To our readers, Pragmatically Distributed wishes you a merry Christmas.
With new visitors arriving at our site, our gift to readers of any kind are our entries linked here about Prince Metternich, whose works we will be making even greater use of in the New Year.
For Jewish readers, in addition to the Prince, we offer Handel’s Solomon.
On Monday a new article will be published.
Until then, enjoy –
IT was in the early part of the winter of 1834 that I made the acquaintance of Prince Mettemich at Vienna. He had heard of the interest that I took in Dr. Gall’s system; and soon after my arrival in the Austrian capital, a lady, a mutual friend, and a relation of his wife, communicated to me the Prince’s wish to see me at his palace. I was told to go there any evening about ten, and I lost no time in profiting by the opportunity. I was ushered into the saloon of the Princess, the beautiful Melanie, born Countess Zichy Ferraris, whom I found surrounded by a small and somewhat noisy circle of relations and friends. It was however near eleven before the Prince entered. He immediately came up and entered into conversation with me without formality. We conversed in German. I was subsequently told that the Prince generally spoke French in his wife’s saloon, especially with strangers, but that he made an exception in my case, having heard of my proficiency in the former, and inability to speak the latter language with fluency.
March 20. — I do not know a more difficult post to occupy than that of the Emperor Nicholas. I will give you a sketch of Russia.
Peter the Great changed her frontiers. In Asia he moved them westward — in a word, he said to Russia, Thou shalt henceforth be part of Europe. He was right in this, but he was wrong to destroy so many of the ancient institutions of the state and not replace them.
Catherine II., entirely European, thought only of glory. She was a thorough woman, and she had the misfortune to live in the era of encyclopædists.
Paul I., if he had not been insane, would have rendered great services to his country. His sentiments were thoroughly monarchical. His characteristics are sufficiently shown in the act by which he regulated the succession to the throne.
Alexander, who was fortunate in taking the crown after his father, was unhappily the child of the age. Always going from one religion to another, from one taste to another, he moved everything and built nothing. Everything in him was superficial and exaggerated, and he ever inclined to prefer bad means to good : at the end of five-and- twenty years he left his empire at the point to which the Emperor Joseph II. had conducted his in nine years. Joseph II. however, was an administrator, and the Russian monarch was not.
The population of Russia is divided into two classes; in this respect it resembles the States of the middle ages ; the difference, however, is in the quality of the classes. The aristocracy forms everywhere else the superior class, but in Russia it is only the principal persons — or, we may say, the Court and its suite — who form the superior class.
In an empire thus organized, full of peculiar positions, of necessities which exist nowhere else, the Emperor Alexander wished to introduce the refinements and the abuses of what in my opinion is very improperly described by the epithet of modern civilization — a monster without a body and all ideas!