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Princess Catherine radziwill.



Princess Catherine Radziwill

(Catherine Kolb)

With Photogravure Illustrations


New York and London


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Part I.— Memories of England


1. My Visit to England ....

2. English Political Circles ....

3. More English Impressions ....

4. England through the Eyes of a Foreigner



Part II.— Memories of Germany

1. The Emperor William I. .

2. Daily Life at the Court .

3. Receptions and Ceremonies

4. The Empress's Thursdays .

5. A Disappointed Life .

6. An Empress's Foibles

7. Prince Frederick

8. The Imperial Family .

9. The Entourage of the Sovereigns

10. Court Festivities in Berlin

11. Smart Society in Berlin .

12. A Few Berlin Hostesses .

13. The Radziwill Family


















14. The Intellectual World of Berlin . . . 147

15. Prince von Bismarck ...... 152

16. Count von Moltke and a Few Military Men . 164

17. The Reichstag and its Different Parties. . 168

18. The Diplomatic Corps ..... 177

19. Prince von Hohenlohe and Prince von Bulow. 184

20. Princess Victoria ...... 190

21. The Personality of the Crown Princess Victoria 201

22. Victoria as Empress 213

Part III.— Memories of Russia

1. Alexander III. and his Consort

2. The Imperial Family ....

3. Some of the Emperor's Ministers

4. The Personal Friends of the Emperor

5. High Society in St. Petersburg.

6. Social Life in St. Petersburg .

7. A Few Salons of Old

8. Pretty Women and Amiable Men

9. Princess Lise Volkhonsky .

10. Famous Diplomats ....

11. Journalism in Russia

12. Death of Alexander III. .

13. The Coronation of Nicholas II.

14. The Bell of Nyrob : a Russian Legend





Princess Catherine Radziwill . . Frontispiece


H.M. Queen Victoria in 1893 . . . . 6

The Right Hon. H. H. Asquith .... 20

The Right Hon. Winston L. S. Churchill . . 20

William I. of Prussia ...... 54

Frederick III. of Prussia ..... 90

Prince von Bismarck ...... 158

Count von Moltke ....... 158

Empress Frederick of Prussia .... 198

Alexander III. of Russia ..... 224

Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia . . . 224


Frankness is not a useful quality ; and unfortunately
I possess it, which fact has not contributed to make
my life more smooth. But I have reached an age
when the judgments of the crowd lose importance,
and when one does not easily part with one's own
opinions. I have had friends, and I have made
enemies; and whilst I care for the former, I never
trouble about the latter.

My experience of humanity has been varied ; but I
am thankful to be able to say that it has not embittered
me, because I hold that if only one's mind is made
up not to expect too much from mankind, and to
respect the selfishness which is the essential point in
its general character, it is possible to get along most
comfortably. It is in this consideration for the selfish-
ness of one's neighbours that one can find the best
means of getting on in the world.

One is always considered pleasant when one neither
expects nor asks anything of anybody; and yet is
willing to give without stint. If once this fact is
recognised, one can afford to be amused at the kaleido-
scopic spectacle which passes before the eyes of one
who finds amusement in observing the hidden springs
which move the marionettes of that large theatre called
human life.

X Introduction

Personally I have found that spectacle most enter-
taining, and delight in it to the present moment. It
changes so constantly in its details, and yet is so un-
changeable in its dramatic character, that one can well
afford to forget oneself in watching it.

When thus I wander in the past and try to think
where I was happiest, it seems to me difficult to decide.
Almost everywhere I have been I have met nice people ;
and where sometimes this has not been the case, then
I have hastened to forget. I knew I could not alter
character, therefore why bother my mind with un-
pleasant memories ?

As to those whose descriptions appear in this book,
I have painted them exactly as I saw them. I have
tried not to be unfair, and I do not think I have been
harsh in my judgments, though I may have shown
myself severe. Severity is not unkindness, although
it is often mistaken for such. Unkindness is cruel ;
severity is just. I have endeavoured to be just— and
I have not found it difficult to be so.

I have begun these wanderings into a past full of
agreeable hours with my impressions of England and
the English. My motive has been twofold. First,
because my book being published in England it should
be of particular interest to Enghsh-speaking peoples
to read a foreigner's impressions. My second reason
is that I have the sincere conviction that nowhere as
in England exists such a spirit of all-round good fellow-
ship and toleration.

The second part of my book concerns itself with
Germany, my home for many years.

The period during which I lived in Berlin was an

Introduction xi

education in itself. I saw many curious things, and
met many remarkable people.

Circumstances following upon my father's death
made me leave the German capital. I would not be
speaking the truth if I said that I was sorry for this.
I have certainly no reason to regret the years which
I spent in Berlin. People were most amiable to me ;
the Royal Family treated me with a kindness for
which I shall remain for ever grateful.

After I left Berlin, I was thrown into a different
circle altogether, which certainly was more congenial
to me, because I happened to be an actor— not a mere
spectator— in the drama of hfe such as it presented
itself there. Then came journeys in foreign countries,
acquaintances with other persons, all the vicissitudes
of a varied and interesting life, which happily for me
has left me unembittered.

I was not sorry, however, when circumstances
brought me back to the land of my birth, to the Russia
I loved so dearly, and to which so many family ties
bound me. My father and grandfather had served
Russia faithfully and long. My wanderings led me to
St. Petersburg, which, because of recent events, has
been rechristened Petrograd.

I was very fond of St. Petersburg and its society,
and found myself thoroughly at home. People were
undoubtedly far less formal than in Berlin. It was
therefore with feelings of unmixed pleasure that I
took a house, and settled in the capital of Russia.
I had already spent several seasons in Russia and
had enjoyed them thoroughly, especially the weeks
which I passed in Moscow, at the time of the Coronation

xii Introduction

of the late Emperor. These years have remained in
my recollection surrounded with a halo of joy and
happiness which nothing has been able to efface, and
it is therefore with infinite pleasure that I recall them.
I have never been able to understand the famous
lines of Dante when he says :

" No greater woe
Can be than to remember happy days."

It seems to me, on the contrary, that it is soothing
to the heart and mind to be able to look back on
days when one thought that one had everything heart
could desire. In truth, this world of ours is not such
a bad place after all. Kind people are to be found ;
generous folk too ; and my experience of sovereigns,
which has been varied, has proved to me that nowhere,
perhaps, can one meet with more generous instincts
than amongst them.

I firmly beheve that as existence becomes more
complicated, as events go on, as the struggle for life
gets harder, as jealousies stand out with more acute-
ness, the better and nobler qualities of human nature
also shine more brilliantly than they did when every-
thing seemed simple and easy in hfe. The world is
changed, perhaps for better, perhaps for worse ; but
it is quite certain that we have all become more serious
than we were at the time of my youth, and this not-
withstanding the " tango " and yet more recent
crazes for excitement.

Unknown heroisms still abound, customs pass and
fashions change, but the soul of man remains immortal.
After all, life is so short and eternity so long, that it

Introduction xiii

would be a great mistake to trouble ourselves about
what happens here below.

People may call me a philosopher ; they will never
be able to think me a misanthrope, for indeed the
faculty of enjoyment exists in me just as intensely as
in the days of my youth. And, standing on the thres-
hold of old age, I am glad to say that I have lived and
loved, suffered and been merry; that my past has
been sweet, though it has known bitter hours; but
there is not a single page in it I would care to tear

Memories of England

Memories of Forty Years



IT is always with particular affection that my
thoughts linger on that part of my remembrances
which touches the numerous journeys I have made
to England. After my own native Russia, it is the
country I care for most ; it is the only one where one
can live in the enjoyment of many small things that
add to the pleasure of life, which there seem natural,
whilst everywhere else one can only obtain them after
a strenuous fight.

My eldest daughter was presented at the Court of
St. Petersburg in 1893, and we thought it to her advan-
tage to take her to England, thus giving her the oppor-
tunity of spending a season in London. Personally, I
love England, though English politics have not always
been to my liking, and I have always felt admiration
for its vigour and the strong intellectual movement
that has always characterised the whole course of
English history. English science, English literature,
English art, have always seemed to me to be imbued
with far more personal, individual feeling than any-
where else, perhaps on account of the fact that in no


Memories of Forty Years

other country of the world has private independence
of opinion been more carefully respected.

English society, too, appeared to me to be built
on stronger, healthier lines than in France, or even in
my own beloved Russia. Men and women moved
about with far more freedom and far less regard for
those social hypocrisies and customs which one observes
without respecting them. For a girl born and bred in
a relatively small and narrow circle a visit to England
was an education in itself, and I wanted my daughter
to have this, so as to broaden her views, and to afford
her a sight of life as it exists in that wide, wide world
which London, more than any other place in the uni-
verse, represents.

We arrived in England in April, 1893, and spent
three dehghtful months of the season in the vast
metropolis that is so unique and so different from
anywhere else in Europe. We certainly enjoyed our
visit — I perhaps more than my daughter, because she
was still too young and inexperienced to appreciate
the grandeur of all that she saw and amidst which she
moved during our stay in London. But yet she, too,
was impressed by that dear, old, merry England and
the infinite resources it offers to the thinker and the
philosopher, the poet and the artist, the man of science
and the man of pleasure, the politician and the writer,
to all those who look beyond the present moment and
the present day for their instruction and their judg-

As for myself, I must own that I carried away the
pleasantest impressions of those few weeks. London,
even if one knows no one in it, is a place where


The Fascination of London

it is impossible to remain dull. I have spent hours
roaming in Westminster Abbey, meditating over the
multitude of historical incidents that are associated
with it and inseparable from its name. And the
treasures of the National Gallery, the British Museum,
and other places of less world-wide fame would be in
themselves sufficient to satisfy the most ambitious
wishes and help the stranger to spend his time profit-
ably and usefully.

But when one has friends amidst that refined,
polished society, then indeed one enjoys oneself as
nowhere else in the world. For a Russian, coming
from a country where life runs on such very different
lines from those of England, such a visit is most
refreshing to the mind and healthy to the soul. At
least, that is what I have always felt when in London.

Politics at that time were respected, which at
present they are not. The tide of democracy has, un-
fortunately, also invaded England. She has lost her
greatest politicians of the Victorian days, those who
had kept the traditions which Burghley and Walsing-
ham fought for in the time of Elizabeth, and of Pitt
and of Fox in later reigns. Gladstone was then alive,
and the gigantic figure of Lord Salisbury was com-
manding the political horizon with its imposing mag-
nitude. Mr. Balfour still represented the hopes of the
Conservatives, just as much as Lord Rosebery was
considered by the Liberal party to be the one great
man of the future. Mr. Lloyd George had not come
above the horizon, and scarcely any outsiders had
penetrated into the exclusive ranks of society ; even
American millionaires were not yet considered indis-


Memories of Forty Years

pensable to the welfare of London's smart circles. It
is true that Baron Hirsch was to be met at some
great houses, such as the stately home of the lovely
Duchess of Devonshire ; but then he was looked upon
by many as an unnecessary evil, whereas to-day he
would be considered as an unavoidable one.

Some hostesses, like the late Lady Salisbury, held
strong opinions as to who could or could not be admitted
to their entertainments, and even the necessities of
political life did not make them yield, whatever might
be the party exigencies. I remember an amusing story
that was told me at Hatfield House about Sir Philip
Currie, who had persistently implored Lady Salisbury
to send a card for one of her " At Homes " to a certain
important supporter of the Conservative party in
some obscure provincial town. The Marchioness
always refused, until at last Sir Philip — who, let it
be said en passant, always managed to get his own
way whenever he had some particular aim in view —
ended by declaring that he could vouch that the
person in question would simply place the card on
his mantelpiece, and never dare to put in an appear-
ance at the Foreign Office. When Lady Salisbury
asked him how he could undertake the responsibility
of making such a statement, he declared that he could
do so because he happened to know that the man
for whom he was begging the invitation did not
possess any evening clothes. The argument proved
successful, because the card was sent ; but I cannot
say whether the person who received it abstained
from making use of it for the reason put forward by
Sir Philip Currie.


HER Majesty queen Victoria in 18 93.

A Glimpse of Queen Victoria

Looking over some old letters and diaries referring
to that London season, I find in one of them a few
remarks concerning my impressions of what I saw,
and especially about a garden party at Marlborough
House, given in honour of the marriage of the Duke
of York, now King George V., at which I had the
honour of seeing Queen Victoria again. Writing to
a friend of mine, after whose death my correspondence
with her was returned to me, I find the following
description of the Queen, which may prove interest-
ing, considering the fact that it was not destined for
publication, but represented exactly the impression
produced upon my mind by her personality.

"I did not think that the Queen, at the advanced
age she has reached, would have preserved such an
imposing appearance. There is in her small, rather
bent figure a quiet dignity that would single her out
at once as a queen, in spite of the extreme simplicity
of her dress, as well as of her demeanour, which is
that of an elderly woman. The sound of her voice is the
same as ever, and reminds one so much of the dear
Empress Frederick. The eyes are frank and sincere, and
they look at you with an expression of intense truth ;
but they are imperious, and reveal a character that does
not brook contradiction.

" She arrived rather late, and after having been
driven round the grounds in a kind of small pony
carriage, she sat down in a tent that had been arranged
for her, where she had some tea, reclining in an arm-
chair and keeping in her hand a stick upon which
she leaned when walking.

" The Royal Family surrounded her, and it seemed


Memories of Forty Years

to me that they stood somewhat in awe of her. The
sight of that aged lady in her simple dress who repre-
sented so much power, so much might, and who
bore the burden with such utter lack of affectation,
was certainly very impressive, perhaps more so
than if she had appeared in her crown and royal

" A few days later I saw her again driving to St.
James's Palace in her gilded coach on the occasion
of the wedding of her grandson. Our windows opened
on Piccadilly, and we could watch the procession as
it moved slowly along amid the cheers of the crowds
that lined the streets. The Princess of Wales, with
whom was our Grand Duke Tsarevitch and the King
and Queen of Denmark, was welcomed with great
effusion ; but all the enthusiasm of the mob seemed
directed towards the bride in her white attire and
the Queen, opposite whom sat the Duchess of Teck.
One could at once see how very popular is Queen
Victoria among her subjects, perhaps because no other
sovereign has understood so well how to appeal to their
inmost feelings and to associate them with all her
joys and sorrows, as so consistently she does.

" I would not say it aloud, for fear of being charged
with using exaggerated language ; but, in my eyes,
Queen Victoria appears in the light of an exceedingly
fascinating woman, in spite of her years. There is
in her face, even more than in that of her daughter,
the Empress Frederick, an extreme charm. It is
seen, too, in her eyes and her voice ; her whole person,
in fact, expresses great sympathy, just as much as
it demands it, and to that must be added the prestige


Queen Mary's Happy Girlhood

of the traditions which she embodies, the grandeur
which she represents."

It was not only Queen Victoria who impressed me
during my stay in London. In a certain sense I was
struck by the simpHcity of the whole Royal Family,
so different were they from our own Grand Dukes.
The Duchess of Teck especially remains in my mind
as a vivid example of affability and kindness com-
bined with simple dignity. Anything more pleasant
than her welcome when we called upon her at White
Lodge could not be found, and one quite forgot whilst
there that one was in the home of Royalty, so entirely
free from etiquette it seemed. And one of the happiest
of that united family was Princess May, the present
Queen of England. Ever since she has shared the
throne she has been an example of what a queen should
be in every possible way ; but she certainly owes
much to the wonderful education she received under
the superintendence of her accomplished mother, who
has placed the whole of England under a debt of deep
gratitude for the care she took in bringing up her
daughter to fill the place she so worthily occupies.

Talking of White Lodge reminds me of an adven-
ture that befell us one Sunday when we called there.
We had been invited by my present son-in-law. Prince
Bliicher, to dine that evening with him at the Star
and Garter, Richmond, and we decided to start a
little earlier so as to be able to pay our respects to
the Duke and Duchess of Teck during the afternoon.
After we had brushed the dust off our clothes I asked
the porter of the Star and Garter to call a carriage.
Hearing this, Prince Bliicher, always on economy


Memories of Forty Years

bent, declared that it would be far too expensive, and
that he would go himself and get us a fly, for " half
the money this man will require," he energetically
added. It was impossible to prevent him putting this
virtuous intention into execution, and perforce we sat
down in the hall and waited for his return. In about
fifteen minutes he reappeared with the dirtiest, most
disreputable-looking vehicle it has ever been my for-
tune to see. When I perceived it I began protest-
ing energetically, and declared that we could not
possibly enter the gates of White Lodge in such a dis-
graceful conveyance, to which Prince Bliicher declared
that we need not do that, and could leave the sorry-
looking object outside. Time was pressing, so, gather-
ing our skirts together, we jumped into this filthy
carriage, which we were very careful to abandon within
reasonable distance of the ducal residence, where we
made our appearance in the guise of peaceful pedes-

Everything went well at first ; but when we took
leave of the kindly, amiable Duchess, the Duke said
he would have our carriage called on to the lawn
in front of the house. We immediately protested
with touching unanimity, that we had no carriage,
which was not such an untruth after all, and that we
intended returning to the Star and Garter on foot,
just as we had come. " Oh, in that case," said the
Duke, " I shall take you down to the gate at least."
In a fit of desperation I begged him to abstain from
doing so, saying it was really too good of him, and
that for nothing in the world would we give him such
trouble ; but my protestations were useless, the Duke


The Duke of Teck's Courtesy

proved adamant, and insisted on walking down to the
road with us, where the miserable fly that had won
the heart of my son-in-law by its cheapness was wait-
ing. When the driver saw us, what did he imme-
diately do but start his horse and come to meet
us ! At first we pretended we did not see him ; but
the man was resolute, and, to my intense consterna-
tion, began calling us by name. " Why, what does
this creature want from vou ? " asked the Duke of
Teck, upon which, overcome by my feelings, I sat
down on a stile by the road and burst out laughing ;
for, finding that truth is always best, and that we had
failed in observing the eleventh commandment and
had been found out, we related the whole story to
His Highness, who joined in our mirth with the good
nature which was one of his characteristics.

It was about that time, shortly before the marriage
of the Duke of York, that the ship Victoria went down
in the Mediterranean, together with brave Admiral
Try on and so many others. A State ball was to be
given at Buckingham Palace the next day ; but it
was immediately countermanded by order of the
Queen, who thus showed her keen sense of the mis-
fortune that had befallen her Navy. My daughter
was disappointed at the loss of this opportunity to be
present at a Court ball in England ; but, thanks to
the kindness of Baron de Staal, the Russian Ambassa-
dor, we were invited to another, which was attended
by our Grand Duke Tsarevitch, who had arrived in
England a few days before for the marriage of his
cousin, the present King George, with Princess May
of Teck.


Memories of Forty Years

I cannot say that I was very much impressed by
the inside of Buckingham Palace. It seems that now
it is immensely improved, and arranged with much
better taste than during the reign of Queen Victoria.
In 1893 its decoration had evidently not been altered
since Prince Albert had designed it, after his marriage
with the Queen. The supper room during the ball
was the scene of a terrible crush, so that it was next
to impossible to find even a sandwich to eat ; but the
entertainment itself was regal, by reason of the pomp
that accompanied it, as well as by the splendid uni-
forms, beautiful dresses, wonderful jewels, and lovely
women, the equal of which I have never seen in any
other city. The procession of the Royal Family as
it entered the ballroom was most interesting, and the
quaintness of the Palace added to the beauty of the

I remember having a lengthy conversation during
that ball with the late Duke of Argyll, then Marquis of
Lome, who had known my father and mother-in-law
when he had been in Berlin following his course of
education. The Duke was a quiet, rather shy man,
highly cultured, exceedingly well read, and versed in

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