Chapter 1:

  • Vienna.
  • -- Prince Metternich.


Vienna, June 20, 1836.—This forenoon I did nothing but drive about the city and make a few visits; one to Kenyon, the brother of my old friend in London, who has lived here many years, and who seems to have the same spirit of kindness which I found so pleasant and useful in England; another to Baron Lerchenfeld, the Bavarian Minister, a very courteous person; one to Dr. Jarcke, one of the persons most confidentially employed by Metternich; and several others whom I did not find at home, among them the British Minister, Sir Frederick Lamb, who, I am sorry to learn, is absent, and not likely to return while I am here. In doing this I drove a good deal about the city, and was surprised to find how clean it is, how rich, solid, substantial, and even fresh, everything looks. Pavement can hardly be better than it is made in the streets here, the whole being of hewn, square blocks of granite, almost as nicely fitted to each other as if the work were masonry; but there are no trottoirs, so that, though everybody walks cleanly and comfortably, nobody is protected against the carriages. . . .

In the afternoon we drove out to the Prater,—the famous Prater. It is a great public garden and drive, intersected with many pleasant walks and roads, ornamented with fine old trees, and parts of it enlivened with large numbers of deer, while other parts are rendered still more lively with coffee-houses, puppet-shows, and shows of animals. . . . . But we enjoyed very much the drive into the more picturesque parts, where the deer were browsing undisturbed, and oaks a thousand years old cast their shade upon us, as they had, perchance, in their youth upon the Court of Charlemagne. In some [2] places they were making hay, in others there were preserves of wild birds; and, though it is nowhere more beautiful and nowhere so well kept as the Grosse Garten, near Dresden, it is, by its extent, much grander and finer. . . . .

June 23.—In the evening we drove out to Mr. Von Hammer's, at Dobling,1 where he has a country-house about four or five English miles from Vienna. I had a letter to him, and he came to see me the other day; a very lively, prompt, frank gentleman, of sixty-two years, talking English very well, French and Italian, but famous, as everybody knows, for his knowledge of Oriental languages, and for his great works on Eastern literature and Turkish history.

Every Thursday evening . . . . he receives at his house, unceremoniously, the principal men of letters of the city, whose acknowledged head he is, and most of the strangers of note who visit it. He asked us to come early, in order to enjoy a fine view of the city by sunset from behind his house and garden. . . . . On our return from the walk we found a considerable party, perhaps thirty persons. Mrs. Von Hammer and her daughter presided at the tea-tables in the court, al fresco . . . . Everything was very simply done. The garden is not pretty, and the house is not very spacious, but three parlors and the court-yard were lighted; tea, fruit, ices, and refreshments were handed round, . . . . and there was much pleasant talk in English, French, Italian, and German. The persons to whom I talked with most pleasure were Kaltenbaeck, the editor of the ‘Austrian Periodical for History and Statistics’; Wolf, one of the librarians of the Imperial Library;2 and Count Auersperg, a gentleman of an old Austrian family, who has distinguished himself as a poet, and got into trouble lately as a liberal poet. It was such a sort of conversazione in the open air as belongs rather to Italy than to Germany; it was all over before ten o'clock. . . . .

June 24.—After a visit to Baron Lerchenfeld, this morning, I passed two or three hours in the Imperial Library, with Wolf, in looking over . . . . the old Spanish books. He is a great amateur in this department, and I found much to interest and occupy me, though almost nothing of value that was quite new. The most curious parts were out of the collection of an old archbishop of the Valencia family, of the house of Cordova.

When I had finished this, . . . . I went to see Prince Metternich. [3] I brought a letter to him from Baron Humboldt; but when I arrived he was in Hungary, from whence he returned yesterday. This morning I received a note from him, saying he would be glad to see me at the Chancery between two and three o'clock. I went, and found it an enormous building, or rather pile of buildings, containing not only offices, but dwellings for a large number of the officers in his department, among the rest the offices of Jarcke and Von Hammer.

Over the portal is a Latin inscription, calling it—I know not why—a ‘Praetorium,’ and signifying that it received its present external form and arrangement from Prince Kaunitz, who so long held the place now held by the more powerful Metternich. I passed up by a fine staircase, and going through an antechamber with three or four servants in it, and another where was a doorkeeper with two persons who looked as if they were something a little more, I was shown into a third large room, where four persons were waiting to have the great man accessible, a number which was speedily increased to seven. I sat down to wait with them, and waited, I suppose, twenty minutes. Meanwhile, secretaries came out with papers in their hands, as if they had been carried in for signature; two of the ministers came and went; and everything had the air of a premier's antechamber, those who were present talking together only in whispers, if they talked at all, and even the servants, further out, not speaking above their breath. I knew nobody, and said nothing.

At last the four who were there when I arrived were admitted; they were, as I understood afterwards, a deputation from Milan on affairs of state, but they were soon despatched. My turn came next, and, as soon as I had passed a double door, I found myself in a large and handsome library, across which the Prince was advancing to meet me. He received me very kindly, but with much dignity, and leading me at once through the library, carried me into his cabinet, another very large room, with books in different parts of it, tables covered with papers, pictures on the walls, and much massive furniture, the whole looking very rich and comfortable. He seated me in an easy-chair on one side of a small table, which still had some of the morning's work upon it, and placed himself in a smaller chair on the opposite side, evidently his accustomed seat and his wonted arrangement.

When we were both seated, he fastened his eyes upon me, and hardly took them off for an instant while I remained. He asked me how I had left M. de Humboldt, said that M. de Humboldt spoke of me as an old friend, but that he thought he had the advantage [4] of me there, as he had known M. de Humboldt for three-and-thirty years, which by my looks could hardly be my case, etc., etc. He then inquired by what road I had come to Vienna, and on my telling him that it was by way of Prague, he did what everybody had told me he would do, took a subject and talked consecutively about it. The subject he chose was Bohemia. He said no part of Europe had gained more in the course of the last twenty years than Bohemia; that good roads had been built all over the country, the comfort of the villages improved, trades and manufactures more than doubled, the condition of the peasantry ameliorated, and the great landlords, if not always made riches, yet living much more as becomes their position in society.

He said he had a large estate in Bohemia himself, and showed me how he had found it for his personal interest to build a road, which cost him seventy thousand Spanish dollars, merely to open a market for his woods, the money he had expended being thus put out at an interest of eight per cent.

Four different roads, he said, now come from Prague to Vienna, all good, whereas twenty years ago there was but one poor one; while also the value of property in Bohemia, generally, is so much increased that the government is constantly obliged to refuse offers of individuals to build roads at their own expense, if the state will afterwards maintain them. In this way he talked on, a little formally, but very sensibly and clearly, until I began to think the people waiting in the antechamber would wish me anywhere else, and seizing the first opportunity I rose. He did not offer to detain me, but inviting me to come and see him at Schonbrunn, any evening and every evening, while I should be in Vienna, he accompanied me through the library to the antechamber, and there took leave of me with much grace of manner.

Prince Metternich is now just sixty-three years old, a little above the middle height, well preserved in all respects, and rather stout, but not corpulent, with a good and genuinely German face, light blue eyes that are not very expressive, and a fine Roman nose . . . . . His hair is nearly white, and his whole appearance, especially when he moves, is dignified and imposing; but his whole manner is winning.

His conversation left no other impression upon me than that his mind must be full of matter-of-fact knowledge, well arranged and ready to be produced. Whatever he said was clear and pertinent, and well and concisely said.

In the evening we went to hear music at two widely different [5] places. The first was the Synagogue of the German Jews, where service commences on Friday evening, on the first appearance of the evening star for the Sabbath, for it is ‘the evening and the morning’ that make their holy day. Their temple outside cannot be distinguished from any other building; within it had very crowded seats on the lower floor, filled with men who wore their hats; a rather neat gallery supported by Ionic pillars and closed by a gilded lattice for the women; and an enclosure something like a chancel for the priest and choir, who stood with their backs to the audience. A table was before them, and above the table a large black velvet hanging covered with Hebrew inscriptions, towards which the faces of the priest and assembly were alike turned. The room was an oval, and, on the whole, of good architecture. All the congregation had Hebrew books in their hands; the priest, dressed in black robes and a black cap, sang in Hebrew, and had one of the finest and richest voices I ever heard, which poured forth the Hebrew vowels in the grandest melody, to which the choir and congregation responded.

There was something very picturesque in the whole, though, of course, everything was unintelligible to us. After listening to it, therefore, a little while, we drove to a public garden in one of the suburbs, where Strauss—whose waltzes are danced alike in Calcutta, Boston, and Vienna—plays two evenings in the week, to the great delight of the multitudes who go to hear him and his perfectly drilled band. It was a beautifully warm, still, moonlight evening; and when we reached the garden, which was brilliantly lighted, we found about four hundred people, chiefly seated at small tables under the trees, taking supper or some other refreshment, and listening to the music. It was extremely pretty, and the whole had a fanciful, fairy-like look.

June 26.—. . . . I went to see Jarcke, and had some quite interesting conversation with him. He is, I find, a very important person here, filling the place that was formerly filled by the famous Gentz, and is, therefore, since the death of that distinguished person, a sort of right-hand man to Metternich. He is, however, a Prussian by birth, and was for some years Professor of History at Berlin; but he became a Catholic, and that rendered him a little uncomfortable at home and very valuable here, so he was brought, nothing loath, and established in Metternich's Chancery with a great salary. He denies being an absolutist in politics, and founds much of his governmental doctrine upon the sacred preservation of property and its rights; is very hard upon Von Raumer; thinks the English Ministry [6] are ruining everything by attacking the Irish Church incomes, etc., etc . . . .

At half past 9 in the evening I drove out with Baron Lerchenfeld, the Bavarian Minister, to Schonbrunn, to see Prince Metternich.

. . . . Just at ten o'clock we ascended the little bank of the dry Wien, and from its bridge looked down upon the wide palace of Schonbrunn, lighted brilliantly in all its apartments, as not only the Emperor is there, but the King of Naples and Marie Louise are on a visit to him. A moment afterwards we dashed through its court, and, passing round to the other side of the garden, stopped at the door of the Premier, who lives in a fine large house given to him by the late Emperor. . . . . There was no show of servants and liveries on the stairs, and very little in the hall.

In a corner of the large outer saloon we found the Prince, talking, apparently on business, to somebody. He rose to receive us, said a few words of graceful compliment, and then asked the Bavarian to take me into the inner saloon and present me to the Princess. She was sitting in an easy-chair, dressed simply in half-mourning, and at work diligently on what I believe the ladies call ‘rug-work.’ She is rather pretty, thirty-one years old, and the Prince's third wife; but she seemed sad, and obviously plied her needle for occupation. Her reception of me was not at all courtly, but very kind. She said her husband had told her I was coming, and that she had expected me both the preceding evenings; asked me about Boston, the United States, etc., etc.; said she did not like liberals in Europe, but that it was another thing in America, where the government was democratic, and it was a man's duty to be liberal; and so on, and so on. Other persons came in, and I was presented to the Minister at War, Count Hardegg; the Minister of Police; Bodenhausen, the Minister from Hanover; Steuber, the Minister from Hesse Cassel; and some others whose names I did not catch.

I found there, too, Count Bombelles, whom I had known in 1818, as Austrian Charge d'affaires at Lisbon,3 and who is now a great man in a very agreeable office here, that of governor of the young archdukes, who are the heirs presumptive, as the Emperor has no children; a sinecure office thus far, since the eldest is not seven years old. He has married an English wife, talks English admirably, and was very agreeable. There were no ladies present except a Russian princess and her daughter. By half past 10 o'clock there were perhaps five-and-twenty persons in the saloon, and a plenty of conversation on all sides. [7]

Prince Metternich was frequently called out on business, and frequently taken up into corners of the saloon in a mysterious way. The first time he came in after I arrived, he came to me and spoke to me with a rather formal courtesy. Afterwards he came again, and, inquiring of me what I had seen in Vienna, took for his subject the Polytechnic Institute, and talked extremely well about it for a quarter of an hour; said its éleves were already at the head of the principal manufactories in the empire, that the manufactures were not only improving, but that there is an increasing demand for improved fabrics, so that the manufacturers are now constantly urging the reduction of the tariff, on the ground that they can better enter into competition with foreign nations than with smugglers. He said the Austrian government maintained a tariff, not at all as a fiscal measure, but merely to protect and encourage manufactures; that the system had been introduced in the time of Joseph II.; that if he had been minister at the time he should have advised against it, but that it is not to be denied that it has effected its purpose and made Austria a manufacturing country. He added that the government has already abolished that part of the laws which excludes entirely any article whatever,—a fact which Baron Lerchenfeld afterwards told me he was glad to hear, as it had not before been made known,—and that in general an anti-tariff policy is now pursued by Austria. It was the only time in the evening when the Prince talked to any one without having the air of talking on business; and the consequence was, that as soon as the conversation was fairly begun he had an audience to listen to him, and before it was over half the room was round us. He talked very well, and much like a statesman; always, too, with the tone of one who has been accustomed to exercise power till an air of authority has become natural to him.

The Princess made tea about eleven o'clock. . . . . At a quarter past twelve I was at home. On our drive home I told Baron Lerchenfeld that the Princess seemed to me sad. He explained her looks by telling me that a fortnight ago she lost her youngest child, about three months old; but so much is her salon a part of the government that she was obliged, only four nights afterwards, to be in her place to receive company. The Prince took her to an estate in Hungary last week, to revive her a little; but here they are again, both of them chained to their oars.

June 28.—I made a visit to Mr. Von Hammer in his town-house this morning, where I saw his curious and valuable library of Oriental manuscripts, which he has had beautifully bound in cedar boards, [8] putting leather only over the back, where flexibility is necessary. His purpose in using cedar is to keep out the worms and all other vermin. He talked to me a great deal about Captain Basil Hall, with whom he has a grievous quarrel4 . . . .

I visited, too, Kaltenbaeck, the editor of the Austrian periodical for History and Statistics. He was immersed in papers and books, and complained bitterly of the trouble given him by the merely mechanical restraints imposed by the censorship, which take up, it seems, a great deal of his time to no purpose, as he is careful never to print, or propose to print, anything that could offend. I talked with him a good deal about it, and as the censorship of the press is more truly an effective part of the system of things in Austria than it ever was anywhere else, I have been curious to inquire into it and understand it a little.

Great complaints are made of delay. Kaltenbaeck said to-day, it is often intolerable. On one occasion Grillparzer, the best of their dramatic poets,—who, I am sorry to find, is absent from Vienna on a journey,—presented a piece to the censors, and got no answer for so long a time that he was vexed, and would write no more. One day the last Emperor asked Grillparzer why they had had nothing new from him for so long a time, and the poet had the good sense to tell him the truth. The Emperor replied, ‘Well, send me the manuscript, and I will read it.’ He did so, and the piece was ordered to be represented. But he seldom thus interfered. I remember in Dresden, Forbes, who was Charge in Vienna for some time, and who is perfectly good authority for a story of the sort, told me that the Emperor went one night to see a new piece which pleased him very much, and when it was over, said, ‘Well, now I am glad I have heard it, for I am sure Metternich will stop it, there is so much liberalism in it’; which accordingly happened.

Von Hammer told me that a good many years ago he wrote, during some travels there, a volume of poems about Italy, which he was aware contained passages somewhat too free for the meridian of Vienna, but which yet passed the censorship and was printed anonymously. [9] It came out, however, while he was absent from Vienna, and the bookseller was so indiscreet as to announce it, in some way publicly, as the work of Mr. Von Hammer, in consequence of which he hastened back to Vienna, avowed himself as the writer, but, to prevent being ruined by it, went directly to the censors, and had a damnatur put upon the book, which excluded it entirely from circulation. He gave me a copy of it, but I have not had time to look for the obnoxious passages.

Count Auersperg, one of the best of their poets, who seems to be about thirty-five years old, published, about seven years ago, a volume called Spaziergange eines Wiener Poeten,—‘Promenades of a Vienna Poet,’—which contained some liberalisms, but was printed, and much admired. Von Hammer told me that, though unacquainted with the poet, he at that time immediately commended him to Prince Metternich as a person to be noticed, that is, as a person to receive some place, and so be secured to the government. The Prince, however, who has very little respect for anything poetical, took no heed of Von Hammer's recommendation. Meantime, Count Auersperg went on, printing books that could not be published in Austria, and among the rest sundry attacks on Metternich himself, all under the name he originally assumed of Anastasius Grun. On being asked whether he were the author of some of them, he denied it,—a proceeding which Von Hammer thinks altogether mistaken. Quite lately he has printed a poem called Schutt,—‘Rubbish,’—which is more liberal than ever, expressing the opinions of a captain of an American frigate, anchored just before the schutt, or scoria, of Pompeii. This poem he has dedicated to Von Hammer, who has been for some years his acquaintance and friend. A short time since Von Hammer received a letter from Prince Metternich, asking who Anastasius Grun was, who had dedicated the poem of Schutt to him,—a question which the Premier could have answered as well as Von Hammer. Von Hammer immediately replied, that seven years ago he had had the honor of commending Anastasius Grun to the Minister as a person worthy the notice of the government; that somewhat later he had published a sonnet in honor of Anastasius Grun; that after both these circumstances had occurred, he had become personally acquainted with him; and that the recent poem had been dedicated to him without his knowledge, probably as a return for the complimentary sonnet.

To this letter, which did not mention Anastasius Grun's true name, Von Hammer has received no answer, and will probably receive none; [10] the object of the whole being to control and alarm Count Auersperg, as Von Hammer thinks, who told me the entire story.

What Prince Metternich—who is a wise statesman—can hope to do with such means, it is not easy to tell. Mr. Krause, of Dresden, told me that in conversation with him, formerly, the Prince illustrated his policy by saying to the great landed proprietor, ‘If on your estates you had, upon that great height that overlooks the Elbe, a vast reservoir of water that you knew every moment threatened to overwhelm your rich meadows, and must certainly one day come down, would you at once break through the dike and let it down in broad ruin upon your lands, or would you carefully perforate it, so that it should send down the floods slowly and beneficently, to fertilize your fields instead of destroying them?’ It is a pretty comparison, but that, I fear, is all; though perhaps I ought to add, that I believe welledu-cated persons can get such books as they want in Austria, almost, perhaps quite, as easily as elsewhere in Germany, and that men of learning and of studious habits receive a carte blanche from the censors to have even the books that have received the sentence of damnatur.

. . . . In the early part of the evening. I drove to Hietzing, the pretty village on the borders of the gardens at Schonbrunn, and made a visit to the old Baron Eskeles, one of those rich bankers whom the policy of Metternich has ennobled. He has a fine country-house and ample grounds . . . .

At a little before ten I drove to Prince Metternich's. . . .The company had hardly begun to assemble. Only four or five persons, among whom was the Minister of Police, had come in, and the Prince had not made his appearance. The Princess sat at her rug-work as before, but seemed less sad. I sat down by her, and we fell into some downright gossip, which, however, with not a little smartness, she mixed up more or less with politics and passing events. We were in the midst of it, and the conversation was growing quite piquant, when somebody, who looked as if he might be a secretary, came in, with very unceremonious haste, and almost running up to the Princess, said very hurriedly, ‘Your Highness, the King of Naples is just coming in.’ She rose instantly, though without extraordinary haste, or as if anything strange had occurred; but before she had quite reached the door of the saloon he entered, followed by his uncle, the Prince of Salerno, Prince Metternich, and one or two others.

The King is a stout, dark-complexioned, sallow young man of six-and-twenty, a little awkward in his manners and address, with black [11] eyes, and not an agreeable expression of countenance, but still not a very bad one. He is said to be vulgar and ill-tempered. Among other things that are reported of him, a diplomatic gentleman told me he knew it to be a fact that he had been rude to his late Queen, a Princess of Sardinia,—he pulled out a chair from under her, so that she fell to the floor. She had the spirit to turn upon him and say, ‘I thought I had married a gentleman, but I find I have married a Lazzarone.’

. . . . Everybody stood up as they came in, and remained standing while they were there, except the Princess and another lady.

There were twenty or thirty persons present, including the Minister at War, Count Dietrichstein, Count Bombelles, etc. The Prince was truly courteous and attentive to his guests, but his very dignified bearing towards them announced his superiority in a way not to be mistaken. Those who entered the saloon [during the royal visit] did not present themselves to him or to the Princess, and he spoke to few persons. Once he came to me and asked when I should leave Vienna, and on my telling him, . . . . he seemed surprised, and invited me to dine with him on Friday, saying he would dine at the Chancery on that day at four. A few moments afterwards he came back and said he understood I liked old books, and that if I would come at three o'clock instead of four, he would show me his library. But in general he gave his whole attention to the King, who was supposed to do him a great honor by such an unceremonious call. The Princess, too, was quietly devoted to him. Au reste, there was no gene. Conversation was general round the room, and half a dozen of the party, who grew hungry,—from the delay of tea,—slid demurely round to the tea-table, and ate up the cakes and sandwiches. . . . .

When the party left, Prince Metternich went out before them to show the way, and I thought, as he crossed the saloon, that his moving figure was the most dignified and imposing I ever looked upon,— a striking contrast to the poor royalty that followed. The Princess went as far as the outer saloon, and the Prince accompanied them to their carriage. When the Princess came back she scolded the gentlemen good-humoredly for despoiling her tea-table when she could not defend it, ordered in other refreshments, and made tea. But it was getting late; I took French leave and hurried back to Vienna, but did not get there till nearly one o'clock.

June 30.—. . . .At four I went to dine with Baron Lerchenfeld, and found he had been so civil as to ask chiefly such persons as he knew to be my acquaintance in Vienna,—Jarcke; Count Bombelles; [12] Von Hammer; Count Dietrichstein, who was the Governor of the Duke of Reichstadt, and is now the principal officer attached to the person of the reigning Empress, and is one of the most elegant and winning gentlemen I have met; with such as he thought I might be glad to see,—Naumann, long one of their employes in England; Baron Zedlitz, who writes for the theatre, and among other things has made a sort of rifacimento of the Estrella de Sevilla; the Minister of War; and some others whom I did not know. I talked chiefly with Count Dietrichstein, Count Bombelles, and Baron Zedlitz, and had a very agreeable time.

In the evening I drove out to Von Hammer's, who held this evening his weekly soiree. Thirty or forty persons were there; among the rest Caroline Pichler, whom I was very glad to see, for the sake of her fifty volumes of romances, some of which are good, and have been translated into English, French, and Italian. She seemed a nice, pleasant old lady. Mr. McNeill was there, whom I remember to have met in London at dinner last year, recently returned from Persia. . . . . He is now going there again as British Minister. He is a very interesting and intellectual gentleman; moreover, a fine scholar in Western as well as Eastern literature. Among them all I passed a truly agreeable evening.

July 1.—. . . . . At a little before three o'clock I went to the Chancery, and made a visit to Von Hammer in his office, and after that went to Prince Metternich's magnificent apartments.

The business of the morning, however, was not quite over, and two persons were still waiting in the antechamber. The Minister of Police came out of the cabinet, and one who, I understood afterwards, had formerly been Minister of Finance to the King of Sardinia, was admitted. His business did not occupy the Premier many minutes. A Hungarian Count, dressed in a full suit of really splendid uniform as a Hussar officer, next passed in, carrying in his hand a huge letter with broad black edges, containing, as I learnt, a reply to the letter of condolence which this officer had carried to the present King of Saxony on the death of the late King,5. . . . and when this was over the Prince came out into the antechamber to me. Meanwhile, however, Von Hammer had joined me there, and said he wanted to speak to the Premier. I told him I was only going in to see the library, and he said he would go in with me.

When, therefore, the Prince came out, we both went towards the door to meet him. But it was plain, in an instant, that he did not [13] mean to have a visit from Mr. Von Hammer. Nothing could be more condescending than he was, nothing more kind; but it was in vain the Orientalist told him he knew me very well and moved again towards the door, for the Prince insisted, though merely by his manner, upon hearing there what he had to say. It was simply to ask when he might present to him Mr. McNeill, the British Ambassador to Persia, which the Prince told him he might do the next morning in his cabinet, and then most politely bowed away the somewhat disconcerted scholar. He took me now directly into his cabinet, and seating me in the same comfortable easy-chair where I sat the other day, took the somewhat more simple one opposite, himself, leaving the same plain little table between us, with a few business-like looking papers on it.

‘You know M. Von Hammer, then,’ he said, laughing. I told him I had brought letters to him, and that he had been very kind to me. ‘A very extraordinary person, quite unique in his department in Europe. But, like almost all the philologists, he is very quarrelsome. I do not know what it is in their pursuits that makes them so sensitive; but I have known a great many in my life, and almost all of them have been frequently in personal difficulties. Perhaps M. Von Hammer has told you about his quarrel with Captain Basil Hall.’ I told him he had. ‘I thought so,’ said he, laughing heartily. ‘Captain Hall is a man of talent,—un home d'esprit,—he writes well, but he seems really to have been a little unreasonable in his visit at the old lady's castle in Styria.’ And again he laughed very heartily.

‘There is nothing more important for a man’—he then went on, mero motu suo

than to be reasonable and moderate in his expectations, and especially not to wish to do anything he cannot accomplish. I am myself moderate in everything, and I endeavor to become more moderate. I have a calm disposition, a very calm one, —J'ai l'esprit calme, tres calme. I am passionate about nothing,— Je ne suis passione pour rien. Therefore I have no foolish mistakes to reproach myself with,—Ainsi je n'ai pas de sottises à me reprocher. But I am very often misunderstood. I am thought to be a great absolutist in my policy. But I am not. It is true I do not like democracies; democracy is everywhere and always—partout et toujours —a dissolving, decomposing principle; it tends to separate men, it loosens society. This does not suit my character. I am by character and habit constructive,—Je suis par caractre et par habitude constructeur. [14]

Monarchy, therefore, is the only government fitted to my mind; the only government in which I could be useful. Monarchy alone tends to bring men together, to unite them into compact and effective masses; to render them capable, by their combined efforts, of the highest degrees of culture and civilization.

I objected to this, that though the government in a republic is of less consequence than the government in a monarchy, individuals are of much more consequence; that men are more truly men, have wider views and a more active intelligence, where they do almost everything for themselves, than where, as in monarchies, almost everything is done for them, etc. He listened with great readiness to all I had to say,—for he is eminently elegant and winning in his ways,—and then replied:—

‘You refer, I see, to your country, as I do to mine. I am aware your country never could have made so much progress in so short a time under any other than a democratic system; for democracy, while it separates men, creates rivalships of all kinds, and carries them forward very fast by competition among themselves. Take a thousand individuals in America, and a thousand in France or our old Austria,—notre vieille Autriche, as he constantly called it,—and there will be many more marked and characteristic individualities among the Americans than among the Frenchmen or the Austrians; they will be more curious, too, more distinct, more interesting—even, perhaps, more efficient—as individuals; but they will not constitute so efficient a mass, nor one so likely to make permanent progress. Besides, democracy is natural to you; you have always been democrats, and democracy is, therefore, a reality—une veritye—in America. In Europe it is a falsehood, and I hate all falsehood,—En Europe c'est un mensonge. I have always, however, been of the opinion expressed by Tocqueville, that democracy, so far from being the oldest and simplest form of government, as has been so often said, is the latest invented form of all, and the most complicated. With you in America it seems to be un tour de force perpetuel. You are, therefore, often in dangerous positions, and your system is one that wears out fast,— qui s'use vite.’

I said, ‘A young constitution easily throws off diseases that would destroy life in an old one,’ etc.

‘True, true,’ he replied; ‘you will go on much further in democracy; you will become much more democratic. I do not know where it will end, nor how it will end; but it cannot end in a quiet, ripe old age.’ [15]

He asked me who will be our next President. I told him that it will be Van Buren; and that, as I do not desire it, he might consider my opinion at least unprejudiced. He answered, ‘Neither should I be of Mr. Van Buren's party, if I were in America I should rather be of that old party of which Washington was originally the head. It was a sort of conservative party, and I should be conservative almost everywhere, certainly in England and America. Your country is a very important one. This government is about to establish regular diplomatic relations with it. You have always managed your affairs with foreign nations with ability.’

I do not remember what followed with sufficient distinctness to repeat it; but after talking a little about Austria, and praising the late Emperor very much, as a man of perfect uprightness of purpose and a strong will and character, he turned the conversation upon Europe, and said several times in the course of it, ‘The present state of Europe is disgusting to me,—L'etat actuel de l'europe m'est degoutant. England is advancing towards a revolution,—L'Angleterre marche vers une revolution.’ On my expressing a strong hope and belief that she would be spared it, he replied very decidedly:—

Non, Monsieur, elle ne laechappera pas. England, too, has no great statesmen now, no great statesmen of any party, and woe to the country whose condition and institutions no longer produce great men to manage its affairs. France, on the contrary, has the Revolution behind her,—La France a la Revolution en dos,’—a phrase which he repeated several times in the course of the conversation.

‘She is like a man who has just passed thoroughly through a severe disease. He is not so likely to take it as if he had never had it. But France, too, wants men of ability; Louis Philippe is the ablest statesman they have had for a great while. And then in France there is such a want of stability. On the 7th of next month I shall have sat in this very chair, as the director of the affairs of this monarchy, twenty-seven years, and in the course of that time I have had intercourse with twenty-eight Ministers of Foreign Affairs in France. I counted them up the day I had been here twenty-five years, and there had been just twenty-five; but in the last two years there have been three. So,’ said he, laughing,

I have one to spare over the number of years I have been here, and I shall soon have another.6

This is very bad for a country like France. France, too, acts badly upon England; and, indeed, France and England have always [16] acted badly upon each other, exciting each other to violent corresponding changes. The influence of France on England since 1830 has been very bad. The affair of July, 1830, is called a revolution: it was no such thing; it was a lucky rebellion, which changed those at the head of the government, nothing else. But when Louis Philippe said, at the famous arrangement of the Hotel de Ville, “La Charte deviendra une verite,” he uttered a falsehood,—il dit un mensonge; there existed no Charter at the moment when he spoke, for that of 1814 was destroyed, and what might become the Charter afterwards he knew as little as anybody in such a moment of uncertainty. The elements of things in France are very bad; there is a great deal of soi-disant republicanism, which some of them think they have taken from your country, but which is nothing like yours. And there is a good deal of our German idealism and theorizing which is entirely at war with the French character, which is very practical and very selfish. And there is a great deal of talk about a constitutional government like the English, which they can comprehend as little as they can our German theories or your practical democracy. Altogether it is a bad melange. I think I see it as it is. J'ai beaucoup de calme, je ne mets de passion à rien. J'aime la verite, et je la cherche. Je hais le mensonge.

I do not like my business,—Je n'aime pas mon metier. If I liked it, I should not be able to preserve the quietness of spirit— le calme—necessary to it. Besides this, the present state of Europe disgusts me; I am tired of it. When I was five-and-twenty years old, I foresaw nothing but change and trouble in my time; and I sometimes thought then that I would leave Europe and go to America, or somewhere else, out of the reach of it. But my place was here. I belonged, as it were, to an entail,—à un majorat,—and I could not remove. Even my private fortune was fastened to the soil, and would not have been permitted to follow me. And so I have gone on, and have been here at the head of affairs since 1809.

I did not make the peace of 1809, for I did not choose to make it. When a minister begins, under such circumstances as I began under then, he must have a clear ground,—un terrain net,—or he will not be able to move at all. But since I have been here I have always been the same,—j'ai éte toujours le mene. Je n'ai trompe personne, et c'est par cette raison que je n'ai pas un ennemi personnel au monde. I have had many colleagues, I have been obliged to remove many of them,--j'ai éte oblige d'en frapper beaucoup,—but I never deceived them, and not one of them is now my personal enemy, pas un [17] seul. I have been consulted at different times by many heads of parties in other countries, who wanted to make great changes or revolutions. I have always talked with them, as I now talk with you, directly, frankly, truly,—directement, franchement, avec verite; very often afterwards I have crushed them,—je les ai écrases,— but I have never deceived them, and they are not now my personal enemies. I am less exposed, too, to make personal enemies than most persons in my situation would be, for another reason: I labor chiefly, almost entirely, to prevent troubles, to prevent evil. In a democracy you cannot do this. There you must begin by the evil, and endure it, till it has been felt and acknowledged, and then, perhaps, you can apply the remedy.

This is another reason why democracies do not suit me,—ne me conviennent pas. I care nothing about the past, except as a warning for the future. The present day has no value for me, except as the eve of to-morrow,—Le jour qui court n'a aucune valeur pour moi, excepte comme la veille du lendemain. I labor for to-morrow. I do not venture even to think much of the day following, but to-morrow, it is with to-morrow that my spirit wrestles,—mon esprit lutte,—and I am but too happy if I can do something to prevent the evil it may threaten, or add something to the good of which it is capable,

etc., etc.

C'est toujours avec le lendemain que mon esprit lutte, is a fine phrase, and he pronounced it with great force, perhaps with emotion.

He spoke with great earnestness, especially in the latter part of the conversation; was eloquent in many parts of it, gesticulated frequently, and occasionally struck forcibly the little table between us; but he was always dignified, winning, and easy in his whole air and manner.

The conversation lasted above an hour and an half, and I am accurate in what I have given of it; but I have given only the thread of it, and its more striking parts, omitting almost all of what I interposed, and all I do not distinctly remember.

Soon after four a servant came in and announced dinner; but the Prince did not notice him at all. About half past 4 another came, an old man with powdered hair and in full dress, to whom the Prince merely said, ‘Very well,’ and went on as earnestly as ever. Soon after a third entered, and said, ‘The Princess orders me to let your Highness know it wants only a quarter to five.’ ‘Well,’ said he to me, laughing, ‘since my wife sends for us, we must go’; though still he talked a little longer, and during the whole time, from beginning to end, did not seem to take his eyes off my countenance. [18]

At last he rose, and, showing me to the door by which I had entered, said, ‘If you will go to my wife in the saloon I will join you in a moment.’ I passed through the rich and beautiful library, containing, I understand, twenty or thirty thousand volumes, but of which, by the by, not a syllable had been said in the conversation, though I had been invited expressly to come and visit it. I passed, too, through the first vast antechamber, which was empty, and through the second, where the dinner-table was waiting. After this began a suite of very richly furnished rooms, through which I advanced until their number had become so considerable that I began to think I had made some mistake; but a servant, seeing me hesitate, came to me and showed me through two or three more, until I came to the saloon where the Princess was sitting, with three old ladies and two gentlemen, one of whom I had seen before. It was a splendid room, most magnificently furnished, and so large that five ormoulu chandeliers of great size and beauty were suspended from its ceiling. I have seen few saloons in palaces so rich, and still fewer in such good taste.

As soon as I entered it, ‘Well,’ said the Princess, ‘I hope you have had an agreeable conference with my husband, for it has been a long one.’ ‘So long,’ said one of the old ladies,—who was also a princess, but I know not from where,—‘so long that it has made me very hungry.’ They all laughed heartily, and we had some lively talk for a few moments, till the Premier came in, and, apologizing slightly for his tardiness, took the hungry old Princess and led the way to dinner.

The Princess Metternich took my arm, and after a journey through the suite of apartments where I had nearly lost myself just before, we reached the dinner-table, which was round and had eight covers, and the same number of attendants, only one or two of whom were in livery. The dinner was as delicious, I suppose, as the science of cookery could make it, and extended through from ten to fourteen courses, with many kinds of wines, and among the rest Tokay; but nothing could be easier or more degage than the tone at table. At first, the conversation was mere commonplace gossip. We had good Johannisberg, of course, and the Princess made some jokes about her selling it to the Americans, to which the Prince added, that he had an agent in New York for the purpose, and that we could buy there as good wine as he gives to his friends in Vienna.

In the midst of this, a secretary came in and delivered a despatch, that moment received, he said, by express from Paris. The news of [19] the attempt to assassinate Louis Philippe, as he was going to Neuilly, had been received by telegraph a couple of days before, but as nothing had come since, everybody was curious to know the details. The Prince opened his packet at once, but found little news in it, as it was sent off immediately after the event. It contained, however, the name of the assassin, Alibaud, and the fact that he was a native of Nismes, and twenty-five years old; this being all M. d'appony had been able to cater in the first moments of the arrest.

But there was a newspaper in the parcel, which the Prince sent immediately round to the Princess, and desired her to read aloud from it what was marked in pencil with red. It turned out to be Lord Melbourne's trial in the case of Mrs. Norton. She read on for a moment or two, and then casting her eye forward, said, ‘But there are things here, Clement, that are not to be read,—Mais il y a des choses ici, Clement, qui ne se lisent pas.’ ‘Well,’ said he, laughing, ‘read us the end at least; let us know what the decision was; you can read that.’ She turned to it and read the acquittal. The Premier made no remark about it, nor did anybody else, though I knew he was very anxious to have another result; but he turned to me, and asked if our laws in America on such matters resembled the English laws, and continued the conversation on this subject till the dinner was over.

His dislike of Lord Melbourne's administration is very great and notorious. Mr. Forbes told me that, as British Charge d'affaires at Vienna, he communicated officially to Metternich the fact of its formation, and that the Prince received the notice with great indignation. If Lord Melbourne had been convicted he must have gone out, and perhaps the Ministry would have been entirely dissolved,—an event which would have diminished, I am sure, the Prince's disgust at the present state of Europe. But when the Princess announced the acquittal, he received it as a thing perfectly indifferent.

In the saloon we found three or four gentlemen waiting, and among the rest Naumann, whom I met at Baron Lerchenfeld's yesterday. Coffee was served, . . . . and general conversation followed. The Prince sat down in the window, and, taking up Lord Melbourne's trial, seemed to lose all consciousness of anything else. The Princess showed me the pictures in the saloon and a magnificent porcelain vase, with a portrait of the late Emperor of Austria, presented recently to her husband by the Emperor of Russia. She was very pleasant; but it was now eight o'clock, the company was separating, I had been there five hours, and it was time to go. [20]

The Prince was consistently courteous to the last, followed me to the door with kind compliments, and then, turning back, ceased, I dare say, in five minutes, to think or remember anything more about me, as Sancho says, than ‘about the shapes of the last yearns clouds.’ I take him to be the most consummate statesman of his sort that our time has produced.7

1 Baron von Hammer-Purgstall.

2 Ferdinand Wolf, learned in Spanish literature, became one of Mr. Ticknor's literary correspondents.

3 See Vol. I. pp. 246, 247.

4 This quarrel arose from the conduct of Captain Hall, during a visit to the Baroness Purgstall, an aged relative of Von Hammer,—by marriage,—who lived in Styria; and his account of her domestic life in a book entitled ‘Schloss Hainfeld, or a Winter in Styria.’ The Baroness Purgstall was a native of Scotland, and appears in Lockhart's Life of Scott, under her maiden name, as Miss Cranstoun. Von Hammer, who inherited a portion of her estate, and added the name of Purgstall to his own, published an answer to Captain Hall's work.

5 King Anton had died June 6.

6 Note by Mr. Ticknor: ‘lThis was said during Thiers administration, which in about six weeks was dissolved.’

7 Baron Humboldt wrote to Mr. Ticknor from Sans Souci, September 8, 1837: ‘Le Prince Metternich, que j'ai vu à Teplitz, a éte ravi des entretiens qu'il a eus avec vous. Ne dans une republique, vous aurez, pourtant, paru plus raisonnable à ses yeux, que ce qu'il appelle mon liberalisme.’

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