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There was no outward promise at that time of the
great position that very sagacious ruler has since
made for himself. We continued our journey down
the Danube, and after a night of torment from
mosquitoes, the like of which for si/e and ferocity
I have never seen elsewhere, transhipped at Galatz
into the Russian steamer for Odessa, ^oin<j; on
thence on the i6th of June to Sebastopol. I
could not have had a more perfect travelling
companion in the Crimea than Blano, who had
been Military Secretary to his brother-in-law, Sir


William Codrington, at the close of the war, and
of course knew every inch of the ground. With
him as cicerone familiar though I was with
Kinglake's glowing pages the more memorable
scenes of the campaign were, of course, brought
home to me as they never had been before. We
drove to the narrow valley, confined by grassy slopes
on either side, and shaped like a race-course, up
which the six hundred had made their reckless
charge, and visited the grim remains of the Redan
and Malakoff. What struck me most was the
landlocked harbour of Balaclava its rocks still
bearing in big letters the names of some of our
ships that had lain there now quite silent and
deserted, a perfect haven of peace, a couple of
sea-eagles, I remember, slowly circling in the
intensely blue sky above it. From Sebastopol we
posted through the gate of Baidar, along a road
which almost rivals in beauty the Corniche of my
early days, as far as the Worontzow domain at
Alupka, where we were hospitably entertained,
and tasted the famous wines produced on the
estate from vines transplanted from the most re-
nowned European vineyards. 1

We went on the next day to the Club Hotel
at Yalta, and drove up in the afternoon to call at
Massandra, another Worontzow estate then managed

1 These wines, grown from the grapes of the Chateau Lafitte
Stf'inberg and other grands crtis, and treated according to the most,
approved methods of those places, are eacli in their way excellent,
but all have a certain twang, or guilt du ferroir, of their own.


by one of the Troubetzkois. His wife, a very
pleasant woman, took us for a drive over the pretty
broken ground of the park, where, going down a
steep incline, we met with a nasty accident. The
pole-strap broke, and, the horses bolting, we were
all three pitched out at the foot of the hill. The
princess and I fell on soft ground and got off with
a few scratches, but Blane was thrown with great
force against the trunk of a tree, and, as was after-
wards found, broke two ribs, no slight mishap to
a man then turned sixty. With great pluck he
picked himself up and walked back to the house,
but was in such severe pain afterwards the
ignorant doctor who attended him not having the
sense to put a tight bandage on him that we were
kept ten days at Yalta, and determined to return
vid Odessa to Petersburg as soon as possible.
While Blane was laid up and we were waiting
for the steamer, I rode from Yalta with Captain
Harford, 1 then Vice-Consul at Sebastopol, to the
ancient town of Baktchi Serai, a place but seldom
visited. We roughed it for the night in the
picturesque remains of the once very splendid and
interesting palace of the Khans of Crim Tartan,
and, on our return next day, halted at the lovely
Tartar village of Kokos likewise Woront/ow pro-
perty embowered in verdure, and with a miniature

1 Captain Harford, an old Crimean oflicer, to whose firsts the
upkeep of our Crimean graves is primarily due, is now his Majesty's
Consul at Manila.


mosque and minaret, pretty, very slightly veiled
Tartar maidens, and a clear, brawling stream, where
we had a delicious bathe after our long, scorch-
ing ride a perfect bit of Arcady in the heart of
these parched Crimean wastes.

At Odessa a clever French surgeon patched up
poor Blane sufficiently to enable him to continue
the journey, and on the 9th of July we were on our
way to Kiew. The sight of the boundless ocean of
wheat, just ripening for the sickle, which we skirted
all through the hot, breathless night, remains with
me as a vision of wealth untold and unrealised, so
inadequate were the means existing in those days
for conveying these gigantic stores of grain to any
profitable market. A very large portion of the
golden harvest was probably doomed to perish for
want of roads and transport. We called at Kiew on
the Governor-General Dondoukow Korsakow, who
welcomed us most kindly and made us free of his
table during the whole of our stay. We had seen
nothing but Russian newspapers for more than a
week, and I was very glad when the Governor-
General handed me the last numbers of the Journal
de St. Pc'terxbourg, observing at the same time that
they contained nothing of interest. The first item
of news I came upon was the Hohenzollern candida-
ture for the vacant throne of Spain, and I remember
at once telling the incredulous Dondoukow how
grave seemed to me the possible consequences of
this move on the part of the Prussian Government.


Knowing what I did of the political undercurrents,
a conflict between France and Prussia was, I
thought, now inevitable.

Holy Kiew, " the Jerusalem of Russia," has left
me but indistinct recollections, of which the cele-
brated, but distressingly gruesome, catacombs of
St. Anthony, and the grand view from the cliff
overhanging the Dnieper across the limitless plains
that stretch away into the very heart of Muscovy,
alone survive. Even of Moscow, where we stopped
three nights, I have preserved little beyond a
general impression of the semi-barbaric splendour of
the Kremlin and the uncouth, baroque magnificence
of Vassili Blajennoi, the fact being that I was
impatient to get home to Petersburg, where my
family were shortly due from Belgrade, and was
also very anxious to be back at my post at this,
I felt certain, decisive crisis in European affairs.
What I do remember, however, is meeting coming
out of the Hotel Dussaux, where we were staying a
Prince Lobanow (a cousin of Nadine's), who told me
he had that morning (the lyth of July, I think)
arrived from his habitual headquarters at Baden-
Baden, the French, when he left, being hourly
expected to cross the Rhine.

Before going on leave T had taken one of the
Koucheleff dachas 1 at Ligovo for the summer, and
thither we went on my wife's return, the third week
in July. vScattered about in this neighbourhood

1 Small country house or villa.


were the summer retreats of several of the British
colony. At Ligovo itself was a pleasant couple of
the name of Gibson, belonging to the important
house of Hubbard, and at Strelna the very hospit-
able Bairds. George Baird had succeeded not long
before to some ironworks, which were the oldest and
most considerable at Petersburg. He once told me
that he had found, among the confidential papers of
the firm, a very large contract with the Imperial
Government for the supply of bars or wedges of
iron to prop up the walls of the Isaac Cathedral, the
huge foundations of which periodically showed signs
of subsidence. One of the conditions of the con-
tract was that it should be kept strictly secret, so
sensitive are, or were, the Russian authorities to
anything becoming known at all disparaging to
the Ingrian swamp daringly chosen by Peter for
his capital, or, as he termed it, his " window upon
Europe." The fact is that, were it not for the un-
told millions sunk in its primitive morass, Peters-
burg would probably have been given up long ago
as the seat of empire. " Floating like a bark
overladen with precious goods " on the waste of
waters around, its doom might even now be accom-
plished by an inroad from the waves of the Gulf,
such as very heavy gales from the south-west bring
about, and the approach of which is always notified
by alarm guns from the fortress. 1

1 It is said that a possible combination of exceptionally high tides
and of a south-westerly hurricane might produce such a catastrophe.


The factory at Petersburg is in some sense a
unique body among British trading communities, and
has highly interesting associations. The house of
Thomson and Bonar, for instance, is of such old stand-
ing that its books go back to a period not so very far re-
mote from the days when Richard Chancellor, landing
on his voyage of discovery at the mouth of the Dwina,
first obtained leave to trade from Ivan the Terrible.
Indeed the story of our Russia merchants and their
earlier settlements at Archangel and Moscow would
be most interesting, and well deserves to be written
by some competent authority. Our greatest friends
in the community were the Archibald Balfours, of
Thomson and Bonar's, who afterwards showed me
unbounded kindness at a time of great trouble.
The short summer passed away pleasantly enough,
varied by excursions to Peterhof, Ropscha that
dreary site of the murder of Peter III. and
Tsarskoe Selo. It was at the races at the latter
place, on the i8th of August, that we first heard
of the great battles fought round Metz and the
sanguinary reverses of the French, and I well re-
collect the consternation caused by the news, the
feeling in Russian society being strongly on the
French side. My acquaintance with M. de Monte-
bello, who had just joined the French Embassy,
which he has since occupied as Ambassador for
many years, dates from that inauspicious clay.

Early in September the cold and damp drove us


into town to our old quarters at the Embassy, where,
on the 22nd of October, was born my second son,
William Edwin, named after his godfather, my very
old friend, Edwin Egerton, then serving with me
at the Embassy. In the course of this autumn and
winter we saw much of the American Minister,
" Governor" Curtin, so called from his having
administered the great State of Pennsylvania all
through the Civil War. Curtin was very friendly
to England, and did us essential service in expos-
ing the intrigues by which the Russian Minister at
Washington, Catacazy, endeavoured to frustrate our
then pending negotiations with the United States
Government for the settlement of the Alabama and
other claims. My chief recollection, however, of the
American diplomatist is in connection with a very
different subject. There was just then in Peters-
burg society a craze for table-turning, spirit-rapping,
<fec. My little wife also amused herself trying her
hand at planchette, and certainly the results she
obtained quite puzzled me, knowing how incapable
she was of deceit in the matter. One evening at
the Curtins she was thus engaged, when Curtin,
habitually the blandest of men, almost sternly re-
quested her to desist from this amusement, which
touched, he told her, upon questions much too
serious to be trifled with. His earnestness so im-
pressed me that I begged him to explain his objec-
tions to me, whereupon he related what follows.


At the very eve of the great war, he was hard at
work one day in the Government Offices at Phila-
delphia, when he was told that a person wished to
speak to him on important business. Although
very busy, he consented to see the applicant for a
few minutes. The man ushered in was unknown
to him and apparently in poor circumstances, while
he evidently hailed from some Western State.
" Mr. Curtin," he said, " I have a very urgent
message for you which I must put in writing." He
forthwith sat down and began to scribble, Curtin
watching him with feelings that turned to utter
amazement when he recognised, in what flowed
from the pen of this entire stranger, the unmis-
takable handwriting of the mother he had lost not
long before, and to whom he was devotedly attached.
The message was not lengthy, but of so extraordi-
nary a character that, when the writer had finished,
Curtin asked what he could do for him, offering him
money, or at any rate a free pass on the railway to
take him to his distant home. The man thanked
him, but declined any assistance, and repeated that
he had simply been impelled to deliver the message
in this form, Curtin remaining under the impres-
sion that he did not understand its import, and was
acting mechanically under some mysterious influ-
ence. What he had thus written was a rough fore-
cast of the chief events of the great contest which
then had not yet broken out. Curtin was so struck
by the circumstances, that he imparted them in con-


fidence, at the time, to friends at Philadelphia who,
with him, afterwards watched with intense interest
the developments predicted in the message. The
result of this incident, however, was that, whenever
he was in any doubt or difficulty, he resorted to the
means so strangely indicated, and always received
replies which he felt absolutely certain were in his
mother's handwriting. That Mr. Curtin told me
this singular story in perfect good faith I cannot for
a moment doubt.

The skating this winter of 1870-71 was more
enjoyable than usual, the club rink being at a
sheltered spot in the Vassili Ostroff, instead of on
the Neva near the Nicholas Bridge, where the icy
draught was intolerable. And this reminds me of
the only English visitors we had, this winter, in
Lord and Lady Milton, who came the whole way
from Odessa with their small children in severely
cold weather. All I knew of Lord Milton was his
having published an interesting book of travels in
the then almost unknown Canadian Far West, and
I was of course glad to do what I could for him
at Petersburg, being then again in charge of the
Embassy. When he called upon me, however, I
soon realised that the intelligence of the author
scarcely came up to the reputation of his book,
and was considerably distressed when he expressed
a wish to see Prince Gortchacow. I, nevertheless,
somewhat rashly mentioned him to the Chancelicr,
who graciously replied that he would be glad to


make the acquaintance of a son of Lord Fitz-
william. It was a harmless pose of his to affect a
certain familiarity with English society, about which
he really knew very little. The next day, and tres
a contre-cceur, I took my compatriot to the old
Prince, who received him with great distinction,
and was profuse in offers of service. " What could
he do for him ? Could he give him an order for
anything not generally shown to strangers, &c.,
&c. ? " No ; he wanted nothing. At last he said :
' Well, if you are so kind as to wish to assist me,
I have a favour to ask." " Name it ! " said the
Prince. " It is for the babies" said Lord Milton.
My dismay knew no bounds ; I feared that la fohe
furieuse avait succede au ramollissement. " What ? "
I exclaimed. "What?" echoed the Prince. "I
want some rusks for my babies," he calmly replied.
In vain I assured him he could get them at any
baker's. "No! not those I want. They are only
made in the Emperor's kitchen ; my courier told
me so." " Comment done!" exclaimed the Chan-
celier, " I am going to the Council of Ministers,
and, on my way, will stop at the Grand Marechal's.
Milord ! you shall have your rusks." And he was
as good as his word, the rusks coming shortly
afterwards, with a note from Jomini which I keep
among my curiosa. Ikit they were not the right
ones after all, and Milton couldn't get over it. Lord
Granville, 1 to whom I wrote the story, was much

1 Foreign Secretary at that time.



amused by it. As for me, I readily forgave poor Lord
Milton the painful embarrassment he had caused me,
for the sake of his charming and very pretty wife,
who skated most gracefully, I remember, and was
almost as great a proficient on the ice as my wife.

Beyond skating, one gets no healthy exercise at
Petersburg in winter, the heavy furs one has to wear
making a real good stretch an impossibility. The
fashionable promenade is the Quai de la Cour,
which runs along the Winter Palace, and, when
strolling there just before the early darkness of
winter had set in, it was interesting to note the
groups of gorodovoys (city police) all on the alert,
till presently a tall general officer, in plain military
overcoat, would appear, accompanied by a bright-
looking girl of about sixteen, with very pretty hair
escaping behind from her fur cap, and a couple of
big dogs the Emperor with his daughter and in-
separable companion the Grand Duchess Marie,
afterwards Duchess of Edinburgh. So great a
favourite was she with her father that, at the first
reception held by the young princess of foreign
diplomates to be presented to her, it was said the
Emperor stood listening the whole time behind the
half-open door. No police precautions, alas! availed
to shield this, in many respects admirable, sovereign
from the horrible fate that was to overtake him ten
years later. I well recollect the news of it coming
to me, with a great shock, in a sunny verandah over-
looking the broad waters of the River Plate.


The Embassy, this last winter of ours at
Petersburg, was much enlivened by the presence
of Miss Rashleigh, niece of the Ambassadress, and of
Miss Louisa Buchanan, her step-daughter ; additional
interest being given to the visit of the latter young
lady by an attachment which soon developed between
her and our last new Attache", Sir George Bonham, 1
and which we all conspired to help on to its happy
issue. Beyond a few festivities at our Embassy,
however, and the stereotyped Court entertainments,
the season was a dull one, the great war in the
West, which had now culminated in the siege of
Paris, casting its gloom over everything. As an
interesting incident of this period, I may men-
tion meeting General Todleben at dinner at the
Embassy, and hearing him express his views on
the difficulties of the investment. The confidential
reports he received were, he told us, to the effect
that, however large might be the total of the
German forces engaged in the field, there were
times when the army surrounding Paris, owing
to its having to detach large bodies to a distance
to check the French advancing to the assistance
of the beleaguered capital, was reduced to little
more than 200,000 men, and the investing cordon
thus became very weak at certain points. The
great defender of Sebastopol seemed to be of

1 Sir George Bonham, Bart., now Envoy at Belgrade. I had the
pleasure of having the Bonhams with me many years later at the
Legation at the Hague.


opinion that want of unity of design and action
on the part of the French commanders, more even
than the inferior quality of the troops inside Paris
or operating outside for its relief, were the causes
of the failure to break through an iron girdle less
formidable in reality than it looked.

These great events, which to me were of
absorbing interest, on account of my many asso-
ciations with the country undergoing so terrible
an ordeal, kept our hands full at the Embassy.
The sincere desire shown by our Government,
from the beginning, to afford to the French, in
their extremity, such diplomatic assistance as was
compatible with neutrality, led to frequent pour-
parlers with the Imperial Chancellerie, which made
St. Petersburg a most active and interesting post.
Little justice has been done to us in France for
sympathies which grew stronger as the struggle
went more and more against her. In Russian
society, too, there was a current in favour of the
French that was strengthened by the, to say the
least, severe proceedings of their conquerors. But
the Imperial Government, from motives it was at
first difficult to divine, were throughout hostile to
France. Nowhere did M. Thiers fail more signally
in his patriotic tounwe than at St. Petersburg.
Under these circumstances the blindness of the
French Charge^ d'Affaires, Marquis de Gabriac, was
quite surprising. I had known Joseph de Gabriac
as a boy in Paris, and was ou very friendly terms


with him, but, as I reported to Lord Granville, it
was not a little provoking to hear him expatiating
on " les sympathies Russes pour nous" and con-
trasting them with what he called " votre abandon' 1
the truth being that it was the Imperial Govern-
ment which had all along frustrated every attempt
at mediation. I had an unofficial conversation in
February of 1871 with the Adjoint, or Assistant
Minister for Foreign Affairs, M. de Westmann
a pale but conscientious reflex of his chief and
was quite taken aback by the severity of his
language about the French nation and the future
of France. Referring, with much truth, to the
mortifying proof afforded by the last elections at
Paris (which shortly afterwards led to the Com-
mune) of the unchastened spirit of the Parisian
population, he said that the French showed such
lack of discipline and impatience of authority that
they could only be compared to the Poles. France
had long played a leading part in Europe and had
wielded great power, but she had made so bad a
use of her advantages, that it was not to be re-
gretted that the preponderance to which she had
so tenaciously held should now pass to a nation
with infinitely more sens politiquc. The final
eclipse of France would be no European calamity.
In short, M. de Westmann pronounced u complete
funeral oration over that unhappy country, entirely
leaving out the conventional expressions of regret
customary on such occasions.


The motives of the Russian attitude towards
the war from the first were made only too clear
by the famous Circular of October 31, 1870, de-
nouncing the Black Sea clauses of the Treaty of
Paris. Although this act of the Russian Govern-
ment came upon the diplomatic world as a bolt
from the blue, I owe it to the memory of Sir
Andrew Buchanan to say that he had, on various
occasions, warned our Government that Russia
was only watching for a favourable opportunity
to cast off the trammels imposed upon her, and
which, it is but fair to admit, were intolerable for
a great Empire. The grave international offence
committed by the Russian Government lay far
more in the sensational manner in which the Black
Sea clauses were repudiated than in the repudiation
itself, and for this objectionable proceeding the
vainglorious disposition of Prince Gortchacow is,
I think, chiefly accountable. 1 As for our Embassy,
we all of us, beginning with the Ambassador,
showed a bold front and made no concealment of
our belief that the action of the Russian Govern-
ment would cause great resentment in England,

1 I was subsequently assured at Constantinople that the is.-ue of the
famou^ Circular was principally due to Prince Oortchacow's learning
that General Ignatiew had mooted the abrogation of the neutrality
of the Black Sea in conversation with Aali Pasha, and his thereupon
determining "to show the world how he could handle that question
himself/' A draft was submitted to him proposing to the other
Powers an amicable discussion of the question, but he was so struck
by the tone adopted by Count Bismarck, in treating with Jules Favre
at Ferrieres, that he would not be outdone, and declared such a tone
to be the only one worthy of a great Empire.


and might have very serious consequences. To
the freedom of my language on this occasion I
owe the epithet of indisciplind applied to me by
the Chancelier, and the compliment paid me by
the Boswell of Prince Bismarck in referring to my
personal attitude in this affair. 1

I cannot forget the excitement with which we
watched for the arrival of the messenger bringing
the answer of her Majesty's Government to the auda-
cious Russian challenge, and how gathered round
Sir Andrew in the Chancery we listened to Lord
Granville's despatch, which opened with a very
vigorous and extremely well-worded protest against
the defiant breach of Treaty engagements the
Russian Government had permitted themselves,
but ended, alas ! not with the threat of at least a
diplomatic rupture, but with a peroration leaving
the door wide open for further discussion. We
were much disgusted, and all the more so that
our Government, by assuming a firmer attitude,
might probably have procured the withdrawal of
the offensive Circular and the substitution for it
of a reference, in more suitable terms, of the
Russian grievances to the other co-signatory Powers.
Russia, and still more her Prussian aiders and

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