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Chapter 23:

Leaving London on the 23d of October, with intent to pass the winter in Dresden, the first point of pause on the Continent was Brussels, where Mr. Ticknor arrived on the 6th of November, but, to his regret, found that his friend, Mr. Hugh S. Legare,—then United States Charge d'affaires in Belgium, —was in Paris. The season, of course, was dull, the Court absent, and little of interest in the local society. Mr. Ticknor, however, saw M. Quetelet and one or two other persons whom he was glad to know, and describes, in the following entry in his journal, the beginning of a delightful acquaintance with a charming circle.


One day I passed very agreeably with the Marquis Arconati and his family, including the Count Arrivabene1 and two other Italian exiles. They live, except in winter, at the Castle of Gaesbeck, about eight miles from Brussels, a fine, large old pile of building, connected in history with the troubles of Holland, and full of recollections of that disastrous period. It is pleasantly situated on the edge of a valley, upon which it looks down, and there they live as happily as exiles can. They were all implicated in the revolutionary movements in Italy, of which Pellico, Confalonieri, etc., were a part, and for the last twelve years Arconati and Arrivabene have been under sentence of death. They are all people of most agreeable intellectual culture, and Arrivabene, Berchet, and Salviati are authors of reputation; but the fortunes of all of them were confiscated or sequestered when sentence was issued against their persons.

Arconati, however, had large estates and means beyond the reach [451] of the Austrian power, as well as still larger ones within it. But though his incomes are diminished, they still enable him to live in great luxury, which he most generously and pleasantly shares with his less fortunate fellow-sufferers.

It was strange to find everything in relation to the modes of living arranged in a Dutch chateau upon Italian habits and fashions. The day was cold and bright, ice having formed a little over night, but the rooms, filled with fine furniture and pictures, had no carpets, and only one had a fire. They dislike — with a true Italian repugnance-direct heat, and after we had taken a little walk round the grounds,—which made Mad. Arconati shudder, in the rich, warm sun, and on which her sister would not venture,—we all went into a grand room in one of the round towers of the castle, where, the walls being about sixteen feet thick, that pleasant moderate temperature is preserved which the people of the South of Europe prefer to every other. There we talked until dinner.

Mad. Arconati is a sweet, winning, intellectual lady of the simplest manners, entirely devoted to her husband, whose fortunes she has followed in his exile,—though she might have lived in great splendor at Milan,—and to her son, who is now a student at Bonn of much promise. The Marquis is a frank, high-minded gentleman, and Arrivabene is an original thinker, who is much valued by Whately, Senior, and that set of men, and who was consulted upon the subject of the English Poor-Laws by the committee of Parliament, in whose proceedings his report fills a considerable space.

Salviati has just published an Italian translation of Goethe's ‘Faust,’ a bold, and—from what I saw of it—not a successful undertaking, but he talked very agreeably. Indeed, we passed an hour or two very pleasantly in that grand old room, covered with recollections of the days of Egmont and William of Orange, and lighted only with painted glass, which suited well to the tone of the room itself.

Dinner followed. It was served in a room without a fire and miserably chilling and cold. The table was covered, after the Italian fashion, with an abundant and beautiful dessert of fruit, ornamented with flowers, and various wines; but the soup, meats, etc., were carried round by the servants. The cooking, service, and so on, were all excellent, but it was so cold it was not possible to enjoy it, at least not for me. Indeed, they all complained, and as soon as we could get through seven or eight courses we went into the room with a fire, warmed ourselves and took coffee, and had more very pleasant conversation, after which I parted from them and came back to Brussels. [452] It was a most agreeable visit, and yet there was something strange and sad about it; not only because the Italian customs and feelings I witnessed formed such a contrast with the climate and circumstances in which I found them, but because I could not well avoid constantly remembering that two of the high-minded, intellectual persons with whom I was sitting and conversing were under sentence of death, and two others liable to imprisonment for life if they could be found within the grasp of Austrian power.

Waterloo.— Certainly we did not pass six days in Brussels without giving one of them to Waterloo, which is only nine miles off; and I must needs say that I have seldom passed one of the sort in a manner so entirely satisfactory. It was all plain; the battle, the positions, the movements, everything; and all quite intelligible at a single glance, from the top of the vast mound erected by the Belgians in honor of the victory. I will only mention a few things which surprised me.

First. We passed, of course, through the forest of Soignies, and I found it much larger than I anticipated. The road from Brussels lies through it the greater part of the way; and in general it is about twenty-one miles long and nine broad, so that the English, retreating from Ligny and Quatre Bras after the battles of the 16th of June, had no choice but to fight here. They could fall back no farther.

Second. Immediately on emerging from the forest, we came upon the poor little village of Waterloo, with its rather plain church. It was here the Duke of Wellington fixed his headquarters during the night of the 17th; but the little hamlet of Mont St. Jean is full a mile in front of it, and the farm-house of Mont St. Jean, which was exactly in the rear of the British centre, is a sort of outpost still farther on than the hamlet itself. I was surprised to find these distances so great.

Third. From the farm-house of Mont St. Jean to La Haye Sainte was not above twenty-five hundred feet, and from La Haye Sainte to La Belle Alliance, where the French centre passed the night before the battle, is just about twenty-five hundred feet more, so that the armies during that night were about three thousand feet only apart, and their outposts and videttes not above five hundred feet. I was greatly surprised to find these distances so small, particularly the last.

Fourth. We commonly hear of the two armies being encamped before the battle on two parallel ranges of hills, with a valley between. The land undulates a little, but there is nothing to be seen that deserves the name either of hill or of valley.

Fifth. The road by which the two armies had come up from the batties [453] of Ligny and Quatre Bras is an excellent, broad, well-built road, and divided each of the contending armies into about two equal parts.

Sixth. The monuments on the battle-ground—such as the Chateau of Hougoumont, the Ferme of Mont St. Jean, La Belle Alliance, Papelotte, and Merke Braine—were all as plainly and distinctly seen from the top of the great mound as the Common and its neighborhood, the bridges and the Neck, are seen from the top of our State House in Boston. . . . .

The great thing for which you go to Waterloo you certainly obtain, that is, a perfectly clear and satisfactory idea of the battle; and not of the battle merely, but of that extraordinary campaign which, though it lasted but four days, swept away fifty thousand human beings and decided the fate of Europe. On looking it all over, and considering the state of the battle at four o'clock, which had begun at eleven, I came somewhat unexpectedly to the conclusion that, if the Prussians had not come up, the English would have been beaten. This, in fact, I understand is now the general opinion, but it certainly was not so held in England soon after the battle, and it was not my own impression till I had been over the field.

November 11.—We remained over the 10th November at Bonn, and, besides going to see what relates to the University, drove into the environs and saw the beautiful views of the Rhine, with its flying bridge of boats, and the picturesque hills of Godesberg, and the Siebengebirge, from the Kreuzberg, as well as from the Alte Zoll, which overlooks the river just below the palace. They are worthy of their great reputation.

I found there, too, some of my old friends, and passed the little time I could give to such purposes most agreeably. The first evening I went to see Schlegel. He is, of course, a good deal changed since I saw him in 1817, for he is now, I suppose, about seventy years old, but he is fresh and active. He is much occupied, as he has been the last sixteen or eighteen years, with Sanscrit, about which he has published a good deal and holds the first rank; but he lectures here on two or three subjects every semestre, and in the course of the last year on Homer, on Roman history, and on the German language, lecturing on the first two in the Latin language, extemporaneously, which I am told he does very well. He talked to me about his Sanscrit a little more than I cared to have him, but that is the privilege of age; and he still loves to talk politics, as he always did, and show his knowledge in remote departments where you would least claim anything from him. But it is a pardonable vanity. [454]

On my return from Schlegel's, I had a visit from Welcker, still the same warm-hearted, kindly spirit I always found him. He is the head librarian, and to his exertions the University owes the collection of casts which is under his care, and which he uses in his lectures on Antiquity. He went with us over the University and spent a large part of the day in kind attentions, yesterday. I heard him lecture on Mythology in the evening, and afterwards went with him to the house of Professor Naumann, a very distinguished member of the Medical Faculty, where, with Schlegel and Mr. and Mrs. Naumann, I passed a couple of hours most agreeably. Schlegel was very entertaining, though very vain.

November 16.—To-day we passed through Gotha, and Erfurt, which is Prussian, and then came on in good season to Weimar, the weather mild and no snow to be seen. There was a great appearance of comfort along our road, and that peculiar air of advanced civilization which provides not only for the physical well-being of the whole people, but for their enjoyment of what is beautiful in nature and the arts, which I think is characteristic of the rule and influence of the Saxon families, wherever they have been extended. The ground was familiar to me. Some of it I passed over more than once in 1816, and I was not sorry to find that I had a fresh recollection of what I saw, and that my impression of the humanity and wisdom of these little governments, from the appearance of the country and the people, is the same now that it was formerly. Everybody here can read and write, and it is even a punishable offence in parents not to send their children to school. The love of what is beautiful, too, descends much lower in society, I think, than it does anywhere else.

I went in the evening to see my old friend Von Froriep, and found him changed from a young man to a grandfather, but as active as ever.

I was struck at Bonn with having Nasse, of the Medical Faculty, ask me about Dr. Gould and the writers for the ‘Boston Medical Journal’; and I was again struck this evening to find Froriep making an abstract of an article on Nightmare, from a very recent New York medical journal, of which he spoke with great interest. This, however, is only a specimen of the German spirit of inquiry. I understand there are five medical journals in Germany, which give quarter-yearly a regular account of what is contained in the medical journals of the United States. Froriep was familiar with all that relates to us in these particulars, and had, I found, all the statistics of our medical schools and whatever relates to medicine in the United States. But he is a remarkable man. . . . . [455]

November 17.—Mr. Von Froriep called on us this morning with his daughter,—an intelligent, well-bred lady, who speaks very good English,—and carried us to see the public library. I found Riemer there as head librarian, whom I knew here nineteen years ago; an interesting, learned man, who was long Goethe's private secretary. We barely went over the rooms, most of which I recollected well enough. The whole does honor to the little principality which sustains it. . . . .

In the afternoon we went to see Goethe's house. I remembered the simple, handsome staircase, and the statues that ornament it, perfectly well; but the rooms we saw, not being the common household rooms, were entirely new to me. His study and bedroom adjacent were exactly as he left them at the moment of death; the chairs, the table, the cushions, the books, the papers,—everything, in short, as if he were only gone out for an hour. They were, however, anything rather than cheerful and agreeable rooms. I should, indeed, hardly have called them comfortable; but he occupied them for nearly forty years, and they are, therefore, curious, but nothing else. The sleeping-room was a wretched little closet, with one window and no fireplace, a very ordinary bed without curtains, and the poor armchair in which he died. The whole was, indeed, very triste. I was most interested with looking at a copy of the last edition of his own Works, which was a good deal used, and with turning over the original manuscript of ‘Goetz of Berlichingen,’ and the ‘Roman Elegies.’

The other rooms contained his different collections in science and the arts; a very good cabinet for mineralogy and geology, a great deal in botany, quantities of small remains of antiquity, Roman and Greek, and copies of such remains, medals, and coins in great abundance, drawings and engravings. Of the last the number was enormous; many thousand, arranged according to the schools and masters, and on the whole more interesting than anything else I saw in the house.

The whole, in the way it is now exhibited, seemed to me a monument of the vanity of a man who was spoiled by a life — a very long life—of constant, uniform success, every wish not only fulfilled but anticipated, so that he came at last to think whatever related to himself to be of great consequence to the whole world. He therefore published, or left orders to publish, everything he had ever written, much of which is mere waste-paper; and now his will further directs all the little commonplace arrangements of a very ordinary study and sleeping-room to be shown to strangers, as matters of moment and [456] interest. The whole German nation is, however, in some degree responsible for this, for during the last five-and-twenty years of his life he was humored and worshipped in a way that I think no author ever was before. . . .

Dresden, November 20, 1835.—It seems as if our arrival in each considerable place where we are to stop were to be marked to us by some striking and sad event. We had hardly reached London when we were overtaken with news of James Mason's death, in whose grave were buried as many fond hopes as could well be at once disappointed.2 In Dublin, the letters we found waiting for us announced the death of our sweet niece, Catherine Dwight,3 one of those sorrows for which a long anticipation does not prepare the hearts of those who are most familiarly attached; and the death of Mrs. Kenyon, with whom, only a few days before, we had dined in London, full of vigorous health and the gayest spirits, a dreadful contrast to the letter of her husband to me written the day before her burial. And now, here in Dresden, the first letter I opened, on my arrival this morning, was one from his uncle, announcing to us Lord Milton's death, of a violent typhus fever, whom at this moment I seem to see before me, eager with life and spirits, leading off in the fox-chase at Wentworth, little thinking that in a short month he would be laid with the rest of his family in York Minster, where I had seen him constantly at the Festival, with his young and happy wife.

Such changes, perhaps, strike us more when we are away from home, and from our usual supports and resources; but certainly four such, coming in such rapid succession, would be remarkable at any time. . . .

Again in the evening we had another admonition. A bright but flaring light, illuminating the high buildings around the square on which we live, flashed in at our windows; we started up, and saw about an hundred young men with large torches, moving slowly and solemnly forward in a hollow square, surrounded with a dense crowd, that pressed on in silence. It was a body of students connected with one of the public institutions of the city going to sing hymns, after the fashion of the country, before the house of Bottiger, the night previous to his burial; and the effect of the silent multitude, illuminated by the torches which the young men tossed wildly about as they advanced in absolute silence, was very picturesque and imposing. To me it was very sad. When I was here in 1816 I had [457] known Bottiger better than anybody else, and I had counted much upon meeting him again and profiting by his great learning. I was even bringing him a book from Welcker, in Bonn, and was charged with messages for him from Schorn and Froriep, in Weimar; so sudden had been his death, though in advanced years, for he was seventy-six years old. In his particular department,—which was archaeology,—he has left no man in Germany who can fill his place.

November 29.—The last week I have given partly to making some necessary arrangements4 and partly to making a few acquaintance, such as I feel pretty sure we shall be glad to preserve. In the way of acquaintance, it so chanced that I began with Tieck, who, since Goethe's death, is the acknowledged head of German literature. He seems past sixty; stout and well-built, with a countenance still fine, and which must have been decidedly handsome, but a good deal broken in his person and bent with the gout. He has an air of decision about him that is not to be mistaken, and is, I dare say, somewhat whimsical and peculiar in his opinions and notions, as some of his books intimate, particularly what he has published on the English drama.

But I think he is agreeable; and he has a great deal of knowledge, both in old English and old Spanish literature. His collection of Spanish books surprised me. It is a great deal better than Lord Holland's, a great deal better than any one collection in England; but still, on most points, not so good as mine. He has been forty years in gathering it, and he has a very minute, curious, and critical knowledge of its contents; but his knowledge of Spanish literature goes no further than his own books will carry him, and in some parts of it I remarked quite a striking ignorance, which surprised me very much until I found how it happened. I have passed two evenings with him, and, as he keeps open house very simply and kindly, after the German fashion, I think I shall go there frequently.

The next acquaintance I made was that of the Minister of State, Von Lindenau. He is a mathematician and astronomer by education [458] and choice, and, after Baron Zach left the Observatory at Gotha, was for several years the head of it. How he came at the head of affairs in Saxony I know not; but up to 1830, and indeed for some time after that revolution, he had the Portfolio of the Interior. He is liberal in his opinions, but still, not being satisfied with the course of affairs, he resigned his place two or three years ago. This, however, created so much uneasiness in the country, that he was induced to keep the place of President of the Council; and, in order to have something to do, chose the Public Libraries, the Collections in the Arts and Sciences, etc., and the Institutions for the Poor as his department, but took no portfolio. His salary is a thousand rix dollars, fixed by himself; but, being a man of good property, he subscribed the same day fifteen hundred dollars towards the support of the poor. He is about fifty years old; a bachelor, living very simply; goes into no company and receives little; studies mathematics in his fine library of about 10,000 volumes; and, though he has so little charge in the state directly, has the reputation of controlling its policy and its more general interests more than any other of the Ministry.

I found him prompt, ready, business-like. On the points where I wanted some information from him he was clear and precise, kind and useful. On the points where he was disposed to make conversation with me,—especially in all that relates to America,—he was acute and sagacious; the only person I have yet found who seemed to have right notions about De Tocqueville's book. His manner is very alert, and uncommonly agreeable.

Early in the week I delivered my letters from Lord Palmerston and Miss Edgeworth to the British Minister here, and we have, in consequence, been most kindly received. He is the son of Lord Granard, and nephew of the late Marquis of Hastings,—better known as the Prince of Wales's Earl of Moira and the South Carolina Lord Rawdon,—and he lives here in a very pleasant, hospitable, and comfortable style, as a bachelor. His sister, Lady Rancliffe,—now, I think, just about fifty,—pleasant and good-natured, is here on a visit to him. Mr. Forbes is, I should think, not far from the age of his sister, and has been for a great many years in the diplomatic service of England,—at Lisbon, Vienna, etc.,—but he has never been a full minister till he was sent as such to this Court, two or three years ago. He seems extremely good-humored, and much disposed to do what will be useful and agreeable to us, and came with Lady Rancliffe and spent part of last evening with us.

One evening he carried me to the house of General Watzdorff,— [459] the principal officer in the King's household,—who receives once a week. There were about sixty or eighty persons present, including the whole diplomatic corps and those who are attached to the Court. The rooms were very good and comfortable, up two pair of stairs, according to a fashion I find very common in Dresden; the entertainment, tea, ices, fruit, etc., with three or four card-tables, and everything as easy as possible. But it is the lightest form of society. French was the only language spoken, and no two people seemed to talk together above five minutes. It began, I believe, about half past 8 o'clock, and by. half past 10 it was all over. This, however, is the custom here, where all the hours are early, both in families and society. I was presented to most of the foreign ministers and leading persons present; and, though it was neither a very interesting nor a very amusing evening, I dare say I shall go there occasionally to see what it is. The old General Watzdorff himself-between seventy and eighty—seemed a very good, kind person. He was Saxon Minister in St. Petersburg in 1810-12, and knew Mr. Adams very well, to whose son Charles he was godfather.

December 6.—We dined one day at half past 1 o'clock at Count Bose's,5 that being half an hour later than the King's dinner-hour. Everything was in the German style; five or six courses, but not long continued. The gentlemen rose with the ladies. We had Lohrmann, the astronomer, Carus, the King's physician,—a very pleasant man, whom I knew before,—and a Swiss baron. The conversation was chiefly in French. We reached home about half past 4. The truth is, the Germans, and especially the Saxons, know nothing about giving dinners, and give them rarely. Their amusements and intercourse all come in the evening.

Another day we dined with Mr. Forbes very pleasantly; the dinner between five and six o'clock, quite in French style, but nobody at table except his secretary, Mr. Barnard, and Lady Rancliffe.

Two evenings we went to the theatre; once to an opera, Bellini's ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ which was very well performed, especially the part of Romeo, by Mad. Heinefetter;. . . . and once to see Schiller's [460] ‘William Tell,’ which I was very glad to find could be played so well here, as I feel sure now that I shall see what I did not see at all in Germany before,—the principal dramas of Schiller and Goethe properly represented. The theatre in both its parts is certainly excellent, and the old King and the Court are almost always there.

We have, of course, made a good many acquaintance this week, though I wish to be slow about it. . . . . One person I was quite glad to meet at M. de Zeschau's the other evening; I mean Sonntag, who had been often at our house in Boston. He is the Secretary of the French Legation here, as he was of that in the United States.

December 21.—We went to the picture-gallery to-day for the first time. . . . We had not been earlier to see it because we have been much occupied, and because, as it is not regularly open in the winter, . . . . we did not wish to visit it until we could have leave to visit it freely. This I obtained about a week ago from Baron Lindenau. . . . . To-day we could only walk through it and get the most general impression of its contents. It is certainly a magnificent gallery, and greatly improved since I saw it in 1816. . . .

December 24.—Dresden has been entirely full for the last three days; its streets swarming with picturesque crowds from the country, and the fair in the Alte Markt overflowing. It has been altogether a beautiful sight to see. . .. . It was almost confusing to walk about, and in the evening, when the whole was lighted up,. . . . it glittered as if it were only arranged for exhibition and stage effect. . . .

In the evening we witnessed some of the results of this very peculiar national feeling and custom; that, I mean, of the children giving presents to the parents and the parents to the children on Christmas eve. We were invited to witness it at Baron Ungern Sternberg's. At first, in the saloon, we saw the Baron and his wife, whom I had met at Tieck's, people of a good deal of taste and cultivation, and we amused ourselves with looking over some of the drawings and curiosities which the Baron's intimate friend, the Count Stackelberg, brought from Greece, a remarkable collection,. . . . constituting the materials for the beautiful work which Stackelberg is now publishing. As we were in the midst of looking them over a little bell rang, and we went into the room where the presents which the children had secretly prepared for the elder members of the family were placed under the tree. They were all prepared by two little girls of twelve and fourteen,. . . . and though there was nothing very valuable or beautiful in what was given, yet it was all received [461] with so much pleasure by the parents and elder brother, that the children were delighted, and kissed us all round very heartily. While this was going on a bell rang in another part of the house, and we were led through a passage-way purposely kept dark, where two folding-doors were thrown open and we were all at once in a large and handsome saloon, which was brilliantly lighted up, and where were the presents which the parents had provided for the children. . . .

December 26.—I was presented to the King to-day. . . . by the English Minister, and all the forms usual on such occasions anywhere were fully observed. . . . . After passing through two or three antechambers we came to one quite full of Saxon nobles and officers in every possible variety of uniform and costume, who were to be received after the diplomatic audience should be over. We crowded our way through them with some difficulty, and entered a room where were gradually collected about forty or fifty persons. . . . The Prussian Minister, Baron Jordan, went in first, having an especial private audience, to present the King with the Order of the Black Eagle, as a compliment on his birthday, from the King of Prussia. After he came out the rest of us were admitted. It was a good room into which we came, with a canopy for the throne, but no throne was there. . . . Those who came in formed a circle opposite the throne, and under the canopy stood the King; a small, ordinary-looking man, much broken with years, in a generals uniform with boots and spurs, a large diamond ornament on his breast, and the Order of the Black Eagle, which he had just received, rather awkwardly hung round his person. He bowed to us kindly, and then spoke to the minister who happened to be on his right hand. . .. . Mr. Forbes came next, and having spoken to the King presented me. The King asked me how long I meant to remain in Dresden, said he hoped I should find it agreeable, etc., and then passed on round the rest of the circle.6 [462]

December 28.—This evening I passed at Count Stroganoff's. He is here this winter from reasons connected with his health, and receives company every evening that he does not go abroad, and receives it in a very agreeable way. He is the same person who has figured so much for nearly thirty years in Russian diplomacy, his career in which he closed at Constantinople, where he much impaired his health, and resigned to live quietly. He is a man of fine manners and rich conversation. I met him at Court when I was presented, and talked with him a good deal, but find him still more agreeable in his own house. The Countess has winning manners, and the house seems to be more on the footing of a Parisian salon than any I have been in at Dresden. There were about twenty people there to-night.

December 29.—I have been two or three times at Tieck's lately; one evening there was a large party at which some Russian nobles of large fortunes, and some of the more distinguished of the Saxon nobility, were present. Among the rest was Baron Billow, a young man of a little over thirty, who belongs to the old Prussian family, but who is settled and married in Dresden. He has published some translations of old English plays, and is now occupied with Spanish literature, though not very deeply. We had, therefore, a good deal to say to each other, and this evening he came and made me a visit of four hours, which I cannot say seemed too long, so pleasant and various was his conversation. He is a great admirer and follower of Tieck, so that I did not quite agree to all his theories and opinions; but he is a very interesting person, and full of elegant knowledge.

January 1, 1836.—This evening there was the first regular reception at Court. Like everything else here, it began early, and Mrs. T. having put on her train, and I having my sword by my side, at half past 5 we were at the grand entrance to the palace. Our first visit was to the personage called the Grande-Maitresse, that is, the chief [463] Lady of Honor to the Co-Regentess. We found her living in a fine apartment up two pair of stairs, and her room was quite brilliant when we entered it, with the court dresses of those persons, chiefly foreigners, who had come to pay the customary attention to her. The British Minister presented us to her,. . . . but we had hardly spoken to her and two or three other persons whom we knew, before she went to perform her own duties to the Princess — who now occupies the place of Queen-and left us to follow at our leisure. We did so very soon,. . . . and were somewhat surprised that we had another pair of stairs to ascend, which brought us, in fact, to the third story, where, I observe, a very large proportion of the most considerable people here live. . . . .

When we got there we found a magnificent suite of rooms, which had been built for state occasions in the time of the Polish kings; and, passing to one extremity of it, all of us, both ladies and gentlemen, to the number of thirty or forty, who had not yet been presented to the princesses and royal family, together with the foreign ministers who were to present us, were carried into a large room with a dais in it, but no throne or seats, the whole hung with velvet. There we were arranged in a semicircle, the ladies on one side, the gentlemen on the other. By the time this was well done the royal family appeared, the King, eighty years old, and his brother, Prince Maximilian, seventy-six, dressed in scarlet, and covered—especially the King—with diamonds, of which this family has an extraordinary quantity of extraordinary brilliancy, one in the King's hat being green and unique. The two princes — the Regent and his brother John--were dressed in military uniform, and the four princesses-Augusta, the daughter of the late King, Amelia, the daughter of Maximilian, the wife of the Regent, and the wife of Prince Maxwere splendidly dressed, and had a waste of diamonds, especially the Princess Augusta.

The wife of Prince Max is a princess of Lucca, and is thirty-two years old. . . . When she married him she was twenty-two and he sixty-six, and she is said to give as a reason for her consent, that she had rather be the wife of a kind, respectable man three times as old as herself, than live with a mother who beat her. The royal party was certainly very splendid, and amused us as a show while they walked round, and with great kindness and some tact spoke to each of us. When this was over—which lasted perhaps half an hourthe King and the family bowed civilly to us all and went out, the first act of the evenings ceremonies being over. [464]

We now passed through a suite of three or four grand rooms, one of which was filled with old porcelain, to the presence-chamber, where we found about three hundred persons in every variety of showy dress and brilliant uniform, which was all well set off by the room itself, well lighted, and hung with crimson velvet. In a few moments the King and Court followed. Two officers of the guard preceded them and placed themselves under the dais, with their caps on. Then came the court-marshal and the master of ceremonies, one of whom knocked slightly on the floor,. . . . upon which the company separated, the ladies on the right and the gentlemen on the left,. . . . the King and Court passed to the place of the throne, where a red cloth was spread, and where, having stopped a few moments, they again came down the room, and mixed with the crowd, and spoke to a good many persons. The main ceremony of the evening now ensued, which was a game of cards called Hof-Spiel,—Court-Play, because only the Court play, and everybody else looks on. For this purpose seven tables were arranged, at which the chamberlains waited in great state. . . . . It was easy to move about, and as you passed the tables of the princesses, it was expected you should bow to them, and they always returned the salutation in a very marked manner. Refreshments, tea, sherbets, and cakes were served round, and, except that seats were scarce, it was now merely an elegant and rather agreeable party, where such men as Baron Lindenau, Count Stroganoff, M. de Bussierre,7 etc., were to be found to talk to.

This lasted till eight o'clock, when the playing gradually broke up at all the tables, the royal party again mixed with the company a short time, and then, bowing all round, went away, and we all came home as early as they did in Queen Elizabeth's time.

I did not talk much with any of the royal family, except Prince John, the translator and commentator of Dante's ‘Inferno,’ whom I found very agreeable, and much disposed for literary conversation.

January 5.—I dined with the King at a regular court dinner in full dress.8 The ceremonious part of it was like all other court ceremonies; the rest was very well arranged, and agreeable. The invitation. . . was for ‘three quarters past twelve o'clock.’ I went, of course, punctually enough to be among the first, though I found there [465] already Count Stroganoff and General Von Leyser, President of the Chamber of Deputies, with two or three other persons whom I knew. We were received by the court-marshal and the master of ceremonies, and the company amounted to about thirty persons. When it was all assembled, two officers of the guards entered from a side door, and, crossing the room, placed themselves by the door of the dining-hall. The proper officers of ceremony followed, and then came the old King, with the Princess Amelia, his niece, who has long lived with him as his adopted daughter, who was accompanied by a single dame d'honneur. . . . They spoke to almost all of us, meaning to be agreeable, and partly succeeding. As soon as this was over the doors of the dining-hall were thrown open, the King tottered in alone, the Princess and her lady followed, and then the rest of us, without standing upon the order of our going.

At table Count Stroganoff was placed on the King's right and a Polish general on his left, in the middle of a long table, and opposite sat the Princess, with General Von Leyser on her left, and then myself, as arranged by the court-marshal. General Von Leyser is a man of talent, and very agreeable, so that I had a pleasant time. . . . . There were about as many servants as guests; four for the King, in the yellow livery of his running footmen, had their caps on. . .. . The table was loaded with a very rich and beautifully wrought profusion of plate, but there was nothing under the covers, the true dishes being all brought round. The King eat from a service of gold, and had a little gold salt-cellar before him that looked exactly like a snuff-box. It lasted about an hour and a half; then the King rose and went with the Princess into the next room, where we were first received. There coffee was served,. . . . the King spoke to most of us again,. . . . bowed to us, and went out. The Princess stayed a few moments longer and then retired. The company now took ceremonious leave of the court-marshal, as if he had been our host, and we were all at home before three o'clock. . .. . The party chiefly consisted of Russian, Polish, and Saxon noblemen, with one or two French, one or two Austrian, and one Englishman. . . . .

In the evening I passed an hour or two with Falkenstein, the head of the library establishment, a man full of knowledge and pleasant qualities, to whom I am under many obligations. We spent the time chiefly in looking over his extraordinary collection of autographs, which is most admirably arranged, and amounts now to about eleven thousand, exclusive of duplicates. I have never seen anything like it. [466]

January 8.—I passed—by appointment made according to the court ceremonies — an hour this afternoon with Prince John. Nothing could be more simple and unpretending than his manners. I wanted to see him on account of his knowledge of Dante, of whose ‘Inferno’ he has printed a translation with very good notes; and during the greater part of the time I was with him he was occupied in showing me the books and apparatus he had collected for the study of the great Italian master. Some of them were quite curious. . . . . In all respects I found him well-informed, in some learned, and he was truly agreeable, because it was plain he desired to be so.

His establishment is very elegant and luxurious, and his study, where he received me, looked truly scholar-like and comfortable. Among other things he showed me a beautiful collection of drawings in an album, relating to Dante, which had been from time to time given to him by his family, all original, of course, and two or three by Retzsch, of the greatest vigor and beauty, and executed in pencil with the most delicate finish.

January 10.—This evening happened the first grand court ball; for the season of Carnival, from Christmas to Lent, is the season into which all the amusements, both at the Court and in private houses, are crowded,9. . . . and we are to have a ball every fortnight until the period of gayety is over. Like everything else here, it began early. We were invited for six o'clock, and, arriving a few minutes afterwards, found ourselves among the last. Six fine large halls were open,. . . . all well lighted and most agreeably heated, the last but one being arranged for dancing; and the last, which was the presence-chamber, was prepared for cards. Round three sides of the dancinghall were barriers, covered with tapestry, behind which stood, I should think, five hundred of the common people, who seemed to enjoy the show very much, and were perfectly quiet the whole evening. In the centre were about four hundred invited guests, comprehending the nobility of Saxony and the principal foreigners now in Dresden, all in full dress. It was a fine show in a fine hall.

Soon after we arrived the King and Court entered, preceded by the [467] officers of the guard and the officers of ceremony, and went through the crowd in different directions, speaking to as many as they could. . . . . When this was over the King took the Princess Marie10 and walked a polonaise round the hall, followed by a part of the company, but he tottered about very sadly. The party now divided; a few went to the presence-chamber, and sat down at a dozen tables to cards; the rest remained in the ballroom, and dancing began in good earnest. . . .. . The Regent danced constantly, and repeatedly gave great pleasure by taking for partners the young Countess Baudissin and little Countess Bose, who were presented at Court for the first time, and thus had a double zest added to their first ball. The old King, too, who has been a great dancer in his day, determined to have it said that he had danced after he was eighty years old, and actually went through a quadrille with Mlle. Watzdorff. By the great skill of his partner he was prevented from falling, but it was painful to see him. . . .

The King disappeared soon after he had finished his dance, and at a little before ten o'clock the Regent led the way to supper, which was beautifully arranged in two large halls, on tables for ten persons each. Each of the princes and princesses had a table, to which, very early in the evening, such persons as they selected were invited. Immediately after our arrival, one of the officers came to us with a written list and invited us to the table of Prince John; and when we reached the table we found the list on it, and that our company consisted of the wife of the Minister of War, Countess Herzberg, Mrs. Pole [an English lady], Count Baudissin, and enough more to make up the ten.

It was a hot supper, consisting of many courses of very nice dishes, excellent wines, ices, etc.,. . . . and we remained at table about an hour and a half. The quantity of silver must have been immense, for the plates were all of silver for the whole four hundred and fifty persons, and were changed at least four times for each, and sometimes six or seven times. No distinction was made in the service and arrangements of the tables of the princes and those of the rest of the company, except that the royal family chose who should sup with them. The rest of the company chose their own places. . . . . At our table we had a very good time.

Prince John was very agreeable, and spoke pretty good English, as well as excellent French. Count Baudissin—who is about to publish some translations from Ben Jonson, Massinger, Fletcher, etc.— [468] talked very well upon our early literature. The Prince talked a little about Dante, but of course made himself as agreeable as he could to the ladies. On the whole it was an exquisitely nice supper, and we enjoyed the conversation round our comfortable little table very much.

Soon after eleven the Regent rose, and returned to the ballroom. We all followed, and found that it had been aired, and that a new set, of about four hundred of the people, had been let in behind the barriers to see the show.

When one waltz was over we left it all, and reached home just before midnight, having been there, of course, nearly six hours, and yet not being very near the end of the whole matter. It was an elegant entertainment in all its parts,. .. . and the company had an air of quiet gentility and good taste about it which, I am sure, is rarely to be found anywhere.

January 11.—Count Baudissin came this morning and brought with him a volume of Shirley's Plays, where there were one or two passages he found it difficult to interpret. I found it hardly less so, but that did not prevent us from having a very agreeable literary conversation of an hour or two. He is the person, I find, who has completed, with Tieck, the translation of Shakespeare which was begun by Schlegel, and his portion is thought equally good with that of his predecessor.

The evening I divided between literary talk at Tieck's, which was more than commonly interesting, and a lounge at Count Stroganoff's; the whole, however, finished before half past 10.

January 14.—We passed an hour or two this morning in the gallery of pictures, looking almost the whole time at the works of Guercino and Guido .. . . . It was a most agreeable visit, for the weather for the last two or three days has been very mild, and the halls of the gallery, therefore, less painfully cold. I long for the spring and its warmth, that we may go every day to enjoy these admirable collections.

I dined with Prince John. The invitation was a verbal one, brought by one of the officers of his household this morning, and I went punctually at three o'clock. There was as little ceremony as possible. I found his grand-maitre in waiting, with one other person whom I did not know, but who was invited like myself, and was the only other guest. The Prince was informed we were there, and appeared, went into dinner alone, and asked for me, formally, to sit on his right hand. . . . He had a gold salt-cellar like a snuff-box, [469] just as the King had.11 He went out first from dinner to the saloon, and, after talking with us a little more there, bowed to us all and left us. So much for the ceremony of the matter.

The rest was as simple and agreeable as possible. We dined at a little round table, on which was placed only a very handsome dessert of hot-house fruits, etc. . . . . The conversation was in French, and purely literary and scholar-like, of course a good deal about Dante; but the other invited guest did not say a word, why, I know not. The Prince values himself a good deal upon his literary knowledge, and he has a right to, for he studies very hard. His manner is simple and frank, sometimes a little modest and distrustful, but as a pleasant talker at dinner or supper it is not easy to find those who will go before him. The dinner lasted about an hour and a half, . . . . and, when I came away, he invited me to come and see him any day in the forenoon, without the ceremony of announcing myself through his grand-maitre.

In the evening we all went to see Goethe's ‘Egmont,’ not a very effective play on the stage, but extremely well performed to-night. Demoiselle Bauer is an extraordinary actress; indeed, she has the reputation of being the best in Germany. . .. . But all the popular scenes were as well done as possible. . . .

January 16.—I went to the theatre to-night to hear the comedy of ‘The Uncle,’—Der Oheim,—a regular piece in five acts, by the Princess Amelia, the sister of Prince John. It is a good comedy, and amused me very much. She wrote it quite secretly, having no confidant in the matter but one of her ladies of honor, and sent it anonymously to the theatre here, where, without much reflection or examination, it was rejected. Tieck was the responsible person in this case, as he is in all similar ones, and suffered accordingly for his mistake. But one of his friends-Count Baudissin-told me that there was something malicious in the mode in which this piece was sent to Tieck; that it was thrust in with a large number of other dramas that were poor, in order to make him read it carelessly or neglect it altogether, and that, in fact, he does not remember having seen the piece at all. On the [470] other hand, it is said Der Oheim was sent with several other dramas, that its authorship might be entirely concealed, and that the judgment might be entirely fair.

The Princess then sent it to Berlin, where it was acted and had a great success, the incognito being strictly preserved. From Berlin it passed to other theatres with great applause, and then, when acknowledged, it was acted here; but the embarrassments and explanations, and apologies were necessarily manifold and mortifying. It is now one of the regular acting plays throughout Germany, and no doubt deserves to be so. . . .

January 18.—A grand dinner at the French Minister's; more good taste, and quite as much elegance as at the Russian's; au reste, to a considerable degree the same company. . . . . I sat next to Count Circourt,12 a Frenchman, whom I have met here occasionally, with a very intellectual Russian wife, who, like himself, is pretty deep in Dante. The Count is a Carlist, and was private secretary —though yet a young man—under the Ministry of Prince Polignac, and, to the honor of his personal consistency, refuses now to wear the tricolored cockade. The consequence is, that diplomatic etiquette will not permit the minister to present him at Court, though he receives him most kindly in his own house, and even presents Mad. de Circourt, who danced the other night with Prince John. So much for forms!

I talked with Count Circourt to-day upon two subjects, which he understood better than any Frenchman with whom I ever conversed, —Dante, and the statistics of the United States. On the last he was uncommonly accurate.

Another subject which was much talked about by all at table was the great fire at New York, the news of which came to-day; the fire [471] of December 15-16. The Minister of Finance told me he had received letters from Leipzic this morning, full of anxiety about the debts due the merchants there from merchants in New York. . . . .

In the evening there was a beautiful ball at Prince Maximilian's, quite like the ball at Court a week ago,—arrangements, supper, and all,—except that, the apartments being less spacious, there were fewer persons invited. . . . . I supped again at Prince John's table, with the wife of the Minister at War, the Baroness Diederichstein, Mrs. Pole, etc., and found it very agreeable. The whole evening, indeed, was very pleasant; for I now know so many people, and there is so much of intellectual resources in so many of them, that I never feel myself at a loss for pleasant or sensible conversation. The supper, I observed to-night by the list that lay near me, consisted of ten courses, and everything about the entertainment, while it was as complete as this, was entirely unconstrained and most quietly genteel.

1 Count Giovanni Arrivabene, a writer on Political Economy.

2 A son of his old friend, Mr. Jeremiah Mason.

3 Daughter of Mrs. Ticknor's eldest sister.

4 Of the arrangements to which he alluded, Mr. Ticknor says further: ‘We have engaged in the Hotel de Rome a suite of six excellent rooms opening into each other, and another quite near them for my man-servant,. . . . and I have engaged a nicer carriage than I could get in London, with coachman and footman. Our rooms are on the Neue Markt, a very neat, lively square, the pleasantest in Dresden, near the palace and the theatre. . . . As to teachers, the number of those who are good is so great that I have been a little embarrassed in the choice.’

5 Mr. Ticknor says elsewhere: ‘Count Bose has been in the diplomatic service of Saxony, and was for some time Grand Marshal of the Court, but now lives chiefly on a large estate of his wife's, in Lithuania. She was a Countess Lowenstein, and at St. Petersburg, in 1810-11,. . . . knew Alexander Everett and Frank Gray very well, and seemed to remember them very distinctly. She talks French and English very well, is an agreeable person, and certainly has a good deal of talent.’

6 Mr. Ticknor gives the following account of the Saxon royal family at this period: ‘The royal family now consists of King Anthony, who is eighty years old to-morrow, his brother Maximilian, who is seventy-six years old, and his niece Augusta, daughter of the late King, who is fifty-three. The King has been twice married, but both his wives are dead, leaving no children, and Augusta was never married, so that the family of Maximilian is to succeed to the throne. . . . . In 1830 there was a revolution here in imitation of the Three Days at Paris, a Constitution was obtained with representative forms, and, Maximilian having first renounced his personal right to the crown, his eldest son — a popular favorite and very respectable man—was, with the sincere concurrence of his father and of the reigning sovereign, made Co-Regent.’ Early in this movement it was proposed by the revolutionists that the old King should be deposed and Prince Frederic put in his place; but on hearing of the suggestion, the Prince went instantly, in the evening, to the crowded marketplace, and by the light of a few torches took a solemn oath, that if that threat should be executed he would leave Saxony and never return. The people, knowing his sincerity, gave up the plan and made him Regent. ‘This Prince, however,—Frederic,—though twice married, has no children, so that it is probable his younger brother John will eventually come to the throne. Frederic is thirty-eight years old, a wise and valuable man; John is thirty-four, a man of quiet, studious habits and a good deal of learning.’

7 The French Minister.

8 Note by Mr. Ticknor: ‘This was the only dinner the King gave during Carnival this year. Formerly he used to give a good many, but now he is so old that he feels himself excused from it.’

9 Frequent extracts are given from the journal describing these court receptions and fetes, because even then they had a flavor of bygone times about them, and because they were the only large and elegant entertainments given during the winter. Kindliness and intellectual refinement mingled so largely with the regal splendor of this Court, that it really formed the heart of society for the Saxon nobility, as well as for the very few foreigners who then visited Dresden. No other American family was there that year, and not many English.


11 Note by Mr. Ticknor: ‘This queer little box, I understand, is called the Cadenas, the “Padlock,” because it is locked. It was originally used in the days when poisons were feared, and is now used merely as a distinction of ceremony and etiquette, being always granted, at royal tables in Germany, to the descendants of those who were sovereigns at the time the great consolidation took place under Charles Fifth.’

12 This was the beginning of an acquaintance which ripened into intimacy and produced frequent correspondence. Count Circourt is well known in all the intellectual circles of Europe as possessing prodigious stores of information and a marvellous memory. His powers of criticism, his habits of research, his sagacious observation of the political movements of the world, and his high tone of thought give great authority to his opinions, though they reach the public only through papers on a wonderful variety of subjects, which he gives to the periodicals. Lamartine's brilliant tribute to him is quoted in the ‘ Life of Prescott.’ Mr. Ticknor highly valued his correspondence with Count Circourt, which continued with undiminished interest to the last. Madame de Circourt was a most distinguished person, of rare talents and brilliant acquirements; and was called by M. de Bonstetten a second Madame de Stael, he having been a contemporary and admirer of the first.

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