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ber them. Suffice it to say that they were as persuasive as could make them; and with my note in my hand I drove to Goethe's house.
Having gained admittance, I requested the servant who opened the door to take my note to his Excellency. While he was executing this commission I looked around the entrance-hall, where a bust of Byron occupied a prominent place opposite the door, and awaited anxiously the result of my audacious attempt. To my great surprise and joy he returned, saying that he was instructed to conduct me to his Excellency's study. When I entered it, he was sitting at his writing-table. I will not attempt to retrace here a portrait of the great poet's features. They are too well known from existing pictures, busts, and prints, to require it. I need only say that, although upwards of eighty years had left their indelible traces on his countenance, it was still one of the most striking that had ever met my eyes. He looked like what he was—one of Nature's noblemen. Rising from his seat, he gave me his hand, and, with a good-natured smile, which put me at my ease at once, and satisfied me that he had not taken offence at my unauthorised note, he motioned to me to be seated, and asked me what was my object in visiting Germany. After a few minutes of general conversation, he pointed to a large volume lying before him on the table, and said, "It is curious that when your visit was announced to me I was engaged on making a few notes on your old English literature. Is that a subject that has ever engaged your attention ?” To this I was fortunately able to make an affirmative reply, as I had, not long before, when at Oxford, spent some time in the study of AngloSaxon, and was, moreover, well up in Chaucer, which enabled me to elucidate a few old words and phrases which he had marked as requiring explanation. This circumstance evidently gave him pleasure, and he asked me whether I could not defer my departure for a day or two, adding that his daughter-in-law, Madame de Goethe, had a few friends coming to her in the evening, and that he should like to introduce me to her and them. It is needless to say that I gladly acquiesced; and I spent two days most agreeebly in Weimar, passing half an hour of each morning with Goethe, and the evenings in the salon of Madame de Goethe, where I met all the élite of Weimar society. On the third morning, when I went to take leave of the poet, after thanking him for all his kindness to me, I ventured to ask if he would complete it by writing for me a stanza which I'might keep as an autograph
memento of my visit. After a minute's reflection he wrote for me the following quatrain :
• Liegt dir gestern klar und offen,
Das nicht minder glücklich sey ! I must add, alas ! that after my return to England I put away this autograph so carefully that, on coming back from the United States, where I spent the years 1834-6, I never could find it again, though the stanza was indelibly engraved on my memory.'
A favourite anecdote which I find jotted on another page is as follows:
* The most pompous, self-important person I ever met was Mr. Randolph. An instance always comes back to me of when some man, meeting him in the street, said to him, “Mr. Randolph, sir, I have had the pleasure of seeing you before."
Mr. R. looked him up and down, and turning on bis heel, said, " And now, sir, you can have the pleasure of seeing me behind." ;
One more extract and I have done—the romantic story of his friend Prince Bariatinsky.
*My first acquaintance with Alexander Bariatinsky was on the occasion of the Czar Nicholas's visit to Queen Victoria about the year 1840, whilst I was Master of the Household. He came in the Czar's suite, and I remember that the famous Humboldt and Count Orloff were also of the suite, the latter being held in the highest esteem of all those with him by the Czar.
* Bariatinsky was head of his family, which was a very high one, and mayorat of the vast estates belonging to it. He was extremely handsome and well made, and had a marvellous gift of attaching to himself everyone who came into contact with him. His manners were charming, and he had a peculiarly sweet voice. In his early youth he had formed a romantic attachment for one of the nearest relatives of the Czar. Nicholas got wind of it, and determined to get rid of him. He was therefore ordered off to join the army of the Caucasus, under the command of Prince Vorontzoff, Governor-General. Young B. saw that all chance of favour or promotion near the person of the Czar was henceforth rendered impossible ; he therefore made up his mind to throw himself heart and soul into his military career, and owe all future success to himself alone. So, with reckless generosity, he made over the mayorat and all the family estates to his second brother, making only one most characteristic condition, viz. that his brother should send him a supply of the finest personal linen without fail every year. This was agreed to, and from that time forward all reports sent by Vorontzoff from the seat of war always mentioned Prince Alexander Bariatinsky as being in the first fighting rank. In due course the Czar Nicholas died, and was succeeded by his son Alexander, who in his youth had been the most intimate friend of Bariatinsky.
About the same time Vorontzoff either died or retired, and the new Czar gave the command of the Caucasian army to the friend of his youth-Bariatinsky. The War of the Caucasus had cost Russia millions of roubles and thousands of men for many years past. Being now Governor-General, Bariatinsky said he would either take Prince Schamyl (the hero of the Caucasus) prisoner and subdue the whole belligerent country, or die in the attempt. He nobly fulfilled his vow. Although suffering terribly during the whole campaign from gout (the neglect of which practically crippled him for the rest of his life), he ended by subduing the whole of the Caucasus, thus ending the war. For this service to his country he was rewarded by being made Field-Marshal, and, with the exception of the nearest relatives of the Czar, was henceforth the first subject in the realm.
"When I first met him he had not yet achieved such fame. He and I became very great friends; but we did not meet again till '57, and under very different circumstances. I had been at death's door with dysentery while Minister at Teheran, and my only chance of life was to get back to England ; so, in the depth of winter, I undertook the journey. At Tiflis I halted to get up my strength a little, and there I found my friend Bariatinsky laid up with gout-a perfect cripple, and quite helpless. When I came into the room he was being read to .by a pretty young woman, who I found was the daughter of an Imeritian princess, married to an officer-either captain or major-in B.'s army. He was a very poor creature, and, as I afterwards learnt, teased his wife to be very agreeable to the Field-Marshal in order to gain advancement for himself. I only remained at Tiflis for & few days. But on my appointment to Dresden a year or so later I saw a great deal of B. It appears that the officer after a time took offence at the evident, though innocent, pleasure that both B. and his wife took in each other's society. I suppose that
almost unknown to themselves an attachment had sprung up between them. At all events, the officer carried off his wife, shut her up in some safe place, and treated her as a prisoner, allowing her to see no one or move from the house—in every way behaving most cruelly to her. By some means she managed to let B. know of this, and he, perfectly furious, and now wholly aware of his love for her, determined to free her. He set to work, and though I believe in the Greek Church a divorce is, or was, almost impossible, Bariatinsky appealed to the Czar. The latter could refuse him nothing, and as soon as Bariatinsky had his word he sent a troop of soldiers, and they carried off the imprisoned lady by force Then came the difficulty to know what to do with her till the divorce was actually obtained. He was so careful of her good name that he was at his wits' end to know what to do. In his perplexity he came to me at Dresden, and I agreed to find some respectable shelter with nice people, but in some place where she would be safe from pursuit. This I accomplished, and she was placed with a most kindly old clergyman and his wife near Bristol. There she remained till the divorce was legally granteda most difficult affair in Russia—when they were married, and lived happily for a comparatively short time. It is supposed the poor lady never recovered the shock of all she had gone through, for she fell ill, and eventually went quite out of her mind, and died
Prince Bariatinsky gave to Lady Murray an autograph letter of Prince Schamyl, which Sir Charles translated, and answered for him, when at Dresden, and which is still in her possession.
When I first met Sir Charles Murray he was already in his eightieth year, and had long retired into dignified leisure ; yet what impressed me most about him was his air of alert keenness. The slight, almost boyish, figure ; the clear-cut, delicate face, with its bright eyes and ready smile, under the thick crown of white silky hair ; the spotless neatness of his apparel, and, above all, the pleased interest with which he still welcomed a stranger into his life—he, who had seen so very many people--seemed all a world removed from any idea of old age. Some half a century lay between us, yet I am sure I was far the more tired of the two. This man, who had talked with Goethe and heard Beckford improvise on the piano, was still looking out into the world with as much expectation of pleasure as the youth who had made his bow in Edinburgh society sixty years before.
H. 0. S.
PIERS PLOUGHMAN AND ENGLISH LIFE
IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY.'
The last forty years of the fourteenth century, during which * The Vision of Piers Ploughman' was written, are the turningpoint between the Middle Ages, properly so called, and the modern world. The mediæval tradition, indeed, went on for more than a hundred years longer, and, as regards the ordinary life of the people, the fifteenth century perhaps did not differ very deeply or very patently from the fourteenth. But the century which passed between the Black Death and the discovery of America was one in which the roots of old customs and beliefs were steadily being loosened, and the movement known broadly as the Renaissance was, slowly and interruptedly, but very surely, transforming the whole scope of human life. The Black Death itself—that triple scourge of God which swept away half the population of Europe-was, with better reason than men knew, regarded as a sign of the approaching end of the world. It did herald, and to a large degree contributed towards bringing about, the end of the world as it was : the world which had been built up out of the wreck of the Roman Empire, and consolidated into the magnificent and theoretically unsurpassed structure of Catholic and feudal mediævalism. From that time onward the world entered on an era of change, of expansion, of progress; and the settled, stable equilibrium of the Middle Ages passed away for ever.
Just at the opening of this new era in England, in the thirty years following the Black Death, memorable for the great peasant revolt, the breakdown of feudalism, and the beginning of class legislation, two poets of immense genius arose in England, in whom the old and new worlds appear in their sharpest contrast. Of Chaucer it is needless to say more here than that he fully represents the spirit of the earlier English Renaissance. A Court poet, modern of the modern, he revolutionised the English language as a vehicle for poetry, and breathed the life, the morement, the forward gaze of the Renaissance into a world still full
· Lecture given at the Working Men's College, Bloomsbury.