Elizabeth Craven Craven.

The beautiful Lady Craven; the original memoirs of Elizabeth, baroness Craven, afterwards margravine of Anspach and Bayreuth and princess Berkeley of the Holy Roman empire (1750-1828); (Volume 1) online

. (page 16 of 20)
Online LibraryElizabeth Craven CravenThe beautiful Lady Craven; the original memoirs of Elizabeth, baroness Craven, afterwards margravine of Anspach and Bayreuth and princess Berkeley of the Holy Roman empire (1750-1828); (Volume 1) → online text (page 16 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

lost this beloved brother, whose life was a pattern of
domestic happiness scarcely to be equalled !

In the autumn of that summer, Lord Berkeley wrote
me word that he had had a slight attack of the gout, and
that if I would meet him at Florence, about the beginning
of November, he would pass the winter with me in

Although I admired France, and was highly gratified
with French society, I had other reasons, besides the
proud satisfaction I felt at the certainty of my brother's
affection being still retained, to leave France : I, how-
ever, soon after received an excuse from Lord Berkeley,
that he was unable to attend me ; and I placed my son
Keppel,^ whom I was fearful of spoiling by remaining
with me, under the care of a Mr. Gadoll, who had
a few pupils. My brother's excuse was fortunate in
every respect, and I immediately set out for Italy, after
having had a picture taken of my son by an artist of the
Queen of France.

I passed through L^^ons, Avignon, and Marseilles, to
Hieres : the atmosphere of the latter place is remarkably
clear, and preferable either to Nice or Montpelicr. From
hence I proceeded to Genoa, and then to Pisa, where I
took a commodious house by the week. The baths of
Pisa were built by the Roman emperors, and are kept in
good repair : they are highly esteemed for paralytic
disorders, gout, and scrofulous complaints. Lucca is
contiguous to Pisa, and, as the Grand Duke and Duchess
were at the latter place, I received much pleasure during
my residence there. I cannot pass over the Leaning

^ Keppel Craven was afterwards sent to Harrow. The circum-
stances under which he was placed there are fully explained in the
Introduction (see ante, p. Ixxiv).


Tower, which proves that fancy is often mistaken for
taste. The variety of the orders of architecture give it
an appearance of patchwork. The idea that this tower
was built leaning always struck me as perfectly ridiculous,
for the first row of pillars is more than half buried in
the earth.

As I rode on horseback on a side-saddle, I excited the
astonishment of every body : the peasants, in par-
ticular, who passed me on the right side, used to exclaim,
"Ah! povera — una Gamba ! "

On my road to Florence I met with a ridiculous occur-
rence. — I was proceeding on horseback, having sent
forward my coach and some of my servants, when I
passed a gentleman in an English phaeton, whose curiosity
was excited by the horse and side-saddle. From going
very slowly, he came after me very rapidly ; and, being
informed of it by my servant, I had just time to turn my
horse into a gateway. The gentleman could not stop his
horses immediately ; but, as he was determined on seeing
me, he stopped as soon as he could. As I considered his
behaviour extremely impertinent, I was resolved he
should not see me, and therefore I desired those who
accompanied me to follow, and I passed by the left side
of his phaeton as fast as possible, with my hat over my
eyes. As my horse was an excellent one, I kept him on
till my pursuer gave up the chase ; and when out of his
sight, I turned into a farm-yard, where I concealed my-
self till I saw him pass again, and literally gained my
carriage before he got up to me to gratify his curiosity.

The brilhancy of the moon, which I observed when
going to Florence, reminded me of what M. de Carricioli
said, — " Que la lunc de Naples valait hien le soleil d'


Angleterre." I was most highly gratified at seeing the
beautiful Venus de' Medici : it corresponded with the
ideas I had formed of it ; but the Niobe family far
exceeded any thing I ever imagined. I was pleased with
the Apollo, but thought it had not altogether the com-
manding look of the God of Day.

Here I met with Sir Horace Mann,^ Lord Cowper,^
the Comte d' Albany,^ the Prince Corsini, and the minister
of Lucca, Comte Santini, who all gave entertainments
in the highest style, particularly dinners to all foreigners
of distinction ; although the Florentine nobility never
invite any one to dine or sup at their palaces. When
they give an entertainment, it is to any, even to those
who have the least pretensions to rank, and therefore
might be called a general assembly.

All the handsome Florentine women bear a great
resemblance to the English : they are very good humoured,
and have great natural politeness to strangers. A
ridiculous question was put to me here by a Frenchman
of distinction, who asked me if Sir Joshua Reynolds
did not build St. Paul's Cathedral. I regretted much
to find that the Titian Venus, and the child by Titian
in the Strozzi Palace, are both much injured by time.

1 was much surprised one morning, when my servant
informed me that my brother Lord Berkeley^ would
arrive in a few days, as he had reached Venice, he said,
and shewed me a letter from him to prove his assertion.

* Sir Horace Mann, Bart. (1701-1786) ; British Minister at Florence,
1 740-1 786 ; the friend and correspondent of Horace Walpole.

2 George Nassau Cowper, third Earl Cowper (i 738-1 7S9).

3 Charles Edward, the Young Pretender (i 720-1 788), known in
Italy, where he resided, as Comte d'Albany.

* Frederick Augustus, fifth Earl of Berkeley. Succeeded his father
in 1755, and died in 1810. His marriage with Mary Cole occasioned
the famous Peerage Case.


As I conceived if he had written, he would have sent
his letter to me, I was not likely to believe the intelli-

I found my health greatly improved since I quitted
the environs of Paris, which induced me to suppose
that the climate of that part of France did not agree
with me : I had lost a pain in my chest, and those symp-
toms of pulmonary affections, which, after my severe
illness, were much to be apprehended. The frequent
change of air which I experienced strengthed my system.

On my arrival at Venice, when passing by the great
canal, I called to mind the words of the Abbe Coyer,
who says, that " Rome est hdtie par les hommes, mats
Venise par les dieux." Having formed my own ideas of
it from the different pictures I had seen, I expected to
have found a cheerful city, but was greatly disappointed.
The innumerable gondolas floating on the water like so
many cofftns, and the dismal appearance of the outside
of the houses, (the fine palaces having most of their
windows closed half-way by dirty shutters not painted,)
did not form so lively a scene as is generally described.

Here I met my friend, the Comte Justiniani, who was
delighted to see me again : he accompanied me to see
the Arsenal, the Doge's Palace, and the Church in the
Piazza San Marco, which are both of the Gothic order.

I was much amused by hearing in a Court of Justice
the celebrated advocate Stephano. I was not deceived in
my expectations of deriving some entertainment from
the grimaces which I expected to see. His manner of
pleading was that of scolding ; and he held his two
thumbs upright, which he moved rapidly to and from
his breast, with the most ridiculous action imaginable.


I found it difficult to refrain from laughter ; nor could
I conceive how the Judges could keep their countenances.
A ridiculous circumstance happened here to two English
travellers, neither of whom could speak the language.
They were in great haste to arrive at Venice from Vienna ;
and having left one morning a large town where they
had slept the preceding night, after having travelled
two days post they found themselves driven into the same
place they had quitted forty-eight hours before.


I leave Italy for Vienna — My reception there by the Emperor— Prince
Kaunitz — I quit Vienna, and proceed to Cracow — I reach Warsaw,
and am presented to the King of Poland — Princess Czartoriska —
Princess de Radzivil — From Warsaw I set out for St. Petersburg
— My arrival there — I am presented to the Empress Catherine —
Princess Dashkoff — The Grand Duchess — Prince Potemkin — Prince
Repnin and Prince Kourakin — Moscow — Arrival at Constantinople
— M. de Choiseul — The Sultan — Sir Richard Worsley — Leave Con-
stantinople for Athens, and return to London.

FROM Venice I went to Vienna, where I was
received at Court in the most flattering manner.
I was attended there by Madame Granieri, the
wife of the Sardinian minister. The variety of
the officers' dresses in the antechamber of the Emperor
particularly struck me : the Polish and Hungarian
uniforms are very beautiful.

The Emperor^ gave a private audience to ladies who
were presented. Madame Granieri and myself were the
only persons who went into his apartment together : we
met the Princess Esterhazy coming out. The Emperor
received us with the greatest attention. His Majesty
was close to the door, and, after politely bowing, he made
us sit upon a sofa, while he stood himself the whole time.
We remained there three-quarters of an hour. When
his Majesty is particularly engaged, and wishes to ter-
minate the interview, he civilly says he will detain you

1 Joseph II (1765-1790).


no longer. He then goes towards the door, which he
opens himself ; you rise and quit the apartment, and
thus ends the presentation. I prefer this method to a
public drawing-room, where you are obliged to answer
publicly every question that may be put to you.

It was unfortunate for me that the Emperor quitted
Vienna two days after I had seen him ; but he ordered
Prince Kaunitz,i his first minister, to prepare me one of
his houses to reside in, and wished me to pass the whole
of the winter in Vienna, which I had no thoughts of
doing, and to go in the spring to the Court of Anspach,
to be presented to the Margravine by the Margrave.
Had I remained much longer at Vienna, I should not have
got away during the whole winter, as the hard weather
was beginning to set in. When Prince Kaunitz delivered
the Emperor's message to me, and added to it, " The
Emperor says, he never saw any woman with the modest
and dignified deportment of Lady Craven," I imme-
diately replied, that it was not in my power to stay ;
and I set off in ten days to perform the extraordinary
journe}' to St. Petersburg, where the Empress of Russia,
and by her orders all who commanded under her authority,
treated me with the most unexampled attention.

The Emperor had no wife, and the opinion which he
had formed of me, and which was repeated over all
Germany, terrified me ; and, fearful lest injurious re-
ports should be spread of me, which was what I could
not bear, — at the risk of being thought ungrateful to the
Emperor, I fled like a frightened bird from a net. The

^ Wenceslas Anton, Prince of Kaunitz (1711-1794), one of the
most famous Austrian statesmen; called by the Vatican "the Heretic
Minister," and more generally known as " the Coachman of Europe."

VOL. 1.— G


Emperor, instead of being angry, wrote to Mons. D'Her-
bert, his envoy at Constantinople, when he knew from
his minister at St. Petersburg that I was gone there, to
take care of me, and to obtain from the Porte every thing
I might desire. M. D'Herbert shewed me the letter, and
obeyed his master most strictly, while M. de Choiseul,
the French minister, seemed only to vie with him who
should most excel in attentions.

Prince Kaunitz was a very extraordinary character :
he was a great statesman, and a good patriot : he pos-
sessed sincerity and frankness, which are ever the attend-
ants of a great mind. The nation's welfare was his de-
light. He asked me my opinion of Vienna. I told him,
I had but little time to make observations, but that it
appeared to me that even the Vendeuses de pommes out
I'air aise. A smile of pleasure illumined his countenance,
which must have proceeded from the goodness of his
heart. He with much condescension informed me of
several particulars highly interesting, and from his con-
versations I gained great information.

I frequently dined with him ; and nothing flattered me
more than to see a man of his age and experience forget
for a time the distance which was between us.

The Emperor was a prince who mixed with his subjects
with an ease and affability that are very uncommon in
persons of his rank. He loved the conversation of in-
genious men, and appeared solicitous to cultivate know-
ledge. He abolished the use of torture in his hereditary
dominions, and removed many of the grievances under
which the peasants and common people laboured. He
was a great friend to religious toleration ; and regulated
the exorbitant fees of the lawyers. He visited Rome and


the principal Courts of Italy incognito, and with few
attendants, and had a personal interview with the King
of Prussia. This, however, did not prevent hostilities
between the two powers, on account of the succession
to Bavaria. During the contest the Emperor displayed
considerable military skill.

At Prince Galitzin'si every Sunday night, and at Prince
Par's every Monday, w'e had elegant suppers. The
former was Russian minister, and did great honour to
his Court by his sense and politeness.

As the Germans are by nature good musicians, the
English here had an opportunity of passing their time in
the most agreeable manner, and in a circle of beautiful
and accomplished women of the first rank. Sir Robert
Keith^ assured me that he had presented upwards of
four hundred of our nobility and gentry here from

It is ridiculous to hear the questions that are asked by
the guards at the frontier towns : What is your name and
quality ? Are you married or single ? Do you travel
for pleasure or business ? — It reminds me of a story re-
lated to me by the Russian minister at Venice, of a
traveller, who being asked his name, replied, Boo-hoo-
hoo-hoo ! " Pray, Sir," says the guard, " how do you
write it?" "That," replied the stranger, "is your
concern : I have given you my name." — It is impossible
to answer such absurd questions with gravity.

There was an order at every frontier-town in Germany,

^ Prince Dmitri Galitzin, son of Prince Micliael Galitzin, the con-
stant companion of the Czar Peter. A distinguished diplomatist
and Russian Ambassador in Vienna during the reign of the Emperor
Joseph II.

- See Introduction, pp. .xxxvi, xxxix.


not to permit strangers who travel without post-horses
to leave the town before staying in it two hours. I was
not aware of this order, and the post-master did not
make me acquainted with it. I was much surprised at
the delay, although he did not absolutely refuse me
horses and another traineau, or sledge. His reply to me
at all times, on my urging him to hasten, was "Pazienza ! "
Some time after, an officer came up, who, staring at me,
said : "Parlez-vous Francois, Madaine ? " — "Mon Dieu !
oui / " I replied. I found from him that the post-master's
stupidity arose from his not being able to talk Italian
well, and French not at all : he therefore conceived that
I was very impatient, and paid me no attention ; but
when the officer had called me "Miladi," he bustled about,
and with his people procured me every thing. He had
mistaken me for a young peasant, as I had, tired of the
crawling pace we had been travelling, hired a traineau of
a countryman, and proceeded on before my carriage.
When he discovered that I was a female, I had a traineau
immediately, with six horses for my coach.

From Vienna I now proceeded towards Cracow,
through a fine open country, varied with woods and gentle
hills. Although I had letters of introduction to several
ladies here, I did not take advantage of them. Prince
Galitzin, at Vienna, had recommended me to use my
own carriage, but I placed it on the sledge, and even
then found it difficult to get along, from the badness and
narrowness of the roads. At length I was obliged to
take it off, and then it sometimes hung upon the fir-trees,
which we were obliged to pass. I was one night de-
tained two hours ; one of the wheels being so entangled
with a fir-tree, that six men could not disengage it ; and


peasants were obliged to be sent for, to cut down the
tree, before I could proceed.

On my arrival at Warsaw, I found my apartments well
aired and prepared for me. The Comte de Stackelberg
had bespoken them, by order of Prince Galitzin. The
Russian minister. Count de S , waited on me imme-
diately. He was very sensible, and had wit.

On the evening of the day after I arrived, I was by
him presented to the King.^ who received us in his
study. The Grand Marshal's wife, who was the King's
niece, accompanied me. That amiable sovereign spoke
excellent French, and very good English. He was the
second person that I have seen, whom I could have
wished not to have been a sovereign ; for it was im-
possible that the many disagreeable persons and circum-
stances which surround royalty, should not deprive it of
the society of those who are valuable.

His Majesty informed me that he had not been in
England for thirty years ; and inquired if Mr. Walpole
were alive. " Not only living, Sire," I replied, " but in
good spirits ; and I have in my pocket a letter from
him." He said, " If there is nothing in my request im-
proper, I should like to be favoured with a sight of it."
Mr. Walpole's style. His Majesty observed, must be un-
common. I then gave him the letter, which having read,
he put into his pocket, and told me that he should trans-
late it into French to his sister, the Princess of Cracovia,
who did not understand the English language ; and asked
me to dine with him two days after, when he would read
me his translation,— and which, indeed, surprised me.

1 Stanislaus II, succeeded to the throne in 1764, deposed 1795, and
died a State prisoner at St. Petersburg, 1798,


He must have been an elegant writer in any language
which he understood, but I did not like to solicit a copy.

The King in his face was very like the Duke of Marl-
borough : there was an elegance in his language, with a
softness of tone in his voice, which was highly pleasing
to the ear. At His Majesty's dinner, there were only
fourteen persons present, and we were as pleasant and
cheerful as if we had been in private society.

It is impossible to see the King of Poland, and not to
regret that he was a king where the monarchy rests on
absurdity — an elected sovereign from among a numerous
and proud nobility, every individual of whom thinks he
has a better right to sit on the throne than the one
elected. From such a basis springs every thing which
can make mankind unhappy ; their lives are passed, their
minds employed, only in caballing or regretting.

This amiable and accomplished prince lost his friends
and pleasures when he became King of Poland.

There appeared to be no subject on which the King
could not conve/se with taste and sense : the constitution
of England, the manners of the French, modern authors,
theatres, and gardens, were topics with which he was
well acquainted. He did not affect to display a conver-
sation of pedantry, like some of our English with whom
I have been associated, who glory in dazzling our under-
standings with learned quotations. The only thing the
King appeared to be ignorant of, was the high fashion
of our cookery. As if to pay a compliment to me, the
fish and meat at table were covered with melted butter,
a thing only to be met with in England. I was informed
by his chamberlain, that every thing was ordered to be
dressed perfectly d, I'Anglaise. I did not tell his Majesty

From an eighteenth century engraziing


that I never partook of melted butter, nor that a good
table in England was always prepared by a French cook ;
and it excited a smile when I saw all that melted butter,
which, like the fogs in our country, was only fit to be
swept away, when it concealed and spoiled every thing
that was good.

My old acquaintance, the Princess Czartoriska,i was in
the country, as she was of an opposite party and did not
come to Court ; but, with my usual frankness, I told
the King that I intended to visit her, and we had some
conversation respecting her.

I visited here in great style, making use of the Count
de Stackelberg's coach and six, accompanied by two
equerries at the coach-side on horseback. The Princess
de Radzivil was here : I was truly fascinated with her,
and had I been a man I should have been devoted to her.
If I could have laid aside maternal duties, and those of
friendship, I could have remained here perfectly happy.

I found here a French maid whom I had recommended
to the Princess Czartoriska : nine years' service had
obtained for her a hundred pounds a-year, with a farm
of sixty acres of land, for the remainder of her life, by
which means she was one of the happiest creatures exist-
ing. To the credit of the Polish nobility, there are few
servants who, having proved their attachment for eight
or ten years, are not dismissed with a pension for life.

I have seen several dwarfs, ^ who, with the equerries,

' Miss Berry, in 1839, speaks of "the famous Czartoriska who died
three years ago at the age of ninety-four." She gives many interest-
ing details of her life at her chateau in Pultovie (see Berry Journals,
Vol. Ill, p. 462).

^ The tomb of Bebe, the famous dwarf of King Stanislaus II, may
still be seen in the Church of the Minimes at Luneville. He also
accorded a gracious reception to Boruwlaski, another Polish dwarf,
who died half a century later at Durham (see Introduction, p. liii).


stand in the drawing-rooms of great houses, and must
necessarily hear all the conversation that passes. In any
other country it might be dangerous, but here servants
and dependants are the property of their masters ; and
in general their fidelity is equal to their subjection.

The King has a manner of saying things flattering and
obliging peculiar to himself. He tells me that every thing
produced in England is more perfect than the produce of
any other country. His Majesty's partiality to England
would have prejudiced me in favour of my own country,
were it possible that I could have loved it better than
I did.

I passed two days in the most agreeable manner with
the Princess Czartoriska, at a country-house of her sister-
in-law, the Princess Lubomirska. I did not remain long
at Warsaw after my visit to the Princess, although I re-
ceived every civility from His Majesty.

The Princess Czartoriska had, some years before,
passed a summer and winter in London ; and I was so
much attached to her, and so delighted with her society,
that I contrived to dine alone with her at my house in
Charles Street, as frequently as I could ; and we have
passed many hours together tete-cL-tUe. She was one of
the few women whose talents and manners suited me :
her talents were very superior, and her manners without
affectation. She was a perfect musician, and a fine
painter ; danced inimitably ; had knowledge without
pedantry, and never displayed her learning with osten-

I was much younger than she, and I had a very great
respect for her sentiments, for, like m37self, she was grave
and gay by turns ; and, when serious conversation em-


ployed our time, she would confide to me anecdotes of
her early days, which she certainly did not intend should
serve as a guard to the tenderness of heart and the un-
suspecting mind which she discovered in me.

Of course, when I saw her, she was looking older than
when we were together in England. She received some
visits while I was with her, and I found it was the custom
for both men and women to kiss the hand of a princess
who receives them.

She inquired of me if I had been at Berlin ; and when
I answered in the negative, she said she wished me joy :
" For what would he have done to you," she said, " since
he so much embarrassed me ? " — " And pray," said I,
" who is he who could venture to do any thing to em-
barrass you ? " — "Le Grand Frederic," was her reply.
She then informed me that his Majesty had her invited
to dinner by the Queen ; and every body being assembled
before he came, when he arrived, he made one bow, at
the door, to the circle, and then walked up to her, took
her by the hand, and led her up to a window ; where he
^ stood to examine her countenance, with a look so scru-
tinizing, with eyes so piercing, that she was embarrassed
in the highest degree ; particular!}' as he never spoke till

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19 20

Online LibraryElizabeth Craven CravenThe beautiful Lady Craven; the original memoirs of Elizabeth, baroness Craven, afterwards margravine of Anspach and Bayreuth and princess Berkeley of the Holy Roman empire (1750-1828); (Volume 1) → online text (page 16 of 20)