Wednesday, September 10, 2008

so hand in glove

Princess Lieven to Earl Grey.

St. Petersburg,
Nov. 9th/21st, 1834.

have just received your letter No. 7, my dear lord, and I realize by its date, October 20, how far separated we now are one from another. As long as the Baltic remained open, the fact was not so keenly brought home to me; but this cutting off of one of our means of communication seems like a new separation. If this acts on you as it does on me, it will turn to the profit of our correspondence, for I feel myself urged to write to you now oftener even than before. I am more anxious than ever for my English letters, and, above all, for yours. I devour all the newspapers I can get with an inconceivable avidity, and I am better pleased by a visit from Mr. Bligh than from anyone else; in short, it is English and of England that I must speak, in order to keep myself in passably good spirits.

Lord Durham's speech at Glasgow was of a strong order; we shall see if he will and can act up to the principles there expounded. The speech seems to have made much stir both in England and abroad. I see that France deems herself offended by it. I have just read the article in the Edinburgh Review which gave rise to Lord Durham's attack on the Chancellor. The latter was certainly the first offender. It all appears to me a war of words, in which the personal element has been carried much too far; and what you say on the subject entirely coincides with the conclusions I myself had already drawn.

We as yet know nothing of the result of the recent Ministerial crisis in France. It appears to be grave, and I wonder whether you will not feel the counter-shock of the contest over in England. Hitherto a certain sympathy in the matter of political crises has always been found to exist between the two countries. Further, it would seem to me likely that the present Government [Lord Melbourne's] in England will find some difficulty in getting on comfortably, what between the Chancellor and certain other of its members. No Administration can hold its ground when its members are always quarrelling, and assuredly this present Whig Government can hardly be considered as united in the bonds of amity. What is become of M. de Talleyrand? I have heard nothing of him, for, much to my annoyance, they have kept back in London a letter for me from Madame de Dino; and it would have told me everything. Lady Cowper writes to me very often, but, then, she is so hand in glove with the present Ministry that I do not learn much from her letters. I prefer hearing from outsiders, for they at least do not try to mislead. It is astounding how like bad faith this Ministerial prudence too often becomes.

Since the departure of the Emperor and his son, I have been trying to orient myself somewhat in Petersburg society. I am at home every evening. Up to the present, however, I cannot say that I have made any very notable progress. I see plenty of people, but have found no society. I am very well pleased with your Minister here, and with the two Ambassadors of Austria and France. Marechal Maison is a soldier of the school of Bonaparte, with rather too much of garrison manners and methods of speech to be quite to my taste; but he is an intelligent man and full of tact, without either exaggerated ideas or diplomatic affectations; and he is, besides, full of good sense and very amusing. See what poor letters I write you now, my dear lord, and what a fine opportunity you have of showing your generosity towards me! You have everything to give, and nothing to receive, unless it be the reiterated assurances of my constant and warm affection.

My husband desires me to give you many messages from him, and both to Lady Grey and Lady Georgiana I send my most affectionate greetings.

-from the Correspondence of Princess Lieven and Earl Grey edited and translated by Guy le Strange (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1890) vol. 3, pp. 49-51.

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