably 
cultivated voice; all the minor parts were also filled 
by Court personages. BeUini's most charming crea- 
tion, " La Somnambula," was chosen for representa- 
tion, the music of which interested Alexandra most 
of all modem Italian works. Countess Sossi played 
this part reluctantly, but sang with indescribable 
charm. Among the two hundred spectators were 
few who had previously seen the great songstress on 
the stage. Even at the general rehearsal a storm of 
applause burst forth, the more remarkable as the little 
audience consisted only of grave elderly gentlemen 
and ladies, who seemed to be carried back to the 
days of their youthful enthusiasm by this godlike 
spark. Many persons in the city offered large sums 
to the lacqueys of the Court for a place in the gal- 
leiy, or in some comer, but did not succeed in their 
wish. At the close of this finished performance, the 
Empress scarcely knew how to express her thanks to 
the fair artist, while the gratitude of the Countess to 
that illustrious lady was perhaps even greater and more 
heartfelt ; for, after a long lapse of time, like an eagle 
escaped from a cage, she circled once more, firee and 
high in the air, in her own spherei, developing all 
the riches and magic of her art, and proving even to 
the most prejudiced that singing, this gift of God, 
is woman's brightest ornament and most powerful 
weapon. 

Unluckily, a rumour soon spread in the city that 



214 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

the Count was to be recalled by his Court next sum- 
mer, and sent to Berlin or Vienna. At the same time, 
people exhausted themselves in suppositions as to the 
grounds for such a change; and yet it was probably 
the wish of Count Bossi himself His own diplomatic 
position was too much cast into the shade by the social 
one of his wife ; a house so brilliant and sought after 
demanded laiger means than the Sardinian Court could 
afford to bestow ; the Countess's own fortune scarcely 
sufficed to defray the necessary expenses of her toi- 
lette ; the education of their four children cost fully 
four times more than in Germany ; a longer stay, in- 
volving the same hitherto unavoidable expenditure, 
must have been utter ruin to the family. More than 
one ambassador from petty States made this expe- 
rience on the banks of the Keva before Count BossL 
The Countess herself quitted Petersbuig regretfully; 
for she knew too well that in no other place in the 
world would she be so highly valued as hitherto in 
Petersburg. She therefore joyfully accepted an invi- 
tation to the next patriotic concert, which generally 
formed the close of the musical performances that 
enlivened Petersburg during five weeks in Lent. She 
shone forth like a diamond in its gold setting, not 
without the sorrowful presentiment that its bright light 
was soon to be quenched. Her numerous admirers, 
both at Court and in the city, sincerely shared in 
her regrets ; but still there were individuals who 
could not suppress their delight at her approaching 
departure. 
After this wiater, which the charms of art trans- 



ABT AND 80CIETT. 2 1 5 

formed into spring brightened by the songs of night- 
ingales, other fStes succeeded immediately after Easter, 
which gave an impetus both to the populace and to the 
most remote parts of the city. These were in honour 
of the marriage of the heir-apparent with the now so- 
called Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrowna, who had 
passed the^last winter exclusively in preparations for 
the event She had lived in such strict seclusion from 
the world that she had scarcely been visible to the 
curious townspeople; so the more did they now 
throng to the vicinity of the palace to see their future 
Empress, especially on one particular evening, when 
the city was lighted up as bright as day by millions of 
lamps. The noble, slender form of the bride, the easy 
charm of her manner, called forth, wherever she ap- 
peared, thundering hurrahs. The eldest brother of the 
Grand Duchess, the Hereditary Grand Duke Ludwig, 
and Prince Emil, celebrated as a military character, 
Priace Wittgenstein, and various other princes, arrived 
to attend the wedding. The heir-apparent, after his 
marriage, took possession of the wing of the old 
palace in Zarskoe-Sel6, once inhabited by Catherine 
the Second, still retaining his former apartments in 
the Winter Palace, while the adjoining comer rooms 
were prepared for his young wife. So the cabiaets of 
the Empress and her daughter-in-law were situated at 
the two opposite ends of the same wing in the Winter 
Palace. The eye of Alexandra glanced along the Neva, 
on Wasiliostrow, the Exchange, and, on the Peters- 
burg side, on the endless mass of islands; where- 
as the view of the young Grand Duchess was limited 



216 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

to the somewhat dull square before the palace. It was 
a consolation to the mother that her son was not 
severed from her domestic hearth, like her daughter 
Marie, who in her present delicate state of health could 
not visit her mother so frequently as before; but all 
the spare time of Nicholas was devoted to his wife. 

In the middle of this summer, 1841, the Countess 
Sossi left Petersburg for ever; but the interest the 
Empress showed in her future career was sincere and 
lively, especially at the time when a sudden change 
of circumstances recalled her reluctantly to her former 
profession. Her stay, however, in Petersburg inspired, 
both in the Court and in the town, an eager desire 
to transfer the Italian opera, for the autumn and win- 
ter months, from Paris to Petersburg. This was quite 
as much the result of a newly awakened love of music 
as a universal social requirement. For years past the 
Imperial family lived among the society of the city ; 
those who did not see them at Court or in the town met 
them, at least from time to time, at the theatre, where 
for several years they sought and found some hours of 
relaxation. But neither the Bussian nor the Grerman 
opera were so constituted as to call forth decided 
approbation. The dread of the Italians, that they 
might lose their voices, 'had vanished with the stay 
there of Countess Bossi; indeed, the most distin- 
gmshed of these, such as Bubini, had now very little 
voice to lose. Their demands, however, exceeded cer- 
tainly all precedent; but the Petersburg Direction, 
before their arrival, fixed the abonfiemerU at a price 
that fully covered all expenses, to be paid six months 



ABT AND SOCIETy. 2 1 7 

in adyance, — a still more unprecedented incident in the 
annals of the theatre. 

The winter before the Italians, came the loDg> 
wished-for Liszt from Berlin, where the storm of ap- 
plause had risen almost to idolatry, and was seen for 
a few minutes the same evening at Count Wielhorsk/s. 
Long before he arrived, a brilliant company assembled, 
when the celebrated artist appeared in a greatcoat, and 
a mountaineer's staff in his hand. The impatience to 
hear this far-famed man was great; but he abruptly 
declared that he did not intend to touch an instru- 
ment tUl he had played at Court Like some great 
nobleman, he and his suite inhabited one entire wing 
of an hotel, where he kept open table ; and the throng 
of visitors was even greater than those of the unassum- 
ing Countess Sossi in previous years. But the following 
evening he played in the house of the Prince of Olden- 
burg, in the presence of Henselt, who was as yet per- 
sonally unknown to him, and then at Court before an 
unusually large society. At first people were sur- 
prised, indeed startled, and no one ventured to pro- 
nounce any opinion. The Emperor himself remained 
cold and immoveable ; in fact, he could not understand 
how any one could equally applaud Liszt's playing 
and Countess Bossi's singing. Nicholas's natural taste 
for music had never been much cultivated; to him 
music meant either sacred or military compositions, or 
popular airs and operas. Of the latter, " Don Giovanni" 
was the one he prized the most highly; indeed, he 
usually encored the masquerade trio, and one of Don 
Ottavio's airs. Li oth^r operas, such as " Masaniiello," 



218 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

he preferred the choruses ; and the same with Meyer- 
beer's operas. Pianoforte-playing never had the slight- 
est charm for him; and Liszt's performance seemed 
only so many difficulties surmounted. But the artist 
was quite determined to extort the autocrat's applause. 
He played some military marches, and by so doing 
touched the chord that vibrated most strongly in the' 
heart of Nicholas. A few days afterwards, the first 
public concert took place in the Hall of the Nobles, 
with an audience of 4000 people, the receipts being 
54,000 francs; while the enthusiastic public did not 
for long know by what name to designate the artist 
At one moment he was called the Napoleon, the Shake- 
speare of the pianoforte, at another, the Mephistopheles 
of that instrument All coveted the honour of receiv- 
ing the man of the day, at least once, in their houses ; 
indeed, Petersburg cast a jealous glance at Moscow, 
fearing that he would remain there longer than by 
the Neva. In society Liszt was singularly charming 
— as intellectual and witty as Sossini, and devoid of 
Thalberg^s aristocratic reserve towards inferior artists ; 
and everywhere he left a striking impression. He had 
been accustomed from his youth upwards to the exag- 
gerated homage of the great but frivolous Paris world, 
yet without being spoiled. To a great unknown public 
he never showed the inner depths of his feelings, and 
rather despised than sought the applause of the multi- 
tude. He was well aware that even the most extra- 
ordinary performances on his instrument could not 
replace the human voice, and that a great variety alone 
could impart lasting value to his playing. All his 



ABT AND SOCIETY. 219 

colleagues, after being twice heard, were riddles solved ; 
but his vast range rendered all other players snper- 
fluons. He had wisely chosen the moment of his 
appearance in Petersburg — after Bossi, and before the 
Italians. The Empress not only heard him at Court 
and in public, but in several private concerts; and 
firankly owned that he was quite another man in a 
small saJat^ and in the large concert halL' 

In the summer of this year 1842, Nicholas and 
Alexandra celebrated the silver wedding-day of their 

sadly missed, because even in the year 1840 she had 
cause to hope that he might live to be present at this 
festival Her seven children were all well and flourish- 
ing, and even the two married ones not absent in other 
countries. Of all the many august guests who arrived 
at Court on this occasion, we shall only name the Eling 
of Prussia, Frederick- William iv. The public did not 
enjoy more festivities than usual at this epoch, for it 
was kept as a quiet family festival, as in Prussia, where 
not only at Court, but also among the nobility, par- 
ticular family days are celebrated Bewards and marks 
of distinction were therefore not extended beyond the 
the family circle, and the invalid Empress knew no 
enjoyment so great as that of happy intercourse with 
those near and dear to her. The King, who had only 
seen Petersburg in the years 1818 and 1834, was now 
witness of the rare domestic happiness of his sister, 
created by herself; that sovereign only ascended the 
throne two years before, adorned by a nimbus of 
peace, while his brother-in-law, Nicholas, had been 



220 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

obliged to conquer his, assailed as it was by conspiracy 
and revolution. From his earliest consciousness the 
King's eyes had been directed to the Grown, which did 
not however devolve on him till his forty-fifth year. 
ITicholas had never thought on the subject, and for 
fourteen days after his brother's death, refused to be- 
lieve in his destination. He now, however, stood before 
Europe a statue finished in its smallest details, solid 
and grand, and his character appreciated far and near, 
whereas Frederick- William seemed almost an enigma. 
All that this noble Prince wished and aimed at, had 
not the smallest connection with the principles of the 
Emperor ; the missions of both were as different as the 
claims and requirements of the two countries. The 
seventeen years of Nicholas's reign were brilliantly filled 
by his deeds, whereas Frederick- William had scarcely 
crossed the threshold, and was the object of the most 
ardent hopes. Both Princes were Maecenases of art, 
but, even in that respect, in different directions. An 
inclination for art had been well defined in the Eling 
of Prussia since his youth ; in the Emperor of Bussia, 
it had only by degrees been adopted; Frederick- 
William in his views of art had all the romantic feel- 
ings of the period that had been cultivating the Prince 
during the last twenty years in peace. Nicholas was 
quite the man of action, and an enemy to all theories. 
The current of the stream of life seized him against his 
will, and in the midst of the surging waves his strength 
made him a swimmer. Frederick- William, as Crown 
Prince, had remained too long a mere spectator, and 
instead of action had recourse to thought; he was 



r 



ART AND SOCIETY. 221 

therefore alinost always misimderstood. He had re- 
stored Marienburg, the ancient fortress of the Grand 
Master of the German Order, entirely in the style of the 
Middle Ages, while Nicholas caused a magnificent edifice 
in accordance with the aims of his reign to be erected 
on the Kremlin in Moscow. Frederick- William began 
his reign by releasing men similar to those whom Nicho- 
las, on the other hand, imprisoned on ascending the 
throne. The views of the two monarchs on sovereignty 
were not so widely different as might at first appear, 
they were only carried out in dissimilar placea Both 
esteemed themselves prophets and autocrats, sent by 
God. The Empress was a mediatrix between these 
opposite natures; her profoimd spirit was the altar 
before which with equal reverence they clasped hands, 
— she was the palladium of Eussia and Prussia, — a 
bond of conciliation between the most contradictory 
elements. 



CHAPTER VL 

THE GRAND DUCHESS ALEXANDRA NIKOLAEWNA. 

A SILVER wedding-day marks an important segment 
in the life of every family ; that of Nicholas and Alex- 
andra was among the happiest that had ever been 
celebrated. A succession of memories passed before 
the illustrious couple, including all that human life 
can offer, of joy and sorrow, and, in princely life, of 
splendour and terror. The Crown had brought with it 
much grandeur and renown, but still greater alarms 
and burdens than the Palace of Anitschkow, and both 
looked on their family as the only enduring and com- 
pensating happiness. All political circumstances had 
changed since the Emperor^s ascension of the throne ; 
the three Monarchs of the Holy Alliance were no more, 
the bond had dissolved of itself, even the relations to 
neighbouring states threatened change, but their fetmily 
and their domestic felicity had continued the same, and 
also their cordiality towards the public at large, which 
remained equally bright and unclouded. With a thank* 
ful heart, Alexandra acknowledged how much happier 
she had been than both the previous Empresses, one of 
whom was deprived of her consort in the most terrible 
way, while the other never truly possessed her hus- 



THE GRAND DUCHESS ALEXANDRA NIKOLAEWNA. 223 

band's heart It was also her husband's belief and 
conviction, that the brightest hours of his stirring life 
had been passed in the cabinet of his wife ; the wish of 
both therefore was, that whatever change there might 
be in political events, their family happiness might 
long continue unimpaired. No palace, however, is 
strong enough to ward off misfortune, no golden cham- 
ber can exclude care and sorrow, and the most adverse 
fate often first meets us with the most cheerful mien. 
While the health of Alexandra excited fresh anxiety 
from time to time, no one anticipated that death had 
marked for his own another, and a blooming member 
of the Imperial family. 

Few houses in Europe could boast of three such 
richly endowed daughters as that of Bussia. Olga, 
the elder of the two still dwelling in their parents' 
home, had indeed finished her education, but her 
zeal was by no means diminished for studying his- 
tory and literature, music and painting. Alexandra, 
three years younger than her sister Olga, was near 
the close of her education, but, like her eldest sister, 
animated with the warmest interest for art and know- 
ledge. The early childhood of this latter Princess 
had fEillen in the most troubled times of the Imperial 
house; she was six months old when the terrible 
14th December obliged the child to be removed from 
Anitschkow to the Winter Palace. The Empress- 
mother, Maria Feodorowna, only Uved in her memory 
as a distant passing vision ; this ancestress had some 
difficulty in at once distinguishing her youngest grand- 
child from her other playmates in Zarskoe-Sel6. While 



224 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

the father^s features were very early and unmistakably 
imprinted on both the elder sisters, even in girlhood 
the third was pronounced to bear less resemblance to 
her family than the rest ; in her thirteenth year, her 
lineaments seemed suddenly to recall forcibly her 
mother and also her grandmother, Queen Louisa 
Among the retinue of the Empress were still persons 
who retained a lively recollection of Queen Louise, 
and who were struck by the likeness. A change 
of governess had taken place in the education of 
the two younger sisters, which fortunately Alex- 
andra escaped. Both her governesses weie English, 
and exercised a beneficial influence over the young 
Princess, who from her twelfth year showed indescrib- 
able grace in aU her movements, especially in dancing, 
so that her parents liked to look at her ; even in her 
mode of walking in the street, where she appeared in 
all her simplicity and quite unknown, with her gover- 
ness, she struck every passer-by as a rare vision. 
From her features beamed even more than the wonted 

m 

courtesy of a princess, or the easy cheerfulness of a 
girl ; beyond all others, even her sisters, she was dis- 
tinguished by elevation of thought, and goodness. Her 
slightest smile lighted up her whole face, her glance 
was full of intellect and heart, and on her lofty brow 
was written true dignity. Many beauties cause aston- 
ishment, but permit the spectator no nearer approach ; 
the youthful Alexandra delighted by her first few 
words, for they came from the warmest depths of her 
heart. Neither pride nor cold reserve, but intellectual 
life and spirit, animated her whole being. From her 



THE GRAND DUCHESS ALEXANDRA. NIEOLAEWNA. 225 

tenth year she showed great musical dispositions ; she 
listened with reverence to adagios in Beethoven's 
sonatas and symphonies, and played them in her 
thirteenth year with rare intelligence. She often 
lamented that, as a princess, she was less likely to 
know the riches of life to their full extent, and 
conld not suppress her longing to see nature on a 
grander scale than that of Petersburg. She started up 
from joy at hearing that she was to accompany her 
mother to the Bavarian Highlands and to Ereuth — 
" Sophie Iwanowna," cried she in delight to her gover- 
ness, " we'shaU see the Alps, and pluck Alpine roses ! 
mamma means to take us with her abroad I I know for 
whom I shall bring home nosegays." And yet she did 
not without deep emotion take leave of the Anitschkow 
Palace, her occupations, and her brothers and sisters^ 
begging the latter to accompany her as far as Strelna. 

The excellent old King in Berlin saw his grand- 
daughter and her two youngest brothers, and pressed 
them aU to his heart The youthful Alexandra wrote 
regularly to her sisters during her journey, describing 
her various impressions. " I have been wandering in 
the very heart of Germany, in Ntimberg, and now begin 
to understand the pomp of the Middle Ages;'' and from 
the Bavarian Highlands she wrote thus : — " No words 
can describe my mood ; what happiness to be at the 
foot of the Alps ! I imagined it all beforehand as so 
beautiful, and yet I find it far more so." And how 
charmed was the Empress to share with such a daughter 
an enjoyment that, in spite of all the blessings of her 
lot, had as yet been denied herself Absorbed in the 

V0L,IL P 



226 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

powerful impressions made on her by £he journey, the 
young girl returned in the autumn to Zaiskoe-Sel6. 
In the overflowing fuhiess of her heaxt she related to 
all the various bright scenes she had witnessed, but 
notwithstanding every effort she could not conceal a 
severe cough. It also struck eveiy one that during the 
last five months she had grown to an imusual degree — 
all unpleasant symptoms were ascribed to her rapid 
growth, or to a chill on the mountains, and various 
other causes, and long considered a matter of little 
consequenca The cough indeed decreased, and en- 
tirely disappeared for a time, but continued to return 
more or less, though pronounced both by the physicians 
and those around her a mere chance ailment Some- 
times it was ascribed to the stormy weather of the 
Northern sky, sometimes to the dry heat of the Winter 
Palace, or to too rapid a development, but still, on the 
whole, no alarm was felt After her return from 
foreign lands, the charming gift of song broke forth 
with power in the youthful Alexandra. Her voice in 
speaking acquired greater melody, and was listened to 
with pleasure ; in her botanical rambles, in the park of 
Zarskoe-Sel6, she sometimes gave way to her inward 
impulses, and sang without words, but the music was 
always of a serious import Pauline von Barthenief 
first discovered her fine voice, and attracted the atten- 
tion of her Imperial mistress to it She had con- 
cealed her charming talent from her mother, esteeming 
it, in her youthful modesty, trivial The Empress now 
took counsel with Countess Bossi on the subject, who 
declared that she had never heard a voice of greater 



THE GRAND DUCHESS ALEXANDRA NIZOLAEWNA. 227 

k 

compafis and fulness; for it embraced fully three 
octaves — and she eagerly urged so rare a gift being 
cultivated, but with precaution. The Emperor con- 
trived to steal many moments not only to listen to 
his daughter, but to join her and Pauline Barthenief 
in singing sacred tiios. An Italian of the name of 
Soliva was chosen to teach the youthful Alexandra, 
who seemed at length to become aware of her precious 

gift. 
After one year of instruction, however^ the teacher 

spoke very seriously to the governess on the state of 
the Princess's health, who immediately communicated 
her anxiety to the physicians. They considered the 
interference of the Italian in their vocation as both 
uncalled for and officious, and their opinion tranquil- 
lized even the anxiety of the mother. In short, no 
measures were taken to check an incurable evil In 
her appearance, the young girl looked more blooming 
than ever, although her cough obstinately returned 
from time to time. She was seldom seized by it when 
singing, and thus aU indulged in feelings of the most 
entire security, and she herself least of all had any 
fears about her own health. The Italian teacher was 
dismissed from the office he had hitherto occupied, on 
other grounds, and left Bussia. The Empress applied 
again to Countess Bossi, who proposed that her own 
teacher, a Mademoiselle Cecca, of Prague, should be 
summoned, and offered, till the arrival of that lady, to 
instruct the girl herself. Thus the youilg songstress 
was trained in the best school, a proper method 
also preventing her weak lungs being over- strained, 



228 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

while she was quite delighted to know that she pos- 
sessed such a talent^ hitherto scarcely suspected by 
herself^ and also that it was to be cultivated by the 
greatest singer of the present day. When her natural 
timidity was vanquished, she sang in almost as great 
perfection as her teacher, Gk)ethe's song, "Ye bloom 
and fade, sweet roses," little anticipating that she was 
herself one of the fading flowers of her song. 

This melody was dedicated to Countess Bossi, by one 
of her enthusiastic admirers, and she sung it in sym- 
pathetic circles, with the whole ardour of her heart 
and magic of her voice* Her pupil was powerfully 
affected by it, and never rested till she could sing it 
herself in a certain degree of perfection. Any one who 
at that time saw this young Princess in her loveliest 
bloom and apparent strength, or who heard her sing, 
could not but admit that Heaven had gifted one of its 
fiedrest creations with every intellectual endowment and 
every splendour earth could bestow. After Countess 
Bossi qxdtted Petersburg the new teacher one day 
remarked to the governess that the voice of her pupil 
sometimes made an uneasy impression on her, for some 
of her notes occasionally indicated an infirm organi2a> 
tion. The startled governess this time, besides applying 
to the attendant physicians, went straight to the Em- 
press herself, who wished that Mandt should examine 
her daughter with a stethoscope. In any other family 
this could have been done without difficulty ; at Court, 
however, among the dozen physicians, arose a violent 
storm, not only against Mandt but against the Empress 
herself Mandt had previously lost the confidence of 



THE GKAND DUCHESS ALEXANDRA NIKOLAEWNA. 229 

the Grand Duchess Marie^ and consequently that of 
many other ladies of the Court, who edl now united 
in blocking up his path to the youthful Alexandra. 
Dr. Bauch, the physician in attendance on the Frin- 
cess, had already been removed by the intervention 
of Mandt^ and it was to be feared that he would 
soon be entirely banished from Court In order to 
prevent this, Mandt's visible and invisible enemies, 
and their name was legion, made every effort to tran- 
quillize the Empress and to excite hatred in the 
heart of her innocent child towards Mandt, so that no 
examination might take place. Thus the evil silently 
increased, to which in a short time she was irrevocably 
to fall a prey. 

In the town nothing was known of what was passing 
in the Palace ; a few persons only, in nearer connec- 
tion with the Court, who knew the Grand Duchess, 
and judged by her blooming appearance, declared that 
Mandt had very J)roperly been prevented from once 
more inteifering with affairs that did not concern him, 
and that the danger was imaginary. 

Being now in her eighteenth year, Alexandra joined 
the evening family circle of her mother. The few 
gentlemen who appeared there, such as Bibeaupierre, 
Kesselrode, Kisselew, the ladies being Frau Kriidener, 
and Tiesenhausen, Princess Soltikow, and the two 
Counts and Countesses Wielhorsky, could not find 
words to express their admiration of the young Prin- 
cess. Often in life we hear the criticism that a royal 
lady is either too much or too little of a princess ; that 
one never descends from her altitude while another 



230 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

never rises to hers, but Alexandra Nikolaewna dis- 
armed criticism ; all her words were the faithful tran- 
script of her warm heart and of her pleasing gaiety ; 
hitherto the invalid mother had seen her less firequently 
by her side than her two elder sisters, but she now 
began to count every hour that her youngest daughter 
could pass with her. Her father also, though so closely 
occupied, devoted more attention to her, and they often 
sang and painted together. 

For her occupations all continued. With the same 
zeal that she felt for singing and the pianoforte, she 
also studied the history of past ages and the literature 
of other countries, and passed hours in the gardens of 
Zarskoe-Sel6 and Feterho^ eager to discover a new 
species of plant, or by the sea, in Peter's little Dutoh 
house, enjoying nature and inhaling the sea breezes. 
She often sat for hours in Zarskoe-Sel6, beside one of 
its many lakes, feeding the swans, who at last knew 
her perfectly, and flocked round the cottage as soon as 
they caught sight of her at a distance. During the 
summer of 1843 edl anxiety about her health seemed 
at rest, some faint remains at most of her former indis- 
position being still perceptibla At the end of May, 
as usual, the Court quitted dry Zarskoe-Sel6 for damp 
Peterhof, and the health of the young girl seemed 
even to withstand this change. The two unmarried 
daughters still lived with their &ther and mother, and 
governesses, in the little country house of Alexandria^ 
and in the course of the day received their teachers, 
and enjoyed the numerous walks in the vicinity of this 
charming country town ; but from the hour of dinner 



THE GRAND DUCHESS ALEXANDBA NIEOLAEWNA. 231 

they formed part of the Imperial circle. Here they 
gradually became acquainted with the motley crowd 
that made up a Court, and especially men hitherto 
known to them only by name, and experienced the 
first illusions of life ; but they paid a genuine tribute 
of gratitude to those who, by their intellectual con- 
versation, succeeded in interesting their youthful 
minds. 

In the more restricted Imperial circle politics and 
passing events were almost invariably interdicted ; the 
Emperor did not permit any allusion to be made to 
them even by those to whose hands they were confided, 
unless at a fitting time and placa The tone, therefore, 
of the conversation was always cheerful and uncon- 
strained ; it was a family circle, unfettered by the pomps 
of the throne and the burdens of a crown, including 
only a few friends, who knew how to enjoy those 
precious moments of freedom. The children often pre- 
pared a surprise for their father and mother by airang- 
ing tabUanx vivans, selecting the Emperoi^s favourite 
subjects; they acted plays, and extracted a smile of 
approbation even from their grave father, on seeing 
Constantine, a youth of fifteen, appear in a comedy as 
Frederick the Great, and act the character admirably. 
The daughters also decorated his cabinet with paintings 
by their own hands, and of their own composition, in 
which their father took more delight than in the 
masterly works of a Horace Vemet or a Gudin. 

No one thought of matrimony for these two Prin- 
cesses, and least of all for Alexandra. In the summer 
of this year, however, Prince Frederick-William of Hesse 



232 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

came to pay a visit to Peterhof. This Prince, a branch 
of the Electoral line, was the son of that Landgrave 
William who married the sister of the then King of 
Denmark, Christian the Eighth, and had long lived 
in Copenhagen. Christian the Eighth's only son mar- 
ried, for the second time, in 1841, but had no children, 
so there seemed little hope of his bequeathing the 
throne to his own descendants ; a prospect, therefore, of 
succeeding to the Danish throne seemed to present 
itself to this Prince under favourable auspices. He 
was not so tall' as the Emperor, the heir-apparent, 
his brother Michael, or the Duke of Leuchtenberg, 
but he was a distinguished-looking young man, with 
a gay and open countenance. He shared the Court 
life at Peterhof, attending the camp and the man- 
oeuvres, their expeditions, and the soirees and balls 
the Emperor gave for his children* At these the two 
sisters surpassed edl the rest of the society, looking 
like two beings of a higher sphere. The Prince 
possibly arrived without the intention of forming an 
alliance with the Bussian Court, but two such lovely 
forms could not fail to attract his attention and 
to make the deepest impression on him. The younger, 
Alexandra^ had no idea, in her modesty, that the 
Prince was chiefly captivated by herself, and rather 
sought to avoid than to encourage his attentions. She 
would scarcely believe it when she was told that the 
Prince's suit was made to her and not to her elder 
sister. But when she actually realized the truth, she 
was overflowing with happiness, and, in the impulse of 
her heart, wrote to a friend abroad, — " I am so happy 



THE OHAND DUCHESS ALEXANBBA NIKOLAEWKA. 233 

that I have nothing more to wish for." Owing to cir- 
cumstances, however, the Prince could not exchange 
his own home for Petersburg so easily as the Duke of 
Leuchtenberg had done, while the young Alexandra 
had the certainty of leaving her native country after 
her marriage^and making her permanent home in Den- 
mark. 

The first and most natural wish of the mother and 
daughter was to obtain a more intimate knowledge of 
the habits and customs and political relations of that 
island before settling there. The princess therefore. 
after the departure of her betrothed, resumed her 
studies, in order to acquire more information about the 
Danish Court, where she was in future to reside, its 
historical development, and its present component 
parta She was the first daughter of the Imperial 
House who was to be entirely severed from her home 
and transplanted to a country with which Bussia had 
as yet no family connection. Denmark assumes no 
very prominent place in the history of the world, nor 
could the interest of a Princess be much captivated by 
it With all the cultivation gradually diffused through 
that land by the efforts of the Government, Danish 
sympathies lie more with the sea» which bounds their 
home on every side, and which they still regard as their 
ancient Norman Fatherland. The fleet is their pride and 
their renown, and their greatest men are naval heroes. 
Hitherto the Grand Duchess had scarcely formed any 
opinion about this country, but she looked on every- 
thing now in a rose-coloured light. If any one spoke 
of the beauty of the Bosporus at Constantinople, she 



234 ALEXA!n)RA BMPRES8 OF BUSSIA.. 

agreed, but added playfully, " But not so beautiful as 
the Sound at Copenhagen." Another time the subject 
of discussion was the art treasures in the Louvre, when 
she rejoined, " And yet not so rich in the masterly works 
of Thorwaldsen as the Frauen Eirche." She enjoyed 
the happiness of the fature already in pleasant day- 
dreams, — a poor compensation for the sad fate that 
threatened her. She had been told that in summer 
she was to take possession of a country-seat in the 
midst of the finest oaks and beeches, commanding 
the same view of the sea as Feterhof (the spot of 
her most cherished memories) of the Gulf of Finland. 
Thither her imagination carried her for hours together, 
regulating and arranging, anticipating visits from 
her Petersburg friends, whom she was to entertain 
hospitably. 

Although she herself little anticipated that during 
these dreams and the reality of her happiness, the seeds 
of death were springing up more and more in her fair 
breast, still this could not escape those around her. 
For the blooming bride became pale, her charming 
singing, to which love impelled her so strongly, was 
stifled by a modest cough, and, to her great regret, she 
was obliged to renounce this delightful gift It became 
a serious question whether the nuptials must not be 
deferred for a whole year, but, at an important consul- 
tation of physicians, the sharp glance of Dr. Mandt 
was unfortunately dispensed witL No one ventured 
to decide whether blindness or thoughtless subserviency 

m 

to the will of the Emperor caused the marriage to be 
fixed for January 1 844. During the autumn ai^d winter 



THE GRAND DUCHESS ALEXANDBA NIKOLAEWNA. 235 

months the youthful Alexandra resumed her studies 
about Denmark with unwearied zeal, and her happy 
dreams were not disturbed on learning, by historical 
proofs, that the Court of Denmark, more than any 
other, was entangled in a miserable network of intrigues 
and cabala The brid^room made his appearance 
at Christmas, and preparations began for the eventful 
day ; but no improvement was visible in the health of 
the bride, and her illness seemed at length to force 
itself on her with sorrowful conviction. She looked 
forward to her wedding-day with the anxious wish that 
it was over, for she feared that her strength would not 
suffice for the ceremonies, which our reader already 
knows, &om our description of similar days, to be most 
fatiguing. 

The town was, however, anticipating with delight the 
January festivities, for, at the same time with those 
of Alexandra Nikolaewna, the nuptials of the second 
daughter of the Grand Duke Michael, Elisabeth, were to 
be celebrated with the Duke of Nassau. This Grand 
Duchess was nearly a year younger than the Imperial 
bride, blooming, and less delicate in figure than Alex- 
andra — ^less animated, reserved, but richly gifted, and 
sharing with hel: cousin an extreme love of music. 
She h€id been educated with her two sisters in the 
Michael Palace, under the eyes of her admirable and 
intellectual mother. She only entered the Winter Fa- 
lace on occasions of ceremony, and spent her few hours 
, there in the apartments of her cousins. All three sisters, 
therefore, were in some degree estranged from the in- 
evitable splendour of the throne ; their education had 



236 ALEXAXDBA. EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

been completed in a more natural atmosphere than that 
of a Conrt ; thus all three were nearer the realities of 
lifa The Grand Duke Michael was a simple, unas- 
suming, upright man, the first and most faithful subject 
of his august brother, and felt happier without any 
exterior pomp. The features of the father were as un- 
mistakably imprinted on the daughter, as those of the 
Emperor on the Duchess of Leuchtenbeig. As the 
Grand Ducal family was limited to these three daughters, 
Michael would have preferred their marrying in his own 
vicinity, but he bestowed his cordial blessing on the 
daughter about to leave him. Elisabeth did not require 
to embellish her future residence near the Bhine by her 
imagination, for scarcely on earth is a more lovely 
country to be found than Nassau ; and the intelligent 
Elisabeth could appreciate this as a special happiness. 
The wedding of Alexandra was to take place on January 
1 6th, and that of Elisabeth to follow on the 1 Oth. The 
whole town wished to contribute to these festivities, — 
the entire body of merchants by a permanent benevolent 
institution, and the nobility and the great world by a 
representation of Wieland's "Oberon" in the Michael 
Palace. On January 15th, the very day previous to 
her wedding, Alexandra was still eagerly occupied 
with her studies, and reluctantly laid them aside 
for the next few weeks. At one o'clock in the fore- 
noon the Italian opera singers rehearsed the pieces 
that they were to sing during the great banquet, all 
selected by the bride herself, among others the beau- . 
tiful quintett from Donizetti's "Lucia." She waa 
deeply affected during its performance, and it was re- 



THE GRAND DUCHESS ALEXANDRA NIKOLAEWNA. 237 

marked that it was not the music alone that caused her 
tears. 

The ceremonies being precisely the same with which 
th^ reader is alreac!^ acquainted, we need not recapitu* 
late them. Among the thousands of invited guests who 
filled the apartments, were many who, for the first time, 
saw the illustrious bride, and they were startled by her 
pallid and suffering appearance ; but next day she seemed 
as gay as usual, and greeted all around her with fasci- 
nating cordiality. When the wedding of her cousin 
Elisabeth followed in presence of the same society, 
many declared they thought her also peculiarly pale. 
On the Neva> January is the very coldest month, 
and in that particular year the weather was imusuedly 
severe. Not only feeble constitutions were attacked by 
illness, owing to the fatigue of so many fStes, balls, and 
banquets, but even those in the most robust health 
succumbed under such trying exertions. The represen- 
tation of " Oberon" in the Michael Palace formed the 
close of the festivities. The beauty and splendid adorn- 
ments of all those who co-operated have scarcely ever 
been equalled in the world, and Wieland would have 
been amazed to see Ms boldest fancies surpassed in 
magnificence by reality. All that Bussia possessed in 
pearls, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires were 
to be seen glittering that evening in the palace. Many 
ladies wore, on their own persons, jewels to the amount 
of several millions in value ; and it was asserted that 
several European countries combined could not display 
so many. This Imperial splendour in the rooms of the 
Palace was still further heightened and enlivened by 



238 ALEXANDRA EHPBESS OV BUSSIA. 

the enchanting singing of Italians, — Bubini, Tambniini, 
Madames Yiardot and GrisL To the spectators it seemed 
no longer an earthly kingdom, and they forgot that 
outside the palace there was deep snow and 17 degrees 
of cold And in the midst of all this brilliancy, the 
newly married Grand Duchess said to one of her suite, — 
'* How I long for rest I How I rejoice at the thoughts 
of my quiet cabinet and my occupations." The Duke 
of Nassau left Petersburg shortly after with his bride 
in the deepest snow, but Alexandra Nikolaewna took 
possession of a quiet wing of the Winter Palace, with 
her husband, and seemed quite happy in resupung her 
old habits. The few persons who still saw her observed 
a striking change in her whole natura It was not only 
that youthful freshness had vanished for ever, without 
leaving a trace behind, but her natural mood seemed 
oppressed by some invisible evil, and the bright weeks 
of her honeymoon were obscured by much suffering. 
Everything indicated an approaching time of bitter sor- 
row and severe trial for the parents. The loquacious 
lips of society soon ceased speaking of the splendours of 
the past festivities, and confidentially whispered in 
horror to each other a few words about the precarious 
state of the bride. 

Lent soon came, when the Court removed to the 
Anitschkow Palace, and the invalid followed, though 
with difficulty. The physicians now admitted that 
she was seriously ill, but not dangerously so, and 
placed their hope in the all-invigorating spring for her 
complete recovery, so that though the Court felt much 
concern, they were noways alarmed or afflicted In 



J 



THE GRAND DUCHESS ALEXANDRA NIKOLAEWNA. 239 

the city, however, the darkest presentiments, the most 
gloomy prophecies, were circulated from mouth to mouth 
and from house to house, and it may truly be said that 
the voice of the people often judges more correctly than 
the wisdom of experienced physicians. 

The second son, Constantine, at this time underwent 
his final examination in the presence of his family. His 
sister, Alexandra, had long anticipated with pleasure 
being present on this evening, as she had a particular 
love for this brother, both being endowed with a lively 
sensibility for music, susceptibility to the beauties 
of nature, and sacred enthusiasm for great historical 
characters. For years they had passed half-an-hour 
together every evening, relating mutually the events of 
the day, and discussing any new information they had 
acquired during their studies ; and now Alexandra was 
forced to absent herself from this important evening, 
to her great and just grief She felt that her illness 
was more serious than she had hitherto beUeved. The 
mother remained during the whole of Lent near her 
daughter, but was tranquillized again by the doctors, 
and referred to the spring for comfort Kotwithstand- 
iBg aU piessore of boainess, the Emperor was in the 
habit of visiting any invalid in his family three or four 
times a day, to observe their condition himself, but 
even his intelligent and sympathizing eye was deceived 
as to the danger of his daughter. At Easter the 
Court returned to the Winter Palace, but the bride 
was obliged to remain at Anitschkow. This circum- 
stance caused feverish excitement in the capital, and 
the attendant physicians were openly blamed. The 



240 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

Anitschkow Palace, when the Court have left it, usually 
stands desolate, and the public pass without bestowing 
a thought on it ; but now it was besieged the whole day 
by thousands, who wished to hear some tidings of the 
state of the poor sufferer. Too soon were Court and 
city to be terribly enlightened. The Emperor had re- 
solved on a journey to London, which, indeed, was to 
remain a mystery to the city. For this purpose the 
whole Court was first to remove to Zarskoe-Seli, and 
Nicholas, next morning early, quietly to set off on 
his journey. The Grand Duchess, in this change of 
plans, could not of course remain in the capital, espe- 
cially as aU hope of her recovery was founded on country 
air. Dr. Bauch, her own medical attendant, was pre- 
vented on that day accompanying his illustrious patient 
to the country, and requested his colleague, Markus, to 
undertake the office in his place. Markus and Mandt, 
during the Emperor's absence, were appointed to remain 
near the Empress and her daughter Olga, and there- 
fore were in the habit of regularly removing with 
the Court to the coimtry, whereas Sauch only visited 
them in the country on particular hours and days. All 
other members of the family had their own doctors, the 
Emperor several, and he was accompanied by Dr. Eein- 
hold on his journey to London. It was three months 
since he had seen the Grand Duchess Alexandra, and 
now he stood before her startled and speechless. She 
was changed ahnost beyond recognition during the 
winter ; hers was the pallor and debility of one slowly 
but surely dying ; instead of the youthful gaiety she 
was wont to show, deep-seated death was written on 



THE GRAND DUCHESS ALEXANDRA NIEOLAEWNA. 241 

her features. After having recovered fix)m the first 
shock of his sympathy, he escorted the invalid to 
ZarskoenSeW, where he went instantly to Nicholas, and 
boldly told him that he must defer his journey, as 
his daughter was advancing with sure steps to death. 
The Emperor asked whether Markus was his daughter's 
own physician, and if this verdict was grounded on 
months of observation. Markus was obliged to admit 
that it was not so, when Nicholas commanded that 
Dr. Bauch, and Scholz, the accoucheur, should attend 
next morning in his cabinet before his journey. The 
two gentlemen arrived next day, not having previously 
spoken with Markus, indeed without any idea of the 
report their colleague had made to the Emperor, who 
first turned to Scholz, and inquired as to the state of 
his daughter, and her expected accouchement. He re- 
plied that all was following the natural course of things. 
Then he questioned Bauch as to the state of her limgs, 
and his reply was, that though not better, she certamly 
was not worse. " So I may proceed on my journey ?" 
said the Emperor interrogatively, and as no answer 
followed, he walked rapidly to his carriage and drove 
away. Schok had expected that Bauch would make 
serious representations to the father, and courage- 
ously express his sense of the danger, which, without 
their knowledge, Markus had already pointed out and 
betrayed; he was amazed at the indifference of 
his colleagues, and sought to detain the departing 
Nicholas, and to speak even more explicitly, but the 
carriage disappeared with the speed of a locomotiva 
With all his courage, Scholz could not reply to the 

VOL. IL Q 



242 ALEXANDRA BMPEESS OF RUSSIA. 

Emperoi^B question; indeed, as an accoucheur, it was 
neither his privilege nor his duty to interfere with any- 
thing heyond his own functions. Bauch now saw the 
sword of Damocles suspended over his head, and agreed 
that Markus should make his report to the Empress, 
who was indeed to be spared as much as possible, for 
she was suffering more than ever. The mother, how- 
ever, was prepared, as for a long time past she had been 
tormented with alarm about her daughter, and desired 
certainty. She instantly decided on calling in Dr. 
Mandt for a consultation, and strove to dissipate in 
her daughter's mind the prejudices against that phy- 
sician that had been instilled into her. At that period 
Mandt was the first and only physician in Fetersbuig 
who used the stethoscope to ascertain the state of the 
lungs, and, for this very reason, he was scoffed at by 
the other doctors ; but we must not foiget that this Ger- 
man discovery was universally recognised and practised 
earlier than by ourselves by the French. Alexandra 
yielded at once dutifully to the wishes of her mother, 
and Mandt presented himself in her room next day with 
three other physicians. The auscultation had no result, 
and one lung did not seem affected, so that those pre- 
sent already began to smile; but when examination 
followed of the second lung, and Mandt made her an- 
swer the question, " How did your Highness sleep last 
night ?** the answer was accompanied by the most fear- 
ful rattUng within, that so startled even the stoical 
Mandt that he let his instrument falL -She had herself 
pronounced her sentence of death. Mandt imparted 
the fact to his colleagues in Latin, in order to spare the 



THE GRAND DUCHESS ALEXANDRA NIKOLAEWNA. 2i3 

mother such a shock, but this mysterious language 
struck the illustrious lady as strange, and she demanded 
to be thoroughly enlightened as to the condition of 
her daughter. They went to her cabinet, and now, 
fix)m the lips of the physician in whom she placed 
entire confidence, she learned that it was scarcely pos- 
sible to save the life of her daughter, nay, more, that if 
her husband'aabsence were prolonged for several months, 
he would perhaps no longer find her among the living. 
The next step resolved on was to despatch several mes- 
sengers in different directions, by sea and by land, to 
seek her father. Mandt offered to go himself by sea 
to find him if possible. 

The Emperor had not left his carriage since he quitted 
Zar8koe-Sel6, and arrived on the fifth day in Berlin, to 
the surprise of every one, and, after seeing the monu- 
ment of Frederick the Great, hastened on with the 
speed of lightning, and consequently arrived in London 
before either of the two messengers could arrive on 
German or foreign soiL The tidings reached him by 
telegraph in London, which he left seven days after- 
wards, and travelled home with the same marvellous 
speed. At a stage between Kothen and Berlin, on his 
return, the second messenger met him — a person be- 
longing to his own household. The Emperor being 
obliged to wait for the Berlin train, got out of the car- 
riage to breathe some fresh air, and although at, some 
distance from the station, he was recognised and sur- 
rounded by a curious crowd. 

The attention of the people was excited, and their 
surprise also, when suddenly a plainly dressed gentle- 



244 AXEXAKDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

man approached the traveller, and spoke a few con- 
fidential words. The grave face of the Emperor, at 
each succeeding word, became more and more agitated, 
and his eyes at last filled with tears. He embraced 
with cordial warmth the bearer of the melancholy 
news, gave him his benediction on his journey, and 
then hurried through the crowd to rejoin his dying 
daughter. 

The Grand Duchess was living in the new Alexandra 
Palace at Zarskoe-Sel6 with her mother, who sat the 
whole day beside her bed, and observed, with a sad 
heart, that her daughter wcus so hopeful, seeming 
scarcely to feel her wealoiess, and indulging in tte 
fairest dreams for the future. The unhappy Dr. Sauch 
had the melancholy conviction of having utterly failed, 
and dreaded the return of the Emperor like the day of 
judgment ; he was in a state of such feverish restless- 
ness that an aberration of mind was apprehended. 
Nicholas, however, was far more humane than his 
people knew or believed ; in true Christian resignation, 
he saw in this trial an affliction sent by God, to which 
the highest as well as the lowest must submit, and for 
which no man can be called to account. Bauch was 
indeed dismissed from his situation, but not in anger. 
The Prince of Hesse alone, the husband of the poor 
sufferer, complained loudly of the carelessness of the 
physicians, who, by urgent representations to the 
Emperor, might have delayed the marriage, and thus 
possibly saved this precious life. He summoned his 
own body physician from Copenhagen to the sickbed 
of his wife, but he too saw no means to ward off death. 



THE GRAND DUCHESS ALEXANDRA NIKOLAEWNA. 245 

The afflicted parents now passed the most agon- 
izing weeks of their whole existence, for they were 
compeUed to see the life of this charming daughter 
slowly and hopelessly ebbing away before their eyea 
Maikns, Mandt, and Scholz scarcely left the invalid 
for the next few weeks, and the father and mother sat 
day and night by her bed, with tears in their eyes. 
The sympathy of the people was great indeed, and even 
those Russians who were travelling in foreign parts, 
renounced eveiy amusement at that time. By the 
beginning of July, both parents and doctors gave up 
their last hopes, but not so the invalid herself ; although 
a sick couch of four months had gradually caused ex- 
treme debility, she bore her sufferings with angelic 
calmness, and in Christian submission, but not without 
the hope shortly to be able to travel, and always speak* 
ing words of comfort to her afflicted parents. The only 
member absent of the family was Gonstantine ; a sea 
voyage that he made every summer having taken him 
firom the White Sea to the North Cape, and from thence 
to Copenhagen, in order to see the future abode of his 
sister, in winter and summer, in all its details, that he 
might give her every particular. He returned to Cron- 
stadt on July 24th, and hurried on to Zarskoe-Sel6, but 
could not see his beloved sister that day, because they 
dreaded the too great excitement, for now she lay 
dying, but she smiled once more on being told that 
Constantino was to arrive next day. When he went 
in to see her on the ensuing morning, she had scarcely 
strength to stretch out her hand to him, and he too 
with difficulty recognised his sister, for it was another 



246 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

face, another voice; she seemed to revive when her 
brother spoke to her of the countiy seat, Bemstorfif, 
that he had seen at Copenhagen. She gradually sunk 
into sleep, and woke next day quite restored to con- 
sciousness, but her weakness was so great that her 
death was momentarily expected, and yet she survived' 
the whole of that day and the following night. Indeed, 
on the 28th, life seemed to return, and all, even the 
physicians, had a ray of hope, but alas, how delusive ! 
Two lives were to be extinguished at the same moment. 
At nine o'clock in the morning she bore a son, calmly, 
and without suffering ; the infant was at once baptized, 
and named William. The mother was in ecstasy at 
having heard the cry of her child, the only sign of this 
life of two hours. She then asked for breakSast, and 
ate it with unusual appetite. A sound sleep inspired 
even her father with fresh hope, but Dr. Scholz 
silently shook his head. . Four hours afterwards she 
awoke, and spoke of her joy at being a mother, and at 
having heard the voice of her infant During these 
few words, darkness seemed to fall on her eyes, and 
she asked who were in the room. The soirowful 
governess answered, ''Your father and mother, and 
the priest." "Father," said she to him, "straighten 
my limbs, I am going to sleep." With difliculty she 
cast a parting glance, from her half-closed eyes, on 
those around her bed. In a faint, choking voice, 
she said " Farewell," and fell asleep to wake no more. 
The brothers and sisters were called into the room, 
and the whole sorrowing family knelt down with the 
priest and prayed 



THE GRAND DUCHESS ALEXANDRA KIEOLAEWNA. 247 

The Imperial family, two days after, carried the 
cofBbi with the embalmed corpse through the garden 
into a comer room, formerly nsed as a chapel by the 
priests. Here the public had access to seethe cofiin 
for two days, and even those who had not known her 
in life mourned with her friends, and paid her the 
tribute of farewell tears. She was conveyed during 
the night in her own landau carriage, and accompanied 
by her family, to the fortress in the capital, where the 
procession arrived in the most profound silence at one 
in the 'morning. Here also the body Jay in state for 
two more days, and then followed the interment, and 
all the ceremonies with which the reader is already 
familiar. The Court proceeded the same day to the 
retired Feterhof, and the Empress, in her grief, secluded 
herself from the world for many months. She passed 
this melancholy tixne chiefly L corresponding^th 
sympathizing persons of other countries, and was 
astonished to find how widely spread were the regrets 
for the deceased. The bridegroom, so happy and so 
surprised by his own good fortune the previous year, 
now left the cradle and the grave of his happiness a 
widower, and canying with him to his home only 
sorrow and tears. 

The opinion was universally entertained that Alex- 
andra's precious life might have been saved, if she, 
like her cousin, had quitted the rude climate of 
the North immediately after her marriage, and her 
cousin Elisabeth was esteemed fortunate in living 
on the beautiful banks of the Ehine. In fact, most 
travellers from Petersburg did not fail to seek her out 



248 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

in her -paradise, and were thus eye-witnesses of her 
felicity. Nearly all who returned thence, and who 
visited her in Biebrich or the Platte, found her more 
gay and charming than ever, and attributed this to 
the mild climate. Her .father and mother almost 
daily received people who came back from the Bhine, 
and enjoyed the happiness of their daughter in the 
reports of these travellers. The parents were therefore 
thimderstruck when a telegraphic message arrived to 
say that their beloved daughter and her new-bom 
infant had died on the 28th of January, on Alexandra's 
wedding-day, and exactly six months after her cousin. 
These dreadful tidings could scarcely be believed in 
Petersburg. like Cassandra, the Empress, in a pro- 
phetic spirit^ declared, after the marriage of her daughter 
Marie, that sad changes awaited the happy family 
circle; the Duchess of Leuchtenberg also had lost a 
child. The Grand Duke Michael and his wife had 
not even the consolation of closing the dying eyes of 
their daughter, and, racked by anxiety, could not for 
a time ascertain the circumstances and cause of her 
sudden death. Thus one mourning rapidly succeeded 
another in the capital, and the usually gay Petersburg 
appeared, during this entire winter, gloomy and dark. 
For this was not a mere Court mourning, like that of 
other countries, where prince and people were so 
widely apart; it was more than ever manifest that 
the Imperial House is the head of a large family, and 
that the mourning of the whole of Petersburg was in 
their hearts. 

The Court went from Peterhof to Gatschina^ where 



THE GRAND DUCHESS ALEXANDRA NIEOLAEWNA. 249 

they passed the autumn in strict seclusion. The 
physicians considered the Empress so weak^ that they 
advised her avoiding those persons who had been 
specially dear to her deceased daughter, for the poor 
lady exhausted herself by tears and excitement, and 
swoons almost .daily ensued. She was therefore re- 
stricted to her usual Court retinue, who sought to 
interest her by solid reading, avoiding, in conversation, 
everything that could remind her of her dear departed 
child. An old and intimate Mend of their circle in 
the Winter Palace, after his return to Eussia from 
abroad, not aware of the physicians' prohibition, went 
straight to see the Empress, and was announced, 
but she fainted away on hearing his name, and her 
attendant sent for the Emperor. When he saw their 
old but distressed friend in the anteroom, he at once 
knew what had caused his wife's swoon, and took him 
to his own .cabinet, to hear an account of his travels. 
But in the midst of his narrative, Nicholas inter- 
rupted him, saying, " I believe you are in possession of 
an admirable letter, written to you by my daughter 
Alexandra last year to Paris." The other took the 
letter out of his pocket-book. The father read it 
aloud himself to the mother, and both moistened it 
with their t^ars, and pressed it to their heart. When 
Nicholas gave back the letter he said, "I daily feel 
more and more how much we have losf The letter 
was indicative of intellect and rare talent, and also 
displayed youthfcd gaiety of heart, childlike religious 
faith, and wonderful charm. She was not only a loss 
to her own family, but to the world at large. All 



250 ALEXANDRA. EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

courts abound in pearls and diamonds, but such a 
treasure as the youthful Alexandra is more rare than 
the purest and largest-sized gems. 

The Duke of Nassau erected a splendid monument 
to his deceased wife Elisabeth ; a Greek chapel, that 
rises above the Nero valley, near Wiesbaden, and the 
sculptor Hopfgarten has immortalized her features in 
marbla But in retired Zarskoe-Sel6 also some remin- 
iscences of the lovely Alexandra remain. The room 
in which she died is transformed into a Greek chapel, 
adorned with a sacred picture, representing her beau- 
tiful features. The hut is still to be seen in the garden 
where she used to feed the swans by the lake, but they 
were black ones, who gradually disappeared. Not hr 
from this stands a marble statue to her memory ; it is a 
piously intended work, but devoid of artistic valua 



CHAPTEE VII. 

PALEBMO. 

Afieb a whole year of tears and mourning, the 
health of the Empress was utterly exhausted, and 
the physicians strongly urged the Emperor to send 
her to some foreign waters — but to which, was a 
question difficult to answer. Her depression of spirits 
required to be as much considered as the disorder of 
her nerves. It is well known that just at that time 
travelling in foreign countries was a difficult matter 
for Eussians, and what Nicholas forbade in his sub- 
jects, he usually did not ^rmit in his own family. 
The physicians had for years observed that a summer 
journey to some baths lost all its good effect on the 
Empress's health by a sudden return to Petersburg in 
the tiying months of autumn, and therefore entreated 
the Emperor to arrange to extend her absence to 
a year. To this proposal he at first positively 
refused his consent ; to be deprived for a whole year 
of the precious moments of his family happiness, 
was to expect too much from him, especially as this 
smnmer the yoimg Constantine was to undertake 
a longer journey, both by sea and land. His well- 
beloved Peterhof, in spite of the Cadet Gamp, and 



252 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OP RUSSIA. 

the manoeuvres that occupied his time, without his 
wife would appear to him like a desert Moreover, 
he did not like her remaining long in a foreign coun- 
try, being so contrary to his own orders; besides, 
her stay in the Crimea was impossible, the Orianda 
Palace not being yet completed, and that lovely land 
was yet too backward in all the benefits of civilisation. 
The distance from Petersburg to the Crimea is not 
indeed so great as to Palermo, but full of diflftculties 
and monotonous. The highways beyond Moscow were 
in a miserable condition ; indeed Nicholas himself, in 
the spring of 1845, during a journey from Warsaw to 
Kiew, was obliged to proceed a considerable part of 
the way on foot, as the carriages stuck fast in the mud. 
Owing to these, and many other reasons, the Emperor 
was at last obliged to decide on a foreign country, but 
the physicians could not yet agree as to the place. 
When at length Palermo was named, he again 
drew back, for hot only was the distance so great, 
but the journey led through so many countries and 
towns, and imposed many burdensome considerations. 
Mandt, who had first suggested this idea, contrived to 
follow it up successfully with Nicholas, who at last, 
with a gloomy brow, gave his consent, and his final 
words to thJB physician were, "You have compelled 
me to take this step, and therefore your conscience is 
answerable to me for the result" 

The Emperor first visited the interior of Eussia, and 
at the end of September quitted Tschuguief, in order 
to travel through Italy, a land as yet unknown to him, 
with his consort ; a novel and charming, but too fugi- 



PALERMO. 253 

tive acquaintance with such a land. This step was 
loudly censured in many circles, and Mandt on that 
account was the object of severe blame. The Berlin 
physicians also did not approve, and prophesied very 
Utile benefit. On Mandt all this made no impression, 
who conducted his illustrious charge in a glad spirit by 
Munich, the Brenner, Milan, Genoa, and Naples, to 
Palermo. And indeed even the very commencement of 
this enterprise was crowned with visible results ; the 
invalid revived as soon as she left the Alps behind, and 
in Genoa her husband became reconciled to the impe- 
rious physician. The ever-harassed Czar himself was 
also in a very different mood, and his furrowed brow 
becakne smoother in Italian air ; in Genoa he met one 
of his old state servants, the Marquis Paulucci, whom he 
received courteously, having been formerly Governor- 
General of the Baltic Provinces, and now of Genoa. 
On the -J^ October they arrived in Palermo in the 
most charming weather, and the Emperor thanked 
Mandt for his medical advice. The journey was happily 
accomplished, and Nicholas obliged to confess that the 
sky here was brighter, and the air milder, than even in 
summer at Peterhot October in particular, in the 
vicinity of the Neva> is under the 60th degree, while 
in the Gulf of Finland that month is unhealthy, cold, 
and damp; snow and fogs strive with each other for 
precedence, and all hurry from the country into the 
well-warmed town with its stoves ; this month often 
passes without a single ray of sunshine. Palermo, 
22 degrees farther south, and 19 degrees of longitude 
farther to the west, presents a very different aspect. 



254 ALEXANDKA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

• 

The wondrous formation of the mountains, the glowing 
colours in which country and city are steeped, the 
golden oranges that adorn whole plains, all captivated 
the Emperor, and he lamented being able only to remaia 
here for so short a period. The Empress was well 
instructed about this coimtry by her zealous studies on 
the subject, and yet even her expectations were sur- 
passed. As she approached the shore, she saw from 
the vessel numbers of gaily dressed girls, offering for 
sale the loveliest roses and Southern flowers in pro- 
fusion, and a procession of donkeys laden with oranges 
and melons ; a lively Southern expression in every face, 
and in the background a chain of lulls of the most 
singular forms ; above all, however, Monte Pellegrino, 
which caused the Empress to utter a loud exclamation 
of delight. Her abode, however, was not in Palermo, 
but in the adjacent town of Olivuzza^ about a quarter 
of an hour from the town. The road thither passes 
between garden walls, fountains, and various monu- 
ments of Arabian days. Avenues of evergreen trees, 
and the most enchanting peeps into the interior of the 
country, afford ample interest, especially as the road is 
not much frequented ; thotigh at every hour of the day 
muleteers are to be met with. 

OUvuzza consists ahnost entirely of orange gardens, 
and stately houses, that stand empty in winter. Almost 
all these villas are built of marble, and are the property 
of great families in Palermo. Many indicate fallen 
greatness, while others are recent upstarts. The villa 
Butera had been prepared for the Empress, neither one 
of the handsomest nor the largest, but containing within 



PALERMO. 255 

its walls many Northern comforts ; for the Pnncess 
Butera was of Eussian descent, ti^ Princess Schachaw- 
akay. Months before the arrival of the Empress the 
house had been arranged, so that it could be heated 
during the winter^-an unprecedented reqidrement for 
the Sicilians. The climate of Palermo and Sicily is 
somewhat like that of Bhodes and Madeira. Even 
during the winter months the thermometer seldom 
sinks below 9 degrees of B^umur, and in the hottest 
summer does not rise beyond 24. Sudden transitions 
from heat to cold are here unheard of, and the greater 
part of the inhabitants only know the appliance of 
stoves by hearsay. No little astonishment was caused 
by the whole of the Butera villa being provided with a 
heating apparatus before the arrival of the Empress, 
and indeed the Bussian colony during the winter 
months, used more wood in Olivuzza than the whole 
of Palermo. The Northerner is less hardened than 
'the Southerner, and the inhabitants of Petersburg, 
even in comparison with Germans, are delicate and 
almost effeminate. In 9 degrees of heat the Italian, 
both in the house and out of doors, is lightly clad, 
whereas in Petersburg almost every house is kept at 
15 degrees. 

The villa was only of sufficient size to contain the 
Empress and her daughter Olga, the other ladies 
and gentlemen of the suite were quartered in various 
neighbouring houses. Her dwelling was decorated 
within by the rarest flowers, and surrounded by 
a garden of tolerable size, and even in the winter 
months the flowers were in full bloom. No tree was 



25G ALEXANDRA EXPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

divested of its foliage, being all childreii of the South, 
and they seemed to the august lady of the North to be 
gifted with eternal spring. It was the realization of a 
dream that she had cherished for a lifetime. Her eyes 
rested for hours on Monte Pellegrino, on the dark green 
plains, on the glowing oranges, and she seemed to live 
in and by the air. As soon as twilight began to fall, 
and the physicians sent her to her room, she became 
more melancholy, and went within the four walls like 
a reluctant child. In the course of a few weeks she 
became so much stronger and fatter, that she could 
c^in wear a bracelet that had become too large for her 
arm in Petersburg. Those who saw her before her 
journey from the capital, and now in December met her 
again, could not but acknowledge that she looked ten 
years younger and stronger. The Emperor took advan- 
tage of his short stay to become acquainted with' the 
environs of Palermo, attended by Prince Albert of 
Prussia, though the period for this purpose was brief; 
for the Chancellor, Count Nesselrode, as well as Count 
Orlof, were with him, and twice a week couriers 
from Petersburg brought despatches that required the 
Imperial signature On his return journey he first 
paid a visit to the King of Naples, then spent five days 
of excited energy in Home, wrote a long and admirable 
letter to his wife as to the impression made on him 
by the Everlasting City, and passed several days in 
Vienna, but owing to the political relations of that 
period, by no means in such a golden humour as in 
Sicily. By the beginning of January he was once more 
in Petersburg, where he was received by 20 degrees of 



PALERMO. 257 

cold, wldch even his giant bodily frame could not with- 
stand, after having enjoyed Sicily. The Empress passed 
days of enchantment at this time, so far as they could 
be so to her without the presence of her husband ; for 
the King of the Two Sicilies, Ferdinand the Second, 
contributed by every means in his power to make thjB 
stay of his illustrious guest in his triangular island 
pleasing to her. He banished the legion of importimate 
and repulsive beggars out of the town and the environs; 
he placed part of his splendid stables at her disposal, 
and appointed several experienced poUcemen to watch 
over the safety of his august guest. He himself appeared 
from time to time, to ascertain with his own eyes that 
his care was such as really to deserve the gratitude she 
expressed. 

The King, and also Queen Therfese, daughter of the 
Archduke Charles of Austria^ were utterly different 
in their whole nature from the Empress, and rather 
checked than promoted innocent sociability in the 
island; for at the Neapolitan Court the strict cere- 
monial of former centuries still prevailed, in direct 
opposition to the inclinations of their guest. On both 
sides this was acutely felt, and each followed their own 
customs. There was no lack, nevertheless, of visitors 
in Olivuzza. After the departure of the Emperor came 
Constantine with his suite, and a squadron of Bussian 
ships ; the naval officers being highly distinguished, 
and also a splendid military band that played every 
day in the garden of the Empress, as formerly in Zar- 
skoe-Sel6 and Peterhof ; moreover, the Crown Prince 
of Wiirtemberg arrived, the Princes Alexander and 

VOL. n. R 



n 



258 ALEXANDRA EKFBESS OF RUSSIA. 

George of Prussia, Prince Windischgratz, and various 
chance traveUers, who were invited to join the Im- 
perial circle. But even without the visits of strangers, 
her dedlj society was very select, and contained all 
the elements that could beneficially influence the mind 
and the spirit 

Most closely of all related to the Empress was her 
younger siater, the widowed Grand Duchess of Meck- 
lenburg-Schwerin and her daughter. Princess Louise. 
The two sisters, since 1817, when Princess Charlotte 
quitted Prussia, had only met during visits to Berlin, 
and now enjoyed the happiness of being together, as in 
their childhood, many years ago. They both bore the 
same name of Alexandra, but the Empress was once 
more in their intimate family circle, to her sister 
and niece, sister and aunt CharloUe. Her sister was 
fresher and stronger in health than Alexandra, and 
possessed a calm, unimpassioned character, a profound 
German nature, a fund of benevolence betrayed by 
every movement of her lips, so that she became the 
chief resource of the Empress, and took a sisterly share in 
her joys and her sorrows. She lived with her daughter, 
Piincess Louibo, and a small Coiurt suite, in the villa of 
Duke Serrodifalco, close beside her sister, to whom 
she came every morning early, and seldom left her till 
eleven o'clock at night Princess Louise, two years 
younger than her cousin Olga, had been brought up 
quite on the system her aunt approved, devoid of all 
that stiff formality which German Princesses of petty 
Courts are usually compelled to observe ; she had the 
natural cheerfulness of youth — frank, and with a certain 






PALERMO. 259 

degree of enthusiasm for nature and art, and in a happy 
mood, owing to her journey. The daily society of her 
aunt and her retinue was as novel to her as the grand 
scale of nature in Sicily, and she eagerly sought infor- 
mation with regard to the history of the country and 
its rare vegetation, listened to every word spoken in 
society, and in their drives and walks gave way to the 

most ungovernable spirits. 

■ 

Constantino returned from his Oriental journey to 
Palermo, and the august circle crowded round the young 
wanderer during the first days of his stay, who could 
not relate enough to his mother about Constantinople, 
Brus6a> the Greek Islands, and Mount Atho& His 
narrations were made more interesting by an album, in 
which he had sketched with his own hand a number 
of historical places. In January he undertook a tour 
through the whole of Sicily, and viewed the scenes of 
ancient Greek story, to which in his youth he had 
devoted so much enthusiasm, and by his descriptions 
of Messina, Catania, Mount Etna, Syracuse, Malta, and 
Giigenti, famished fresh topics of conversation in the 
evening circles, and awakened the most lively longing 
in the heart of his mother to see some portion of that 
island. Unhappily the doctors prohibited all further 
expeditions, even in the environs of Palermo ; thus she 
was obliged to give up the idea of seeing in early morn- 
ing the whole island entirely overshadowed, by the 
gigantic Etna. This was not, however, the only anxiety 
that stole into the quiet period of her stay. Along with 
the above ladies, Olga, the second daughter of the 
Empress, was the whole day with her mother. This 



260 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

Princess was at that time confessedly the most beautiful 
girl in Europe and in Sicily, as well as later in Italy, 
and she moved among all daily commonplace forms 
like an ideal Greek divinity. The people, as well as 
the artists, filled with a sense of beauty, stood gazing at 
her in astonishment wherever she appeared. To the 
Italians her stately figure and her fair hair, her mild 
blue eyes, and the shape of her features, caused her to . 
be a double novelty ; her gait was majestic, like that of 
a Juno, but the gentleness and charm of a Baphael- 
Madonna lit up her features when she spoke. Sicily 
and Italy were obliged to confess that the North far 
surpassed even the ideal conception of the South in 
this rare creatura Perhaps she was at that time more 
beautiful than ever, because in Palermo her heart had 
at length made its choice, and first love was impressed 
on her features. The Crown Prince of Wiirtembeig, 
during his short visit to Palermo, was betrothed to her, 
but before this event could be openly announced, they 
were obliged to wait for the assent of the Emperor and 
the King alao. which arrived on the same day. and 
under rather singular circumstances for the »fair Olga. 
The Imperial Court were in February invited to a 
church, to witness the ceremony of a young Princess 
being clothed as a nun. The Empress avoided exposing 
herself to any mental agitation, but the rest of her 
family, with their suites, attended this very afiecting 
spectacle. At the precise moment when the symbolical 
interment of the nun took place, a letter was put into 
the hands of Olga, who recognised her father's writing, 
sending his blessing to this young bride, at the very 



PALERMO. 261 

ssiae moment when the other was renouncing the 
world for ever. In natural and eager expectation of 
her bridegroom's return, she passed this Italian Sicilian 
spring, herself its fairest flower, though she knew it 
not 

In the suite, Baron Peter Mejendorf was most prized 
by the society. He was at that time Eussian Ambas- 
sador in Berlin, met the travellers in Italy, and was in- 
trusted by Nicholas with the escort of his consort He 
was a man of high cultivation, both of intellect and 
heart, and peculiarly suited to the Empress. He had 
exchanged his original military career for that of diplo- 
macy, for which his varied knowledge and the clever- 
ness of his conversation and his pen peculiarly fitted him. 
Almost all modern languages were familiar to him, and 
he was also versed in the ancient classics, history and 
mathematics; the fine arts and literature equally claimed 
his interest ; in his salon in Berlin were to be met the 
heads of science, and of the University, as well as artists 
in song and painting, and the most experienced states- 
men of Europe. His family was one of the oldest in 
the Baltic Provinces and Grermany ; and Pope Clement 
the Second sprung from it His nature was unpretend- 
ing and upright, without either pride or servility, court- 
eous towards every one, and universally esteemed in 
Berlin, both at Court and in the University. 

His position had hitherto estranged him from inti- 
macy with the Court ; his name was well known to the 
Empress, though his rare qualities had not yet come 
under her observation. But her very first conversation 
with him showed her that she had not yet met his 



262 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

equal ; and thus he remained at her little Court during 
her stay in Sicily, and in Italy, till her return to 
Petersburg. 

The most difficult mission for the journey, and for 
the "visit to Italy and Sicily, devolved on Count Schu- 
walof. As Grand Chamberlain, he had not only to make 
arrangements for the Court, but also for the suite, but this 
intricate affair was in the best hands when confided to 
his guidanca The Schuwalof family was first distin- 
guished during the reign of Peter the Great, and its 
various branches were renowned under the Empress 
Elisabeth, and since then became one of the most con- 
spicuous families in Petersburg. The High Chamber* 
lain had been educated abroad, and was well versed in 
foreign languages. He was amiable, courteous, and 
obliging to every one. Count Apraxin, Adjutant-Gren- 
eral to the Emperor, escorted the Empress on all her 
journeys. This family, since the time of Peter the 
Great, filled many State offices. The High Admiral of 
the Eussian fleet, in Peter's day, was Feodor Apraxin ; 
Stephen, in the Seven Years' War, won the battle of 
Grossjagerndorf The Apraxin to whom we allude 
was a quiet, unassuming man, devoted body and soul 
to the Imperial family, but of no great importance The 
two physicians, Mandt and Markus, lived, not in Oli- 
vuzza, but in Palermo, some versts from the Imperial 
villa. Both Eussian and foreign papers cried out loudly 
at the time against the enormous retinue of Alexandra, 
and yet there were few, save those whom we have 
named. The Marshal's table, at which the suite of 
the Empress, and the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg, 



PALERMO. 263 

and that of Conatantine, daily met, consisjbed of scarcely 
twenty persons. 

An Empress of Bussia could not be without, a lady- 
in-waiting, and this post was'occupied by Princess Sol- 
tiko£ This family also is one of the most glorious in 
Bussia, and, like that of Narischkin, connected with the 
Imperial family, for Pauline Soltikof married the Czar 
Iwan, brother of Peter the Great, and thus became the 
mother of* Empress Anna Iwanowna This Princess (n^e 
Dolgorucky) had much simplicity of manner, and her 
conversation more sympathetic than lively ; but she 
knew the duties of her position, without interfering with 
those of others ; with all her good qualities of head 
and heart, she was not so intimate with the Empress 
as her rank entitled her to be, as she required more 
interesting and amusing conversation. Countess K, 
Tiesenhausen, the friend of Alexandra for years past, 
was at the head of the female congress, and more so 
than ever in Italy, being most intimately acquainted 

^ 

with that country. The other Court lady was Barbara 
Nelidof, at that time esteemed a great beauty at Court. 
She had much dignity and grace, her features were re- 
fined, her complexion pale, but her large black eyes and 
beautiftdly-formed mouth imparted to her whole aspect 
a peculiar charm. She spoke little, but observed the 
more, was guarded in conversation, never laying herself 
open to criticism. Her interest quickly heightened into 
ardent enthusiasm. Occasionally deep-seated melan- 
choly was visible in her countenance, lending a new 
charm to her lovely features. She lived in Palermo in 
a more retired manner than any of the suite. The 



264 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

lovelj Olga's companion was an elderly lady, Mdlle. 
Aknlof, who was devoted to her yonng mistress. 

In the suite of Constantine was Admiral Llitke, who 
was, as the reader abeady knows, a most distinguished 
man, although the Russian squadron could number 
many superior men among its officers. Adding the 
whole domestic household to those we have mentioned, 
the Imperial Court did not consist of more than forty, 
a very moderate number for an Empress of Russia. 

A great part of the suite were far from being so happy 
as the Empress in Sicily, having exchanged the greatest 
and most brilliant Court in the world for a state of 
seclusion, to which they were quite unaccustomed ; the 
lovely scenery around was quite indifferent to many ; 
their occupations and their position were different firom 
what they had been in the Winter Palace ; they missed 
their acquaintances and society, and in the midst of 
Alexandra's felicity, they complained to her of ennui 
Count Schuwalof alone formed an exception, being here 
as much occupied as in Petersburg. The others wished 
for amusements to fill up their time, and at last the 
thought suggested itself to perform little comedies. 
The Empress gladly gave her consent, but Mandt pro- 
hibited this scheme with dictatorial sternness, fearing 
any excitement for the invalid. He expected as much 
benefit from a strict secluded mode of life for his 
patient as from the mild climate; he did not even 
approve of the King occasionally paying a visit to Oli- 
vuzza. The Empress was quite reconciled to the mono- 
tony of her existence, and daily felt stronger. In winter 
she rose at eight o'clock, spent only a very short time at 



PALERMO. 265 

her toilette, and appeared in the little garden of her 
villa, afterwards breakfasting in the open air. Here she 
only received her relations and her children. The 
weather was so favourable that, during the months she 
passed here, she was rarely obliged to breakfast in the 
house, and she was most kind in allowing the members 
of her suite to have their Petersburg morning sleep. 
In the course of an hour she retired to her cabinet, to 
attend to her correspondence. Then her family and 
Baron Meyendorf came to tell her the most important 
political news, and thus saved her the time and trouble 
of reading the newspapers. The intervening hours tiU 
luncheon were entirely occupied by serious conver- 
sation. Even before the arrival of Constantine, she 
eagerly studied the history of Sicily and Italy; the 
animated descriptions her son had given of the East 
excited in her the wish to become acquainted with Italy, 
especially Home, with all its remarkable objects. She 
caused works on Eome to be regularly read aloud to her, 
80 that when she visited the everlasting city she should 
not be a prey to wearisome ciceroni. These morning 
occupations were only shared by a select circle. In the 
afternoon the whole of the Bussians in Olivuzza assem- 
bled in her garden ; a military band played their best 
pieces ; and in Bellini's fatherland, German and Bus- 
sian melodies resounded, and popular Sicilian melodies. 
Usually some expedition was arranged, which, un- 
luckily for the Empress, was confined to the immediate 
environs. But she was enchanted to be able to drive 
in the open air, and to find herself surrounded by 
glowing hiUs, and dark green, in a month which she 



266 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

usually, in Petersburg, passed in her room. After 
a drive of this sort, she rested for an hour before 
dinner, which was served in strict accordance with the 
orders of the physicians, and to which she invited very 
few. guests. In the evening the small circle remained 
together for about two hours, and by eleven o'clock 
every one retired to rest. As five months were spent 
in this monotony, it might be thought that towards the 
end of that period Alexandra must have found the 
days tedious, whereas she looked forward to their close 
with great regret. Everything that could recall etiquette 
was banished. All the gentlemen walked about in 
frock coats, except at the Marshal's table, where ladies 
and gentlemen dined together. The hours absorbed in 
the Winter' Palace by the frequent changes of toilette 
were here devoted to repose and pleasant occupation ; 
in this new land and life, her diary even demanded more 
time than in Petersburg, as she carefully inscribed in it 
every experience and every novelty, in order to be able 
in after years to recall particular days of the past. Her 
suite made use of their liberty to frequent the theatre 
and the society of Palermo, who did all in their power 
to make Southern life appear rose-coloured to their 
Northern guesta 

The winter season was opened with a fancy ball; twenty 
of the handsomest young ladies in Palermo were se- 
lected, and appeared in SicDian costume— safifron yellow 
dresses, white aprons, striped stockings, coral necklaces 
and bracelets, and natural crimson roses decorating their 
raven hair, when they danced the tarantella with casta- 
nets, and with the grace and ease of gazelles. But all 



PALERMO. 267 

Europe was to be represented at the ball, so waltzes, 
polkas, quadrilles, and icossaises followed, performed by 
twenty Cossack and Sicilian couples, and when at length 
these dramatic representations were over, the public 
joined in the ball, and danced the whole night Soon 
after many families in Palermo ' invited the Bussian 
circle to their houses, for, in spite of much decayed 
grandeur and faded names, some families still enter- 
tained splendidly; among the former were the Monte- 
leones, descendants of Fernando Cortez. Their palace is 
in the middle of Palermo, and the hall in which the 
guests were received was adorned with a bronze bust of 
Fernando Cortez. This palace, by its singular arrange- 
ments, transports the guests back to the sixteenth cen- 
tury; the family still possess large territories in Mexico. 
If this great name is distinguished by historical reminis- 
cences, that of the Duke Risa di Calobria surpasses 
all the rest by its wealtL The hall of his marble palace 
can contain more than eight hundred persons, and 
amazes strangers by the splendour of the walls and the 
floors, all ornamented and inlaid with Sicilian precious 
stones. The magnificence of the house is thoroughly 
carried out in their mode of entertaining, which satisfies 
even the most fastidious demands. The young Duchess 
was the greatest ornament of the house, a charming 
Rorentine, fascinating in appearance, lively in conver- 
sation, and in her overflowing happiness knowing only 
one sorrow — to have been married nine years without 
children. 

As the Empress Was obliged to forego these fetes, thus 
frustrating all the hopes of the inhabitants of Palermo 



268 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

to receive her, a formal deputation was sent by the city 
to beg her at least to make her appearance among them 
on one Sunday during the Carnival. The inexorably 
severe physician allowed himself to be softened for once, 
and heaven sent a spring day, such as a northern poet's 
fancy in the north could not picture. The fragrant 
breath of flowers pervaded the town and its environs, 
and the azure sky was mirrored in the calm of the 
bright blue sea. The impatience to see the Empress 
was as great in Palermo as that in the hearts of the 
Northern guests to witness the gay festivities of the 
South. The two principal streets in Palermo, Toledo 
and Maqueda, which cross at right angles, were the 
scene of the Carnival, their four comers being adorned 
by four splendid palaces, these streets being not only 
crowded with human beings but also with actual depots 
and stores of flowers, especially violets, with which 
they sought to surprise the illustrious visitor. The 
balconies in Palermo are wide, and as long as the 
facade of the whole building, each storey of every 
house having a balcony. All these were thronged in 
both streets, as if an attack or a storm were antici- 
pated, but the sole weapons were flowers, and especially 
nosegays of violets, for it was strictly enjoined on the 
public not to throw bonbons at the Empress. At the 
stroke of three o'clock, the crowd began to move like 
a surging sea ; Alexandra, with her sister, daughter, 
and niece, in state-carriages and four, drove slowly 
from.Olivuzza towards the crowd; Constantine, with 
his friends, was in a simple caltehe, followed by some 
carriages laden with flowers and bonbons. The Em- 






PALERMO. 269 

* 

press was stunned by the cheers, and her carriage had 
not yet reached the middle of the town when a pile 
of flowers was heaped up before her, and the strong 
odour of the violets seemed to overpower her. She 
stopped for a few minutes before the palace of Duke 
Serrodifalco to look down both streets, and she then 
seated herself in the balcony of this palace, prepared 
for her reception. In a short time, the whole balcony 
was piled up with flowers, and the fragrance was again 
too overpowering for her weak nerves. like the Indian 
shepherd who wished for a rivulet, when suddenly he 
found the valley inundated, and was obliged' to seek 
refuge with his flocks on the hills, Alexandra was 
compelled to go an Stage higher, in order to be a less 
good aim for those beneath, and that she might herself 
fling flowers and sweetmeats among the crowd. The 
crush round the house was terrific, for noblemen and 
peasants, ladies and gentlemen, were contending with 
each other for every flower and bonbon that she flung 
down. But all eyes suddenly turned towards a new 
spectacle. A ship, furnished with a mast and sails, was 
moving slowly along the street on eight wheels, drawn 
by sixteen horses. Eight gaily clad sailors and a 
captain were standing on it, who had been selected 
from the first and richest families in Palermo, and 
stopped under the window of the Empress. After the 
ship, in the course of ten or twelve minutes, had fired 
off its supply of sweetmeats, a chest was opened on 
deck, and out of this arose a mountain of the loveliest 
flowers that the island could produce at that season — 
the middle of February. Be^des roses and violets 



270 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA, 

were to be seen the earliest almond and orange blossoms, 
myrtles and laurels. All were launched with much 
precision at the balcony where the Empress was stand- 
ing, and many of them decorated her cabinet on the 
ensuing day. But she was again made dizzy by the 
strong scents of the flowers, and by the turmoil, and 
was obliged to retire for a time, in order to gain 
fresh strength. Now came a second ship, provided in 
the same manner as the former, now slowly moving 
away. The first had filled the street with the most 
charming odours of flowers, but the second caused still 
greater surprise, for as a heap of violets and roses rose 
in the air, the strains of the Bussian National Hymn 
arose also, and no one could guess who the disguised 
minstrels were, who sang the northern words with so 
pure an accent The ofiicers of the Bussian squadron 
had prepared this surprise for their Empress, conferring 
on themselves the pleasure of celebrating the Carnival 
for once among flowers instead of snow and ice. One 
surprise succeeded another, but the invalid was obliged 
to deny herself the pleasure of seeing anything farther, 
'as the day was drawing to a close, and with it her 
strength also. 

But this day was always recalled by her as a memor- 
able one in her life, seeming, for a couple of hours, to 
have brought back the freshness of youth and child- 
hood, and realized her most fantastic dreams. She had 
seen the unrestrained mirth and joy of a whole town, 
nay, a whole country, and passed a spring day that had 
piled at her feet the fairest flowers, her favourites ; she 
had been gay, indeed happy, along with thousands. 



PALERMO. 271 

Palermo proved that its princely palaces were in no 
degree inferior to those of the North either in inner 
splendour or in kind hospitality, and that the public 
life of its people was blessed with an everlasting spring, 
and a deep blue glad sky. And yet the actual Sicilian 
people are quite as poor as the Bussians^ but both rich 
and poor forget their troubles far more easily in the 
South than in the North, where to maintain life itseK is 
an everyday conflict, and where even joy bears a frosty 
aspect In Petersburg, the Empress was accustomed 
after gay fetes to visit the institutions, hospitals, and 
alma-houses under her care, in order to bring consola- 
tion, help, and hope by her presence to places on which 
the £lte-givers of the Court and city never lavished 
their wealth. This was not possible in Palermo ; but 
on the following day, besides the 10,000 francs she had 
already distributed among the poor, she sent an addi- 
tional 10,000, to enable the gay mood of the people to 
continue merrily the whole week. 

With this f^te her quiet stay in Olivuzza came to an 
end ; four months since her arrival liad vanished like 
a dream, like a vision, while she herself resembled a 
firesh blooming plant, and might with truth say that she 
had really lived during those four months, and enjoyed 
existenca The physicians now eagerly discussed how 
long she ought to remain. The original plan was that 
she should go to Some with her son Constantine, to visit 
for three weeks, with this enthusiast, all the treasures of 
the Eternal city, and to spend the same time in Naples. 
The happy island of Sicily knows no winter, like 
Florence and Bome ; no storms like Naples, but only 



272 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

perpetual spring, diversified by passing showers. After 
Palermo, Naples appears almost inclement, especially 
in March, just as Munich or Vienna do after Milan or 
Venice. Rome seemed to form the best transition from 
Palermo after Naples. But this plan was not carried 
out. Constantine with his suite set off in a few 
days alone for Some, and the little circle of his mother 
became still more circumscribed; for with the de- 
parture of Constantine her calm easy mood was at 
an end ; she felt anything but attracted to the North, 
and sorrowful feelings stole over her heart when she 
walked alone in the garden, and gazed at the splendid 
magnolias and palms, the ornaments of her abode. Her 
eyes often rested on these trees, the silent friends and 
witnesses of her rural happiness, and she cherished a 
wish to transport some orange trees from Olivuzza to 
Petersburg, as living sauvenira of the time she had 
passed in Palermo, and this wish was fulfilled. After 
the departure of her son, she was allowed to stay a 
couple of weeks longer at Olivuzza, and then the visit 
to Naples was at once to take place. The suite re- 
joiced after their life in Olivuzza, at the thoughts 
of a large bustling city, brilliant courts, and still more 
brilliant fStes, declaring beforehand that the environs 
were more picturesque, and the climate better than that 
of Palermo, whereas Alexandra longed for Home, and 
would gladly have avoided the life of tumult and excite- 
ment that she would infallibly find again by the Neva. 
During the last dayB of her stay she undertook some 
excursions into the town, where she saw the old Norman 
Palace, the cradle of Frederick the Second, of Hohen- 



PALEBMO. 273 

staufen, and also the tomb of that Prince, in the magni- 
ficent dome ; she traversed the city in every direction, 
bade farewell to all the separate spots where she had 
so loved to linger, and in the first weeks of March set 
off for ancient Parthenopa 

The Eoyal Family vacated the first dtage of the palace 
for their guest, and contented themselves with the 
second, for the visit was only to last a week or two, as 
three weeks at least were to be passed in Borne. The 
Empress and her daughter Olga selected the wing of the 
palace that « commands a view of the bright gulf and of 
Mount Vesuvius ; they could not only walk on the 
long spacious balcony, but even be drawn about in a 
little carriage. The noise of the shouting lazzaroni 
was less than on the other side that looks on the square, 
where the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg lived* The 
Serai in Constantinople, and also the hotel of the 
Enssian Embassy there, offer a still greater variety in 
the prospect, but both are unique in European capitals, 
and even the oft-praised Lisbon cannot stand a com- 
parison with her two rivala The King had done all in 
his power to make the stay of his august guests as 
agreeable as in Palermo ; indeed the adjax^nt Yesu- 
vius seemed courtly, for, during the stay of the Em- 
press, it spouted forth daily and nightly the most 
brilliant fireworks. Shortly after her arrival, she was 
joined by Constantine from Bome, and somewhat later 
by Duke William of Mecklenburg, son of the Grand 
Duchess. The family circle was therefore reinforced, 
but Palermo, with its repose and delights, was lost to 
Alexandra, and indeed for ever. She neither felt so 

VOL. IL s 



274 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

well nor bo happy as she had hoped; all the novel 
splendours oifered to her by the Court were only to her 
a foretaste of Petersburg. She drove through the noisy 
Toledo street ; she walked through the Chiaja on a 
day when spring buds were sprouting vigorously from 
the trees ; she gazed for hours in astonishment, from 
her balcony, on the novel spectacle of Vesuvius, but 
nothing availed in restoring the happy mood of 
OlivuzzcL 

After having thoroughly enjoyed the aspect of the 
city, her first wish was to see Pompeii. The King 
would not deny himself the honour and pleasure of 
accompanying his illustrious guest thither, and con- 
ducting her through his territories of the ancients, and 
thus the two Courts, amounting to a himdred persons, 
arrived in this dead city. The Empress, with her 
son Constantine and her daughter Olga by her side, 
.was charmed with the ruins, wandered through the 
streets on foot in delight, rested in some of the dwell- 
ings, such as the house of SaUust, desiring that the 
arrangements of the private dwellings and the theatre 
should be explained to her, and seemed to have for- 
gotten her longing for Palermo. She had sufficient 
strength to work at her diary the same evening for two 
hours ; indeed she promised to accompany the whole 
society next day to the foot of Vesuvius, and to attend 
a royal ball some days later. But next morning brought 
the news that she was ^ unwell, the second day the 
tidings that she was ill^ and on the third it was said 
plainly and openly that her life was hanging by a 
thread. 



PALERMO. 275 

The alarm and solicitude of the Boyal Family and 
of the suite were equally great, and daily increased, as 
even her daughter and sister were, not allowed to see 
the invalid, and the physicians, who were rarely visi- 
ble, spoke mysteriously of danger to her life. But the 
physicians were not unjustly reproached with having 
chosen the month of March for a visit to Naples. 
Scorching heat, alternated with gusts of rain and a 
stormy sea^ and the Empress could not be guarded 
against, little imprudences in her dress, and even in 
her diet. The expedition to Pompeii was at last pro- 
nounced to be the groimd of the evil, and it was thought 
unpardonable in the despotic Mandt to have sanctioned 
it, after having frustrated, by his peremptory decree, 
much less hurtful excursions in Palermo. The Boyal 
Court, as well as the relatives of the sufferer, were in 
the same dilemma, being obliged to give up all further 
excursions for the present ; indeed they scarcely ven- 
tured to leave the palace, although no one had access 
to the patient. Thus ten or twelve melancholy days 
passed in fair Naples in the greatest suspense and 
alarm. At length Constantine, just before his depar- 
ture, resolved to make the ascent of Vesuvius, with* 
a large party. It was also indispensable to inform the 
convalescent Alexandra that her son could no longer 
defer his journey, so she only saw him, after a separa- 
tion of fourteen days, to bid him farewell, and to give 
him her blessing, before his departure for France and 
Algiers. 

One annoyance succeeded another; she could not 
endure to see Home without her son, and now illness 



276 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

deprived her of his society in Naples. He was himself 
very depressed on taking leave of his mother, who was 
at length permitted to see different individuals for a 
quarter of an hour at a tima Sister, daughter, and 
niece were admitted to her singly; they thought her 
very weak, but not in a hopeless condition. The twelve 
days of her Ulness seemed to herseKlike an evil dream, 
of which she retained only one reminiscence. During 
the first night, the regular loud striking of a clock in 
the room disturbed her rest ; she removed the noisy 
bell, but during her whole illness she was haunted by 
a spectral stroke of the hammer without any bell. She 
could scarcely be persuaded that two weeks had elapsed, 
more oppressive to those around her than to the uncon- 
scious patient herselfl The leave-taking of her son 
alone continued a vivid but painful reality in her 
memory. A few days afterwards, she was permitted 
to have one or two persons to sit with her in the 
evening, but they were enjoined^ to allow the invalid 
to speak as little as possible, and to avoid all exciting 
topics in conversation. At the time of her arrival the 
Boyal Court appointed a Marshal's table, to which, in 
addition to the Imperial suite, some of the most distin- 
guished persons in Naples were daily invited. Thirty- 
six in number, and a footman in royal livery waiting 
on every two guests, and besides this a Boyal Court 
official was commissioned to receive the company, and 
to conduct them to their seats. The rich and tasteful 
liveries of these lackeys, their courtesy and polite- 
ness, the skilful way in which they attended on 
the guests, even surprised Nicholas himself ; recalling, 



PALKEMO. 277 

indeed, to many, the Bourbon Court of the previous 
century. 

King Ferdinand the Second, at that time thirty-six 
years of age, corpulent and burly in figure, had nothing 
in his features indicative of his Bourbon descent. His 
appearance, especially in a frock-coat, was that of a 
homely citizen, and anything but stately or imposing. 
Good-nature, sensuality, and piety strove for predomi- 
nance in his features. He was sparing of his words, 
especially in the presehce of the Empress, and seemed 
himself conscious that intercourse with him alone 
could not suffice to satisfy this highly gifted lady of 
the North. Queen Teresa, daughter of the Archduke 
Charles, although, like Alexandra herself, of German 
extraction, was even less congenial to her than the 
King. Her whole life seemed to be absorbed by the 
Church and the Court. Both, therefore, preferred only 
meeting in a large assemblage, and even then the royal 
couple took very little share in the conversation. The 
King, therefore, in those excursions undertaken with- 
out the Empress, was cheerful and sociable, taking plea- 
sure in conversing with the Bussian sxiite about the 
North, distributing cigars to all around, and seeming 
well amused. The idea distressed him of his distin- 
guished guest leaving his capital without having become 
acquainted with the i)aradise around ; so his joy was 
boundless on being told that, in a few days, she was to 
enjoy the open air beyond the palace ; for latterly she 
had been sunning herself in the beautiful balcony, and 
among the blooming orange-trees, drawn up and down 
in a rolling-chair. This joyful intelligence seemed to 



278 ALEXANDRA EMPKESS OF RUSSU. 

revive the whole society, and various expeditions were 
now arranged, that no foreigner should leave Naples 
and its enchanting environs without having performed 
The Bussian Ambassador at the Boyal Court, Count 
Potocki, was usually at the head of these excursions. 
The post of Ambassador at Naples seemed to many the 

when summoned thither from the far North — from 
Petersbuig or Stockhoba Neapolitan affiedrs are not 
veiy burdensome, and a worldly-wise distinguished 
courtier being the most important point, and a person 
of this description not particularly ambitious of seeing 
his diplomatic name weekly in a European journal, 
must feel himself truly happy in Naples as Ambas- 
sador; and such was the case with Count Potocki, so 
long as the presence of his sovereign did not ruffle his 
tranquillity. His Polish descent was proclaimed by a 
proud feeling of independence, by refined manners, 
and versatile conversation; while the ambitious Rus- 
sian in office, under present circumstances, became less 
prominent. His position in the State could at most 
offer him new connections, but no other advantages or 
pleasures. The post of Neapolitan Ambassador was in 
accordance with most of his tastes, and with the 
Catholic faith he professed, and his love of art and 
nature; for the business he had to transact did not 
absorb much time. The presence of the Empress, 
however, burdened him with a number of small ser- 
vices, rendering attention necessary to various persons 
whom previously he had scarcely remarked, far lees 
entertained. It was especially novel and a change to 



PALERMO. 279 

him to find many of his projects sanctioned or declined 
through Dr. Mandt ; or, what irritated him still more, 
in addition to this dictator, to be forced to depend on 
the advice of other authorities. No one, therefore, now 
saw this usually agreeable courtier in his true light. 

Countess Nesselrode was also living in Naples at 
that time, the wife of the Chancellor, — a lady who, 
during her whole life, rather shunned than sought the 
Court. Until the Empress was able to leave the city, 
the King undertook some expeditions with her suite, 
and with his own Court, to the Blue Grotto and to 
Amalfi. It was his wish that on the steamer all rank 
and etiquette should be banished ; and of this he him- 
self gave the example. Scarcely had he set foot on 
the vessel when he collected all those who smoked, 
seated himself with them on the fore part of the 
steamer, pointing out during the sail the most re- 
markable objects in the environs, listening with the 
rest of the guests to Russian and German songs, and 
going first into the Blue Grotto, the entrance to which 
is so confined that you must stretch yourself out hori- 
zontally in the boat. On the next excursion to Amalfi, 
dinner was served on deck, and the King was the soul 
of the conversation. Some days afterwards, he con- 
ducted the party to Caserta and other places, and was 
always in the most cheerful mood 

Before the Empress could venture to leave the palace 
she met with a disappointment that for years she never 
ceased regretting. She had been dangerously ill in 
Naples, and, when fully recovered, only a few days 
remained for the enjoyment of nature ; for already it 



] 



280 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

was the sixth week of Catholic Lent, which on this year 
fell eight days earlier than that of the Greek Church. 
The convalescent Empress in this way passed two 
quiet weeks near the Gulf of Naples. Fate, there- 
fore, deprived her of the splendours of Naples ; 
and now her wishes and aspirations were all turned 
towards Borne, for which she had been preparing for 
months past. Then the question arose as to whether 
she ought to venture to Borne or not First of all, 
it was said that the land journey was very fatiguing, 
and beyond her powers. That a further journey re- 
quired great caution, was as certain as that the phy- 
sicians must first carefully measure and study her 
strength. She replied that she could take short ex- 
peditions daily without being wearied, and that she 
preferred the most fatiguing land journey to a sea 
voyage, of which she always had a horror. Then it 
was said Borne in April was as unhealthy as Naples 
in March. Alexandra replied that she could not 
arrive there till the middle of April, and was quite 
willing to limit her stay to a few days. She was 
allowed for a short time to persevere in this intention, 
when suddenly news arrived that epidemic measles 
were prevalent in Boma This inteUigence alarmed 
her daughter Olga more than the Empress; but she 
insisted on certain confiimation of the fact. An 
express was therefore sent off to Bome without the 
knowledge of the two august ladies, who returned with 
sure information that measles prevailed there. The 
daughter was quite ready to expose herself to this 
danger to please her mother, or whoDy to give up 



PALERMO. 281 

going there, if the latter could only accomplish her 
ardent desire. No one had the courage to carry this 
report to Alexandra, — ^not from dread of her anger, 
for her temper was angelic, and in far worse cases she 
never lost her equanimity, but in case it should cause 
her a relapse. The Grand Duchess Olga placed no great 
confidence in the sayings and officious interference of 
the physicians of the suite; and in the reports about 
measles she only saw a pretext to prevent her mother 
going to Eome, as many persons in the suite would 
find a residence there more tiresome than even in 
Palermo and Naples. She imparted her view of the 
case to her mother, who declared that even if danger 
really existed, she was resolved on viewing Bome Trom 
a distant hiU, and driving from the Coliseum, past St. 
Peter's, in order, at least, like Moses and the Promised 
Land, to have seen the Eternal City. Some days passed 
in perplexing silence ; for Dr. Mandt treated the sub- 
ject more seriously than ever, and at last prohibited 
the Bussian suite from having any communication with 
Bome, and even persons who came firom that city were 
enjoined strictly to avoid the palace and the suite. 

The Empress and her daughter were only encouraged 
in their plan by Baron Meyendorf and a few more ; 
and when Mandt heard this, he declared bluntly 
that if these gentlemen did not respect his orders he 
would instantly resign his office of physician and 
devolve all responsibility on them. Thus all further 
resistance became impossible, and Mandt sent his ulti- 
matum through the Grand Duchess Olga. 

Although all were now compelled to submit to his 



282 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

will, Btill the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg was in no 
degree bound to do so, so she determined, with the con- 
sent of her sister, to go to Bome with only her daughter 
and her suite. Mandt was enraged to find a person 
who could act independently of his despotic will, so, not 
being able under any pretext to frustrate her journey to 
Bome, he at all events forbade her to return thence to 
Naples. As she intended to remain quietly in Bome 
for a fortnight, she could not have at all events 
cherished any hope of seeing her sister again in Naples. 
Mandt made no allusion to their meeting in Florence, 
which was a great oversight, showing more obstinacy 
than real precautioa The Grand Duchess of Mecklen - 
burg set off with her son and daughter and her sidte, 
and the Empress found herself solitary and forsaken in 
fair Naples. The thought of not seeing Bome destroyed 
all pleasure even in the last days before Passion Week, 
the only space left for her enjoyment of nature ; for she 
wished to remain quietly in the palace during the 
Catholic Passion Week, and the succeeding Bussian one 
of course prohibited all worldly amusements. One day 
she said, sighing — 

"I believe the saying will be fulfilled in me, 'See 
Naples and then die.'" 

But a person present rejoined quickly, "Another 
proverb says, ' See Naples, but live in Petersburg."* 

"That reminds me," replied she, "that I have not 
even once seen Naples in its picturesque garb ; what 
projects have you all for this lovely spring day ?" 

" An excursion to Castellamare," was the answer. 

" Am I even to be forbidden to breathe the air of 



PALEBMO. 283 

spiing in Naples ?" said she good-humouredly. " It is 
my wish to participate in this pleasure with the rest of 
the society." 

No one ventured to encourage this idea without 
Mandt's assent, which was, however, shortly given, and 
for the first time since her illness she was now to inhale 
fresh air beyond the bounds of the city. The entire 
circle consisted only of ten persons, and the King sent 
a police officer to the inhabitants of Castellamare to 
announce to them that he would remit the taxes of the 
town for a whole year, if her Imperial Majesty was not 
molested by bold importunate beggars. The Empress 
fell asleep in the railway carriage, and her calm features 
seemed invigorated. She felt strengthened, and drove 
up the hill to the Villa Lieven in a cheerful mood. 
From here is best seen this queen of all European 
cities rising like an amphitheatre. The air and the 
blue sea were still ; the day rivalled that of the Carnival 
in Palermo; here also a refreshing slumber surprised 
her. When her daughter saw this she mounted a 
white donkey, and invited one-half of the company to 
take a ride with her in the woods. It was a cheerful 
spring day, and to the daughter of the mighty Czar a 
happy event to be in a southern wood, surrounded by 
gay companions, instead of formal courtiers ; it was a 
delight to her to pluck May flowers with her own 
hand, and in the grandeur and majesty of nature- to 
forget Imperial dignity, and to enjoy the happiness of 
existence, and inhale the fragrant flowery breezes of the 
south. She made such a pretty picture too on her 
humble snow-white steed, a spirit of gaiety lighting up 



284 ALEXANDRA. EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

her features, divested of the burden so inseparable from 
a high position. After a short sleep the mother too 
enjoyed the scene on the GuK of Naples, and, isolated 
from the society, she sat long alone absorbed in thought 
and contemplation; while envied as an Empress by 
millions, she in turn esteemed hundreds of thousands 
blessed to whom a happy fate had allotted such a home. 
After her severe illness she recalled the description of 
a spring morning in " Titan," and, grateful for every 
blissful moment, she raised her eyes in thankfulness to 
Heaven for having vouchsafed her such a day. 

The Catholic Passion Week now began, the Marshal's 
table was given up, and aU society at an end in the 
palace, so that the presence of the Empress should 
cause no disturbance to others; she only saw one or 
two persons in the evenings. On Maundy Thursday 
she and her little Court attended divine service in 
the Palace Church, where the King had erected a 
tribune. The church was hung with black, and lighted 
by torches, and the Eoyal Family and priesthood moved 
on their knees to the altar. The scene was striking, 
indeed affecting, but neither the members of the Greek 
Church nor tiie Protestants could understand these 
touching ceremonies, being accompanied by thoroughly 
secular music, taken from one of the newest Italian 
operas. It was difficult to resist the idea that such 
music was a mockery of the ceremonies ; at their close 
in the haU of the palace ensued the feet-washing of the 
poor by the King himself From the twelve districts 
of the town of Naples twelve very poor families were 
chosen, clothed in new blue linen dresses, with wigs on 



PALERMO. 285 

their heads, conducted by some priests of lower degree 
into the palace. After having been placed there, the 
King appeared with some of his chamberlains, who re- 
moved the shoes and stockings of the poor men, and 
held their feet so long as their royal master was wash- 
ing them. From thence the King led them into another 
room, where there was a well-furnished table, the guests 
being served by the Eoyal Princes. Many dishes were 
carried to the table, but few consumed, the rest being 
conveyed to the houses of the poor to form a family 
festival, for which purpose the King added thirty 
Neapolitan ducats for each family. After this grave 
ceremony, until the first Easter festival, no carriage 
must drive through this usually noisy city, and death- 
like silence suddenly prevails in lively stirring Naples ; 
instead of carriages, invalids are carried about in sedan 
chairs, as in Dresden. At four o'clock in the after- 
noon the Eoyal Family go on foot to visit six or eight 
different churches, all dark on this day, displaying in 
the background, on transparent linen, the sufferings of 
Christ. Notwithstanding the stillness in the square of 
the palace and the Toledo .Street, more than a hundred 
thousand people assemble, wandering up and down 
and visiting the churchea Begiments, in small divi- 
sions of thirty, loiter about, but without any weapons, 
and the sentinels reverse their arms. This particular 
Thursday therefore is a kind of quiet church pro- 
menade, and better entitled to the appellation of 
" Green Thursday" than in the North, where nature 
appears still colourless — ^if not, indeed, covered with 
snow. 



286 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

When on the ensuing Sunday the sacred week of the 
Greek Church began for the Empress, the old life of 
excitement recommenced in the streets of Naples, 
which even the King, with all his consideration for his 
guest, could not prevent ; but the fStes in the palace, 
which take place during this week, he transferred to 
another period. It affected him very painfully that the 
priests would not allow the invalid Empress to arrange 
a Greek chapel in the Boyal Palace ; she was obliged 
daily to proceed from the palace to the hotel of the 
Russian Embassy, where the chapel was on the third 
^tage. During her drives there the lazzaroni welcomed 
her with boisterous cries of delight ; from early mom-r 
ing, bagpipes, flutes, and singers, with scarcely rags to 
cover them, amused the populace with opera airs and 
dancing and capering about, happier than the Empress 
herself when the stranger threw them a silver coin; 
passing soldiers stood still to listen, and even the police 
paused, to look on with a cheerful mien. This week, 
though as trying for Alexandra as in Petersburg, 
passed happily without any bad effects on her health. 
On Easter night she adopted a ricla festive toilette, and 
after five melancholy weeks' rejoicing once more to be 
seen as an Empress, and yet during the ceremony the 
overpowering heat repeatedly caused her nearly to faint 

The Russian Easter Day was not so favoured by 
heaven as the Italian one of the previous week : the 
rain poured down in torrents, and it seemed as if the 
Imperial lady were to carry away with her a disagreeable 
impression of Naples. A grand reception however took 
place in the palace; the Russian countrymen of the 



PALERMO. 287 

Empress came by hundreds to kiss her hands ; indeed 
Prince Wolkonsky, seventy years of age, arrived in full 
uniform. After such fatigues she passed the rest of the 
day in the utmost repose ; for she had only one more 
day to spend in Naples, her departure being irrevocably 
fixed, and under no circumstances was she to approach 
Some. But the sky, on the second Bussian Easter 
Day, cleared up in full splendour, so the Imperial and 
Boyal Family, with a large retinue, went to Sorrento. 
It was the second lovely spring day, and alas ! the last 
that the Empress passed beside the Gulf of Naples ; 
she declared on reaching Sorrento that on this occasion 
even her expectations were exceeded. The King had 
ordered a repast to be prepared in an inn by the sea, 
and devoted himself to his fair guest with the most 
chivalrous courtesy. Her admiration of his beautiful 
land was his pride and his delight; he thought he 
could read in her words not only a recognition of its 
attractions, but that she placed it, as he wished, beyond 
Palermo. On Tuesday, April 20, the journey began. At 
nine o'clock in the morning, the Empress, in travelling 
costume, appeared among the Eoyal Family, to their 
surprise^ to bid them farewell On parting from the 
King, she asked him to grant leave of absence to the 
Duke Serrodifalco, who was very desirous to see Peters- 
burg. The whole family, and likewise the Court in full 
dress, escorted the illustrious guest to the steamer 
" Kamtschatka." 30,000 troops were present, and the 
whole shore seemed paved with heads; they arrived 
amid a thunder of cannon, and the strains of the 
Bussian National Hymn. The surface of the gulf was 



288 ALEXANDRA EMPRBSS OF RUSSIA. 

covered by boats, from which curious eyes were once 
more directed towards the Empress. The leave-taking 
did not last long, for in ten minutes more the " Kam- 
tschatka" was in motion, followed by loud cheers. 

Thus the Empress passed six months in the King- 
dom of the Two Sicilies ; her health seemed now on a 
surer footing, and one of her most cherished wishes was 
fulfilled : she had seen Sicily, and the greater part of 
Italy. What circumstances seemed to have rendered 
impossible even to the mighty Czar, an evil destiny, 
sickness had realized ; a visit for pleasure alone, such 
as every Englishman enjoys, was prohibited to the Em- 
press of Bussia, and yet it became possible after alL 
Yet again she was disappointed in seeing Bome, the 
crown of a visit to Italy, so that her feeliugs were 
rather those of regret than of gladness. A large por- 
tion of her suite, in spite of Dictator Mandt's veto, 
had gone to Home, Baron Meyendorf and the private 
secretary,. Herr von Chambeau, and others. The whole 
of the party came to meet the Empress on the same day 
in Florence, and no one could venture to enforce a 
quarantine on the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg before 
she again joined her sister. The huge steamer had very 
few people on board, and, in spite of the fine weather, 
those few were not in a very gay mood.. By far the 
greater portion of the suite and the servants were in 
the second steamer, the *^ Bessarabia," and Mandt pre- 
ferred confiding his 'august charge to the care of his 
colleague, Markus, taking rest himself in the second 
steamer. There was wisdom in this precaution, for 
Alexandra would have been too vividly reminded by his 



PALERMO. 289 

presence of her lost paradise ; a separation between the 
invalid and her physician was very beneficial just at 
this time. 

Her eyes remained long fixed on Naples ; and when 
the smoking Vesuvius disappeared, she openly gave 
vent to her thoughts by saying, " I am forbidden the 
land journey to Eome, because it is more fatiguing than 
a sea voyage, without remembering that from my youth 
upwards I always hated the sea, and am accustomed to 
long journeys by land in KussisL A stay of a couple of 
days in Eome is supposed to be too trying, and yet I 
am permitted to stay two whole weeks in Florence 
without either over fatigue or any strain on my 
strength being dreaded. My chagrin not to have seen 
Bome wiU long gnaw at my heart; indeed, it will 
probably destroy all the good results of my journey." 

When she arrived in the vicinity of Gkteta she not 
only felt weary but positively ill, as a very slight 
motion of the vessel sufficed to cause her sea sickness. 
Before lying down she begged to be awakened when 
the cross of St Peter's was visible from the ship. Be- 
fore reaching the spot she was prostrated by severe sea 
sickness, and almost all her ladies were equally ill, 
so the day passed without the satisfaction that a 
healthy person feels in a voyaga Not till a dead 
calm fell towards evening was she able to leave her 
cabin to enjoy in this balmy air the beauties of the 
stany sky, and to forget that her sight of Bome was 
deferred. In fact, this silent contemplation of the 
starry firmament, with all its sweet dreams and hopes, 
was one of her quiet pleasures, and she exclaimed 

VOL. IL T 



290 ALEXANDRA EMPBES8 OF RUSSIA. 

aloud, that this higher world exercised a vast and truly 
religious influence on the mind But in the midst of 
her enthusiasm the anxious Markus entreated her to 
return to her cabin and to go to sleep. Next day the 
vessel passed close to the island of Elba» but a visit to 
it was refused by the captain of the steamer ; it seemed 
during this journey as if she had constantly to contend 
with petty disappointmenta 

It was but poor compensation to spend the next 
night at Leghorn instead of in Boma If Bome is 
admitted to be the first city in Italy, and indeed in 
Europe, Leghorn certainly takes the lowest place I but 
here both joy and sorrow awaited the Empress, (rene- 
ral Bauch, one of her true friends, brought the news of 
the death of her aunt Princess William. This admir> 
able Princess, daughter of the Landgrave Ludwig Wil- 
helm of Hesse Hombuxg, was closely connected with 
tiie childhood of Alexandra, and on the death of 
Queen Louise had been revered by her as a second 
mother. It was thought hazardous to convey these 
tidings the same evening to the invalid in her present 
depressed mood; and it wsjb wisely settled to defer 
the intelligence till next day, when the Crown Prince 
of Wiirtemberg, the happy bridegroom, arrived, and 
his presence alleviated the bitter sorrow. The Em- 
press did not wish to go through Pisa without 
visiting the Campo Santo; so by cotnmand of the 
Grand Duke, high dignitaries and ciceroni were ap- 
pointed to conduct her through those monuments of 
the dead She was satisfied by viewing only some of 
the tombs, that of the Emperor Henry the Seventh, 



PALERMO. 291 

and Count Algarotti, chamberlain of Frederick the 
Grieat^ after which she proceeded without delay to 
Florence. She disliked festive receptions quite as 
much as her father formerly did ; and to escape these 
in her present delicate state of health, she resolved to 
drive in advance with Countess Tiesenhausen in an 
unpretending cal^he, and simply dressed, so that she 
might not excite any attention, leaving to her waiting- 
maid her state carriage drawn by six horses ; thus she 
had long arrived at the hotel, when the state carriage* 
was being received at the gate of the city by flying 
banners and stormy cheers. 

The first days were more fatiguing than they would 
have been in Bome, being devoted to social obligations, 
visits, and receiving the Orand Ducal family, the two 
brothers of the Emperor Napoleon, Coimt St Leu, ex- 
Eling of Holland, and the Due de Montfort, ex-Eing 
of Westphalia. That both were in a certain degree 
connected with the Bussian Imperial family was undeni- 
abla The Duke of Leuchtenberg, one of Alexandra's 
sons-in-law, was nephew of the old King of Holland, and 
the charming Hortense highly esteemed by the Empress, 
though personally unknown to her. The Due de Mont- 
fort had married the Princess of Wiirtemberg, Frederika 
Catherine, daughter of the first King Frederick, who 
thus became the aimt of the fature Imperial son-in- 
law. The visit of these two ex-Kings only served to 
awaken painful memories of a melancholy fact in the 
heart of Alexandra. The presence of the daughter 
of the unfortunate Queen Louise, now Empress of 
Eussia, must have seemed to those two decayed 



292 ALEXANDRA. EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

royalties a bitter sarcasm on the part of ddstiny. But 
in these singular circumstauces she appeared, as she 
always did, in all her womanly dignity without any 
Imperial pomp, while her conversation was reserved 
but pleasing. Gradually her whole suite assembled 
from Rome, and the previous society of Palermo and 
Naples were shortly before the end of the journey to be 
reunited for a week. Her joyful meeting with her sister 
reminded her, however, vividly of the loss of Borne ; 
for all who returned thence were highly delighted with 
the noble objects they had seen, and not one person had 
been ill or even indisposed, while many attributed the 
over caution of Mandt to perverseness. 

After resting a few days the august lady drove 
through the principal streets of the city and then to 
the Gascino, the gayest rendezvous in Italy. As Ker 
illness in Naples had deprived her of all enjoyment of 
art, and indeed only permitted her two visits to enjoy 
the beauties of nature, these hours proved a tonic both 
for body and soul, and she sincerely thanked heaven 
the^t her physicians did not forbid her to visit the 
Pitti and UfiQzi Palaces. The crowds of people to 
see the northern guest were far greater than in Naples, 
where, with the exception of the first and last day, she 
remained quite unobserved. It was, however, quickly 
discovered that it was not so much curiosity to see the 
Empress as the most undisguised admiration of the 
wondrous beauty of the interesting bride, the fair Olga, 
that attracted such masses of people. The Grand 
Duke gave the friendly advice not to inform the 
public of their intended excursions, as several hundred 



PALERMO. 293 

Poles lived in the city, whose deeds and doings 
his police could neither keep watch over noi divine. 
On the next morning a visit was made without the 
Empress to the majestic Duomo, of which the architect, 
Amolfo di Lapo, said, " I have protected thee against 
earthquakes ; may God protect thee against lightning." 
Although this visit to the Duomo had been made 
incognito at ten o'clock in the morning, still, shortly 
after, such a crowd of the populace assembled before 
the building, that the guards placed there were obliged 
to draw a cord along the principal entrance that the 
ladies might get into their carriages without any 
obstacle ; but when they left the church their intention 
was to view this mighty structure from the spot called 
The Stone of Dante. They therefore walked quietly 
roimd the square without taking any notice of the 
terrific crowd. Suddenly, after a violent struggle with 
the people and the police, a young Italian vaulted over 
the cord and approached the Grand Duchess Olga. 
Alarm seized the suite, who stopped him and asked 
what he wanted — " To see the greatest beauty in the 
world, and to see her close." Olga bad at that moment 
just reached the stone and turned her head towards 
the Duomo without knowing what was passing be- 
hind her, when the young artist said in an imploring 
tone, ''Grant me one minute and I will give you 
half my life." The princess did not know of this 
incident till afterwards, and therefore continued to 
gaze quite undisturbed at the superb Duomo. At 
that period, the time of Gregory the Sixteenth, Italy 
was dead in every direction. Bossini and Catalani 



294 ALEXANDRA EHPBESS OF BUSSIA. 

were almost the only celebrated personages among 
the great composers and singers of that day. The 
travellers visited its art treasures in dead temples 
and galleries, and the Italian was proud of preserving, 
in the artistic creations of Italy, an ideal which in all 
times had been a stranger to the north ; it seemed now 
as if the living north had snatched away the last dead 
wreath fiom that lonely land. On the same day the 
Empress visited the great gallery of the UffizL She 
was thoroughly informed as to what she was here to 
find, and contented herself by making closer acquaint- 
ance with the Niobe group, and the treasures in the 
Tribune. Her eye was less accustomed to marble than 
to colour and drawing, and she was highly surprised 
by the beauty of the Venus de Medici, and said that 
every woman must confess the superiority of her form, 
and the purity of virgin thought more conspicuous than 
in the draperies of the modem world. She compared 
this Grecian work long and earnestly with both Titian's 
pictures, and found the latter unrefined in comparison 
with this Greek masterpiece. She preferred above all 
Correggto's " Madonna " praying before the child Christ, 
and the two holy families by BaphaeL 

She gazed long at the Mobe group without uttering 
a single word. It seemed as if this work of art awoke 
withjn her feelings better left unspoken, being seldom 
understood by others. Among the conceptions of the 
great Italian painters, she gave the most decided pre- 
ference to those of Leonardo da Yinci, while those of 
Raphael did not fulfil her expectations. After walking 
through the whole gallery she quitted it, esteeming 



PALEBMO. 295 

herself happy at having enjoyed an hour of pure 
artistic delight The day was fine, so she ventured to 
undertake a drive to the heights of Florence, whence 
all tHe riches of the environs are visible. The next day 
was sacred to the Imperial family, being the birth-day 
of the heir-apparent, ^ April, and faithful to Bussian 
custom it was celebrated by a mass in the Villa 
Demidof So many Bussian families were present on the 
occasion, that they might have thought themselves in 
Peterhof Anatol Demidof, the proprietor of the bound- 
less Ural mines, and author of travels in Southern 
Bussia, had married Princess Mathilde of Montfort, 
daughter of the ez-Eing of Westphalia. He lived 
more in Italy and France than in Bussia, and had built 
one of the most beautiful villajB in the neighbourhood 
of Florence, to which a Greek chapel was attached. 
The Bussians have always zealously provided for their 
own religious services in foreign countries, while the 
building of Protestant churches in other lands meets 
with many obstacles, and, owing to scanty contribu- 
tions, is often delayed with tnie German procrastinar- 
tion. Many Bussian guests were invited on this day, 
both to the Imperial and the Marshal's table, and the 
Empress appeared herself at the latter in order to 
drink the health of her son. In the evening, the 
Tuscan Court was invited by her; two ladies of the 
society. Countess Orsini and Princess Labanof, by their 
charming singing excited a discussion among the 
guests as to which bore off the palm. The pre- 
cedent of the Empress ia attracting into her circle 
talented guests cannot be sufficiently admired. The 



296 ALEXANDBA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

great artist is thus not excluded from Court, and in 
this way the pretensions and caprices of mediocrity are 
crushed. The Grand Duke of Tuscany, Leopold the 
Second, of German descent, felt more sympathy in con- 
versing with the Empress than the King of Naples, 
who was so absorbed in formalities. He often brought 
forward the small extent of his country, but adding 
that the riches of his art treasures, the grand remi- 
niscences of its mediseval age, allotted it a distinguished 
place in the annals of the world. He also asserted 
that Italy, and especially Tuscany, was the coimtiy 
that presented the greatest enjoyment of Ufa He 
invited the Empress' to inspect the Pitti gallery on the 
ensuing day, and to permit him the honour of being 
her cicerone, to which she consented, remarking, that 
she could only look at ten or twelve pictures at most 

"The Pitti gallery, however, contains nothing but 
masterpieces,'' rejoined the Grand Duke. 

" Then I must look at ten of the most remarkable,'' 
was the reply. 

The far-famed Yenus of Canova did not captivate 
her so much as she had anticipated, and in her frank- 
ness she could not withhold her opinion from the 
Grand Duke, — " I ought to have seen this before the 
Medicean Venus, for it teaches me first fully to appre- 
ciate the incomparable art of the Greeks." But the 
more was she attracted by Baphael's Madonna della 
Sedia, and by Allori's Judith, which enchants every 
one in spite of the coldness of it<s beauty. In short, 
she here found compensation for Home, that would 
probably have been more trying to her strength. 



PALERMO. 297 

When she left the gallery, she said, "It is true 
that there are only chef8-d!f£uvre in this palace, and yet 
I would not exchange the two pictures in my cabinet, 
Murillo's * Holy Family,* and Domenichino's * St. John,' 
even for the Eaphael." The Grand Duke escorted his 
august guest and her whole suite on the same day to 
Poggio di Cajano, the splendid country-palace of the 
Medici The Empress was well aware that this villa 
had been the scene of the tragic death of the notorious 
Bianca Capello, and avoided the subject in conversa- 
tion, although the death of this fair Venetian, so veiled 
in mystery, particularly interested her. She was im- 
pressed by the fruitful produce, and the animating 
power of spring, and considered the Grand Duke for- 
tunate in ruling over such a lovely and fertile land. • 
It was a precious day in her life granted to her by art 
and nature combined, and she felt herself better and 
stronger than for a long time past. 

Only a few days remained for fair Florence, so every 
advantage was taken of the favourable weather to see 
in all haste the other remarkable objects in the city. 
Alexandra lingered longest in the church of Santa 
Croce, and declared Florence to be the most interesting 
city in the European world, and justly so, for no other 
can boast of, having produced so great a number of 
men of grand intellect — Dante, Macchiavelli, Michael 
Angelo, Gralileo, Alfieri, Aretino, etc., etc. Athens 
alone could once pride itself like Florence on being 
the home of intellectual Culture. May 3d — N. s. April 
21st — in the Eussian calendar was the Empress's name- 
day, which this year was to be celebrated under another 



298 ALEXAXDBA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

sky, and far away from her own beloved home. It was 
also the name-day of her daughter departed Alex- 
andra, who had now been twenty months in the grara 
This anniversaiy passed therefore in the utmost seclu- 
sion, and a death mass, devoid of all pomp, was per- 
formed in honour of the deceased, in the villa Deimdof, 
only the few persons of the suite who had been 
most intimate with her lamented daughter being pre- 
sent But her newly revived grief was greater than 
her recently restored strength, and during the mass she 
sunk down in a fainting state, and required several 
hours of rest and fresh air to effect her recoveiy. She 
passed the evening quietly in her cabinet, with a few 
of her suita Next morning an unusual stir prevailed 
in the city ; the whole Florentine Court appeared in 
full uniform in the presence of the Empress before 
mass, and in spite of her s\v:oon of yesterday, she was 
unusually lively and gay, and rejoiced to find that the 
mass was to be attended not only by all the Bussians, 
but also by many Florentines and strangers. She only 
invited ladies to her own table, but commanded a 
brilliant banquet to be prepared for the gentlemen of 
her own suite, as well as those of the Florentine Court. 
The back of the Italian hotel she inhabited looks on 
the Amo, and on this evening a scaffolding was erected 
opposite for an illumination. Great was the universal 
surprise on recognising, on the other side of the Amo, 
the Exchange of Petersburg, with its hundred pillars 
and the two columns, visible from the Empress's cabinet 
in Petersburg. On the river itself floated illuminated 
gondolas, and irom these resounded the loveliest songs 



PALEBMO. 299 

of Mendelssolin and Weber in the Italian language, 
and also the Bussian National Hymn. It was a warm 
Italian May evening, fuU of enchantment for Alex- 
andra^ who enjoyed it with a grateful heart. With the 
stroke of eleven o'clock all was over, the physicians 
who had remained close by, went tranquilly home, but 
ihe Empress felt that with this evening beautiful Italy 
vanished like a dream. When she left the balcony and 
entered her cabinet, two of her dearest friends took 
leave of her. Baron Meyendorf and General BaucL 
Next morning the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg and 
Princess Louise left Florence, and set off towards their 
home, having bid farewell to their beloved relative. 

Both sisters felt that a singularly charming episode 
in their lives was over ; they had passed about seven 
months together in all sisterly and youthful happiness. 
As Alexandra felt so well, and the weather was so 
favourable, she once more drove rapidly through Flor- 
ence, in the most simple dress and caleche, stopped at 
the gallery, and took a cordial farewell of all the 
masterpieces thera By the afternoon all was prepared 
for the journey next morning, and a portion of the 
servants despatched in two steamboats to Leghorn. 
The Empress herself occupied the evening in writing 
letters. Next morning at nine o'clock she was ready to 
setoff, but three hours yet intervened before the time 
of departure, so she took advantage of this to see the 
Poggio Imperiale palace, outside the town. The road, 
that passes through a shady avenue of trees, is gloomy, 
and would have deepened the melancholy mood of the 
august lady into positive sadness, iTut for the prospect 



300 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

from the palace, which is very varied, but j&nest of all 
from a hill above, called Arcetri, where is still to be 
seen the peasant's hut inhabited for ten years by 
Galileo. He designated cities as prisons of the mind, 
but was himself under close surveillance on this height. 
" For the second time," exclaimed the Empress, " I 
chance to greet the lovely spring morning of Jean 
Paul's * Titan,' and am happy and thankful to heaven 
that I can leave Florence with this charming and pro- 
found impression." When she returned to the hotel, 
she foimd more than two hundred persons who wished to 
be presented to her before her departure. She requested 
them to allow her half-an-hour^s rest, and then she 
bade them all a kindly farewell, and with tearful eyes, 
entered her state carriage. 

The journey by Bologna, Venice, and Vienna was so 
timed that she should arrive in Petersburg the beginning 
of June, when the late northern spring would bestow on 
her the same warmth and verdure that she had uninter- 
ruptedly enjoyed during the last six months. Since the 
October of the previo^ yeax she had experienced per- 
petual spring in Palermo, Naples, and Florence; and in 
the north, from June, followed two warm months, so that 
she obtained almost a whole year of a mild climate. 
She left several costly souvenirs to the Florentine Court, 
among others a piece of her own work, and none were 
forgotten who in Sicily also had contributed to her 
amusement and health. In Bologna she saw Baphael's 
St. Cecilia, and those two living monuments of Italian 
art, Rossini and Catalani, and in Venice the " Assump- 
tion of the Virgin." That city left a melancholy im- 



PALERMO. 301 

pression on hex mind, from the. want of all yerdure, 
which to her was a part of life. In spite of the long 
fatiguing journey, she continued cheerful, and her 
invigorated powers enabled her to travel the 300 miles 
and to arrive in health. It seemed as if the superb 
climate of Italy clung devotedly to her, for during the 
two succeeding months a bright sky continued over the 
city and its environs. The Emperor in his joy at 
seeing his wife so much younger and better, once 
more rewarded those physicians, in particular, who 
had opposed his will, and so strictly carried out their 
own views. A fortnight afterwards arrived Constantine, 
who, since ha left his mother so ill in Naples, had 
visited Algiers, Lisbon, and Portsmouth. The Emperor 
had not seen the yoimg pilgrim for a year, for Con- 
stantine did not arrive in Palermo till after the Emperor 
left it The Prince of Prussia too came to join the 
now cheerful happy family circle. 



CHAPTEE VIIL 

PETEESBURG IN 1847-52. 

The journey of the Empress not only produced a 
good effect on her health, bat her mind and sphit were 
equally invigorated, new chords vibrated within her, 
those that had slept were freshly awakened, and all 
her views of Ufe now soared beyond their former narrow 
limits. The same change was perceptible in the Em- 
peror. For twenty years after his ascension to the 
throne, he had been burdened by oppressive cares of 
government, and never granted his health even the 
necessary rest that all his ministers and ofGicials occa- 
sionally enjoyed ; while a number of Bussian families, 
owing to their wealth, easily overcame the obstacles to 
living abroad, and whole colonies settled in Paris, 
Naples, Bome, and Florence, and in German watering- 
places, especially Baden-Baden, and more Busisian gold 
was scattered in these places than in all Bussia 
besides, Nicholas had always been involved in a 
routine of business, and a circle of duties ; at most he 
had only accompanied his wife to a watering-place, or 
brought her home from thence. . He had not again seen 
France since his first visit there. He had scarcely 



PETERSBUBG IK 1847-52. 303 

amved in England in 1844, when he was. recalled by 
the illness of his daughter; Italy was comparatively 
an unknown land to him, though even his passing stay 
there made a forcible impression on him. " I admired 
the masterly works of Eoman architecture/' said he to 
a fiiend, ** above all, St Peter^s, but I also rejoiced to 
find on my return here that, even after Bome, Peters- 
burg does not lose its grand effect Within a short 
time we have accomplished our share, according to our 
powers." He acknowledged the Vatican and its trea- 
sures to be incomparable, and in a letter from Bome to 
his consort in Palermo, he told her how deeply he 
had been affected by that dty. In the different gal- 
leries he saw many objects that he would gladly have 
transferred to the Hermitage. But he never left the 
studio of an artist without large orders, and quitted no 
city without taking with him some work of art ^ fresh. 
ornament for the Hermitaga ''The Petersburg of the 
future will have much in common with Bome," said 
he, " only we must always share the climate with the 
bears." Many other things, moreover, had not escaped 
his eagle-eye, and he freely praised many regulations. 
The new Hermitage, built under Klenze's guidance, he 
now, during his morning walks, viewed with other eyes, 
and rejoiced in the prospect of soon himself opening 
this Temple of the Muses. Artists had always been 
encouraged by him ; we know that Gudin and Horace 
Yemet stayed with him in Peterhof, but from this 
time forward he devoted greater attention to the sphere 
of art^ and looked on much with the eyes of a traveller 
in foreign lands. 



304 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

The visit of the Prince of Prussia at that time to 
Peterhof, sustained this mood, for in their intercourse, 
the Prince turned the conversation, if not on Italy, on 
England, and her great national public buildings. One 
morning in Peterhof, Nicholas said, ''I shall have a 
trying day, for I have invited to dinner neither mini- 
sters nor officials, but only people with minds not pre- 
occupied." But even business men could not conceal 
from themselves that their ruler was inspired with a 
different spirit. Yet the calumnies in the public foreign 
papers about Alexandra's journey seemed to have no 
end, and it was the same with more secret complaints 
in certain classes of Eussian society. Her lavish expen- 
diture was censured, and the more malignant the attacks 
in foreign papers, the more were they credited in 
Petersburg. Christian, seventh King of Denmark, was 
accompanied on his journey to England and France in 
1768 by fifty chamberlains, scattered gold pieces for 
his own diversion among the populace, and Denmark 
was forced to pay for the King^s frivolity by the im- 
position of new taxes for years. All European papers 
commended the King's spirit ; the Parisian Academy 
admired this same man who in history was designated 
as " the weak" The Empress of the immense realm 
of Bussia, whose Court had larger sums at its disposal 
than the whole income of the Danish kingdom, was 
compelled to pass six months. in the South of Europe 
on account of failing health, and thus furnished news- 
paper scribes with materials for the most incredible 
distortion of facts. It would be easy to prove to the 
world that the cost of this journey barely exceeded 



PETERSBURG IN 1847-52. 305 

her yearly budget, which at that time consisted of 
a million of rubles. Unhappily this was no passing 
outcry, but it continued to be an article of faith, 
that the Empress was extravagant. Nine hundred and 
ninety-nine out of a thousand stupidly repeat what 
they hear from others, and newspaper writers are 
always eager to get hold of novelties, to furnish amuse- 
ment for their wearie4 pubUc. 

Alexandra, however, scarcely heard a hint of these 
distressing reports, so her gay mood and improved 
health did not suffer. She visited the town, and was 
everywhere received with enthusiasm, especially in the 
various institutions, where the young people welcomed 
her with flowers, songs, and their own needlework. 
The society was glad that she was once more by the 
Neva, as the past winter had been cold and lifeless 
without her. She also visited several churches, to 
return thanks for her recovery, and gave sums of money 
to almshouses and hospitals. She did not forget either 
to see her friends Countess Bobrinsky and Baroness 
Frederiks, and to express to them her joy at her resto- 
ration to health. The mood of the Imperial family can 
always be gathered from the countenances of society 
in Petersburg, and the new life at Court pervaded aU 
other classes. 

Some trying hours, however, awaited the august 
mother in the separation from her daughter Olga, who 
had hitherto never left her side, and, as we know, accom- 
panied her aU through her journey. There were many 
doubts in the public mind whether this Princess, bom and 
brought up in the greatest and most brilliant Court in the 

VOL. n. u 



306 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

world, could possibly be happy within the narrow limits 
of Wiiitembeig. Since her betrothal tiie Princess had 
made a point of gaming every information as to the 
country. The Russian ambassador at that Court, Prince 
Alexander Gortschakof, had already sent her some 
interesting reports on the subject to Palermo, ^e 'was 
thus perfectly acquainted with the circumstances of the 
Court of Wlirtemberg, though she had never seen it, 
and her calm but clear understanding saved her from 
all delusions. She knew and understood the words 
Sling William the First once addressed to a traveller, — 
** Don't expect in my country the art-treasures of 
Munich. When my reign commenced, I said to myself, 
first what is necessary, then what is useful, and last of 
all the fine arts ; so in that respect we are far behind 
Munich, but in all essentials far in advance of it" She 
also distinctly understood the difference between abso- 
lute and constitutional government, and knew what 
position she was to assume, first as Crown-Princess 
and afterwards as Queen; she further was aware of 
the veneration in which her aunt. Queen Catherine, 
was held in that country. Besides this intimate know- 
ledge of the circumstances of the country, the fairest 
dowry she took with her from her paternal home was 
a loving attachment to domestic life, and the desire to 
effect in Wlirtemberg what her grandmother, the Em- 
press Maria Feodorowna, had effected in Bussia, so she 
could calmly encounter her future destiny. 

The nuptials took place, according both to the Oreek 
and Protestant rites, in Peterhof, early in July, and the 
Imperial family were on this account compelled to ex- 



^(1647-52. 309 

, was several years in the 
dies of his two daughters, 
Altenburg, and the now 
Wiirtemberg, had stood on 
ut Duke Joseph, father of 
ore nearly connected with 
ight at first appear- His 
Queen Louise of Prussia, 
like was first cousin of 
tions of the Duchess the 
izandrina had been direc- 
, the scene of all < their 
prised was the Emperor to 
related to him bo far from 
more to see before her the 
r childhood had so often 
lame evening, wrote to his 
gular charm of the young 
vas to become the bride of 
i same to Count Orlof, his 
I Duchesa'a apartments. A 
itaDtine, in which he briefly 
His parents were rather 
their son being only nine- 
ret completed. After some 
it last said, in a decided 
first knew you, I was also 
1 or no one, and I was then 
. therefore that I give my 
I remarkable that four dif- 
1 the Princess bestow equal 



308 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

visitors, and nothing is more irritating to nervous people 
than official visits and constitdned conversations under 
perpetual restrictions. She clearly saw that a secluded 
life, like that in Palermo, was as impossible in the 
Winter Palace as in Peterhof or Zarskoe-Sel6, though the 
two latter, by their distance &om the capital, afforded 
her a certain degree of repose and an opportunity to 
live according to her own inclinations. The existence 
of the Empress was inexhaustibly rich in all that the 
world can offer, and yet she often envied a burgher 
family the quiet in which they enjoyed their modest 
happiness. Towards the end of August, when the last 
summer days of the North vanish, the Court repaired 
to quiet Zarskoe-Seld, where it was their intention to 
pass two months in strict seclusion. 

In addition to the sorrow of parting- with her 
daughter a new source of excitement now occurred ; 
her son Constantine had accompanied his sister to 
Stuttgart, and gone from Berlin by Altenbuig, for 
the express purpose of making the acquaintance of 
Princess Alexandrina, the youngest daughter of Duke 
JosepL This young Princess, in the year 1844, when 
at Kissingen, where the Altenburg Court were staying, 
attracted the attention of many Russians by her beauty, 
grace, and animation, and her name had often been 
mentioned since that time by the Imperial family. On 
his way back to Palermo the Emperor met this family 
in Bologna, where he passed an hour with the Duke's 
mother, his own first cousin, recalling the bright 
memories of their childhood. Duke Ludwig of Wur- 
temberg, father of the Duchess and brother of the 



PETERSBURG IN 1847-52. 309 

Empress Maria Feodorowna, was several years in the 
Bussian service, and the cradles of his two daughters, 
Duchess Amelia of Saxe Altenburg, and the now 
widowed Pauline, Queen of Wurtemberg, had stood on 
the shores of the Neva. But Duke Joseph, father of 
the young Princess, was more nearly connected with 
the Bussian Court than might at first appear. His 
mother was the sister of Queen Louise of Prussia, 
and consequently the Duke was first cousin of 
Alexandra. By the narrations of the Duchess the 
imagination of Princess Alexandrina had been direc- 
ted to the Winter Palace, the scene of all . their 
sports. How agreeably surprised was the Emperor to 
meet with a family nearly related to him so far from 
home, and the Princess still more to see before her the 
Czar, of whose palace her childhood had so often 
dreamt. Nicholas, on the same evening, wrote to his 
consort, mentioning the singular charm of the young 
Princess, adding, that she was to become the bride of 
his second son. He told the same to Count Orlof, his 
companion, when he left the Duchess's apartments. A 
letter now arrived from Constantine, in which he briefly 
said, " She, or no other." His parents were rather 
startled by this declaration, their son being only nine- 
teen, and his education not yet completed. After some 
consultation the Emperor at last said, in a decided 
tone, to his wife, " When I first knew you, I was also 
firmly resolved to marry you or no one, and I was then 
only eighteen ; write to him therefore that I give my 
consent." He added, " It is remarkable that four dif- 
ferent persons who have seen the Princess bestow equal 



310 ALEXANDRA EKPRESB OF RUSSIA. 

piaise on her, and that my opinion is the same I will 
not deny. So let it be — only they must wait two years." 
The Princess was at that time only sixteen. One year 
was to be spent in completing her education in Alten- 
buig» and the second in Bussia, for her preparation. 
Constantine was also to remain a year in his former 
position. 

The Empress formed her plans in order to spend the 
two dreary autumn months in Zarskoe-Seld as agree- 
ably as possible, and in the mode most beneficial to her 
health ; she therefore divided the day very strictly for 
her various occupations, and she hoped at last to fulfil 
a long-cherished wish of hers, to hear the masterpieces 
of German literature read to her in a certain succession. 
Not one of these, beginning with the " Messiah," was 
unknown to her, indeed she was thoroughly versed in 
most German authors, but she confessed that she had 
not carried away a thorough impression of each, from 
having been so constantly interrupted. In the Anit> 
schkow Palace there was more time at her disposal, 
when formerly Grand Duchess ; and Schiller, and espe- 
cially Jean Paul, were most familiar of all to her. She 
sympathized with the ideal phase of woman's nature in 
both these poets, though her intelligent perceptions 
found Goethe's clear representation of life the more 
responsive of the two. She now began with " Faust," 
and was not even scared by the difficulties that the 
reader meets with in the second part. She invited to 
these readings her daughter-in-law, the wife of the 
heir-apparent, and her daughter Marie, and some other 
highly cultivated ladies. The sympathy of all was extra- 



J 



PETERSBURG IN 1847-62. ' 311 

ordinary, and gave rise to many clever remarks and 
discussions with the reader. Still these harmless plea- 
sures did not continue so unclouded as might have been 
expected. Often in the midst of the most lively dis- 
quisition a secretary of State was announced; and as 
the Empress never allowed any one to wait without 
some very special reason, the reading suddenly came to 
a close. It was not, however, business alone, but often 
more formal visits, farewells, and greetings that dis- 
troyed their amusement 

" Faust " was not yet ended when in a certain Court 
circle voices were uplifted expressing discontent with 
the Empress's seclusion ; many, indeed, were thus de- 
prived of a promenade or a ride beside her carriage, 
while others were of opinion that an Empress of 
Bussia had no right to occupy herself with literature. 
In the course of some weeks it seemed as if these 
peipetual interruptions were puiposely made, tiU at 
length the Emperor gave the strictest orders that his 
wife was not to be disturbed. The physicians also 
urged that, for the benefit of her health, she should be 
allowed to ^oy this quiet amusement. Consequently 
only one interruption occurred during the two autumnal 
months, on October 10th, when Nicholas invited all 
those who had been with his consort in Palermo to a 
brilliant banquet, and there took the opportunity of 
thanking them sincerely and warmly for all the sym- 
pathy they had shown her. And yet a tone of sadness 
mingled with Alexandra's mood. News came fix>m 
Vienna of the death of the eldest daughter of the 
Grand Duchess Helena. Not only the sincere sorrow 



3 1 2 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

she felt at this event, but the too vivid remembrance of 
tlie death of her own dearly cherished Alexandra, reduced 
her to nearly the same state she was in at Palermo. To 
this was added an annoying circumstance — ^the Grand 
Duchess Helena was left almost helpless after her 
daughter's death in Vienna, and entreated that a maid 
.of honour might be sent to her as quickly as pos- 
sible ; those whom she named, however, considered the 
journey there, and their duties when they arrived, too 
trying, and showed very little inclination to go. In 
just indignation Nicholas said, ^' We hear a great deal 
of self-sacrifice in our cause so long as we are at- 
tending balls and festivities, but when a real service 
is to be done to my sister-in-law in her need they all 
decline to go." And, in truth, courtiers only willingly 
perform a service when by so doing they insure for 
themselves a greater one. 

As living in the country agreed with Alexandra^ 
she remained this year, contrary to custom, till No- 
vember 19th, that is, till December 1st (new style) in 
Zarskoe-Sel6 ; the snow lay several feet deep on the 
ground, and the evenings in the scantily-lighted little 
country town were truly dismal. But the pleasant 
gathering of the whole family in the, solitary palace, 
and the charms of reading, proved true balsam to the 
suffering lady. In Petersburg, owing to the death of 
the Grand Duchess Maria Michaelowna, all gaiety was 
at end, for her excellent father Michael was lost 
in grief at having been deprived by death of his 
two eldest daughters in a couple of years. The Court 
did not once visit the Italian opera, which invariably 



PETERSBURG IN 1847-62. .313 

closes "when Easter begins ; they avoided even inviting 
artists to the palace^ and they, as well as the city, 
passed a very retired winter. For the Empress, how- 
ever, it was a most enjoyable one, as she continued her 
German readings, though more interrupted than in 
the coiintry ; at the commencement of Easter, when 
Scriptural readings ensued, she had finished all Goethe's 
poetical works, and declared that they had invigorated 
her soul as much as the bright sky of Palermo. 

Since her return from Italy, her select evening circle 
had an additional member. The new Prussian Am- 
bassador, General von Sochow, suited the Empress in 
his conversation, and was often invited to dinner by 
the Emperor likewise. The formality with which the 
Russians often reproached the countrymen of Alex- 
andra, was less obvious in this ambassador, and his 
interests took a far wider range than his own peculiar 
vocation. His was the merit of making known to 
their Majesties the changed spirit that for some time 
had begun to prevail so conspicuously. The wide 
difference that existed between Goethe and Heine and 
the poets of the latter century, did not escape Alex- 
andra herself. The master-works of earlier litera- 
ture were read aloud to her, but she was eager to 
become acquainted with those of the present also, 
and few remarkable works of the last forty years were* 
unknown to her. To her intimate fHends she often 
expressed the evil presentiment she felt with regard 
to the whole of the literature of the day — but they 
tranquillized her. When the scene between Philip 
and the Marquis Eosa in " Don Carlos " was read to 



314 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

her, she said, " We need not look for that time ; we 
are in the midst of it; not onlj is thought freely 
expressed, but the most audacious ideas published." 
Her apprehensions lest a stoimj period should ensue 
were heightened by the continuance of these readings. 
''I saw Sicily and Italy just before their gates were 
closed," said she anotiier time, ''and doubt much 
whether I shall ever see Bome, having missed it 
then. The new Pope is himself hdping to light the 
torch." 

Before the Court repaired in spring to Zarskoe'Sel6» 
a gloomy feeling prevailed in the capital Nicholas 
was seriously Ol, and the strongest suspicions were 
entertained by the publia Mandt, being a Catholic, 
was the object of the most profound distrust During 
the Emperor's journey of the previous year to the 
interior of Bussia, he had made some painful dis- 
coveries, and returned much out of humour, and in 
the course of the winter he found out one unpardon- 
able abuse after another, so that the tone of his mind 
became desponding. In April he was very ill, and 
confined to bed with a bilious attack, and was only 
saved from a dangerous illness by severe remedies ; 
these succeeded perfectly, but gave rise in the city 
to the most odious conjectures. In the same week 
the Empress was one day so weak that she was visible 
only to her attendants. In the whole of Nicholas's 
reign, it was the first time that both their Majesties 
were ill at the same time, causing extreme sorrow 
in Petersburg. In spite of the illness of both his 
parents, Constantino set off to England, at the 



PETERSBUBGm 1847-52. 315 

close of his education, where he remained for several 
months; he wrote regularly to his family, and won 
the esteem of most English statesmen. He passed 
through Gr^miany on his way, and visited his betrothed 
bride in Altenburg, who was to make her entiy into 
Petersburg in the year 1847. The Empress passed 
the summer in excellent health, and in eager expecta- 
tion of seeing the bride, who, to the joy of the family, 
arrived on October 12th, and brought new life into 
the family circla Although educated at a petty court, 
she adopted the tone of the family with so much ease, 
that it seemed almost as if she had been bom in the 
Winter Palaca 

Three severe days followed for the delicate Empress 
and the Princess ; on one occurred the declaration of 
the majority of the Grand Duke Constantine, who was 
twenty on September 9th ; on the second, the church 
betrothal with Princess Alexandrine, who, after being 
received into the Greek Church, was named the Grand 
Duchess Alexandra Josephowna; and on the third, 
the presentation of all those who had the privilege of 
attending Court, about 8000 in number. After these 
festivities, the Court remained in the capital, and a 
gay season commenced, one ball succeeding another; 
it seemed as if the society wished to make up for the 
time they had lost during several years past ; and yet, 
often during the greatest mirth and festive pleasure, 
serious-looking men were to be seen sitting in comers, 
their faces overshadowed by gloomy thoughts. The 
newspapers daily brought more important intelligence ; 
the Empress, who read the foreign papers eagerly and 



3 1 6 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

constantly, became more and more a pi*ey to alarming 
presentiments, and spoke openly on the subject When 
a well-known diplomatist left Petersburg at that time 
and asked, " Shall we see your Majesties next summer 
abroad ? " " Have you any faith then in a year of 
peace ? " said she ; " it appears to me, judging from the 
newspapers, and other writings, that a universal storm 
threatens us." The diplomatist replied, " According to 
the newspapers, it certainly is so, but we know better 
in our circles." God grant yoii may be right !" rejoined 
the Empress, " I have anticipated no good for a loug 
time past/' Her husband thoroughly shared his illus- 
trious consort's anxieties, and appeared graver than 
ever. Princess lieven wrote daily letters fix)m Paris at 
that time to the Empress, but nothing had the power 
to tranquillize her. She inquired about Guizot, from 
a person who had passed the preceding summer in 
Paris, as she considered the Princess's views one-sided, 
and learned that, in spite of all Guizot's great merits, 
he was hated by the greater number in France. The 
capital now included some very grave circles, but some 
also whom no news could induce to interrupt their gay 
balla The "Butter week" came, and its balls and 
theatres rendered careless and indifferent the last ears 
that still remained open to evil rumours from Europe. 
It was not, however, carelessness alone that still cele- 
brated brilliant fites, it was also the conviction that, if 
the whole of Europe were to be overthrown, Russia would 
stand fast in her granite repose. On the Saturday of 
this week a rumour was spread in the town that Guizot 
had fled, and it reached a house at dinner-time where 



PETERSBURG IN 1847-52. 317 

two diplomatists argued the question very hotly. Many 
thought that the whole storm would now be finally ap- 
peased, and hastened to attend next day the last ball 
in the Winter Palace, beginning at twelve o'clock in 
the forenoon. 

The rooms were brilliant with lights and splendid 
dresses ; a glance at the mirthful, dancuig crowd 
might have led to the belief that this was the realm 
of lasting peace and happiness, when the folding-doors 
of the thronged ball-room were suddenly flung open ; 
all eyes turned thither, when the Emperor passed 
through the doorway into the middle of the room, 
with a gloomy brow, and a paper in his hand, making 
a sign to the musicians, who stopped short in the 
middle of a bar, while the dancers stood still and 
motionless. After some moments of uneasy expec- 
tation, the Czar called out in a voice of thimder, 
"Gentlemen, saddle your horses, France is a Ee- 
public ! " He then quitted the room, and the ball 
closed. This news penetrated the same day into the 
farthest comers of the towns, and even into houses 
that scarcely ever heard of any European event Mer- 
chants of the third guild asked if it was the same 
French king who inherited the throne when Nicholas's 
reign first began, and were thankful to live in a country 
where their ruler granted them his protection. In 
higher circles it was said that Louis Philippe deserved 
no better fate, but the maintenance of the French 
Eepublic was doubted. Germany was pronoimced to 
be tranquU and fast asleep, and incapable of any 
great or dangerous movement, and unbounded was 



\ 



318 ALEXANDRA ElfPRESS OF BUSSIA. 

the astonishment when, next Sunday, intelligence 
arrived that in the south-west of Gennany serious 
disturbances had broken out The Emperor said to 
his two youngest sons, Nicholas and Michael, who 
were still* busy with their education, " Possibly your 
studies next summer may be continued at the seat 
of war." It was thought tmdoubted that Bussia and 
Austria would stand fast in these storms, and again, 
on the ensuing Sunday, came tidings that Prince 
Mettemich had fled. This information found its way 
into an apartment where a Frenchman was giving 
lectures on gastronomy, in which he had specially 
commended Prince Mettemich's experience in that 
science. Then no delusion was any longer possible 
as to what might follow. Prince Mettemich was far 
from popular in the higher circles of Petersburg, for, 
with the most bland, smiling manner, his position 
had always been inimical to Bussia, but he was one 
of the props of conservatism aU over Europe, and the 
Viennese had always been esteemed amiable epi- 
cureans, though blind politicians. The very next 
Sunday came a courier from the Bussian Embassy 
in Berlin, a young man whose family was nearly 
connected with the Imperial House. He brought his 
despatches straight into the cabinet of the Empress, 
and was commissioned to detail himself what haste 
prevented being written down. In the Winter Palace 
little was heard of the contents of these despatches, 
but a great deal as to their effect on Alexandra. In 
the midst of the narration she fainted away, with these 
words on her lips, " and my brother William." The 



PETEBSBUBG IK 1847-52. 319 

next newspapers that came stated to the startled in- 
Ixabitants all that had taken place in Berlin; but 
though the stoim was so close to the boundaries of 
Russia, its capital continued in the most entire tran- 
quillity, its inhabitants commending loudly the hitherto 
often secretly detested rule of their Emperor, as the 
best and surest of alL 

Nicholas appeared more frequently than ever in 
the streets on foot, and was gazed at with reverence 
by his people. The devotion of that class called the 
** black people** was greater than ever, and yet pre- 
sented one of the most singular spectacles. While the 
citizen King, Louis Philippe, for years past had driven 
rapidly in public in a carriage made of iron, to protect 
his life, and yet had not escaped his fate, the hero of 
December 14th appeared among his people with a 
calm demeanour, and saw with joy, confidence in his 
perscm expressed in every countenance. When he 
drove out on Easter Day after mass, with his consort, 
in an open carriage, the enormous space round the 
Winter Palace was crowded with people, shouting 
thundering hurrahs in their honour. Soon the public 
voice of sarcasm was applied to each individual 
countiy. Three flasks were sketched ; one, filled 
with foaming champagne, had flung away the cork, 
ornamented with a crown ; a second, filled with beer, 
offered the same spectacle; the third with brandy, 
stood upright, and well corked, beside the others, and 
on the top was written in Bussian, ** Crown seal'' The 
news from Poland seemed satisfactory; the eye of 
the Field-Marshal kept watch everywhere, and in the 



320 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

greater part of inner Russia they heard scarcely any- 
thing of European events. 

After t^ie fStes, the Court went as usual to the coun- 
try, where the Empress had more leisure to study the 
whole movement It seemed remarkable to many 
statesmen that, in a humoristic Berlin calendar, the 
24th February was on the previous year marked as 
dangerous for France; and in the same witty book, 
Germany being described as sunk in profound sleep, 
proved that this was more than a mere happy hit. 
When, shortly before the opening of the Frankfort 
Parliament, bonfires blazed on all the hills, Nessel- 
rode significantly said, ""So more danger. It is all 
childish German enthusiasm, which will blaze away 
like these fires : in a year all will be over." But 
Petersburg in the next two years was no longer what 
she had been in old days previous to the month of 
MarcL The first striking symptom, was, that shortly 
aU carriages -and -four disappeared, and the richest 
families carried out retrenchments. Moreover, the 
Emperor had long set this example to his peopla A 
vast number of Russian families now returned to 
Petersburg who had been settled, nay, taken root, for 
years abrocui, and when driven away by the revolution, 
remembered their fatherland, and found there a peace- 
ful refuge. Among these were many young ladies born 
in foreign countries, whose first and most difficult task 
was to learn the language of their parents and country. 
While formerly the steam-vessels from Petersburg, 
Stettin, and LtLbeck were crowded with travellers, they 
now went thither quite empty, and returned overladen. 



PETERSBUKG IN 1847-52. 321 

Petersburg was richer than formerly by some thousands 
of inhabitants; and as in summer every one goes to the 
country, there was a great deficiency in accommodation. 

In poKtically quiet Eussia, however, symptoms soon 
showed themselves of Asiatic cholera, that in a short 
time spread as violently as seventeen years before. 
It, of course, raged worst in the town ; but even Peter- 
hof did 'not entirely escape, owing to the unusual con- 
course of inhabitants. The Empress passed the whole 
summer in the country in entire seclusion, and solely 
occupied in instructive reading. She commimicated 
her thoughts and views without reserve to the excited 
Emperor, who was certainly taken more by surprise by 
the great movefaent of the day than his wife, who had 
already recognised in the newspapers of the preceding 
year the stormy petrel that foreboded a tempest. The- 
aversion of Nicholas to what is called a Constitu-. 
tional Government was well known. He not only saw 
in it the monarchical principle weakened, but also 
free national movements checked ; indeed, at that time 
he expressed to a foreign ambassador his dislike to all 
constitutions, because they favoured the privileges of 
birth in one class, and immunity from taxes of an- 
other, but utterly disregarded the actual people. We 
also know that he considered a republic entitled to 
be placed beside an unlimited monarchy. " Bepublics 
in our day are impossible," said he to one of his Mini- 
sters, "because there are no republicans. A French- 
man of the present day writes to me and asks me 
for an Order, such things being abolished in the Be- 
public. Would a true republican thus apply to a 

VOL. n. X 



322 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

foreign monareh? My Bussians do the same; but 
they do not talk about a republia" 

The domestic happiness of the Emperor, even amid 
these changed times, remained the same that it had 
ever been. He now adorned charming Peterhof with 
a number of little Sicilian souvenirs, drove about 
with his family, and looked on with the greatest com- 
posure at the disturbances in other countries. The 
yoimg Princess, Alexandrina, remained with her future 
mother-in-law, and shared her seclusion. She learned 
the Eussian tongue, studied the history of the country, 
and supplied the place of her lamiented daughter to 
the bereaved mother. On August 30, the marriage of 
the young couple took place in the Winter Palace, 
and the Court went for a week to the capital For 
more than a year the Marble Palace had been newly 
arranged for Constcmtine, having been very little in- 
habited by the previous Grand Duke of the same 
name. Besides this, the young couple inherited Pawl- 
owsk and Strelna, according to some family compact, 
as country residences ; and in the latter many changes 
had been made. After these nuptials, Alexandra lost 
her daughter-in-law from her immediate vicinity ; but 
the young princess hastened daily, with true filial 
love, from Strelna and Kronstadt, to embrace her, and 
enlivened her solitude by the freshness of her young 
spirit 

Political events had assumed a ibrm connecting 
them closely with the family affairs of the Empress in 
Germany. Even the Polish war of 1831 had not so 
keenly or painfully affected her as this year, when 



PETERSBUEG IN 1847-52. 323 

almost every newspaper brought some tidings of her 
widely-spread connections. Ladies of state, maids of 
honour, and all who make up an Empress's suite, were 
less available for conversation than her sons and 
daughters, now, alas! severed from the domestic 
hearth. She therefore sadly missed the youthful 
Alexandrina; and although the individual members 
of her family were all wont to assemble round her 
by ten o'clock in the morning, this was almost im- 
possible in the country, owing to the great distances. 
The store of health that she brought with her from 
Palermo gradually disappeared, and in present circum- 
stanpes a journey to any watering-place was impos- 
sibla A low sigh often escaped her at the changes 
that she and her family had seen in the world within 
the last ten years ; for they were greater than any one 
could possibly have foreseen or anticipated. The Em- 
peror's love and esteem alone remained unchanged, and 
this thought still cheered and supported his gradually 
fading consort In those years she often remained 
whole days alone, stretched on a sofa^ listening to read- 
ing; and when she had heard enough of the news of 
the day, she hastened eagerly into another sphere, en- 
joying rural delights in Voss's " Luise," or in the 
lofty gravity and sufferings of a Tasso. Nicholas came 
to her room, with the same tenderness as ever, when he 
had a few spare moments between the reports of his 
Ministers. If these readings took place after his re- 
turn fix)m his drives, he sometimes listened to them, 
and lamented being so entirely cut off from every 
amusement of the kind. He sought to divine and to 



324 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

fulfil the slightest wish of bis wife, recaUing in such 
cases any orders that he had previously given. " What 
a pity that we are in the countiy!'' said she on one 
occasion. " I should like to have gone to the theatre 
to-night" Her husband said nothing, but at eight o'clock 
the same evening he conducted her to the theatre, 
transferred to the countary. 

In the garden of Zarskoe-Selo the sentinels were 
so distributed that the autocrat, during his morning 
walks, could not be assailed by petitioners. And yet 
he observed one day that a sentry allowed two ladies 
to enter the gardens of the palace. In answer to the 
Emperor^s inquiiy, the man replied that these ladies 
wished to present a petition to the Empress. He 
immediately approached them with much politeness. 
"Whom have I the honour to address?" said he. 
"Princess Iwanowna O — ventures to bring a peti- 
tion to her Majesty the Empress." "But could your 
Highness discover no other mode ?" " Your Majesty," 
said the confused and alarmed lady, " I come from the 
Simbirsk government by the Neva; and for three 
weeks past I have adopted every possible means of 
obtaining an interview with her Majesty, and have 
failed. This is my last desperate attempt." "And 
what is the subject of your application V " To obtain 
admission for this my daughter into one of the Impe- 
rial Institutes." " Permit me to conduct you myself to 
the Empress, and personally to support your, request" 
lEIe accordingly led both ladies through the palace to 
the cabinet of Alexandra, and on the way desired 
that the circumstances of the family should be de- 



PETERSBURG IN 1847-52. 325 

tailed to him. Arrived in the anteroom of the cabinet, 
he was announced, and requested to wait for a few 
minutes. " We have come at an inopportune moment," 
said he; "but I trust her Majesty will pardon us." 
The Empress now appeared in the anteroom, a long 
spacious apartment. " I hope your Majesty will for^ 
give my audacity," said he, *' but I bring you a lady 
who but for my intervention might possibly have been 
arrested ; so I appeal to your kindness to receive the 
visit of this Princess." " Pray, come into my cabinet 
with these ladies," said the Empress, smiling. '^Alas ! 
I must renounce that honour, as important business 
awaits ma Tour Majesty will therefore permit my 
departure, once more recommending these ladies to 
you. Should they have any request to make to me, 
I beg you will listen to it favourably in my name." 
Saying which, he withdrew. 

Their Majesties had rarely any opportunity of catch- 
ing a glimpse of the domestic life of families who lived 
in distant provinces in the country. As many officials 
were engaged in the Commission for Petitions as in 
any department of the Ministry, which amounted weekly 
to thousands ; and even those laid before their Majes- 
ties for ratification could not be thoroughly examined 
in detail The Emperor's business hours were appor- 
tioned to the minute during the whole year. The 
time of the Empress was purposely less strictly limited, 
and she often searched herself into the circumstances 
of individual families, both in town and country, 
relating to her husband what she had learned. Un- 
happily, on the throne things are too apt to be seen 



326 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

with tbe eyes of others, till at last the doubt arises as 
to whom to trust. On the occasion of the Grand 
Duke Constantino's nuptials, Imperial mercy was to 
be extended to a number of prisoners in the debtors' 
jail The Empress obtained the closest information as 
to which of these were most worthy of pardon, but 
heard such conflicting judgments with regard to the 
persons in question, that at length she did not herself 
know whom to recommend. She was apt to become 
mistrustful towards those who had possessed her con- 
fidence fqr years. One of the prisoners in question 
was passed over as imworthy, the persons roimd the 
Empress having spoken loudly against him. How 
indignant she felt on learning, six weeks later, that 
the .man in question had been pronounced innocent by 
the tribunal itself I Now she heard from the lips of a 
princess not only the miserable state to which her own 
family was reduced, without any particular blame at- 
taching to them, but also details about the condition of 
the whole province. 

We must, however, return to our fair petitioners. 
An hour passed before the Emperor's return, when^ to 
his astonishment, he found them still engaged in con- 
versation. The Princess was dismissed and her peti- 
tion granted. Both their Majesties heartily rejoiced 
when they could substantially assist any one — for 
most of their benefits passed through other hands — 
without the certainty that they had been conferred on 
the most worthy. An adjutant-general once brought 
the Emperor a petition from a family, the substance of 
which astonished the monarcL " Pray, how has this 



PETERSBUBG IN 1847-52. 327 

family deserved such attention and such distinction?" 
asked he gravely ; " for I never allow the slightest ser- 
vice to go unrewarded." "I rely on your Majesty's 
mercy," said the petitioner. "We all expect mercy 
from Grod," said the Emperor with a stem face ; " but 
from me^ the ruler and autocrat of the land, my sub- 
jects must only expect justice." At these words the 
petition was withdrawn. 

In those yef^, when four branches of her family 
had established homes of their own, and only the two 
youngest sons still adhered to the family-tree, Alex- 
andra daily saw a new world rise around her. All the 
servants who had come with her from Berlin were dead, 
and two of her most important officials had also, within 
a short space, been snatched away by death. One of 
these had administered the privy purse of the Imperial 
family with the utmost rectitude, and his death caused 
the Empress to shed sincere tears. " He has served us 
faithfully for thirty years," cried she sadly, "and it 
will be difficult to replace him. Go at once to the 
desolate mourners, obtain minute information about 
them, and send the eldest daughter to ma" She 
learned every particular about the family, and pro- 
vided for them handsomely. On this occasion she 
related an incident of the latter years of her life 
that seemed .unprecedented, nay, impossible in Eussia. 
An official let to a peasant a mill at Boptscha that be- 
longed to the Empress's domain, without having named 
in the contract all the questions connected with usu- 
fruct In the course of time, doubts arose as to the 
rights of the tenant ; and as these could not be ascer- 



328 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

tained, a lawsuit ensued, when the City Court of Orani- 
enbaum decided in favour of the peasant^ and against 
the Empresa The same official considered such a 
verdict impossible, in fact, utter folly, and appealed 
to the Court of Zarskoe-Sel^, the Emperor's own par- 
ticular possession. This court likewise decided against 
Alexandra, and the official was afraid to bring such 
intelligence to his august mistress. ''How vexatious 
for an Empress," said she, " to lose a lawsuit against a 
peasant, just^like Frederick the Great against the miller 
of Sans-Souci ; and yet, on the other hand, how grati- 
fying that. the court should be so impartial !" 

Not long after her secretary, Herr von Chambeau, 
also died, whose loss grieved her still more, for, at the 
beginning of the centuiy, he taught the French language 
to .the Eoyal family of Prussia at Konigsberg, and sub- 
sequently followed Princess Charlotte to Petersburg as 
her secretary. This worthy man was almost painfully 
conscientious in his difficult post, and therefore possessed 
the confidence of his Imperial mistress to the fullest 
extent. One glance into his office sufficed to give 
some idea of the beneficence of the Empress. On 
the first of every month those poor people assembled,' 
to whom a yearly sum was allotted by her, and indeed 
they came in hundreds. Chambeau calculated that 
two-thirds of the whole of her privy purse was devoted 
to the poor, and was often annoyed that the illustrious 
lady should think so little of hersel£ He once reproached 
her for this, and she replied, — '' It is ^possible that I 
think too little about myself, but the Emperor takes 
more care of me than I can expresa'' Chambeau had 



PETEKSBUBG IN 1847-52. 329 

several clerks in his office, whose sole business was to 
visit the poor, and to ascertain thoroughly their situa- 
tioa Indeed the Empress's means often did not suffice, 
when she applied to the Emperor for a contribution 
from the revenues of her children. Was it the poor 
alone to whom she opened her benevolent hand ? There 
were many officials who profited by her bounty on par- 
ticular occasions, and many higlily-bom families who 
could only live in accordance with their elevated rank 
by her beneficent aid. As had ever been' the case 
in Old Bussia, the Emperor was still the source of 
bounty for high and low. There was a great outcry at 
that time, both in Eussia and abroad, about the diffi- 
culties in the way of those who wished to go to water- 
ing-places, but no one referred to the fact that many 
sent there by physicians were provided with means for 
the journey by Nicholas, and that official men were 
not only supplied with a sum of money, but also re- 
ceived their salary during the whole period of their 
absence. Chambeau died suddenly of cholera, which, 
in spite of every precaution on the part of Dr. Mandt, 
for the first time attacked members of the Court. The 
Empress was quite stunned by this blow, which came 
so unexpectedly. The old man had gone on business 
from Peterhof to the town, came back ill the same 
evening, and died in the course of a few hours. The 
Emperor had conferred a piece of land on him in Peter- 
hof, on which he had built a handsome villa, where he 
intended to pass the evening of his life in the quiet 
performance of his duties. He was buried in Peterhof, 
not far from his little property, and Alexandra never 



330 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

failed to visit his grave as soon as she arrived in 
Peterhof. 

The year 1849 brought more grief to the Empress 
than even the preceding one. In February the Russian 
troops entered Siebenburg, being recaUed &om Austria, 
having been at first employed against the troops of 
General Bem as a mere precautionary measure, though 
this step might easily be succeeded by an armed inter- 
vention, and thus entail a serious campaign. But even 
within the next few months the Austrian Empire seemed 
on the verge of dissolution, and the Vienna papers spoke 
of help from Sussia. The Hungarian Bevolution was 
attended with brilliant results, and the Emperor greatly 
feared that the flames of his neighbour's burning house, 
if not speedily extinguished, might soon spread to his 
own. 

The Empress went . to Zarskoe-Sel6 in May alone ; 
Nicholas had gone to Warsaw to discuss with Francis 
Joseph the assistance required ; Michael followed 
his brother thither; and Constantine, only just re- 
covered from measles, marched with the Bussian head- 
quarters into Hungary. The eyes of the anxious 
mother were now perpetually turned to the seat of 
war, and though good news arrived almost daily, still 
nothing succeeded in removing her silent, unobtrusive 
uneasiness. When at length the intelligence arrived 
that her second son had become a Knight of St. George, 
she collected all the friends left in Peterhof at a banquet, 
and drank with them to the health of the young hero. 
One of the enemy's cannon-balls fell between him and 
his aide-de-camp, which in after years adorned his 



i 



PETERSBUBG IN 1847-52. 331 

i^ritdng- table as a paper-weight All the tidings, how- 
ever, that now arrived, excited fresh terror and alarm, 
and kept alive the inward misery of the Empress. She 
was pursued this summer by restlessness, and in vain 
sought to distract her thoughts in cheerful Peterho£ 
Wheresoever her eyes were directed, whether to the 
war in Hungary, to Prussia, to Germany and its revo- 
lutions, or to Petersburg, nowhere could she find tran- 
quillity. She shut herself up in Znaminsky, close by 
Peterhof, with her friend Catherine Tiesenhausen, where 
she occupied herself in hearing Hoffmann, Tieck, and 
Zschokk^'s novels read aloud, and hoped by such means 
to attain a more cheerful mood, but in vain. A letter 
of the Emperor from Warsaw even expressed the fear 
that his intervention in Hungary would be fruitless, 
and that he must therefore remain longer in Warsaw ; 
and this circumstance weighed most heavQy of all on 
his wife's heart. When in the course of a few days a 
despatch of the Emperor's spoke of the subjection of 
Hungary, and of peace, she began to revive, and offered 
up a prayer of thanksgiving in the little chapel of 
Peterhof with her Court. Being now more cheerful, 
she resolved to spend a week at the sea, the weather 
being peculiarly favourable in this month of August, 
when suddenly a new cloud of sorrow gathered over 
the family. News came that the Grand Duke Michael, 
the Emperor's brother, was dangerously ill, and soon 
the sad tidings followed of his death. The Empress 
quitted Peterhof to await the arrival of her grief-stricken 
husband in Zarskoe-Sel6. A more severe blow could 
scarcely have befallen him than the loss of this brother, 



332 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

and at the very moment, too, that he had mastered the 
revolution. 

This Grand Duke Michael, the youngest son of the 
Emperor Paul, was scarcely two years younger than the 
Emperor, and had shared with him the years of child- 
hood, the school-room of Gatschina, and the first ex- 
periences of life, like Constantine with the Emperor 
Alexander, but their characters were more analogous 
than those of the two elder brothers. Michael Pawlo- 
witsch, from his youth upwards, acknowledged supe- 
riority of intellect in his elder brother Nicholas, and 
reverenced him as highly as the Emperor Alexander, 
who was equally estranged from both. This voluntary 
subordination did not, however, in the slightest degree 
disturb the sincere feeling of friendship that linked 
them together. 

Nicholas was, as we know, grave and formal, Michael 
Pawlowitsch, on the other hand, always in good humour 
and gay, meeting the most annoying events with a 
witticism. He fulfilled the duties of his service with 
the fidelity and conscientiousness of a subject, and, at 
his public appearances before soldiers and officers, he 
assumed his prop^ dignity. This same man, whom the 
careless officer avoided in the street, or only formally 
greeted in prescribed form, cherished his regiment with 
the heart of a father, and in his own house, and to his 
friends and intimates, wad all heart and feeling, cheer- 
fulness and benevolence. He was better informed than 
any one in the kingdom of the position and the good or 
bad fortune of the various officers. He supported their 
yequests to the Emperor, rewarded and punished with 



PETEBSBURG IN 1847-52. 333 

the same impartiality, ^and his generous hand, like that 
of the Empress's, was too lavish for his means. The 
Turkish and the Polish campaign found him as fearless 
in danger as on December 14th. like the Czar, he was 
often to be seen in the streets of Petersburg wrapped 
in a soldier's cloak, walking slowly and observingly, 
greeted by every one with the same respect, as the 
Emperor himself His wit was keen, but not person- 
ally offensive, like that of Prince Menschikof The 
labours of his post were not less than those of the 
Minister of War, and his devotion to the Czar induced 
him to renounce all the pleasures of life. The happi- 
ness of a son among his progeny was denied him, and 
of his three daughters, two had within a brief period 
been snatched from him by death. The nature of this 
worthy man since these losses had become more grave 
and sad, and the father and mother watched anxiously 
over their third and only surviving child 

Seldom did the untiring Michael grant himself a holi- 
clay by going abroad. In 1847 he had serious thoughts 
of passing a year in another country for the re-establish- 
ment of his health and laying aside his uniform for a 
black coat,—" At first," said he, " I shall look quite 
ridiculous in my own eyes out of uniform, but after I 
have worn other clothes for a month I shall rather like 
them. When I travel I become a private individual in 
every respect. I should like to move about from town 
to town with only one friend and one servant, without 
seeing one single soul of my thirty relatives in Ger- 
many; above all, I should wish to be one month in 
Paris, which I had only a glimpse of when young. I 



334 ALEXANDEA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

would give a good deal to see a' leview in Paris as an 
unknown civilian.** Such was the project that ani- 
mated him in the autumn of 1847, when thunder- 
clouds were already gathering in the horizon of Europe. 
No one appreciated so highly the womanly dignity of 
the Empress, and her admirable influence over the Em- 
peror, as her brother-in-law Michael, who often called 
her the Palladium of Bussia. If the submission of 
Hungary was one of the greatest triumphs in the reign 
of the Emperor, he was at the same time assailed by 
the most severe blow. He returned quite another man 
in the autumn, and for the first time his figure was 
bent. In the spring no one could have believed that 
he was in his fifty-third year. He seemed for the last 
fifteen years to have remained exactly the same, ma- 
jestic in his gait, the expression of his countenance open 
and bright ; but after the death of his brother his hair 
suddenly became grey, and his face deeply furrowed. 
On arriving at his quiet country palace he continued 
long speechless in the arms of his wife, and tears came 
to his eyes when, in the course of business, anything 
recalled his deceased brother. 

The Grand Duchess Helene also, whose intellect was 
quite masculine, and who had hitherto looked so young 
and handsome, could not withstand the sorrow of so 
many losses, and became deeply dejected. In the 
society of her youngest daughter she passed a solitary 
winter in the large and now deserted palace, formerly 
frequented daily by hundreds of officers and generals. 
She was not' fettered by so many oppressive considera- 
tions as the Empress in the Winter Palace, and she 



PETBRSBUEG IN 1847-52. 335 

always contrived to amuse her leisure hours. Her 
house and her soUon were entirely separate from that 
of her husband, who devoted himself exclusively to his 
official duties, while his wife received both at dinner 
and in the evenings not only the representatives of all 
the branches of Sussian life, but distinguished foreigners, 
travellers, artists, and aavana in Petersburg, who were all 
welcomed by her. The Academician, Voil Baer, father 
of the new system of physiology ; Count Kayserling, 
celebrated as a geologist, found a regular place at her 
table and her soirees; Count Bloudof was a staunch 
friend of the family ; and she was also intimate with 
the most conspicuous foreign and scientific men and 
statesmen. The tone of conversation in her salon was 
more free, nay, more philosophical, than that usually 
adopted.in the Winter Palace, whereas now this august 
lady was long invisible to the public in her just grief, 
and only her mpst intimate family friends could venture 
to approach her. 

Since her return from Palermo the Empress had met 
with more sorrows than the human heart could almost 
endure ; the whole of Europe, and especially Germany, 
her home, the Boyal House and Berlin, were entirely 
changed, and deep grief gnawed at her heart. The 
policy of Bussia became daily more estranged from that 
of foreign countries, and what had hitherto subsisted in 
the best harmony was n6w hopelessly shattered and 
rent asunder. One day she said, ** Napoleon prophesied 
for the middle of this century a republican Europe, or a 
Cossack one : everything indeed is metamorphosed, but 
neither of his prophecies has been fulfilled, and amid 



336 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

all these changes I see neither greater wisdom nor 
greater happiness. Misfortune, too, has not spared the 
good Madame Jtossi either. She has lost her fortune, 
and her husband his embassy, and now she must return 
to the stage to toil for daily bread." She wa3 not only 
deeply affected by the changes which had befallen many 
of her royal relatives, but bestowed her heartfelt sym- 
pathy on those whom she had known. 

The Emperor had been gradually persuaded that the 
root of all revolutions was to be found in the Univer- 
sities, and this new idea was encouraged in him by a 
Mecklenburger at that time living in Petersburg- He 
showed serious indications of wishing entirely to abolish 
these centres of revolution. Two persons opposed these 
views decidedly — ^the Empress and Count Nesselrode. 
The notorious Bakunin at that time loudly proclaimed 
before the tribunals in Bussia that in German Univer- 
sities regicide was openly advocated ; and by so domg 
escaped death. Astonished and indignant as the Em 
peror was at this statement, he listened to two other 
men who had studied at the Berlin University, and 
came to the conclusion that Bakimin merely wished 
to save his life by this falsehood. 

For five-and-twenty years Nicholas had lived in the 
conviction that his ruling system was the only one 
suitable for Bussia, and the events and rapid changes 
and transformations in the whole of the rest of Europe 
only tended to confirm his former opinions. There were, 
indeed, a handful of young people at that time in Peters- 
burg, who, like the conspirators of December 14, 
cherished certain chimeras of the brain, but they were 



PETEESBURG IN 1847-52. 337 

acrrested by a watchful Goyemment, and thus rendered 
innocuous. The interior calm of Bussia^ the solidity of 
the Emperor's rule, excited even in foreign countries 
amazement in the most opposite parties. As the re- 
storation of the German Empire was at that time the 

chief topic of the day, the wish was not unfirequently 

• 

expressed in certain circles, "If it be so, let us have our 
own Caesar;" to which an intelligent patriot quaintly 
replied, " At all events let him be previously translated 
into German.*" At an epoch when in Germany so 
much was abolished and so little created, the Emperor 
surprised his people by the opening of the new railway 
ftom Petersburg to Moscow, by the permanent bridge 
across the Neva, which justly deserves to be called the 
finest in Europe, and the splendid structure of the new 
palace in the Kremlin ; the Temple of the Muses of the 
Hermitage ; the Isaak's Church, the building of which 
commenced with his reign ; but most of all by the quiet 
unpretentious manner in which he celebrated his 
twenty-fifth jubilee, not with pomp, but with gratitude 
to God ; the feeling of his domestic happiness outweigh- 
ing all the rest. Many of his ministers and adjutant^ 
generals were gone to their long home, others were weak 
and decrepit; old Prince Wolkonsky lived in retire- 
ment; Prince Tschemischef was HI, and no longer 
capable of work — a living corpse ; only three men in his 
kingdom stood vigorous and unaltered by his side — ^the 
Chancellor Nesselrode, Count Orlof, and one of his oldest 
and most intimate friends. Count Adlerberg. But the 
changes in his own family were the most striking ; he 
had been robbed by death of a daughter, a brother, two 
VOL. n. Y 



338 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF BUSSI A. 

nieces^ and a grandchild, and fate seemed to threaten 
the life of two others dear to him. His son-in-law, the 
Duke of Leuchtenberg, was seeking health in Egypt and 
Madeira, and his youngest daughter-in-law, Alexandra 
Josephowna^ was the object of a serious medical con- 
sultation. Although the last few years had in some 
degree bowed down the Czar, still he showed wonderful 
strength compared with his contemporaries, and at that 
time visited the suffering Dr. Mandt, who had been 
confined to bed for weeks from an injury to his knee. 
During a review the Emperor and his charger fell, 
but he quickly remounted, and stayed three hours 
longer in pouring rain, discharging his duties, after- 
wards attended mass in his dripping clothes, and finally 
paid a visit to his invalid physician. ''One cripple 
comes to see another,'' said he ; "I also had a tumble, 
but have no time to take care of mysel£'' The Doctor 
was alarmed when he examined the injury, and ordered 
his august patient to stay in hia room for a week to 
effect a cure." " Thank you, very much," replied the 
Emperor, " but unluckily I have no time to attend to 
your advice.'' For the next few days he went limping 
about the Zaiskoe Palace, and met with one of his 
retinue, who was suffering fix)m toothache. "Very 
sorry," said he, " but do as I do,. don't think about it." 

Grave as was his aspect when engaged on business in 
his cabinet, he was all the more cheerful at home. He 
knew exactly when to adopt a dignified majestic bear- 
ing, and when a milder, nay a cordial, glance would be 
in place. On the whole, Nicholas in his conduct to- 
wards others was not more severe than towards him- 



PBTERSBUKG IN 1847-52. 339 

self, and on more than one occasion, when owing to 
false information he loudly blamed the wrong person, 
he eagerly implored forgiveness. It was neither mono- 
tony nor tedious formality, nor the pressure of never- 
ending business that caused the furrows on his brow ; 
it was the abuses and evasions of his will, and secret 
opposition, that excited his just indignation, and caused 
him sometimes to remain for days in a state of irrita- 
bility. His confidence was often abused in the most 
shameful manner. For a journey of his three daughters 
from Moscow to Petersburg he was charged with a 
sum large enough to have maintained several regi- 
ments for a whole year. In great wrath he wished 
to enter into a strict investigation, but softened down, 
and said, "We shall never find the guilty, and per- 
haps punish the innocent. This account shall serve 
as a proof to posterity, that in one week my daughters 
eat as much as two regiments in a year." Affairs of 
this kind annoyed him only too offcen ; indeed he was 
not unfrequently obliged to withdraw his trust fipom 
people who had possessed it for many years. The for- 
' bearance was in fact much to be admired that induced 
him to exercise mercy instead of insisting on his rights, 
and the rapidity with which he controlled his greatest 
excitement, and the benevolence ever ready to assist 
others and to reward services. He saw an officer in full 
gallop on the street, contrary to Bussian military law, 
he stopped him, and said, — 

" Why such haste ?** 

" My wife is ill in child-birth, and I am in search of 
a doctor," said the startled officer. 



340 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RCJSSIA. 

** Go then, and take my best wishes." 

So saying he dismissed him after learning his name. 
In the course of the day the Emperor ascertained the 
circumstances of this officer, and next morning sent a 
fddjdger with a godfather's gift. One day he saw 
an adjutant-general coming towards the Anitschkow 
Palace on foot, and expressed his surprise. On the 
latter simply pleading poverty, the Emperor first gave 
hJTn a carriage and horses, and as he persisted on 
coming on foot, not being able to keep an equipage on 
his present income, the Czar doubled his salary. One 
day, at eight o'clock in the morning, he took a walk in 
the town, and chose for his egress from the palace the 
stairs that led to the apartments of the heir-apparent 
He often met there a Court official, who daily repaired 
to his occupation in the palace at the same moment 
and on the same steps. The latter was very careful to 
attract the attention of the Emperor by his punctuality, 
but sometimes missed him by a minute. When they 
again met on the same spot the Emperor asked, — 

"Which of us is wrong in having missed each 
other?" 

" Watches differ, your Majesty," said the official 

"Then, pray excuse me for coming too late ; I must 
improve." 

Particular events caused him to be out of humour 
for days, so much so that even in his own family no one 
would venture on such occasions to make any repre- 
sentations to him ; but as soon as he was informed that 
the cause of his anger was owing to a mistake, he 
instantly resumed his usual cheerful tona At an 



PETERSBURG IN 1847-52. 341 

exhibition of art he saw a picture by a young Bussian 
painter, specially patronized by him, and purchased it 
at a high price. The teacher of this artist was a French- 
man, employed by the Emperor in the Hermitage, so he 
told him that he had botght the work of his pupiL 
The Frenchman, impelled by envy and malice, im- 
pressed the Emperor with the idea that the greater part 
of the picture was composed by himseK, and only 
copied by his pupiL Indignant at such a fraud, 
Nicholas caused his displeasure to fall to the heaviest 
degree on the young painter, and no one ventured to 
find out whether justly or unjustly. One day an un- 
assuming little man appeared before the angiy autocrat, 
and addressed him in a tone of freedom that scarcely 
another sovereign would have ventured to employ, and 
explained the affair in its true light. This was the 
Cabinet painter, Sauerweid, whom the Emperor had 
known from his youth upwards to be a truth-loving 
man. The mighty ruler thanked him for his inter- 
vention, restored the young man to favour, and sent his 
calumniator beyond the boundaries. His vast public 
energies, his grand virtues as a ruler, eclipsed, as it were, 
a number of traits that emanated from the inner spirit 
of the man, and which proved his heart to be as lofty 
as his intellect These seldom found their way to the 
public ear, so they never could appear in the estimate 
of his character. The newspapers, indeed, announced 
public Government acts and ukases distributions of 
orders and promotions ; they thus broTight forward the 
all-powerful Autocrat, but never the private individual 
in his domestic life. 



342 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

His aphorism is well known, that the strength of a 
State consists in the unity of its laws, speech, and 
religion, which never, however, formed a basis for his 
government ; blind zeal on the part of subservient and 
powerful officials, who wished always to play into the 
hands of the Czar, proclaimed this view of his to be 
the ground-work of his rule, but in his own mind this 
never became conviction as a rule of conduct At 
the very same time that Nicholas uttered this maxim, 
many foreigners of their own accord became Bussian 
subjects without the Emperor's knowledge or wish, 
and when one of these spoke of Bussia as his new 
fatherland, he checked him by saying, ''You are, and 
ever will be, a foreigner, though in my service." In the 
same way many Protestants adopted the faith of the 
Greek Church, but whether Nicholas was aware of 
this we know not. But we do know that the following 
incident is a fact: — ^A young man was educated with 
the young Constantine, whose mother informed the 
Emperor that her son, fifteen years old, wished from 
conviction to embrace the Greek faitL "A lad of 
fifteen has no convictions, Madame,'' was the Emperoi's 
reply. " I have no power to prevent you and your son 
joining another Church, but it is contrary to my wisL* 
The mother thought that she had spoken to Nicholas 
at an unpropitious moment, and pursued her purpose 
in silence. At length the day and hour arrived when 
the reception of the youth into the Greek Church was 
to take place within the palace itsell When the Em- 
peror heard of it he declined the office of godfather, and 
left the palace during the sacred ceremony for the day. 






PETEESBITBG IN 1847-52. 343 

The Emperor^s political views and mftTiTna of govem- 
ment did not change with time, and equally warm and 
tender did his heart remain towards family life and 
domestic joys. He could now number as many grand- 
children as children twenty years previously, and 
although his time was as limited as formerly, still he 
saw them all at least once a day in the Winter Fakce, 
or in that of the Grand Duchess Marie. His tender- 
ness towards his wife in her daily fBulyig health was 
always the same, and his only moments of leisure 
and enjoyment were passed with her. Her debiUty 
increased so gradually that she was seldom seen in 
public, and, when able to drive out, it was in a 
close carriage. The events of latter years had en- 
tirely disordered her nerves, and she was obliged to 
devolve the duty of visiting the different Institutes 
on her daughter and daughter-in-law. During Easter 
she had hitherto regularly attended the examinations 
and dismissals at Smolna, but this being now impossible, 
the Emperor caused the pupils to come to the Winter 
Palace, and the female scholars carried with them the 
blessing of the Empress into the world they were about 
to enter. The domestic life of the throne inspired a new 
spirit in all families in the capital and in the country ; 
and the beginning of this century was, in this respect, 
differently constituted from the middle of it. A great 
dignitary said at that time, in 1850, " The Emperor has 
conferred everything on me that a loyal servant of the 
State could receive ; besides the rank of Prince, he has 
honoured me with all the decorations and ribbons of his 
realm, and I am grateful to him, but mos^ of all for 



344 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF BUSSU. 

having taught me that family happiness is the highest^ 
if not the only true felicity on earth," The Emperor 
remarked and disapproved of any deviations from the 
good customs that- reigned in his own family, but he 
was also willing to aid those who wished to establish a 
home of their own, indeed he favoured their promotion 
in his service. Christmas Eve, even in the latter years 
of the Imperial family, always found them assembled 
round a Christmas tree ; indeed, in the palace for weeks 
previously, its embellishments were prepared, and many 
families who celebrated this evening at home were sud- 
denly surprised by an Imperial gift. In fact, notwith- 
standing the immeasurable elevation and power that 
seemed to divide them from city and country, the Im- 
perial family were far more closely connected with 
their people than the most petty German prince with 
his subjects. 



CHAPTEE IX. 

CLOSE OF THE EMPEROR'S LIFE. 

In the year 1851 tlie political influence and power of 
the Emperor attained a height that no monarch in the 
century, Napoleon alone excepted, ever reached. Peace 
seemed as permanently restored to Europe as in the 
years 1834-40. A quiet triumph, which they shared 
with their sovereign, could be descried in the features of 
the higher classes in Petersburg. Another tone per- 
vaded society, who began to praise loudly all that they 
had formerly secretly blamed. The noble, calm expres- 
sion of the Emperor's coimtenance was restored, and he 
moved about with the same majesty as previous to the 
revolutionary year. The Empress, too, in spite of her 
indifferent health, seemed to revive, and dix>ve constantly 
about the country in an open calk^ha In Peterhof, 
too, with the finest possible weather, former splendours 
and domestic happiness returned ; the Grand Duchess 
Olga came thither, and also the Hereditary Grand Duke 
of Weimar, with his wife. On the 25th June, the 
Emperor^s birthday, contrary to the precedent of earlier 
years, a grand gala banquet was held in the palace, at 
which the Imperial family appeared; on July 11,* the 
name-day of the fair Olga, there was a superb illu- 



346 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

mination in the gardens, and the ballet of " Ondine " 
performed by daylight on the water. This country town, 
and the palace of Peter the Great, had been so embel- 
lished in the course of five-and-twenty years, and 
adorned with so many precious souvenirs, that those in- 
habitants of Petersburg who had not seen it for a succes- 
sion of yeara did not recognise it again, and strangers 
thought it imequalled in Europe. The Emperor, in this 
immense mass of buildings, had thought impartially of 
every one, first, of course, of his wife and family, but 
also of the reception of foreign princes, and his ministers, 
generals, and aides-de-camp ; provision was even made 
for visitors from the capital, in fact the Autocrat had 
forgotten no one, save himself. The little private Alex- 
andria house in the park remained exactly the same as 
when built a generation ago ; it was still the sanctuary 
of his family, into which no one arriving on business 
with the Emperor ever entered. Like all other officials, 
Nicholas drove every morning to the palace, where 
he received his ministers, without granting himself 
the rest and ease to which every other prince, indeed 
every minister, thought himself entitled. Peterhof 
was peculiarly dear to him, from the memories of the 
thirty years when his whole family, still imsevered, 
lived there. Here the most distinguished man in 
Europe, and the most powerful in the world, conducted 
the regiment of the Chevalier Guards (whose chief was 
the Empress herself) past the illustrious lady, who, with 
her ladies on the balcony, looked with interest at this 
military spectacle. Here too he drove his consort and 
all his family slowly in a landau through the park, 



CLOSE OF THE EMPEBOR'S LIFE. 347 

the paths of which he had himself designed ; here he 
was to be seen in the evening, snrrounded by the most 
motley crowd, listening to music, and dispensing with 
all marks of respect to his person ; and here he often 
lingered in the English park at night, listening to the 
nightingales. The Anitschkow Palace in the town wit- 
nessed his happy days when Grand Duke, and Feterhof 
when he became Emperor. Both he and Alexandra 
longed for this retreat, as slaves do for liberty. 

In the year 18f51, scarcely a trace was outwardly per- 
ceptible of the storms that, two years previously, raged 
through all Europe, and also through the soul of the 
Emperor ; like the new Winter Palace, everything ap- 
peared to be thoroughly restored Dr. Mandt alone 
seemed under no delusion about the health of his master. 
One day Mandt appeared in society with a very grave 
' countenance, and when questioned as to the cause of his 
depression, he answered as follows : — " Science is cap- 
able of long preserving a feeble constitution like that 
of the Empress, and, moreover, the singular serenity of 
mind she enjoys is her best medicine; she requires 
from time to time some restorative — baths, change of air 
for a few months, and then her health is re-established 
for some years. But the Emperor's state begins to rack 
my brains far more ; a little oversight on my part might 
entail worse consequences than the loss of a great battle." 
He was urged to explain himself more clearly, but the 
cautious physician entered into no further discussion on 
the subject Many other persons besides Mandt had 
opportunities of seeing the Emperor in a small circle, 
and of observing his ways, and these too remarked many 



348 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

changes in him. Whfen in good humour he invariably 
spoke Latin to certain persons of his suite, and con- 
tinued to converse with them till their classical stock 
became exhausted, when, laughing heartily, he walked 
away. This custom was now seldom followed, indeed, 
seemed to have entirely ceased. In social intercourse 
the repose was now missed with which he, in the most 
good-humoured way, suffered people to build up a 
mountain of contradictions, in order to blow them down 
with a breath, like a house of cards. In his solitary 
walks in Peterhof and Zarskoe-Sel6, he sometimes spoke 
aloud, — a new habit, arising from the different mood 
within. The tone of his conversation became more 
quickly irritable and impetuous than formerly ; in shorty 
there were indications enough to a sharp-sighted phy- 
sician that his nature, once firm as a rock, was no 
longer the same, especially since the death of his brother 
Michael ; all found him altered in appearance since then, 
but not more than his years warranted. A servant of 
the State, in a high position, and near the person of the 
Emperor, requested his dismissal ''Best when and 
how you will, but we must take leave together of 
the service," said he. The European public, at that 
time, never showed such sympathy towards any ruler 
personally as to the Emperor Nicholas ; when he only 
passed cursorily through Qermany in 1852, hundreds 
of thousands flocked together, out of curiosity, to see 
him, and his every greeting was cherished as a memory 
for life. The admiration of his noble appearance was, 
on this occasion, even exceeded by the respect paid to 
liis qualities as a ruler. In Germany they had often 



CLOSE OF THE EMPEBOR'S LIFE. 349 

seen him^ but heard little of him; scarcely did any 
ne^wspaper takd the trouble to allude to Eussia in its 
columns, and if the Emperor's name chanced to be men- 
tioned, it was always accompanied by a falsehood, a 
calamny, or a misrepresentation. Now, they were justly 
eager to see the man who alone, in the overthrow of the 
European world, had stood firm as a column of granite, 
this being, at all events, a fact as clear as day to all. 
Gloomy rumours yielded to truth; envy and hatred 
were silenced, and the universal reverence of all parties 
was declared openly and candidly. In Dresden, where 
fugitive Poles for twenty years kindled and sustained 
open hatred against him, he was now regarded as a 
divinity. He examined the new iron railway bridge 
with the eyes of a connoidseur, and his questions aston- 
ished those who accompanied him, and no one was 
oppressed by his presence. He would have rejoiced to 
have transferred the Sistine Madonna to his Hermitage 
collection, for he considered it Baphael's finest work. 
In that year the new Hermitage was opened, the most 
splendid temple of art now in Europe, but the Emperor 
felt that to these treasures a master- work of Baphael's 
and of Corre^o's was wanting. During his reign he 
could not satisfy his love for the plastic arts, like King 
Ludwig the First of Bavaria, and yet he had not done less 
for Petersburg than the latter for Munich. This, how- 
ever, remained unknown to the European public, and yet 
all the buildings and works of art in Munich did not cost 
so much as the rebuilding of the Winter Palace alone. 
Eing Ludwig was not only fortunate in the peace that 
preyailed in Germany for half a century, but also in 



350 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

many other circumstances that did not favour the Em- 
peror, though it is by no means our intention to depre- 
ciate the art-loving King Ludwig. It was said by the 
Bomans of the Emperor Augustus, that he found the 
city wood, and left it marble and gold. And, in truth, 
Petersbuig, at Nicholas's accession to the throne, counted 
more wooden than stone houses ; and one of his first laws 
was that buildings were henceforth to be of stone, and 
all plans for building to be first submitted through the 
minister to himself. The original plan of the city was 
not thus altered, but gradually embellished. The first 
great monument, after the Emperoi^s own design, was 
the Alexander column to the memory of his brother ; 
the largest monolith in the whole of Europe. No me- 
morial of ancient or modem times can be compared with 
this work. Shortly after followed the consecration of 
the new church of the Smolna Institute, in its sublime 
simplicity ; and also the Church of the Trinity, with its 
blue starry cupola, which, in front of the Isaac Church, 
serves as the first beacon of the capital to those coming 
from Cronstadt The Emperor also adorned the city 
with four theatres, one of which was named "The Alex- 
andra," in honour of the Empress, and another "The 
Michael," after his brother. In no capital have artists 
and actors been more liberally dealt with than by 
Nicholas, for, after ten or twelve years' service, he be- 
stowed on them a pension for life from his own privy 
purse. The Italian opera-singers were the same who 
played alternately in London and in Paris ; and they 
openly said, that, in spite of the inclemency of the 
climate, they went to Petersburg with the greatest de- 



CLOSE OF THE EMPEROR'S LIFE. 351 

light, because there they were personally more distin- 
goishedy both by the Court and the capital, than on the 
banks of the Thame& The Emperor had already pro- 
vided for the enrichment of the Hermitage, before this 
new and superb building ^was completed. His Italian 
journey produced great masterpieces, especially of the 
Italian schools; but he also secured for the Hermi- 
tage the Saphael, called the Madonna of the Duke 
of Alba^ and tlie Empress brought with her from Flor- 
ence a youthful work of the same master. The Em- 
peror bestowed great care on the Academy of Painting, 
and this art soared highest during his reign. We 
know of no gallery in Germany that can boast of 
a hall so richly adorned with national works of the 
present day, as the Kew Hermitage. Bronze statues 
also made an important beginning here. A yoimg 
artillery officer, Baron £lodt, was requested by the 
Emperor to give up his profession, in order to culti- 
vate his dormant talent, and the Anitschkow bridge 
was adorned by this artist with the " Horse-tamera" 
Petersburg witnessed the building of the Maria and 
Nicholas Palaces, and various barracks in the antique 
style ; we must not forget, moreover, the new Observfii- 
toiy, and its present enormous refractor. But the three 
most important and incomparable memorials of his 
reign are the Isaac Church, the bridge over the Neva, 
and the New Palace in the Elremlin, in Moscow, inaugu- 
rated Easter 1849, and inhabited for the first time at 
that period by the Court The above-named works can 
well stand a comparison with those of Munich ; in the 
New Hermitage, are combined the Glyptothek and the 



352 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

Finakothek; the colossal statue of Bavaria is not so 
unique of its kind as the Alexander Pillar ; the theatres 
in both places are suitable for their purpose, but the 
three last-named works can find their parallels at most 
in ancient Borne. They are -works such as once on a 
time were produced by German imperial cities in the 
course of several centuries, called forth in one coimtry, 
however, by the Czar's despotic power, in the course of 
ten years. The Isaac Church, surrounded by hundreds 
of granite pillars, as close to the Neva as the Sophia 
Church to the Golden Horn, replaces the former edifice, 
a symbol of the faith of the orthodox Greek Church as 
splendid as that of St. Peter's at Bome. This structure 
is not of the same magnitude or height as St. Peter's, 
but the impression on the spectator is not less forcible. 
Its golden cupola towers over the whole city, and shines 
above the sea as far as Cronstadt. The Emperor did 
not live to see its consecration, which did not take 
place till three years after his death, but he watched 
with delight the endless scaffoldings gradually disappear, 
and the whole building disclosed in all its majesty ; he 
both walked and drove, however, over the New Bridge, 
and has earned by this benefit the gratitude of his 
capital This bridge also was completed within teu 
years, and owing to it Petersburg is now become one 
united city, whereas it formerly consisted of individual 
and separate portions. The bridges that Europe can 
boast of, all sink into insignificance beside this one, 
except, indeed, the Menai Bridge in England, and the 
. Emperor might justly have said, like Justinian, — "At 
last I have surpassed you all" He also was present at 



GLOSS OF THE EMPEBOB'S UFE. S53 

the inauguration of the Kremlin Palace, and modestlj 
called it the second in Europe, placing the English 
Houses of Parliament above it. The latter are of vast 
extent, but the apartments inferior in splendour to those 
of the Bussian Kremlin Palace. The Winter Palace, 
year after year, is the usual abode of the Imperial 
family, the building at Moscow is the Festival Palace 
of the kingdom, and numbers as many richly decorated 
apartments as there are orders in the realm. Kotwith- 
standing its enormous size, their Majesties live there in 
a very unpretending manner, in order that domestic 
life should not be sacrificed to festivities. 

The construction of the railway between the two 
capitals encountered difficulties &om which any other 
country would have shrunk in dismay ; but they were 
overcome, and the Emperor opened it himself. The 
monument-s we have mentioned will best demonstrate 
to posterity the value of this sovereign's reign. Five-, 
and-twenty years here embrace more than a cen- 
tury of history. These buildings are not the pro- 
ductions of vanity, like those of Hadrian, but mani- 
festos of popular and State life developed under his 
rule. As in this year a quarter of a century had 
elapsed since his coronation, a grand festival was ex- 
pected, when a minister ventured to ask a question on 
the subject, Nicholas replied, '' I mean to take you all 
by surprise." A general promotion and* distribution of 
ribbons and orders were therefore expected; but the 
monarch did indeed surprise the public by passing this 
day in retirement and seclusion, though full- of gratitude 
to God. Among the emperors of ancient Borne, not 

VOL. n. z 



354 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSU. 

one can be compared with Nicholas. His chivalrous, 
straightforward character, and his happy domestic life, 
stand out in the sharpest contrast to Augustus Octavius, 
£uid yet the same words are applicable to him that 
Horace once addressed to that ruler, " Thou alone canst 
bear such burdens, thou shieldest Italy by the power of 
thy weapons, thou ennoblest the morals of the land, 
and purifiest it by laws." These words apply far more 
to Nicholas's reign than to that of the hypocritical 
Boman. Of all the rare and great gifts that mon- 
arch possessed, the family life he established confers 
on him the highest splendour, for by this, more 
than by lawgiving, did he purify the morals of his 
capital and his country. Before his ascension to the 
throne, people spoke of imperial persons individually, 
but never of a family ; whereas all that was seen and 
heard on this subject found sympathy and imitation in 
every family. Nicholas knew the wants of his people, 
emd his reign shielded the land, as the chalice protects 
the flowery bud, that it may not prematurely burst into 
the light of day. 

In 1852, the Empress visited Grermany for the first 
time since her journey to Italy, and after having em- 
braced her bwn relations in Potsdam, went to Schlan- 
genbad. Her quiet visit to that cloister-like, retired 
watering-place, and its delightful scenery, were very 
beneficial to her. Here was no noisy, importunate 
society, but the calm enjoyment of nature, that she so 
dearly loved. A modest Swiss cottage was built in all 
haste, on a gentle acclivity overlooking the peaceful 
valley; here she often sat in the forenoons with her 



CLOSE OF THE EMPEBOR'S UFE. 355 

relations^ gazing with delight at the woods and meadows. 
After a long space of time, she once more saw Princess 
lieven, who after the revolution left Paris and went to 
Brossela In Germemy the most extraordinary concep- 
tions and reports prevailed about this talented lady/ 
which indeed are explained by her having, during forty 
years, seldom visited a German watering-place, and 
only for a brief period, when she associated exclusively 
with the diplomatic corps; this was sufficient for the 
newspapers to ascribe to her a political mission. 
Wherever she appeared secret conferences were believed 
in, and the formation of political plans in the name 
of the Emperor. Her acquaintance was universally 
sought, of which, however, she was very chary. Among 
the diplomatists it was the prevailing fashion to fre- 
quent her salon, and she was called the Queen of 
Politics. According to the newspapers, Schlangenbad 
was now the seat of a secret meeting between the 
Empress and the Princess, and any one who passed the 
two ladies on the Promenade, and caught any fragments 
of their conversation, believed they had found the key of 
the mystery. The political mission of the Princess, the 
testament of Peter the Great, and the sea-serpent, com- 
mand the same degree of belief. During the seventeen 
years of her absence from Petersburg, the Princess had 
indeed written regularly to the Empress, but the events 
of so many years leave ample space for verbal com- 
mimications, and her august friend could scarcely be 
more wittily entertained. The Princess had as much to 
learn from the lips of Alexandra about Petersburg, as the 
latter about Paris. The Empress took cordial interest 



356 AliEXAKDBA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

in the fate of the Duchess of Orleans, and no one conld 
relate more on this subject than the Princess, who gave 
a masterly delineation of the highest Parisian society, 
being well versed in the knowledge and details of the 
condition of France, and thus the pictures she drew 
could not fail to be of the highest interest to the Em- 
press. Princess lieven only spoke French, and her 
conversation, in brevity and terseness of expression, 
recalled that of Madame de StaeL All these quali- 
ties of this superior woman were well known to the 
Emperor, but this would not have induced him to 
intrust her with a political mission. In addition to the 
Princess were other equally clever women — Princess 
William of Prussia and Princess Charles, and three of 
her brothers were also at Schlangenbad, and likewise the 
Duke of Leuchtenberg, Baron Meyendorf, and Prince 
Alexander Gortschakof, so that besides her blood rela- 
tions tiie Empress lived here with those akiu to her in 
heart and spirit In spite of her weakness, she passed 
these few weeks in great tranquillity of mind and with 
comfort ; this period was, without her being aware of it, 
the calm, peaceful evening of her life, in which many of 
her innocent pleasures were restored. In the same year 
occuired the majority of her youngest son,liIichael; like 
the Empress Maria Feodorowna, she had presented the 
Empire with four sons, who bore the same names in 
succession as the previous generation, and she saw with 
gratitude that all were in good healtL The mild 
evening of her fertile life had arrived, when the sun, 
already declining, sheds its parting rays once more 
brightly to warm the earth. We can reckon with pre- 



CLOSE OF THE EMPEROK'S LIFE. ' 357 

cision the minute when it will dip below the horizon, 
but we do not note the moment, and enjoy in the most 
profound repose its blessed influences, nor do we remark 
till it is actually set the obscurity and cool evening 
air that surround us. We part from the sunshine of 
nature with the sure consolation that we shall see her 
again on the morrow. But no one can tell when the 
sun of our limited being will set ; the days of the Em- 
peror were from this date numbered, and the brilliancy 
of his life and his power were to pass away more rapidly 
than he or his loving consort anticipated. When the 
star of his fame was in its zenith, the distant clouds 
that were to cause its eclipse were already gathering 
above the horizon. 

In many circles in Petersburg the idea prevailed 
that Nicholas never shared the cares of his Govern- 
ment with his wife, solely, however, from tenderness, 
and the wish not to injure her health. In fact he 
always spared his consort any intelligence that could 
cause her a sudden shock. Once, in the midst of a 
concert, when called away by a conflagration that he 
wished to conceal from his wife, he ordered the different 
pieces to be repeated until he returned, and thus the 
august lady did not hear of the fire till it was extin- 
guished. This Petersburg axiom might also be founded 
on the fact that in the society of the Imperial family 
the conversation never turned on politics, — a subject 
on which the Empress specially avoided expressing her 
opinions. So long as she was living in the Anitschkow 
Palace as Grand Duchess, politics, according to her 
own assurance, possessed less interest for her than those 



358 ALEXANDKA E^IPRESS OF BUSSU. 

topics which exclusively interest the young. When 
presently she had maternal duties to perform, as at the 
time of the Polish war and the cholera, it was strictly 
prohibited to convey to her any exciting intelligence. 
After that period her sympathies became more extended, 
and most of all when her brother. King Frederick 
William the Fourth, ascended the throne of Prussia. 
When her daughter Alexandra was about to form a 
matrimonial connexion in Denmark, she studied with 
her the history, the laws, and the social circumstances 
of that country; she obtained information about the 
Schleswig-Holstein question fix)m its code of laws, 
which she desired the Prussian Ambassador, Herr von 
Bochow, to send to her. All that inwardly grieved 
the Emperor was thoroughly understood and shared by 
her, although her, views and his own were seldom in 
imison. 

The journey of Prince Menschikof to Constantinople 
remained a mystery in Petersburg, so far at least as its 
object was concerned, even in the highest classes of 
society. When that witty statesman was questioned on 
the subject, he answered his object was to bring about an 
alliance between a daughter of the Sultan and a young 
Eussian Prince. The attention of the European public, 
after a short time, was much more directed to the 
Prince's paletot than to his mission. This latter was 
falsely interpreted, and the paletot (at least so said the 
diplomatist's suite) a newspaper invention ; even after 
the departure of Prince Menschikof, and when the French 
and English fleet arrived in the Brescia Bay, and the Turks 
were busily arming, a war with the powers of the West 



CLOSE OF THE EMPEROR'S LIKE. 359 

was in Petersburg utterly disbelieved. The Emperor 
went to Ohniitz and to Berlin (for the last time), be- 
lieving that he had done all on his side to maintain 
peace, but the Turkish preparations continued, and on 
October 4th war was publicly declared. The same 
German nation who formerly expressed in every theatre 
their hatred of the Turks, and had shown a degree of 
interest in the oppressed Greeks that evidently had 
only been all froth and foam, now became enthusiastic 
friends of the Turks, while hatred and enmity towards 
Bussia became the prevailing fashion. In order to dis- 
seminate this hatred as widely as possible, the news- 
papers continually alluded to the testament of Peter 
the Great, who had imposed on his successors, as a 
saered duty, the conquest of Constantinople. While 
the Emperor only wished to remind the Snltan that, 
since the treaty of Kutschuk-Kainardschi, the office 
of Protector and shield of the Greek Church in 
Turkey devolved rightfully on the Empress Catherine. 
The effeminate but good-natured Abdul Medschid, so 
far from denying this to the Eussian ambassador, on 
the contrary instantly renewed the treaty in a firman 

After the departure of the Eussian ambassador, 
France and England demanded menacingly the with- 
drawal of this firman, and as the Sultan was weak 
enough to comply with their demand. Prince Menschikof 
appeared with threats on the part of Eussia. The 
Turkish ministers endeavouring to protract the affair, 
the Eussian Prince took his departure without having 
gained his object, and shortly afterwards the Emperor 
occupied the Danubian Principalities. Thus a suffi- 



360 ALEXANDKA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

cient pietext, though not a satisfactory cause, was found 
by the Western Powers for a war with Bussia. Thus 
Nicholas, in the eyening of his life, found himself 
involyed in a war of greater magnitude than he had 
ever before encountered, having incurred the hatred 
of many who a year previously looked up to him with 
admiriEitioh and praise. . This, however, did not affect 
him at all painfully ; the admiration or the hatred of 
misjudging masses had always been indifferent to him. 
But to the delusions as to his good fortune in war were 
added disappointments about persons that he would 
have considered impossible. It was a most grievous 
and anxious time for the Emperor, and his sole happi- 
ness was to find in his cabinet, and in the heart of his 
wife, sympathy, a few moments of repose, and entire 
comprehension of his position. It is not necessary here 
to describe the course of events, so well known to alL 
For those who to this day believe in great progress of 
conquest on the part of the Emperor, we shall quote a 
pas8£^ from him to Napoleon, which gives the most 
simple explanation of his true designs: — ''I have 
made all the formal and essential concessions for the 
maintenance of peace that my honour pennits, and 
while I demand for my co-religionists in Turkey the 
confirmation of those rights and privileges long ago 
(1774) purchased for them by Bussian blood, I ask 
nothing that is not their due by treaty.'' The true 
extent of the Bussian demands was magnified, nay, 
exaggerated, in the most monstrous manner ; and the 
Ic^guage and high-sounding phrases of every country 
truly aggravating. An English minister called the 



CLOSE OF THE EMPEKOR'S LIFE. 361 

battle of Sinope a horrible human butcheiy. When 
the lion deyours a roe the tiger calls it brutal^ because 
he cannot himself help to consume it. Since the year 
1845, when the Grand Duke Constantino visited Turkey, 
the capital, and the Sultan, as a young naval officer, the 
Emperor might easily have conquered Stamboul had he 
wished to make conquests at alL Six hundred thousand 
Greeks were at that time prepared, on his entrance into 
the Sophia Church, to plant the cross oh its dome. The 
Patriarch Constantinos, banished to the Prince Islands, 
hoped, in spite of his advanced age, yet to hear this 
intelligence. The Greek nation expressed their hopes 
and wishes, both in spectking and writing, and one 
sign from young Constantine would have sufficed to 
transfer the throne of the Osmanlis from Europe to 
Asia. The Emperor had given the strictest orders to 
his son and his suite to Ustento no overtures, to accept 
no invitation, to receive no deputation, but merely to 
pay a visit of courtesy, as a travelling prince, to the 
Sultan, who, at his grand banquet, surrounded by all 
his dignitaries of the Porte, and the whole diplomatic 
corps, drank to the continuance of friendly relations 
between the two Courts and kingdoms, to which all 
Europe assented by its representatives. Sir Stratford 
Canning alone could not conceal England's ill-will, and 
drank to the independence of the Porte, but without 
naming the rest of Europe. 

In spite of a friendly understanding, the mountaineers 
of the Caucasus of Turkey were secretly provided with 
English arms, and fugitive sailors from Kussian ships 
were speedily converted in Turkey to Islamism, so that 



362 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

they could not be delivered up, and were received with 
open arms by the heads of the Hungarian revolution 
in Turkey, and protected against Russia. Nicholas 
bore all this with forbearance, which, however, was 
exhausted when a promise solemnly given to his em- 
bassy was not performed, and after the departure of 
Prince Menschikof every evasion and sophism was 
resorted to in order to excuse such conduct Thus 
more than one worm gnawed at the Emperor's giant 
strength since the death of his brother Michael, 
although his outward grandeur was as great as 
before. Not one piece of intelligence, so long as 
the war was confined to the Danube, was satisfactory, 
far less joyful or exhilarating ; men fell there whom 
he personally knew and valued. Not only was his 
mind on the stretch day and night : his noble heart 
endured one grief after another. The son of his 
friend Count Orlof was wounded thirteen times, and 
lost an eye ; in the midst of these disquieting affairs 
Nicholas wrote a letter to the mother of the young 
man. He found time to visit those families whose sons 
had fallen, or been wounded, and if he had not leisure 
to do so, he sent one of his sons in his stead. But 
the most painful of all trials was that of 1854, when 
he discovered that the grand structure on which he had 
bestowed thirty years of intense zeal was made of 
materials neither durable nor sure. On one occasion, 
close to the capital, he by ch£uice discovered three 
regiments so neglected that he deprived the general of 
his command ; and the cash-box for invalided soldiers, 
in spite of the superintendence of several adjutant- 



CLOSE OF THE EMPEBOB'S LIFE. 363 

generals, was found empty. No unfortunate war was 
therefore required to irritate him to the uttermost 
'' Sleep has fled from me for months/' said he to a 
foreign ambassador, " and I see the night of the future 
looming black before me." "Because your Imperial 
Majesty keeps your eyes open at night instead of sleep- 
ing/' answered the foreigner. " But during the day I see 
things in even a more gloomy light." These words plainly 
show what his inmost feelings were, and yet this was 
said even before the Crimean War. The Imperial family 
were in Gatschina when the foreign telegraphs brought 
the news of the defeat of his troops at the Alma. He 
said he would not believe it, tiU a Bussian courier 
from the battle-field confirmed it Several painful days 
passed before a telegram arrived from Moscow to say 
that an express messenger was on his way. He 
was ordered to come direct to Gatschina, where he 
did not arrive till after twenty hours of tantalizing 
delay. He was without any written information, and 
charged to report to Nicholas what he had himself 
seen, as aide-de-camp to Prince Menschikof The 
Emperor continued standing, motionless as a piUar, 
during this verbal report, though agony of mind was 
burning him like fire. " Have I heard rightly ?" said 
he at length ; " are Bussian troops defeated, and have 
they fled before the enemy?" "It is so, your Ma- 
jesty/' said the aide-de-camp. (Foreign newspapers 
afterwards stated impartially that the Bussian troops 
retreated in the greatest order, and not in panic flight) 
The Emperor dismissed the aide-de-camp kindly, and 
went to lus wife, who, with wonderful composure, bore 



364 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

the half of his sorrow. Immediately afterwards, false 
intelligence was spread through Europe that, three days 
after the battle of the ALna, Sebastopol had been taken 
and the Kussian fleet sunk. This newspaper canard^ 
or perhaps stock-jobbing speculation, was called ''the 
Tatar Post," because a Tatar brought it into Turkey. 
The same day, too, there was a rumour in Europe that 
the army of Prince Menschikof had sat down in Sebas- 
topol, and fortified it. This was not, however, credited 
by those of the public whose enmity to their sovereign 
made them already rejoice ; indeed, &om the Burg at 
Vienna, the most cordial congratulations were brought 
to the Western Powers by the electric wires at this 
victory. With what scorn must the Emperor, besi^ed 
by misfortune, look down on an ungrateful world, now 
so malicious and so cowardly, and who so short a time 
previously had implored his assistanca That Sebastopol 
was not taken was confirmed, but the Tatars of the 
Crimea, who were supposed to be a down-right honest 
people, acted in a treaqherous manner towards Bussia. 
No wonder ! when the Bible-distiibuting English, these 
travelling emissaries of Christendom, and the people of 
the Christian French King, fought for Islam, why should 
not the Tatars, who had already sworn allegiance to 
the standard of the Prophet, transfer themselves to their 
camp ? The peninsula of the Taurid was at that time, 
even in erudite Germany, a totally unknown district, 
not because it lies so far away, but from its belonging 
to Russia. Maps innumerable suddenly appeared of 
this fairy land, and people traced on them the progress 
of the fatal war, like a game on a chess board. Every- 



CLOSE OF THE EMPEROR'S LIFE. 3G5 

where the approaching fall of Sebastopol was prophesied, 
and the equally sure one of Cronstadt in the spring. 
At the beginning of the year 1855, the Emperor found 
himself deserted by the whole world, and the sufTering 
Empress confessed that the autumn of her life was 
threatened with storms as violent as those of her child- 
hood. Her second son, Constantine, was more in Cron- 
stadt than at Petersburg, while the two younger had 
gone to the seat of war after the battle of the Alm& 
The Duke of Leuchtenberg had been dead for two years, 
so she was now chiefly surrounded by her young grand- 
children, and therefore by a new world. Her eyes were 
weaker, and for some time loss of sight was appre- 
hended. The friend of her youth also, Cecilia Baroness 
Frederiks, was dead, and now more than eyer she 
required a steadfeust friend, as her enfeebled sight did 
not admit of her reading or writing much. During the 
whole continuance of the war, the Emperor never 
granted himself necessary rest and recreation. His 
unceasing activity did not even spare the physicians 
a few minutes for a morning visit, and one day, when 
Mandt entered the Imperial cabinet, even before he 
could inquire after his health, he received the usual 
standing answer — '^ All right ; besides, I have not time 
to be ilL" And yet this giant frame had been long 
inwardly undermined. For years past, ttie Emperor 
was in the habit of using, in slight attacks of illness, 
Mandt's common prescription of nux vomica, without 
asking the advice of his physicians. The strength of 
his mind and will, however, was seldom impaired by 
bodily suffering. At this moment he was wholly 



366 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

absorbed in the feeling of bis duty as an absolute 
monarch, and thus in his energy he forgot that he 
was in his fifty-ninth year, an age that none of 
his brothers or male predecessors had ever reached. 
The first week of Lent arrived, and the Court did not, 
according to their wont, proceed to the Anitschkow 
Palace, — a striking proof that the Emperor felt ill, 
though, as had often previously been the case, he 
disdained to admit it In the capital, in emulation 
of his own example, the most zealous energy pre* 
vailed, and the most spirited and willing self-sacrifices 
for the war. Not only were the most distinguished 
ladies of the society occupied in providing winter 
clothing and nurture for the distant soldiers, but enor- 
mous sums were also collected and sent ofiT to the 
camp. The serfs offered their few rubles for the com- 
mon weal, and opulent families imposed on themselves 
privations of every kind. The " Butter- week," usually 
so full of excitement, passed now almost unremarked. 
On February 8th, N.8., the Emperor was first attacked 
by influenza, from which the whole town was suffer- 
ing. He did not pay the smallest attention to the 
malady, but continued to work the same, day and 
night, and attended the Easter mass, standing all the 
time. On February 21st he resolved to inspect the 
troops about to march. This Mandt opposed in the 
most decided manner, but remarked, with surprise and 
infinite annoyance, that his medical influence was no 
longer what it once had been. He begged permission 
to call in another physician, Dr. Karell, to consult with 
him. This gentleman, formerly an army surgeon, oftien 



CLOSE OF THE ElfPEBOK'S LIFE. 367 

applied to Mandt in difficult cases, who placed the 
same confidence in his colleague as in himself Karell 
said to the Czar, "I would not allow any common 
soldier to leave the hospital were he as ill as your 
Majesty* Nicholas replied, "Gentlemen, you have 
done your duty; permit me to do mine." At one 
o'clock he drove away in his usual clothing, in 23 
degrees of cold, to the Hiding School; firom thence 
to the Grand Duchess Helene; and, in spit^ of the 
fever that made him shiver, he paid a visit also to the 
Minister of War, who was ilL He, moreover, trans- 
acted business the same day with his son Constantine, 
who, in lus capacity of Minister of Marine and High 
Admiral of Cronstadt, had arrived. His son thought 
him unwell bodily, but not particularly so, and 
in mind as animated and vigorous as usual Among 
other things, he laid before his father a packet of 
foreign newspapers, in which the inimical tone against 
Bussia had yielded to a more calm and impartial mood. 
Scarcely would the Emperor believe that, at this time 
of excitement, people should be daring enough to ex- 
press publicly other opinions. In the course of con- 
versation he recalled many distant friends of his 
fieunily, and enjoined on Constantine to write and greet 
them cordially from him, so his son drove back the 
same evening to Cronstadt, without the slightest pre- 
sentiment that he had worked with his father for the 
last time. The Emperor slept the greater part of the 
night, but felt worse next morning, though he drove 
notwithstanding, by ten o'clock, to the Exercise House. 
But from that day even his iron will could no longer 



368 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSU. 

withstand the inevitable course of nature. This was 
his last drive. Next morning, even the strength to 
attend mass failed him, and now he himself admitted 
that he was ill ; for he placed his religious duties even 
above the worldly ones of an autocrat On the follow- 
ing day he silently consented that all the duties of 
government should devolve on the heir-apparent. From 
that moment he lay on his camp-bed, covered by a sol- 
dier's cloak, and in the same even temperature as 
before. His great danger was no longer a secret, and 
the physicians watched his state with Argus eyes. 
But destiny mocks all human foresight. News of the 
victory of the Turks at Eupatoria arrived, inflicting on 
the patient, stretched on a sick-bed, deep wounds that 
no phjrsician could heaL Mandt had hitherto declined 
any assistance from his colleagues, and the circum- 
stance of his now wishing for their advice unasked was 
not unremarked in the Winter Palace. The Emperor 
prohibited alarming the town and the kingdom by 
public reports of his oonditioa Thus even Constan- 
tine heard nothing in Gronstadt of the illness of his 
father. The first half of the ensuing week passed 
without any essential change in the state of the 
patient. The Empress saw her husband every day, 
indeed, every hour, and he had still sufficient strength 
of wiU to conceal his weakness from her. As he had 
not partaken of the Holy Communion in the first 
week of Easter, Alexandra asked him, in the second, 
whether he wished to do so, as there were many in- 
stances of a patient recovering strength after this 
sacred rite. The Emperor declined, becauser he wished 



CLOSE OF THE EMPEROB'S LIFE. 369 

to receive it only standing before God's altar, and not 
lying in bed. On Wednesday evening, the last day of 
Febraary, the physicians gave up all hope of his re- 
covery, without, however, saying so to any of his 
family. Constantine, who had again come over from 
Cronstadt on the Wednesday, stood transfixed with 
horror when he heard that he could not even see his 
father, far less speak to him. Mandt, however, on 
Thursday no longer delayed informing one of the most 
important persons at Court of the approaching end of 
the Emperor, and thus enabled the Priest Bajanof not 
to leave him from that moment As Mandt was also 
physician to the Empress, he esteemed it his duty to 
beg her to see her husband as little as possible on this 
day, because it would be decisive. She was thus pre- 
pared at any moment to hear the worst TUl six 
o'clock in the evening the physicians consulted among 
themselves to find means to prevent apoplexy. What 
the one proposed the other objected to, and the dreaded 
casualty had taken place when the two doctors again 
saw the patient, between six and seven o'clock. Mandt 
now assembled the whole Imperial family, but would not 
as yet announce plainly to the sufferer his approaching 
end. And yet he had been previously exhorted by 
him to let him know the time when death became 
inevitabla About ten o'clock in the evening, Mandt 
said to him that a true and sympathetic friend of his 
family wished to see him, and although access to him 
was prohibited, even to his family, he could not refuse 
admission to the person in question. "Who is it?" 
asked the Emperor calmly. " Your confessor, Bajanof," 
VOL. n. 2 a 



370 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

was the answer. " Yon mean then to say that I must 
die, and have only time left to make my confession ?" 
He raised himself in bed, and looking at the physician 
with the whole strength of his will, he said, "Say 
plainly whether I must die." " If the illness does not 
yield to our eflforts," replied Mandt, "this must too 
surely and too soon be the case." In the course of a 
few seconds the dying monarch stretched out his hand to 
the doctor, and said, " I thank you ; I now know what 
awaits me. Spare the Empress as much as you can in 
telling her this intelligence, and summon the heir- appa- 
rent" After these sad words, the acute and observant 
Mandt did not remark the slightest change in the Em- 
peror's face — at most, only quiet resignation to the 
inevitable. He withdrew, and found the anteroom 
filled with anxious faces, to whom, with the exception 
of the heir-apparent, he was obliged to refuse admit- 
tance. Mandt felt as if the ground were giving way 
imder his feet, and those standing round were seized 
with alarm and horror. It was a solemn moment, 
when the dying father committed to his son, for his 
inheritance, the burden of a world and an unfortunate 
war; but it seemed also as if the Emperor's strength 
rose superior to this. 

Then the Empress came in, with the priest Bajanof. 
The latter had been known to his sovereign for one- 
and-twenty years; he had a grave, open, good coun- 
tenance, and was about the same age as the Emperor, 
and, like him, energetic, simple, and devoted to his 
profession. The Empress, in this the most terrible 
moment of her whole life, displayed the angelic tran- 



CLOSE OF THE EMPEROR'S LIFE. 371 

quillity of mind that was her most precious treasure^ 
and Christian submission to the will of the Most High. 
During the ensuing holy rite, alone with the priest^ the 
dying man, with complete consciousness, showed the 
inward grandeur of his character. He had already 
resigned his earthly power. Divested of all outward 
pomp, he lay helpless ; but his great and noble heart, 
the holy altar of his kingdom, still beat warmly, and 
his mind was clear. He now appeared in all Ids true 
greatness. Undismayed, as he had ever been through 
life, he looked forward with faith to a future world; 
while his thoughts of the present were devoid of all 
hatred, and full of the warmest love. He spoke to 
each of his dear ones in turn — ^to his children, grand- 
children, and relatives, and to his household. To his 
kingdom he bequeathed memorable words; and a bless- 
ing from his lips rejoiced those around him. " Why 
cannot I die with you ?" exclaimed his deeply agitated 
wife. " Ton must live for their sakes," said he, point- 
ing to his family. "Semain united by the bonds 
of love, as you have ever been." Then clasping the 
hand of Alexandra, and turning his eyes on her, he 
said, " When I first saw you, my heart said. Here is 
the guardian angel of my life ; and such you have been 
to me : be so to these also." 

After this solemn leave-taking of his family, arrived 
letters, far on in the night, as if by a decree of the 
Highest, from his two sons, Nicholas and Michael, 
from SebastopoL " They are well," cried he ; "I care 
for nothing else now." The telegraph, the same night, 
conveyed to the Crown Princess of Wlirtemberg the 



372 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA 

blessing of her dying father, who however also thought 
of the kingdom he was about to leave ; he bade fare- 
well to Moscow, and sent the message to Kiew and 
to Warsaw — " The Emperor lies at the point of deatL" 
He also summoned to his bedside the Court minister, 
Counts Adlerbeig, Count Orlof, and the Minister of 
War, Prince Dolgorucki, and thanked them for their 
faithful services, recoinmending them to his successor, 
and desiring them to thank, in his name, all the other 
ministers and the heroes of Sebastopol, his generals, his 
army, and to greet his kingdom for him. Before his 
last strength abandoned him, he called in his whole 
household, both that of the Empress and his own. He 
said to Frau von Eohrbeck, " Bid farewell to my much- 
loved Peterhof for me." Even the grey-haired grena- 
diers, the sentinels of the Winter Palace, came to his 
bedside, and, with tears in their eyes, saw for the last 
time their dying master. After he had blessed and 
dismissed them all, he asked the doctor, with the 
cordial sunny expression he reserved for his friends, 
"When am I to be released?" "Not quite at once," 
answered Mandt calmly. Nicholas turned to his suc- 
cessor : " I wished to bequeath to you a well-ordered, 
peaceful kingdom, but it has pleased Providence that 
it should be otherwise. I can now only pray for you 
and for Bussia." His last words were spoken in fainter 
tones ; they were in allusion to Frederick William the 
Fourth. Now began the prayers for the dying. The 
departing soul followed them with evident conscious- 
ness, made the sign of the cross, stretched out Ids 
feeble hand to his confessor, and then to his wife. 



CLOSE OF THE EMPEROR'S LIFE. 373 

grasping her hand with a final effort, and tumiilg his 
dying eyes on the angel of his life. The clock struck 
twelve. It was Friday 2d March, N.S., 1855. Twenty 
minutes ptissed before the calm, mild eyes closed for 
ever, when the dead hand fell from that of the Em- 
press. The Emperoi^s heart was broken. Solemn 
stillness prevailed in the death-chamber, where all 
were kneeling, absorbed in heartfelt prayer. At last, 
amid a passion of tears that relieved their oppressed 
hearts, they rosa Alexandra remained for another hour 
in prayer beside the corpse, till her strength failed, 
and she was carried to her cabinet. 

At midnight the news of the immediate danger of 
the Emperor penetrated into the higher circles of the 
capital ; and many, even in the dark night, repaired to 
churches and priests to have masses said for the preser- 
vation of their sovereign. In the morning, the Winter 
Palace was surrounded by kneeling crowds ; and while 
the mute telegraph conveyed the mournful intelligence 
to Europe, the gloomy tone of the death-bell an- 
nounced the solemn event to the most distant parts 
of the city. Before the winter sun had set, the sad 
tidings had reached every European capital The event 
occurred so unexpectedly that many attached no be- 
lief to it, especially as it came from the East to the 
West, and thus reached most places sooner than the 
hour of his death announced from Petersburg. It was 
the most startling and most affecting occurrence of the 
whole century ; and, for those in the vicinity, stiU more 
incomprehensible than to those at a distance, from the 
circumstance that the Empress, who had been a suf- 



374 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

ferer for twenty years, survived such a Colossus of 
health and strengtL The universal sympathy and 
regret, both of friend and foe, loudly proclaimed that 
the first and greatest man of his day was dead. Even 
those were deeply affected and stunned, on the even- 
ing of this day, who the same morning had railed in 
hard terms against his ambition, and who now were 
obliged to own that, even as their enemy, he had been 
worthy of admiration. Just as, thirty years ago, Alex- 
andra had been snatched within two days from the 
secluded Anitschkow Palace to the throne, so by an 
equally sudden change the happiness of her life van- 
ished in two days; and if formerly she required 
strength to bear the load of felicity, she now, in mature 
age, needed stiU greater energy not to sink under the 
burden of misery. She now saw one Court vie with 
another in sympathy, expressed through their ambassa- 
dors, and how much Europe had lost in the man by 
whose side she had been the happiest wife in the world 
during eight-and-thirty years. 

While the mother and the children wept beside the 
coffin of the husband and father, the capital and the 
gigantic kingdom mourned their head, the army its 
leader, the land, encompassed with foes, their protec- 
tor, the nation its ornament and greatest treasure. 
How many thousand hopes had vanished ! how many 
props broken down with him! But whereas, after 
Alexander the First's death a coffin stood on the throne, 
and the kingdom was two whole weeks without a ruler, 
now the heir-apparent had been long prepared to take 
the burden on his shoulders, and the mourning nation 



CLOSE OF THE EMPEKOR'S LIFE. 375 

turned its eyes with hope to his great and noble 
heart Like his father, he ascended the throne under 
the most disconsolate circumstances^ and storms from 
without, and a new era began for the kingdom. In 
the last hours of his life, Nicholas named the spot 
where he wished to lie in the Fortress Church. The 
same funeral rites were repeated that we already de- 
scribed at the interment of Alexander. The young 
Emperor Alexander, after performing the last duties to 
his father, turned his care and attention to the war. 

The capital was now inflamed with hatred against 
the late Emperor's body physician, which increased the 
legion of those who envied and were hostile to him, 
to such an extent, that he could no longer remain in 
the place where, for twenty years, he had laboured so 
efiPectually. The medical profession, by his means, 
attained the same respect in Bussia as in other 
coimtries. After the interment of Nicholas, his testa- 
ment was opened and made public. It is the bequest 
of a father to his family, and to near and distant 
friends ; the autocrat disappears ; the man, the Chris- 
tian alone speaks. It was written on Ascension 
Day, 1844. The illness of his daughter Alexandra, 
which at that time caused uneasiness in the capital, 
may have caused him to make this will before his 
journey to England. He was at that time forty- 
eight, the same age at which his brother Alexander 
died ; this fact also seemed not to have been indifferent 
to him. He does not express himself as an Emperor, 
gives no orders, but declares his wishes and requests 
to his successor. In Eussia, the fulfilment of the wishes 



376 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

of the dying is considered a sacied duty, and in this 
sense the survivors accepted his testament First of 
all, he desires that his widow shall continue to enjoy 
the same personal property as before; he appeals to 
the hearts of his children and grand-children, to honour 
her as the head and centre of union of the family, to 
promote her peace of mind, to anticipate her wishes, 
and to cherish her age with tender care, and to ask 
her counsel and blessing on every undertaking. He 
distributes the simple adornments of his cabinet to 
hiB various sons, and also names the different Summer 
and Winter Palaces they are to inhabit. The youngest 
son to remain in entire dependence on his mother, till 
he comes of age. After all family questions are settled, 
he remembers his household servants, and all those 
ofi&cials who have so faithfully administered his private 
fortune since 1817. Not one of these had been super- 
seded in his office, except House-marshal Narischkin, 
to whom we alluded in our first volume. He proceeds 
to name, with sincere gratitude, those men who had 
helped him to bear the heavy burden of his reign. 
He specially names Count Adlerberg as the one truest 
and dearest friend of his life, and also his sister. 
Countess Julie Baranof Owing to the position of 
Frau von Adlerberg, the brother and sister became ac- 
quainted with Nicholas in his childhood. In the 
will are the following impressive words: — "I have 
loved Adjutant-general Adlerberg like my own brother, 
and I hope to find in him, to the close of my life, an 
unchangeable and true friend. His sister, Julie Feo- 
dorowna Baranof, has educated my three daughters 



CLOSE OF THK EMPEBOR'S LIFE. 377 

with the anxious care and fidelity of a relation, and I 
thank her for her sisterly love." He also gratefully 
acknowledges the services of all those persons em- 
ployed in the education of his children, whom he 
adjures to continue to love and honour their instruc- 
tors, and to provide for their future welfare, and also 
for that of his physicians, confessors, and others in his 
personal service. He devotes a special paragraph to 
those on whom devolved the greater portion of the 
government of the Empire. These are all well' known 
to the reader, but we give their names in the order in 
which the Emperor wrote them down. " Prince Peter 
Michaelowitsch Wolkonsky, who, in spite of his ad- 
vanced age, has toiled for me and my family with 
unchangeable zeal and faithful devotion." In ex- 
pressing his gratitude to Prince H. Wassiltschikof, he 
says, " I entered the service under his orders ; he has 
always been my friend and adviser, and latterly my 
trusty help in State affairs." He thanks Field-marshal 
Prince pLkewitsch for his faithful friendship, and 
also for the heroic deeds by which he raised the fame 
of the Bussian arms ; then follow the names of Counts 
Orlof, Benkendorf, Nesselrode, Kankrin, Bloudof, and 
Kisselef, and Princes Tschemischef and Menschiko£ 
When, however, this will was opened, many of these 
had been long dead, such as Wolkonsky, Wassiltschi- 
kof, Benkendorf, and Eankrin. Others were in feeble 
health, and no longer capable of taking office, like 
Tschemischef. The Emperor also thanked his trusty 
Guards, who, in 1825, saved the valiant army and 
fleet of Bussia; he adds, ''I loved them like my 



378 AXE3CANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

children, and strove, so far as I could, to improve their 
condition ; if I have not succeeded in doing all I 
could wish, it has not been from the want of good 
wilL" Recurring to his family and relatives, he says 
of the Grand Duchess of Weimar, Maria Pawlowna, " I 
honoured her Uke a mother, and always told her the 
whole truth from the depths of my soul. I repeat my 
heartfelt thanks for the happy moments that I have 
passed in her society/' Of his brother Michael, he 
says, " He is an example to you of how brothers should 
act towards each other." He also refers to his children 
and grandchildren, exhorting them to serve the Emperor 
faithfully to their last breath, and to be a shining ex- 
ample to all other subjects ; finally, he thanks all who 
have loved him, and forgives his enemies ; he asks 
forgiveness from all whom he may have unconsciously 
injured, adding, *' I was a man, and . therefore not 
without many weaknesses ; I have always earnestly 
striven to master these ; I succeeded with some, but 
not with others ; I therefore sincerely implore paidon." 
He begs the survivors to pray for the peace of his 
soul, and submits, in all humility, to the will of God. 

Distant Europe, in the year 1825, saw him emerge 
out of the darkness like a pillar of light ; it paid him 
the tribute of admiration and gratitude when he 
chivalrously raised his sword against Turkey, and was 
inflamed with hatred against him when he overthrew 
the rebellious Poles. The opinion of the world is as 
changeable as a weathercock, but true greatness remains 
the same, and his courage, his spirit, his heart, and his 
despotic will, as well as his lofty character, and the 



CLOSE OP THE EMPEKOB'S UFE. 379 

energy of an autocrat, for thirty years continued un- 
altered; his bodily strength alone decayed in latter 
years, though not visibly, and an excessive strain on 
his powers prostrated him at last. He created his 
world according to his own ideas, his own laws, and 
his own strength. He was the most chivalrous husband 
ever seated on a throne, the most affectionate father 
to his fjEonily, the most upright ruler of his sub- 
jects, the acknowledged umpire in the Europe of that 
period, the terror of the wicked and of his foes, the 
sure refuge of his allies and supporters, a friend in 
need, a comfort to the forsaken; a thorough man, a 
consummate autocrat. He died as grandly as he lived, 
with the conviction of having fulfilled his duties ; like 
the last republican, Cato, he only called those free who 
loyally performed their obligations. Unfettered by the 
prejudices of society, he regarded all his Subjects with 
the same impartial feelings; he valued neither birth 
nor title ; services and merit alone, and the rank and 
position that each won for himself, weighed with him. 
He commissioned Prince Mettemich, in Vienna, to 
bestow the highest Bussian order, in his name, on 
the grey-haired Eadetzky. Mettemich replied, that 
Badetzk/s descent was not sufficiently ancient or 
illustrious to lay claim to such a distinction. ''It is 
not a man's ancestors for which I esteem him, but for 
his own merits," was Nicholas's answer. At various 
epochs of his reign, he introduced the question of the 
manumission of the serfs in the Council of the Empire, 
and as he encountered the opposition of the nobles, he 
endeavoured to ameliorate their lot by laws and his 



380 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

own protection. Six weeks before his death, a serf 
who had been maltreated took a terrible revenge on 
his master ; the Emperor, in the midst of his prepara- 
tions for war, exclaimed, ''and such nobles oppose 
my warmest wishes ! " The historical figure of Nicholas 
resembles those lofty mountains, from the base of which 
the pilgrim can neither ascertain theii* height nor their 
circumference, their vastness and effect becoming more 
prominent the farther you recede from them. 



CHAPTER X. 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 



The Empress now entered the last phase of her 
eventful life, and as the crescent of the waning moon 
gradually pales, thus in mature age she was reminded 
of the days of her early youtL She had lost her 
husband amid the storms of war, as she had lost her 
mother formerly amid the pressure of strife and adverse 
circumstances. She was at that time the affectionate 
consoler of her widowed father, and now she was the 
tie to which the surviving family clung. Little altera- 
tion was made in the domestic life and former arrange- 
ments of the Winter Palace ; eaoh remained in his 
own abode, and aD now, as formerly, went to see 
their beloved mother at the same hour. In the course 
of a few days arrived her daughter Olga, the Grand 
Duchess of Mecklenburg, herself for years a widow, 
and Prince Charles of Prussia. Even before the Em- 
peror's death the Empress had often been attacked by 
palpitation of the heart, which now never left her 
day or night ; and it was not strange that this sufferer 
for twenty years should wish to follow her deceased 
husband. She was now in a state of perpetual faint- 
ness and weakness, and the thought alone, that she 



382 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

was bound to live as head of the survivors, gave her 
strength to endure her unutterable sorrow. Three 
physicians were occupied with her, and a foiirth was 
sent for from Moscow. Time alone could procure any 
alleviation for the mourner, and her nearest blood rela- 
tions were with her the whole day, and bestowed the 
utmost care on her. In the evenings, from eight to ten, 
the entire family assembled in her cabinet, and when 
they separated to go to rest, the young Emperor began 
to work afresh, even beyond his strength, and the 
blessing of his mother followed him. In the capital, 
the most absurd rumours were circulated as to the 
death of Nicholas, but the reverence he so well de- 
served was also loudly proclaimed in all circles of 
society. During the death-mass for him, in the Mos- 
cow Ascension Church, one of the bells of the Iwan 
WeUki fell with a crash, killing several persons on 
the spot, injuring many others, and sinking deep 
and fost into the ground. The lamenting people did 
not take this incident in the light of an evil omen for 
the new reign, but as a symbol of the terror that had 
seized the kingdom. 

The whole town congregated in the "Winter Palace 
once more to see the corpse of their great Emperor, 
and the usually lively public appeared all in black in 
the streets in the deepest mourning. Even in Berlin 
the theatres were closed for three days, and, besides the 
Court mourning, four weeks of mourning were ordered 
for the army and navy, and the Eoyal Family attended 
the death-mass, held in the Bussian ambassador's hotel 
at Berlin. In a distant German city, where the Em- 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 383 

peror had never been seen, a ball was postponed on 
account of his death; a pastor in a mining district 
wrote for his people an account of the life and virtues 
of the deceased as a ruler. 

The obsequies followed with quiet solemnity, in com- 
pliance with the wish of the late Emperor, in the 
Fortress Churchy which lies on the opposite bank of the 
liver on the Petersburg Islands. The pilgrim sees 
only the different sarcophagi/ where, in a deep grave, 
repose emperors and empresses, the names inscribed on 
each. After the interment of Alexander the First 
and Elisabeth, the kingdom looked forward to happy 
events and to the coronation in Moscow. But when 
Nicholas's body sank into the grave, all eyes were 
directed with equal anxiety towards the South, as well 
as the North, to the Black Sea as eagerly as to the 
Baltic; the kingdom was threatened from without on 
all sides, and within it was an excited warlike camp. 
For Alexandra, the sun of her life had gone down, 
and instead of the enjoyment of the mild blush of 
evening, a violent storm burst forth. Lonely Zarskoe- 
Sel6 was now to her a desolate wildeiness. Her eldest 
son, the Emperor, lived in the old palace apart from 
his mother ; her second son, Constantine, was in Gron- 
stadt; her two youngest, farthest away of all, in the 
Crimea, at the other end of the kingdom. Adjoining 
the cabinet of the Empress-mother, and only divided 
from it by a narrow corridor, was the cabinet of the de- 
ceased, empty and deserted ; and on the other side, her 
rooms adjoined the death- chamber of her late daughter 
Alexandra. A drive through the gardens led her past 



384 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

the lifeless marble statue of her daughter, and showed 
her the still vigorous charger that had carried her 
husband, and followed him when in his coffin to the 
grave. A thousand memories awakened in her pain 
and grief, and both the near and distant warlike camps 
augmented her anxieties. 

The Court now proceeded to the Emperor's favourite 
resort — charming Peterhot The widowed Empress had 
often spent the autumn in Zarskoe-Sel6 apart from her 
husband, as his journeys into the interior of Eussia took 
place at that time; but to Peterhof both had always 
travelled together in the same carriage, and out of 
tender consideration for Ids wife, Nicholas had con- 
structed a highway. Now, she came alone to the 
desolate small house, and instead of former splendours 
and joyful fStes, she fotmd Cronstadt, and indeed 
Oranienbaum, both in her near vicinity, menaced by 
inimical fleets, and the sorely tried mother knew that 
her son was exposed to their fire. Formerly, hundreds 
of thousands flocked from the city to see the beautiful 
park glittering with thousands and thousands of gay 
lights ; now, the uneasy but curious crowd hurried past 
Oranienbaum, and gazed at the floating fortresses of 
the enemy, every moment expecting fireworks, the 
thunder o£ which would rend the air even as far as the 
"Winter Palace, while both the Court and society felt 
as if the sword of Damocles were suspended over their 
heads. The saddest news from the far South alarmed 
all hearts, and Alexandra, in Peterhof, passed the 
same miserable time as her mother fifty years before 
in Memel. . We need not inquire which of these illus- 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 385 

trious women had most to suffer ; let us rather admire 
the spiritual strength of both, the quiet womanly 
dignity with which they bore the burden of misfortime. 
Alexandra had the courage to hear the details of the 
fall of Sebastopol. A blow to the whole kingdom ; but 
the military honour of Bussia gained more by it than 
did that of the conqueror. The gentle heart of the 
-^idowed lady had still tears for a number of families^ 
whose sons there found a hero's death. There died 
Nachimof, Komilof, Istomin, and also one of tiie Barons 
Meyendorf, and Count Wielhorsky. The fatherland lost 
not only tried heroes, like the four first named, but was 
also deprived of many youths who had justly inspired 
great hopes for the future. 

Immediately after this catastrophe the young Emperor 
Alexander went to Moscow, and having first strength- 
ened himself and his people by prayer in the bosom of 
the Holy Church, he hastened southwards. There the 
war continued to rage unceasingly ; and, almost within 
sight of the youthful monarch, Kiubum was forced to 
surrender to the tremendous fire of the implacable 
enemy. The nation was fully prepared to hear that 
the whole population of the country must be called 
to arms; for Bussian courage and enthusiasm only 
increased with every disaster of the war. An* early 
and severe winter, however, prevented all further en- 
terprises ; and towards Christmas * negotiations for ' 
peace commenced. In those troubled days, Alex- 
andra made the painful discovery that many persons 
attached to her Court had forsaken her for the new 
one, while she in her upright nature had hoped for 
VOL. n. 2 b 



386 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

Mthful, enduring friendship. But she found others 
who devoted themselves with the utmost loyalty to her 
service. She passed the winter without leaving her 
cabinet, in a state of extreme exhaustion in the circle 
of her children, who, from the Imperial couple down- 
wards, all cherished her with their former love and 
tenderness. 

A new day had dawned for the Empire, and created 
a new world round Alexandra ; her sole possessions in 
it being her family and her distant foreign relatives. 
Her life was chiefly absorbed in reminiscences of the 
past, for she had no strength for the present. Many of 
the most devoted servants of the late Emperor with- 
drew like her from the stage; Count Nesselrode re- 
signed the office he had filled for four-and-twenty 
years to Prince Alexander Grortschakof, and though 
still active for his years retired into private life. Alex- 
andra knew him in 1813, before she had seen her 
future husband Set free now from business he visited 
the cabinet of the august lady ofbener than before, and 
of all guests was the most welcome. Baron Meyendorf, 
Count Eibeaupierre, and Counts Sumarakow and Wiel- 
horsky, too, were less engaged in business, and could 
thus spare more time to the widowed Empress. The 
conversation of these men was intellectual and instruc- 
tive both to mind and heart Her oldest friend, 
Countess Sophie' Bobrinsky, quitted Petersburg after 
sending her three sons to take part in the war for their 
fatherland, and saw them all return crowned with 
laurels. The two daughters of her Mend Cecilia were 
now her maids of honour; and among the elder ladies, 



THE WIDOWED EMPKESS. 387 

• 

Countess Baranof and Countess Tiesenhausen still 
stood by her side. When, after a long severance from 
the world, she once more began to enjoy firesh air, she 
drove, as formerly, with four horses, and the same 
Cossacks who had been seen for five-and-twenty years 
behind her carriage. Thus the sight of this august 
lady recalled to the public the days of the Emperor 
Nicholas. Her outward appearance, since the death 
of her husband, was altered past all recognition; she 
could only be known by the angelic sweetness of her 
eyes and the majesty of her demeanour. This mono- 
tonous existence, the chief end of which was to enable 
her to bear the greatest grief of her life and her bodily 
sufferings with courage, was brightened in January 
1856 by the marriage of her third son, Nicholas, with a 
daughter of Prince of Oldenburg, named Alexandra 
Petrowna. It was the first occasion on which a native 
Bussian Princess married a Eussian Grand Duke. The 
young bride, scarcely yet eighteen, had been brought 
up under the eyes of her admirable mother; and 
though so nearly related to the most brilliant Court in 
the world, she was most ingenuous and unassuming. 
The Empress-mother bestowed her maternal blessing 
on the young couple, whose union had been prompted by 
the most heartfelt affection, and said she only wished 
to live long enough to see her youngest son found a 
home of his own. This Grand Ducal couple lived in 
the Winter Palace, in the vicinity of the Empress- 
mother, cheering and amusing her during many days of 
severe suffering. When at length the news of peace 
resounded through all Europe, and after long seclusion 



388 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

the inhabitaiits of Petersburg repaired to German 
baths, Alexandra, too, began to long for change, to 
escape for a short space from the scene of her lost 
happiness, and to seek strength for her debilitated 
nerves, from which she had suffered for years. Her 
debility was so unexampled, that, on the land journey 
to Berlin, every moment, it was feared, might be her 
last Any reception, therefore, or distinction, such as 
a guard of honour, was interdicted, and she proceeded 
as quietly as possible from one city to another. After 
a &tiguing and troublesome journey she reached Pots7 
dam, her resting-place. She appeared there for the 
first time as Empress in 1829; now, she returned a 
widow, and in such a state of utter bodily weakness, 
that people thought rather of her death than of any 
cheerful sojourn there. In that year the present Em- 
peror came for the first time to Berlin, as a boy of 
eleven and. heir -apparent; now he was loudly greeted 
by aU Europe, because he had restored peace to a 
quarter of the globe. Alexandra could only receive 
her nearest relations, and even the length of these visits 
was appointed by the physician In a short time she 
assembled all her relations round her, and the news- 
papers, spoke of a royal congress. King Frederick 
William the Fourth dedicated every moment that he 
could snatch from his affairs with fraternal love and 
tenderness to his suffering sister; and her brottiers. 
Princes William, Charles, and Albert, vied with each 
other in their care of the invalid. The natural feeling 
of relationship brought hither the Grand Duchess of 
Mecklenburg and the reigning Duke, and also Prince 



^ 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESa 389 

and Princess Frederick of the Netheriands, the Queen 
of Bavaria, and others, to see their l^eloved relative. In 
addition to these, different royal personages appeared, 
however, many by no means royal, whom the illustrious 
lady wished to meet again, and the eyes of both mother 
and son were filled with joyful teaxs when they saw 
that true kindness still existed in the world. Dr. 
Mandt, who had retired irom Bussia after Nicholas's 
death, met the invalid Empress-mother in Potsdam, 
and gave her the benefit of his medical advice as to her 
further journey. The lamp of her life seemed every 
moment likely to be extinguished, and yet a pleasing 
though trying duty still awaited her. It was impossible 
for her not to appear at her son's coronation, as the 
Empress Maria Feodorowna had been present at those 
of Alexander and Nicholas. But where was she to find 
the strength indispensable for a journey to Moscow, 
and the fourteen days of the fatiguing ceremony ? In 
Potsdam' the physicians at first advised her to go to 
Wildbad, in Wiirtemberg, there to acquire mote vigour. 
All who had seen the weakly lady in her bitterest grief 
wei'e amazed at the resignation she showed amid her 
sufferings, and at the freshness of mind with which shd 
entered into the pursuits of those around her. The 
saying of a German philosopher, that the mind re- 
freshes and strengthens the body, proved true in her 
case. An old family friend, whom the physician 
allowed to visit her for half-an-hour in Potsdam, was 
startled on first seeing her; but in the next quarter 
of an hour, she became more animated and stronger 
in mind, and passed four hours in interesting con* 



390 ALEXANDRA. EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

versation. Her intellect for ten years past had not 
aged a day ; but her physical weakness compelled her 
to make frequent pauses when speaking. As in days 
of old, she interested herself with all her former zeal in 
history and literature^ although she could no longer use 
her own eyes to read. She seemed, in fact, to find most 
pleasure in purely intellectual pursuits, which excluded 
painful remembrances and made her forget her bodily 
weakness. Her cabinet, however, swarmed with worldly 
splendours, gold-embroidered uniforms, stars and rib- 
bons, and high dignities and titles, without exciting 
much interest in her. Indeed, her strength seemed 
slowly returning, and at Candlemas she could remain 
for a short time in the open air in the morning, and in 
the company of her brothers and sisters and two of 
her sons, dream that old times had returned. Baron 
Meyendorf escorted her on the journey to the mono- 
tonous and somewhat gloomy WUdbad. 

She lived there in the Hotel Bellevue, belonging to 
Count Dillon, which the filial love of her daughter 
Olga had adorned with the loveliest flowers and shrubs 
from the Stuttgart orangeries, in order to remind her 
of Palermo. The ever bright sky of Sicily forms an 
extraordinary contrast to the dark woods of this moun- 
tainous district, and the dusky monotony of the Black 
Forest ; but the wondrous waters soon recalled new life 
into the apparently dying Empress. At first she visited 
the little town in a wheel-chair, and was astonished 
at the festive, gaily decorated spot After some baths 
she was able to emerge from her solitude and to enjoy 
small soirees. A distinguished circle here assembled 



THE WIDOWED EMPEESS. 391 

to cheer her solitude. We name first Princess lieven 
and Prince Woronzof, both robust for their age, and yet 
the close of their lives was nearer than that of Alex- 
andra, whose days appeared to be numbered. Prince 
Peter of Oldenburg also remained with her during the 
whole of her stay, and went on foot with her to visit 
the hospitals and schools that his mother. Queen Cathe- 
rine, had established Besides her relations she also 
saw Count Nesselrode, who occupied the evening of his 
active life by making journeys into Switzerland. Here 
her youngest son, Michael, made the acquaintance of 
Princess Cecilia of Baden, and their closer intimacy 
advanced so rapidly that, on July 10th, before his 
departure for Moscow, their betrothal took place. Since 
Peter's reforms this was the eleventh German Princess 
who had married into the Bussian Court ; at this same 
period twelve Bussian Grand Duchesses had connected 
themselves with foreign Princes, so that with no other 
country in Europe was Bussia so closely allied as with 
Germany. 

t By her four months' stay in German air the physical 
powers of the invalid were so much restored that she 
could commence her journey to Petersburg, to attend 
the brilliant spectacle of the coronation of her son. The 
solemnity was to be even on a grander scale than thirty 
years previously. The throne and kingdom "shortly 
before the coronation had been exposed to greater 
dangers than even now; through the Oriental war. 
Many feonilies, it is true, still mourned the loss of their 
sons, fallen in battle for their Fatherland, but amidst 
their grief they could look forward with pride to the 



392 ALEXANDRA EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

coronation^ for Bussia scarcely lost anything in her war 
with the Western Powers ; indeed, on the contrary, she 
increased her power in Asia by the acquisition of vast 
tracts of land. The Caravan road, from Orenburg to 
Aralsee, so long a subject of contention, had been in 
the possession of Bussia since 1853; and this was 
compensation to the kingdom for the fall of SebastopoL 
At the same period two ports of Japan were opened to 
Bussian commerce, and a large district at Amur passed 
into the hands of Bussia. The recent disasters were 
wholly swept away by such vast national gains. In 
the rest of Europe also all the wounds inflicted by the 
war were quickly healed and forgotten, and the young 
Emperor found only enthusiasm in his people and in 
foreign countries for himself and his vast and noble 
projects pf reform. The feeble Empress-mother too 
seemed to revive, and sad memories were superseded 
by the rejoicings and splendours in honour of her son, 
who, thirty-eight years previously, first saw the light in 
Moscow. 

The preparations on eveiy side augured that this coro- 
. nation was to exceed every previous one in magnificence. 
!From Asiatic as well as European States flocked vas- 
sals, princes, ambassadors, and special envoys, each of 
whom strove to display peculiar magnificence. The 
coronation on this occasion was to be a world-wide 
event; a festival of peace for all Europe and Asia. 
Almost every German Court sent Princes of the blood ; 
Napoleon, his trusty friend Count Momy, who had 
already joined the Court of the Empress-mother at 
Wildbad; England despatched Lord Wodehouse, the 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 393 

first of the envoys to tread the Russian soil ; and Austria 
the most powerful of her Hungarian magnates. Prince 
Esterhazy-Galantha, whose gala costume was valued at 
many millions. The diplomatic corps numbered 106 
persons of every European nation. It is computed 
that the expenditure lavished by the Crown itself on 
this coronation exceeded twenty-fold that of Alexander 
tiie First, but what the Russian nobility and the 
foreign ambassadors spent in honour of the event is 
not included in this calculation. Ancient Rome alone, 
at the triumphal processions of her Emperors, saw the 
world assembled in her capital, as the Ejremlin now 
did ; but ancient Rome, even in the times of her greatest 
pomp, could scarcely offer such a picturesque spectacle 
as Moscow, with its green and red roofs and golden 
cupolas. 

The vigour of Alexandra visibly increased, and she 
arrived with the young Emperor, her son, in the old 
coronation city, in crown and mantle, surrounded by 
the whole family, preceding the young Imperial couple, 
and after their coronation giving 'them her blessing 
and affectionately embracing them. When, at the 
time of the birth of this very son, eight-and-thirty 
years ago, she first pressed him to her heart in Moscow, 
the thought flashed across her that, perhaps, in the 
never-ending changes of time, he might one day be 
called on to wear the Imperial crown. At that time, 
as we know, she herself little anticipated the lot that 
Providence had appointed for her. What a great 
moment I She could look hack at the thirty years that 
she had shared with her husband on the throne ; and 



394 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

before her stood her son, with crown and sceptre, the 
anointed of the Lord, to whom the world looked with 
hope. She cared little for the joyous excitement in the 
brilliant city, but her heart was filled with gratitude 
to Heaven, who had spared her life to enjoy such a 
moment Maternal joy in seeing her son crowned Em- 
peror was not, however, alone expressed in her features ; 
they bore traces too of anxiety on account of her 
beloved child, for no one knew better than Alexandra 
Feodorowna the heavy burden of the crown that she 
had helped her husband to bear during thirty years. 

The rejoicings and jubilation of this coronation do not 
belong to our narrative. The Empress-mother now re- 
sembled one of those ripe fruits that still hang on the 
tree as an ornament when a new spring has called forth 
a thousand fresh blossoms. The physicians soon decreed 
that she should set off for Nice, where she was to pass 
the autumn and winter. Her route lay through War- 
saw, Breslau, and Dresden. In the latter city she was 
received by King John and conducted to the hotel of 
the Russian Embassy, inhabited by the ambassador Herr 
von Schroder, the Nestor of the diplomatic corps. She 
was glad to become better acquainted with one so 
amiable, as hitherto she had scarcely ever met him. 
He originally belonged to the time of Paul the First, and 
in him was much that recalled an earlier period ; his 
faithful services and assiduity had extended over half a 
century, and in experience and worldly wisdom Count 
Nessebode could alone surpass him. Next morning 
Alexandra, escorted by her brother. Prince Albert, 
visited the Dresden Gallery, for the first time, and 



THE WIDOWED EMPBESS. 395 

paused longest before the Madonna that forms the chief 
glory of the collectioa '* Though born in Berlin," said 
she, " Dresden has always seemed farther to me than 
Italy." She accepted an invitation from King John to 
visit his palace for a few minutes before her departure, 
but had not strength to ascend the Briihl Terrace. 

From Dresden she proceeded to Stuttgart, to see her 
daughter, the Crown-Princess, and through Switzer- 
land, in the enjoyment of the most charming autumnal 
weather, to Upper Italy ; visited, in passing, the Bor- 
Tomean Islands, of which she had drecont ever since her 
youth, and reached Kice, rich in flowers and blossoms, 
in the beginning of November. Piedmont, so recently 
an enemy, made every effort to receive her in accord- 
ance with her high position. Prince de C^arignan 
accompanied her from Arona to Nice ; and in Genoa, 
where she remained a few days, the King came to the 
railway station to meet her, assisting her to alight, 
with the most flattering courtesy. She dined here 
with the King and the Prince, and her varied informa- 
tion left the most forcible impression on the minds 
of her companions. She inspected the city during 
several days, being well acquainted with its histoiy, 
and also paid a visit at this time to the Duchess of 
Orleans in Voltri. From Genoa she went by sea to 
YUla Franca, and thence by land to Nica 

Here the Avigdor YiUa, commanding a splendid view 
of the sea, was prepared for her reception, and there 
was much that reminded the august lady and her suite 
of Palermo, three persons being still with her who had 
participated in her delightful visit to Palermo, Count 



396 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

Apraxin, Baron Meyendorf, and Countess Tiesenhausen. 
In Olivuzza she had not enjoyed a view of the sea from 
her windows, and the profusion of flowers vied with 
those in Sicily, while in the villa itself a corridor 
crowded with flowers tempted her to walk in it. Her 
bedroom was hung with her favourite colour, the blue 
of the cornflower, and the pure breezes of the adjacent 
sea penetrated into every room. Russians and English 
flocked hither, and soon those two foreign tongues 
predominated in the streets. Before long Alexandra 
felt as well as in Palermo, especially as regarded 
that peace of mind, within the last nine years so 
constantly disturbed by bad news and terrible events. 
Her mode of living and the arrangement of her day 
were here the same as ten years ago ; she was as much 
as possible in the open air, avoiding, so far as she could, 
all gay or exciting society, and occupying every spare 
moment by historical readings about Italy. She had 
arrived without a single member of her family, but 
presently came the Grand Duchess Helene Pawlowna, 
who intended to pass the winter in Nice, her two sons, 
Coustantine and Michael, and Prince Charles of Prussia. 
King Victor Emanuel, and likewise Prince von Carignan, 
vied with each other in their attentions and visits, 
while a legion of artists sought to excite her interest in 
sculpture, music, and painting. She listened with 
delight to the admirable Yieuxtemps, whose tones had 
formerly been heard in her cabinet at Petersburg. 
Occasionally Piedmontese bands played in her garden 
during breakfast, like those of Sicily formerly iu 
Palermo, and the doors were thrown open to all comers. 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 397 

« 

Otherwise she was entirely estranged Ax)m the public, 
even in the Carnival, which displayed a greater luxu- 
riance of flowers than" even Palermo. She did not 
appear in public, and, following her example, the Sus- 
sians also seldom frequented the gay scena When, 
however, her energies seemed Returning, she complied 
with a request from the town of Nice to show herself 
to the assembled public. A new high rQad had been 
made from Nice to Yilla Franca, which was to be 
opened by the august lady. The new road was marked 
by a rope drawn right across the street. She appeared 
in the brilliant assemblage of the municipality and cut 
the cord with golden scissors, which called forth loud 
shouts from the people. When, a year later, Russia 
acquired in the little port of Villa Franca a dep6t for 
coals, Europe looked back with different eyes to this 
little opening scene. Nice, in that same year, was 
designated in all the German papers as a political 
rendezvous, no doubt owing to many political and 
diplomatic men of mark being collected there, whose 
names Alexandra at most learned only through the 
public list of visitors. 

She gained feu* more gratitude than for the perform- 
ance of this ceremony by her benevolence to the poor, 
while her womanly cultivation and consummate charm 
made a deep impression on all who saw her. For 
twenty years past Russia was more known to the Euro- 
pean public through travelling Russians (especially the 
Imperial family) than by foreigners visiting Russia. The 
ItaUan rarely leaves his lovely fatherland, and his know- 
ledge of other countries is very prejudiced. It is not 



398 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

veiy long since the Eomans and Neapolitans imagined 
that beyond the Alps there was perpetual snow; that the 
towns consisted of wooden houses, and the sole civilisa- 
tion of the Northerners produced by visiting Italy for a 
year. In 1835 a Eoman colonel accompanied the re- 
mains of General Morder (who died in Eome) to Peters- 
burg, and thus became acquainted with several French 
and German towns. He openly avowed at Petersburg 
his surprise, nay, his confusion, to find everything so 
superior to his previous conceptions, and called his 
journey "the road out of the past into the present." 
Twenty years later than at Berlin, Bome saw the first 
gas-lights stream from a palace in the Gorso, which the 
Bomans gazed at with the same astonishmen^t as the 
Northerner feels at an outbreak of Vesuvius. The 
Empress encountered no further obstacle to her wish 
to visit the Eternal City, and her ruins and splendid 
palaces, now all lit up with gas. Although eleven years 
older, her health was improved since the time when her 
chief longing was to return to Petersburg. She cele- 
brated in Nice the birth-day of King Victor Emanuel, 
drank his health, thanked him for his hospitable recep- 
tion, and only waited for fine weather to set sail for 
Civita Vecchia. Some days previously the Bussian ves- 
sels gave the public a fine spectacle, — ^the squadron, illu-' 
minated by Bengal fire going through its manoeuvres, 
and the bands of the Bussian ships proving that they 
fjEur excelled those of the Italians. The departure was 
£^resh delayed by bad weather, and thus the Bussian 
Easter, with all its ceremonies, was kept on board the 
fleet. At midnight the thunder of cannon proclaimed 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 399 

its commencement, and on the deck of each ship the 
crew assembled round an altar for their religious ser- 
vices. Alexandra passed the night in her own private 
chapel. We know that in Naples also she closed her 
stay with this celebration. 

Two days after she was on her way to Some in the 
•* Olaf," a Russian steam-vesseL The weather was fine, 
and the happiness of being so near the fulfilment of the 
wish she had cherished from her youth upwards de- 
prived her of sleep. Every nerve vibrated when she 
first caught sight of the grand Dome of St. Peter^s on 
her way from Civita Vecchia to Some, and she could 
not suppress a cry of delight wh^n this widowed queen 
of cities lay before her in all her glorious pomp. Every 
formal reception, especially a salute of cannon, was for- 
bidden. In an open carriage, drawn by six horses, she 
droye through the Cavallegiere Gate, paused at the 
square of St. Peter's and before the Engelsburg, and 
slowly reached the Corso, stopping at the Sondanini 
Palace. In the course of successive years Some sees 
the ^iU of the whole society in Europe. Crowned 
heads alone do not come there, and thus the short stay 
of the Emperor Nicholas twelve years previously, and 
now the arrival of his widow, was quite an event in 
•Ihe world; for even the first Napoleon never entered 
the city of the Caesars and the Popes. Limits, however, 
were set to the zeal of the illustrious lady, who wished 
to see and to enjoy everything, not only by her physi- 
cians, and the engagements and duties of society, but 
also by continued bad weather. Next morning came 
Cardinal AntonelK, in the name of the Pope, to greet 



400 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

the Empress, but the fatigue consequent on the journey 
confined her chiefly to her room. She required rest and 
strength for the next day, when, with her suite, she was 
to drive to the Vatican, escorted by ten State carriages, 
to be welcomed by the Popa In spite of all his infalli- 
bility and goodness, Pius the Ninth could net prevent the 
ancient capital being visited by genuine German April 
weather, — ^wind, rain, and hail, — although the orange- 
trees were in bloom. The Vatican is indeed the only 
building in Europe that surpasses the Winter Palace in 
extent and in art treasures; but the household state 
and the apartments of the successors of St Peter are 
very plain and simple compared to those of the northern 
palace ; and the spiritual court of the Pope, in its highest 
ecclesiastical ornamentation, is modest in comparison 
with that of Petersburg, and the highest orders of 
the Bussian priesthood. There was nothing here to 
astonish or surprise the Empress ; but her int-erview of 
three-quarters of an hour with the Head of Boman 
Christendom left a deep and lasting impression on both. 
Ten years previously the Pope called the widowed 
Queen of Holland a true Queen ; of Alexandra Feodo- 
rowna he said that she was a true Christian. Pius 
conducted her through his apartments, of which the 
" Sala Begia " alone contains frescoes, though of 
no great artistic value, ajid the subjects unpleasing 
to those who are not Boman Catholics. Pius himself 
was the most interesting object in the Vatican. She 
felt exhausted after this visit, and required rest, which 
she found in the society of her brother. Prince Charles, 
and her daughter Olga. Next morning the Pope re- 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 401 

turned the visit of the Empress, attended by the whole 
of his noble guard, appearing before the imperial palace 
in full pomp. In Borne, usually so grave, a commotion 
ensued as if the old imperial times had revived, and 
the Pope hastened cordially to welcome their return. 
Pius had at that time resolved on a journey to Loretto, 
but the public opinion was, that out of respect to the 
Empress he would defer his project till after her depar- 
ture, but he set out for Loretto soon after this visit. 
Antonelli, that most delightful of all Cardinals, dined 
with Alexandra, and charmed her by his intellectual 
conversation. Unfortunately the weather continued un- 
favourable, and put a stop to almost every expedition 
of the northern guests to the environs. The more 
assiduously did the Empress visit the churches and 
museums in the city, astonishing the Eomans by her 
taste for art, her varied historical information, and her 
social charms and simplicity. Her health improved, to 
the delight of all her friends, and she was now strong 
enough not only to see everything, but to write down 
in her own peculiar style all that she had seen. She 
wished to receive every impression, devoid of all pre- 
judice, and took herself to task on this account in her 
diary. Much surpassed her expectations, much did not 
equal them. During the next few years she was in the 
habit of speaking as minutely of particular pictures 
and statues as if she were still standing before them. 
"Allow me first to see with my own eyes," said she 
to a cicerone, " before lending me yours." The mere 
exuberant enthusiasm of the moment was as foreign to 
her as the heartless indifference of many travellers who 
VOL. n. 2 c 



402 ALEXANDRA. EMPBESS OF RUSSIA. 

are satisfied with having seen what they have previously 
read about in a book. On the 2d May^ favoured by the 
most glorious weather, she visited the Dome of St. Peter's, 
accompanied by Prince Charles, her daughter Olga and 
her husband, and the Crown Prince. She remained 
there for a long time, deeply impressed by the wondrous 
sight of the g^ndest historical spot in the world. But 
individual portions of the building also excited her 
interest Two years subsequently she spoke with en- 
thusiasm of the hour she passed there. " It was neither 
the distant hills, nor the city with its domes, that so 
affected me, but the thought, as Schlegel says, that I 
was standing on the grave of the world : I was equally 
moved and elevated. The impression on me was pro- 
bably more profound from, seeing Bome at an age and 
imder circumstances when grave earnestness predo- 
minates in the souL Eome is so many-sided, that it 
equally fascinated and awed my sons in their blooming 
youth, the Emperor in the prime of manhood, and in 
the throng of busy life, and myself as a widow. This 
enduring impression, and the elevated mood of my soul, 
were rather weakened by my astonishment at finding 
refreshments prepared for me and my suite on the plat- 
form." A stm greater surprise was in store for her in 
finding her own name engraved on a marble slab on 
the spot where a winding staircase leads to the roof. 
Almost all the members of the Imperial house were com- 
memorated there. After the departure of the Pope, An- 
tonelli in^'ited the Empress to dine with him in the 
Vatican ; a late hour being purposely named, as she was 
afterwards to see the Museum of Antiquities in the 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 403 

Vatican by torchlight. " It was to me like a visit to 
the world below/' she said a year after ; ^' and I could 
not help inyoluntanly shuddering when I saw so many 
forms apparently almost alive in the blood-red light, 
and yet dead, and heard so many known and unknown 
names. Many were familiar to me from my youth up- 
wards, owing to my teacher, Hirt ; others were revived 
in my memory ; and the various master- works, that I 
already knew through casts, in their present reality 
made the impression of Uving beings on me. In that 
wondrous company I lingered chiefly with old acquaint- 
ances, and more especially with my favouritea It 
seemed as if I were destined to pass the whole of this 
evening with silent stony antiqnity. for I was detained 
by a supper prepared for me in the Egyptian Museimu 
I supped with gods and heroes.'' She devoted a separate 
hoTir to the small gallery of pictures in the Vatican, 
and studied them quietly without any companions. She 
thought the portrait of George the Fourth of England, 
by Sir Thomas Lawrence, almost offensive both to the 
artist and the spectator, when brought into contact with 
the chef-cPoBfWvres of the sixteenth century. She often 
viewed the interior of St Peter's, and felt deeply the 
wondrous grandeur of that building. Many Bussian 
artists reside in Bome who had claims on her attention. 
The Bussian Government makes a liberal provision for 
the best pupils in their academy, to enable them to 
spend a succession of years in artistic Bome, and places 
them under the protection of the Embassy, or the 
guidance of some private art-loving individual At that 
time Prince Gregor Wolkonsky, son of the Minister of 



404 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

the Imperial House, was the Mseoenas of these young 
artists. This Prince, who had grown up in the Winter 
Palace, and been educated by Baupach, disdained the 
usual career of State affairs, and connected his life so 
closely with art, that he was considered the ornament 
of the Northern artistic world in Bome. He assembled 
five-and-thirty Bussian artists and their works, pre- 
sented them to the Empress, and afforded her an oppor- 
tunity of selecting from so many treasures the best to 
adorn her private collection. She also visited most of 
the artists' studios, and her gracious condescension was 
praised up to the skies by the Bomans ; in short, she 
wandered through Bome in every direction like a tourist, 
thus finding some consolation for the great and irre- 
trievable misfortune of her life. She was not to be 
deprived either of the grand spectacle of Bome — ^the 
illumination of the Dome of St. Peter's. By her wish 
it took place on the 11th May, an unwonted time, 
and with a somewhat cloudy sky, which, however, only 
made the sight more marvellous. The Empress first 
saw it near, and then at a distance, from Monte Pincio, 
and could find no words to express her admiration. 

Thus Bome formed a bright close to the eventful life 
of Alexandra ; the month of May had not been gracious 
to the illustrious visitor, but inunortal Bome, more 
enduring and loyal than the capricious weather, added 
the fairest wreath to her reminiscencea King Louis 
of Bavsoia arrived in the Eternal City towards the end 
of the Empress's stay, and paid her a visit; and 
she did not quit the city of the Caesars without i 
precious tokens of remembrance on the part of the j 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 405 

Pope; two massive mosaic slabs were intended to 
remind her at the Neva of her visit to Bome; the 
first represented St. Petei^s Church, with all the adjacent 
buildings, and the second lovely Tivoli ; a rosary was 
hung on each. When far away, the Empress subse- 
quently sent Pius the Ninth a large cross of brilliants. 
On the 23d May, after a stormy passage, she landed at 
Turin, and continued her journey thence across Mont 
Cenis to Geneva. Although an Imperial Highness is 
a rarity even in petty capitals, in a citizen republic like 
Geneva it was indeed a novelty. Alexandra, wearied 
by the journey, resolved to celebrate the Bussian Ascen- 
sion Feast in .the chapel of the Grand Duchess Anna 
Feodorowna, widow of the Grand Duke Constantine 
Pawlowitsch. This princess had resided for many 
years alternately in Geneva and Berne, in quiet seclu- 
sion ; she was much older than the Empiess, but in 
spite of her years active, and still able to enjoy Ufe. 
Her marriage had not been attended with as happy 
a result as that of Alexandra, having been divorced 
from her husband fifty years before, when she sought, 
in the grand sceneiy of Switzerland, compensation for 
what life had denied her. These two ladies had been 
strangers all their lives, and this was their first brief 
acquaintance, it might therefore rather be called an 
eternal farewell than a first welcome. The small 
Bussian suite excited the astonishment of the Genevan 
Bepublic by their gold embroidered uniforms, orders, 
and ribbons, and even by the carriages in which they 
drove to the Greek chapel ; but they were stiU more 
surprised at the simplicity and afiability of the Empress, 



406 ALEXAI7DRA EMPBESS OF BUSSIA. 

and her keen susceptibility to the beauties of nature. 
In fine weather, she sailed across the lake to Lausanne, 
lingering for half-an-hour on the heights, from whence 
the mirror of the Leman Lake is most brilliant. Thence 
she repaired to Berne, in order to fulfil a duty of her 
pious, grateful heart There, for many years past, re- 
posed in the churchyard her admirable governess, 
Fraulein Wildermett; she adorned her grave with 
fl.owers, shedding tears of sincere gratitude, and lamented 
not being so fortunate as the Emperor Alexander, who 
could still embrace his tutor Laharpe. Frederick- 
William the Third also, after the momentous events of 
1814, in the midst of the intoxication of victory, did not 
forget to visit Mademoiselle de Gillieu, in Colombier, 
near Neufchatel, the governess of his deceased wife, and 
he sent her a shawl worn by Queen Louise. From Berne, 
the Empress continued her journey by Basle towards 
Germany, and visited, in Carlsruhe, Cecilia, the lovely, 
charming bride of her youngest son, Michael, and 
returned by Baden-Baden to Wildbad, which had given 
her a new lease pf life in the previous year. 

In the course of the same summer, the young Empress 
Maria Alexandrowna visited the German baths of Kis- 
singen and Briickenau, where her noble simplicity and 
grace left a lasting impression. The young Emperor 
accompanied his wife, and shared her stay in Kissingen, 
while his youngest brother, Michael, and Princess Cecilia 
of Baden, stayed with the Empress-mother in Wildbad. 
In August, Alexandra and the young bridal pair 
returned to Petersburg, and at the end of the same 
month she attended the nuptials of her youngest son. 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 407 

on which she conferred her blessing. The last wishes 
and the last duties of the mother were fulfilled, all 
her children were now established in homes of their 
own, and her benediction bestowed on each and all 
She was happier than her own motlier, who had not 
accompanied one of her children to the altar. 

She had acquired so much strength during the pre- 
vious winter, first at Nice and then at Wildbad, that 
she was enabled to pass the ensuing winter in retire- 
ment from the world, in sixty degrees of heat, in the 
company of books and a few friends. Her stay in Borne 
and Italy not only supplied her with a rich store of 
memories for the last years of her life, but also opened 
to her a new treasure of historical lore. Her family, 
whose hes^d and heart she was, and for whom, according 
to the wish of her deceased husband, she still strove to 
live, frequented her cabinet at certain hours of the day, 
even more than in former years; four sons and four 
daughters-in-kw, and also the Grand Duchess Maria 
Mkolaewna, lived under her eyes in Petersburg, 
and more than double that number of grandchildren 
bloomed in her late autumn like a reviving spring. She 
also took the most lively interest in the education of 
these grandchildren, as well as in that of the rising 
generation of the kingdom, who had been for thirty 
years under her protection. When she drove out, it 
was chiefly to these institutes, and she regularly received 
the Secretaries of State belonging to them. Her guests 
at dinner were limited to four or five persons of the 
olden day, such as Counts Nesselrode, Wielhorsky, 
Apiaxin, Meyendorf, Sumarakof, and Ribeaupierre ; the 



408 ALEXANDBA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

ladies were Countess Baranof^ Priucess Baiiatinsky, 
Fran von Sacharschewskj, Countess Tiesenhausen, and 
Countess Fersea This last-named lady was daughter 
of the late Prussian General von Bauch, who had access, 
during long years, to the family circle of the Emperor 
Nicholas. As the wife of Count Fersen, who was high 
in office at Court, no obstacles of etiquette stood in the 
way to prevent her visiting the Empress in her solitude 
as often as possible, while her own heart of itself attracted 
her hither. It lies in the course of human development 
that the young long to cross the boundaries of their 
narrow home, while the thoughts of the old love best 
to revert to the past, where as children they experienced 
the first happiness of life. Thus the widowed Alexandra 
saw in the society of Countess Fersen her early and 
distant home represented Every winter, the young 
Empress arranged little musical soirees, inviting those 
persons most intimate with the Empress-mother ; so 
when she could appear she met her own intimate friends, 
and felt quite at home with them. 

The capital and the kingdom were in a state of most 
intense excitement this winter, owing to the question of 
the manumission of the serfs, and in the evening meet- 
ings at the Empress-mother's this topic was a constant 
source of discussion. She herself ILstened to all opinions 
and all views with the utmost calmness, as the society 
consisted exclusively of the most benevolent and ex- 
perienced men of the land In her seclusion she 
accompanied the great work with her most heartfelt 
good wishes. Once, in a small familiar circle, she said, 
with her own peculiar gentleness, " Two brothers, the 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 409 

Emperor Alexander and the Emperor Nicholas, laboured 
for her half a century at this work ; may my sons succeed 
in accomplishing it." In the May of this year, 1858, 
Alexandra waa spared to see the solemn consecration 
of the Isaac Church, undoubtedly the most superb 
monument of Nicholas. Fatiguing as the drive to the 
city and the ceremony in the church must have been 
to her in her feeble state, she collected her whole 
energies, and attended the solemnity, and was fortunate 
enough to have the most lovely weather. 

At that time, Professor Tischendorf, in Leipzig, caUed 
the attention of the Eussian Government to a treasure 
in the hands of the monks of Mount Sinai, the oldest 
Bible codes. This afifair did not arouse that interest in 
the public at large that Tischendorf expected. He 
found, however, enthusiastic support in his enterprise 
from the young Empress, and the Empress-mother was 
much excited when told that this unique work was to 
adorn a Bussian church. But she had not the joy of 
seeing it with her own eyes, as, though it did arrive in 
Petersburg a year before her death, she was absent at 
the time. 

The birth-day of the Empress -mother was this year 
celebrated for the fourth time since the death of her 
husband, without any reception, and in the most quiet 
manner; she went to mass, however, leaning on her 
son's arm, and then drove alone through all the pleasure- 
grounds of Peterhof, laid out by herself. She re- 
mained till the close of August in Peterhof, in glorious 
weather, secluding herself during the whole of the 
autumn in Zarskoe-Seld, with only her own immediate 



410 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

suite, and occupied the days and nights in reading. She 
was now sixty years of age, and yet her intellect was 
still as fresh and acute as her heart sympathetic, though 
her bodily frame was indeed fragile to the uttermost. 
To pass from one room to another in one aegree less of 
heat sufficed to stretch her again on a sick-bed for 
weeks. There seemed to be less fear of her catching 
cold in driving than in the short distance from her room 
to the carriaga In order in some degree to enliven 
such oppressive solitude, the Emperor had theatricals 
once a week, adjoining the cabinet of his mother, and 
burdened as he was with State affairs, he always enjoyed 
this evening recreation by her side. An early winter 
compelled the invalid lady to take refuge in the Winter 
Palace sooner than her family. And yet fate mocked 
all human precautions on the subject. She drove there 
in a well-warmed carriage, but found in her cabinet two 
degrees less of heat, and wa^ taken ill, though not from 
the journey, but after a short stay in the palace. The 
news of Dr. Mandt's death, too, which arrived just at 
that time, agitated her seriously, and during the whole 
winter she appeared to be in a djdng state. The physi- 
cians declared, about Christmas, that she could not 
recover strength either in the Winter Palace or in 
Peterhof, but must live in the open air ; not neai; the 
Gulf of Finland, which in the beginning of May is filled 
with blocks of ice, but by the Mediterranean, where the 
orange tree displays simultaneously blossoms and fruit 
She was distressed by this verdict, and said, " May I 
not spend the last days of my life peacefully with my 
family ? ' Oh ! I am weary of wandering,' " added she 
from Goethe's poem. " The dying Emperor enjoined on 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 411 

me to live for mj family, and of course among tliem, but 
not forsaken and alone, in distant foreign countries." 
The thoughts of once more undertaking a pilgrimage 
found no favour in her sight ; she had travelled too 
much not to know its darker shades, and the sole charm 
the world now had for her was her family. 

'Two of her children were indeed absent this winter, 
for her son Constantino and his wife, oh account of 
health, passed the winter in the East. Princess lieven, 
who had been in the habit of writing to her several^ 
times a week, and amusing her by these letters, had 
now been dead two years, and Countess Wielhorsky, 
whose serious nature had been most sympathetic 
to that of Alexandra since her widowhood, had been 
interred at the beginning of the war in the East. 
Count Michael Wielhorsky, the jovial spirit of the 
Court and the capital, died during the coronation, 
at Moscow. So of this distinguished family Count 
Matthieu alone survived, and he was infirm and 
feeble. His violoncello, so often heard in the Imperial 
cabinet, now rested on its laurels; the voice, too, of 
the charming Pauline von Barthenief was gone, and 
neither in the Court nor in the city could it be replaced. 
She had yet another loss to deplore at that time, which 
did not afiect her so far as society was concerned, but 
was a blow to her watchfulness and care of the educa- 
tional institutes. As the reader already knows, she 
was in the habit of receiving once or twice every week 
a report of her schools through a Secretary of State, and 
illness never prevented her devoting a couple of hours 
to this subject. For many years past, the State Secre- 
tary, von Hofinann, possessed her fall confidence in 



412 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

this office, and, by his practical acuteness and know- 
ledge of routine, aided in relieving her of part of this 
laborious task. But at the time when changes oc- 
curred in the whole Government, Herr von Hofmann 
was promoted to a higher post, and his important office 
was transferred to her former secretary, Herr von 
Storch, whose father, in the previous century, hsui 
been numbered among the intimate friends of the 
Empress-mother, Maria Feodorowna. Nicholas von 
Storch formerly travelled with Alexandra as her cabinet 
secretary, and continued in his new situation up to 
the hour when, a few days before her last moments, 
he brought her his reports on her deathbed. 

At the end of April the Court went to the country, 
to Zarskoe-Seld, and in the ensuing month of May, the 
Empress-mother was able occasionally in fine weather 
to drive out in an open carriage. She cherished the 
hope that if a warm favourable summer should ensue, 
she might reside in quiet and comfort till the autumn 
in her much-loved Peterhof, On Ascension Day, May 
21st, O.S., the temperature was 27 degrees of heat in 
the shade, and Alexandra acknowledged this day to 
be as chinning, and the air even ^er. than on 
the previous year in Geneva. A brief delusion ! Two 
days later snow fell as heavily as in the depth of winter, 
and the sufferer was snatched out of the paradise of her 
hopes and wishes, and reduced to a more miserable con- 
dition of weakness than she had ever known. The 
physicians now imperatively urged her speedy depar- 
ture, which took place in Juna She first took the 
waters of Ems, and then passed two months in Swit- 
zerland, alternately in Interlaken and Vevay. Here 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 413 

physically at least she revived, but mentally she did 
not enjoy the peace that had fallen to her lot two years 
before in Nice and Borne. It grieved her, as head of 
the family, not being able to be present at the declara- 
tion of the majority of the heir-apparent, celebrated in 
Petersburg on September 8th, 1869, exactly five-and- 
twenty years after that of the Emperor. The intelli- 
gence reached her in a foreign land that Schamyl, the 
troublesome foe of the Emperor Nicholas, had been 
taken prisoner, and conveyed to Petersburg. Though ^ 
this news must have been cheering to her, shortly 
before her journey over the Simplon, still she did not 
find the same old Italy of two years ago. TTing Fer- 
dinand the Second of Naples, who formerly welcomed 
her into his states with so much courtesy and hos- 
pitality, had died this spring; the bloody battles of 
Magenta and Solferino disturbed the political equili- 
brium of Italy ; the Duchess of Parma and the Duke 
of Modena, had also withdrawn into retirement. For 
the daughter of Frederick- William the Third, and the 
sister of Frederick- William the Fourth, and the widow 
of the late Emperor Nicholas, the ground seemed to be 
rocking under her feet ; the new aspect of affairs in 
Italy, and also in Prussia, formed a novel era for 
Alexandra, who no longer belonged to it. She met 
Victor Emanuel for the third time in Grenoa, passed a 
second winter in Nice, which still bloomed in the hands 
of the King, but left it in the spring, when annexed by 
France. Her childhood and youth had indeed wit- 
nessed changes equally rapid, but for forly years she 
had studied an unchanged map of Europe. Never in 
the course of her life had she trodden French soil, 



414 ALEXANDRA EMPKESS OF RUSSIA. 

and now slie found herself transferred thither, as if by 
a magic wand. It was not, however, the France of 
Louis Philippe, nor the France. of the Oriental war, 
but the France whose Imperial Buler had met the 
Emperor Alexander in Stuttgart with a Mendly pres- 
sure of the hand. Alexandra could not quit this 
portion of France without thanking its sovereign for 
the health regained in his states. In the May of 
1860 she travelled from Nice, by Marseilles, to Lyons, 
where the' Emperor and Empress of the French met 
her. She warmly embraced the Empress Eugenie, and 
offered her hand cordially to the Emperor, who next 
morning conducted his illustrious guest, and Princess 
Eugenie of Leuchtenberg in a State carriage to the 
town-haU, where a brilliant dejeuner awaited them, and 
at its close the Emperor Napoleon accompanied his 
Imperial guest with much courtesy to the railway- 
station. She shortly after arrived at Wildbad for the 
third time, and though quite as well as three years 
ago, she could not conceal from herself a certain degree 
of discord in her whole souL Was it a secret presenti- 
ment that she had, for the last time, seen the Mediter- 
ranean, and the Black Forest, and passed through 
Berlin to bid an eternal farewell to the invalid King, 
and all belonging to her ? Death could never knock at 
her door suddenly or unexpectedly, having been for 
years prepared for its advent, and thus she welcomed 
every fresh day with fresh gratitude. But on her 
arrival in Russia, her feelings were very different from 
those of three years ago, when she returned from Bome, 
spiritually renovated, with a thousand reminiscences, 
and arrived from Wildbad accompanied by the young 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 415 

charming bridal pair. She was welcomed at the station 
with as much respect and sincere cordiality as formerly 
in the days of Nicholas; she was much touched by 
seeing aU those assembled there whom she had known 
to be thoroughly devoted to her for so many long years 
past; her heart clung with its last strength to those 
whom she loved, to her family, and the few persons 
who understood how to appreciate her noble character. 
She passed the brief residue of this lovely summer in 
Peterhof, surrounded exclusively by her own family. 
In her quiet small house she enjoyed the society of the 
Coimtesses Catherine Tiesenhausen and Fersen ; one 
of her sons, usually Nicholas, and his wife, and, more 
especially, her animated daughter-in-law Alexandra 
Josephowna watched over her with the most touching 
respect and devotioa As if now conscious that her 
days were numbered, she occupied herself entirely 
with family affairs, and her anxious care extended even 
to her yoimgest grandchild. The expression of her 
countenance was that of grave earnestness, and the 
heartfelt solicitude that inevitably displays itself while 
great questions are still in suspense. The noble de- 
cision with regard to the manumission of the serfs was 
not as yet spoken, and even the most strong-minded 
cannot always reeiat certain doubte. During her short 
stay at Feterhof, the Emperor and his brother Constan- 
tino were obliged to leave her, for the affairs of the 
kingdom allowed them no rest; they both proceeded 
to Moscow, followed in the course of a few days by 
the heir-apparent. At the end of August, N.S., in 
the most favourable weather, she arrived at Zarskoe- 
Sel6, that she was destined never more to leave. She 



416 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

had scarcely sufficient energy to cast a glance at the 
scenery and the gardens, and her strength did not 
permit her to attend a tilting match that shortly after 
took place. Her mind, too, was not steeled against sad 
news, and she was violently affected by the melancholy 
position of the Eoyal Family at Naples. " The year 
1806 seems revived for the Eoyal Family, and Sicily 
now gives them no aid," exclaimed she, in sorrow. 
Another piece of intelligence soon after caused her the 
deepest distress, the death of her uncle, the Grand 
Duke George of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. " I have lost 
my oldest fatherly friend," said she to one of her com- 
panions, bursting into tears ; as if the warning of her 
own approaching end passed like a spectre before her. 
She assembled round her the same evening the few 
persons who had known her uncle and appreciated his 
various talents, and discussed the excellence of the 
departed in every light. It required no very strong 
excitement wholly to extingiush her lamp of life, daily 
becoming more feeble, and yet her peace of mind was 
constantly troubled. Shortly after the death of her 
uncle, she was terrified by the heir-apparent having a 
fall from his horse, and when, on the ^ September, his 
birthday, was celebrated by a family dinner, she was 
too weak to appear, and dined in her own cabinet, with 
only a few persons. But both during and after dinner 
unusual excitement and restlessness were perceptible 
in her ; a mood she had never previously shown even 
in the worst misfortunes. Her conversation was fluent, 
but nervously excited, soon yielding to a state of ex- 
haustion bordering on a swoon. Her guests left her 
faint and weary almost to death, and their impression 



THE \7ID0W£D EMFBES& 417 

when leaving her was anxious and troubled. In the 
middle of September, however. Heaven sent as if by a 
miracle the mildest weather, which for a time revived 
the poor sufiferer, so that she even ventured to make an 
expedition to the adjacent Pawlowsk. She did not 
feel weaker from the exertion, but only continued 
better so long as the fine weather lasted. The cuic(mch&- 
ment of the young Empress was so soon expected that 
she had remained in her cabinet for several days, so 
these two highest ladies in the realm could no longer 
see each other ; before the end of the month the mild 
summer days were suddenly succeeded by winter, thus 
depriving the Empress-mother of, the means of pro- 
longing her life. When she had been eight days 
confined to her room some one said to Dr. Karell, 
who since Mandt's death attended her, '' What would 
revive the Empress V " light, air, warmth," was his 
answer; "without these accessories, she must wither 
away like a plant." These sagacious words were con- 
sidered a mere form of speech in the physician, and no 
particular weight attached to them. It is true that for 
years she had been in a fragile, weak condition, and 
especially at the period of stormy autumn. The small 
society who were still in the country at Zarskoe-Sel6, 
those in the capital, and in the two palaces, placed no 
faith in the physician's significant words, and though 
evening entertainments were at an end, still no parti- 
cular concern existed about the health of the Empress- 
mother. On the 2lBt September (October 3d, N.s.) 
the young Empress had a son (the Grand Duke Paul), 
and the sympathies of society were for the moment 
VOL. n. 2 D 



418 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

chiefly attracted to the old palace, where the young 
mother resided. The Imperial family were all, how- 
ever, in the immediate vicinity of Zarskoe-Selo. On 
September 30th, the Emperor set off for Warsaw, 
where he was met by the Prince Eegent of Prussia. A 
week later the heir-apparent also went to Warsaw — a 
proof that no one was uneasy as to the life of his 
mother. But as the days began to close in, all the 
signs of vitality became more feeble in the invalid. The 
most tremendous tempests raged, while torrents of 
rain alternated with snow-storms, and for weeks not a 
ray of sunshine was visible. For the last fortnight the 
•sufTerer had not left her sick couch, and Countess 
Fersen, who watched by her night and day, saw as plainly 
as Karell that all hope of recovery was at an end. Tele- 
grams were despatched to the Emperor at Warsaw, and 
to her daughter Olga at Stuttgart, announcing that the 
precious life of the head of the family was exposed to 
immediate and inevitable danger. She herself had not 
the smallest foreboding of her approaching end, and 
when her daughters suggested that she should par- 
take of the Holy Communion she. seemed surprised, 
and asked, *' Am I then so dangerously and seriously 
ill ?" The Priest Bajanof first gave her a cross from 
Mount Athos to kiss, and then she herself asked for the 
last consolation on earth. But no complaint of her 
sufferings, no fears of approaching death were heard ; in 
noble resignation, as she had lived, she awaited the 
great moment that was to lead her into her ideal world. 
One wish alone she expressed with intense eagerness, 
that she might once more see the Emperor, and 
assemble all those near and dear to her round her death- 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS. 419 

becL For six days before her decease she seldom 
opened her eyes, but her hearing, even in this death- 
like lethargic state, was more acute than ever, so that 
she could distinguish the most cautious step of a 
stranger in the anteroom. In the enjojrment of entire 
consciousness, and in spite of her infinite weakness, she 
wished once more to bestow a parting look on those 
persons whom she had esteemed through life. But she 
revived wonderfully on being told that her eldest son 
was near the capital, and that she should see him in a 
few hours. Joy roused her to open her eyes once more, 
and indeed she wished to rise to receive him in more 
fitting attire, in order to alleviate -his anxiety for her 
life. Her heart beat violently when, at eight o'clock on 
Sunday evening, October 16, she recognised his step in 
the distance. Although, fatigued by his journey, the 
Emperor remained all night in tears by the side of his 
mother. From this moment all her family remained in 
the palace, and took their places alternately beside her 
deathbed. On the next day, Monday, 17th October 
(o.s.), the baptism took place of the young Grand 
Duke Paul in the most quiet manner, and without any 
assemblage of people — ^indeed even the Grand Duchesses 
were all absent ; the young Duchess of Leuchtenberg 
alone. Prince Alexander of Hesse, and a few of the 
Court were present. The Emperor gave way to no illu- 
sion as to the recovery of his mother ; for the lethargy, 
that she had not sufficient vitality to shake ofif, lay 
heavily on her like a burdensome covering, and it was 
remarked that from to time she tried to express a wish, 
but that speech would not perform its office. She strove 
to stretch out her hand as a last farewell to one of the 



420 ALEXAUDBA EMPRESS OF BUSSIA. 

oldest servants of her suite, but it sank down helpless as 
if dead. Her daughter Olga and Countess Fersen re- 
mained by turns all day by the sick-bed, and the Em- 
peror all night, in spite of the fatigues of business ; the 
young Empress was not yet able to leave her room, but 
the Grand Duchesses were all there, ready to perform 
any service. 

Since the sudden arrival of the Emperor almost all 
the persons connected with the Empress-mother's ser- 
vice had arrived from the capital, in order to see their 
dying Ufiistress, if even from afar, and only for a moment, 
and thus the large desolate palace beceone gradually 
filled in this dreary wintry autumn. On Tuesday, 
October 18, life seemed in some measure to revive ; she 
recognibed those around, and the warmth of her heart 
was stm expressed in her dim eyes. 

A mass was held in presence of all the members 
of the Imperial family for the. new -bom infant who 
had been baptized on the previous day, and his cradle 
decorated with the ribbon of St. Andrew. On the 
evening of this day a hope arose that the invalid was 
better ; for her sleep had been like that of an angel, and 
her pulse also beat more strongly. The oldest inmates 
of the Imperial House knew that she had been more 
than once in this state of entire exhaustion, and there-' 
fore did not easily give up all belief in her recovery. 
The greater was the alarm when, next day, Wednesday, 
October 19, about two o'clock in the afternoon, her pulse 
stopped altogether. An express was sent off tp Pawl- 
owsk, where business had taken the Emperor, and 
about three o'clock all the household were custsembled 
in the adjoining rooms in the most painful anxiety, the 



THE WIDOWEP EMFRESS. 421 

Grand Chamberlain, Count Eibeaupierre, Minister of 
the Household, and even the most insignificant servants. 
When Dr. Karell came out of the sick-room, he declared 
that though the pulse had stopped beating for an un- 
usually long time, still the patient might continue to 
live in this state from fifteen to twenty hours. The 
Emperor however did not leave his mother's side for a 
moment through the night; but at four o'clock in 
the morning he himself despaired of any improve- 
ment, and, in spite of the dark autiinm night, he 
summoned even her youngest grandchildren to her 
deathbed, while all knelt down and prayed. By 
eight o'clock every room, far and near, was filled 
with people, kneeling and praying. The beatings 
of the pulse became slower and weaker, the eyes con- 
tinued closed, but the features of the dying woman ex- 
pressed heavenly repose — ^indeed glorification. Solemn 
stillness pervaded the whole assemblage, till at half-past 
eight o'clock the doctor declared that the last agony had 
begun. It passed without any struggle; it was the 
death of a resigned Christian breathing her last so 
gently that no one was aware of the moment when the 
light of her life was quenched like the sun hidden 
by clouds before setting, the transition from day to 
night was imperceptible. 

The long-controlled grief of her family now broke 
forth in a storm of loud lamentations, when the Em- 
peror, kneeling down, kissed the beloved hand, still 
warm, and desired the rest to do the same. The young 
Empress also had quitted her sick couch, and hurried 
early in the morning from the cradle of her youngest 
son, to pray beside the deathbed of her mother-in-law. 



422 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

In the busy capital little had been heard of her illness, 
so people stood confounded when the sudden news of 
her demise reached them. In the course of a few days 
the whole city appeared in the deepest mourning, and 
thousands of tears of regret were shed, for every one 
felt what they had lost by the death of the Empress- 
mother. 

In a day or two came Princes Charles and Albert, 
father and son, Duke William of Mecklenburg ; and the 
inhabitants of Petersburg made pilgrimages to Zarskoe- 
Sel6, once more to look at the departed, who lay in 
state in the chapel of the palace. On October 28th the 
funeral procession moved towards the city, where access 
was granted to the public at large to see the remains of 
the lamented Alexandra in the Fortress Church. The 
obsequies followed in that church on November 5, 
attended by the usual ceremonies. 

The will of Alexandra contained various wishes 
that the Emperor and the survivors could not liter- 
ally fulfil, as she survived her husband five, and her 
daughter Alexandra sixteen years. She divided her 

warmest blessing, among her children and relations ; 
but she also remembered with the most tender considera- 
tion all her faithful female servants, the daughters of 
her friend Cecilia, and also those who had been educated 
with her sons ; the nurses likewise who had tended her 
during her last illness, the Countesses Tiesenhausen and 
Fersen, and the pupils of the different institutes under 
her guidance. She wished her usual apartments in the 
different palaces not to remain empty, but to be inhab- 
ited by her children one year after her death; her birth- 



THE WIDOWED EMPRESS, 423 

day to be kept as a festival, by benefits to the poor, 
and by youthful recreations in all her institutions, and 
indeed one of these schools to spend this day in her 
own residence in Peterhof. Her diary not to be opened 
by hex family till twenty years have elapsed. The 
fairest inheritance that she could leave, both to her 
children and grandchildren, was the lofty noble cha- 
racter, the warm heart that they all possessed, and 
which she had striven to develop with the solicitude 
of a mother. We add the conclusion of the testament 
of the illustrious deceased in her own words, as they 
may interest the reader : — 

*' Our earthly being is in the hands of God, and none 
of us can tell when our last hour may strike. I shall 
therefore no longer delay, while in possession of full 
consciousness, and of all my faculties, to express my 
last wishes in writing for my family. The following 
arrangements, written by me on separate sheets, and at 
different periods, are signed with my own hand. AU 
these wishes cannot now be effectual or necessaiy, foi^ 
many of my beloved relatives have been interred before 
me. I often ask myself how it is that a feeble, fragile 
creature, like myself, has found strength to survive the 
terrible losses which it has pleased Providence to inflict 
on me. To the pious care that my children showed 
towards me in my saddest hours, after the death of my 
Emperor and inexpressibly loved husband, I gratefully 
owe not to have sunk under the burden of such an 
unexpected calamity. Their love has preserved my life, 
more especially the ever wakeful care and tenderness of 
my much loved son, the Emperor Alexander. Sustained 
by such warm filial love, I have been enabled to with- 



424 ALEXANDRA EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. 

stand the most terrible strokes of fate, and to survive a 
husband whose life was my own. From the depths of 
my heart I thank you, my dear son Alexander, and you, 
my fondly-loved daughter-in-law, Maria, and all my 
equally beloved children ; your true and honest affection 
has prolonged my life. May heaven requite you for it 
a himdredfold, and your posterity also ! You will read 
these lines when I shedl be no more; but within me 
there lives the faith and the conviction that the bonds 
that have united us and made us cling together here, 
will not be finally rent asunder by death, and that the 
blessing of your father, and my own, will follow and 
shield you through yoiur whole lives. I wish, a year 
after my death, my fimiUy to inhabit my apartmenta. 
both in the city and the country, and I hope and be- 
lieve that the spot where I lived the happiest of wives 
and mothers, may also one day be the scene of the 
felicity both of yourselves and your children. When 
you look from the windows of my cabinet on the Neva, 
on which my eyes so often rested with delight, then 
spare a glance to the Fortress Church also, where I 
shall sleep in peace, and bestow a loving thought on 
yoTur mother." 



THE E 




BDlVBaROH : PIUHTCD BY THOMAS AND ARORIBALO COlfSTABLB, 
PBINTUtS TO TBK QUBBN, AKO TO TBB UMITEBSITY. 



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