Memoirs of Josef Boruwlaski - CHAP. V.

CHAP. V.
Arrival at the city of Oufa; description of antique remains in the neighbourhood of that place -- Second visit to Oremburg -- Digression; introduction to Voltaire -- reflections -- Visit to Bokhara -- Arrival at Kislaer, the metropolis of the Circassian Tartars; account of a hot spring there -- Journey through Croatia, Dalmatia, and lower Arabia, to Kamienice, and thence to Buda -- Visit to Lentz and Munich; introduction to the Elector; interview with the Prince de la Tour and Taxis, also with the Prince de Wallerstein -- Arrival at Triersdorf; kind attentions of the Margrave and Margravine of Anspach.

            ON my approach to the city of Oufa, I observed that its environs were surrounded with rising hills and woods. It does not present a very splendid appearance, and has no particular claims to notice. But as I was told, that above Oufa, on the other side of the Dicuma, and at no great distance, many ancient monuments were to be found, I went on purpose to see them. There are remaining numerous ruins of what may be called sepulchral chapels, surrounded with Arabian tombstones, bearing inscriptions. As these writings excited my curiosity, I begged an explanation of them, but found no one who was able to satisfy my inquiry.. My conjectures led me to conclude, that the provinces had formerly belonged to the Arabian nation, until they were admitted to the honour of becoming a part of the Russian empire. The Russians, I presume, wished to enjoy some better climate and milder air, than those of their own native Moscow and Frozen Ocean; and in this they were perfectly right. Undoubtedly, the acquisition also would give them a more imposing appearance, and a greater probability of success. They were very lucky in meeting with friends so well inclined to their welfare, as to assist them in putting their feet upon a warmer and a better soil.

            Among other nations, which they have since honoured in a similar manner, my native country (Poland) has the happiness to be included. It has contributed to the improvement of that great empire, by adding considerably to its length and breadth, as well as by enabling it to breathe a milder air, and cultivate a more fruitful land. Sensible of the kindness that has been shewn them, the Polish people wait with the greatest impatience for an opportunity to evince their gratitude to those feeling hearts, who have helped to unite them to so great a body as the Russian empire. The thought is most gratifying, that we have been enabled to become useful subjects of so extensive and mighty a nation. And they that united us to them, will no doubt have reason to be gratified with the display which that nation will make, and with the terror it will inspire in the day of battle, at any time when a desire of tormenting other nations shall be felt: and such desires must be expected now and then, as naturally as new fashions in dress.

            I returned to Oufa without gaining any instruction concerning those antiquities; and after remaining a short time there, as I had no prospect of succeeding in a concert, I set out for Oremburg. This is an extremely opulent and commercial city, the appearance of which persuaded me that I might set op my trade there with great probability of success. I was further encouraged in my expectation of a good concert, by the great civility which the inhabitants there to all strangers, and by my good fortune in obtaining an introduction to the family of Mr. Bialosinskoi, a gentleman engaged in a great commercial concern, and also distinguished for his learning. In him I met with a remarkable instance, in addition to those which my travels, had already afforded me, of the double benefit which is derived from an acquaintance with persons of this description. I not only obtained a more enlarged knowledge of the world, but found my little income materially improved. This worthy gentleman promoted my interest with such unwearied zeal, that he procured me a more lucrative concert than I could possibly have expected. I remained some time longer in this city, the society of which I found very agreeable. The greater part of my time was spent with the respectable family of Mr. Bialosinskoi, who kindly introduced me into his library, which excited my admiration, as it contained an excellent selection of the works of the most approved authors, and a surprising collection of ancient and modern philosophers. Here I met with the Henriade of Voltaire, and several other interesting works of that author; which reminded me of my interview with him in my younger days, at the house of Madame de Jofruen, who was his intimate friend. She Was a most respectable lady, and remarkable both for her extensive knowledge, and her amiable disposition. Her chief society was composed of literary men, who, to whatever profession they belonged, or whatever arts they followed, became members of her circles. My little person had excited in her breast a curiosity to see me, which she was enabled to gratify without any difficulty.

            It happened that I was often with Madame de Pompadour, at Versailles, where I had the honour to pay my respects to the Queen, Madame de Pompadour was sometimes visited by her brother, the Marquis de Marini, with whom I was intimate, and who was nearly related to Madame de Jofruen. They were both very desirous to introduce me to that lady; and I the more readily consented, as I had before heard a very pleasing account of her amiable disposition. I had the honour to be introduced on the following day to Madame de Jofruen, and her literary society. I exerted my best endeavours to make myself agreeable to her; and had the happiness to be so far successful, that I could perceive she was very much pleased with my replies to her questions. She was so kind as to give me a general invitation to her Monday dinners: the Abbé Raynal was present at this conversation, and seemed to take pleasure in seizing every opportunity to shew me kind attentions, and to improve my volatile mind. I was then very young. But I was by no means insensible to the advantage I might derive from being admitted to so learned a society: I was conscious that, if duly improved;, it might make me, notwithstanding my diminutive, stature, an object more deserving of notice in the rational creation than some of a larger size; as in the natural world the humble reseda diffuses a perfume, which does not belong to; the lofty chestnut: I considered, that such society would give a polish to my manners, improve my judgment, and impart a steadiness and firmness to my soul, which would enable me to support such calamities as might hereafter be my lot, and to preserve tranquillity under all the reverses of fortune.

            On the Monday following, when I was at Madame de Jofruen, she received a letter from her friend, Mons. de Voltaire, which contained nothing particular, unless I may mention a humorous account which he gave of a gentleman who professed to be an antiquarian, and had lately published five volumes, respecting a discovery which he had made in the city of Paris and its environs. They contained an account of the temples of Isis and Osiris, built at Montmartre and St. Germain, near Paris, in the time of the Druids, and many other fantastic stories, with a number of engravings upon tombstones, and figures, all of which, however, wanted some part, having either broken hands, feet, noses, or heads. M. de Voltaire very politely assured the gentleman, that he did not pretend to be an antiquarian; that he had no doubt the figures must be those of some very elevated personages; and that, excepting the little circumstance of their wanting heads and feet, they appeared most singular in his eyes. His letter concluded with expressing an earnest wish , to see me, on account of the favourable description of me, received from Madame de Jofruen. Accordingly, next Monday evening I was introduced by that lady to this wonderful man. The first sight of the philosopher made such an impression on my mind, that I became at once profoundly silent. This circumstance was noticed by l'Abbé Raynal, and the rest of the company, who were somewhat surprised, as they knew me to be in general lively, noisy, and talkative. Madame de Jofruen asked me with her accustomed sweetness, where I had lost my tongue. "Indeed, Madam," I replied, "I have been reflecting, that the knowledge of the mysterious sources of the works of nature, which is in fact so difficult to acquire, has been obtained in inimitable perfection by this gentleman. When I consider that he is already in full possession of it, must I not look on his head as a wonderful reservoir of wisdom, from which it is poured forth in copious streams around the admiring world." At this avowal of the sentiments I felt, which that respectable old philosopher so justly merited, I could perceive his eyes filled with an expression of surprise and interest. He instantly approached me with enthusiastic joy, like one suddenly awakened. from, a dream, snatched me up in his arms, and addressing himself to the company, paid me this flattering compliment: "Here is a good soil; where the best seeds may be sown with advantage:" "As you are a good farmer," I immediately answered, "I beg you will clear it of weeds." With this reply, Madame de Jofruen, l'Abbé Raynal, and the rest of the company, were highly pleased.

            To return from my digression, I must still remain of the same sentiments with respect to those great empires and Asiatic kingdoms into which I penetrated, during the three years of my travels; and it is with sorrow I reflect, that those enchanting holy lands, blessed with the most delightful climates, and abounding in every species of enjoyment, are inhabited by nations so far behind us in civilization, destitute of all the arts of cultivation, and little better than a band of plunderers. In passing through such countries, a traveller must unavoidably be exposed to danger. I reaped, however, this advantage, from the hazards which I encountered, that they served to strengthen in my breast that contempt of danger, and resolute perseverance in the pursuit of independence, which I found very necessary to support me under my struggles against an obstinate world, and the caprice of fortune. My labours, however, were the easier, as my views were bounded by the prospect of that competence, beyond which I considered it as a foolish ambition to aspire.

            I now prepared to quit those kingdoms, which I found not answerable to my purposes. I must, notwithstanding, acknowledge the kind and liberal hospitality I met with among the independent Tartars, the goodness of whose dispositions I contemplated with the highest degree of esteem. I stopped for some weeks at Bokhara, which is situate in a delightful climate, suitable to the nature of its inhabitants: the sky is beautifully clear, and the earth extremely fertile, and covered with the most luxuriant verdure. I decline to swell my pages with a particular account of those kingdoms, since it was not for the purpose of description I travelled through them; and several celebrated writers have already gratified the public with ample information on this subject, and, as far as I have observed, with so much accuracy, as would render any detailed account from me little better than a mere repetition. My own particular acquaintance with the manners of those people, obliged me to confirm the general opinion of their rudeness and barbarity; but, since I have found these savage creatures capable of receiving the principles of morality, as well as civilized nations, I should be inclined to ask, Who is to be blamed for this? they or their chiefs? who may, I think, be compared to the father of a young family, who neglects to instil the lessons of good morals into the breasts of his offspring; in which case, even if no worse consequence ensue, they must of course remain like stocks in a garden, which have not been grafted, and which consequently grow up wild flowers, unpleasant to the eye.

            We have abundant proof that all created things stand in need of cultivation; and those amateurs, who are such ardent admirers of simple nature, would never have become distinguished for their eminent abilities and extensive knowledge, without diligent study and cultivation of those natural powers, which, unassisted, would have placed them far below the rank in society they have now attained, and sunk them to a level with those savage nations I have just mentioned. I began now to think that I had spent sufficient time amongst them, and, being satisfied with the wonderful specimen of simplicity which I had witnessed, I took leave of their dominions, and setting out from Karsam, I arrived at last safely at Kislaer, the metropolis of the Circassian Tartars. I here met with a native, named John Daros, a good Christian, with whom I remained a month; and found him to be not only a most worthy and agreeable man, but also an eminent chymist. During my stay, he shewed me several curious experiments, which excited my astonishment, and which chymists in general would esteem surprising. He was a Grand Master in Masonry, and after a strict exanimation introduced me to the Lodge, where I found five spacious rooms richly decorated, for what purpose I am not at liberty to say. I have remarked, that Masons on the Continent are not so accommodating as the English Masons, who permit strangers to look into their Lodges. I was also permitted to see four large laboratories for the apprentices to work in; and was witness to some experiments, which were made by the youngest, in the presence of the Grand Master, who was highly pleased with his performance. He took Antimonium Saturninum, and mixed it with some liquid matter of a most pleasant perfume. He then put lead into a crucible, which anon ,became liquid, and, infusing something to take away the impure scoria, he waited until it was clear. He then immediately introduced the antimony, which had been prepared for the purpose, and after keeping the mixture a short time upon the fire, he took it off: when it became cold, it was removed from the crucible, and we found the produce to be a pure crystal. Close to the Lodge is a large building, on purpose for the brethren who have been reduced to poverty. They receive liberal pensions, in return for which it is their duty to take care that the Lodge be kept in order, and the iron door regularly locked; a precaution which is very necessary, as the Lodge is extremely rich. From their industry they carry on a very extensive commerce; for which they are advantageously situated, as their contiguity to the Black and farther Caspian Seas enables, them to traffic both with Turkey and Persia.

            As I recollected having read, in the works of some travellers, an account of a curious hot spring near this city, I enquired of Mr. Daros if such a curiosity really existed, and he convinced me of its reality by taking me to see it. A stream of boiling water issued from the spring, which had a strong smell of naphtha, and fell into a sort of basin, 16 feet in circumference and 7 in depth. On the west there were seven small wells of the same kind of water, and an acid spring on the east. I had been told, that the water of the first well would boil a fowl in a short time, and was the more readily disposed to believe this account, by finding that I scalded my finger which I had dipped into the spring.

            After viewing this curiosity, which corresponded with the account I had read, except a trifling difference with regard to the depth and the circumference, which it is not necessary to particularize, we returned to Mr. Daros. After dinner, my host conducted me to his library, which contained a very large collection of books, comprising the works of the best authors in the Arabic, Greek, Latin, and French languages, all of which he spoke. He made me a present of a very ancient French book of chemistry, which I have still in my possession.

            Next day I left Kislaer, and travelled rapidly, but unfortunately happened to miss the straight road, and found myself in Croatia, Dalmatia, and the Lower Arabia. I thought myself very lucky when I arrived at Walachia and Hocime; as I then began to anticipate the happiness, which I should so soon enjoy, of once more beholding my native country, for which purpose I had only to pass the Dniester. I stopped at Kamienice to see my friends, but I never told them for what purpose I had travelled. Afterwards, I passed to Buda, the metropolis of Lower Hungary; where I was handsomely received, and had a concert, which succeeded extremely well. I was amply provided for travelling, as, in ,addition to this, my worthy friend, Daros had not sent me away with an empty purse. Accordingly, I next made my appearance in Germany; for which country I was provided with letters of recommendation to Count de Thierheim, Governor of Lower Austria, and son-in-law of the Prince de Kaunitz, who loaded me with kindnesses. He was so good as to lend me, for the concert, his band of musicians, which was composed of fifteen young men, all good performers, the eldest of whom was not seventeen. The concert being very thinly attended, occasioned this remark to be made -- "Little concert, little music, little players, and little receipt" In fact, Lintz, the metropolis of Low Austria, is rather small.

            After leaving Lintz, the next place I stopped at was Ratisbon; but not finding the Prince de la Tour and Taxis, who was then at his estate at Teschen, I went immediately to Munich, where her Royal Highness the Electress Dowager resided, whom I had had the honour to visit before, in my travels with the Countess Humiecka. She was very glad to see me again, and shewed me the same kindness as at the time of my former journey. She perfectly remembered the particular pleasure her illustrious husband had felt in conversing with me, and the special favour he had done me, by presenting me with a chased gold box made by himself. She presented me to his most Serene Highness the then reigning Elector. I was often invited to the assemblies at Court, and every time I was the subject of general conversation. They took great pleasure in tracing back many events and circumstances of my former appearance in that town. His most Serene Highness was so good as to appoint a day for my concert, all the expenses of which he desired to defray.

            After having taken my leave of their Highnesses, I directed my route to Teschen; where, being arrived, I sent to the Prince de la Tour and Taxis to request that I might to permitted to pay my respects to him. He answered, that he had often seen men of my species, and had no curiosity to see any more, except one who had travelled with the Countess Humiecka, whom he had always desired to see, without ever having had it in his power. This reply from his Highness to my request could not offend, but was highly flattering to me. When I was told this, I immediately took the liberty to write to his Highness, that I was not only the very same person he had desired to meet with, but that I was the bearer of letters from the Princess his daughter, and the Prince Radziurl his son-in-law, which would confirm the fact; otherwise I should blame myself for taking such a liberty as to trouble his Highness. He then sent a carriage, with his chamberlain, for me. After having bowed to the Prince and to his court, I approached his Highness, and told him that one of the most charming ladies in the world had charged me to embrace him with all my heart. Without giving me time to finish my phrase, the Prince lifted me up in his arms, and said, With great pleasure I give you leave." Then, having put me on the ground again, he asked me, who had charged me with so agreeable a commission. I immediately delivered to him the letters of the Prince his son-in-law, and of the Princess his daughter; and told him that, the day before my setting out from Warsaw, having waited on the Princess to receive her orders, she had been so kind as to embrace me, and said, it was on condition I should return that kiss to her papa. She afterwards had enjoined me to press him to take a trip to Poland, to see a daughter who loved him tenderly, and to whose happiness his presence alone was wanting: that, should he not consent to this, nothing could prevent her from setting out immediately, as she was not able to live any longer without the pleasure of seeing him. During the whole of this recital, the Prince's sensibility was evidently displayed: his eyes sparkled with tears, and, after having read the letters, he embraced me again, and asked many questions respecting the manner in which I had parted from the Countess Humiecka, and the motives that had induced me to undertake new travels. He seemed satisfied with my answers, and engaged me to stay for some time with him.

            During my stay at Teschen, there was nothing but feasts and entertainments. When I took my leave of his Highness, he engaged me to pay a visit to the Prince de Wallerstein, his son-in-law, who at that time resided at Honnaltheim, his country seat. This proposal was too agreeable to be refused. Being arrived at Honnaltheim, I was presented to the Prince de Wallerstein, by whom, considering the recommendation I had from his father-in-law, I could not fail to be kindly received. But, though he welcomed me with all politeness and affability imaginable, I soon perceived that he was labouring under a dark melancholy, and seemed to value life only from his extreme attachment, to the Princess his daughter, then four years old. I was soon informed of the cause of this sadness, in which all his court took the greatest concern; and my astonishment ceased, when I was told that the moment which made him a father, had deprived him of a charming and adored wife, for whom he had mourned ever since. Thus, she who was to have completed his happiness, had been the occasion of plunging him into a state of apathy and insensibility, subsequent to the most violent ravings, which had alarmed his court, first for his life, and afterwards for his reason. I was, however, instrumental, in removing, this sadness for a few moments, as my figure, and manners seemed to amuse the young Princess; and nothing could make any impression upon him, but what interested, this child.

            Hitherto I had found every reason to applaud myself for the expedient, I had taken of travelling: I had been every where welcomed, with pleasure. and had met with much civility. But nothing can be compared to the reception I found at the court of his most Serene Highness the Margrave, and her Serene Highness the, Margravine of Anspach, at Triersdorff; nor can I find expressions strong enough to describe the sentiments of respectful gratitude I shall ever entertain for that amiable Prince and her Highness, whose generous treatment has made the deepest impression on my heart. I passed six weeks in that delightful place, amidst pleasures and entertainments, and enjoyed that friendly protection which is so flattering when it comes from the great.

            Some days after I had commenced my preparations for setting out, the Margrave wrote several letters to his friends, particularly to the Duke of Gloucester, and to his Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland, his brothers and pressed me very much to go to London, and deliver his letters as soon as I should arrive. I then took my leave of their Highnesses. On quitting Triersdorff, my only care was to hasten my journey, that I might reach England as soon as possible, to keep my promise to his Highness the Margrave of Anspach.

 

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