Frances (Winckley) Shelley.

The diary of Frances lady Shelley (Volume 1) online

. (page 23 of 33)
Online LibraryFrances (Winckley) ShelleyThe diary of Frances lady Shelley (Volume 1) → online text (page 23 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of the drivers and the tractability of the horses could
have got us through it. For two days we suffered
martyrdom, expecting at every step that the carriage
would be broken.

We slept at Zwickau. From thence to Kaunitz the
road had been completely destroyed by the passage


of artillery. As I had become quite ill with fatigue
we were compelled to sleep at Oderau.

From here to Freiberg the road is still bad ; but
afterwards in excellent order all the way to Dresden.
Unfortunately, in all German roads they cut a kind
of ditch every hundred yards, fatal to the springs of
an English carriage, and which very often nearly
jerked our servants from the box.

I never felt keener pleasure than when I first saw
Dresden from the heights. The fatigue we had gone
through disposed us to look to Dresden as a home
and place of rest. We also expected to find letters,
of which we had been so long deprived, and which
would fix our future plans.

The many public buildings and churches of Dresden,
enclosed in a small space, give it at a distance an
elegant appearance. But, on a nearer approach,
one discovers that the buildings are in bad taste.
The heights surrounding the town are dotted with
villas, encircled by forests, which in the bright sun-
shine and clear atmosphere caused us to anticipate
with real pleasure a residence in this little capital.

We went to the Hotel de Baviere, where we were
disappointed to find that there were no letters at all !
What a blank ! Our next embarras was to know how
we could write to Prince Schwarzenberg, for we
found they knew as little about him here as at
Schaffhausen ; consequently we were nearly as far
from the object of our journey as when we started.

Shelley called on the Austrian Ambassador, who
was extremely polite, and full of compliments to the
English nation. The Count Dillon, to whose society
we looked forward with much pleasure, is at Carlsbad.
This is a great loss to us. As we both felt unwell,
we retired for the night. But what a night we passed!
Not one, but I believe hundreds of animals effec-
tually prevented our rest, and made us so completely
uncomfortable that, though we removed next day to

iSi6] TAME SPORT 283

another hotel, Shelley has not yet got into a good
humour with Dresden.

August 24. — The weather is dreadfully cold ; fre-
quent showers of rain, and very damp. Seeing
Shelley so uncomfortable I cannot enjoy myself,
otherwise the Gallery is unequalled, and I cannot
express the pleasure that the pictures give me.
Raffaele's " Virgin and Child " is even finer in con-
ception than the Correggio ; but what colouring, what
drawing, and what a soul had Correggio ! 1 have
just bought the print by M tiller of the Raffaele.
Miiller was a young man of the greatest genius.
Constant contemplation of this picture, while en-
gaged at his engraving of it, had so worked upon
his mind that he became insane a few months after
he had completed it, and died in a madhouse here.
He was a native of Stuttgart. His death is a very
great loss to the Arts. His first engraving from a
picture by Domenichino is remarkably fine.

Everything is to be got in Dresden for money, and
nothing without it. Provisions are Iwrs dc prix. The
King is extremely avaricious, and his subjects are
proud to follow his example. Our laquais dc place
is extremely intelligent, and has amused us much by
his description of the Royal Family. The King, who
it seems is, after all, still a rank Bonapartist, was
never seen to smile. He is a Catholic, and his subjects
are Protestants. He thinks of nothing but praying
and going to church.

The " wild boars " are quite tame, and are fed during
the winter. They are let loose for sport ; the King
alone rides. When the dogs run the boar down,
the Grand Veneur catches him by the hind leg, and
holds him tight, while the King majestically descends
from his horse. He then deliberately draws his hunt-
ing knife and plunges it into the poor prisoner's
heart. The Grand Veneur then draws out the knife,
wipes it with a silk handkerchief which one of the


attendants carries on purpose, and returns it to the
King. Then the same ceremony of butchering re-

Prince Maximilian, the King's brother, passes most
of his time in catching small birds. When caught,
he ties a string round one leg and lets them fly.
If caught again he ties a second string, and the third
time the bow string. Prince Antoine, the other
brother, married a sister of the lEmperor of Austria.
He squints out of one eye and she, out of the other.
The King's daughter seems beloved by the people,
and is clever — at least, she speaks all languages.
She leads a melancholy life.

To-day we visited the field of battle of 1813, and
saw the spot where Moreau was shot. Cannon balls
entered the town in many places, and one house is
so riddled that it looks like a plum pudding. The
inhabitants of Dresden preserve the balls, which have
entered the town, with care, and those that fell in
the yards are carefully plastered into the walls of
the houses. War and an epidemic have completely
ruined this fine country. Out of fifty thousand in-
habitants, ten thousand were destroyed, and there
is a great scarcity of work. This accounts for the
tristesse of the streets and promenades, where formerly
the happy bourgeois were smoking, and eating, every
evening. They are now only to be seen on the bridge,
where their quick strides denote that business, and
not pleasure, brings them into the streets. A singular
custom on the bridge is that, in going to the new
town, every person takes the right pavement, in re-
turning the left. This rule, without any written order,
or person to enforce it, is never infringed. The
streets of Dresden are so ill-paved, that one ought
to wear nailed shoes, like the inhabitants.

There is a singular custom with respect to the
clocks of the churches. They are struck every night
by a man, who watches for the purpose, and who


is relieved every twenty-four hours. As a conse-
quence the clocks, instead of all striking together,
strike one after the other ; which makes a distracting
noise. The night watchman not only sings a song
at the hour, and the quarters, but also loudly blows
from his horn discordant notes. It may be imagined
that it is not easy to have a good night's rest !

Sunday, August 25. — We went to Mass, where
we heard some fine music, though not, to my mind,
suitable to a church. The Royal Family were there.
They had been there from nine o'clock until nearly
one, and seemed to be praying the whole time,
especially the King, whose lips moved constantly.
Mrs. Morier, the Minister's wife, gives a more favour-
able account of the King than I have previously
heard. She says he is extremely poor, as are all
the nobles, who live a very retired life, and see
no company.

During the war the pictures, treasures, etc., were
sent to the fortress of Konigstad, a stronghold which
has never yet been taken in war, and is familiarly
known as la Pucelle. It is so strong as to be impreg-
nable, and can be provisioned for ten years. It has
deeper foundations than the bed of the Elbe. On
its summit there is a garden, and a little arable
land. Some of the national treasure is still there.
The Promenade de Bruhl is beautiful.

Monday. — We set off at nine o'clock for Pillniz,
the King's palace. It is about a league from Dresden,
on the banks of the Elbe, which we crossed by a
fine bridge of very neat construction.

The palace looks much out of repair, and the King's
apartments are not in a much better state than those
of his attendants. I never saw in an English farm
anything so shabby as the green baize carpet
and chairs of his dining room. We saw him at
dinner with all his family. Some of the young
Princesses, daughters of Prince Max, are pleasing-

286 TEPLITZ [ch. xv

looking, if not quite pretty. The King usually rises
at four o'clock ; dines at one ; and goes to bed at
half-past nine. He is a great botanist. The ruin,
situated on the summit of a picturesque hill behind
the chateau, contains an excellent room, from whence
there is a fine view.

We went with the Moriers, the English Minister
and his wife, to a soiree at the Austrian Minister's.
He happens to be a Frenchman, the Comte de
Bombelles. We passed an extremely pleasant even-
ing. His wife is very pretty, and folk. But she
sings divinely. We played at a game called la
Loterie, which created a great deal of mirth. The
Count made an excellent auctioneer. The Princesse
de Corignan was there. She is a notorious character,
of bad morals, and was not received at Court until
her son became Heir-Apparent to the throne of

Tuesday, August 27. — After paying a farewell visit
to the dear pictures in that matchless gallery, we
left Dresden. The road passes along the banks of
the Elbe to Pirna, and from thence to Peterswalde,
the frontier. It is all classic ground, every inch of
which was disputed in the last war. We saw the
plains where Kulm is situated, and where Vandamme
was taken prisoner. All the villages that were near
the battle have been totally destroyed, but they are
rebuilding them very fast.

We entered Teplitz, a well-built town. We saw
the fine chateau and gardens of Prince Clery, which
formerly belonged to the Prince de Ligne. Prince
Clery lives there now en grand seigneur. He is
out hunting all the morning, and attends balls or
plays in the evening. The air here is oppressive,
like that of Cheltenham. Every evening in summer,
the gardens of the chateau are illuminated by swarms
of fireflies, which present a remarkable sight.

After leaving Teplitz we proceeded by slow stages

i8i6] PRAGUE 287

to Prague. I never was more struck than with the
beauty of this town, into which one descends by a
very steep road. We passed a church resembling
a mosque which, with the Oriental-looking dresses
of the peasants, made one fancy oneself in Asia.
The houses in Prague have magnificent facades,
with huge bronze doors and balconies, supported
by colossal bronze figures of men or animals. Over
the River Moldau is an ancient bridge of great breadth
and length, on which are nearly six hundred marble
figures of saints. In the centre stands the figure of
St. John of Prague, with his aureole of stars ; he is
a favourite Bohemian saint. They have a tradition
here that he was confessor to a certain Queen of
Bohemia, whose husband was jealous of her, and
endeavoured to satisfy his doubts by making St. John
reveal the secrets of confession. On his refusal the
King had him thrown into the river, from whence
he arose with a crown of stars, that has now become
his attribute. Lamps were burning on the different
shrines, and it is evident that superstition here has
full sway over the minds of the peasants.

For the next few days after leaving Prague we
passed along bad roads, and slept at night in dirty
inns, where we were devoured by insects. We were
amused by the dresses of the peasants, which, in
many places, consisted of an immense shawl draped
over the head, and veiling all the face except the
eyes. The women's petticoats were of various
colours ; and on weekdays the women walk about
without shoes or stockings. The men wear immensely
heavy boots. 1 wish it were in my power to divide
the leather more fairly ! However, on Sundays the
women wear white or red stockings, with coloured
shoes. After one o'clock nothing is to be got at
any of the inns until nine o'clock at night.

By slow stages we approached Vienna, which we
entered by the fine Faubourg of Leopoldstadt, and

288 VIENNA [ch. xv

passed through a long deep arch into the capital
of Austria. On the right, rows of shops; on the
left, fine buildings. On turning to the left we crossed
through streets compared to which that of the Faubourg
St. Antoine at Paris is broad. The sun never pene-
trates here. It was a marvel to me how the carriage
could pass.

The first appearance of our inn was pleasing. We
found Lord Bradford there. He told us that Lord
Stewart was coming from Baden that day, and that
we were to dine with him.

The fatal trunk, which we had sent off from Paris,
had, on the previous day, left Vienna for Dresden ;
and I was much amused to hear that the best way
of getting it back was to send a fiacre after it. The
fiacres here are excellent. They go an amazing pace,
and think nothing of fifty miles, which they go regularly
in five hours. The plan answered, for we have regained
our trunk. Lord Stewart proposed our going down
with him the next day to a chateau in Hungary,
which Prince Esterhazy has lent to him, and where
a large party was expected for a ball.

That night we were so devoured by animals (of
which we caught at least twenty) that, tired as
we were of German travelling, we set off with
pleasure at twelve o'clock. Horses had been ordered
for us all the way. The postilions appeared quite
animated by the number of carriages on the road,
so we travelled along at a rattling pace. After two
posts some fine reaches of the Danube enlivened the
scene ; and from Altenburg we obtained a beautiful
view, which I drew as we walked up a hill, the only
one in the fifty miles. Before us lay the Danube,
with its richly wooded banks crowned by an imperial
chateau. Beyond stood the mountains of Heidem-
berg, beneath them the town ; and, on the right, a
fine ruin, beneath which is the chateau now inhabited
by the ex-Queen of Naples. Although it is a lovely


spot it can hardly reconcile her to what she has
lost. It is, in fact, a state prison. We kept along
the banks of the Danube, which is fringed with
willow and alder. The road passed fine avenues,
until the chateau of Kitsie, standing on a bare plain
without a tree near it, stared at us bleak and de-

On this side of the plain herds of Hungarian horses
were feeding ; but on the other side lay land off
which the corn had been carried, and which had
been freshly ploughed. This looked as dismal as
anything I ever saw in Norfolk.

Never was a chateau so ill placed. It was built by
the Prince's grandfather, merely to be inhabited for
one week in two years, during the time when the
States of Hungary are assembled at Presbourg. This
immense house is so much surrounded by trees that
it ought to be lighted b}^ skylights. The Duchesses
de Sagan and d'Agerenga, Madame de Trogoff, two
young ladies (related to the Duchesse de Sagan) and
myself, are the only ladies in the house. The rest
of the company, about forty people, was composed of
gentlemen, and six ugly women of the family of Zichy,
two frightful men of the same family completing the
party. I have, however, been much amused by
having new neighbours every day at dinner. I do not
know how it will end, but at present the gentlemen
whom I think the most agreeable are General Wal-
moden and Count Tiittmansdorff. Count Palfi gives
me all the information I require about Hungar}^.
Every man who has sat by me at dinner has given
me a history of his own importance. Until this had
been done no other subjects could be discussed.

Hungary has a semblance of liberty ; at least, so
far as the Emperor is concerned. He cannot impose
any taxes without the consent of each individual
noble, but I fancy the people are little better than
slaves. The nobles have many feudal privileges,
1— 19


which they jealously maintain. Parts of Hungary,
where the roads are impassable, are picturesque.
From here to the frontiers of Turkey is one immense
plain. The villages look like encampments, and
further on the people actually live in tents. Every
village contains a great many Jews, but the religion
is Roman Catholic in its deepest superstition. The
men wear a complete Turkish dress, but without the
turban, which is replaced by a round black hat.

September 16. — I must fill up this interval of my
diary at leisure, and write while it is fresh in my

The Princess Esterhazy, whom I did not know,
and who does not live well with the Prince, sent to
invite me to Eisenstadt. 1 We set off one evening
after dinner, and arrived at eight o'clock. There
were guards at the entrance of the courtyard, and
the beating of drums marked a truly princely resi-
dence. The chateau was brilliantly lighted, and,
after we had passed through twenty rooms, the
Princess came to meet me in a corridor leading to
a theatre, which had been fitted up in a large salon that
was filled with people. On my inquiring if there was
any town near from whence this large society came,
the Princess informed me that they were all employe's
de la mciison. The Prince is, in fact, a sovereign
Prince. The Princess has been very handsome, but
is now near fifty, not in very good health, and has
bad teeth. She told me that she was married to the
Prince at fifteen, having seen him only once before,
he being at that time seventeen years of age. On
the day after they were married the Prince set off
on his travels with his governor, while she remained
under the tutelage of her governess ! This arrange-
ment lasted for two years. Can one be surprised
at the misery which results from such marriages?
Is it surprising that he should have a hundred mis-

1 Haydn is buried in the Pilgrimage Church near Eisenstadt.


tresses, and she a lover? It seems that her lover
has lately put her in despair by marrying at sixty-
five. The late Empress was her great friend, and
she talks of her with affection, while tears spring to
her eyes. Our soiree was rather dull. I was obliged
to give an account of all the people in London, which
is not my forte. She kissed me so often, and made
me so many compliments, that I never was so sleepy
in my life ; and at half-past eleven we went off to
bed. There were guards at every corner of the
staircase and passages, presenting arms as we passed.
Mademoiselle Welterskirken, a veritable toady, and
an old Countess Festeritch are the only women here.
The family physician, Capellini, tells the Princess
what she is to eat ; and presents her daily with a
dose of quinine, which, after many grimaces, and with
plenty of bonbons, she contrives to swallow. She
talks incessantly, and hopes that you are not bored
by her asking questions without waiting for an
answer! It is evident that she wishes so much to
please, and to be amiable, that it is impossible not
to be interested and pleased by her.

The Prince arrived at six o'clock this morning,
the rest of the party in procession, each individual
boasting of the speed at which he had travelled.
This is one of their greatest pleasures. They always
travel in the night when possible, and, consoled by
their pipes, will pass three days and nights in their
carriages, without feeling fatigued. Count Francois
Zichy arrived in this way from Tuniswaar, on the
frontiers of Turkey, without stopping on the way.
He had been to visit his estates, and to settle the
amount his tenants are to pay him. He told me that
he had desired his bailiff to render an exact account of
what each peasant possessed. Their corn must be
measured, and they were to be left enough to support
their families, and to sow their fields; the rest was
to be taken from them. Count Zichy says there is

292 A VERY HARD BED [ch. xv

no danger of famine ; the only difference will be that,
the wheat having failed, the peasants must eat rye,
and that provisions will be dear. In Styria the
scarcity is great, as it is a poor country, and the
corn, even in good years, is scarcely sufficient to
feed the people.

With all the magnificence of this chateau, I never
slept in so bad a bed ! Its curtains are of silk, and
the whole furniture of my apartment is superb, but
the bed is as hard as iron. We breakfasted in our
rooms. The moment I awoke, the Prince sent his
compliments to me, and hoped that I would receive
him as soon as I was dressed.

In order to make a decent show, I was compelled
to turn housemaid, and help my maid Angelique
to arrange the room, so that I might receive him a
little a lAnglaise. While I was at breakfast the
Prince entered, and asked me at what hour I wished
to have a carriage to go a la chasse. I replied that
I would go when he did, so he invited me to break-
fast en chasseur, at eleven o'clock. We had an excellent
dinner : soup, omelettes, cotelettes, fruit, pastry, and
all the rest of it. We waited some time in vain
for Lord Stewart, who did not arrive ; and, as I
saw all the grandees were getting into very ill
humour, I begged that the Prince would wait no
longer. Lord Stewart was two hours beyond his
time ; so, at half-past twelve, we set off pour la chasse.

At the entrance to a low cut wood, an immense
number of people were stationed. About four hundred
peasants were arranged in a semi-circle to drive the
game back when it was disturbed in the remise. A
walk was assigned to each gentleman ; and when
the beaters entered the wood, the shooting began.
I never saw anything equal to the quantity of game.
In one hour, Shelley killed above fifty head. Then
I grew tired of counting ; and at the end of another
hour the slaughter was too great for pleasure. As


we were always moving like a horse in a mill, the
same round grew tiresome ; and I begged for the
carriage, to go home. To my great annoyance the
Prince heard the order given, and insisted on accom-
panying me. So here I am, r entree c/iez moi. The
result of the cJiasse is seven hundred and fifty head
of game, four hundred being partridges.

A four-o'clock dinner makes a long evening. But
as it was extremely hot and fine, we sauntered upon
the balcony, where my vanity was fully gratified
by the homage of all the gentlemen, of which, by
the bye, one soon gets tired. But at Eisenstadt it
was new to me, and I was very well amused.

We had a fine concert in the evening. Before
daylight next morning, nearly the whole party dis-
persed. Shelley went out shooting, which was
even better than on the day before ; and I accom-
panied the Prince to see the improvements he has
made. The chateau is ancient ; but the Prince has
added one side in the purest Grecian architecture.
If his plans are completed, and the four sides are
similarly treated, this will be the finest chateau in
the world. At present the antique Moslem-like
towers clash unpleasantly with the simplicity of the
new part, and disturb the repose which the architect
has been particularly happy in seizing in his Grecian
architecture. Near the house an English shrubbery
leads to magnificent hothouses and conservatories.
There are four of the latter, with different tempera-
tures, besides an immense orangery now empty.
The plants are of great size ; one of them is three
hundred years old and forms a shady grove, rich
with fruits, and mixed with magnolias in full bloom.
I never saw anything so lovely. The garden is
masked from the house by an ancient avenue,
resembling the aisle of a cathedral, which is in turn
masked by an English garden. The effect of perfect
shade thus produced is very striking. From the


gardens we went along an avenue, bounded by
vineyards, and ascended a steep hill to a beautiful
building called the Temple, from whence there is
an extensive view over the Prince's seigneurie.

The Temple contains a salon, a boudoir, and a bed-
room, all luxuriously furnished. The floors are inlaid
with parqueterie, like the most finished cabinet-work.
A kitchen and servants' rooms enable the Prince to
retire from the world whenever he likes.

By the bye, whether princely state is assumed from
ostentation or necessity, I notice that a loophole is
always left. This shows the emptiness of such
pleasures, and the delight with which the possessor
occasionally creeps into the privacy and comfort
of a less brilliant station. The use of this magnificent
bauble is, I fear, not the most likely to secure the
content it promises. The Prince is a perfect Sultan,
and possesses ten or twelve houses, inhabited by
different ladies, who share his favours and diminish
his faculties.

I am struck by the change in his manners since
I met him in England. Here he is ostentatious,
haughty, sleepy, and dull. Not with us, however,
for his adoration of the English makes him court
us beyond measure. His haughtiness and dullness
are reserved for the people who surround him. His
estate is now out at nurse, and he is allowed only

Online LibraryFrances (Winckley) ShelleyThe diary of Frances lady Shelley (Volume 1) → online text (page 23 of 33)