Memoirs of Josef Boruwlaski - CHAP. II

CHAP. II
Departure from Paris for Holland; description of that country.-- Arrival at the Hague; polite attention of the Stadtholder -- Journey through Germany to Poland; arrival at Warsaw, and reception there -- Gracious offer of King Stanislaus II. to bestow an estate upon me -- My affection for Isalina; consequent displeasure of the Countess Humiecka, who dismisses me -- Kindness of Prince Cassimir -- The King grants me a pension -- My marriage with Isalina -- Pecuniary difficulties oblige me to leave Warsaw -- Return to Vienna -- Journey through Hungary and part of Turkey.

            THE time at length came, when we were obliged to leave Paris, from whence we set off for Holland. Every body knows how the soul of a traveller is impressed by the novelty of the scenes which this country affords. it was then the month of May, a season in which the country presents the most agreeable appearance; and I was struck with it in so lively a manner, that, notwithstanding the sameness so justly complained of, I cannot recall to my mind, without emotion, the sensations I then felt. Were I to enter into the particulars of the polite reception we met with, I should but repeat what I have said in my former book: I shall therefore only observe, that when we arrived at the Hague, the Countess Humiecka was received in the most affable and polite manner by his Highness the Prince Stadtholder and his family, who did their utmost to make her stay agreeable. We, however, formed but few acquaintances there; and not being able to stay long in Holland, we employed ourselves in viewing the curiosities with which this country abounds; and at last, after having taken leave of the Stadtholder, my benefactress directed her route through Germany, and we reached Warsaw. My return to my native country made much noise. I had not yet been seen in the capital, but was preceded by the reputation I had acquired in my travels, for which I was indebted to the generous care of my benefactress. Besides, I had improved much during my stay in foreign countries; and as my residence at Paris had given me somewhat of that easy politeness, and those graceful manners, which set off the most trifling discourse, I was so happy as to perceive, that many persons, by whom I was at first looked upon as an object of mere curiosity, now wished for my society, because they took pleasure in my conversation. Emboldened by this notice, I went oftener to assemblies than I had hitherto done; and wishing to enlarge the circle of my acquaintance, I cultivated an intimacy with some young gentlemen of my own age, whose company seemed to me more gay and interesting than that of those persons who were in the habit of frequenting the Countess Humiecka's house. I had inspired my protectress with confidence enough, to induce her to allow me a reasonable degree of liberty; and I availed myself of it, by going frequently to the play, of which I had always been an admirer. The new sensations which began to rise in my breast, were now increased by the intemperate life of my young friends, who, yielding to the dictates of that indiscretion natural to their age, indulged without scruple the impulses of their lively imaginations. But my benefactress, who was not ignorant of this affair, sent to me a very wise and sensible man, in whom I had the greatest confidence. He strongly remonstrated with me on the irregularity of may behaviour, and set forth the fatal consequences into which I was likely to be hurried. His observations affected me: I promised never more to frequent the company of these young men, whose bad example had seduced me; and by the regularity of my conduct, I soon regained the kindness of the Countess, and the pleasure of her society. I had no occasion to repent the change: my life became quieter and more happy, and I now began to perceive the emptiness of those pleasures, which I had enjoyed in the society of my last companions.

            At that time Warsaw was the scene of rejoicings and amusements. Stanislaus the Second had lately ascended the throne of Poland. This Prince (on whose virtues and accomplishments I need not expatiate, as they are known to all who had the honour of approaching him, either as a king or as a private man) was applying himself to retrieve those innumerable calamities, which a series of troubles and agitations had occasioned. By his patronage the arts and sciences were flourishing, and he gained by his goodness the affections of his greatest Lords, who flocked round his person, to evince their attachment. In the midst of these rejoicings his Majesty came to supper on Twelfth Night, with the Princess Lubomirska, where I was invited by the Countess Humiecka. The cake being opened, I was chosen king, and had the honour to enter into conversation with his Majesty, when I entreated his permission to lay aside, in his presence, the prerogative of my newly-attained royalty. This proposition from me afforded great diversion to the King, who turned to the Countess, and deigned to signify that my behaviour gave him much pleasure, and said he was inclined, as a mark of his royal favour, to bestow an estate upon me. But my protectress's countenance too plainly bespoke her disapprobation of his generous offer, to admit of its being carried into effect. In this state of tranquillity my days glided away, and I thought that no kind of vexation could disturb so happy a life. I was then very far from foreseeing, that those delicate and tender sentiments, upon which was grounded my expectation of future felicity, would one day be the cause of disquietude and bitterness of heart, and would throw so heavy a cloud over my existence.

            I am now entering into the particulars of those events, which I shall always regard as the most interesting epoch of my life. Those moments, which became fraught with new ideas, new desires, and pleasures far different from those I had hitherto known, brought likewise new troubles and new difficulties, to which I had never thought I should be exposed. The Countess Humiecka's bounty seemed likely for ever to secure me from want, as her Ladyship's favour had drawn on me the consideration and regard, not only of every person in her house, but even of all the people of quality that composed her society. I did not foresee the probability of ever being deprived of her friendship, nor did I feel in my heart the fear of ever becoming unworthy of it. I was caressed, fondled, and cherished. Nothing was wanting to my happiness; and I enjoyed it with so much the more security, as I had experienced no reverses, and foolishly thought I should never have any to endure; as reason and good advice had brought me back to steady conduct and more quiet sentiments. But I knew not my own heart, and all those fine expectations vanished, from the moment I beheld a young female whom my benefactress had taken into her house.

            The Countess Humiecka had consulted only her own gratification when she took Isalina, for that was her name; and this young lady possessed all the requisites to interest and please. Let me be excused from describing what she appeared in my eyes. Such as regard only personal appearance in the choice of their wedded partners, know very little of the human heart. To enable them to live happily together, and to have for each other that mutual esteem which alone can confer such happiness, more lasting qualities are requisite. I still know how to set a proper value on those advantages so much sought after, though they are only gifts which Nature blindly distributes; and I must own, there is a personal beauty, which discloses that of the soul; and when we meet with those tender, sweet, and lively countenances, which, being strangers to dissimulation and deceit, exhibit in their features the emotions they feel, and the impressions they receive, we must acknowledge, at the very first moment, that persons so happily endowed are worthy of all our attachment. It is among women especially, that this inestimable quality is to be found, which so advantageously sets off their charms. They possess it, notwithstanding all the obstacles that are opposed to it, though the aim of their education incessantly be to instruct them how to dissemble their sentiments, and conceal their natural affections. Perhaps at some future time, parents may have resolution and wisdom enough to overcome this prejudice in training up their children. I see the evil; but I know not the remedy, or rather, have not the courage to suggest it.

            Such as I have described, was the young Isalina's beauty; which struck me at first sight, and subdued my heart. But if the impression of the moment was deep and indelible, conceive what new force must have been given to my feelings, when, by living in the same house, I had daily opportunities of seeing her, and of enjoying the pleasure of her lively conversation! I discovered in her a never-failing vivacity, and those amiable dispositions which plainly bespoke a feeling heart.

            From this time my happiness was inseparably united with that of Isalina. I perceived in her all the symptoms of a mutual affection; and, proud of the love with which I was conscious she regarded me, (though numberless obstacles to my happiness presented themselves to my view,) I determined not to give up my enterprise. The ardour of my affection was, however, tempered with the respect and diffidence which are inseparable from a sincere attachment. I had made an impression on the tender heart of Isalina: and indeed, how could I fail, my love being guided by sincerity, and want of fortune in the lady proving my disinterestedness? But these raptures were soon interrupted by the Countess. She was fully informed of, and saw with concern, my affection for Isalina, and was determined to use her utmost endeavours to frustrate our intentions. She sent Isalina immediately to her parents, and at the same time kept me in my room for a whole fortnight. Having thus confined me, she discharged my footman, and put another in his place, on whom she thought she could rely: but, contrary to her expectation, he was entirely at my disposal; for by his means I established a correspondence with my Isalina.

            Cagliostro, at the instigation of the Countess, came to me a few days after, and earnestly solicited me to appease my benefactress, by renouncing Isalina. Without the least hesitation I boldly protested, I would sooner part with my life. The Countess Humiecka, perceiving me determined, became furious; and, setting me at liberty, declared I had only to choose either to renounce my love for Isalina, or to quit her house immediately. I preferred the latter alternative, as will be seen in the two following letters to Isalina; and these are the only ones of our whole correspondence, with which I shall trouble my readers.

                "JOUJOU TO ISALINA.
                "My captivity, my charming friend, is now at an end. I have sacrificed all for your sake; and if I lose you, I will renounce, yes, I will renounce life itself. This morning one of the principal officers of the house came with a message from the Countess, to inform me, that if I had not changed my resolution, I must leave the house for ever. That is not possible, I answered; but, reflecting on what conditions alone I could remain, I calmly added, I was ready to depart; but I entreated he would tell my benefactress, how sincerely I was affected at incurring her resentment; and I besought her to pardon my opposition to her will, to which nothing could have urged me, but the dread of forfeiting all my happiness; and that the kindness, with which she had formerly treated me, should never be erased from may memory. I was now at large; but, on beholding the house where I had so long been the darling, I burst into tears. How painful a situation to a heart like mine, which, while plunged in affliction, bore the reproach of ingratitude for only obeying the impulse of true love! I knew not whither to direct my course, penniless, a forlorn wanderer: my situation was dreadful. Love alone could support me under it. Yes, love inspired me to address myself to Prince Casimir, the King's brother, whose affability and gentle manners you are well acquainted with. You are not ignorant, how much he interested himself in all that concerned me. I was not deceived in my expectation; he knew every thing except my departure, at which be was much surprised. Make yourself easy, 'Joujou,' said he, 'you shall not want, I will never forsake you: come and see me soon: I will importune the King in your behalf; you know he, loves you, and I am sure he will protect you.' These kind expressions have animated my drooping spirits. Dear Isalina, be kind, and we shall yet be happy, but permit me to see you -- to speak to you -- and to repeat to you, a thousand rind a thousand times, with my last breath, that you are all my happiness, the delight of the faithful and tender
                JOUJOU."

            Soon after I had thus addressed my dear Isalina, the Prince sent for me, and in the most condescending manner gave me his advice. I wrote as follows:--

                JOUJOU TO ISALINA.
                "The Prince sent for me this morning, my charming friend. How can I express to you my grateful sentiments for his numerous favours! He asked me if I would return to the Countess Humiecka, and he would use all his influence to soften her; or, if I were resolved to marry my dear Isalina: so he expressed himself. I answered him, that I was exceedingly sorry to have forfeited the protection of the Countess, but that my heart could never subscribe to her hard conditions. 'Obtain, then, the mother's consent,' replied this amiable Prince, 'and all will yet be well.' You see, my lovely friend, they think your sentiments sympathize with mine. I durst not acknowledge I had not your consent: that would have spoiled all. Can you refuse it rue, my kind Isalina? Can you harbour a thought that would destroy the man who adores you? I am to be presented to his Majesty; he has promised his illustrious brother to provide for me. Thus all our anxieties for subsistence cease. I expect a pension. Now my charmer, Isalina, I go to kneel at your mother's feet: she will yield to my supplication, seeing me so well protected. All my happiness is concentrated in my Isalina's tenderness: but consider, that the least indifference, the least delay, may destroy for ever the happiness of your tender and affectionate
                JOUJOU."

            I waited upon Isalina's mother, whose consent I obtained. I saw my fair friend again; a friend whose inexhaustible fund of gaiety formed so happy a contrast to my present temper, that I soon buried in oblivion all the vexations I had endured. The amiable Prince Casimir kept his word: he was so kind as to present me to his brother the King, who approved of my marriage, and granted me a pension of a hundred ducats. The Nuncio, who had been misinformed, wanted to prevent it by a ridiculous pretext of the Countess Humiecka. But the King prevailed over this obstacle; and some time after, the performance of the ceremony broke all the barriers that had been opposed to my felicity. It is true, that I have sacrificed to this happiness, ease and tranquillity; it has been to me the source of a thousand inquietudes, respecting the subsistence of Isalina and myself for the future. Yet the enjoyment that I have derived from it, has taught me that nothing in this world is preferable to the satisfaction of pouring our inquietudes, our distresses, and our fears, into the bosom of a friend so true, so dear, and so closely united; whose tender and feeling soul relieves our pains by sharing them, and enlivens our pleasures with a far greater delight.

            I should have been too happy in my new state, if it had been possible that, minding only the present, I could have abstained from casting an eye on the future. But man is not formed for a pure and perfect felicity: disquietudes poison his enjoyments, and it but too often happens, that from these very enjoyments arise his disquietudes.

            Notwithstanding my inexperience, I soon perceived that the King's favours would hardly be sufficient for our maintenance; and my susceptible mind, severely anticipating the necessities to which my Isalina must submit, the liveliness of my feeling towards her still increased the bitterness and horror of my reflections. Although accustomed to the luxury and magnificence, which had surrounded us in the house of my benefactress, yet without grief, and even with a degree of pleasure, we should have embraced a middle station of life; the only one, perhaps, which gives to the tender and delicate sentiments their full scope and energy. But the question was not respecting a mode of living more or less expensive, as we were likely to want even necessaries; and I confess, that the idea of seeing my beloved Isalina involved in misery, did not permit me long to enjoy the happiness of possessing her. It was necessary to take some step; but my choice was so much the more difficult, in my having received no other education than that which the Countess Humiecka had bestowed on me. I possessed, at most, a few agreeable talents, which could not now afford me any sufficient resource.

            In this perplexity my protectors were the first who suggested to me the idea of a second journey. Prince Casimir, especially, recommended this project. He intimated to me, that, having been kindly received in the principal Courts of Europe, when I accompanied the Countess Humiecka, I should be again received with the same pleasure; and when it should be known that I was without fortune, my situation would increase the interest I had inspired, and in a creditable manner procure me the means of leading, at my return, a peaceful and tranquil life. I consented to this scheme; I spoke of it to the King, who not only approved of my plan, but, wishing to grant me a particular testimony of his bounty, ordered the Master of the Horse to supply me with a convenient coach. Having, therefore, taken all necessary measures, and being provided with letters of recommendation, I left Warsaw, and reached Vienna.

            Unluckily for me, death had, just before, deprived the world of the illustrious Maria Theresa. Mourning and sorrow, in consequence, pervaded this capital: the deepest grief was impressed upon all hearts. Public entertainments, and even concerts, were suspended. They talked of nothing, but of the loss that had befallen them: they spoke of the magnanimity with which this heroine had supported adversity. They recollected those disastrous times, when, forced to leave her residence, and, holding her son in her arms, she had excited amongst the Hungarians that patriotic ferment, which had impelled them to do so much for her sake. Whilst they expatiated, with complacency, upon the means she employed to re-establish her affairs, and upon the glorious treaty which had put an end to a war, threatening her, in its origin, with total destruction. On the other hand, with new regret they enumerated the pains she had since taken, and the care she had bestowed, to restore such of her provinces as had been desolated by war, and to render most advantageous to her subjects, the peace she had procured for them.

            In the midst of this general mourning, I renewed my acquaintance with most of the noblemen I had had the honour to see in my former travels. I may even venture to say, that his Excellency the Prince de Kaunitz received my visit with every mark of pleasure. As at that time his Imperial Majesty, Joseph the Second, held no Court, all the nobility assembled every evening in the Prince's hotel, where his relation, the Countess Clarissa, received his guests. He did me so much honour, as to present me to this assembly, and engage me to come often and spend the evening. There I had the honour to become acquainted with his Excellency Sir Robert Murray Keith, the British Ambassador, who was afterwards the principal cause of my coming to England. There also I had occasion to be convinced, that the manifold occupations of the Prince de Kaunitz, (the burden of which was lightened by his superior talent, so well known to every one, of comprehending at one view the most extensive and complicated affairs) did not hinder him from looking on the minutest objects, the least worthy affixing his attention. For, having sent for the measure of my size, which he had taken care to procure when I was at Vienna in the year 176i, with the Countess Humiecka, he shewed to us, that from that time to 1781 I had grown upwards of ten inches; which appeared as surprising to those who, not having seen me before, could not conceive how I, being at that moment hardly in size like a child, could have ever been ten inches shorter; as to those who having seen me twenty years before, thought they observed in me as much difference as there is between a youth of twelve and a grown mant of thirty.

            Notwithstanding these flattering appearances, and the professions of friendship I received, my journey did not answer my intended purpose. My chances of success were grounded upon a concert; and though I was obliged to wait till the mourning was over, I had, in addition to this, other difficulties to overcome. A number of performers were inscribed on the catalogue at the Royal theatre; and if I had been obliged to wait for my turn, I must have been kept a great while back. Happily for me, my friend, Mr. Gunter, Secretary to his Imperial Majesty, so earnestly pressed Mr. Dorval, the manager of the house, that I was preferred before the others; and they were even so kind, as to take the management for me, and to conduct the concert and the expenses. I was so fortunate as to be honoured with a numerous assembly, almost all the nobility being present. I attempted, in a short speech, to express to them my gratitude: I wished likewise to make an apology before those noblemen who, twenty years ago, having seen me surrounded with the ecl?t of greatness, now beheld me reduced to the sad necessity of appearing in public, and exhibiting a reverse of fortune, in some degree resembling that of Belisarius. I was at that time very far from thinking, that, through a necessity of providing for the most essential wants of life, I should ever be obliged to expose myself to public view for money.

            Next day the Prince de Kaunitz spoke to me, in a most polite manner, amidst a crowded levee. His Excellency, Sir Robert Murray Keith, was present: he prevailed upon me to go over to England in preference to France, wWhich was the country I intended first to have visited. The Prince seconded this advice, and earnestly desired the Ambassador to interest himself for me. His Excellency promised me letters of recommendation to the greatest personages at the British court, for which the Prince made him an acknowledgment, and assured him he would seek every opportunity to shear him how sensible he was of all that was done for his little friend.

            If all those reasons did not entirely prevail, they had at least some influence upon me; and I resolved to leave Vienna, being supplied with letters of recommendation to many Princes of Germany, and to the courts of other kingdoms. But I previously made a journey to Pressburg in Hungary. To defray the expenses of this tour, I stayed there only so long as was necessary, in order to give a concert; and from thence I went to Bucharest, Wallachia, Bender, Belgrade, Adrianople, and other places which I wished to see.

            I must not forget to mention the kind welcome I met with in Turkish countries; and from all the observations I could possibly make upon the people, I remarked that they are not so bad in the principles of their minds as has often been reported of them. In this respect indeed, they seemed to me far superior to the Arabians, whose country I also visited. These I found to be susceptible of passions no otherwise than as brute animals. A traveller's life is in danger, in passing through those countries, where the government is unsettled, and the inhabitants are continually at war among themselves.

            When I had nearly reached the Persian Gulf, I was attacked by illness, which prevented me from pursuing my journey. I then determined to return by the nearest way, and pass the deserts of Arabia, not far from the famous river Euphrates. Having traversed these and the deserts of Syria, I arrived, after a long and fatiguing journey, at the city of Damascus, where illness increased so much as to confine me for a month to my bed. I had the good fortune there to meet with a Jew, a physician by profession, who kindly attended me, and by his skill succeeded in restoring my health. He was a most worthy man, and belonged to the sect of the Essenes, who formed a respectable society, and avoided the dissolute morals and profane principles of the Sadducees. The origin of the tenets maintained by the latter, who, as is well known, reject the doctrine of the soul's immortality, may, in my opinion, be with some degree of probability referred to that remote period, when the Israelites set up and worshipped the molten calf. Hence sprung the various weeds of heresy and infidelity, which clung to the true religion as ivy clings to the rock, without being able to destroy it. I shall pass over them without further description, in order to afford space for enlarging on subjects which merit more particular notice.

 

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