Lodore, for the purpose of assisting Lady Oswald to establish

time:2023-12-01 04:29:50source:xsnedit:android

Which statement, if we deduct the due 25 per cent, is probably not mythic, after all. A day or two ago, the Czar had been at Magdeburg, on his way hither, intent upon inspecting matters there; and the Official Gentlemen,--President Cocceji (afterwards a very celebrated man) at the head of them,--waited on the Czar, to do what was needful. On entering, with the proper Address or complimentary Harangue, they found his Czarish Majesty "standing between two Russian Ladies," clearly Ladies of the above sort; for they stood close by him, one of his arms was round the neck of each, and his hands amused themselves by taking liberties in that posture, all the time Cocceji spoke. Nay, even this was as nothing among the Magdeburg phenomena. Next day, for instance, there appeared in the audience-chamber a certain Serene high-pacing Duke of Mecklenburg, with his Duchess;--thrice-unfortunate Duke, of whom we shall too often hear again; who, after some adventures, under Charles XII. first of all, and then under the enemies of Charles, had, about a year ago, after divorcing his first Wife, married a Niece of Peter's:--Duke and Duchess arrive now, by order or gracious invitation of their Sovereign Uncle, to accompany him in those parts; and are announced to an eager Czar, giving audience to his select Magdeburg public. At sight of which most desirable Duchess and Brother's Daughter, how Peter started up, satyr-like, clasping her in his arms, and snatching her into an inner room, with the door left ajar, and there--It is too Samoeidic for human speech! and would excel belief, were not the testimony so strong. [Pollnitz ( Memoiren, ii. 95) gives Friedrich Wilhelm as voucher, "who used to relate it as from eye-and-ear witnesses."] A Duke of Mecklenburg, it would appear, who may count himself the NON-PLUS-ULTRA of husbands in that epoch;--as among Sovereign Rulers, too, in a small or great way, he seeks his fellow for ill-luck!

Lodore, for the purpose of assisting Lady Oswald to establish

Duke and Duchess accompanied the Czar to Berlin, where Wilhelmina mentions them, as presentees; part of those "four hundred" anomalies. They took the Czar home with them to Mecklenburg: where indeed some Russian Regiments of his, left here on their return from Denmark, had been very useful in coercing the rebellious Ritterschaft (KNIGHTAGE, or Landed-Gentry) of this Duke,--till at length the general outcry, and voice of the Reich itself, had ordered the said Regiments to get on march again, and take themselves away. [The LAST of them, "July, 1717; " two months ago. (Michaelis, ii. 418.)] For all is rebellion, passive rebellion, in Mecklenburg; taxes being so indispensable; and the Knights so disinclined; and this Duke a Sovereign,--such as we may construe from his quarrelling with almost everybody, and his NOT quarrelling with an Uncle Peter of that kind. [One poor hint, on his behalf, let us not omit: "WIFE quitted him in 1719, and lived at Moscow afterwards!" (General Mannstein, Memoirs of Russia, London, 1770, p. 27 n.)] His troubles as Sovereign Duke, his flights to Dantzig, oustings, returns, law-pleadings and foolish confusions, lasted all his life, thirty years to come; and were bequeathed as a sorrowful legacy to Posterity and the neighboring Countries. Voltaire says, the Czar wished to buy his Duchy from him. [Ubi supra, xxxi. 414.] And truly, for this wretched Duke, it would have been good to sell it at any price: but there were other words than his to such a bargain, had it ever been seriously meditated. By this extraordinary Duchess he becomes Father (real or putative) of a certain Princess, whom we may hear of; and through her again is Grandfather of an unfortunate Russian Prince, much bruited about, as "the murdered Iwan," in subsequent times. With such a Duke and Duchess let our acquaintance be the MINIMUM of what necessity compels.

Lodore, for the purpose of assisting Lady Oswald to establish

Wilhelmina goes by hearsay hitherto; and, it is to be hoped, had heard nothing of these Magdeburg-Mecklenburg phenomena; but after the Czarina's arrival, the little creature saw with her own eyes:--

Lodore, for the purpose of assisting Lady Oswald to establish

"Next day," that is, Wednesday, 22d "the Czar and his Spouse came to return the Queen's visit; and I saw the Court myself." Palace Grand-Apartments; Queen advancing a due length, even to the outer guard-room; giving the Czarina her right hand, and leading her into her audience-chamber in that distinguished manner: King and Czar followed close;--and here it was that Wilhelmina's personal experiences began. "The Czar at once recognized me, having seen me before, five years ago [March, 1713]. He caught me in his arms; fell to kissing me, like to flay the skin off my face. I boxed his ears, sprawled, and struggled with all my strength; saying I would not allow such familiarities, and that he was dishonoring me. He laughed greatly at this idea; made peace, and talked a long time with me. I had got my lesson: I spoke of his fleet and his conquests;--which charmed him so much, that he said more than once to the Czarina, 'If he could have a child like me, he would willingly give one of his Provinces in exchange.' The Czarina also caressed me a good deal. The Queen [Mamma] and she placed themselves under the dais, each in an arm-chair" of proper dignity; "I was at the Queen's side, and the Princesses of the Blood," Margravines above spoken of, "were opposite to her,"-- all in a standing posture, as is proper.

"The Czarina was a little stumpy body, very brown, and had neither air nor grace: you needed only look at her, to guess her low extraction." It is no secret, she had been a kitchen-wench in her Lithuanian native country; afterwards a female of the kind called unfortunate, under several figures: however, she saved the Czar once, by her ready-wit and courage, from a devouring Turkish Difficulty, and he made her fortunate and a Czarina, to sit under the dais as now. "With her huddle of clothes, she looked for all the world like a German Play-actress; her dress, you would have said, had been bought at a second-hand shop; all was out of fashion, all was loaded with silver and greasy dirt. The front of her bodice she had ornamented with jewels in a very singular pattern: A double-eagle in embroidery, and the plumes of it set with poor little diamonds, of the smallest possible carat, and very ill mounted. All along the facing of her gown were Orders and little things of metal; a dozen Orders, and as many Portraits of saints, of relics and the like; so that when she walked, it was with a jingling, as if you heard a mule with bells to its harness."--Poor little Czarina; shifty nutbrown fellow-creature, strangely chased about from the bottom to the top of this world; it is evident she does not succeed at Queen Sophie Dorothee's Court!--

"The Czar, on the other hand, was very tall, and might be called handsome," continues Wilhelmina: "his countenance was beautiful, but had something of savage in it which put you in fear." Partly a kind of Milton's-Devil physiognomy? The Portraits give it rather so. Archangel not quite ruined, yet in sadly ruinous condition; its heroism so bemired,--with a turn for strong drink, too, at times! A physiognomy to make one reflect." His dress was of sailor fashion, coat, altogether plain."

"The Czarina, who spoke German very ill herself, and did not understand well what the Queen said, beckoned to her Fool to come near,"--a poor female creature, who had once been a Princess Galitzin, but having got into mischief, had been excused to the Czar by her high relations as mad, and saved from death or Siberia, into her present strange harbor of refuge. With her the Czarina talked in unknown Russ, evidently "laughing much and loud," till Supper was announced.

"At table," continues Wilhelmina, "the Czar placed himself beside the Queen. It is understood this Prince was attempted with poison in his youth, and that something of it had settled on his nerves ever after. One thing is certain, there took him very often a sort of convulsion, like Tic or St.-Vitus, which it was beyond his power to control. That happened at table now. He got into contortions, gesticulations; and as the knife was in his hand, and went dancing about within arm's-length of the Queen, it frightened her, and she motioned several times to rise. The Czar begged her not to mind, for he would do her no ill; at the same time he took her by the hand, which he grasped with such violence that the Queen was forced to shriek out. This set him heartily laughing; saying she had not bones of so hard a texture as his Catherine's. Supper done, a grand Ball had been got ready; but the Czar escaped at once, and walked home by himself to Monbijou, leaving the others to dance."


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