Frances (Winckley) Shelley.

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Such was his devotion that he spared no pains in
order to succeed. He even went so far as to feign
an illness for many days, at which I only laughed.
When I first arrived at Vienna, Chernicheff claimed


to have made my acquaintance in Paris, and committed
himself by attaching himself to me, and deserting

Princess R , l from whom he had received sufficient

encouragement to satisfy his inordinate vanity. He
was a perfect infidel to the virtue of women in general,
until I made him a convert to mine in particular.
From the state of society in Russia, and from the
libertine Courts he had lived in, the only doubt in
his mind that appeared possible was " Si on se con-
venait." It was not until Chernicheff was assured by
his own disappointment, that he could be convinced
that the Duke of Wellington's attentions to me at
Paris last year were the result of a pure friendship.
At last Chernicheff's departure from Vienna was
decided upon, and the day fixed. Through a clever
diplomatic stroke, he had caused Walmoden to be
sent to Warsaw. It was jealousy that prompted him
to get rid of one whom he considered to be his rival.
Walmoden lost no time either in going or coming.
He was seven days on the road, seven at Warsaw,
and seven on his return journey to Vienna. Walmoden
was the bearer of a letter from Chernicheff to the fair
Princess Radzivil, who had long submitted to this
tyrannic lover, and who adored him with a devotion
of which she soon gave a signal proof.

It appears that the Princess became so unhappy at
the long silence of her lover, that she caused inquiries
to be made as to his conduct at Vienna. The moment
that Walmoden arrived at Warsaw, he called upon
Princess Radzivil and delivered ChernichefFs letter
into her hands. The letter only served to increase
the Princess's anxiety, for it was a very cold one.
She then primed Walmoden with questions, and
discovered that her faithless lover had attached
himself to an English lady (meaning me!) — a circum-
stance which the diplomatic Walmoden had his own
motive for divulging.

1 EUdaviL
1 — 21


Immediately after the Emperor's departure, Princess
Radzivil set off for Vienna, to resume her place in
Chernicheffs affections which she had lost through
absence. This brave lady travelled night and day
over the most awful roads in the depth of winter, and
arrived incognita the day preceding that fixed for his
departure. When Chernicheff heard of his lady-love's
arrival, he shut himself up in his room and feigned to
be ill. But the Princess came to him, tout meme, and
reminded him of his broken vows and his promise to
marry her.

I think I may justly claim to have had a fair
share in the reconciliation which took place between
them. Not only had I disappointed his hopes, but I
had given Chernicheff the best possible advice as to
his future conduct. Added to this, the Princess had
just given him a high proof of her devotion. She
was lovely and rich, and she had made immense
sacrifices in order to retain his love. Her beauty
and her tears decided the question. Chernicheff
applied to the Emperor for permission to marry a
Polish lady, and left Vienna in the same carriage that
had brought the Princess Radzivil from Warsaw.
They were married a few months later. On the night
that Chernicheff feigned illness, I called upon his
sister, with whom I was intimate, to inquire after her
brother's health, having heard that he was seriously
ill. My card was carried up to the salon, where the
fair Pole and Chernicheff were arranging matters with
his sister. The Princess was dying to see me, and
begged that I might be admitted. But Chernicheff
interposed:" Si elle vient," he said, "je ne verrais
qu'elle, et je ne veux pas de scene." Thus my good
fortune befriended me, and I was not admitted.

I heard all this from Chernicheff's sister, after the
couple had left Vienna. It would have been a dan-
gerous secret to be entrusted with at the time, as
Metternich had his suspicions, and pumped me to find


out if I knew who the lady was. He told me that a lady

had left Vienna with Chernicheff, and hinted that the

latter had probably been attached to that lady, during

the time of his stay here. Metternich thus hoped to

lower Chernicheff in my opinion, which it did for a

time, and until, by Chernicheff's express desire, his

sister told me the whole story. In order to save the

reputation of the fair Pole, I was asked to keep the

matter secret even from my husband, until the marriage

had actually taken place. The reputation of a woman

in the Courts of either Vienna or St. Petersburg

is not much thought of. The latter is decidedly

the most profligate, yet there is a licence in the

former which is fatal to the preservation of virtue,

although where it does exist it receives universal

homage. Women are not, as in England, disgraced

for licentiousness. Although the Viennese Court is

extremely correct, it does not interfere in any manner

with the morals of the nobility. Their admission

to Court depends solely upon the number of their

quarterings. At the same time, nothing was held in

such esteem as womanly virtue, which meets with an

admiration but little short of idolatry. The fair Julie

Zichy, whom I saw so often in Vienna, was an instance

of this. This lovely woman — the living image of

Raffaele's Dresden Madonna — was from her birth

distinguished by an elegance of mind and person,

which seemed heaven-born. Her parents were very

commonplace Germans of the old stamp. She married

the eldest son of Count Zichy and led a miserable life.

Her husband was brutal, debauched, and jealous ; and

by his treatment of her, sorely tried the virtue and

temper of this angel. But she kept on the even tenor

of her way, patient under great provocation ; she

became the peace-maker and counsellor of the various

members of her husband's vulgar and coarse family.

Her health had been affected by constant child-bearing;

and a fortnight after the birth of a little boy, she was


called to a better world, for which she was so well
prepared. When I set out from Paris, all her acquaint-
ances sent their remembrances to Julie Zichy, and
when I arrived at Vienna, she appeared to be the
star of that capital. During the Congress the King
of Prussia, from a fancied resemblance to his late
Queen, openly attached himself to Julie Zichy, and
was in many matters supposed to have been led by
her advice, and receded from some of his inadmis-
sible pretensions. And yet scandal never breathed
upon her good name, and the King's homage was
regarded as something like the devotion of the Knights
of Chivalry.

I shall never forget the sensation caused by her
death, nor the indignation which was felt against her
husband's family, for their coarse and heartless con-
duct on the very day of her death, in spending the
whole evening at the card-table ! Metternich was
supposed to have felt more love for that extraordinary
person, than is usual in a statesman, and, for once, to
have failed. It was generally supposed in society that
Julie Zichy was far from insensible to Metternich's
passion ; but she nobly conquered this weakness, and
a friendship subsisted between them, which lasted to
the end of her noble and pure existence. Perhaps a
beam of innocent tenderness, unsuspected by the
world, preserved it from decay. After her death the
ashes of a billet-doux were found, hidden away in the
secret drawer of the writing desk which she had left
to Metternich. According to the gossips, that letter
was a sacrifice made to virtue. In her will, dated a
few weeks prior to her death, she expressed a convic-
tion that she would not survive her confinement, and
she left full details as to the education of her children.
It was the will of a purely German female, and con-
firmed the picture which Madame de Stael so eloquently
described in " L'Allemagne."

One of the most frequent habitue's at Metternich's


was Walmoden, who won his fame at the Battle of
Aspern, where, though unfortunate, he greatly distin-
guished himself. While Davoust was defending
Hamburg, Walmoden opposed him with an inferior
force, and kept him in check. One da}-, while we
were riding in the Prater, 1 persuaded Walmoden
(who was not expansive about his achievements) to
give me an account of this campaign. I had to
employ a great deal of persuasion, as he is a complete
contrast to Chernicheff in that respect; but at last
I succeeded. Walmoden's father, Count Walmoden,
was a natural son of George I., and possessed a
good fortune. But the property and money which
he left at his death eventually disappeared. He
suffered considerably by the loss of Hanover, and
afterwards by injustice, by carelessness, and so forth.
In short, Walmoden, though most highly esteemed,
and employed in every difficult service, is cruelly
poor. His poverty oppresses his mind, and causes
a listlessness which at times is hard to over-
come. I used to call him Rasselas, and sometimes
succeeded in drawing him out of his lethargy. It
was at such times that he became delightful compan}'.
Walmoden has been for ten years attached to the
Princess Hohenzollern, sister to the Duchesse de


On the morning of November 30, 18 16, we left Vienna
with the Emperor's horses on our road to Venice.
We were often delayed for want of horses, but
eventually reached the Simmering Pass, where we
bid a last farewell to the Plain of Vienna. The next
day we reached Gratz, where we slept. The Val
d'Amour, between Bruck and Gratz, is magnificent.
Gratz is finely situated, commanding the defile, with
its castle perched on a steep hill, overlooking the
surrounding country. Before reaching Marburg we
made a steep ascent of some miles, winding over
a chain of mountains from whence we obtained a
magnificent view over Styria, with the Alps in the
background. The valleys and Alpine cottages remind
me of Switzerland. At the close of the day we entered
a very fine pass in the Alps, wider than any I ever
saw. I had been asleep, and awoke to find, by the
light of the moon, snow scenery like the St. Gothard.
Rocks of granite on each side, rising perpendicularly,
with here and there a solitary pine. We travelled all
night in beautiful weather; and the yellow-tinted
clouds which passed over the moon enhanced the
beauty of the scene. In my broken slumber I un-
sentimentally dreamed that I was eating tarts with
that dear society of Vienna !

The whole of the next day we wound around
rocks, in the most picturesque county. Evening
brought us to the confines of Carinthia, and a



great plain, covered a foot deep in snow. We
crossed a river over a wide bridge. Here had
been fought a great battle between the French and
the Austrians, the latter having commanded the
heights. In this engagement both armies thought
they were worsted, and both retreated. We slept
that night at Laybach. We left next morning at six
o'clock, and continued to cross the snowy plain in
a thick fog. When we reached the first post, at the
foot of the mountain, the sun burst forth and lit up
the snowy landscape shimmering with innumerable
crystals, which looked like diamonds and strewed
the road. This pass is very wild. The language
was now a mixture of German and Italian, and
at every stage the post-boys became more and
more animated. A very steep descent, which lasted
until we arrived at the next post, compelled us
to lock both wheels. While I was asleep that
night we passed Goritz, and 1 was awakened soon
after by the jabber of the two post-boys in pure
Italian. The post-horses look like rats and go like
the wind. The gaiety and noise of the people are
striking, after the German phlegm. A broken bridge
obliged us to cross the bed of the River Torri, and the
post-boy assured us that the shingle we had to go
down was a cattivo precipizio. The roads are perfectly
flat and smooth, raised in the centre like a hog's back
by the new materials spread in the middle. Vines
are trained from tree to tree, and hang in festoons.
They are thus too much in the shade, and the
execrable wine is like red ink. Mulberry trees are
planted in rows, and the corn, chiefly ble dc Turquir,
is sown between. On our right lay the fine chain
of Alps coloured by a thousand glowing hues, ever
changing, and beautiful beyond description. Other-
wise the country and the weather were like England —
the former flat and uninteresting, the latter grisatre.
There is a striking difference between the animated

328 MESTRE [en. xvm

countenances of the peasants here and in Germany.
They are a very fine race of people, and one often
sees faces that remind one of antique busts and
paintings. The flat roofs which are common, even in
the poor cottages, have an elegant appearance in the
towns, when the broken line is agreeably diversified
by tall steeples and towers. Udine appeared in sight,
backed by the Alps ; the bridge of the Fella (a river
whose bed is very wide, though now an inconsiderable
stream) had been carried away, and was only suffi-
ciently repaired to enable us to pass it. Pordenone
is elegant at a distance, but wretched beyond descrip-
tion in the interior. Its arcades are filled with a
squalid population, and beggars innumerable. Eat-
ables, hot and cold, are sold in the streets. The
countenances here were often horrible. One might
imagine they were all banditti, while the violent
importunity of the beggars was quite alarming. We
reached Treviso in the evening, and slept there.

The road from Treviso to Mestre is good, perfectly
flat, with broad ditches filled with water on each
side. The country reminds one very much of the
Netherlands. The road is lined on both sides by
country houses, but here they are mostly out of
repair, which makes a striking difference. The archi-
tecture is in bad taste, and the houses are ornamented
with statues which would be better suited to the
citizens' gardens round London. However, the
festoons of vines must, in summer, be lovely. We
are lost in admiration at the care taken of the roads,
on which hundreds of people are working. Each
party, consisting of ten or twelve men, has an

Mestre is the most desolate-looking place possible,
and has every mark of decay. Some of the houses
are tumbling down, others are uninhabited. The
cold weather gives an additional air of wretchedness
to a people accustomed to a southern sun, and who

i8i6] VENICE 329

evidently feel the loss of their best friend during the
winter months. Innumerable beggars assailed us as
we walked to the gondola. These boats are always
in readiness, and are paid for on the same principle as
one pays the post. For instance, when you arrive
with four horses, you must take six gondoliers, and
so forth.

Venice is exactly what I expected to find it, from
the pictures of Canaletto, except that it is now falling
fast into decay, and looks wretched and poor. It
required a bright sunshine, which was lacking, to
make one forget the nasty details of the entrance,
which is like a bad seaport town. The buildings in
general appeared to be on a smaller scale than I had
expected. They are much out of repair, except the
Palace of the Government, which has been restored
by the Viceroy, who also pulled down a church, 1 and
completed the square of the Piazza San Marco, which
has certainly spoilt the effect of the whole.

Soon after our arrival, we went to visit the church
of San Marco. It is a curious medley, and magazine
of curiosity. It is entirely lined with mosaic, while
its exterior is ornamented with trophies of victory
from every country and age. The bronze horses are
replaced, and look much less well than they did at
Paris. Since I have studied the Elgin marbles, I
perceive that these horses are not so good as I had
at first thought them. The bronzes which have for
centuries supported the colours of the Republic
(which, strange to say, were not taken to Paris) are
very fine.

The height of the ancient Ducal Palace makes the
other buildings appear smaller than they really are.
The cafes and shops of the Piazza remind one of the
Palais Royal.

After dinner the Marquis of Cigognera paid us a
visit, having been asked to do so by Metternich.
1 San Giminiano ; polled down by order of Napoleon in 1S10.

33o THE DECAY OF VENICE [en. xvm

He is full of every kind of information connected
with Venice, and is director and founder of the
Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He says that the decadence
of Venice is due to the fact that it belongs to Austria.
Every encouragement is now given to Trieste, while
trade was completely shackled in the time of the
French. The Arsenal alone employed six thousand
people in the old days. It now scarcely employs
as many hundreds. There is now no Court, or
centre of Government, which, in the time of the
Doges, gave life and industry to every branch of trade
in Venice.

The police formerly was supported in the per-
formance of its duties by public opinion, and its
prestige was so great that during the fete in the
Piazza San Marco, four men (one at each corner
of the Piazza) wearing the red cap of office, were
sufficient to keep order. The police are now
organised by soldiers, whose authority is not nearly
so great, and they are personally disliked.

The canals are becoming choked up, and the stench
from them at low water is often dreadful.

To-day we made a round of the churches, beginning
with the Chiesa dell' Redentore, the purest work of
Palladio. We descended into the crypt, to see a fine
picture by Zambellone, the master of Titian, which
is very superior to the age in which it was painted.
The canal to the island, on which this church is
situated, is often stormy, and sometimes not safe
for a gondola. We then went to the church of the
Frari. It happened to be the Fete of the Virgin,
and the church was so crowded that we could not
see the celebrated picture by Titian. However the
Venetians themselves interested me. Their white
veils, thrown over their heads, show from whence
the painters took their first idea of the dress of the
Virgin. In other respects ancient costumes and
customs are neglected- The clocks no longer strike


twenty-four hours ; and, in consequence, all the hours
are alike. The theatre begins at nine o'clock and
the casino at twelve.

We went afterwards to the Accademia, formerly a
church. Here there is the finest collection of plaster
casts in the world. Among most wonderful pictures
I saw the Peter Martyr, which I had last seen in
Paris. At the sight of this picture I shed tears.
All the pictures which have been returned from Paris
are in the greatest confusion. They have no place to
put them, and some are still rolled on their cylinders ;
others are leaning against each other, at the end of the
room. The Emperor has promised to build a gallery
for them, but he cannot do as he likes. He has not
the management of the affairs of Italy, from which
impoverished country he draws everything, and gives
nothing in return. Every little officer is German ;
even those interpreters of the laws, the judges. They
scarcely understand Italian, far less old Venetian,
and consequently they give great dissatisfaction.
In the Palazzo Pisani we saw the finest Paul Veronese
in the world, namely, " The Family of Darius at the
Feet of Alexander." It was painted for the family
who now possess it, and has never been removed
from the spot where it now hangs. The Palazzo
Barberigo is full of Titians, and is in dreadful order,
damp, and dirty; but Titian's favourite Magdalen
(which he afterwards repeated ten or more times)
is worthy to be seen — beauty in tears, which it is
impossible to see without forgetting that it is a
picture. It appears to have been a favourite of his ;
for he put his name upon it, a thing very unusual
for this painter.

In the evening, we dined with the Governor, Count
Goetz. He tells me that he is in great hopes that a
gallery will soon be built for the pictures. Meanwhile
it is more essential to go on with works which employ
a greater number of people, such as roads, bridges, etc.

332 THE DUCAL PALACE [en. xvm

The scarcity of the harvest is deplorable. There have
been dreadful inundations around Padua. After dinner
we went to a reception at the Countess Albrizzi's, a
friend of Denon's, and saw a beautiful Helen, by
Canova. Went to Countess Goetz's box at the
opera. The opera is now being given in a very small
theatre, St. Moise. The troupe is tolerable and
one woman with a fine contralto voice, Madame
Marchesini, acted Janerius. The chorus ridiculous.
Madame Albrizzi paid me a visit in my box.

December 10. — Count Cigognera came early, to
fetch us, and we visited the church of the Salute,
where we were particularly struck with the fine
Titians on the ceiling of the sacristy. We then
crossed to the Piazza San Marco, which was illumined
by a bright sun. We ascended the Giant Stairs, and
the Scala d'oro, and entered the Ducal Palace. I can
imagine nothing finer than this palace, which shows
the wealth and luxury of the Republic. The ancient
hall where the Senators assembled, the Chamber of
the " Council of Ten " and that of the Three Inquisi-
tors, are classic ground. In the Chamber of the
"Council of Ten," the centre of the ceiling was
originally painted by Paul Veronese. Napoleon sent
it to Paris. During the negotiations for the restoration
of works of art to their several owners, the King
of France took this painting into his bedroom, and
begged permission to keep it. He offered three
other paintings in place of the three removed from
the ceilings. To this proposal the Emperor of
Austria unwisely consented. Nothing can replace
the loss of this work of art, and Cigognera wisely
determines to leave the centre of the ceiling un-
filled. The great hall in which the whole Senate
assembled on great occasions, is, 1 believe, the largest
room in the world. The ceiling was painted by

We went afterwards to the house of Count Cigognera.


We saw his wife ; and also two pictures which he
has sold to Lord Stewart. They are certainly
originals, and very beautiful. After passing the
Rialto, we went to the Palazzo Barberigo, where,
though perished with cold, I was amply repaid by
a sight of those wonderful pictures. I saw the
celebrated Giorgione, and a Titian that was next
to it. Guido's " Lucrece " is the most perfect example
of that master that I have ever seen. The " Descent
from the Cross," attributed to Raflfaele, is taken
from a drawing which is now in possession of Prince
Esterhazy. The cold was so great that we lost much
of the enjoyment which that fine collection of pictures
would otherwise have given us. It is the custom in
the great rooms (all of which have marble floors)
to put little round bits of carpet in front of each
chair. We kept moving them about as we went
to look at the different pictures.

We dined with Count de Goetz, and met an Austrian
officer. He was interesting, having served in all the
different wars from the time of Suwarrow. He talks
Russian, and told me that nothing can surpass the
intelligence of the Cossacks. He says it is quite
wonderful what they did in the last wars, owing to
their quickness in movement. He had much to say
about Chernicheff.

After dinner we stayed with Madame de Goetz, who
receives twice a week, and we saw all the society of
Venice. Two rows of chairs led to a sofa, on which
she and I were placed ; and the other ladies, after
making their curtseys, ranged themselves on each
side. Some of them were pretty. Madame Albrizzi
came to sit by me, and was very agreeable. After a
short time the ladies — who, by the bye, each arrived
with her cavalier scrvente — arranged themselves at
different card tables to play at trepet. Afterwards
Madame de Goetz went round the room, and said a
few words to each of them. We left at half-past ten ;

334 MADAME BENZONI [ch. xvhi

and Cigognera took us to Madame Benzoni, 1 where
we met a really very agreeable society, and many
strangers of all nations. There were among others
two Swedes— the Counts Possi — a Greek from Corfu,
who is a savant, and the French Consul.

Madame Benzoni, after having introduced her cava-
lier to me, requested him to entertain Shelley ; which
the poor man did to the best of his ability. If he was

Online LibraryFrances (Winckley) ShelleyThe diary of Frances lady Shelley (Volume 1) → online text (page 26 of 33)