Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the learned historian, are conspicuous throughout; his account of the intrigues, or preparations, if the expression be preferred, of the Prince of Orange, with a view to the throne to which he was afterwards called, is more ample and interesting than any that we had before read ; and on several other topics connected with the ruin of the House of Stuart, his information, which is always collected from the best sources, wears a particularly authentic, as well as in some respects a novel appearance.

We must repeat the expression of our hope that Dr. Lingard will proceed with his labours, which, we confess, we should desire to see brought down to the battle of Waterloo, or at least to the French revolution. What pigmy contests were those of Cæsar and Agricola, of the Heptarchy, the Crusades, of Poictiers and Agincourt, of the Rival Roses, and even of the Commonwealth itself, compared with the Cyclopean wars which have, in our own times, shaken the world to its centre!

Art. II.-Journal of a Nobleman; comprising an Account of his

Travels, and a Narrative of his Residence at Vienna during the

Congress. In two volumes, 8vo. London: Colburn & Co. 1831. We cannot very clearly make out to what country the author of these volumes owes bis allegiance. In Poland, where he seems to have spent some of the happiest days of his life, he passed for a Frenchman; and in France, he gave himself out for a Pole. In Russia he was either, as it suited his fancy or his circumstances; and in Austria he was a citizen of the world. Perhaps it will be safest for us to take him in the latter character, as it is one which suits him exceedingly well. We have met with few authors, and with still fewer noble authors, who have written their thoughts with more frankness, and greater freedom from every kind of prejudice. His notions are indeed sufficiently aristocratic; but they do not prevent him from paying a just tribute to merit wherever he finds it, and from whatever quarter it springs. He seldom falls into those exclusive prepossessions which render the productions of some of our noble scribblers and orators so ridiculous to the eye of men of sense. There are even aspirants amongst our literary worthies, who, although of the people, can hardly condescend to speak of any body under the rank of a “Noble,” or, at least a “Right Honourable Friend.” They affect the language of parliament with a priggishness which would shake the sides of Diogenes himself with laughter.

Two or three facts connected with the personal history of the author, are, however, sufficiently apparent and interesting. The work was originally written in French, and the author, if not born in France, was at least a resident of that country at the breaking out of the revolution. His uncle, who held the office of Minister

2 L

NO. IV.

for Foreign Affairs, emigrated, and took him with him while yet a mere youth to Hamburgh, whence they travelled on foot to Copenhagen, on their way to the residence of a Swedish nobleman who had offered them an asylum. They were in the most destitute circumstances, and their only hope of such assistance as might enable them to accomplish their journey, depended on the generosity of the reigning family of Denmark. It was proposed that the younger of the two exiles should be the bearer of a petition for that purpose to the Prince Royal ; on the day before that on which he was to have an audience, he happened to saunter in the park of the palace of Friedrichsberg, where he saw a young lady and gentleman walking together in one of the alleys. The gentleman was dressed in a light grey coat, carried an umbrella under his arm, and jumped so oddly while he walked, as if he had learned to dance from St. Vitus, that the stranger rudely enough began to laugh at him. The man in grey frowned in anger, which only made his appearance still more ludicrous, and the laugh grew loader and louder until the object of it disappeared in the distance. The youthful petitioner was punctual to the hour appointed for the audience. On being introduced with great formality, whom should he see before him but his friend in grey! It was the Prince Royal! To his credit, however, the Prince did not appear to remember the impertinence of which the petitioner had been guilty, and dismissed him with an order upon the treasury for one hundred Fredericks d'or. How long the author remained in Sweden, how he contrived to spend so many years in Poland, how he came to be established in Russia, and in what character, our nobleman deposeth not. All that we learn further of his emigrant history is, that in 1807, he was well introduced at Vienna, by the celebrated Prince de Ligne, to whom he was related, and that he afterwards frequently visited that capital, though whether for pleasure or on business we are not informed. His journal commences in May, 1812, when we find him, in company with a friend, setting out from Moscow on a journey to the same sociable and pleasant metropolis.

To this tour, which the author appears to have performed at leisure, and with great delight to himself, the first volume is entirely devoted. Conversant as we necessarily are, from the works of other and later travellers, with most of the places which he visited on this occasion, we can truly say that, under his guidance, we have revisited them with renewed satisfaction. There is a vein of romance in his character, which imparts a charm to his descriptions of society particularly. He is a lover of Nature too, as well as of his kind, and leaves none of her works unnoticed which come within his observation. Scenes that ordinary travellers would pass over as uninteresting, are not without their attractions for him. The desert steppes fill his mind with ideas of immensity, and cheer it with a sense of freedom. Lively anecdotes and agreeable conversation give variety to the page, and we never tire of him as a

companion and guide, even when he sojourns at the dullest villages and inus. He had frequent opportunities of meeting the numerous armies which overspread the northern parts of Germany at that period, and he has here preserved his reminiscences of the most celebrated military men with whom he thus came in contact. In the course of his tour he visited Constantinople and Smyrna, and Wallachia and Moldavia. His historical remarks upon the two principalities, his account of their climate, population, soil, productions, and mines,—of the manners of the Boyars and the peasantry, and of the Wallachian gipsies, will be read with attention, as the quantity of information already published respecting those countries is especially scanty and defective. A similar remark, though not to the same extent, applies to the author's observations upon Transylvania and Hungary.

The principal attraction of this work will be found, however, in the second volume—a series of animated sketches from the grand panorama comprehending the period of the first Congress which took place at Vienna after the peace of 1814. The Emperors of Russia and Austria, the Kings of Prussia, Wirtemberg, Bavaria, and Denmark, and their most able ministers, as well as the most distinguished diplomatists of the other states of Europe, attended by a multitude of intelligent men as assistants and secretaries, and by crowds of aspirants after kingdoms and duchies, adventurers of every degree, artists, poets, actors, singers, gamblers, idlers, belles and beaux, assembling together for the purpose of settling, as they then thought, irrevocably the destinies of the world--gave to Vienna the appearance of a singular masquerade, such as never before, or since that period, has been witnessed. It was, indeed, an exhibition of the most extraordinary description, worthy of a much more elaborate and dignified record than that which the author has here given of it. He has announced his intention of preparing such a work, and we trust that he will execute it. For the present he gives the Congress, as it were, in its dishabille. He speaks of emperors, and kings, and diplomatists, as men apparently engaged only in the pursuit of gay amusement, under the cover of which their most important business was sometimes transacted. The Emperor of Austria, anxious to do all honour to his royal guests, appointed a committee, whose special care it was to provide a variety of spectacles for their entertainment-of spectacles not only diversified every day, but capable of producing unexpected gratification. To most of these the author had the good fortune to be admitted. He appears to have been, besides, a good deal behind the scenes, and to have closely observed the great drama of which Vienna was then the stage. Every facility for this purpose was afforded to him by the Prince de Ligne, than whom no person could have been more competent to make him acquainted with the leading characters who figured on that memorable scene. The advantage of his hearing constantly the opinions of such a guide upon the élite of

the civilized world, then brought together as in a fair, and upon the interests in the arrangement of which they were engaged, cannot be disputed. The results are evident in the many brilliant anec dotes with which this volume abounds. It was the author's object to instruct as well as to entertain his readers. Both these points he has most successfully accomplished. To some persons it may seem remarkable that none of the

maoy able writers who took an active part in the transactions of the Congress, have given to the public any memorial of its existence. We suppose that their silence is to be imputed to diplomatic caution, which abhors the press. The habits of jealous reserve, of profound secrecy, have, doubtless, imposed upon them the necessity of keeping their journals, if they have made any, carefully sealed up in their escritoires. It is not improbable that a few deaths in the political world, or at least that the lapse of a few years, may cause these treasures to be disclosed, revealing to us the labours of some modern Pepys, a Fra Paolo, or perhaps a Hamilton. In the mean time we may be satisfied with such sketches as the author of this work has collected for our edification, and which are as clearly defined and glance as rapidly before us as the shadows in a magic lantern. The following scene, illustrated by the Prince de Ligne, is a suitable introduction to this living raree-show.

• Vienna, as the prince had truly observed, now presented an epitome of Europe, and the Ridotto might be said to be an epitome of Vienna. It is impossible to conceive anything more singular than this multitude, partly masked and partly unmasked, amidst which the rulers of mankind were seen, mingling in the crowd without any sort of distinction. “Obserre," said the prince, “that graceful and martial figure who is walking with Engene Beauharnais : that is the Emperor Alexander. Yonder tall, dig. nified-looking man, on whose arm a fair Neapolitan is playfully hanging, is no less a personage than the King of Prussia. The lively mask, who seems to put his Majesty's gravity somewhat to the test, is perhaps an empress, or perhaps a grisette. Beneath that Venetian habit, which but ill disguises the amiable affability of the crowned amphitryon, you see our emperor, the representative of the most paternal despotism that ever existed. There is Maximilian, King of Bavaria, in whose open countenance you may read the expression of his excellent heart. On the throne he does not forget his former rank of colonel in the French service, and he entertains for his subjects the same paternal affection which he once cherished for each private of his regiment. Beside him you see a little pale man, with an aquiline nose and fair hair: that is the King of Denmark, whose cheerful manners and happy repartees enliven the royal parties. He is called the Lustig * of the sovereign brigade. Judging from the simplicity of his manners, and the perfect happiness which his little kingdom enjoys,

* Lustig, which means a merry fellow, is the name given in the German regiments to the soldier who amuses his comrades by his gaiety and humour. This title was very appropriately given to the King of Denmark

one would never imagine him to be the most absolute monarch in Europe. Such, nevertheless, is the fact; and in Denmark the royal carriage is preceded by an equerry armed with a loaded carbine, and the king, as he drives along, may, if he choose, order any of his subjects to be shot. That colossal figure, whose bulk is not diminished by the ample folds of his domino, is the King of Wirtemburg. Near him stands his son, the Prince Royal, whose attachment to Catherine, Grand-duchess of Oldenburg, detains him at the Congress, where he shews himself more anxious to please the lady of his heart, than intent on the arrangement of interests which will one day be his own. Those two young men who have just passed us, are the Prince Royal of Bavaria, and his brother Prince Charles. The head of the latter may vie with that of the Antinous; and the taste of the other for literature and the fine arts, which he cultivates with success, promises to Bavaria an illustrious reign. This crowd of people, as various in dress as in appearance, who are buzzing about in every direction, are either reigning princes, archdukes, or dignitaries of different countries. With the exception of a few Englishmen, who are easily distinguishable by the richness of their dresses, 1 do not perceive a single individual who has not a title tacked to his name. But now I think I have sufficiently introduced you, so you may go and work your own way; always recollecting, that in any case of difficulty I am at hand to pilot you.'-vol. ii. pp. 16—19. . It is no part of the author's plan to notice political events, which are indeed sufficiently well known. It will, however, be a most interesting task for this writer, or for some other, hereafter to present a full representation of the anxiety, the earnestness, the pertinacity, with which different points relating to the settlement of Europe were pressed forward by some of the members of the Congress, and resisted by others, which, after being eventually arranged, as all then thought, upon the safest and most immovable basis, have been since dealt with, by the force of circumstances, like shuttlecocks which boys knock about as their whim or the air directs them. The sceptre of iron which was then prepared, but which was not felt by Europe until after the battle of Waterloo, and was intended to have the effect of that ebon wand, feigned by the poets to bind the world in sleep:-how suddenly, how effectually has it been since shattered and trampled into dust by the nations for whose oppression it was principally fabricated! What a satire upon human foresight and prudence are

at the Congress of Vienna. Political considerations had prejudiced against him most of the sovereigns in the early part of the Congress ; but his agreeable manners, his ready wit, and uvaffected humour, soon gained for him the best wishes of his brother monarchs. When about to quit Vienna, the Emperor Alexander, who had conceived an affectionate regard for him, in taking leave, said to him, “ Sire, you carry all hearts away with you." The king unhesitatingly replied, with a good-natured smile; Hearts, perhaps, Sire, but not a single soul." This witty allusion to the unprofitable part he had taken in the proceedings of the Congress, can bardly undergo translation without losing its force.'

« PreviousContinue »