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comfortable here that we lingered on till well into
December. From this time dates my better ac-
quaintance with Wilfrid Blunt, who then belonged
to the Legation at Berne, from which he soon
after retired. He had lately married and had taken
up his quarters on the lake, close to Ouchy, for the
autumn months. I had first met him throe years
before at this same spot with a lovely and most de-
voted sister, whom he lost all too soon. lie was
then staying at the ancient " Ancre " inn close by,
in the rooms where Byron whose granddaughter,
Lady Anne King-Noel, Blunt was afterwards to

marry is supposed to have written the " Prisoner

263



264 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

of Chillon." There was thus in every way a fitness
about the habitation chosen by Wilfrid, himself a
very charming poet. The Blunt manage, of course,
were a real resource for us. Almost since the days
when Gibbon put the final words to his monumental
work, in that summer-arbour in the garden of what
is now an inn bearing his name, Lausanne and its
neighbourhood have been the centre of an Anglo-
Swiss colony very superior to the common run of
British communities in foreign parts. At Belle
Rive lived the sociable Bairds, and, in villas
scattered over the slopes around, were various
members of the De Cerjat family, whom we saw a
good deal of. Some of these very pleasant people
have been driven away since by the vexatious
fiscal arrangements of the short-sighted cantonal
authorities, which make this lovely country dis-
tasteful to even the most long-suffering of British
residents. 1

At Beau Rivage itself a number of agreeable
people were staying, one of whom, the distinguished
French painter, Eugene Lami, was much struck by
my little wife's appearance, and made a very pretty
sketch of her, which he afterwards kindly sent me.
Here too I renewed acquaintance with the Blomes,
who had formed part of the last Hanoverian Lega-
tion in London, where Baroness Blome, whom I had
first met at the Apponyis, made some sensation by

1 The local taxation of foreign residents in some of the Swiss
cantons is a long-standing and very just grievance.



TABLEAUX VIVANTS 265

her beauty. There was, too, the artistic Cortina,
Spanish Minister at Berne, who left us all no peace
till we agreed to take part in some tableaux vivants
arranged by him, and followed by an absurd Palais
Royal farce (Les Meli-Melo de la Rue Meslay), which
went off capitally to our own complete satisfaction,
and, it is to be hoped, to that of our audience. We
were quite sorry to leave cheery Beau Rivage for
Nice, just in time for Christmas. We found here
my brother and his wife, as also the Talleyrands,
who, like ourselves, had fled from the Russian
winter. The two months that now speedily passed
away in the usual round of sociability of the Nice
winter season deserve no chronicling. I little
thought, at this happy, insouciant time, how sadly
different would be the conditions of my next visit
to these old haunts of mine. My leave of absence
was now drawing to an end, and we had to frame
our plans accordingly. We finally settled to travel
together as far as Vienna, whence my wife with the
child was to go on a long visit to her elder sister,
Mary, who had married at Berne a Secretary of the
Italian Legation, Count Joannini, an old Athens
colleague, who was now acting as diplomatic agent
for Italy at Belgrade. We parted at Vienna early
in March, and I returned alone to Petersburg,
spending two days on the way thither with our
Consul-General, Mansfield, 1 at Warsaw. On my

1 Colonel Sir Charles Mansfield, K.C.M.G., afterwards Mini.-ter
Resident at Lima, whence he retired on a pension.



266 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

arrival the Buchanans kindly offered me rooms at
the Embassy, where I was kept indoors for a fort-
night, I remember, by that ridiculous complaint, the
mumps, the result of a chill caused by plunging into
the northern winter again.

Important changes had taken place in the diplo-
matic corps at St. Petersburg while I was away on
leave in the early part of the year 1870. My friend
Talleyrand had resigned and left the service, and
had been succeeded by General Fleury, whose ap-
pointment, viewed by the light of subsequent events,
was a portent of the coming tempest of this fatal
year. During my four months Charge'ship the year
before, I had duly reported the rival efforts made by
the French and Prussian Governments to acquire
ascendency at the Russian Court, and had expressed
my belief that France was not gaining ground in this
race for the Imperial favour. I had, besides, drawn
attention to information which clearly pointed to
warlike designs on the part of the French Emperor,
that sovereign being in despair at the turn taken by
the elections in the summer, and notably at Paris.
The Emperor, it was reported from an absolutely
unimpeachable source, " spoke with tears in his
eyes of the ingratitude of the Parisians, whom he
had pampered, and who in return execrated him."
His position had evidently become so difficult, that
there was a great risk of his seeking to retrieve it
by an appeal to the old national craze for glory
and conquest. In a private letter to Lord Clarendon,



CONFIDENTIAL REPORTS 267

written in April (1869), I reported, on the authority
of the Private Chancellerie of King Leopold, that at
Brussels it was believed that the Emperor, " being
resolved upon war with Prussia, wanted Belgium as
a point d'appui strategique, and was only stopped
by warnings from Prince Napoleon Je'rome that
Italy could not be reckoned upon, and by a certain
hesitation on the part of Austria." In May of the
same year I had further been able to send Lord
Clarendon an abstract of a confidential report of
Count (as he then was) Bismarck, in which the
chances of war with France were spoken of quite
openly. The Prussian Government and people, said
Count Bismarck, were far from wishing for war, but
they did not fear it, and were fully prepared for
it. France was taking an undue interest in the
creation of a South German Confederation, to the
formation of which it wrongly accused Prussia of
offering obstacles, 1 and Count Bismarck observed
that no foreign interference in German affairs would
be permitted. He also and this was eminently
characteristic of him referred to the position of
Belgium in the case of a conflict. Prussia, he said,
" would meet France on the Rhine with a million

1 By Article IV. of the Treaty of Prague, Austria acknowledged the
dissolution of the old Germanic Bund, and the formation of a North
German Confederation. With respect to the States to the south of
the Main, she signified her agreement to their forming a union, the
national link (Verlrindun?/) of which with the. North German foil-
federation was reserved for future settlement, and which should It are
an independent international triften^c.



268 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

Germans," but "she might not make the same
efforts in a Belgian complication, and there were
certain combinations that might suit her better than
offering opposition in that quarter." With such
information as this before our Foreign Office sup-
plemented, no doubt, by still more valuable reports
from other quarters the statement made by Lord
Granville in the House of Lords, after the lamented
death of Lord Clarendon at the very eve of the
war, that the aspect of European affairs was so
unusually peaceful, has always seemed to me
surprising.

General Fleury, Master of the Horse to his sove-
reign, and his most confidential servant, had been
specially charged to do all he could to ingratiate
himself with the Emperor Alexander and Russian
society. His Embassy was placed on a footing of
unusual splendour, his servants wore the Imperial
liveries, and the garde-meuble had been laid under
contribution for costly furniture and gobelins to
decorate his house. Prince Gortchacow used to
say that corrupt bargains had frequently been pro-
posed to him from the Tuileries, and it is not im-
possible that Fleury may also have been charged
with some seductive offer. The tide, however,
had long set against France at the Winter Palace,
nor could Fleury hope to compete successfully
with men like Prince Reuss, the Minister for
Prussia, or the Military Attache', General Schweinitz,
who succeeded him later on as Ambassador. Prince



PRINCE REUSS 269

Reuss (Henry VII., 1 or " Septi," as his friends
affectionately called him) was one of the most
charming men I ever met. I had first made his
acquaintance at the Metternichs in Paris, and
he was kindness itself to me at Petersburg,
now and then imparting to me the very class of
information which is most useful to the aspiring
Chargd d' Affaires. I owe him, in fact, a good deal
in this respect. Keuss stood in high favour with the
Emperor Alexander, and, belonging to one of the
German reigning families, was treated by him with
marked distinction. He was, besides, the Emperor's
habitual camarade de chasse, and thus had oppor-
tunities of seeing his Majesty on a footing of intimacy
denied to the rest of his colleagues. The same in a
less degree could be said of Schweinitz, who, being
specially attached to the Emperor's person as Mili-
tary Plenipotentiary, was constantly in attendance
upon him. Fleury's mission, notwithstanding its
mise en scene, was fatally destined to be the last
diplomatic fiasco of the moribund Empire.

I saw a good deal of Prince Keuss, and was fre-
quently his guest at the Prussian Legation. 1 re-
member meeting there one day the Grand Ecuycr,
Baron de Meyendorff, an old general, then not far
from eighty, who, after some coaxing, was persuaded
to tell us something of his experiences during the ter-
rible campaign of 1812, which he had gone through,

1 All the princes of the House of Kenss have heeii ii;une<l Henry
ever since the eleventh century, the nuinbei in^' not running higher
than a hundred and then beginning again with one.



270 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

when quite a young fellow, as galopin (orderly officer)
on the staff of one of the Russian commanders. In
depicting to us the horrors of the French retreat, he
told us that he had once been sent late in the
afternoon with pressing orders for some troops in
the direction of Smolensk. In the fading daylight
he would certainly have lost his way on the bound-
less and featureless frozen plain, but for a track
which the pursuing Russians had marked by plant-
ing upright in the snow-drifts the corpses of the
enemy that had fallen by the way. For a con-
siderable distance, in fact, he had ridden literally
through an avenue of frozen Frenchmen.

During my absence a change had likewise taken
place at the American Legation, where General
Cassius Clay had been succeeded by " Governor "
Curtin. Talleyrand had a good story about the, in
many ways, eccentric Clay. He had been to see and
condole with him on the occasion of the murder of
President Lincoln. " Well, Mr. Ambassador," said
Clay, after listening to his expressions of regret,
" although my name is Cassius, I am no partisan of
political assassination." Of Curtin, with whom my
wife and I were on very friendly terms, I shall have
more to say further on.

At the Austrian Legation I no longer found
M. Vetsera, 1 who had acted for some months as
Chargd d' Affaires en pied. They had had the good

1 It was a daughter of this gentleman who was later on mixed up in
the most terrible drama of our times iu Austria.



THE CHOTEKS 271

sense, at the Ballplatz 1 at Vienna, to put an end
to a diplomatic bouderie which had lasted for some
time between the two Cabinets, and had sent Count
Bohuslav Chotek to Petersburg with the full rank of
Envoy. I had known Chotek at Paris and at the
Austrian Embassy in London, and a very good
fellow he was, with a charming wife, a Countess
Kinsky. The Choteks kept an exceedingly pleasant
house, and soon achieved great popularity. My
most vivid recollection of him at this distance of
time happens, however, to be of an absurd character.
Reuss had brought back with him, from one of the
Imperial bear-hunts, the cub of a she-bear he had
shot, and had made a present of it to his Austrian
colleague. At dinner at the Choteks one evening,
the ladies asked to see the little beast, and on its
being brought in at dessert, Chotek gravely tucked
his napkin into his shirt front, after the fashion of
French commis voyageurs, and taking the baby-bear
on his lap, proceeded to administer nourishment to
it from a feeding-bottle, to the general amusement.
The kind Choteks had a full nursery, and, among its
small inmates, whom I well remember seeing, there
was a little lady, then 1 suppose about two years
old, who was afterwards to be called to a very
exalted position indeed. 2

1 The Imperial Chancellerie at Vienna has been seated from time
immemorial on this place, which takes its name from the old tennis-
court that formerly stood here.

" Countess Sophie Chotek, no\v Princess Hohenl'erg, and morganatic
wife of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria.



272 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

By this time I had become an habitue of Dom 1
Paskevitch. I have before mentioned its mistress,
Princesse Irene, nde Worontzow-Daschkow, whose
maternal grandmother, Madame Narischkine, had
been a second mother to my sister-in-law Nadine.
Princesse Paskevitch had inherited, without the
very great beauty of her mother, Comtesse Woront-
zow, more than her charm and grace, and was the
object of something not far removed from worship
on the part of the few who were admitted to the
privilege of her intimacy. For various reasons the
Paskevitches mixed little with the rest of Peters-
burg society, and led comparatively secluded lives
in their splendid and luxurious home. Their house
was, however, open every night to a chosen set of
relations and friends. Princesse Irene's brother,
then the dashing colonel of the Tsarskoe Selo
Hussars ; Guedeonow, the witty Intendant of the
Imperial Theatres ; Gerebtsow and Vsevolovsky,
both able collaborators of the Chancelier and the
latter the cleverest of caricaturists were constant
visitors at Dom Paskevitch. Although Princess
Irene's was far from being a political salon, one
learnt a good deal there about current events,
and heard them discussed with great freedom, and
just a tinge of fronde. With the exception of
Reuss and Louis d'Arenbevg, 2 the Austrian Military

1 Literally house, but applied to family mansions like hotel in France
or palais in Austria.

2 Prince Louis d'Areuberg, a major in the Austrian Cavalry, was a
younger brother of the Prince Augu*te <o well known in French politi-
cal life, and President of the Suez Canal Company.



DOM PASKEVITCH 273

Attache', there were few diplomates in the small
coterie that gathered round Princesse Irene's tea-
table in the long gallery decorated with a splendid
collection of armour by the late Field-Marshal, the
conqueror of Erivan and pacificator of Warsaw.
The whole house was full of the most beautiful
things, and, as a specimen of them, I may mention
a large mother-of-pearl and parcel-gilt ewer, the
authentic work of Benvenuto Cellini. For this
masterpiece, which was allowed to stand like any
ordinary object on a window-sill, its owner was
yearly besieged by the London art-dealers with
fabulous offers. Prince Paskevitch, who was the
most courteous but at the same time one of the
most reserved and independent of men, had suc-
ceeded to the immense estates of his father in the
old Polish provinces part of property that had
been confiscated after the great insurrection of
1831 and lived most of the year on his domain
of Ilomel, in the Government of Mohilew. There
he had witnessed the barbarous proceedings of
Mouraview, when stamping out the last vestiges of
the rising of 1863, and, as one of the greatest of
Lithuanian landowners, had signed an address of
remonstrance to the Emperor on the subject. On
his return to Petersburg the Emperor sent for him,
and reproached him for taking part in this step.
High words, it was said, passed at his interview
with the sovereign, whose playfellow and intimate
he had been from his youth upwards, and who had



VOL. II.



274 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

made him, at an unusually early age, an aide-de-
camp ge'ne'ral the most coveted of distinctions in
Russia besides decorating him with the highest
orders. All these dignities and honours Paskevitch
at once resigned, and at the time of which I write
he had never been near the Palace again. An
attempt at reconciliation was made, some years later,
at the inauguration by the Emperor of a monument
to Field -Marshal Paskevitch at Warsaw. His son
attended the ceremony, but left immediately after-
wards, without, I believe, any rapprochement taking
place between him and the Imperial friend of his
youth.

Much the most important apartment at Dom
Paskevitch was its salle de spectacle. Like her
cousin, Nadine Lobanow, Princesse Irene was devoted
to acting, and, next to her, was as perfect an amateur
actress as I ever saw. In April she began busying
herself with a performance which, as it chanced, was
disastrously bound up with one of the most tragic
occurrences in my recollection. One of the plays
selected by the dear little Princess was La Fee, by
Octave Feuillet (one of his Scenes et Comedies], in
which she assigned to me the principal part, a
very difficult one. Fortunately for me, Dupuis
the brilliant jeune premier of the Gymnase, at this
time engaged at the Theatre Michel superintended
our rehearsals. He kindly put heart into Die, and
undertook to coach me privately, a welcome offer
which gave me a most interesting insight into the



FATEFUL THEATRICALS 275

technical part of acting, of which amateurs, as a
rule, know so little.

The date fixed for our performance was, I think,
the 8th of May. I had arranged to leave directly
after it with d'Arenberg, whom I had got to like
very much, and our own excellent Military Attach^,
Colonel Robert Blane, of the 2nd Life Guards, on
a journey down the Volga to Tzaritzine. There I
was to part with my companions, and go on alone
to the Crimea, thence travelling up the Danube to
join my wife at Belgrade, while they proceeded to
the Caucasus. Our departure from Petersburg
had, in fact, been put off on account of my share
in the Paskevitch theatricals. By dint of diligent
study we soon reached the date of the dress
rehearsal (the 6th of May), and I only too well
recollect Paskevitch giving up a bear- shoot he
had arranged for d'Arenberg that very day, on his
wife's remonstrating against his taking away a
friend to whose presence at the rehearsal she much
held. To my great relief our repetition gcncralc
went off very well. When my part in it was over,
I joined the spectators to watch the performance of
my fellow-actors in the second piece, and d'Aren-
berg then came up to me and inquired on what
day it would suit me to start on our journey.
1 answered him rather hurriedly, bein intent on
following the play, and he soon slipped away
unperceived, without even, as was afterwards re-
membered, taking leave of his hosts.



276 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

Early next morning my servant came in with
the dreadful news that d'Arenberg had just been
found strangled in his bed. I dressed and hastened
to his apartment, in the Millionaia close by, where,
as the police had not yet come to inquire into the
circumstances of the crime, the poor fellow remained
as he had been discovered, gagged and bound hand
and foot with the sleeves of the night-shirt that
had been torn off him, and the bell-rope he had
himself pulled down in ringing in vain for help.
Within a few hours his murderers were arrested,
trying to sell a watch engraved with his coat of
arms, and they at once made a full confession. One
of them had been in d'Arenberg's service as kuchni
moujik, or scullion, and knew something of his
bachelor ways and a careless habit he had of carry-
ing a good deal of money about him in notes in his
pocket-book. A short time before he had handed
me 600 roubles in this way for a pair of horses I
had sold him. The movjik and his accomplice
contrived to slip into the apartment (on the ground
floor) early in the evening. They had brought food
and vodky with them, and, after vainly endeavouring
to break open a strong-box in which d'Arenberg
kept his valuables, they ate and drank and waited
for his return. On hearing him let himself in with
his latch-key about 2 A.M., they concealed themselves
behind some heavy curtains a couple of yards from
his bed. They cynically described his humming
to himself while he undressed, and taking up a



THE MURDER OF D'ARENBERG 277

newspaper which he dropped on the ground (where
I saw it lying) as he dozed off after putting out
the light. As soon as they heard, by his heavy
breathing, that he was asleep, they crept out and
made for the bedside table where he had placed
his watch and chain and the coveted pocket-book.
They upset the table in the dark, and he woke up
with a military " Wer da?' A horrible struggle
must have ensued in the dark, for they used such
violence as to break the Adam's apple in throttling
him. He was quite alone in the lodging, having
given his valet leave to stay out that night, but
the windows of his sitting-room exactly faced the
Preobrajenski a guard-house at the Palace of the
Hermitage, and it was dreadful to think of his
being killed in this shocking manner within call,
as it were, of the sentry over the way. It is im-
possible to convey an idea of the sensation caused
by the event. Personally I was haunted by the
reflection that, but for the alteration in the date for
our journey, caused by the wretched theatricals, this
tragedy might never have occurred. The Emperor
was in despair at the murder of a distinguished
foreign officer attached to his person, and besides
attending the funeral himself with all the Grand
Dukes, at first gave orders to have the assassins
tried by drumhead court-martial and shot. He
was dissuaded from this, however, and capital

1 One of the oldest and most historical regiments of the Imperial
Guard.



278 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

punishment having been suppressed in Russia for
ordinary crimes, the villains were sentenced to
hard labour in the Siberian mines, which is
equivalent to death in a very short period. One
curious circumstance was ascertained about d'Aren-
berg's last hours. He had left the Paskevitch
house for the club, and, finding no play going on
there, had sat talking for some time with strange
interest of the terrible fate of Herbert, Vyner, and
the others killed by Greek brigands just a fort-
night before. The murder of Louis d'Arenberg
is the most sinister of my recollections.

I left Petersburg with Blane on the 2ist May
for Warsaw and Vienna, giving up our originally
proposed journey. We arrived at Vienna, in
beautiful weather, in time for the principal day
of the great race week, and, at a party at Princesse
Croy's (ne'e Nugent) in the evening, I remember
meeting, for the first time, the extremely pretty
wife of my old Brighton friend, Paul Metternich,
whom I was to see a great deal of in later years
at Vienna and Konigswart. From Vienna we
went down the Danube to Pesth and Semlin, and
early on the ist of July reached Belgrade, where
I had the satisfaction of finding my wife in greatly
improved health, and very happy in the care of
her sister and Joannini. In many ways Joannini,
who afterwards came to a sad end when Minister
at Mexico, was more than ordinarily gifted. He
had read a great deal on most subjects and with



BELGRADE AND THE DANUBE 279

much profit, was an excellent linguist, and, for
an Italian, a remarkably profound musician and
a very clever pianist. With more ballast and esprit
de conduite he might have had a very distinguished
career. During the ten days I passed under his
roof at Belgrade, I acquired through him a certain
knowledge of Balkanic affairs which was of great
use to me in after years, and here too I first be-
came acquainted with the Austro-Hungarian agent,
Benjamin von Kallay, to-day probably the ablest
statesman and administrator of the Dual Monarchy,
and the greatest authority in the domain of Eastern
politics.

From Belgrade Blane and I went on to Bucharest,
where we stayed a couple of days, and were greatly
struck, at a great fair we visited outside the town,
by the manifest unpopularity of the then Prince
of Roumania, to whom not a hat was doffed by
the crowds that thronged the broiling, dusty roads.


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