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Full text of "The ambassador's wife"

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ONE SHILLING 




BV 



MR? GORE. 




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THE AMBASSADOR'S WIEE. 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 
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littp://www.arcliive.org/details/ambassadorswifeOOgore 



THE 



AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 



BY MRS. GORE, 

ArxnoB OF 

"the EOTAL FATOUEITE," "CECIL," " THE DEBUTANTE," ETC. ETC. 



Vaulting ambition that o'crleaps itself, 
And falls on t'other side." — Shakespeabe. 



^ ^e^ (JHUitfon, 



LONDON: 
EOUTLEDGE, WAEJSTE, & EOUTLEDGE, 

F-AEEINGDON STEEET; 

NEW YOEK: 56, WALKEE STEEET. 

1863. 



LONDON: 

COX AN'D WYMAN, PRINTKRS, GREAT QEEEX STREET, 
LIXCOLX'S-INN FIELDS. 



5^ C4 CI 



THE AMBASSADOR'S WIFE. 



CHAPTER I. 

And motherless she grew from girlhood, e'eii 

To woman's fair maturity ; nor dream'd 

The measure of her loss in lacking thus 

That Providence of love which Heaven's hest care 

Still leaves most needful. — Marlowe. 

In one of the northern duchies of the German empire, no matter 
whether rejoicing in the prefix of Saxe or Hesse, stands the seigneurial 
mansion of the Barons von Eehfeld ; an edifice admirably calculated to 
grace one of the sweeping champaign landscapes of Rubens, or adorn 
the background of the hunting pieces of Snyders or Wouverman. 

Schloss Rehfeld is situated in a highly-cultivated plain, isolated from 
the surrounding corn-fields only by a fosse and stone-dyke ; the platform 
being sheltered on all sides by sloping woodlands, whose forests of 
intermingled pines and beech have for ages afforded the pleasures of 
the chase to the Barons of Eehfeld, during those eight months of the 
year in which the duties of chamberlainship did not chain them to 
the precincts of the court, in the diminutive city which, for mystery 
sake, we shall Germanize under the name of the Eesidenz. 

The mansion house of Schloss Eehfeld, of considerable extent and 
some two centuries' antiquity, is constructed of small red bricks, coped 
and ornamented with freestone ; which, in a peculiarly dry atmosphere 
and upheld with the orderliness of a prosperous estate, maintains to 
this day its freshness, as if existent only on the immortal canvas of the 
artists already cited. Time has done little to the old mansion, except 
supply successive Barons von Eehfeld, — Wilhelms, — Albrechts, and 
Eberhards — to its domination ; and, in process of time, their portraits 
to its family gallery. 

Till within these few years, the progress of civilization was little 
perceptible in its arrangements. All it had been when the troops of 
Gustavus Adolphus scoured the domain shortly after the erection of 
the baronial mansion, it remained Avhen those of Napoleon traversed 
it, at the commencement of the campaign that left so lasting a scar 
upon the military fame of most military Brandenburg. 

On this last occasion, however, the house of Eehfeld had a direful 
leaf to inscribe in its annals, connected with the incursion. The young 
baroness, on the eve of becoming for the first time a mother, was so 
overwhelmed by the agitation of the event, and the tumults thus 
strangely interrupting the monotonous tranquillity of those stagnant 



2 THE AilBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

solitudes, that, two days afterwards, the courier which bore to the 
Eesidenz, where the baron was in official attendance on the grand 
duke, tidings that he Aias father of a daughter, acquainted him that 
the body of his beloved Agnes was already in its coffin. 

The visitation was two-fold. The baron had set his heart upon an 
heir; and though the last man on earth to be encumbered with such 
an appendage, was the widowed father of a girl ! It was a deep afflic- 
tion. He scarcely knew which most to deplore — the death of his wife, 
or the survival of his child. 

The Baron von Eehfeld was a grave, matter-of-fact man, who, never- 
theless, had married for love ! Most men, even of the most arid nature, 
once in their lives or so, betray some weaker or gentler point— the 
vulnerable heel of the hero — the foot of clay of the brazen idol ; and 
the baron, though proud of his two-and-twenty descents as becomes a 
man honourably recorded in the annals of E-atisbon, had chosen his 
wife from the family of an humble minister of the gospel of the Luthe- 
ran church. 

He had not, however, the greatness of mind indispensable to uphold 
so independent a choice. The inconsistent man soon made it apparent, 
both to the world and his wife, that it was only by a capitulation of 
principle he had renounced his prejudices of caste. From the moment 
of his marriage, he separated poor Agnes absolutely and entirely from 
her family ; and after the brief and formal presentation at court exacted 
by the kindness of his sovereign, of whom he was a favourite, consigned 
her to Schloss Eehfeld, while he pursued his official career at the 
Eesidenz. 

Though the married life of the baroness comprised little more than 
a year, it had been chequered by many gloomy moments. The young 
heart, snatched from amid a cordial family, had drooped in the cheer- 
lessness of that isolated home. Her affection for the husband so much 
her superior in condition, was tempered by awe; and during the last 
three solitary months preceding her confinement, left amid the terrors 
of war to the protection of her household, she had become by degrees 
so depressed in soul as well as so feeble in body, that death had an 
easy conquest of it. Though but nineteen years of age, Agnes resigned 
herself to die, as heart-weary of the world as if threescore and ten had 
passed over her head. 

It was to the nurse who had watched over his own childhood and 
who, at fifty years of age, was still active as a girl, that the Baron von 
Eehfeld assigned the care of his daughter. He was not, perhaps, wholly 
without hope that, on some future day, a doleful letter from Sara might 
acquaint him that the frail infant had rejoined its young mother in the 
grave. But the less ardent his paternal afl'ections, the more surely the 
nursling throve and prospered ; and when, five years afterwards, the 
blessings of peace enabled the baron, then progressing towards his 
thirtieth year, to pass the hunting season on his estates, the first object 
that struck him on entering the fine old hall, was a little fairy thing 
with long flaxen ringlets hanging almost to its feet, which he would 
have been tempted to fall down and worship as supernatural, had not 
old Sara prompted the lovely child to demand a blessing from her 
father. 

In a moment, Ida was in her father's arms ; and from that day he 
seemed to abjure his former regrets concerning the sex of his oftspring. 
The little girl was of such singular beauty, such rare intelligence, that, 
even as a stranger, it would have been difficult not to be attached by 



THE AMBASSADOR'S WIFE. 3 

her caresses. How much more so, when every feature reminded him 
of Agnes— the only human being he had ever loved— and when the 
child addressed him with tender appellations and endearments, now 
becoming unfamiliar to his ear. It required no great effort on the part 
of the attached Sara to render the child an object of deep affection 
to the baron. 

It was soon discovered in the establishment, and even among the 
tenants, that no concession was to be obtained from the baron, except 
through the medium of the little girl.- The task of the innocent Ida 
was one of daily intercession. She had to screen the guilty, and protect 
the unfortunate. Though scarcely able to hsp, she t\as already an 
Influence. 

When once a hard minded man surrenders himself to a domination 
of this tender nature, he seems to take pride in making himself a 
greater slave than other people. 

Eehfeld appeared to glory in subjecting himself to the caprice of his 
beautiful child ; and Ida was soon as completely spoiled as if she had 
not been the offspring of a man who had been ashamed of his wife, and 
discontented with the daughter she had bequeathed him. His country 
neighbours, nay, even the courtly friends and kinsmen who accompanied 
him occasionally from the Residenz to share the hunting parties and 
carousing of Schloss Eehfeld, seemed to emulate his infatuation for the 
unearthly-looking being who haunted that grim solitude like a spirit 
of peace. 

Till she was fifteen years old, Ida von Eehfeld never once quitted the 
old mansion. From the pastor of the village she derived all the in- 
struction which Sara was unequal to bestow ; and, singularly enough, 
the education of that fair girl was pretty nearly the same as would 
have been bestowed on a young baron, had her father's prayer been 
propitiated by the birth of a son. The venerable huntsman, who- had 
been her father's preceptor, taught her to ride, and even instructed her 
in the use of the rifle and cross-bow ; while Herr Yossius imparted as 
large a share of classical learning as would probably have required the 
aid of a smart cane, or considerable expenditure of birch, to infuse 
into the mind of the heir of the estate. Every summer, her father 
made his appearance at the Schloss, armed with new music, new books, 
new tapestries, new trinkets ; and was enchanted to perceive that the 
instructions bestowed by the kapell-meister, who accompanied him, 
had so far prospered during his absence, as to leave her an excellent 
musician. 

Ida was now a beautiful girl— a girl who almost reconciled him to 
her not being a boy ; active and intelhgent as she was lovely ; and if 
a little wilful, not more so than might be expected, considering the 
absolute authority she was allowed to exercise in the establishment. 

The pretty Fraulein had scarcely completed her fifteenth year, when, 
as she was anxiously awaiting the arrival of her father for the com- 
mencement of his autumnal" hunting party, a letter from the baron 
acquainted her that, instead of being accompanied by his usual friends, 
or projecting his ordinary stay of some weeks at the chateau, he should 
bring with him only a single person, and remain there but a single day. 
For the first time his visit was preceded by no baggage waggon— no 
batferie de cuisine — no French cook— no plate-chest— none of bis usual 
appurtenances of festivity. A few cases of books and musical instru- 
ments—addressed to " Mademoiselle Therese Moreau "—were the sole 
harbingers of his approach. 

B 2 



4 THE AMBASSADOR'S WIFE. 

The mystery was soon unravelled. The Baron von Rehfeld had 
accepted a diplomatic mission at the court of St. Petersburg ; and even 
as he had been content to renounce the society of his only child, in 
order to fortify her constitution in youth by a purer air than that of 
the Eesidenz, he was now unwilling to expose her to the hazards of a 
rude climate and hasty removal from her native country. His mission 
in Eussia was of a temporary nature. It was unlikely that he should 
be more than twelve months absent ; and he had accordingly deter- 
mined upon leaving Ida at Schloss Eehfeld, under the guardianship of 
Herr Vossius, whose presbytery was only a few hundred yards distant 
from the house. 

The baron was not, however, disregardful that the coming year was 
one of peculiar importance to a girl so singularly educated as his young 
heiress. The high distinctions to which she might hereafter pretend 
at the court of the Eesidenz, rendered it indispensable she should be- 
come neither a pedant nor a hoyden ; and in order to remedy these 
deficiencies, which suddenly occurred to him as likely to have arisen 
under the presidency of Yossius and the old nurse, he had obtained 
from Paris, through the intervention of the lady of the French envoy 

at , a governess of mature age and eminent accomplishments, 

to become, during his absence, the companion of Mademoiselle von 
Eehfeld ; a measure which, in the opinion of the worthy Sara, added 
insult to injury ! 

That they should not only be left behind, but left under the surveil- 
lance of a gouvernante, was an offence the old nurse of the baron found 
it difficult to pardon. Nevertheless, when her lord eventually made his 
appearance, his habitual influence over her mind soon subdued her 
rebellious feelings to subordination ; while as to the governess, as to 
"Mademoiselle Therese," she proved to be a person so sprightly, 
courteous, and sociable, that it would have been difficult for even the 
most contentious old woman in the world to pick a quarrel with her. 

A life spent in tuition in one or two of the first families in Prance, 
had so accustomed her to the task of conciliating refractory spirits, that 
she found little difficulty in converting the prejudiced German nurse 
into a confederate ; and the wild, but graceful and intelligent Ida, into 
a cheerful and promising pupil. 

Though Mademoiselle von Rehfeld beheld the departure of her father 
for so long a journey with the deepest regret, her tears were soon dried 
by the kindly assiduities of her new companion ; and she was willing to 
admit the wisdom of the baron, in providing her such a substitute for 
his society. 

The lessons which Ida had to receive were purely superficial. The 
foundations of a solid education had been too carefully laid by the pastor 
to admit of any attempt at interference on the part of the French 
governess, to whom her pupil appeared a prodigy of learning. But the 
fair young German had a thousand trivial accoraphshments to acquire, 
the exposition of which was as pleasant to Mademoiselle Therese as 
to her docile scholar ; and so eager was the application of the young 
recluse, apprised for the first time of her deficiency in the usual 
branches of female education, that after a few months, the kind-hearted 
Mademoiselle Therese could scarcely persuade herself, that the fruits 
she saw so rapidly approaching to maturity were of her own engrafting. 

Unluckily, however, this indulgent kind-heartedness rendered her a 
peculiarly unfit instructress' for Ida von Eehfeld. However important 
the influence of her courtesies and graces of manner on the habits 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 5 

of the lovely, but untaught heiress, her unfeigned admiration of Ida's 
talents was as ingenious an encouragement to the vanity of her pupil, 
as the adoration of the old nurse and the reverence of the pastor had 
been fatal stimulants to her pride. By poor old Yossius, she had been 
treated as a divinity — by Sara as a queen ; and the vassals of her iather, 
to whom she was endeared by many an act of grace in their behalf, sur- 
rounded her with professions of subservience. Her pride in herself, 
however, was rather as the representative of her father, rather as a 
daughter of the house of Eehfeld, which, as the greatest thing she had 
ever known, possessed an overweening majesty in her estimation — than 
as the beautiful and talented Ida. It was such as might progress into 
ambition, but was scarcely likely to degenerate into any meaner 
weakness. 

Sara, a retainer of the family, had from her earliest hour instilled 
into her mind notions of its consequence and her own; and even 
Mademoiselle Therese, though in her heart she regarded even the court 
of the Saxon Duchy as purely provincial, and its palace as far inferior 
to an hotel in the Faubourg St. Germain, had not resided six months at 
Schloss Eehfeld, before she seemed to coincide in the prejudice of its 
inmates, that the baron's daughter had only to be presented at court, 
to attract the eyes of all Europe towards that thence-forward ennobled 
nook of the Holy Eoman Empire. 

The romance of her pupil's position in life, and the peculiarities of 
her education, were not without their charm in the eyes of one long 
trammelled by the routine of Parisian life. All was new, strange, and 
striking to her in that dull old chateau ; and while it became the pas- 
time of her long winter evenings, to recount to the only too attentive 
Ida, the glories and attractions of her own more brilliant country, she 
was nob sorry to be occasionally relieved from the discription of the 
gay soirees of the Hotel de Choisy, where she had been spending her 
last five years, by the solemn episodes with which old Sara performed 
her part in the gossip of the night; concerning the wars of Germany, 
the grandeur of its feudal barons, and above all, the heroism and 
dignity of the ancestors of the fair girl, who, though released from her 
authority, still sat patient and attentive by her side. 



CHAPTEE 11. 

La chose humaine persiste a tr6ner ! tant petit que soit le royaume, tant mes- 
quine que soit la couronne, onveut toujours trdner. — Champfort. 

Nearly two years had elapsed,- and still the cautious delays of 
diplomatic negotiation detained Baron von Eehfeld at St. Petersburg. 
Had he anticipated so long an absence, his daughter would probably 
have been his companion. The risks of foreign travel would have 
been, in fact, far less perilous than her peculiar position at home. 
Adulation is always dangerous to the young ; but with its flattering 
unction unbalanced by rougher lessons, the evil is incalculable. Ida 
von Eehfeld was never looked upon unless by admiring eyes, never 
addressed save by cajoling tongues. She had no companions of her own 
age, to check her girlish presumption by bantering or reproof, or call 
forth the better sympathies of her heart by friendship and affection. 



6 THE AAIBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

Her life was a life of superiority over her fellow creatures ; the surest 
mode of reducing her temper and disposition beneath their level. She 
might be pardoned for believing that the httle circle surrounding her 
was created solely for her use and profit; for it professed no other 
object or purpose. Even in becoming haughty and reckless, the fault 
was not altogether her own. 

There was a broad gravelly parapet beside the fosse flanking the 
glacis of the old mansion, along which, on the sunny afternoons of 
spring, the happy girl was permitted to enjoy unmolested exercise ; 
while Mademoiselle Therese indulged in the siesta rendered indis- 
pensable by the unseemly dinner-hour of primitive Germany, or 
amused herself with the French newspapers, kindly forwarded for her 
amusement from Petersburg by the baron. It was there that Ida 
communed with herself. While the breezes sweeping from the forest 
over the plain, freshened her cheeks and quickened her buoyant steps, 
the soul within her became equally vivified. The result was, that one 
fine day, when ]\Iademoiselle Therese at length sauntered forth to 
express her surprise at the untiring activity of her dear child, Ida 
suddenly burst forth into exclamations almost as startling to the 
gouveruante as if they had proceeded from one of the stone lions 
rampant, stationed at intervals along the parapet, to support the coat of 
arms of the house of Rehfeld. 

" JNIy father's letter this morning gives a splendid account of the 
gala held for the emperor's birthday !" said she. " As if I were not 
sufiiciently weary of the life I lead here, Avithout having it rendered 
more gloomy by contrast with his brilliant pictures of a courtly 
existence ! " 

The governess replied, as it is the province of governesses to reply 
in such cases, that the time would come when her dear pupil would 
thank her father for his paternal care in having prolonged the period 
of her education, and withheld her from all participation in the 
tumultuous scenes of the world, till she was of an age at once to enjoy 
and resist their influence. 

" The time may come, but it is not yet come ! " cried Ida, impetously. 
"I am heartsick of this place ! I want the sight of new objects— I 
want the sound of fresh voices ! I am nearly seventeen, and for years 
I have beheld only peasants and domestics. Till you came hither, ma 
honne, this sufficed me. My poor, good Sara, and the kind Herr 
Pastor, satisfied ray desires of affection and companionship. But you 
have given me a taste for better things. All you have told me of 
Prance, of the brilliant society of Paris, of the life led universally by the 
women of your own country, have so excited my interest, that I am 
getting impatient of this cold, featureless place. Look!" said she, 
suddenly pausing. " Por nearly seventeen years, I have had no object 
to gaze at but yonder spire, peeping through the trees, and the sweep 
of woods beyond, cresting the line of hills." 

'•'A charming landscape!" muttered Mademoiselle Therese, from 
whose spontaneous ejaculations of disgust, at her first arrival, the 
Praulein probably derived her first consciousness of the tediousness of 
the place. 

" But what does it say to the heart to attach or elevate?" cried Ida. 
"Kothing! Had my poor mother lived, or had I possessed a young 
sister to grow up with me here, the charm of early associations would 
have endeared every object around us. But my home has been cheer- 
less ; and my father ought to reflect upon this when he describes to me, 



THE AilBASSADOli'8 WIFE. 7 

in such glowing colours, the brilliant festivities of St. Petersburg, in 
which he well knows I am now of an age to participate." 

Mademoiselle was a little shocked, a little alarmed. This sudden 
assumption of independence of opinion on the part of her pupil led her 
to regret having so freely amused Mademoiselle de Rehfeld's insipid 
leisure with accounts of the gay entertainments she had witnessed in 
the establishment of the Countess de Choisy, of whose daughter she 
had been the preceptress. All she could now do, hov/ever, in justice to 
her employer, was to enter into a defence of the policy of Monsieur le 
Earon ; secretly resolving to write and acquaint him of the impatience 
his lovely Ida was betraying for the moment of restoration to his 
society, and inauguration into that of the g:reat world. 

But that her pupil was a Protestant, Mademoiselle Therese would 
have adopted the more expedient course of appealing to] her Director. 
But she vvas too well aware of the prolixities of the worthy Vossius, 
to engage his aid in reproving this efflorescence of youthful vanity, in 
their common charge. She did not suppose that the tedium of Schloss 
Rehfeld was likely to be diminished, in Ida's estimation, by a daily 
sermon from the pastor. 

Meanwhile, the impatience of the dawning beauty did not tend to 
soften the hauteur of her character. Her manner became absent and 
unconciliating ; and every fresh despatch that brought an account of 
the diversions in which her father bore a part, served to augment her 
dissatisfaction. 

" The emperor, you see, opened the ball given by the Grand Duchess 
Helena with the daughter of the Prench ambassador ! " said she. " Had 
I been with my father, cliere bonne, I should have shared the honours 
and pleasures of the evening." 

" But the crowd, the display, the distraction of such a scene, my poor 
child !" remonstrated Sara, who happened to be present ; "you would 
have been terrified to death ! " 

" Why more terrified than the daughter of Count St. Guillaume?" 
demanded Ida. " My father seems determined to unfit my timidity 
and awkwardness for a share in such scenes, by the utter solitude to 
which I am condemned. Yet so far from feeling alarmed, chere bonne, 
at the prospect of ever going into a world of fites and representation, 
like that you have described in such flowing colours, I feel, on the con- 
trary, that life would be doubly worth living, in such an atmosphere. 
I was not created for companionship with streams and forests. I want 
friends to talk to — acquaintance to talk of. I want all you have 
described to me, as constituting the charm of the Hotel de Choisy." 

Again did poor Mademoiselle Therese wish she had been less com- 
municative. It is true that, during those weary evenings at Eehfeld, 
she had recurred to her former life more for the diversion of her own 
ennui, by retrospection, than for the recreation or instruction of Ida ; 
and so absorbed had she allowed herself to become in her descriptions 
of the gay coteries and elegant publicity of Parisian life, that she had 
failed to notice the glistening of her pupil's eyes, or the ardent interest 
excited by her portraits of the chivalrous youths of Prance, and the 
beauties to whose service they were devoted. 

" Be satisfied, dearest Ida ! " was all she could now falter in palliation 
of the mischief. " In two more months, you will be seventeen, and 
your father has assured us that he shall be here for the hunting season. 
You will then assume your place at the head of his establishment ; and 
whether he return to his diplomatic duties at St. Petersburg, or settle 



8 THE AMBASSADOR'S WIFE. 

altogether at the Eesidenz, you must become his companion and the 
sharer of his pleasures. If Sara is to be believed, it is the Baron von 
E/chfeld's intention to unite you, in the course of next year, with your 
cousin iWilhelm, one of the most amiable young men at the court 
of ; who, at your father's death, will inherit his title and fiefs." 

"Which is precisely the cause of all my anxiety !" interrupted Ida. 
" Except for that horrible prospect, I could bear with this place. But 
the idea of spending my whole future life here ! I am well acquainted 
with my cousin Wilhelm. When I was a child, he used to accompany 
his father hither, to the hunting parties. A well-meaning uninteresting 
cousin, as you can well imagine ; a person who will be content to sit 
down in dull obscurity, to live and die at Rehfeld !" 

" But you cannot suppose, my dear child, that a father, so indulgent 
as yours, will impose any match upon you, really distasteful ?" remon- 
strated Mademoiselle Therese. " You have unlimited influence over 
Monsieur le Baron. He absolutely adores you;— (who does notl) and 
the moment he cedes to you the control of his household, as he has 
announced his intention of doing on^ your ensuing birthday, you will 
become his companion and friend. Your wishes will be his law. Nay, 
I have my suspicions that you have only to hint it is the dearest wish of 
your heart to visit Paris, to determine him to undertake the journey." 

" Pray heaven your prognostications may be fulfilled," cried Ida, 
more cheerfully ; and from that day, the reveries of the young girl 
became brightened by notions of her impending consequence as lady 
paramount of Schloss Eehfeld, and wild visions of the brilhant pleasures 
of a still more extended sphere. But that her whole soul was self- 
engrossed, she must have noticed at that period a singular alteration in 
the style of her father's letters. The baron, who for some time past 
had tried to amuse her with detailed accounts of the pleasures of society, 
was gradually becoming as dry and concise, as when his epistles con- 
sisted of exhortations to be diligent in her studies, and affectionate to 
Sara, her second mother, and Mademoiselle Therese Moreau. Nay, 
they evinced a sort of half-repressed uneasiness, precursive as it were of 
misfortune to him or herself. Allusions, which she did not trouble 
herself to decypher, darkened his style and announced his increasing 
infirmity of spirits. The only thing to which poor Ida really gave her 
attention was that the days were rapidly passing away, the expiration 
of which was to bring him back to his native country. At the com- 
mencement of September, the baron was to reach the Eesidenz ; and 
after a few days' sojourn there for the discharge of his duties to the 
prince, he was to repair to Schloss Eehfeld, and give the signal of her 
enfranchisement from girlish subjection. 

Already, the steward had received orders to prepare for the reception 
of a large and brilliant party, which was to accompany the Herr Baron ; 
and difficult were it to decide wliicli was the more rejoiced at the 
prospect of seeing the old-fashioned suite of state apartments once more 
blazing with lights, and resounding with hospitality — Mademoiselle 
Therese or her pupil. Liberal means were habitually assigned by the 
baron, to procure for his daughter all that the progress of her education, 
or that girlish vanity seemed to require. But now, a succession of 
'Cases arrived from the Eesidenz, bringing new furniture, new books, 
new musical instruments, evidently intended for her use; besides a 
charming variety of dresses and trinkets, inscribed with her name. 

Ida was now the happiest of the happy ! Her dreams were at length 
on the eve of realization. Her life seemed only now beginning, A 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 9 

thousand times a day did she embrace old Sara, or call upon Made- 
moiselle Therese to sympathize in her joy; nor was the gouvernante 
ever weary of admiring the loveliness of her charge, arrayed for the first 
time, in the gay attire of modern fashion. Mademoiselle von Eehfeld 
was beginning to rehearse the graces of the courteous hostess ; and her 
instructress, to assure her that she would do the honours of the castle, 
in a style certain at once to gratify her father and enchant his noble 
guests. 

As the lovely Ida paraded the picture gallery and saloon, which, 
thanks to her father's recent liberality had begun to assume something 
of the tone described by Mademoiselle as characteristic of a ''salon 
comme il faut," she foresaw the moment when it would be filled with 
an admiring circle, every eye of which was centred upon the youthful 
heiress, the cynosure'of the festive scene. 

On the day fixed for the baron's arrival, a glowing September sun 
burnished the towers of the old mansion ; and even the well-trimmed 
evergreens of the terrace seemed trying to look bright and lively in 
honour of the event. In the courtyard was an old-fashioned fountain, 
recently placed in repair, in order that its puny jet might accredit so 
great an event in the annals of the baronial family, as the return of a 
Eehfeld from a diplomatic mission on the icy shores of the Neva ; and 
scattered about the place, were a score or two of villagers in their best 
array, their button-holes adorned with knots of ribbons or posies of 
China-asters ; who, marshalled under the auspices of poor Yossius, were 
to sally forth to the extremity of the avenue, to greet their honourable 
patron with a concateijation of discordant sounds, forming the Sunday 
orchestra of the singing-loft at Eehfeld. 

The morning progressed ; and Ida, restless and excited, kept wander- 
ing from window to window, on the look-out for a train of carriages; 
now, changing the arrangement of the vast bouquets with which the 
providence of the steward had disfigured the jasper vases in the old 
library, and the recently-received ornaments of Dresden china in the 
saloon; when at length, her ear was startled by the smacking of a 
courier's whip, and the jingling of his bells. The cavalcade must be at 
hand! 

He came, however, only to announce that the Herr' Baron and his 
noble company would still be two hours on the road ; and to deliver to 
the hands of the Fraulein, a despatch from her father. 

Already, Mademoiselle Therese had eagerly rushed forth and circu- 
lated through the establishment tidings that they had two hours' respite 
from their duties ; when lo ! on her return to the saloon, she found the 
lovely girl she had left so blooming and joyous, speechless and almost 
ghastly with consternation ! Terrible news had evidently been con- 
veyed by her father's letter. The gouvernante almost trembled to 
hazard an interrogation. 

While she was still sitting beside her charge, holding her hand in 
hers, and suggesting eau de fleur d'orange, and other restoratives, 
which she might as well have administered unasked, the door was flung 
open, and old Sara, tottering into the room with a visage still more 
overcome than that of her young lady, made her appearance. 

"My child— my poor child!"— was all she could utter, as she knelt 
down before Mademoiselle von Eehfeld, weeping upon the fair hands 
she pressed to her withered lips. 

" What on earth is the meaning of all this ? " murmured the astonished 
gouvernante. " Speakj Sara— speak ! " 



10 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

'■'It means," answered the sobbing woman, rising from her knees, 
" that we have been shamefully deceived, Eehfeld has got a new lady 
—the baron a new wife. Do you hear the huzzaing in the courtyard? 
The courier has just circulated the news, and those ungrateful people 
are hailing it as a matter of joy !" 

'' Married ?"— reiterated Mademoiselle Therese, turning as pale as her 
natural copper colour would allow. 

" Married ! All these toys and gimcracks," continued Sara, pointing 
round at the new furniture, " were intended only to welcome the new 
baroness. Shameful— shameful ! " 

"It is certainly somewhat singular that the Baron von Eehfeld 
should so little have understood what was due to us," replied Made- 
inoiselle Therese, drawing up, " as to defer till the eleventh hour, the 
signification of an event that must have been long in contemplation." 

" Long in contemplation, perhaps," murmured Ida, striving to rally 
her spirits, " but hurried, he assures me, by unexpected circumstances 
at the moment of his departure. It had been settled that the marriage 
should not take place till my father's return to Russia ; and he 
intended to break it to me in person, with a thousand necessary expla- 
nations, during his sojourn at Eehfeld. But at the instant of quitting 
St. Petersburg, the family of— the baroness— pressed the fulfilment of 
his engagements. The wedding was a hasty one, and it was of course 
necessary that he should be the first to disclose the fact to the' grand 
duke." 

The commentary of Mademoiselle Therese upon all this, was an 
expressive shrug of the shoulders ; but the less polished old Sara, who 
still looked upon the Herr Baron, at nearly fifty years of age, as her 
nursling, imposed very little restraint upon her exclamations of indig- 
nation and disgust. 

" A second marriage !— a marriage after a widowhood of seventeen 
years ! — a marriage with a foreigner ! — perhaps with a heretic ! — There 
was no excuse or apology for the Herr Baron." 

Even his own faithful nurse disinherited him, from that moment, of 
her affections. 



CHAPTEE III. 

My father's wife, yet not my mother !— No ; 
Worlds, worlds less than a mother ! Filial Duty 
That hath the part to play of filial Love, 
Assumes a task outweighing that of Atlas, 
When doom'd to bear our pondrous globe a-poize. 
Yet must I honour her,— ay, must! — Fletcher. 

In certain emergencies, and failing a better monitor, pride is some- 
times a lucky ascendant over the human mind. Grieved as she was, 
Ida would not allow even those so true to her, to perceive that she 
thought herself aggrieved. Still less would she permit the stranger 
about to wrest her sceptre from her hand, to discover that her abdica- 
tion was compulsory. 

Before the arrival of the bridal party, accordingly, she had recovered 
her courage so far as to receive them with dignity and grace, nay, with 
a suitable welcome ; and it is more than probable that, but for the 
event which had excited her feehngs to so wild a pitch, her deportment 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 11 

as lady of the ascendant at Schloss Eehfeld would have been far less 
gracious, than as the humbled step-daughter of a stranger. 

She now placed a sort of perversity in appearing to the greatest 
advantage; resolved that the noble guests of her father should admit 
her to be fully qualified for presiding over the establishment, which he 
had chosen to place under the control of an alien ; and her youthful 
beauty became almost painfully dazzling under the excitement of the 
feelings that swelled her heart to bursting, while her face was radiant 
with smiles. 

Of the age or country of the new baroness, her father had said 
nothing ; and the young girl, naturally connecting the idea of a bride 
with youth and beauty, expected to find a young and lovely creature 
hanging on the arm of him whose grave countenance and grey hairs 
she had been accustomed to venerate, and in whom her trust was already 
diminished. 

At length, there resounded at a distance the discharge of petards 
prepared by the tenants, as usual on such occasions, to frighten the 
horses of the travellers upon their arrival on the confines of the estate. 
Then came the sound of bells jangling from the village tower of 
Eehfeld, and finally, the clatter of horses, and rumble of wheels; 
whereupon, pressing her hands almost convulsively on her heart, as if 
to subdue its plilsations, Ida rose from the seat into which she had 
sunk on the first of these intimations of the approach of the trayellers ; 
and motioning to Mademoiselle Therese not to accompany her too 
closely, proceeded into the great hall. 

The bride and bridegroom had already alighted from their travelling 
carriage, and were just entering the house. The bride and bridegroom ! 
What a sound to reach the ears of poor Ida ! Her eyes, however, were 
at that moment too eagerly occupied, to allow much leisure for her 
other faculties; although the tears which she could not altogether 
succeed in chiding back to their fountain-head, formed some obstacle 
to her task of observation. 

Kature prompted her to rush forward, and fling herself as usual into 
the arms of her father. But Ida was beginning to mistrust the sug- 
gestions of nature ; and consulting only her pride, stopped short in the 
middle of the hall, and waited till the baron, placing a hand in her 
own, exclaimed in a broken voice—" My dearest child ! embrace your 
new mother." 

jMademoiselle von Eehfeld's ideas of an embrace being purely German, 
she was about to extend her arms towards the lady, whose form and 
features she was now weeping too much in earnest to discern. But 
her movements were checked by a formal salutation imprinted on 
either of her cheeks by the baroness ; and her ears startled by a voice 
addressing her in French as purely Parisian as that of Mademoiselle 
Therese ! 

" Conduct us into the saloon, my dear Ida," said her father, perceiv- 
ing that more eyes were upon them than he was desirous should pry 
into their family secrets ;— and the moment they had crossed the thres- 
hold of the drawing-room, the baron, turning towards a group by 
which they were closely followed, began renewing his expressions of 
welcome to the foreign visitors, who appeared to have misunderstood 
the object of his movement. 

" Where is my daughter— I am all eagerness to introduce my daughter 
to her new sister.?" cried the baroness :— at which starthng exclama- 
tion, Ida for the first time bent her gaze steadily unon the bride, and 



12 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

saw with amazement that the lady, whom the dimness of the old hall, 
and a certain air of elegance and distinction, had invested with the 
charms of youth, was really old enough to be her mother. 

This discovery became (!bnfirmed when the daughter so earnestly 
summoned made her tardy appearance; and if poor Ida had for a 
moment flattered herself that the mother-in-law unexpectedly forced 
upon her endurance, would form no rival to her pretensions to the 
name of the "Lily of Eebfeld," by which she was known in the environs, 
the striking beauty of her father's step-daugbter was of a nature to 
invade her rights even to that treasured supremacy. 

" Marguerite ! I commend you to the protection and kindness of 
Mademoiselle von Eehfeld," said the baroness, addressing a young lady 
whom Ida justly estimated to be nearly of her own age ; and the silent 
formality with which "Marguerite" curtseyed in obedience to the 
exhortation, afi'orded a somewhat alarming sample of the respect and 
obedience exacted by the new baroness. 

No further explanations were given. The baroness, fatigued by her 
journey and the noisy demonstrations of the tenantry in her honour, 
threw herself into a corner of the sofa, completely exhausted, but com- 
pletely at home; and such of the party as were not engaged with the 
baron at the further end of the room, surveying the prospect from its 
embayed windows, or admiring the courtesy of his greeting to Made- 
moiselle Therese, now hastened towards Madame von Rehfeld, with 
inquiries and condolences touching the contrarieties of the day. 

Involuntarily, Ida took her place in the nearest chair, her hands 
deathly cold, her ears burning, her respiration impeded. It was the 
first time she had found herself a secondary personage in that room. 
Into what depths of insignificance might she not be about to fall ! 

She took no note of the movements of the baroness's daughter, who, 
after pausing a moment, as if waiting for a formal invitation to be seated, 
assumed a chair by her side. ]So one took the slightest notice of either 
of them. One half the party was engaged in conversation with the 
baroness, while the baron attempted to engage himself in conversation 
with the other. 

After the first hurried moments of conversation, Ida summoned 
courage to examine the individuals composing the two groups, who had 
been slightly named to her by her father on entering the room, but 
whom she found herself unable to individualize. 

Now that the feelings of despair, by which she was overcome, had 
dried the tears in her eyes, she perceived that one of the two strangers 
stationed beside Madame von Eehfeld, was young and good looking'; 
while the other, a man of maturer years, if less handsome, was remark- 
able for the distinction of his manners and appearance. They were 
conversing together in French, which appeared to be the native lan- 
guage of the baroness ; and Ida could not but admit that these stranger 
guests, however unwelcome to her at that moment, displayed higher 
graces of manner and deportment than her experience of the former 
autumnal festivities of Schloss Kehfeld had brought under her notice. 

Towards the group surrounding her father, the sounds of whose loud 
and joyous conversation in German reached her where she sat, Ida 
scarcely ventured to extend her scrutiny. Filial instinct rendered it 
painful to her at that moment to fix her eyes upon her father, from 
whom, for the first time in her life, her heart and soul were estranged. 
A familiar voice, however, suddenly attracted her notice ; and looking 
towards the recessed window, she observed poor Mademoiselle Therese 



THE AilBASSADOE'S WIFE. 18 

expendins; her civilities on her young cousin Wilhelm von Eehfeld, 
whose vague and ceremonious replies afforded evidence that his atten- 
tion was reluctantly given. What could be more natural than that 
Ida should suppose her cousin anxious to escape from the hands of her 
gouvernante, only to pay his compliments to herself? 

lb was more than a year since they had met ; and for many preceding 
the young heir of the fiefs of the house of Eehfeld, when visiting the 
3a-itle annually with his uncle, was accustomed to devote to his lovely 
cousin the attentions due to cousinship so fair, and calculated to mark 
his cognizance of the projects entertained by the baron in his favour ; 
and Ida, who, from the moment a surmise of these had entered her head, 
had become less girlishly cordial in her reception of the future bride- 
groom, felt that she should now derive solace and importance from his 
devotion. She was almost angry with Mademoiselle Therese for detain- 
ing the only member of the party to whom she w as an object of solici- 
tude, more particularly as the young baron's wandering and unquiet 
glances seemed to indicate no little anxiety to be released. 

At the close of ten minutes, however, Mademoiselle Therese's 
inquiries of her new acquaintance touching the state of the roads, the 
news of the Eesideuz, the health of the grand duke, and the success of 
the last opera, being exhausted, the baron was at liberty to move ; and 
move he instantly did, proceeding straight towards the end of the 
room, where his lovely cousin was performing her penance of insignifi- 
cance. 

The moment Ida became conscious that her cousin was on his road 
towards her chair, with the instinctive coquetry of her sex, she averted 
her eyes. At length, finding that no AVilhelm addressed her, she 
hazarded an inquiring glance around her ; and found him, — after the 
due performance of his three bows of ceremony, and causing the heel of 
his boots to resound like castanets, according to the rules of Saxon 
politeness,— commencing a formal conversation with the daughter of 
the baroness. 

The emotions that assailed her at the discovery were probably much 
such as agitated the feelings of James II., when, on hearing that even 
the stupid Prince George of Denmark had deserted him for the reform- 
ing party, he exclaimed, "So— poor ' est-il-iwssihle' is gone with the 
rest ! " Still, she was mortified by the secession of even the last and 
least of those on whom she had for some weeks past been reckoning, as 
the devoted slaves of her footstool. 

But if the girlish mortification of Ida on this head arose from any 
suspicion of confederacy between " Marguerite " and the young baron, 
she must have been quickly re-assured by the cold propriety with which 
the stranger replied to the courtesies of her new acquaintance. Im- 
possible to be more formal in her deportment, or more laconic in her 
replies, a greater contrast could scarcely be conceived than between 
the frank loquacity of the baroness and the mournful taciturnity of her 
daughter. 

The day was luckily declining, and the dinner-hour sufficiently near 
at hand to warrant the retirement of all parties to their rooms, for the 
duties of the toilet. It was a considerable relief to Ida when her father 
and the old steward undertook the duty of marshalling the lady of 
Schloss Eehfeld to the state chamber, which had been prepared for the 
most illustrious of the expected guests, very little surmising that it 
was about to be appropriated to the reception of a new Baroness von 
Eehfeld. 



li THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

Hurrying to her own room, without further interest in the hospitalities 
of the house, Ida threw herself on the bed, and burst into an agony of 
tears. Her humiliation was complete. Her better and worse feelings 
were alike wounded ; her filial love, her selfish pride, her vain ambition, 
her girlish coquetry ; and in proportion as the future she had projected 
disappeared from view, the past, which she had hitherto regarded so 
scornfully, assumed due value in her eyes. 

Degraded as she was by the recent 'event, what would she not have 
given to have returned to her condition of former times; to have 
become only as the Ida von Eehfeld of the preceding day ? AVhat 
would she not have given, even to be clasped to the heart of the father 
whose coming she had hailed but as the signal of her rescue from a life 
of obscurity, or to have been comforted by the assiduities of the kins- 
man whom she had accustomed herself to despise as a boor! 

But it was too late ! Her destinies were not to choose. Little as she 
had been consulted in their ordering, the decree was irrevocable. 
Henceforward she was to be the neglected or oppressed step-daughter 
of an insolent foreigner ! 

Young as she was, she had been struck by the worldly ceremoniousness 
of deportment between her father and his brido. There was evidently 
nothing tender, nothing intimate between them ; and though her first 
apprehension, on learning his hasty marriage, had been to see a young 
and charming woman in his arms, to the utter absorption of his 
atfections, she now felt that she should have been more at ease 
had indications of personal attachment afforded an excuse for his 
marriage. 

On raising her head from her pillow, a.fter some minutes' indulgence 
in these bitter reflections, she was comforted by the sight of the gou- 
vernante watching over her with a tearful countenance. It was the 
first time Ida had ever seen the good hearted woman weep. 

" Spare me, I entreat," faltered she, as Mademoiselle Therese folding 
her in her arms, again melted into tears. " I would not, for worlds, 
that these people discovered the extent of my grief and mortification ! 
If you love me, refrain from aught that may disarm my courage." 

And starting up, Ida began, with trembling hands and \^ild and 
flurried manner, to commence her toilet. 

At that moment, old Sara, who had been engaged with the chief 
domestics of the household in doing the honours of the castle to the 
baroness and her suite, bustled into the room with angry eyes, and a 
voice hoarse with emotion. 

" I call it an outrage ! " cried the indignant nurse,—" a downright 
outrage ! To bring down such multitudes of people upon us— and at 
such a moment ! " 

"Eather thank heaven my father did not come alone with his new 
family," faltered Ida, her anger subdued by the rage of another. " The 
presence of these strangers imposes, at least, some restraint on our 
feelings." ^ 

" A foreigner, too— a widow— a woman encumbered with children of 
her own ! " 

^^ "Dear, good nurie!" remonstrated Mademoiselle von Eehfeld, 
"remember that, only two hours ago, your chief anxiety arose from 
the probability of a young wife and future offspring ! " 

"Anything rather than this haughty cold-blooded woman!" cried 
the irate Sara. "When the baron, my dear son, presented me to her 
notice and explained my position in his family, the stranger noticed 



THE AMBASSADOR'S WIFE. 15 

me only by n bow such as a queen might have given from a throne. 
But she will soon find her French manner make no way for her, in our 
simple cordial Germany ! " 

" Her French manner ?" reiterated Mademoiselle Thcrese; who, to dis- 
pense with the presence of Ida's attendant, had undertaken her duties of 
the day. " Trust me, there is nothing French in such hauteur as you de- 
scribe ! A grande dame de Paris is the most affable creature in the world." 
■ 'A further proof then, that, though a Parisian, she has never been a 
great lady before," retorted the angry nurse. 

" But she is not a Parisian, my good Sara ! " remonstrated Made- 
moiselle Therese, who was now busied in selecting, from among the 
dresses lately forwarded by the baron to his daughter, the most costly 
she could find, that her pupil might do the greatest honour to herself 
and the occasion. " The baron's letter this morning (you were present 
when this dear child read it aloud to me), expressly spoke of his 
marriage with the Countess Erloff. The family of ErloflF, my good 
Sara, is Russian, decidedly Russian ! " 

" But the baroness, if you remember, was a widow," said Ida gently. 

" True, my dear child, true !— And you say then," continued she, 
turning towards the nurse who was still chafing at her contradiction, 
" that she is by birth a countrywoman of mine ? " 

" Proud as Lucifer, as she is," retorted the nurse, " perhaps sJie might 
not thank either of us for such an expression. If you mean, however, 
that the Baroness von Rehfeld is French by birth — French she certainly 
is ! I heard as much from her own valet-de-chambre, who has already 
announced, in presence of Johaun — old Johann, a faithful servitor of 
this dear child's grandsire, that in future he is to be seneschal at Rehfeld." 

" My father may purpose the retirement of Johann," interposed Ida, 
forgetting for a moment her own grievances ; " on account of his age 
and infirmities, but only to secure him a happy retirement from his 
duties. Trust to the justice of my father." 

" It matters not ! " cried the nurse, fractiously ; " neither Johann, 
nor any other of the household, I presume, would under any circum- 
stances be mean-spirited enough to remain here, under the domination 
of a foreigner ! " 

" Still, my good Sara," remonstrated Therese, whose views of the case 
were wholly altered by the recent announcement, "still, since this lady 
is not, as we had all surmised a Russian — a savage Muscovite — since she 
is by birth, and probably education, courteous and enlightened " 

" I know nothing, good sooth, about courteous or enlightened ! " 
cried the old woman. " Those who are not German born, are alike 
aliens to me. Saving for love-service, I have no need of service at all; 
and love-service, even were she my countrywoman, towards one who 
comes to dislodge my poor child here from her rightful station in her 
rightful home, is out of the question. The best farewell I can take of 
Schloss Rehfeld is the speediest ! " 

" But your poor child ? " faltered Ida, turning round from the hands 
that were anxiously adorning her ; " surely you would not abandon 
me, only because others more bound to befriend me, have done me 
wrong ? " 

"Abandon ^7? ee?— no !" exclaimed the poor woman, brought to her 
senses by this rebuke, " rather follow thee to the world's end, whither- 
soever thou goest." 

And but for the remonstrances of the gouvemante, that the dinner 
bell was about to sound, and that for their darling charge to appear at 



16 THE AMBASSADOE's WIFE. 

table, either carelessly attired or ^itli her face distorted by weeping, 
was anjiihing but expedient, the embraces of the subdued old creature 
and her nursling's nursling, would have been prolonged beyond all 
reason. 

"And now I think of it," said Sara, recalled by her own tears to a 
milder mood, " the baron bad me tell thee, dearest child, that, howbeit 
his duties of ceremony to his guests (he said no word, good man, of his 
old bride !) were too imperative to permit his seeing thee alone, it 
might be until to-morrow, he intreated thee to believe, that his heart 
was not the less with thee ; and to comfort thyself as one abiding under 
the roof of a father to whom she is the dearest tbing on earth." 

"I am satisfied!" said Ida, wiping away her tears, and resuming 
her courage ; " I am perfectly satisfied. I was, indeed, afraid he had 
forgotten me." 

"'Thou shouldst have made allowance for the hurry and agitation of 
such a moment," said Sara, taking the part of her son and master, the 
moment he appeared to be accused. 

" The more pity," hinted Mademoiselle Therese, glad of an oppor- 
tunity to retort upon her previous ungraciousness, " that he could not 
precede his gay associates by a day or two, so as to preserve this painful 
family meeting from publicity " 

" It seems to me," murmured Ida, shrugging her shoulders, " that it 
had been far worse to bear in the privacy of our domestic fireside. 
My father's wife will now want leisure to examine my feelings or 
criticise my conduct. No ! since this misfortune was decreed, I am 
glad the shock has been sudden, and the inauguration of the new 
people an aflfair of state. They seem to arrive here at Eehfeld, only 
like guests. Better so! Accident has been kinder to me than my 
father." 

The toilet of Mademoiselle Eehfeld being now completed, and the 
time expired admitting of her absence from the party, the exclamations 
of her two adoring companions afforded to her youthful vanity, the 
incense to which it was only too well accustomed ; and so vehemently 
did they assure her she was all loveliness— all perfection, that the 
magnificent dress, and costly ornaments, recently bestowed by her 
father, seemed to have redoubled the usual measure of her charms. 

Eeliant on this soothing adulation, for no countercheck of disap- 
proval had ever reached her ear, the bosom of the young beauty heaved 
with emotions of gratified pride, and the mantling blood fixed a permanent 
blush upon her cheek. It was no flattery, at least on the part of 
her two injudicious friends, to assert that never had she looked more 
lovely. 

Of all the vanities that beset the female heart, that of conscious 
beauty is the most excitable and influential ; and Ida, as she descended 
the grand staircase, and was about to re-enter the circle of strangers 
she had quitted in disgust, felt almost happy in the re-assurance of her 
personal pre-eminence over the rivals in authority bestowed upon her 
by her father. 

That the younger and more dangerous— that Marguerite— that Made- 
moiselle Erlofi" (for so she had been recently named by Sara), formed 
any pretension to eclipse the young heiress of Schloss Eehfeld, was 
disproved in the eyes of Ida, on entering the saloon, by the timidity 
with which she sat concealed behind her mother's fauteuii, and the 
simplicity of a costume consisting in her own dark braided hair, and 
a dress of white muslin of the plainest form. In the course of the 



THE AMBASSABOS S WIFE. 17 

evening, however, her opinions on this point were fated to undergo some 
modification. 

The dinner, though served with splendour, dragged dull and heavily 
through its Silesian multitude of courses. Mademoiselle von Eehfeld, 
seated beside her cousin at a distance from either her father or the 
baroness, was lost in abstraction, and all around her seemed passing in 
the phantasmagorical showing of a dream; till the moment when, 
coflee having been served at table, according to the custom of most 
continental countries, the whole party rose to quit the dinner-room 
together. 

With absent listlessness, Ida took the arm of the young baron to 
follow the new lady of the castle, who was leaning on that of Prince 
Gallitziu, the elder of the two guests who had been presented to her 
before dinner; and Mademoiselle Erloff, v.bose cavaher was Count 
Alfred de Yaudreuil, the youngest and noisiest of the party ; when, as 
they were traversing the picture gallery in procession, on their return 
to the now illuminated saloon, the baroness paused till Ida came up 
with her, evidently as a matter of courtesy. 

Dismissing the two gentlemen with a nod as omnipotent as that of 
Juno, she took the arm of her step-daughter, while the prince sauntered 
towards the billiard-room adjoining the gallery, and Ida stood transfixed 
by her coolness. 

"These are highly interesting family portraits!" said she, raising 
her glass towards one which, instead of representing, like the majority of 
the pictures, the grim and gaunt ancestors of the house of Eehfeld, exhi- 
bited a Franciscan monk in the agonies of penitence, a frightful copy 
of one of the painful originals of Spagnoletto. " I must examine them 
more at leisure. Native artists, I presume ? Again, new acquaintances 
to make ! for I confess, that, with the exception of Holbein, Durer, 
and Cranach (whose works I do not recognize here), I am miserably 
unfamiliar with the masters of the German school. On many such 
points, I have my education to make ; but I shall prove a docile, if not 
an apt scholar." 

"Family portraits," observed Ida, coldly, "especially when not of 
first-rate merit, are rarely interestinor, unless to those of kindred 
blood." 

"Or to those in whom intermarriage may have awoke kindred 
feelings," replied the baroness, not choosing to perceive that offence 
was intended. " By the way, my dear child, I am meditating my first 
quarrel with your father, and on your account." 

Startled by the deliberate sang-froid of the woman of the world, 
Ida had not courage for the interrogation she saw v/as expected 
of her. 

" The baron would not allow me," she pursued, " to bring with me for 
your use, a few of the chiffons which the remoteness of this place from 
any capital might, I thought, render acceptable. He assured me that 
he was in the habit of sending you everything that money could 
procure, for your pleasure or adornment. How could I suppose the 
dear baron had profited so little by his recent experience at our gay 
court of St. Petersburg ; which, next to Paris, or perhaps because sup- 
plied from Paris, prides itself upon being the best dressed in Europe, as 
to have disfigured you with things five years out of date, and even when 
new adapted only for an old woman like myself ! But men, even the 
cleverest, are little to be trusted in such matters. They have no taste 
for the fitness of things. They conceive that half the merit of dress 

c 



18 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

consists in its cost; whereas the greatest distinction of toilet, in a 
young person, is to have the air of costing nothing." 

Ida, to whom this sally had very much that of an economical exhorta- 
tion, replied coldly and briefly, that there was every excuse for the 
baron's prodigality in favour of an only daughter. 

" For his prodigality, certainly— if it existed, of which I see no 
evidence ; but not, my dear child, for his bad taste. Were you to appear 
in your present style of dress in one of our gay ball-rooms, either French 
or Eussian, you would pass for a chaperon. No one could possibly 
imagine that an unmarried girl so far underrated her potent charms of 
youth and beauty, as thus to overload herself with ornaments !" 

Ida felt that she was blushing— if not with shame— with anger, at 
this covert reproof. 

" But it is all the fault of the baron !" resumed the imperturbed step- 
mother ; and her embarrassed companion was almost persuaded that an 
affectionate pressure of the arm enforced the assurance. " No man — 
but why belabour with a heavy sermon so light a subject ? Tell me, my 
dear child, what is the order of the evening ? How do you amuse your 
visitors at Eehfeld ? What have we to off'er these people to-night ? " 

They were now emerging into the brilliantly-lighted saloon, and by 
way of answer, Ida glanced towards the magnificent piano with which, 
her father had lately presented her. 

" Out of tune, I conclude," said the baroness, replying to her look, 
"hke every piano in every country house !" 

" On the contrary," Ida was beginning, " only yesterday " 

"Ah, so much the better," cried the baroness, interpreting her 
meaning. "What new music have you? Not a word of Strauss, 
Lanner, or Labitsky, I entreat, for we have had nothing else at St. 
Petersburg the whole winter ; and to say the truth, our gentlemen, I 
suspect, are no very ardent musicians, unless in a box at the Italian 
opera — no matter where. Tou will notice, some day or other, my dear 
Ida, that the corps diplomatique of every country in Europe is reli- 
giously devoted to les Bouffes, at once as a matter of good taste and 
hon ton. But I was inquiring what we had before us for to-night ? 
W^hist, of course !— the prince must have his whist— 5a«5 le vhist, pas 
de salv.t ! But for you children, could you not manage some petits 
jev.x ? If not, Marguerite can put you in the way. We may, perhaps, 
arrange charades or tableaux for another night ; meantime, do let us 
have something^' 

The restlessness of the grand dame to whom it was impossible to pass 
an evening without some sort of effort to entertain her, appeared to 
poor Ida Httle short of disease ; still she felt, as before, that all this stir 
and bustle was preferable to the stillness of domestic life. She trusted 
that the ceremony of her dethronement would thus pass unobserved by 
their guests from the Residenz. 

jMoreover, she soon perceived that Madame von Eehfeld, though 
ostensibly consulting her about these and similar matters, and conti- 
nually summoning her step-daughter to her side, and detaining her by 
gestures the most endearing, disposed everything exclusively in her own 
way. She was one of those women who, without any decided superiority 
of beauty or wit, know so well to turn to account the share tbey 
possess, and so self-assertiugly take possession of everything and every- 
body falling in their way, that it seems impossible, even to stronger 
minds, to dispute their ascendancy. 

She contrived accordingly that the baron should require from his 



THE AilBASSADOE'S WIFE. 19 

daughter, as an exhibition of her musical powers, a symphony of half 
an hour's duration, such as demanded the utmost force of amateurship 
to support without a yawn ; after which, Marguerite was ordered to the 
pianoforte, in order that a few simple notes of one of Schubert's 
exquisite ballads should render the laborious effort of the preceding 
exhibition still more apparent. No sooner was the pure sweet voice of 
Mademoiselle Erloff audible, than the murmur of conversation became 
hushed. The men, scattered through different parts of the saloon, 
drew nearer to the instrument. Even Mademoiselle Therese, who had 
been conversing with the young kinsman of her patron, at some distance 
from the rest of the party, was unconsciously attracted towards the 
gentle musician. 

The only person not manifestly enchanted with the performance of 
Mademoiselle Erloff, was herself. At the close of her song, Marguerite 
rose from the piano with tremulous limbs and a flushed cheek, overcome 
by emotion and timidity ; afraid of her mother's condemnation, yet still 
more afraid of the general applause that greeted her performance ; and 
Ida, jealous, almost envious of her success, felt ashamed in her turn, on 
recognizing the innate and most genuine diffidence of the girl whom she 
had been prepared to find exult in her superiority of accomplishment. 

" Marguerite has neither your knowledge of music nor your powers 
of execution, my dear child," said the baroness, soothingly, to her step- 
daughter, on noticing Mademoiselle von Eehfeld's crest-fallen coun- 
tenance. " She is so fond of painting, that to music she has given less 
time than I could desire. You must encourage her, my dear Ida, and, 
in time, perhaps, she may do something. I have always fancied that the 
very air of Germany must confer musical taste and feeling. Marguerite 
will perhaps acquire here the zeal that was wanting at Petersburg." 

On turning round at the close of a compliment which Ida secretly 
regarded as the praise undeserved which is " scandal in disguise," she 
found her young rival established in friendly conversation with Made- 
moiselle Therese. There was now a theme of common interest between 
them. The accomplishments of the young girl and the appreciation of 
the governess, brought about a speedy intimacy; and Ida was startled 
to perceive that the stiff, formal, and apparently disdainful damsel who 
had been seated beside her, required only encouragement and sympathy 
to brighten her countenance with expression, and soften her manners 
into courtesy and grace. 

Mademoiselle von Eehfeld was now thoroughly dispirited. A glance 
round that gay saloon, filled with strangers to whom she was compara- 
tively an object of indifference, who were conversing in a foreign tongue 
with which its antique walls were unfamiliar, and who, in their court- 
liness of habits and manners, probably regarded its simpHcity as bar- 
barous and herself as an awkward little German mddcJien, only a few 
degrees more polished and refined than her father's tenants, reduced 
her to insignificance. She became conscious that her dreams of girl- 
hood had been too aspiring. All the self-sufficiency engendered by her 
life of solitary predominance, was crumbling away. Her father had 
deserted her. Even her good governess seemed on the eve of deserting 
to the enemy's camp; and that night, when the haughty heiress of 
Eehfeld retired to the chamber hitherto brightened by indistinct 
visions of future glory, she was reduced to a state of misery and morti- 
fication, which it required more than all the wisdom inculcated by the 
lessons of Herr Yossiiis to meet \yithout an agony of tears I 

c 2 



20 THE AMBASSADOB'S WIFE. 



CHAPTER IV. 

II faut qu'une longue souffrance eclaire notre esprit. 
Pour deviner I'orage sur un del qui sourit. — Bertin. 

That night was one of watchfulness and meditation to Ida— the first 
in her hfe she had ever found sleepless. Young as she was, she saw 
that much of her future happiness depended upon the mode in w hich 
she encountered the present crisis of her destinies. 

On such advisers as her prejudiced old nurse and inconsistent 
governess, she had little reliance ; while the poor pastor was too com- 
pletely devoted to his patron to hazard a word of available counsel. 
Already Mademoiselle von Rehfeld mistrusted nearly as much as she 
disliked her ; and all she had ever read in story or heard in legend of 
the cruel persecutions of step-mothers, recurred to her recollection. She 
entertained little doubt that the intruder would leave no means untried 
to estrange her father's affections, and gradually reduce her to sub- 
servience and despair. Happily, she was on her guard. She would 
fortify herself against the enemy within such ramparts of reserve, and 
conceal her troubles and fears under such an armour of coldness, that 
the intrhguante, her terrible domestic foe, would be kept at bay. 

She resolved, in short, as most people do who determine upon playing 
a part contrary to the suggestion of their natures, to render herself as 
disagreeable as possible. But though veteran diplomatists may sit in 
their cabinets and devise plans of policy, it is not so easy for a girl of 
seventeen to adopt an independent hue of conduct. A girl of seventeen 
is not only the slave of others, but of herself; of her own gay impulses 
of nature, her own joyousness of heart. At the close of a few days,Ida!von 
Eehfeld, forced, for the first time in her life, to submit to the' influence 
of an authority, tacitly exercised, indeed, but not the less potent, found 
herself carried away by the force of circumstances, and forced to do as 
she was done by. 

The well-drilled household which accompanied the bridal party to 
Eehfeld, had taken possession of the place, as of a conquered country ; 
calling into existence a new order of things, of which it was impossible 
to deny the superiority over the antecedents of the family. The dull, 
old-fashioned place was growing almost cheerful; and the habits of 
penuriousness and unseemliness, consequent upon the absenteeism of the 
baron, and the inexperience of his daughter disappeared, in a few days, 
under tb^ authority of the French malfre-d'hotel of the new lady, till 
Ida scarcely recognized her former desolate home. 

Fain would she have joined with Sara and Johann in condemning these 
foreign innovations, and the change of hours and habits imposed on the 
baron ; — condemnation was impossible. A " Paradise was opened in the 
wild." In lieu of the formality of their former mode of life, and the 
coarse abundance of their cheer, the table at Eehfeld was now admirably 
served, while the saloon displayed the polished elegance of metropolitan 
life, Nay, as if in condescension to her girlish whimsies, for the first 
time, Ida found herself included in the hunting expeditions which had 
so often excitedhcr interest andcuriosity, Theladies of the party repaired 
daily to the rendezvous de chasse in an open carriage ; and ou'discover- 
ing her step-daughter to be so bold and excellent a horsewoman, the 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 21 

baroness proposed on more than one occasion, that she should accom- 
pany her father to the forest, and witness the event of the chase. 

" Marguerite, poor httle frightened thing, has neither health nor 
strength for such exploits ! " said she ; " but you, my dear child, whom 
a country education has rendered robust, cannot do better than enjoy 
so harmless and invigorating a means of recreation." 

Of the generosity of this concession, Ida was fully sensible. It was 
impossible to ride more fearlessly or more gracefully. Her beautiful 
form was never seen to greater advantage, than when mounted on her 
favourite mare Katalba, by the side of her father ; and the admiration 
she excited and the greater degree of intimacy promoted by the accidents 
of the chase with the gentlemen of the party, soon frustrated her pro- 
jects of reserve, sullenness, or even coldness. With spirits cheered by 
exercise and excitement, she returned with blooming cheeks to take her 
part in the pleasures of the evening. 

A succession of visitors, connections of the baron or members of the 
corps diplomatique at the Eesidenz, now made their appearance at Schloss 
Eehfeld. Night after night, music, dancing, charades, tableaux, theatri- 
cals, enlivened the place so long abandoned to solitude and neglect. A 
new world was opened to the young recluse. All that had bewildered 
her imagination in the recitals of Mademoiselle Therese, seemed trans- 
ported, as by the wand of an enchantress, into the depths of her se- 
clusion. 

To her great surprise, moreover, the baroness, from whom she had ex- 
pected a gradual change from courtesy to coldness, and from coldness to 
cruelty, became kinder and kinder as her own reserve wore off. Ida, with 
ideas formed exclusively from books, having prepared herself to find the 
breathing world composed of extremely good or extremely bad people, 
without suspecting that the mediocre preponderate, had imputed pro- 
found dissimulation to a Avorldly woman, incapable of either virtue or 
vice, and acting merely up to the habits of the class of life in which she 
had worn away her frivolous existence ; and who was too well disposed 
in favour of the enjoyments of life, not to promote the pleasures of all 
around her. 

The new baroness was, as asserted by old Sara, of French extraction, 
though born of emigrant parents, long settled in Eussia. By birth a 
Vaudreuil, she had been united early in life with the father of Mar- 
guerite, and figured as the lovely and popular Countess Erloff, at the 
brilliant court of the Emperor Alexander. Her beauty and accomplish- 
ments, indeed, were supposed to have had some influence in promoting 
the high appointments obtained by her husband. There was no stain, 
however, on her reputation ; nor could any one point out the slightest 
breach of propriety. But the old count being a man as insignificant in 
mind as person, there was no other mode of accounting for the distinc- 
tions he enjoyed than the secret influence of his wife. 

A son and daughter were the ofispring of the alliance. The former, 
Count Alexis, had been educated at home under the care of a tutor ; 
while Marguerite, in accordance with the wishes of her maternal grand- 
mother, had accompanied the old Countess de Vaudreuil on her return 
to Paris, at the general peace, and been placed in a fashionable convent 
of the Faubourg St. Germain. 

It is true, the dissipated habits of life of hermother might have aflbrded a 
disadvantageous school to the childhood of the young girl. For Countess 
Erlofif, in constant attendance at court, had little leisure to bestow upon 
her children ; and when at fifteen, the young count proceeded to the 



22 THE AMBASSADOR'S WIFE. 

military college of Les Pages, for the completion of his education,it would 
have been difficult to say which vras the greater stranger to Madame 
Erloff, the son reared under her roof, or the timid little 2^ensionnaire 
domiciliated in a foreign land. 

Privolous by inheritance, superficial by education, and with no par- 
ticular call upon her affection from a husband as worldly-minded and 
even less enlightened than herself, the countess fancied herself fulfilling 
the purposes of existence by fluttering through life,— well dressed, — 
well mannered, living from day to day, and devoid of all thought beyond 
the pleasures of the morrow. 

The aristocracy of a country in the earlier stages of civilization, is sure 
to be dissipated and thoughtless. On throwing off the sheep-skin mantle 
of its Muscovite barbarity, Eussia, as the readiest paraphernalia of 
state, had assumed, with its crimson velvet and ermine, the unprin- 
cipled levities of that of Versailles; and during the reign of Alexander, 
which was one of favouritism, the court became a temple of marble, at 
once cold, polished, and deriving its light and heat from artificial means. 
Prodigality was the order of the day ; and the courtiers, like those of 
Louis XT., took pride in ruining themselves, in order that their debts 
might be paid by their royal master. 

Unluckily, at the very moment the ruin of Count Erloff was achieved, 
a claim was made upon his royal master for the debt of nature. Alex- 
ander expired in the prime of life, at Taganrog, and a new order of 
morality was speedily established by his successor. The Erloffs lost 
their influence, as they had already lost their fortune ; and on the death 
of the count, which occurred within a month of the accession of 
Nicholas I., it was discovered that little or nothing remained for his 
family but the deeply-mortgaged estates entailed upon his son. 

This was a severe blow to the countess. It was the first moment of 
serious reflection forced upon her in the course of her life. She was 
now six-and-thirty ; in the wane of her charms ; impaired in health by 
a long series of dissipation, and devoid of the maternal sensibilities which 
might have taught her that the portion of her life, and noblest part of 
her mission were still to come. A pension accorded by the emperor, 
would have enabled her to live with decency, had she been content to 
retire into the obscurity of private life, and watch over the cares of the 
young count, who had just entered the army ; while from her mother 
she received constant assurances that Marguerite was becoming all her 
maternal heart could desire. « But the happiness derivable from the dis- 
charge of her duties or enjoyment of her natural affections, had no attrac- 
tion for a Avoman accustomed through life to flurry and excitement; and 
the disconsolate widow would almost as soon have followed her husband to 
the tomb of all the Erloffs, as her fortunes to the small country house, 
in which it was suggested to her by her family, that her widowhood 
misht be spent to advantage. 

On pretence, therefore, of a desire to bring home her daughter, and 
after ten years' separation, enjoy a reunion with her mother, Madame 
Erloff obtained the sanction of the emperor to her departure for Paris, 
with the promise of returning in the spring; but not without secret 
hopes of obtairiing a home with her family, or establishing herself in a 
still more satisfactory manner by a second marriage. 

But the Countess de Yaudreuil was a Frenchwoman of the old school ; 
which implies a youth of illusions, and a matter-of-fact old age. Having 
arrived at a time of life when the authority of her director and the 
positive prevailed over that of the imagination, she assured her dis- 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 23 

contented daughter that the interests of her son rendered it imperative 
upon her to fix herself permanently in Eussia ; that Marguerite, desti- 
tute of fortune, could only he suitably married by the influence of her 
father's connections in her native country. As to a second marriage for 
herself, nothing could be more chimerical than such a project; for a 
widow possessing only two portionless children by way of dowry, in a 
country like France, where marriage is a matter still " dealt with by 
attorneyship," even where youth and beauty might be supposed to 
counterbalance the influence of more current coin. 

The last storey of the countess's house of cards was thus overthrown 
by a breath ; and as, unluckily, the luxury and elegance of the Parisian 
circles, of which she obtained a glimpse, served only to stimulate her 
disgust at the prospect of a life of retirement, she accompanied her 
daughter back to her adopted country, at the expiration of her widow- 
hood, with increased discontent, finding in the awkward timidity of a 
daughter of sixteen little solace for her disappointments. 

It was considered indispensable for the countess, whether as widow 
or mother of an ErloflF, to appear at court on occasion of her return, 
after long absence, to St. Petersburg ; — an auspicious necessity, for she 
had the good. fortune to attract the favourable notice of the empress. 
Enhanced by the advantages of dress, arising from a prolonged sojourn 
in Paris, the countess, subdued by consciousness of her position, and 
restored to health by seclusion from the dissipations of the world, 
appeared to pecuhar advantage. No one would have surmised her to be 
the mother of grown-up children, or on the verge of her eight-and- 
thirtieth year. Anxiously solicitous to please, she became once more a 
favourite ; and this time in a quarter which allowed no scope for the 
breath of scandal. Countess Erlofl" was soon honoured with an appoint- 
ment in the Imperial household ; and thus, from the depths of her 
mortification, found herself suddenly elevated to happiness and hope. 

It was at this period that the Baron von Rehfeld made his appearance 
in Russia, oppressed by the awkwardness of a reserved man, and the 
sense of desolation experienced by every stranger in a foreign country ; 
thanks to which the brilliant court of St. Petersburg proved fifty times 
less social and agreeable than the circumscribed circles of the Eesidenz. 
But that his diplomatic cares left him little leisure for discontent, the 
baron would have perhaps indulged in the grumblings emitted by 
certain English travellers, who, not being of the court courtly, have 
written it down in malice that the city of the czar is, of all the cities of 
Europe, most destitute of amusement. 

In the course of the summer, at an entertainment given by the 
imperial family at Tzarsko-gelo, the good offices of the Saxon minister 
presented him to one or two ladies of the household ; and, ere the second 
winter was at an end, he had discovered that St. Petersburg was, after 
all, a most agreeable residence ; and that if anything exceeded in attrac- 
tion the society of a highly educated and accomplished Russian, it was 
that of a Frenchwoman naturalized on the shores of the jSeva. 

Eehfeld, who had been selected by his prince to adjust certain 
questions of frontier perplexity, of which his local knowledge and plain 
good sense rendered him a fitting expositor, was in fact somewhat less 
amply qualified to shine in a courtly circle. He was a cold, heavy, or 
rather reserved man, who, beyond the limited circles of the Residenz, 
knew nothing of the world ; and his faculties were more than usually 
benumbed by the bedazzlement of a stately court and horde of strangers. 
Unaware of his deficiencies, he was equally bUnd to the source from 



2i - THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

which he derived support and consolation ; nor was it till the close of 
the brilliant winter season that, on discovering he had been spendinc; 
it highly to his satisfaction, he asked himself the reason ; and not only 
himself, but the whole court of Petersburg, was able to reply that it was 
because he had passed it at the side of the handsome and agreeable 
Countess Erloff ! 

His mission was now nearly at an end ; and the success of his nego- 
tiations had been already rewarded by the thanks of his prince, and the 
affable notice of the emperor. But as the period of his departure drew 
near, he was startled to find, from the hints of his brother diplomatists, 
that it was expected at court his nuptials with the fair and noble widow, 
so high in imperial favour, would precede his departure. It appeared 
that, unknown to either of them, he had compromised himself and her. 
Hints were lavished upon him from what are termed " high quarters," 
which it was impossible for a man of honour to disregard ; the cordial 
manners and exemplary morality of his own little court, not having 
prepared him for the interpretation likely to be assigned at Petersburg 
to his intimacy with a woman of eight- and-thirty. 

Rehfeld's first feeling on the discovery was vexation, his second — 
delight. A man of moderate understanding is sure to be perniciously 
influenced by a first false step in life ; and having acted in opposition to 
the principles of his caste and nature in his first marriage, he had ever 
since assigned undue importance to advantages of birth in a matrimonial 
alliance. The lady to whom he found himself expected to offer his hand 
— by birth a Yaudreuil, by marriage an Erloff, by circumstance the 
favourite of an empress — possessed in his eyes more consequence than 
could have been imparted by the possession of mercantile wealth, or 
obscure beauty ; and though aware that the elegant establishment of 
the countess was dependent upon a place at court which she must for- 
feit by marriage with a foreigner, he allowed himself to dwell upon the 
event less as an inevitable evil than as a stroke of good fortune. 

The address of the lady effected the rest ; for she had set her mind 
upon the match. The advantages of birth and fortune it presented 
would have scarcely reconciled her to the idea of giving her hand to 
a mere country baron of the empire ; but that, Eehfeld having once 
figured to advantage in the annals of diplomacy, she trusted to her 
own skill and influence to attach him for the remainder of his days to 
a service so indispensably connected with the pomps of a court. 

Such was the origin of the marriage ! The Baron von Eehfeld had 
been hurried into proposing; and even after having arranged with the 
unreluctant countess that he should return to the Eesidenz for the 
completion of his duties and the family arrangements indispensable for 
her suitable reception, was again hurried into an acceleration of the 
ceremony. So well had the countess already laid the foundations of his 
future fortune that a request from the emperor now fixed him as 
permanent representative of the court of at that of all the Eussias. 

It was the announcement of this unexpected piece of good fortune 
which, more than all her personal courtesies, reconciled the baron's 
daughter to the marriage. The ambitious aspirations of Ida von Eehfeld 
expanded at the idea of transferring her first appearance in society from 
the insignificant circles of the Eesidenz to those of a great capital ; and 
though still of opinion that a step-mother would have formed a serious 
impediment to her happiness, had she been fated to abide in her 
ancestral domains, she was content to subside into secondary import- 
ance, under the protection of a Baroness von Eehfeld, nee Vaudreuil, 



THE a::Ibassadoii's wife. 25 

et veuve Erloff, distinguished by the favours of the sovereign whose 
smiles were to form the sunshine of her future career. Her only fear 
was lest the mother of Marguerite, jealous of her rivalship, should con- 
sider it expedient to get rid of her by a suitable marriage in Germany, 
previous to the baron's assumption to his duties of office. 

They were to spend another month at Ivehfeld. A thousand mis- 
fortunes might occur in the interim. The boorish cousin, Wilhelm, 
who divided his attentions at present equally between herself and ]\Iar- 
guerite, might be pressed upon her acceptance by her father ; and as 
there was little fear of the intervention" of an heir from the recent 
marriage of the head of the family, the eligibilities of the connection 
were only too disagreeably apparent ; — more especially since it had been 
hinted to her of late, by her good nurse, that, in any other baronial 
family than that of which her father was the head, the deterioration of 
his own unequal match must severely influence the matrimonial 
destinies of his daughter. 



CHAPTEE V. 

Tliere was just then a kind of a discussion, 

A sort of treaty or negotiation 
Between the Prussian cabinet or Russian, 

Maintain'd with all the due prevarication 
With which such states such things are apt to push on. 

Something about the Baltic na\agation, 
Hides, traui-oil, tallow, or those rights of Thetis 

Wliich Britons deem their uti possiditis. — Byron'. 

It was not, however, by way of conciliation to the new lady of Rehfeld 
that Ida's deportment towards Mademoiselle ErlofF soon exhibited an 
almost sisterly cordiality ; for the least observant spectator must have 
perceived that the maternal sensibility of the baroness was of a very 
modified character. 

But there was something in the gentle character of Marguerite that 
appealed powerfully to the heart, while it served to stimulate the 
curiosity of her step-sister. 

In Marguerite Erlofi", notwithstanding her half-French, half-Russian 
origin, Ida beheld the personification of one of the mild visionary 
raaidens so often described by the poets of her own country. Tender, 
timid, pious, her mind was as devoid of impressions as her heart was 
replete with sensibility. Educated in strict retirement in one of the 
severests convents of the Faubourg St. Germain, her exile from her 
native country had been spent in yearnings after home and mother- 
love; and when on her recall to Russia, she found only a cheerless 
publicity instead of the domestic happiness after which she had been 
sighing: and in place of tender parental love, only the authority, 
tempered by sarcasm, of a mere woman of the world, the poor girl 
began to yearn anew for the simple nuns who had superintended her 
education, and the young companions who used to sympathize in her 
griefs. Even her occasional visits to the Hotel de Yaudreuil and the 
dignified notice of her grandmother had been more cheering than the 
Russian home, where her mother's constant engagements at court and 
in society, left her perpetually alone. 

The marriage of the countess had been as great a source of satis- 



2C) THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

faction to Marguerite as the baron's of vexation to Ida. She rejoiced at 
the thoughts of exchanging the formaUties of a residence in St. Peters- 
burg, for a fine old chuteau surrounded by streams and forests. Marguerite 
was acquainted with the country only by name. During the ten years 
of her hfe capable of conveying lasting impressions, she had been 
immured within the walls of a city. Eural sights and rural pleasures 
were consequently a glorious novelty ; and the rustling of the trees 
and murmuring of the waters conveyed as exquisite a pleasure to this 
girl on the verge of womanhood as a light to the eyes of an infant. 
Schloss Rehfeld, in short, afiforded as new a world to Mademoiselle 
Erloflf as the courtly scenes on which her heart was fixed were about 
to disclose to the ambitious Mademoiselle von Rehfeld. 

Thus is it ever with the human mind ; intent upon unknown plea- 
sures and greedy of novel sensations, — weary of happiness, discon- 
tented, if the expression be permitted, with content ! The easy life 
led by Ida von Eehfeld, in the home where she was worshipped, had 
palled upon her feelings and inspired her with feverish longings after 
the glittering world; while the artificial life of a metropolis had 
developed the soul of Marguerite with visions of solitude and peace. 

" How happy must you have been here ! " she exclaimed to her step- 
sister, one day as they were sauntering together on the terrace of 
Schloss Eehfeld, enjoying a fine autumnal sunset and awaiting the 
return of the baron and his guests from a distant battue. 

" Happy ! " was the involuntary ejaculation of her companion. 
"Eather say devoid of care. The absence of pain does not surely 
constitute the existence of pleasure ! " 

" Does it not ? " demanded Marguerite, with wondering eyes. " Surely 
it is enough for happiness to live with those who love us ; and above 
all, in a beautiful spot like this, with shadowy woods around us and 
yonder noble river sweeping in the distance." 

"I admire them very much at this moment," said Ida, frankly, 
" because they seem to afford you pleasure ; but I confess to you I have 
often longed for companionship calculated to impart some charm to a 
landscape which has met my eyes every day of my existence, and 
taught me to long for change of scene. Eussia will afford me all the 
pleasure you are good enough to find at Eehfeld." 

"I fear not," said Marguerite, despondingly. "I fear you will often 
long, at St. Petersburg, (for the soft atmosphere and noble prospects 
of this happy spot. You have very little idea of the life of confine- 
ment and ceremony to which you are about to be subjected. Once 
presented at court, you will live in a continual round of society ; — 
always over-heated and over-lighted rooms ;— always glare and tumult. 
Indeed, indeed, you will only too soon learn to regret the serenity and 
independence of this place." 

Ida could scarcely refrain from a smile. But it was useless to argue 
with the simplicity of heart of her companion. Leaving Marguerite, 
therefore, to indulge in romantic adoration of the ancient oaks of 
Eehfeld, and to listen, with veneration, to the legends attached by old 
Sara to the ancestral portraits adorning the picture gallery, she had 
no difficulty in obtaining, from Mademoiselle Therese, all the sympathy 
she desired in her change of prospects. 

When, in the course of their first private interview, the baron 
appealed to the filial duty of his daughter to treat with becoming 
deference and regard the lady of his choice, he had judged it un- 
necessary to explain to one so young those deficiencies of fortune which 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 27 

had, perhaps, influeuoed the imperial favourite to bestow his hand upon 
a foreigner. He had only enlarged the more upon her influence at 
court, and her share in procuring him the appointment so flattering 
to his pride and so advantageous to his prospects; and it was conse- 
quently impossible for Ida, the daughter of a portionless and obscure 
mother, to entertain disparaging views of the personal consequence of 
her step-mother. 

In these deferential opinions, she was now confirmed by Mademoiselle 
Therese ; who, on finding in the dreaded Eussian countess a daughter 
of the noble house of Vaudreuil, and an agreeable pleasure-loving 
woman, in place of a " haughty Eussian," could scarcely conceal her 
joy at the prospect of bidding adieu, under such auspices, to the 
cheerless solitudes of Eehfeld. 

" Between my rheuinatism and the utter savageness of the place, 
another winter here would have been the annihilation of me ! " was 
her secret reflection, after accepting the proposition of the baroness 
that she should return with the family to Eussia, and take the charge 
of both her daughters. Thus encouraged in her altered feehngs 
towards Madame von Eehfeld, and enlivening projects for the future, 
Ida soon became as much elated by the rash step taken by her father, 
as in the first instance she had been shocked and dispirited. 

It was only the faithful old servitors of the family, Johann and Sara, 
who still remained of opinion that the baron would live to repent 
his hasty marriage ; and that the fickle daughter of the baronial house, 
who evinced so little regret at the prospect of her approaching exile, 
might live to sigh in bitterness of spirit for the tranquil home of her 
fathers and the simple cordiality of her native land. For, alas, while 
Marguerite counted with regret the days remaining to her of their 
sojourn at Schloss Eehfeld, Ida could scarcely conceal her impatience 
for the moment of their departure ! 

Preoccupied by projects for the future, shaped after the brilliant 
programme unfolded to her expectations by the baroness, Ida took no 
further heed than the ceremonial of life rendered indispensable of the 
guests connected with the Eesidenz, who, a few weeks before, had 
assumed such importance in her eyes ; and neither knew nor heeded 

that the ladies of the court of , who came prepared to take^^offence 

at the new baroness, took far greater at her step-daughter ; quitting 
the castle with the impression that the future bride of their popular 
young countryman, Wilhelm von Eehfeld, was haughty, reckless, and 
disobliging, in a degree which even her rare loveliness and brilliant 
talents did not suffice to atone. 

"Thank Heaven, all those tiresome people are gone at last!" she 
exclaimed, shrugging her shoulders, one morning, as the last carriage 
drove from the court-yard. 

" I fancied they were your relations ? " observed Mademoiselle Erloff, 
to whom the obversation was addressed. 

" Eelations who are less than acquaintance," replied Ida, " and whom 
I have no wish to make my friends. Of what use is the relationship 
that afibrds one neither pleasure nor distinction ?" 

" I should think it might sometimes aff'ord comfort," replied Mar- 
guerite, gently. " But I forgot ; you have never had occasion to make 
the discovery. You have never needed comfort ;— never been away 
from your own home— your own country." 

" I shall be so shortly," replied Ida, with an exulting smile. " But I 
cannot imagine that St. Petersburg will teach me to affix a value to 



23 THE ambassador's WIPE. 

my father's humdrum cousins. That unsufferable old Baron Griinglatz, 
for instanpe, with his natural history, his birds and butterflies, and the 
great pet moth Trhich he keeps in a glass cage !— What satisfaction 
or profit could one derive from such a man ? " 

" I assure you I found him very amusing in the walk we took together 
yesterday, in the woods, while you were with the hunting party," said 
Marguerite, with earnest simplicity. 

"True ! Mademoiselle Therese told me the old gentleman had made 
a convert of you ; and that you nearly beguiled her into a morass, hunt- 
ing after curious mosses for his herbal." 

"By your own account, dear Ida," rejoined her companion, laughing, 
" my cousin, Alfred de Vaudreuil, betrayed you into still greater danger 
yesterday, by inducing you to leap the stone dyke where Prince Gal- 
litzin met with his fall." 

"Believe me, it was well worth while," cried Mademoiselle von 
Eehfeld, " if only for the satisfaction of seeing the poor dear prince 
lying wigless among the weeds. You can scarcely imagine anything 
more seriously comic, or comically serious, than his countenance, when 
he rose and shook himself, in order to ascertain what bones were 
broken." 

"But he had a right to look serious," remonstrated Marguerite, 
gravely ; " for he was so much hurt that, to-day, he keeps his room." 

" He deserves to be hurt. What right has a man of his sober years 
to be playing boy's tricks with Monsieur de Vaudreuil ? " 

" I never allow myself to laugh at the prince," replied Marguerite, 
artlessly. 

" Indeed ! Poor old gentleman ! " cried Ida, still indulging in her 
mirth. 

" Why poor ? " demanded Marguerite, gravely. 

" Thus to have forfeited his sole attraction ! I thought he was good 
only to be laughed at !" 

"My mother has a great regard for hira," replied Mademoiselle 
Erloff; "and even if I thought his conduct blameable, I should not 
presume to criticise it, because " she paused. 

" Because ^vhat ?" demanded her more vivacious companion. 

" Because, but I have no right to talk about it ! " resumed Mar- 
guerite, checking herself 

"If you have no confidence in me, you are right to be on your guard," 
observed Ida, coldly, preparing to leave the room. 

"But I have confidence in you; and I am not on my guard. I am 
never on my guard with r/ou" cried Marguerite, affectionately, and with 
a blushing cheek. " Only I know that my mother particularly dislikes 
her plans and projects to be prematurely discussed ; and as it was not 
directly from herself I received my intimation of her views concerning 
Prince Galhtzin— " 

Again she paused ; and Ida, who had the habit of connecting every- 
body's views and projects with herself, was now really interested. 

" It was my brother Alexis," continued Mademoiselle Erloff, perceiv- 
ing that her step-sister waited with eager looks for the sequel, " who 
once hinted that mamma had set her heart upon marrying me, at some 
future time, to the prince." 

"' You 1— to the prince?" cried Ida, all her gravity again forsaking 
her. " Why he is forty years older than either of us ! " 

" Not quite so much as forty," rejoined the matter-of-fact Marguerite. 

" At all events, he is old enough to be your father." 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 29 

" My father was old enough to be my mother's," observed Made- 
moiselle Erlofif. " Yet I believe they Tvere very happy together." 

"Had they been nearer of an age, his widow might not have thought 
of a second marriage ; and then, we should never have become ac- 
<iuainted," said Ida, kindly. " On any other grounds, I see nothing to 
praise in such disproportion of years." 

" You are rich— i/onr father is still alive to protect and forward your 
interests," said Marguerite, humbly. " My mother often reminds me 
that those who, like herself or her daughter, are portionless, must be 
content to be chosen, not to choose. I ought to esteem myself fortunate, 
indeed, should I be chosen by one v.ho offers nothing more repellant 
than bis gray hairs. Prince Gallitzin is a man of the highest reputation, 
and holds a brilliant position in the v/orld." 

" Why not place tlae- latter recommendation in due order of prece- 
dence?" observed Ida, archly. 

" Because, to me, it is not his first recommendation. I should prefer 
a less public career than must attend his wife." 

" If his wife attained any influence over him, I imagine she might 
direct his career as she pleased," observed Ida, carelessly. 

" I fear not !— His fortune is not very considerable, and — " 

" I thought you spoke of him just now as a brilliant match ?" 

" Brilliant for me, and in my peculiar circumstances. So at least my 
mother described him to Alexis, who seemed gratified by the project. 
Though only a younger branch of the vast family of Gallitzins, the 
prince is highly considered in his own country, as one of the most 
eminent of our diplomatists. It is expected he will obtain the first 
vacant embassy ; and the emperor is supposed to have sufficient regard 
for the memory of my father, to view with satisfaction a match, other- 
wise, and in point of fortune, so far beneath the pretensions of the 
prince." 

"An ambassadress?" ejaculated Mademoiselle von Eehfeld, again 
laughing almost beyond the limits of politeness. "Dear Marguerite, 
forgive me !— But the idea of you, who have ^uot courage to enter the 
circle of our wretched provincial society here, unless supported by my 
arm, confronted with royalty and doing the honours of an embassy, 
appears to me the most ridiculous thing in the vv"orld !" 

"Perhaps I should be less timid under such circumstances," said 
Marguerite, after a moment's deliberation. " Here, I feel myself to be 
an interloper; there, I should be supported by the position and 
character of ray husband." 

The word "husband" from the lips of Mademoiselle Erloff, grated on 
the ear of Ida. Nevertheless, she could not refrain from exclaiming, — 

" Dearest Marguerite ! it must be my fault if you have ever felt an 
interloper at Eehfeld. I should not easily forgive myself, if I thought 
you considered yourself in any other light than as my sister, and the 
daughter of the house." 

Tears, which had been trembling in the eyes of Mademoiselle Erloff, 
were with difficulty restrained from falling, as she replied, — 

" Now, perhaps !— now, indeed, dearest Ida, you are all that I could 
wish, and more than I dared to hope. But if you knew what tortures 
I underwent during the first few days ! I saw how much you disliked 
and mistrusted us all, on our first arrival. My mother had prepared 
me to expect from you hauteur and opposition ; and at first, I saw with 
trembling, how completely her predictions were likely to be verified. 
Remember how coldly you treated me! Even your cousin's good- 



30 THE AilBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

natured notice of the poor stranger at Eelifeld, did not suffice to make 
me feel otherwise than an alien." 

An involuntarj' blush overspread the features of Mademoiselle von 
Eehfeld. She could not but perceive that the kinsman whom she 
despised as a clodpole, had displayed higher breeding in this instance 
than herself. 

" And when is this marriage between you and the old prince likely 
to take place ?" she demanded, trying to rally her spirits, 

"I have told you all I know on the subject," replied Marguerite, 
mildly. 

"But have you no curiosity to make inquiries on the subject?" 
inquired Ida, almost impatient of her languor. 

"I could scarcely have done so without displeasing my mother," 
she replied. "It is for her to dispose of my destinies, '"When she 
wishes* me to know her intentions, she will doubtless signify 
them." 

Ida was startled, almost alarmed, by indications of such implicit filial 
submission. It occurred to her, that a time might come when some 
sacrifice imposed upon herself would demand similar obedience. 
Hitherto, her father's exactions had been so few and reasonable, that 
the rein of duty had been unfelt. But since his new wife demanded 
such blind and abject deference of her children, what security had Ida 
that her own destinies might not be submitted to authority equally 
arbitrary ? 

After Mademoiselle Erlofi" had quitted the room, however, her reflec- 
tions assumed a different colour. Though her admiration of Marguerite's 
guileless and feminine gentleness was a genuine feeling, these first 
kindly sentiments towards her step-sister had been prompted by a 
consciousness of superiority. Marguerite was beneath her in personal 
beauty, beneath her in fortunes, beneath her in abihties ; and superior 
only in the modesty of nature, which enabled her to recognize and 
submit to these distinctions of their relative position. But Marguerite, 
about to become a princess— about to become an ambassadress,— was a 
diff"erent personage. Ida felt that it would be difficult to forgive the 
acquirement of such advantages, Nay, she even began to mistrust the 
humility of the young Eussian,. as simply an exercise of patience while 
awaiting the- advent of more auspicious fortunes. 

" After all," mused Mademoiselle von Eehfeld, in the spirit which had 
prompted her former rebelUous disgusts against the obscure monotony 
of her natural home, — " after all, in Eussia, even if favoured as now by 
the baroness, and beloved as ever by my father, I must still be a stranger 
—an alien. My position will be one of utter insignificance. Even as 
daughter to one of the members of the diplomatic body, it must be most 
subordinate. The envoy of one of the petty states of the empire must 
rank immeasurably below the ambassadors of the great powers — and 
his daughter immeasurably below theirs. As to marriage, the emperor 
is said to oppose the alhance of his more influential subjects with 
foreigners of whatever rank. In Eussia, therefore, I can make only 
very inferior connections; while Marguerite, timid, unambitious, poor 
— Marguerite, who is grateful for the attentions of a "Wilhelm von 
Eehfeld, is about to obtain the highest precedence, and to command the 
brightest destinies !" 

Though Mademoiselle Erloff" had exacted no promises of discretion, 
Ida felt] herself interdicted from discussing this flattering project of 
alhance even ^vith their common preceptress. But it was not the 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 31 

less constantly the subject of her reflections, from the impossibility 
under which she laboured of giving way to her surprise. 

She now began for the first time to consider with interest the grave 
and somewhat formal man who was about to elevate her companion to 
dignities so unexpected. Unconsciously to herself, Ida had sutfered her 
vanity to be flattered during the preceding month of festivities by the 
attentions of the young Count de Yaudreuil, a near kinsman of the 
baroness, who was on his return to Paris, after a summer tour to the 
bathing-places of Germany. Alfred was gay, good-looking, well bred. 
The playful and somewhat sarcastic turn of his mind had served to 
recommend him to her favour, more especially when his sallies were 
dkected against the recreant cousin, who had been judged unworthy 
her notice till he saw fit to accord his own to a rival. 

Unaccustomed to the gallantry of French manners, Ida interpreted 
the flowery comphments of the lively Parisian into expressions of warm 
admiration. Like a European accepting as positive the hyperbolical 
ofi"ers of service of an Oriental host, she seriously believed herself, when 
assured that she was mise aravi',% or that she sang comme un ange, to 
be angelic and enchanting in the eyes of one who probably saw in her 
only the pretty but affected daughter of a hohereau de I' empire. 

But that he was an inmate under her father's roof, and that his cousin, 
the baroness, had begged him to be gracious to even the remote branches 
of the family tree on which her poverty had compelled her to engraft 
herself, Alfred de Yaudreuil would not in the first instance have so far 
derogated from his habits of hfe, or outraged the usages of his country, 
as to devote the slightest attention to an unmarried girl, even if an 
angel, or, better than an angel, an heiress. On his arrival at Eehfeld 
■with the bridal party, which he joined at the Residenz on his way from 
the baths of Toplitz, he had resigned himself to the corvee of being civil 
to the provincial damsel, whose good will was indispensable to the 
happiness of his pretty cousin Marguerite, in whom he was interested 
from having seen her in his earlier days enjoying her conventual 
holidays in the solemn saloon of their common relative, the old Countess 
de Yaudreuil. 

By degrees this feeling of concession assumed another form. In Ida 
he recognized a kindred spirit. He found her quick-witted and scorn- 
ful, and, urged by the instinct of Parisian self-sufficiency, whispered to 
himself that she was almost worthy to have been a countrywoman of 
his own. 

Still his feelings were far from being touched in the tender point 
conjectured by the inexperience of Mademoiselle von Eehfeld. Even 
at the most critical moment of the compliments in which she placed her 
girlish faith, he was fully alive to her provinciality ; and it was Alfred 
de Yaudreuil who had originally urged the baroness to remodel the 
dress of her fair step-daughter after the elegant simplicity of his 
cousin Marguerite. 

" Poor child ! Let us have some mercy on her susceptibility," was the 
rejoinder of Madame von Eehfeld. "Her little head has been filled 
by the vulgar adulation of servants, with absurd notions of her own 
self-consequence. To tell her at once that she is a mass of conceit and 
vulgarity, would precipitate her too cruelly from her pedestal, and her 
spirit would break in the fall. "\Ye must achieve her reformation by 
degrees. "With Marguerite ever before her eyes, she will discover the 
bad taste of her tone of assumption. To humihate a person too severely, 
is to make an enemy for hfe/' 



32 THE AMBASSAIMDE'S WIFE. 

It was soon, however, the baroness's turn to remonstrate with Alfred 
on his injudicious treatment of her step-daughter. 

" I ani thankful to you," said she, " for the hints you afford her 
concerning the habits of civihzed hfe. But your lessons on manners, 
dress, conversation, are lessons that convey more than you intend, or 
at least more than I desire. This poor girl, unconscious of your 
motives, will fancy you profoundly interested in her improvement, 
and, so far from rendering her more humble, cher petit cousin, you have 
increased her vanity a thousandfold." 

Yaudreuil had now, however, discovered a singular charm in the 
loveliness and brilliancy of Ida, ovring probably to the absence of better 
amusement in the circumscribed circle of Schloss Eehfeld. If his 
attention became modified, in presence of his observant kinswoman, 
they were redoubled in the thousand opportunities afforded by their 
hunting parties and x>^iiis jeux ; and the mystery in which he now 
affected to envelop his devotion served only to increase its charm. 
The compliments which had soothed when said, enchanted when whis- 
pered. Yaudreuil himself experienced all the charm of prohibition in 
the intimacy ; and Mademoiselle von Eehfeld, accepting his exaggerated 
declarations of sentiment as credulously as some poor Indian the glass 
beads of a new settler, ran considerable risk of having her feelings 
entangled in a dangerous and fruitless attachment. 

Such was the state of affairs when new feelings were opportunely 
called into existence by the revelations of her step-sister ; by which the 
vanity of Ida received a shock secondary only to that arising from the 
marriage of her father. In her intimacy with the Parisian kinsman 
of her new connection, she had taken no thought beyond the amuse- 
ment of the moment ; and now, startled into self-possession, she 
recalled to mind that she had been committing herself in the eyes of 
Prince Gallitzin, and the whole circle, by accepting and encouraging 
the attentions of a foreign cadet de famille, a bird of passage, who had 
probably been amusing himself at her expense; while the cunning 
baroness, sanctioning by non-intervention her seeming levity, was 
enhancing the charm of her daughter's feminine modesty of deportment 
in the eyes of the future ambassador. 

Yain of her supposed conquest, Ida had, in fact, resisted and resented 
the private representations of her faithful and well-intentioned, though 
somewhat frivolous governess, that her famiharity with a man of Count 
Alfred de Yaudreuil's age, with whom she had no ties of consanguinity, 
was contrary to les hienseances. Persuaded that Mademoiselle Therese 
was lecturing her at the instigation of her solemn cousin Wilhelm, who, 
ere he quitted Schloss Eehfeld, had afforded unmistakable tokens of 
disapproval, Ida persisted in encouraging the sallies of the young count 
at his expense, both by her plaudits and rejoinders. 

She now recalled to mind the grave countenance with which the 
taciturn prince had occasionally listened to these effusions of flippancy. 
She had more than once detected him with his eyes and ears inquisi- 
torially fixed upon her proceedings, and had at first secretly accused 
him of officiating as the spy of her step-mother. She now saw his 
conduct in a different point of view. He was probably congratulating 
himself on the superiority of mind and manners of his gentle Mar- 
guerite. Arrived at St. Petersburg, he would perhaps withdraw his 
notice from one so ill- versed in the graces and decorums of the great 
world, and, on his marriage, interdict all further intimacy between 
herself and the future ambassadress. 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 33 

The speculations of poor Ida on these points were not of long dura- 
tion. But ere she had determined on the line of conduct to be adopted, 
Prince Gallitzin, preparatory to the general break-up of the party, 
quitted the hospitable roof of Rehfeld for an excursion to Dresden and 
Berlin, previous to his return to Eussia; and the following day the 
baron himself, who was compelled to a week's sojourn at the court of 
the Eesidenz, for the renewal of his instructions and arrangement of 
his family interests, took his departure. 

Till within a few days of leaving Schloss Eehfeld, it had been arranged 
that, on the very eve of their departure for the Eesidenz, the Count 
de Yaudreuil was to commence his journey southward on his return 
to Paris. 

" We shall, at least, be on the road at the same moment, enduring the 
same hazards of time and tide, and fixing our eyes at midnight on the 
same fair stars ! " was his significant whisper to Ida, as he stood beside 
her one morning in the old picture-gallery, where she was taking an 
unreluctant farewell of the grim faces of the barons of her race. 

" You, on your way to the renewal of former pleasures ; I on mine, I 
trust, to inauguration into new ones ! " was the careless reply of Made- 
moiselle von Eehfeld. 

"New ones that will soon obliterate all trace of those happy moments 
which must render my attempts at renewal hopeless ones ! " replied 
the count, more in earnest than he intended, or suspected. 

" It is no great compliment to you," faltered Ida, in reply, " to admit 
that I had far rather pass my noviciate in Paris, than in St. Petersburg ; 
or if perforce at St. Petersburg, that I heartily wish you were about to 
share my experiment." 

To so frank a declaration, Alfred replied of course by a whisper so 
low, that its purport, had any third person been present, could only 
have been surmised from the heightened colour of the auditress. But 
at that moment, and before the confusion of either had abated. 
Mademoiselle Erloff, breathless and terrified, rushed into the gallery, 
imploring their instant aid in behalf of Mademoiselle Therese, who,in the 
hurry of the arrangements consequent upon their approaching depar- 
ture, had undergone a severe fall down the marble steps of the grand 
staircase, and was writhing in agony at the bottom. 

The alarm was soon given in the chateau, the sufferer removed, and 
the usual allowance of sympathy and eau de Cologne administered. At 
^ first, the injury was pronounced by village authority to be a fracture of 
the leg. But the nature of the accident requiring instant surgical 
assistance, it was soon discovered that the still more tedious evil of a 
dislocation formed the limit of the evil ; whereupon the baroness was 
heard to ejaculate, more audibly than politeness rendered desirable, — 

" A dislocation of the ankle ? Thank heaven ! I was sadly afraid 
our journey would have been delayed. A dislocation is nothing so 
serious as to require our presence." 

" But poor Mademoiselle Therese will not be able to put her foot to 
the ground for six weeks or two months to come ! " was Marguerite's 
1 innocent remonstrance— Ida being fortunately absent, engaged in 
i attendance upon the sufferer. 

"I know it, child, I know it!" rejoined the baroness. "In either 
case, her accompanying us would be out of the question; ?l contretemps, 
certainly, for I shall find it difficult to procure for you a demoiselle de 
comjjagnie of equally good manners with cette pauvre Therese, on whom 
I can implicitly rely. Anything better, however, than a compulsory 

D 



34 THE AMBASSADOH'S WIFE. 

delay ; which I suppose must have been borne with had there beeu 
dandier, or anything of that kind. As it is, the invaUd will be excel- 
lently taken care ol' during her illness, by the worthy old heads of the 
establishment here ; and, on her recovery, may still rejoin us in the 
spring — if, indeed, she feel inclined to brave the ill omens jjreceding 
her Iv,u^sian journey." 

By the baron and his daughter, the accident that deprived them of a 
kind and trustworthy assistant, was somewhat more compassionately 
considered. With all her self-reliance, Ida recoiled from the idea of 
the isolation in which she was about to depart for a foreign country ; 
and tears, which she had little expected to fall from her eyes on quitting 
her long-distasteful home, moistened the pillow of the poor disappointed 
governess, as her pupil bent over her for a farewell embrace, 

"Do not weep thus, dear child !" faltered she, in the sanguine spirit 
of her country. " Trust me, my sweetest Ida, I shall have courage to 
rejoin you, the moment the effects of this unlucky accident have dis- 
appeared. If Peter had only been in the way to carry down the 
chess-box and work-box of Madame la Baronne, which I had in my 
arms when my foot slipped, this horrible disaster would not have 
happened !"^ 

" But you will never be able to undertake so long and arduous a 
journey alone ?" remonstrated Mademoiselle von Eehfeld. 

" Oh ! yes, I am afraid of nothing. My heart is full of spirit and 
adventure. I travelled, you know, from Paris to Dresden alone. I 
admit that it would have been far more agreeable to make the journey 
to St, Petersburg in your companj--, dearest Ida ; and if Peter had only 
been in the way to carry down the " 

"But a long confinement at Schioss Eehfeld, cJiere lonne !" again 
interrupted Ida, in a tone of sincere commiseration. "I cannot bear 
to think of the dreariness of your long winter here ! " 

" Think rather, then, of my good fortune in not having broken my 
leg, and possibly been lamed for life!" cried the cheerful-minded 
Frenchwoman. "I consider myself lucky it is no worse; and though, 
if Peter had been in the way to- " 

"If you feel at all alarmed at the idea of remaining here alone, I will 
still entreat papa to allow me to bear you company, and rejoin him 
with you in the spring," faltered Ida, conscious that the olier of such a 
sacrifice was due to her kind old friend, yet somewhat alarmed lest it 
should be accepted. 

"And so lose the pleasures of the carnival, and the galas at court ? 
Not for twenty thousand worlds, my dear child!" exclaimed Made- 
moiselle Therese, with real warmth and sincerity. "No, no! — it is 
perhaps better for you, who have been so little accustomed to make 
your own way in the world, to be at length thrown upou your own 
resources. Besides, dear Ida, we shall enjoy a constant correspondence ! 
Think what delight it will aflford me,'^in my sick room, to receive 
your gay and original remarks upon a new country— a new court— 
a new people ! Conceive all the novel impressions you will have to 
receive and communicate ! " 

"A poor compensation for all your sufferings I " sighed Llademoiselle 
von Eehfeld, consciously. 

"But you owe me no compensation, ray dear child. Ton had no 
share in the accident. You have often warned me, Ida, against those 
slippery marble stairs ; and had not Peter been out of the way at that 
moment, when his services were particularly required to carry down 
things for packing i]iQfowrgon, I " 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 35 

"At all events, I engage that both Marguerite and myself will prove 
most assiduous correspondents," interposed Ida. " You shall have 
the fullest details of all we see, hear, or imagine. Nay, do not thank 
me for the promise ! It will be the greatest comfort to me to find 
myself still in intimate communication with my kindest of friends." 

Eut though nothing could be more sincere than Ida's lamentations 
over this unexpected separation from the preceptress whose instructions 
had afforded her first insight into the pleasures of society, and cheered 
the flight of her young ambition, she was almost consoled for her loss, 
on learning that the baroness had succeeded in inducing Monsieur 
de Vaudreuil to accept the place in their travelling party left vacant 
by the absence of Mademoiselle Therese. The count had long thrown 
out hints that persuasion only was wanting to determine him to the 
sacrifice of a winter in St. Petersburg, in order to prolong his asso- 
ciation with a circle so delightful ; and Eehfeld, whose taciturnity of 
nature was relieved by the presence of a voluble and agreeable inmate, 
and who was perhaps a little gratified by the idea of reappearing in 
Eussia, supported by one of the nearest family connections of the 
baroness, was so warm in his invitations, that nothing appeared more 
natural than this sudden change of plan. It was, of course, only to 
Mademoiselle von Kehfeld's private ear Count Alfred saw fit to disclose 
the more secret motives of his resignation of his beloved Paris, in 
favour of the frozen shores of the Neva ! 

The following v/eek found the whole party undergoing the peine 
forte et dure of the duodecimo courtiership of the Eesidenz ; and it 
needed all the deference exacted by Ida's filial duty, and the sense of 
politeness of his new relatives, to conceal from Baron von Eehfeld 
the impatience with which they submitted to the impediment to their 
journej', produced by that absurd Ko Too of courtly state, which is 
redeemed from the ridiculous only when practised on a sufficient scale. 

The miniature Yersailleship of was accordingly an object of such 

poignant ridicule to the Count de Vaudreuil, that Ida could scarcely 
pardon herself for having ever regarded it with respect. 

A fortnight later and she was enabled to discover that nearly the 
same ceremonies she had contemned as puerile in a duchy, commanded 
her reverence as august, when invested with the colossal proportions of 
an imperial court. 

In order, however, to do justice to her impressions under circum- 
stances so exciting, it may be as well to snatcli from the hands of the 
courier the correspondence of Ida von Eehfeld and Marguerite Erloff 
with Mademoiselle Therese Moreau, as well as of Count Alfred de 
Vaudreuil with various members of his family ; and more than one 
circle, closely connected with the Imperial Court of 182-, will be found 
authentically portrayed in the following letters. 

Letter I. — From Ida von Itehfeld to MaxlemoiseUe Therese Moreau. 

At length, cliere honne, our object is accomplished, and I am able to 
date my letter in good fair round text from " St. Petersbueg." Yes ! 
your poor rustic child of Schloss Eehfeld, is now an inhabitant of the 
capital of all the Eussias ! 

How grand an air the name caries with it— "Capital of all the 
Eussias ! " Y^et you and Alfred de Vaudreuil have done your best to 
convince me, that all the Eussias, red, white, or black, in combination, 

D 2 



36 THE ambassador's wife. 

are scarcely to be weighed in the balance against your single France — 
or rather Paris, for neither of you appear to recognize much beyond 
the walls of that glorious (or dare I say it ?) vain glorious city ! 

Do not forget, dearest lonne, that, as regards our correspondence, 
you have been considerate enough to renounce all former privileges of 
office ; and that I am to open my heart to you as to a wiser and better 
self, or more truly, as to the most indulgent of friends. I have under- 
taken to make you forget the distance intervening between us : while 
you must promise to overlook that of our relative age and position, and 
condescend to treat me as a woman, in order that I may become one 
tl:o sooner. 

We arrived here the day before yesterday. Accept us, therafore, as 
fairly settled. Marguerite, who is fond of such details, assures me she 
has given you a full account of our journey and its grievances, minor 
and'major; which, had you seen how impatiently they were endured 
by Count Alfred, you might have estimated as of some importance. 
But my uneventful life has taught me to regard such contrarieties as 
the inconveniences of a way-side inn, as a relief, after the monotony of 
Schloss Rehfeld; and could anything have amused me more than our 
bad suppers and the strangeness of the people by whom they were 
served, it would have been the indignation of the baroness and Monsieur 
de Yaudreuil ; both of whom ended by becoming seriously angry with 
me, for my indifference to their martyrdom. 

Enough, ho^vever, of a journey which, since my mind misgives me 
that you will scarcely find courage to rejoin us on your restoration to 
health, cannot be very interesting. Suffice it that we are here, with 
our due allowance of limbs ; and that a couple of days has enabled even 
the grumblers to recover the fatigues of the expedition, and the jolting 
over the timbered roads which Alfred found so detestable. 

At present, the winter sets in with scarcely more severity than our 
own ; but the Neva is beginning to freeze, which is the signal for its 
worst. We reside in a street opening on the Nevskoi Prospekt, which 
Marguerite calls the Eue St. Honore of St. Petersburg ; being a league 
and a half in length, and containing in its successive districts the 
handsomest shops and noblest private houses. It is truly an imperial 
causeway. Our house, or, as Yv'ilhelm von Eehfeld would call it, the 
Hotel of the Legation, has a courtyard in front and garden behind ; 
closely resembling, according to Monsieur de Vaudreuil's account, 
those of the Paubourg St. Germain. My father's apartments, which 
are spacious and handsome, are on the ground-floor ; those of the 
baroness on the first, and Marguerite and I have two charming little 
suites adjoining. There is an empty set of rooms on the second-floor, 
which my father ofiered to the use of Count Alfred. But I conclude 
he preferred independence ; as he has installed himself in an hofel 
fiarni, the Hotel Demuth— said to be the best here, but which he 
declares to be the most detestable in the world. All travellers, 
however, even the least fastidious, agree in condemning the public 
accommodations in St. Petersburg. 

And now, dearest, how shall I admit to you, in the name of your 
two disciples, that Marguerite evinces as little patriotism on her return 
to her native country, as your ungrateful Ida on quitting Germany ? 
Tell it not to the good pastor— publish it not to my excellent Sara ! 
But even as I bade a long farewell to our forests without a particle of 
regret, did Marguerite, after four months' absence, salute the shores of 
the Neva, with tears in her eyes. It promises ill for my happiness 
here, that Mademoiselle Erloflf should see so much to regret in a dull 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 37 

chateau of our olDscure province ! Eut I comfort myself by the sus- 
picion that her timidity and indolence render the stirring life of this 
city distasteful to her ; for the baroness still persists in assuring me 
that, out of Paris, St. Petersburg affords the most agreeable residence 
in Europe. Will not this tempt you to renounce your projects, ere 
you settle for the remainder of your days in the Eue du Bac ; and take 
a peep at your child, playing her new part in her new home ? 

But for the week we spent at the Residenz after leaving Rehfeld, I 
should have been terrified by the tumults of this place. Alfred de 
Vaudreuil protests, on the contrary, that it is only a splendid desert ; 
and has already pronounced the capital of all the Eussias to be right 
v/orthy a population of bears. 

To me, everything .appears new, grand, and exciting. My father's 
establishment is on a scale suitable with his fortune and diplomatic 
position ; and, being arranged by the baroness essentially « la Russe, 
I am not a little amused by the multiplicity of servants, who seem to 
render the whole house an ante-chamber. 

The apartments appropriated to reception are magnificently fur- 
nished, the inlaid parquets beautiful. The scagliola — particularly that 
which imitates alabaster — is dazzlingly brilliaut ; and the baroness's 
boudoir, hung with dove-coloured silk and ornamented with a beautiful 
set of malachite vases and tables presented to her by the empress on 
her marriage, is elegance itself. 

My own little drawing-room and bed-room, by an act of gracious 
kindness on the part of Madame von Eehfeld, are arranged precisely 
in the style of those I occupied at home. I accept with gratitude this 
token of conciliation ; but must confess that I had pondered long 
enough over those old hangings and fauteuils to have been as well 
satisfied with newer objects. Entre nous, I could have been content to 
bequeath my cousin Wilhelm and the yellow curtains to Schloss 
Eehfeld ! But for the fear of offending my step-mother, I would 
have proposed transferring both the heavy furniture and heavy kins- 
man to her daughter ; our dear, good, simple Marguerite still per- 
sisting in her enthusiasm for all things German. 

You will be diverted to learn, chere bonne, that already a cabinet 
council of mantua -makers and milliners has been gathered together, 
preparatory to our presentation at court. Prench, of course ; every- 
thing here connected with fashion being as Parisian as yourself. In 
spite of the emperor's remonstrances and prohibitions, the ladies of the 
imperial family, and those immediately surrounding them, persist in 
importing all they wear from Paris. Just as you once told me the 
Empress Josephine used to torment and irritate Napoleon by wear- 
ing India muslins and British lace, does our empress delight in 
being the least Eussian possible in matters of the toilet. Perhaps it 
would be as well if legislators let such trifles alone. But legislators 
have always pretended that the greatest matters consist in a concate- 
nation of trifles; and I will, therefore, take for granted that the pro- 
sperity of Eussia is seriously compromised by the cases of caps, hats, 
and manteaux de cour, which reach the imperial palace from the hands 
of Herbault and Yictorine. 

I yvrite to-day, only to announce our inauguration. By the next 
courier I shall have more to tell you than that, in spite of the untold 
number of versts dividing us, I am with my dear bonne in the spirit ; 
wanting only her presence to complete my happiness, both present and 
in anticipation. Farewell ! 



THE AMBASSADOPi's -\VlTi'.. 



Letter I r. — From Count Alfred de Vandreuil to liis Brother Count 
Jules, in Paris. 

Ix spite of your remonstrances, doar Jules, wje void ! — ay, here, — here, 
at St. Petersburg, ia the half-civihzed capital of a scarcely quarter- 
civilized empire!' 

When I mentioned, in my last letter, that I had given up the project, 
I was sincere. But what would you have? ]Man proposes, woman 
disposes ! On quitting Baden, last Aut^ust, I found myself with a 
couple of idle months on my hands, previous to the commencement of 
our Paris season. You would not have had me instal myself in our 
dear dull Faubourg till the Italian Opera was open, or your own return 
from Burgundy ? A tour through Germany presented itself as an 
agreeable alternative. Carlsbad and Toplitz were new to me. I wanted 
to see the Dresden gallery — I wanted to see Leipzig and visit the spot 

where my father But why dwell on these things ? It was at your 

suggestion I extended my travels through Saxony, in search of the more 
than Gothic domain, where our worthy aunt, the Countess Auguste, 
insisted upon my visiting her daughter and grand-daughter, that 
I might satisfy her mind on my return touching this new family 
alliance. 

I found precisely what might have been expected ; that is, precisely 
what 7 expected ; a half-furnished barrack of a house, in the centre 
of a domain stocked with boar, roebuck, and a German baron as stiff 
as his own pedigree : and, I should imagine, a head as ill furnished as 
his chateau, or he would scarcely have taken to wife our hyperborean 
cousin, a woman neither young nor pretty, with two grown-up children 
for her dowry ! The Goth, however, was hospitable and civil; and had 
collected about him a few people, not altogether unbearable ; that is, 
not altogether unbearable considering the excellence of his Jagd and 
old Hochheimer— the special recommendations of Schloss Rehfeld. 

Methinks I hear you exclaim, dear Jules, that, as regards old Hock, 
our uncle the archbishop's cellars are too well stored to entail the 
necessity of a visit to the banks of the Oder on any member of our 
family ; while, as to wild boar and roebuck, your estates in Burgundy 
have been accounted Avorthy mention in the annals of sportsmanship. 
True, alas !— a most irrefragable truth ! It stands, therefore, confessed 
that some less ostensible motive must have formed my attraction north- 
ward of Toplitz. 

If you could see her, my dear Jules, you would forgive my weakness, 
though it requires something more than the charm of mere beauty, to 
induce me to pardon myself. 

You and I, who, for the last ten years, ever since we quitted, at 
fifteen, our quarters at the College de Louis le Grand, have been sighing 
at the feet or in the arms of angels born to invalidate the proverb of 
"/««'• as an angel,'' you and I must candidly admit that, character and 
expression apart, the faces of our loving countrywomen are anything 
but celestial. In the inexperience of boyhood, I plead guilty to 
having found a charm in more than one sallow complexion, deriving 
character from fine features and an expressive physiognomy. But 
there comes a time when even the lightnings of the most animated 
eyes fail to blind one to that deficiency of bloom and youthfulness, 
which our Parisians acquire even in the fulness of girlhood. 



THE a:vIbassadoe's wife. 39 

In short, dear Jules (for why weary either you or myself by prolixity), 
the dark down on the scornful upper lip of cette chere marqv.lse, and 
the too frequent contraction of the tinest eyebrows in the FaulDourg 
St. Germain, had prepared the way for the spell exercised over my 
feelings by the Saxon beauty and transparent complexion of the lovely- 
Ida, To me, I own, she appeared, on our arrival at Schloss Eehfeld, a 
being of a different sphere. 

Her manners I found almost as attractive as her person. Were my 
acquaintance with the Teutonic fair more extensive, I should probably 
have discerned in her deportment only the ordinary worthfulness— 
permit me to Saxonize— of homely provincial human nature. But I 
know little of these people. At Baden, I associated only with our 
Paris friends ; at Carlsbad and Toplitz, with Eussians ; or at most, a 
few people from Vienna, who have rubbed off their national virtues and 
national rusticity. The baron's daughter was consequently the first 
specimen that met my eye of an inartificiality of manner, easily mistaken 
at first sight for inartificiality of character. Seeing her so unversed 
in the habits of society, I set her down as.an original of the ingenues 
of our stage, — a species unknown among ourselves, saving in thea- 
tricals. 

In the beginning, therefore, I patronized her as a child,— an awkward, 
pretty, well-meaning child ; nor was it till I had been startled by two 
or three astringent repartees, that I allowed myself to discover,— I was 
going to say, a snake in the grass, but beg you will substitute some 
more courteous expression. 

I was disappointed. I wanted to find my flaxen angel "tvith the 
soft down of angelic purity on her wings, as different in mind as in 
person from our more piquant charmers of the Faubourg, It did not 
suit my prejudices that this fairest of lilies should prove as thorny as 
all my other roses. 

The mystery was soon explained. You, my wise brother, who are 
cautious enough never to lose sight of your beloved Seine ; you, an 
enfant des JSoulevards (as Labenski once insultingly called you), have 
very little idea how searchingly our detestable Parisianism has pervaded 
Europe,— destroying all nationality, all originahty of character. Cham- 
pagne and French governesses are to be found even in the steppes of 
Tartary ; and it soon appeared that Schloss Eehfeld, like every other 
Schloss from the Ehine to the Dnieper, contained a certain IMademoi- 
selle Therese something or other, who had done her worst to render 
my angel witty as well as pretty, and add cloven feet to my Saxon 
lamb. It is the custom of Paris, it seems, to export last year's fashions, 
faded bonnets and soiled laces, to England, Eussia, America, and other 
outlandish countries, where they still retain the gloss of novelty. In 
the same manner, when a governess is pronounced incompetent, or 
becomes superannuated in Paris, she is shipped off to preside over the 
education of some heiress in Great Britain, or countess of the Eussian 
empire. Should you ever renounce your vocation, Jules, and become a 
travelled man, let this plead in extenuation of the singularly bad 
manners of certain ultra-mundane divinities of the highest descent. 

The INIademoiselle Therese in question is precisely one of those to 
whom I alluded ;— ignorant, like every French woman of fifty, whose 
education was necessarily arrested by our first fatal revolution ;— and 
having sj^eut the last dozen years of her Ufe, enclosed within the walls 
of the Hotel de Choisy, which, I need not remind you, is one of the few 
that has undergone neither fumigation nor ventilation since the Pom- 



40 THE ambassador's wife. 

padourism" of Louis XV. Though she has in some degree respected 
the simphcity of the poor child's manners,— probably attracted by a 
sort of Opera Comique pastorality in the whole thing, — she has at Ihe 
same time inspired her with notions so strange, that poor Ida's mind 
presented on our arrival a unique melange; which I can only 
exemplify as a groundwork of linsey-woolsey, embroidered with the 
richest flowers of brocade. 

Though for a moment disappointed, I soon began to discover that this 
was newer and more amusing than if the lohole texture had been of linsey- 
woolsey or brocade. It was a chaos to reduce to order ; a lal3yrinth to 
unravel. My curiosity was excited ; and it is something, allow me to 
tell you, at our age— for a Parisian, five-and-twenty, ranks with the 
grand climacteric of any other country in the world— to have one's 
curiosity excited. 

Fortunately, our excellent cousin favoured its indulgence ; perhaps, 
because apprehensive that I might let fall a withering glance on her 
own gentle, but insignificant Marguerite— a gir], par jjarenthese, whose 
nature corresponds miraculously with her banal daisy naihe. For 
scarcely were we installed at Schloss Eehfeld, when she pointed out to 
me, in despair, the detestable provinciality of her step-daughter's dress 
and manners; bewailing her hard fate in having such a mill-stone 
strung round the neck of her Saxon barony, and imploring my aid in 
rendering her presentable previous to her debut in a more courtly 
circle. 

I did my best; that is, I did my worst. But the task which I had 
undertaken almost as a corvee, became supportable through the 
aptitude of my scholar. I found that it was a diamond of the first 
water, which I had mistaken for a pebble. 

I tt'as almost in despair as the period drew near, to which, six weeks 
before, I had been looking forward as my signal of release from sauer- 
kraut and sourer bread and wine. Somehow or other, the fair Ida had 
wound herself, I was about to say, round my heart, but will not insult 
either your understanding, or my own, by such puerilities. In short, I 
did not like to part with her— perhaps, because assured that it would 
break her little heart to part with me. 

The gods and the baroness prospered my repinings. Just as I was 
beating my brains for a pretext to discover some species of business 
requiring my presence in Eussia (I had almost thought of asking you 
to beg from your friend Demidotf a superintendency of copper-mines !) 
—just as I was growing, I say, most sentimentally perplexed, the 
antiquated damsel who, for the benefit of the family, had better have 
broken her neck three years ago, had the fortune to break her leg- 
sprain her ankle— no matter what ; and the baroness, who was beginning 
under my enlightenment, to discover the insufliciency of ]\Iademoiselle 
Therese, eagerly seized upon a pretence to leave her behind. 

No sooner was this matter arranged, than she honoured me with a 
strenuous invitation to accept her place ; nay, almost to undertake her 
vocation as preceptress in the family. A singular notion, you will say ! 
But the poor dear baroness possesses in a supreme degree our family 
weakness of clanship; and, as becomes a Yaudreuil, believes in my 
infallibility. Though all she knows of Paris consists in a dreary year 
of widowhood in the still drearier hotel of the dear old Countess 
Auguste, she experiences the warmest interest in all things Parisian ; 
and is, moreover, pretty well aware that the presence of such a cavalier 
as your younger brother, will be no deterioration to her circle in this 
most savage capital. 



THE AMBASSADOE S WIFE. 41 

" You must positively accompany us, dear cousin " cried she, on the 
announcement of Mademoiselle Therese's misfortune. "You have 
taught us the difficulty of dispensing with your society. Conceive 
the acquisition you will be to me." 

It was not exactly my importance to the baroness that was likely to 
determine me to such a journey. Nevertheless, I contrived to look 
overwhelmed with gratification ; having begun to regard Madame von 
Rehfeld, nee Yaudreuil, as grand jewel-keeper to my crotvn. 

" With so great a charge upon my hands as two unmarried girls, both 
introduced into society, and without even a dame cle compagnie to 
superintend their proceedings when my position in official society shall 
require my leaving them at home," said she, "judge what will be my 
anxieties ! My sou is absent from St. Petersburg ; and were he on the 
spot, Alexis is too wild' and volatile to be trusted as the escort even of 
his sister. You, my dear Alfred, are essentially a man of the world. 
To you, two girls of the age of Ida and Marguerite, are no more than 
two angels carved in alabaster in some ancient cathedral. I am conscious 
that a Vaudreuil, a man of your birth and breeding, will give them 
only the best advice, as well as afford them the sort of championship, 
which the occupations of the Baron von Rehfeld render it impossible 
to expect at his hands. Received with open arms at the Im.perial 
Court, you will become our cavalier at all the winter fetes, and I foresee 
a delightful Avinter ! " 

So do I, my dear Jules ! Por in the sequel, I suffered myself to be 
persuaded ; and here I am, the pet of a family circle, including two of 
the prettiest girls in St. Petersburg, or any other burg ; and a chaperon, 
Avho sees everything I do, say, or imagine, en coulev.r de rose. 

I have, I perceive, left myself no space to glance beyond this charm- 
ing family circle. But in my next letter expect a detailed picture of 
what interests you perhaps more than myself— the Russian capital 
and people. 



Letter III. — From Marguerite Erloffto Mademoiselle Therese Moreau. 

We are all anxiety, mademoiselle, to learn the progress you have made 
in your recovery ; and, but that I trust the milder climate of your 
valley has been more auspicious than our Finland gales, I should have 
noted with fear and trembling the recent severities of weather we have 
experienced here. 

You may imagine how anxiously I have watched the influence of 
this severity upon the comfort of our dearest Ida. But she is good 
enough to fancy that the admirable distribution of our stoves procures 
her a pleasanter climate than awaited her at home ; where she assures 
me that winter, among the hoary forests of Rehfeld, was frightfully 
intense. Por your sake, mademoiselle, I earnestly hope this may be 
only a gracious exaggeration on the part of my sister, to spare me the 
mortification of suspecting her repinings. 

Die resfe, she is as well in health as gay in spirits. I could almost 
fancy, from her cheerfulness, that she was aware of the great addition 
afforded by her society to the happiness of her poor Marguerite. Till 
my mother's marriage, without any companion of my age, I was dis- 
contented with home, disgusted with Russia. I am now the happiest 
of the happy ! My brother is to be here in the course of the ensuing 
month ; and my impatience to see him again is almost forgotten in the 



42 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

liveliness of Ida's original reniarlcs on the new objects and customs 
that arrest lier notice at every turn, tbouah they have ceased to attract 
my own. Charming as I found her r.t Schloss Eehfeld, here she 
appears to me a thousand times more brilliant and more attractive. 

At present, my sister has been little seen in society, the Court having 
returned only yesterday, so that her presentation has been delayed. 
The admiration she excites among the chosen few admitted into our 
private circle, affords every confirmation of my mother's prognostica- 
tions, that the Lily of Eehfeld vrould faire fureur in Eussia. 

Of our common friends here, I will name only my cousin Alfred, who 
appears enchanted with his journey ; and but for its sad origin in your 
afflicting accident, I should congratulate myself on our having secured 
so cheerful a companion to lessen to dearest Ida the sense of loneliness 
inseparable from sojourn in a strange country. Ida, so gracious in her 
adoption of my mother as a parent, myself as a sister, appears even to 
accept Alfred as a kinsman. 

Be, therefore, under no uneasiness, mademoiselle, for the happiness 
of your child. She will be watched over, loved, and tended here, as at 
Schloss Eehfeld. Your expected letter will, I trust, afford us all that 
is wanting to our satisfaction, in an account of the improved state of 
your health. 



Letter lY. — Count Alfred de Yaudreidl io Countess Av.gusle de 
Vaudreiiil, in Faris. 

Belle tante, I throw myself at your feet, and on your mercy. You 
are indignant, I find, that, on quitting Paris last May, I did not ask 
your orders for St. Petersburg. Trust me, I as little contemplated an 
excursion hither, as at this moment I foresee a voyage to Japan ; into 
which, by the way, I cannot promise that I may not be decoyed by 
some of the strange navigators and other uninhabitative monsters 
from the far east, with whom I have already become acquainted since 
my be-Muscovitation. 

I proceeded, as I then announced to you, with Gustave de Presle, to 
Baden-Baden ; which I found, as usual, vulgarized with English, 
Belgians, and all the other refuse poured upon our charming frontier 
by Ehenish steam navigation. The place is ruined— done for— Paradise 
lost ! After the close of a week or two, Gustave discovered that he was 
losing his money, I my time, without obtaining a particle of enjoyment 
in return. We started accordingly for Carlsbad; and findingby your 
letters, forwarded to Toplitz for the announcement of my cousin's 
marriage, that the new baron and baroness, and our pretty Marguerite, 
were about to visit their forests, I hastened to pay them in person the 
united compliments of the house of Yaudreuil, and, in return, became 
so entangled in the meshes of their cordial hospitality, as to have no 
resource but to follow them a prisoner to St. Petersburg. 

Such is the origin of my exploit, and of an omission which you must 
not persist in treating as an act of neglect, lest I should become careless 
of your injunction to me to give you the fullest, truest, and most par- 
ticular account of the new lord of the Countess Erloff, and the present 
state of men, women, things, and nothings, in St. Petersburj^ 

You, who know something of the mode in which the government of 
this country is carried on, will be pleased to remember that this is no 



THE AMBASSADOH'S WIF2. 43 

gratuitous task. I aiu satisfied that my letters are not only perused 
whenever occasion offers, by the master of this tilthy inn, which has the 
audacity to call itself the first hotel in Petersburg, (my opinion whereof 
I hereby inscribe for his benefit), but that they are invariably opened at 
the post-office. We French are sufficiently objects of animosity here, 
to render our correspondeoce an object of imperial solicitude. How- 
ever, as my letters to you, lelle tanie, are not quite so urgent in point 
of punctuality as those of Rothschild, 1 shall adopt the system of de- 
spatching them uniformly through our embassy— the only secure 
channel of communication. 

It is now— let me see— twelve years since you quitted Russia ; and 
though improvement is naturally more perceptible on the outskirts of 
civilization than in a "capital, representing, like our own, the heart's 
core of European refinement, do not imagine that the traces of its 
seven-leagued boots are strikingly evident. 

By the first aspect of St. Petersburg, I confess I was startled, So, 
probably, should 1 be that of Paris, were our noble public monuments 
suddenly to diverge and scatter themselves over thrice the territory on 
which they are now concentrated ; and I was forced to admit that the 
capital of these savage, tallov»--melting Russians, had, in truth, some 
pretence to the title she arrogates to herself of City of Palaces. But 
this distinction was nearly as much her own on the day that witnessed 
the death of the great Catherine, as now :— and it needed only a second 
glance to discover that the interstitial spaces of this colossal skeleton of 
a city, are filled with all that is unsightly and all that is common-place. 
The quays and palaces may be of granite, but the houses which, at first 
sight, I mistook for stone, are of plastered brick, saving such as are of 
wood. I found myself gazing upon a Monsieur Jourdain, whose ruffles 
are of point ; while the texture and cleanliness of the garment to which 
they are appended, remain those of i\iB''' hotrrgeois" heioxQ he pre- 
tended to the distinction of " gentilJwmme." Instead, therefore, of a city 
of palaces, I inscribed in one of the inner leaves of my pocket-book 
" city of incongruities." 

All this existed in your time. Still, during the reign of the late 
emperor, who appears to have made up for all the feminine frivolities of 
taste wanting in his majestic grandmother, there was, I am assured, 
such a restless striving alter improvement, such a pretence to create a 
new Versailles in a country, which, for three centuries to come, will not 
be ripe for the creation, and which will then, if unwise enough to en- 
gender a production so fatal, find it, as we did, a nursery for the elements 
of destruction to its monarchical institutions,— that, if nothing import- 
ant was effected, those who witnessed the solicitudes of Alexander, can 
scarcely believe them to have been wholly infructuous. 

Now, everything is changed. Russia pretends only to be Russia. The 
Muscovites have got a giant of brass, in place of a giant of clay ; — I trust, 
at least, that Nicholas will prove himself of brass ; for nothing, I am 
convinced, but the strong arm and ruthless grasp of despotism, will duly 
restrain those higher classes, which in this country exhibit all the fatal 
and ferocious impulses of the people of France. The nobility here is 
ever in a state of secret ferment. They tormented poor Alexander out 
of his life. May the present emperor of all the bears 'prove made of 
sterner stuff ! 

At present, r,ia helle tante, St. Petersburg conveys to me the irupres- 
sion of one of those grand warehouses one suddenly sees start up in our 
more fashionable quarter of Paris, transferred from the ultra-commer- 



44 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

cial mart of the Rue St. Denis ; affecting the flashy hixury of modern 
trade,— plate-glass windows, and counters of polished mahogany,— but 
retaining the vulgar routine of business of its former fussy, wholesale 
quarter of the town. 

They still exhibit here, you may remember, the wooden hut in which 
Peter the Great, father of their savage empire, imbibed the principles 
of ship-building in the dockyard of Saardam ; thereby admitting their 
principles of naval architecture to be of purely foreign origin. But 
they are too wise to display the cabinet wherein, equally imported from 
distant lands, Alexander imbibed those singular constitutional crotchets, 
which he was desirous to render the formation of a new order of mon- 
archy. I never saw the sovereign who pretended to overstep his 
century in the civilization of his kingdom, who achieved anything more 
than a fatal sprain in the effort. Alexander, however,' did accomplish 
somewhat more. Having the good fortune to be succeeded by a brother 
in the full force and vigour of intellect, instead of a feeble minor issued 
of his loins, the failure of his well-intended efforts served at least to 
enlighten his successor. Nicholas, accordingly, began by legislating for 
Russian nature according to the instigation of Russian nature ; instead 
of according to the Anglo-Gallican and most anomalous Montes- 
quieuism of the imperial disciple of La Harpe, Madame Krudener, 
and Jeremy Bentham ! He \?> par consequent, in my humble opinion, 
the model for a Czar of Muscovy ;— hardy, intrepid, inflexible— gentle 
in his domestic life, as rigid in his public capacity ; and is accordingly 
beloved by his family and adored by his people. I humbly ask pardon 
of my lovely Polish friends— but so it is ! 

You did not, however, require politics at my hands ; but rather some 
account of the court and the position likely to be maintained there by 
your daughter and new son-in-law. 

As regards the latter, you are so moderately pleased with the match, 
that it is scarcely possible to speak of Baron von Rehfeld in terms that 
may not place him higher in your favour. It appears to me, that in this 
respect, you render justice neither to him nor your daughter. "What 
was she to do ? AYere you not the first to place before her, in stern 
reality, that among ^ls, in our own sordid, or rather impoverished 
Paubourg, a Veuve Erloff was a mere dead letter ? In Russia, it seems, 
her chances of an establish ment were equally unpromising. The 
favour she was enjoying was most precarious ; and with the prospect 
before her of an abyss of poverty, into which at any moment she 
might be precipitated, carrying with her two children reared in the 
enjoyment of luxury, I cannot but applaud her self-sacrifice, in ac- 
cepting the hand of a man whose ibrtune, equalling 80,000 francs per 
annum, is burthened only with one cbild, and enhanced by diplomatic 
distinction. 

As regards the man attached to the fortune, there is little to be said ; 
but that little has no drawback from a single offensive particle. Baron 
von Rehfeld is a bundle of insignificances :— middle-aged,— moderately 
w^ell-looking, — tolerably well-mannered— sufliciently well-informed- of 
inoffensive character, and passable abilities. In Paris, one should never 
have heard mention of his name. At Rehfeld, he is a baron of the 
heavens know how many quarterings and descents ; and at St. Peters- 
burg, minister residentiary from the court of . 

What would you have more ? The daughter is pretty and pleasing, 
submissive to the baroness, and affectionate to Marguerite. Por the 
present, this must suffice you. To enable me to reply to your inquiry in 



THE AMBASSADOll'S WIFE. 45 

wbat degree this marriage is likely to influence the favour hitherto 
enjoj'ed by my cousin, I must see and judge the autocratic circle ; 
where, if report speak truly, our nation enjoys no very high degree of 
credit. E)i attendant, cliere tante, je haise ires Jw.mblemenf les x^lus 
helles mains dti monde. 



Letter Y.—From Ida von BeJ^feld to Mademoiselle Therese Moreau. 

Thanks, chere bonne, for such comfortable news of your progressive 
recovery. Your letters are all I desired. Do not apologize to me for 
want of news. What news could I possibly expect you to communicate 
from Schloss Eehfeld ? ' AVhat could I even wish to know but that you 
are better and cheerful ? 

On the eve of my departure, cJiere bonne, you exhorted me, above all 
things, to mistrust my first impressions of a land of strangers. But 
this was not enough for wisdom :— you should have first bidden me 
mistrust my presentiments. You talked to me of the sanguine reliance 
of youth upon superficial attractions. Alas ! my youth was sufficiently 
sanguine to have conjectured attractions without limit and without 
foundation. 

I own I flattered myself, for instance, that my position at the imperial 
court was to be one of peculiar advantage, as step-daughter to the 
former Countess Erlofi". Judge of my surprise when, on the evening 
following our arrival here, the baroness summoned me into her boudoir, 
and addressed me in a confidential tone, with which she never favoured 
me before, and which she never, at any time, addresses Marguerite, 
who, though of my own age, she persists in treating as a child. 

" I wish, my dear Ida," said she, " to afibrd you a few hints on the 
subject of the Hne of conduct to be pursued here ; your attention to 
which may be vitally important to your own prospects, as well as to the 
interests of your father. You possess the intelligence of a woman ; 
and if placed on the footing of one, cannot fail to acquire the tact 
which, in the higher walks of life, is more indispensable than better 
things. Without it, the greatest talents are unavailable." 

Though I thanked her gratefully for so favourable an interpretation 
of my poor abilities, I foresaw, from so much conciliation, that some- 
thing disagreeable was to follow. 

" The position of our family at the imperial court," she resumed, " is 
one of delicacy and difficulty. On all sides, we are objects of jealousy 
and opposition. I, in the first place, as a French woman naturalized by 
marriage ; your father, in the second, as a foreign minister, united with 
one supposed to enjoy the favour of the court. By the native nobility, 
therefore, as well as by the corjjs diplomatique, we are viewed with 
envious mistrust ; while the imperial family must so far concede to the 
malevolence of all parties, as to be guarded in their show of favour. 

" Such, my dear child, are the disadvantages under which we labour. 
I am detested by the mass of society here, as a French woman and a 
favourite ; and you, as belonging to my family, will consequently be 
exposed to severe scrutiny. Still, by ascertaining one's precise rights 
upon society, and neither advancing a step beyond the line nor receding 
from one's place, it is impossible for even the bitterest insolence to 
humiliate one's feelings. It is not at court, as in the humbler range 
of life. At courtj everybody's position is definite. Your father's diplo- 



46 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

matic station is as positively marked out as that of the emperor, or the 
archimandrite,— I mean of course the station of your father, as well as 
that of all belonging to him, 

" This you must try to understand. Make it your business to know 
the precise amount of your consequence ; for to aspire to more, would 
be estimated a vulgar and fatal assumption. Tour social pleasures here 
are not, as in your own country, optional." 

Though the* baroness had not paused to take breath during this long 
exordium, I admit that the formality of her address inclined me for 
some such relief. I v/as beginning to pant under the oppression of 
duties hitherto unsuspected. 

" AYith j\Iarguerite, matters are less urgent," she resumed, not seem- 
ing to notice my annoyance. " She is supported here by the influence 
of her father's connections," 

I almost longed to add, "And by reliance on the brilliant marriage 
you have projected for her;" but out of regard to my step-sister, 
forbore, 

"Whatever notice the emperor and empress may see fit to bestow 
upon my daughter will be accepted by the Russian nobility as a com- 
phment to themselves ; v/hereas a favour conceded to the daughter of 
the representative of one of the lesser powers of Germany, would give 
universal offence, I explain all this to you, Ida, that you may not 
misconstrue any preference seemingly accorded to JMarguerite, But 
you have too much sense to set undue value on such distinctions, 

"Had Mademoiselle Tberese accompanied ns hither, according to 
my expectations, slxe vrould have explained all such matters to you 
more circumstantially than the little leisure I can enjoy at St. Petersburg 
enables me to do. 

"However, I see that ycu understand me, and will be good and 
prudent. Like other and greater politicians, we must reculer pour 
mieux s aider ; and, perhaps, when all the intriguers about the court 
have satisfied themselves that I ground no pretensions as Baron von 
Eehfeld's wife upon the favour enjoyed as widow of Count Erloff, I 
may be permitted to withdraw you from the background, to which, in 
the beginning, I fear you are condemned," 

By a kiss on the forehead, the baroness now dismissed me from an 
audience which seemed intended as a prelude to my disenchaatments. 
For lo, as if at the command of some adverse genius in a fairy-tale, a 
hedge of thorn seemed to have suddenly started out of the ground, to 
conceal the bright palace of pleasure on which my eyes had so long 
been fixed v.ith delight and expectation ! 

The following day, my attention having been thus startled to the 
task of observation, I was surprised to find a thousand petty vexations 
upspringing at every turn. No more free discussions — no lively sallies, 
as at Eehfeld ! Every gay allusion seemed interdicted— every opinion 
subjected to rule. If I may form inferences from the reiterated cau- 
tions of the baroness, the domestic servants here must be a legion of 
spies. You can imagine nothing more servile than the state of 
caution to which even Marguerite and myself are subjected in this 
respect. 

It is not alone that I am required, on receiving a buffet on the cheek 
from the insolence of ^Muscovite barbarism, to turn the other with a 
request for a repetition of the favour, but I am positively interdicted 
the expression of a single free opinion; and Marguerite assures me 
that in the higher circles of St. Petersburg, it is a matter of hoyi ton to 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 47 

have uo opinion on any subject more open to political interpretation 
than the weather. 

Already, I am beginning to find my language confused, and my ideas 
contracting, chc:re ionne, under the influence of this wretched depres- 
sion. In Germany, I used to consider Nicholas I. a human being, or 
at most, an emperor. Sere, he has suddenly expanded, in my mind, 
into a mysterious influence — a supernatural intelligence — an all but 
supreme being. But alas ! it is forbidden, even in my letters, to talk 
of this ! Adieu, then, for the present. My next shall treat of safer 
subjects. I will try to describe the magnificent palaces of St. Peters- 
burg—if indeed it be permissible to allude to so much as the plumage 
of this imperial eagle whose beak and claws are so redoubtable. — 
Adieu ! 



Letter Yl.—From ilie Baron vou Melifeld to Wilhelm von ReJifeld. . 

I PEOMISED you, my dear nephew, that on my arrival at Petersburg 
I would reply to the request you urged at the Eesidenz, that I should 
solicit of the grand duke your appointment as attache to the Legation, 
in the event of receiving your mother's sanction to spending the winter 
in Russia, 

On mature consideration, I find that this would be more difficult of 
accomplishment than I surmised. A single attache is allowed me ; and 
it would be as impossible for me to supersede the services of young 
Hohenthal, as to dismiss August von Collin, who, from the period of 
my own a])pointment, has of&ciated as my private secretary. 

Under these circumstances I should recommend you to suspend, for 
the present, your projected tour. The court of St. Petersburg is unlike 
all other European courts. A sufficient motive seems to be demanded 
from all those who present themselves as mere travellers, yet prolong 
their sojourn beyond the usual limits of curiosity. Amateur tourists 
cannot sojourn here, as in Italy, for the benefit of the climate, — as in 
Paris, for social enjoyment,— or as in London, for the study of its 
institutions or the improvement of their stables. Should you, as you 
desire, attempt a prolonged residence in St. Petersburg, it would be 
imagined either that your marriage with my daughter was on the 
eve of accomplishment, or that you had some other inostensible 
inducement. 

As regards the former plea, you seem fully to coincide in my opinion 
that it is desirable for Ida, as well as yourself, to have seen something 
of the world previous to any ratification of our vague projects on the 
subject. 

In a word, my dear Wilhelm, I advise you to postpone your journey 
hither. Our friend, Griinglatz, has written to me, proposing a visit to 
this capital. But I am equally of opinion that he would find it more 
advantageous to examine St. Petersburg during the sumnier season ; 
when the public collections will be more accessible, and his practical 
pursuits as a naturalist obtain happier facilities. Tell him, therefore, 
with a thousand compliments from myself and my familiy, that I 
cannot recommend so long a journey to either of you, at this in- 
clement season. 

Nothing, on the other hand, can be more charming than a Russian 
summer, which may be regarded as a long day— the darkest night 



48 THE AlIBASSADOil'S WIFE. 

scarcely exceeding the twilight of other countries. The Neva, which, 
with its endless varieties of shipping, constitutes the boast of the city, 
is then in its glory, imparting to St. Petersburg the air of a modernized 
Venice ; but the beautiful villas on its banks, the rich galleys, the popu- 
lous quays, are lost, as objects of attraction, during the continuance of 
the frost. 

In May, therefore, previous to our departure for the seat of the 
baroness in the environs of Tzarsko-gelo, I shall hope to see you. 
Meantime, it will aflford me sincere pleasure to hear of your welfare. 

Present the compliments of the New Year in my name and that of 
my family, to your excellent mother ; and on no account omit the 
transmission of my message to my friend Grlinglatz. 



Letter VII. — From Count Alfred de Vaudreiiil to Count Jules. 

How often, my dear brother, have we exploded with rage' on perusing 
together, in the tedious work of some foreign traveller, impertinences 
levelled at our national manners, habits, and opinions. 

Our indignation was a proof, only, of the circumscription of our 
experience. The further I travel, the more I become disgusted with 
objects and usages that impose themselves upon the world under the 
name of Prench. When I reflect upon the loathsome dinners palmed 
on me in St. Petersburg as dressed by the " famous Prench cook," of 
Prince Astrapouschapovitch, or the half-denuded women, glowing with 
paint, pointed out tome as charming, because 2Xi\xQ& d. la Franqaise 
and receiving their dresses from Paris, I cannot wonder at the dis- 
approval expressed by foreigners less versed than myself in the truth of 
such matters. 

The Prenchness of St. Petersburg is, at best, the Frenchness of a 
century ago. All the sins of which we have repented and all the frip- 
pery we have rejected, appear to have been transferred to this place. 
In our time, rouge and pearl powder have been confined to the stage. 
In our time, dinners have been prepared for the palate, and not for the 
eye. Decorated dishes and faded faces, scarcity of drapery and bold 
flirtation, are, heaven be thanked, as utterly unknown in our society, as 
they ought to be throughout the civilized confederacy. 

How can one wonder, therefore, that Nicholas should entertain anti- 
Gallican prejudices, or that he should cherish a pleasanter impression 
of England, which he visited en -prince, and has studied en ph'do-mphe ? 
Por my part, I freely forgive him. I should myself abhor a Prance, 
jetine ou ancienne, such as the one of which he obtains specimens. Pew 
among the persons worth knowing among us are rich enough to travel; 
whereas, year after year, the English yachts and steamers are wafting 
knights of the garter and lovely marchionesses over the Baltic, to show 
his Imperial Majesty that the land which he admired so much " when 
George III. was king," and Nicholas a cadet defamille (which, even 
when the family is imperial, is no such mighty aflair), has lost nothing 
of its good sense and dignified pragmaticality, under three succeeding 
reigns. 

It is too much to expect of a hyperborean understanding, to compre- 
hend that, howbeit, the revolutionists of '89 have left successors in 
Napoleonized and re-Bourbouized Prance, fully capable of engendering 



THE AMBASSADOrt'S "WIFE. 49 

a second revolution — a revolution of mere opinion, the ancien regime 
was not so thoroughly extinguished as not to have legitimate successors, 
as distinct [from the rest as the blue waters of the Ehone from the lake 
they traverse. However, if the ignorance of the Muscovites render 
them unindulgent towards me, my pity of their ignorance, renders me 
indulgent towards them; and I consequently accept their antipathy to 
the French as directed exclusively against a race of people as odious to 
me as to themselves. 

Die reste, regarding, as I do, the nobler order of the ladies of Eussia, 
more especially Eussianized Poland, as the representatives of the Yer- 
sailles of Louis XV., I admit that, except as models of superficial taste, 
they are charming creatures. Impossible to imagine anything more 
diverting! Such over-acted vivacity — such prodigious migraines — 
such spasmodic maiix de nerfs ! One fancies the days of the Parabere, 
the Du Prie— nay, even the Dubarri, come again ; though, by the way, 
I have hSard that the latter was so admirably schooled by our cousin of 
Brissac, as to have been mistakable in her latter days for as high-bred 
gentlewoman as the rest. 

I am, perhaps, hasty in pronouncing sentence on the lovely Musco- 
vites, for I can judge only of those who have received me into their 
houses with open arms ; while the more courtly set are difficult of 
access to foreigners, even to those who present themselves with the 
letters of introduction Avhich I have not been at the trouble to procure. 

My pretty Ida, by the way, is already detested by these women ; 
which I take to be a guarantee of her perfect succes in general society. 
I have seen less of her than I expected; less perhaps than I intended. 
But in a new society, one is obhged to be assiduous in certain cere- 
monies of politeness, such as one afterwards permits oneself to neglect ; 
and I have accordingly massacred myself with the formality of returning 
visits and accepting invitations, which henceforward may look for my 
services in vain. 

It is perhaps because resentful of my neglect, that the flaxen idol of 
my soul looks somewhat cold upon the devotions I am beginning to 
renew. In her father's old barn of a chateau she was uniformly lovely 
and aimable. Here, with a thousand incentives to mirth (for we are 
surrounded by the quizzible in all its branches), the poor girl appears 
miserably out of spirits. The baroness whispers to me that this arises 
from wounded self-consequence, that the Lily of Eehfeld expected to 
be the Lily of St, Petersburg, and that the notice bestowed upon her 
by the little show-box puppet-court of the Eesidenz had induced her to 
anticipate a flourish of trumpets in her honour in presence of all the 
Eussias. 

Poor child ! How much have people to answer for who rear their 
children in such seclusion and ignorance of the world, as to cultivate 
their egotism into this giant growth ! I must take her in hand again ; 
though, perhaps, too much notice on my part might encourage rather 
than check the progress of the evil. 

It might be more to Ivlademoiselle von Eehfeld's advantage, were I to 
devote some attention for a time to poor Marguerite, whose attractions 
she is apt to undervalue ; and who, but that a portionless cousiu is an 
unsafe object of civility, is really a charming creature ; unilorm in 
temper, gentle in deportment, obliging in character, all that might be 
expected from the eleve of our charming old aunt ; by which I mean, 
according to her notions of education, a girl brought up in conventual 
subjection, with whom the countess never exchanged a dozen sentences 

E 



50 THE AIIBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

during the dozen years she was committed to her charge. Marguerite 
Erloff will consequently make a pattern for wives. Were she rich, in 
addition to her personal merits, I would recommend her, my dear 
Jules, to you ; from which hint, be plea?ed to infer that, with all my 
volatility and inconsequence, I have nol yet renounced the anti- 
matrimonal principles becoming a younger brother. 

Do not repeat a syllable of this to our dear aunt, or I should be 
having her despatch a volume of warnings and remonstrances to 
Madame von Eehfeld assuring her I am in love with her daughter,— an 
amiable weakness of which, believe me, 1 am incapable. 

Farewell, my dear Jules. News, news, news, I beseech you ! Ovid 
in exile among the Goths implores you for an authentic word or two 
touching those important matters in which gazetteers are not to be 
trusted. Give me scandal and the opera,— anything you please but 
politics ! I only wish I had scandal and opera here, to furnish me with 
subjects for my correspondence in return. A tons les Biev.x, 



Letter VIII. — From Marguerite Urlqff to Mademoiselle Therese 
Moreau. 

Thottgh apprehensive of exciting your uneasiness, dear Mademoiselle 
Therese, I cannot but risk an inquiry relative to our dear Ida, which 
you alone can answer. Have I displeased her, or are her reserve and 
low spirits attrilDutable only to absence from her home and country ? 
It is natural, I admit, that, separated from you, her friend, as well as 
from her good Sara, her poor heart should droop. Still, she anticipated 
so much delight from her expedition to Eussia, and even throughout 
our journey was so elated, that I cannot but ascribe her sudden 
depression either to illness or some just cause of displeasure. 

Illness, however, it cannot surely be, for never did I see her more 
blooming ; nor can you well irjiagine the admiration and envy excited 
among our pallid beauties of St. Petersburg by Ida's radiant complexion. 

To mamma I dare not even suggest the origin of my uneasiness, lest 
she should imagine my step-sister discontented with the efforts made to 
please her ; while as to the baron, I stand so much in awe of him, as 
never yet to have hazarded an attempt at familiar conversation. 

My cousin Alfred, who is not enamoured of Eussia in any point of 
view, assures me that Ida's dulness is the result of our abominable 
climate ; and that, by noticing her enmd, I shall only augment the evil. 
I have, therefore, renounced every attempt at condolence ; and presume 
to apply to yourself to know whether I have been so unfortunate as to 
oflfend her, or whether you can suggest any means by which I might 
cheer or enliven the life I would fain render happiest of the happy. 

I am the more mortified at witnessing her melancholy, because, for 
my own part, I have not a wish un gratified. JNIy brother will be here in 
a few weeks; and our little home circle, to which the company of 
dearest Ida and my cousin Alfred have imparted a charm that renders 
me indifferent to the gay circles in which we are beginning to take our 
share, is to be increased to-morrow by the arrival of Prince Gallitzin, 
who, as one of the friends of my late father, is on the most intimate 
footing at our house. I need not enlarge upon his merit ; for he used to 
be a great favourite of yours at Schloss Eehfeld. 

By the way, it may amuse you to learn that already Ida has an 



xSE ambassadoe's wife. si 

admirer ; — • at least we can assign no other motive than admiration of 
ray step-sister to the half-sullen pertinacity with which a certain 
English milord, named Elviuston, constantly renews his visits, though 
apparently tortured by every effort we make to lead him into conver- 
sation. He was first presented by my cousin Alfred, who, through the 
introduction of the French Embassy, is well acquainted with the English 
aitoches ; and comes here once or twice a week to sit on the edge of his 
chair, blush scarlet at every word addressed to him by my mother, and 
at the end of an hour scramble out of the room, after an attempt to 
take leave much as if he had been committing a crime instead of 
fulfilling a ceremony. 

Count Alfred declares that Lord Elvinston is an excellent fellow and 
a man of sense, who has acquired the air of a blockhead from never 
having learned to dance. But Ida, after one or two attempts to amuse 
herself by laughing at him, tells me she has given him up, as game too 
tame to be worth running down; and he is consequently left for me to 
entertain,— a duty which I execute by allowing him to notice my efforts 
by vague replies, while his eyes remain steadily fixed upon Mademoiselle 
von liehfeld. 

My dear sister seems surprised to find the httle consequence assigned 
here to unmarried girls, — a thing my Paris education had, of course, 
prepared me to expect. In Germany, unless at the larger courts, it 
seems a certain domesticity of manners and habits converts society into 
an extended family circle ; and poor girls are not exempted as with you 
and tis from the tedious ceremonial of life till qualified by their marriage 
to take part in the pageant. Perhaps this system, which conveys at first 
an appearance of personal slight, may have some share in depressing the 
spirits of my sister. Yet, surely, she ought rather to rejoice that for a 
time we are free from the labour of representation, which she constantly 
hears my mother declare to be the most cruel corvee in the world. 

For my own share, I know there never passes a day in which I do 
not bless my stars for having escaped the misfortune at one moment 
anticipated by mamma, of my appointment as maid of honour to the 
empress. Though this constitutes a mere grade of honour, and the 
number of them sometimes amounts to eighty, I trembled at the 
idea of the representation it would entail upon me ; nor shall I ever 
forget the agony of my presentation to the emperor, though a private 
one, to return thanks for the continuance of our pension, re-accorded 
on my mother's marriage, previous to our departure for Germany. 
Though the emperor is strikingly handsome, there is something stern 
and imposing in his air, which caused my blood to curdle. As to the 
empress— but I seem to forget that this is to me an interdicted subject. 

We are all going to-night to a ball given by your rich and stately am- 
bassador, the Due de Mortemart ; and my cousin Alfred keeps assuring 
Ida that, at length, she is sure of a/eYe deserving the name. We have 
beautiful new dresses for the occasion, and it is to be one of the 
triumphs of the Carnival. Ida will give you an account of its splendours, 
which, I trust, may fully realize my cousin Alfred's prediction. 

Farewell, dear friend. Do not, I entreat, forget to reply fully and 
candidly to my rash interrogations. 



E 2 



52 THE ambassadoe's wife. 



Letter IX. — From Jlscov.nt Elvinston io Sir Henri/ Maitlancl, Hart, 
London. 

Tou complain, my dear sir, that my letters have given you a loss 
explicit account of my pursuits in Petersburg, than those I addressed 
to you from Stockholm of my occupations in Sweden. Believe me, this 
is unintentional. The vreek follow-ing my arrival hero, the winter season 
set in. The freezing of the Neva gives the signal for the cessation of 
all out-of-door pleasures ; and to waste time so precious as yours in 
empty details of fet^s and entertainments is a liberty I should not have 
atternpted, but that your letters seem to accuse me of either laziness or 
reserve. 

I must, therefore, afford you, by my wretched attempts at description, 
a less accurate account of this place than you have derived from better 
authorities ; more particularly from the account given us by George 
Maitland, who, having visited St. Petersburg in the summer season, 
amused us with a more flattering picture of its beauties and splendours 
than I am able to confirm. Most cities are more advantageously viewed 
in summer, by such travellers as prefer the aspect of nature and of a 
new people, to courtly pageantry, which I suppose is pretty nearly the 
same in all civilized countries. But St. Petersburg above all ;— so much 
of its local attraction being derived from the noble river, which affords 
greater varieties of waterscape than our own Thames, the Bay of 
Kaples, and Lagunes of Tenice, united ; and which, throughout the 
winter months, is reduced to the cheerless aspect of a snowy plain. The 
very palaces on the quays, which in some places present a fine archi- 
tectural facade, nearly a mile in extent, forfeit half their grandeur 
when deprived of this\ivifying foreground. 

To an eye accustomed to the metropolitan vivacity of London or 
Paris, St. Petersburg presents the appearance of the outline of a great 
city, still waiting to be filled up ; and the name of " Palmyra of the 
Isorth," sometimes conceded to this place, would, in my opinion, be 
aptly exchanged for that of T\'asliington the Great. Proportioned in 
design rather to the magnitude of the empire whereof it forms the seat 
of government, than to the wants of the population, it extends, as you 
have probably heard, so far beyond the demands of its half-million of 
inhabitants, as to apportion at the rate of twelve hundred square feet 
to every man, woman, and child within its limits. This prodigality of 
space, considering the nature and cost of a purely artificial soil, raised 
on piles in the delta of the K eva as that of Venice on the Lagoon, 
appears a singular oversight. Centuries will scarcely suffice to complete 
the city so boldly sketched, a century ago, by Peter the Great, on the 
extreme edge of an empire of which his martial successors have since 
so mightily extended the frontier. It will be some time, I suspect, 
before the'Swedes again take the Muscovite by the beard within reach 
of the citadel of his capital, as was the case when Peter was constructing 
his superfluous metropolis. 

Were I personally interested in the prosperity of the place, it would 
afford me, I own, endless vexation, that the said great founder should 
not have selected a more prosperous site than a swamp, where the 
foundations of every house cost as much as the superstructure ; and 
where the prevalence of a westerly wind, at the moment of the break- 
ing up of the winter frost, would inevitably produce an inundation, 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 53 

capable of sweeping the city from its precarious footing. This great 
capital, which rose as it were with the growth of Jonah's gourd, is 
equally susceptible of being as rapidly cut down and withered. 

In the meanwhile, even while solid and prosperous as her subter- 
ranean forest of piles will admit, the flatness of the site is fatal to 
picturesque effect. In spite of the grandeur of the public buildings, 
nothing can be more monotonous than the winter aspect of the city. 
From the prodigality of space, the houses appear low in proportion to 
their extent, exhibiting half the number of stories usual in Paris or 
Vienna ; while a certain haziness of atmosphere deprives the long 
perspective of the streets of everything like dignity or grandeur. It 
sounds well in foreign countries, that the equipages of people of con- 
dition never appear in the streets of St. Petersburg without four horses. 
But in this straggling city, in streets half hghted by night, and by day 
presenting only a dingy waste of beaten snow, these equipages produce 
not half the effect of a well-appointed London chariot and pair. 

Pedestrian pleasures, on the other hand, are out of the question. 
The severity of the weather at this season renders them as much a 
matter of danger, as the laws of hon ton a matter of indecorum. The 
emperor is the only man bold enough to defy both. Our English 
nursery Christmas proverb, " If you go out, Jack Prost v.ill lay hold of 
your nose," is here no fiction; and as the sufferer is himself often 
rendered unconscious by the general numbness of his features when 
exposed to the atmosphere, of the misfortune that has befallen him, it 
is not uncommon to be stopped by a stranger in the street, and quietly 
informed that your nose is frozen ; an evil which you must remedy by 
rubbing it with snow ere it be too late. You will readily believe, 
therefore, that I, who account myself so good a walker, have renounced 
my pedestrian pleasures till a more convenient season; though Nicholas, 
acclimatized by nature and second nature, appears constantly on the 
parade in uniform, without a pelisse or cloak, as well as on foot and in 
an open sledge in the pubhc promenades. 

You have heard George Maitland assign a decided preference to that 
grand thoroughfare of St. Petersburg, the Nevskoi Prospekt, over our 
Eegent Street ; and the Admiralty quay here, to that of the Louvre. 
I know not how this may be in the summer season, when one can take 
leisure to enjoy the gay aspect of the shops, and the wooden pavement 
is disencumbered of its dull suov/ or filthy subsequent mud, while the 
Neva ripples gaily in its channel, crowded with an endless variety of 
craft. But at present, I must confess, I give the preference to streets 
where one pauses, if the expression may be allowed, without the fear of 
losing one's nose before one's eyes; and to a city where one is not 
dependent for transit upon the precarious aid of bridges of boats, which, 
at certain epochs of the year, in consequence of the freezing or thawing 
of the river, are of necessity constructed and re-constructed several 
times in the course of the day ; and at others, are for days together 
wholly wanting. It is said that the money spent in making and 
unmaking the Izaak's Bridge, would have sufficed to form one of stone 
as fine as that of AYaterloo. 

I will not trouble you with a further description for the present. All 
I have to tell of the really palatial palaces of the Czar, may keep for 
some future occasion; for you will be anxious for a reply to your 
inquiries concerning the society with which I chiefly pass my time. 

You have often suggested to me, my dear sir, that in foreign coun- 
tries, the diplomatic society is likely to prove the most advantageous ; 



54 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

as concentrating all that is distinguished by birth, breeding, or ability, 
of the united Europe. That it is the most amusing, I fully grant ; 
though one should gain, I fear, but an imperfect insight into the society 
of a country, more especially such a country as this, by taking, as a fair 
sample, the Russian ambassadors in foreign countries, or associating 
here only with this priyileged class of foreigners. 

But since my object in spending a portion of the winter here, is not 
to write a book upon the present state of Russia, or even to form a 
severely accurate notion of its resources and progress for the embellish- 
ment of some future speech in parliament, but simply to enjoy a some- 
what less turbulent carnival than at Paris last year, and a less costly 
season than the preceding winter at Melton, for which you, my dear 
guardian, have sentenced me to a year's prudence and penitence, I have 
permitted myself, under your sanction, to enjoy all the pleasures 
derivable from the hospitalities of the Due de Mortemart and the other 
foreign ministers, for whom you were so obliging as to forward me 
letters of recommendation. 

The duke more especially, has one of the pleasantest houses in St. 
Petersburg. Eut there, as in our own embassy, there are no com- 
panions of my own age, except the attaches, w^ho are absorbed in their 
own pursuits ; whereas in one or two others of a less brilliant nature, I 
find young people inclined to be sociable, in alternation with the graver 
associates you advise me to cultivate. 

Among these, the family of the minister, possesses peculiar 

attractions for me ; as the daughter of Madame von Rehfeld, by her 
former marriage with a Russian general, speaks English like a native. 
The aptitude of the Russians for the acquirement of foreign languages 
has been too often cited to need my testimony ; but since my domesti- 
cation here, I have been less surprised at the fluency with which, in 
other countries, I have found them speaking the idiom of the place. 
Prom their infancy, this is made an especial object of education. The 
same spirit which induced Peter to bring boat-builders from Holland, 
and Catherine, savans from Prance, to assist in the organization of their 
new empire, has suggested to their subjects the wisdom of promoting 
national intercourse with more polished nations, by the cultivation of 
foreign languages; and English nursery-maids, Prench governesses, 
and German tutors, are to be found in every Russian family of distinc- 
tion. 

Even in the public institution of the Poundling Hospital (which, as 
you are aware has here a foundation so opulent, that its revenue would 
pay the interest of our national debt), promotes this object so strenu- 
ously, that the pupils, on quitting the establishment to earn their 
livelihood, are without exception, versed in three or four modern 
languages. 

That the daughter of Madame von Rehfeld should be so good an 
English scholar is the more surprising, because twelve months only 
have elapsed since her return from Paris, where she resided many years 
for her education with her maternal relations the Yaudreuils, a family 
with whom I became well acquainted last year. But I conclude that 
the early lessons of her English nurse were too deeply implanted on 
*' the soft wax of an infant's memory," to be obliterated even by long 
sojourn in the anti-Anglican and anti-philological Paubourg St. 
Germain ;— the Prench being, heaven knows, as remarkable for their 
incapacity as linguists, as the Russians for a contrary facility. 

It is true, the Parisians make a national boast of their exclusive 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 55 

devotion to their own " perfect and universal language ;" and arc not a 
little proud of its having been so long adopted in Eussia for purposes of 
state, and remaining the fashionable dialect for purposes of society. 
Even the noble monument erected to the memory of his troops, at the 
close of the late war, by the Emperor Alexander, bears the inscription 
" a mes hraves compaonons d'armes.'' 

Unless I am much mistaken, however, the present emperor will 
employ the full force of his somewhat arbitrary will, in nationalizing 
the people, whom his ancestors could only concentrate into a nation by 
assimilation and sympathy with those of other countries. It is now 
time to reproduce the elements of a whole, whose amalgamation and 
entirety was the first object of its legislators. 

With the exception of the Kehfelds, there is scarcely a family with 
which I am on termsof intimacy ; but in their circle, I find an amusing 
variety ; the mother being French, the daughter Eussian, the husband 
and his daughter, German ; and by one of the family, at least, my native 
tongue is spoken in perfection, the greatest attraction, perhaps, of all. 
In a few weeks, their circle will receive an addition in Count Alexis 
Erloff, the son of Madame von Eehfeld, an officer in the Izmaeloflfsky 
regiment of guards ; who, Mademoiselle Erloff assures me, is a far better 
English scholar than herself. Young Erloff received his education, I 
find, at the cost of the emperor, at the Hotel des Pages, or noble 
Military College of St. Petersburg. 

A circumstance which, were I of Muscovite origin, I should find more 
mortifying than the popularity of the Erench tongue, is the undeniable 
obligation of the "Northern Palmyra," to foreign architects, sculptors, 
and^painters. The magnificent palaces in which the Eussians pride 
themselves, their public institutions, their national foundations, are the 
works of the French, Italians, Germans, or English. It is true that the 
results of the system of public education founded by Catherine IL, are 
only now coming into play ; pending which their fine churches, and 
academies, their hospitals, and botanical gardens, their museums and 
galleries, constitute a debt of gratitude to TTestern and Northern 
Europe, which it will require centuries to repay. 

I fear, my dear sir, that, instead of renewing your complaint of the 
brevity of my letters, you will now exclaim against my garrulity. One 
word from you will be a sufficient check to my communicative vein ; 
but if I do not receive some such warning, I shall probably bore you in 
my next with a few observations on the domestic life of the city of the 
Czar.— I have the honour to be, your affectionate ward, 

Elyixstox, 



Letter X. — From Count Alfred de Vaudreuil to the Countess Auguste, 
in Faris. 

You were quite right, chere tante, in your surmise that the former 
intermarriage of my cousin with a Eussian noble, as well as my 
intimacy with the Mortemarts would supersede all necessity for letters 
of introduction. I am now perfectly established here— more so by the 
way, than your Teutonic son-in-law. The corps diplomatique is less 
in favour at the imperial court than at any other, I should imagine, 
unless that of Pekin. The policy of the Eussian cabinet, if in reality 
that of stratagem, is ostensibly that of open defiance. Though probably 



5G THE ambassador's WIFE, 

the most astucious in Europe, their tone of braggartry necessitates 
singular neglect of the inter-negotiators of their foreign policy ; and 
the ambassadors are frequently omitted from the list of invited to the 
private fetes of the court. But this, I suspect, is part of the nationaliz- 
ing system of ±\icholas. In your time, probably, a different order of 
things may have prevailed, for Alexander affected to be a liberal. The 
liberalism of an autocrat of Eussia ! 

In one respec'c, matters are unchanged: the worthy Muscovites are 
still tbe most military of bellicose nations. From the time when Peter 
the Great founded their city with a sword in one hand and a trowel in 
the other, and was compelled to institute military rank as a matter of 
precedency, because chiTalric distinctions could not be suddenly 
summoned out of the waters of the Neva, like frigates or palaces— 
to be a soldier appears to have been as great a thing in St. Petersburg, 
as in London to be a lord, or in Paris a gentleman and a man of genius. 

I experienced of course, cliere tante, a presentiment of general 
retardation, moral and physical, on consenting to waste a portion of my 
days among people who allow their calendar to be burthened by the 
twelve additional days which Father Time has gradually slung, like 
mill-stones, round the neck of the year. The obstinacy with Avhich 
these people adhere to the C4regorian style, compelling all other manu- 
facturers of state papers to brand the Eussian Protocols witR the 
infamous letters of O. S., is as disgraceful, in my humble opinion, to a 
nation, as those of T. Y. to an individual. 

But I did not suppose that Muscovite man, in his progress towards 
civilized man, would have stopped so short by the way, as still to be as 
much indebted to providence for his resources against the rigour of the 
climate, as the bears and wolves of his deserts. Oh! the foulness of the 
unshorn population ; oh ! those worse than bestial beards, which, when 
anointed with the green oil of a piroga or reeking with the cabbage 
soup, the villanous shtsJii which forms, 1 conclude, from my own obser- 
vations, the daily bread prayed for in the paternosters of tbe populace, 
exude a savour beyond that of a southern synagogue in the dog days ! 
There is some pretext, perhaps, for these hirsute propensities in the 
aborigines of the Don and AYoiga. But since the savages pretend to a 
civilized capital, why not at least respect the nostrils of civilization ? 

My poor faithful Clement, who hungereth grievously after the 
restaurants o^ i\iQ Palais Eoyal or the cuisine of the Hotel deYaudreuil, 
assures me that, at the hay market or Sinnaia Ploshtshod, where the 
peasants dispose of their frozen flocks and herds, nothing can be more 
horrific than the brigade of ghastly cattle drawn up in array, life-like, 
and seeming to mock the spectator with the glare of their glassy eye- 
balls. When sawn in portions for retail trade, the gamin class qualified 
as the Tshornoi Narod (or black people), rush in to contend for the 
saw-dust; and St. Petersburg may thus boast of favouring the children 
of clay with two other original and peculiar species of dust ; i. e. the 
flesh-dust scrambled for in the market, and the snow-dust that blinds. 
one in the streets. 

This domestic revelation of my friend Clement, addresses itself, by 
the way, to your excellent femme de conjiance, who will be right proud 
at hearing the travellers' wonders of her son, from the lips of his lady. 
Tell her also from me, that his master is as eager as himself to behold 
once more one of the bright wood fires, and vintage nearly as bright, of 
our beloved Burgundy. What possible excuse, dearest aunt, have we 
French, for ever setting foot out of our own glorious country ? 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 57 

You are eager for an account of your grandson, whom you have 
not seen, I find, since he was as high as the table on which I am 
writing. Alexis is not yet here ; but I have heard him well spoken of 
among the Benkendorfs, Narischkins, Nesselrodes, Strogonoffs, and 
others whose praise is distinction. Madame von Eehfeld appears to 
regret that he should be so essentially Russian as scarcely to appear of 
your race ; but let her restrict her prejudices to our fair and gentle 
Marguerite. " Soyons de notre pays," is an axiom for men, all over the 
world. Those who wish Alexis Erlofi" to prosper in life — that is in 
Eussia, where his life is to pass— must sutler him to forget the Yaudreuil 
blood intermingling in his veins, in order that others may become 
equally oblivious. The time is past for foreigners to prosper here. The 
national mind is throwing otf its leading strings ; and even another 
Alexander, of whom,' St. Izaak be praised, I see no prospect — would 
scarcely secure toleration for another Capo d'Istrias. Let Alexis, there- 
fore, be Russian to his finger tips, or rather to his boot tips ; for his 
vocation, 1 find, is essentially military. May he turn out another 
Souvaroff or Kutusoff, or anything else most off or sJcoi in the Russian 
Empire ! 

Eor Marguerite, I find, happy destinies are preparing. Madame von 
Eehfeld seems assured of her marriage with Sergius Gallitzin ; a man 
of considerable merit, some influence, and mature age. You may still 
chance to see her established as ambassadress in that charming hotel of 
the Champs Elysees, where Grimrod de la Eeyniere wrote and ate, and 
where Pozzo writes and causes others to eat, so much more exquisitely 
than any other scribbler of protocols or giver of dinners. 

Gallitzin has lately arrived from Yienna ; where it is supposed he 
was sent on a secret mission, taking Eehfeld by the way, as a pretext 
for his expedition into Germany. I know not whether we do too much 
or too little honour to the Muscovite cabinet ; but I have noticed that 
we never allow !N esselrode to sneeze, without feeling convinced that a 
correspondent sneeze telegraphs his good understanding with Metter- 
uich. These twain form, as it were, the two closing links of the iron 
chain of European monarchy. The day they cease to sneeze in unison, 
legitimacy will have to rue ! 

Meanwhile, whatever may have been Gallitzin's motives for play- 
ing billiards and slaying wild boar a dull fortnight at Eehfeld, it is 
generally considered that there is a tenderer origin for his daily visits to 
the Hotel of the * * Legation " (if you could only hear the 
mouthful our good baron makes of it! the Constantinopolitanische 
DudelsacJcs Pfeiffer wherewith my old German master, Klinkerfus, used 
to dislocate my jaws by way of exercise, was slight by comparison !). But 
I leave it to the dear baroness to explain her maternal policy ; trusting 
it may find as much sympathy, helle tante, in the Hotel de Yaudreuil, 
as exists in the telegraphic sneezes of the privy councils of the Danube 
and Neva. 



Letter XI. — From Ida von Jlelifeld to Mademoiselle TJierhe Moreau. 

You have had a relapse, then, chere honne ? How could you be so 
incautious as trust yourself to the arm of the worthy pastor, whose 
guidance in the ways of this world is, alas ! so much less to be relied on 
than in the paths of peace ? Had I known beforehand of your iuten- 



58 THE AilBASSADOE S "WIFE. 

tion to quit your chamber, I should have warned you against the aid 
of so inefficient a cavalier. 

Very often do I wish that it was mij arm you had to lean upon, and 
that my father had left me behind at Schloss E-ehfeld, as in the former 
instance ! Travel in a foreign country, on an independent footing, may 
be a charming thing ; but a compulsory sojourn among strangers, be 
your distastes what they may, invalidates all the attraction one might 
otherwise find in the novelty of the scene. A diplomatic situation, 
high or low, is always slavery; splendid slavery, if high,— petty slavery, 
if low. My father's, alas, is only a petty one; a very diminutive 
appanage to the triumphal car of Muscovite domination; and, of 
necessity. Jam but a shred of his garment. Far better, chere bonne, be 
one's own mistress at home ! Eather sink under the leaden weight of 
ennui than be ^pricked to death with pins' points, — pins' points, more- 
over, of brass or copper, not of precious metal ! I am almost beginning 
to understand the charm that Marguerite ErlofF discerned in Schloss 
Kehfeld. It was, at least, independence as regards choice of time and 
place. 

Frank as I was with you concerning my rash desire for change, let 
me be equally candid in avowing my remorse. I was wrong to extend 
my desire beyond my native Germany. At Eehfeld, even at the 
Eesidenz, I had a definite position. Here, I am an equivocal nothing, 
who must not aspire to become something, lest somebody should take 
offence. When we read together in the old library at Eehfeld portions 
of the memoirs of De Eetz and Madame de Motteville, St. Simon, or 
Dangeau, so indistinct were my notions of the nature of courtiership 
that the books you had announced to me as so entertaining, failed to 
amuse me. Now, I am beginning to understand and dread this epidemy 
of palaces ! I could laugh now, with Madame de Motteville,— or at her, 
— or rather weep ; for what more deserving pity than such miserable 
self-abasement? 

I can scarcely describe to you, cJiere bonne, the singular effect pro- 
duced in my feelings by perceiving the baroness, so frank and free at 
Eehfeld, become suddenly paralyzed on setting foot in St. Petersburg. 
I protest to you, that on crossing the frontier, her very faculties were 
cramped and arrested, as if frost-bitten, and, to a degree far beyond the 
remedy of rubbing her mind with snow, by way of restorative. 

Nor is she the only example. Since I began to exercise my new- 
found powers of observation, I have noticed people with thousands, 
nay, hundreds of thousands of serfs nearly as much at their disposal as 
their hares and rabbits ; people who eat on gold, and walk on lapis 
lazuli, — people who, when they want to change the furniture of their 
palaces, send to Italy, and buy a gallery of chefs-d'oeuvre, or to the 
royal Gobelins for their hangings. I have seen these magnificos cringe 
and crouch under the influence of an imperial frown ! Under such 
circumstances, I do not wonder it should have been found necessary to 
compel the rich Eussians to reside in their native country, by confis- 
cating their estates after m9re than five years' absenteeism. Nothing 
short of the penalty of destitution would compel me to abide in a city 
where an isvosMsMk on his hackney coach-stand is as much his own 
master as a noble in his palace; and where the bidshnih in the street 
exercises no severer police over vagrants than one chamberlain over 
another. 

Count Alfred de Vaudreuil assured me the other night, as we were 
standing together at the ball of the Duo de Mortemart (and it is not 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 59 

everywhere, or with every one, conversation on such a subject would be 
safe), that scarcely a Russian of high fortune or degree, permitted to 
reside at any foreign court, but earns his license dearly as regards his 
feelings and conscience by a correspondence with home, rendering him 
little short of a spy upon the nakedness of the land in which he is 
accepting hospitality. Is not this revolting ? Is not this a cruel coun- 
terbalance to the noble system of the imperial government of enter- 
taining an ex-political mission in the great cities of Europe, for the 
study of their institutions, arts, sciences, literature, and manufactures, 
which has always appeared to me the sublime of legislative munificence. 

But I am talking to you of Eussia, chere honne, when you assure me 
that you wish me to talk only of myself. Yet how treat of myself, my 
prospects, my interests, my happiness, without affording you some 
insight into the habits'of those among whom I hve, and habits so uncon- 
genial with our own ? 

Our little circle has derived an addition from the return of Prince 
Gallitzin, who is scarcely less familiar among us here than when domes- 
ticated at Schloss Eehfeld. I am almost ashamed to own to you that, 
on meeting him again, I found my ideas of his merits singularly 
developed by hearing him constantly alluded to in St. Petersburg as 
" a favourite of the emperor." On his arrival in Germany, I regarded 
him as a cold old man, of more than my father's years, a person in 
w^hom it was impossible for me to feel the slightest interest. Here, I 
detect myselflistening eagerly to every word that falls from his lips, as 
though affording indications of imperial will or caprice ! 

iSot that mamj fall from his lips ! The prince is habitually taciturn ; 
and I am convinced that he and my father might spend a month 
tete-a-tete, without the effusion of a phrase a week, between the two. 
It is, therefore, the more singular to ;me that he can endure, as he 
does, nay, take pleasure as he does, in the society of Count Alfred, 
whom he is pretty sure to 'find here, and who is the only person into 
whom the atmosphere of St. Petersburg has infused no caution. Mon- 
sieur de Taudreuil rattles on as wildly here as he did at Eehfeld. It 
may be on that very account Prince Gallitzin likes his company, being 
sure to hear from Mm opinions floating in society, which native Eus- 
sians would bite their tongues off, rather than hazard in presence of an 
imperial favourite. 

Perhaps, however, I am mistaken ; for it is only natural the prince 
should frequent my father's house, considering the matrimonial projects 
of the baroness for Marguerite. 

Chere honne, you have heard, it seems, of my strange conquest ! 
Marguerite tells me her letters have introduced Lord Elvinston to 
your acquaintance ; a man w^ho looks as if he had been taken to pieces 
and put together by an unskilful workman, so little do his limbs seem 
to belong to his body, or his features to his face. Never did one see so 
awkward a being, or one so tortured by mauvaise Jionte ! With birth, 
fortune, and information to recommend him in society, he has the air 
of a malefactor. I am not sure, however, that I do not prefer his left- 
handedness and left-leggedness to the self-possessed provinciality of my 
cousin "Wilhelm, who is not so much as sensible of his own manifold 
deficiencies. 

There are a few other Englishmen in society here,— one or two 
attached to their embassy ; but only this solitary I-say-Jcee by way of 
traveller. They usually invade these northern latitudes in the summer 
season, which in St. Petersburg is said to constitute a single day, and 



60 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

bvely, in proportion to its brevity,— the flowers never losing their dis- 
tinctness of colour, nor the birds retiring to roost. 

There are many English merchants, I fancy, settled here. But the 
line of demarcation between commerce and arms (which in llussia 
almost constitute nobility) is far more positive than in our country or 
their own. They live apart, and, I am told, s])lendid]y,— secure pro- 
bably from the vexations that embitter a state of society more iluctuat- 
ingand less definite. 

You will perceive, cliere honne, that I am beginning to contemplate 
such matters with a more scrutinizing eye than of old. Previous t-o 
my arrival here, with an adviser at once so kind and so wise as yourself 
ever at hand, I had taken things too much for granted, and saw them 
as I wished to see them, not as they were. I was persuaded, for instance, 
that my prospects in Sussia were all sunshine ; and the shock of my 
disappointment has been proportionally severe. It was not, however, 
on that point I intended to enlarge. I wish only to reassure you 
touching my discretion for the future, and convince you that I have 
at length made my own the precept you used to inculcate, of the 
necessity of surmounting in the consideration of worldly interests, — ■ 
" de irrendre sa position entre ses deux mains," as you used to say, and 
contemplate it with the eyes of the stranger. 

After all, therefore, my momentary shock may prove as serious a 
benefit to my moral health as a plunge into a cold bath is said to afford 
an enfeebled constitution, — that is, provided it prove not fatal. I have 
ceased to act as if living only from hour to hour, as one does under 
the happy impulses of youth, and feel accountable to myself for my 
happiness as to heaven for my conduct. 

After this grave axiom, — not of morality perhaps, but policy (and, 
oh ! that at eighteen I should have experienced suflaciently bitter 
moments to have betaken myself to pohcy !), — it may seem a wild 
transition to talk of Count Alfred. But as 1 open my heart to you to 
its innermost core, it would be less than frank to conceal from you how 
amused I felt on discovering, at the ball of the French embassy, the 
truth of your frequent assurances, that in his ovv^n country, or among 
his own country people, Monsieur de Vaudreuil would not dream of 
devoting to Marguerite, myself, or any other girl, the attentions into 
which he permitted himself to derogate among the forests of Eehfeld. 

Impossible for even my wild imagination to conceive anything more 
splendid than the ball of the Due de Mortemart ! Do not exclaim 
against my inexperience as the origin of my admiration ; for know 
that, t^vo nights before, Ave were present at an imperial fete— a fete 
of all others the most select and inaccessible— given at the Anitschkolf 
Palace ; a splendid mansion, occupied by Nicholas when grand duke, 
on the Fontanka Quay, which the imperial family regard as a private 
residence, and to v/hich they retire whenever they wish to shake off the 
pomps of state. 

You will readily conceive that the privacy of an emperor of llussia 
is far more gorgeous than the utmost attempts at magniticence of other 
sovereigns ; and though the private fetes at the Anitschkoff affect 
simplicity, it is that terrible simplicity of recJ/erche, so much more 
costly than gaudy show. It is whispered that in the intimacy of his 
family circle, his imperial majesty has been heard to call the empress 
" Madame Nicholas," and address his pretty grand-duchcsses by the 
name of "dushinka," or some other of the Kussian diminutives of 
fondness. But nothing can be more embarrassing than a circle so 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 61 

scanty as to expose every individual severally to the scrutiny of the 
empress, ,vho has all the taste for dress of an elegante of the Chaussee 
d'Antin, and all the power of enforcing: the same fastidiousness to 
others by the glance of an eye not naturally beneiicent. 

Not a single member of the corps cliplomatiq^ie received an invitation 
to this ball; and our presence there was a distinction conceded to tbe 
favour enjoyed by the Erlolf family. This was so distinctly implied, 
as to mark for the future, not only to ourselves, but to the tribe of 
"Wollkonskys, OrloiFs, Potoclds, Czernicheffs, Dashkoffs, Strogonoffs, 
Witgensteins, Woronzoffs, Modenas, and Kesselrodes, constituting the 
court, of the footing on which we were hereafter to stand among them. 
No person admitted to the private balls of the empress, at the Anitsch- 
koff, is susceptible of being exposed to slight. 

Had this distinction, therefore, awaited us on the day succeeding my 
arrival here, before I beheld St. Petersburg in its true ligbt, how elated 
should I have been ! At all events, though as regarded the pride of 
Ida von Eehfeld, I arrayed myself in the beautiful ball-dress provided 
for me by the reno\rned Madame Hugon, with a heavy or rather 
irritated heart, I expected that my eyes w^ould be as much dazzled as 
my soul w^ould remain blank and spiritless. But it was not so ! At 
this imperial soiree, the etforts made to appear at ease served only to 
increase the gene of the affair. Nothing can be more formal than the 
privacy of imperial life, which I had heard so loudly praised for its 
simplicity. The empress is passionately fond of dancing, and accounted 
one of the best dancers in Europe. It was to accommodate an imputed 
infirmity of her gait that the galoppe was invented for her at Berlin, 
when still only a princess of Prussia. But for my own part, I had 
rather she were less a portion of the company ; which, consisting of 
the elite of the court, in the perpetual habit of inter-association, has of 
course little interest in or for a mere foreigner like myself— at best, an 
interloper. 

Between ourselves, strictly between ourselves, clieve lonne, I must 
admit to you, that something in the countenance of the empress is 
sovereignly displeasing to me ; though I had fancied her almost pretty 
when I saw her in the morning, accompanied by her charming little 
girls. Although ray countrywoman, I feel less interest in her than in 
one or two beautiful natives; such, for instance, as the Countess 
Zavadoska, who has the loveliest countenance I ever saw, and one of 
the maids of honour. Mademoiselle Yatsoff, the sweetest creature you 
can imagine. The aflability of the empress appears to me studied. 
Her countenance, naturally harsh, implies, at once, sternness and 
frivolity. Merit, however, she must possess ; or she would not be 
beloved by a man of such discernment as Nicholas, on w^hose com- 
manding person and most imperial presence, I never gaze without 
feeling that I would fain have been tbe empress of such an emperor. 

I am told I must reserve my opinion of the splendour of the Eussian 
palaces till I have witnessed some of the fetes of the Carnival in the 
Winter Palace and Hermitage, which constitute almost a single palace. 
Four of the stately halls therein, the Salle St. George, Salle Blanche, 
Salle de Marbre, and Salle des Marechaux, occupy six hundred feet in 
length, and are decorated with all that marble, gilding, and scagliola 
can impart of splendour. The Anitschkotf is less sumptuous ; though 
the precious in-laying of foreign woods and marbles, and the exquisite 
selection of objects of vertu from all countries, would have interested 
me exceedingly, but for the august presence in which we stood, and 



62 THE AMBASSADOE'S WITE. 

the charm of a Mazurk, -which I had never before seen attempted with 
characteristic perfection. The empress is decidedly the most graceful 
dancer of this I ever saw. Still, the fete was only a specimen of 
laborious trifling ;— and I quitted it, weary and dispirited. 

At the Due de Mortemart's, on the contrary, I was impressed by an 
agreeable consciousness, arising from I know not what charm of tone — 
manner— grace— refinement. Everything was less splendidly, but far 
more pleasingly arranged. Elegance rather than magnificence was the 
order of the night ; not " gold and barbaric pearl," but flowers in 
profusion. In short, cliere honne {car il faut en revenir Id !), every- 
thing was completely French ! 

It was in just such an order of society that I should have been gratified 
beyond measure to find myself noticed by Count Alfred de Yaudreuil. 
At the court ball, Count Stanislas Potocki, the grand chamberlain, a 
friend of my father, presented to me, as my first partner, the young 
Prince Gargarin ; and had Alfred been there I should have pretended 
a pre-engagement with ?mn, for the pleasure of exchanging my fashion- 
able partner for one who would have stood there on less advantageous 
ground than myself. But he was not even invited ! At his own 
embassy, I should have been indeed proud, indeed, happy, to find that 
he had courage to distinguish me; and draw the attention of his 
charming countrywomen towards one for whom in private he has 
affected so much regard. 

So far, however, was this from being the case, that I saw through 
his panic lest my confidence in his good will should render me too 
familiar, and betray to the fine world of France his regard for the 
daughter of a Silesian baron — a wretched Fraulein von Eehfeld — 
unworthy mention by the lips polite of the Faubourg St. Germain ! 

Do not defend bim, chere honne— do not, as your countryman, pro- 
test that he is incapable of such meanness :— I tell you, that "fai 2'>ris 
ma position a deux mains," and examined it ?— I weighed all— I saw 
through all, and felt— no matter what ! But do not be surprised, under 
such circumstances, to find me growing wonderfully wise. 

Tell me, dearest, how came the good pastor to sanction the absurd 
lessons of pride instilled into me by my poor Sara ? How came j/ou, 
on arriving at Schloss Rehfeld, and finding me absorbed in such ridicu- 
lous pretensions, not to impress upon me that Europe is only a 

quarter of the globe— Germany only a country of Europe, a 

province of Germany, and Eehfeld one of the mediocre baronies of 
that insignificant duchy ? Had I been made to understand this at 
sixteen, I should not have out, at eighteen, so hard of heart and soft 
of mind ; nor buoyed myself out of my depth on empty bladders upon 
the stream of life, to sink to the bottom the moment I was left alone 
to the mercy of the current ! 

But why reproach t/ou when I ought only to reproach myself ! How 
were you to imagine the intensity of pride and ambition inflating the 
bosom of the simple-looking girl, musing in her muslin frock and silken 
sash in the old gallery containing the portraits of her ancestors, and 
deriving from the contemplation a fixed resolve to tower above them 
all! 

"Will you believe, cJiere bonne, that my vexations here, so far from 
quelling these aspiring instincts in my soul, seem only to have increased 
them by opposition— as the constraint imposed upon the bended bow, 
serves to wing the arrow in its flight. The other day, when my father, 
urged by I know not what sudden qualm of self-reproof, began to talk 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 63 

to me, as aforetime, of my cousin Willielm, and to insinuate that, in 
consideration for my unconcealable distaste for St. Petersburg and pro- 
bable pining after home, he had only to accelerate the projected union 
betwixt me and his nephew, it was as much as I could do to refrain 
from bursting into assurances that, so far from desiring to return to 
Schloss Eehfeld, it would aflbrd me satisfaction to be certain I should 
never obtain a glimpse of the old turrets again ; that I required a 
higher sphere, a wider field of action ; that I could not breathe, that I 
could not live in such obscurity ! But I respected his prejudices, and 
forebore. Time enough to declare my fixed determination against 
becoming the wife of Wilhelm von Eehfeld, when he is seriously pro- 
posed to me by my father. 

There have been moments when, after reflecting upon the insupport- 
ableness of a life spent in such utter exile from the joys and refinements 
of life as Eehfeld, I have felt almost inclined to smile upon our gawky 
young EngUshman, who is said to be miraculously rich, and of a rank 
entitling him to pretend to the highest honours of the state. These 
English people have grand seigneurial ideas ! They are fond of the 
pleasures of foreign countries, fond of the pomps of their own. I 
could bear with him far better than with Wilhelm von Eehfeld. The 
English ambassadress treated Lord Elvinston, at the Due de Mortemart's, 
with marked distinction ; and one of the attaches, newly arrived here, 
to whom the magnificent diamonds of the Narischkin family were 
pointed out as unique, observed that those of Lord Elvinston's here- 
ditary casket were twice as remarkable. The Count de Vaudreuil has, 
more than once, obligingly recommended him as an excellent parti, to 
Marguerite and myself. Yet, alas ! when I repeat the same remark, 
he evinces no further jealousy than when I recur with affection to our 
good pastor ! 

But enough, for the present, of these nonsenses. I am looking 
anxiously for your letter in answer to my former observations. From 
you I am certain of receiving the truth ; and truth arrayed in such 
becoming garments as to render it always pleasing and acceptable. 
Farewell ! 



Letter 'Kll.—From Margiieriie Erloffto Mademoiselle Moreav. 

How drearily, dearest Mademoiselle Therese, must your winter be 
passing ; and how often do I think of you with no other companionship 
than that of the worthy but unsociable Sara, and the echoes of those 
deserted old galleries, while u-e are enjoying the brilliant pleasures of 
our gay carnival ! Though I can imagine nothing more charming than 
Eehfeld, surrounded with those I love, or even solitary, during the 
summer season when the forests and fields supply endless companion- 
ship, even I, young and healthy, should shrink from a lonely winter in 
that old chateau. How much more must you feel the isolation : habitu- 
ated for so many years to cheerful society, and now debarred by illness 
from enjoying even the pleasures within your reach ! I trust you 
receive the papers we are punctual in forwarding; and that the packet 
of books despatched by the baron's orders, through the Eesidenz, a few- 
days ago, will reach you in safety. 

I cannot picture to myself Schloss Eehfeld in the dreariness of winter. 
When we lef c you, the woods were still arrayed in their autumnal pomp 



64 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

of leaves ; and your noble stream still imparted by its vivifying energ5% 
life to the landscape. But now, the frozen river and leafless woods 
must, I confess, have somewhat diminished the charm of that noble old 
pile, of which I can never think without reverence. To mc, it would 
still and ever possess a charm indescribable, derived from historical 
associations and legendary interests. The chamber which Ida would 
never allow me to occupy, for instance— the chamber with the old 
carved panelling, Vviiich Sara used to call "Lady Bertha's Oratory," and 
to which one might have attached such bewildering superstitions, but 
for the existing legend recorded by the old servants of a former Baroness 
of Rehfeld ; after whose decease, during her husband's absence with the 
army of Gustavus Adolphus, howbeit her wardrobe was distributed to 
the poor by her death-bed command, and her remains interred in holy 
ground, she did reappear twice every day, at matins and evensong in 
her garment as she lived,— kneeling at the foot of the cross of her 
oratory, the service whereof she had abjured to cleave to those of the 
Lutheran church. 

Do you remember how cold and pale I used to' turn, when Ida 
encouraged the good nurse to recite to us this and similar traditions of 
the castle ; till at length, I trembled to make my way alone in the 
twihght along the old corridors ?— and how dear Ida laughed at my 
fears, while her cousin Wilhelm suggested that few superstitions but 
have some holy origin, and that mockery is an instigation of the Evil 
One? 

But how is it that I am writing of Eehfeld to you, a denizen within 
its Avails, who are wishing for nothing but news of Ida, and assurances 
of the love she has conquered, and the happiness she is enjoying. 

In the first place, then, know that, lovely as you ever found her at 
Eehfeld, the style of dress she has adopted since her arrival here, renders 
her fifty times prettier than ever. Ida has taken it into her whimsical 
head (and admit that few heads were ever more prone to the caprices 
of our sex!) to assume in our family circle, the old Eussiau costume, 
which even I, a native, have never judged it necessary to wear, except 
at court. She has a sufiicient excuse, indeed, in the becomingness 
which every one sees and commends; and mamma, though usually 
rigorous in matters of the toilet, has indulged her fancy so far as to 
impose it on me also, in order to prevent any air of eccentricity on the 
Ijart of my sister. I wish, par parenthese, you could have seen Ida's 
look of amazement, on learning that at the grand galas at the winter 
palace light blue, scarlet, and crimson, are interdicted colours to any 
person not belonging to the imperial household ! 

Prince Sergius Gallitzin was beyond measure pleased and amused on 
his arrival, to find metamorphosed into two fair Muscovites, the 
Parisians of whom he had taken leave at Eehfeld, so short a time ago ; 
and his sister, Princess Prascovia, one of the most charming women in 
the world, though not altogether satisfied of the propriety of the dress 
for Ida, on whom it has the air of a fancy costume, tries to persuade me 
that I ought never to appear in any other. But though Ida, with her 
fair hair and expressive blue eyes, looks, I assure you, most bewitching 
in her blue kaftan, and chemisette of plaited cambric— I know not how 
otherwise to describe it to you,— my poor dark face looks even more 
dingy than usual when pretending to my national honours. 

How wilful and wayward are such preferences ! I, a Eussian born, 
unable to see beauty or find pleasure in our gay villas or stately palaces, 
am wild after the old Teutonic halls of Germany and their feudal 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 65 

associations, in preference to our modern mansions, which, however 
grand or commodious, derive no interest from the lapse of ages or their 
connection with the liistory of man ; — while Ida, on the contrary, per- 
ceives a mystic charm in the quaint old Muscovite costume, which in m>j 
eyes, irreverent that I am, shows like a badge of barbarism, by comparison 
with the elegance of dress that used to refresh my eyes at the Hotel de 
Yaudreuil. 

To return, however, to Ida. Conceive her, pray, attired a la Unsse, 
fairer than the fairest of belles Boyardes in our home circle. Eut you 
must bring her before you, bounding through a mazurk, in the lightest 
and freshest of Parisian ball-dresses, of white crape trimmed with wild 
hyacinths, in order to picture her, as when pronounced by the emperor, 
at the Anitschkoff bal],.to be the prettiest debutante of the winter. 

In my opinion, the very perceptible increase of her beauty is derived 
less from the becomingness of her Eussian costume, or the elegance of 
her French one, than from the air of half-pensive, half-startled timidity, 
she has acquired in this world of strangers. At llehfeld— so worshipped 
—so watched— so waited on— she was surer of herself and others; she 
had always leisure to be gay, often leisure to be satirical. But at St. 
Petersburg, even when surrounded by admirers, a certain air of gravity 
tempers her natural grace. In short, she is charming, and everybody 
as willing to acknowledge it as you or I. 

Your last letter, cliere Mademoiselle Therese, re-assured me concern- 
ing the origin of her sadness on first arriving here. But even before I 
received your representations of the natural regret of a young person 
for the friends, scenes, and language of her youth, I was comforted. I 
began to see tliat I had mistaken gravity for sadness. Ida appears five 
years older since she quitted Pehfeld ; but I do not conceive her to be 
unbappy. Prince-s Prascovia Gallitzin, sister of Prince Sergius, who, 
being slightly deformed has never married though a very superior 
woman, sits in wonderment at the brilliant talents and universal infor- 
mation of your pupil, though afraid to engage her in conversation. 

I am assured by all those on a sufficiently intimate footing to discuss 
the matter, that Baron von Eehfeld stands high in the emperor's good 
opinion ; notwithstanding which distinction his freedom from all pre- 
tension commands universal respect. I am indeed fortunate that my 
mother should have formed a second marriage, which, while it secures 
my personal happiness, is so favourable to our family interests, and am 
doubly eager for the. arrival of my brother Alexis, from the certainty 
of having to welcome him in a home thus cheered and thus embellished. 

There exists but one drawback on the comfort of our little circle (to 
which my cousin Alfred imparts all the charm of his liveliness and 
usage du monde), in the visits of our English friend, qici promene ses 
ennuis chez nous comme %)0U7' nous faire honneiir ! Hour after hour 
does he spend among us, saying little or nothing; but apparently of 
opinion that the little he does give himself the trouble to say, ought to 
repay us for the conversation he extracts in return. I never saw so 
persevering a querist. They say that most of the English who travel 
write books on their return to their own country ; and I suspect Lord 
Elvinston is deriving what information he can from his St. Petersburg 
acquaintances, to grace his projected Travels in Russia. Unfortunately 
my cousin Alfred, who knew him in Paris last year, and who has little 
mercy for the foibles of his friends, suggested this hint to Ida, who has 
ever since been favouring our strange guest with the most preposterous 
scraps of news concerning us. As a foreigner, like himself, she is not 

F 



C)(j THE ambassador's wife. 

bound, she says, to be accurately versed in our habits and usages. But 
this mystification is hardly fair. Judge how grievously the account he 
might send forth to the world would compromise both him and us ! 

I suspect I shall shortly have more to tell you respecting this unhappy 
man, who, but for his strange awkwardness, appears really amiable and 
obliging.— Farewell ! Think of us often, and kindly ; and rely upon 
my utmost endeavours to lighten the weariness of banishment to my 
adopted sister. 



Letter XII. — From Viscount Ulvinston to his Sister the 
Son. 3Irs. Leslie. 

YouE last letter, my dearest Mary, upbraids me for my project of 
passing a winter in St. Petersburg, as though I had announced the 
most preposterous thing in the world. 

" Who ever heard," you remark, " of any English person passing a 
^vinter in St. Petersburg !" 

Were I to reply that this was possibly one of my inducements, you 
■would twit me, in return, with love of singularity ; a favourite charge 
of yours— though I defy you, in the whole circle of your acquaintance, 
to point out a man less eccentric than myself. 

In honest truth, however, I was not a little influenced in my deter- 
mination by a desire to escape the routine of English absentees, who 
habitually spend their winters in Paris, Florence, Eome, or iSaples, 
for the enjoyment of their own dinners, the Boulevards, the beds 
masques, the Accademia ball, and the Holy Week,— congregating to- 
gether like a flock of sheep,— and seeing, hearing, feeling, and under- 
standing through a joint-stock set of senses and want of— sense ; a 
club of stupid starers — an omnibus— an anything short of rationality 
and free agency. 

In St. Petersburg, on the other hand, there are no English save the 
resident merchants, and the embassy set; the former of whom form 
an independent order, rebutting the intrusions of the idle and dandified 
class of the community; while the latter produce no effect more deleterious 
than a drop of morphine in the waters of the Neva. One is consequently 
free to form one's own pleasant friendships and acquaintanceships; and so 
respectable has always been our diplomatic footing here, and so auspi- 
cious the connection of the native and English nobility through the 
Woronzoff" and Pembroke families, that one benefits by the limitation. 
" Milor " is not, as in Paris, a word of mockery ; or, as in Vienna, a 
motive for mistrust. They do not suppose, as in Rome, that we come 
to be made dupes of, and carry otf sham medals and modern antiques ; 
or, as in Greece, to tear down the bas-reliefs, and mutilate the statues 
of antiquity. 

In St. Petersburg, my dear sister, we retain a tolerable reputation. 
The Russians derive, perhaps, some portion of their respect for our 
taste, from a circumstance that ought to produce a directly contrary 
result; the purchase, namely, of a large portion of their finest national 
collections from Great Britain ; who, if she could not afiord to keep 
them, certainly could not afiord to part with them. From the days of 
Catherine till now, moreover, their best physicians and best portrait 
painters have been Englishmen ; and an English head-gardener is held 
as indispensable at St. Petersburg, as in Paris an English " grom." 



THE AMEASSADOE's WIFE. 67 

An Englisliiurin is consequently estimated here as an accomplished 
personai^e. 

Still, I repeat, the Thompson and Johnson tribe is wanting. The 
equivocals who infest more fashionable capitals, spare that of Russia ; 
awed bj' a climate and an emperor too rigorous to be sported with. 
Against the former, by the way, such precautions are of necessity 
adopted that, believe me, I never suffered so little from cold as during 
the present winter. Commend me to a Eussian apartment, with its 
2:)etch or stove producing the most genial and agreeable temperature, 
its double windows, and well-baized outer doors, as the safest refuge 
from the severities of January. 

I love a decided climate. In India, or in Hussia, one is not ashamed 
to be on one's guard against the sun or the icicles. The weather is no 
matter for jest, and consequently no matter for bravado; while London, 
where one is tempted to brave a March wind without a great coat, 
decause the sun shines and one's club laughs at one; or Italy, where 
one dies of a brain fever, because some fellow who has been there a few 
months longer than oneself, scouts the idea of a coup de soleil, consti- 
tute my notion of a pernicious climate. However, I have no fault to 
find with the iciclophobia of my countrymen, of whom three only, 
besides myself, are idling on the Nevskoi Prospekt. 

Your letter entreats me, dearest Mary, since I have done so extrava- 
gant a thing as exile myself to the extremity of civilized Europe, to 
make the most of my advantages, and describe to you all I see, hear, 
and taste, that is out of the cominon way. By "common way," I con- 
clude you mean " English way ;" our noble country having long arro- 
gated to itself the right of giving the law to the universe, subverting 
the laws and religion of weaker lands, and compelling them to eat cold 
beef and pickles, in place of their national boiled rice, soupe maigre, or 
barbecued children, as their climates and circumstances may require. 
Out of the English way, therefore, I see far too many things to be 
described within compass of a letter. The booted and bearded Russians 
sledging along at this moment under my windows on the Anglinskaya, 
form the very antipodes of the slower paced and smoother faced genera- 
tion you are surveying from yours, in Park Lane. To you, however, 
I must concede the advantage of beholding lovely faces and graceful 
forms interminghng with your Sunday crowd; while here, ladies are 
never, and women rarely, to be seen in the throng. 

With respect to public ceremonies characteristic of these northern 
latitudes, I have witnessed nothing so remarkable as the benediction of 
the waters by the archimandrite, on the Feast of the Epiphany ; which, 
falling by the Greek calendar twelve days later than with us, is still, 
on the 18th of Januarj% a sufficiently frigid festival to enable the Neva 
to bear, on ice four or five feet thick, a stately temple, erected opposite 
the Winter Palace, to enable the imperial family to participate in the 
ceremony, and behold their father and emperor well soaked in the 
water of the Neva, administered, as though it were holy water, by the 
hands of the archbishop. To reach the stream, a hole is cut in the ice 
in the centre of the temple, which is painted and adorned with religious 
devices, to gratify the eyes of the whole population of St. Petersburg 
assembled on the occasion ; and amid the discharge of cannon and 
shouts of the people, a silver cross is plunged into the icy stream, whose 
fertility and welfare are especially commended in a prolonged prayer 
to the protection of Heaven. 

At Pesth, a similar operation is performed, on the same day, by the 

F 2 



68 THE AilBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

Greek archbishop on the waters of the Danube ; and at Constantinople, 
the silver cross is flung with similar forms and adjurations into the 
vasty deep ; so that sea-lish and fresh, turbot and lobster-sauce, as well 
as sturgeon and sterliad, have equally the benefit of this singular grace 
before meat. 

It strikes me, I own, that a blessing on the earth, here so unstable, 
might be more advantageous than the benediction of the waters. Never- 
theless, in this country, which Mrs. Lavinia Ramsbottom might be 
justified in asserting to have derived its ancient name of Finland from 
the multitude and importance of its finny tribes, there is some pretext 
for the grateful devotion of the people during the archiepiscopal 
ceremony. The sparkling purity of the Xeva water, in the summer 
season, is calculated to do honour to its elScacy. It forms, indeed, so 
favourite a beverage with the Russians, as to be bottled up for exporta- 
tion with the wealthier orders on their journeys. The governor of the 
fortress, who is privileged to present a goblet filled with it to the 
emperor on the breaking up of the frost, receives the vessel filled with 
gold pieces, in return ; though Nicholas has proved too far north for 
the said governor ; and on finding the cup extend, year after year, 
almost in proportion to the annual extension of his own elastic frontiers, 
has commuted the gratuity,— in order that the pint of water might not 
expand into a hogshead,— for a specific sum. 

The St. Peterburgers pretend that the Neva water is indispensable 
for the concoction of the exquisite tea in which they take such exquisite 
delight. 

I am surprised that the continental nations, who are so fond of ridi- 
culing our Great British passion for the " cups that cheer, but not 
inebriate,"— so that even the great Goethe, when in jocular mood, used 
to charge English travellers with carrying their tea-kettles to boil on 
the crater of Etna — do not criticise the similar propem^ity of the 
Russians ; Avho, receiving the finest tea from China, go to the greatest 
expense in perfecting the preparation. The tea provided for an 
istvosMnik, or hackney-coachman, at his tavern, is, I promise you, of a 
more delicate species than the finest you ever tasted at Elvinston Castle. 
In summer, they drink it iced, as they do every other beverage ; for 
the Russians, after looking at nothing but ice all the winter, seem to 
live upon it all the summer. Every well-conditioned family has its 
ice-house ; and there are more ice-wells in a single district of St. Peters- 
burg than'in the whole of London put together. 

The most interesting spectacle on the whole I have witnessed, is the 
gala held by the imperial family, at the Winter Palace, on New Year's 
night ; when the better order of the citizens are admitted, to the 
numlDcr of five and twenty thousand, to pay the compliments of the 
season to the emperor. You can imagine nothing more gorgeous than 
the etfect produced by the illumination of the splendid halls of which 
you have heard so much, crowded with people of all nations and lan- 
guages submitted to the sceptre of the autocrat;— Russians and Poles, 
Tartars," Georgians, Samoyedes, Mongolians, Persians, Cossacks, Greeks, 
Armenians, habited in their several costumes — bearded, whiskered, 
mustachioed, smooth— in every form and variety of national habih- 
ment; and preserving in the midst of the densest crowd the most 
courtly decorum, owing to the boundless veneration experienced by the 
most loyal of empires for its most imperial of tzars, 

I had the advantage of viewing the motley scene in an agreeable 
manner, having been admitted, in consequence of the illness of one of 



THE AilBASSADOE'S WIFE. 69 

our attaches, with the corps dlploynatiqne ; and can assure you that all 
you ever read in Arabian tales and believed to be Arabian fables, of 
pearls the size of pigeon^s eggs and diamonds the size of hazel nuts, is 
verified by the display of jewels of this gorgeous court. The empress, 
who bears her burthen of treasure with considerable dignity, is literally 
a blaze of splendour ; and the effect is not a little enhanced by the 
presence of her maids of honour, amounting to more than a hundred, 
who are required to appear in trains of scarlet, which, as well as crimson 
and light blue, is a privileged colour of the court. 

It is not, however, the court which constitutes the charm of the 
spectacle: but rather the orderliness of so vast an assemblage of joyous, 
prosperous people, conducting themselves, in the palace of a prince re- 
garded as the most despotic in Europe, with fifty times more ease, and 
quite as much propriety, as our own higher classes in the palaces or 
mansions of those a grade higher than themselves. But the Russians 
in general are remarkable for courtesy and deference. The vast 
assemblage was set in movement by a Polonaise, commenced by the 
emperor with the ambassadress of Austria ; and such is the influence of 
the presence of the sovereign and his family, that though the richest 
treasures and most beautiful works of art abound on every side, all 
ungodly covetings of other people's goods seemed paralyzed for a time. 
The whole five and twenty thousand people became for the moment, 
as it were, the family of the emperor; to whom, I can assure you, in 
spite of all we have heard from our Polish friends, his subjects are as 
fondly and blindly devoted as they were to his grandmother Catherine, 
whom they used to salute as their matiusJca, or " dear mother." Father 
and mother are favourite words of endearment in Eussia ; and the 
sovereign invariably addresses his troops as "my children." 

By midnight all was cleared, the emperor and the court having 
retired at eleven to sup in the theatre of the Hermitage ; where, the 
frontage of the boxes being of cut crystal, the lights glittering through 
produce a striking effect. This was the most gorgeous and original 
fetelev&v witnessed; but I suspect it requires a Eussi an or Turkish 
despotism to enable a sovereign to receive his subjects, with safety to 
his property, on so paternal a scale. 

Apropos to despotism, I must tell you that the hwut in Eussia, like 
ghosts in England, is a thing oftener talked of than seen in the nine- 
teenth century. To talk of the infliction of the knout on Eussian 
ladies of distinction, as asserted by some of our grumbling friends " in 
ski," at the present day, would be as absurd as to talk in London of 
burning archbishops at Smithfield. 

Apropos, my dear Mary, to the gala in question, it was there that, in 
the Salle Blanche, I was first struck by the splendid effect of the white 
stucco, which you will find from Whaley I have sent him over orders 
to attempt in the new gallery at Elvinston Castle. It is a cement 
formed of powdered marble, and other dazzlingly white materials, 
susceptible of acquiring the most polished surface, in the manner of 
scagliola, and of being painted in oils and gilt in the richest manner. 
When finished, it has the appearance of the purest porcelain, and 
nothing can be more exquisite than the effect it produces in well- 
lighted ball or banqueting rooms. 

The Eussians imported it from the east, where it is much in vogue. 
They have a mode of rendering the surface as brilliant as gold or silver, 
by powderings of talc .- but in my opinion a pure alabaster whiteness 
constitutes its greatest charm, 



70 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

I can describe nothing more brilliant than a state dinner in St. 
Petersburg, given in a banqueting chamber of this description, and deco- 
rated a la liusse; that is, having the magnificent dessert on the table 
when you enter the room, and the services brought round in succession, 
so as to prevent the senses of smell and sight from being offended by 
grosser viands, however indispensable fish, soup, and patties to the 
voracity of human ap])etite. 

This fashion has, I am aware, been adopted by the Duke of D., and 
one or two others of my travelled countrymen. But John Bull is 
impatient of innovations, and, moreover, loves to ponder over his 
turtle and venison. To gaze upon peaches and pine-apples, while 
enjoying his sirloin or saddle of mutton, is to him a breach of the social 
compact ; and he prefers the old three-courses-and-a-dessert order of 
things, to a banquet reminding one of some stately Italian fresco of the 
Marriage of Cana, or a Martinian Belshazzav's feast. 

I have only one further question to answer of those contained in 
your letter— alluding, as a sister's letter ought, to E-ussian beauty. 

In general, they are not fair of feature ; yet some of the most beau- 
tiful women I ever beheld or heard of, have been Eussians or Poles. 
Witness as even you can witness, Madame Zanadoska— witness the 
portraits of Madame TatischefF, Madame Narischkin, and Madame 
Zamoyska. 

Their manners are rather piquant than agreeable. They have all the 
vivacity of the French, Avithout their tendency to exaltation or romance : 
for nothing can be more matter of fact than the character of the 
nation. They are consequently safer in all the relationships of life, 
whether as regards love or friendship. 

It happens, however, that the most delightful women I have seen in 
Pussia are foreign, either by birth or education. The grand Duchess 
Helena, for instance — the charming wife of the far less claarming grand 
Duke Michael (Michael appears a name disastrous to modern royalty), 
fair, graceful, gracious, accom]ilished, captivating, is a princess of 
Wirtemburg, and deserves, if ever woman did, a place on an imperial 
throne. Her influence with the emperor is considerable ; and as her 
health and family circumstances have frequently compelled her to try 
the air of foreign countries, she has been the means of conveying to 
many a court in Europe an impression of the elegance and courtliness 
of St. Petersburg. 

In private life, the family with whom I am most intimately associated, 
is that of the Baron von Pehfcld, whose wife is a Prenchwoman, whose 
daughter a German, and whose step-daughter Parisian, by that second 
nature, education. Mademoiselle Erloff, therefore, though the most 
attractive girl I have seen since I quitted my ov/n country, is scarcely 
citable as a Eussian, since she knows as little of St. Petersburg as 
myself. To describe her to you would, I fear, require, if not more 
leisure than I have to write, at least more than you may have to read, 
at the close of so long a letter. I will therefore defer, till some future 
occasion, making you acquainted with la Marguerite des ALargue rites. 

Farewell, dearest sister, — my affection for whom defies even the 
atmosphere wdiich, for the last few days, has put all the istvoshtniks 
in St, Petersburg in peril of their noses. 

A thousand compliments of the season from a brother whose attach- 
ment defies "all seasons and their change" — and even a degree of cold 
fifty below freezing point. 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 71 



Letter XIII.— ^rom Ida von ReTifeld to Mademoiselle Therhe Moreau. 

You little thought, cltere honne, that in giving me a commission to 
execute in St. Petersburg for your friend, the Comtesse de Choisy, you 
^vcre procuring me a most agreeable acquaintance. The baroness in- 
formed me that it was indispensable for me to deliver the packet in 

person, as a respect due to the position of Princess W ; and, 

though reluctant to attempt such a ceremony alone, I congratulated 
myself on my obedience to the suggestion, on finding in the princess all 
one has a right to expect of a Parisianised Russian, of whom Monsieur 
de Vaudreuil declares .that Paris engrafted on St. Petersburg is alcohol 
floating on mercury. 

Since her widowhood, it seems, the princess has spent the greater 
portion of her time in the south of Europe— a privilege for which she is 
said to have paid largely. It is only since the death of the Emperor 
Alexander that she has been forced, for the preservation of her estates, 
to establish herself in Eussia. Still, however, the habits acquired 
during her residence in foreign countries prevail ; and she is the only 
person I have found indulge here in a freedom of speech rivalling that 
of Count Alfred, 

At our first interview, I conclude she must have taken a fancy to me; 
for the following day I received a note from her complaining of a vio- 
lent migraine, and entreating me to pay her a friendly visit au coin dufeu. 
The baroness being absent from home on a round of courtly visitations, I 
accepted the proposal, and found my new friend hterally established au 
coin du feu; for, while her suite of state apartments is necessarily 
warmed a la Russe, with the gigantic stoves in use here, her own little 
boudoir has the open fire-place for wood you have described to me as 
forming so bright a feature in a Erench drawing-room. Beside it, in 
the coziest offauteuils, did she instal me; and in a half an hour I learnt 
more of the gossip of St. Petersburg than I should in half a dozen years 
in the society of Madame von Eehfeld, who is, au fond de Vdme, 
Frenchwoman enough to treat me as a nonentity, and, perhaps, step- 
mother enough to regard me as an incipient foe. 

"I am delighted to see you in this familiar way," observed the 
princess, " for I was afraid the baroness might make difficulties. We 
ought to be fond of each other, — since she is Erench by birthright ; 
J, by nature. But we are not. \Ye belong to rival factions, and hate 
each other in the civilest way in the world." 

Till then, I had been unaware of the existence of distinct parties in 
the great world of St. Petersburg. But it seems that a jealousy is 
supposed to exist between the empress and the grand Duchess Helena, 
and, as in the case of kings, in whose innocent names their ministers 
make peace and war, the adherents of the two great ladiesj^elieve the 
monotony of a life of courtiership by stirring up ill-will between their 
liigh mightinesses. Countess Erlofi", as a lady of honour, was necessarily 
engaged from the first moment on the side of the empress,— that is, on 
the side oW Amphitryon ou ^'o^c/i'^e, said the princess, laughing heartily 
at her own wit. " Poor woman ! she has had a hard hfe of it ! Euined 
before she was born, they forced her to marry a horrible old general, 
smelling of schnapps and tobacco ; and his death, instead of restoring 
her to independence, left her only more wretched than before. Had 
not the empress taken a fancy to her, she must have buried herself 



72 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

alive on her son's ruined estates, where no one ^vould have ever heard 
of her again." 

" It was indeed a fortunate chance," said I, somewhat surprised at the 
cool frankness of my new acquaintance, though I admit that my manner 
encouraged her to believe me somewhat less than the most devoted of 
step-daughters, 

" Fortunate for the welfare of her children perhaps ; but for herself, 
I suspect she had no easy time of it, or she would scarcely have accepted 
the second marriage she did; your father having,! am told, no prospect 
of his present appointment at the time the engagement was made ; and 
if anything can exceed the odiousness of the society in St. Petersburg, 
I should imagine it to be that of a petty German court." 

I suppose I ought to have felt affronted, instead of which I was quite 
as well satisfied to make a sacrifice of the Eesidenz, as of my step- 
mother. 

" I was always led to believe," said I, " that Madame von Eehfeld 
enjoyed a very happy as well as a highly honourable position at court, 
at the moment of her marriage." 

An expressive gesture implied a decided negative. 

"We have reason to suspect that Madame Erloff is no great favourite 
with the emperor," she replied. "Under such a disadvantage, how 
could she lead a pleasant life ? In the first place, he dislikes French 
people in general. In the second, Madame Erloff had excited his dis- 
pleasure by causing her daughter to be educated in Paris. Nicholas is 
Russian to the heart's core, as, to do him justice, it is the duty of our 
tzar to be ; and it is probable he saw from the first that a woman with 
Vaudreuil blood in her veins (left behind here like a wreck on the 
shore by the breaking up of the exiled Bourbon court at Mittau) 
was likely to prove an unwelcome companion to the Strogonoffs, 
Narischkins, Zouboffs, and their kind, as well as to encourage the 
empress in her passion for French gewgaws and French amusements. 
However, he put up with her, as he does with anything favoured by 
the partiality of his family ; though I suspect that the effort made to 
procure Baron Eehfeld the appointment which facilitated the marriage 
arose chiefly from the feeling that the imperial household would sustain 
a very reparable loss in the charming Countess Erloff. In the corps 
diplomatique, on the other hand, the idea of a Madame von Eehfeld 
was supportable." 

Such was the princess's free version of the affair. Yery little en- 
couragement on my part soon induced her to add, " To own the truth, 
the emperor is supposed to detest her as an intriguante, which she 
certainly is ; and we were consequently the more surprised to hear of 
you all at the Anitschkoff balls. That the emperor found you charming, 
lelle Ida, and has since mentioned you with the highest admiration, is 
less wonderful. You have nothing in common with the baroness; nay, 
may be supposed to entertain towards her the antipathy sure to exist 
between every step-mother and daughter." 

Of the latter observation, I took no heed. I was considering, not 
without emotion, the princess's allusion to the favourable opinion pro- 
nounced upon me by the emperor. It is impossible for you to under- 
stand, chere honne, the honour conferred by imperial notice in this 
abjectly servile place. 

" To own the truth, I was dying to see you, after all I had heard of 
your success at the Anitschkoff ball," resumed Princess W. " I was 
not invited. I have lived too much in France to be well thought of by 



THE AilBASSADOE'S WIFE. 73 

Js'ichola^;, and am too much devoted to the Micbaeloff set to stand well 
in the court coterie. By the way, those who see you with envious eyes 
pretend that the admiration you excited arose from a resemblance 
discovered by the tzar between you and our lovely grand duchess as 
she appeared on her first arrival here, in all the fairness and joyousness 
of her happy youth." 

I expressed myself proportionably flattered, and am convinced that 
one of the princess's motives for soliciting the acquaintance of one so 
much younger than herself was a certain feminine curiosity to learn 
whether the resemblance held good in other respects ; the grand 
duchess being one of the most accomplished and spirituelle princesses 
in Europe. 

" And what does Madame von Eehfeld intend doing with the young 
Englishman whom, according to report, she has installed by your 
fireside ? " resumed the princess. 

"I have too much filial piety, or perhaps too little curiosity," replied 
I, "to have made any inquiry on the subject." And I trust I looked 
as httle concerned as became me in making the assertion. 

" If she were able to secure him for Mademoiselle Erloflf, she would 
doubtless renounce her projects upon Sergius Gallitzin, who after all 
would be no great match, for he has still his fortune to make." 

" I should not imagine Lord Elvinston the sort of man to be made a 
dupe of," I replied. 

" So people said of your father, my dear little friend, when Madame 
Erloflf first opened the trenches of her German campaign ; yet you see 
they were mistaken. She is just the sort of woman to throw people 
off their guard, by an appearance of being unguarded herself; whereas 
not a word or movement of hers but has its object. For my part, I 
suspect that her projects against the Englishman regard neither her 
daughter nor her step-daughter. The emperor is supposed to be 
inclined towards these English just now: in the first place, from a 
natural partiality ; in the next, from a desire to mark his animosity 
towards the French; and Madame von Eehfeld has it consequently at 
heart to stand well with the British embassy," 

It was not, of course, for me to explain to the princess the real state 
of the case; but I gave her to understand that the visits of the young 
lord to our house were not exactly the result of the baroness's invita- 
tions,— a remark which I concluded she understood, for she replied 
by a significant smile. 

" The emperor and empress are to be present at the ball given next 
week by the English ambassadress," said she ; " a distinction withheld 
from the Due de Mortemart because— but I dare say you know the 
whole story." 

I knew it well ; but remembering the favourite axiom of Monsieur 
de Taudreuil, that in order to stand well with the world, we must 
submit to be instructed in many things we understand by people who 
know nothing about them, I submitted to be told the anecdote of a 
hevue, real or pretended, on the part of the Due de Mortemart, who, 
having invited the elite of the Eussian nobility to witness the private 
theatricals in his hotel, gave them by way of a suitable entertainment, 
in the midst of their Turkish deinele—i\iQ piece of "L'Ours et le 
Pacha!" It is true the epigram was confined altogether to the 
play-bills, the piece bearing no reference that could be misconstrued 
into oflfence. But the emperor's mind had taken the fold of displeasure; 
and who is to smooth an imperial spirit when rumpled ? 



74 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

I am delighted, by the way, to hear that the court is to be present at 
this EngUsh fete ; for though it may lose perhaps, in consequence, in 
ease and spirit, I shall watch with some curiosity the conduct of our 
Otcrs of an Englishman, as compared with that of Count Alfred under 
similar circumstances. 

" The Gallitzins would be well satisfied to see a marriage concluded 
between Prince Sergius and your step-sister," observed the princess, 
" on account of the influence supposed to be exercised at court by her 
mother ; for, after all, sioce the emperor has overcome in her favour 
one of his strongest prejudices, some such influence must exist. But, 
for m>/ part, I think ;^Iademoiselle Erlotf would be much happier in 
marrying this Englishman, who is of a suitable age, and as rich as 
Croesus ; whereas Gallitzin has as little to boast in the Avay of youth as 
in the way of fortune. I am going to the English ball, and shall make 
my own observations. It would be a good thing for all of you to get 
Marguerite well married, and out of the way." 

" Not out of mine, believe me," cried I, with perfect sincerity. 

" Little hypocrite ! " ejaculated the princess, with a smile. 

" Perfectly sincere, I assure you. Marguerite is the sweetest and most 
affectionate creature in the world. Marguerite fully reconciles me to 
her mother." 

" So she does many people, or the baroness would lead a sorry life of 
it. The worst of it is, that the poor girl herself, unless speedily settled, 
may be led to take a fancy to that good-looking, but good for nothing 
else, cousin of hers ; who, even in Paris, where roueism is canonization, 
was pronounced too roue by half. I knew him there, two winters ago. 
Having been intimate with the old Countess Auguste during her 
emigration, I was a frequent guest at the Hotel de Taudreuil ; where, 
in return for the three or four summers she spent at my country- 
house, near Tzarsko-celo, she bestowed upon me divers glasses of 
eaa siio-ee, and the society of her family, including Count Alfred. To 
do her justice, it was an exchange that was no robbery, for her coterie 
was one of the pleasantest in Paris ; whereas, in my house, she 
obtained nothing but board, lodging, and the most disagreeable com- 
pany in the world." 

"Do you suppose that there is any likelihood of a connection 
between the cousins?" said I, carelessly; somewhat startled that this 
should never have occurred to me before. 

" Between Marguerite and Count Alfred ? Quelle idee ! The dowry 
of Mademoiselle Erloff consists in her mother's interest with the 
empress. Of what use is that to the Yaudreuils ? Alfred possesses a 
very moderate fortune, and must double it by marriage." 

" I understand," said I. " Her mother's interest at court is to marry 
Marguerite to Prince Gallitzin," 

" Exactly. She will then attain a very brilliant position ; and the 
emperor and all parties be satisfied. It would not surprise me if the 
prince were sent to London or Paris in consequence. He has exactly 
the qualifications for one of our great embassies." 

"I have always understood," said I, inadvertently, "that Prince 
Gallitzin possessed considerable abilities." 

" I did not allude to his abilities. Implicit devotion to the emperor, 
a wooden, inexpressive countenance, and square and imposing shoulders, 
are the grand qualifications for Bussian diplomacy. In Paris or 
Lioudon, il faut savoir prendre une attitude imposante ! " 

"If that be the case, poor Marguerite will make a far less eligible 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 75 

ambassadress than the prince an ambassador," said I ; " for she is the 
most timid creature in the world." 

" Then her dark brows and expressive mouth are no truth-tellers ! " 
rejoined the princess. " I gave her credit for possessing a decided 
character under a quiet exterior ; and, consequently, judged her in- 
eligible as an ambassadress. That which is good for the lord is bad for 
the lady. Two good heads in one household is just one too many. But 
who can surmise what girls may turn out when married? The dingy 
cygnet makes the whitest swan ; the yellowest-downed chick darkens 
into the blackest fowl. Time will show us Princess Gallitzin in her 
real plumage." 

It would interest you little, chh-e ionne, you, to whom the court of 
St. Petersburg is tet-'ra incognita, were I to recount the many wild 
hints and surmises in which Madame de Choisy's rattling friend 
indulged for my amusement. Suffice it that the carte du pai/s she 
afforded me differed, in all respects, from the chart I find laid down at 
home ; and my father with his precise notions, and Madame la Earoune 
with her almost devotional awe of those higher powers whom at Schloss 
Rehfeld she affected to hold so lightly, would have been little pleased could 
they have surmised the insight I was obtaining into the social mysteries 
of the court. However, if it be a proof of sense to talk well, it is a 
still greater to know when to hold one's tongue. On my return home 
I breathed not a syllable of these revelations. 

You are, perhaps, tempted to exclaim that it is scarcely less so to 
know when to hold one's pen. Let me, therefore, conclude with a 
renewal of my thanks for the pleasant acquaintance which you and 
Madame de Choisy have procured me. 



Letter XIV. — From Count Alfred de Vaudreuil to Count Jules. 

I HAYE so often had to thank you for amusing me with your adven- 
tures, my dear Jules, which derived so much piquancy from the frank- 
ness invariably gracing your narratives, that I obey your injunctions 
to give you a full, true, and particular account of the suite of my 
amourette. 

Know then that of late my beautiful Ida has taken upon herself the 
airs of a beauty, and become furiously jealous. Were her jealousy of 
the right sort, that is, jealousy arising from the intenseness of her 
affection for rae, I would forgive her. But, to do it justice, it is a 
mean passion — the jealousy of an envious girl. She cannot endure to 
see Marguerite as much cared for as herself; and our little cousin is so 
good, gentle, and unpretending, that I feel no indulgence for any angry 
feeling of which she is the object. I am persuaded Mademoiselle von 
Kehfeld is far more vexed by the idea of her step-sister becoming an 
ambassadress than by that of her possessing a certain degree of interest 
in my heart. 

jS^ot but that she is well aware I bestow on Marguerite Erloflf only a 
species of affection she is neither likely to obtain nor desirous of 
obtaining; a sort of homeish, fireside, trusting, loving love, such as a 
mere beauty, nay, a beauty exquisitely talented, never yet succeeded in 
creating. 

Be the cause of her jealousy, howeverj what it may, jealous she has 



76 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

certainly become ; and jealousy has had the usual effect of making her 
unkind and unjust. I, however, remain as just as Aristides — not only 
just, but justice-dealing, and am, consequently, resolved to punish her 
resentments against my unoffending cousin ; d'autant plus that it may 
restore circulation to my coagulated blood if I contrive to divert 
myself a little at her expense, or the expense of any other person 
here. 

I was in hopes the French theatre would have done its part towards 
keeping me warm through the winter by laughing at its execrable 
tragedies and crying at the most barbarously massacred edition of 
Moliere ever suffered to defy the rigour of the laws of decency. But 
even that pleasure has failed. One could not go on smiling for ever at 
the complacency with which these savages applaud what they believe 
to be the French drama ; and which might as well have been imported 
from the shores of the Gambia as from those of the Seine. It is really 
no fault of mine that I am forced to divert myself a little at the 
expense of my saucy heroine of the Oder. 

You recollect that long-legged Englishman who used to keep the 
club in a roar last winter by the disjointed movements of his dislocated 
person ? He is here, rich as Golconda, and dull as— as— alas ! I can 
say nothing worse than — " dull as St. Petersburg." Fancy that I have 
succeeded in persuading this cold-blooded animal into love with Mar- 
guerite Erloff, and the family, including both the girls, that he is in 
love with Ida. The cross-purposes to which this has given rise are 
amusingbeyond belief. Aware thatEnglishmen are the most rash and un- 
authorized people in the world in such matters, they are hourly expecting 
Elvinstou to blunder out proposals for the hand of the lily of Rehfeld, 
of which he has as much intention as I of demanding that of one of 
the little grand- duchesses. 

Our excellent cousin, the baroness, who entertains some sort of 
project for her step-daughter to which I cannot obtain a clue, is always 
bantering Ida upon the originalities of her supposed adorer ; whereas, 
had she a suspicion that this man who, if he chose, could buy up the 
hundred and fifty thousand serfs which constitute the fortunes of some 
of the Tartar princes of this singular country, such as Yousoupoff and 
others— was epris with my cousin, she would be the first to discover in 
the viscount the Chesterfield of modern England. But that I am 
satisfied Marguerite would earn the knout by refusing this British 
Croesus, I could not in ray conscience allow them all to go on groping 
in the darkness visible I have created. 

The other night, the English ambassadress gave a ball of singular 
splendour ; at which the emperor and empress, the grand duke and his 
lovely consort, were present. The thing was done in excellent taste ; 
though the splendid apartments were perhaps insufficiently venti- 
lated in consequence of the fears entertained by the empress of taking 
cold, and increasing the perilous delicacy of her health. There was no 
crowd. Not more than three hundred persons were invited ; and those 
the elite of the court and corjys dlplomailqus. 

Having dined with the Eehfelds, I accompanied them to the /t'^e ; 
and was not a little amused at watching the manoeuvres of poor Ida to 
keep aloof from me, so as to be disengaged for the first dance, in order 
to give her hand to the only young Englishman of rank now in St. 
Petersburg, who might therefore be regarded as king of the ball. 

I was the more diverted, knowing it to be Elvinston's inteation to 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 77 

engage Marguerite ; and when he accosted us almost before we had 
traversed the ante-room or paid our compUments to Lady H., to 
secure his lovely partner, I could scarcely preserve gravity enough to 
note the crest-fallen countenance with which Mademoiselle von Eeh- 
feld saw herself supplanted. She seemed to fancy it must be an over- 
sight, and looked as if she longed to tell him that, in one of his habitual 
fits of absence, he was mistaking one sister for the other. 

Judge, however, of her amazement, nay, of mine, when the viscount, 
on receiving a message from Narischkin intimating tliat he would have 
the honour of dancing the following quadrille with the empress, coolly 
replied that " he had a previous engagement to Mademoiselle ErlofF!" 
The horror of the equerry by whom the message was conveyed and 
tbe answer received, was beyond description. His indignation seemed 
at first too big for words ; and the contrast between his flashing eyes 
and the £Ool imperturbability of Elviuston, was to the last degree 
amusing. 

The ambassador, of course, interfered, to prevent so heinous a breach 
of etiquette as the delivery of such a message ; but the air of fretfulness 
and ennui with Avhich poor Elvinston walked through his quadrille, 
was almost as amusing as the air of profound bitterness of Mademoiselle 
von Eehfeld, on finding all eyes directed towards my little cousin as 
the choice of him who had been chosen by the tzarina. 

It was probably the excitement arising from mortification, that lent 
so vivid a colour to her cheek, and exercised over her susceptible nature 
the charm said to be contained for others in the cestus of Venus. She 
really looked divine ; so divine, that no one was surprised when the 
emperor, after conversing for a few minutes with the baroness, pursued 
for more than half an hour his conversation with her step-daughter, 
whom I had been careful to leave neglected upon Madame von Eeh- 
feld' s arm. 

There is, I am compelled to own, an instinctive high -breeding in Ida, 
and 2i, finesse m her tone of reply, which IS'icholas probably found as 
refreshing to his ear after the vulgar subservience of the herd of Peters- 
burgian belles, as the sight of her simple white dress and the natural 
camellias in her hair, amid the heavy harness of ponderous jewels sus- 
tained by the Yousoupotfs, Pashkoffs, ZubofFs, et hoc gemis omne. 

Prom that moment, alas ! instead of the distinction I had intended to 
confer upon Marguerite Erlofi' by Elvinston's homage, it was Ida who 
became queen of' the ball. All eyes were on the new beauty; and 
I could perceive, by the singular air of deprecation assumed by our 
trusty cousin in addressing the lovely Zavadoska, Madame Witgenstein, 
and others of whom she stands in awe, that she fancied she had achieved 
a miracle. 

The poor viscount, meanwhile, from the time he could extricate him- 
self from the honours imposed upon him, stationed himself by the side 
of Marguerite, in order to dance the second quadrille. As usual, timid, 
grave, and absent, my little cousin allowed him to lead her to a mazurk 
that was forming, in the belief that it was another French country 
dance. There they stood, convicted by the striking up of the orchestra ; 
Marguerite looking marble and motionless, as the statue of a muse — 
Elvinston awkward, guilty, and ghastly, like the body of a malefactor 
cut down from a gibbet ; for not a step of the mazurk (which is, as you 
know, a dance requiring some study), could my poor English victim 
accomplish. It seemed, however, a breach of etiquette to recede ; for 



78 THE ambassador's wife. 

the set was not only formed, but included the empress and several of 
her ladies of honour. Nothing could be more ridiculous than their 
position. 

I conclude that some mysterious signal must have passed between 
Marguerite and her step-sister ; for, having been corapc41ed to turn 
round to answer a question addressed to me, en passant, by the Grand 
Duke Michael, I perceived, when again able to look towards the dances, 
that Ida and the young Prince Gagarin were filling the place of the 
unhappy couple; and so admirably, by the piquant grace with 
which Mademoiselle von Rehfeld executed certain figures rivalling the 
Cracovienne in sprightliness, that every eye in the room was upon 
them. The empress, herself, who certainly dances to perfection, was 
completely eclipsed. The baroness is too good a courtier to have 
allowed her daughter to display such matchless grace, even had it been 
possible. But there was no opportunity to afford a suitable lesson 
to Ida. 

Elvinston, meanwhile, all gratitude to the adroit fairy by whose 
readiness in communicating with her sister, he was indebted for extri- 
cation from v.'hat was to him an excruciating position, having brought 
back Marguerite to her chaperon, now mounted guard over her, mute 
and motionless as one of the twelve sable Moors who watch during the 
Gouri fetes, the entrance of the gorgeous Taurida palace. 

These Englishmen really exceed even the chivalrousness of chivalry 
in their paroxysms of attachment. Heedless of the ridicule he was in- 
curring by so great a breach of decorum at this open demonstration of 
devotion to a girl, there did he remain, his eyes fixed upon Mademoi- 
selle Erloff, his arms to his side, and his knees to each other ! It is 
true he had previously undergone a rebuke from the baroness, upon 
his want of manners in throwing himself coolly into a seat by Mar- 
guerite's side ; which I could not persuade her was not intended as an 
insult, but simply a specimen of the free and easy manners of English- 
men when once they throw off their mauvaise honte ; or rather, per- 
haps, a proof that they never do throw off their mauvaise Jionte, but 
merely assume a virtue (or a vice) where they have it not. 

Madame von Eehfeld, meanwiiile, was on thorns. Regarding this 
awkward appendage to her party as a ridicule attached to it, and 
attached to it in the shape of an adorer of Ida who w^as civil to her 
daughter merely for the sake of another, she had hardly patience with 
either Marguerite or her Amadis ; more particularly when she saw tlie 
enthusiasm commanded among the Hussians by the admirable style in 
which the lily of Eehfeld contrived to execute their national dances. 
The admiration of the emperor was, of coarse, the finger-post which had 
served to point out her merits to their admiration ; but once noticed, it 
was impossible to withdraw their eyes. Even that immensely dull 
fellow, Sergins Gallitzin, who deo volenie is, some day or other, to have 
the honour of an alliance with the Vaudreuils, fixed upon her those two 
cold grey eyes accustomed to dwell only upon parchments and precis; 
apparently of opinion, with all the rest of the room, that for the future, 
the Empress of all the Eussias would no longer pass for empress of all 
the dancers. 

The ftie was a very brilliant one, the supper excellent ; and every 
thing arranged in that admirable style which in the English embassies 
at 8t. Petersburg, Vienna, and other continental cities, serves to con- 
vince one of the utter want of taste of the English. Between the dull- 
ness of their entertainments in London, and the brilliancy of their 



THE ambassadoe's wife. 79 

entertainments in all other places, it is clear bow much their riches 
and prodigality are able to accomplish, the moment they become 
directed by the better taste of foreign nations. 

As regards my private diversions, I am becoming a degree better 
satisfied with St. Petersburg. 1 scrupulously avoided from the first 
yoking myself exclusively to the car of the Eehfelds; for my lily — 
though really a lily, and now an imperial one, does not prevent my see- 
ing that there are roses in the parterre. I contrive to put some vanity 
into my pleasures. One is not thrown away here. People know how 
to appreciate one. The Russians, with their serfs, and splendours, 
and beautiful wives, are the most ennuye of Satan's creatures. They 
possess a strong appetite for pleasure, money to bring it withal, but 
alas ! not a particle of the article in demand is forthcoming for pur- 
chase. Any novelty, therefore, whether natural, artificial, or abstract, 
is welcomed as a god-send. In Alexander's time, they used to gamble 
beyond all i>recedent of gambling ; and attempt a thousand other things 
better adapted to the latitudes of Paris than those of St. Petersburg. 
Kow, the moral and most domestic tone of the court forbids outrage- 
ous breaches of propriety ; and the only thing remaining to divert them 
is a detestable French theatre, and still more detestable French ballet 
and Itahan Opera; for which they bribe to their frozen capital, at the 
cost of their weight in gold (and that they are heavy enough, the Lord 
he knows), all the worst performers in Europe— the leavings of the im- 
presarios—with now and then a star of some magnitude ; to be amalga- 
mated with their native screamers of screams, and throwers of sum- 
mersets. 

On the other hand, they possess a charming pastime exclusively 
national, in which, as is the case with most national diversions in most 
countries, it is mauvais ton to take delight ; the ice-hills— which we 
formerly attempted to imitate at our public gardens of Paris, under the 
name of Montagues Musses, by means of an inclined plane of boards, 
with ropes and pulleys, and at the cost of limbs innumerable, and a life 
or two per season — as if anything save the glassy surface of ice could 
impart to the gliding sledge the ease as well as rapidity of movement 
essential to the enjoyment of the real pleasure of the thing— the pre- 
sence of the favoured fair one condescends to place at one's fe^et, in order 
to dash with her down the all but perpendicular descent, which might 
be accepted as emblematical of the lall of the angels. 

After boring oneself to annihilation by playing whole evenings with 
these lovely Scythians their stupid game of La Mouclie, or the still 
stupider proverbs im&petits jenx out of which they contrive to extract 
every partiple of gaiety and colour, it is really invigorating to pass the 
following morning with them in precipitating oneself down an ice-hill. 
Purred to the chin, like Laplanders, and squatting in our sledges with 
nearly their national grace of attitude, several brilhant parties in which 
I have been engaged have dashed down, again and again, their fifty feet, 
with a degree of perseverance engendering a frightful appetite for sterlet 
soup ; though, by the way, the people here do their utmost to render din- 
ner impossible, through the ardour with which they stimulate their hunger 
by an ante-meal, called the Schalchen, consisting of all the filthiest 
compounds devised by a Greenlander's cuisine— aoN'mr, cheese, salt-fish, 
and sausages redolent of garlic,— acompanied by brandy and other 
spirituous liquors. All they leave to be desired is a dose of assafoetida 
to overpower, by a single mauvaise ocletir, the concatenation of disgust- 
ing smells emitted by their dehcate repast. What purpose it can serve. 



so THE AilBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

unless to act as a foil to the good French dinner it enhances by force of 
contrast, I cannot possible conjecture. 

I began this letter Avith the ball of the English embassy ; and, rondeau 
fashion, will finish it with a recapitulation of the strain. 

Imagine the triumph of my little Saxon charmer, when invited by 
the eml^eror for the cotillon ! Instead of seeming to participate in the 
awe which, in spite of all their protestations to the contrary, is always 
and clearly inspired by the conversation of the tzar into the hearts of 
his subjects^however fair, however high and mighty— Mademoiselle 
von Eehfeld made herself as unembarrassed and agreeable a partner to 
him as she could have been to me ; that is, far more lively and agree- 
able, I flatter myself, than she would have been with me ; for I hold it 
no compliment when a woman is sufficiently at ease with one to make 
herself asreeable. / love to see them downcast, timid, even awkward. 
I like them to be properly influenced by my presence. 

The emperor, however, was satisfied ; though he walked through the 
cotillon with his usual nonchalance in such matters, and probably 
merelv to gratify the Heytesburys by taking part in their ball, no 
matter with what partner. It was noticed around me that for some 
time past Nicholas had not been seen in such cheerful spirits; and 
trust me that, in a city where every change of the imperial countenance 
influences rain and sunshine, the public funds, and the pleasures of 
private society, these people know how to calculate to the mihionth 
part of a degree, the rise and fall of such a barometer. 

I have not been near the Rehfelds since the ball. Methinks I could 
not stand the saucy countenance of this little wren which, ever since, 
has probablv fancied itself an imperial eagle. 

As to poor Elvinston, who was evidently born to become a very great 
man or a very ridiculous one, so indifi'erent is he to the opinions of the 
world and so careless of the usages of society, his devotion to Mar- 
guerite Erlofi" was so ludicrously manifested throughout the evening, 
that I saw many a contemptuous shrug on the part of the grandes 
dames de la coi^r demonstrate their contempt for the ill-manners of the 
English people ; who, if one is to believe their own account of themselves, 
are^too polished in mind to require the polish of deportment held im- 
portant by other civilized nations, and too moral to see that the wives 
of one's friends are pleasanter company than their daughters. 

You a'^k me for political news, dear Jules ! On that head, spare me, 
and spare yourself. The neraest approach to political news, properly so 
called one ever obtains here, is intelligence of the colour of the empress's 
new bonnet • or a whisper concerning the number of salutations per- 
formed bv the emperor to his loving subjects between the palace and 
the narade. Nobody here talks politics. The politics in vulgar circu- 
lation are' it is well known, so wide of truth, that it is mockery to 
repeat th'^'m. In affairs of state, according to the Russian system, 
the surface is so far from the centre, that— 

But if I ask you to spare me politics, let me in return, spare you 
rhetorical illustrations ! Suffice it that those reports of the day gene- 
rated in Paris by a few leading coteries, and in London by a few leading 
clubs are wholly wanting here. AVhen you hear in St. Petersburg, a 
T)hra4 commencing "it is said," be assured that it will end with the 
announcement of a variation of the thermometer ; or that at worst, the 
catastrophe deplored regards a few coachmen, lacquej-s, or horses, frozen 
in the streets at the close of the last night's ball. Do not take me quite 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 81 

aic pied de la lettre ! You know me well enough to pronounce your 
own verdict. 

Elvinston is just come in, with very red eyes, and is waiting for me 
to seal my letter to unbosom his griefs. I am convinced he has been 
refused either by the mother or the daughter ; most liliely the latter, 
for mammas seldom frown upon such people. The greatest calf on 
earth, if a golden one, has a sure chance of it ! Adieu ! 



Letter 'XV.— From Ida von IRehfeld, to Mademoiselle TJierese 3Ioreau. 

I CA2s^N0T divest myself of an idea, however absurd, chere bonne, that 
you must be perfectly acquainted with all I am about to tell you. 
Conscious that it has formed, for two days past, the topic of universal 
conversation here, I seem to lose sight of the'; distance that parts us ; 
and still more the isolation of Eehfeld — remote, inaccessible, dull, 
obscure Eehfeld— which I suspect remained ignorant of the earthquake 
of Lisbon, twenty years after the great event. 

Ml/ event is not quite an earthquake ; yet in the court circle here, it 
excites as much interest as if one of the lesser capitals of Europe had 
been swallowed up ; or as if one of the great powers had committed one 
of those acts of littleness which great powers alone are permitted to 
commit with impunity. This, by the way, is a rash political flight for 
St. Petersburg ! But as 1 fancy my recently acquired importance has 
arisen from a sally of the same wild nature, I doubt whether 1 should 
do well to cultivate discretion. 

My dearest lonne, tell me, have I in my previous letters, succeeded 
in making you sensible of the mightiness of the Czar of Muscovy ? 
sensible of it in a way underivable from the showing of maps, gazet- 
teers, or the cyphers of statistics ? Is it, in fact, possible for any one 
who has not experienced a cold of ten degrees to be aware of the great- 
ness of a grandson of Catherine the Great? Certainly not! You 
believe him to be only a double or triple king of France, or England. 
Undeceive yourself ! In Eussia the emperor^'is infalhble, as in Eome 
the pope. Not only the emperor can do no wrong, but the smallest of 
his actions does not fall short of virtue. He is colossal, infinite— in a 
word, absolute ; for who can presume to be accurate in the admeasure- 
ment of an autocrat ? 

I have heard Alfred de Vaudreuil declare that Eussians of high rank, 
in Paris or other continental cities, however reckless in their ordinary 
conduct (and what so reckless as a high-born Eussian ?) however free 
in discussion and daring in levity, may be stopped short and frozen 
dumb on tho spot, by mere allusion to the name of the emperor ! The 
padlock imposed on the lips of Papageno, in our beloved Zauberflote, 
possesses not a more eflicient necromancy. 

But you are beginning to wonder, cltere bonne, whether I am enditing 
you an essay upon the dignity of the imperial throne, such as you used 
to exact from me by way of French exercise. Not exactly ! I only 
want to bring before you, in truest truth, the elevation of the C»sar of 
•the Scythians, in order to make you sensible of the importance conferred 
on myself by his notice. I assure you that the lapse of half an hour 



82 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

spent in laughing and chatting with him, has added more cubits to my 
stature than I have arithmetic to compute. 

I am not surprised that he hkes me, I say this without vanity, and 
without pride — without reference to beauty or grace, wit or amiabiUty ; 
but simply because convinced that any human being, albeit by circum- 
stance imperial, must grow sick of eternal adulation. Nothing short of 
a divinity can tolerate perpetual incense. 

Now, as Nicholas is nothing to me, who am neither his subject nor 
desirous to become so — nay, since there are other men in the world 
Avhose good opinion would afford me far higher gratification — I 
made no effort to please him ; neither hung enamoured upon his 
words, nor watched his looks with fear and trembling. I was— to 7/ou 
I will tell the whole truth— I was in such a state of nervous excite- 
ment from indignation at the conduct of Monsieur de Yaudreuil and 
Lord Elvinston, who were evidently in league to turn me into derision 
at the ball of the English Embassy, that I scarcely took heed of my 
words or actions, when invited by the emperor to become his partner in 
the cotillon. 

I suspect (I fear I am somewhat given to suspecting) that I was 
indebted for the honour to some incidental impulse. I am convinced 
that Nicholas had some unexplained motive for choosing to mix in that 
cotillon ; and he happened to be conversing with the baroness at the 
moment the idea presented itself. I was at hand. I was apart from 
the feelings and persons which then occupied his mind ; and he was 
creating no jealousies by choosing for his partner a girl without rank 
or precedence. 

But this frigid listlessness was not of long duration. "When he found 
that the tame automaton (of whom he had thought to take no further 
heed than one of his imperial effigies in bronze may take of the 
bronze charger on which it is mounted) had words and thoughts, and 
courage to give them utterance, he became interested. Startled into 
attention by my boldness, he listened till he became pleased, and was 
pleased to listen again. In one minute, I had arrested his eye ; in two, 
his attention ; in ten, we were laughing and talking together, like old 
friends. It was I who had already taken upon myself the task of 
interrogation— the part of the dialogue usually usurped by his Imperial 
Majesty. 

By degrees, I too became interested. I must plead guilty to the 
meanness of having gloried in my triumph. At that moment, it was a 
triumph indeed ! 

The empress was dancing in the same cotillon with the young Prince 
of Saxe-Gotha : and the whole elite of the court was witness of the 
good-natured intimacy which the czar was pleased to allow me to 
establish between us. 

And now, dearest bonne, comes the cream of the affair ! If you could 
but have beheld the baroness on our return home ! You remember the 
sort of court she paid me on her arrival at Schloss Eehfeld ; the sort 
of cajoling,bantering, artful manner in which she felt her way, whether 
it were better to subdue me by authority, or coax me by obsequious- 
ness ? Her present homage was of a directly different nature. She now 
hardly ventured to accost me ; and I could see she was surprised when 
my father continued to address me in his usual, ostensibly cool, but 
reallf/ affectionate manner. 
Next morning, I awoke with an impression— that, next to the rising 



THE AMBASSADOE S WIFE. 83 

of the sun in St. Petersburg, my rising was of the greatest importance. 
So glorified did I feel by the distinction imparted in this most servile 
of courts by the emperor's notice, as to fancy myself no longer the 
Ida of the day before ; still less, the poor, simple Ida of last winter. 
When Lord Elvinston made his appearance as usual, to sigh and blush, 
looking as if he had just been extricated from the wheel by an executioner, 
instead of resenting upon himhis recreancy of thepreceding night,Icould 
hardly forbear thanking him for a desertion which had stimulated my 
cheeks into bloom, and my spirits into wit. I fear, however, that the 
tone of irony in which my gratitude was couched, may have assumed 
the tone of pique ; for Monsieur de Yaudreuil had the unequalled im- 
pertinence to whisper an alarum to my pride. 

"Beware of giving to an Englishman such grounds for exultation V 
said he. "Let him not perceive how deeply he has wounded the conse- 
quence of the Lily of Eehfeld." 

And now came a finishing stroke to the baroness's perplexities. We 
had too often talked over together the Elvinston affair, for me to be 
ignorant that she was in hourly expectation of my receiving an offer of 
his hand. Judge, therefore, of her amazement on seeing our gawky 
guest, after ten minutes' grave conversation with Marguerite which I 
am convinced she thought regarded only me, suddenly seize his hat, 
clap it on his head, press it over his eyes regardless of our presence in 
the saloon, and then rush sobbing from the room. 

" What in the world have you been saying to him, Marguerite ?" 
cried she, as soon as the the door closed after him. 

" I should have been more cautious in my expressions, had I supposed 
his feelings to be so deeply engaged," replied my dear, good little step- 
sister. 

"But you did know they were deeply engaged !" retorted her mother. 
"Have we not all seen the man sighing and dying ever since the 
day he was presented to her ?" 

Marguerite raised her mild, brown, hare-like eyes to her mother's, 
in mute interrogation. 

" You must have been fully aware," persisted the baroness, " that he 
was pledged heart and soul to Ida ; and whatever opinion you may 
entertain of her feelings towards him, you had no authority to bid him 
despair. If he were to be refused, it was my province to intimate your 
sister's decision." 

Marguerite's colour went and came. I could easily discern her 
hesitation between the duty of avowing the truth to her mother, and 
the comfort of screening herself from further reprehension under the 
erroneous impressions imbibed by Madame von Eehfeld. Her natural 
candour prevailed. 

"We have all been mistaken, dear mamma," said she. "Lord 
Elvinston fancies himself in love with me'* 

" AVith you, child ? — Nonsense ! " 

" I can only assure you that last night he professed for me the most 
ardent attachment." 

" Then why," cried the baroness, who, having started to her feet, was 
now advancing towards her daughter, " why was he in that state of 
emotion on quitting the room ? " 

"He was hurt, I suppose, to find that I could never be his 
wife." 

" But whj never ? I have made no positive engagements with Prince 
G2 



84 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

Ser!?ius. On the contrary, I have lately had reason to fancy that A/? 
desire for the alliance was subsiding." •* 

" But that, dear mamma, would not give me an inclination tobecomo 
the Avife of Lord Elvinston." 

" TJiat might not. But his enormous vrealth— his princely rank — 
his parks — his diamonds — " 

" His tediousness— his awkwardness— his apathetic unamusability !— " 

" If, as you suppose., he is desirous to offer you his hand, you have no 
right to complain of his apathy. That he is well-informed and sensible, 
no one— not even Ida in the height of her scorn, ever denied; and a 
girl in your position, Marguerite, dependent in her own person and 
in that of her brother on the bounties of the emperor " 

It was the first time the baroness had ever hazarded so much in my 
presence ; and she now seemed conscious of her indiscretion, for she 
stopped short. 

" The emperor's kindness has never yet failed us," replied Marguerite, 
with more firmness than 1 had expected from her timid nature ; " and 
it is surely less ignominious to be indebted for one's prosperity to the 
country which my father served so zealously, than to an interested 
marriage with a foreigner." 

The livid paleness that overspread Madame von Eehfeld's cheeks on 
hearing what appeared to be a premeditated allusion to her own 
fortunes in life, as twice the portionless bride of a foreigner, caused me 
to turn my eyes reproachfully towards Marguerite. But the serene 
expression of my sister's countenance convinced me that the words 
which had escaped her, bore reference solely to her own feelings. To 
pass censure on the conduct of her mother, even in the most secret 
depths of her heart, appears so impossible to her pious nature, that I 
am convinced she never allowed her?elf, even with herself, to pass in 
review the position of her parents. Whether this be strength or weak- 
ness, let others determine. The disposition of Marguerite Erloff' is so 
utterly different from my own, that I cannot sit in judgment on 
her. The English law is a good one. People should be tried by their 
peers. 

To return, however, to our discussion. When it became clear to the 
baroness that her daughter, her portionless, dependent daughter, had 
rejected the hand of a man holding as brilliant a position in England 
as the Wolkonskys here, the Esterhazys at Vienna, or the Mont- 
morencys in France, she became frantic ; and like all people who allow 
themselves to go wild with passion, grievously injured her own cause. 
All the policy— it was so much, that I conclude it to be all, but perhaps 
it was only half,— which has been directing her manoeuvres of the last 
few months, was betrayed to view ; as if some showman in a fit of wan- 
tonness were suddenly to withdraw the curtain, and exhibit the wires 
by which his puppets had been moved. 

" You can scarcely be surprised, mother," pleaded Marguerite, " that 
I should have at once informed Lord Elvinston a marriage between us 
was impossible. In the first place, consider the diflerence of religion, 
for he is a Protestant ! " 

" Difference of religion," retorted Madame von Rehfeld. " Am I not 
as good a Catholic as yourself; was not your father of the Greek church? 
is not the Baron von Rehfeld of the Lutheran ? Yet what disagree- 
ments have you ever seen this produce between us ? " 

I, who am not debarred by the ties of nature from passing in review 
the conduct of this worldly woman, could not forbear ascribing some- 



THE ambassadoe's wirE. 85 

thing of her tractabilitj' ou such points to her utter want of religion ; 
since, were she the good CathoHc she proclaims herself, she would not 
only be satisfied of the eternal perdition of both the lords she has sworn 
at the altar to love, honour, and obey, but bound to desire it. 

'•' Besides," resumed Marguerite, unwilling to dispute on a topic so 
important, '*' I have never had r-eason to surmise you had altered your 
intentions towards Prince Gallitzin." 

" He may have altered his towards v.s." 

" But, dearest mother, he is here as much as ever. Princess Prascovia 
treats me as her sister, or rather as her child." 

" Marguerite, Marguerite ! When will you cease to he one, and to 
accept things and people in the broad light in which they present them- 
selves ? At eighteen,.you are as simple as you Avere at eight ! I was 
in hopes a Parisian education and the Hotel de Yaudreuil might have 
done something to make you reasonable, and fit to live in the world. 
But you had better have remained at St. Petersburg ; for there 
you might at least have learned what reliance is to be placed 
upon " 

Again she stopped, conscious that she was going too far. 

" 1 trust in goodness," she resumed, after a pause that seemed to 
embarrass her daughter as much as it excited my curiosity (but from 
the beginning of the conversation Marguerite had made me an implor- 
ing sign not to quit the room, as if aware that my presence would be 
some restraint upon her mother), — " I trust in goodness you may not 
have committed yourself so irretrievably as to render it impossible for 
me to renew the negotiations with this disinterested and amiable young 
man ? As a suitor to Ida, I saw him in a different hght. Ida is rich, 
— Ida is certain of a high alliance in her own country; and if she chose 
to espy defects or weaknesses in Lord Elvinston, it was no great matter. 
It never entered my head, that his lordship was capable of so generous 
a purpose as an alliance with ijou, or I should have requested our dear 
Ida to be less free in venting ber charming caprices. But I am certain 
she will so;far oblige me as for the future to see in this young man only- 
one whom I am desirous to make my son-in-law." 
• "Willingly, madam;" saici I, rallying my courage, or rather my 
impertinence, in order to extricate Marguerite from her maternal 
grasp. "But I cannot pretend to act in concert with those of wbose 
politics I am ignorant. I must have an accurate carte du pcrjs laid 
down for me before I engage in the war. Tou say you wish Lord 
Elvinston to become your son-in-law. You hinted to me a fortnight 
ago a similar desire touching Prince Sergius Gallitzin. To how many 
husbands is Marguerite entitled by usage of the country ? I was aware 
that polygamy prevailed among the Turks ; I did not know that it held 
good among the Eussians." 

Only yesterday, I should not have dared hazard anything so nearly 
amounting to an insult to the Baroness von Rehfeld. But I perceive 
|hat I have now an advantage over her; albeit of the nature and 
amount of my advantage, I am still ignorant. 

"In a matter of so much delicacy and difficulty as insuring an 
advantageous marriage to one who has no equivalent to tender in 
return," she observed, as meekly as if I had given utterance to the most 
courteous sentiments in the world, "it is impossible to be too cautious. 
An alhance with Prince Gallitzin was a thing I desired more than I 
hoped. I have now almost ceased to hope, and should be consequently 
happy beyond .any ordinary measure of happiness to see my poor 



86 THE AMBASSADOB's WIFE. 

Marguerite united to a mati so every way deserving respect as him 
■\vliom the empress honoured with her hand last night." 

I saw that Madame von Rehfeld was poheizing; for this is the tone 
of circumlocution she involuntarily assumes in her petty diplomacy. 
But our conference was broken up by the sudden arrival of my father; 
and as he entered the room, she placed her finger on her lips to impose 
silence on us. 

Several visitors being soon afterwards announced, I stole away to 
perform my promise of giving you an account of our English fete by 
this day's courier. Chh-e honne 1 I flatter myself you will be somewhat 
eager for my next letter ! 



Letter XYI. — From Marguerite 'Erloffio MademoiseUe 
T/ierese Moreau. 

Judge, clih-e Mademoiselle, judge how little I must have enjoyed 
through life the blessings of friendship or relationship, when, in my 
moments of distress, I have recourse for comfort to yon, with whom 
my very acquaintance is only of a few months' date ! 

But saving the good Soeur Marie, under whose care I lived in my 
convent, you are the only person who has ever deigned to express much 
interest in my welfare ; and your kindliness and caresses recur to me, 
and renew my gratitude, now that I am often unhappy. I Cannot help 
hoping that in your heart I shall find some sympathy ; and that you 
may even exercise the influence you must necessarily have over your 
charge, to induce Ida to become in truth a sister to one who seems to 
be friendless. 

You can scarcely imagine a more loveless fate than mine ! In my 
childhood, my father, who was of advanced years, was too much en- 
grossed by his official duties to take the smallest heed of me ; and from 
the moment when, just as I was beginning to feel with the feelings of 
thought, which are so different from the feelings of instinct, I was 
compelled to accompany my severe grandmother to Paris for my educa- 
tion ; thenceforward, no more family love, no more family kmdness ! 
On meeting my mother again, after a lapse of so many j'ears, I dis- 
covered, alas I only too soon, that a portionless child is, to a necessitous 
?arent, a burden rather than a pleasure. I say not this complainingly. 
t is so. My mother cannot but have felt it as well as others. 

But you know not, dear Mademoiselle Therese, how crushing is the 
feeling of being a burden in one's home ; nay, to have no home, — to be 
a sufferance in the household of another. Baron von Eehfeld is too 
high-born and high-bred a gentleman to have made me a single instant 
aware of my position. But the hints of others apprize me that it 
is essential I should marrj^, in order to free his establishment from 
an incumbrance. My mother, Heavens knows, is better entitled than 
any other to exact such a sacrifice ; for it was in order to release her 
family from the maintenance of a member the more, she gave her hand 
to one who nearly trebled her years, and who, I fear, presented little 
attraction to her feelings. 

Such was the light in which, some months ago, a marriage with 
Sergius Gallitzin was placed before me,— and I was content. There 



THE ambassador's WIFE. S7 

was nothing disagreeable in his person, nothing offensive in his manner?, 
nothing objectionable in his character. I had then seen no one towards 
whom my heart incUned; and immediately after we arrived at Eehfeld, 
and he became our inmate, I assured my mother that whenever the 
question came to be discussed between them, she might rely on my 
obedience. 

From that moment, I took pains to discover all the meritorious points 
of his disposition ; and soon saw that if he were not calculated to create 
L passionate attachment, his calm and steadfast character must ever 
command respect. A hfe of routine, of duties carefully fulfilled, might 
be passed, with mutual regard, by his side. I esteemed myself fortunate 
that no greater sacrifice was to be demanded of me. 

But all this is changed, and I am most unhappy ! The Englishman 
I described to you in such unsatisfactory colours, is to be my husband. 
While pretending attachment— for I still persist in declaring that he 
did pretend it— to my step-sister, it was myself who was the object of 
lis love. He thought, I do not doubt, to throw me off my guard by 
establishing himself in the family under this false pretence. And he 
did so; for, convinced of his devotion to Ida, and pitying him for his 
unacceptability, I was always saying friendly things of him to the baron, 
iny cousin Alfred, and others, which are now reproachfully repeated to 
me whenever I admit that I have a personal aversion to him. In 
short, dear Mademoiselle Therese, as I told you before, I am verj/ 
unhappy. 

"i'ou know so many of our family secrets, that it is surely no treachery 
on my part to tell you more. My father's fortunes were left hopelessly 
embarrassed at his death ; and as there seemed no chance of establishing 
my brother in his future career, except by keeping our name fresh in 
the memory of the emperor, my mother did her utmost— nay, more 
perhaps than was justifiable— in order to attain and retain a position at 
court. To persons living out of the world, an appointment such as hers 
seems to bring with it a shower of gold. So far, however, is this from 
the truth, that the salary was far from sufficient to meet the necessary 
expenses ; — the reason probably that such places are usually conferred 
by the providence of the emperor upon persons of fortune. You can 
have no idea of the enormous expense entailed upon the ladies of the 
court by the empress's taste for dress. A degree of elegance and 
recherche is exacted of all who approach her, ruinous to such as have 
not the command of an imperial coffer, and injurious, it is whispered, 
even to them ! 

On my mother's return from Paris, she obtained the reputation, not 
very difhcult perhaps of attainment, of being the best dressed woman in 
St. Petersburg. To maintain this in a circle where it is the custom to 
appear in three or four different dresses a day, and not be seen three or 
four times in the same (the empress, taking as much heed of the 
wardrobe of others, as most people of their own), has, I fear, embar- 
rassed my poor mother to a degree that accounts at once for her own 
second marriage, and for the one she is desirous of arranging for 
myself 

Dear Mademoiselle Therese, what will become of me ?— I see I must 
marry Lord Elvinston ; marry him, too, after having freely avowed to 
him that I do not love him !— I shall have to live in England; I, who, 
even in dear, warm, brilliant, sunshiny Paris, was ever sighing after my 
native country ; and from all I have heard in former times from my 
cousin Alfred, of England and the English, methinks I would sooner 



88 THE AMEASSADOfi'S WIFE. 

lay my head at once beside that of my father in the vaults of the 
Annunciation ! 

How shall I ever bear the coldness, dulness, and reserve of English 
people ? For some time past, I have been looking forward to a happy 
domestic life with a man of calm nature and easy temper; who, I was 
assured by my mother, had the certainty of becoming a resident in 
Paris. There, I knew I should be happy. I should constantly have 
visited the good sisterhood who love me so dearly ; and renewed my 
intimacy with my young friends of the convent, like myself established 
in the world, I could not but agree with mamma, that such a destiny 
was more likely to make me happy than the ceremonious life of the 
imperial court. Perpetual details of the toilet weary my very heart out ; 
and sooner would I have remained in my convent for life, than spend 
my days in devising changes of dress, and my nights in exhibiting 
them. 

But though willing to quit St. Petersburg for cheerful, frank, inspiriting 
Paris, I feel that I should be weighed down by the monotony of English 
life; more ceremonious than that of Russia, and as remote from my 
dear brother as that of France. 

But I am satisfied I have no means of escape. The tone in which my 
mother has addressed me on the subject, convinces me that she means 
to be peremptory. The emperor, though he dislikes the union of the 
heirs or heiresses of our great Russian houses with foreigners, has no 
objection to extend the Russian connection with foreign aristocracies by 
marriages which convey no property out of his empire ; and, alas ! what 
would poor Marguerite Erloff take with her out of Russia, save a weak 
heart and feeble head ? Not even the regrets of her friends— not eren 
a rouble of inheritance ! 

It is grievous to me to know that, seeing this, I ought to be graleful 
for this young man's generosity. But oh ! that he would only become 
more interested in his views, and seek among our Sheremetieffs and 
YousoupofFs, a more grateful and more suitable bride ! 

Write to me words of comfort, and to Ida words of counsel. Entreat 
her not to desert me at this trying moment. She has great influence 
with my mother. A person of her decided character has influence over 
all who approach her. Beg her— pray beg her— to stand my friend ! 



Letter XVII. — From Viscount Flvinston to tlie Sonotirahle Mrs. Leslie. 

The affectionate terms of your letter, dearest Mary, afford the strongest 
incentive to my compliance with the entreaty it conveys, that I will be 
perfectly candid with you concerning the interests that detain me here. 
Trust me, I am so. To my guardian I do not feel bound to unfold 
the secrets of my heart. Enough for him if I unravel the workings of 
my mind. I send him as honest a summing up of my observations and 
opinions on Russia, as he furnished me of my property on the attain- 
ment of my majority. But as he then carefully abstained from express- 
ing to me, as he did to my poor mother and others, his opinion that it 
would not tarry long in my hands, and that the proprietor of the 
Elvinston estates was less likely to do them honour than his predeces- 



THE AMBASSABOE'S WIFE. 83 

Urs, I am exonerated from the frankness in matters of mere feeling, 
■which might entitle him to give advice such as I should certainly hold 
myself dispensed from following. 

To whom am I responsible for my actions, Mary, beyond that 
universal social responsibility, which requires every man to comport 
himself according to the habits and usages of the class of life in which 
he is placed by providence ? I owe it to my ancestors and successors 
that my family line should suffer no disruption in the respect of their 
countrymen, from the failure of a link in the chain of our succession, in 
my unworthy person. If I behave hke a fool or a madman, to the dis- 
credit of the sober Lord Elvinstons who preceded me and created the 
honour of our name, I aflford a fatal precedent to the Lords Elvinston 
who, I trust, will follow me, and bear our escutcheon nobly, in centuries 
to come. 

I make these little observations, dear sister, in reply to your hints and 
remonstrances, with a view to your perfect reassurance. You are 
London-ridden, dear Mary ! You cannot see your way beyond the 
hazy atmosphere of Park Lane ! You are mounted so fiercely on 
your high-trotting horse of English supremacy, that you are somewhat 
too apt to run down such of your fellow-creatures as do not happen to 
be also your fellow-countrymen. 

Again, however, I say, reassure yourself! I am not going to commit 
any of the absurdities which the dowagers of your hum-drum coterie 
have persuaded you to apprehend. I am neither letting grow my 
beard, a la Eusse ;— nor am I a convert to the tenets of the Greek 
Church ;— nor have I ordered a pahsade with gilt arrow-heads for the 
glacis of Elvinston castle ;— nor am I coming over in a droshka or a 
sledge, or disposed to inflict green oil or cabbage soup as the nutriment 
of my servants' hall, I can promise you that I am as essentially a John 
Bull as at the period of leaving England. 

Still, because I drew breath in latitude 51.30, 1 do not feel myself dis- 
membered from the great family of my fellow-creatures; nor, because I 
reckon the longitude of my eastward brethren of Europe from the 
vulgar altitude of Greenwich Hill, do I esteem them the less my 
brethren. A charming woman is a charming woman, be her name 
Howard or Smith— Yaudreuil or Erloff. The cosmopolitism engendered 
by the civihzation of modern times ought to defy the petty obstacles of 
frontiers and custom-houses. The same books are read in London, 
Paris, and St. Petersburg. The arts, the sciences, see with the same 
eyes, and march nearly the same step, in those stirring capitals ;— and 
whether the wife who secures my domestic happiness first saw the hght 
on the shores of the iS^eva or those of the Thames, signifies very little to 
my family, provided her principles be those of a good Christian, and her 
deportment that of a good gentlewoman. 

"I see how it is !" you exclaim. " He is preparing my mind for a 
foreign sister-in-law ; a woman whose every thought and feeling will be 
discordant with my own." 

Console yourself, Mary. I have, I fear, very little chance of proving 
to you the groundlessness of your prejudices against a Eussian wife. 
Would to heaven I thought it probable I should ever have occasion to 
hear you withdraw your protest against my Marguerite, whom you 
have presumed to judge unheard, unseen, unknown; and who has 
proved a still severer judge towards myself, whom she has heard, seen, 
known — and rejected ! 

Yes, Mary ! The brother whom, in your partiahty, you imagined so 



90 THE AMEASSADOH'S WIFE. 

great an object of attraction, has been utterly rejected by her whom yon 
ungenerously conclude to be intent only on my captivation. Instead of 
the ardent desire to place herself at the head of a stately Enghsh estab- 
lishment, which you London women attribute to all others over the 
globe, the very notion of a residence in England sufficed to decide her 
against me. Mademoiselle ErlofF distinctly admitted that she should 
consider banishment to England as secondary only to banishment to 
Siberia ! 

Be pleased, therefore, to admit that part of your supposition, at least, 
as groundless. You tell me that I am marked out as a victim. I own 
it ;— but it is because I am disdained, not because I am courted by 
Marguerite Erlofif. 

_ You will probably he surprised that the letter conveying this admis- 
sion, should be still dated from St. Petersburg. Lei this suffice in 
evidence of the reality of my attachment ! I have been in love before. 
Most men, if they told the truth, would admit that from their boyhood, 
they had always some object of preference. But I never before felt 
disposed to surrender myself, bound hand and foot, to the object of my 
love. I never felt that I could abandon ray destinies into her hands. I 
never made her an offer of mine ;— and if in the enthusiasm of momen- 
tary passion I had done so, as now, and been as now refused, I would 
instantly have fled from the spot. My love would have been converted 
into hatred, and I should have revenged my disappointment, even upon 
myself. 

My feelings towards Marguerite are worlds apart from this frantic 
excitement. My love for her is good and holy as herself. If I thought 
her attached to another, and could prosper her attachment, I would do 
so ; for her happiness is dearer to me than my own. But I believe her 
aversion to me to be purely personal. She dislikes my looks, my 
manners, my nation, my language ;— she dislikes me by the force of the 
same prejudices which make you dislike her. But such antipathies, as 
I need not remind you, are not irrevocable. 

Instead, therefore, of flying from her in despair— I remain. It were 
happiness enough for me to enjoy her society, even if I enjoyed it 
hopeless. But I confess that I am looking forward to the chances I 
may obtain of diminishing, by steadfast devotion, the distastes I have 
perhaps provoked by precipitancy. 

You, dear Mary, so proud in your own person, and so doubly proud 
in that of your brother, will revolt against this tameness. Though 
subscribing to the usual maxim, that "Love is a universal conqueror," 
you would fain exempt Pride from his tributaries. My dear sister ! 
the love which cannot subjugate this foible of poor human nature, is 
indeed a weakling; and in opposition to the usual device of Cupid 
mounted on a lion, methinks I shall adopt that of a Cupid astride on a 
hyena, as the blazon of my knightly shield. 

So much in answer to your earnest entreaties to me to return and 
take my seat in parliament, instead of wasting my time in foreign 
countries. I am not, I trust, wasting my time here. I sJioidd waste it 
in parliament, I am at present unqualified in opinions or even feelings, 
for my task as a legislator. Extendnig the principle of Bacon, that " he 
w^ho hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune," I feel it 
indispensable to have taken my place in my own family seat, and estab- 
lished myself as a member of English society, before I arraiga to myself 
my privilege of peerage as a lawgiver of the Upper House. 

Were I, dear Mary, as you desire, to establish myself with all my 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 91 

present crudity of mind in my place in parliament, heaven knows with 
what heterodox notions I might be tempted to insult the names of our 
Whig forefathers ! I who, at Harrow, was so enthusiastic a lover of 
liberty as to make old Butler's blood run cold on divers occasions, am 
now almost in love with despotism, I promise you that I never wit- 
nessed the popular emotion of loyalty till I came to Eussia ; and am 
beginning to believe that the right of exclaiming, 

Off with his liead— so much for Buckingham ! 

is the surest passport of a sovereign to the hearts of his subjects. 

If you could only witness the enthusiasm excited by the emperor 
wherever he appears ! - The army adores him— the populace worship. 
The nationality of the Eussians amounts to bigotry ; the feeling having 
been well knouted into the nation by the founders of the empire, con- 
scious how potent a spell was required to bind together in unity provinces 
opposed in climate, temperament, habits, and usages, as the extremes of 
all the Eussias. The tree, however, by whatever libations of blood and 
tears it may have been watered, has taken root and fructified ; and I am 
willing to bear testimony that, however stupendous the grov»^th of 
loyalty in the land of freedom, the ardour with which the Eussian 
anthem of "Boje Zaea Cheani" is received by the Mougiks of Mus- 
covy, might be backed against the " God save the King " of the free 
people of Great Britain. 

I believe Nicholas I. to be an excellent emperor; intrepid, haughty, 
passionless, or at all events (so far resembling his own Neva, whose 
furious waves, under the control of a still more potent element, are re- 
duced to subjection by intensity of frost) that his passions are as much 
under his government as all the other subordinates of his autocracy. 

Still, I cannot conceive him to be so faultless as to justify the idolatry 
that attends him. It is not, of course, till the Nasleclnih or heir ap- 
parent of to-day becomes the czar of to-morrow, and the name of his 
predecessor the property of history as legitimately as his body that of 
the imperial vault in the fortress, that impartiality takes his character 
in hand. Even then, there is a certain degree of servility even among 
the educated classes of Eussia, inseparable from the condition of an em- 
pire '' pourri avant d'etre mnr," which, as surely as worms and creeping 
things innumerable are engendered by physical corruption, forbids all 
frank consideration of the Scythian Csesar. The same intense loyalty 
which enabled the Eussians, high and low, to kiss the blood-stained and 
vice-polluted hand of Catherine, and salute her by the holy name of 
mother, or to hail the vain and effeminate Alexander as one of the 
greatest heroes of his time, may be supposed to exercise a scarcely less 
miraculous influence at the present day. The young, vain, and frivolous 
princess of Prussia became a divinity from the moment she assumed the 
pavoinik, and became mother of their future czar: nay, there can 
be little doubt that, had the wretched Constantine ascended, or that 
were the rugged Michael now to ascend the imperial throne, " £oJe 
Zara Chrani" would be sung for them as vociferously as for other 
sovereigns of their line. The sovereigns who perish in Eussia perish 
by the conspiracy of the nobles, not by an outbreak of the people. If, 
therefore, we insist so strenuously, by way of taunt to the Yankees, 
upon the loveliness of our English passion of loyalty, how much greater 
that of the Eussians, whose magnitude covers a thousand fold as many 
imperial sins, and swallows a million fold as many camels ! 



92 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

But I am exceeding the limits of your patience. If you have wit 
to discover, dear Mary, that the political and moral bone I have 
thrown you and Leslie to pick, purjiorts, in the guise of the mutilated 
tail of Alcibiades' dog, to distract your attention from the preceding 
contents of my letter— keep my secret, and spare the tenderness of my 
self-love ! I will shortly write again. Heaven send it may be in a 
happier and more natural strain. 



Letter XVIIl.— From Count Alfred de Vaudreuil to the Countess 
Auguste. 

Many years ago, cTiere tante, when you used to be as indulgent towards 
a wilful boy as you now are towards a wayward man, I remember in- 
quiring of you by what sheet-anchor your courage had been so ad- 
mirably sustained throughout those storms of the Eevolution, which 
left the house of Yaudreuil a wreck on the shore. I expected that my 
uncle, w ho was present, would reply " Philosophy ! "—while from you 
(the Abbe Chaptal being also present), I anticipated for answer—" Ee- 
LIGION ! " 

I was disappointed ! For once you were unanimous. 

" I fear, my dear child," was your honest reply, " that what you may 
have been taught to reverence as fortitude, was a less laudable qualifi- 
cation. We submitted to the storm, like the reed, instead of resisting 
like the oak. Frivolity, Alfred, — Frivolity is as ready a comforter as 
Philosophy ! We had not the heart to be miserable." 

"But the loss of your habitual society," said I, " banishment from 
your home — your country !" 

" A citizen of the world finds his home in every country," said my 
uncle. 

"Between ourselves, Alfred," you rejoined, " my comfort under our 
misfortune was the necessity of visiting foreign courts, I was sick to 
death of Paris. We had exhausted all that Versailles could do for our 
entertainment. We were weary of seeing the same faces, and hearing 
the same voices ; and, for the moment, the excitement of change was 
delightful. 

Then did the dear old Abbe break in with his truisms about carry- 
ing with us our country in the peace of our own souls, and hearing 
our native accents in the language of those we love— etcetera, etcetera, 
etcetera ! 

And lo ! the salon of the Hotel de Yaudreuil became for once agreed 
in opinion, that nationality is a vulgar prejudice, and that the aristo- 
cracies of all the countries in Europe are of one and the same nation; 
seeing that milliounaires must be essentially French, whether born in 
Paris, London, Berlin, Naples, or St. Petersburg ! 

" People of rank and fortune eat, drink, dress, dance, and talk French, 
all over the world ! " was your ultimatum, as it is that of your obedient 
humble nephew. 

Chere tante ! I trust you remain of the same opinion. For I have 
set my heart and soul, such as they are— for the existence of the latter 
I doubt, and of the former I deny — upon uniting my dear little cousin 
Marguerite to a man who will give her trois cent mille francs de rentes 



THE AMBASSADOfi'S WIFE. 93 

by way of jointure, and a third of the sum ijour ses epingles, on con- 
dition of her putting up with a baronial castle on the Clyde, a stately 
mansion in Yorkshire, and an excellent house in Piccadilly ; not for 
the rest of her days, we trust, but for the rest of Ms. Should she 
survive him, she might carry her jointure, diamonds, and gentle nature 
to the paradise of the Faubourg St. Germain— or the purgatory of 
St. Petersburg— or where she would, or will. 

What say you, cliere tanie ? Is not this an excellent match for a 
little girl without a livre of fortune ? 

I cannot but fancy it will come to pass ; because Marguerite is so 
obstinately and groundlessly set against the hero of my romance, that 
everybody makes common cause in defending him ; and because Elvin- 
ston himself stands ill-usage with the patience of a saint or a donkey. 
She will be encouraged to cuff and kick him till, some day, the self- 
recriminations of a generous temper prompt her to atone for her fault 
by a double share of amenity. 

I will not swear, however, that I have no worse motive than cousinly 
affection in promoting the marriage. The baron's daughter will hardly 
find fortitude to behold I\Iarguerite become a wealthy British peeress, 
and figure at the brilliant court of George lY., while she is fated to live 
and die as she was born, daughter, wife, mother, of petty barons of the 
empire. I confess I am out of patience with her presumptuous pre- 
tensions. One knows not whether to laugh or weep at the little freaks 
of hauteur assumed by this spoiled beauty of Schloss Pehfeld ! If I 
can in some degree bring her to her senses by the glorification of her 
step-sister, by and by, we shall find her become a reasonable creature. 

I am getting into better conceit with St. Petersburg. There is more 
going on here than at first meets the eye ; and the process of initiation 
is diverting enough. Not that I either like or admire the tone of the 
place, whether enjoyed enj^rince or en polisson. Did you ever observe, 
towards the close of a party prolonged beyond the reasonable limit of 
enjoyment, how every one assumes false spirits, and becomes restless 
and noisy, in order to* keep himself awake ? So is it here ! The Russian 
capital is so insupportably dull, that people are obliged to commit twice 
as great excesses as elsewhere, in order to prove themselves wide awake. 
There cannot be a stronger proof of the prevalence of ennui, than that 
those .who Avish to provide amusement for personages whose pleasures 
must be bought ready made, such as the princes and magnates of the 
land, produce it in the garb of butibonery. Grotesque masquerades, in 
which fat old Stanislas Potocki figures as a belle, and the lovely Zava- 
doska as a monster, constitute one of the refined divertissements of the 
court; to say nothing of the public masked balls, which are beginning 
to emulate those of Paris of the olden time. I always notice that it 
serves to indicate a nation having drained the cup of dissipation to the 
lees, and become llase with decent enjoyment, when masquerading 
begins to constitute a popular pastime ! 

Many things are wanting in St. Petersburg, the absence of which 
compels one to have recourse to desperate pleasures — clubs, to begin 
with. The two or three that exist are of English origin degenerated 
into Russian, and millions of versts below the standard of the charming 
Travellers' and Crockford's, which impart so much zest to the sojourn 
of foreigners in London. In the next ^\?iCQ, les coulisses ; or rather 
DES coulisses where emperors and grand dukes do not attend rehearsals, 
and put an oflicer under arrest for a button more or less on his uniform 
when paying his devoirs to the cor2>s de ballet. 



94 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

Apropos to uniforms, I agree with you that this place is charmingly 
redeemed from the monotony of London and Paris— I was going to sav 
of the capitals of Europe— for I regard Eussia as more than half 
Asiatic, by the picturesque costume of the lower classes, and the soldier- 
ship of the higher. All true descriptions of the Kussian capital ought 
to begin— 

Arms and the maxi I sing : 

for the emperor, and the daily and hourly soldiering of his metropolitan 
garrison, constitute three-fourths of St, Petersburg. 

To be food for i)owder is here really a distinction. Military rank has 
everyAvhere precedence. Ten to one but your tailor and hat -maker 
are soldiers ; or, if not, the infant grand duke or czarovitz, is one ; 
arrayed in jack -boots from his swaddling-clothes, and put through his 
exercise as hetman of the Cossacks by his imperial father, from the 
moment he can stand alone, for the delight of mobs of his admiring, or 
at least applauding subjects. But all this serves to variegate the throng; 
and between the tributary tribes of the far eastern and due southern 
Pussian provinces, and the be-hussar-meut of Pussia proper, the 
theatres and the promenades exhibit a motley surface far more amus- 
ing than the eternal broad-cloth of civilized Paris. A single Armenian 
would draw a mob on the Boulevavts. I must needs add, though 
reluctantly, that, independent of their flowing beards and picturesque 
kaftans, the men are fine manly-looking fellows, and in deportment 
uniformly courteous. The green lish-oil in which they take delight, 
appears to exercise singular pov>er of unctification over their manners. 
The women may be fine manly -looking fellows too, for aught I know, 
for one sees nothing of them. 

I cannot help sometimes contrasting my position here with the month 
I spent in England last year, previous to the carnival. For the self- 
sacrifice of quitting Paris for these expeditions into the wilderness, I 
had of course sufficient motives ; i. e., my weakness for horses, and my 
weakness for women. Melton and the Lily of Rehfeld have to answer 
for thus betraying me out of the sphere of civilized life. 

But the grossierete of England is utterly different from that of 
Eussia. In England, it is the coarseness of the individual, here the 
coarseness of the nation, that shocks your feelings ; because in the 
former the result of enlightenment, and here, of the reverse. All that 
eight centuries have done for the English since we conquered and 
humanized them, giving them laws and cooks to replace their hips, 
haws, and acorns, and skins and manners of beasts, has been to render 
them intensely selfish ; to promote the study of the comfortable in all 
its branches, and enable them to make spring snuffers and elastic arm- 
chairs. As regards the Arts, they are little forwarder than when we 
built their cathedrals and founded their "Westminster Hall. Their 
palaces, their galleries, their theatres, their pastimes, are such as would 
provoke the mockery of a student of the Pays Latin and his grisette ! 

In Eussia, on the contrary, where the founders of the Empire seem to 
have taken pleasure in looking through the wrong end of the telescope, 
rendering the objects near them of preponderating importance and 
reducing remote ones to nothingness, the comfort of the people is dis- 
regarded, while palaces, galleries, academies, and theatres abound and 
prosper. Two of the uninhabited palaces here, the Taurida and Marble 
palace, exceed anything I saw in England, while the Winter Palace, 



THE AMBASSADOB'S WIFE. 95 

Hermitage, and Tzarsko-gelo, might take their place side by side with 
our own stately Tuileries and Versailles. 

Still, il y a disparate ! The magnificent quays of the Neva are of 
granite, the pavement of the streets of wood ; and though wood pave- 
ment on a solid foundation may be an admirable causeway, when fluc- 
tuating upon a swamp, and a swamp subjected to cruel alternations of 
frost, thaw, and drought, it is a thing to try the patience even of an 
istvosMniJc. 

It is not, however, between the muddy streets of the two capitals, as 
contrasted wiMi our excellent pave, that I would institute comparisons. 
The contrast of their domestic life is the thing that excites my hourly 
amusement. 

In England, the machinery is all of iron— in Russia, bones and 
sinews. Here, Mougiks are less expensive than bell -wires; while in 
Great Britain, flesh and blood are valued, as if meted by a Shylock at 
so much per pound. Every great Russian house maintains whole 
regiments of menials, who start up from every corner. To be sure, 
there are nearly as many in those of England. But there, like the 
savage tribes, they address one only though their chief ; and according 
to the humane practice of the most philanthropical and slave-trade- 
abolishing people of the dampest country in Europe, the subordinates 
are kept in subterranean caverns, where they are subject to a species of 
prison discipline. The items of populace one is always stumbling over 
here, are kept wholly out of sight in the land whose dining-rooms 
provide comfort for the outward, rather than the inward man of the 
guests. In other communities one dines well, and is ill at ease during 
the operation. In England they labour by the warmth of Turkey 
carpets and luxury of well-stufFed morocco chairs, to make one insen- 
sible to the hardness of their meat and coldness of their soup. 

In St. Petersburg most things are done with the prodigality of semi- 
barbarism. The most considerable Russian fortunes have arisen out of 
favouritism, gambling, or jobbery ; and estates are bought, sold, and 
exchanged with the vulgar facility of people who have neither embla- 
zonments nor title-deeds to fetter their proceedings, and in whose ears 
the crusade of Christendom have a sound all but fabulous. There is 
of course less shame in the extravagance and ruin that alienate no 
ancestral inheritance, and cut down no oaks of the days of Philip 
Augustus or the Plantagenets. 

Meanwhile, laud we the etiquettes of Prance, which preserve our 
fetes of the Paubourg from the onerous presence of royalty ; for so dead 
a weight, both on the purse and guests of an entertainer, can scarcely 
be imagined ! When the divinities of old condescended to dine or sup 
with humble mortals, they used to convert cabins into palaces, in 
guerdon for their entertainment ; but when czars and czarinas prove 
equally aff"able, their visits are far more likely, and far more apt, to 
reduce their hosts from a palace to a hovel ! 

Every object of real luxury consumed in Russia is still of such exotic 
origin as to cost its weight in gold, Nectar and ambrosia might be had, 
I should imagine, at little more than the expense of champagne and 
pate de Strasbourg, which are expected to abound on every well-con- 
ditioned table; while, such is the severity of the climate, that the early 
fruits, I find, are forced at the cost of two louis d'ors a peach, and a 
crown a cherry ! 

In Paris we rarely do these exorbitant things, unless when a Demidoff 



96 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

or a Tufiakin settles among us. The gilding on our surface is equable. 
We do not patch our gold on a single point of the structure, leaving the 
rest \vith the bare deal boards visible, or bedaubed with ochre. Our 
moderate fortunes, limited, moreover, by the responsibilities of ancient 
descent, render it impossible for xis to create palaces and people them 
with the population of a village, in order to entertain a king and queen, 
who would laugh at us for our pains, as ^m do at the iiarvenu bankers, 
who lay down footcloths of velvet and bridges of gold, to allure us to 
their fHies. 

And now, cliere tante, I must go and hear what accouftt poor Elvin- 
ston has to give of a visit he was to pay last night to the baroness. 
Adieu, therefore, and trust in all security the fortunes of your grand- 
daughter to my Talleyrandio statesmanship. 



Letter XIX.— jP/om^ Ida von Eelfeld to Mademoiselle Therese Moreau, 

I VENTUEED to ask you/ chh^e lonne, in one of my first letters from 
St. Petersburg, why you and others had cruelly suffered me to attain such 
preposterous misconceptions of my personal consequence. I now inquire, 
with equal sincerity, how you could let me rely so implicitly on my own 
discernment and strength of mind ? 

At eighteen I fancied myself an oracle, able to decide my own des- 
tinies and those of others. At eighteen and a quarter I avow myself 
the dupe of my own prophecies. It is some proof of my progress in 
wisdom that, for the first time, I am growing sensible of my folly. 

You may remember how positively I foretold Marguerite's marriage 
with Prince Gallitzin, and how persuaded I was of Lord Elvinston's 
devotion to myself— 50 positively, indeed, that I can hardly expect you 
to grant me your faith when I now announce, that within two months 
my quiet little step-sister will be the wife of a British peer who is one of 
the wealthiest subjects in Europe. 

Madame von Eehfeld, with her usual cool easy manner of taking 
possession of people, had no sooner discovered his consequence, than she 
wound herself round his thoughts and feelings, in a way to deceive him 
into a belief that all the attentions and kindnesses lavished upon him by 
herself proceeded from Marguerite. Installing him among us as one of the 
family, she threw the shy man so thoroughly off his guard, that he was 
never happy out of her house. How can I tell, in fact, that the frequent 
visits of which she was always complaining, were not, in the first 
instance, provoked by herself, to promote such an intimacy between the 
English lord and her daughter, on pretence of his devotion to me, as 
must eventually end in their marriage? 

For, after all, let the disinclination of Marguerite be what it may, 
provided Lord Elvinston choose to persevere, in a marriage it is sure to 
end. The authority of the baroness over her daughter is absolute. The 
recent diplomatic difl'ercnces, concerning the navigation of the Oder, 
occupy my father's whole attention ; and were it otherwise, he has 
lately acquired very feudal opinions concerning the extent of parental 
authority. As to Alarguerite, the docility of her nature is angelic ; for 
I now admit that her gentleness is not, as I thought at first, the result 
qf stupidity. Marguerite is as quick of feeling as clear of thought. lu 
all her sacrifices duty is the presiding divinity of the altar. 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 97 

She has never yet seen Lord Elvinston a moment alone, so that 
genuine explanations between them are impossible ; and under the 
influence of Madame von Eehfeld, her deportment towards him has 
become so deferential, that the poor man, willing to grasp at a straw, 
is contented to hope on, since to love on, contented or not, appears 
inevitable. 

Thus cheered and encouraged, his reserve and awkwardness are 
gradually disappearing. In the beginning he was embarrassed by con- 
sciousness of his passion ; but now, the rubicon being passed, and his 
bosom unburthened of its secret, he is becoming at ease. To tell the 
Avhole truth, he has gained immensely by redemption from the x)ersi- 
Jlage with which, so long as I fancied him an admirer of my own, I felt 
justified in attacking liim, which was in a groat measure the cause of 
his maiivaise honte ; and, to do him justice, in any other light than a 
lover, I find him a pleasant companion, and an addition to our society. 

Prom all this, chere bonne, you will infer that the bristles of my 
amour i^ropre are smoothed down again, and that I have resigned myself 
to the force of circumstances. Better still, I am perfectly satisfied with 
the position I have achieved. It is not that which I had anticipated— 
it is not that which I desired— but I am satisfied. 

I'our friend, Princess W , came to see me the other day, at an hour 

when the baroness was sure to be absent from home. She chose to 
return my visit, she said, au pied de la lettre, and insisted upon sitting 
with me in my own sanctum, instead of the saloon into which she had 
been ushered ; the consequence was a most unceremonious examination 
of my books, drawings, and music. 

" My dear little Madame Dacier, you are a miracle ! " cried she, after 
turning over my library. "I now see why you were so strenuous in 
your endeavours to restrict me to the ceremoniousness of the state apart- 
ments. Quite right, my dear ! If you love yourself, let not another 
woman in St. Petersburg set foot over the threshold of your temple of 
the Muses, There would be an end at once to your hopes and prospects 
here, were it known that, instead of band-boxes and jewel-cases, your 
dressing-room was full of busts, quartos, and portfolios. Though no 
people in Europe assign greater importance to education than the 
Russians, or pester themselves more actively to render their children 
modern linguists (aware that our hitherto uncultivated and barbarous 
dialect is as much a dead language for the rest of Europe as those in 
which I have just discovered your disgraceful proficiency) anything like 
information or valuable acquirement is scouted among us as pedantry. 
To succeed at the imperial court, ma lelle reveuse, you must devote 
yourself to the science of brocades and satins, laces and ribbons. To dis- 
tinguish between geology and mineralogy is considered the province of 
a governess ; while, not to discriminate between Mechlin and Valen- 
ciennes would banish you to Siberia." 

Of course, I know how to make allowances for her spirit of exaggera- 
tion. But it was not the first time I had listened to an accusation 
attested by the respect conceded at St. Petersburg to the accomplish- 
ments for which the present empress is so remarkable, of dressing and 
dancing ; while the two highly cultivated princesses of \¥irtemberg, 
fated to become the vTives of the Emperor Paul and his son Michael, 
have had double reason to lament the apportionment of their destinies 
in the little value assigned to their mental superiority. Nevertheless, 
Eussia made a fair exchange with Wirtemberg, in an accomplished 
I queen, the daughter of Paul and sister of the grand duke, whose early 

H 

i 



93 THE AMBASSADOIl'S WIFE. 

death, I find, is still lamented at Stutgardt, as that of one of the most 
remarkable women of modern times. To return, however, to Prin- 
cess W . 

" If I had not forced my way into your blue chamber this morning," 
she resumed, " I should have been puzzled much more and much longer, 
to comnrehend the policy of your step-mother. That she had some 
excellent motive for dropping Sergius Gallitzin and making up to that 
raw English youth, who they say is as rich as Yousoupoff and Demidoff 
united, 1 entertained no doubt ; but I took her policy upon trust. I 
now see through it all ! She perceived that her pretty Marguerite had 
no chance with a hard-headed man like Gallitzin, who wants a fellow- 
labourer with him in the paths of preferment, not a helpless doll to sit 
by the fire and tell her beads,— against a girl of spirit, energy and talent, 
like the one whose abilities have been cultivated by one of the initiated 
of the Hotel de Choisy. Seeing that you were the very wife for him, 
and that the very husband for Marguerite had presented himself, she 
made an exchange of prisoners, as people do on the ratification of a 
treaty — et voild !" 

" Do you mean, then," said I, smiling, " that I am to be disposed of to a 
needy diplomat of half a century's experience, without so much as my 
own leave asked in the arrangement ?" 

" Madame von Eehfeld has never been in the habit of asking people's 
leaves to dispose of them. She married your father almost without his 
consent— she will do as much byyozf;— and some day or other, after 
you have been six months Princess Sergius Gallitzin, you will inquire 
of yourself how it all came about." 

" I rather think not .'" was the reply. " I am not so easily bought, 
sold, or exchanged, as the gentle Marguerite, /am not blinded by filial 
duty. My nature partakes of the briar rather than the rose. I am 
really on my guard, and able to fight for it. I see for myself, and feel 
for myself; and if unable to act for myself, at least will not act accord- 
ing to the dictation of others. If not independent in conduct, I am 
inflexible in mind." 

The princess replied by a provoking laugh. " Brava, bravissima !'* 
cried she, " my sturdy little heroine of eighteen ! Admit, however, that 
considering the clearsightedness on v/hich you pride yourself, you ran 
headforemost into the trap laid for you the other night, when the bait 
was stamped with an imperial crown ?" 

" I scarcely understand you !" said I, piqued by her tone of irony. 

" I mean that we of the Michaeloff" set were perfectly prepared for 
all that took ijou by surprise at the ball of the British Ambassador ! 
Next to marrying of Marguerite, the baroness's dearest object is to settle 
her step-daughter out of the way ; and it is of course her object to do 
so in a manner calculated to extend her family connexions." 

" But what influence has the notice of the emperor towards promot- 
ing the marriage of the daughter of one of the foreign envoys at his 
court ?" said I, proudly. 

" Everything— when the future bridegroom is a court favourite, like 
Sergius Gallitzin. It is well known in our coterie, tbat very soon 
after your arrival here, that is, very soon after Lord Elvinston was 
seen to pay his court to Marguerite Erloif, Madame von Ivehfeld began 
to hint in strictest confidence to her friends (the surest method of 
circulating reports), that the education to which Mademoiselle von 
Eehfeld had been exposed in Germany, was worthier of her maternal 



THE AilBASSADOE'S WIPE. 99 

than of her paternal descent ; and that she could better pretend to a 
professor's chair at Leipzig, than the honours of a ball-room," 

I fear I was not so much mistress of my emotions, as to prevent a 
sudden blush from betraying the irritation I experienced at this 
announcement. 

" The thing told as she intended : for when did one of Madame Erloff's 
coups cVetat fail of effect ? Attention was attracted towards the weak 
or strong point, to which she desired to attract attention. The fine 
ladies shrugged their shoulders in disgust. Such of the Anitschkoff 
court as took the trouble of thinking about you at all, set you down as 
a little bore, to be strictly avoided. But a few— a very few, including 
the Michaeloffskians und the emperor— experienced some curiosity to 
behold the German savanie so little favoured by nature with the usual 
charms of her sex, as to have found it necessary to take refuge in pro- 
fessional pedantry. 

" Figure to yourself, therefore, their surprise when the lily of Eehfeld 
unfolded its petals, and they perceived that the most accomplished girl 
in St. Petersburg was also the prettiest !— The empress's hundred maids 
of honour turned pale with envy ; and no one was surprised when the 
czar, who joins the dance only as a sort of annual penance, selected you 
as a partner. I am told (but being no intriguante am little in the court 
secrets), that the surprise of Nicholas at finding the new beauty an 
agreeable unaffected companion, was secondary only to the amazement 
he had experienced at finding the profoundly scholastic daughter of the 
new envoy the loveliest ornament of his court." 

"It strikes me," said I, striving to speak with composure, "that if the 
Baroness von Eehfeld were inclined to speculate on the emperor's 
notice for amj member of her family, it would have been for her own 
daughter rather than for one to whom she owes nothiag, and who owes 
nothing to her" 

" Absurd, my dear ! Marguerite is no lily of Eehfeld,— but is the very 
type of the flower whose name she bears ; and who ever heard of a daisy 
intermingled with crown jewels? Scentless, colourless, it is worthy only 
to exhibit its pallid unmeaning star on the domestic lawn ; while the 
more queenly flower derives lustre from the diadem as well as imparts 
it." 

" I trust I do not understand you !" was my haughty rejoinder. 
" You would scarcely, 1 imagine, imply that my father's wife intends 
to promote an intimacy between me and the emperor of a discreditable 
nature ?" 

Again did the princess reply by a provoking burst of laughter. I am 
persuaded she scarcely thought me in my senses ! 

"How ill must you have employed your time during your sojourn 
here, fair Ida," said she, " to be ignorant that the Yenus de Medicis, if 
endowed with the softness of the graces and accomplishments of the 
muses (forgive me if I become classical during my seance in your learned 
boudoir), might vainly level her attractions at the frozen heart of the 
emperor ; no not frozen— though I dislike him, let me render him jus- 
tice—the virtuous heart of the emperor. Do not smile— do not mis- 
trust me ! J am not a Madame Erloff— I am no imperial flatterer. 
But it is an incontestable truth that Nicholas is a devoted husband and 
father, and fortunately inaccessible to the weaknesses so fatal to the 
domestic happiness of his eider brother." 

" I did not suppose you were accusing the baroness of a design alto- 
H 2 



100 THE AMBASSiDOE'S "WIFE. 

gether so culpable as your words imply," said I ; the name and beauty 
of Alexander's Madame Nariscbkin recurring; to my mind. " But we 
have all read in history of a monarch equally virtuous, equally cold, 
having been subjected to a bond of friendship as potent over his feelings 
as that of love over the hearts of other men. We have all heard of 
Louis XIII. and Mademoiselle de la Fayette." 

"Ay, and prettily their friendship ended ;— by sending one into a con- 
vent, and the other into a grave !— Is not that the Genlis namby-pamby- 
fication of the affair ?— But in that line, lelle Ida, you are forestalled. 
If Nicholas require, at any moment, wiser companionship than he finds 
at home,— if in certain dilemmas for the regulation of female etiquette 
and feminine pretension, it becomes indispensable to consult the tact of 
a Avoman who possesses mind and heart, in addition to an elegant tour- 
««o-6' and distinguished manners— his utmost wants are satisfied at the 
Michaeloff Palace, in the gentle kinswoman of his mother, and wife 
of his brother. Our grand-duchess possesses all the influence to which, 
by consanguinity and superiority, she is entitled." 

" Explain yourself, then," cried I. " What is the motive to which you 
would ascribe the desire of IMadame von Rehfeld to promote my 
acquaintance with his imperial majesty ?" 

"Do not talk so hke an imperial majesty yourself, or I will not 
answer another question ["—exclaimed the princess, bantering me out 
of my ill-assumed dignity ; and eager as I was to obtain some insight 
into the truth, you may guess whether I complied with her exactions. 

" My simple belief is this," said she, after some further persuasion. 
" Madame von Eehfeld has, we know, a son and daughter to establish 
in Hfe, and debts to pay, we suspect, beyond her means of payment. 
The favour of the emperor can alone accomplish these objects; and 
how is it to be obtained ? She is aware that he personally dishkes her ; 
or rather, that he tolerates her only as the widow of a faithful servant 
of his brother. Neither Marguerite nor Alexis Erloff are qualified to 
recommend themselves to his favour ; the girl being a nullity— the boy 
a turbulent incumbrance. It is, therefore, indispensable to her to form 
a more advantageous connexion with the goodwill of the sovereign, on 
whose notice their fortunes depend. In giving to his favourite, Sergius 
Gallitzin, a rich and intelligent wife, she is performing a feat highly agree- 
able to the emperor ; and to persuade the prince of the wisdom of such 
an alliance, cannot attempt a better stratagem than to obtain for you 
the notice and commendations of the czar. Do you noto see your way 
through her manoeuvres ?" 

" In plain words, you mean that, finding she has secured a good parti 
for Marguerite, she wishes me to become Princess Gallitzin," said I, 
calmly. 

"A Princess Gallitzin, the influence of whose talents and beauty may 
extend that of Russia in foreign courts, as much as it will fortify that 
of her Russian connexions at home," persisted the princess, without 
hesitation. 

"I conclude I am to accept all this as a compliment," said I. "But 
forgive me if I accuse you of a poor one to the merits or attractions of 
your Russian ladies, in fancying those of a little obscure German girl 
capable of " 

"Not of subverting the laws of an empire, a la JRoxaJane, my dear, 
interrupted the gay princess, "but of affording an agreeable accessory to 
the friendship of the emperor for one of his most distinguished servants. 
No one has more reason than Nicholas to appreciate the value of dignity 



THE AMBASSADOn's WIFE. ■ 101 

and ciplomh in combination •with youth and beauty. Everything done, 
said, or left undone and unsaid, by his subjects in foreign courts, is fully 
known to him ; and he is never more displeased than when he hears of 
our committing ourselves and our country by an escai^ade. It is on 
that very account I am obnoxious to him. Because, a year or two ago, 
I chose to amuse myself at Rome as Eomans do, it was signified to me 
that it might be all the better for my estates if I returned to Eussia. 
Hard enough ! — for what could he do worse to me than bid me return 
to Eussia?— However, it is ciyou, not myself we are talking ; and I am 
as well convinced as the baroness, that the emperor would be all the 
more disposed to bestow a high diplomatic appointment on Prince 
Gallitzin, if in possession of a rich, wise, witty, and pretty wife." 

I was about to protest against the probability of his making the 
acquisition in my person, but the princess would not allow mc to say a 
word. 

" Do not commit yourself by rash vows, which you 'may, at some 
future moment, wish unsworn ! " said she. " You cannot yet have 
taken your resolve. Tour position with your father's wife may not 
always be so agreeable as at this moment. Between them dissensions 
may arise, when Baron von Eehfeld becomes better acquainted with 
her conduct and motives. If still blinded to her disposition, if she 
even manage to disentangle herself from her embarrassments without 
involving Mm, in losing Marguerite you lose the charm of your circle 
and consolation of your home. — Isiclit nmJir ? — Monsieur de Yaudreuil" 
— (I fancied that my adroit companion eyed me scrutinizingly as she 
spoke) "will not be here for ever; and simply as a third person, 
domesticated with your father and step-mother and the Saxon cousin 
I have heard of, lyoia' iov.t x>otage, as a suitor, you will scarcely find 
St, Petersburg very attractive." 

"You offer a far from enchanting picture to counterbalance the 
pleasures of diplomatic distinction in one of the great capitals I" said I. 
" I own I have already perceived that, to be distinguished in Eussia 
to-day, it is as essential to be Eussian born as, a few years ago, it was 
to be of foreign extraction. It is not for me to decide whether my 
ruling weakness be vanity or pride. But either one or the other is the 
cause that a long residence here, in utter neglect, would be still more 
disagreeable than the vexations to which I foresee myself likely to 
become exposed by the emperor's notice," 

The princess, finding that our interview was taking a graver turn than 
she intended, recalled me to lighter topics by the discussion of all the 
recent news she had received from your friends, the Choisys. Your 
lelle eleve is creating the greatest sensation, she tells me, as Madame la 
Marquise de Montecourt, — the observed of all observers, and the last 
new plaything of the Duchesse de Berri. 

From this subject, she diverged to Paris in general ; the cheerfulness 
and spirit whereof she described in terms so glowing beyond all I ever 
heard on the subject from yourself, that, for full hall' an hour after her 
departure, I was as wfell disposed to accept the hand of poor Prince 
Gallitzin, for the chance of representing the court of all the Eussias at 
that of the Tuileries, as the baroness herself could have desired ! 

I am called away. Marguerite's voice at the door— hoarse with 
emotion. What on earth can have happened ? 

In our family confusion of yesterday, clihe lonne, there was no time 



102 THE AMBASSADOE'S TVIFE. 

for clci^iDg tliis packet and delivering it to the courier. You must, 
therefore, be content to receive a week later a despatch of double 
length. 

I told you that I was called away by Marguerite ErlofF, in a state of 
great agitation ; and really feared that some new incident in the Elvin- 
ston affair ^yas distracting her poor heart. Far from it ! It was the 
arrival of her brother Alexis which had produced the tears of joy I was 
stupid enough to mistake, at first sight, for tears of anguish. 

On our arrival in the baroness's saloon, I found seated there, a very 
tall, very military, very handsome young man ; who scarcely rose on 
my entrance, and whose scrutinizing examination of me from head to 
foot on our introduction, was anything but conciliatina:. The young 
count accosted me precisely as if the names of ErlofiF and Eehfeld were 
strangers to each other. Handsome as he is, I never saw a less prepos- 
sessing person ! 

At the moment of receiving his cold and almost haughty salutation, 
it suddenly occurred to my mind, that perhaps his impression of my 
father's daughter had been conceived from the communications of 
Marguerite on first reaching Schloss Eehfeld ; when, alas ! she had 
little cause to describe me in partial terms. 

Scarcely had our unpromising accjuaintance commenced, when Count 
Erloff resumed with his mother the conversation my appearance had 
interrupted, which bore reference solely to their own atiairs, and the 
management of the Erloflf estates. I had consequently ample oppor- 
tunity to examine my new step-brother ; and exercised it in the same 
morose spirit which he had betrayed towards myself. 

The first thing that struck me in his exterior was his resemblance to 
the emperor. This observation says wonders in his favour, even to ex- 
Eussian ears ; for Nicholas is, unquestionably, one of the finest men 
who ever ascended a throne. But in St. Petersburg, it is to proclaim 
him a demi-god. Nevertheless, the cold dignity so becoming an imperial 
diadem is equally inappropriate to the cordialities of private life ; and 
though the eye of Alexis Erloff has a merely icy expression, the lines of 
the mouth threaten to deepen from coldness into ferocity. As I con- 
templated his forbidding i^hysiognomy, there involuntarily occurred to 
my mind the idea of the lawless Eussian noble, as exemplified in the 
dark mysteries of the castles of Oranienbaum and St. Michael, the des- 
tinies of Peter III. and Paul I. After all, however, it is impossible to 
base any rational judgment on mere physiognomy ; and even our vision- 
ary country soon learned to repudiate Lava'ter. 

The debate upon family business between the mother and son was so 
unreasonably prolonged, that at last, I began to be almost angry with 
Marguerite for having summoned me to be an auditress of what so 
little concerned me. But on turning towards her with an almost re-^ 
proachful glance, I found her eyes fixed with such infatuated fondness"* 
upon this only brother, while tears stood upon her cheeks and repressed 
emotion quivered in every feature, that I could not find courage for 
even an angry look. At that moment, believe me, she was surpassingly 
beautiful ! 

After a time the baroness herself strove to include me in the conver- 
sation, and render it general ; but the count was evidently of opinion 
that I was of no more importance than the chair I sat on ; and after a 
hurried and impatient glance while I replied to his mother's question, 
resumed the subject of his acres and Mougiks, and their administration. 



THE ambassador's WIFE, 103 

If such be the breeding of the noble college of Les Pages, what have we 
to hope from the courtliness of future Kussia ? 

At length, just as I was meditating a dignified withdrawal from the 
family synod, in sauntered Alfred de Vaudreuil, unaware of Ws cousin's 
arrival ; and the greeting of Count Alexis was to him as warm and 
cordial as to me he had been frigid and ungracious. They embraced a 
la Mdsse (for it is no longer the fashion, you tell me, for Parisians to 
embrace, as we iiscd to call, « la Franqaise) ; and in a moment the 
military monster was heart-deep in conversation with his cousin, in 
that miraculously Parisian French which in Count Erloflf derives 
nothing from his Yaudreuil origin, since— witness the example of Prince 
Gallitzin — Russians of purely Muscovite blood are sometimes equally 
accouplished. 

But though gradually compelled to admit that my step-brother's 
colloquial powers were considerable, I scarcely liked him better when 
talking gaily and freely to Count Alfred than when dumb with me. 
Monsieur de Yaudreuil's tone oi persiflage is strictly in accordance with 
his aame, nature, and personal appearance. Small, light, volatile, rest- 
less, the play of his countenance affords an appropriate accompaniment 
to \\s, words ; whereas the hard, tall, cuirassial person of young Erloff, 
his ftern brow and wooden physiognomy afford a more scornful com- 
mertary on his own words than his words a mockery on the ways of the 
word. ' One perceives that his irony is foreign to his nature : a mask, a 
mere pretence. 

Monsieur de Yaudreuil, by the way, seemed to regard the presence of 
Aleiis's mother as scarcely more important than the count had con- 
sidered mine. Without regard to the baroness's often repeated remon- 
strances on the subject, he began to launch into his usual wild satires 
on St. Petersburg. 

' But that I had promised my charming aunt, your grandmother," 
sail he, " not to quit Russia till your arrival here, that I might be able 
to assure her the sole male issue of her house is really six feet two, and 
as shapely of waist withal as one of our grisettes^ trust me I should have 
been off within a fortnight of my arrival ! " 

" I can imagine," replied the young count, " that you may have been 
more than sufficiently bored here, if you have condemned yourself to 
attend all the senseless puppet-shows of society. For my part, I detest 
St. Petersburg ! " 

"For your part, then, my dear Alexis, I recommend you to keep the 
aversion to yourself ! " cried the baroness, in spasmodic consternation. 

" I am not selfish enough to keep for myself what is so well worthy to 
be shared by others ;— and if I detest St. Petersburg, I never told you 
I detested Russia. I love my regiment, I like my garrison, be it where 
it may. I like even Moscow.— But I hate this upstart place ; which has 
full twenty years before it, ere it will recover the de-Russianizement of 
the late reign. Should I ever live to see it become, like Moscow, the 
seat of the ancient nobility of the country, I may take it into conceit. 
Till then, give me my camp or my barracks ! " 

" Bravo ! I shall have a charming account to render of you at the 
Hotel de Yaudreuil ! " cried Alfred, much amused at the baroness's air 
of consternation. "The Countess Auguste's chief anxiety concerning 
you, arises from your hybrid origin. Having led too virtuous a life 
not to make it desirable she should discover a few peccadillos in her 
own conduct, in order to prevent the office of the Abbe Chaptel from 



104 THE A-AIBASSADOR's WIFE. 

becoming quite a sinecure, she has always accused herself, as of a sin, of 
consenting to her daughter's marriage with a foreigner ; not from any 
misgivings concerning her happiness, but because she pretends that the 
ambiguous nationaUty of tlie offspring is a fatal misfortune." 

" She despises ^Marguerite and myself as mutes ! " retorted Alexis, 
with a hollow laugh, 

" Mule-birds are supposed to have the sweetest song in the world, or 
I would not forgive your ungallant comparison I " cried Alfred, looking 
affectionately towards his lovely cousin. " No, no ! I mean only that the 
old lady having verified her favourite axiom of 'Soyons de noire pays' by 
returning a pure Parisian to Paris after five-and-twenty years' exilf, she 
is apprehensive that your tinge of Yaudreuil blood may have denation- 
aUzed you to a degree injurious to your prospects ; being as eager that 
you should become Eussian, as that she should remain a Frenchwoman.'' 

"She is right!" replied Alexis, sternly. "Every country sliould 
grow its own virtues. We are too apt to lose time in cultivating fteble 
exotics, while neglecting indigenous trees of nobler growth. I inberit 
little from my progenitors; but, thank Heaven, I share at least my 
grandmother's opinions. Why, however, with this noble pride, did she 
suggest my sister's education in Prance ? " 

Count Alfred paused. I suspect he was sufficiently well aware of the 
truth to feel that the subject had better be dropped. But young ErlofF 
persisted in his interrogation. 

"My mother coincided in wy wishes on the subject:— the plan was 
my own ! " interrupted the baroness, preventing his reply, but Tith 
cheeks so crimsoned, as to call forth a correspondent blush on those of 
Marguerite. Still, her son remained unmoved and unabashed. 

" I am sorry to hear it," was his hard reply. " I had always been in 
hopes it was my grandmother I had to thank for so long estranging aie 
from the society of my sister." 

An awkward silence ensued, and Count Alfred, I suspect, enjoyed its 
awkwardness ; for where he is present silence rarely prevails. It vas 
not till we had all felt sufficiently uncomfortable, he began making 
inquiries of Alexis concerning the length of his stay in St. Petersburg. 

" I shall remain here only the time indispensable for my court to the 
emperor and the payment of my debts," said he. " I have designs on 
the strong box of an old uncle of mine — the only Erloff' with a rouble 
he can call his own. My wretched patrimony has been so cut up, and 
is still so fast in the gripe of Jews and money-lenders, that " 

"Alexis ! " again interrupted Madame von Eehfeld, " let me request 
you to defer these extraordinary explanations till you are alone with 
your cousin." 

" lam alone with my cousin !" replied the count with cold composure. 
" No one is present here but my family, with whom 1 conclude it is 
unnecessary to create gratuitous mysteries." 

" Mademoiselle von Eehfeld and your sister have a right to expect 
that you will select some more agreeable topic of conversation than 
your banker's accounts," retorted his mother bitterly. 

A scornful glance over the head of poor Marguerite towards myself, 
marked his utter indifference to my pleasure. A moment afterwards, 
he added, " We must defer our mutual communications then, Yaudreuil, 
till you dine with me at my hotel. There, at least, I shall be my own 
master." 

" Tour hotel ?— Do you not intend then to reside at home ? "— de- 



THE AMBASSADOB'S WIFE. 105 

mauded the baroness with more emotion than I ever before saw her 
betray. 

" I have no home that I am aware of in St. Petersburg," rejoined the 
count. " Should Baron von Eehfeld be so obUging as to invite me to 
become his inmate, take the trouble of explaining to him, that it is 
painful enough to me that my father's daughter should be eating the 
bread and drinking the cup of a stranger. For me, I would sooner go 
and herd with the istvoshtniks of the city, beside the common fire of 
charity ! " 

I conclude that Count Alfred was by this time as much pained, and 
embarrassed as ourselves by the reckless hostility of Alexis Erloff ; for 
he now hastily proposed to his cousin to accompany him to the Gas- 
tinnoi Dvor, where he had purchases to make. 

"I have been waiting your arrival," said he, "to come and drive a 
hard bargain for me in good set Eussian. To address your petty mer- 
chants with a French tongue, is to hold out an invitation to be robbed. 
Come, therefore, and assist me to lay in a stock of Toula steel as a 
ctideau to my brother ; and I am afraid that nothing less than a dozen 
pair of embroidered boots or slippers will extricate me from the rapa- 
cious hands of my fair friends of the Faubourg." 

A few more allusions of this description served to divert the attention 
of Count Erloff; and while he was settling with Monsieur de Yaudreuil 
the progress of their drive I stole out of the room. 

Embarrassed, almost dismayed, by the defying tone of this new mem- 
ber of our family circle, it was a relief to remember that, by my father's 
permission, I was to dine that day with Princess AY. and accompany her 
to her box at the Bolshoy theatre, to hear the famous Eussian jyima 
donna, Madame Semenotf. Though I had lost all spirits for the diver- 
sion of the evening, anything rather than remain at home at such a 
crisis ! 

You may remember telling me, cliere honne, in the letter inclosing my 

packet of introduction to Princess W , that I should find her either the 

most agreeable or the most disagreeable woman in the world ; that she 
became either the one or the other, according to her whims and caprices. 
Fortunately, I am able to subscribe to the more courteous of the two 
verdicts, for to me, she has been all grace and good nature ; but I am 
not the less obliged to admit the truth of your assertion that nothing 
can exceed her whimsicality. 

I have said that she invited me to accompany her to her box, to see 
the opera of the " Yestalka," on the express plea of gratifying my taste 
for music. Yet without rhyme, or reason, or music, she kept me chat- 
ting for an hour or two in her boudoir, of la x^hiie et le lean te-mps, 
after the carriage was announced ; so that instead of hearing the opera, 
when we entered the Bolshoy, the only person on the stage was a livery 
servant announcing, according to the custom of St. Petersburg, the 
performances of the following night. 

"You shall hear Madame SemenoflF another night," was all her 
apology. " AYe are luckily in excellent time for the ballet. You will 
see our charming Istomina, who is worth a thousand Semenoffs," 

Indignant at hearing so slight a thing as a ballet brought into com- 
parison with a noble opera, 1 was half inclined to propose that, if the 
carriage were not sent away, we might return the following night for 
Eossini's " Semiramide," which had just been announced by the stage 
footman. I stood, however, too much in awe of the princess's railleries 



106 THE AIMBASSADOK'S WIFE. 

on my petulance to remonstrate ; lucliily for me, for vrlien I presumed 
to underrate the attractions of a ballet, very little had my imagination 
pictured the poetry in action about to be developed for our enjoyment! 

Chere bonne! — I have sometimes smiled at your enthusiasm in treating 
of the opera, satisfied that you have no real passion for music. I see 
now that your notion of the French opera restricts itself to a good 
ballet; just as hereafter, my ideas of a liussian one will be included 
under the same head. How charming ! — how brilliant ! — how exciting! 
— You can imagine nothing more deceptive than the scenery, or more 
imposing than the pageant. The princess, who has seen your charming 
Taglioni, assures me tbat Mademoiselle Istomina would be little thought 
of at the Academic de Musique. But to me, who have seen nothing 
beyond the incidental dances in some comic opera at our poor little 
theatre at the Eesidenz, the crowded stage, with its charming grouping 
and endless illusions, had all the effect of magic— I was positively 
entranced ! 

Engrossed by the enchantments of the stage, I had slightly glanced 
round the theatre on our first entrance ; and though called upon by 

Princess W to notice the imperial box supported by caryatides in 

the centre of the house, had taken no heed of its occupants. Nay, 
when, in one of the most interesting crises of the performance, the door 
of our own opened for the admission of a visitor, I could not detach my 
eyes from the stage to examine the intruder. The hand of the princess 
instantly touched my arm ; but I could not— no, I positively could not, 
at that moment, abstract my attention from the divine dumb girl of 
Portici, who was appealing, by her energetic pantomime, to the sym- 
pathies of Masaniello. 

I conclude she now withdrew her grasp ; for I felt and thought no 
more of her, or of anything else out of the sultry kingdom of the Two 
Sicilies, till the fall of the curtain, at the end of the act, suffered me to 
draw my breath. 

On turning round, still breathless and with tears in my eyes, judge of 
my consternation on beholding the emperor seated behind me ! His 
countenance brightened by a smile such as, from his ordinary sternness 
of expression, I had scarcely supposed it capable of assuming! Instantly 
rising, I was about to falter an apology ; but he permitted neither my 
movement nor my excuses, and hastened to offer me his thanks for the 
spectacle I had afforded him of a person genuinely fascinated by scenic 
illusion. The czar, it seems, is himself fonder of a fine ballet than of any 
other species of recreation ; and during the twenty minutes he remained 
chatting in the box, gave a minute description of several of the best 
produced at St. Petersburg, — evidently for my amusement, since my 
companion had been a spectatress of the performances as well as himself. 

But, alas ! I was no longer stirred by the excitement of the English 
ball ; and the courage which enabled me to reply to former remarks of 
the emperor, had vanished. I suppose I am beginning to be as suscep- 
tible as others to the autocratic spell ; for all I could do was to sit and 
listen in silent sympathy to his really vivid and spirited descriptions. 

Scarcely had he left us to return to the imperial box for the second 

act, when Princess AV thanked me with a provoking laugh for 

the honour done her by the emperor ! 

" I am aw^are that Nicholas dislikes me," said she, " and have never 
been honoured by admittance into the inner circle of the Anitschkoff. 
The visit, therefore, was paid solely to your bright eyes— 1 beg their 
pardon, I mean languishing eyes ; which, to do them justice, looked - 



THE AilBlSSADOIl'S WIFE, 107 

elegies and ruadrigals all the time the gaunt emperor was recounting 
the" story of the ^^auteh-girl and her Hindoo Apollo." 

" I ifear I appeared immeasurably ridiculous to Mm as well as your- 
self," said I; "for I cannot expect either of you to make excuses for 
my rusticity, or remember that this is the first fine scenic exhibition 
I ever witnessed. Thirty people would scarcely find elbow-room on 
our poor stage at the Residenz ; while the emperor informs me that 
the ballet before us contains four hundred performers." 

Princess W shrugged her shoulders with impatience, at finding 

me still engrossed by the ballet. She who, only the preceding day, 
had affected such scorn of courtiership in the person of my step-mother, 
was evidently intoxicated to a degree utterly incomprehensible in a 
woman of her age, by the token of graciousness she admitted to have 
been vouchsafed her in honour of another. Her countenance was 
completely changed. Her eyes were gleaming— her cheeks flushed. 
She seemed to have imbibed a new existence from momentary collision 
with the czar. 

"How lucky that we should have come here to-night!" cried she. 
"And I was so near asking you to accompany me, instead, to hear 
Mademoiselle Pohlmann in the ' Schweizer Familie.' How fortunate 
that I adhered to my first proposition ! " 

"Fortunate, indeed, for me,'' was my reply. "I know by heart the 
music of the ' Schweizer Familie ;' whereas all these charming airs and 
choruses of Auber are quite new to me." 

Again did the princess shrug her shoulders. 

" I can easily conceive how you must sometimes exhaust the patience 
of the poor baroness!" said she, at last. "ATell, well! six months 
under the roof of such a step-mother can scarcely fail to render you as 
worldly as the rest of us ; and there stands a man, in Princess Kourakin's 
box opposite, who, I suspect, will be the first to profit by your pro- 
ficiency." 

My eyes, following the direction of hers, fixed upon Prince Sergius 
with his glasses directed towards us, intent on all our proceedings. 
But I had no leisure for further observations. The curtain again drew 
up, and the fate of Masaniello soon absorbed my every thought and 
feeling. 

I arrived at home, cliere lonne, so wearied by the successive interests 
of this eventful day, that I would fain have proceeded straight to my 
room, laid down my head upon my pillow, and slept oif my feverish 
excitement. 

But on reaching my chamber I found Marguerite installed there in 
my arm-chair ; who on seeing me, rushed towards me, and threw her 
arms around my neck in an agony of tears. 

" If you only knew how I have watched for your return," faltered 
my poor sister. 

"Is anything amiss?" said I, imprinting a kiss on her throbbing 
brow. " Is the baroness " 

" Nothing is amiss— my mother is well " 

" Displeased with you, perhaps ? " 

"On the contrary; she has parted from me to-night more kindly 
disposed than at any moment I can remember since my birth." 

" What then has agitated you thus, dearest Marguerite ? " said I, 
replacing her in the arm-chair— for she was scarcely able to stand. 

" I have consented to become the wife of Lord Elvinston ! " she 
replied, in a scarcely intelligible voice ; and a single glance at her coun- 



108 THE AilBASSADOE's WIFE. 

tenance sufficed to convince me of the agony of spirit in Avhicli the 
admission was m-ade. Her cheeks were colourless — her eyes swollen — 
the hands which I now clasped in mine, cold as death. There was no 
mistaking the genuine nature of her distress. 

"Dearest Marguerite!'' cried I, after closing the doors against the 
intrusion of our attendants— for she was in no condition to be seen — 
"this must not be. If the marriage in question be thus hateful to you, 
my father shall interfere. Be under no apprehension. You cannot — 
you shall not be compelled to marry a man against whom you have 
ccmceived an aversion." 

" The act is m/ own," replied Marguerite in a low but steady voice. 
"No compulsion has been used. You must not interfere, Ida; no, 
dearest sister, — you must not so much as breathe a word upon the 
subject ; or, if interrogated, seem to notice my regrets. The marriage 
is inevitable. Were anything now to occur in the way of obstacle I 
should be the first to propose the renewal of the engagement." 

Such death-like despair was pourtrayed iu the face of poor Mar- 
guerite as she uttered these words, as to render her conduct and 
motives utterly inexplicable. But to enter into the details of the 
distressing 'Conversation that followed, is now out of my power. This 
long letter is the progressive work of many days— eventful days to all 
here ! — and my packet is now sent for by my father, to be enclosed with 
his despatches to the Eesidenz. Farewell ! 



Letter XX. — From Viscount Mvinston to Sir Thomas Meredytli. 

You have so often, dear sir, pressed upon me the consideration of our 
all but extinguished line, as an incentive to my early settlement in life, 
that it is with the certainty of your perfect approbation I claim your 
congratulations on my approaching marriage. I have chosen for my 
wife a person of suitable age, birth, and connections— highly born and 
highly educated ; and I might add of suitable fortune, for what right 
has a man of my property to desire, or even accept, a dowry with his 
wife ? 

The bride, with whom you will shortly become acquainted, is eighteen ; 
lovely in mind and person, the only daughter of an illustrious Russian 
general, who, surviving the untimely death of his master, the Emperor 
Alexander, only a month, his two surviving children have become 
especial objects of interest to the imperial family. 

The widow, a daughter of the noble house of Yaudreuil, is re-married 

to the plenipotentiary minister of the Grand Duke of ,at this court; 

and Count Erloff, the only brother of my future wife, is a promising 
young officer in the imperial guard. 

Such is the family I present to you as about to become my own. You 
may perhaps desire that I should have selected an English wife ; though, 
considering the numerous objections you have successively pointed out 
against every family with which my name was matrimonially coupled 
by the gossip of society, it might have been difficult to find one in my 
own country every way qualified to meet all your exaction, — reasonable 
and unreasonable— in favour of your ward. At all events, the few in- 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 109 

teruiarriages between English and Eussians with which I am acquainted 
are examples in my favour ; and unless I am mistaken, the society of 
the venerable Count WoronzofF, at whose hospitable board you were so 
frequent a guest, must have impressed you in favour of a nation of 
whom only advantageous specimens have been brought before you. 

I am prepared, therefore, my dear sir, to find you welcome my little 
Eussian wife as the grand-daughter of your friend ; or rather as my 
father himself would have welcomed her, were he yet alive. Her name 
will not discredit our escutcheon, and her personal qualities are 
calculated to do honour to my choice. 

I must ask the favour of you to have precisely such settlements 
drawn out as were made upon my late mother. That she was equally 
portionless with my lovely -Marguerite is a sufficient proof that my 
father would have raised no objection on the score of fortune. In short, 
dear sir, since I have irrevocably pledged my heart and hand, I sin- 
cerely trust you will not oppose any obstacle to the conclusion of my 
marriage ; but do all in your power to expedite the event, and assist me 
in making the arrival of my bride in my native country, an epoch of 
family rejoicing. 

You will be pleased to hear that this alliance has met with the 
especial approval of the Emperor. Since my betrothment, I have been 
honoured with a private audience. But in justice to the distinctions 
conceded to the English nobility in my person, let me add that, even 
before there existed a surmise of my attachment to Marguerite Erloff, 
nothing could exceed the graciousness of the Imperial family. It is now 
something more than graciousness. The grateful atta(;hment of the 
present emperor to the memory of Alexander, by whom his succession 
to the throne was secured and his education directed with almost 
paternal tenderness, places the family of the late Count Erloflf under his 
immediate protection. The widow enjoyed, for some time, a distinguished 
appointment in the household ; and from her I have learned a thousand 
interesting traits of the affection of Nicholas for his late brother. 

In Eussia, peculiar sanctity invests the memory of the dead. Social 
life is less active, less hurried, than in countries bearing a longer date of 
civilization, and more agglomerated reminiscences. Personal recollec- 
tions and personal property of deceased persons are superstitiously 
respected. Their chambers are left as at the moment of their death ; 
and I have seen at Tzarsko-gelo, the apartments of Alexander, con- 
taining even the apparel he had last in use, previous to his departure 
for Taganrog. How much greater, therefore, the regard conceded to 
their surviving objects of regard ! It is expected that my future 
brother-in-law, Count ErlofF, will enjoy a brilliant public career under 
the auspices of the emperor. 

There is much that commands respect in the private character of 
Nicholas. In many of the relations of life, he has had a difficult part to 
play, and has played it without reproach. Among others, though a 
dilemma of a more private nature, might be cited that of reconciling his 
deep and devoted gratitude to the memory of his brother, with his 
recognition of the pohtical faults of the late emperor. 

On the accession of Nicholas, a great conspiracy was on the eve of 
explosion, engendered by the favouritism and want of nationality of 
Alexander, his love of foreigners, his love of travel. There existed in 
Eussia, why should I not say there exists, two several houses of 
bondage ; the enslavement of the people to the nobiUty, tbe enslave- 
ment of the nobility to the throne. The emperor, smitten with a most 



110 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

anti-Muscovitisli love of liberty, arising from his free communication 
with more enlightened countries, was desirous to loosen the chains of 
the serfs, and re-rivet those of his boyars. The consequence was a most 
extensive disaffection among the Russian nobihty, who saw themselves 
on the eve of being stripped of their hereditary rights ; and there is 
little doubt that, bad Alexander survived the malaria of the Crimea, he 
would have fallen by the hand of the political assassin. 

My visit to Eussia has convinced me that there was far greater 
security for these man-proprietors in the servile subjection of their 
Mousiks, than in the death or deposition of the reforming czar. When 
the Protestant minister indebted for his liberty to Queen Ehzabeth, 
entreated "the enfranchisement of four other prisoners, Matthew, 
Mark, Luke, and John," that sagest of sovereigns replied " she must 
first inquire whether those prisoners tcished to be released." 

Alexander had not inquired whether the time were come for abolition, 
or whether the serfs wished to be released. They did not ; they do not. 
When able to purchase their freedom, they rarely do so ; even when it 
is gratuitously offered them, they frequently reject the gift. Education 
must clear the wTiy through the mists of ignorance for the light of 
hberty ; and with the darkness of the feudal ages, the Muscovites 
naturally retain a characteristic servility. Liberty is to them like the 
diamond to the hungry fowl in search of a barley-corn— a superfluous 
treasure. It is not the revolutionary odes of a Pouschkin, the brawls 
of a coffee-house, or even the intrigues of a few turbulent nobles, which 
constitute for a nation the dawn of its day of freedom. 

No one who beholds the prosperity of llussia can doubt that the 
Carbonarism of the country was finally put down by the execution of 
Postal and his confederates ; and by the prompt intrepidity of Nicholas, 
in suppressing that important but ill-organized conspiracy. The san- 
guinary spirit of Eussia found a legitmjate issue, just then, in its 
Turkish campaign ; and for some time to come I prophesy peace. 

That my prognostications may be fulfilled, dear sir, pray with me ; 
for, from this time forth, the interests of Eussia will be inextricably 
blended in my affections with those of my native country. 



Letter XX.l.—From Count Alfred de Taudreuil, to Count Jules. 

I HAVE long intended to commence my next letter with the announce- 
ment of the period of my return, my dear brother : conceiving it better 
to set off on my southward journey before the breaking up of the frost 
destroys the Bahn, or snow-road, which for many months constitutes 
the better half of Eussian travelhng. This, however, is impossible. I 
must remain here to perform a kinsman's part at the wedding ceremony 
of poor Marguerite Erloff; and as we are waiting the arrival of parch- 
ments from England, it is probable that spring will make its appearance 
in St. Petersburg before Alfred de V^'audreull is able to make Ms in 
Paris. 

INIarguerite, you will be glad to hear, is about to make a most briUiant 
alliance. The English whelp we proposed at the Union Club two years 
ago, has progressed into a lion, and chosen oiu' httle portionless cousin 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. Ill 

for his lioness. The first idea of the thing revolted me. But what 
could she do ? After all, Elvinston is a good fellow. The English 
embassy people assure me he has capital grouse-shooting ; and he is 
proprietor of that famous breed of small Highland horses, which I 
confess I prefer for a hght carriage to the Hungarian. I have no doubt 
she will be ver^- happy. 

In fact, so sweet is Marguerite's disposition, that she would be happy 
anywhere, with anybody ; or she could scarcely have resigned herself to 
the icy severity of her grandmother, or the flashy worldliness of 
Madame la Baronne von Eehfeld. 

For my part, I am not altogether in conceit with such dull docility. 
"Her tameness is shocliing to me !" It might be adorable in a wife; 
but iu a little cousin in whom one wants to find an agreeable acquaint- 
ance, something a little more eveille might be desirable. I intended her 
to marry Elvinston, both for his sake and her own. Neither of them 
could do better. But I scarcely anticipated that she would resign 
herself without a murmur— s/ie, educated in Paris, and consequently 
alive to the barbarism of English manners, and the cubbishness of this 
charming young man with his couple of millions a year ! 

But from the moment she positively accepted him, not a tear, not a 
sigh, nor, as far as I can guess, a regret ! She has now eyes and ears 
only for Mm; and as, English-wise, he has established himself a fixture 
at the Hotel of the Legation, one has no longer a chance of half an 
hour's chat with her, to provoke the envy of her jealous step-sister. 

By this marriage, therefore, I have lost two pleasant resources ; my 
morning's lounge beside Marguerite's work-table, and my nightly cigar 
with Elvinston, after the soh-ees from which we used to return together. 
Though Marguerite, as the wife of Sergius Gallitzin, as I once thought 
her destined to become, would have lived in an atmosphere capable of 
curing a AVestphahan ham, my fastidious Anglican friend renounced 
smoking from the moment of his acceptance as a lover. For my part, I 
would not give up my cigar to gratify the squeamishness of a Is'inon ; 
still less would I warn my friends off my premises, or renounce the 
little after-ball chat, which constitutes the dehght of one's club in 
London or Paris. I should have fancied Elvinston better taught. But 
it seems he is not a Crock ford's man. 

Alexis Erloff has made his appearance,— a bear that has been taught 
to dance, but will never be taught to walk. Do you understand me ? 
I mean that he has received an accomplished education, but that his 
barbarian instincts remain unsubdued. In addressing a woman, he 
always gives me the idea of a savage handling a watch, mistaking it for 
a divinity, yet incapable of appreciating the exquisite merits of the 
mechanism. 

Imagine our hyperborean cousin accosting me with a kiss that made 
the room ring again ! Kissing is horribly the fashion among Eussians 
of the old school, or rather of the new ; for the St, Petersburg of the 
last reign was far more Parisian than the St. Petersburg of the present, 
and kissing is a national pastime. There is a bridge here called the 
Potzalin Z\Iost, or bridge of kisses, commemorating a salute nothing 
more Idalian than between the roughest of Caesars, Peter the Grear, 
and a captiiin whom he had despotically and unjustly degraded, and to 
whom he nobly made atonement by a hearty embrace in sight of his 
fellow-soldiers. This was a kiss worth millions of those which are be- 
sonnetted by our erotic bards ! 

Alexis Erloif would be a splendid looking fellow for a Chasseur. 



112 THE AilBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

Methinks I can see him under the peristyle of the Italian opera, 
waiting to call up the carriage of some Excellency, or DemidoflF, who is 
so far from an Excellency, or Aguado, in whom, by the way, a Chasseur 
is an impertinence. 

But he is far less calculated to grace a lady's chamber. Impossible to 
conceive a greater contrast than between the recklessness of Alexis, and 
the gentleness of his sister. Our good cousin must have reserved all 
her polished Taudreuil nature to be infused into her daughter. 

The carnival is drawing to a close, and, like an opera, becomes the 
noisier as it approaches its termination. On the whole, it is more of a 
popular tumult here than with us who have enclosed the pleasures of 
the people within limit of Mardi-gras. In St. Petersburg, there is a 
fortnight's buffoonery, of which half may suffice, as it is expressly 
«;alled the MasUnitza, or Butter Week. A fair is held in the space 
before the palace ; for the purpose, I conclude, of diverting the imperial 
family with its ice-hills, puppet-shows, and merry-go-rounds. 

But they have all the more pretext for the greater gaiety of their 
carnival, in the greater severity of their Lent. Here, fasting is not a 
thing demised to give scope to the Cnisinier Imperial for the develop- 
ment of its admirable fish courses, as we have proved on sundry Fridays 
of our Hves at the Rocher de Cancale. It does not purport feasting 
upon fish instead of flesh— but actual starvation. 

To the utmost rigour of this law I shall have to subject myself, as I 
shall scarcely get away before Easter. I must find my reward in the 
consciousness of good cousinship, and the spectacle of the spontaneous 
burst of a Eussian spring ; the three days whereof suffice to convert 
fields of ice into fields of verdure, and clothe the hoary woodlands with 
foliage. The story of Fine Ear, who could hear the grass growing, 
ceases in this climate to be fabulous. 

By the way, an equally curious transmutation has recently occurred 
here under my eyes, though in the human form divine. I have seen 
two trifling girls — two feeble children — emerge from childhood into 
womanhood. Marguerite Erloff", since her betrothmeut, has become 
talkative and almost lively— by a strong etfort, I suspect, albeit a suc- 
cessful one. If she still entertain any repugnance against her Son of 
the Mist, he has no grounds for accusing her of ungraciousness ; for 
she talks more to him in an hour, than I ever saw her talk to any other 
person in twenty-four. One might almost suspect her afraid of giving 
him time to find out how little she likes him. 

On the other hand, the lily, formerly so free of speech, is grown as 
close as a despatch box. "With me her reserve would amount to inso- 
lence, but that she is scarcely more communicative with any other 
member of our little circle. I am too busy just now (attending the 
rehearsals of the new ballet which is preparing for the debut of one of 
our protegees of the Conservatoire, who I intend shall throw the 
Istomina utterly into the shade), to give myself the trouble of inquiring 
whether the sudden refrigeration of the charming Ida be owing to the 
admiration of the emperor and devotion of Sergius Gallitzin ; or to the. 
ferocity of Alexis Erloff", or stupidity of "Wilhelm von Eehfeld, the 
country cousin to whom I once fancied her betrothed, and who has un- 
expectedly made his appearance here, much to the annoyance of his 
diplomatic kinsman. I3ut so it is that her air of dignity would become 
the Imperial diadem ! 

To make the visit of young Eehfeld still more acce])table to his 
kinsfolk, he brought with him, or rather accompanied hither, a certain 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 113 

iiaron von Giiinglatz, a duodecimo Cuvier, tlie Haiiy of liis native 
province, and savant %>a;' excellence at the Residenz, but elsewhere, 
of course, a dunce. This excellent man, with his green spectacles, 
speckled stockings, and broad-brimmed beaver, is pain and grief to the 
poor baroness, from whose saloon he cannot decently be banished, and 
whom he persists in hailing as a kinswoman. From old Eehfeld's air 
of vexation, on the announcement of their arrival, I suspect he had pre- 
monished them to defer their journey to a more convenient season. 

Here they are, however, small as life — intruding their rationality 
and scientificality-into a circle, which wanted only these two ingredients 
to render it the most lieterogeneous assemblage ever composed out of a 
handful of human beings. 

Behold us, my dear Jules, as we yesterday sat down to table :— In 
the first place, your humble servant representing in his unworthy 
person the modern refinement of the Faubourg St, Germain ; and 
Elvinstou in his, the half-slang, half-sullen churlishness of that some- 
thing between a chancellor and horse-jockey, a London lord ; — Sergius 
Galhtzin, the travelled and consequently polished Russian noble ; — 
Alexis Erloff, the reckless and martial Boyar. ^Yilhelm von Eehfeld 
represents la jeiine AUemagne, as Elvinston young England ; Griinglatz 
is the erudite German; and the baron himself the sober matter-of-fact 
Saxon, equally opposed to the heart-sick vagaries of the one and the 
brain-sick reveries of the other. 

Among these discordant particles, be pleased to intermingle the 
sensitive Marguerite, the haughty Ida, and the worldly baroness ; and 
behold us at table, chatting as good-humouredly as if three or four of 
us did not detest the other three or four. 

I have sometimes fancied it in the order of things, that every love 
should beget three or four hates. I am convinced, at all events, that 
every marriage in a family creates three or four feuds. The Eehfelds 
were a very united house, I know, till Madame Erloff chose to appro- 
priate to herself the baron ; and now is as much divided against itself 
as the bricklayers' company of Babel ! I am sometimes tempted to 
wish, like the worthy governess of Schloss Eehfeld, that " Peter had 
been in the way to carry down the chess-box and work-box," and so 
prevent the fall which dislocated her unhappy ankle, and brought my 
unhappy self to St. Petersburg. For the incentive that induced me to 
succumb to Madame von Eehfeld's earnest invitations soon lost its 
charm. When I found the pretty Ida who adored me, becoming the 
ambitious Ida intent upon being adored by some man of greater con- 
sequence and eclipsing her step-sister, I began to recollect that at Paris 
I could not fall into worse hands than those of an intriguante; and that 
the charming strategists of my own country v>ere twice as attractive as 
the fairest sauerkrautiverous beauty of them all. Hovv-ever, since I 
have brought my goods to the wrong market — i. e., the Gastinnoi Dvor 
— I will see the best and worst of it. 

Alexis Erloff belongs to a favourite regiment of the imperial guard; 
a guard which, in any other country, would constitute an army. Nothing 
can be more brilliant than their tenue ; the emperor himself being, 
perhaps, the best inspecting officer in Europe. I cannot, however, 
concede my approval to the system of cut-and-dry salutations and 
responses that occur between the czar and his troops on such occasions. 

" How are you, my children ? " cries the autocrat. 

"We thank you, father !" replies the army, trembling like Hop-o- 
I my-thumb and his brethren in the gripe of the ogre. 
! I 



114 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

" You have done well, my cliildren ! " is his imperial token of approval 
at the end of a review. 

"T\'e ^vi!l do better, father, another time," was the rejoinder of the 
line. Conceive the opportunity such facihtics would aiford for the 
calembourgs Of the Carre de Marigny, or Champ de Mars ! Perhaps 
a stronger proof cannot be evinced of the severe disciphne and strict 
subordination of the Russian army, than this very license. Yet to do 
justice to iSicholas, I suspect that his popularity with the army was 
secured for life by his personal intrepidity in the insurrection of 1S26, 
at the epoch of the cholera ; when, on entering the Sinnaia Ploshtshod 
or Haymarket, and finding the populace, after their night's bivouac, pre- 
pared for all extremities, he appeared among them in an open carriage, 
unarmed, and by his single and dignified command of " Xa kalenniye !" 
(On your knees !) compelled the infuriated mass to kneel and pray at 
once for ?iis imperial forgiveness and the mercy of heaven. 

This, and his firm and dignified deportment throughout the disastrous 
results of the Trubetskoi conspiracy, has given him an inextricable hold 
on the respect of his soldiers. Of all the sovereigns I ever saw, I must 
confess that he inspires me with the strongest emotions of personal 
deference. To be sure, the two monarchs of my own time and conntry, 
at whose footstool 1 have been compelled to do homage, Louis XVIII. 
and Charles X., are not exactly the most dignified specimens of the 
Lord's anointed ; while the studied courtesy of George I Y., as I saw him 
at his fetes and levees, was far from imposing. This stern and active 
czar is a prince of another calibre; a man, and capable of governing 
men. 

I am assured that, thanks to a most careful education, the informa- 
tion and knowledge of Nicholas on practical subjects, is that of an able 
mechanic; in more abstruse ones, that of a professor; and the conse- 
quence is, that the czarovitz is likely to be educated on a still more im- 
proved system. \Yill the southern courts of Europe— Spain, Portugal, 
the Sicilies — never take example from the lesson afforded to them, in 
these respects, by the more enlightened North ? 

Adieu. I am expecting Alexis to call for me in his droshka, to ac- 
company him to the imperial stables ; which are truly imperial, being 
of a magnitude to contain fifteen hundred horses. Prince Dolgorucki, 
the master of the horse, is to do the honours of the same ; and we are to 
see all the state carriages in use in Eussia for the last century. Those 
of Peter the Great, I suspect, were built after the model of the chariots 
of Pharaoh ; but the oriental housings, enriched with precious stones, 
of the later czars, are said to be splendid. The state horses are as well 
lodged here as the master of the horse cJiez nous. 

I cannot quite make out Alexis. In appearance and manners he is 
•what Paris would call mauvais genre, and London, a tiger. But I am 
little skilled to decide upon the j:>/»5 ou moins of ferocity that ought to 
characterise the recklessness of la jeune Riissie. His object in accom- 
panying me to-day is to mark the ungraciousness of his refusal to play 
the cicerone to his step-father's kinsmen, Eehfeld and Grlinglatz, in 
viewing the collections at the Admiralty and imperial mint, as he was 
earnestly solicited to do by his mother. 

Had I known this when he proposed making the appointment with 
Dolgorucki, I should have declined. But it is now too late. The prince 
is a man in no position to be trifled with by the caprices of boys. 

Alexis appears to be labouring under some strong excitement, the 
nature of which is still a mystery to me. At times, if he had not spent 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 115 

the whole day in my company, so as to certify me of his minutest pro- 
ceeding^5, I should fancy him intoxicated. At others, but that he is 
hard as the granite quays of the Neva, or rather cold and rugged as the 
sheet of ice which now connects them together, I could almost suppose 
him in love; so wild, inconsistent, and reckless is his deportment._ 

\Ve have seen one or two of these impetuous, dare-all Muscovites at 
Paris ; hut there they are too much kept down by the civihzation of the 
mass to compromise themselves by excesses. Here, I am half afraid of 
making Alexis my companion at the masked balls, or the coulisses, or 
any other bachelor haunt. One never feels sure of him, and the grand 
Buke Michael is apt-to pounce upon young otlicers w^hen neitiier on 
guard nor on their guard, and by the fatal words " anx arrets!" put a 
hasty end to their diversions. 

I must beg of you to make all possible interest with Pozzo's couriers 
(unless you can engage that dearest and best of good souls, Labensky, 
in our behalf), to convey hither the subjoined list of nothingnesses, 
which I have set my heart on presenting to Marguerite as a wedding 
gift, in the prettiest but smallest sultane that Lubin can enclose them. 
Elvinston has no notion of this sort of thing, though princely in his 
ideas, and possessing a princely fortune to reahze them. One princely 
idea, however, is wanting— that, 'first among the purchases to be made 
with princely money is taste— that is to say, that he ought to rely im- 
plicitly upon the suggestions of the best French artists, instead of trust- 
ing to his own inventions. 

The people at the English embassy inform me that the heir-loom 
jewels of the Elvinston family are nearly as fine as one sees under a 
glass-case in the boudoirs of certain of the fine ladies here, when ad- 
mitted to their sanctum sanctorum. Among them is a string of pearls, 
estimated at the value of two thousand louis d'ors ; besides diamonds, 
rubies, and sapphires to the amount of sixty thousand. 

Nevertheless, the poor dear viscount has been making gorgeous pur- 
chases here of the turquoises inscribed with Persian characters; and, 
above all, of those splendid uncut-pyriform emeralds we have often 
admired at Paris on the lovely Madame Potocka, Princess Gallitzin, 
and others. Conceive his having these set as acorns with diamond cups ; 
a fashion of ten years ago, which I remember admiring as a boy at 
Baden, worn by Countess Orloff! Now J could have given him a de- 
sign for the setting, such as should have made even those of the empress 
haisser pavilion ! But the English have no more taste in matters of 
toilet or jewelery than at the Norman conquest ! they can furnish a 
library, a morning-room, a dining-room, better than ourselves. They 
understand the mere service of a dnmer-tabie. But as to the fitting up 
of an ecrin, poor Clement, my valet, would execute such a commission 
fifty times better than Lord Elvinston. 

Marguerite, however, is satisfied ; probably because she takes 
little heed of such things. Grateful for his devoted afl'ection, the 
emeralds are as much lost upon her, as though she w-ere fated, like her 
step-sister, to become Baroness von Kehfeld, and a fixture for life in the 
dull old chateau. For I conclude that the result of cousin ~\Vilhelm's 
visit will be the arrangement of their marriage; but for the prospect 
of which the romantic yoitng gentleman would scarcely hav3 made so 
long a journey at this unpromising season of the year. 

I5y this time, the lily doubtless perceives that she can do no better. 
Elvinston is disposed of, and I am not a marrying man. She \\ill 
therefore do wisely to rejoice the hearts of her father, kinsfolk, and 

I 2 



116 THE AilBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

tlie squadron of clumsy grey-headed family servitors at the old mansion, 
who remain firmly persuaded that a Baroness von Rehfeld is secondary 
only to an empress of all the Eussias. Adieu, and. I may now say — 
a revoir ! 



Letter XXII. — From Ida Von J^ehfeld io Mademoiselle TTierese 
Moreau. 

Co2n"GEATULATE me, dearest honne—mj utmost wishes are accom- 
plished ! Then, having expressed your congratulations, make all 
possible speed to get well, and rejoin me. 

"At St. Petersburg?" Ko ! not at St. Petersburg ; at Paris,-— 
actually at Paris ! where, in two months from this time, I shall be 
settled as wife of Prince Sergius Gallitzin, and ambassadress from the 
court of llussia to that of France. 

You fancy me jesting. You cannot, I fear, readily persuade your- 
self that engagements so momentous should have been formed in so 
short a time. But thanks to the mole-like policy of my ingenious step- 
mother, the preliminaries of this important affair had been long in 
progress; and before I knew that any proposition on the subject had 
been made to my father, or laid before the emperor, nothing but my 
consent was wanting ! 

You must have perceived by my last letter, that I was restless and 
unhappy. The peculiar circumstances of Marguerite's marriage ren- 
dered it a sort of blow to my self-love. Had I conceived that her 
affections were engaged in it, or that the alliance was calculated to 
secure her happiness, I should have lost sight of the personal mortifica- 
tion I must confess myself to have momentarily experienced. But I 
saw her sad and dispirited. I saw Alfred de Yaudreuil contemptuous 
and exulting, Alexis Erloff haughty and insolent ; and my father appa- 
rently as careless of what was gonig on in his family, as the baroness was 
cunningly careful ; till, by degrees, I felt humiliated to the heart's core, 
by my own insignificance. 

'Judge, therefore, of my revulsion of feeling, when the notice of the 
czar, and the proposals of the prince, suddenly raised me from this 
vulgar level to the position which, could I have chosen through the 
world, I should have aspired to occupy ! 

But can it be true ? I often ask myself in secret, can it bo really 
true? that I, so obscure, — I, but a few months ago, tl^e unknown 
hermitess of a Silesian barn,— am on the eve of achieving a rank that 
will render me an object of envy to two of the greatest countries 
in Europe? Is it not all a dream, chere honne, or am I really thus 
favoured ? 

I must reduce my ideas to order, in order to render myself intelli- 
gible. Everything is so changed with us in the short space of time elapsed 
since I despatched my last letter, that I scarcely know how to resume 
the chain of my narrative. 

The first incident I can recall to mind as succeeding to the arrange- 
ment of ]Marauerite's marriage, is the arrival of the family caravan 
from the Eesidenz. Conceive, if you can, dearest, my own annoyance, 
and the irritation of the baroness, when one morning we received Intel- 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 11/ 

ligence that a bale of family goods had been stopped,— not on the 
frontier, where there might have been some hope of their detention as 
contraband,— but at the very gates of St. Petersburji; ; the Earon von 
Grlinglatz having seen fit to dispute the custom-house right of re- 
examination of his baggage, which, as regards books, is somewhat 
severe. 

He had attempted to extricate himself from the charge of smuggling 
prohibited work?, by announcing himself as cousin to a resident, envoy, 
chapter the first, of course, of the annoyances likely to occur to our 
family, from the ill-timed journey of this shallow-witted though pro- 
foundly-learned old gentleman and his 'protege. 

It was easy for my father to despatch his secretary, August von 
Collin, for the extrication of the rash travellers; who had thus hastened 
to give proof of the necessity of their visit ;to Eussia by evincing, in 
their opposition to a form of law, their utter ignorance of the spirit of 
autocratic government. I suspect that, but for their relationship to 
my father, they might have found it difficult to obtain a cari^e de sejour ; 
for the high police of St, Petersburg is as little favourable to refractory 
visitors as to refractory subjects. Their absurdity, however, so far be- 
friended us, that the baroness strenuously represented the impossibility 
of accepting as inmates persons so little amenable to the imperative 
absolutism of this country. 

"I must entreat you," said she, "to make the same inhospitable 
exception in this instance, which I did myself in that of Alfred de 
Vauclreuil. I will even, if you please, remove my daughter into the 
vacant suite of apartments, in order to avoid the appearance of having 
unoccupied rooms. The old savant would not only render us ridiculous 
by his simplicity of mind and manners, but fill the house with a host of 
thread-bare naturalists ; while your nephew, with his flighty roman- 
ticism, might— but no matter ! — I see you are of my opinion, i shall 
plead the preparations for Marguerite's marriage, as leaving us no time 
to do the honours of St. Petersburg at this moment." 

I was apprehensive that Marguerite, who was present, would adven- 
ture a word of intercession in favour of two persons, on whom I have 
seen her waste more attention at Schloss E-ehfeld, than upon all the 
princely ojfs and skys of her own country ; for the tears stood in her 
eyes. She said not :a word, however. My father readily adopted the 
unkinsmanlike part assigned him ; and Wilhelm and the prosy old 
baron have taken up their abode in a private lodging near the Admiralty, 
one of the finest situations in the city. 

The evening of their arrival, I was struck by the account of the first 
interview between "Willi elm and his uncle, given to the baroness by 
Monsieur de Yaudreuil, who happened to be installed in the salon of 
the legation when he made his appearance, 

" You surely cannot have received a letter, which I wrote to you," 
observed my father, coldly, " suggesting the desirability of postponing 
your journey till the summer season." 

" On the contrary, it came duly to hand," was the equally cool reply 
of the young gentleman, "I communicated your counsels, sir, to the 
baron. But he had already made his preparatives for departure ; and 
preferred being here in winter, during the sojourn of the court, aware 
of the signal notice bestowed by the czar on hterary or scientific 
foreigners of whatever nation." 

'■ Baron von Griinglatz estimates himself as though he were the dis- 
coverer of a planet!" was my father's pettish rejoinder. _ "He may 



115 THE AMBASSADOB'S WIFE. 

chance discover liere, that a mere taste for beetles and butterflies 
does not constitute the ideal of the emperor of Eussia of a scientific 
traveller." 

"At all event?," retorted his nephew, firmly, "the Baron von 
Griinglatz travels as an independent gentleman, and chooses his own 
time and place for the enjoyment of his pleasures. It is not for me to 
dictate to him." 

" Certainly not. But yourself,— was it also with a view to interesting 
Nicholas I. in some scientific or literary pursuit, that you resolved on 
thwarting my suggestions ?" rejoined my father. 

" I had long promised the baron," persisted Wilhelm, " that when- 
ever he saw tit to visit St. Petersburg, I would bear him company. 
Having given my word, there was no possibility of retracting." 

"Do you expect me to believe, sir," cried my father, "that j^our 
journey hither has any other motive than the report which has pro- 
bably reached the Eesidenz of a projected marriage in my family ?" 

\'\'ilhelm was silent. 

" Can you even deny, that your arrival here at this moment is 
actuated by the desire to frustrate my projects ? " 

" I can — I do,"— replied ^Vilhelm, with some emphasis. " I am come 
hither without a gleam of hope ; in the vain desire of gazing, for the 
last time, upon all that is consummate in female beauty and excellence, 
ere it be irrevocably bestowed upon another." 

" You have, probably, crossed on the road my letter, intimating that 
the negotiations to which I have alluded were on foot," was my father's 
embarrassed retort. "Ere anything serious was concluded, you would 
have been duly informed, as so near a kinsman has a right to be. We 
will, however, remit this discussion till a more propitious moment, as it 
is one of delicacy and importance." 

I confess I was greatly startled by the intelligence thus conveyed. 
That ^Vilhelm should atfect such intense devotion to me, after the 
attentions I had seen him lavish on ray step-sister, was almost an 
impertinence ; but that my father should distinctly allude to the possi- 
bility of my marriage with another, was a discovery far more interesting 
to my feelings. 

Three persons suggested themselves as perhaps involved in the new 
projects of my family, — Prince Gallitzin, Count ErloflF, and Monsieur 
de Vaudreuil ; for the latter was so guarded in his mode of expressing 
himself, that it was impossible to surmise what degree of interest he 
might take in the subject. I own I trembled under the excess of my 
own misgivings. 

At dinner that day, resolved to mark to Wilhelm von Behfeld my 
utter contempt for his tardy recognition of my " consummate beauty 
and excellence," I so placed myself at table, that he was forced to sit 
beside Marguerite Edoff; on whose right hand sat her Britannic Z?;^/?;-, 
absorbed in the self-contented, phlegmatic taciturnity, which forms the 
basis of his character. I was immediately opposite, between Baron von 
Griinglatz and Alfred de Yaudreuil. 

Perceiving that the latter was attempting to draw me into confede- 
racy to victimize my quizzical kinsman, whom he was fooling to the top 
of his bent, in conversation across me, with the view of rendering him 
even more ridiculous than nature has already done, I devoted all my 
attention to the old gentleman ; engaging him in conversation in so 
low a tone, as to circumvent the malicious designs of Count Alfred, 



THE AMBASSADOK'S WIFE. " 119 

Times are changed, chere honne, though only three months have inter- 
vened, since I suffered myself to be betrayed at Schloss Eehfeld into the 
ill-breeding of joining in the mystification of my father's guests ; and 
Monsieur de Vaudreuil was, I suspect, startled to find the little pro- 
vincial assume an air of decency— not to say of womanly dignity. 

As far as my attention to the proHxities of the poor old gentleman would 
permit (for he scarcely spared me a particular of his observations on his 
journey, geographical, geological, botanical, zoological, or entomological), 
'it appeared to me, that Wilhelm was conversing somewhat earnestly 
with my step-sister, and in his native tongue. But though Marguerite 
and I have been making a diligent exchange of our German and Euss 
ever since we became -sisters, so that she not only perfectly understood 
him, but Avas qualified to reply in the same language, I could not but 
admiro the delicacy which dictated her answers in French, the only 
language, besides his own, understood by Lord Elvinston. Eight well 
does she deserve the rejoinder I heard him make in her favour, after 
dinner, to Monsieur de Vaudreuil; who whispered to him an in- 
quiry whether he were not jealous of the familiarity of her Silesian 
adorer. 

"Jealous of Marguerite?" was his reply. "What were a man 
worth who, after receiving the troth-plight of Mademoiselle Erloff, 
could for a moment full into the meanness of jealousy ? So long as 
no positive engagement subsisted between us, I was jealous to wretched- 
ness, to desperation ; jealous of you— jealous of all who approached her. 
But now, absent or present— nay, were I forced at this moment to 
depart for England, leaving her in St. Petersburg, I should feel satisfied, 
however long apart, that, till I received from her a withdrawal of her 
promise to be mine, nothing would betray her into an injurious thought 
or feeling towards her future husband." 

Happy Marguerite ! This is indeed affection ! This is a degree of 
confidence to be proud of! And to do justice to both, it is a confidence 
of which she is well deserving. 

That night, after I had retired to rest and was disposing myself to 
sleep, I fancied I could hear the breathing of some person concealed in 
the room. There exists in Eussia so little resembling privacy, that I 
never feel startled when a servant suddenly starts forth from some 
dusky nook of any chamber in the house. But as the light of the 
veilleuse showed me nothing but the eternal old yellow hangings, of the 
sight of which I am so weary, I, at length, ventured to exclaim aloud, 
•' 7cwo eta ?" hoping the question might provoke a satisfactory response 
from my nocturnal visitant. 

A dusky figure suddenly emerged from the curtains at the foot of the 
bed, and threw itself on its knees by the bedside. But my momentary 
panic was dispelled by the sobs bursting from the bosom of the 
intruder. 

" Dear Marguerite," cried I, instantly recognizing my step-sister,— 
" v<\\2X—idiat has moved you thus ?" 

Some moments elapsed before she recovered herself sufficiently to 
reply. Even then her words were scarcely audible. 

"Forgive my weakness !" she faltered ; " forgive these tears. I should 
not have courage to shed them in presence of a witness— even in yours 
—but that I am resolved they shall be the last that fall from my eyes 
under such disgraceful influence !" 

"What disgraceful influence, Nearest Margiierite?" cried I, folding 



120 THE AUBASSADOB'S WIFE. 

her iu my arms. " Explain yourself ! For some days past, you have 
appeared so happy— so contented— that I was perfectly at my ease 
respecting you. What has wrought this change ? " 

" His arrival /" faltered Marguerite, still more faintly than before. 

" Whose arrival ? Your brother's ?" 

" My brother's was, alas ! the origin of the marriage to which I have 
resigned myself. My present misery — " she paused. 

I found it impossible to assist her confessions by a conjecture. 

" My present misery," she resumed, " arises from knowing myself to 
be the cause of wretchedness to another." 

"You cannot surely allude to Wilhelm von Eehfeld?" I exclaimed, 
a sudden light brightening the confusion of my ideas. "It is the 
rumour of your marriage, then, which brought my cousin to St. 
Petersburg ? " 

" You surely overheard all he presumed to say to me at table ? I felt 
that you, as well as others, must overhear it. I tried to check him — 
Heaven knows it was far from my desire to listen to the recital of suffer- 
ings out of my power to alleviate. Had he spoken so freely at Eehfeld, 
I might have yet been his. Lord Elvinston knew not of my existence, 
nor I of his ; nor had my brother involved himself to a degree requiring 
the aid of my marriage portion to rescue him from disgrace. Had 
Wilhelm then taken courage to open his heart, our fortunes, humble as 
they were, would have sufficed the wishes of both ; and we should have 
been happy, Ida,— oh ! how exquisitely happy. Eor he liked me— pre- 
ferred vaQ~lovecl me — loved me with a passion as pure and fervent as 
that of my future husband; and had he been free, I should then Lave 
chosen him from the universe. But he was fettered by a family engege- 
ment, from which he knew not how to disentangle himself; though 
even then, he now assures me, he saw that he was an object of contempt 
to you ; and wanted only the courage derived from experience of tiie 
world to explain to the baron his motive for desiring that all project of 
an alliance between you should be at an end. When, in addition to the 
consciousness of incompatibility of disposition between you, was added 
that of affection towards myself revealed by our separation, he instantly 
determined to follow us to Russia— enter into the fullest explanations 
— and demand my hand." 

" And what prevented him ?" was my abrupt inquiry. 

" The baron's interdiction. Your father wrote to signify his desire 
that the visit might be postponed ; nor was it till rumours of my mar- 
riage transpired at the Eesidenz, he determined to brave his family 
displeasures, and hurry hither, in the hope of being yet in time." 

"Do not expect me to compassionate bim !" cried 1; '^ not from 
mean girlish jealousy^, — not from dissatisfaction at his having preferred 
you to one who regarded and treated him with the utmost contempt, 
but because he wanted energy to shape his own destinies ; because he 
had not courage to throw off the petty yoke of family bondage, and 
claim the hand of one, on whose heart he had probably grounds for 
supposing himself to have made an impression. I despise such a man !" 

" You speak boldly, Ida ; for you, have been reared in prosperity, and 
know not the dispiriting influence of subjection. Your cousin is depen- 
dent on his mother — in some measure, on your father." 

" JS^ot more so then than now," interrupted I, " and you see it required 
only a desperate extremity to force him to think and act for himself. I 
loathe a person whose courage is thus tardy. But it is not alone my 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 121 

contempt for Wilhelm, dearest Marguerite, which renders it impossible 
for me to enter into your momentary sorrovv. I feel that you are far 
more worthily matched in your engagement with Lord Elvinston." 

Marguerite answered not a word. Involuntarily her face concealed 
itself in the bed. 

"Your liking for my cousin "Wilhelm," I continued, " was the mere 
result of circumstances. He was the first man who seemed to distin- 
guish you, and distinguished you at a moment when you were forlorn 
and unhappy. In the full exercise of your reason, J.Iarguerite, you 
never could have preferred a man so unrefined." 

" Unrefined in manners, perhaps/' she faltered : " but, for my part, 
I heed only refinement of mind. I prefer a man like your cousin, 
whose every thought is pure, whose every intention honourable, v.hose 
every word honest, to one like mine,— graceful in deportment, elegant 
in language, but corrupt to the very heart's core in principle and 
conduct." 

It struck me— I am wrong, perhaps,— that this observation had 
almost the tone of a taunt. 

" I see no occasion," said I, " for instituting a comparison between 
persons so dissimilar as our two kinsmen, whose claims and pretensions 
can never be brought into rivalship. Monsieur de Yaudreuil is doubt- 
less all he ought to be for the society in which he is fated to move, for 
the latitude of your noble Faubourg and laU de V Opera. But Lord 
Elvinston, Z\Iarguerite, is a beinu- of a better sphere; a man who will 
move through life nobly, and bequeath in death an honourable name to 
his successors. The affection and companionship of such a husband 
will soon teach you to forget the romantic winnings of "\Vilhelm von 
Eehfeld." 

" But that I firmly believe it," replied Marguerite, in a steadier voice, 
"trust me, I had not, even to secure the prosperity of my only brother, 
consented to become his wife ; nor would I even now retain one hour 
his ring of betrothal. This very evening, Ida, I would have boldly told 
him all, besought his indulgence, and accepted Wilheim's proposals that 
I should become his poor and humble wife." 

" Thank heaven, you have been tempted to no such romantic exploit," 
exclaimed I. '" Happiness in its brightest form awaits you. But tell 
me, dearest Marguerite (since you have so far opened your heart to 
me), what mean these allusions to the entanglements of your brother ?" 

" You must now know all— I feel that you ought to know all !" 
murmured the poor girl. " Yes, Ida ! my brother has been imprudent. 
The savings that were to have been appropriated as a dowry to myself, 
had I become the wife of Prince Gallitzin, were indispensable to the 
redemption of, his honour. The Emperor, if apprized of the follies 
which have placed his signature in the hands of the Jews, would have 
withdrawn his protection from him for ever. There was but one alter- 
native. My mother distinctly showed me that there was but one ; and 
that I ought to esteem myself thrice happy, in having occasion to form 
an honourable union with one who expressly conditions that he will 
receive no marriage portion with his wife." 

" I was afraid some such crisis had occurred, so suddenly to alter your 
intentions !" cried I. " But why, dearest, did you not confide this to me 
in the first instance? I would have appealed to my father in your 
behalf. My father is rich ; I am convinced he would have so acted 
towards Count Alexis as to render this sacrifice superfluous."- 



122 THE AilBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

" It is no sacrifice," replied my step-sister ; " or rather it is the mere 
sacrifice of romance to reason. I was not born to become mispress of 
my own destinies. My task on eartli is one of submission." 

" Still, my father's interposition might " 

"It could only magnify the evil. 'My brother would not have 
accepted his aid. My mother's affairs are miserably encumbered. It 
is her great desire and object to intrude them as little as possible on 
the baron's notice." 

" Still, a time must come for explanation, when " 

"Be it then when his house is disencumbered of my presence, and 
my brother's promotion secured. Such is the object of my mother in 
hastening my marriage— and but for your cousin's unfortunate arrival, 
I had completely reconciled myself to my fate." 

" Let no such petty influence overcloud the bright career that lies 
before you," cried I, with indignation. " But tell me, dearest Mar- 
guerite, how comes it that your brother, who, on arriving here, made 
so little secret of his antipathies, has been of late induced to honour us 
rtith the light of his countenance !" 

'' Alexis has been doomed to accept a variety of humiliations. Crime 
brings its punishment. After all he ventured to urge to his mother 
against intermarriage with foreigners, he has been forced to sanction, 
nay, advise, my union with Lord Elvinston ; while my mother, on the 
other hand, made it the condition of assigning to him the funds in- 
dispensable to the preservation of his credit, that he should conduct 
himself with respect and courtesy towards every member of her new 
family." 

"I have consequently to thank the baroness," was my bitter re- 
joinder, "for the empty demonstrations of esteem with which I have 
been honoured by Count Erloff!— 1 trust I am duly sensible of the 
obligation." 

" Oh ! Ida— Ida !— you cannot think it !" exclaimed poor Marguerite, 
clasping her hands. "No, no ! imprudent as Alexis may have been, he 
is neither heartless nor lost to honour Grievous is it to him to have 
proved the means of influencing my choice under circumstances so 
cruel. Yet I am convinced that it is a still severer trial to find that 
the family so distasteful to him from the peculiar circumstances 
uniting us— the family to Avhich he feels bound, and from which he 
consequently feels disunited by the iron fetter of pecuniary obligation, 
—contains a person who, but for that mortifying afhnity,' was formed 
to captivate every affection of his heart ! " 

I was silent. It was some consolation to my wounded pride that, 
among so many blunders, I had not misinterpreted the admiration 
which, a few days after his arrival, had begun to animate the looks 
and gestures of Alexis Erloff. 

" Ton are fully aware how much my brother is disposed to admire- 
to love you !" resumed Marguerite. " But for that dawning feeling, he 
would not have so far overcome his prejudices, as to sit at your father's 
table, and enter with him into social fellowship. But of vs'hat avail his 
feelings,— of what avail my own ? — AVe are alike too poor to indulge in 
the luxury of choice I" 

" Are you certain," said I, as composedly as I could, " that no idea 
is entertained either by your mother or son, of an alliance between 
us ? " 

" Perfectly so. Wilhelra's arrival has brought to light a thousand 
family mysteries. His explanations with your father have been the 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 123 

means of extracting from the baron an avowal, that your marriage 
with Prince Gallitzin awaits only the emperor's assent, and your own. 
Every prehminary has been arranged; and the imperial family per- 
fectly approve the connection." 

However mortified that intelligence so momentous to my happiness 
should be conveyed to me indirectly, and that my own voice in the 
afiair appeared to be so lightly regarded, I could not forbear rejoicing 
that, thus forewarned by the indiscretion of my step-sister, I should 
be on my guard whenever it pleased my father to intimate to me the 
engagements he had all but taken in my name. I felt that it would be 
only a fair retaliation to throw the ambitious projects of the family 
into disorder, by exercising my right of election. 

Though I soothed away poor Marguerite to her chamber, and watched 
beside her pillow till she fell asleep, my own was rendered painfully 
restless by the consciousness of being invoked in a web of stratagems 
and deceit. It Avas now clear to me that both my father and myself 
had fallen a sacrifice to the interested arts of Count Erloffs widow ; 
and that she Avas about to repair the broken fortunes of her son, by 
conciliating the emperor through the influence of her step -daughter, 
and an advantageous marriage for one of his favourites. 

Whatever might have been previously my views concerning 
Prince Gallitzin, these discoveries sufficed to stimulate me to oppo- 
sition. 

To circumvent the plans of this heartless woman was now my chief 
object. I accused her French origin — herVaudreuil blood. AH the 
rhapsodies I had ever heard uttered by Wilhelm von Eehfeld (and 
right well are you aware of his national antipathies to the people you 
have taught me to love in your person !), all I had ever read in the 
patriotic diatribes of my country— recurred to my mind, I reviled her 
in the spirit as the most designing of womankind ; and fell asleep 
rejoicing in the idea that it was in my power to defeat, on one point at 
least, her artful tactics. She might trifle with the patrimony of her 
son,— the destinies of her daughter :— she should not sport with those 
of Ida von Eehfeld. 

You will readiy imagine, chere honne, you, who know the impetuosity 
of my character,— how great was my indignation at finding myself 
included as a mere puppet in the machinations of this woman. I have 
long felt irritated by the certainty that my father was beguiled into his 
marriage ; but the deference the baroness has invariably conceded me, 
induced me to hope she entertained sufficient consideration for my 
abilities to have sought me as a rational colleague, rather than have 
imposed upon me as a dupe. 

1 resolved to seek an interview with my father the following day ; 
and without betraying the secrets of Marguerite, or pointing out his 
nephew to his displeasure, prevent his including TTilhelm von Eehfeld 
so familiarly in our domestic circle as to endanger the happiness of 
his step-daughter's approaching union. I even meditated an entreaty 
to him, so far to modify the intimacy of Monsieur de Yaudreuil with 
the family, as to secure the baroness from the co-operation in her 
plottings of too cunning a confederate. 

But alas ! dearest, the composure of morning brought to my agitated 
resolves of the night all the refrigeration which proceeds from the 
worldly influence of the routine of daily life. I trembled at the idea 
of demanding an audience of my father, which must lead to explana- 
tions such as might be fatal to his domestic comfort, To withdraw the 



124 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

scales from his eyes, knowing that his ignorance was bhss, was scarcely 
a task for his daughter. 

Still, it seemed unpardonable on my part to leave him blind and 
confiding in the hands of those to whom his happiness was a matter of 
such little moment;— and when at length I sat down to my morning's 
occupations, knowing that Marguerite was gone with Lord Elvinston 
and her mother to perform certain visits of ceremony to the family of 
her late father, I could scarcely restrain my impatience at the con- 
sciousness of the unseen influence to which we were all subjected, and 
my insufficiency to its counteraction. For to own the truth, I ascribed 
not only the marriage of Marguerite, but the project of my own, to 
the cold-blooded and far-sighted policy of Alfred de Yaudreuil. 

Scarcely was I seated at my writing table, attempting to devote my 
faculties to the study of the Russian language, in which I have been 
labouring to interest myfelf, when I was formally summoned by 
August von Collin to my father's presence : nor could I refrain from a 
smile at the deferential manner with which poor August delivered his 
message, and recommended urgent speed, as the " Herr Baron was 
waiting." 

The opportunity of which I had been ambitious seemed at once to 
present itself. The baroness was away— my father alone. I would 
seize on the opportunity to explain to him the precarious nature of the 
ice on which we were sliding, and the dangers I apprehended from the 
chilly abyss belcv. I took courage. I refreshed myself by a moment's 
pause for reflection ; then proceeded leisurely towards my father's 
apartments, resolved to throw myself at his feet, with a strenuous 
appeal to his paternal love. 

So preoccupied was I by the train of my ideas, that I had more than 
half traversed the library before I perceived that it was not the -grave 
person of my father which occupied his usual seat. It was the emperor 
himself who rose to welcome me, and place me in one by his side ! 
My father, who had evidently been seated in confidential conversation 
with the czar, was already in the act of leaving the room for his 
private cabinet. 

"My dear Ida," said he, when about to cross the threshold, "though 
I feel it unnecessary to claim your respect for the communication 
about to be made to you by his im])erial majesty, it is perhaps desirable 
you should be aware that it has the fullest sanction and approval of 
your father." 

I have already repeatedly attempted, chere lonne, to describe to you 
the unaccountable melange of grace and authority that characterizes 
the deportment of Nicholas. It is that of a well-graced actor, equally 
quahfied for his part by nature and education ; and I candidly confess 
to you, that, however much at my ease with him in the cheerful inter- 
change of festive life, I could as soon find courage to reject any 
proposition of his, made in good imperial earnest, as to confront the 
thunderbolts of Heaven ! It was, therefore, doubly essential to me to 
ascertain the nature of the overtures thus mysteriously announced ; 
and I took the seat to which I was conducted by the emperor, with 
just the shame-faced air that Marguerite might have assumed on any 
similar occasion. 

I had made up my mind this morning to relate to you, word by word, 
the conversation that ensued ; which. Heaven knows, contained not a 
!<y liable I might not divulge with honour to both in presence of my 
father, the empress, or heaven. Yet absurd as it may appear, so pecuhar 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 125 

a sanctity appears to me to invest every word uttered by the emperor, 
that you must forgive me for glancing slightly at what followed. Sufiice 
it that, with all the charm gracing his meanest expressions, he apprized 
me that from the moment he learned from Prince Gallitzin the 
superiority of mental accomplishments enhancing my personal at- 
tractions, "it had become as much his desire as it was that of one of his 
faithful servants, and the most honourable of men, that I should assist 
in maintaining the distinctions of Eussian diplomacy at the court of 
France. The appointment of the prince, he insinuated, depended upon 
my acceptance of his hand ; it being essential to his majesty's political 
views, that his ambassadors should not only be married, but so married 
as to do honour to their country, both in the fortunes and persons of 
their wives. 

It was impossible, you will admit, for me to obtain a higher compli- 
ment; and so well recognized is the rigid morality of the czar in 
domestic life, that, pardon my vanity, I felt more flattered by this ap- 
pointment of the man for whom he was seeking my hand to a post 
placing me at so vast a distance from the imperial court, than if he had 
suggested one about his own person. 

I am afraid, dearest, I did not hesitate even the space of time requi- 
site to give some value to my acquiescence, with any less practised 
observer than the emperor. 

" Nobly spoken ! " said he, on receiving my assent. " Once resolved 
to accept the hand of one of the noblest gentlemen in my empire, you 
rise superior to the paltry art of dallying v»'ith my demand. You will 
become his wife ? I thank you for it. But he will thank you in terms 
to render my formal approval cold and worthless." 

It was not for me to avow how much that mere approval outweighed 
the most fervent demonstrations of the prince ! After imprinting a 
ceremonious kiss on my forehead, and the utterance of a few grave and 
earnest exhortations, the emperor summoned my father, placed me in 
his arms, and took his leave. I was still too much m.oved by all I had 
heard and felt, not to be deeply affected on receiving the paternal bene- 
diction. Even when, some hours later, Prince Gallitzin himself appeared, 
to thank me for what he termed the gracious afiirm.ative I had inti- 
mated through the czar, and express his triumph in the gratification 
of the dearest wish of his heart, my eyes were still wet with the tears of 
my previous excitement. 

Throughout the solemn declarations that ensued, ray firmness did not 
a moment falter. }.Iy pride in the honourable commendations bestowed 
on me by the emperor, my certitude that, had he not thought me de- 
serving the highest confidence, he would not have promoted a match to 
Avhich mere advantages of fortune atford no incentive (since Eussia 
abounds in heiresses, twice, nay twenty fold richer than myself), gave 
me courage to support the ironical smiles of Monsieur de Yaudreuil, 
and the triumphant tones of my step-mother. Let me add, that the 
prince himself was perfect on the occasion. T\'hat a charm has high- 
breeding under similar circumstances ! He neither gave way to emo- 
tions unbecoming his age, nor for a moment suffered others to be in 
doubt as to his feelings of personal deference and pride in the match 
negotiated for him by his imperial master. 

His manner delighted me the more from its opposition to that of poor 
Lord Elvinston, who fancies it necessary to notify his attachment to 
Marguerite to the whole household, by fixing his eyes permanently on 
her face, and his person to her side. I am more aware of the prince's 



12G THE ambassador's WIFE. 

recognition of my powers of mind, from the avowal of the emperor, 
than from any compliment of his own. I am now, in short, chh-e honne, 
the proudest and happiest of human beings ; and if too diffuse for your 
patience in this exposition of my prospects, will amend my fault by 
becoming terse and sententious for the remainder of my days. I have 
attained the summit of my hopes ! What can I ever have further to 
communicate tempting me to prolixity, unless the expression of my 
gratitude towards one who had so much share in making me what I am, 
and consequenily in preparing the way for what I am to be ? 



Letter XXIII. — Fi'om Count AJfvecl cle Vaudreuil to Countess Anguste 
de Vaudreuil. 

Belle iante, I have the honour to announce to you a new ambassador 
and ambassadress from the court of all the Russias, the latter a person 
especially interesting to your feelings, as the daughter of your daughter. 

Not your precious Marguerite. No ! lier destinies are secured, thank 
heaven, in a country where the imperial nod neither conveys an estate 
nor deprives a man of his head ; a country which has no knout and no 
Siberia behind the curtain. The wretched picture unfolded to me by 
the poor baroness, during our intimacy at Schloss Eehfeld, of the tor- 
tures of her own precarious favour, the outlay of time, money, and 
convenience at which it was purchased, and the risk of an imperial 
friendship of which a faded gown, ill-curled feather, or mis-matched 
equipage, may at any moment dissolve the ponderous links, determined 
me to establish her daughter, if possible, in a land where life progresses 
imperceptibly upon castors of gold, where egotism is cultivated as a 
religious duty, provided the worship of selfishness be performed in 
couples, and where all the best luxuries of France are to be found, with 
the superaddition of those of Great Britain, i. e., fish sauces, i)atent 
saddles, tooth brushes, and the liberty of a press much addicted to 
taking liberties. 

As you may by this time have surmised, it is IMademoiselle von 
Eehfeld who is about to expand into Princess Gallitzin. My cousin 
will thus be relieved from an insubordinate and contentious inmate ; 
while Paris secures one of the most charming and gifted little witches 
in the world to vary the monotonous level of its society. I was getting 
heartily tired of our soirees at the ■petit chateau and the Faubourg. 
They were too perfect, too tame, too equable. Tr.is wilful stranger 
will, if I mistake not, throw a golden apple into the midst of our assem- 
blies, more than rivalling in its motive powers the fatal one of Ate ; and 
it will be some honour and some pleasure to me to otiiciate on the 
occasion as both cicerone and mentor. The A/manach de la Cour 
points out by name and salary rintrodudeur des Amhassadeurs. "Why 
not institute myself, gratuitously, Vintroducteur des Ambassad rices 1 

My pleasures and diversions here are already more than doubled by 
the anticipation; and the amusement I derive from beholding my 
future ambassadress playing the peacock by anticipation and <^Z/5playing 
her glittering plumage in the sun, is well worth the sacrifice 1 have 
made, on Marguerite's account, of extending my stay in St. Petersburg. 



THE AilBASSADOE'S WIFE. 127 

Never did a poor child so thoroughly mistake herself and the world 
as Mademoiselle von Rehfeld ! Though the prospects of Marguerite 
are millions of times more brilliant, as bride of a man whose annual in- 
come exceeds in amount the entire property, hereditary or acquired, of 
Prince Gallitzin, and whose fortunes are based upon independence in 
an independent country, instead of hanging upon the caprice of au 
autocrat in the most wretched of European climates,— my little cousin 
contemplates her destinies with composure, moderation, and modesty ; 
while Ida already fancies herself half an empress, because selected to 
patch up the fortunes of a needy ambassador 1 

For such is unquestionably the fact. Your future excellency is one 
of the poor members of that more than patriarchal clan of Gallitzins, 
which commences at the foot of the throne, and ends among the laquais 
de places, and dvorniks, or porters; and is so far from ranking high 
among them, that most of the aristocratic houses here regard him in 
the light of a political adventurer. Among his own country people he 
would have found it passing difficult to secure a fair wife with a dowry 
so passing fair as that which the baroness has prevailed upon her vain- 
glorious and amenable lord to bestow upon his daughter. 

You will perhaps be surprised that, hamnfj persuaded him, she did 
not afterwards contrive to bestow it with the hand of Ida on her son. 
But Baron von Eehfeld, though tempted into liberality by the prospect 
of placing his only child in a brilliant position, would not have exer- 
cised it on so noble a scale for a mere Count Erloff ; nor, it is probable, 
would the emperor have so far considered the interests of Alexis, as to 
condescend in his favour to the solicitations he conceded in the interests 
of the prince. 

Admit, therefore, that she has acted for the best. By not attempting 
too much, she has prospered in all she attempted. The emperor is in 
the highest good humour with her. She is on the eve of getting rid of 
a portionless daughter and troublesome charge ; after which, she will 
be at leisure to devote herself to the adjustment of her son's aifairs, 
which, entve notes, her own expensive habits have not a little tended to 
embarrass. 

The influence which these family events are having, or may have upon 
Alexis, I scarcely know how to describe. He is a most extraordinary 
person, wild, daring, reckless; ex;trGme in good and ill; doing all the 
rash and foolish things \vhich /content myself with saying :— playing 
high, riding desperately, drinking madly, — a rone in thought, vrord, and 
deed ; yet so young in feeling, and fresh in mind, that, in spite of the 
prejudices with which he came forearmed against the whole tribe of 
Kehfeld, he had not been eight and forty hours in St. Petersburg before 
he fell madly in love with the Lily !— At first, I fancied that the vehe- 
ment admiration he expressed was a piece of courtiership ; and gave 
him credit for a tact worthy of the mother who bore him. 13ut I soon 
discovered myself to be mistaken ; and not only mistaken, but that re- 
currence or avowal of the mistake would probably expose my precious 
life to the perils and dangers of a duel with this less-trusty than well- 
beloved cousin. 

It is impossible to conceive a more singular conflict than ensued 
between the growing passion of his impetuous soul, and his predetermi- 
nation to play the savage with the family^ root and branch, of his new 
stepfather. The late Count ErlofF, it seems, was a hardy soldier, who 
fought like a lion through Alexander's campaign, and bequeathed little 
more to his children than his well-worn sword. I can make excuses 



128 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

for tbo bitterness of fcclinj? vrilli wliicli the son of such a veteran must 
liave beheld his widov/ bestow her withered hand and the control of 
her family upon an alien ; and he came hither abhorring the very name 
of Eehfeld, and all the more vehemently, because conscious that he 
had recently disgraced the one he himself holds in such reverence, by 
gambling to a degree which even the most experienced in E-ussian 
recklessness of gamins pronounce to have been preposterous. 

And for the Lily of i^ehfeld's smiles to have tamed this savage heart — 
for the Lily of llebfeld's glances to have overthrown these stedfast reso- 
lutions !— You can scarcely conceive the wild tumult of his ungoverned 
feelings ; or the perfect unconsciousness with which Ida, usually so 
eagerly on the look-out for conquests, aggravated the mischief by the 
attentions she devoted to him at the earnest entreaty of the baroness ; 
as a refractory kinsman to be conciliated, lest his waywardness should 
cause vexation to her father. Soon after his arrival, she united with 
Marguerite in petting him, as though he were a brother of her own. I 
have seen her attempt to sing the savageness out of the bear, dance it 
out of him, smile it out of him,— in short, exercise those charming 
coquetries of her sex which leave a man no alternative but to throw 
himself at their feet. 

Alexis did not absolutely go this length. But the struggle of his 
feelings was so overpowering that I suspect, but for the five feet of ice 
securing the waters of the Neva from intrusion, he would have united 
the contradictory suggestions of love and pride in a watery grave. For 
Alexis Erloff, who plays like a madman, loves like a gambler. No 
chance of bringing him to his senses, unless by a fierce campaign ; in 
which, unless 1 am much mistaken, he will win such knightly spurs as 
may form tolerable foundation for the renown of a future Souvouroff. 
He is now all but frantic; compelled to remain here by the necessity of 
appearing at the double marriage ceremony of his sister and step-sister, 
to be solemnized under the auspices of the emperor, in the church of 
the citadel. 

Of a certainty, the Lily of Eehfeld was not born to remain a lily of the 
field ! Nature expressly constructed her for the post she is about to 
fill. So superabundant a provision of feminine tact was not destined 
to be throw n away on the humble home of a provincial baron. If you 
could but see how dexterously she has turned the tables on us all; how 
admirably she has made the part imposed upon her an act and deed of 
her own ; and above all, with what genius she is making the star of 
lesser magnitude eclipse the greater ! 

Elvinston, who possesses the riches of Aladdin, or thereabouts, 
squanders them as in riches bound, at the feet;of the reluctant Mar- 
guerite; who has not courage to make him understand the non- 
necessity of purchasing her time and affections at the rate of an opal or 
sapphire per hour. Aware, perhaps, of his own deficiency of eloquence, 
he chooses to play the princess of the fairy tale, and drop pearls and 
diamonds every time he opens his mouth. 

By making such gifts an express article of prohibition to Prince 
Gallitzin, Ida has apparently risen superior to the temptation of 
wealth. The imperial family have sent costly marriage gifts to both 
our lovely brides ; to the one as daughter, to the other as wife, of 
faithful servants of the imperial crown ; and Mademoiselle von Eehfeld 
has. satisfied the prince that it is a becoming token of deference to the 
czar and czarina, to accept their magnificent present as a sufficient 
adornment. Is not the idea Machiavellian ? Could not one suppose 



TSE ambassador's WIFE. 129 

that this child of the morasses of the Oder had heen baptized in her 
swaddUng clothes, in eau henite de la cour 1 

Elvinston, meanwhile, takes little heed of what is going on among us. 
His sun, moon, and stars, shine in the eyes of Marguerite ; and his sole 
desire appears for the epoch of removing her from the influence and 
publicity of her position here. 

These English are the strangest people ! To tliem, the chief purpose of 
rank and fortune appears to be domestic privacy. With us, as with all 
continental nations, the nobler the position and the more lavish the 
means of a family, the greater their tendency to representation. Half 
the grandeur of the grande dame, depends upon the publicity of her 
salon; and half the enjoyment of a miUionnaire is the certainty his 
fortune procures him of constant companionship. 

But a rich Englishman enjoys in his riches the prospect of being 
alone. Eor Idm they purchase seclusion : a vast solitary park of which 
he closes the pathways, and on the outskirts of w^hich he affixes placards 
announcing traps and spring-guns ; and a town mansion, with a strong 
street-door, besides which, a sturdy porter executes the " on ne passe 
2)as" of the royal sentrj% in the "not at home" of private life. To be 
"not at home" at will, constitutes one of the real domestic enjoyments 
of the English nation ! 

When the winds rise, according to 'the' counsel of Pythagoras and 
their own system of philosophy, they worship the echo : ensconcing 
themselves in their chateaux eight dreary months of the year, and 
fancying, because twice or thrice in the season they cram them full of 
acquaintances, without whom their battues or hunting parties could not 
be accomplished, that they are performing the rites of hospitality. 
Take an Enslish family, however rich or noble, from whom you have 
received cordial invitations, by surprise, either for a dinner in London 
or a passing visit in the country, and you will soon understand the 
extent of their much-vaunted hospitality. 

I have no doubt that, were I to present myself at Elvinston Castle 
next year during the grouse shooting, without having the day of my 
arrival fixed by my host, though I have received a formal invitation 
from him, and shall then call cousins with the honourable house of 
Elvinston, I should find his countenance as chilly as the aspect of the 
frozen ploshthod now lying beneath my window. 

All this, however, will suit our dear Marguerite ; it will be her 
beloved convent, minus the angelus and lenten pottage. Marguerite 
was made to be the saint of such a niche — the Eve of such a paradise. 
To her society is an incumbrance. She will adore the blue sky, yellow 
corn-fields, green forests, purple sunsets ; and eventually the prosy 
companionship of Elvinston as the author and giver of her rural 
pleasures. Elvinston has had the benefit of a first-rate education. 
Possessing Latin, Greek, and mathematics enough to stock a uni- 
versity, he will strengthen the mind of his docile pupil as much as I 
trust she will refine and soften his manners. You see they were made 
for each other ! 

Let me not conclude my letter, helle tante, without entreating you 
to refrain from breathing a syllable concerning the new Princess 
Gallitzin to the very reverberative echoes of your salon. From %is, let 
nothing be known or surmised respecting her. It is a fatal thing to 
arrive in Paris with a reputation faite, and be judged favourably or 
unfavourably, according as you fill the preconceived measure of the 
ideal created by pubhc report. 

K 



130 THE AilBASSADOE's WIFE. 

The English require to be told what they are to admire. They hissed 
Pasta, till she came to them bearing the certificates of all the Opera- 
houses of Italy and courts of Europe ; and having been instructed to 
applaud Taglioni to the skies, mistook for her the figurante who pre- 
ceded her on the night of her cUhut, and nearly stifled the astonished 
woman with bouquets. But Paris forms opinions which become the 
opinions of the world. 

Leave the princess, therefore, to make her own way, which, I suspect, 
will be one of the most brilliant ever made in Paris. It is a chance, 
however. Should there arrive, at the same moment, a girafie of new 
complexion, or the skeleton of a larger mammoth than Cuvier has yet 
culled and put together from the valley of dry bones, honours will be 
divided. For the ambitious Ida's sake, I trust there may be no Gentoo 
envoy, no plenipo-extraordinary from the king of Monomotapa {oil vi~ 
vaient les " deux vrais amis ") at the same moment with herself. If not 
— but I will not attempt to play the prophet, w^hen I should gain no 
credit by the realization of my prognostications ! 

A thousand amiable things to Monsieur I'Abbe ; ten thousand, lelle 
tante, to yourself. 



Letter XXIV. — JFrom Marguerite lErloff to Mademoiselle Therese 
Moreau. 

Nevee, mademoiselle, did I sympathize more than now in the regrets 
expressed in your last letter, that Peter should have been engaged else- 
where at the moment of our departure from Schloss Eehfeld, so as to 
have compelled you to carry down mamma's chess-box and work-box, 
the sad origin of your accident, as the cause of preventing your 
witnessing the approaching ceremony so momentous to your beloved 
Ida. 

How great a comfort would be your presence here ; you, so kind a 
friend, with a ready ear for all our grumblings, a word of solace for all 
our griefs ! My poor mother is so perplexed by multiplicity of business 
that I am rarely able to obtain a moment's audience. Confusion worse 
confounded reigns in the house. Never was there such a scene of hurry 
and consternation ! 

Two marriages — two great marriages — two trousseaux — two depar- 
tures from court — and two banishments to foreign countries! For 
Princess Gallitzin and Lady Elvinston are to bid adieu to St. Petersburg 
on the day of their marriage ; the former, because affairs of state require 
the instant departure of the new ambassador ; the latter, because such is 
the custom of her husband's country. An English bride cleaves to the 
bridegroom, and renounces her own people and her father's house. at 
the foot of the altar. This is a severe trial. In my case less than in any 
other ; yet I own, I heartily wish Prince Gallitzin had been appointed 
to the embassy in London instead of Paris, that I might not quit Kussia 
thus absolutely alone. 

Strange to relate, I do not believe this regret is shared by Lord 
Elvinston. Though, on our first acquaintance, he was supposed to be 
the admirer of Ida, I perceive that he is not sorry the necessary prepa- 
rations for the brilliant position which Ida is about to occupy so far 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 131 

absorb her attention that there is less and less familiarity between us. 
If such a thing were possible, I should fancy him jealous of her influence 
over me. I have heard him say he detests female confidantes. He loves 
the confiding disposition prompting a young person to seek counsel and 
support; but once married, nay, once engaged to be married, conceives 
that she should require no advice but that of her husband. 

Thank Heaven ! I am able to gratify his exactions in this particular ; 
for the more I become acquainted with his principles and sentiments, 
the more I am satisfied that I can abide by no better monitor. Lord 
Elvinston's opinions are as noble, and bis ideas as distinguished, as his 
enunciation is embarrassed. But I have ceased to remark the mode of 
expression, and hear only the good and true sentiments that flow from 
his lips. 1 know you will rejoice at hearing this; because certain that 
I would not allude to the subject at all vrithout being able to do so in 
perfect sincerity. 

Every hour do I see cause to be thankful to the wisdom of Provi- 
dence, in the ordering of Ida's destinies and my own. Had either of us 
been asked, three months ago, to name the object with whom we should 
be content to pass our days, she, I am convmced, would have pointed 
out my cousin Alfred — I, her own ; simply because they were the first 
persons in whom each had detected, or fancied herself able to detect, a 
preference for herself. We even repined for a time at the different 
ordering of our destinies. Yet now, neither would for worlds exchange 
the prospects before her, for those which captivated her girlish fancy. 
Ida has discovered the heartless levity of my cousin, who has too much 
head to allow much scope for the impulses of the heart ; and I confess 
that the ill-timed and exaggerated exhibition of sentiment by which 
Monsieur von Eehfeld exposed himselt and me to the ridicule of our 
whole family, and v.hich caused his uncle to procure him a mission to 
Moscow to prevent a recurrence of the scene, sufiticed to prove to me 
that his exaltation of character would have been most unacceptable in 
the routine of common life. Lord Elvinston, with as much poetry in 
his soul, has also a vein of such strong good sense that he keeps his 
romance for his mountains and her whose society is to enhance their 
charm ; and in our social circle exhibits only a sober deportment and 
rational views. 

I am enchanted, by the way, with the specimens of English to whom 
my betrothment has introduced me. Why have I always beeii taught 
in Paris to believe them reserved and formal ? Never was I more cap- 
tivated by dignity of manner combined with true cordiality. I could 
not suppose that the family at the embassy loved me at first sight ; but 
saw how truly they pitied the embarrassment of my situation when we 
all dined there ; and that they were resolved, by leaving me to myself 
for a time, to place me at my ease. Surely this is higher breeding than 
the overstrained familiarity of Hussia, or the exaggerated politeness of 
France ! 

I ought to own, perhaps, that they gained my heart by praises of 
Elvinston. They spoke oi him as a son, brother, friend, — in all w^hich 
capacities I have no meaus of judging for myself. He has, it seems (so 
at least he tells me ) been wild and extravagant ; and pleads this as a 
merit in a marrying man ; inasmuch a^, having tasted the cup called 
that of pleasure, and found disgust and bitterness in the lees, he is not 
likely to renew the draught. All the evil to be learned of him, I hear 
from himself; but it is by others 1 am told of the beneficent improve- 
ments he has effected on his Scottish estates, of acts of liberality towards 

K2 



132 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

his sisters enabling them to marry according to the bent of their incli- 
nations, and creating staunch friends for him in his brothers-in-law. 
By such actions as these he is endeared to many. Am I wrong to be 
proud of the attachment of so warm a heart ? 

These allusions, my kind, good friend, bring me to a point which 
with you, familiar Avith our family mysteries, I may venture to discuss. 
You are aware (for Ida frankly owns to me she has no secrets from 
you) how reluctantly I submitted to my present engagements ; and 
that nothing but the necessity for retrieving my brother's embarrass- 
ments would have decided my con?ent. It was then my consolation — 
my consolation in an afiiiction which my girlish inexperience fancied 
must be indehble— to feel that my self-sacrifice secured the welfare of 
my only brother. 

So feeble is our insight into the purposes of Providence ! Jam now 
resigned— grateful— happy ; while Alexis, I fear, is miserable for life! 
The high spirits he affects in our presence are completely forced. I 
can perceive by his manner of withdrawing my cousin Alfred from our 
society whenever it is in his power, that he dreads the i^ersifiage by 
which Monsieur de Vaudreuil seems every moment on the eve of 
pointing out to ridicule his passionate admiration of my step-sister. 

Alexis is so impetuous— so unlike anything dreamed of in our languid 
Paris, where to feel deeply, or at least to evince deep feeling, passes for 
vulgarity, that you can form no idea of his character. In the first 
place, he believes my step-sister to be a sacrifice to the ambition of 
others. He has taken it into his head that my mother, to forward 
policies of her own, is the instigatrice of Ida's marriage ; and though 
1 am fully of opinion, that were there no Prince Gallitzin in the world, 
the Lily of Eehfeld would be as little disposed to become the wife of an 
impoverished, though well-born captain of the Imperial guard, as of 
poor ATilhelm von Eehfeld, Alexis believes himself the most unfor- 
tunate of men because her engagements prevent him from placing the 
alternative at her option. 

The authority assigned to my mother in the arrangement of his 
affairs, luckily ensures her so much control over him, as to prevent his 
proceeding to any act of rashness. Por Prince Gallitzin, with all his 
mild good-breeding, is not a man to be trifled with; and has just 
influence at court which would be fatal to Alexis, should the particulars 
of his dissipation reach the emperor's ear. 

Every day, when I read in my brother's variable countenance the 
difficulty of restraining his disgust towards this frigid bridegroom, 1 
tremble lest some unintentional encouragement on the part of Ida, or 
some mischievous suggestion of Alfred (who cares little whom or what 
he sacrifices to the diversion of the moment), should provoke dear 
Alexis into some flighty speech or act, the consequences of which might 
be fatal to his future prosperity. Alas, alas !— it is a sorry life, when 
every thought, word, and deed must be measured by the crushing 
standard of dependence upon an imperial smile ! 

Adieu, dear mademoiselle ! — Would— I say again— would to heaven 
you were among us ! There are a thousand things, vitally important 
to our family circle, which we cannot say to each other, and which you 
would say Irom each to each, with a degree of persuasive kindness, 
such as first served to reconcile me to my position at Eehfeld, and 
explain away all that I found alarming and unaccountable in the nature 
of Ida. 

You will hear shortly from Tier, to whom I leave the details of th 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 133 

approaching ceremony. When I have quitted this stirring, bustUng 
home, which, in the tumults of preparation, appears to me less a home 
than ever, I shall write to you again. Do not imagine that Lord 
Elvinston's objection to girlish confidences will extend to the counsels 
I receive from, or the gratitude I express to one who stood my friend 
in one of the most painful moments of my life. Once more, adieu. 



Letter XXV. — From Viscount JElvinston to Sir Thomas Mered'jtJi. 

You have shown your usual discretion, dear sir, in your reply to my letter 
—a discretion how rare under the circumstances that constitute the 
bond of union between us ! but which, when really exercised, ensures 
that the guardian, who, during his reign of authority, has treated his 
ward as a friend, will be consulted as a guardian when the epoch of 
authority is at an end. 

You are well aware how implicitly I refer myself to your advice in 
all matters requiring a better head than my own, — such as the manage- 
ment of my estates and parliamentary influence ; all that your experience 
and kn9wledge of the world enables you to contemplate with a more 
discerning eye. That I refrained from consulting you, as you accuse 
me, in the affair of my matrimonial choice, is a still greater compli- 
ment ; inasmuch as, having made up my mind with a degree of firm- 
ness no argument of yours could have unsettled, I would not so falsify 
my honest word as pretend to seek advice, which nothing would have 
induced me to follow. 

Such, dear sir, was my motive for apprizing you of my projected 
marriage only when my faith was solemnly pledged. I have to thank 
you for the celerity with which you have dispatched me the necessary 
papers ; and the more so, that I plainly infer from the tone of your 
letter, your complete disapproval of my choice. 

I plead nothing in extenuation— I say not a word in favour of my 
dear Marguerite. She is too perfect a being to need advocacy of mine ; 
and I feel as satisfied that, after a week's acquaintance with her, you 
will pronounce me to be the most fortunate of men, as if your hand 
were already on my shoulder, and the words, " My dear boy, I heartily 
wish you joy ! " resounding in my ears. Had I the least apprehension 
on this score I could tell you wonders of her. But one among my 
many sources of triumph in this marriage is the heartfelt joy I know 
it will eventually afford to my family and second father. 

l''ou may expect us towards the end of the month. I have written 
to my sister Leslie to engage apartments for us at the Clarendon ; not 
wishing the house in Piccadilly to be touched till Lady Elvinston is 
on the spot to give her orders. But I feel that London will have fewer 
charms for me than ever ; and but for my duties in parliament (for I 
shall now lose no time in taking my seat), would set off at once for the 
North, caring little how long a time elapsed ere I again became familiar 
with 

The rattle of street-pacing steeds. 

As we shall meet so" shortly, and I have just now so many agreeable 
occupations, accept a short letter and my grateful good wishes. 



134 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 



Letter XXYI. — From Count Alfred de Vaudreidl to Count Jules. 

My present despatch, mon clier, will precede by a week the arrival of 
your loving brother. I shall make it a point of conscience not to start 
for three days to come, in order to avoid jostling against Prince and 
Princess Gallitzin at the inns on the road ; or having it reported in 
Paris, that we arrived from St. Petersburg together. They started 
yesterday; and making allowance for the expeditive privileges of a 
diplomatic i^odoroslina and cabinet passport, will, I suspect, reach Paris 
on the 26th of April. 

This announcement suJBficiently acquaints j-ou that the grand event of 
the double wedding has come otf; though I verily believe the poor dear 
consequential baroness is persuaded you have been already apprized of 
the fact by the spontaneous ringing of the bells of Notre-Dame, and 
discharge of the cannon of the Invalides. For the last six weeks she 
has been in a state of excitement, as the novelists say, better imagined 
than described ; that is, she has been all you can imagine of the state 
of mind of a very rapacious and very ambitious woman, who marries 
her daughter to one of the richest noblemen in Europe; and her step- 
daughter to one whose favour at court is in reality as great as that 
ascribed by vulgar opinion to herself. But it is not of her you want to 
hear. Even cousinship is not a sufficient plea for dwelling upon a 
woman without a single womanliness to recommend her to the conside- 
ration of our sex. 

These Ptussians, it must be admitted, are most imperially gorgeous 
when once tliey give the rein to their princeliness ! The wedding was 
splendid. I defy St. Thomas d'Aquin, in its most Faubourgian of 
fashionable nuptials, to show anything comparable with the display 
which gladdened yesterday the pride, if not the hearts, of Baron von 
Eehfeld and his wife. 

It may be doubted whether so strange a variety of rituals ever before 
commingled in a single wedding. The Greek church, the Catholic, the 
Lutheran, and the English, had their share in the performances of 
the day; and by the time I had seen the marriage ceremony performed 
four times within a couple of hours, I felt so matrimo-morphosed, as 
almost to ask myself whether I were not the lawful husband of the 
sprightly widow you may remember in Paris— Princess W.— who fell 
to my share throughout the accomplishment of the pageant. 

Let us pass over the English and Lutheran ceremonies (religion in 
deshabille), which were as modest as becomes the Reformed Church, 
the doctrines of which pretend to possess that within which passeth 
show. It was the two ancient churches of Christendom— the Greek 
and the Roman, which contended for the pomps and •vanities of the 
day ; and praying you not to exhibit my letter to Madame de Vau- 
dreuil, who would betray me to the good Abbe Cbaptal, and perhaps 
procure my excommunication, I must admit that my previous opinion 
was fully confirmed, on this occasion, of the superior augustness of the 
rites of the patriarchal church. 

Nothing can be more imposing, according to my view, than the 
solemnization of the Greek service. The flowing beards of the priests — 
their sonorous voices— the mystery created by the inner sanctuary— 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 135 

seem to unite a sort of Hebraic antiquity with the doctrines of the 
Christian faith. 

By the desire of the emperor, this portion of the ceremony, the only 
one at which he was to appear, was performed at the Church of St. Peter 
and St. Paul within the citadel ; which, as you are aware, is situated on 
an island opposite the winter palace. Being no seeker after or seer of 
sights, it was the first time I had entered this church, albeit of some 
consequence as the burial place of the imperial family; and even bright- 
ened as it was by the tapers burning in honour of the nuptial 
solemnization, I was impressed by the spectacle of the simple tombs of 
these potent sovereigns, each covered with its velvet pall ; a form con- 
veying an impression of recent interment, and consequently connecting 
the long dead with the present generation, far more intimately than if 
the sepulchre of granite were to appear in simple nakedness. 

In addition to these illustrious dead, the church contains numberless 
military trophies, tokens of Russian prowess and the triumphs of the 
emperors. It was on this account, I presume, that Nicholas chose the 
daughter of General Erloff to pledge her faith in the fortress church, in 
presence of such memorials of her father's faithful service to the sove- 
reign whose ashes repose beside its altar ; and Gallitzin to connect the 
happiest day of his life with the walls which his exertions may here- 
after serve to adorn with future trophies. 

The structure, simple enough, and lighted by a single cupola (a rare 
distinction in Russian churches), was tilled when we entered with the 
e7«^e of the court and co?'j;5 diplomatique; and unless for the marriage 
of one of royal blood, no higher honours could have been conferred 
than dignified the scene. The bridesmaids of Marguerite were maids 
of honour of the empress, of high descent, but selected, I should imagine, 
for their personal beauty; while the families of the Austrian and 
Prussian ambassadors supplied the Lily of Rehfeld with a fitting 
entourage. All that the caskets of this most sparkling of capitals could 
supply, appeared lavished on the persons of the double bridal train ; 
the shrine of Loretto being out-dazzled by the pavoiniTc of more than 
one of the noble Muscovites who deigned to shed the lustre of their 
diamonds and countenances on the brilliant solemnization. 

Marguerite was arrayed in spotless white, in all the elegance of a 
Parisian toilette ; veil, orange blossoms, — all as it should be to mark 
the transit of the unadorned maiden to the higher dignities of matron- 
hood. Ida, conscious perhaps that rivalship with the graceful sim- 
plicity of her step-sister was out of the question, had chosen to inaugu- 
rate herself into one of the ancient houses of Muscovj% in the ancient 
costume of the country ; and though this is contrary to usage, there is 
a certain piquancy and becomingness in all the actions of a person of 
her decided character, which defy vulgar criticism. She looked divine 
in this rich and peculiar garb ; and the little crooked sister of the 
bridegroom. Princess Prascovia GaUitzin, having insisted on adorning 
her with certain strings of hereditary pearls, each bead of which might 
form a prince'-s ransom, in addition to the splendid diamonds presented 
hj^ the empress, her appearance was dazzling. The ambassadress looked 
every inch a queen. It was as well that the czarina did not commit the 
unprecedented condescension of appearing at the ceremony ; for the 
mortification of having to hide her diminished head might have proved 
fatal to the future prospects of this fairest of brides. 

As far as I have ever seen of weddings, after the first moment the 
interest begins to flag. But on the present occasion a variety of 



136 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

feminine passions and foibles kept the attention on the alert. There 
Avas the Eussian party, and the foreign party, eagerly disputing (which 
was the lovelier of the rival beauties, and calling up strifes, jealousies, 
and envyings, by a thousand insidious words of commendation ; ana 
there was the curiosity that dared not expend itself in words, to scruti- 
nize the exact nature of the interest taken by Nicholas in the event. A 
few, her unworthy kinsman among the rest, were moved by a more 
ignoble sort of inquisitiveness to watch the exultation of the baroness 
on an occasion affording ample compensation for a long life of mis- 
chance. 

Every countenance accordingly was animated, and every soul on the 
qui vive. In deference to the presence of the emperor, the archiman- 
drite officiated in person, assisted by the chant res de la cour, whose 
vocal superiority over those of the Papal chapel even Catalani admitted 
to be incontestable. Nothing could be more celestial than the music — 
nothing more imposing than the air of the hierarchy in attendance ; and 
the charms of the nuptial hymn and fumes of the exquisite incense 
seemed to ascend appropriately into the lofty cupola, over the heads of 
one of the fairest and brightest groups of human loveliness it was ever 
my fortune to behold ! 

The ceremony differs in many respects from that of the Catholic 
church, to which we next repaired. In the procession, the bride- 
maidens walk between the paranymphy, or bridegroom and bride, as 
they approach the altar, bearing lighted tapers in their hands, and, in 
addition to the rings of silver and gold severally placed on their fingers, 
gilt crowns of the imperial form are held over their heads by the 
priests. The prayers recited, or, rather, chanted, during the ceremony, 
are, being interpreted, of great beauty ; and the ever-recurring and 
sonorous " Ghospodi Pomilui ! " or " Lord have mercy upon us," of the 
papas, seemed to me highly appropriate to the lips of the four unhappy 
victims labouring under the ridiculous paraphernalia of their nuptial 
crowns. 

By the way, had any doubt really existed as to the palm of beauty to 
be accorded between the two blooming brides, no one could contest the 
superior dignity of the bridegroom of fifty over over the one of half his 
age. PoorElyinston, deeply affected by the vows he was then pledging 
to a stranger in a land of strangers, was more than usual ungainly and 
unpleasing of aspect; while it must be owned that Sergius Gallitzin 
gained wonderfully by having a prominent part to play; and, in his 
uniform, glittering with foreign and national orders, looked to perfection 
the imperial favourite and dignified ambassador. I could see that Ida 
felt proud of him. If she already aOected something of the Juno she 
seemed to have found a Jove to her satisfaction. 

You have no conception of the influence exercised on this, as on most 
occasions here, by the emperor's presence. It is not alone on his own 
subjects this magnetic influence is perceptible. The foreign diplomats, 
who elsewhere assume the hard immobility peculiar to their vocation, 
no sooner find themselves within range of the imperial eye, than they 
become vivified, like the Neva by a clear and searching April sun. 
Their features play, their eyeballs roll, their limbs extend— the automata 
become animated as by the scapement of a master-spring. 

On our exit from the church, the brass band of the imperial house- 
hold, stationed on the square before the portals, struck up the Zara 
Boja Clirani, or popular anthem, in honour of the imperial presence. 
The forces of the garrison, drawn up in line, presented arms ; and in 



\ THE AMBASSADOfi'S WIFE. 137 

noticing the peculiarly national aspect of the ceremony, no one would 
ha-fe conjectured that two out of the four individuals just made wretches 
for life, were of foreign extraction. 

Tte emperor was prevented, I conclude, by engagements, from 
assisting at the successive solemnization of Ida's marriage, according to 
the rights of the Lutheran, Elvinston's of the English, and Marguerite's 
of the Catholic church, as he could scarcely have appeared at one 
without exciting the jealousies of the rest. He was accordingly the 
least weary of the company when he met us again at the noble banquet 
given at the Hotel of the Legation, on our final release from priestly 
exhortation. 

Nothing could be better organized than this portion of the arrange- 
ments. The baroness, to do do her« justice, is unique in the household 
department ; nor do I wonder that she managed to ruin poor Erloff, 
convinced, as I am, that every liberal household must beggar its pro- 
prietor. A well-mounted table means only a table kept for his friends 
by some individual generous enough to reduce himself to starvation 
for the satisfaction of feasting a distinguished circle of ungrateful 
friends. 

Immediately after the departure of the emperor, who took a courteous 
leave of the wedding-party, and a feeling one of Gallitzin, the two 
" brides, magnified as Sarah and joyful as Rebecca," and the husbands 
whereunto, according to the Greek ritual, they " stood betrothed now 
and for ever, even unto ages of ages," also entered their travelling-car- 
riages—the Gallitzins for Warsaw, the Elvinstons to embark for 
England in their yacht. This infringement of the custom of pro- 
longing the wedding-party by banquets and balls was held by some as 
a happy innovation, by others as a disastrous necessity ; for these 
Russians seem to fancy that one can never have enough of a good 
thing, and renew the nuptial festivities at the close of a week, by the 
ceremony of what is termed " dissolving the crowns." 

The two happy couples, however, seemed to think as I did, that of cere- 
monies we had enjoyed enough. I spare you the pathetic leave-taking. 
I spare you the oceans of champagne drained to their health and hap- 
piness—my headache of to-day being a confirmation of the same which 
I should be sorry to aggravate by description. 

I have executed all your commissions, my dear brother, and am 
coming to you like a Persian prince, charged with rough diamonds and 
conserve of roses, besides caviar, Russian leather, and other Tartarisms, 
enough to bring your appartement de garqon into rivalship with the 
Gastinoi Dvor. Thank Heaven, I can at length conscientiously write 
in place of an revoir — a tantof ! 



Letter XXYII. — From Mademoiselle Therese Moreau in Paris to 
the Viscomitess Elvinston^ Lond.on. 

I Ail, indeed, my dear young friend, as you justly surmise, an comlle de 
mes voeux ! 

To be restored to the society of my dear Ida, in any country or 
station, would have afforded me unmixed satisfaction. 1 would have 



138 THE AiTBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

followed her to Siberia— I would have followed her to your own Scotland, 
which, till now, always appeared to me scarcely less rude and inaccessible. 
I would have sought her in poverty — I would have sought her in shame ; 
but to be summoned by her grateful affection to rejoin her in her 
present elevated position, and see her about to assume and digni:y the 
high station of an ambassador's vrife at the first of European courts, 
is a triumph as s^lorious as unexpected. 

By Prince Gallitzin's desire, I hurried my journey, so as to precede 
them here, and flatter myself my exertions have not been uninstru- 
mental in preparing the way for the ambassadress, whom we are daily 
expecting. I shall be able, I trust, to place my dearest Ida, au courant 
des affaires ; and, young as she is, am not without hope, that she will 
go through the ordeal of the great world so trying at her age, with 
credit to herself and me. You desired me to write my first moment of 
leisure. I should have otherwise waited her arrival, to give you an 
account of her looks, and presentation at court. 

Though a court so new as that of St. Petersburg can have little in 
common with our throne of a thousand years' foundation, it is, perhaps, 
fortunate for Ida that, instead of being launched at once from the 
deserts of Schloss Eehfeld into the greatest of great worlds, she has ex- 
perienced some inauguration into courtly ceremonial, and the throngs 
of polished life. The habits of St. Petersburg seem to approach more 
nearly to those of Paris, than the intermixture of stateliness and homeli- 
ness, which, like the chequers of a chess-board, characterize the German 
courts. The art of representation, my dear young friend, is one of 
greater difliculty and importance than is usually imagined; and I 
may venture to add, that it is an art peculiarly French, as requiring 
the exercise of intuitive tact and good breeding. Profound wisdom or 
great learning is inimical to its perfectionment ; and no one will deny 
that a Parisienne, of whatever class, doing the honours of her salon, 

performs her task with better grace than but I entreat your 

pardon !— I have not yet accustomed myself to remember that you 
have bestowed your hand on an Englishman. 

?* Let me hasten, therefore, to meet you upon neutral ground. In order 
that you may favour me with a detailed account of your Northern 
domain, allow me to describe in all minuteness the future home of our 
dear princess. 

Figure to yourself a stately stone mansion, whose florid architectural 
ornaments affix its date half-way between the revival of the arts and 
Ducerceau, and the Grecianized era of Perrault and Gabriel; separated 
from one of the finest streets of the noble Faubourg by a spacious court 
yard, and having in the rear a garden, about the size attributed by 
Lord Elvinston's descriptions to your London squares ; the stately old 
chestnut trees concealing the limits of which are now bursting into 
bloom, while the closely-mown lawn is brightened with a belt of lilac 
trees and double hawthorns, that appear in readiness to salute the new 
amiDassadress with their fragrance. 

Opening towards this charming lawn, and divided from it only by a 
terrace bordered with old orange trees, at one extremity of which 
stands a paviUon-shaped conservatory full of exotics— is the range of 
state apartments, seven in number, comprising a magnificent gallery 
parqueted with the rarest woods, and a salon, which the liberality of 
the emperor has adorned with a set of malachite and Labrador stone 
vases, five feet high, the finest ever yet seen in Paris. The embassy, 
being imperial property, has, been recently refurnished in the most 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 139 

costly manner ; nor was it necessary to do more for the reception of 
the princess than place in her morning-room a few musical instruments, 
and her favourite metier. 

Do not imagine that the said morning-room constitutes a portion of 
the state apartments, which are appropriated to representation alone. 
It is, on the contrary, on the first floor ; — the range of which constitutes 
the private residence of the ambassador's family. These apartments, 
I am assured by Monsieur de Vaudreuil's valet de chambre (who has 
just arrived bringing me letters from Madame la Baronne,) are in- 
finitely finer than the suite cVhonneur in the hotel of your legation in 
St. Petersburg; and in point of comfort, difficult indeed must be the 
person who could suggest a deficiency. Here, at no great distance 
from the moruing-room to which I have alluded, a charming little 
chamber has been assigned to my use by the marechal de logis, over- 
looking the garden and commanding access by a.porte derohee to Ida's 
dressing-room. I am already enjoying in anticipation the resumption 
of our happy collociuies of old. Installed as demoiselle de compagne of 
the ambassadress, I shall enjoy the happiness of instructing her in 
those etiquettes of the great world, with which the salon of the Hotel 
de Choisy rendered me familiar. 

"What a destiny for my lovely Ida! Paris, in its most charming 
form ; Paris, without the claims of family responsibility ; Paris, with 
a princely establishment, waiting only for its charming mistress to 
assume her place at the helm ! 

jS'ow that the trial is over, my dearest Lady Elvinston, I may fairly 
admit to you that Schloss Eehfeld, which I always regarded as a place 
of penance, has been this winter scarcely supportable. The Avorthy 
pastor, the good Sara, are not only beings of a sphere with which I am 
unfamiliar ; but after they had ventured to discover blemishes in Ida 
and resent her mode of quitting them and wisdom in adopting her 
inevitable destinies, I preferred shutting myself up in utter solitude, 
and trusting for recreation to the arrival of your charming letters, than 
harass myself with the perpetual defence of what appeared to me to 
require no apology. 

1 should not have alluded, however, to my discontents, unless with 
the view of rendering you fully sensible to my overwhelming joy, at 
finding myself once more in Paris ; enjoying the May sunshine of a 
climate whose very winters are fairer than the summers of the north. 
You, dear lady, who used to pine among the stoves of Germany for the 
sparkling fires of Paris, and a frankness of spirit and warmth of manner 
redoubling their geniality, will fully comprehend what it is to me to be 
restored to the tuneful intonation of my native tongue — to the courteous 
graces of life — and the sights and sounds of joyousness, which in Paris 
convert the sands of the hour-glass of time into sands of gold. 

The atmosphere appears so lightsome after the humid valleys of 
Silesia— the ahord of every one 1 meet, so courteous— the bond of 
fellow-creatureship so cordially borne — that 1 am willing to subscribe 
to the opinion I have often heard expressed by my country people, 
familiar with the sorrows of exile, that one hour of life in Paris is 
is worth years elsewhere ! 

Ah ! my dear Marguerite ! they may talk of the patriotism of the 
Swiss and the influence of the Eanz des Yaches upon their feehngs in 
foreign countries ; but trust me, the crudest maladie du pays is that 
which caused Madame de Stael, beside her dear lake at Coppet, to sigh 
for the kennel of the Hue du Bac ; and which, whenever you used to 



140 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

praise to me the Scandinavian forests of Schloss Rehfeld, brought 
before my tearful mind's eye the chestnut trees of the Tuileries, with 
the merry nursery maids at their feet, and the grey wood-pigeons 
circling over their stag-horned summits ! 

Farewell, my dear young friend. Your letters make "me happy by 
certifying that your own happiness is secure. But now that it is no 
longer necessary to assure me of it, talk to me of your pleasures. By 
the time this reaches your hands, you will have quitted London, and 
installed yourself in your new domain. 

I entreat you, chere Marguerite, describe it to me. Tou know how 
we all doat on Walter Scott! Tell me whether you have found a 
Caleb Balderston in your seneschal (I once saw Caleb charmingly acted 
at the Yarietes!), and whether there be a gipsy's camp, and Meg 
Merrilies at Elvinston Castle. Do you recellect our attempting Guy 
Mannerins, with your cousin Alfred's aid, among the tableaux we got 
up at Eehfeld ? How little did I then imagine, that either of my fair 
children was about to Be banished to Scotland ! But now that you 
have no more Pretenders, and no civil wars, the country has doubtless 
become less barbarous ! 

Make me known, I entreat, to your dear lord, and beg him to favour 
our correspondence with his sanction. 



Letter XXYIII.— i^ro>?i Count Alfred, de Vaudreuil in Faris to the 
Baroness von Eehfeld at St. Fetershurg. 

AYhex your hospitable kindness, my dear cousin, forced me, an un- 
reluctant recruit, into your march to St. Petersburg, how wise was it 
to conceal from mc the horrors of a southward journey on the break 
up of winter ! 

Those who talk so fluently of the miseries of a Eussiau frost, omit 
the far less supportable abominations of a Pussian thaw. But let 
bygones be bygones ! If ever I publish an imitation of Burger's 
" Leonore," my lines shall not run. 



but 



Tramp, tramp across the earth they ride, 
Splash) splash across the seaj 



Tramp, tramp upon the ice they go, 
Splash, splash amid the thaw ! 



reserving the hearty hurrah of the refrain for the final close of the 
journey. 

How glad you doubtless are to be rid of us all— how joyful that your 
utmost desires are accomplished ! You may now hang up your fan in 
your dressing-room, as warriors of old appended their swords to the 
wall at the close of the war, and enjoy your laurels in comfort. 

Never was there so brilliant a marriage — never so auspicious a 
celebration ! L^nless you have been poisoned ere this by the envious 
chaperons of St. Petersburg— and I should think a single dose qf 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 141 

UJislii soup, — (assist my orthography oh ! power of Tartarus or 
Tatary,) — equal to a tankful of nux vomica,— you must admit .that, 
with the richest son-in-law and most influential step-son-in-law going, 
you have avenged yourself on the injustice of the Pates in assigning 
your own youth to a Muscovite warrior, redolent of gunpowder, 
tshshi, and fish-oil. Forgive me !— had you not condescended to make 
m.e the confidant of your discontents on this head, I should not pre- 
sume to be thus explicit. 

But you have by this time been congratulated enough to feel as 
weary of congratulations as I of my journey. Pass we, therefore, to 
the fair Ida; — (a thousand pardons for naming her thus familiarly, 
even in the confidentiality of a letter)— pass we, I ought to have said, 
to the new ambassador's wife. 

How divine she looked, by the way, at the marriage ceremony ; and 
by what a machiavellic stroke of coquetry did she contrive to conquer 
at a blow the whole Gallitzin family, by appearing in that hateful 
costume, which would have rendered hideous any other face or form 
than her Hebe-like beauty. Poor Alexis ! I could almost understand 
his despair. Perhaps it would have been better had you suftered him 
to follow his own devices, and return to his regiment on the eve of the 
Avedding ; for I fear that the various branches of your most Kalmuckian 
house of ErlofF attributed his look and tone of desperation to resent- 
ment of his sister's alliance with a foreigner ;— a mistake, under all the 
circumstances, little creditable to his understanding. 

Lovely, however, as she looked at the altar, I can promise you that 
the Ida'of that day was not worthy to tie the sandal of the Princess 
Gallitzin, who made her first appearance, last night, in the circle of the 
peiit cJidteau. 

Eight well can I understand the feeling of exultation, which, for the 
first time since I made his acquaintance, I detected lurking at the 
corner of Gallitzin's stony mouth ;— though, sooth to say, it required 
all my hawkiness of eye to see my way through those bushy mus- 
tachios which form as effective a mask to his sentiments as a gorse- 
covert to a fox. 

By a stroke of female policy equal almost to that which suggested 
that most hideous of coifs, the pavolnik, for her marriage day. Princess 
Gallitzin made her first appearance at court in a stately robe of black 
velvet, with a garniture of grebe. I fancy I was the only person who 
presumed to remonstrate ; for the Prince is the sort of a man who, if 
his wife chose to attire herself in the Gobelins hangings of her 
drawing-room, would never discover the mistake (and he was all the 
more judicious in perceiving the incompetency of our dear simple 
Marguerite to take her place by his side). As to poor Mademoiselle 
Therese, who, I verily believe, expected her taste as gouvernante to be 
prolonged, she has, I suspect, already perceived that her wand has lost 
its charm. On ascending her throne of domestic authority, the first 
declaration of our lovely despot in embryo was " V Hat, c'est moi .'" 

It was I alone, therefore, who ventured to instruct her, as you 
authorized me at parting, that by appearing at court in the month of 
May in fur and velvet, she would render herself a by- word in Paris : 
and I took occasion to call in the aid of the young Marquise de Monte- 
court (the Choisy Sieve of our poor Moreau), who was paying her a 
visit, to enlarge upon the merits of silks, sarsnets, muslin, and Mechlin- 
lace, as the legitimate successors to satin, velvet, and point, which are, 
of course, laid on the shelf till another winter. 



142 THB AMBlSSADOfi'S WIFE. 

To me, the Princess replied only by a smile of gratitude for her 
counsels. 13ut, when Madame de Montecourt was gone, I was pro- 
voked to see that she not only smiledi no longer, but persisted in her 
preposterous toilet. At length, I harassed her into an explanation. 

"The Prince is desirous," said she, "that I should appear in the 
jewels presented to me by the imperial family. Diamonds, you assure 
me, are not de saison ; and by assuming them with a demie-saison 
dress, I should make the error only more perceptible. Let my whole 
costume, therefore, be equally open to criticism. Your fair ladies of 
the chateau will like me only the better, on finding something in me to 
reform ; nor do they expect me to arrive in Paris, from the confines of 
Tartary, w'ith Herbault or Yictorine in my fourgon." 

She was right — decidedly right ! I seized the opportunity that very 
evening, to present my homage to the King and the Dauphine on my 
return from Russia ; and can certify that never was there a more 
successful debut ! — " Charmante ! ravissante ! " resounded on all sides; 
and the exclamation that followed, — " how exquisite will she be, when 
she has learned to dress herself— how divine when mise a la franqaise !" 
— proved that, by leaving something to desire and something to look 
forward to, the young ambassadress had supplied the one thing needful 
to her popularity. 

Imagine the lovely Ida, fairer, if possible, than ever, with a radiant 
circlet of brilliants glittering round her finely-formed head, and her 
snowy skin enhanced by contrast with the sable foldings of her robe — 
imagine her with that exquisite air of youth and purity which give her 
the appearance of having just stepped out of one of Schiller's ballads 
or Ossian's epics— imagine her with the vague but serene steadfastness 
of look that so admirably conceals the workings of her soul— the ob- 
served of all observers — in the midst of the frizzed, rouged, and haggard 
belles of the Pavilion Marsan, and the collets monies of the chateau ! 
It happens that there has been nothing young or pretty here for ages, 
in the way of diplomacy ; and I conclude the court had prepared itself 
for an appropriate partner to an ambassador of fifty-four ; for on dis- 
covering the stranger to be a lovely child, they all looked disposed to 
take her into their arms as such, and welcome her with caresses. 

No one, however, on a nearer acquaintance, will feel disposed to take 
liberties with Princess Gallitzin. Even Ida von Eehfeld had so far 
profited by my lessons as to have an opinion and position of her own. 
What other head of eighteen but had been turned by the brilliant 
success she commanded in St. Petersburg ? — AVhat other head of 
eighteen would have surmounted, as she did, the vexation of finding 
herself successively mistaken in her expectations of becoming Countess 
de Yaudreuil and Viscountess Elviuston ; then, rallying from her 
mortification, turn upon us as she did ?— Nay, what other head of 
eighteen would have remained insensible to the ardent passion of 
Alexis— so young— so handsome— so brilliant ; and have eyes only for 
the statue of clay she has stamped with the impress of ambassador ? 

I say nothing of her prudent self-government when distinguished by 
the notice of the emperor ; the nature of Nicholas's courtship being 
too admirably consonant with the climate of his dominions, to endow 
it with any very dangerous power oyer the feelings or deportment of 
its object. 

No woman ever better appreciated her qualifications than Ida, when 
she renounced the roses of love for the laurels of diplomacy ; for none 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 113 

was ever more calculated to exhibit the dignified attitude and acquire 
the measured tone adapted to the amplitudes of her new vocation. 

At present, she has done all that time permitted — i. e., made a sensa- 
tion ; and who more aware than your charming self of the difficulty of 
effecting as much in this mercurial capital, where the wheels of the car 
of Fashion whirl so rapidly along, that it is all but impossible for any 
new aspirant to dash into a place as it passes. 

Princess Gallitzin has received no news from Marguerite since she 
quitted London. But we are in hourly expectation of despatches. In 
return, meanwhile, for 'this long letter, do me the favour to give me 
tidings of Alexis, whose state of mind, at the moment of our departure, 
caused me some uneasiness. Pray reassure me ! — Tell me that he has, 
in some measure, forgotten the travellers, and that you deign to re- 
member them. 



Letter XXIX..— From Viscov.ntess Elvinston to Princess Gallitzin. 

Dearest Sister— dearest friend— how sad and strange it seems to be 
addressing you from this vast distance ; yet how great a comfort in my 
sadness to address you at all ! 

At the moment of departure from St. Petersburg, amid the throng 
and tumult of those dreadful ceremonies, I was scarcely able to hold 
you a moment to my heart ; and, strange to tell, so oppressed was I by 
the publicity of the scene and the crowd of strangers around me, that 
there was rehef rather than the anguish I had anticipated in the 
moment of separation, 

I lost sight of the grief of bidding adieu to mother, brother, sister, 

friend, in my release from the stare of hundreds ; and the comfort of 

hearing only the voice which has never addressed me save in words of 

soothing and tenderness, reconciles me even to the word banishment. 

Dear Ida, I am perfectly happy. You will believe me— ?/o?( who wit- 

I nessed my childish, my unadvised repinings ; and appreciate the 

I sincerity of my assurance, that had I selected my own destiny out of 

' the whole world, I could have chosen none more perfectly adapted to 

my tastes and feelings. My new home, my new family, my new position, 

are such as must have rendered life delightful, even with a husband of 

moderate merit ; but as the wife of a man with whom I could have lived 

contented in poverty and misery, judge what cause I have to rejoice in the 

manifold blessings with which Providence has brightened our existence. 

All I fear is that it is too bright— ^oo happy ;— that some sudden blow 

must overtake us, to modify a lot so far above the common require- 

ij ments of humanity. I feel, dear Ida, as if I should wake some day from 

:' this dear and blissful dream, and find myself again bereft of the joys of 

I affection. 

I But I have no right to weary you with the overflowings of my happi- 
I ness ; more especially tiU I learn from yourself that you are equally 
I contented. Let me, therefore, restrict myself to an account of the 

novel scenes which delight me in my new country. 
[ In the first place, the voyage, to which I looked forward with such 
I consternation, proved the most agreeable part of our journey. The 



144 THE AMBASSi-DOB'S WIFE, 

weather was delicious— warm, balmy, breathless April weather; and I, 
who had never before seen the vast ocean, and trembled at the mere 
idea of it as the scene of so many dreadful catastrophes and cruel deaths 
—I who expected to find it convulsed with the terrors of a tempest, 
almost wept for joy on finding it extended around me, blue, soft, 
smiling, \^-ith the aspect of a sky reversed, and the gentle welcome of a 
friend. I have seen my own Neva wear a far more terrible counte- 
nance. "With such advantages, it is not surprising that I should have 
proved a capital sailor ;— a great source of rejoicing to me, as Elvinston 
is so fond of yachting ; and we have already planned an excursion for 
the summer, among "the TTestern Islands. TVith such weather as we 
now enjoy, I can imagine nothing more enchanting ! 

Dear Ida ! you are probably in daily communication with my cousin 
Alfred. Thank him, I entreat you, for the absurd and erroneous im- 
pressions he was at the trouble of giving me of London ; for I am con- 
vinced he did it with kind intentions, resolved that my disappointment 
should be of the most agreeable nature. 

Do you remember, dearest, all he used to tell us of the opaque atmo- 
sphere of London, as often causing the lamps to be lit at noonday ?— of 
the black waters of the Thames, which he described as a wider Styx ? — of 
the snail-shell nature of the houses, each adapted, within half an inch, 
to the size of its family ?— of the ceremoniousness of people next door 
neighbours for half a century, who, when a fire was consuming their 
houses, would not speak to each other amid the horrors of the confla- 
gration, unless a third person were present to introduce them in form ? 

Eomance, dear Ida— egregious romance I — The London of my im- 
pressions is as different from his as Paris from St. Petersburg ! We 
arrived in the river before daybreak, and reached the majestic'bend at 
Greenwich in time to hail the city ere the smoke of its fires deteriorated 
the beauty of a forest of spires ; the mighty dome of St. Paul's hovering, 
as it were, presidingly over all. The scene was most imposing ; and 
though the banks of this bright and sparkling river lacked the noble 
quays of the Neva to give them grace and dignity, Greenwich and 
Somerset Palaces sufficed to prove the groundlessness of his charge 
against the total deficiency of public buildings. 

And then the bridges ! What a triumph were it for St. Petersburg, if 
our wretched wooden bridges, the Izaak's, for instance, could be replaced 
by these noble granite causeways ! How must those Russians who reach 
this country direct from their own, be startled on beholding, as a work 
of the hand of man, the mighty span of "^A'aterloo bridge ! 

Elvinston had made arrangements for our reception in a public hotel, 
his own house being incomplete. But experienced only in the com- 
fortless disarray of those of St. Petersburg, I should never have guessed 
the Clarendon to be an hotel, unless apprized of the fact. All was as 
commodious there, and far more private, than at the legation. More 
misrepresentations of Alfred's ! Do you remember what^he used to say 
of English inns 1— Believe me, Paris could not have afforded a better 
table, or more assiduous attendance ! 

But all these pleasing surprises are unimportant, compared with 
those that awaited me in my new family. My cousin had prepared me 
for sternness — reserve — severity. Even Elvinston, in his over-anxiety, 
thought fit to warn me against expecting any excess of warmth, assuring 
me that his sisters were shy to a degree which I might perhaps mistake 
at first for want of kindness. 

What they may be to the world in general, I pretend not to guess. 



THE AilBASSJLDOB'S WIFE. 145 

But heaven knows there was no shyness in their mode of adopting me 
at once as their own ; while, in their reception of their brother, the 
tears streaming down their cheeks when clasped to bis heart, proved 
that the coldness and reserve ascribed by Alfred to all English natives 
have no existence at least in the cheering atmosphere of a family circle. 

The two sisters with whom I have made acquaintance, Mrs. Leslie 
and the Duchess of Eockingham, occupy stations in life wholly dissi- 
milar, and entailing an utter contrast of duties and engagements ; — the 
one being the wife of an oflBcial man of moderate fortune, whose 
marriage was facilitated by the liberality of her brother; the other, of 
one of the wealthiest of the aristocracy, whose resources, like my 
husband's, equal those of a German prince. The sentiments and 
manners of the two, however, were so exactly similar, that I have a 
right to accept them as an average specimen of the dispositions of my 
new family. 

"U'e dined, the first day, with Mrs. Leslie, who occupies a small house 
in an agreeable situation, the rooms of which resemble a succession of 
boudoirs, so snug and highly finished are their arrangements. TTe had 
only the Duke and Duchess of Eockingham, and a somewhat surly old 
gentleman, my husband's former guardian. After dinner, Mrs. Leslie's 
young child was introduced, and all was comfort and cordiality. I never 
saw more joyous mirth or more hearty affection than greeted the return 
of my husband to the bosom of his family. They all spoke French, 
fluently as natives, though with a foreign accent; but in a less un- 
pleasant one (I may venture to say so to i/ou, who speak it like a 
Parisian) than the accent of the Germans. 

After dinner, the four gentleman engaged eagerly in a political 
argument, in English, which I had some difficulty in following. But I 
could see its importance in the inflection of their voices, and the 
mutable expression of their faces. I was deeply impressed, indeed, by 
the inteUigeuce and energy suddenly unkindled in the countenance of 
my lord by a discussion of higher aim probably than any in which I had 
before seen him engage. He was no longer the uncouth'man we used to 
presume to laugh at in St. Petersburg ; no longer even the gentle and 
devoted friend, whose tenderness I have since found so captivating. 
But a man, full of thouaht and feeling, and giving energetic expression 
to both. I could see that he talked better and more convincingly than 
the other three, and never felt so proud or so happy ! 

I suspect that the old gentleman. Sir Thomas' Meredyth, was not 
predisposed to see me with a favourable eye, at least, he was more 
silent than the rest, to me addressing not a word. But after the dinner, 
just after Mrs. Leslie's beautiful boy had been fetched off to bed, and 
was taken from my arms by the nurse, he suddenly walked up to me, 
snatched both my hands into his, examined me so steadfastly for a 
minute, as to dye my cheeks with crimson ; and then imprinted a kiss 
upon my forehead, such as for the trst time in my life inspired me 
with the idea of fatherly affection ! 

The day following, the duchess took me with her to admire some of 
the finer points of London ; the venerable abbey, of all the monuments 
I ever visited the most interesting, St. James's Park, the Eegent's. 
But the thing that struck me most was the endless throng of people 
in the streets. Our present fine May weather was doubtless the cause 
of this; but you cannot figure to yourself anything equal to the crowd 
jierpetually pressing onwards in the great thoroughfares, or the con- 
course of caiTiages which, on the Sunday we sp-cut in Loudon, was 

L 



146 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

visible from the windows of Mrs. Leslie, which overlook Hyde 
Park. 

As it had been previously settled between myself and Elvinston, who 
was eager to reach his country residence, that I should not yet be pre- 
sented at court, it was impossible for me to appear in general society, 
— a great relief, as you will readily believe, who know my aversion to 
public life. But there was no objection to our accompanying to the 
opera the duke and duchess, with whom we dined on the second day. 

The "opera" here means exclusively the Italian, for a distinct English 
opera they have none; seeing which, they attach to it the diversion of 
the ballet, reserved in Paris as an embellishment to the national opera. 
The consequence is, that though the Italian opera is inferior in getting 
up and perfectionment to that of Paris, the entertainment is, on the 
whole, far more brilliant. The salle is of noble dimensions ; the audi- 
ence appear in full dress ; and after my recent experience of the 
wretched Italian company at St. Petersburg, I was doubly able to 
appreciate the merits of the most accomplished singer I ever heard, 
with whom you are to be enchanted next winter at Paris, the celebrated 
Madame Malibran. 

That evening was the pleasantest I ever spent, Eockingham House is 
a residence such as I have sometimes dreamt of, but never before seen 
realized, combining the magnificence of the old hotels of the Faubourg 
St. Germain, to which I occasionally accompanied grandmamma, with 
a degree of comfort and homeishness that seems peculiar to this happy 
country. I made acquaintance with the duchess's girls, to whose 
education, in spite of the dignity with which she holds her place in the 
world as a grande dame, she devotes the most motherly attention, nor did 
I ever behold a simpler-minded or more happy family. They took so 
much pains to show me all that was best worth notice in their splendid 
gallery (which contains numberless cliefs-d^o&uvre, both of painting and 
sculpture, besides modern family portraits of still greater interest to 
me), that I was scarcely able to exchange a word with Elvinston till we 
were established at the opera. There, indeed, he remained with us the 
whole evening,— an attention which does not provoke in London the 
ridicule that would attach to it in Paris or Petersburg. But the 
duchess's box is a very large one ; and in the course of the evening, 
many visitors were presented to me, whose names conveyed historical 
associations, and whose manners were as gracious and conciliating as 
those of the most courteous Parisian. AYhat could Alfred mean, by 
calling these people habitually ill-bred ? 

Next day, I apprehended a grievous trial. It was my first Sunday in 
a Protestant country ; and I watched the countenance of my husband, 
dreading to see it clouded by the consciousness that his wife pursued a 
different form of worship from himself. On the contrary, he rose with 
a more than usually cheerful face. The carriage was in waiting, at the 
proper hour, to convey me to the Chapel of the Bavarian ambassador, 
the most considerable place of Catholic worship in our neighbourhood ; 
and on my return, I found Elvinston arriving from church with his 
sisters, in the kindest and happiest mood. I perfectly believe his 
assurance that our difference of opinion, on this point, is no obstacle to 
his affection. 

In the course of the morning we had hosts of visitors; for though 
the English church insists on a rigid observance of the fourth com- 
mandment, restricting public recreation as well as personal exertion — 
the higher classes seem to repay themselves by making it the most 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 147 

sociable day of the seven. I was pleased with nearly all my new 
acquaintances, for all appeared to be warm friends of my husband ; and 
far better pleased with his metropolis than my own. The number of 
brilliant equipages in the streets — the healthy aspect of the population 
— the air of independence perceptible in all its arrangements— every 
thing, in short, that met my eyes and reached my heart, filled me with 
joy and pride in my new country ! Never, dear Ida, did I see so 
charming a mixture of perfect nature, yet perfect breeding, as in the 
manners of Mrs. Leslie and her sister. One feels them at once to be 
people with whom one jcould gladly pass one's life. How is it that the 
English possess, above all other people, the secret of inspiring one with 
trust ? 

I seem to have said so much of myself and my emotions, that I am 
almost ashamed of entering into the chapter of my country journey, 
and arrival here. As our correspondence will henceforth be uninter- 
rupted, it may be as well perhaps to postpone the account till my next 
letter. Tou shall not wait long for its arrival. 



Letter XXX. — From Princess Gallitzin to Baroness von Relifeld. 

You will be growing anxious to learn, dear madam, the particulars of 
our reception at court. By my desire Mademoiselle Moreau apprised 
you of our safe arrival at Paris, and acknowledged the amiable let^rs 
which awaited me here. The courier who brought them necessarily 
preceded our slower progress by several days. Not that I accomplished 
the project suggested by my father of passing a night at Schloss Eehfeld, 
which must have occasioned a departure of thirty leagues from the 
road to no purpose, as I could derive no satisfaction from visiting, 
during the absence of my family, a place which it is more than probable 
I may never have occasion to see again. 

Pray be so kind as to explain this to my father ; to whom the prince 
may forget to mention the subject in the letter he is now writing to 
him, to convey such tidings as he desires to have mentioned to Count 
Nesselrode, rather than convey them to him in writing. As it was 
agreed between us at parting, there are other subjects of a still slighter 
nature, though perhaps equally important as political indications, which 
can be touched upon only in my private and confidential letters to 
yourself. Your own tact and experience will suggest how far it may be 
necessary to report them in the quarter where the results are most 
essential. 

On the morning succeeding our arrival, ere the prince had even 
solicited an audience for the delivery of his credentials, I had the honour 
of a visit from the Enghsh ambassador, either in deference to the 
letters of introduction addressed to him by Lord Elvinston, and his 
friends of the embassy here ; or with a view to strengthen his diplo- 
matic relations with the prince, by the promptness of his courtesy. I 
found him, at all events, an agreeable and intelligent acquaintance ; and 
one whose visits, either in his public or private capacity, cannot be too 
often renewed. 

In the course of the evening I received visits from the Austrian and 
l2 



148 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

Spanish ambassadresses. In the former I found all you announced to 
me : — graciousness, high-breeding, and the remains of much personal 
attraction : but a generalising tone of hollow courtesy, characteristic of 
that usage of the, world, fatal alike to intimacy and to the mistrust 
which you assure me is the next best thing with those whose sentiments 
and opinions we are intent upon discovering, 

I shall not lose sight of your often repeated advice to me, to form no 
intimate friendships with the ladies of the corps cUiAomatique, which, 
at certain junctures, might produce painful embarrassment ; and, in 
this instance, I experienced the necessity of your caution ; for the 
matronly tone and captivating manners of Madame Appony would, 
under other circumstances, have engaged my immediate confidence. 

The prince, on his return from the Tuileries, expressed himself more 
than satisfied with the graciousness of his majesty. He had previously 
passed a considerable portion of the morning with the minister for 
foreign affairs ; and announced to me my own presentation for the fol- 
lowing night — the court being on the eve of its departure for St. Cloud. 

Even if not apprised by yourself of the excited state of pubhc feeling 
here, and the jealousies consequent thereupon which have arisen in the 
royal family, I should have surmised, from certain peculiarities in the 
manner of Charles X., that he was in the state of feeling produced by 
having nerved himself for the discharge of obnoxious duties, and the 
assumption of an extreme line of conduct. My experience of the 
world is short, but it has been of late replete with vicissitudes ; and I 
believe that, by descending frequently into the depths of our own 
hearts, carefully searching our motives and connecting them with the 
result, and the result with the seeming of others, we may learn almost 
as much of human nature as by an extended study of mankind. 

From the moment Mademoiselle Moreau placed in my hands, as the 
solace of my dull hours at Schloss Eehfeld, La Bruyere and La Roche- 
foucault as a modern pendant to the works of Seneca and Cicero — which, 
during the lessons of the good pastor, were my favourite study — I took 
nearly as much heed of these things as poor Baron von Griinglatz of 
his insects and mosses ; and Vv'ith more profit, I hope, as regards the 
business of life. 

Had the circumstances of my birth or breeding favoured the deve- 
lopment of my affections, I should, perhaps, have trusted for my guidance 
to other instincts. But loveless as I grew up — loveless as I soon saw 
myself fated to remain, a first object to no single human being, I can 
only be thankful to the dispositions of Providence, which have pointed 
out to my desires a sphere of enjoyment as boundless as that which 
Marguerite had been so fortunate as to discover in the pleasures of 
domestic life. But all this is irrelevant, and will consequently appear 
tedious. 

To return to the king. In addition to his expression of forced and 
assumed positiveness, his countenance, I own, appeared to me less pre- 
possessing than his manners, which are those of a formal old gentleman 
of the last century, inaccessible, I should imagine, to any other plea- 
sures than the chase and the whist-table; and even those as a mere 
matter of routine. The enjoyments of kings must surely become as 
much an afl'air of duty and etiquette as the levee and the audience. I 
watched Charles X. after wiunmg a game. His only thought in the 

triumph was to prove to Marshal L , his i)artner, that, by a diflerent 

mode of play, it might have been made a double one. 

I am not sorry that the court is about to proceed to St. Cloud. It 



THE AMB.VSSADOE'S WIFE. 149 

will aftbrd me leisure for reconnoitring my ground ; and I can assure 
you that, after our brilliant fetes at St. Petersburg, and the distin- 
guished tone of the imperial circle, there is nothing very attractive in 
the circle of the Dauphine; who, by the waj^ has far more the air of 
being daugliter to the king, than her royal spouse, his son ; for every 
■word of her lips seems prompted by the nature of his majesty. 

I never saw two persons less prepossessing ; which is the more un- 
fortunate for the throne, at a moment when conciliation seems to be 
essential, and when the family at the Palais Poyai possess every quality 
not only to captivate, but to attach. I can scarcely permit myself to 
express my full admiration of the Duchess of Orleans and her charming 
daughters, remembering how cautiously you placed me on my guard 
against giving way to such predilections. 

Of Madame, the object of such vehement praises on the part of Count 
Alfred, and of some partiality on your own, I can at present understand 
nothing. To be well with the Pavilion de Marsan and the Pavilion de 
Flore is, I am assured, out of the question, (though the misunder- 
standings between them and their partizans may, possibly, produce 
results injurious to the interests of the throne ;) and as the latter is the 
point to which my attention has been directed, it matters the less that 
I dislike the manners of Madame, as flighty, and her countenance, as 
disadvantageously recalling that of the empress. . There is, moreover, 
an air of sarcastic irapertiaence prevalent in her circle, which, if indi- 
cative of high Parisian fashion, of which it is supposed to be the sanc- 
tuary, exhibits nothing to assist in diffusing the tenets of the sect. 

The Italian Opera, v/hich, of all the amusements of Paris, you re- 
commended exclusively to my attention, is closed for the season ; and as 
the prince judged it advisable that we should be seen as early as pos- 
sible in public, we appeared last night in our box at the Academie 
Royale. 

My first exclamation on bebolding the coud d'odl of the ballet, (for 
Rossini's Corate Ory was over before we were able to quit the first 
household dinner of the embassy,) was, " If the emperor and empress 
could only enjoy this spectacle ! " Delighting as they do in even the 
poor specimen of a ballet which, when in St. Petersburg, my inexpe- 
rience pronounced to be unique, because, dazzled by its splendour, I 
was blind to the imperfection of the corps de ballet— what would they 
think of the exquisite precision of Parisian dancing ? What would they 
say to the indescribable Taglioui ? 

I was not, however, permitted to enjoy the ballet as I could wish. 

Prepared to appear afterwards at the soiree of the Duchesse de C , 

it was impossible but that a new ambassadress in full dress should divide 
the honours of public cariosity with the stage ; and the result was a 
succession of visitors to our box, too illustrious to be voted importunate, 
including the Due de Chartres, the handsomest young man I have seen 
in Paris. Count Alfred, and an elder brother with whom he has made 
us acquainted, were with us the greater part of the evening ; that is, 
till .this royal visit gave a signal for the retreat enforced by etiquette. 

I conclude that the brilhancy of a spectacle so new to me as this 
exquisite Paris Opera, of which I had read till I was tired of reading, 
and consequently fancied I could behold with indifference, had put m"e 
into spirits ; for never did a circle of society strike me as so enchanting 
as that of the Duchesse de C . 

Already intimate with the prince during his diplomatic residence at 
the court of Naples, where the duke represented that of France, the 



150 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

duchess scarcely needed an introduction to place U3 on a friendly 
footing. On the contrary, it was she who successively presented to me 
all the ladies of her coterie, entreating me to honour them by my bonnes 
graces, in a tone to make me feel the compliment of the request. 

I found them charming. Never did 1 see a little party so perfectly 
assorted. It was not the night of the duchess's weekly receptions, 
when she cannot be secure against a crowd ; but aware that I could not 
be with her till after the opera, the party was invited expressly to meet 
me. No need for the prince to have announced to me beforehand that 
the clique of the duchess was composed of the elite of Paris. If there 
exist anything more agreeable or more distinguished than I saw last 
night, how miserably low must I fall in their estimation, and my own ! 

Neither Count Alfred nor his brother were invited to this party, which 
consisted of about twenty women and thirty men ; all of whom seemed 
to understand each other like brothers and sisters, yet without the 
smallest demonstrations of familiarity. In what consists this marvellous 
secret— this wonderful charm of Parisian courtliness which is no 
longer of the court ? All the ease and grace I missed au chateau, I 
found in the circle of the Duchesse de C ! 

I can now fully understand your assertion, that those who would ac- 
quire influence in Paris must found a salon. I perceive the importance 
of collecting a knot of associates, who, by their ramified connection with 
society, create an impression for one unseen, at once establishing one in 
the opinion of the world, and apprising one of its existence and varia- 
tions. 

The Duchesse de C , your kinsmen informed me, is of all the ladies 

of the Faubourg the most exclusive. Though acquainted with her from 
their birth, for instance, the Yaudreuils have never received an invita- 
tion to her house : nor would they take the liberty of asking leave to 
present themselves. Yourself, 1 find (probably as only a casual resident 
in Paris), were not of her coterie. Yet so unexceptionable is her choice 
of associates, that even Count Alfred, so hard to please, had not a sa- 
tirical comment to bestow on the salon of the Hotel de C . 

Upon the hints which I received there, both advisedly and by means of 
my own observations, I have been conferring with the prince on the rules 
to be observed in the formation of my own society. There is every dis- 
position, I see, on the part of this exclusive clique to appropriate me to 
itself. But the wide distinction between the accountable position of au 

ambassadress and the independence of the Duchesse de C , renders 

such a limitation impossible. As the prince justly observes, we are here 
to extend and strengthen the interests of Eussia, rather than consult 
our predilections or caprices ; and accordingly, though my girlish ap- 
pearance may have encouraged the duchess to instruct me somewhat too 
freely in the scandalous chronicle of the court, and to point out with too 
sweeping a hand the odiousness of the more liberal circles of the Fau- 
bourg St. Honore, I must take an early occasion to hint the exigencies 
of my position, and beg her to respect my patience under whatever 
burden of ennui it may impose. 

We are, in short, like all the other embassies here, to select a night ; 
nay, we must accept that allotted, by concert with the other ambas- 
sadresses, to the prince's predecessor, for the reception of all persons, 
French or foreign, previously presented here, or sufficiently introduced. 
These will henceforward constitute the frequenters of our official 
soirees ; but I am to be permitted a non-official night, when I may as- 
semble round me the friends who are to constitute my salon— the 



THE AilBASSADOE's WIFE. 151 

friends with whom the extensive European connection of the prince 
has brought him acquainted; those especially recommended to my 
friendship by the Countess Auguste on her return next autumn from 
the country ; and the society of the Hotel de C . 

Our good Mademoiselle Moreau is anxious that I should inscribe in 
my list of intimates her patroness the Countess de Choisy, and her 
pupil the Marquise de Montecourt. But with all due respect for her 
qualities as institutress (but for which I should have scarcely selected 
her for the confidential 'post she now holds about my person), and the 
greatest regard for her feelings, this concession is impossible. To in- 
troduce into my intimate circle two persons who do not naturally 
belong to it, would be to mar the harmony of what I wish to secure 
from a single jarring particle. 

My short experience of such matters in witnessing the formation of 
your own society in St. Petersburg, has w^arned me of the danger of ad- 
mitting, in the first instance, any individual likely to give exception to 
the rest of the set It is surprising, as I saw in the instance of Princess 

"W , how a single extraneous person will mar the good intelligence 

of a coterie di' elite. 

I have consequently declined ; and our good Therese is beginning 
sufficiently to understand the alteration of our relative position and 
the strength of my determination, to have resigned herself without 
remonstrance. On Tuesday next my little soirees begin— the public 
ones being suspended during the summer season. In a few weeks 
more, when the weather becomes less agreeable, the prince proposes 
our removal to a charming villa he has engaged at Suresne. As you 
may suppose, its immediate vicinity to Paris will oppose no obstacle to 
the contmuance of our parties. 

Accept, dear madam, the assurance of my utmost consideration ; and 
commend me affectionately to my father. Should inquiries be made of 
you concerning us, by persons whose remembrance were only too flat- 
teringly gratifying, be pleased to answer that my regrets on quitting 
St. Petersburg could have been effaced only by the hope of devoting 
my future life to the service of those who have so condescendingly- 
honoured me with their good opinion. 



Letter XXXI.— -From Princess Gallitxin to Viscountess Mvinston. 

Dearest Marguerite, ten thousand, thousand thanks ; not for your 
letter, for that obligation I had already commissioned our good Moreau 
(whose occupation in my estabUshment is to save me a world of trouble 
in letter writing) duly to acknowledge. My gratitude has a deeper 
origin ; and again and again let me thank you for those lively regrets 
for your beloved Paris, which, more than all the previous enthusiasm 
of the worthy Therese (which I attributed to mere nationality), inspired 
me with an intense desire to establish myself m Prance. 

But for you, who knows ! I might have resigned myself to the dreary- 
fate of accepting my cousin AYilhelm, and vegetating through life at 
Schloss Rehfeld— scarcely more alive than when ultimately mouldering 
in the vaults of our dreary old church ; for, but for you, the hand 



152 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

of the baron's daughter had never^ lost its vahie in the eyes of his 
successor. 

I regard yoa, therefore, not only as my redemption from all evil, but 
my introductor to all good ; for trust me, dear sister, the utmost you 
ever expressed to me in favour of the agrement of this place, falls far 
short of the charm 1 discover in its hourly increasing attraction. That 
you could have ever submitted to thedulness and homeliness of Eehfeld 
after Paris, is to me, indeed, incomprehensible ! 

A toleration 9f St. Petersburg I could have forgiven you, for St. 
Petersburg has its merits ; its ambitions to gratify, its difficulties to 
conquer. But for St, Petersburg, do not deny it, you entertained, 
although your country, a rooted aversion ; and when others used to 
condole with you on quitting your native land as the sole drawback on 
your auspicious marriage, I was never hypocrite enough to join my 
voice to theirs, conscious that in that particular you saw little to regret; 
and still more certain that the domestic life of England was likelier to 
satisfy your requirements, than the blaze of courtly subservience, con- 
stituting in K,ussia a life of aristocratic distinction. 

Nevertheless, dearest Marguerite, dream not that the Paris of your 
praise is the Paris of my delight. The blue sky seen from the garden 
of your beloved convent, the clear atmosphere, the early violets, or even 
your hours of recreation in the solemn Hotel de Yaudreuil, would, I 
fancy, have failed to secure to me the satisfaction your simpler heart 
found in those simple pleasures. 

I have visited your good sisterhood, Marguerite, feeling that it would 
yield them double dehght to receive your noble gifts from the hands of 
one who had seen you so recently, face to face, and was able to answer 
their interrogations concerning the new destinies of their lost favourite. 
"Worthy old souls are they, I admit ! I believe the affection of Soeur 
Marie for her pupil to be greater than was ever felt for myself by any 
human being — my poor Sara included. But I cannot accept them in 
connection with those pictures of Parisian gaite de cceur, which you used 
to sketch for my amusement at Eehfeld ; and which laid the foundations 
of a partiality, the means of eventually lodging me in the Faubourg St. 
Germain. 

How often have I smiled aside, in former days, at the pragmatical air 
with which my good gouvernante used to pronounce that cabalistic 
name, sacred to her, as that of a Mecca in the ears of a Turk ; and right 
well do I remember the instantaneous revolution of opinion respecting 
my father's marriage, produced in her mind by simple cognizance of the 
fact that the new baroness was issued of a noble house established in 
that thrice sanctified locality ! To have found Madame von Eehfeld 
niece to the Pope, would, I am convinced, have proved a minor 
recommendation ! 

Yet already I am beginning to understand this infatuation. In my 
solitude at Pehfeld I had dreamed of just such a world as I find en- 
closed in the heart's core of the aristocratic quarter of Paris ; a world 
sufficing to itself— understanding itself— and great in its littleness, 
because defying the innovations of greater greatness. You have no 
conception of the unapproachability of its one magic coterie. The 
imperial circle at St. Petersburg is not more immaculately exclusive ; 
but the imperial circle of St. Petersburg possesses, Heaven knows, 
little to recompense the ardour of those adventurous Titans, who 
might be disposed to heap Ossa on Pelion, in order to scale its lofty 
beatitudes. 



\ 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 153 



\How strange it seems to write thus freely and frankly, when anything 
iiAperial is in question ! But, laud we the ^ods, we are no longer ia 
lii^sia. Yon, dear Marguerite, are an inhabitant of a land all but law- 
less\y free ; and as regards our relative position, already " I have un- 
clasped to thee the book even of my secret thoughts," and will continue 
to unclasp it ; secure that not a word that ever passes from my pen to 
your eyes, will thenceforth transpire to the ear or eye of any other 
person. As regards your lord, indeed, at my request, he gave me a 
sacred promise to respect our correspondence, in requital of all the 
patience with which I bore with the rhapsodies of his courtship, and 
pleaded his cause. 

From all I have said in honour of your and poor Moreau's beloved 
Faubourg, you will naturally infer that it pronounces an equally 
gracious verdict on myself. Your cousins, Alfred and his charm- 
ing brother, who are completely established in the diplomatic circles, 
assure me that I am to rival in popularity Madame Awony. It is 
not, however, popularity that will satisfy my ambition ; I must have 
influence. The most popular people are often, nay usually, the least 
influential. Influence is the evidence of superiority ; while mediocrity 
is one of the main sources of popularity. The world is composed of 
mediocre people; and we rarely aflection those who rise superior to 
our own level. 

I repeat, therefore, that I must have influence. I must have it for 
the sake of the prince, and for the sake of my own pleasure. Were I 
not entitled to it, I should not experience the desire. 

De Retz has told us that it is a vulgar policy to descend to littleness, 
in order to achieve greatness ; and I am determined to achieve the top 
of the pyramid, by stooping to it like an eagle, not by crawling a slow 
and miserable ascent. My first object, therefore, will be to show myself 
superior to the situation I have attained. 

When I reflect that, scarcely a year ago, I was lost in the tedious 
obscurity of Eehfeld (which I scarcely estimate a life worth living)— 
when I remember that my utmost ambition then, was to preside 
supreme in the unrefined circles of the Residenz, branded with the 
indelible impress of mediocrity,— when I consider that even this poor 
ambition, the result of my inexperience, was blighted by the marriage 
of my father, which reduced me even in my own home to utter insig- 
nificance; and behold myself woiw— now as I am— and still more, as I 
intend to be. I can scarcely venture to surmise what time, so fertile in 
change for me, may have in store ! 

For do not imagine, dear Marguerite, that T enjoy in Paris merely 
the delicious laissez oiler of its graceful existence. However enchanted 
by the majestic halls of the Tuileries, or the smooth level of daily 
society in the succession of charming salons to which I am introduced, 
to me this capital has a twofold existence. I admire the brilliant Opera- 
house — the Champs Elysees crowded with equipages, the motley boule- 
vards—the noble hotels ; I find myself surrounded by lovely idolatresses 
of fashion, whose every change of dress would flutter the heart of our 
poor empress ; I accept the homage of the courtly, and listen with 
pleasure to a piquant edition of the last bon-mot reported by some idler 

of the English Club, or some elegant of the Hotel de C . But amid 

all this, I do not lose sight of the Paris of my studies— the Paris of my 
dreams— the Paris of the olden time, where woman was a presiding 
influence — where even her beauty was rendered subsidiary by her in- 
telligence ; when queen-regents carried the day against ministers and 



151 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

cardinals; and when the opinions of the age were concocted in the 
salons of women, rather than in the library of the sage ! 

This national character cannot surely have passed away. AYith all 
that has been done to alter the nature of the French by the terrors of a 
revolution, and the subsequent durance of a military despotism— young 
France is always the child of old France ; and the Paris of tc-day 
must retain the features of the Paris of yesterday, just as in the 
gallery at Eehfeld, precisely the same countenance is discernible 
under the court suit and periwig of my grandfather, which assumed 
a sterner air in the mailed vesture of the Barons von Eehfeld of the 
middle ages. 

The apparent levity and frivolity of the Parisians conceal a world of 
tact and finesse ; and, as the wily angler ascertains his success by watch- 
ing the float that dances demonstratively on the surface of the stream, 
those who aspire to succeed in the rapid current of French society, 
must note with care the sHghtest demonstrations of its surface. 

It is not here as at St. Petersburg. Dress, vanity, pleasure exercise 
there an influence so powerful as to crush all higher purposes. Here, 
dress, vanity, and pleasure appear to occupy the same space : while, in 
realitj% they resemble our German quilts of eiderdown, able to supply 
warmth and covering, by expanding into an article of furniture ; but 
susceptible of compression into a pocket size, to be concealed from 
sight till occasion for their reproduction again presents itself. 

Observe, my dearest Marguerite, how readily I fall into the error of 
female correspondence, by WTiting to you out of the abundance of my 
heart, although my letter will touch no answering chord in your 
own ! Eevenge yourself ! I confess to you that, hitherto, I have expe- 
rienced little sympathy with your petticoated Highlanders. But give 
me a full account of your new habits of life; and I promise you to 
peruse it with interest and pay it with the same. 

A thousand compliments to your lord. Tell him to like' me more 
steadily as a sister than he did as a friend ; and for the present both of 
ye, farewell ! 



Letter XXXII. — From Count Alfred de Vaudreuil tofhe Count Erloff, 
Moscoiv. 

Weee it not for the power of conveying my letters to you under the 
safeguard of our diplomatic seal, my dear Leek, not even your solicita- 
tions would beguile me into the bore of so shaping my words as to meet 
with decorum the eye of your imperial chef de police. But I fancy I 
am pretty safe, and accordingly comply with your strangely urgent 
request. 

Now that all is over, and we have each accepted our oyster-shell, 
while the hard-headed and hard-hearted diplomat carries oflf the 
oyster, you are beginning to do me justice. Let me do you more 
than justice in return, by the superfluous candour of explaining the 
exact state of my feelings, past and present, and, as far as I can 
guess, future, towards your fairest of step-sisters. 

To begin with the beginning, I am not, either by nature or birth- 
right, a marrying man. I have too sincere a regard for myself to 
share with another, either my limited .fortunes or boundless liberty, 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 155 

when I can enjoy it all to myself. In Paris, as a cadet cle famille of 
honourable name and tolerable appearance, I possess means of enjoy- 
ment such as the gods might envy. But the enjoyments which gods 
are said to envy, often become insupportably monotonous to mere 
mortals ; which is the only excuse I can give for having attempted 
that absurd expedition to Germany, which ended in freezing my soul 
out six bitter months in your imperial ice-house, by the side of the 
ambitious Ida. 

After visiting Carlsliad and Toplitz for the diversion of my erinid, I 
was pleased with the idea of pressing a kindred hand in the deserts of 
Saxony, little imagining that my presence at Eehfeld, at the moment of 
my fair cousin's inauguration in her new chateau, would bring me 
acquainted with a prettier, wittier, and more piquante little persoh 
than I had left behind in all the angelic coteries of the archangelic 
Faubourg. In your step-sister, as I first beheld her, there was some- 
thing irresistibly attractive. The almost celestial purity of her com- 
plexion and girlishness of her air, inspired me with visions more poetical 
than altogether became my vocation as a roue, of the ethereal origin of 
the sex. 

How long the illusion lasted I can scarcely take upon me to remem- 
ber ; just as long, however, as I believed the simplicity of her nature to 
equal the simplicity of her appearance. On the poor child, her father's 
marriage had fallen like a thunderbolt; and pitying her as a victim, 
and disposed to convert pity into protection, I was, I admit, a moment 
thrown oflf my guard. I saw that 1 had made a prodigious impression 
on the youngest heart which had ever fallen within the range of my 
attractions, and was not displeased. 

Heaven knows to what excess my weakness might have been carried, 
for in pretending to perfect her education and correct her tastes, at your 
mother's express desire, I Avas beginning to perfect my own. But it 
suddenly suggested itself to me, or if the truth must be told, I fancy it 
was suggested to me by the baroness, that this seemingly simple girl 
was far more ingenious than ingenuous ; and that heart-sick of her 
subordinate position and wild to visit Paris, which a cleverish old maid 
of a governess had rendered the Loretto of her adoration, she Avas 
bent upon entrapping me into an offer of my hand. 

A Countess de Yaudreuil on a third floor in the Eue de Grenelle, 
would be, I admit, a woman far more deserving envy than a Baroness 
von Eehfeld, Eehfeld born, united to a Saxon clodpole. But any countess 
in whose favour I might be tempted into! sacrificing my prospects in 
life, must be one who renounces, for my sake, a German principality or 
Neapolitan duchy, not a girl who accepts me on so villanous an alterna- 
tive. I hardened my heart, therefore, and had no mercy. I probed 
the little manoeuvrer to the quick, by thenceforward restricting my 
attentions as in kinsmanship bound, to Marguerite (who, by the way, 
regarded them far less gratefully than the homage of the clodpole afore- 
said, who used to look idylls at her and sigh Goethisms, from morning 
till night) ; while Ida, by her mode of resenting, rather i\i2ca feeling my 
desertion, convinced me that your mother's assertions were well 
grounded: that some hearts are hornoXHi, some crippled by education; 
and that the Lily of Eehfeld, in spite of her limpid eyes and alabaster 
skin, possessed the decrepit soul of a card-playing old dowager. 

How could one persist in loving such a girl ? I determined to grow 
indifferent, and did not succeed. I determined to detest her, and 
succeeded better ; for it is easier to pass from one extreme to another 



156 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

than pause midway. But, between hating and loving, my feelings were 
of so strange and intermingled a nature, that I could not refrain from 
playing the will-o'-the-wisp with her when occasion offered; and will 
not deny that I had all the share of which j'ou accuse me, in inducing 
her to become the wife of Sergius Gallitzin. 

I saw that ]\Iarguerite could never be happy with such a man. Ser 
tender and affectionate nature seemed to demand the solace of domestic 
life and mutual affection, incompatible with his worldly nature ; and 
when so brilliant and auspicious an opportunity for her establishment 
in life presented itself in the generous attachment of Elvinston, it 
aff'orded me no small satisfaction to behold her fortunes far overtower 
those of her ambitious step-sister. 

At that moment you made your appearance at St. Petersburg ; stung 
almost to madness by the increasing perplexities of your situation ; 
detesting your mother's marriage, yet having deprived yourelf, by your 
own indiscretions, of the right of remonstrance. The moment I saw 
you I determined to enlist your good offices in favour of my friend 
Elvinston, against the whining, fleecy-headed Werther, whom I sus- 
pected of having insinuated himself at Eehfeld into your sister's good 
graces. But 1 soon found my interference superfluous. Your unlucky 
position at that moment rendered it indispensable t]^at Marguerite 
should release her dowry and gacriffceher girlish chimeras, by becoming 
the wife of one of the richest subjects in Europe, and one of the best 
fellows in the world. 

So far, so good. I was content. Your difficulties were removed, and 
so were Elvinston's. But I had not yet forgiven Ida, who was assuming 
towards me at St. Petersburg a beauty's privilege of impertinence. 
Satisfied that Gallitzin, who is so cunning a calculator, and had aspired 
to your sister's hand chiefly as the daughter of a deceased favourite of 
the late emperor, and living favourite of the present empress, would 
discern nothing to forward his interests in an alliance of a Mademoiselle 
von Eehfeld, I lost no opportunity to dazzle her eyes with pictures of 
the brilliant position Marguerite would have enjoyed as his wife. I 
spoke of Paris as even old Therese had never spoken ; I described the 
Faubourg society as she was unable to describe it ; and, by degrees, 
raised such a ferment of vanity in her brain as effaced all stronger sen- 
timents, like the sea-foam frothing over some mighty wreck. 

I admit, my dear Alexis (in the confederacy of sexhood forgive the 
confession)! that I was enchanted to find that hard head softened by 
mortification, as well as that soft heart hardened by worldliness ; for a 
girl of eighteen who dares to be ambitious deserves, in my opinion, the 
condemnation of the fallen angels. 

Judge, therefore, of my vexation, when at that moment the sudden 
notice of the emperor imparted new life and bloom to the broken stalk 
of the Lily of Eehfeld ! It was rumoured by the spiteful tongue, I 

suspect, of Princess AV , that the whole was a master-stroke of your 

mother's policy ; and that, discerning your wild passion for her step- 
daughter, and intent upon banishing her from Eussia, she contrived 
to draw such attention to the very singular nature of her talents and 
accomplishments, as, in the sequel, convinced both the emperor and his 
favourite that a more auspicious ambassadress could not be selected. 

Others affirm that the discovery was made by the prince ; that his 
choice of a bride of eighteen, fairer than Hebe, was a mere cold-blooded 
act of calculation ; and that the acquaintance of Nicholas with Made- 
moiselle von Eehfeld arose solely from his desire of personally esti- 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 157 

mating her qualifications to become tlie wife of a man whom he regards 
as one of his most efficient servants. Be it as it may, the result was 
the singular realization of Ida's utmost pretensions, — my own discom- 
fiture as a stratesist — and your despair as a lover. I was taken in my 
oxen toils, as yoxi in hers. 

You are, therefore, so far right in asserting me to be the origin of 
what you term this hateful marriage, that I was the means of inspiring 
Princess Gallitzin with a passion for Paris, which has brought her where 
she is, cliez nous, et cliez elle. But you do me too much honour — or 
f?e.shonour — in the far-sighted designs you impute to me. As one of the 
family, I dare avow to you without shame that, throughout the affair, 
I have been far more the dupe than the duper. 

For your own feelings I can make due allowance. Through life you 
have had much to harass— much to irritate. The ruin of an honourable 
father— his despair— his death, produced by the extravagance and levity 
of his wife, form, I admit, a sufficient plea for the lapse of filial respect 
which characterizes your last letter. Had you ever possessed a happy 
home, you say ; had you, on attaining to maturity, found a parent on 
whom to lean for counsel, you should never have fallen into the excesses 
which, I fear, may yet produce a pernicious influence on your career, 
should some of the innumerable spies, with which your delectable court 
abounds, convey to the ear of the emperor the secret cause of your 
sister's marriage. 

To do him justice, the affection of Nicholas for the memory of his 
brother, and the memory of those who loved and served his brother, is 
more hkely to render him a stern than a partial judge in such a cause. 

Not to dwell, however, upon evils you have bitterly regretted and 
follies you bitterly repent, I can only too well understand the conflict 
in your mind, when, on your arrival here, full of indignation agamst 
your mother, full of hatred against the Rehfelds, prepared to oppose 
every concession offered you, resent every counsel, and insult every 
member of the family, you discovered by the very hearth-side to Avhich 
you brought your rage and indignation, a being so exquisitely gifted as 
the lovely Lily. Prom all she appeared to me at Schloss Eehfeid, I can 
estimate all she may have seemed to you at St. Petersburg. 

I am satisfied that your mother, vvithher usual doubleness of dealing, 
entreated, on perceiving the irritation of your mind, the aid of her 
step-daughter in coucihating her rebellious son. Ida loves to be enlisted 
in a cause— loves to be made a party to a stratagem ; and you must 
excuse me if I attribute many of the attractions on which your letter 
so forcibly enlarges, to the assiduity with which the cold-hearted beauty 
fulfilled the letter of her instructions ; and, like some virgin in a magic 
J tale, conquered by the force of her charms the feroicty of a savage 

assailant. 
! All I can now say in the way of exhortation, is, " resume your 
I affections as hastily as they were lavished." I am convinced that Prin- 
j cess Gallitzin has not bestowed a thought upon you since she quitted 
\ St. Petersburg. Such an assertion may excite your indignation ; but 
honesty is not only the best pohcy, but in this instance the truest 
I friendship. 

y All her care is to maintain her consequence here, and the influence 
H of the prince with the government at home. To fulfil, or if possible 
'l forestal their lettersof instruction from St. Petersburg, is the study of her 
j life ; and were you to see the address with which this syren of eighteen 
t —this dove with^ the guile of the serpent— has managed to conciliate the 



158 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

persons acceptable to the present policy of 4he Russian cabinet, you 
would admit that the admiration conceded by the diploDiatic world to 
Talleyrand at eighty, ought in her instance to be increased a thousand 
fold. 

I use the word "admiration " here in the sense of "wonder: " having 
little affection for feminine policy. Let the lovely creatures conquer, 
perforce of the brightness of their eyes and coral of their Hps. Any 
excess of brains in the charming head of a pretty woman is, after all, 
miserably de trop ! 

Let me hear of your speedy recovery, therefore, as you value my 
cousinly good opinion. 



Letter XXXIII.— i^*•o»^ Viscountess Elvinston at WoolstJiorpe Parlcy 
to Princess GalUtzin in Paris. 

I SHOULD be afraid dearest Ida, of incurring the charge of egotism, did 
you not persist in expressing your desire that I should acquaint you 
with all I see, hear, and perhaps misunderstand of my new country; 
for I have little doubt that your clear intellect will form truer deduc- 
tions than my own, from the bare facts I record for your amusement. 

I told you of our safe arrival here. The gratifying manner of our re- 
ception I should hesitate to describe, but that it conveys a mere tribute 
of affection to the person of my husband, and deference to his family. 
On reaching the confines of the Elvinston estates, in Yorkshire, we 
were met by an assemblage of his chief tenants on horseback, wearing 
wedding favours, who escorted us homewards as a guard of honour. 

In many of the villages through which we passed, rustic arches of 
triumph had been erected, ornamented with evergreens and flowers by 
the hands of the people ; and I must admit that the finest architectural 
monuments of Paris or St. Petersburg never afforded me half the grati- 
fication I derived from these rude attempts at design, with their mis- 
spelt inscriptions, and equivocal perpendicular. The really splendid 
one constructed at the entrance of the park, by the zeal I conclude of 
Lord Elvinston's steward, which was decorated with rich white banners 
inscribed with my name, and bridal festoons of rare white exotics, 
pleased me far less than the rougher attempts of the peasantry. 

I have seen these sort of public demonstrations in Paris, where they 
arc said to be organized by the intervention of the police ; and in St. 
Petersburg, where loyalty is inculcated with so iron a hand, that you 
have to choose between devotion to the emperor— and Siberia ! But in 
this land of freedom, where all sentiments, public or private, are spon- 
taneous, it is delightful to be able to rely on the sincerity of similar 
tokens of affection. 

Lord Elvinston is, I am satisfied, an excellent landlord. He tells 
me, with a smile, that he is simply the descendant of those who have 
been good landlords in their time ; and that his guardian. Sir Thomas 
Meredyth, is just now better entitled than himself to the huzzas of his 
tenants. For my part, I see no use in too curiously analyzing the origin 
of people's affection. In this world it is so primary a happiness to be 
loved, that I am content to accept the sentiment without examining its 
genealogy. 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 159 

Dearest Ida !— If you could only behold the landscape lying beneath 
my windows ! But you will see it. The prince will not refuse us the 
happiness of a visit, when the length of his sojourn at Parjs entitles him 
to leave of absence. Meanwhile, let me attempt to describe it, by way 
of temptation. 

You may remember how genuine was my admiration of the fine 
environs of Schloss Rehfeld. The English landscapes, more contracted, 
possess all the verdant beauty I have seen even you admire in the 
landscapes of Hobbima; and though your forests are, I still admit, 
magnificent in extent," to behold fine timber-trees you must visit our 
English parks. IMany of the oaks in our own, are of three hundred 
years' well attested antiquity, and consequently in their pride ;— nor 
can you imagine anything richer than the masses of noble trees with 
deer herding around them which overshadow the valleys and crown 
the acclivities of Woolsthorpe— a spot singularly favoured and diversi- 
fied by the hand of nature. 

A sparkling river, the Greta, runs through the grounds, concealed 
from sight in parts by rocky banks, which impart double grace to the 
ornate richness of the surrounding scenery. The greensward of the 
park which, till the time of Henry YIII. was attached to a noble 
monastery, the ruins of which constitute one of the chief ornaments of 
the landscape, had then b'een several hundred years enclosed, and is 
fine as velvet. Altogether, I had scarcely imagined that nature could 
wear, in any time or place, so holiday a suit. When I reflect upon the 
rugged environs of Paris, the formal roads, the brushwood of the Bois 
de Boulogne, and the frightful and unclothed country through which 
we reached it from Gernaany (most sadly controverting the name of la 
belle France),— when 1 think of the rudeness, imposing as it was, of 
your simple Saxony, it appears to me that the choice bit of landscape I 
am now contemplating must resemble the garden planted by God him- 
self when earth was all innocence and peace ! 

For it is not alone the vast sweep of the park, with its groves of elm 
and beech, and ferny dells dotted with ancient thorns to which the deer 
love to resort at this balmy season, which constitute the resemblance. 
Nearer home, close to the house, there is a flower garden rich beyond 
all that even my wildest imagination had conjectured of floral beauty. 
Every plant I ever saw cultivated elsewhere as strange and rare, here 
abounds; for the English spare neither cost nor pains in gathering 
from the farthest countries of the world the treasures of their vege- 
tation. 

Well do I remember your disappointment, on visiting the winter 
garden of St. Petersburg ! All you had heard of the colossal dimen- 
sions of that unique conservatory was exceeded by the truth. Yet we 
were forced to agree that the growth of the plants did little honour to 
so grand a locality ; while as to the tropical birds so often described as 
domesticated among the branches of their appropriate trees, the poorest 
aviary of Paris has a better claim to admiration; a few sickly parrots, 
lories, and bengalees affording little embeUishment to the spot. 

The conservatories surrounding two sides of the mansion (here so 
that the windows of the drawing-room and breakfast room open into 
them as to a garden), though of less magnificent dimensions, afford a 
far more enchanting spectacle ; being carefully filled and refilled from 
the larger conservatories of a distant garden. Not a plant ever meets 
my eye but in its fullest effulgence of bloom;— and such plants— such 
flowers !— One might fancy them the creation of a fairy tale I 



160 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

The house is of what is called here Elizabethan architecture, serui- 
gothic and of great dignity. Elvinston informs me that the purists in 
tiL^te of his county found great fault with the erection of the conserva- 
Un-ies, by his father, as deteriorative to the symmetry of the mansion. 
But the'late Lord Elvinston made the sacrifice to the passion for flowers 
of his wife : asserting the right of the proprietor of a house to study his 
own pleasure as an inhabitant, rather than that of casual spectators. 
And thanks be unto him for the concession ! for never do I come down 
to breakfast to enjoy a garden vista defying all changes of weather or 
temperature, without emotions of gratitude. It is so delightful to have 
our dearest enjoyments thus brou^it home to us ! 

The apartments are adorned with exquisite pictures. A Claude, a 
Titian, a Ruysdael, a Giorgione, a Carlo Dolce, a Dominichino, each a 
chef-cVoeuvre, decorate the room in which I am writing. Where is the 
mansion of the Eaubourg St. Germain or the French chateau you will 
find thus richly adorned ? Where can you point me out a noble i)rivate 
library, such as the one eighty feet in length, which I now behold in 
perspective, cool, quiet, inviting to study ; a few bronzes, a pair of 
magnificent globes, and the stately jasper vases dispatched hither from 
St. "Petersburg by my husband, alone diverting the eye from its long 
and galleried ranges of sober book-cases, and the solid central tables 
covered with portfolios of engravings or writing materials. When I re- 
member the half-furnished and barrack-like hbraries of the few great 
houses I had an opportunity of visiting in Russia, I am forced to admit 
that we have but roughly imitated the English model which, in this 
respect, we pretend to excel. 

The dining-room is vast and solemn, as befits a dining-room, which 
ought to borrow its briUiancy from the table, as a theatre from the stage. 
It is hung with hunting pieces by Snyders and Hondekoeter, with por- 
traits of the late Lord and Lady Elvinston and their son, by Lawrence, 
at the head of the room, the complete series of family portraits being at 
the seat in Scotland, the cradle of this ancient line. The panelhng of 
the dining-room is of oak, richly carved, more especially that of the 
recesses appropriated on festive occasions to the display of hunting cups 
and gilt plate. 

When I first entered this chamber, I thouijht it dull and dispiriting, 
and missed the marble and scagliola, which appropriately adorn the 
banqueting halls of my own country. But a moment's reflection, and 
Elvinston's representations, convinced me that a warmer style of deco- 
ration is fitter for this climate, which neither requires tlie stove warmth, 
indispensable in Russia, nor demands much consideration for the warm 
months which, alas ! for the credit of English taste, are chiefly spent in 
the metropolis. Its dulness, moreover, though doubtless dispelled by 
the lighting up of the gilt chandeliers vvhich overhang the table, con- 
cerns me little ; for we have a snug suite of rooms for domestic use, the 
dining-room of which overlooks a beautiful flower garden, and is 
freshened at will by a marble fountain fronting the windows. 

The chief distinction of Woolsthorpe in my foreign eyes consists in 
the multitude and elegance of its bed-chambers. Our summer chateaux 
are. by comparison, sadly naked and meagre. 

You can imagine nothing, indeed, more elegant and commodious than 
these little suites, the chief of which would constitute, in Paris, '' mi 
appartement richement decorc et orne de glaces." 

Such, dearest Ida, is the home yoli have insisted on my describing ; 
the almost regal home, for I can call to mind nothing but St. Cloud to 



THE A3IBASSAD0E'S WIFE. 161 

which it bears any resemblance; and even then, it is St, Cloud united 
with Neuilly, and placed in the middle of the park of Versailles, on the 
verge of the wild scenery of Fontainebleau. 

Is this not really a paradise ? And yet, how feebly does even that 
word convey an impression of its beauty of scenery, its luxurious do- 
mestic arrangements, its appropriateness to the comfort of inmates of 
all classes, the exigences of the climate, and the habits of the country ! 

At present, however, the said climate wears so smihng an aspect, that 
I have no longer faith in the assertions, or, as my husband calls them, 
fables of my cousin Alfred, that its rigorous winter would be all the 
better borne for our double casements of St. Petersburg, or the substi- 
tution of your German stoves for our vast chimney-pieces. 

I never enjoyed mere luxury of weather, indeed, till I experienced 
summer warmth in combination with the variable skies of England, in 
which the overclouded sun seems to possess a natural screen, enabling 
one to enjoy its beams at leisure. 

An evening stroll in the flower-gardens or extensive shrubberies of 
"Woolsthorpe, in one of which is a transparent lake, the dotting islands 
of which, at this season of the year, brightened with blooming American 
shrubs, reflect themselves in the still water, would fairly reconcile you 
to the climate of England. At this moment, I can imagine you return- 
ing from an airing in the Bois, your dress covered with dust, your eyes 
smarting from the glare of those chalky fields, whose sickly herbage and 
pale foliage bear evidence of the plastery soil below, the sky all glare, 
the landscape all exhaustion, while human nature shrinks from the 
influence of such scorching summer heat! 

Here, on the contrary, all is freshness and repose. Every sense finds 
unmingled enjoyment. JBut you will call me an enthusiast, dearest Ida, 
a charge which, heaven knows, you never made against me before ! 

Two words more — the villages, the rustic population ! You can figure 
to yourself nothing more pastoral than the hamlets niched into wooded 
dells among the corn-fields, each freshened by a brawling brook, and 
revealed in the distance by a simple spire, the humble houses of which, 
I admit, would make a better study for the philanthropist than the 
artist ; for comfort and decency are really picturesque. 

I cannot endure fanciful villages, such as one sees in the seigneurial 
village of St. Petersburg, or at the royal Petit Trianon. Avith which you 
are by this time familiar, A village ought to look as if made to labour 
in, pray in, love in, live in, die in, humbly, but honestly; whereas 
your picturesque Swiss chalets and kiosks, when introduced into foreign 
countries, are to me a mockery of poverty ! 

You will, perhaps, be angry, dear sister, that I should have enlarged 
so mercilessly upon my new belongings (which, believe me, I admire 
not an atom the more that I have even a share in the possession), as to 
leave myself no room for replying to your questions concerning the 
state of parties in England. You well know how little I understand, 
or have ever concerned myself about such things. Even Elvinston 
is accused by his family of being still shamefully deficient in political 
zeal or knowledge. It is fit, however, he owns, that he should redeem 
his lost time. Next year he will take his seat in Parliament ; and then 
I promise to devote myself to such studies as may enable me to answer 
your questions. 

Even as regards the popularity of the Eussian minister here, I am 
unable to reply. As a Eussian born, I should scarcely like to ask a 
question of either of my sisters-in-law, which they misht hesitate tr 

3[ 



162 THE AMBASSADOIl'S WIFE. 

answer, if the re])ly were likely to be unsatisfactory. I have heard 
Elvinston assert that Prince Lieven— but it is needless to repeat obser- 
vations of which you were an ear-witness as well as myself. 

We are to remain in this fair and prosperous spot till the beginning 
of August, when we repair to Elvinston Castle for the opening of the 
chase, which is there called moor-shooting, to distinguish it from the 
tamer sports of the South. 

Before that time, however, dearest sister, pray write to me, and con- 
tinue to give me the same flattering accounts of your health and happi- 
ness which have completed my happiness in my new country. 



Letter XXXIY. — From Princess GaUitzin, in Paris, to Viscountess 
Elvinston. 

Thanks, dear Lady Elvinston, for j'our charming account of London. 
I have been trying to convert to your favourable mode of viewing it one 
or two of the diplomatic intimates of my society, who have been formerly 
martyrized by a residence at the English court. But, alas ! the London 
of their inventions differs widely from the London of yours. 

It is, however, as natural you should see it en beau, as that I should 
be enraptured with Paris. The charm of novelty goes for much ; the 
dehght of associating with those in whom we inspire only sentiments 
of good-will and admiration for more. Both of us are enchanted with 
what we see, because those we see appear to be enchanted with ourselves. 

Our time has been passing most agreeably. As yet, none of the corps 
diplomatique have left Paris ; and the summer soirees continue on so 
easy a footing, that I often repair to tbem en demie toilette after a drive 
in the Bois or the Champs Ely sees. AVhist and conversation form the sole 
diversion of these meetings, unless, when, now and then, a dejeuner 
dansant enlivens the villas of the environs. 

At these villas we also enjoy frequent dinners. The Princesse do 
Montmorency has a delightful park at Auteuil ; your countrywoman. 
Princess Bagration, one at Suresne ; the Austrian ambassador one at 
Bellevue. In addition to these pleasant houses, we have dined with the 
royal family at St. Cloud, and the Duke of Orleans at Neuilly, and are 
invited to spend a week with Madame at her more distant Chateau of 
Eosny. 

Luring my first fortnight in Paris, the Luchesse de C was con- 
stantly compassionating me for the publicity of my position, both as an 
ambassadress and a stranger. 

"At present, I fear, you must feel uncomfortable from standing out 
so prominently in relief," said she. " At present, my dear, you are 
printed in italics. But the misfortune will not last. T\'e Erench are 
ill-bred enough to have a terrible vocation for running after novelties 
and staring at strangers. You soon will subside into one of us, and 
enjoy that enjoyment above all others, of passing unobserved with the 
mass and following your own devices." 

I scarcely liked to admit to my new friend that I saw no greai 
attraction in such a prospect. The consummation, however, appears n^ 
nearer than at first. I am still not only follo>,ved by the throng when 



e 

'S 

y 

1 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 163 

ever our showy equipage is in request for some royal dinner-party ; but 
every time I appear in private society, groups of new acquaintances 
thicken and close around rae, strivins; v/ho shall first interest my atten- 
tion. Half of this assiduity arises from curiosity. The Parisians are 
surprised to find a foreigner — a German especially — speaking their 
laniiuage and versed in their ideas, as though born in the Faubourg and 
bred at the Sacre Coeur ; and I suspect that many of the earnest efforts 
made to engage me in conversation purport the amiable design of finding 
me, on some point or ether, at fault. 

There are, as Princess W apprised me, a few Russians of distinction 

settled here, and many more constantly in transit through Paris, chiefly 
pleasure-lovers, enamoured of the gay boulevards and brilliant theatres, 
which, to me, constitute its smallest attraction. Here, as wherever else 
they travel, they form a prominent feature. Their riches and reckless- 
ness /o?i^ parler d'eux, and not always as favourably as one could wish ; 
for, though the finest jewels at court are usually borne onEussian brows 
and uniforms, and the richest equipages and best opera-boxes appro- 
priated to their owners, there is sure to :ibe some strange anecdote 
attached to each— some trait of eccentricity or remnant of barbarism— 
to degrade them in the critical eye of Parisian refinement. 

Still, they are mostly agreeable — and doubly agreeable to me, as 
forming my natural satellites in this country. If it be the pleasure of 
others, it is their business to pay me their court ; nor can I accuse them 
of any want of prodigality in their homage. On my arrival I was forced 
to encounter a round of official dinner giving and enduring w^ith these 
people, and was easily reconciled to the duty, on learning that, but for 
the Eussian habit of reporting to the German baths before the leaves 
are on the trees, I should have had to undergo four times the amount 
of civilities. 

My intercourse with these people, moreover, constitutes as much a 

duty as the society of the Hotel de C a pleasure. The place they 

are to attain in French society depends mainly upon that conceded to 
them by their ambassador; and it requires some tact, and, above all, 
careful reference to the emperor's pleasure, to know ^vho are to be 
received with open arms, who with composure, toJio with coldness, tvlio 
carelessly excluded, icko scornfully ! 

This portion of my task is the more critical, that I have no precedent 
to recall to mind in the conduct of Madame von Eehfeld under similar 
circumstances. At St. Petersburg, even the brother or sister of an 
ambassador, if neglected by the court, would acquire no importance 
in society by such relationship ; nor did our poor Eesidenz despatch 
thither travellers of sufficient note, to make it of much consequence 
whether she invited them to her soirees, or left them to grovel in the 
commercial coteries to which they naturally appertained. 

Here, all is on a different footing. At the diplomatic dinners, at 
court, everywhere, the leading Eussians are naturally invited to meet 
their ambassador; and as it frequently happens that they owe their 
introductions in Paris to sources wholly disconnected with the imperial 
crown (such as former obligations of the late king during his residence 
at Mittau, or civilities bestowed in St. Petersburg upon former 
ambassadors or travellers of the French nation), the task is often 
perplexing. 

The English embassy— even if the English government were sus- 
ceptible on such points, instead of utterly indifterent — has a com- 
paratively easy duty. In a few hours, the telegraph conveys news to 

M 2 



164 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

England ; in two days a courier brings instructions ; and the ambas- 
sador may regulate bis negotiations, and the ambassadress her courtesies, 
by order of the cabinet at home, without keeping a protocol or an 
invitation in suspense. 

Our position is more difficult. The representative of Russia must be 
a man qualified to act on his own authority ; a man of understanding, 
rather than the mere showy lay-figure with a clever secretary, which, 
nine times in ten, constitutes the materiel of an ambassador. 

It is as regards my enlightenment on such points that your mother's 
correspondence is invaluable to me. Before I quitted Kussia copious 
letters of instruction were vouchsafed us ; and the personal confidence 
-existing betweeen the emperor and Prince Gallitzin seemed to trace 
the way straight before us. But it sometimes happens that a pebble is 
as great an obstacle to the progress of machinery as a fragment of 
granite ; and some of the petty personages here, of whom I have to form 
my own judgment, and act upon it, puzzle me exceedingly. It would be 
pleasant enough to be able to like or dislike these country-people of my 
husband, according to the dictates of my feelings ; but this is impossible. 

By the way, on a knotty point of this description, you, dear Mar- 
guerite, can render me a service. Pray, obtain from Lord Elvinston 
some renseignements concerning an English family, against which I run 
my head at every turn, my head profiting little by the collision ; for 
they are as unenlightened as they are fashionable and showy ; a Lady 
Fauconberg and her two daughters — the one married, the other a 
marie/'. They have resided, at various times, in various parts of the 
continent ; and, thanks to her fortune, figure, and diamonds. Lady F. 
appears to have acquired a certain station in society ; nor, till she opens 
her mouth, would any one suspect the vulgarity of nature with which 
so much superficial elegance is connected. 

At first sight, I conceived a prejudice against these women. The bold 
and barefaced measure of their flattery — one of the coarsest arts of 
pushing people — determined me to keep them out of my intimate circle. 
But let no one form resolutions concerning Lady Fauconberg without 
making her a party in the project ! Familiar with me sbe was deter- 
mined to become ; and in spite of my interdictory looks and orders, I 
find her established at the embassy on the easiest footing. By talking of 
her bosom-friendship with our predecessors, and treating me as a sweet 
young creature in need of motherly protection, she frustrates all my 
coldness. Every day I resolve that she shall never find her way here 
again ; yet every day this coolest of cool women glides through the key- 
hole, and is beforehand with my refusal to see her. 

As regards herself, I should have no scruple in crushing her audacity 
by the rudest means ; for the elegance of her dress and tournure pleads 
with me far less than it might with my imperial mistress. But the 
husband of the married daughter is an English peer, a Lord Montagu ; 
and the prince is anxious to learn from Lord Elvinston, whether he be 
a man of any parhamentary influence ? He is only just arrived here 
with his wife on a visit to Lady Fauconberg, so that, at present, his 
opinions and qualifications are problematical. But should his lady 
resemble her unmarried sister^ — a spinster of a certain age, with all the 
freedom of manner of a married woman — she will prove as little 
acceptalDle to me as her lady mother. 

Miss Fauconberg, however, thanks to some talent, great beauty, and 
greater boldness, has acquired a sort of influence in society here, such 
is usually attained by people who say everything that comes into their 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 165 

head — if the head be a good one ; an influence accompanied by an un- 
enviable and dangerous notoriety. Herself devoid of feeling, she is 
careless of wounding those of others. 

Her beauty and talent for repartee have recommended her to the 
notice of many of the leading men here, glad to be amused, in society 
not always amusing, on such easy terms ; and between the dinners of 
the mother and wit of the daughter their house is well frequented. 
Still, disliking them as I do, I should throw down the gauntlet but for 
our uncertainties respecting Lord and Lady Montagu. 

The two Yaudreuils were the means of our acquaintance with these 
people. Count Alfred declares the Casa Fauconberg to be as indis- 
pensable a portion of his existence as the Cafe Tortoni, or Jeu de 
Paume ; and protests that it is impossible to get through the summer 
in Paris without melon-ice, tennis, and the impertinences of " la petite 
Fauconberg " to give a filhp to his languor. But I have candidly told 
him that, unless he hold his very wild beasts in a chain, they shall have 
no place in my menagerie. Miss Fauconberg is the only person I ever 
saw, whom the most repulsive coldness of high-breeding had no influence 
in reducing to order. 

To give you a specimen of her style of flippancy ! The other night, 
at a little soiree at Madame Appony's, at Bellevue, one of those pleasant 
little parties which have all the simplicity of Germany and all the so- 
ciability of Paris, I happened to be seated on an ottoman, near the open 
windows, with the Duchesse de C, the Neapolitan ambassadress, and 
two or three other intimates ; when the English miss (leaning across the 
opposite cushions of the ottoman on which she was reclining, in what 
English misses call " a decided flirtation " witu one of the Austrian 
attaches, who has been enjoying " decided flirtations " with English 
misses for the last fifteen years) suddenly exclaimed to me : — " A propos, 
chere irrincesse" (though a propos to what I could not conjecture!), 
" as we were driving through your porte-cochere the other day, I was 
startled by the sight of an old friend of mine — an odd, clever creature of 
a governess, who brought up i\Iarie de Choisy, and was Famie de la 
maison of the Hotel de Choisy rather than the governess. We all used 
to doat upon her ; for she helped us to get up our tableaux and charades, 
and was ready to do anything for anybody. Never was there a creature 
so wiUing to have pens wiped upon her, or practical jokes tried upon 
her (as desperate remedies are tried on criminals) than poor Therese 
Moreau ! Can you tell me what has become of her ? " 

" She is attached to my establishment," replied I, so coldly as, I hoped, 
) to silence her. 

" Attached to your establishment ? " cried Miss Fauconberg, laughing 
t| heartily, and presuming to play upon my words. " I fancied it was only 
!i Monsieur le Prince who had attaches in his service ? " 

Her own attache applauded this sally, and, to my surprise, several of 
the standers-by laughed outright. But it is the custom to laugh at the 
soi-disant bon-mots of Miss Fauconberg. 

" Do tell me, in what capacity is she attached to your establishment ? " 
persisted she, following up her attack. " You cannot, surely, want a 
governessl" 

"I did require one when, many years ago. Mademoiselle Moreau 
^entered my father's service," said I, with some degree of hauteur. 

" Your father's service ? Mais, mon dieu ! you are not, surely, the 
daughter of the noble baron to whose Saxon chateau poor old Therese 
banished herself on quitting the Hotel de Choisy ? You, dear princess 



166 THE AMBASSADOE^S WIFE. 

Gallitzin, cannot be the Demoiselle von Rehfeld of whom she wrote us 
such impayahle accounts on first reaching Germany ? " 

Already wounded on more than one occasion by Miss Fauconberg's 
guerilla modes of warfare, I judged it better not to provoke by retalia- 
tion a renewed attack ; and disappointed her by quietly replying in the 
affirmative, and passing unnoticed her rude exclamations of amazement; 

On finding, however, that she had failed in what I verily believe to be 
a preconceived scheme of malice, she added : — " You must kindly allow 
me, princess, to come sometimes and visit poor, dear, old Moreau ! She 
is such an excellent creature ; and her histories of Germany will be so 
amusing." 

" Mademoiselle Moreau is her own mistress, and sees what society she 
thinks proper," was my cool reply. 

" Her own mistress ? AVhy, you said just now, cJiere princesse, that 
she was attached to your establishment. Even had you not aflbrded us 
that little index to her functions, we all know the Eussian meaning of 
the word independence. You probably mean that she is as much her 
own mistress at the embassy as Prince Gallitzin his own master at 
Tzarsko-celo." 

Apparently, the ladies present felt that the privileged impertinenie 
was exceeding her prerogative; for they interrupted the conversation 
by observations almost as completely a propos cle hottes as Miss Fau- 
conberg's original allusion ; and took care that it should not be resumed. 

In the course of the evening, I saw the venerable attache who had 
been^ spectator of the scene, laughing heartily in a corner with Alfred 
de Vaudreuil; and am pretty certain, from your cousin's mode of 
shrugging his shoulders, and affecting to find a smile irrepressible, 
that they were diverting themselves at the audacity of their handsome 
protegee, Geralda Fauconberg. 

But all this cannot amuse you, dear Marguerite ; and lest this letter 
should exceed all bounds of postage, accept my sincere compliments of 
affection for yourself and Lord Elvinston ; from whom, do not fail to 
procure me the information I have requested. 



Letter XXXV. — From Mademoiselle Therese Moreau in Taris, to 
Viscountess Elvinston, Elvinston Castle. 

It is a long time, dear lady, since I wrote last, but do not suppose me 
the less grateful for your kind and persevering attentions. My occupa- 
tions here are so various and unrelaxiug, that 1 have seldom time for 
anything so agreeable as correspondence with those I love. 

Alas! dear Marguerite— dear Lady Elvinston, I should say — I 
sometimes, even now, detect myself indulging in lamentations that 
Peter should have been out of the way when wanted to carry down 
Earoness von Eehfeld's chess-box and work-box — the origin of my sad 
accident and Monsieur de Vaudreuil's taking my place in the carriage 
to St. Petersburg ; which, somehow or other, I cannot help regarding 
as productive of all the events which have since occurred in the family ; 
the marriage of Ida with a man whose time of life naturally exercises a 
powerful influence over her character, and of your own banishment to 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 167 

Scotland ! I cannot help again lamenting it, I say ; for with all the 
brilliancy of our position here, the restraint, the responsibility, the 
fatigue, are in ii^any respects irksome; while as to yourself, though 
your angelic resignation of character prompts you to declare yourself 
the happiest of women, I can appreciate what it must be to you, who 
have enjoyed the advantage of a Parisian education, to be exiled to the 
desolate north — the ultima Thule — among a horde of semi-savages, 
whose habits must appear so baroque and so perplexing ! 

You tell me, dear viscountess, that since you arrived in England, you 
have more than once enjoyed the happiness of being mistaken for an 
Englishwoman. Princess Gallitzin was indignant, when I read her 
that portion of your letter ; for certain it is, that the manners of 
English ladies here, exhibit little to render the mistake flattering. I 
can equally understand, however, that the Russianality of your earlier 
education may have endowed you with facilities of diction, which justiiy 
the inhabitants of the land you have adopted in choosing to adopt you 
in their turn. It is very amiable of you, my dear young friend, to 
express yovirself so grateful to the baroness for having imposed upon 
you, in infancy, the language which now enables you to commune, heart 
in heart, with the husband to whom your own heart seems so absolutely 
submitted. 

Princess Gallitzin has no such service to be thankful for as regards 
the barbarous Russian tongue ; nor is it necessary. In the first place, 
because the prince is not a man with Avhom to indulge in gossip or 
even unreserved conversation ; in the next, because French is, after 
all, the exclusive language of the heart for the well born and well bred. 
"^Yhatever may be their native dialect, all high-souled individuals of 
good education, break naturally into French for the exposition of their 
thoughts, whenever their hearts or minds are excited by strong emotions 
or noble ambitions. For instance, half the billet-doux and half the 
state papers of Europe, are written in French. 

I have now a great deal of writing on my hands, my dear Marguerite, 
though not exactly in either of these styles. I have to receive and 
answer all the letters of invitation and business addressed to the 
princess; her correspondence with her illustrious colleagues, her 
mantua-makers, and other purveyors. One moment, a royal billet 
demands my attention— the next, a perfumer's bill. I exercise, in short, 
all the functions of a private secretary, though with somewhat less 
dignity of ofiice. 

I should embrace my vocation, dignified or undignified, with ardour, 
did it afford me the occasions you may probably suppose for intimate 
communication with the princess. But since her arrival here, she has 
become an altered being. I rarely see her, never but when occasions of 
business render it necessary. Do not imagine that I blame her for this. 
She is so surrounded— so beset— there are so many preteodants to her 
favour, and through her to that of the prince— so many who seek her 
for her society's sake, and so many more, because the new Eussian 
ambassadress is nniversally the fashion, that I can quite understand her 
seldom finding a moment's leisure to bestow on an humble friend like 
poor Therese Moreau. 

The life of an ambassador's wife. Marguerite, is no such gratuitous 
afi"air. Her object must be to entertain every one rather than herself: 
nor can she follow her personal inclinations in so mere a trifle as filling 
her dinner-table or her opera-box. Every movement must be calcu- 
lated—every favour so bestowed as to insure bringing good interest. 



168 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

She must conciliate enemies into friends, and yet be careful not to do 
it so openly as to convert her friends into enemies ; preserving a nice 
and judicious balance of favour between the nation she represents and 
the nation to which she represents it. 

But if this be the case with all ambassadors' wives, how much more 
so with the wife of an ambassador of E/Ussia ! responsible to an abso- 
lute monarch— responsible with his life and property, or rather his 
property and life ; for it is easier to confiscate an estate than decapitate 
a head— the estate being always under the imperial sceptre, and the 
head not always on the imperial block. 

For instance, the czar, for reasons of state, is known to be strongly 
predisposed against his absentee subjects; justly enough, for those who 
draw their revenues from a soil should expend at least a portion on its 
enrichment. 

He entertains (more particularly) jr prejudice against those who 
entertain an especial partiality for Paris, of which he dreads the 
principles, and despises the pleasures ; and nothing more difficult than 
the task of his representative here— who must either displease the 
czar i3y showing favour to persons he disapproves, or expose Eussians 
of high degree to the unfavourable interpretation of the French. 

It is among these burning ploughshares that Princess Gallitzin has 
to steer her way. In the best society here she meets a variety of 
agreeable Eussians from whom she must withhold her civilities; 
though all with whom she associates delight in their company, and she 
has no adduceable reason for her apparently capricious coldness. 

Though her excellency has never spoken to me on the subject (for 
from my ostensibly confidential position about her person the prince 
has, I suspect, expressly cautioned her against too free a communication 
with a person having extensive social connections in Paris), I am per- 
suaded that one of her chief annoyances arises from the rash freedom 
of speech with which your wild cousins, the Counts de Yaudreuil rally 
her upon these sacred subjects. Count Alfred, more especially ; who, 
from his former intimacy with her at Eehfeld and St. Petersburg, 
assumes a privilege of jpersiflage which, if exercised by any other 
person, would naturally cause her doors to be closed against him. For 
whenever Princess Gallitzin ventures to remonstrate against the in- 
decorum of inquiring whether any momentary cloud on the brow of 
the prince proceeds from his having received a knouting from the 
emperor in his morning's despatches, or when Ida receives with reserve 
the visit of some Eussian lady, he demands whether the victim has 
been marked with the black cross of imperial reprobation ; and defends 
himself by claiming the freedom of relationship. 

At Schloss Eehfeld, in presence of your motlier, I certainly never 
heard him call cousins with any member of the Eehfeld family ; and 
the baron, in particular, used to be the object of his scarcely concealed 
contempt. Except your brother, I never saw any person more scorn- 
fully rebut the connection than Count Alfred. 

All this is doubtless painful and embarrassing to the princess ; for 
she cannot but perceive the air of displeasure of the prince, whenever 
similar audacities transpire in his presence. I suspect he has privately 
counselled Ida to keep these two bold, though most agreeable soi-disant 
kinsmen, at a more respectful distance. But how is this to be done, 
with a man so thorouglily undauntable as Count Alfred ? The prin- 
cess, with all her graceful self-possession, is still so young, so yeri/ 
young for the distinguished position she occupies, that the air of 



^ THE AMBASSADOE'S WIPE. 1G9 

assumption she must assume to check the familiarity of a man de 
bonne compagnie admitted to her house on the footing of a relation, 
would sit discordantly upon her soft and feminine beauty. 

It would, therefore, be an act of charity, dear Lady Elvinston, were 
you to warn Count Alfred of the unpleasant predicament in which 
he places her excellency. But I forget ! The customs of your new 
country do not perhaps authorize a correspondence between cousins of 
the same age and different sexes? At all events, you might give a hint 
to the purpose in your next letter to the Baroness von Eehfeld ; or 
even to your brother, from whom, I find, Count Alfred hears con- 
stantly. At all events, oblige me by making no remark on the subject 
in your communications with Ida. 

"We are shortly to occupy a charming villa on the cote above St. 
Cloud, a spot I have often heard you mention with admiration. ^ I 
rejoice at the idea of being in the country again ; that is, what we 
Parisians call in the country, among green trees, within view of the 
dome of the Invalides ! On my arrival there, I hope to prove a better 
correspondent ; for there, at least, I shall be secure from the intrusion 
of twenty milliners a day, all wild to secure the custom of the lelle 
Princess Gallitzin, who has only to wear a bonnet or coiffure to render 
it furiously the fashion. You have no idea, you, so indifferent to 
matters of the toilet, what exquisite taste she has displayed since the 
accession of independence, and opportunity to favour its exercise. 
Madame has been heard to call her the best dressed and most dis- 
tinguished-looking young woman in Paris, and this, let me tell you, is 
no slight praise from Madame! I could, however, wish that the 
hijoutiers, modistes, and lingeres would allow me an easier time of it. 
You will scarcely believe me, when I find leisure to trouble you with so 
long a letter ! But then it is for you ! 

Mille compliments respectueux to your amiable lord. 



Letter XXXYI.— i^rowj Princess Gallitzin to t'lie Baroness von 
Relifeld. 

I ENCLOSE you, dear madam, in cipher, a list of names, which I will 
thank you to return me in the same manner, accompanied by all the 
intelligence and instructions you are able to procure for us relative to 
the o\vners. Most of them are Eussians newly arrived in Paris, the 
emperor's pleasure respecting whom has not yet been signified. This 
uncertainty involves a difficult portion of our duty here ; for such 
casual travellers, mostly on their road from a London season to the 
German baths, sparkle only a day in Paris ; and are come and gone, 
before I have the means of ascertaining their claims to distinction. It 
would be as well, since nothing appears surer than that those who from 
so great a distance visit London, will also visit Paris, were you to give 
me certain indications concerning all who receive passports for a 
journey to England; to which country, so long as fox-hunting and 
the turf are the rage, Russia and Austria will always contribute their 
quota of visitors. 
You will have heard with satisfaction how honourable a position has 



170 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

been conceded to us in the royal circle at St. Cloud ; .so honourable, 
indeed, that I have persuaded the prince to pay a forfeiture for the 
villa he had hired, and engage another within no great distance from 
the Chateau. It is diflieult to define in what the favour shown us 
consists. The precedence of an ambassador is too definite to be sus- 
ceptible of advancement. Even the number of invitations issued to 
the corps diplomatique has here a specific limit. 13ut every sovereign, 
more especially so courtly-bred a king as Charles X., has it in his 
power, by scarcely citable tokens, to mark his good will ; by inviting, 
for instance, the chosen friends of our society, on the same occasions as 
ourselves ; by naming the prince for his whist-table, and by engaging 
him constantly in conversation, as well for the party which is to cele- 
brate the otivertnre de chasse at Eambouillet. Our little visit to the 
Duchesse de Berri at Eosny is to take place next week. 

Though active for his years, and apparently taking pleasure in the 
excitement of whist and hunting parties, the physical infirmities of the 
king are sufficiently manifest, to leave the moral ones of his successor a 
subject of deep anxiety. You can imagine nothing more ungainly than 
the manners of the dauphin, or moi»e pitiable than his understanding. 
Earely does he open his lips without offending some person Avhom it is 
desirable to conciliate ; or, at all events, the rules of good breeding. 
Well were it for this country if the Due de Berri had survived ; or if 
the king were likely to survive till the completion of the education of 
the young Due de Bordeaux : if, indeed, France be wise, or prudent 
enough to take example by Eussia, and alter the line of royal suc- 
cession for the security of the throne. And surely, though the 
Bourbons were said to return from their sad exile having learned 
nothing and forgotten nothing during their misfortunes, the people of 
Prance have been taught by a more recently but more profoundly 
enlightened country, that the cause of monarchy cannot be better served 
in Europe than by excluding a cretin from the succession to the crown. 

I cannot behold the feeble old monarch of this country, completely 
subjected to his priests and surrounded by a tribe of bigots who render 
the name of religion a by-word by their harassing and contemptible 
exactions, without fresh admiration of the enlightened and active 
government to which the prince is so fortunate as to have his services 
devoted. If ever the quali,ties and qualifications indispensable to the 
sovereign of a great empire were united in a human form, it is in the 
person of the firm, active, intrepid, and intelligent prince, whose 
knovv^ledge is as deep and universal as his powers of mind are acute ; 
who, by the moderation and frugality of his habits and splendour of 
his munificence, the purity of his private and graces of his public life, 
has so completely accredited the v.isdom of the brother by whom he 
was summoned to the throne. 

There is indeed a pride in finding oneself even the most insignificant 
of instruments in the hands of sucli a sovereign ; and believe me, dear 
madam, the greatness of llussia, and the imposiii^ attitude she assumes 
just now among the nations of Europe, so dignifies me in my own esti- 
mation as the wife of her representative, that I sometimes "feel myself 
in danger of unbecoming pride, among those envoys of the lesser states 
of Italy and Germany, who affect airs of diplomatic mystery and conse- 
quence ; while their chanceries and bureaux remind one of Polichinelle 
mounting guard over a despatch box ! 

I cannot describe what heartfelt dehght it would afford me, to know 
that my deportment here was the subject of approval in the august 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 171 

quarter where alone it is my ambition to please ; and I entreat you to 
believe that no duty could be imposed upon me, however distasteful, 
however laborious, in which I should not delight to mark my gratitude 
and devotion to the imperial family. It is the humbleness of my 
attachment to them which renders me so proud in my estimation of 
myself, and perhaps so haughty in the estimation of others. 

Among the influential families in Paris by whom these sentiments 
(or perhaps you will call it, this infatuation of mine) are fully shared, 
let me cite the Marquis and r^Iarchioness de Eouilly, w^hose high position 
in the world probably renders their names familiar to you ; though, 
having occupied a post in the administration under Bonaparte, the 
marquis is little favoured by the existing government. As the personal 
friend, moreover, of the Duke of Orleans, he seldom appears at court 
without provoking from the dauphin some uncourteous observation. 

The Hotel de E.ouilly, meanwhile, assembles all that is distinguished 
of French society, whether as regards rank, fortune, wit, science, or 
political influence. The marquis has resided much in foreign countries, 
even, I believe, in Eussia; and perfects the reclierclie of his princely 
establishment by the adoption of all that is most refined in the habits 
of European refinement. He told me last night, Avith a smile, that he 
admitted the influence of his own countrymen only in his cuisine ; that 
his office is regulated by Italians — his stables by Englishmen — his library 
by Germans — his cabinet by Eussians. It v\'ould have gratified you 
beyond measure to hear his tribute of admiration to the enlightened 
pohcy of the czar. 

It was from Princess ^Y , by the way, that I received the letter of 

introduction earnestly pressing the marquis and marchioness upon my 
civilities. 

Another person who has brought me letters from the princess, is a 
very rich Eussian, named Madame Dombreski ; a widow, I conclude — 

or at least there is no reference to a husband in Princess W 's long 

eulogium of her wit and beauty. I have called upon her in consequence, 
and was struck by the magnificence of her establishment; but we have 
not yet met. Should this presentation of the princess procure me as 
agreeable an addition to my acquaintance as the Eouillys, I have reason 
to be grateful, 

I have executed your commission by sending you from Herbault two 
paille de riz hats, with jleurs de saison, and two more with feathers, for 
full dress, for your visit to Peterhoff". The manteau de cour I despatched 
last week from Yictorine, will, I hope, satisfy your expectations. The 
trimmings of scarlet hibiscus cannot fail to attract the empress's atten- 
tion, for they are the first ever made here ; and I took care to send you 
a detached second set, in order that, should the empress approve of them 
as I expect, you may present them and lay aside your own. I have also 
sent a variety of the last noeuds and chiffons from Mademoiselle Aminthe, 
and a canezou which Minette has just invented for Madame. Among 
these trifles, there cannot fail to be some that will prove a novelty to 
the empress. 

I entreat you, dear madam, hasten as much as possible your answer, 
that it may reach me previous to the departure of the prince for Eam- 
bouillet ; for you will also find in cipher certain questions which it is 
indispensable to me to have satisfied without delay. Offer the expres- 
sion of my affectionate duty to my father. The prince writes to him 
by this courier. I say nothing of Lady Elvinston, aware that you 
maintain an uninterrupted correspondence. 



172 THE AilBASSADOE's WIFE. 



Letter XXXYLL—From Count Alfred de Vaiidreuil in Paris, to the 
Countess Auguste in Btirgnndij. 

How good you are, chere tante, to establish yourself this summer as 
the representative of tlie family at Les Genets. But for you, the 
shutters of the gloomy salon would never be opened to admit the light 
of day and disturb the labours of the moths in the old tapestry ; but 
for you, the flowers of our celebrated rosary would be exclusively dedi- 
cated to the decoration of the reposoirs of the Fete Dieu, and the chapel 
on the fete of St. John. But for you, the swallows would never be dis- 
turbed in the arcades— the rooks in the chimneys, and poor old An- 
toine might trim his charmilles and cultivate his espaliers in vain. 
Once more, my grateful thanks to you, dear madam, for condescending 
to inhabit, during the summer, a rat-hole which is only supportable to 
my brother and myself in the depth of winter, when his boar- hounds 
are in good throat, and the wolves stirring in the forest. 

At present, I trust, you have more docile companions; and th^ 
Moumoutb, that least spiteful of spiteful cats and most snowy-skinned 
of beauties, has not in her chasse aux grives left traces of her Angora 
fleece on the briars of the rosary. 

You are right, however, in surmising that your absence at this parti- 
cular moment has proved a serious disadvantage to the fair lady you are 
pleased to call grand-daughter; but who so mistakes herself and others, 
that I much doubt whether she would be disposed to concede to yon 
the less flattering title of grandmother. Porgive her ! — It is not to be 
expected that the daughter of a German liohereau should comprehend 
the honour of being acknowledged as even a collateral connection by 
a scion of the House of Clermont Tonnerre, engrafted on that of 
Vaudreuil. 

As little, perhaps, had you spent the summer in Paris, would her 
self-sufficiency have deigned to profit by your knowledge of the world ; 
and above all of otir world, which is not that of all the world. 

Princess Gallitzin is a gifted creature, beavitiful, accomplished, quick- 
witted ; who would rank high in society, if she did not pretend to be 
supreme. But a bold climber who misses the top round of the ladder, 
runs a chance of being precipitated to the ground. Prudent people 
advance no higher than they are sure of their footing. 

None know better than yourself how fiercely our society rebuts in- 
trusion and crushes assumption. Towards the princess, thanks in some 
measure to my premonitory flourish of trumpets, and in some to her 
rank and attractions— it was disposed to be more indulgent. The Fau- 
bourg opened wide its gates to her. Yet such is the perversity of human 
nature, that she disdained to be welcomed as an ally ; and chose to take 
it by assault, in order to make a triumphal entry. The pretension was 
so absurd, that no one was angry. Every one laughed ; and a burst of 
laughter is of all incidents the most fatal to such as affect dignity in 
ascending a throne. 

Alas ! dear countess, and best of aunts, why is it that we children of 
the dust have all such a tendency to enthronization ? "\Miy has every 
petty coterie its sovereigns ? Why is the tabouret of the duchess at 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 173 

court so ridiculously parodied among the arm-chairs of every private 
drawing-room ? 

Do not infer from all this that our loving country-people have been 
rudely laughing to scorn the blunders of a stranger. AVe French are 
naturally too courtly as well as too indulgent towards youth and beauty, 
even w^hen disfigured by ill-breeding, to heed her freaks. On the con- 
trary, the Hotel de C. after sitting in judgment on her proceedings, 
voted that she was far more piquante as a Talleyrand in petticoats, far 
newer and more amusing as a Madame de Chevreuse manquee, than if 
she had assumed her very suflicient honours on the same estrade with 
the Austrian and English ambassadresses ; to both of whom she is 
inferior in the ex-official dignities of birth, fortune, and age. 

It was among the foreign residents here (exalted into importance by 
their splendid hospitahties in a city the least prodigal in Europe in the 
good Samaritanism of pouring claret and champagne into the bosom of 
its neighbour) that the persiflage began. Certain Russians who, till 
her arrival, had enjoyed high distinctions, irritated by her neglect, 
which they dared not resent against the accredited representative of 
that most vindictive of empires (the talons of whose imperial eagle 
impend over their estates) whispered to others the resentments to 
which they dared not give free utterance ; and a whisper once breathed 
in this temple of echo has little chance of sinking into silence for seasons 
to come. 

When compelled by the chances of society to exchange a civil word 
with any of these countrywomen of Prince Galhtzin, she had always la 
louche pincee, as if afraid of committing herself; and in place of the a 
plomh I saw her exhibit under difficult circumstances in St. Petersburg, 
no sooner was she the wife of a salaried servant of the emperor, than she 
became feeble, vacillating, inconsistent ; her every curtsey so equivocal 
and prevaricating, that it seemed to be awaiting the arrival of the next 
despatches to decide itself into gracious or discourteous. 

So lynx-eyed are the espials of self-love, that these hesitations were 
soon discovered by their susceptible victims ; and one of them, adroit 
enough to understand the policy of throwing the first stone at herself, 
was heard to exclaim, in the circle of the Petit Chateau,—" I wonder 
when poor Madame Gallitzin will receive her instructions from St. 
Petersburg whether she is to take my hand or only bow!" Ida, it 
seems, had been incautious enough to subside from the greater to the 
less mark of distinction; and there were standers-by ill-natured enough 
to elevate their eyebrows at the change. 

A bad example is sooner followed than a good one. On the instiga- 
tion of this shght attack, more than one mechante langue of the Pau- 
bourg busied itself with her proceedings. The story improved in the 

telling. It was soon reported that Princess B had accosted her 

ambassadress with, "D/i^es clone, ma chere, m'envoyez-vous promener — 
ou nous promenons-nous ensemblel — Vous devez surement avoir regu 
voire leqoti de St. Petershourg ?" 

The worst of her foes consist in the coterie Pauconberg, which you, 
dear aunt, so justly despise, but which is not the less one of the most 
amusing adder's nests now engaged in hatching the spitefulnesses of 
society. The little Fauconberg (she has been called la petite Faucon- 
herg these fifteen years, and has, therefore, clearly established her claim 
to the title !) has taken it into her very handsome head to be jealous of 
Ida, or to make Ida jealous of her^ and being the offidee, by dint of 



174 ^ TEE ambassadoe's wife. 

A^.altzing and scandal, of all the attaches in Paris, has contrived to draw 
forth and string together just so many particulars of the princess's 
hirth, parentage, and education, as form an unsatisfactory appendix to 
her pretensions to the diplomatic throne. 

I need not remind you, dear countess, of our excellent ahbe's air of 
horror on learning that tlie first wife of your son-in-law was the 
daughter of an ecclesiastic, but for his tonsure, his venerable hairs 
would have stood on end ! Imagine, therefore, the sympathetic emotion 
produced among the devotes of St. Thomas dMquin, on learning that 
Princess Gallitzin was clerically descended. It is in vain to preach to 
these dear dowagers tlie connubial licence of the reformed and patri- 
archal churches. They insist upon being shocked on such occasions. 
They choose to believe the Roman Catholic church, according to its 
name, universal; and, consequently, regard Princess Gallitzin as by 
inheritance a sort of Lucretia Borgia. '"' Her mother was the daughter 
of a priest !" — conveys her sentence of excommunication from their 
set! 

The princess, even when she had leisure to notice the rufl-and-far- 
thingale formality with which her advances were received in this 
quarter, assigned all the unimportance to the change, which persons 
born out of the pale of the great world are apt to connect with the pre- 
judices of the old. But with us, chere tante, the owl of wisdom, like 
the phoenix of fable, reproduces in the young bird the exact plumage of 
the old ; and our charming elegantes (Madame Ernest de P — — and 

Madame Juste de B • in particular), soon began to raise their fine 

eyes and lily-white hands to heaven in emulation of their grandmothers, 

'* 0<«i— ;/e le vols, — c'est indispensahle, — on ne tourne pas le dos a tine 
amhassadricel" became their apologetic reply to all who inquired 
whether they were acquainted with the new Pussian ambassadress. 
But " I see her," is a very different phrase from " I am enchanted to 
see her !"— and those who came prepared to burst into acclamations of 
'' charmante !" " ravissaute !" Avhen describing the dress and manners 
of Princess Gallitzin at Madame Appony's breakfast, now discreetly 
lowered their tone into '" elle n'est vrahnent pas mal!" which, unless I 
am much mistaken, will progress before the close of the ensuing car- 
nival into " elle n'est pas trap mal poiir une" some will add " Busse .'" 
some, "a parson's grand-daughter." If she had not managed to affront 

Princess B and the Eauconbergs, she would have remained " cette 

cliarra a n te prlncesse." 

Not that I at all approve or sanction the folly of the little Paucon- 
berg, who chooses to give herself the air of resenting my favourable 
announcement previous to the arrival here of the Gallitzin. I natu- 
rally made it an act of duty towards yourself, dear aunt, to speak well of 
any person, even collaterally connected with your family ; and the Lily 
of Pehfeld has claims upon my good oSices as my cousin's step-daughter. 
I should otherwise have left her without the sponsorship of my good 
word to make her own way with the severe tribunal she is rendering 
severer. 

I should even make it a point of conscience to punish the Paucon- 
berg coterie, and more especially la hellissima Geralda, by absenting 
myself from the house. But it would ruin me in Macouba, or I should 
have to hazard steeple-chasing out of season to procure myself a little 
excitement, were I to dispense with the viper-broth which forms the 
pain quotidien of that amusing society. After a winter at St. Peters- 



THE AMBASSADOll'S WIFE. 175 

burji, I cannot possibly refuse to reward my own virtue and bodily 
sufferings by some slight consideration for my ghostly comfort. 

Had you been here, dear countess, to return to my original propo- 
sition, these contretemps had, perhaps, been spared. I have had no 
auxiliary whose aid I could call in as chamber counsel to the haughty 
beauty. St. Petersburg is too remote for the baroness's remonstrances 
not to arrive a month too late ; and to engage her good offices would be 
like sending for the pompiers from Bordeaux to extinguish a fire in 
Paris. The old governess, of whom I once complained to you as a 
family nuisance, and who is established in her pupil's household, as a 
sort of demoiselle cle compagnie, or secretaire intime, or what you think 
proper that is most private and confidential, occurred a moment to my 
mind as a channel of exhortation. But the Fauconberg set, who knew 
her well at the Hotel de Choisy, assure me Mademoiselle Therese has 
about as much influence over the conduct of her eleve as the brooding 
hen of the Jardin des Plantes over the eagles and cassowaries, whose 
incubation occurred, " by authority," under her wings. 

Lord Montagu, whose province it is in the Fauconberg family to em- 
broider upon the designs of Geralda, declares that the ex-gouvernante 
is required to stand, while the ambassador's wife dictates her corre- 
spondence ; and that she delivers the memo of the maitre cVhotel every 
morning on her knees. But you have some experience in the mauvaises 
plaisanteries of Montagu. 

Her aid, at all events, was unavailable. I have, therefore, left the 
poor dear princess to her fate. No education so perfect as that of the 
self-educated ; and by the time her excellency has been ten years an 
ambassadress, she will have learned that nothing is more hollow than 
the grandeur of such a throne— nothing more servile than the service 
of all the liussias. What matters it, after all, vv'hether the collar of 
the serf be of iron or gold ? or the knout a leathern thong or the flag- 
gellation of an imperial reprimand ? 

Marguerite's is the position, cJiere i^«/iife — Margueiite's the inde- 
pendeace ! I learn from the Montagus, who have recently arrived 
from England, that the whole Elvinston family are enchanted with 
her ; and that the Duke and Duchess of Rockingham were hurrying 
off to the north, to spend the grouse season with their brother and 
sister. 

According to their report, about the time the patriarch is next 
bestowing his benediction on the sturgeon and sterliad, you are likely 
to be called upon for yours, in favour of a great-grandson ! Heaven 
send you a litde Thane ! I am delighted at the very idea of a kilted 
cousin. Of all the outlandish channels into v» hich the blood of Yau- 
dreuil has diverged, that which brings us into kinsmanship with Macbeth 
appears the most bewildering. Je recommancle cij tons les saints, les 
destinees de la race Russo-Gallo-Ecossaise: et voiis haise tres-lmmhle- 
ment les mains. 



176 THE ambassador's WIFE. 



Letter XXXVIII. — From Princess JPrascovia Gallitzin to Frincess 
Gallitzin in Paris. 

Deae Sister and Princess.— I have to thank you for the two 
charming letters which have reached me in the course of the last six 
months ; the first announcing your safe arrival in Paris ; the second, 
your arrival at the conclusion that it is the most charming city in the 
world. I have allowed a long interval to elapse previous to the ex- 
pression of my hopes that the lapse of another half-year may dispose 
you to confirm your verdict. 

My brother, you assure me, has been received with higher honours 
than were ever before conceded to a Eussian ambassador ; yourself, 
welcomed with greater favour than is usually shown in Paris to a 
woman of ex-Parisian extraction. I live very much out of the world ; 
partly because the world despises me as crooked, mean, and old — partly 
because I despise it for the self-same reasons. Nevertheless, even into 
my Diogenes^tub, there penetrate sufficient rumours of the vulgar stir 
without, to have inspired me with a notion that the place of every 
ambassador of every great nation, is as accurately marked at court as 
the places of the stars in their spheres, or the pieces on a chess-board ; 
and that the more or less of favour, any increase or decrease of V7hich 
might produce an international war, is never subjected to the sliding 
scale of regal caprice. 

Still more am I surprised to find you assert that the Parisians are 
nationally prejudiced. I have always heard that the thing they liked 
best, after newspapers and cafe noir, was a foreigner. I recollect^ 
hearing that they named streets after les Osages, and went mad for the 
giraffe. You, who are on the spot, ought to know best. Experience is, 
according to ati impertinent proverb, a very universal teacher. 

Forgive me, therefore, dear princess and sister, if, in the greatness of 
my surprise at finding there are new things under the sun, I have left 
your letters so long unanswered. I waited to write till I had some- 
thing to say — a consideration which, luckily for the revenues of th( 
post-otiice, forms a rare obstacle to female correspondence. 

By something to say, I do not mean something agreeable. I should 
be sorry to do so hanal a thing as send caviar to Iliga; and since yoi 
are, by the grace of God, young and pretty, and by the grace ol 
Nicholas I., an Ambassador's Wife, I cannot doubt that nine out ol 
every ten letters you open contain empty compliments. For my part, 
I hold nothing to be a compliment worth postage, that has not at least 
haJf a grain of corn in the cbalf. 

To adopt the language of the country of which you appear to be s 
readily adopting the sentiments, understand that my something, dea 
princess and sister, will be a inliule de sanie, not a bonbon. Excuse 
my plain speaking ; but it is my worst fortune, that in all things nature 
bas made me plain. 

You may remember being assured by Princess AY and a varictj 

of other persons in St. Petersburg (I never heard that tbey had s( 
instructed you, but form my deductions from their characters an( 
dispositions), that my object in recommending Marguerite Erlofl' as 



THE AJIBASSADOll's WIFE. 177 

wife to my brother, was to secure for Sergius a wife whose family 
interest with the emperor was equal to our own. 

Being pretty well aware that the name of Erloff is about as ac- 
ceptable to the czar as that of Trubetskoi or Czartoriski, the motive 
of my recommendation was of a wholly different nature. Marguerite 
was the daughter of my brother's noblest friend, and the daughter of 
a termagant. I had, therefore, as little doubt that she had honourable 
blood in her veins, as that she had suffered persecution and learned 
mercy. 

Banished in my own person from even the frontiers of the matri- 
monial estate, I have had no occasion to create a liberal standard 
for the rights of a double woman ; and conseciuently adhere to the 
patriarchal opinion that a man's wife is his hand-maid ; and that to do 
honour to her vocation, she must do implicitly as she is bid. " Wives, 
obey your husbands — subjects obey your czar ! " constitute my two 
precepts for the good government of the world ; — for the world reading 
llussia; — to me there is no world elsewhere. 

I was consequently surprised to find myself accused by the hundred 
tongues of rumour, ninety-nine of which are lying ones, of having 
promoted his sudden preference for a daughter of the German envoy 
to whom the widow of General Erloff had re-united herself ; a young 
lady richer in beauty, in accomplishments, in learning, than the 
gentle Marguerite, and twenty times more richly endowed in point 
of fortune. 

I had about as much to do with the marriage as the bronze statue 
of the Emperor Alexander, or its pedestal of rock. It was no affair 
of mine. Sergius, with half a century's experience, was his own master. 
I had only to submit ; and after resigning oneself to be ugly and to 
grow old, one learns to be patient under any visitation. 

Generous souls, however, revolt against the sense of obligation ; and 
I could not, in an instant, forget how deeply I was indebted to Made- 
moiselle von Eehfeld for some of the most painful moments of my 
life; when visiting the Hotel of the Legation for the purpose of 
accustoming her whom I was eager to call sister, to the sight of my 
infirmities, I found myself an object of indecent mockery to the 
daughter of the house ; as well as to the young French fop, who was 
amusing her at my expense, and himself at hers. 

It was not the province of a crooked younger sister, grateful to him 
for never having enforced her retirement into a convent, to harass my 
brother with unavailing remonstrances on his inconsistency. Moreover, 
as, on the very day he announced his marriage to me, I had the satis- 
faction of seeing the Izaak's bridge opposite my windows, which had 
been constructed in the mornine, pulled to pieces again at night on the 
refreezing of the river, with the prospect of reconstruction on the 
morrow, there seemed every probability that the equally variable 
temperature of human will might equally insure the rupture of the 
marriage. 

In this, however, I was mistaken. The emperor interposed with his 
approval ; and from that moment, as in loyalty bound, the barometer 
established itself at " fair." Thenceforward, my father's daughter had 
only to submit to the resolution taken by her father's son. 

That I resigned myself with apparent cheerfulness, do my father's 
daughter the justice to remember! Erom the moment you were 
destined to bear the same name with Prascovia Gallitzin, you became 



178 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

an object of respect to lier. I trust I omitted no act of grace calculated 
to make your entrance into our ftimily as smooth as the descent of an 
ice-hill. To have rendered my brother's bride uneasy, would have been 
to render my brother's sister ridiculous— an effort which nature has 
generously taken off my hands. 

I was not sorry, however, that the marriage of Marguerite Erloff 
with a foreign Croesus was fated to relieve my eyes from a permanent 
memento of my disappointments, and had all the less difficulty in 
assuming a merry countenance on your wedding-day. 

I admit that it was the greatest relief to me, dear princess and sister, 
again to borrow the flattering formula of your address — the very 
greatest relief to witness the departure of both. I had no wish to find 
a scoffer under my humble roof. In my early youth, when the arch- 
scorner of scornful France visited our great Catherine (whom he flat- 
tered into littleness), I remember hearing my father assert that 
"mockery was the wit of hell." Excuse my plain-speaking. As I said 
before, it has pleased heaven to make me plain. 

Accept this apothegm, by the way, as the half-grain of corn I pro- 
mised you in my chaff. But you, who are a learned lady, and have 
Plato at your finger's ends, will perhaps care little for such homely 
wisdom. 

jN'o sooner had you quitted St. Petersburg, than I took my departure 
for Moscow. It was a pleasant journey. To exchange the work of 
man's hands for the works of those of his Maker, is always to ascend a 
degree higher in the scale of enjoyment. But never had I felt it so 
deliciously as in laying aside, on this occasion, the gauds and glare of 
courtly finery so unmeet for me, for hodden gray,— and exchanging the 
feverish atmosphere of half a million of breaths for the breath of 
nature. I have often watched the hlacs bloom, and listened with an 
ear all eagerness for the first nightingale. I never enjoyed their united 
enchantments so exquisitely as this season. It needed all the purity 
of such pleasures to take out of my mouth the nauseous taste of world- 
liness I had been imbibing. 

At Moscow, the first person presented to me in society was a kinsman 
of your own. 1 had recently heard so much of the name of Eehfeld, 
that, perhaps, some newer one might have been more acceptable. But 
I could not forbear being gracious, and answering his questions ; for 
his object in seeking my acquaintance was to talk of Marguerite — to de- 
plore her loss— and, above all, to explain to me (what the parties them- 
selves had cautiously concealed), that it was an explanation of Wilhelm 
von liehfeld with my brother, which first intimated to Sergius his little 
likelihood of ever obtaining an influence over her affections. 

He is a very candid, a very frank young man, that cousin of yours ; 
and it is well he has some recommendable quality, for of all those which 
render a man most insupportable, commend me to the enthusiasm of a 
feeble mind — the exaggeration of a servile character — the exultation of a 
low soul, which his manner betrayed. But his ingenuousness atoned for 
all. I was desirous of becoming better acquainted with my dear prin- 
cess and sister ; and he fully introduced her to my knowledge. He 
painted her as a lovely child— a beautiful girl. He painted her as the 
charge of the fond Sara— the anxious pastor— the zealous Therese ; as 
loved by her father and adored by her father's people. He painted her 
like a iair tree planted by the river side, on which the sun loved to 
shine, and the dews of heaven to fall. I appeal to yourself, fair sister, 
for a supp\imental account oi the blossoms expanding, and the fruits 



fHE ambassador's WIFE. 179 

of gratitude, godliness, purity, and worth, brought fortli in due season 
by this tree of blessedness, to do honour to its native soil ! AVith 
all this I know not why I weary you ; for the sentiments of a dwarfish 
sister-in-law are as little worth writing as reading. But I wish to 
account to you for the surpassing interest with which your welfare has 
inspired me. 

I have many important correspondents in St. Petersburg, of whom 
it is my first object to inquire to what degree the fine flourishes I have 
been making among tlie various branches of our ancient house concern- 
ing the happiness and prosperity of my brother, are mere arabesque. 
I repeat only, indeed, a fifth part of what you write me of his success, 
and good renown at the court of France ; yet I find that I have still 
said five times too much. Grant your gracious attention to what has 
been flung in my teeth in return. 

Learn that Madame la Baronne von Eehfeld has fallen still lower in 
the estimation of the Emperor of Eussia, than Madame la Comtesse 
Erloff ; and the Grand Duchess Helena is said to have whispered to 

Princess W , " Who is to rely upon uncommon fame ? Who to 

trust to appearances ? The clearest eye, the shrewdest ear — even those 
of the emperor — may be deceived ! That lovely wife of Sergius Gallitzin 
is a mere implement in the hands of her mother-in-law. Nothing can 
be more vexatious than our news from Paris." 

I leave you, dear sister and princess, to make your profit of this infor- 
mation. Perhaps you may possess a key to the hieroglyphics. For my 
part, who am not of the court, I am a poor interpreter. To me a cro- 
codile is always a crocodile, and a triangle, a triangle. Fozc can probably 
decipher the mystery of mysteries ; and 1 leave you to j-our studies. 



Letter XXXIX. — From Viscountess FIvinston, Ulvinston Castle, to 
Princess Gallitzin in Paris. 

How kind of you, dearest Ida, how very kind, to persist in your visits 
to my poor sisterhood and obtain their renewed prayers for my health 
and liappiness ! Good souls ; they must indeed be favourites of heaven, 
for never did intercessions so prosper. A week's consideration would 
scarcely enable me to find a gratifiable wish unfulfilled. 

For even my desire of seeing you again is not a wish ungratified ; 
since we could not meet without the sacrifice on your part of your gay 
Paris for this secluded place ; or on mine, of this dear spot, for your 
noisy, gadding, troublesome Paris ! I am content, therefore, dearest, 
to meet you by letter ; every way, every way content. 

My cousin Alfred's intelligence was correct, though I can by no 
means imagine how he obtained it. A few weeks after Christmas, when 
you are in the gayest of your court fetes of the carnival, entreat once 
more the prayers of my poor old convent, that I may become a happy 
mother. It is the only blessing left for heaven to lavish upon my head. 

We have been spending the whole autumn at this place, and the most 
delightful autumn you can imagine. Elvinston's four sisters have been 
united, for the first time since childhood, under his roof— they, and 
their husbands, and their children ; all loving and encouraging me with 

N 2 



180 THE AMBASSADOE's WIFS. 

their kindness, till I soon ceased to consider myself a stranger. The 
richest heiress, or proudest lady of their our own land, could not have 
been more fondly welcomed to their heart than the portionless Mar- 
guerite Erloff. 

Ida, I know I am weak' and undiscerning ! I was never praised for pro- 
ficiency, either by my kinsmen or my preceptors. But tell me how it 
could possibly be that you, who are so acute of mind, were ever be- 
trayed into the blunder of deciding Lord Elvinston's disposition to be 
reserved, or his nature severe and solemn ? I never saw such a boy — 
I never saw such a warm-hearted creature ! You should see him among 
his little nephews and nieces ; you should see him among his tenants ; 
you should see him in his own home, by his own fire-side, stimulating 
the enjoyments of others by his never flagging, yet never importunate 
mirth. 

But I shall weary you, Ida, by talking of all this. I remember hearing 
you say at St. Petersburg, one night on quitting the formal circle of 
the grand chamberlain, that for worlds you would not be released from 
the pale of etiquette ; and that you found all society unsatisfactory in 
which every person's place was not marked 'out by I'Almanach de la 
Cotir ! 

How you would despise, therefore, our contempt of ceremony ! Tet 
in all respects, excepting such petty observances, Elvinston Castle might 
pass for a regal household. The old mansion, situated on a fine rock, 
•with magnificent terraces fronting the river, and a drawbridge and 
ancient gateway in the rear, seems to require only sentries at the gate 
to be a seat of government. In the olden time, when the ancestors 
from whom my husband inherits this baronial property, were some- 
times regents of the kingdom, always akin to the throne, it really 
enjoyed such distinctions ; and the venerable keep with its bartizans 
and meiirtrieres, looks as if it had more than once held its own against 
disloyal enemies of the crown. 

Do you remember, Ida, how I used to delight in the quaint antiquity 
of Eehfeld, even unconnected as it was with the wider page of history ? 
To me the romance of the past has always possessed an overweening 
interest : probably through some of those vague instincts of our nature, 
which seem existent tbere expressly to connect it with the destinies pre- 
pared for us by the hand of the Almighty. 

Judge, therefore, of my present happiness ! Judge of my delight in 
first hailing from afar the old gray turrets of this noble castle, over- 
looking an intervening valley, all beauty and fertility, like a sovereign 
surveying the subjects under his stern, yet beneficent guard. For a 
moment I was overawed. I fancied that, in such a place, life must 
assume a grander and therefore graver aspect. I prepared myself for 
solemnity and all the gloomy ceremony of state. 

Yet, trust me, within these fine old walls, the comfortable has even a 
cosier existence than in your choicest boudoirs of Paris : as though 
ensconced within flank of towers and turrets, the better to secure its 
independence of ease. Nay, the fine suites of apartments overlooking 
the river, which from the elevation of the noble rock on which the 
castle is founded, require no protection from the circumvallations of 
art, are the most cheerful and sunny in the world. One seems to look 
down on nature (and never was her face more fair than in our lovely 
valley), as from a station midway between earth and heaven, forbidding 
us to attach ourselves too earnestly to the things of this world ; or, 
through selfish covetousness of pleasures beyond, lose sight of the 



THE AMBASSADOR'S WIFE. 181 

mighty measure of enjoyment conceded by Providence to our passing 
day. 

At first sight the castle appears exclusively adapted to warlike de- 
fence—to the habitation of men-at-arms — or, at best, to the dull turret- 
chamber life of tapestry of some chatelaine of the olden time. It was 
not till I was installed in the delicious apartments commanding the 
valley, the scene of my husband's happy youth and his mother's 
favouritelretreat,Sthat I became aware of all the cheerfulness and homely 
privacy which m.ay be united with a life of grandeur. 

Poor Therese used "sometimes to complain of the dulness of Eehfeld ; 
you, invariably. To me it never appeared dull. Surveying the old 
Schloss through the eyes of my heart, I peopled it with such visions 
as beset the souls of those who, in early life, are compelled by care 
without to seek solace within. How much more this place, which I 
enjoy with the whole force of a heart complete in its affections, as well 
as with ithe enthusiasm of a mind still childish enough to conjure 
immaterial joy out of things material ! 

With Elvinston's sisters I often visit, during the deer-stalking ex- 
peditions of our husbands, the fine environs of this place, Avhich abound 
m historical associations. Legends of the Bruce and Wallace connect 
themselves with its scenery ; nay, legends of warriors and wizards who 
were legendary beings in the time of William Wallace and Robert 
Bruce. But the spot most fertile to me in interest of various kinds is 
a suite of rooms in the old keep, inhabited by i\Iary Stuart the so- faulty, 
yet so fault-effacing Mary, as a temporary refuge under the guardian- 
ship of one of the proudest of her subjects, whom she found a gaoler 
and left a lover. I could till a larger space tlian ijou would have leisure 
to do more than cast your eye over unheeding, with the tale of that 
deep and disastrous passion ; one of the innumerable episodes in the 
life of an unfortunate queen, who seems to stand in history a perpetual 
example of the incompatibihty of youth and beauty with the sober 
dignities of a throne. 

Elvinston and his sisters are almost grateful to me for my enthusiasm ; 
and seem to love me the better for loving their noble home. Why, the 
veriest stranger passing in the distance salutes it with reverence ! The 
artist wanders hither from the south,— nay, from foreign countries, to 
make its stern features and smiling landscapes his own ;— and many a 
distant mansion is brightened by the mere portraiture of its stately 
features. How much rather I,— to whom it is endeared by thoughts of 
all that is holy in homeship,— all that is loveable in love ;— by its con- 
nection with those whose wisdom and goodness laid the foundations of 
the honours to be held in the land by children who will be mine and 
his ; — mine, so unworthy of this favoured existence — his, who came to 
seek me out at the extremity of the earth, and snatch me from a life of 
care to a life of prosperity and peace ! 

But how I ramble on ! How selfish is happiness as more selfish than 
sorrow, so often upbraided with the fault ! Yet mine is not xvholly 
selfish, dearest Ida ; for, heaven knows, I would fain have you share my 
unexampled fehcity ; though in my troubles I never wished to divide 
with you the burthen of my cares ! 

You talk to me in your letters of my " petticoated Highlanders." 
You must go further than Elvinston Castle, ignorant sister, and fare 
worse, to make their acquaintance ! We wear the plaid, but we wear 
the trews. There was a grand gathering of the tenants (will it sound 
better in your ears if I call Uiem vassals ?) the other day, in the grand 



182 THE AMBASSADOK's WIFE. 

old gothic ball of the castle. Tou can imagine nothing more joyous or 
more patriarchal. 

Towards evening the pipers were called in ; and, for the first time, I 
beheld a dance, compared with which the grotesque wildness of our 
mazurk is tame. Elvinston's sisters, and even their brother, (usually 
so averse to dancing — but what Scotsman, he says, can resist a reel ?) — 
joined in the diversion. At first, some of the old clansmen seemed to 
take it to heart, that their " bonnie wee leddie," as they qualify my 
insignificance, did not make a poor attempt at their national pastime. 
But when they learned ivliy dancing was forbidden me, Ida, they raised 
such a cheer of joy, as I, who so hate noise, felt to be the most stirring 
music that ever reached my ear ! 

One fine old man, with grey hair and reverend aspect, instantly 
insisted upon shaking hands with me ; and there were tears on his 
cheeks as he did so. It would be the sixth generation, he said, he 
should have seen of the family. I fancied that Elvinston was as much 
moved as himself. I am not sure. Hating, as he does, to make a 
parade of his feelings, it was only because he turned away so abruptly 
that I fancied there were tears in his eyes. 

Winter is now setting in; and it is the first time I ever saw the 
leaves fall, or heard the storms arise, except in the shelter of a city. I 
know not why, but the season appears to me less cheerless in the 
country. "Whatever sunshine comes we are prepared to enjoy ; and I 
have adopted the E-ussian fashion of converting a corner of our 
drawing-room into a bower, by bringing in choice trees from the 
splendid conservatories erected on one of the southern terraces. By 
careful attention to the renewal of these, summer is still within, though, 
winter growls without. 

I would not quit the castle now for the world. This is the favourite 
season for country hospitality. Our neighbours expect to be enter- 
tained ; and Elvinston is a member of an ancient hunt here, which 
derives its chief popularity from the influence of a few noble patrons. 
The castle is always full,— that is, almost always; and the private, 
happy, fireside days, niched in between these festive hospitalities, are 
the happiest holidays you can imagine. I had not thought there could 
le such happy days, when still tied down to the monotonous publicity 
of a court. Yet all the time we were enduring these tedious fetes in 
St. Petersburg, Ida, Elvinston Castle was standing where it stands, 
shone upon by the sun, revered by the people, waiting for people to be 
happy in it ! Thank heaven, it had not to wait long ! 

That purpose is at least accomplished. The blessing of domestic 
peace is upon our roof ; and beneath it, sounds of music— sounds of 
comfort— the laugh of young children— the whisper of loving hearts. 
May God have mercy upon us, and not adjudge such happiness too 
great to last ! 



I 



THE ambassadoe's wir£. 183 



Letter XL. — From ilie Count Alfred de Vaudreidl in Paris, to Count 
JErloff at Moscoiv. 

I CONGRATULATE you on your philosophy, ungentle eoz ! I perfectly 
agree with you, that next to loving a Avoman to madness, the greatest 
rapture on earth is hating her to madness, even as the witty English 
statesman expounded, that next to the enjoyment of winning at hazard, 
his greatest pleasure was in losing. 

I conclude, from the contents of your last letter, that your furor 
hrevis, under the influence of a passion even briefer and more furious 
than anger, was far more furious than my own ; for so far from taking 
refuge from my fancy for the Lily of Rehfeld, in detestation of the 
Ambassador's AYife, I find Princess Gallitzin a very pleasant acquaint- 
ance. In common with all the rest, or nearly all the rest of Paris, I 
think her charming. 

For the graces of wit and manner so often met with here, become 
unquestionably more graceful and wittier in combination with those 
personal charms in which the Helens of our Paris are so often 
deficient. Among our ugly beauties, the fair Ida appears almost a 
divinity ! 

One is always afraid when the woman of one's fancy becomes the 
wife of some other man's heart, lest she should sink into domesticity, 
and disgust one with her dow^liness. But the princess is grown a 
thousand times more worldly and coquettish, in the state which is sup- 
posed to entail the calamity of domestic happiness. If an angel before, 
she has put forth an additional pair of wings— wings not too nu^elic, bioi 
entendu — but such as might grace the ateliers of Madame Xavier, or 
Monsieur Herbault — of oiseaux de paradis or marabouts. 

You have often heard me assert, as one of my few moral principles, 
dear Leek, the axiom of " soyons de notre pays !" — Paris is my ''^pays.'' 
I was born, and would fain die here ; for I am Parisian to the heart's 
core. Xow, your true Parisian is inevitably a worshipper of fashion. 
Here, la mode is, as it were, the soul of patriotism. jMadame la Prin- 
cesse Gallitzin is fyrieusement a la mode — I, a furious patriot ; ergo — 
but I leave the logical conclusion to yourself. 

I say again, fueieusement a la mode ; and what a triumph for a 
little 'Provincial hke the Lily, whose polishing-mill was St. Peters- 
burg ! It cannot last — I am satisfied that it will not last. But this 
is the very essence of the triumph; for is not "la mode" always 
*'' passagere ?" 

AVhen out of fashion, I do not pretend that I shall discover in her 
society all the attraction I find to-day. I do not pretend to admire a 
flower when out of bloom, or a fruit when withered ; or to adore an 
idol whose worship is abjured. On the contrary, the block of wood or 
.stone becomes all the more stony and wooden, that one ever mistook it 
for a divinity. At present, however, the idol is radiant in its shrine — 
" an jour, lejour .'" 

Our fetes of the carnival have begun ; and let me tell you that it is 
no trifling distinction to be so connected by ties of kinsmanship or 
marriage with a popular ambassadress, as to be considered her privi- 
leged cavalier. There is to be a charming ball next week at the Pavilion 



184 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

Marsan ; and Princess Gallitzin, whose visit to Eosny and residence at 
St. Cloud in the autumn have placed her on a more intimate footing 
with the " illvsti-e famille" than the three other ambassadresses, \\\\\ 
be, doubtless, the belle of the night. While Marguerite is enjojnng 
the pains and perils of maternity, Ida will be fluttering in a royal ball- 
room—each to her vocation. Gallitzin, who has no patrimonial estate, 
appears little ambitious of the burthen of a family ; while as to his 
wife, I have often heard her cite your sister's passion for children as 
the most unaccountable preference in the world. Ida was clearly not 
meant to be a mother. She was made for an ambassador's wife. For 
once the race is to the swift and the battle to the strong:. 

By the way, there is a terrible tug of war here, between a certain 
clique of English people, among whom, till Ida's arrival, I spent the 
greater portion of my time, and the Arabassade de Eussie. The em- 
bassy, as you may suppose, has the best of it ; having on its side 
precedence, youth, beauty, and Alfred de Yaudreuil. But our an- 
tagonists make a good fight. They possess in society the powerful 
advantage of priority. They have been established here for years ; 
giving dinners to their friends and pain to their foes ; and, between 
love and fear, have assembled an important force of auxiliaries. There 
is a clever man in the family, and a handsome woman ; a man who 
sticks at nothing in the way of plaisanterie or mauvaise 2Jl(^isante)-ie ; 
and your wicked wit, who boasts of a good cook, is, in my opinion, the 
most powerful of social influences. 

Lord Montagu is a charming person— the most amusing in the world. 
But for the still more charming origin of our antagonistical position, I 
could scarcely bear to renounce his friendship. But Princess Gallitzin 
will not hear of him. He is the brother-in-law of Geralda Faucon- 
berg, and that is enough. 

Last summer, while still in the first blush of her popularity, when 
the mob all but cheered her for her beauty and the coteries were dis- 
posed to strike a medal in her honour, Princess Gallitzin seemed half 
inclined to retaliate upon me the inexpediency I discovered at St. 
Petersburg of enclosing myself within the charmed but not exclusively 
charming circle of a petty legation, when all the diplomatic houses 
and pleasant societies of the place were extending their arms to em- 
brace me. 

Do you remember, dear Leek, how she resented our renouncing her 
father's humdrum soirees for the fetes of Madame Belozelsky, or the 
fascinating escapades of the public; balls ? You fancied that it was with 
your extravagant demonstrations of admiration she did not choose to 
dispense. My dear fellow ! before you arrived she was equally exigeante ! 
I say no more ; but you will readily imagine that she was not indisposed 
to accept an opportunity of turning the tables upon my former bar- 
barity. She would perhaps have done so, but for her discovery of my 
overweening influence in society here, and of the necessity entailed 
upon every married woman (more especially one whose lord has official 
duties which engross his time and attention) to retain in society a most 
obedient humble servant to call her carriage and take up her defence 
in all companies; somewhat less menial than a chasseur, somewhat less 
professional than an avoue—Si cavaliere servanie in all particulars, save 
pretensions to her smiles of a nature injurious to her reputation. 

In my opinion she was very wise to adopt one so attached to her 
interests by the ties of family connection as myself. Should you realize 
your project of passing through Paris this spring, on your road to visit 



V 



THE AilBASSADOE'S WIFE. 185 



rd and Lady Elvinston, you will see cause to admit that nothing 
could have been more judicious. I will not swear, however, that the 
choice may not have been slightly stimulated by the moderate appre- 
ciation the prince appears to entertain of my prudence or discretion. 
Nothinsf so sure to recommend one to a woman's mercies as the per- 
petual injustice of her husband ! 

Pending this promised visit, you inquire after the health and looks 
of the lady you pretend to have converted into an object of hatred, as 
tenderly and soberly as if, instead of hatina; her as you pretend, you 
had begun to regard her, as in duty bound, in the light of a semi-sister. 
In all candour, coz, I admit} that I never saw her half so lovely ! _ What 
the close of the carnival may do in deterioriation let us not anticipate. 
This constant dissipation, these nightly balls, this endless round of 
dressing, dancing, talking, in full glare of illumination rivalling Oriental 
sunshine, which renders our Paris ball-rooms so brilliant and so per- 
nicious, will, of course, do their part towards tarnishing the silvery 
whiteness of her fair complexion and dimming the lustre of her limpid 
eyes. St. Petersburg had already wrought the evil of extinguishing 
their girlish expression. I own that the gentle earnestness and truth- 
fulness which poor young Eehfeld used to point out to our admiration 
in the looks of Marguerite never imparted their holy beauty to those of 
the Lily. Still, at Eehfeld, she possessed the open look of a heart that 
has known no care — of a mind that has harboured no evil thought — of a 
hope that looks onward into life, secure of happiness through the affec- 
tion of others, secure of innocence through the protection of Heaven ! 

At the imperial court these charms were fated to vanish. Her eyes 
grew restless, anxious, jealous, envious, resentful. The curious in 
woman's looks might have imbibed wonders of wisdom or amusement 
from studying as I did, in familiar life, in the first place the despairing 
glances of the Lily, when her suspicions were awakened, that Alfred de 
Vaudreuil was less than her slave, and Russia less than a paradise ; in 
the next, the hurried and reckless looks betraying her jealous suscepti- 
bility; and finally, the fixed and tremendous glare of one who has 
discovered the evil dealing of the world, and made up her mind to 
encounter it with evil-dealing in return ! 

Heigho ! we are sorry Christians in this Pharisaical Christendom of 
ours ! What lessons of perdition do we impart to our successors, for 
the mere gratification of our own levity. I have no faith in the pre- 
datory instincts of the tiger's whelp, the callow eagle, or the sinner's 
child. But for the flesh of victims borne in the first instance by their 
ferocious elders to the eyrie or the lair, I am convinced these creatures 
would never acquire a taste for blood, or become sanguinary in their 
turn. Kor would woman lapse into fiend, but for the pains we bestow 
in soiling the unsmirched snow of life before her eyes, and destroying 
her faith in the excellence of her fellow-creatures, till she loses first her 
trust in human virtue, and finally in her own ! 

There's a fine burst of morality for you, my dainty cousin of the 
Izmaeloffsky Guards ! If you desire^to know where Alfred de Vau- 
dreuil picked it%p, know that he dined yesterday at the Palace oSotre 
Dame, with his reverendissimo uncle the archbishop ; the supremacy 
of whose hock and detestability of whose chef de cuisine, insures a 
severe nightmare to the diners at his table, and of course a tremendous 
fit of misanthropy the following morning. I have long observed that 
indigestion is a profounder morahst than Pascal ! 

In sober truth, however, I trace the roueism of my life, and hardness 



186 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

of my heart to a first disappointment in love ! Not what yov, wouW 
call disappointment ; — not the interference of parents or guardians, or 
even the worldliness of good or evil fortune, to prevent a happy 
marriage. But I loved— truly— fervently— reliantly ;— loved like a boy 
■ — loved like a man — with religious fervour and superhuman constancy, a 
woman whom, loving like a boy, I of course beheved to be an angel ! 
She made it her pride to be thought so ; she made it her pleasure to 
appear so. She studied my ingenuous character (for strange as it may 
appear to you, like the rest of the tigers' whelps and eaglets, I was born 
ingenuous!), and practised villanously upon my candour. I often 
think now, what pains it must have C9st her to deceive me ! She might 
have revolutionized the kingdom with little more trouble than she 
bestowed in constructing those exquisite 'castles in the air, which she J 
deluded me into hopes of inhabiting in her company. ] 

Never shall I forget the night following the day in which I dis- ' 
covered that she had been deceiving me ! Talk of the day succeeding a 
night of intoxication, with its head-ache and nausea ? Give me, ye 
powers of darkness — the sleepless night of heart- ache and moral nausea 
that accompany the sobering out of love— a love in which we have been 
cruelly and wantonly deceived. Satan himself, I verily believe, took 
possession of me on the night in question ! That woman, that hateful 
Camille, had overthrown the alabaster wall wherewith one's guardian 
angel shuts out from view, in early youth, the evil ways of the world. 
All was now bare, all revealed, all manifest ; and some spirit of mischief 
was surely with me in my despair, to point out how these might be im- 
proved and turned to account. 

And all this was caused by the coquetry of the sex which then, for 
the first time, I learned to disparage ! Even now, whenever I feel myself 
on the eve of some great mischief (I lie, I am not deliberative, I should 
say, whenever I find myself on the morrow of some great mischief), I look 
back to Camille as to the originatress of my evil ways; and place 
another black cross in my catalogue of feminine malefactions. 

Be not alarmed. Leek, by this wretchedly prosy vein. Let it serve 
rather as an indication of the merit of the hochheimer to which I have 
alluded ; and persuade you to accelerate your journey to Paris, where 
I promise to make you intimately familiar with the cellar of monseig- 
neur my archiepiscopal uncle. 



Letter XLI. — From Mademoiselle Therese Moreav. in Paris, fa 
Visconntess Elvinston, l£lvinston Castle. 

Dearest Marguerite, or rather, dear Lady Elvinston, accept my 
heartfelt congratulations ! I am deputed by the princess (who, having 
returned at six this morning from the ball of Madam^has not yet left 
her bed, and is afraid of missing the post), to express to you the part 
which the prince and herself take in your joy on this occasion, and how 
sincerely we rejoice in your safety. 

Well might your last letter say, dear ladj-, that heaven appears to 
prosper you and yours ! Not only a child to accomplish a mother's 
wishes, but a boy to cheer the hopes of your ancient line ! I can see 



\ THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 187 

you, methinks, with this new treasure pressed closely to the womanliest 
of human hearts, and thereby perfecting its vocation by the accom- 
plishment of a new duty. 

But though a spinster, and unversed in the mysteries of matronly 
troubles, I am aware that your eyes must not be wearied just now by 
much reading. 1 will, therefore, leave to a future day, and probably 
to the hand of the princess herself, the pleasant task of further 
gratulation. 

We are grateful to the viscount for his early tidings of your safety ; 
and trust he will not forget us in the joy of your progressive recovery. 
We all wait impatiently for further news. 



Letter XJAI.—From Frincess W in St. Petersliirg, to 

Princess Gallitzin in Faris. 

My few parting words of introduction despatched through the 
!Rouillys, dear princess, procured me so charming an answer from your 
hand, and such kind compliance with my request, that I should be a 
monster to neglect your desire for news of St. Petersburg. 

Yet, alas ! what have I to relate in requital for the amusing account you 
give of my beloved Paris ? Few and far between are the events here of a 
nature likely to interest the civilized world. Our carnival of the 
present year is simply a younger brother to the carnival of last; with 
the same dull features and costume of ceremony. In Paris, on the 
contrary, the society is always fluctuating. Every winter there arrive 
new English lords and ladies, bringing millions to be squandered, and sons 
and daughters for de-Hottentotization. Every winter Italy sends 
fresh princes, who sound as if they stepped out of Tasso's dedications, 
a witty nuncio from Rome, or from Naples some ball-giving duchess. 
But who, I beseech you, comes hither that can possibly help it ? Now 
and then we catch a stray savant, wanting to write a book, be elected 
of the Academy, and obtain a snuff-box a iiortrait from Nicholas, to 
flourish at the meetings of geological societies, and other owl's nests, 
in foreign countries; or a nomadian English peeress, who has exhibited 
her diamonds at every other court under the sun or moon. But we 
never get anybody to remain, so as to diversify the surface of the most 
monotonous society that ever yawned at its own dulness without so 
much as an effort at amendment. 

While Paris, like a beauty in rather more than the maturity of her 
charms, has recourse to all the arts of coquetry to heighten the hue 
of her cheeks, and brighten the lustre of her eyes, adding furbelovi s to 
her petticoat and pompons to her cap on the slightest surmise of a 
decline of attractions, St. Petersburg resembles an awkward school- 
girl, or lanky scholar,— half romp, half pedant ;— who has neither the 
sense to perceive her deficiencies, nor the taste to amend them when 
pointed out. 

In short, we are not a bit improved since you left us. We have sung 
"TeDeum" for another imperial scion, and are now freezing away 
again, as drearily as last winter, with a somewhat worse ballet, and au 



188 THE AMBASSADOR'S WIFE. 

opera such as unluckily was not yet invented to perfect the probation 
of unbappy Job. 

In London, the variegations of political change supply contrasting 
chequers to the chess-board. TV'hile the AVhigs are in office, the Whig 
lords give dinners, and the Whig ladies balls. By the time people are 
tired of their balls and dinners, having got by rote the memc of their 
chefs and hangings of their apartments, Jieigh presto ! — the House 
divides one night, the ministers send in their resignations next morning, 
and, at a month's close, we find new countesses giving balls, and new 
marquises dinners ; the court functionaries being compelled, by pre- 
cedence of office, to become hospitable and splendid. 

But here there is no change 1 All is immutable as the laws of the 
Medes and Persians. There is but one czar, and Nesselrode is his 
prophet ! 

But though it has wisely suggested itself to my mind to send my 
letter under cover to Madame de Eouilly, through the French bag, so 
as to secure my philosophy from enlightening the mind of the emperor, 
I never feel safe in this place from the whispering of the winds that 
have blown over my letter, after hazarding anything so rash as a political 
opinion. Let me, therefore, strictly confine myself to the subject of 
your inquiries. 

Of Count Erloff I know nothing. He is probably with his regiment, 
unless sent to Siberia for a button more or less on his uniform, or a 
folly more or less in a list of misdemeanors not particularly scanty. 
I fancy the baroness is in Siijeria, too— I mean the Siberia of imperial 
favour. No Anitschkofl* balls this year, no private audiences ! She is 

now solely and simply the vvife of the envoy of , and were she 

not that, heaven knows where or what she would be. Nicholas, who 
manages to know everything, and when knoum to adjudge it, is said to 
have apprised her of his regret that he had not, on The decease of 
General ErlofF, taken the estates as well as the interests of her children 
under his imperial protection. For some time after this, the gossips 
confidently anticipated your father's recall. But the emperor is rigidly 
just, and respects the probity and honour of Monsieur le Baron as 
much as the memory of the old general. Your father's services were 
invaluable in the adjustment of the frontier question, which had so 
long proved to the czar the gad-fly settled upon the flank of some powerful 
courser, which, potent as it is, is unable to dislodge the insect ; and it 
has been often observed, that Nicholas seems to entertain as much 
respect for the faithful representative of the least foreign power as of 
the greatest. 

]\leanwhile, Madame von Eehfeld's occupation is gone. Tain are i 
her frillings and flouncings, her garnitures and graces. The empress 
sees her no longer. The poorest apprentice of Mademoiselle Louise 
can do as much as herself; and though a giant when supported by im- 
perial favour, she becomes a pigmy on its loss. The most one sees of her 
is in her box at the Bolskoy, glad to obtain, as her escort, a certain old, 
Baron von Griinglatz, whose mineralogical work on the mines of Gamn- 
liolm and Oiama has obtained a premium from the imperial mint, and 
his frightful person the order of the White Eagle. He is now a person- 
age here ! No man is a prophet in his own country. How wise of the 
Kesidenz to export its superfluous produce of learning to a land 
much in want of science-mongers ! 

Accept my felicitations on the birth of Milady Elvinston's son and 
heir, which the English embassy has formally announced to the em- 



THE AlIBASSADOE'S WIFE. 189 

peror, and still more upon your own escape from a similar misfortune, 
rniat is good for Peter is not good for Paul (unless, when both are 
czars, and the one persecutes his wife and the other his son, when a 
short shrift is excellent for both). Some day or other we shall be 
having the lovely Marguerite here as ambassadress ! The lengthy 
viscount may chance to officiate as ambassador extraordinary at our 
next coronation. 

He would not make so ill-looking a plenipo, when filled out with 
happiness and good living, and properly starred and gartered. It is 
only in private life sucli lengthy lords seem out of place. They ought to 
be constructed on the principle of opera-glasses, to be shut up and put 
away in a case when no longer wanted. 

At that epocb, who knows, our loveliest of Eussian ambassadors' 
wives may have renounced diplomacy, and settled for the rest of her 
life in the land on which she has engrafted herself as inappropriately 
as the noble orange-tree which old Demidoff brought out of the garden 
of the Eoman convent in which it had flourished for centuries, and 
transplanted, at the cost of the march of an army, to this imperial ice- 
house ! Countess of Nesselrode of the next reign, I kiss the hem of 
your excellency's garment ! — A rivederla, hellissima, — a rivederla ! 



Letter XLIII. — From Viscount Elvinston to tTie Honourahle 
Mrs. Leslie. 

A THOUSAND, thousand thanks, dear Mary, to you and Leslie, for your 
kindly sympathy in our joy. TV'hen we were all together in October, I 
scarcely supposed it possible that my happiness was susceptible of much 
increase. Every day the world we 'rose to appeared as bright and 
shining as a world could be. I now admit my error : the peace of 
mind we enjoyed was incomplete without that link in the great scale of 
creation, and more especially to our social position, which is supplied 
by parental responsibility. The duchess rallies me without mercy on 
!my consequentiality under my new dignities ; but I own I begin to look 
'at life in a different point of view, since I have felt that something of 
my own will be left on earth, to feel hereafter as I am feeling, and pro- 
fit or suffer from the influence of my actions of to-day. 
j I shall not pretend to answer your questions concerning who or what 
Ithis young ofiset of our house may resemble ; regarding them as a trap 
laid to make me render myself ridiculous. Suffice it that he lives, roars 
lustily, feeds well, and promises to make a sufficient lord of Elvinston 
Castle when his father is in the dust. 

; I had rather talk to you about Marguerite. I am never weary of 
"talking about Marguerite ! I never talk about her except in my 
prayers, and to my favourite sister — favourite because only a year 
divides us, and the first thing I can remember in this world is sitting 
with her upon my mother's knee, when we were loving children 
together. In memory of that holy tie and dear affection, bear with me, 
|Mary, if I enlarge somewhat too fondly on the merits of my wife ! I 
I scarcely think I can, however, even in your estimation ; for it is my 
i delight to remember how thoroughly you all four— husbands and wives 
alike— did justice to her excellence when you saw her here. Never 
were eight people so strangely accordant in praise ! 



190 THE ambassador's wife. 

You can scarcely imagine how more than ever gentle and lovely she 
became, while waiting the recent event ; — so afraid lest I should fancy 
her repining at such a moment for the companionship of kith or kin ; 
and above all, so painfully eager in the pursuance of the religious 
studies to which, unknown to me — or as she fancies, unknown to me — 
she has been devoting herself ever since her arrival in England. 

It is a subject on which, from the moment I determined on oflFering 
her my hand, I also determined to abstain from interference. I re- 
solved that religion should never become a topic of conversation 
between us ; because I never knew it made so between persons of oppo- 
site creed without embittering the feelings of both. If a good Catholic, 
my wife must infallibly be a good Christian— and I was determined to 
be content. 

At the bottom of my heart, perhaps, I was not without hope that the 
influence of the institutions of this country, and the habits of which 
she must be a witness in the daily life of my sisters, would lead to such 
inquiries on doctrinal points, as might produce a spontaneous change 
of opinions. Marguerite believed as she had been taught ; and would 
have believed otherwise had she been taught better. The influence of 
better teaching was what I looked to. 

Can you not imagine, dear ]Mary — you can, for you too have a loving 
heart— the vague inquietude of that gentle soul, when, as she gradually 
began to attach herself to me with a degree of trust and affection better 
than all the first loves in the world— looking forward, as affection is 
prone to look, through a life of mutual fidelity on earth to a life of 
mutual happiness in heaven — misgivings came upon her that those who 
kneel at different altars in this world may be rewarded in a various 
degree in the world to come. Love taught her superstition,— super- 
stition piety,— piety wisdom ; and thus, by degrees, her spirit became 
enlightened. She felt that she should not have been thus disquieted, 
if in the right path ; and paused, and questioned herself, and questioned 
otliers. 

You know her diffidence of mind. To me she would not refer her 
scruples. But something in the frankness of Helen Eockingham at- 
tracted my wife to be more open. She made the duchess the confidante 
of her misgivings, and could not have chosen a better ; for Helen, as 
modest as herself, applied to better counsellors— to Sir Thomas Mere- 
dyth, and his brother, the archdeacon— to point out the works which 
ought to be placed in her hands at such a moment. 

When I say thank God with me that they influenced her favourably, 
believe me 1 say it with the certainty that, had she after mature exami- 
nation adhered to her mother's faith, it never would have caused me a 
moment's uneasiness. But there might have come a time when I 
should have learned to regret our difference of opinions. She would 
Jiave experienced consciousness of alienation on finding her son sub- 
mitted to a diflbrent form of instruction from the daughters I hope we 
may one day call our ov/n ; and I might have felt regret at seeing 
different and discordant forms of worship prevail among my children — 
strange in my family— strange in my country. 

I ^-vatched therefore with eagerness (for Helen had in some degree 
betrayed the innocent confidence of my darling wife) the progress of 
her feelings. Marguerite said nothing ! But there was a world of 
eloquence in her silence, when she sometimes looked yearningly after 
me, as I proceeded to church on the sabbath, as though she longed to 



TflE ambassador's WIFE. I9l 

follow me and seek instruction, yet dreaded to desert the faith incul- 
cated into her mind, with fear and trembling, in earlier years. 

I had still courage to refrain from a syllable; for I was resolved that 
the work of enlightenment should be her own and Heaven's. It was 
not till a fortnight before the trying moment, which was to complete 
our happiness, that she one day whispered to me, " In my hour of 
danger, obtain for me the prayers of your church that I may live, to 
join at no distant day, its happy congregation." 

Dreading the influence of her priest, she had some time before written 
to decline his weekly attendance at the Castle, accompanying the request 
with a gift whose munificence seemed to reconcile him to release from 
a ten-mile ride across the country from Glasgow. 

All is now as my utmost desires could wish. Henceforward,' there 
will be but one faith, as there has been but one heart, in this house, 
Helen had her right and title to the first announcement of these glad 
tidings; but I made it my especial request to her to leave me the satis- 
faction of announcing them to yourself. To Leslie, so strict a Protest- 
ant, I am not sure but they will convey even greater pleasure, than the 
birth of " MY SON ! " 

And i/ours, Mary ? How is my godson ? Methinks I can see Mar- 
guerite and yourself proudly comparing notes, when we all meet here 
again at the Castle next autumn. Nay, you may compare them earlier ; 
for the moment my wife's convalescence permits, we start for London. 
Though I cannot be there for the opening of Parliament, I shall take 
my seat instantly on my arrival. I am beginning to fancy myself more 
a patriot than ten days ago, and can conceive it possible to interest 
myself in politics. More good news for Leslie and Sir Thomas ! See 
how right I was in predicting to you, when I wrote to announce my 
marriage, that a thousand virtues to come were comprehended for me 
in the love of the most charming and amiable of wives. I had a hard 
matter to obtain it. I had to wrest it almost out of the keeping of 
another ; but I prize those precious affections all the more for the right 
of conquest. 

Marguerite has not been quite so well to-day. She insisted upon my 
coming in to see her yesterday, without changing my clothes, on return- 
ing from a hard day with the harriers ; and as I had ridden home from 
Craigie in a pouring rain, I brought more chill and moisture to her 
pillow than the nurses, on discovering my intrusion, could be persuaded 
to pardon. All, however, will doubtless end in a slight cold ; though 
the indignation of the venerable lady who brings the baby to its mother, 
every time my lady's hoarse whispers recall to her memory my evil 
doings, knows no bounds of decorum. She has given me a whole string 
of commissions for you to execute in London for our nursery, a list of 
which I enclose. Be expeditious, or I shall have to undergo further 
objurgation. God bless you ! 



192 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 



Letter XLI^''. — From Princess Gallitzin in Paris, to Princess W—— 
in St. Peiershurg. 

I ADOPT all j-our precautions, dear princess, in order to answer your 
letter in its own free spirit, having reason to think that the exposure of 
my correspondence with Madame von Eehfeld to undue scrutiny, is 
partly the cause of her decline of favour, as well as of the capricious 
condemnation to which my own conduct has heen subjected by high 
authority. 

I should not trouble you on this head, which appears to concern only 
myself, but that the ostensible motive of displeasure is the notice I have 
bestowed on certain proteges of yours,— the Eouillys and Madame 
Dombreski ; and you have a right to know this, lest they should lead 
yourself into similar trouble. 

Monsieur de Eouilly, it appears, passed in Russia for an intrigant. He 
arrived there provided with ample means and the best introductions ; but 
is supposed to have undertaken the journey as emissary of the liberal 
party of France, to which he is all the more dangerously attached, that 
the connection is inostensible. 

The Eouillys have a charming house and society. Impossible to see 
two people more intelligent or more agreeable than the marquis and 
his wife ! I found in their acquaintance all the charm you announced 
to me; and should find it still were I permitted to attach myself 
to their coterie. 

Your friends are too enlightened and too well-bred to admit within 
the pale of their circle those who have no passport to notice but 
fashion and impertinence ; and with them I found a sure refuge 
against many a grievance. Of all the circles of Paris, indeed, theirs 
was to me the most delightful. I met there the first men of the day. 
I do not mean the first men of the Faubourg — whom one meets every 
where— or rather wherever the suppers are faultless, and the women 
faulty ; but the first intelligences, the leading orators of the Chamber, 
the leading oracles of genius, art, science, humanity — men whose 
names engraven hereafter upon their tombs will sufiice for epitaph ; 
all, in short, that the exclusives call mauvaise compagnie, and that 
Eussia calls Palais Eoyal ; a name currently given to the liberals, as 
protected by the Duke of Orleans. As I write this, dear princess, I 
keep looking over my shoulder, like a child frightened by its nurse- 
maid into terror of apparitions ! I wonder how I dare indulge in such 
dangerous admissions ! 

After experiencing the satiety inseparable from a mawkish course of 
the sweets of exclusive life, the piquant circle of the Hotel de Eouilly, 
I own, enchanted me. 

I found there something to stimulate my faculties ;— something that 
inspired the ambition of shining in conversation. To excite our 
powers of intellect, it is indispensable that some hand should be waiting 
to catch and return the ball ; and perpetually to discharge one's sallies 
against a stone wall, or a heedless companion, wears out my patience. 
People who venture to pronounce one dull or absent, seldom consider 
how far their own incapacity may have provoked the mood of silence 
and listlessness that moves their spleen. 



THE AilBASSADOE'S WIFE. 193 

No one but a czaiina can find pleasure in talking for ever and ever 
of dress; no one but an Alfred de Yaudreuil, or an English miss, be 
satisfied with a perpetual discharge of arrows througli the meu.rtrleres 
of their ill-nature. After some months' experience of the emptiness 
of such skirmishing, I began to prefer the high-toned intelligence of 
the liouilly set ; and in this consists my high treason. 

As to your Madame Dombreski, dear princess, I fear we must give 
her up to imperial displeasure without striking a blow in her defence. 
Though briUiant and -attractive, we can scarcely approve the brilliancy 
and liveliness of one whose unhappy family is expiating in Siberia 
their political offences; and who lives in luxury, while her three 
brothers are reduced to destitution by the confiscation of their estates 
in Poland. It is not merely her political connections which render 
this woman obnoxious to the emperor. He disapproves her in a 
moral point of view. The fortune Madame Dombreski has snatched 
out of the wreck of her husband's may enable her to pursue her 
luxurious pleasures with eclat in foreign countries ; but you will admit 
that she is little entitled to the protection or kindness of the Kussiau 
ambassadress, while sinning against liussia and against herself. 

Do not imagine that I say this by way of reproach. In pure in- 
consideration you recommended me an agreeable acquaintance of 
yours :— the consideration should have rested with me, ere I acted on 
your letter. Such scrutinies constitute one of my diplomatic duties. 
I accept the fault, and repent it. But alas ! repentance does not suffice. 
I must also accept the penalty. The emperor is displeased ; and the 
displeasure of Nicholas is neither lightly conceived, nor lightly 
effaceable. 

Thanks, dear princess, for your congratulations on the birth of my 
step-sister's son and heir. It appears to have been welcomed right 
royally to this world of care, where the palace, as well as the cottage, 
has its hedge of thorns ; a salvo of artillery from the battery of Elvin- 
stone Castle at the risk of terrifying the poor accoucJiee out of her 
■wits;— oxen_ roasted whole— largesse to the poor— prisoners released — 
chimes set ringing in thirty parishes ! They could have done no more 
at the Residenz for the birth of an hereditary prince ! But, after all, 
has not a wealthy peer of England twice the consequence of a 
sovereign of any petty continental state ? 

Between ourselves, dear princess (and, thanks to your precautions, 
the announcement icill remain between ourselves), nothing can be 
more perturbed than the state of the public mind in Paris. I speak 
not of the populace— which I hold to be as little the representative of 
the public mind as the pavement of Paris of the soil of Prance ; — 
but of the enlightened classes. Great discontent prevails. The king 
is supposed to be intent upon suppressing the constitutional principles 
which were thrown as a sweetener into the cup of Bourbon succession, 
imposed upon Prance by the united bayonets of Europe. 

One of the favourite compliments I used to receive at the Hotel 
de Pouilly, was an expression of gratitude to me for "rendering 
acceptable the name of llussia, now that Prance was evidently about 
to become be-Muscovited de la tcte auxineds.'' — Never, I am convinced ! 
— Charles X. is not a Nicholas. He has neither personal consequence, 
nor personal influence ; nor have the Prench so recently slipped the 
collar of servitude as to be readily reduced to subjection. There is no 
knowing what coercion may effect upon a mass ; — perhaps convert 
Paris into a modern Eome— perhaps into a heap of ashes ! 

o 



191 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

I might have remained blind to this desperate position of affairs, bat 
fpr the enHghtenment produced by contrasting the opinions of the far- 
sighted IIoLel de IJouillj' with the narrow bigotry and idiotic sub- 
servience of the ]I6:eI de Yaudreuil. In comphineat to the baroness, 
and at my father's de:5ire, I am forced to pay an assiduous court to the 
old Countess Auguste, with her collets monies of dowagers and con- 
gregation of bishops ; and right truly did you describe her circle to me, 
as worthy the most farthingaleish days of the Escurial; a patch of 
ieudal darkness left sticking upon the face of social progress, 

I never opened my lips to the clique without producing a rustle 
by a universal shrug of the shoulders, and elevation of the hands, 
such as arises at the first representation of an opera, from turnins the 
leaf of the lihrelto. But I have more than once suspected that Alfred 
de Yaudreuil tries to make me unpopular with them, and to drive me 
into the Eouilly party by provoking his own to exhibit in my presence 
their stiffest coat of mail, to say nothing of the concealed weapons of 
Jesuitry and pride. They hate me for a heraldic lache in my pedigree ; 
they hate me as an alien from their church, yet of priestly extraction ; 
and it is his policy to bring such topics under discussion, humiliate me 
by a sense of insignificance and odium, and provoke me into the ex- 
pression of sentiments arising less from conviction than from the 
galling sense of my inferiority. 

After all, the levelling principle is not for a daughter of an obscure 
but ancient house ! Tue Marseillaise is not for my lips, whether as of 
baronial extraction, or an Ambassador's "Wife. iJut Monsieur de 
Yaudreuil had al^ajs a peculiar faculty for stinging one into im- 
I)rudence by his malice. 

I remember, princess, when I announced to you my intention of do- 
mesticating my old governess in my household in Paris, your replying 
by a dissuasive shake of the head. 1 heeded not your mute remon- 
strance, conceiving that it purported only to warn me against the 
infrangible chain of early authority ; and, knowing myself, fancied 1 
knew better. 

I now strongly suspect that you foresaw the evils likely to arise from 
her commerage with an extensive Parisian connection. Certain I am 
that nothing in my conversation has tended to circulate the peculiari- 
ties of my early studies. Not a classical allusion was ever extorted 
from my lips ; nor has an unfeminine word or movement betrayed the 
wilder whims of my girlhood at Schloss liehfeld. 

Yet a certain Lord Montagu, the high priest of a confraternity here 
which 1 sovereignly despise, is always attacking me with learned cita- 
tions ; and I am assured that a clever caricature is in circulation— nay, 
Alfred has whispered to me that he has had great difficulty in dissuading 
Dantan from converting it into one of his grotesque statuettes (alluding 
to my former pursuits), under the name of " VAmhassadrice a la mode 
de je ne sais qiioi " representing me in the character of a muse, with a 
lifle on one shoulder, a lyre on the other, like the twins which beggar- 
women hug in the streets to excite commiseration ; a setter and an owl 
attending me characteristically on either side. 

Alfred assures me that, to figure in a caricature, is, in Paris, as much 
a test of popularity as, in England, to bo burnt in eihgy, of political dis- 
tinction. 1 could be content with a more modest measure of fame. It 
is not that such an attack in itself produces mortification. The insult 
w^ounds by passing through the satirical glances of one's enemies. 
L liut, after all, these grievances, which would fall so heavy in !St. Peters- 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 195 

burg, where all is heavy, are easy to be borne with here, where every 
minute is winged like thistle-down, so that one can never guess where 
its perch may fall. How buoyant are the spirits of the French !^ 
How easy is it to bear the burthen of life among such cheerful com- 
panions ! 

The amusements of Paris are so varied that the garb of pleasure 
becomes as motley as that of harlequin ; nor do I wonder, dear prin- 
cess, at your having takpn indescribable delight in a city whoso year is 
all spring— whose sky all sunshine ! 

Both operas are enchanting this season. We have a tenor who has 
withered tiie laurels of Nourrit ; and young Bellini is hastening hither 
to write operas for Les BoufFes— shining modestly in the wake of Hossini 
like the moon ri.-ing on summer evenings ere the sun has set. Then, 
we have the Theatre Trangais and Mademoiselle Mars, the Vaudeville 
and Arnal; to say nothing of the Theatre de Madame, arraying fine sen- 
timent in white satin and brocade, and enveloping all that is least moral 
in morality in a filmy web, which serves only to draw attention to its 
indecency. This theatre, however, much as it is the fashion, the Am- 
hassadrice a la mode de je ne sais quoi never enters. 

When next I have a safe occasion to \^ rite, I will give you an account 
of a little exploit the Eouillys and I lately hazarded— an expedition to 
the hal de r Opera, which must be kept a profound secret ; for though 
women of the best society commit the same folly once in every carnival, 
and though everybody is to be met there — " nobody goes .'" 

Favour me in return with a private and confidential view of the 
reverse of the court tapestry in St. Petersburg. How diverted you 
would be, dear princess, by a sight of the gala side, officially despatched 
for my admiration ! 



Letter 'X.'LY .—From i Isconrd Hlvinston to t'lie Diicliess of Boclcinyliam, 

Peay, dear Ellen, spare me a world of time and trouble by despatching 
my bulletin of to-day, in your own handwriting, to the Leslies and Sir 
Tiiomas. Tell them still, that " my lady is as well as can be expected," 
because it was scarcely to be expected she should be instantly well again, 
after the attack of cold to which she was subjected by my imprudence 
or inexperience. 

It is all your fault, sisters ! You never would let me come near your 
houses on such occasions, lest I should beguile your loving lords into 
dissipation. Comfort, however, the kind hearts of such as are too 
anxious concerning us, by further intelligence that the boy _ (little 
savage!) is not in the slightest degree afiected by his mother's illness. 
I foresee a Nero in my son and heir ! 

One advantage I have derived from this trifling retardation of dear 
Marguerite's recovery ; — the suite of rooms of the western tower will 
be quite ready to welcome her ; for though they had promised me all 
should be complete by the end of February, and we are uovv in March, 
thanks to the early rains, the drying of the stucco was so slow, that, 
though ten artists have been at work, in a pine-apple beat, for the last 
three months, they are only now putting the finishing touches to the 
arabesques. 

o 2 



196 THE AilBASSADOn'S WIFE. 

^ You can conceive nothing more perfect than these rooms, now that 
my design is fully Avorked out. Blame not the slightness of my trust, 
Helen, in feminine discretion, in denying you access ; but I am con- 
vinced that, had I shown the designs to you and Mary when you were 
at Elvinstou, the secret would, on some occasion or other, have tran- 
spired. Twenty times did Marguerite, as we rambled over the castle, 
point out to me the rooms in which the workmen were employed, and 
inquire their destination ; but being of women the most tractable, she 
Avas content to be told that they were old-fashioned chambers under- 
going repair, without bping spurred by the charm of interdiction into 
further investigation. Most women would have suspected a Bluebeard 
series of headless wives, concealed behind the prohibited door ; but at 
all times, and on all occasions, it suffices to say to Marguerite, " Inquire 
no further," to be secured from further inquiry. 

Now, however, that the grand secret is on the eve of disclosure, I 
will give you a sketch of the rooms, to Avhich, my dear sister, you have 
unwittingly contributed your share. Do you remember, Helen, those 
sketches of my wife's, which I begged out of your scrap-book, and one on 
an English subject, which I stole from Sir Thomas ? Frescoes after these 
design's adorn the four panels of the little dining-room. The first repre- 
sents the convent garden in the Eue St. Victor, of which dear Marguerite 
was so many years an inmate ; with groups of nuns, and their pretty 
pensionnaires dispersed among the pastures and bosquets. The old grey 
walls of the convent, with their curious external staircases of pierced 
granite, would cause it to resemble the court of a prison, but for the air 
of innocent hilarity of the young girls ; some sitting with their work 
under the trees— some with a book— some skipping— some busy with 
their flower borders. In the front, on a stone bench, sits Marguerite, 
in her 'pensionnaire's dress (the white veil, grey gown, and ebony chaplet 
of a soev.r grise), listening to the conversation of a venerable nun in the 
habit of tiie Benedictine order, a certain SoBur Marie, of whom you 
have often heard my Avife make filial mention. Such is the first com- 
partment. The atmosphere is sunny. The acacia trees, in bloom, are 
bright with the soft light verdure of Parisian vegetation ; and " the 
blue sky bends over all."' Contracted as is the scene, it is an animated 
and cheering picture. 

» The second compartment exhibits the quaint old structure of Schloss 
Eehfeld; Avhich the duke admired so much in Marguerite's sketch, as 
verifying one of the curious productions of the Flemish school. This 
scene illustrates Autumn, as the convent garden Summer. A party is 
departing for the chase. The old boar-hounds are impatient to be ofl'; 
and the horses, some already mounted by the jiigers, some leading about, 
display the most artist-like variety of design. Among them, an old 
gray barb, the baron's favourite, is shying at the drooping tail of a pea- 
cock, perched on the marble ledge of a curious old fountain in the 
court-yard ; while Marguerite's Italian greyhound — your friend Grazilia 
— is leaping up to caress the hand of the baroness, as she descends tlie 
door-steps. The baron is placing Ida on her horse ; and Thercse 
Moreau, the governess you have heard her talk of, is looking on in 
conversation with old Tossius, the venerable pastor of Eehfeld. This 
is the second compartment, and executed with a degree of spirit 
worthy of Snyders. It will remind you of that picture by Philippe de 
Champagne you are so fond of, at AVoolsthorpe, representing the de- 
parture of theDuke of Yendomc for thechase,as Grand Veneur deFrauce. 
L. The third panel represents Winter— aj-, and a Eussiau winter ;— yet 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 197 

such a winter as might be dreamed of in a fairy tale, rather than among 
snow-drifts and sledges. The scene is the ball-room of the Anitschkotf 
Palace, with portraits of the imperial family ; and comprehends five of 
the same personages, in gala attire, who figure in hunting suits in the 
autumnal panel. 

Nothing can be more ably executed than the brilliancy of light which 
my painters, following the colouring of Marguerite's ariv.arelles, have 
thrown into this picture, in contradistinction to the richer and more 
glowing blaze of the autumnal sunshine in the last. Of course /like 
it the best of the four, for it is the first in which my majesty figures ;— 
the grouping representing no less an incident than the presentation of 
a certain lanky Englishman to the Lily of Ilehfeld ! You will appre- 
ciate the modesty with which my wife has placed herself in total 
eclipse behind the brilliant figures of tbe emperor and Grand Duchess 
Helena, who are in conversation together in the foreground. But I 
can scarcely forgive her this ; more especially as she has placed me to 
equal disadvantage, as a foil to the gorgeous uniform of Sergius Gallit- 
zin ; so covered with orders, that he seems to have undergone the fate 
promised to Eomeo, and been taken and cut out in little stars. 

This gorgeous picture will convey to you, dear Helen, a full, true, and 
particufar notion of the magnificence of the imperial court. The 
empress is represented in the national habit, wearing those unique 
pearls and the set of sapphires and brilliants you have heard described 
as rivalling the sun-gown of Peau d'Ane. 

And now, dear Helen, I come to the dear fourth panel ; liow dear 
you will readily conjecture when I tell you that it includes portraits of 
all who are dear to me on earth ! It represents the scene at my 
sister Leslie's of Marguerite's introduction to my family ; in spring 
— the season of Hope— how appropriate to the happiness of that happy 
moment ! 

My wife selected for the incident of her sketch the benediction so 
strangely bestowed upon her by my good old guardian. Little Dick 
Leslie is beside them, struggling from his nurse's arms for another kiss 
of his new aunt ; and the contrast between the curly head and glowing 
face of the child, and the venerable countenance and spare form of 
Meredyth, has been; pointed out to me by the artists as an admirable 
efibrt of art, and worthy the grouping of Eubens. 

What requires no pointing out is the excellence of likeness distin- 
guishing you all. There is Eockingham, to the life, with his gracious 
and courtly air cle grand seigneur; and her grace his lady wife, all 
goodness, serenity, and love. There is Leslie, with his stern forehead 
and expressive mouth, watching the new comer with the eye of a 
judge ; and Mary awaiting his judgment with submissive looks, as in 
all respects the criterion of her own. In short, there you are all ! 
Lord and Lady George, Maria and the archdeacon ; with your boy and 
Lady Evelyn introduced by way of gracing (and charmingly they grace) 
the foreground, though neither of your brats was present at the real 
interview. 

Even to the eye of a stranger, this scene cVinierieur is positively 
delicious. I know not, however, how we could have converted it into 
spring (though really occurring in May, as a splendid vase full of lilacs 
on the console purports to indicate), but for Marguerite's bright idea 
of introducing those human blossoms— the children of my dear sisters 
—to shed the charm of youth and infancy upon our family group ! ^ 

And now, if you please, your grace's lily-whito hand, that I may 



193 THE AMBASSADOB'S WIFE. 

conduct you into Marguerite's drawing-room — such a bower-chamber, 
I promise you, as was never before devised for a lady of Elvinston. 
Tou remember my sending over to Wbaley a provision of Kazan 
alabaster, and instructions for the pounding of the same into stucco, 
with a view of converting the new dining-room of the castle into a 
Eussian ball ? AYhaley would not bear of it ! And be was right — for 
the thing would have been inconsistent with the roof and Saxon 
windows. 

But, with the French single plate-glass windows of Marguerite's 
drawing-room, the white stucco is in fantastic keeping; more especially 
painted as it is in festoons of such heavenly roses as were never seen 
out of Gulistan, or heard of save in the poesies of Hafiz. Scattered 
among them, and gemming them fantastically with dew-drops, are 
groups of sylphs and Undines, such as I fancied nothing but a German 
imagination could have compassed— the festoons of flowers and spiritual 
beings vying with each other in supernatural grace. 

Nevertheless, my trusty workmen are right good English artists; and 
I cannot help fancying that their admiration of the true spirit of art 
evinced in dear [Marguerite's designs has stimulated their genius into 
unusual efforts to adorn a temple dedicated to her service. I can 
promise you, fair sister of Eockingbam, that, with all the gorgeousness 
and good taste of your many mansions, you possess not a single chamber 
so exquisitely and originally elegant, as the castle in the air I have 
created to form a fitting casket for my jewel of jewels. 

How I long to see her seated on the sofa of sea-green silk about to be 
placed there to receive her and the boy on their inauguration. Titania 
has not a brighter bower ; but the best bower of Titania has not such 
an inmate ! 

The white scagliola thus painted has (as you will admit when you see 
it) the eflect of the finest porcelain. Imagine, therefore, if you can, a 
room of Sevres china of exquisite dimensions, overlooking from its 
lofty windov.s a landscape such as Claude or Clydesdale alone can 
supply, and you will behold my fairy gallery. 

"But," I hear you exclaim, " the'western tower has three rooms, 
which you told us were hereafter to be named the Lady Marguerite's 
suite." True; and the third, Helen, as originally planned, was an 
oriel chamber, an oratory to be fitted up with the fine old walnut-wood 
carvings I picked up two years ago at Utreclrt, and was intended to 
contain an altar and x>ne dieu. It will now contain all that is holiest 
to my Protestant Marguerite ! Your pious feelings, my dear sister, will 
readily supply the objects Hkely to be sacred to her own. 

Such is the surprise I am preparing for her first day of convalescence. 
What a happy moment for both, or rather for us all ; for we are more 
than "both" now, I have a darling son as well as a darling wife. 
You, Helen, who appreciate the grateful and afiectionate nature of my 
wife, will understand the joy I am about to derive from her thankful- 
ness for a new token of the devotion of every feeling of my heart and 
thought of my mind. 

But I have written more than enough, perhaps, to weary you. Shall 
I own the truth? I have been beguiling my couple of hours of exile 
from her sick room, to which I was condemned by the nurso, to secure 
her some refreshing sleep ; the first hour, by a careful examination of my 
bright creation— the second, by describing them to your gracious grace. 

Be thankful ! You would otherwise have had to wait till September 
for a notion of the first effort of gallantry of your afiectionate brother. 



THE AMBASSAPOE'S WIFE. 199 



LoUCi XLVI. — From Count Alfred cle Vaudreiiil to the Baroness von 
EeTifeJd. 

I FULLY understand, my charming cousin, your vexation at the intel- 
ligence communicated by the countess. But I need not tell you that 
my good aunt is declining into the narrow vale of years; and that the 
adage of once a woman, and twice a child, holds good even where both 
the first and second childhood are spent under a roof graced with the 
escutcheoa of the Yaudreuils, The Abbe Chaptal reigns triumphant in. 
her house ; and the set of doating dowagers and drivelling old gentle- 
men who constitute the devotees of his Infallibility, have insinuated all 
sorts of absurd notions into the head of my worthy aunt. 

You accuse me, upon her showing, of compromising the reputation of 
your step-daughter. Now I ask you, in all candour, was ever woman 
yet compromised by any follies but her own ? You say, that it is my 
pleasure to afficher the young princess. Verbiage, my dear aunt — 
mere verbiage. ' Unless Princess Gallitzin chose that my attentions to her 
should be noticed, do you suppose that I should dare to make them notice- 
able ? You, so well acquainted with the usages of the world, are as well 
aware as myself that by a single word or look, a married woman may 
encourage the attentions paid her, or put a stop to them in a moment. 

From the day of her arrival here the princess adopted me as the most 
available of her admirers; and Gallitzin, aware that some man must 
afiord her an escort in society, and unwilling ])erhaps to encourage 
intimacy with his attaches (whom it is his pleasure or policy to reduce 
to the position of upper servants), was probably satisfied to see in at- 
tendance on the Eussian ambassadress one who, last season, was the 
still more favoured attendant of Madame. The prince is too clever a 
man not to be aware of the advantage to be obtained with the Faubourg 
St. Germain, by putting forward a family connection with one of its 
most influential members. I do not hesitate to say, that from my 
friendship and devouement, the Gallitzins, on their first arrival, obtained 
an immense advantage. I can assure you that, last season, the poor 
dear princess was the height of the fashion— the idol of Paris— the 
marvel of the court. Nay, even at the beginning of the winter, nothing 
could exceed the enthusiasm of which she was the object, both at the 
Chateau and in society ; an enthusiasm, permit me to observe, created 
chiefly by my influence. If, at the present moment, though the Carnival 
has only just concluded, her popularity is somewhat on the wane, it is 
because she has rashly laid aside her leading strings before she was 
strong enough to run alone. 

I need not describe to you the waywardness of her character. Of all 
human beings, I never saw one so confident in her own strength, 
or so persuaded that she was born with a capacity to bear the world 
upon her shoulders. What man can bear the world upon his shoulders, 
even if it were worth bearing? far less a woman, whose philosophy is 
always at the mercy of her temper and feelings. The woman least 
susceptible in either, is thin-skinned as a poire de beurrce— the slightest 
touch produces a bruise, and a bruise is fatal. A jealous or an angry- 
woman loses her self-possession and good- manners— losses unpardon- 
able in a society observant as ours ! 



209 THE ambassador's wife. 

The moment Princess Gallitzin became aware that a syllable of blame 
was Avhispered against her by la honne compagnie, she took refuge in la 
inaiivaise. "When the strict etiquettes of the Chateau took exception 
at her innovations, she threw herself into the arms of the Palais Royal. 
Imagine, if the utmost wildness of your imagination can attain such a 
flight— an amhassadress of all the Ilussias consorting with the liberal 
party, and frequenting the Hotel de Eouilly— the acknowledged /o^/er 
of all the i)o\i\AQ^\frondeurs of the day ! 

Such is the true cause of your lady mother's displeasure against me. 
Instead of really disapproving my homage to your step-daughter, she 
thinks I ought to have kept her in the way of the true faith. Hearing 
on all sides expressions of amazement at the independence of tone 
hazarded by Princess Gallitzin, she accuses me as the origin of her 
condemnation. Mv dear coz ! when the waxen wings of Icarus melted 
in the sun, the boldness of his pretensions was alone to blame. 

Believe me, I abhor the set of people into which the princess has 
derogated. To me nothing can be more offensive than a clique that 
aftects singularity of opinions or habits. In a society so far advanced in 
civilization as that of Paris, one's way is plainly marked down. The 
habits and opinions of society are absolute. All infringement — all in- 
novation — is an impertinence. 

You have no notion (you who beheld Paris only in its Faubourg od^ur 
of sanctity) how strange an order of things is gradually starting up here 
in opposition to the powers that be. The Chaussee d'Antin, extin- 
guished for a time with iS^apoleon, has by degrees reorganized its modern 
wealth and factitious nobility; for who can pretend to repress the 
growth of either flowers or weeds whose roots are prospered by an 
engrais of gold ? 

These people are setting up a rival standard to the old banner ; the 
men in politics— the women in fashion. The liberalism engendered by ■ 
that wretched compromise the Charte, has found its way even into 
society ; and we have now a constitutional monarchy of the ball-room, 
that may chance to bring about further revolutions. 

Well, well ! 'tis a pleasant world, so long as one looks only to its comic 
side ! I admit that the absolutism of St. Petersburg disgusted me ; and 
that I was the first to point out to the Lily of llehfeld the odiousness 
of a state of things where all was espial, treachery, and denunciation. 
j3ut reverse of Avrong is not always right ; and there exists a medium 
between the Bastille and its letires de cachet, the Council of Ten with 
its j^ozzo and j^iomli, St. Petersburg with its Siberia — and the subver- 
sion of social order which beards the sovereign in parliament, and 
would place the aristocracy of wealth on a level with the nobility of 
ancient Europe. As I said before, I abhor a set of people who fancy 
themselves men of genius merely because astride on political hobbies; 
or women of genius, because the said men and their hobbies are sub- 
jected to their leading rein. It is not I, believe me, who have sur- 
rounded Ida with so absurd a body guard. 

Among other freaks of independence imagine that Princess Gallitzin 
saw fit to select for her grand ambassadorial ball of the carnival, the 
night invariably appropriated by the dauphine ! The inevitable conse- 
quence was the absence of Madame; and considering the favour with 
which Ida was received last year at St. Cloud and Eosny (because the 
Countess Auguste and myself had said so much in her favour), you will 
admit such an oversight to be somewhat more than a blunder. 

Her fete, however, W9,s magnificent. Though unwilling to exercise 



THE ambassador's AVIFE. 201 

much influence in the business, lest it should be supposed I had any 
share in the original suggestion, I took some trouble with the details. 
Not that I approve of a bal costume for any one so high placed as a 
royal or diplomatic host. A thousand disagreeable quiproquos may 
arise, for which he renders himself responsible. It is too hasarcU a 
pleasure, methinks, for any one but a woman of fashion aspiring to 
notoriety. 

Eor instance, at Princess Gallitzin's ball, the English set chose to 
come in ancient Sacmatian costumes, representing I know not what 
patriotic ballad of Niemciewicz, or Mickiewicz ; which mauvaise plai- 
santcrie has, by this time, reached the Cesarian ear ; and as Xicholas 
cannot vent his indignation on British peers, he will on the Eussian 
prince under whose roof the fantastic trick was played. 

But this is not all. The Eouillys and the clique of the Duchesse de 

C , with whom the reckless Ida has inextricably linked herself, thought 

proper to get up a representation of the court of Henri III., the most 
brilliant, but historically odious of the courts of Prance. It was le Roi 
et la Ligue, represented by a society in which there exists a stronger 
confederacy against the throne than the haughty Guises; while the 
abominable queen-mother, with her virulence of religious intolerance, 
stalked and talked so hideously like the dauphine, that the parody was 
unmistakable. 

You may imagine the cancans to which these incidents have given 
rise ! One of the liberal papers, or rather one of the papers which live 
by extracting scandal out of politics, gave, a few days ago, a most 
amusing version of the affair. The prince and princess are wise enough 
to say nothing— nothing, at least, tbat transpires ; but I suspect there 
has been a serious misunderstanding between them on the occasion. 
The lovely Ida persists in asserting me to be the offender, by whom the 
hal costume was originally planned as a pleasant sequence to our old 
tableaux at Schloss Eehfeld. But this I deny ! The tableaux were 
excellent there ; but if I ever adverted to them, it was without an idea 
of promoting a repetition of the pleasure. Tin province, any attempt 
at amusing oneself or one's neighbours, brings its own apology. But 
the attempts of private life to be amusing in a capital where every 
breath one breathes contains amusement, are somewhat out of place. 
In Paris, I should as soon think of making my own petits pates as of 
exerting myself for my own entertainment. 

JEntre nous, cliere baronne, if you retain any influence over the least 
influentiable of her sex, instead of writing me lectures, warn her 
against burning her fingers with drawing chesnuts from the fire, never 
intended for her hand. Advise her to leave proselytism to those whose 
business it is to make proselytes. The Emperor of Eussia has agents 
enough in Paris, salaried or unsalaried, to do the work of espionage, 
and extend Ws party in the Chamber. As surely as Princess Gallitzin, 
in angling in his imperial behalf, attempts to hook so large a fish as a 
royal frondeur, or so cunning an one as Eouilly, she will be drawn into 
the stream by the weight of the former, or find the latter break away 
with her tackle, leaving her helpless on the shore. Ask me no expla^ 
nation of this mysterious hiutj but fare you well. 



202 THE ambassador's WIFE, 



Letter XLVII. — From Count Erioffto Viscountess Elvinston. 

I A REIVED in Paris yesterday, my dear sister, to spend a few days with 
ray grandmother on my way to join you; your husband's earnest invi- 
tations having determined me to hasten my journey. He seems so 
desirous I should be present at the christening of your son, that I 
forestal my purpose by a week or two. In ten days, therefore, you will 
find me at your gate, overjoyed, dear Marguerite, at the idea of clasping 
you again in my arms, and becoming a witness of your happiness. 

As regards our family interests, I have nothing agreeable to commu- 
nicate, and would rather unburthen myself of my disagreeables from 
home, that I may have nothing to tell when we meet, likely to interpose 
a cloud on the countenance of either. 

In the first place, my estate of Constantinhoff has been compulsorily 
disposed of; the complexity of claims on the property having rendered 
it indispensable. Sooner would I have sold myself to servitude thaa 
that one rouble of ray mother's debts should fall upon her husband. 

As it has turned out, perhaps, I should have better served the in- 
terests of Baron von Rehfeld by leaving them at his charge. The sale 
of the property necessarily produced inquiries, which so drew down on 
my mother the displeasure of the czar, that the empress is understood 
to have received orders to withdraw the ew/reVs- from her; and under 
all the circumstances, if not recalled, the baron will find his position at 
court sufficiently unpleasant. The influence of his wife obtained his 
appointment, and her disgrace will probably determine his resignation. 

Better so, perhaps ! My mother will be happier as lady paramount 
in the chateau you described to me, dear jMarguerite, in such glowing 
colours, than as a needy dependant on the favours of the court. 

Last night, I underwent the ordeal of my first presentation to the 
critical eye of the Hotel de Vaudreuil ; and the venerable countess was 
obliging enough to find her grandson of twenty-two a considerable 
improvement upon her grandson of twelve. She expressed herself per- 
fectly satisfied with my outward man. All her good humour vanished, 
however, when by degrees the untoward state of our family affairs became 
developed. She is furious that we are neither so rich nor so great as 
she once expected ; and, possessing to excess the organ of order so pre- 
dominant in the French, has no pity or forgiveness for that speculative 
love of show on the part of her daughter, which has so often unsettled 
the fortunes of the Erloffs and the destinies of her grandchildren. I 
felt ashamed, however, for the first time, of all the hard things I have 
permitted myself to say of my mother, on hearing how ill they sounded 
when pronounced by herself. 

I am staying at the Hotel de Yaudreuil ; my visit to Paris being too 
limited to render its formalities insupportable. Gallitzin invited me to 
make his house my home ; but I trust you know me too well to sup- 
pose I hesitated a moment in my refusal. 

I am just returned from dining there, having deferred writing to you 
till I could give you some account of Ida ; or rather, of the brilliant, the 
fascinating Princess Gallitzin ! Had she been still " Ida" to me, I am 
not sure that my account would have been much to be depended on. 
But the fashionable princess, the proud ambassadress, into which the 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 203 

lovely and gifted girl, who at St. Petersburg exercised so strange an 
influence over my feelings, has suddenly risen— or fallen— is to me even 
less than any other woman of fashion, or ambassador's wife. I can see 
and judge her as dispassionately as though I were one of the marble 
statues of the hall through which she passes from her brilliant saloon to 
her gaudy equipage. 

Marguerite, it is this woman, and not you, who should have been ray 
mother's daughter ! Had Princess Gallitzin and Baroness von Pehfeld 
been bound together -by ties of blood, as well as sympathy of character, 
they might have achieved an influence such as modern favouritism 
never yet attained ! But there was a natural antagonism between them, 
— there was mistrust, there was covert hatred ! • They made friends of 
each other, because they dared not make enemies. They served each 
other, only to serve purposes of their own. Such compacts are neither 
binding nor effectual. The princess had other confidantes in Eussia, 
besides her step-mother, from whom she accepted advice, and to whom 
she unfolded her opinions far less guardedly. By this oversight, and 

by means of Princess W and the Michaeloflskoi party, rumours 

were conveyed to the emperor, which excited his serious displeasure ; 
and his displeasure once excited, the baroness, conscious of the insuffi- 
ciency of her influence to uphold two unpopular persons, increased the 
mischief by throwing over the obnoxious party, as a vessel in a storm 
cuts away its rigging. Such is my deduction from certain indications 
that have reached me from St. Petersburg. 

Here, the decline of the Gallitzins' favour is still unsuspected. Count 
Nicholas Tcherbatofl', who is attached to the embassy, and (who, aware 
of my aversion to my mother's marriage, fancies I must entertain a 
consequent antipathy to Baron von Rehfeld's daughter) has been 
already diverting me with a thousand anecdotes of her hauteur, and 
the unprecedented system of etiquette she has introduced into her 
household. Attached to nobody, Ida attaches no one. The prince, to 
whom, like his order of the Black Eagle, she is more an object of vanity 
than of intrinsic value, has adopted a degree of ceremony in his house- 
hold, expressly calculated to promote a formal distance between them ; 
and the heart, which afteotion might have tended to soften, is hardened 
the more by the iron pressure of the cuirass thus imposed upon its 
impulses. 

Like other tyrants, however, she wears her cuirass concealed ; and 
had I not been admitted behind the scenes by TcherbatofF, nothing 
would have persuaded me but that the princess was the happiest and 
most uncontrolled of wives. 

Of her beauty, her elegance, I could write wonders ; but you might 
mistake the language of enthusiasm for that of attachment. Yet, believe 
me, there is nothing I view more coldly than an elegant woman. She 
who devotes a large portion of every day to the study of dress, is 
incapable of good feelings or noble purposes, and an overdressed beauty 
is, in my eyes, a mere puppet. One might create just such an angel 
out of a painter's lay-figure. 

I forgave my step-sister her perfection of dress at St. Petersburg 
fancying that, like your own, it was my mother's doing. But when I 
saw her this morning, perfumed, frilled, plaited, frizzed, flounced for 
the interview I had requested, till she resembled a model for the Journal 
des Modes, and this evening, covered with lace and jewels, arranged 
with the most studied originality, I felt that, if such had been the 
being I found at St. Petersburg, hanging with you over your work, or 



201 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

accompanying your sweet voice with her scientific chords, I should 
never have suffered myself to become enthralled by her unequalled 
powers of fascination. But she was different then. Her manners and 
disposition appeared to me girlish as your own. How do I know, 
however, that this apparent artlessness was not a more studied effort 
of art ? 

Be it as it may, I am now as safe from her influence as though she 
were old and withered as my unvenerable grandmother ! The formal 
preparation of the princess's mode of welcome convinced me how 
much more she cared for the impression she was to produce upon me 
than for the pleasure of seeing me again. To charm my untutored 
heart, a woman must be the creature of impulse. She who rushes forth 
to welcome me in curl-papers, is twice as lovely in my eyes as one fifty 
times as fair, who waits to be prepared by the hands of her coiffeur. 

I fancied that, thus heart-free, I should be mind-free in Ida's pre- 
sence. Caring no more for her parade of ambassadorial dignities 
than for the similar pretensions in a different degree of the adjutant's 
lady of my regiment, — personal gene appeared impossible. Nevertheless, 
while waiting for her hour of audience, recollections of all I had heard 
from Tcherbatoff u'oz'7f^ recur to my mind, and, thenceforward, candour 
was impossible. I could not refer to the rumours of St. Petersburg, or 
the remarks of the attacMs, witbout the certainty of compromising 
persons rash enough to have confidence in my discretion ; and the mere 
act of concealment produced embarrassment ! 

I consequently reverted, dear Marguerite, to you ; the only theme on 
which we could fully sympathize and absolutely concur. She repeated 
to me all her recent tidings from Scotland ; and truly did we rejoice 
together over the prosperity of your destinies. While talking of you, 
with tears in her eyes. Princess Gallitzin became for a time once more 
the Ida of other days. After all, no one can pretend to deny that she 
is singularly beautiful ! 

To me, she made no allusion to St, Petersburg, which I accepted as 
an indication that she was aware all was not well. After talking of you 
for an hour, I was about to enter into the chapter of the Hotel de 
Yaudreuil when she proposed showing me her house, — a ceremony with 
which I would have well dispensed, since, after the palaces of Yousou- 
poff and Gallitzin's namesake (though not relative), at Moscow, I was 
impressed only by the limited size of the state apartments. Two objects, 
however, they contain, which struck me with admiration,— pictures by 
Dubufe, one of the first artists in Paris, of the emperor and empress 
of Eussia, after your own sketches, much the best likenesses I have 
seen, and combining that advantage with the grace of first-rate art. 

As we stood together before the portrait of the czar, there inad- 
vertently burst from my lips expressions of the loyal love due to him 
from my father's son. To my great surprise the princess, formerly so 
enthusiastic in his praise, was mute as marble ! 

" Have I said a word too much ? " cried I, at the close of my fervent 
tribute to the high courage and rigid impartiality of Nicholas. 

"A little!" was her reply. "The emperor is too hasty a judge to 
deserve the character of impartial. In some instances he is the dupe of 
his own prejudices." 

From this, it is clear to me that the princess is aware of having been 
the object of his displeasure. No woman will admit the impartiahty of 
one who has judged her severely. 

4-t dinner, the whole mission was assembled to meet me, besides a 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 205 

numerous party, including the two Yaudreuils and several strangers : 
and then it was I had occasion to notice the stateliness of which 
the princess stands accused. But, however unsatisfactory to the 
attaches, I can understand that, with a husband considerably more 
than double her age, and three or four young fellows as cool as Tcher- 
batoff constantly about her, she may have found it necessary to assume 
some coldness of reserve. Thus, at least, Alfred de Vaudreuil explains 
away the charge. 

I am going to-morrow with the Marquis de Eouilly, one of the 
intimates of the princess, to visit the various military depots of Paris. 
The Yaudreuils did not put themselves forward to assist me, and I was, 
consequently, grateful for her offer of a cicerone. 

J rejoice, my dearest sister, to learn this evening from Ida that she has 
further good news of you. I will write again before I leave Paris. You 
can scarcely imagine how I long to behold you again. All I see and 
hear of other women. Marguerite, fills my heart with pride in the best 
and dearest of sisters. 



Letter XLYIII. — FromViscoiint Mvinsion to tlie Jlon. Mrs. Leslie, 

I Ail growing so uneasy on Marguerite's account, that I entreat either 
you or Helen, or both, to set off for Elvinston immediately on the 
receipt of this. Instead of recovering her strength, she is growing 
weaker and weaker, under the influence of a cough, from which she is 
rarely free. Surely, dear sisters, your experience might suggest better 
management, tending to her relief? 

At all events, your presence would afford the greatest comfort to your 
afflicted brother. 



Letter XLIX. — From Trlncess Frascovia GaUatzin, in Moscoio^ to 
Frincess Gallitziii. 

The cold letter of thanks addressed to mej dear sister and princess, by 
one who writes in your name, as secretary or amanuensis (whereas the 
late empress, mother of Russia, my illustrious godmother, invariably 
addressed me in her own handwriting), shall not discourage my efforts 
of sisterly regard. 

I promised you never to write, unless I had news to communicate. 
I have now to acquaint you with the recall of Baron von Eehfeld. For 
an appointment of scarcely two years' duration, it was scarcely worth 
while to sacrifice his independence by marriage with an intrigante ! 
My intelligence is authentic, being a free-will offering from your cousin 
Wilhelm, Avho appears to understand how much I am interested in the 
destinies of your family. 

For some time past, the favour of the imperial court has been \vith- 
drawn from the Baron and Baroness von Eehfeld ; and for some time 
past the disgrace of the Prince and Princess Sergius Gallitzin has been 



203 THE AilBASSADOE's AVIFE. 

expected to follow. As you are aware that my brother has no depend- 
ence but his diplomatic career, and may by this time have learned to 
conjecture what must he the couditiou of a satellite in Uussia, from 
which the imperial sun has withdrawn its beams, you will be perhaps 
induced to regret the want of caution which has rendered you and 
yours, or rather yours and you (for in all this you are secondary), 
obnoxious in a quarter where you must ])lca?e to live, or you may as 
w ell please to die. When I obtain further intelligence likely to interest 
your feelings, relj', dear princess and sister, upon hearing from me 
again. 



Letter L. — From Pi'incess Gallitzin in Paris, to Princess W 

in St. Petershiirg. 

Your hints, my dear princess, fully prepared me for the intelligence 
which a letter from my father to Prince Gallitzin has just commu- 
nicated — that he has solicited his letters of recall. Before this reaches 
you he will probably have taken leave of St. Petersburg. 

Having now some experience of the sweets of diphmiatic life, I can 
imagine nothing more refreshiog than release from ofhcial duties, per- 
formed towards ungrateful and ungracious superiors ; and truly do I 
envy my father his restoration to the ease and independence of home. 
Schloss Rehfeld may not be Tzarsko-gelo ; but there he is at least its 
master, and his own. 

If, as you have sometimes assured me, he was indebted for his ap- 
pointment to the interest of his wile, he is, at least, equally obliged to 
her for his relief from office. Her reckless administration of General 
Erloffs estates, the follies she has sanctioned in her son, and the evils 
entailed on her daughter by her selfish extravagance, so tended to 
disgust the emperor, that my father had no alternative but to obtain his 
recall. 

I am beginning to understand, dear princess, your former assurances 
that the chain of favouritism in your country, (I am not just now in- 
clined to call it mine,) is anything but a chain of roses. As regards the 
odiousness of St. Petersburg as a residence, vac have long been perfectly 
agreed : and I must admit that one of the chief advantages attendant 
on my marriage was the certainty it seemed to convey, not only of 
quitting Kussia, but of a prolonged sojourn in the most charming city 
in the world. The foreign policy of llussia is of so invariable a nature, 
that her diplomatic body may be considered permanent as that of 
Austria; and while England displaces her ambassadors twice a year, 
according to the changes of her principles of administration, Pussiau 
ambassadors are allov\ed to grow grey in the country to which they are 
despatched in the prime of life. 

1 trusted, therefore, that the well-known zeal of Prince Gallitzin in 
the emperor's service might secure our position here for years to come : 
and felt, perhaps (as Alfred de Yaudreuil sometimes accuses me), as if 
he had been crowned Sergius I., ambassador of Kussia to the court of 
the Tuileries. 

I am now beginning to surmise the existence of such things as 
imperial caprices; and not a courier arrives here from St. Petersburg, 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 20/ 

but I feel apprekensive, wlien he drives into the courtyard, lest letters 
of recall should, be contained in his despatch bag. The mere an- 
ticipation suffices to damp my sj)irits and zeal. I enjoy every ijleasure 
with the impression that I am enjoying it for the last time, 1 begin to 
see Eussia in perspective, and tremble ; for Russia, when sailing in tiie 
north of the emi>eror's opinion, must be cheerless indeed ! This idea 
inspires me with a sort of desperate sense of enjoyment, that causes 
me to seize upon every passing pleasure with the grasp of a drowning 
man. 

Ofjate, I admit, these pleasures have been fewer and further between 
than" I could, desire. -^ You are not, I trust, a suthciently devout 
daughter of the patriarch to denounce the impatience with which 
I have been submitting to the tardy formalities and privations of the 
Greek Lent. Picture to yourself my vexation at seeing all Paris 
released from its sackcloth and ashes, and enjoying its Longchanip 
and the renewal of its balls, twelve days before I could obtain Prince 
Gallitzin's permission to open the embassy as usual ! Himself and his 
household, being of the patriarchal church, he had no indulgence for 
my Lutheran latitudes. 

Though forbidden to dance at home, T rewarded myself by joining 
a charming ball, given on what the Greek kalends as.-ign as Good 
Priday, by the Duchess of Orleans, at ISeuilly. Alfred de Yaudreuil 
assures me that Count Tcherbatoif and his brother attaihes announce 
that the displeasure of the emperor will most certainly be expressed on 
the occasion ; for there are half a dozen liussians here whose business 
it is to despatch home intelligence of all such petty crimes and mis- 
demeanors; and mine, I suspect, are duly noted in* their book. Our 
tardy paschal solemnities, however, are at length happily over ; and 
you can imagine nothing more briUiant than the revival of Paris with 
Its spring-tide prospects and April weather. 

In Russia, I admit, the spring-burst, instantaneous as if accomplished 
by a fairy wand, is exquisitely beautiful. During the few days of our 
transit last year from St. Petersburg to the frontier, we passed" from the 
depth of winter to the height of summer. Put what signifies the 
summer season in a country devoid of summer pleasures ? To avenge 
myself upon the account contained in your last of the affronts heaped 
on the baroness, (and which my father, though you do not say so, must 
have been compelled to share,) allow me to excite your regrets by 
reminding you of the delicious Pois de Boulogne, in which every day of 
this deligtitful weather I enjoy my delightful ride on my favourite 
Arab mare, Katalba. Your delicate friends of the faubourg, Madame 
de Moutecourt among the rest, pretend that I am too bold a horse- 
woman ; and find fault with my having enjoyed a hurdle race with my 
quasi brother Count Erloff, and qiaisi cousins the Yaudreuils, one 
morning in the Bois at so early an hour, that we hoped none but the 
birds were astir to chirrup rumours of the exploit. 

1 have not, however, judged it necessary to deprive myself of my 
rides in deference to their squeamishness ; for after a gay ball, or the 
heat of the crowded Opera, nothing can surpass the refreshment of a 
gallop home from St. Cloud through the Bois, Avhich, as usual at this 
season, is fragrant with the incense of myriads of violets. 

Alexis Erloff came hither, three weeks ago, with the avowed purpose 
of spending a day or two with his grandmother on his way to Scotland. 
That he is still here proves only that he has discovered in Paris all the 
charm to which you and I, dear princess, are (unluckily for our Mus- 



208 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

covitism) so grievously susceptible. Lady Elvinston is in delicate 
health ; and Alexis assigns as a motive for delaying bis journey, that 
?be is not at present strong enough to support the emotion of seeing 
him. Nobody tells half the truth in such matters ;— far less, the whole. 

The fact is, that Count Erloff is entranced by the Circean charms of 
delightful Paris, and enchanted by his first glimpse of the pleasures of 
society. For, after all, Petersburg and Moscow, though grand and 
imposing as capitals, have nothing that can be really termed society ; 
no circle in which intelligence of mind and brilliancy of wit are to be 
found in combination with refinement of manners and independence 
of opinion. The diplomatic world may enlarge upon the delicacies 
and difficulties of deciding some frontier dilemma ; but it requires 
centuries of civilization, and all the tact which they create, to assign 
the exact boundaries, enabling the two great worlds of luxury and 
genius to dwell together in amity ; a fusion rarely achieved without 
co;2-fusion. I know no truer criterion of the state of civilization in a 
country, than the terms on which people of talent are admitted into 
society. Russia is not yet forward enough fur a grand seirjneur to 
accept the company of a man of genius on any other footing than that 
of a protege. 

At the Hotel de Eouilly, Alexis Erloff sees for the first time the 
artist, the man of letters, the orator, hand-in-hand with the aristocracies 
of rank and fortune; and the sparkling sherbet he is enabled to quaif 
amid such associates is, indeed, somewhat more intoxicating than the 
barbarous quass of Moscow. As he candidly exclaimed the other 
night, after one 'of these reunions, " With such mental excitement as 
this house affords, should I have found it necessary to fly to the excite- 
ments of life to relieve the monotony of existence ? Secure of such 
delightful companionship, never, never, should I have become a 
gambler ! " 

But for the political principles of this agreeable mutual friend of 
ours, dear princess, I should say with Alexis, why did not such a man 
remain in Russia, teaching to St. Petersburg that most difficult branch 
of learning— the savoir vivre ! Perhaps it is with the view to improving 
my own existence tbere, on the recall which our friends are so eager to 
prognosticate, that I expend so much of my time in attempting the 
political conversion of the marquis. I am not without hope of modi- 
fying his liberalism to a point that may render him in the Chamber an 
important partisan of the Russian cause. 

Alfred reminded me last night, amid the usual efforts of my zealous 
patriotism, of the fate of the savant at St. Petersburg, who, in attempt- 
ing to fly a kite, brought down a thunderstorm ! But my kite affects a 
more modest flight, and my laurels shall shield me from all electric 
peril. As to relinquishing the society of such companions as one meets 
in the Rouilly set, because the Baroness von Rehfeld has intimated to 
Monsieur de Yaudreuil that they are in maiivaise odeur at the Anitsch- 
koff, were I to comply with every idle caprice she chooses to stamp with 
an imperial crown, what benefit should I derive from my residence in 
this happy land ? Besides, such is the insincerity of that woman's cha- 
racter, that when apparently acting in concert with her, I am still 
forced to be always on my guard. 

We shall be spared the bore of St. Cloud this summer, the prince 
having promised me an excursion to Baden-Baden, instead of our 
tillegglatura. He pretends, indeed, that he has negotiations to transact 
with parties who can meet him at Baden without exciting suspicion. 



THE AMBASSADOll'S AVIFE. 209 

But I suspect he is apprehensive that my intimacy with so many per- 
sons unpopular at the Tuileries may have caused our exclusion from 
St. Cloud, an exception which, if noticed, would give offence at home. 

Entre nous, notwithstanding the probability of this, to escape those 
formal parties is to me a great relief. At St. Petersburg the formalitiei 
of the court were endurable ; for there was nothing better to amuse one. 
Here everything is better ! It is a serious loss to have a whole day sub- 
tracted from one's pleasures, in a city where every hour, every moment 
has its apportioned charm, A thousand occupations have arisen for 
me from a thousand new acquaintanceships: dinners at the Eocher, 
parties de campagne, practising parties for the Mazurka, w^hich we are 
trying to get up for the breakfasts of the Hotel de Eouilly ; all preferable 
to the ceremoniousness of a royal circle, where, as Monsieur de Eouilly 
observes, " Les roses sont on soucis ou pavots." 

To-night I am going with the Eouillys to the Freres JProvengaux, 
and afterwards to one of the petit s spectacles, — a charming party, in- 
cluding the Yaudreuils and Alexis. The prince is engaged to an ctncial 
dinner chez le Ministre de VInteriev.r. 



I have been debating whether to send this letter as it stands, or let it 
afford confirmation of the axiom that the pith of a woman's letter is in 
the postscript. But I cannot resist telling you that the "charming 
party " (to dress for which I left my despatch unfinished) has ended 
most disastrously ! 

AVe had a most delightful dinner. Alfred, by whom it was ordered, 
had caused the room to be entirely decorated with violets in compliment 

to Madame de Eouilly, Madame Juste de B , and myself; having 

discovered that we had agreed to wear those fieurs de saison in our 
bonnets. 

Unluckily the prince met me on the stairs as I was proceeding to 
my carriage; and having been apprised, by Tcherbatoff (who, from his 
longer residence here, is always intruding some offioious and specious 
piece of advice) that the violet has long been accepted as the emblem of 
the liberal party, from some absurd legend connected with Napoleon's 
return from Elba (a thing past and forgotten, except by a superannuated 
attache like Tcherbatoff), requested me to change the bonnet, which, he 
assured me, might give rise to unsatisfactory observations. 

You will readily suppose, it was a matter of perfect indifference to me 
whether, on any other occasion, I wore a bonnet trimmed with violets, 
or primroses, or any other spring flower or weed. But I was vexed at 
being obliged to break through an engagement with my two friends in 
so mere a trifle, more especially as I was satisfied that Madame Juste 
would suspect me of a desire to eclipse her by assuming a dress difie- 
rent from her own ; and to avow the interference of the prince would 
have been too mortifying. I made my appearance, therefore, at the 
dinner party coijfee en cheveiix, leaving my bonnet at home. 

I could not have done worse. The innovation produced inquiries 
which created suspicions ; and between jest and earnest, half the secret 
was extorted from me. — ""^ Defense positive de porter la violette," provoked 
a thousand hazardous allusions, and though I flatter myself of being 
as independent in opinion as is compatible with oflicial service, I 
could not approve the pertinacity with which Madame Juste and one 
or two others kept alluding throughout dinner to my peuancc of 
imperial subjection, 

p 



210 THE aaibassadoe's uife. 

At length, to my shame be it spoken, tears came into my eyes ; and 
scarcely was the dessert on the table, when Alexis burst forth into ex- 
pressions purporting to reduce at least the men of the party to silence. 
You know enough of the menage of our friends the Eouillys to be 
aware that there exists no exorbitant excess of conjugal affection be- 
tween the marchioness and her husband. It must consequently have 
been pure perversity that put it into his head to resent the words of Alexis, 
as an offence towards his Avife. According to Alfred de Yaudreuil's 
version of the business, he has Carnival wrongs to expiate towards her, 
which a coivp cVepee in her honour atones with interest. 

He accordingly spoke a significant word of rejoinder to Count Erloflf ; 
although, so perfect is the high breeding of the marquis, that every- 
thing i)assed off without exciting my suspicions. At the conclusion of 
the dinner, we repaired, as had been previously agreed, to the Vaude- 
ville theatre ; and even on our return home, stopped together to take 
ice at Tortonis — all apparently on the happiest footing. 

Little did I expect that a mere party of pleasure would produce such 
evil results. But alas ! Alfred de Yaudreuil has just visited me with 
the sad news that Alexis has been seriously wounded in a duel by 
Monsieur de Eouilly ! They met at an early hour in the Bois, Alfred 
ofiiciating as second ; and Erloff has been brought home in a precarious 
state to the Hotelide Yaudreuil. 

Judge of my despair ! As if it Avere not enough for Marguerite's 
brother to meet with mischance on my account, the esclandre of 
such a business will be most displeasing to the prince— most injurious 
to me! 

i;? ^ iu ^r} i:? ik 

Just as I anticipated ! I am to be the victim of this odious quarrel. 
The prince protests that he concluded me to be engaged to dinner at 
the Hotel de Eouilly — an engagement he disapproved for political 
reasons; but that fearing to provoke the charge of jealousy, which I 
once hazarded against him as the origin of his disapproval, he passed it 
over without notice. Had he been aware, he says, that it was at a 
cafe our party was to assemble, he would have issued a decided pro- 
hibition. He accuses me of want of ingenuousness in the affair, as well 
as want of discretion. 

It is in vain I assure him that, within the last week, the immaculate 

Duchess de C has given a dinner at the Freres Provenqanx, — 

Monsieur de Tcherbatoff being of the party. He replies, that Madame 

de C is not an ambassadress. Even when I plead that the 

Apponys have entertained parties at the Eocher since we have been 
here, he reminds me that had he been with me, the case would have 
been different ; but that for a married woman in my position to dine 
at a restaurant without her husband, is contrary to les h'lenseances. In 
short, I perceive that he has already had his lesson from Tcherbatoff; 
who, as the intimate friend of Alexis, is, I conclude, irritated by his 
misfortune. 

Were it not for the harsh manner in which I am judged on this 
occasion, the wound of poor Alexis would have occupied all ray thoughts. 
33ut for the prince to see no blame but in myself, when in fact his own 
absurdity about the bonnet was the origin of the evil, has hardened my 
heart. I am angry with him— myself— the whole world ! 

Tcherbatoff has privately assured the prince, that nothing would 



THE AMBASSADOR S WIFE. 211 

have been easier than for Alfred to make up the quarrel, since no ill 
will previously existed. "What motive can he have had? Alas! I 
tremble to think of all these things ! As I am sure you will be anxious 
to know the sequel, I will write again in a day or two. 



Letter LI. — From Count Alfred cle Vaudreuil to tlie Baroness von 
Mehfeld, at ScMoss Behfeld. 

It is truly vexatious to me, dear baroness, to find that my good aunt 
has most injudiciously chosen to acquaint you with Erloff's petit 
malheur. It would have been better that you should know nothing of 
it till he was well enough to write his own account. I have no fears 
but that this will shortly occur; meanwhile, be assured that he is doing 
well, and an object of solicitous care to your whole family. 

Your excellent but prejudiced lady-mother has doubtless represented 
the matter to you in the light in which it is her pleasure to view it ; 
and which is altogether unjustifiable! Indignant at the injury 
received by her grandson, she persists that his wound originated in a 
quarrel with the Marquis de Rouilly, for the bright eyes of Princess 
Gallitzin, whom her dowager twaddles accuse of coquetting with both. 
Not a syllable of truth in all this ! I was present when the misunder- 
standing took place, which arose out of the colour of a bonnet or flower 
— I forget which. You know the impetuosity of Alexis. To do Eouilly 
justice, nothing could exceed the grossness of the insult which his wife 
received from your son ; nor was there any alternative but fighting. 
Had it been otherwise, I should have exerted myself to the utmost to 
prevent a meeting fraught with consequences disastrous to all parties, 
Alexis will recover from his wound long before the princess recovers 
from the evil reports to which it has given rise. 

AVith the formality of the emperor's views on such subjects, I suspect 
it is lucky for you, my charming cousin, that you had left St. Peters- 
burg previous to the arrival of the news. But to you, the sublime 
wrath of Nicholas is henceforward unimportant. You are now an 
empress in a little Eussia of your own ; and the Gailitzins alone remain 
exposed to the double-edged or flaming sword of imperial displeasure. 
Luckily, the princess has high courage, and a degree of spirit which 
accounts for her venturing to dine au cabaret, and possessing the eye 
and hand of a rifleman. Mais que voulez-vous .^— Keflect on her extra- 
ordinary modes of education ! 

I shall write to-morrow a further account of Alexis— who is proceed- 
ing as favourably as possible. 



P 2 



212 THE AMBASSADOfi'S WIFE. 



Letter LII. — From ths Honourable Mrs. Leslie to Sir Tliomas 
Meredyih. 

Would, dear sir, that I bad better news to communicate ! But on 
our arrival we found dearest Marguerite far worse than we expected. 
I bad attributed Elvinston's anxiety to over-affection ; and in truth, 
poor fellow, his mind is completely overset. But it is fully accounted 
for by the apprehensions of the physicians. Nothing can exceed the 
delicacy of Lady Elvinston's condition. All their hope is that she may 
recover sufficient strength to enable her to visit a milder climate. The 
air of Clydesdale has proved far too rude for her, 

I can scarcely describe to you the hectic beauty of our poor invalid ! 
You used to admire the soft, brown, spaniel-like beauty of her eye. 
Brightened as it now is by fever, and enhanced by the unnatural and 
transparent whiteness of her skin, on which a variable tinge of bloom 
is occasionally perceptible, I tremble to look at her. A superhuman 
beauty seems to have already invested her ever-angelic nature. What 
would I give to behold my poor sister, at this moment, coarse, rough, 
robust, without a trace of this terrible loveliness ! 

You will expect me to tell you something of the boy. Alas ! like 
Elvinston, I have ceased to regard him with pleasure. I fancied it 
would be impossible for me to take this future representative of our 
family into my arms, -without emotions of triumph. Instead of this, 
my very heart was drowned with tears when he was presented to me by 
the nurse. I could not help fancying the poor infant already bereft of 
a mother's care, and left to comfort the affliction of the most un- 
happy of husbands.— Farewell, dear sir, I will write again in a day 
or two. 

We are hourly expecting the arrival of Marguerite's brother from 
Paris ; though I could almost wish the visit deferred, for she is in no 
state to support the smallest agitation.— Earewell. 



Letter LIII. — Trom Alfred de Vandreuil in Paris, to Viscount 

Ehinston. 

Alexis is anxious, my dear Elvinston, that 1 should apologize to you 
for his delay. Eor a week or two to come, I fear, he will be unable to 
travel. An unlucky covp d'epce, of which it will be as well to say 
nothing to the viscountess, is the origin of this contre-tremps. 

You know his headstrong temper ; you know his passion for Prin- 
cess Gallitzin, and her insatiable coquetry; and between these two 
ingredients what so easy as to get up a duel ? Alexis w'as forced to 
go out with Eouilly — the leader of the most factious branch of the 
liberal party here ; with whom a quarrel would consequently be no 
injury to Alexis in the eyes of the emperor, had the dispute regarded 
politics instead of. the fair fame of the Eussiau ambassadress. 



THE ambassador's "t^IFE. 213 

Altogether, it is an unfortunate affair, and compromises every one 
concerned in it. For the pubUc, never satisfied when they have got 
a good thing, not content with the scandal of a duel, must needs aggra- 
vate the mischief by pretending that the dispute arose in an orgie cm 
cabaret ; in which liouilly permitted himself to indulge in observa- 
tions upon the impropriety of the princess's dress, which were naturally 
resented by a man who makes no secret of being at her feet. 

There is just enough truth in the story to make its falsehood the 
more injurious ; and you may imagine the horror and indignation of 
the Hotel de Yaudreuil at such au incident in its annals. The countess, 
already displeased by the manners and habits of her grandson, talks 
about les moeurs de la regence affected by the liberal party ; and the 
united inquisition of her dowager set has excommunicated the poor 
dear princess as a woman who fences, smokes, shoots flying, and wins 
a hurdle chase in her leisure hours, though assuming the greatest 
hauteur of etiquette in her tenue cV amhassaclrice. Every one of them 
has some anecdote to relate of the lovely Ida — lolus ou moins vrai — but 
alike fatal to her dignity, if not to her reputation. 

All this, my dear fellow, strictly between ourselves ! I judged it 
better to explain to you the real cause of Erlotf's delay, in order that 
you might prevent the newspapers from reaching the hands of his 
sister ; for I sincerely trust that, by this time, my cousin is sufficiently 
recovered to read, v/rite, and amuse herself, as well as to fulfil her 
habitual vocation of amusing and delighting all around her. 1 would 
willingly think of you as the happiest of men, by the perfect recovery 
of the most perfect of wives. 

Believe me, my dear Elvinston, I envy Alexis his journey to the 
north ; and would fain break away from this place, and accept your 
kind invitation that I should bear him company. But alas ! this is out 
of the question. It is always so difficult to leave Paris ! Somebody or 
other is sure to have claims upon one, rendering it impossible to move. 
I do not mean tailors or horse-dealers ; but one is pretty certain to 
owe oneself to some fair tyrant or other, who has not the generosity 
to lengthen one's chain. — Adieu. 



Letter LIV. — From Baroness von Helifeld to Princess Gallitzin. 

You will not be surprised, after hearing that we have been several 
days established at Schloss Echfeld, to learn that I have scarcely 
strength or courage to take up my pen. You know this place, Ida, and 
can appreciate all I must be feeling ! 

Under all the circumstances of our return, the Eesidenz became so 
insupportable from the number of officious connections of the Eehfeld 
family crowding round me with condolences, and I implored the baron 
to alter his plans and proceed at once home ; more especially as the 
grand duke received us with anything but the graciousness due to a 
man who undertook the mission to Bussia solely at his highness's solici- 
tation. He was even unjust enough to place the recall of the baron 
solely to my account. But in this he acted upon his knowledge of the 
feebleness of your father's character. The baron has become so timid 



214 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

from having been placed in collision with a despot like Nicholas, that 
he has not spirit to assert his independence in the presence of his un- 
grateful prince. After all, what so verj' alarming in the pomps and 
glories of a mere sercnissime of the empire ? 1 assure you I felt any- 
thing but extinguished by the frowns of the grand duke. 

Before I had been four-and-twenty hours in this place, however, I 
heartily repented my rashness in persuading the baron to quit the little 
capital, where one was at least surrounded by civiHzed beings. Do you 
remember that, at St. Petersburg, I used sometimes to advocate'the 
cause of Schloss Eehfeld against you and Alfred de Yaudreuil ? My 
dear Ida, I talked as women are apt to do— on a subject of which I 
knew nothing. Schloss Eehfeld arranged for the reception of a brilhant 
party ; Schloss Eehfeld, rendered endurable by the society of a few 
people of the world, was a very different spot from the dreary old bar- 
rack it now presents to my endurance ; a culprit in solitary confine- 
ment, in the midst of woods displaying scarcely a vestige of foliage ; 
and liowerless gardens ornamented by the ghost of a dilapidated foun- 
tain ; mildewed apartments to reside in, and, by way of attendance, 
bumpkin servants, who Hy before one's face as though one had taken 
the chateau by assault and entered it over a breach. 

Heavenly powers ! what a prison !— and how little did I appreciate 
your patience in having supported it so long, or your merit in becoming 
even what I found you, amid the rudenesses and vulgarities of such 
provincial obscurity ! 

After all, poor Moreau had really excellent qualities and effected 
wonders here. I miss her exceedingly. Her tact and good-will managed 
to keep out of sight a thousand disgraceful evidences of German want 
of decency and refinement. Nor can I help recalling with shame and 
regret, now that our establishment is of necessity so contracted as to 
bring constantly before me the discomforts of the place, the obliging- 
ness Avhich caused her accident, when carrying down my chess-box and 
work-box during the preparations for our departure for St. Petersburg. 
Would I could only behold preparations for departure in this house 
again ! 

I scarcely dare look forward. The idea of a whole summer spent at 
Schloss Eehfeld overwhelms me with despair. Not a human being 
with whom it is possible to converse — not a single luxury to render 
solitude supportable— not even a book to read ! One might as well ask 
for a roc's egg, even at the Eesidenz, as a new French novel ; and the 
mouldy old library here looks only fit for the loft of a cathedral. 

If you did but know, Ida, how I envy you ! For you at least I have 
provided happier destinies than for myself! My own, I shudder to 
think of. Even the company of the baron would be a relief; but 
after his long absence, your father has so many interests and avoca- 
tions here connected with his estate that he has no leisure for home ; 
and I have scarcely patience to see that he is positively pleased to be 
once more in this horrible place ! Such is the happiness of feeble 
characters. Such the beatitude of mediocrity, content with medi- 
ocrity ! 

The relief which, for a moment, I anticipated, of an excursion to 
Carlsbad in the summer will I see be denied me; for the affairs of the 
baron are so thoroughly disorganized by the enormous sum he was 
forced to levy to supply the noble dowry I persuaded him to bestow 
upon you, as well as by the ruinous cost of his establishment at 
St. Petersl3urg, the arrangements of which were calculated with a view 



THE AMBASSADOE's WIFE. 2 15 

to a long residence in Eussia, that it will be impossible for him to 
encounter the expense of a second household, for some time to 
come. He assures me that, notwithstanding his fine rental, he has 
not a florin at his disposal, I suspect that his nephew, who is now 
on hostile terms with him, is doing his utmost to increase the incon- 
venience. 

Conceive, therefore, I entreat you, the horror of a series of years, in 
the decent interment of Schloss Eehfeld, without one pleasant object for 
contemplation. 

I have serious thoughts of proposing a journey to Paris, to visit my 
mother, whom I Jiave not seen these two years ; and perhaps, pro- 
longing my expedition as far as England, to see my dear Marguerite in 
her new country. A year's absence would be rather an economy than 
an expense to the baron; but this project is at present completely 
en Vair. 

One of my numerous annoyances in this place arises from the tone of 
authority assumed by the old servants ; whom (having resumed their 
places at the head of the establishment during our absence, my own 
invaluable maltre cVhotel having declined to accompany nie back to 
Germany) I am for the present obliged to tolerate. 1 can assure you 
that the old woman who was formerly your father's nurse and who 
looks like a vivification of Kembrandt's portraits, received me as 
though she were the Baroness von Eehfeld and I a stranger. Je lid eii 
fas mon compliment ! The old woman was yov.r nurse too, I find, as 
well as the baron's, which gives her a double title to authority. But 
on this she does not insist ; for I find, that ever since your marriage 
with a foreigner and heretic, old Sara and her pastor have dismissed 
you from their good graces. So they would me from Schloss Eehfeld, 
I doubt not, were it in their power. I almost wish that— but no 
matter ! 

I was about to inquire of you what is worn in Paris this spring, in 
the w'ay of peignoirs and cornettes. But of what use to ask the ques- 
tion ? 'Who is there here to appreciate one's taste ? At St. Petersburg 
there was at least the empress. But were you to despatch all Paris 
in a packing-case to the Eesideuz you would gratify only the custom- 
house officers. At Schloss Eehfeld even their approval would be 
wanting. 

I have little doubt that Prince Gallitzin will throw upon my 
shoulders an undue share of the blame which the emperor seems dis- 
posed to attach to our united families. But before he married or 
accepted his appointment to Paris, he knew as well as I did the exar-b 
amount of my influence ; and that it was of a nature, on ceasing to be 
advantageous, to become a serious disadvantage. Por Nicholas, like 
most persons who have recourse to secret policy, has no forgiveness for 
those who attempt the exercise of similar manoeuvres upon himself. 
Anything resembling stratagem or secret influence, of which he is the 
object, is revolting to him ; on the principle, perhaps, that sweets are 
nauseous to the confectioner. It was a rumour of a political corre- 
spondence between us, whispered, in the first instance, I suspect, by 

Princess W , which first excited his displeasure. A hint of this was 

given to me by one of the Michaelofl" set ; and I consequently lost no 
time in having it intimated that the correspondence thus denounced 
contained nothing more perilous to the state than details of Parisian 
fashions for the amusement of the empress ; when lo ! to my great 
surprise, this was accepted as a still greater oifence than the supposi- 



21G THE AMEISSIDOS'S WIFE. 

titious state papers for which your packets of hroderies and ribbons had 
been at first mistaken ! From that moment, no chance of patching up 
a peace. My position became too disagreeable ; and your father had 
only to demand his letters of recall. 

Take it from me, princess, that no Hussian ambassador can ever long 
retain his post in Paris, London, or Vienna, unless he have a brother 
in the imperial household, or coadjutor in the imperial cabinet. Half 
the coramunicition between these courts and that of St. Petersburg, 
must always be ex-official. Ikit it must not pass through the hands 
of a woman. The emperor is a Hercules, who, in matters of govern- 
ment, will never exchange his club for a distaff. 

At all events, though your letters need no longer contain le 
Journal des Modes, oblige me with les cancans of Paris, as some sort 
of relief to the cawing of the Rehfeld rooks ! If you could only under- 
stand the ennui which overpowers my mind, or rather the despera- 
tion of impatience I feel when moping in my bergere ; looking out on 
the sunshine glaring upon the fields, and listening to those WTetched 
birds who seem to rejoice at the return of spring as if such creatures 
had the pretension of enjoyment ! 

I have indifferent accounts of IMarguerite, who appears to have 
taken cold in her confinement. But Lord Elvinston writes coldly and 
briefly ; and I am looking forward to the visit of Alexis to his sister for 
more detailed news of her health. Should any reach you in the in- 
terim, mention them in your next. 

Your father is absent with his foresters. I have therefore no mes- 
sage from him. He is far from being in good spirits, and has become 
more taciturn than ever, now that conversation might be a relief. I 
could almost fancy that his return to Schloss Rehfeld conveyed as un- 
welcome reminiscences to him, as impressions to me. Heigho !— to 
think that this letter will reach Paris, while its writer remains a fixture 
atPehfeld!— Ow^e,^.' 



Letter LV. — From Mademoiselle TJierese Moreau in Paris fo Princess 
W. in St. Petersburg. 

Madame la Princesse,— Ton will, perhaps, be displeased at the 
liberty I take in intruding upon your time. But having at command 
the same sure channel of correspondence enjoyed by her excellency 
Princess Gallitzin, and remembering with pleasure the kindly notice I 
used to receive from you when you were in Paris, and I domesticated 
in the Hotel de Choisy, I throw^ myself on your goodness to forgive 
a presumption instigated by affection for her excellency Princess 
Gallitzin, whom I was the original means of presenting to your 
acquaintance. 

Of all her friends or associates in St. Petersburg, you, madam, are 
the only one of whom I ever heard her speak with confidence and re- 
gard. The princess respects equally your independence of opinion and 
refinement of taste ; and is above all grateful for your kindness, previ- 
ous to her extrication from an unhappy home. You have, therefore, 
some influence over her mind. She is not an amenable person. Early 



THE ambassadoe's wifb. 217 

puprcraaoy produced early self-reliance ; and it vras oiil> Ly aggrrivatlnj? 
that fault by new concessions, that I was enabled to obtain sufficient 
influence over her feelings to complete her education in the points 
insisted upon by her father. Accustomed to the well-established 
courtesy of Parisian life, I had not the courage for the stormy passions 
which must have accompanied an exercise of authority sufficient to 
break her aspiring spirit; or for the religious controversies which must 
have ensued bettveen two persons of opposite creed, had I called in the 
aid of the only arm strong enough to subdue the unruliness of a per- 
verse temper, in the person of her pastor. 

I say this, madam, in extenuation of my own apparent weakness in 
having suffered the contraction of such faults of character as deprive 
me of all influence over her who was once my pupil, and is now com- 
pletely my mistress. I trusted to the reaction of her own splendid 
abilities and the coercion of civilized life, to render my lovely charge as 
reasonable and well-bred as she was bold and aspiring. But, alas ! I 
trusted in vain. 

I admit my fault.— There are certain spirits which not even the pres- 
sure of the mass suffices to subdue. The Ambassador's AVife remains 
the wilful Lily of Eehfeld, with whose waywardness I bore too patiently, 
so long as it instigated only opposition to her step-mother, hauteiw to 
her poor old governess, or coldness towards the friends I pressed upon 
her notice. But now that her excellency's eccentricities have become 
injurious to herself, now that her faults of character are working her 
ruin — 1 tremble, madam, at the results of my own weak subservience. 

In my fault, or my repentance, you, madame la princesse, can feel 
little interest. I adduce them only in extenuation of the failings of the 
young princess; and as a plea for venturing to intreat your interpo- 
position in her favour. 

Alas ! madam, my poor Ida is on the eve of a precipice ! She has 
been trusted and tempted with power beyond the strength and capacity 
of inexperienced girlhood ; and the greatness of the delegation has even 
weakened a judgment which, but for this premature stress upon its 
powers, would have expanded into strength and greatness. 

Here she has been surrounded, or let me use the true word, she has 
surrounded herself with bad advisers. The friendship of the Hotel de 
Choisy she refused, as not suflQciently fashionable for her taste ; the 
intimacy of the Hotel de Yaudreuil she rejected, as tiresome and 
officious. The prince himself, on their arrival in Paris, hastened to pre- 
sent her in a circle combining the highest ton with the most polished 
corruption ; and when jealous of her success in the world, and resentful 
of the supremacy to which she aspired in her double capacity of a 
beauty and an ambassadress, these people began to treat her less regard- 
fully, she was at the mercy of the first agreeable circle which opened its 
arms to her on terms of her own dictation. 

This, madame la princesse, was one especially recommended to her by 
yourself; and, acquainted as you are with the supreme agrement of the 
Hotel de Eouilly, it will not surprise you to learn that her excellency 
found there a compensation for the slights of the greater world whose 
impertinence she had provoked. 

But the Hotel de Eouilly of to-day is no longer the one with which 
you were acquainted. At the time of your sojourn in Paris, the Eouilly s 
shared, with many other persons of high consideration, the animosity 
of the court ; and it may usually be observed that persons in overt 



218 THE AIIBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

opposition to any constituted authority, excluded from and yet covetous 
of public distinctions, are apt to adopt or accept even ineligible modes 
of notoriety. 

The Marquis de Rouilly, a mere boy at the period of the restoration 
of the Bourbons, cannot have derived from his pagehood in the court of 
Napoleon any very decided ])olilical tendencies. Belonging, however, 
by birthright to the liberal party, and entitled by his noble fortunes to 
a prominent place in societj', he has assumed a somewhat perilous post 
in the lists of fashionable notoriety, and affected to give the law in mat- 
ters of usage, where it is usually taken, because derived by all people 
ranking high in the world from the authority of the court. 

Forgive me if I am tedious in these expositions. I am desirous of 
affording an extenuating origin to the peculiarities of a friend of your 
own. 

The habits of the Hotel de Eouilly are not those of the Faubourg St. 
Germain. The manners of the Faubourg are immutable — those of the 
Eouilly clique a compendium of the customs of foreign countries. 
England, Russia, Italy, have each contributed their share to the habits 
of a house which might have done better to remain exclusively French. 
Monsieur and Madame de Eouilly feel themselves accountable to no 
one. He is a man of talent, and a roue, with the best head and worst 
heart in the world; she, a pretty thoughtless woman, who retains of her 
brief reign over the heart of her husband only the worldly views and 
insatiable love of pleasure with vrhich he inspired her. In the Marquis 
these levities are modified by first-rate abilities and high ambitions ; 
in his wife they degenerate into the empty frivolities of a woman of 
fashion, and not of the high caste which carries its own apology. 

Such companions, madam, you will allow were perilous examples for 
Princess Gallitzin ; so young, so beautiful, so ill prepared by early 
training for the ostensible position she has been called to occupy. They 
gave her no bad advice— would that they had ! for achice is a thing 
which Ida was never yet prevailed upon to follow ; but they afforded 
her example, the most pernicious of lessons, when the exemplars are 
of a fascinating nature. At the Hotel de Eouilly, I find, the utmost 
freedom of political and religious discussion is promoted, with all the 
power of the first talent of the day. A'^'omen distinguished by their 
beauty, and men eminent for their talents, unite to impart a grace to 
certain levities of manner and habits, which the French call foreign, 
and which foreigners invariably call French. Mesdames de Choisy and 
de Vaudreuil, with many others of the old school, regard with disgust 
the fatal charm of this modern freedom. But how are we to wonder 
that a lovely girl, devoid of domestic sympathy (for the prince is as far 
removed from her by difference of years as by the peremptory nature of 
his official interests), should have been readily influenced by persons 
so attractive, who not only placed themselves at her feet, but readily 
adopted into their circle every individual likely to enhance its attrac- 
tions in her eyes ? To what motive the Count de Vaudreuil was 
indebted for his entree it is difficult to conjecture, his politics being so 
totally opposed to those of the marquis. But the tennis-court and 
jockey-club bring many extremes into collision; and I have reason to 
believe that the intimacy of Count Alfred at the Hotel de Eouillj^ 
existed long before the arrival of her excellency. Why they should 
have applied to you, madam, for an introduction to Princess Gallitzin, 
is to me an unfathomable mystery. Till the arrival of Count Erloff, 
however unfortunate the infatuation of the princess for a society cal- 



THE AMBISSADOE'S WIFE. 219 

Ciliated to excite a prejudice against her in the mind of the emperor, no 
incident had occurred hkely to expose her to the animadversions of 
society. But the reckless manners of the count, and, to do him jastM.e, 
let me add the generous frankness of his character, could scarcely fail 
of bringing about some catastrophe. His eyes were soon open to tb.e 
devotion of Monsieur de Eouilly to his step-sister, as well as to tlie 
jealousy of the marchioness, not of her husband, but of Count Alfred, 
Avho is said to have been her former admirer. I have reason to believe 
that he remonstrated with her excellency with brotherly regard con- 
cerning the evils all this might entail upon her; and it is possible Ida 
may have allowed -his remonstrances to transpire ; for, from that time, 
there was disunion and evil-will among the parties. 

Your familiar acquaintance with the Parisian world, madam, will 
readily bring to your recollection a certain Lady Fauconberg and her 
daughters, whose withering bon-mots have thrown more than one 
menage into disorder. To them, it appears, the princess is peculiarly 
obnoxious, as the means of withdrawing the Count de Yaudreuil from 
their society. Disappointed in their expectations of becoming, through 
Count Alfred, the intimate friends of her excellency, they have become 
her vindictive foes. To these people who, in pure levity of gossip, have 
injured many a fair reputation, are attributed the scandalous version of 
a duel which, believe me, originated solely in the circumstances I have 
detailed. Where people are disposed to quarrel, any pretext will serve. 
The colour of a flower afforded, in this instance, grounds for a chal- 
lenge. All the details that may have reached you of an insult 
arising out of scenes of intemperance and indecorum are utterly, 
utterly false ! 

I address myself to you, madame la princesse, in the earnest hope of 
interesting you to circulate, by your high authority in St. Petersburg, 
the contradiction of these shameful rumours. The influence of your 
character and station will afford vital aid to the career of the princess. 
But I have a still more important service humbly to implore; even a 
letter from yourself to my dear pupil, the princess, acquainting her 
with the prevalence of reports seriously injurious to her character, and 
the prospects of his excellency her husband. Your authority in a 
matter of ton will necessarily weigh more strongly with her than 
mine; and on learning from you that these wild dinners and suppers, 
these equestrian feats in the Bois, and shooting parties au iir, are 
decidedly mauvais gem-e, she will be, perhaps, induced to relinquish her 
present habits and companionship, adopted in the mere caprice of the 
moment amidst the exaggerated dissipation of the carnival. 

This is no moment for the aristocracy of any country to degrade 
itself in the eyes of the people by social irregularities. Above all, the 
lawless spirit of Paris requires to be intimidated, not by the strong arm 
■ of authority, but by the imperative influence of moral strength in the 
higher classes. There is something more than contempt in the laugh 
•with which the populace contemplates just now the follies of its 
superiors — there is menace ! 

Pardon, madam, I entreat, this long letter. The subject of it is 
nearest my heart ; and I have no other means of exercising my good 
oflBces in this city which, henceforward, must arbitrate the destinies of 
one whose good gifts and attractions render her only a more prominent 
mark for the envenomed shafts of slander. 

Deign to accept my humble apology, and the assurance of my pro- 
found respect. 



220 THI!: AMEASSADOa's WIFE. 



Letter LTI. — From Viscount JSlvinsfon io ilie Count de Vaudreuil. 

My dear Vaudeeuil,— Your account of Erloff's mischance falls im- 
iieeded amid my own severe afflictions— for Marguerite is dying ! Her 
precarious condition precludes all hope. Had her brother, as might 
have been naturally expected, hastened to Scotland instead of loiterin-; 
at Paris, he would have seen her alive— comforted her last hours— and 
escaped the hazard and shame of a foolish quarrel, for a heartless— I 
had almost written worthless— woman ! 

I shall take the precautions you suggest, that the heart of his be- 
loved and incomparable sister be spared the knowledge of his danger. 
It may be as well, also, to spare him the intelligence of her approaching 
end. My sisters are with her. Heart-broken as I am, you will kindly 
dispense with further details. 

A\^rite again speedily ; and, if possible, with better news. 



Letter LYII. — From Princess GalUtzin in Paris to Baroness von 
Pehfeld at Schloss Mehfeld. 

If I delay, my dear baroness, to answer your letter, you will perhaps 
imagine that the murmurs it contains never reached me. I fully 
sympathize in your enmii, as an inhabitant of Schloss Ttehfeld. Still 
it does not strike me that you would have been happier if exiled to 
your son's estate of Constantinhoff ; though even that retreat from the 
displeasure of the emperor has, I am assured, been disposed of. 

The evils of your position appear irremediable ; aflbrding one among 
ten thousand instances where people have to pay the penalty late in 
life, of too free an enjoyment at a former period. But for such 
chequers in our destinies, the dispensations of Providence in this world 
might appear too unequal ! 

On mentioning to the prince the contents of your letter, I was in 
expectation that, from the long intimacy existing between you and the 
claims of General Erloff's memory upon his friendship, he would have 
hastened to offer you an asylum under his roof, as long as you felt 
inclined to accept it. To my great amazement, he lost not a moment 
in apprising me that, whenever it pleased you to visit Paris, the doors 
of the Eussian embassy must necessarily be closed against a person so 
odious to the emperor. I was at liberty, he said, to see you at the 
Hotel de Vaudreuil, or wherever else I pleased : but not in a house of 
his! 

Such is the stability of worldly friendship; or rather, such the 
diflcrence between friendship and confederacy! I once believed you to 
be friends. I admit my error. 

I ought, perhaps, to be less surprised at all this ; for my own experi- 
ence of the hollow nature of worldly affections has already taught me 
many a bitter lesson. How often have I heard the Preuch praised for 



TH2 AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 221 

the cordiality of their manners. Mere artifice ! Their pretended 
warmth purports only to beguile unwary natures into laying them- 
selves open without reserve. To unbosom one's heart on the temptation 
of this seeming candour is suicide— moral suicide! Do what you 
will, these people look on with indulgence; but with the action the 
indulgence disappears, leaving behind the utmost bitterness of criti- 
cism ! If you only knew how wantonly those persons have dared to 
judge me, who affected to place themselves slavishly at my feet without 
daring to lift their eyes to my level — you would admit that your world 
of Paris is scarcely les'^ cruel in social life thaa in political, 

From Monsieur de Taudreuil you have already heard that your son 
is all but convalescent. In a week's time. Count Erloff will be able 
to depart for Scotland without a trace left of his disaster. It is I alone 
who have sustained an irreparable injury; yet must remain here to 
combat the unfair interpretations of society. Not that I blame Alexis. 
He behaved, as he always does, with spirit, frankness, and generosity. 
If he did not pause to consider, as Monsieur de Vaudreuil would have 
done, that an injudicious friend is sometimes the worst of foes, it is 
because he is susceptible of nobler impulses of nature. 

The political aspect of Paris grows daily more alarming; nor do I 
contemplate with much regret the diminution of favour shown me 
this year by the royal family ; as it would grieve me to become in- 
terested by more intimate communication in the destinies of those 
who seem intent upon precipitating themselves and their country 
into an abyss of ruin. The Bourbons, who took no warning from the 
first revolution, will scarcely take the advice necessary to secure them 
from a second. Their hour, I greatly fear, is approaching. 

Though forbidden by the prince to return to the Hotel de Eouilly 
(a prohibition which I hold to be mainly the origin of the evil reports 
in circulation against me), I am still sufhciently open to the approach 
of those who, belonging to no party, have their eyes on the proceedings 
of all, to hear indications of a coming storm which may only too socn 
explode over this devoted kingdom. 

I hope to learn shortly that you are better reconciled to Schloss 
Eehfeld ; for the Countess Auguste being on the eve of her departure, 
as usual in the month of May, for her nephew's chateau in Burgundy, 
(which I understand to be many degrees more lonely and comfortless 
than your present abode), and our poor dear Marguerite being ordered 
to a milder climate, there appears no resource but resignation to an 
inevitable evil. 

You are fully justified, I admit, in reminding me of my former im- 
patience of home. The solitude of Eehfeld and the cawing of the 
rooks were, if possible, still more hateful to me, two years ago, than 
now to yourself. But the follies of the world have taught me wisdom. 
Splendid servitude has reconciled me to homely independence ; and the 
struggle of the evil passions of society, to the monotonous simplicity of 
a more tranquil life. I could bear with Schloss Eehfeld now ! Any- 
thing rather than hollov/ magnificence which, though your own 
means may have called it into existence, you are grudgingly'permitted 
to share. 

This last phrase will startle you with the conviction that I have 
at length tardily and unwillingly recognized Prince Gallitzin's motive 
in seeking my hand to have been less my intrinsic merit, than the 
possession of a dowry indispensable to his interests. It was merely to 
enthral my weak vanity he pretended such singular admiration of my 



2-22 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

talents and accomplishments ; it was simply to secure the emperor's 
interference with my father, that he pointed them out to Nicholas, as 
eminently qualified to adorn and utilize the pomps of diplomatic life. 
Both were taken in the snare— the discriminating czar, the vain Ida 
von Eehfeld ; and the object of the ambitious intrigant was accom- 
plished ! 

That the abilities he pretended to admire were valueless in his eyes, 
is sufficiently proved by the arbitrary manner in which, from the 
moment of our arrival here, he dictated, even in the most trivial par- 
ticular, the line of conduct I was to pursue. I have little doubt these 
miser es were not less peremptorily dictated to his excellency. But 
since he knew himself to be a mere slave of the cabinet at home, why 
inveigle me by pretences of confidence reposed in me by the emperor, 
and the credit I was to derive from my skill as a negociatress ? Who, 
that has any experience of Eussian tactics, would dream of giving 
more credit for ability to any of its agents, than to the senseless plough- 
share obeying the guidance of the master hand ? 

On this point I am thoroughly disal)used ; and to have been so blind 
a dupe, proves me to be weaker and more insignificant than the 
feeblest of those whose eyes it was my ambition to dazzle with my 
palms and laurels ! 

Can you wonder that, with such bitterness of mortification in my 
soul, I should descry peace and happiness at Schloss Eehfeld ? Here 
my life is Avretched ! Perpetual reproof from St. Petersburg has soured 
the temper of Prince Gallitzin. All that was once coldness has be- 
come harshness; and the stern hauteur I used to admire as an accessary 
of official dignity, becomes revolting now that it serves to chill the 
comfort of my own fireside. We meet only when the forms of society 
require our being^seen together; but, at all other moments, bitterly 
am I made to perceive that I was sought by this cold-blooded calculator 
merely as the stepping-stone to his fortunes ; and that, not having 
secured his footing as he anticipated, I am become an incumbrance 
indeed! 

I may have failed to accomplish all the objects of the prince. I may 
have proved an incompetent agent in the crooked paths of diplomatic 
policy. But I have erred because swayed by the uncautionable and 
uncontrollable feelings of girlhood. The very youthfulness which for 
all others constitutes a charm, has consequently become a fault in the 
eyes of my husband ; and he would prefer to see me old and ugly, if 
cool and artful, than endowed with all the charms and truth of un- 
guarded youth. 

Under such circumstances, what happiness can T find at home— what 
enjoyment abroad ? I never return from my gay engagements without 
expecting to be saluted on my own threshold with tidings of our recall, 
communicated with all the virulence of a man of baffled ambitions and 
broken fortunes ! Even society has lost its attractions. My rides in 
the Bois, my pleasant parties, have ceased to charm ; and the brilliant 
opera, the dazzling soiree, pass before my eyes like the unreal illusion 
of a dream ! 

Whichever way I turn all is perplexity— all mortification and care ! 
The insulting faces of those Pauconbergs meet me at every turn, as if 
triumphing in the cruel injury inflicted upon us by their bitter kins- 
man Lord Montague ; who had scarcely returned to England, before 
he rose in the House of Lords to expatiate upon the foreign policy of 
Eussia, in one of his able sarcastic speeches : expressly alluding to the 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 223 

appoiutmeut of Prince Gallitzin, wlio, by the aid of a pretty and 
artful Tvife, was to extend the Eussian party in Paris— just as the French 
ambassadresses despatched by Napoleon for that purpose to the court 
of Alexander, are known to have served the purposes of Prance in 
St. Petersburg. 

This attack, probably the mere effusion of party feeling, is attributed 
by the prince to personal resentments, produced by my insulting con- 
duct towards the family of Pauconberg. 

Admit that it is enough to disgust me with society to have my most 
trifling actions thus magnified into importance ! Every word, bow, 
smile of mine, must be so calculated "as to avoid all possibility of 
oflfence to those who may not be oftended. I must submit to cringe to 
the insolent, and bear with the malevolent, lest my enemies should 
become the enemies of Russia ! Oh ! for the humble independence of 
private life ! Oh ! for the privilege of avowing my honest feelings, and 
exhibiting my honest resentments ! This caution, this cunning, these 
mean and paltry acts, abstract all enjoyment from the sphere of life, to 
achieve and secure which I must submit to their degrading exercise ! 
Believe me, dear baroness, I am little to be envied. Anxious, harassed, 
miserable, not a human being on whose affection I can lean for com- 
forts—not a friend on whose counsel I can rely ! Poor Therese is the 
gossip of the Choisy set— Monsieur de Yaudreuil the serpent which 
not even the peace of paradise could disarm of its venom. jS^o — I have 
not a single friend ! Despise me as you may for the pitiful avowal ; 
but I say to you, as I say hourly in the depths of my heart, " Would, 
would that I had never quitted Schloss Pehfeld !" 

Tell this to my father. Perhaps it may solace him in his humiha- 
tion. Tell it to old Sara ; it may possibly appease her animosity. Tell 
it to my good pastor ; and oh ! that it may induce him to intercede in 
my behalf for the mercy and protection of Heaven ! 



Letter LYIII. — From the Duchess of Rockingham, Mvinston Castle^ 
to Sir Thomas Merydith, in London. 

Ee.joice with us, dear sir, my poor sister is showing some slight 
symptoms of improvement. 

The genial mildness of the weather has done wonders for her; and 
the physicians assure Elvinston that if no check should throw her 
back, towards the end of the month she may with safety be removed to 
London on her way to a milder chmate. 

Still, we only rejoice with trembling at the hopes unfolded by this 
announcement. Her condition is so fragile that, to look at her, you 
might imagine her already a being of another sphere ; nay, it may 
appear mere superstition, dearest sir, but in every word uttered by Mar- 
guerite there breathes so angelic a spirit, that 1 can scarcely persuade 
myself she still belongs to this earth. Such forgetfulness of self— such 
consideration for others— such impassioned yet holy tenderness for my 
brother— such dread of increasing his affection for her at the moment 
when she is satisfied that they are on the eve of separation. But I 
have not courage to dwell upon these things ! 



221 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

And then, the earnestness -with which she strives to interest us in 
hehalf of her child— the almost playful arts by which, when her en- 
feebled strength admits of her entering into conversation with Mary 
and myself, she tries to indicate the course she wishes pursued in his 
education when she shall be no more, without exciting our alarm ou 
her account, or giving us to suppose tliat she is aware of her situation ! 

To no one, I believe, has she spoken unreservedly on the subject, 
with the exception of old Mr. Brentwood, the chaplain, with whom 
she has had many private interviews. As to Elvinston, he has too little 
self-command to be entrusted with the truth. 

Even my husband, usually so firm, is completely unnerved by tho 
danger of Marguerite. The duke regarded her, in fact, rather as an 
elder daughter of his own than as a sister-in-law- and my poor girls, 
from whom I hear daily, are overwhelmed with grief at the prospect of 
losing so dear a friend. But for the desire of avoiding unnecessary- 
trouble and anxiety in the castle, I should send for them here. The 
sight of Marguerite's pious resignation in quitting a world where 
everything courts her enjoyment, and of which the pomps and vanities 
have never one moment disturbed the serenity of her mind, is a lesson 
of precious import ! 

I do not say, think of us with compassion ! I am convinced, my 
dear sir, that you, so much the friend of our family, have afforded your 
earnest prayers to your afflicted ward. 

Tou shall hear from my sister or myself in a day or two. 



Letter JAX.—Fro7ii Princess Frascovia Gallitgin, Moscow, to Frlncess 
Gallctzin, in Faris. 

Having reason to infer, dear sister and princess, from the tenour of 
yours and my brother's letters, that there no longer reigns between you 
the good understanding which at first seemed likely to atone for the 
absence of conjugal affection, it occurs to me that Sergius may perhaps 
leave you unduly ignorant of the critical position of his affairs, both 
public and private, I therefore make it a duty of sisterly tenderness 
towards you to forewarn you against any new excesses, likely to ex- 
asperate still further against you the mind of the imperial family. 

Let it suliice that you have done your utmost to secure your hus- 
band's disgrace, by reserving your diplomatic favour as ambassadress of 
all the Eussias, for persons in open rebellion against the czar— for run- 
away wives and factious foreigners. Let it suffice that you have 
rendered yourself an object of ridicule to court and city, by your 
opposition to the manners and habits of the country to which you were 
despatched as the representative of a great empire. Let it suffice that 
you have defied the dictates of decency and morality (I conclude, I 
must not yet permit myself to say of virtue) — thus discrediting, in your 
own person, the honour of the Eussiau government. 

Eor, know that my brother's recall to St. Petersburg would be his 
sentence of ruin !— Sergius has not a rouble of fortune, save as a 
public functionary of the empire. With his abilities and the imperial 
favour never yet Avithheld from tho deserving of our house, his pro- 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 21:5 

spects constituted a patrimony beyond mere opulence. That it has been 
wasted of late with such lavish prodigality and folly, you, dear sister 
and princess, have, I understand, wholly to answer for. The same 
hand Avhich inflicted l;he first wound on the bosom of the infirm sister 
has inflicted a mortal stab upon the fortunes of the brother, 

Nevertheless, madame, though it needs only his removal from hi:i 
present appointment to reduce him to destitution, know that the pride 
of Sergius Gallitzin, as a high-born Russian gentleman, lately induced 
him, when smarting under the severity of an imperial reprimand, to 
solicit his recall to Eussia ; and had the emperor propitiated his re- 
quest, you— the proud Lily of Eehfeld— the haughty ambassador's wife 
—would have been at this hour— a beggar. 

But the luxury of being even beggars, at will, is unknown to the 
satellites of our imperial throne ! The czar, who is master of the lives 
and fortunes of his servants, bade him remain great, powerful, envied, 
feared— repining, mortified, degraded ! Be the irksomeness of my 
brother's situation what it may, he must retain it so long as his services 
are judged, by Nicholas I., to be essential to the interests of Kussia. 

I hasten, therefore, dear sister and princess, to warn you against the 
renewal of follies such as drew down upon your husband the bitter re- 
proofs he thus madly resented. The emperor may so far change his 
views as to accept the next tender of resignation hazarded by his ambas- 
sador—of which gracious concession bev\^aee ! 

I am fully aware of your estimation of St. Petersburg, even when 
viewed through the golden medium of favouritism and fashion. Judge 
what you will think of it hereafter, when avoided as a pestilence by 
that servile world, to which an imperial frown conveys all tlie terrors 
of the plague— as the repining denizen of a dull, dreary abode in this 
uncourtly city— and doomed to share even that with the paralytic aunt 
and crooked sister of your husband ! The temper of that husband and 
his qualifications for domestic life, ycu are probably beginning to appre- 
ciate. Again, therefore, I say unto you— beYy'AEE ! 



Letter LX.—From Princess Gallitzin, in Paris, to Viscount Mvinston, 
Mvinston Castle. 

June 28th, 1830. 

The letters of Count Erlofi" to his kinsmen of Taudreuil, my lord, con- 
veyed such satisfactory accounts of the progressive recovery of dear 
Marguerite, that it appears probable you may be induced to profit by 
the present favourable state of the weather, to accomphsh your purpose 
of seeking a milder climate. 

I am, perhaps, less disposed than when I had first the honour of 
knowing you, to confide in the discretion of Monsieur de Yaudreuil ; 
and for reasons with which it is unnecessary to trouble you, am desirous 
to abstain from a correspondence with Count Erlofi". I am conse- 
quently compelled to address you personally, on a subject too dearly 
involving the interests of your family to admit of scrupulous reserve. 

Do not, I entreat you, unless the physicians have pronounced it indis- 
pensable, do not bring our poor sufi'ering Marguerite to rraace at this 

Q 



226 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

moment ! I have it from a sure authority, that, before the summer is 
over, a great poUtical crisis cannot fail to reheve the overcharged 
horizon of public affairs : and in this country a political crisis involves 
terrible consequences. This is no idle suggestion, no woman's panic. 
The impendins? danger is uncontrovertable. The pleasures and frivo- 
lities of Pans continue, it is true, witli unabated ardour; — but one of 
the highest authorities in the realm has been heard to observe, that 
we are "dancing upon the ashes of a volcano, that threatens a new 
eruption." 

Do not misjudge the motives or importance of this warning. I live 
among those who not only watch, but create the variations of the poli- 
tical horizon. "From all they avow, and still more, from all they conceal, 
I perceive that an hour of peril is approaching. 

It is not in France, as in your owu country ; where those who resist 
oppression are apt to pursue the oppressors with contempt rather than 
vengeance. — In Paris, Eevolution is a word of terror; and again I 
entreat, my lord, do not at this moment hazard, by removal, a life so 
dear to you— so dear to all ! 



Letter JjXl.—From Count Alfred de Vaudreidl, in Paris, to Count 
JErloff, in England. 

You are I trust, by this time, grateful, my dear Leek, for the zeal (you 
were half inclined to term officious) which I displayed in expediting 
your departure. I had a thousand reasons for my pertinacity. 

In the first place, the state of your sister's health now admitting of an 
interview between you, it would have been unjustifiable to withhold 
from her the comfort of your presence, isolated as she is in a land of 
strangers. In the second, the irritation of mind of Gall itzin promises 
anything but well for those entitled by affinity, even collateral, to in- 
terfere between himself and his wife. I can perceive that he is furious 
at the publicity drawn upon his domestic position by this unlucky duel. 
His excellency is the sort of man who dreads nothing in this world so 
much as exposure. The habit of living at court in perpetual subser- 
vience to autocratic reprobation, has inspired him with a deference to 
the decencies of life, a sort of worship of decorum, as the wedding 
garment insuring hiui an entrance to the marriage feast of imperial 
favour, more influential than the strongest sense of morality ! Pro- 
priety, not virtue,— decency, not innocence, — subjection to the opinions 
of the world rather than to the laws of God— constitute the principles 
of his artificiaUife ! 

" Point d''esclandre .'" is in short the cry of this well-bred husband ; 
in the very teeth of which, his pretty wife, whom we both know to be 
unquestionable in essential points, has rashly caused the hollow world 
to ring with echoes of her indiscretion. 

Paris is so little accustomed to the exercise of gratuitous virtues, my 
dear Leek, that nothing in the way of our mutual asseveration would 
tend to convince it that you were "generous enougli to be run through 
the body in behalf of a woman whose generosity had not preceded 
your own, I ask your pardon for the want of candour of my loving 



THE ambassador's WIFE. 227 

countrymen— but so it is. They believe you to be a far happier man 
than you are ! 

Your rash iini)etuosity necessarily drew the attention of the prince 
to all this; and writhino; under the irritation of the injury to his repu- 
tation, not to his wife's — inasmuch as his reputation constitutes a 
portion of his diplomatic stock in trade — I was by no means certain 
tliat he might not judge it expedient (his only rule of conduct) to ex- 
tinguish a lesser scandal by a greater — by calling you to account for 
having fought for his wife. I agree with you, that Gallitziu has no 
more feeling than one of his own malachite vases. But the mind has 
its passions as well as the heart ; and the frenzy of disappointed ambi- 
tion is almost as strong an incentive as the anguish of wounded 
affection. 

Take it for granted, therefore, my dear Erloff, that T have done a 
kinsman's part towards you, by hurrying you forth from this troubled 
sphere. You are better in England— you are safer in England. Your 
ungenerous hint that I am desirous to appropriate to myself the future 
defence of the lovely Ida, I pass sxio silentio ; convinced that the re- 
fections of your solitary' journey must have convinced you of the 
impossibility that a man of my detestable temiier and temperament 
should be inclined towards the championship of a woman who could 
console herself for the loss of his hand with that of old Gallitzin ; and 
for the loss of his heart, with that of a Mirabeau manque like Eouilly ; 
for dispute it as you may, the marquis is the magnet v.'hich drew her 
from the midst of the double and triple circumvallations of the court 
party. 

In a word, mon cher, accept my congratulations that you are at length 
in England, out of this hubbub of disturbances, private and public, and 
offer me yours in return, that my eyes are open to my own perils and 
dangers. 

Would I could add that those of the royal family were open to theirs ; 
for woe is me, and woe is France, the obstinacy of the august chief of 
the Bourbons is unequalled, save by that royal kinsman of his in Spain, 
who abided on his throne to be asphyxiated with charcoal, rather than 
have the brasier removed by unprivileged hands. Surrounded as he 
is with tout ce qyJil y a de plus PoUgnac, what chance of his enlighten- 
ment ? Our ministers are unpersuadable that Erance is undeserving 
the admirable principles of government under which xVustria prospers, 
and Hussia, like a walnut tree, brings forth its fruits ; and they persist 
in rendering unto France the things that are Metternich's. 

The strong arm of absolute power should never be uplifted unless 
certain of its strength; the child who has once found the courage to 
fling back a wholesome medicament into the face of the nurse, being 
scarcely likely to submit to a second dose, still stronger and more nau- 
seous. These are homely similes. Leek; but I am beginning to foresee 
the conversion of my gold epaulet into worsted lace. La Eayette is still 
alive, though half in his dotage ; and betwixt a driveller who flatters 
the insolence of the mob, and the driveller who would coerce it, ninety- 
ninc to one in favour of the national guardsman ! 

Y9U will expect to hear something of la Idle Ida. "With the ex- 
ception of a glimpse of her gay equipage dashing through the Bois, I 
have not seen her since you left Paris. I have called once or twice at 
the embassy, but without the good fortune of finding her visible. One 
night at the opera, indeed, I spent a few minutes in her box ; and but 
that the mirth of woman is as often the result of despair as joy, should 

Q2 



2:8 THE AlIBASSADOE S WIFE. 

liave bec-n inclined to say I never saw her so cheerful. Decidedl}', she 
never looked more lovely. Yon might have thought otherwise, 
who desire to see her only in her gentler and more feminine moods. 
But just as I used to delight in hearing her talk flimsy Montesquieu, 
at the Hotel de Eouilly, among a knot of potitical intrigants, who 
fancied they were worming out of her the secrets of the prince (as if 
he ever intrusted her with any on which he was not intent on the 
circulation !) just as I used to enjoy the sort of air of band-box states- 
womanship with which she ventured to debate with Lafiitte and Passy, 
with the audacity of a child handling the wires of an electric battery- 
am I now amused to observe the air of triumphant joyousness under 
which the disappointed coquette strives to conceal the hysterical agita- 
tion of her heart. 

But for these wild emotions I should never have felt certain that she 
Jiad a heart. So well has she played her part for the nearly two years 
I have known her, that I believed her of almost as icy a temperament 
as her husband. It proves to be such ice, hov/ever, as that under which 
the impetuous v.'aters of the Neva rush onv.ards to the ocean ; and 
nature is perhaps avenging upon the woman of twenty the outrage 
committed against herself by the girl of eighteen, who pretended to be 
ambitious full a dozen years before so mature a passion comes into 
season in the human heart. Passions, my dear Leek, are not like green 
peas, the more valuable for their precocity— a simile, you will say, 
worthy of the Frcres Frovencmix ! 

You will be glad to hear, by the way, that my brown hack is come 
back from Alfort as sound as ever. I told you, when I refused the 
thirty louis offered for it by Bouilh% that it was a mere cold. 

Your grandmother is off to Les Genets ; being Yaudreuil enough to 
take up her quarters in the old chateau, intolerable at this season to 
anything but the spiders and dowagers of the family. I suspect that 
the poor dear countess is more than usually in want of a little country 
air this year, after the fatigue of nursing a graceless grandson ; and the 
Abbe Chaptal of the peace and innocence of our Burgundian paradise, 
after the pein forte et dure of reforming such a reprobate. Myself 
and Jules he had long resigned as hopeless ; or rather, he was too well 
satisfied of our good courtiership to apprehend that we should ever 
lose ourselves by neglecting those forms of devotion exacted even of its 
uttermost page of the presence, by the court of Charles X. and his 
daughter-in-law ; which, I verily believe, is capable of creating a new 
St. Bartholomew. 

You, my dear Erloff, offered strange temptations to the old people. 
Like all Avho feel deeply, you appear to be easily impressionable ; and 
they flattered themselves they had secured a submissive convert, in the 
most unsophisticated individual that ever passed the barriers of Paris ! 
In my opinion you feel too strongly to have approached civilized Europe 
nearer than Tiitary. You are the Muscovite of four centuries ago ; a 
wilful barbarian, in spite of possessing five languages— painting like 
Salvator— singing like Tamburini — and fencing like Coulon. Your 
ecole militaire has much to answer for in afiecting to give a French 
education to Eussian natures. It is attempting to turn a snuff-box 
out of a fragment of Oural granite. 

All this the poor dear old abbe soon discovered. In you he saw 
that he had to deal with an Erloff, not a Yaudreuil ; and I am con- 
vinced he remains persuaded that the gentle, loving, pious Marguerite 
was as much a god-seud in the family of so rugged a father and worldly 



THE AMBASSADOB's WIFE. £29 

a mother, as ilie manna and quails in llie wilderness. Your ppeedy 
recovery wns, I suspect, little forwarded by any intercession of his or 
your grandmother's; uuloss, indeed, as a means of oxpeditinp^ your 
departure from Paris. But no matter. In Burgundy they will have 
ample leisure to expiate their own sins, and those of every branch of 
the family. I hold myself absolved of all I may feel inclined to commit 
for at least three months to come. 

In the meanwhile know that the misadventures which have placed 
our lovely Ida in so unfavourable a position v/ith regard to the court 
and the Faubourg,. have a thousandfold enhanced her popularity with 
that public nuisance which calls itself the public. The vulgar finger- 
post, notoriety, has pointed out her beauty and grace to redoubled ad- 
miration; and I can account for the speed at which her Alezaiis a,ve 
made to dash through the Champs Elysees, by her natural desire to 
escape the thousand eager eyes on the look out for a glimpse of the 
loveliest of ambassadresses. 1 scarcely remember to have seen a greater 
sensation excited in Paris in the way of fashion. 

Secondary to these interests, but secondary to no other, comes the 
evil position of party-prospects at this moment. Jules, who is in 
waiting at St. Cloud, protests that no anxiety on the subject prevails in 
the royal family. But rashness is not courage; and on the brink of a 
precipice the blind man walks as firmly as usual. I am almost afraid, 
my dear Leek, that you imported with you into Paris the infection of 
your governmental principles of St. Petersburg ; for Polignac might at 
this moment form a third in a group of pohtical destiniesVith Metter- 
nich and Nesselrode. Do not imagine by this allusion that I estimate 
them as three old women. 

Here I keep my eyes and lips closed as to what is passing; for we 
have a black-book police, almost as offensive as that of your czar-ridden 
capital. It is my dutj% however, to speak to you, as Lady Elvinston is 
on the eve of a continental tour. 

Pray let me hear how you found her, for I am no longer in sufficiently 
frequent communication with the Eussian embassy to dispense with 
your tidings. lEii attendant, Je femlrasse cVune amitic vive et fm- 
ternelle ! 



Letter LXll—Fvom Princess IV , in St. Fetershurg, to Princess 

Gallitzin, in Paris. 

Did I not know your superiority to the opinion of the world, my dear 
princess, I should have despatched to you, long ago, my condolences on 
the lapidation I am assured you have been undergoing among the 
Parisian throwers of stones. But so great a philosopher has the comfort 
of knowing that envy is the shadow of merit ; or, as you once told me, 
in answer to my animadversions on your adored czar, that '"' slander, 
like the sun, darts fiercest on the highest head." Your vanity has, con- 
sequently, every cause to be reconciled with the malice to which you 
have been subjected. One of your favourite sages has told us, that it 
is only against the gods there can be blasphemers ! 

For my part, I would sooner stand in your place, ambassadress from 
one of the great powers to the greatest, and be assailed from week's end 



230 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

to week's end with all that envy, hatred, and malice can devise, tlian 
live the life of the blest at St, Petersburg, wliere there is no one witty 
enough to invent scandal, and no one charming enough to attract it ! 
Again, I say, bear with your destinies ! You have married a man of 
doubtful fortune, or rather a man who must earn his fortunes by diplo- 
matic service. How much better than tlse noblest estate this country 
atlbrds, if conveying tlie penalty of being enjoyed on the ])remise3. 
My dear ])rincess, take my palace in St. Peter.sburg, take my estates in 
Novogrod, and give me in exchange yotir hotel of the embassy, within 
reach of Christian society, and under the cross-fit e of the batteries of 
the unchristianly scandal of united Europe ! Eather be a mark for ail 
that could be said or sung, v.ritten or printed, in the way of defamatiou 
in Paris, than irreproachable here, as the shrine of our Lady of Kazan ! 

You have now my candid view of the misfortunes that seem to weigh 
so heavily on your mind. To tell you that the nevfs had not reached 
us were to deceive you. But there is no one left to heed the report. 
Even the wreck of Madame Erlotf has disappeared from among us; and 
during your short sojourn here, you were personally known to few be- 
vsides myself. The merely pretty girl of one carnival is effaced by the 
merely pretty girl of the next ; and Princess Sergius Gallitzin vanished 
too instantaneously to have left a trace. 

Do not, therefore, agonize yotir feelings by the dread that the eyes of 
Europe are scowhng upon you, because a few old ladies of the Faubourg 
St. Germain aVe cold in their curtsies, or a few young men of the clubs 
too impetuous iu their bows. You Vvill survive the shock. The wounds 
that reach us from without are usually superficial. So long as your 
conscience is clear, no chance of mortification within ! 

As to the evil interpretation of St. Petersburg, even if seriously con- 
vinced that its ambassadress in Paris was a woman of light condnct, 
believe me, it is far more interested in the fact that the empress was 
seen in her caleche yesterday, on the StrelnaEoad, in a bonnet trimmed 
with dahlias, cornflowers being the thing in season; nndwere it hinted 
that Prince Gallitzin had sent you back to Saxony in a white sheet, 
either living or dead, the Nevskoi Prospekt is more interested to learn 
that the emperor has ordered leopard-skin housings to some regiment 
of cuirassiers, or that a new ballet is in rehearsal at the Bolshoy. 

With all your strength of mind, telle princesse, do not fall into the 
error of weak ones, by fancying that the sun will cease to rise and set 
because the coteries are spiteful, or the czar ungracious. If, like me, 
you had endured last night the leaden weight of a party compelled to 
find amusement in four hotirs of La Mouche, simply because not one 
of us had a word to throw to the others which the most complaisant 
complaisance could dignify into a mot, and because it is more civil to 
yawn over one's cards than into the faces of one's friends — you would 
feel, to the mind's core, the comfort of being Vvithin reach of a dozen 
amusing theatres, and a dozen arch-amusing people, to assist one in 
spurring on the lagging march of time. The worst of Paris is Paradise, 
compared with the best of St. Petersburg. AVhat signify a few carica- 
tures ? A touch of the knightly spur of chivalry is easier to bear than 
the trampling of a wooden boot ! 

Por the future, dear princess, you must content yourself with coun- 
sels instead of news. To-morrow I leave St. Petersburg. It behoves 
me to see something more resembling a tree than the shrubberies of 
my pretty villa can furnish ; and I accordingly exile myself for three 
months to my estates in Novogrod, taking with me five carriages full of 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 231 

the people among whom I have been boring myself through the winter. 
IVlste ressotirce ! but wanting it, I should be driven to picquet with 
the papas of my villages.— Farewell ! Heaven speed you. 

P.S.— By the way^ is it true that everything in Paris is ripe for a revo- 
lution ? The few French or English papers admitted here say little on 
the subject. But Madame Hugon received yesterday a cargo of summer 
bonnets from the Eue Vivienne, accompanied by an ouvriere en caiootes 
who waited upon me with the last number of "Le Follet," and brings 
word that there have been aUroupemeuts on the Boulevards. She has 
a brother, a journeyman printer, who advised her to make as much 
haste out of Paris, as the Metz diUgence would allow ! This may be all 
nonsense. But sometimes such fragments of populace as journeymen 
printers foresee more of popular movements than those who, seated on 
a throne, have their eyes dazzled with the perpetual glitter of diamonds 
and gold lace. 

I would say more, but have worlds of preparation to make for my 
journey. All the furniture of my boudoir travels with me — my shrines, 
my saints, my musical instruments, my library ; and my confessor and 
French maid are both claiming my attention to the ceremony of their 
removal.— ^Ic^tf JO .' 



Letter iJXlil.—From Princess GalUtzin, in Faris, to Baron von 
Relifeld. 

My letter, my dear father, congratulating you on your safe arrival in 
the home of your ancestors remains unanswered ; but I can make full 
allowance for the multiplicity of business, which must perplex you on 
your return to Eehfeld after so long and ruinous an absence. 

Well do I remember how, even on your annual visits from theResidenz, 
you used to be beset by Johann and Sara, land-stewards and foresters, 
bleach-masters, and miners, tenants and their husbandmen ! It gives 
me pleasure to recur to those bright September days when they used to 
arrive in succession, each laden with a gift for the hand of his beloved 
lord, and a grievance for his ear ! I used to consider them importunate, 
because they interrupted my own free talk with you, after a year's sepa- 
ration. I owe 'them a greater grudge now, for preventing your answering 
my letters. 

Long absence from you and home has rendered me more sensible 
than I used to be of the value of such associations ; and after the glar^ 
and empty volubility of Paris, the comfort of our simple German cor- 
diality would be, indeed, acceptable. I envy you the warmth and 
truth of your welcome to Eehfeld ! I envy the respect conceded to all 
your words and looks by those who behold in them a guarantee of the 
protection accorded by your fathers to theirs, and to be accorded to 
their successors by your own. Less adroit of hand, less fluent of 
speech, perhaps less intelligent of mind than the bustling, prating, 
superficial people of this briliiaut country, how much more soothing to 
the heart, iu the prolonged intercourse of life, those homely words of 
which every syllable is frank and true, as if instinct with responsibility 
to heaven ! 

You will not think mo tedious for enlarging upon all this ; for well 



232 THE AilBASSADOIl'S WIFE. 

do I remember, ray dear father, your warning me at St. Petersburg, 
nay, at Schloss Kehfeld, against the partiality I was imbibing for the 
levities of a foreign countiy. I did not listen ilien. But experience 
lias inflicted the lesson upon me with schooling far more rugged. I 
have learned to love my fatherland through the harshness of an 
adopted country. I have learned to appreciate the value of parental 
protection on finding myself disregarded by my husband. 

I say not this resentingly. When it was proposed to me to become 
the wife of Prince Gallitzin, no inducements of tenderness were held 
forth. I was told, that if I pleased I might become wife to an am- 
bassador, an ambassador high in favour with the emperor ; and the 
glittering bait captivated my girlish fancy. The Paris described by 
Mademoiselle Therese, and painted in such glowing colours by Mon- 
sieur de Yaudreuil, brandished its bauble of Folly in the distance, and 
eagerly did I answer to the appeal. 

And now I am here, dear father, indeed a princess— indeed an am- 
bassadress—all that my vain ambition preferred to the tranquil obscurity 
of Eehfeld ;— and the most miserable and desolate of human beings. 

Last night the prince set off express_ for St. Petersburg after au 
audience of the king. I entreated permission to accompany him ; for 
I dread being alone in Paris. A great political crisis is said to be 
approaching. But all I obtained was a cold denial. I should be an 
obstruction, he said, to the speed of his journey. I should be a 
stumbling block in his way. He expects to arrive at Tzarsko-Qclo after 
the departure of the emperor for the Georgian frontier, and may have 
to follow him. 

" Kemain quietly in Paris," was all the answer I elicited. " There 
was a time, and at no great distance, when it was the only spot of earth 
in which you imagined human happiness attainable. Eesign yourself 
to the fate you courted." 

It was in vain I ventured to remonstrate. 

" You have no longer connections in St. Petersburg to afford you a 
home during my leave of absence," he persisted. " xMy sister is in 
Moscow, where our family abode is of a nature to provoke only your 
disgust ; even if Prascovia, whose feelings (with or without a cause) 
are embittered against you, would receive you under her roof My 
visit to Tzarsko-Qelo will be a stormy one. Judge what improvement 
it would derive by recalling to the recollection of the emperor the 
disappointment of his expectations in yourself ! " 

I am here, therefore, my dear father, alone. This appears but a 
trifling grievance ; for you know me to be the inhabitant of a splendid 
mansion— surrounded by a noble establishment— secured by all the 
'honours that surround an ambassador's wife. Yet am I most lonely 
and most unhappy ; and, like the penitent of the Scriptures, would fain 
arise and go to my father for shelter in the home of my youth. 

Your last letters contained so many severe allusions to my conduct, 
and the baroness has so repeatedly expressed your conviction that it 
has exercised an unfavourable influence over your diplomatic fortunes, 
that I feel a degree of hesitation I never expected to experience in 
asking permission to visit you at Schloss Rehfeld. 

Do not imagine that I am coming in pomp and pride to create 
trouble in your establishment; or that I am the thoughtless Ida of old. 
Aware of the sacrifices you have made on my account, and that your 
former hospitalities are curtailed to replace your estate in the prosperity 
you enjoyed previous to your ill-fated departure for Russia, I am pre- 



THE ambassadoe's wife. 233 

pared for domestic quiet— for parsimony— for homeliness. Be assured, 
that should you accept my offer of becoming your inmate during the 
absence of the prince, no vexatious murmurs will increase your 
domestic troubles. 

Grievously do I sometimes blame myself for the seeming ingratitude 
of my readiness to naturalize myself in a foreign country ; dreading 
lest the resentments of the pastor and poor Sara should have com- 
municated themselves to yourself. Yet judge me leniently ! I was 
the child of one who bequeathed me no tender relationships to watch 
over my infancy. . By your desire my mother's family was excluded 
from Eehfeld. Your own avocations kept you equally aloof, and what 
but kindred blood holds sufficient influence over a child to determine 
its first tendencies ? 

But I am wrong to recur to the past. The contemplation is un- 
satisfactory to both. Enough that the turmoil and severity of the 
world have taught me to appreciate the joy of a peaceful independence. 
I shall anxiously expect your answer. The ten days that must elapse 
ere I receive it will appear endless ! 



Letter LXIV. — From Mademoiselle Therese Moreau, in Paris, to ilie 
Countess Auguste de Faudreiiil, in Burgundy. 

July 25th, 1830. 

In the absence, madam, of any privileged relation of Princess Gallitzin, ' 
and deeply impressed by the critical nature of the situation in which 
she is placed, I write, without her knowledge or privity, to implore the 
assistance of the mother of her father's wife. 

The communication between the Eussian embassy and the Hotel de 
Vaudreuil has been so disastrously interrupted by the untoward 
incident of Count Erloff's wound, that I think it likely you may be 
unaware of Prince Gallitzin's sudden departure for St. Petersburg on 
business connected with the present political crisis, of too pressing a 
nature to admit of his being accompanied by his family. The princess 
is consequently alone in Paris; where the discontents of the people are 
gaining such alarming head, that the few families of condition acci- 
dentally detained here for the summer are flying in all directions. 

Soured by the unjust aspersions of which she has been the victim, 
Princess Gallitzin has long withdrawn her confidence from the herd of 
flatterers by whose adulation, on her first arrival here, so young a head 
was naturally influenced. In the more critical epochs of hfe, it is only 
to those on whose sympathy we have natural claims we rely for 
counsel ; and the consequence of the evil-dealing of the world towards 
my poor Ida has been to impart rare value in her eyes to the fidelity of 
an humble well-wisher like myself. There has been much to wither 
the germ of her young affections. In the three holiest affections of her 
sex— filial, conjugal, maternal— she has been cruelly disappointed ; by 
finding herself a secondary object to an ambitious father and ambitious 
husband. She has consequently some pretext for the dispirited state 
of her feeUngs. At this ^moment, though fully aware, more aware 



231 THE AMBASSADOB'S WIFE. 

perhaps than others, of the dangers impending over Paris, I fmd it im- 
possible to arouse her to a sense of her personal danger. All I can 
extort from her, in reply to my entreaties that she will take refuge 
with her friends from the tumults anticipated in this distracted capital, 
is a despairing ejaculation that she has only enemies in France ! 

I suspect her to be devoid of means for so long a journey as Schloss 
Rehfeld ; or, from her anxiety for letters in Germany, 1 should conceive 
it her intention to fly to her father. Ida is, however, too proud for 
such explanations. Meanwhile, the murmur in the distance grows 
louder and louder. The unpopularity of the ministry and of the royal 
family hourly increases, and from the government to the representatives 
of foreign governments, its obnoxious allies, there is but a step. We, 
Madame la Comtesse, who are of an age to remember the horrors of 
the first revolution, have some pretence for dreading the prospect of a 
second ! Alas ! madam, I confess to you that I tremble ! 

Twice or thrice in the course of yesterday did the Marquis de Eouilly 
present himself at the botel, entreating access to her excellency. In 
obedience to the prohibition issued by the prince on occasion of Count 
Erloff 's duel, he was refused. He wrote ; his letters were returned. 
At length, at an advanced hour of the evening, he addressed a letter to 
myself, imploring an interview. 

To refer the question to the princess, would have been to insure a 
negative ; and conceiving, from the more than suspected connection of 
the Marquis de Eouilly with the liberal party that his importunity 
might reier to some exigency connected with the events of the day, I 
received him in my own apartment. 

I was not deceived. The marquis bade me, if I valued the safety of 
her excellency, remove her, even if by force, from Paris. The obstinacy 
of the king, it seems, is likely to hurry on the course of events which 
time was gradually accomplishing ; and so extensive is the irritation of 
popular feeling that the marquis assures me wo protection may be 
sutncient for persons unfortunate enough to be connected with the 
court. 

Scarcely a year ago, Princess Gallitzin was classed among the favour- 
ites of St. Cloud. The populace is slow to be informed of the variations 
of royal favour; and her excellency, though lying under royal reproba- 
tion, is likely, from her connection with the Vaudreuils, to be reckoned 
among the partizans of the absolute party, — the line recently adopted 
by Count Jules in the Chamber, rendering him an e.^pecial object of 
popular hatred. 

"No matter what becomes of me ! " is the hourly ejaculation of her 
excellency. "No one cares for me, — no one has ever cared! Let it 
suffice for my comfort that my timely warning has preserved poor 
Marguerite from a journey hither." May I hope, madam, that you 
have anticipated the object of my letter, in an entreaty that you will 
prove equally providential towards the daughter of the Baron von 
Eehfeld ? Were you to write and offer her shelter, she would probably 
accept with thankfulness ; and I earnestly implore you, without betray- 
ing to her excellency my presumptuous application, to lose no time in 
allording her your advice. 

Accept meanwhile, madam, the assurance of my respectful devotion. 



THE AMEASSADOE'S WIFE. 235 



Letter JjKX.—From Cuunt IJrloJf, at Dover, to Count Alfred 
de Vaudreicil, in Faris. 

PsEPAEE a gitt for me, my dear Alfred, for as soon almost as this letter 
I shall reach Paris ! To remain in London after the warnings de- 
spatched by yours'elf and the princess, was impossible. It was as much 
as I could do to tear myself from Ida, when I saw her rich and pros- 
jierous; but to absent myself, when I know her to be so exposed to 
danger and afiiiction, is an effort beyond my powers. 

My brother-in-law, rather in mistrust than kindness, confided to 
me a letter written by Ida, re>pecting the danger of removing Mar- 
guerite to France, at this actual moment. But her rash intimacy with 
the factious intrigant to v.hom I attempted to give a lesson on her 
account, renders it probable that she is only too correctly informed ; 
and on pretence of ascertaining the exact state of the case, and forward- 
ing authentic intelligence to Elvinston (who is wild to remove my poor 
dear suSering sister by slow journeys into Italy), I quitted London 
within a fortnight of my arrival, and shall at least be on the spot to 
watch over the safety of her who, whether loved or hated to distraction, 
is still the predominant influence of my life. 

I leave poor Marguerite, though in a state of great debility, in no 
immediate danger, and surrounded by all the luxuries that wealth, all 
the zeal that the most affectionate tenderness, can afford. Kever was 
she cared for among her own people and in her father's house as by the 
cordial and devoted family of her husband ! Elvinston is, as you always 
assured me, the best fellow in the world ! I have no anxiety for the 
destinies of his wife, but such as depends upon the will of Heaven ! 

Eor my poor Ida, on the contrary, I have a thousand ; — yes, poor Ida, 
my dear Alfred, however high and imposing her worldly position. 'War 
without— war within! ^Nothing in her heart or household to afford 
comfort in the hour of tribulation ! I apprehend a thousand evils for 
her, independent of those arising from public excitement. I am afraid 
of Rouilly— I am afraid even of ^JOu. Not one of you is interested in 
her behalf beyond the promptings of vanity that place you at the feet 
of any or every beauty in fashion. It is only I who would fain devote 
myself to her as a brother, and resign my w^orthless life in her cause ! 

Do not blame my re-appearance on the scene from which you had 
banished me. To refrain would have been an exercise of self-control 
scarcely to be expected of the " wilful barbarian " whose reckless nature 
you have so truly described. 



Letter LXTI. — From Count Alfred de Vatidreuil, in Faris, to Count 
Jules at St. Cloud. 

26th July, 1&30. 

I LOSE not a moment in telling you that, after a long interview this 
morning with la belle Ida, in which I managed to extract from her six 
times as much as she is aware of having betrayed, I am convinced that 



23G THE a:mbissador's wife. 

the projects of the freedom-of-the-press-mongcrs are far deeper laid 
than we ever for a moment conjectured. Do yonr very utmost to Lave 
this signified to madnme. She has less sense than the others, but is 
more accessible. See Madame de E., see whomever you can, that has 
the smallest influence with Polignac ; and assure them meo 2}ericv.lo 
that there was a meeting of deputies last night at Ilouilly's which 
la?ted till daylight this morning. 

This message is not the sole motive of my letter. Send me back, by 
the bearer, an urgent invitation to Princess Gallitzin to hasten to Les 
Genets. Mine does not sultice to sati?fy her scruples— or is perhaps the 
cause of her scruples. I had already suggested, through the gouver- 
nante, a letter of similar import from our worthy aunt. But two days 
must elapse before the answer returns; and the rapid complication of 
events alarms me. All those one cares for must be hurried out of 
Paris. Impossible to surmise what the events of the next four-and- 
twenty hours may bring to pass ! 

Princess Gallitzin is as wayward in all this as I have ever found her. 
Ko persuading her to listen to reason ; or rather no persuading her of 
the existence of any reason superior to her own ! She aflects a sort of 
romantic gratification in exposure to the dangers to which she has been 
left by her glacial ambassador ; nor can I jiiduce her, by any repre- 
sentation of mine or old Moreau's, to quit her post ! She is waiting, 
she says, for answers from Germany to letters of importance. She may 
wait, perhaps, till the Eussian embassy has been razed to the ground 
by an outburst of popular fury ! Por Eouilly, who is, I am persuaded, 
the efficient head of the movement party, has had the art to render 
Gallitzin so odious, and to attribute so much of our cabinet policy to 
the ascendancy of Eussia, that I have very little doubt the precipitate 
journey of the prince was produced by some warning that he is a 
marked man, from the secret police which Eussia holds fast bound in 
its golden chain. 

I have had the precaution to secure a passport available for Madame 
Gallitzin, her attendants, and myself as their escort ; and to keep 
horses in readiness for the first stage out of Paris, at any hour of the 
day or night. Unless our prospects brighten in the course of to-day, 
I shall by some means or other prevail upon her to start this evening ; 
either taking the road to Les Genets, in accordance with your invitation, 
or to Germany at once. A line in return, to let me knov/ what has 
transpired at the chateau since the council held this morning ! The 
altroupemenfs increase tremendously in the Basse Tille, and troops arc 
marching in from all directions !— Adieu ! 



Letter LXVIl. — From Princess Gallitzin to Baron von Hehfeld. 

Only five days have elapsed since the date of my last letter, my dear 
father, and the progress of events has been so rapid, that instead of 
venturing to wait your answer, I have determined to quit Paris this 
very night. The Count de Tcherbatoff, who during Prince Gallitzin's 
absence exercises unlimited authority here, and exercises it in a manner 
to show he is the confidant of the disagreements between myself and 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 237 

the prince, persists in assuring me that, whatever may be the result of 
the king's constitutional maintenance of authority over a factious 
press, it is too much the interest of the liberal party, or any engaged in 
the dispute, to conciliate the favour of Eussia, to admit of the possi- 
biUty of my exposure to molestation. But Monsieur de Eouilly^ the 
friend of Laflitte and Berard, as well as the Yaudreuils,. the adherents 
of the court, are unanimous in opinion that Sight is the best security ; 
and I am consequently hastening to the protection of the mother of 
Madame von Eehfeld, as the most suitable retreat for me, during the 
absence of the prince. 

Do not suppose, dear sir, that it is the non-arrival of an answer to 
my self-invitation that prevents my preference of a journey to Eehfeld. 
But without having recourse to Monsieur Tcherbatoff, who might see 
fit to oppose the measure, I cannot command either money or passports 
for crossing the frontier. 

Have the goodness, therefore, to write to me at Les Genets. I cannot 
but fully believe that both yourself and the baroness will be anxious to 
hear of my v/elfare at so trying a moment. We set oil this evening at 
dusk, on pretence of a drive to Yiry, the villa of Madame de Eaguse j 
and from theuce. hasten into Burgundy. 



Letter LXYIII. — From Count Frloff to the Baroness von Hehfeld. 

I PEOMISED Lord Elvinston to warn you, mother, against addressing 
your letters to my sister in Paris, as he suggested in his last ; their 
journey being delayed by the alarming aspect of public events. My 
sister's perils of climate are far less peremptory than those which might 
arise from personal alarm. 

I write from Amiens ; where I am compelled to pass the night by 
the impossibility of procuring post-horses, or a place in any public con- 
veyance. So many persons are in transit on the road to England, that 
I must submit to this vexatious delay. The period of Lord and Lady 
Elvinston's journey will be determined by my report of the state of 
affairs in Paris, 

Hotel de Vaudreuil, 27th July, 1830. 

I wrote the above without reflecting that, though committed to the 
post at Amiens, it would not precede me here. I add this postscript, in 
considerable doubt whether the foreign mails will be able to quit the 
capital. As I approached it yesterday en poste, every league of the 
journey rendered more and more apparent the excitement of public 
feeling. I had even the greatest difficulty in obtaining horses from 
Vernon to St. Denis. The route presented an almost uninterrupted 
line of carriages ; but at the last post I found it impossible to proceed. 
A crowd of vehicles obstructed the road, in want of horses, the post- 
masters' stables having been seized for the public service. Eurther 
delay, at so exciting a moment, was insupportable. Abandoning my 
baggage, therefore, I made my way on foot, across the fields, into Paris. 

I will not detain you, mother, to describe the state of emotion in 
which, after passing the barrier, I pushed my way through the melee 
encumbering the Eaubourg St. Denis ! Insufficiently versed in the 



238 THE ambassador's WIFE. 

topograpliy of Paris to reach the Paubourg St. Germain without en- 
countering the struggle of the Boulevarts, I found myself unarmed 
and as a mere spectator in the midst of charges of cavalry and the 
uproar of an insurgent populace ; thrice obstructed in my road by the 
interposition of barricades, formed of broken carriages, carts, paving- 
stones, and every object available fur the improvisation of civil war. 

At any other moment I should have found it difficult, nay, im- 
possible, to resist involving myself in the quarrel so little my own ; 
nor will I outrage your Vaudreuil blood by avowing on which side my 
sympathies were enlisted. I pushed my vray, however, like a madman 
through that boiling, seething mass of human fervour, struggling for 
liberties in which I or mine have no interest beyond the common 
fraternization of human nature ; intent only upon hastening to the 
support of the only individual in Paris personally interesting to my 
feelings. 

Nearly three hours had elapsed before, covered with dust and smoke, 
I presented myself at the gates of the embassy. I had great difficulty 
in getting even my solitary summons ansAvered. In every street, as I 
passed, even those remote from the uproar of the emeides, I had ob- 
served the i^ortes coclieres carefully closed. It did not therefore much 
surprise me that Nikita, t4ie old porter, should reply abruptly and 
ungraciously to a pedestrian applicant, in such complete disarray as I 
presented myself. 

After making mvself known, I inquired for Prince Gallitzin. — " Gone 
to St. Petersburg." 

I inquired for the princess. "She was not visible." 

Understanding by this a porter's hanal excuse, I persisted. 

" Her excellency," he said, " had driven out, early in the evening, 
with Count Alfred de Yaudreuil. It was now near midnight. There 
appeared little probability that she would return." 

I inquired for MademoiseUe Tberese ?— " Absent also." Por Tcher- 
batoff ? — " Monsieur le Comte had retired for the night ; and was very 
unlikely to admit a stranger, at that hour." 

The porter now closed the gate in my face, and aft^^r a moment's 
reflection I began to feel the absurdity of persisting. Still, I hngered 
near the spot. At intervals, i^eZoton-s of troops galloped through the 
street, at intervals a vidette; and at a distance, I could hear every now 
and then a discharge of random shots, as if the insurrection was every 
moment gathering ground. At length I determined on a second 
attempt; and by a considerable bribe prevailed upon ISikita to carry 
my name to Tcherbatoif. 

The man admitted me within the gates the moment he undertook 
my commission ; and as I stood under the archway, inhaling the per- 
fume of intermingling lime and orange blossoms, freshened by the dews 
of midnight, with my eyes fixed upon the self-same windows of Ida's 
apartments, the contemplation of which, scarcely a month ago, filled 
my heart with emotions of so different a nature, my feelings were 
strangely overcome. 

The porter returned with an ungracious message ; still holding in his 
hand the scrap of paper on which 1 had written my name. " The count 
did not choose to see me." 

Put though I had submitted to the wilfulness of a porter obeying the 
orders he had received, I was not to be thus lightly treated by Tcher- 
batoff. Without a syllable of altercation, therefore, I made my way 
straight into the house. The servants had not courage to oppose me. 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 239 

In a moment I had entered the Chancery, where the whole mission, as 
well as several strangers, were assembled in earnest deliberation. 

Tcherbatoff, much" confused at my appearance, instantly led me into 
an adjoininc room. 

" I am sorry to appear an intruder upon your midnight councils," 
said I. " My errand here is of a purely personal nature. In the midst 
of the riot and confusion that salute me on my return to Paris, I wish 
to obtain tidings of the welfare of Prince and Princess Gallitzin." 

" Nikita surely informed you that the prince is at St. Petersburg ? 
Of the princess, I almost hoped you were come to give me tidings." 

" I tell you I am this moment arrived in Paris— my dress might 
serve to convince you, I have traversed the city on foot, contending 
both with the troops and the populace." ^ 

" You have not seen Yaudreuil, then ?" 

" I concluded he was at Baden, whither he announced his journey to 
me a week ago." 

"He may be on his way there : in which case her excellency is. the 
companion of his flight." 

There was something insulting in the tone of Tcherbatoff that 
strongly tempted me to knock him down. 

" Have you any further commands vrith me ?'' said he abruptly. "If 
not, excuse my quitting you. ^\e are deliberating upon the surest 
mode of despatching our courier. The populace is in possession of the 
barriers." 

"You will first have the goodness to inform me," said I, siernly, 
" what grounds you have for stating the princess to be in Yaudreuil's 
company, and when her excellency quitted home ?" 

" I am ready to answer you without the assumption of this Paladin 
tone," replied Tcherbatoff, coldly, "having scarcely leisure to waste, in 
the midst of an emeuie, on any private quarrel, even in honour of 
Princess Gallitzin. I, myself, saw her excellency enter a strange 
carriage, brought hither by Yaudreuil this evening, at her usual dinner 
hour, taking with her several caskets of valuables and her personal 
attendants. Previous to quitting the house, she issued orders in con- 
tradiction to these appearances, as if purporting only an evening drive ; 
but she has not returned ! Princess Gallitzin having accustomed us to 
caprices, I contented myself with desiring Kikita to sit up and admit 
her at any hour of the' night, however irregular, at which she might 
choose to present herself." 

"Terrified by the popular disturbances," said I, "she has doubtless 
sought refuge at the Hotel de Yaudreuil !" 

Tcherbatoff shrugged his shoulders, "it strikes m.e that the princess 
was quite as safely and far more respectably lodged under the roof of 
the Russian embassy," said the attache with a sneer. 

" On the contrary, in such instances, obscurity affords the best secu- 
rity." 

"At all events, she has judged for herself, and for her own sake, 
let us trust, discreetly/' adried the count. "But I must now positively 
wish you good niglit. Should you hear tidings of the princess, oblige 
me by communicating them. *We might hear of her, perhaps, at the 
Hotel de Rouilly," added he with a smile. "But it would be less than 
desirable for a servant of the liussian ambassador to be seen in com- 
munication with such a den of rebels." 

Retaining to myself the right of bringing Tcherbatoff to account, 
hereafter, for the insolence of his tone, I took a hasty leave, and with 



210 THE AUBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

hurried steps, and the utmost difficulty, made my way hither. With 
still more difficulty did I manage to rouse old Bertlet from his slumbers. 
I verily believe that the tumults of the revolution, distracting the city, 
had not yet reached that secluded quarter ! 

I had no time to take upon myself the task of enlightening him. All 
I had to inquire was after the family. 

" The countess was in Burgundy ; Count Jules was on duty at St. 
Cloud; Count Alfred, probably, at his entresol on the Place de la 
Concorde." 

I hurried thither. 

" Monsieur le Comte had been absent since morning." His valet-de- 
chambre appeared almost as anxious as myself. 

I now resolved at all hazards to obtain information at the Hotel de 
E-ouilly. But so exhausted was I by fatigue and hunger after my 
harassing 'march, that it was an effort almost beyond my power to 
attain the Faubourg du Eoule, and not a fiacre was to be had ! 

On reaching the itorte cochere, my knock produced no response. On 
repeating it a second and even a third time, the door was slightly opened, 
and a hand protruded, as if expecting a card or some sort of counter- 
sign. I had none to give ; but managed, through the crack of the door, 
to make my inquiries. All I could understand of the answer was, that 
the family had retired for the night, and that it was many weeks since 
Madame I'Ambassadrice had visited the hotel. 

Yet, in outrageous defiance of this assertion, I saw through the aper- 
ture lights in the grand apartments, and half-a-dozen carriages and 
cabriolets stationed in the courtyard. Whether the princess was there 
or not, I am now convinced that one of Eouilly's political conclaves 
Avas sitting at that moment ! 

While I stood hesitating what further course to pursue, a detachment 
of cavalry, galloping in from the barracks at Courbevoie, probably on its 
road towards the Basse Ville, scoured the street. Long ere they reached 
the 2Jorte cochere, it was closed, and the bolts heavily drawn within. 
All that remained for me was to return, footsore and heartsore, to the 
Hotel de Yaudreuil, where I had prepared Bertlet to expect me back. 

Eefreshed by a few hours' sleep, I now hasten to reassure you with 
intelligence that, though a revolution is incontestably in progress. 
Princess Gallitzin has quitted Paris. I have just ascertained from 
Alfred's servants that the carriage in which she left the embassy ivas 
his, and that they were to proceed to Viry, on a visit to the Duchesse 

de E . There, at least, they are safe ! May this letter also reach 

you in safety. 



Letter LXIX.— i^^-om Mademoiselle Therese 3Iorean, in Fans, to 
Frince Gallitzin, in St. Fetersliirg. 



It becomes my painful duty to apprise your excellency of the unhappy 
course of events that has arisen in your family out of the cruel visita- 
tions with which it has pleased Heaven to aillict this capital. ]\I y letter 
may never reach your hands. The fate of Paris, of Prance itself, is still 
uncertain. I must not, however, refrain from doing that justice to the 
conduct, it may be to the memory, of your unfortunate wife, which the 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 211 

deportment of Monsieur de Tcherbatoff towards myself when I pre- 
sented myself at the embassy this morninij, induces me to fear may 
not otherwise be transmitted to your knowredge. 

It is scarcely necessary to preface my statement with the assertion 
that, left alone in this great city, so young, so beautiful, yet so littla 
cared for, Princess Gallitzin surveyed the commencement of the recent 
terrible strugs^le with utter consternation. You will learn from your 
own household, how, fearfully alarmed by warning and admonishment 
from all parties, she consented to take refuge till your return with the 
mother of the Baroness von Eehfeld. The proposal w-as my own ; and, at 
mij suggestion, Count Alfred de Yaudreuil, on the first open demonstra- 
tion of violence in the city, removed us from the Hotel de I'Ambassade, 
which we were assured would be one of the first points attacked by the 
populace. Her excellency raised considerable difficulties against the 
plan; but was at length prevailed upon (escorted by myself, Luiska, 
and the Count) to quit Paris. 

Eut alas ! her long hesitation, her misgivings, and the feebleness 
occasioned by a slow fever, which for the last six weeks has been under- 
mining her constitution, caused the utter failure of the enterprise. I 
scarcely know what I write. I want courage to describe intelligibly 
the terrible scenes from which I have just emerged. The insurgent 
city is scarcely yet tranquillized, or the blood dried up in the streets. 
Hundreds of dead lie unburied— thousands of wounded encumber the 
hospitals. And I have witnessed all this ! Tour excellency must 
pardon me if I seem to ramble. 

On quitting the hotel with Monsieur de Yaudreuil, Ida, thougli pale 
and silent, seemed supported by the resolution of despair. And it is 
well that she was so; fur notwithstanding the precautions taken before- 
hand by the count to ascertain the securest line for reaching the 
southern barrier, as we were following the quay towards the Pont 
jSTeuf, w^e became entangled in a line of vehicles from which we 
could only extricate ourselves by turning into the Eue de Seine; 
where we were met by a detachment of the insurgents, who instantly 
surrounded the carriage and took possession of it for the purpose of 
forming a barricade. Already they had seized the horses' heads and 
forced the coachman to dismount; and the remonstrances and re- 
sistance of the count served only to stimulate the people into greater, 
violence. 

Princess Gallitzin w^as the first to recognize the inutility of resistance, 
and to urge us to return to the hotel; and thus, in the thick of a 
stress and uproar such as I had not supposed human beings capable of 
creating, we were compelled to abandon our project— abandon all— and 
return as best we might, to the hotel. But in that dreadful struggle 
{liow dreadful, I even now tremble to consider!) we were separated! 
The last I beheld of the princess was after descending from the carriage, 
pale as death and trembling in every limb, leaning on the arm of the 
Count de Yaudreuil who was attempting to force a passage for her 
through the m^ee. 

But already, a knot of those frantic men, intoxicated to all appearance 
by the excitement of their enterprise, had seized upon myself and 
Luiska ; and insisted upon forcing us to a neighbouring mercer's, that 
we might lend our aid to a female already at work there, making up 
tri-coloured cockades. Resistance was impossible; and any place of 
shelter seemed preferable to the press of that trampling multitude ! 
Since it was impossible to rejoin the princess, whom I considered as 

E 



242 THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 

safe as circumstances would admit under the guidance of an efficient 
protector, we patiently obeyed the commands 9f . our harsh task- 
masters ; and for seven successive hours worked without intermission, 
on the promise that we should afterwards be escorted back in safety 
to our homes. 

They kept their word. But it was an early hour of the morning 
when I reached the embassy. Troops were already scouring the streets 
in all directions ; for the morning of the fatal 28th had already dawned ! 

Your excellency will enter into my feelings on learning from Nikita 
that the princess'had not yet returned. I despatched a message to the 
Hotel de Yaudreuil— to the residence of Count Alfred ; still no tidings! 
Impossible to hope that she had quitted Paris ! Money could not have 
procured, at that moment, a vehicle for that purpose. 

At the Hotel de Vaudreuil, however, my messages of inquiry pro- 
cured me the aid of Count Erloff, who appears to have arrived most 
o]3portunely on the very eve of the revolution. He lost not a moment 
in seeking me, and having ascertained the exact spot where I had parted 
from the princess, instantly set off to make personal inquiries. 

Overpowered with misery and fatigue, I was indeed ill-prepared for 
the insulting tone in which my explanations were received by Monsieur 
de TcherbatofTand others of your excellency's establishment. So bitter, 
indeed, was my mortification under their insinuations against my un- 
happy Ida, that on the return of Count Erloff towards evening, not only 
without bringing intelligence of the missing parties but bringing such 
tidings of the state of the capital as convinced us that the cause of the 
king was lost, I readily accepted his invitation to accompany him to the 
Hotel de Yaudreuil, in order that we might pursue our future inquiries 
together. The distresses, the despair, of this high-spirited young man, 
while describing the frightful scenes he had witnessed and surmising 
what might be the destiny of the unfortunate creature we were de- 
ploring was that of the truest and tenderest of brothers ! 

But alas ! the support of his presence was soon denied me. At an 
early hour, the count quitted the hotel to prosecute his inquiries ; and 
from that moment has been heard of no more ! 

Unless mischance had befallen him — unless mischance had befallen 
the princess, some tidings of them must surely have reached the 
embassy ; and Bertlet, who has this moment returned from thence 
bringing tidings of the complete success of the revolutionary party and 
the cessation of the struggle, assures me that not a syllable is known, 
either there or at the residence of her excellency, or the two cousins ! 

I have felt it my duty to acquaint you of this. My letter may never 
reach you. It is still impossible to surmise what may be the result of 
these ruinous and cruel events. 



Letter JjXX.—Froi7i Count Jules de Vaudreuil, at RamlouiUet, to the 
Countess de Vaudreuil^ at Les Genets. 

On the point of following the royal family to Havre, I have scarcely 
strength, dear madam, for the melancholy office that devolves upon me 
of acquainting you with the direful eflfects of the recent crisis upon our 



THE AMBASSADOE's WIFE. 2i3 

Unfortunate family. If I have not in consequence abandoned that of 
my sovereign in their day of humiliation, I breathe not the less 
earnestly my prayer to Heaven of " God forgive the king ! " _ The 
ministers of him whom I am no longer entitled to denominate 
Charles X., have to answer for deluging the capital with blood, and 
decimating the families so faithfully devoted to the cause of monarchy 
in France ! 

I have lost mjr brother, Madam ! Alfred, our dear and deplored 
Alfred, has fallen in a struggle with a band of ruflians,'whom I will not 
gratify with the name of countrymen ! His body was recognized by 
the papers he carried about him, among the officers of the royal guard 
slain in the attack upon the Louvre. That he should have volunteered 
his services where the danger was greatest, at a period when so many of 
those calling themselves adherents of the throne — so many of those 
indebted for their bread to the house of Bourbon— either skulked in 
their houses or fled from this devoted city, will not surprise you, who 
know the gallant spirit of my brother. At present I have not courage 
to say more. 

You have probably learned from other sources, that on the first day of 
the revolution. Princess Gallitzin disappeared from her hotel, and has 
been heard of no more. So rapid has been the course of events, so con- 
fused the proceedings of the self-constituted authorities, and so hasty 
the interment of the dead in consequence of the state of the atmo- 
sphere, that it is more than probable she may have fallen an unsuspected 
victim, and been already laid in an obscure grave. 

Pray for us, my dear aunt, for consolation for evils past, and deliver- 
nnce from evils to come ! Alas ! I have myself scarcely fortitude to 
look forvrard to the distracted prospects of France ! 



CONCLUSION. 

Eevolutions, like other storms, have their term, and eventually rave 
themselves to rest. Within two years of the " glorious days of July," 
nearly all trace was eliaced in Paris of that sanguinary crisis. The 
graves of the dead were obliterated, a new dynasty was reigning at the 
Tuileries, and a new ministry becoming unpopular, under the govern- 
ment of the once liberal Marquis do Eouilly. A new ambassador of 
all the Eussias presided over the malachite vases ; and of his predecessor 
nothing was known in Paris, save that he had not been recalled to the 
imperial court on his removal from ofiice. Lost in obscurity at Moscow, 
he was either passing his widowhood in decent mourning, or fretting 
away his disgrace in sullen mortification. 

In the spring of 1832, at the period the cholera was raging in Paris, 
the volatile aristocracy of that brilliant capital, which had already 
reconcentrated itself into courtly form, under the judicious influence 
of the new dynasty, began suddenly to evince that fervour of contrition 
and piety to which, at such epochs of pain and peril, even the least 
devout persons are susceptible. The churches and confessionals were 
constantly filled with persons emitting from their dress the aromatic 
effusions, announcing anxious precautions against infection ; and the 

E 2 



241 THE ambassador's WIPE. 

pacred rites, which could no longer he hestowed upon the dead, were 
doubly in request among the living. The temples of religion were per- 
petually filled with incense— the altars constantly adorned with flowers ; 
and while hearses passed rapidly and almost continuously through the 
streets towards the burial-grouods of the suburbs, the pealing notes of 
the organ filled the groined aisles of Notre Dame and St. Eustache 
with unceasing hymns of intercession. At that awful moment, even 
the most inconsiderate seemed to re-attach themselves to their duties. 

One evenicg, towards the close of the month of May, when the 
epidemic was at its worst, the equipage of the old Countess de Vaud- 
reuil drew up before the gate of the convent in the rue des Tosses St. 
Victor, to which, in former days, it had so often conveyed her gentle 
grand-daughter, and lo ! there stepped forth into the parloir', not the 
venerable dowager, but the now widowed Baroness von Eehfeld, once 
more an inmate of the Hotel de Vaudreuil. 

" I am come, reverende onere,^' said she, addressing the lady abbess, 
after respectfully kissing her hand (an homage dedicated rather to a 
daughter of the noble house of Montmorency than to the superior of 
the sisterhood), " to execute a commission too long neglected. One 
whom I must not name in your presence— a renegade from our holy 
church— has forwarded to me for the last two years her contributions 
to the funds of the convent for the furtherance of its charitable pur- 
poses. Hitherto," she continued, dropping two rouleaux of a hundred 
louis each into the tronc des j^auvres, " I have been afraid of presenting 
myself here — apprehensive you. might suppose my maternal influence 
was insuffi.jiently exercised to oppose the recantation of my unhappy 
child. In a land of heretics, reverende mere, and under the influence of 
her husband's family, during a painful and long hopeless indisposition, 
the work of conversion was achieved ere I entertained a suspicion on 
the subject. In the remote province from which, on the death of the 
Baron von Hehfeld (a victim to mortification arising from tlie in- 
gratitude of his prince), I hastened to seek refuge in my beloved 
France, I was so shut out from tidings of the civilized world, that the 
welfare of my children was as the showing of a dream ; and Lady 
Elvinston had become lost to the Catholic church, and my son had been 
many weeks in the grave ere I was avrare of the danger of the one or 
death of the other. I do not ask you, reverende mh^e, for your prayers 
for Marguerite. Bestow them upon her mother, novv^, as it were, child- 
less; and lot the reverential gratitude entertained for your good sister- 
hood, by one whose conduct in her new country is cited as a model of 
excellence, plead in extenuation of her change of faith." 

A few kindly words expressive of thankfulness towards the noble 
exile, tempered by heartfelt regret for the lamb that had strayed from 
her flock, broke from the venerable lips of the superior. 

"I loved her well ! " said the reverende mere, "but since her conduct 
in her new station is as exemplary as in her old, the blessing of heaven 
be upon her, and prosper her with its everlasting grace ! It is some- 
thing to be remembered thus affectionately by a child of our hou.-e, 
after years of absence, sickness, danger, and the still more absorbing 
vanities of the brilliant world of which she forms a part." 

Again did the countess acknowledge the clemency of the superior; 
and again, and more earnestly than before, recommended herself and 
the Hotel de Yaudreuil to the prayers of the community. 

" It were less than grateful were we to deny the request," replied the 
Hcverende, on seeing that, in the earnestness of her panic, tears were 



THE AilJBASSADOE'S WIPE. 215 

actually falling from the eves of her who, on the annihilation of her 
house and misfortunes of her native land, had remained tearless— 
" seeing that to your family our poor community is indebted for the 
most remarkable penitent, and most devout inmate, who ever called 
down upon its walls the blessings of Heaven ! " 

The hand of Madame von Eehfeld was on the handle of the door of 
the parloir to depart; but her movements were now suspended by 
curiosity, 

"At the fatal pioment when sister Ursule sought refuge in this 
establishment," said the abbess, raising her eyes to heaven at the recol- 
lection of those days of terror, miscalled glorious, "the cross and the 
allar appeared on the eve of overihrov/— the throne was already sacri- 
ficed—the word clolure was an empty name ! All we expected was the 
dissolution of our holy order, and the dispersion of the sisterhood ; 
and in affording a shelter to a broken-hearted and homeless woman, 
whom I knew only as akin to our beloved Marguerite, my object wa,s a 
mere work of charity. Princess Gallitzin was a Protestant ; how could 
I hope she would live to become a convert to our faith, — a submissive 
daughter to our house ! " 

_ Madame von Rehfeld, v/ho had been listening with breathless atten- 
tion to the address of the abbess, rras now thoroughly overcome ! — Ida 
alive ? — The lost Princess Gallitzin an inmate of that house ? Her 
tears had been already dried ; — her very exclamations were now 
suspended ! 

" During her noviciate, prolonged beyond the usual period to give 
ample limit for her confirmation in her new opinions," resumed the 
abbess, " it was the desire of our good sister Ursule that the strictest 
secrecy should be observed concerning her place of retreat. Extreme 
in all things, she is now as enthusiastic in devotion as before in worldli- 
ness. Some days have elapsed since her profession. But she is now 
irrevocably pledged ; and no interference, no remonstrance can hence- 
forward disturb the tranquillity of her mind." 

" This is the most unheard-of, the most extraordinary event ! " 
faltered Madame von Eehfeld, alternately terrified, indignant, and 
incredulous. " She, whom I had mourned as dead !— she, the tidings 
of whose disappearance hastened the end of her father !— she, who is 
believed by the whole court of St, Petersburg to have fallen a victim 
to the horrors of the revolution of July— to be alive— safe— a penitent 
— a nun ! " 

" Pardon me," interrupted the superior, " not the wliole court of St. 
Petersburg. The husband of our poor recluse has been, from first to 
last, apprised of the truth, and acquiescent in the disposal of her 
desUnies. But for this sanction, our proceedings had been illegal." 

" (Test inoui—Je m'y perds !" was again and sgain the cry of the 
astonished baroness. "So coolly as he received from Wilhelm von 
Eehfeld the inheritance of poor Ida, as her survivor, not as her hus- 
band !— If he had only afforded me the least clue — the shghtest 
suspicion ! " 

" It was the express desire of Soeur Ursule that no worldly intrusion 
should mar the serenity of her noviciate," interrupted the abbess. 
" The prince is so far exonerated.— By what harsh u-age or tacit con- 
demnation he and his revengeful sister may have rendered the 
proceedings of his unfortunate wife an act of desperation rather than 
an effort of conviction, far be it for me to determine !— But this I can, 
on my own authority, testify : that the attendance of ScEur Ursule on 



21G THE AMBASSADOIi'S VriFE. 

the dying bed of Count Erloff was the result of accident— one of the 
thousand episodes arising out of the fatal tumults of the revolution ! " 

" Princess Gallitzin an attendant on the death-bed of my son ! " 
faltered the astonished baroness. " AYhen, Avherej are these startling 
discoveries to end ! " 

" The night on -which the princess, way-worn and famished, fled to 
these walls for refuge," returned the superior, "was one devoted by 
our sisterhood to the care of the Avoundcd and dying, who, when the 
beds and wards of the Hotel Dieu were full to overflowing, were 
brought to our dormitories for relief, — I have said before that at that 
crisis clcture was but a name ; too happy we, that, amid the general 
wreck of society, we could purchase our impunity by devoting our- 
selves to the succour of the unfortunate! AVithin an hour of enter- 
ing our house, the terrified fugitive had implored permission to replace, 
with the habit of noviciate, the worldly garments in which, tattered 
and disfigured by outrage, she sank half senseless at our gate. In that 
dress did the once haughty ambassador's wife, as the first fruits of her 
humility, administer to the wants of the wounded of all conditions, 
entrusted to our care ! " 

"And among them, then," exclaimed the baroness, wringing her 
hands with frantic emotion, "among them was my unhappy son ? " 

"He was not among them long !" replied the abbess, crossing her 
hands devoutly upon her bosom. " He was the very first we surren- 
dered to the buryers of the dead ! " 

" My son was flung, then, into one of the pits prepared for the grace- 
less bodies of the insurgents of July ? " faltered the baroness. 

" The brother of Marguerite Erloff was laid in the quiet cemetery of 
our holy house," replied the abbess with some dignity. 

" And can I not be admitted to an interview with my step-daughter?" 
demanded Madame von Eehfeld. 

" For Soeur Ursule, the relationships of this world are at an end ! " 
replied the reverend mother. "I will, however, acctuaint her with 
your desire." 

The ten minutes devoted to the errand appeared to the agitated 
baroness of immeasurable duration ; the reply at length delivered to 
her by the superior of cruel inflexibility. 

Soeur Ursule had taken her everlasting leave of this world. She 
entreated permission to avoid the disturbance of mind that must neces- 
sarily ensue from such a meeting. 

"At least," cried the baroness, more angry than afliicted, — "at least, 
reverend mother, suffer me to visit the cemetery and contemplate the 
grave of my son." 

As she traversed, for this purpose, the convent garden, of which the 
slender acacia trees Avere at that moment loaded with bloom, and under 
which sported the vrhite-veiled i^snslonnaires and even their grave 
instructresses, the scene was precisely such as many of my readers may 
have seen depicted in the summer saloon of Elvinston Castle. 

A year or two ago, as Madame von Eehfeld, during a visit to Scotland 
to the happiest of wives and mothers, was surveying the summer panel 
and admiring the accuracy of the delineation, she pointed out to the 
viscountess the wicket leading from the garden to the cemetery, and 
disclosed the startling mysteries with which it was connected. 

" Every year, my dear Marguerite," said she, " when I visit the con- 
vent as bearer of your annual benefactions, I repair to that sacred spot, 
and offer up my prayers on the grave of your brother. i\.ccording to 



THE AMBASSADOE'S WIFE. 217 

tho custom of the order, the spot is marked only by a plain black cross. 
Eut I never yet visited it that I did not find fresh flowers on the turf, 
and more than once have observed the retreating figure of one of the 
sisterhood rising from her knees on my approach. I am convinced it 
was that of So^ur Ursule ! That grave constitutes her sole connexion 
with the past ! That grave is her only worldly consolation ! But who, 
under her coarse black robe and mournful veil, ^vho would ever dream 
of recognizing the ambitious Lily of Eehfeld— the haughty Ambas- 
sadok's Wife ? " 



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